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Monday, April 28, 2014

Home Sweet Home Maintenance - aka Ways to Save Money on Insurance

One of the most important things you can do as a homeowner is often overlooked.  We watch our insurance bills, tax bills and everything that keeps the house running financially - but are we actually giving enough attention to the home itself? Experts say that a little home maintenance goes a long way and saves you money long term.  For example, trimming away tree branches near or touching your roof can extend the life of your shingles.  This example and many other items also happen to be the minor issues that can make or break your insurance contract.  In some cases, poor home maintenance signifies lack of pride in ownership which is a breach of your insurance contract.   Seasonally your check list could vary, but while we move from a very rainy spring into our usual humid summertime here on the gulf here is a checklist you can use that may help save you a lot of money long term. 

> Check your roof for leaks or damage such as peeling shingles or holes.  Be sure to check around vents, skylights and chimneys carefully to be sure there are no gaps or leaks.  If you discover any issues, resolve them as quickly as possible.  If you can't resolve immediately, patch the area to protect from further damage while you await repairs.  Also, if you discover damage, be sure to check the interior of your home in the same area for ceiling damage.

> Keeping the air moving in your attic is a must! If you don't have a ridge vent, be sure you keep your gable vents open year round for proper ventilation.  Living in a humid area like this, ventilation is key in preventing issues such as mold.

> Keep your gutters clean! Clogged gutters and drain pipes can also result in damage to your home. Make sure downspouts drain away from your foundation and are clear of debris.  

> Replace your Air Conditioning filters! Filtering the air is only a small part of the necessary filtering for home maintenance.  Not only should you replace your Air Conditioning filters once a month but also check your dryer ventilation and stove ventilation to make sure passageways are clear without obstruction and working properly.  Check these both internally and externally.  Speaking from experience, have you ever considered a maintenance check on your air conditioning unit? Most of us don't think about this until a problem occurs, but with light maintenance you can extend the life of your unit and avoid possible home damage from flooding units.

> Detectors are critical!  Not only do we want you to stay safe, but in many cases keeping your safety equipment active offers additional insurance discounts. Ensure that all your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are in good working order.  Replace batteries as needed.

> Regularly check your plumbing by feeling the pipes for leaks and looking underneath.  If you find a leak, do your best to prevent damage and repair.  Often times pipes spread or loosen over time or as your home shifts and most of us don't think to check this on a regular basis.  You will be surprised at the minor leaks you can discover under a sink.  And, though a leak can be minor, the damage can be major over time.  While checking your plumbing, be sure to check the hose connections for your washing machine and dishwasher and the tubing connections for your ice maker.

> Check for Mold! In the bathrooms, be sure to check shower and tub surrounds for any signs of damage or mold as well as your toilet supply/shut-off valve.

> Window Seals Needed! Regardless of the season, drafty doors and windows cost money! A large enough draft invites damaging rodents or rainwater into your home, but even a small draft can suck away energy costing you hundreds! Replace seals as needed.

> No Holes Allowed! Check the exterior of your home for cracks or holes in your siding or paint.  Replace caulk immediately if you see areas where it has cracked or fallen away leaving a gap without a seal.  Also, when you discover any damage - verify that it is caused by wear and tear instead of rodents.

> Know Your Water Heater Condition! Check your water heater thoroughly to verify that it is in proper running condition without leaks.  At least once a year you should drain the water heater and remove sediment from the bottom of the tank.  This will also extend the life of this very expensive appliance.

> Look up! Check your ceilings whenever you think of it for water damage.  What's not in view today could be tomorrow.  This is especially important after heavy rainfall.

> No Pesky Pests! Check your home for termites and other rodents by doing a full walk around inspection of the exterior of your home and also checking your attic if able.  Signs would include droppings, heavy dust piles, and holes. Remember, never store firewood within 2 feet of your home and always store at least 18" above ground to prevent termites.

> Check the Sockets! Electrical fires remain one of the main reasons for total home losses due to house fires.  Prevention is key and takes little effort.  Walk around your home to check all of your outlets for proper hot, neutral and ground.  Check all electrical cords to ensure there is no damage.  Remove outdated electric air fresheners from outlets and do not leave active air fresheners in outlets when not in use. 

> Remove Tripping Hazards! Keeping your property safe not only protects you and your loved ones, but also protects your assets in the event someone could be injured.  For instance, check your property for safety hazards that could result in persons tripping and falling for any reason.  Check your property for low areas.  After such heavy rainfall this spring, low areas can create trip hazards or foundation issues as well as pool water causing dangerous insect breeding grounds.

> Lock the Gate! Always be sure the fence around your swimming pool is in tact, has a working lock and will keep unwanted visitors away from the area. 

Staying on top of regular home maintenance helps you avoid costly repairs or worse! Scheduling seasonal inspections is a great way to start doing what you can to prevent hazards and expenses that you don't need while also making your home a better place to live.  After this extensive winter, the summer sun is soon to shine on your leaf infested gutters, dead plants and cracked driveways.  Now is the time to get your home back to 100% so you can relax and enjoy the summertime!

Do you have maintenance tips to share? Post them in the comments below.  Remember, a free insurance review is always in season.  We can review your policies with you to be sure you have the proper, personalized coverage you need.  We know, just like home maintenance, your insurance also needs regular reviews to verify you have the best coverage available to you at the best rates.  Call our office today to arrange your visit with one of our trusted choice agents at any of our 3 convenient coastal locations.

We are your LOCAL
Trusted Choice Advisors, SouthGroup-Gulf Coast / ,
SALES AND SERVICE AGENTS: Angelyn Treutel Zeringue, Tammy Garfield, Tammy Hogue, Brittany Jones, Denise Russell, Melissa Moran, Alex Treutel, Susan Monti, Anne Gillam, Ashlie Moody, Michael Reso, Mark Strickland, and Whitney Zimmerman at SouthGroup Gulf Coast. You can reach us by snail-mail or in person: 412 Hwy 90, Suite 6, Bay St Louis MS 39520, email: , phone: 228-466-4498 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 228-466-4498 FREE  end_of_the_skype_highlighting , fax:888-415-8922, FaceBook, or Twitter !

We have 3 Gulf Coast locations to serve you - 2505 Pass Road - Biloxi, 5400 Indian Hill-Diamondhead, and 412 Hwy 90 Ste 6-Bay Saint Louis, MS. We write coverage in 40 different states and can assist you with Mississippi insurance, Louisiana insurance, and Alabama insurance and many other states. Insurance is stressful, but we make saving easy.  We help you save money on insurance!
Thanks to Susan Monti for her words of wisdom!

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