Recent General Posts

Winter Weather Damage

4/5/2017 (Permalink)

Winter and the snow and cold that it brings can do some serious damage to a home’s exterior.

There are several very common problems usually brought on by the winter months, including damage done to roofs, foundations and pipes.

 

Insurance agents can share this list with their clients to help them check their homes for damage and give them an idea of what the costs will be to remedy these common problems after winter:

 

1. The roof

Ice dams and winter storms can do a lot of damage to your roof.

An ice dam occurs when snow on the roof melts, runs to the edge and refreezes there, forcing water back up under the roof where it can cause leaks and shingles deterioration.

At the same time, high winds, hail and winter storms can tear off shingles or drive moisture beneath them, causing further damage.

If you’ve found leaks in your roof, you’ll need to repair them to help prevent a complete roof replacement.

Cost

The average cost to repair roof leaks on a 10 foot by 10 foot area of asphalt shingles is around $650.

The total costs range from $500 for simply replacing the shingles to $1,750 to repair and apply a sealant.

The costs to repair a tile roof are around $,1500 for damaged steel tiles.

The total costs for this type of repair range from $450 for repairing metal flashing to $8,000 if the underlayment needs replacing.

Money-saving tips

  • Minimize the damage to the roof by tacking a tarp over the damaged area until it can get repaired.
  • Remove ice dams as soon as possible to prevent water from backing up beneath the shingles and causing more damage.
  • Remove the snow on the roof as soon as possible to prevent new ice dams from forming and causing future problems.
  • Look into getting better attic insulation, as this will help to prevent ice dams in the future as well.

 

2. Gutters

Ice dams can do damage not only to your roof, but to gutters as well.

That’s because the heavy ice building up on the edge can pull gutters away from the roofline.

At the same time, water freezing inside the gutters and downspouts themselves can lead to separations in some areas, which means that they’ll need to be replaced.

 

Cost

The costs of gutter repair range from new downspouts to a complete gutter replacement.

The average cost of installing new downspouts is $160, with a total range of $4 for a do-it-yourself job to $160 for a medium-size house.

The average cost of installing new gutter guards to help prevent damage is $200 for do-it-yourself on 200 feet, with a range up to $3,600 for 200 feet of luxury product installed.

The average cost of replacing your gutters is between $1,050 and $2,400 for 200 feet, with total costs ranging from $625 for a do-it-yourself job to $2,400 for professional installation. Money-saving tips

  • You can help lower costs by cleaning the gutters before winter begins and removing ice dams in a timely way.
  • PVC gutters and downspouts cost less than aluminum or copper, but you should choose what best fits your house’s aesthetic.
  • Heating elements are available that can help melt ice in your gutters all winter long; you may want to invest in these while having repairs done to help prevent problems.
  • Gutter screens are the easiest thing to install do-it-yourself, which can save installation costs in the future as well.

 

3. House exterior

Cold, snow and hailstones can also take a toll on the outside of a house.

 

This can result in peeling paint, which if left long enough, could mean that your siding can become susceptible to moisture infiltrating it, which in turn can lead to wood rot and future repairs.

Repainting your exterior in the spring can help prevent these problems.

Cost

The average cost to paint a home’s exterior is between $2,500 to $3,000 for a 1,500-square-foot home.

The total costs range from $500 for a do-it-yourself paint job to $4,000 for homes that have a lot of trim and woodwork to paint.

Money-saving tips

  • Using multiple colors on your home can increase its aesthetic, but can also increase the total cost, as can having a lot of different architectural features or trim to paint.
  • Do-it-yourself jobs can save a lot of money. Be sure to scrape the existing surfaces well, then apply a primer and two coats of paint to avoid having to repaint again soon.
  • Aluminum siding and fiber cement can be painted to freshen up their colors and give a home a new look without replacing the siding.

 

4. Siding

If the paint has peeled enough on the siding of the house, moisture can begin to infiltrate, causing the wood to begin rotting.

In addition, hail stones or fallen tree limbs can damage siding, whether denting aluminum siding or cracking vinyl. Because the siding is a home’s first line of defense against the elements, it needs to be repaired in a timely way.

Cost

The average costs to repair siding range from $300 to $1,000, depending on the type of the siding being damaged, and the extent. Vinyl is the least expensive material to repair, as well as one of the easiest to do yourself, while aluminum is among the most expensive to repair with costs ranging from $500 to $900.

