Your home is probably your single greatest financial investment. To prevent damage
to your home and to save yourself money, time and frustration, follow the simple
suggestions outlined here.
Monthly inspections and cleaning
- Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms by pressing the test buttons.
- Inspect hot water heater. Check for rust stains or water on or around the heater.
Drain one or two gallons of water from the drain valve at the bottom of the water
heater. Rust or debris will settle at the bottom of the tank and collect on the
lower heating element (of electric units). This can shorten the life of the tank
or the element. Draining the tank removes the sediment.
- Clean kitchen exhaust fan filters. Remove the filters from exhaust fans and clean
in the sink or dishwasher. Filters can accumulate grease, which decreases their
efficiency. Grease in the hood and filter can also accelerate a kitchen fire.
Seasonal maintenance and cleaning
- Clean out rain spouts. Remove debris from spouts, and clean screens around downspouts.
Blockages in the spouts can cause rain water to overflow, which can lead to wood
rot and basement water infiltration. Check joints in the rain spouts for cracks
and caulk them, where necessary.
- Clean around exterior air conditioner compressor, according to the manufacturer’s
instructions. Remove all accumulated leaves and debris. Hand wash or vacuum the
vents to clear away any debris. A clean air conditioner compressor operates more
- Trim shrubs around the house. Prune shrubs and trees away from the house and windows.
Plants that touch the house’s exterior surface can promote infestation from insects,
lead to wood rot, and cause surface wear. Plants that hide windows create a shield
that can allow a thief to break in, unseen by neighbors.
- Vacuum refrigerator coils, according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Dust accumulation
can decrease the refrigerator’s efficiency.
Annual maintenance and cleaning
- Inspect plumbing shutoff valves. Check valves for leaks and corrosion. Turning the
valves on and off will prevent future sticking.
- Inspect fireplace chimney for creosote, which will appear as a shiny black coating
on the interior walls. Hire a professional to remove any accumulation.
- Vacuum smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms, to improve airflow to the sensor.
- Install deadbolt locks on all exterior doors.
- Secure sliding glass doors with a locking bar.
- Keep bicycles, furniture, grills and other easily stolen objects inside the house
when not in use.
- Use timers on lights when you go out at night.
- Ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house while you are away.
- Buy a home safe or rent a safety deposit box to store valuables.
- When traveling, keep valuables in your hotel’s safe.
- Keep an inventory of your home’s contents. Keep a written inventory and a photographic
or video inventory.
Eliminate liability hazards
- Eliminate tripping hazards (cracked sidewalks, debris on sidewalks, loose carpets
in house, etc.).
- Keep a properly secured fence around pools (follow local codes).
- Keep pets secured and on your property, in a fenced area and away from children.
- Do not own a trampoline or keep one on your property.
- Do not store vehicles on jack stands or blocks.
We’ll be there for you
Even careful homeowners can experience a loss. If you experience a loss on your
property, here’s what to do:
- Protect the property
- Make an inventory of damaged items
- Contact your independent agent or Penn National Insurance
- Contact the police if the loss involves a crime or injury that you might be held
And above all, don’t panic.