It’s no secret that Chicagoland winters can be harsh. Sometimes we get more than a foot of snow in one day. Sometimes we have weeks where the temperature never gets above zero. And don’t forget the hazards of black ice. All of this can take a toll on our homes and buildings, but there are steps you can take now to prevent damage and the resulting insurance claims.
- Inspect your gutters for any cracks, loose fittings, or areas where water could pool and form an ice dam. Also makes sure to clean out all of those fall leaves; that also makes sure water can flow freely and not freeze inside the gutter.
- Clean accumulated leaves, dirt, and branches out of downspouts so water can flow out freely. And make sure they’re directing water away from your house so that water doesn’t end up in your basement.
- Inspect your roof for any cracks where water could get in or weak spots that could cave in under the weight of a few inches of snow. Call a roofing professional if you suspect your roof might not be in tip-top shape.
- Bring out tree trimmers to take down any branches that could threaten any buildings or utility lines if a storm comes through. Also remove weak, dying trees before wind, ice, or heavy snow brings them down.
- Put away your patio furniture, garden pots, and grill for the winter. Protecting them from the elements will help them last longer and prevent them from damaging your house.
- Disconnect your garden hose, cover your spigots, and, if possible, shut off the water to those outdoor spigots. This will prevent damage to your pipes from freezing.
- Make sure your snow shovels and snowblower are in working order and within easy reach so you can clear your driveway and walkways promptly when the snow hits. Also keep some road salt on hand for icy spots that could pose a slip hazard.
- Prevent frozen pipes by making sure your thermostat won’t let your house get colder than 55 degrees Fahrenheit, even when you’re away. It can be tempting to turn off your heat when you go on vacation to escape the cold, but that could mean coming home to expensive pipe and water damage.
- If you have a wood-burning fireplace, bring in a chimney sweep to clean out and inspect it before you start using it regularly. Creosote buildup in your chimney can cause scary flames if not regularly removed.
- Late fall is a good time to call your HVAC technician to inspect and tune up your furnace, boiler, or heat pump so you’ll have the heat you need to survive our frigid winter days.
- Clean out the lint that has accumulated in your dryer vent, and vacuum around the unit to get any lint there. Lint is highly flammable and can pose a serious fire danger.
- Test all of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and replace any low batteries or defective units. Make sure there is a carbon monoxide detector near all of your major gas appliances, such as your stove, furnace, or water heater, and call your gas company immediately if you suspect a leak.
- Make sure you have fire extinguishers near your stove and at least one on each floor, and learn how to use them. The cold and darkness of winter inspires many to break out space heaters, candles, and other things that can pose a fire danger, so you can never be too prepared.
A little preparation now in the fall can prevent costly damage, and thus insurance claims, to your home during our frigid Chicagoland winters. Now is also a good time to give your property insurance coverage a tune-up, and our experienced advisors would be happy to help. And if you do suffer damage to your home this winter, we will help you file the needed claims and have solid relationships with trusted restoration services to get your home back in top shape.