Chu & Associates Newsletters
March 23, 2014
Spring 2014 Newsletter - Spring has sprung! (It’s about time)
The worst of winter is behind us and it’s time for all things spring! For many, it means returning to outdoor activities such as golf and mowing the lawn. It’s also a good time to protect your biggest investments: your home and autos.
Here are some tasks that you may want to add to the “honey-do” list this season to keep your home in tip top shape and reduce the chances of filing a claim on your homeowner insurance. As always, take appropriate safety precautions for any job you tackle: wear eye protection, hearing protection and gloves when necessary, and PLEASE be careful when using a ladder! We’ve included links to some “how-to” articles to help get you started:
- Whether you do it yourself or hire a pro, clean out your gutters and make sure your downspouts are working properly. To keep your basement dry and your foundation sound, ensure that the systems added to your house to keep water away from the foundation are working correctly. http://www.diynetwork.com/remodeling/tips-for-cleaning-and-repairing-gutters/index.html
- Check your hoses for wear/damage/dry rot. Make sure the rubber washer on the end is in good shape. If not, that’s a cheap and easy fix.
- Inspect your hose bibs (outside spigot) – check these for damage due to freezing.
- Sometimes we take our roofs for granted, expecting them to keep us warm and dry. Winter can be brutal and now is a good time to ensure your shingles are in good shape! (say THAT 10 times, fast) First, walk the perimeter of your home and look for any loose, missing, or obviously damaged shingles. Check the flashing around your vents as well and make sure the cap on your chimney is in good shape. http://www.hometime.com/Howto/projects/roofing/roof_1.htm
- If you see a spot that looks suspect, grab a pair of binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens and focus in to get a better look. Most experts recommend keeping your feet on the ground for these steps, as walking around on your roof can be dangerous and can actually damage your shingles. If you notice any cracked, damaged, buckled, or peeling shingles replace them or hire a pro. https://brightnest.com/todos/inspect-your-roof
- Chimney - If you’ve been using your fireplace, now is a good time to call a chimney sweep to clean it out so it’s ready for next year. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-the-most-common-chimney-problems.htm http://voices.yahoo.com/how-clean-out-fireplace-chimney-yourself-175985.html
- Paint – repair any peeling or blistered paint. If you don’t want to do it again next year, prep the surface to remove any residue, prime it and paint it with a quality paint. Many paint brands now offer durable paint options with the primer built in so you can skip a step. http://homerenovations.about.com/od/HousePainting/ss/Peeling-Paint-Fix.htm http://www.doityourself.com/scat/repaintingandrepair/#b http://www.benjaminmoore.com/en-us/for-your-home/exterior-paint-problem-solver
- Caulk – missing or damaged caulk can allow the elements into your home. Sealing up all crevices with caulk can save you costly repairs later and help with your cooling bills later this summer. http://www.familyhandyman.com/video/v/62187784/seal-the-envelope-conserve-energy-by-insulating-your-home.htm
- Mortar – This is often overlooked, but important regardless. Missing or cracked mortar can have the same impact as damaged caulk. Luckily, it’s pretty easy to fix. At my home, there were some mortar joints in the decorative brick on the front of our home. Originally, our home inspector recommended that we seal them with clear caulk and then work some play sand into the caulk so it would match the mortar. Once I got to the home center, I discovered that there is a product in the caulk aisle specifically for this purpose with the sand already mixed in! It even has a special squarish tip, designed to fit between the bricks and spread the repair goo evenly. http://www.homedepot.com/p/Quikrete-10-oz-Mortar-Repair-Tube-862009/100318502
- Now look down at the foundation. You’re looking for cracks, chips, damage…anything that will allow weather or pests into your home, or evidence that there is instability. When in doubt, go pro. Professionals are trained to spot the difference between normal aging and potential catastrophe. http://www.houselogic.com/home-advice/foundations/understanding-foundation-problems/#.
- Repair loose shutters, railings and arbors.
