New homeowners: Build your home maintenance tool-kit (infographic)


home maintenance tool box
If you are a new homeowner, your financial lender will likely require you to carry homeowners insurance, which is designed to protect your property from loss related to a wide range of unplanned or accidental perils. Take the time to understand what is covered and what is excluded because there are some disaster-related exclusions unless you have additional coverage – the Insurance Information Institute has a a handy guide to coverage by policy type—and what’s not typically covered.

You should also be aware that as an insured property owner, you have some obligations, too. One common reason for claim denial is a loss related to your failure to conduct maintenance. The Insurance Information Institute says: “It is your responsibility to maintain your home and take reasonable precautions to protect your home from damage. Your insurance policy will not cover damage due to lack of maintenance, mold or infestation from termites or other pests.”

Step one in maintaining your property is having the right tools. While you may want to hire someone for the big jobs, there are a lot of little day-to-day repairs or chores that you can handle yourself if you have the right kit. Building a good tool kit usually happens over time because it can be costly, but you should start out with some essentials. We like this infographic about building a tool kit from The Fix. It offers a three-tier plan for essential tools, tools that you may want to add in for do-it-yourself projects and tools for advanced repairs. It also offers tips for tool storage and organization in the related article: Basic DIY Home-Repair Tool Kit.


Source: Fix.com Blog

Spring home maintenance tips


man changing smoke detector for spring home maintenance

We’ve set the clocks forward, we’re hunkered down for the last bit of winter weather, and the crocuses are beginning to stir in their beds. Spring is almost upon us! Throw open the windows, beat the rugs, and get to work on all those niggling tasks that have been staring you in the face all winter!

The National Safety Council has some helpful reminders for those of us swinging into spring cleaning mode:

  • Check your smoke alarms. Of course, you do this monthly, right? Well, do it now. Test them and change the batteries.
  • Check your carbon monoxide detectors. You should have one of these centrally located outside bedroom doors, and at least one on every level of your home, from attic to basement. Take the time to make sure they’re working correctly and to swap out those batteries.
  • Make a Family Emergency Plan. The time to figure out what you’ll do in an emergency is before the emergency happens. Review the plan with your family. Make sure the plan includes a fallback communication method. Prepare emergency kits for your car and your home. Take stock of your emergency supplies.

For more tips, hit up the National Safety Council. We also posted a useful post last year that you might want to check out: Spring cleaning hacks & tips to make the job easier – there are some good videos and don’t miss the home maintenance tip sheets from Bob Vila and Martha Graham.

Here are a few spring maintenance tips from some of our insurer partners:

Safeco: Prepare for warmer weather with these home maintenance tips

Plymouth Rock: 7 Household Items You Never Clean But Should

Liberty Mutual: 8 Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Warm Weather

Insurance basics: filing claims for home and auto


It’s smart to review insurance basics every now and again and the Insurance Information Institute has produced some quick, simple videos on what you need to do to file a home or an auto claim. One important first step is to take the time to review your policies each year and understand what your policy does and doesn’t cover – ask your local agent if you have any gaps or exposures that leave you vulnerable. For example, most homeowners policies don’t include flood coverage. Or if you have valuables such as antiques, jewelry, or special collections, you may want to add coverage for those because your standard homeowners has coverage limits.

As for autos, here’s an interesting post on Gap Insurance and when it might make sense. Today’s long-financing options mean that you might owe more than your car is worth and you could be stuck should you total your car unless you have Guaranteed Replacement Cost coverage or Guaranteed Auto Protection (Gap insurance).

One other option is an umbrella policy, which would boost your coverage on your home and auto should you have a large lawsuit. Umbrella policies typically kick in after your regular insurance is exhausted. Learn more here.

OK, with those reminders, here are some basics about filing home or auto claims.

Household hacks for clean freaks


house cleaning products

We’re on a home maintenance roll this week. In our last post, we talked about care for major appliances, and we just found a great article about 10 things in your home you never clean — but should. But our favorite find is a video clip on household hacks, aka “household hints.” These cleaning hack videos are fun and useful. Like the old slogan for potato chips – “bet you can’t eat just one” – it can be hard to stop at just one clip.

This one is chock full of useful ideas, as well as a few corny ones (dust-mop slippers, really??). We’re big fans of multiple use tips for vinegar, baking soda, lemon and other inexpensive, natural products that can replace costly chemical alternatives. We haven’t tried all of these but know that many work. Why not try a few this weekend in your household maintenance?

And if you can’t stop at just one clip, we’ve included links to some of our prior posts for cleaning hacks below the video.

Prior post with household cleaning hacks

Handy household hacks: creative uses for everyday products
Three clips covering vinegar, Windex and common household products

Spring cleaning hacks & tips to make the job easier
3 video clips for cleaning hacks, one focusing on cleaning with salt

Household hacks aren’t just popular since the advent of YouTube – in olden days, they were popular too – see our post on How to stop a runaway horse & other vintage life hacks from days of yore for some fun old time hacks.

How to preserve the life of costly kitchen appliances


kitchen appliances

If you’re a homeowner, you understand that your major kitchen appliances – refrigerator, stove, dishwasher – all represent significant expenditures. An unplanned replacement can throw your family’s budget out of whack.

In an article on remodeling a kitchen, HomeAdvisor offers guidance on appliance costs:

  • EnergyStar appliances ($200 – $3,500)
  • Custom built-in appliances ($1,000 – $10,000)
  • High-end store bought appliances ($300 – $5,000)
  • Budget outlet appliances ($100 – $2,000)

Improvenet also offers guidance on the costs and installation of appliances:

  • Refrigerator, top mounted freezer – $350 to $600
  • Refrigerator, bottom mounted freezer – $800 – $1200
  • Refrigerator, side by side – $700- $2100
  • Dishwasher, basic – starting at $250
  • Dishwasher, premium – $600 to $1,000
  • Ranges, basic to premium – $350 – $2000
  • Cooktops, basic to premium – $350 – $2000
  • Cooktops with single or double ovens – $700 – $3500

Given the cots, it just makes sense to preserve your current appliances and get as long a life as possible. Fix offers a handy article on Home Appliance Maintenance, along with a summary infographic, which we’ve posted below.


Source: Fix.com Blog