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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When you tackle your spring and fall home maintenance, is cleaning your clothes dryer on the list? If not, it should be. As we approach the fall, it’s a good time to check your lint filters and venting systems to make sure they have no lint buildup. According to FEMA, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated 5 deaths, 100 injuries, and $35 million in property loss. The leading cause (34%) of home clothes dryer and washer fires was failure to clean.
Dryer lint is highly flammable. It’s important to clean your dryer lint trap before and after every load of clothes, but you should also regularly use a long handled, flexible lint brush to root around deeper under the filter to extract any lint. These can be purchased inexpensively in any hardware store or online. There are also heavier brushes for cleaning your vents – this video shows the two styles:
Have your clothes dryer installed by a professional.
Make sure the correct electrical plug and outlet are used and that the dryer is connected properly.
Read manufacturers’ instructions and warnings in use and care manuals that come with new dryers.
Clean the lint filter before and after each load of laundry. Don’t forget to clean the back of the dryer where lint can build up. In addition, clean the lint filter with a nylon brush at least every six months or more often if it becomes clogged.
Clean lint out of the vent pipe every three months.
Have your dryer cleaned regularly by a professional, especially if it is taking longer than normal for clothes to dry.
Inspect the venting system behind the dryer to ensure it is not damaged or restricted.
Put a covering on outside wall dampers to keep out rain, snow and dirt.
Make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on.
Replace coiled-wire foil or plastic venting with rigid, non-ribbed metal duct.
Have gas-powered dryers inspected every year by a professional to ensure that the gas line and connection are together and free of leaks.
Check regularly to make sure nests of small animals and insects are not blocking the outside vent.
Keep the area around the clothes dryer free of items that can burn.
If you will be away from home for an extended time, unplug or disconnect the dryer.
Clothes dryer don’t’s
Don’t use a clothes dryer without a lint filter or with a lint filter that is loose, damaged or clogged.
Don’t overload the dryer.
Don’t use a wire screen or cloth to cover the wall damper. They can collect lint and clog the dryer vent.
Don’t dry anything containing foam, rubber or plastic. An example of an item not to place in a dryer is a bathroom rug with a rubber backing.
Don’t dry any item for which manufacturers’ instructions state “dry away from heat.”
Don’t dry glass fiber materials (unless manufacturers’ instructions allow).
Don’t dry items that have come into contact with anything flammable like alcohol, cooking oils or gasoline. Dry them outdoors or in a well-ventilated room, away from heat.
Don’t leave a clothes dryer running if you leave home or when you go to bed.
Consider having a professional dryer and vent cleaning annually. Or if you are handy at home maintenance, here are two videos that offer detailed instructions about taking your dryer apart to clean the inside, and another on how to use a LintEater kit to clean your vents.