- Flat Surfaces
- Freezing and thawing can cause uneven and cracked sidewalks and driveways. Get these fixed to prevent further damage and eliminate tripping hazards and possible liability claims. http://www.lowes.com/cd_Make+Simple+Concrete+Repairs_627329335_ http://www.ehow.com/how_2107079_repair-concrete-sidewalk.html http://www.doityourself.com/stry/repairsidewalkcrack#b
- Weathered wood – Check your Deck! If you have damaged boards on your deck or loose railings, now is the time to get them fixed! You may also need to add a new coat of sealant to protect the wood from new damage. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20198707,00.html
- Change your furnace filter - http://www.familyhandyman.com/heating-cooling/furnace-repair/how-to-change-a-furnace-filter/view-all
- Clean your AC Unit - http://www.familyhandyman.com/heating-cooling/air-conditioner-repair/cleaning-air-conditioners-in-the-spring/view-all
- Clean out your dryer vent - http://www.wikihow.com/Clean-a-Clothes-Dryer-Vent
- Vacuum the coils on your fridge - http://www.familyhandyman.com/appliance-repair/refrigerator-repair/how-to-avoid-refrigerator-repairs/step-by-step
- Other Outdoor Items
- If you have children, you may have a swing set, playhouse, trampoline or other equipment outside. Tighten the bolts, ensure the ropes/chains/hooks are in good condition, and look for loose steps, railings, boards, protruding nails and screws, and any other hazards. http://www.mnn.com/family/protection-safety/blogs/safety-check-is-your-swing-set-ready-for-summer
- Grill – It’s a good habit to periodically clean and inspect your grill for problems, but the spring is the best time to do a full once-over. Clean any built up grease. Inspect your grill innards for excessive rust and decay. Most grills can be repaired using universal parts from a DIY store. Use a spray bottle with soapy water to check for leaks in the gas lines and fittings. If you hear gurgling or see bubbles, it bears further inspection. Here at CA, we recommend turning off the gas at the tank as well as the knobs on the grill when you’re done cooking for the day. Having a fire extinguisher handy (but not in the immediate vicinity of the cooking appliance) is always a good idea whether cooking outdoors or in. http://www.wikihow.com/Clean-an-Outdoor-Gas-Grill http://www.lowes.com/cd_maintain+your+grill_1263845699_ http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/cleaning/speed-cleaning-grill-checklist-00000000035845/
- Move firewood away from the house. Firewood can be a haven for critters and bugs. You don’t want these guests to feel too welcome near the house. Firewood that is stacked 18” off the ground and a minimum of 2’ from the house will be less likely to harbor pests.
- Landscaping – last, but certainly no less important, is to do a bit of landscaping. While flowers are nice, from an insurance perspective, there are other things to tackle first.
- Trees with overhanging or dead branches – trees that hang over your home can rub on and damage your shingles when it is windy. Dead branches are a liability, both to your home AND to your neighbors. Live trees that fall and damage property are considered an “act of God” and are claimed on the policy held by the owner of the property. However, if you should have a dead, dying, or otherwise compromised tree that falls and damages your neighbor’s property, YOU are liable and must claim it on YOUR policy. Save yourself the aggravation and expense and take care of those issues now. http://tree-pruning.com/
- Shrubs near the house – shrubs should be pruned to keep them away from the siding and allow good airflow. Vegetation can hold in moisture, causing mold and rot. Be careful though…some shrubs should not be pruned in the spring. Here’s a link to help you decide the best time to prune YOUR particular shrubs. http://www.bhg.com/gardening/trees-shrubs-vines/care/what-to-prune-when/
- Mulch – most of the time, mulch decomposes as it ages and enriches the soil. However, as you’re doing your spring walk-around, keep an eye open for signs of insect infestation. If you notice evidence of creepy crawlies, now would be a good time to head to the DIY store for some insecticide or call an exterminator. http://www.doityourself.com/stry/does-mulch-attract-insects-and-pests#b
- Vines- We’ve all seen beautiful homes with vines of ivy creeping up the walls. It paints a pretty picture, but that ivy can be insidious. The tendrils that allow the ivy to hold onto the brick and wood can work their way into tiny cracks and crevices and grab hold. Unfortunately, they continue to grow and start to force those cracks and crevices wider. Left unchecked, the ivy can take over, trapping moisture between the wide leaves and your home and causing damage to the structure and allowing mold to grow. http://www.hgtv.com/landscaping/removing-clinging-vines/index.html http://www.todayshomeowner.com/can-ivy-damage-the-brick-or-wood-on-your-home/
- Insurance Audit – did you recently purchase a new piece of lawn equipment? A tiller? Perhaps you bought a new car or a new piece of jewelry with your tax refund? Maybe you want to take your classic auto for a spin to enjoy the warmer temps? Call us to make sure that you have sufficient coverage for your items BEFORE there is a loss.
In short, spring is a great time to do some regular maintenance that will save you time and money down the road. Should you have any questions or need to adjust your coverage, Chu & Associates is here 9-5 M-F. We are also available via email 24/7/365 at email@example.com