Protecting your home and auto means having the proper insurance coverage in place and being proactive with simple maintenance tasks. While the right insurance can help handle the cost of unexpected surprises (such as a roof leak); regular home and vehicle maintenance can help prevent these surprises in the long term. For example, by regularly maintaining a roof, a homeowner can avoid the cost to replace an entire roof, especially if it was damaged from weather.
To help keep these “surprises” in check, here are some practical home and vehicle maintenance tips.
Preventative home-maintenance tips
Regular home maintenance can help homeowners save on costs, such as utility bills and extend the lifespan of appliances. Maintenance on specific household appliances should only be done after reading an appliance manual.
Furnaces and air conditioners
One way to regularly maintain a home furnace is changing the air filters every month. Clean filters reduce the energy needed to filter the air, which can lower energy costs. To maintain an air conditioner, inspect the condensation and drainage lines to ensure they are unblocked. Also make sure intake screens around an air conditioner are clear from debris.
Sinks, showers and toilets
Leaking faucets or running toilets can lead to overflowing water bills. Many leaks found around faucets and showers are caused by worn out washers or seals. Replacing a washer or a seal can save on water usage and prevent water damage around a sink or shower. Toilets which appear to be constantly running will likely need the flapper replaced. The flapper is the mechanism which allows the tank to refill after the toilet is flushed – it’s usually made of rubber and can deteriorate over time. Regularly checking and replacing a flapper as needed is an easy way to save water costs.
Additionally, drain strainers can prevent hair or food from clogging pipes.
A new water heater can range from $800 to over $1,000, not including installation costs. To maintain the water heater, it’ Regular maintenance of a water heater involves flushing it once a year – by a plumber. Flushing the water heater will allow sediment, which can form at the bottom of the water heater, to be removed. If sediment in the water heater builds up, it can damage the unit.
Cracks and improperly insulated windows can result in drafts, which leads to higher energy bills. Every spring and winter, it pays to check the caulking (waterproof filler and sealant) around windows in a home. Small cracks can often be repaired with caulk; larger cracks may require insulation repairs.
Gutters and eaves troughs
Home gutters and eaves troughs can become clogged from debris, such as leaves. Regularly cleaning eaves toughs and gutters can help prevent flooding, which could lead to water damage to a home.
Roofs should be checked for loose debris, such as branches, and to inspect the state of the roof’s shingles. While most shingles have long lifespans (often 15 to 18 years), severe weather, such as a hail storm, can damage the shingles. Damaged shingles can cause water to leak into the roof, which can damage the structure or frame of the home. After a storm a severe weather event, it’s advisable to check the condition of the roof when it’s safe to so do or contact a professional for inspection.
Preventative vehicle-maintenance tips
Regular vehicle maintenance can help identify problems before they put a “dent” in someone’s wallet or budget. As with home-maintenance tips, read the vehicle user manual for the manufacturer’s specific maintenance instructions before following these tips.
If a car battery is not operating properly, it could leave the driver stranded. Regularly inspecting a car battery will help increase battery life. This can be done by ensuring the terminal connections are free of corrosion and are properly secured. It’s also beneficial to test a battery in the fall and spring – as seasonal temperature changes can impact battery performance.
Regularly checking tire pressure, which can be impacted by seasonal temperature change, can reduce the amount of wear-and-tear. Tires which do not have the right pressure can result in more of the tire’s surface area and tread touching the road – which wears down the tire. It’s also important to ensure tires are aligned, balanced and regular inspected for damage or wear to the tire tread.
Don’t wait for timing or serpentine belts to fail. These belts regulate the drive system’s timing and power the vehicle’s other systems. , Belts should be inspected for cracks, erosion or blisters. Even if they appear to be in working order, belts and hoses older than five years usually need to be replaced.
Oil and fluids
Vehicle fluids will need to be regularly checked. It’s generally recommended to change a vehicle’s oil every three months and regularly check oil levels. Also, periodically check the radiator’s coolant levels – it may need to be flushed and refilled. If you find a bright green fluid under the vehicle, it could mean the radiator is leaking. To learn more about common vehicle leaks, read our blog post on how to identify what's leaking from your vehicle.
Also, check fluid hoses to ensure they are secured for signs of wear-and-tear.
Maintaining a vehicle’s brakes consists of checking the brake pads and brake fluid. A full brake inspection includes checking brake-fluid lines, hoses, linings, fluid levels and pads.
Car maintenance isn’t just for personal vehicles. Business owners who operate a fleet of vehicles should know how to protect their vehicle operations.
Make insurance a part of your regular maintenance routine
Together, regular home and car maintenance and the right insurance can help prevent long-term costs. Our local locations will help make maintaining insurance coverage easy. They will review existing home and auto coverage and provide guidance on the insurance renewal process and recommend insurance coverage to help handle unexpected surprises.