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How to avoid expensive home disasters this winter

How to avoid expensive home disasters this winter

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Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

Winter can be a stressful time if you're a homeowner. Though it represents just 25% of the calendar, this season also accounts for most home insurance claims. The Insurance Information Institute reports that 51% of claims come from wind and hail, water damage, and freezing — hazards that are all more common in the colder months.

Nothing can ruin your holidays faster than a fallen branch, a water leak or a snow-packed roof, and you can't dodge every one of Mother Nature's curveballs. But some disasters are totally avoidable — provided you take the right steps. A little prevention on your part will go a long way toward saving you big bucks and protecting your dream home from the elements.

Keep walkways clear

You might be able to guess that one of the biggest insurance claims in the wintertime is slipping and falling accidents. (Insurance aside, slipping and falling accounts for half of all accidental deaths in the home, according to the National Floor Safety Institute.) The good news is that this is an easy one to fix, provided you stay on top of plowing, shoveling, and treating your walkways and stairs. Keep in mind that you're likely responsible for the sidewalk in front of your house as well.

Prevent ice damming

Ice damming is what happens when snow melts on your roof, gets to the gutter and then refreezes. This can cause significant roof damage, so it's best to head the problem off before it starts. To prevent ice damming, Family Handyman suggests making sure your attic is well insulated and ventilated. But if this sounds like too much work, you can always invest in some heat cables or rake the snow off your roof after a storm.

Winterize your swamp cooler

It's easy to forget all about your swamp cooler as you head into the chilly winter months. But if it's not properly winterized, this could lead to leaks in your attic. And since you've forgotten about that swamp cooler, you probably won't notice there's a problem until the water starts to come through your ceiling or down your walls. To avoid this issue, follow these five easy steps from the Water Extraction Experts.

Change your furnace filter

Your furnace is likely to get a good workout in the wintertime, but since you haven't used it in six months, it's a good idea to change the air filter first. Failure to do so could result in carbon monoxide poisoning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 50,000 people in the U.S. visit the emergency room each year because of accidental CO poisoning. Don't be one of them!

Check the slope of your yard

If your landscaping slopes toward your yard instead of away from it, you may need to regrade it by adding or moving soil so water doesn't drain toward your house. (Just make sure you consult a professional first.)

Disconnect your hose

After this year's drought conditions, your hose probably hasn't been touched in a while. Before the cold weather hits, just make sure you disconnect any attached hoses from the hose bib. This ensures that water can drain out of the hose bib and won't freeze your pipes.

Blow out your sprinkler system

Speaking of frozen pipes, the last thing you want to deal with come springtime is a set of busted sprinklers that weren't properly winterized. Sprinklers may or may not be covered under your home insurance depending on your coverage and carrier, but either way, you'll want to take steps to protect your system during the winter.

The Home Depot lists several methods for winterizing sprinklers, including manually draining them or blowing them out with an air compressor. (For the last one, you might want to consult a professional if you've never done it before.)

Move to a brand new home

It may seem like a bold move (pardon the pun), but relocating to a newer home could be the best decision you can make if you're looking to save money. If you live in an older home, things naturally wear out over time. You can either pay to fix or upgrade each part separately, or you can start fresh with a more updated home.

End the year on a high note with a home that makes you feel cozy and secure. If you're in the market to buy or sell a new home, The Stern Team can guide you through every step of the process. Contact the Stern Team today and get the 5-star real estate experience you deserve. To speak to Kirk and his team about any insurance-related questions - contact him here.

The Stern Team

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