Home Maintenance Tips for the Summer

Keeping up with seasonal repairs upkeep not only shows pride of ownership, but can reduce the risk of costly and preventable home expenses. Prepare your home for the summer with the following considerations.

Home Exterior

  • Check all window and door locks to make sure they are secure. Open and close them, and apply lubricant when they are hard to open.
  • Inspect your roof and gutters, clean out gutter debris and check shingle integrity.
  • Inspect your home’s foundation, sealing cracks, and leveling yard depressions with compacted soil.
  • Check wooden structures, such as decks and steps, for rotting, loose wood, or exposed nails.

Home Interior

  • Hire a qualified heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractor to tune up your air conditioning unit.
  • Examine electrical outlets and cords for potential fire hazards, such as frayed wires.

Garage

  • Examine your garage door to ensure that it is in proper working order.
  • Declutter by reviewing the contents of your garage. Donate or dispose of items you no longer use or need.

Driveways and Walkways

  • Inspect your pavement for cracks and holes, and remedy them. This can go a long way in preventing accident slips, trips, and falls.

These tips are brought to you by Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions.

Earthquake Preparedness Tips

Earthquakes, one of Mother Nature’s most unsettling phenomena, are unpredictable and can strike without warning. That’s why it’s important for you and your family to learn how to prepare for an earthquake, and develop a plan to react quickly and safely if a disaster strikes.

Preparing for an Earthquake

  • Locate and learn how to use the shutoff valves for water, gas, and electricity in your home.
  • Prepare an emergency earthquake kit with warm clothing, non-perishable food items and bottled water to last you and your family for at least 72 hours.
  • Bold down and secure your water heater, refrigerator, furnace, and gas appliances to the wall studs.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover, and hold on!

During an Earthquake

  • Remain inside of your home and seek shelter under a heavy table or desk; brace yourself inside a door-frame or inside wall.
  • Stay at least 2 metres away from windows and out of kitchens and garages, if possible.
  • Stay under the structure that is protecting you. If the shaking causes the table or desk to move, then you should move with it so you remain protected.
  • Do not panic, and anticipate what you should do next to remain safe.

Follow these guidelines to remain safe after the ground stops shaking:

  • Remain in your safe location for several minutes in case there are any aftershocks
  • Do not leave your home unless it is absolutely necessary to do so
  • Check your family members for injuries and administer first aid
  • Establish a temporary shelter area in your home away from areas that have severe damage

GREEN Living Tips for Your Home

Live Green in Every Room in Your Home

Living green, building green, and surrounding yourself with earth-friendly products minimizes the negative impact you have on the natural world. By abiding by green principles, not only are you keeping your family from getting sick, you are also looking out for Mother Nature’s limited resources.

Here are some earth-friendly GREEN tips for your home this St. Patrick’s Day!

  • Use recycles, chlorine-free toilet paper, facial tissues and petrochemical-free cosmetics.
  • Use baking soda, vinegar, and tea tree oil to disinfect your bathroom as opposed to traditional cleaning products made with harsh chemicals.
  • Line dry your clothes instead of drying them in the dryer.
  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and only turn it back on to rinse.
  • Install natural linoleum, cork, ceramic tile, or recycled rubber instead of vinyl flooring.
  • Keep your heat low. For every two degrees that you turn your thermostat below 21, you can sage 145 kilograms of greenhouse gases (natural gas heat) or 107 kilograms of electric heat.
  • Use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) throughout your house to significantly reduce your electricity bill and the amount of energy used.
  • Increase insulation in your attic, walls, and flooring.

GREEN THUMB TIP

Growing native plans in your garden is much friendlier on the environment since they have evolved to survive in the climate in which we live. These plants do not need much help to grow and require less than half the amount of water to survive as compared to non-native plants.

Visit www.scrivens.ca, your home insurance experts!

The top chimney maintenance tips

Did You Know?

In spite of the ambiance and relaxation that a fireplace provides, there are also inherent fire dangers. To combat the risk of fire or inhalation of dangerous carbon monoxide (CO) gas, it is important for you to make chimney maintenance part of your home loss prevention plan.

chimney-maintenance-tipsChimney Maintenance

Both metal and masonry chimneys require maintenance so that smoke and flue gases are ventilated properly. At the very least, you should have your chimney inspected annually before each heating season. In addition:

  • Have your chimney cleaned on a regular basis to reduce creosote build-up.
  • Make sure your masonry chimney has a flue liner in place to reduce the possibility that the masonry could absorb creosote.
  • Replace cracked or damaged liners, as they will allow creosote to accumulate and heat to escape.
  • When hiring someone to reline your chimney, only allow the contractor to use a product that has been tested and listed by a nationality recognized testing laboratory.

