Spring home maintenance can prevent damage insurance won’t cover

  • Friday, February 9, 2018 7:30am
  • Life

With late season snow and record rain still dominating weather in the Pacific Northwest it’s hard to believe the first day of Spring is just around the corner (March 20). When the weather cooperates, Spring often signals the start of outdoor projects to enhance lawns, gardens and home exteriors.

Spring also is an ideal time to inspect in and around your home for wear and tear and safety hazards. From cracked foundations to clogged gutters to worn shingles, improperly maintained homes can lead to expensive repairs down the road – and many of those repairs are not covered by a standard Homeowners Insurance policy.

“Homeowners insurance is designed to help you recover from sudden and accidental losses such as fire, windstorm, theft or a broken water pipe,” said Kenton Brine, NW Insurance Council president. “But damage that results from maintenance-related issues, like water damage from a leaky roof or a cracked foundation may not be covered, as most policies say the policyholder is responsible for conducting regular preventive maintenance.”

The NW Insurance Council offers the following tips to help you conduct home exterior maintenance and reduce safety hazards.

  • Check and clean gutters to prevent water from backing up into your attic.
  • Check the roof for worn, curled or missing shingles and replace them.
  • Repair loose or damaged siding.
  • Examine soffit boards (the horizontal surfaces under the eaves).
  • Make sure downspouts slope away from the home and carry water at least five feet from the foundation walls.
  • Have a professional inspect your heating/air conditioning system annually.
  • Make sure sprinkler heads are directed away from the house to prevent water build-up near foundation walls.
  • Remove clutter from storage areas to reduce fire hazards.
  • Examine decks, porches and balconies for weak or broken railings and posts. Railings should be spaced no more than four inches apart to prevent children from slipping through.
  • Caulk and reseal window and door flashing, seals or weather stripping.
  • Check the attic for moisture and surface discoloration.
  • Check fire extinguishers in your kitchen and garage to make sure they are full.
  • Install outlets equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters when outdoor electrical outlets are located near water sources.
  • Be sure exterior walls are well painted and sealed.
  • Inspect your lawn for rocks or other objects that could be launched from your lawnmower and injure others or damage property.

If damage is found that requires hiring a contractor, be sure to use only licensed, bonded and insured building contractors and be sure they get the proper building permits. To find out if a contractor is licensed and bonded in Washington, go to the Department of Labor & Industries website.

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