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Protect Your Home With Regular Maintenance

Safeguard Your Insurance Coverage with Regular Home Maintenance

Regular home maintenance is vital to guarantee that in the event of a claim for damage, the benefits of the homeowners policy will be paid. All policies contain a clause voiding benefits if the damage is a result of neglect and poor maintenance. Most homeowners wait until something is wrong to take care of issues, an expensive and disruptive strategy. Regular attention to four key areas will save money over the life of the home and help to preserve the integrity of the home insurance policy. While this isn't an exhaustive list, these are some key areas to pay attention to.

Gutters and Drainage: Clean the gutters and check for leaks around the downspouts every three to six months. Accumulated moisture due to a build-up of leaves and other debris can lead to damage on the roof, in the attic insulation, soffits, and behind the siding. Also make sure that the water is draining away from the foundation where truly serious issues can develop, affecting the stability of the entire structure. Although average foundation repair costs are difficult to determine, a single story home with a shallow foundation will run about $650 per steel pier while a two-story home with a basement will require $1,500 per pier.

Annual Roof Inspection: Roof damage and leaks are stealthy, requiring months and sometimes years to reveal themselves through a tell-tale dark stain on the ceiling. By that time, the homeowner is looking at bad decking, framing, insulation, and drywall -- probably running to thousands of dollars as opposed to a few cheap replacement shingles. There's a good reason why major insurance companies have annual or semi-annual roof inspections high on the list of "must do" maintenance chores. The consequences of ignoring the roof are expensive.

Sealing, Caulking, and Weather-stripping: Just as gutter, drainage, and roof inspections are targeted at keeping out the damaging effects of moisture, these tasks (that at most require a weekend afternoon once a year), lower annual energy bills by as much as 10%, while similarly protecting windows and doors from the effects of the elements. Additionally, making sure your home is tight cuts off many of the avenues by which damaging insects find their way inside. Put these tasks off for 10 or 15 years, and you could be looking at as much as $15,000 to replace the windows and repair rotted frames and adjacent walls and floors.

Regularly Service Appliances: Home air conditioners and furnaces should be serviced annually. The compressor coils of the AC need to be cleaned and fresh filters installed on both units. This maintenance helps to lower energy bills and will spot problems before they develop (generally on the hottest or coldest day of the year.) Additionally, the water heater should be drained annually to avoid a build-up of sediment at the bottom of the tank, which negatively effects efficiency and decreases the life-span of the unit.

Neglecting home care in any of these four areas is not just a gamble with the budget, but a serious risk in the event of a homeowners insurance claim. Standard policies include disclaimers for damage caused by neglect and then you, the homeowners are not only responsible for the expense of the repairs, but you've also thrown away years of premium payments.

For a monthly list of important maintenance items, consider subscribing to our Monthly Home Maintenance Newsletter. We send a newsletter each month with a list of seasonal maintenance for your home.

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