Money-saving tips

  • The cost to hire a carpenter to repair siding is around $40 to $50 an hour. If you are able to repair it yourself, you can usually save a considerable amount of money.
  • Both aluminum and vinyl are often replaced during repair jobs. Shop around to get a good color match so you don’t need to replace as large a section.
  • Repairing wood siding almost always will require the new section to be painted as well. Painting it yourself can help save on labor costs.

5. Driveway

A little known problem that can occur during the cold winter months is damage to a driveway.

Small cracks that develop naturally over time are the perfect place for water to collect. When that water freezes, it expands, causing what’s known as a frost heave. Frost heaves are responsible for large cracks, as well as potholes in your driveway, making just getting home a bumpy adventure.

 

Repaving your driveway can correct these issues and help prevent additional damage by eliminating those small cracks as well.

Cost

The average cost to pave a driveway in either gravel or asphalt ranges from $800 to $1,990 for a 38-foot by 16-foot driveway.

The total costs range from about $300 for a gravel do-it-yourself job to $14,880 for a driveway laid with brick pavers.

Money-saving tips

  • If you have a lot of curves or grades in your driveway, this can increase costs.
  • Sealing an existing driveway with tar can help prevent potholes and major cracks by filling up the smaller cracks before they have a chance to expand.
  • Gravel is a less expensive way to fill a driveway, but the small stones frequently get scraped away by plows, allowing rainwater to form potholes. Therefore, paving a driveway with asphalt may be a longer term solution, saving money in the long run.

6. The foundation

The same freeze/thaw cycle that causes cracks and potholes in a driveway can also affect a foundation.

Hairline cracks in the concrete of a foundation that develop naturally over time because of a home settling can expand during the winter months, causing major structural issues if they aren’t taken care of in a timely way.

Getting a foundation repaired in the spring can help prevent more problems from developing as time goes by.

Cost

 

The average cost to repair a foundation that has been badly damaged ranges from $5,000 to $7,000.

Costs can be affected by the need for an inspection, how widespread the damage is and what types of repairs that may needed. Small cracks that only require sealing can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, while major cracks will require more extensive work.

Money-saving tips

  • If you need extensive work done on the foundation, you may want to get at least three estimates from different repair companies to try to find the best pricing for the job.
  • Remember that landscaping may be affected by foundation work. Nearby shrubs or plants may need to be replaced after the work has been done.
  • Having a trench dug for a well pump at the same the foundation work is done can help prevent problems such as flooding.
  • Always inspect the foundation each spring and seal any minor cracks you find to help prevent more extensive work.
 

7. Trees

Your home isn’t the only area that can sustain damage during a winter storm. Trees in your yard can also take a hit.

Heavy snow and high winds can knock down tree limbs, taking out power lines, damaging siding, and generally making your landscaping look a mess.

Getting your trees trimmed can help prevent this type of damage, as well as keep your trees healthy and looking great.

Cost

The average cost of tree trimming is around $591 per tree, assuming a total of five trees to be trimmed at once.

Costs range from about $227 per tree for a do-it-yourself job to $709 per tree for large trees during peak trimming seasons. All costs should include the equipment necessary to do the job and hauling away the cut limbs.

Money-saving tips

  • If you have a large number of trees on your property, and are considering having some of them removed, you can sometimes get your trimming done for free by allowing the company to remove a certain number of trees for their own use.
  • To ensure that the work is done properly, always hire a company that is registered with the Tree Care Industry Association. Do not allow workers on your property that wear spike-soled shoes, as these can damage the trees.
  • Check with your utility company before hiring someone to do the job, as some companies will trim trees located near power lines at no cost to you.

Take care of your home

Winter damage can become worse over time if you don’t take care of it in a timely way. Always make sure to inspect your home in both the fall and in the spring to repair any damage that could affect your home’s condition. By taking care of minor issues before winter, you can help prevent larger ones, while taking care of any damage after the cold weather has passed can help your home be ready for anything.

 

How to protect your home from burglaries: Thieves tell all

3/6/2017 (Permalink)

Nicholas Kyriazis estimates he's burglarized at least 100 homes, maybe as many as 150. So who better to explain how to protect your home from burglaries?

TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen went inside the walls of New Jersey State Prison, where Kyriazis is serving a 70-year prison sentence, to get tips on how keep your home from being a target for people like him:

10 Things a Burglar Doesn't Want You to Know

  • Have a neighbor collect your mail when you're away. Mail in the mailbox signals burglars that no one is home.
  • Leave your car outside. "If there's no cars in the driveway, there's a good chance there is no one home," Kyriazis said.
  • Thieves often strike in the morning. Kyriazis told Rossen he typically did burglaries between 8 a.m. and before 2 p.m. More than half of convicted burglars surveyed by WNBC in New York also said they target homes in the morning.
  • Don't assume an alarm system will protect you. "Alarm system alerts me that the people are not home when the alarm is turned on," Kyriazis said.
  • Don't assume home security cameras will protect you. "People got money for security cameras, they got something in there they're protecting."
  • Have a neighbor watch your house. Kyriazis called neighborhood watch "one of the best things they ever started for burglary prevention."
  • Lock up when you leave. Many people leave doors and windows unlocked, and thieves take advantage. "I've never carried burglary tools," Kyriazis said.
  • Dogs can be a good deterrent. Kyriazis said a barking dog would give him pause.
  • Never engage a burglar. Thieves and experts agree that if you come upon a burglary in progress, the best option is to leave, find a safe place and call 911 immediately

Skier Goes Off 150-Foot Cliff, Survives Without a Scratch

1/27/2017 (Permalink)

A 25-year-old skier in Utah got the shock of his life when he accidentally went off a 150-foot cliff in a heart-stopping moment that was caught on his helmet cam. 

The harrowing situation occurred last week as Devin Stratton was following another skier’s track on Utah's Mount Timpanogos when he suddenly went over the cliff.

His helmet cam shows the complete fall before he hits the snow-covered ground. Miraculously, he walked away unscathed.

"I didn’t know that it was there and then mid jump and realized, ‘Oh, I am going to be paralyzed,' he told InsideEdition.com. "I thought I was dead for sure. In my head I was praying, and when I landed and was still alive I was pretty stoked."

Stratton, who has been skiing since he was 14, is still in shock.

“I can’t believe it. I was more than lucky, it was definitely a miracle,” he said.

The student from Utah Valley University credited his survival to his sister, Rachel, who he says “died a little over a year ago of cancer,” and “was probably looking out for me.”

The fall lasted 3.08 seconds, the equivalent of falling off a 15-story building.

Stratton, who is also an avid climber, was with his buddy when the accident occurred.

“I first started yelling at my friend, Matt, to watch out because I felt that if he landed on me we would both die,” he recalled.

Stratton said his friend skied around the cliff and was shocked to see his friend alive.

The video, which was posted by his cousins, YouTube stars Brooklyn and Bailey, has gone viral.

Following the accident, Stratton went to the doctor, who at first questioned why he wanted an X-ray since nothing was broken and he was fine.

Stratton said he showed the video to the doctor, who then ordered the X-ray and showed the video to the nurses.

Stratton recalled that the doctor said, “I can’t believe you didn’t get hurt” and, “It is a miracle.”

Following the accident, he had this advice for fellow skiers: “Know where you are going and don’t trust people's tracks.”

 

blog credit: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/good-news/skier-goes-off-150-foot-cliff-survives-without-a-scratch-it-was-definitely-a-miracle/ar-AAmhPrd?li=BBnb7Kz

 

photo credit:http://workoutheadphonespro.com/hit-the-slopes-hard-with-the-best-sports-headphones-for-skiing-or-snowboarding/

Preventing & Thawing Frozen Pipes

1/10/2017 (Permalink)

Being prepared and informed may help you to avoid the messy and often expensive issue of frozen pipes. The American Red Cross provides information and suggestions around how to prevent water pipes in the home from freezing, and how to thaw them if they do freeze.

Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem
Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the "strength" of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break. Pipes that freeze most frequently are those that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, and water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets. Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation are also subject to freezing.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
Before the onset of cold weather, prevent freezing of these water supply lines and pipes by following these recommendations:
  • Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
  • Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
  • Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
  • Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
During Cold Weather, Take Preventative Action
  • Keep garage doors closed if there are water supply lines in the garage.
  • Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.
  • When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold water drip from the faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe - even at a trickle - helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature both during the day and at night. By temporarily suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much more costly repair job if pipes freeze and burst.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.
To Thaw Frozen Pipes
  • If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.
  • Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe will help melt ice in the pipe.
  • Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.
  • Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you can not thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.
  • Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.
Future Protection
  • Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.
  • Pipes can be relocated by a professional if the home is remodeled.
  • Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.
  • For more information, please contact a licensed plumber or building professional.

