Your home might be one of your larger financial investments. To prevent damage to your home and to save yourself money, time and frustration, follow these simple suggestions:

Heating and Cooling Systems

Heating and cooling system malfunctions can cause structural damage, fire, smoke damage and other problems. These suggestions can help minimize those risks:

  • Inspect, clean or replace your system’s filter each month
  • Check heating and cooling registers to make sure they are not blocked
  • Hire a professional to inspect your heating and cooling system at the beginning of each season
  • Buy a maintenance contract to cover regular service of major heating and cooling systems
  • Hire a professional to inspect and clean the chimney and flue
  • Call a professional if you see rust, hear odd sounds or detect odd smells from the system

Plumbing Systems

  • To prevent freezing, insulate pipes that are near exterior walls
  • Drain pipes and washing-machine hoses if you will be away from your property for an extended period, and particularly if the property will be only partially heated
  • Drain pipes to exterior faucets before freezing weather sets in
  • Hire a professional to install shut-offs in convenient locations, particularly before bathroom and kitchen fixtures
  • If pipes freeze, turn off the valve between the frozen pipe and the rest of the system to keep the ice from spreading
  • Inspect hot-water heater for rust stains or water on or around the water heater base—this can indicate a leaking valve or cracked tank
  • Inspect and repair caulk around tub and toilet fixtures
  • Turn off faucets leading to washing-machine hoses when not using the washer

Electrical Systems

  • Don’t overload outlets, circuits or extension cords. If in doubt, have a professional check the current consumption of your plugged-in items, the capacity of the circuit, and the capacity of the cords
  • Hire a professional to install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets wherever they are required by the electrical code, and particularly near water and outdoor locations
  • Check electrical cords for fraying and cracking, and replace them if necessary
  • Never run cords under rugs or furniture
  • Keep flashlights handy in case of power outages
  • Consider hiring a professional to upgrade your electrical service from a fuse system to a circuit-breaker system
  • Install a surge protector in your electrical service entrance panel (usually your main circuit breaker panel, where the power enters the house), and install individual surge protectors at all major appliance connections

Fire Safety

  • Install fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and test them monthly
  • Keep flammable products away from heat and flames
  • Keep attics and basements free of rags, old papers and clutter
  • Cook carefully, and don’t leave unattended items on the stove or in the oven
  • Practice family fire drills
  • Keep a fully charged and easy-to-reach 10-pound, all-purpose fire extinguisher
  • Keep matches and lighters away from children

We’ll Be There For You

Even careful homeowners can experience a loss. If you experience a loss, here’s what you should 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 for which you might be held accountable