There are a lot of factors that help determine your home insurance rates, but none are so easy to control as proper home maintenance.
Taking care of your home prevents wear and tear, damage, and the stress of having to deal with a middle-of-the-night emergency. When your home performs the way it should, you not only live better, you can breathe easier. And so can your insurance company when they consider how much of your risk they are taking on.
More claims lead to higher home insurance rates, so proper home maintenance is one way to keep your premiums down.
It also keeps your out-of-pocket costs down. Even the best insurance plans have a deductible (costs you are expected to cover before your insurance kicks in). But damage caused by a “maintenance issue” may not be covered by your insurance at all.
Protect your investment and your home insurance rates with these 10 home maintenance tips.
10 Home Maintenance Tips
Weekend chores are a burden to many homeowners, but the purpose of home maintenance isn’t to ruin your Saturday (even if it feels like it).
Taking care of your home is a small job compared to the hassle of cleaning up after a fire or a burst pipe. And the good news is that much of these home maintenance tips can be hired out to a professional, so you can still put your feet up and catch some football.
1. Clean your dryer vent.
Emptying your lint trap is a great start, but it’s not enough. Small pieces of lint that sneak past that filter and build up in the vent leave you vulnerable to fires and even carbon monoxide poisoning.
Have your dryer vent professionally cleaned every year to keep these dangers at bay.
2. Check washing machine hoses.
While you’re dealing with the laundry room, check that your washing machine hoses are tightly connected at the wall source. Loose hoses can leak, which you probably won’t notice until it’s too late.
Which brings us to our next point…
3. Turn off water during vacations.
Leaks, overflowing drains, burst pipes, and other plumbing disasters can happen at any time and no one wants to come home from a nice, relaxing vacation to find that their living room is flooded.
To prevent this, turn off your water at the main valve (i.e. to your entire home) before you pull out of the driveway. Or, consider installing a smart home leak detector. These small devices will monitor for leaks and even shut off the water main automatically if one is detected.
Even better news? Some insurance companies offer a discount on premiums to people who have them.
4. But DON’T turn off your A/C.
Florida is simply too humid for houses to be without A/C for too long. The heat and humidity can cause mold and mildew to grow very quickly.
If you want to keep energy costs down while you’re away, set your A/C no higher than 80 degrees.
5. Clean your gutters.
When your gutters get clogged with leaves and other debris, water runoff can’t reach your downspouts. Instead, it overflows and pools around your home’s foundation. Not to mention the rodents and other critters that would love nothing more than to build a colony in those wet leaves.
To increase the time between cleanings, trim any overhanging tree branches.
6. Test smoke alarms.
Smoke alarms are your first line of defense against a catastrophic fire. Test your smoke alarms monthly and replace batteries immediately, if necessary.
If you have carbon monoxide detectors, check those too. CO gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, and can spring from multiple sources around your home.
7. Clean your fireplace.
Wood-burning fireplaces might not be necessary in Central Florida like they are in other parts of the country, but they can create a cozy atmosphere on a (rare) chilly night.
But a buildup of dirt, dust, ash, soot, and creosote can make your fireplace a little too flammable. Have your fireplace cleaned annually at the beginning of the season to reduce the risk of (unplanned) fires.
8. Caulk is your friend.
With a $5 tube of caulk and a few minutes of your time, you can have your home sealed and protected against pests, outside air, and water damage. (If only all home maintenance tips were this easy!)
Caulk both indoors and outdoors to keep your home a solid fortress.
9. Inspect for termites.
Termites are very difficult to get rid of properly, especially after the colony is well established. But if you can recognize the signs that a termite colony has moved in to your home, you’ll be one step ahead of them.
Keep your eyes open to signs of a termite infestation and get a professional termite inspection if you suspect that the pests are living in your walls.
10. Get a wind mitigation inspection.
There’s really no good reason not to get a wind mitigation inspection. Not only do they give you peace of mind that you’re protected against the next storm, they’ll also give you a discount on your home insurance premiums.
What’s not to love?
It Pays to Reduce Home Insurance Claims
Whether you’re a DIY-er or a “hire it out” kinda homeowner, proper home maintenance is important.
Not only does it protect the biggest investment you have, it prevents costly repairs (and claims) in the future. And reducing your claims will help keep premiums low.
But remember, proper insurance coverage is always more important than low home insurance rates!
No one can predict the next catastrophe; that’s why insurance companies exist. Don’t rely on crossed fingers and “it’s never happened to me before” when it comes to household disasters.
There are many risks that proper home maintenance can’t prevent. A comprehensive insurance policy is your best defense against disasters that threaten your home.
Harry Levine Insurance is an independent insurance agency, which means we can gather quotes from multiple carriers to find the best value for your unique needs. If you’re looking for home, auto, or life insurance, contact us today to see how we can help you!