 

blog credit:http://www.redcross.org/get-help/prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes

 

photo credit: http://www.watersignal.com/thaw-frozen-pipes/

It’s cold but I can’t bring my pets inside! What do I do!?!

1/10/2017 (Permalink)

Once adopted, pets become members of our families and should be treated as such. This often means letting them come in the house to be with the rest of the family safe from the elements, cars, insects and other perils. However, we understand that every family is dealing with a unique set of circumstances.

For some families (families who do indeed love, care for, and worry about their pets) it is simply not feasible to bring them in the house all the time or even at all. Maybe you have a child who has developed a spontaneous allergy, but you’re also committed to your pet and don’t want to give them up. Or maybe you’re  renting a house and have a strict landlord who will allow pets in the yard but not in the house.  

During the winter, these families go through an intense moral dilemma. Do they leave their pets outside and subject them to the harsh elements? Or do they bring them in and risk eviction from their homes or even a hospital visit if their child’s allergy is bad enough? Whatever your situation, we want to help you care for your pets.

When should I bring my pets in? How cold is too cold?

If it is possible for you to bring your pets inside when it’s absolutely necessary, a good rule of thumb to follow is, “If it’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for them.” All dogs and cats need to be indoors when the temperature drops close to 32 degrees or below. At those temperatures, the risk of hypothermia and frostbite increase significantly. An animal’s fur coat is simply not enough to protect them from these frigid temperatures. Animals more vulnerable to the elements like puppies, kittens, shorthaired animals, and senior animals, need to be brought in when the thermostat drops to 40 degrees.

Look for a middle way.

The best possible solution for those who absolutely cannot bring their pets in is to find some sort of middle ground. Do you have a heated garage or tool shed ??  This way you can protect your pets from the elements, keep them warm, and protect your allergic child and/or your lease. You may also consider purchasing an outdoor rated heating pad. Many stores that sell pet supplies carry heated mats specifically for cats and dogs. You may also find a dog house heater created with cords already protected from chewing animals and automatic shut offs just for your pet.

Take special precautions.

If there is absolutely no way for you to bring your pets in at all, there are steps you can take to make sure they are safe in the winter weather. First and most importantly, you need to ensure that they have some type of shelter. You’ll need a dog house, preferably one that is insulated and will protect your pet from being blasted by the wind and soaked by the snow. Bigger is not better when it comes to dog houses. If your dog’s house is too big, it won’t retain your dog’s body heat and keep him warm. If your dog can stand up and turn around in his dog house but not much else, it’s the perfect size for him.

Your dog house needs to be several inches off the ground so snow and rain water do not leak inside. If you cannot find an insulated dog house, stuff yours with hay leaving just enough room for your dog to burrow inside. Do not insulate a dog house with blankets.  If the blankets get wet and freeze, they will only make it worse on your dog. Also make sure to keep the doorway covered with plastic or some type of waterproof canvas to prevent a draft.

Cats also need shelter in the winter. They are just as susceptible to the cold as dogs. You can learn how to make a shelter for outdoor cats out of a simple plastic tote and hay by clicking this tutorial: How to Build a Feral Cat Shelter

Second, fatten them up. Increase the amount you feed your outdoor pets significantly in the winter months. Pets who spend a lot of time outdoors need more food because they deplete much of their energy just trying to stay warm. Gaining a few extra pounds can help protect their insides from the cold weather.  Also make sure your pets have fresh water to drink. Check your pet’s water as often as you can to ensure that it doesn’t freeze. Prevent your pet from knocking over their water by digging a small hole in the ground to place their water bucket in. Also, be sure you are using plastic water buckets and food dishes. In the cold, your pet’s tongue could stick to metal dishes.

Lastly, check on your pets often and look for signs for frostbite and hypothermia. Watch to see if your dog begins:

  • Whining or acting anxious
  • Can’t stop shivering
  • Seems weak
  • Has ice on his body
  • Stops moving or slows down
  • Looks for a warm place to burrow

Also, check your dog’s ears, nose, and paws as these are areas usually not protected by thick fur.

If you notice any of these signs, bring your pet to a warm spot and call your veterinarian immediately.

 

blog credit:http://www.tupeloleehumane.org/2016/12/cold-cant-bring-pets-inside/

photo credit:https://www.pinterest.com/pin/175147872982558749/