Winter is coming and weather experts are forecasting an El Niño season with storms that can come without notice and cause significant damage to your home. Heavy rains can spell disaster for a roof that’s already in poor condition and a building’s foundation is at risk if water doesn’t properly drain away from the structure.
“Water damage is the second most common type of homeowners claim,” says Randy Petro, Mercury Insurance chief claims officer. “It’s important for homeowners to do what they can to mitigate damage by readying their property ahead of the rain.”
You can’t control the weather, but homeowners can prepare ahead of time by conducting a thorough inspection of their home and property before wet weather arrives. Here are a few things you can do to protect your family, pets and personal property before the rain begins to fall.
- Trim tree branches away from the home and power lines. Branches that break during severe storms could potentially damage your house or cause power outages. Inspect and remove dead branches that may snap easily.
- Move outdoor furniture and tools indoors, including gardening equipment. Cleaning and storing these items inside will prevent weather damage. Consider coating your tools with protective oil to guard against rust.
- Clean your drains. Make sure all of your drains are open and free flowing. Dead leaves and yard debris can clog drains, which will prevent excess rain water from draining properly. This could lead to pooling around your foundation, causing leaks and water damage.
- Clean gutters and make sure they are securely fastened to your home. This will help direct rainwater away from the foundation of your home. Double-check the condition of gutters and downspouts and seal up any leaks.
- Check your roof for missing shingles, holes and weak spots. Work with a licensed contractor ahead of storms to make roof repairs if necessary.
- Clean and treat your deck. Remove debris from decks to deter mold and mildew growth. Consider treating decks with a water resistant coating – like liquid rubber sealant – to prevent weather damage and preserve your deck.
- Check the perimeter of your home for cracks in siding or peeled paint. Fill in any cracks, gaps or holes you encounter, these can turn into bigger problem areas later. Sealing these will prevent moisture from causing structural damage to your home and keep animals seeking shelter from burrowing inside.
- Check for cracked glass in windows and examine window and door frames for leaks and rot. Small leaks can go unnoticed and seep into window panes and frames. Caulk gaps with sealant and remove and replace any rotted frames.
- Examine any basement, crawl space or attic air ducts for leaks. Leaks in these less-used areas of your home can often go unnoticed and air vents are an easy entry point for water. If the forecast calls for heavy rain, consider covering openings (inside and outside) with durable plastic sheeting.
- Check your sewer lines. A leaky or broken sewer line can allow rainwater to enter the system and backup into your home so be sure to have your lines inspected. You, not the city, are responsible for these and Mercury offers an affordable enhancement to its homeowners insurance policy for less than $2 a month to cover them. Speak to your agent today about adding this important coverage.
A little prep can go a long way but it’s still a good idea to review your insurance policy before winter starts. Update your home inventory and check with your local Mercury Insurance agent to make sure you have enough coverage.