Many homeowners don't realize that the weight of heavy winter snows can change the slope of their front lawn, or that the air conditioner outside their home can cause water damage inside their house.
Nearly half of all home-damage claims to Allstate are the result of everyday problems like broken water pipes, cracked washing machine hoses and leaky roofs -- showing it doesn't take a fire or natural disaster to hurt a home.
Winter weather can be extremely hard on a house. Spring Cleaning is an excellent opportunity to identify and correct minor, seasonal problems that could end up causing more significant damage, frustration and possibly an insurance claim down the road.
Five easy spot-checks for Spring Cleaning include:
Visually inspect roof valleys, chimneys, skylights and vent flashings.
Temperature changes from the hot summer to the cold winter can cause expansion and contraction, which may lead to cracking in some roof cement and window caulking materials, creating potentially damaging water leaks. All exterior caulking maintenance should also be performed during Spring Cleaning.
Walk your yard
Check the grading of your property to ensure it drains away from your home's foundation.
West and snowy winter weather can cause soil to settle in plant and flowerbed areas, which are usually adjacent to your home's foundation wall. This can cause water to build up next to the foundation and possibly get into your home. If needed, re-fill or re-grade depressed areas. Basement window wells should also be cleaned and covers considered -- avoiding rainwater build-up and unnecessary leakage in these areas.
Gutters should be inspected for debris and proper mounting.
The expansion and weight of ice and snow from winter storms can loosen gutters from their mounting points, causing a change in pitch and water flow. Also, make sure downspouts are extended far enough to carry water away from the foundation wall of your house.
Condition your air conditioner
Check the drainage pan and lines.
The drainage pan and drain line should be free of dust and debris that may accumulate over the winter. An obstructed pan and line could lead to an overflow and water damage.
If you have a sump pump, test it to make sure it's working properly.
Test the motor, float switch, and check valve to see if they are working properly and water is draining from the chamber.
A back-up pump or system may be a consideration if you live in an area prone to groundwater problems.
Some work, particularly on roofs, may require professional services. Some homeowners may not be comfortable inspecting or working on their roof or on ladders.
If so, check references with your local Better Business Bureau, homeowners association or contractors association to help ensure you're hiring a qualified, reputable repair professional to work on your home.
Spring is also a good time to speak to your insurance agent about any additions or changes to your home and family. Keeping your policy up-to-date is an essential part of making sure you're adequately covered on everything and everyone in your home.