There are two types of chimneys that require specific maintenance to minimize the dangers in your home.

  • Fireplace inserts (hearth stoves):
    • Vent should be connected to the flue of the chimney.
  • Factory-built metal chimneys:
    • Do not use natural gas, fuel oil vents, well casing, stovepipe or other material in the chimney, as they cannot withstand the heat in the wood burner.

Safety First

Do not vent more than one heater or appliance into a single flue, as major complications car arise. If one fuel-burning appliance is connected to a flue and then you attach another appliance, such as a water heater, you are running the risk of the following serious problems:

  • Heavy creosote accumulation
  • Deterioration of the flue
  • Creosote blocking the lower heater vent
  • Carbon monoxide drifting into your home

Preventing Ice Dams

During cold winter months, a row of icicles on your home’s eaves may be a sign that a ridge of ice is forming at the edge of the roof. This ridge, also know as an ice dam, can be the result of uneven heat loss from your home, which causes the roof to warm above freezing and melt accumulated snow. When the snow melts and then re-freezes before reaching the roof’s edge, an ice dam forms, causing water to collect behind it. This pool of water can cause extensive damage to the roof, attic, ceilings, walls and contents of your home.

ice-dams

  • Keep the attic well ventilated. One-third square metre of free ventilation opening is recommended for every 45 square metres of attic space.
  • Seal air leaks to prevent warm air leakage from plumbing vents, attic hatches, and junction boxes.
  • Keep the attic floor well insulated (between 40 and 56 centimetres of insulation) to minimize the amount of heat rising into the attic from below.
  • Clean leaves and other debris from gutters before the first snow to help prevent ice buildup.
  • Install an ice shield under your shingles if you’re considering getting a new roof.
  • Use a roof rake to clear snow about one metre above the gutters to allow water to drain freely.
  • Consider hiring an energy specialist to evaluate the performance of your home and recommend some things you can do to minimize energy waste.

To protect your home from winter perils, always be sure your homeowners insurance fully covers all your risks. Find out more from Scrivens Insurance and Investment Solutions.

Tips for Energy-Efficient Windows

windowInefficient windows can increase your energy bills and make your home uncomfortable. These tips can help make your windows more efficient year-long:

  • Hang curtains with white, plastic backing to act as insulation and to retain cold air in the summer and warm air in the winter.
  • Seal windows with caulk to close any air leaks and cut energy costs by 5 to 10 per cent.
  • Create exterior shade by installing things like awnings to help keep your home cool in the summer. These items can block sunlight and reduce heat gain by 65 to 77 per cent.
  • Install storm windows during the fall. If you don’t own any, consider purchasing low-emissivity storm windows, which can lower heating costs by 12 to 33 per cent and cost only a quarter of the price of a total window replacement.
  • Watch for excessive condensation – a sign that a window needs to be repaired or replaced.
  • Consider weather stripping to prevent air leakage at moving window parts. Foam or gasket weather stripping can be applied to the sides and the sashes of windows.

Here’s how to prevent costly damages from power surges

DSC_0081 editPower surges happen when the voltage running through your home’s electrical system unexpectedly spikes to a level beyond what your electronic appliances are designed to handle. Depending on the strength of the surge, this could mean minor damage or complete destruction of your valuable electronics (PS4 or Xbox).

There are typically three causes of a power surge: lightning strikes, downed power lines, and large home appliances. While power surges are sometimes unavoidable, there are some precautions you can take to help prevent these costly damages.

  1. Use surge protectors. Surge protectors come in a variety of styles. When shopping for a surge protector, check the device’s clamping voltage. This is the level at which it will begin to block the surge.
  2. Install specialized outlets. Purchasing specialized outlets that offer surge protection is a good option for areas in your home where a normal surge protector would not fit. For example, surge protection outlets can be used in the kitchen for things like microwaves and electric stoves.
  3. When in doubt, unplug. Lightning storms can overwhelm even the best surge protectors. In the event of a powerful storm, unplugging valuable electronics from your outlets can save them from potential surges.
  4. Use a service entrance surge protector. A service entrance surge protection device can provide protection for your incoming electrical, cable TV, and telephone lines. the device is installed in your main electrical panel or near your electric metre to help stop outside surges from entering your home.

After a power surge, your surge protector could be damaged. Contact the manufacturer if you believe that your surge protector may be damaged. They can help you test or replace your device.

Contact Scrivens today to discuss potential coverage options for your personal property to ensure that you are covered in the event of a surge.