How to prevent flood and fire damage to your home
No one wants to go through the trauma of a major restoration and possibly losing irreplaceable family heirlooms. While home insurance gives you peace of mind in the event of a loss, there are simple measures you can take to reduce the risk of flood or fire damage.
Manitoba’s Fire Code requires residential dwellings be equipped with smoke detectors. The single-most important thing you can do to minimize the risk of catastrophic fire is to ensure smoke detectors are located on every floor of your home. Be sure to replace the batteries at least twice a year.
Routine maintenance is the next best way to prevent fires. “Dryer lint is a leading cause of house fires,” says Saikat Guha, a Property Technical Consultant with CAA Insurance. Empty the lint trap before every load. If you have a fireplace or woodstove, avoid creosote buildup, which is a fire hazard. Maintain and clean the chimney according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. And never leave stoves, fireplaces or lit candles unattended.
Keep a fire extinguisher in the home and make sure everyone living there knows where it is and how to use it. When you replace kitchen appliances, look for models with auto-shutoff features. Inspect and replace plugs and extension cords with loose prongs or frayed coverings.
Andrew Feeney, vice-president at Priority Restoration in Winnipeg, suggests replacing old holiday lights with LED models. “You eliminate a potential fire risk—and save on your hydro bills,” he says.
Manitobans know seasonal flooding all too well. To prevent watery outcomes, make sure the property grade slopes away from your foundation. You should also consider a submersible sump pump with a discharge line directed away from the foundation.
Eavestroughs are the unsung heroes of home protection, as they channel rainwater away from your foundation. Clean them at least twice a year, and check that downspouts extend at least four feet from the building. If you have window wells, clear out any debris as well.
In winter months, garden hose spigots can freeze and crack, causing interior flooding when turned on in the spring. Replace old ones with freeze-free models. Caulking is another problem spot. It can dry out and leave gaps over time. Inspect caulking around exterior windows and doors, bathtubs and showers. Replace caulking as necessary.
Most home insurance policies have requirements when you’re away from your property. Before you leave for a trip, check with your insurance broker to ensure you’ve taken all necessary precautions. It’s a good idea to have a trusted person check in on your property when you’re away.
You can also use new technology to see what’s happening from a distance. Smart HVAC systems notify you of issues like temperature drops, which might freeze pipes; while leak detectors send warnings when they sense moisture. Both gadgets are excellent investments that can save you headaches and money down the road.