Posted by: Lara's Services Group LLC on November 1, 2022

Essential Tips for Preparing Your Home for the Fall and Winter

Depending on where you live, you’re familiar with different weather situations. However, in recent years, more people have been experiencing extreme weather events leading to horrific damage and financial loss. In some cases, planning can prevent property damage and loss. Disaster preparedness can help with planning steps to take when property damage occurs. Having a plan helps you and your family stay safe. When preparing for fall and winter weather, the following details are things to consider.

Tips for Preparing Your Home

Preparing your home can include doing tasks yourself or getting assistance from a professional. Check your home’s weatherproofing. Insulate exposed pipes to reduce water freezing. Add weatherstripping and/or caulk to windows and doors. Install storm windows or insulate your windows with weather plastic. Repair roof damage like missing shingles and leaks from lousy summer weather. If you have a chimney, inspect it, especially if you plan to use it as an emergency heat source.

Check the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. If you don’t have either, now is the time to purchase them. Both types of detectors are essential for fall and winter if you have a fireplace or furnace or need to use candles if you lose electricity. You should have proper ventilation for your fireplace. Have your furnace checked to ensure its operating properly to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Tips for Preparing Your Vehicle

Avoid traveling when the weather is expected to become a problem. If you must travel, ensure your vehicle can help you do so safely. Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle in case your car breaks down. Keep extra batteries and a portable charger for your cell phone. Keep items such as blankets and a spare coat to keep you warm. Keep winter weather gear such as a shovel, windshield scraper, and a weather radio. Keep an extra flashlight and batteries. Have rope, tow chains, tire chains, and jumper cables on hand if you live where snow persists. For emergency tire repair, have a can of compressed air. Have a bag of kitty litter or rock salt on hand to use on your tires for traction in ice or snow. Keep a road map handy and emergency distress signal, including a flag or flares.

You should also consider vehicle maintenance. Get your oil changed and consider winter tires if you live where winter weather persists. Make an appointment for a vehicle service check to ensure things such as brakes, exhaust, heater, and defroster are working properly. Check your radiator antifreeze levels and add more antifreeze if needed. Replace windshield wipers and check washer fluid. Keep an eye on your tire pressure and replace worn tires. Prevent ice buildup in your tank and fuel lines by keeping your gas tank full or almost full.

What to Consider Before Disaster Strikes

Heed any winter weather watches and warnings. When they are issued for your area, take time to make last minute preparations. Check your supplies for food, water, medicine, or anything of concern of you and your family. Bring pets indoors or make arrangements for them to be at a safe place if you can’t bring them inside. Ensure your mobile device is charged in case of a power outage.

Frequently Asked Questions

While there could be some initial cost-saving in laying new shingles over an old, aged roof, we generally don't recommend re-roofing. Old shingles also mean an old roof deck. By tearing off the old shingles, our licensed roofing contractor will then be able to spot any areas of instability or damage to the roof deck that may have been hidden by the shingles. We can replace any sections where there may be wood rot. Roof installation techniques and materials have also changed over the last couple of decades, and your old roof may not be up to code. "Re-roof" jobs may also not carry the same warranties as a full replacement.

Yes! Our experienced, licensed roofers will inspect your roof up close to assess the scope of any obvious damage and also map out the probable unseen damage just below the surface. With that knowledge at hand, we will let you know if roof repair is the most affordable option or if you're better off with a full roof replacement.

For the majority of surfaces in your home, bleach won't actually get rid of your mold problem. It's the "iceberg effect." Visible mold is usually a small percentage of the actual amount of mold growth. Bleach can't kill mold on porous surfaces like wood, and while tile or fiberglass surfaces can be cleaned with bleach, often the mold has spread far deeper. The reason why mold remediation companies don't recommend DIY cleanup isn't that they want to make more money; they know, in their experience, that a mold problem is usually far more invasive than can be seen with the naked eye. Simply cleaning the surfaces can provide false assurances that you got rid of the mold, only to have it come back time and time again.

Sometimes mold remediation is included if the cause of the mold was a "covered peril" like a burst hot water heater or water damage caused by firefighters extinguishing a fire in your house. Gradual water damage - like from a leaking pipe or hose - will often cause mold growth, but your insurance coverage will usually not cover that by claiming that it was caused by poor maintenance or neglect. If your insurance company denies your claim, you should request an inspection from a mold remediation company that can help you document the source of the mold.

Most homeowner's policies cover most water damages, but not all water damages are created equal. There can be a lot of exceptions to coverage depending on the intricacies of your policy. This is why it's a good idea to be familiar with your policy and call your agent right away when damage occurs.

A good portion of water damage can be prevented by proper household maintenance. Routine plumbing maintenance as well as sump pump and appliance maintenance are effective ways to avoid preventable damages. If you live in a cold climate, preparing your home for the winter can also help avoid damage. Finally, it's a good idea to regularly check the exterior of your home, particularly your roof, for damage to ensure water isn't unexpectedly leaking into your home.

DIY soot removal is not recommended. Commercially available products can actually cause permanent damage to surfaces. Soot itself is primarily oil-based, but that residue also contains toxic, possibly biohazard contaminants.

Identifying the source of the water damage is one of the first steps in both the insurance claim process and before beginning to dry out and repair the damaged areas. After all, if you replace a sagging, wet ceiling that was caused by a roof leak but don't fix the roof, too, the next rainstorm will start the cycle all over again. The buckling to your hardwood floor could be caused by a leaking pipe. We will pinpoint the exact cause of your water damage and make sure the source is repaired. We make sure your restoration job is done right the first time.

If the inspection/assessment process was able to pinpoint the source and cause of the mold growth, once that source is repaired, you can be relatively confident about the success of remediation. Ask if your restoration technician has the IICRC certification for "Applied Microbial Remediation Technician." You can also request a "post-remediation mold clearance" from a third-party mold inspector to re-test the area for any remaining traces of mold before the area is treated with a sealer or encapsulant to resist future mold growth.

Each shingle brand provides a different guideline for how long they expect their shingles to last. A properly installed asphalt shingle roof will generally last up to 20-30 years with regular maintenance and inspection, especially after severe weather events.

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