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Spring Rain. IS YOUR HOME READY??

Spring is finally here and so are the spring rains.

So far, the rainfall has come at a slow and steady pace, rather than a lot of rain in a short time.

We’re Off To A Good Start

This is a good way to start the spring rainy season!

Why?

Because of our dry winter, the soil along the foundation has probably contracted and shrunk, leaving a lot of large cracks. This makes it easy for heavy rains to run straight towards your foundation, basement walls, and footings.

What To Be Looking For Before Storms Start Pouring Rain: 

#1 – Is Your Sump Pump Working Properly?

Your sump pump is the most important part of your home’s waterproofing system. But is has to be properly maintained!

 

The impeller should be connected to the sump pump with bolts and may need a thorough cleaning to work properly.

To test your sump pump read 5 easy steps in our previous blog here: 

#2 – Is There Water in Your Basement?

Pay attention to any water in your basement or other signs of leaks.

Usually this is a sign of problems in other places, often on the outside of your foundation walls.

Which leads to the next question…..

#3 – Do You See Water “Ponding” in Your Yard?

Watch where the water flows in your yard, and pay special attention to any place you see standing water.

If there are pools of water close to your foundation, it could mean there’s a problem.

Check your gutters or downspouts to make sure they are cleaned out and working properly.

Also check the location of your discharge for your downspouts and your sump pump. We recommend these discharge at least 10 feet away from your property.

And make sure your landscape slopes away from your foundation. It’s common for the soil near the foundation to settle over the season, which could cause water to pool in any low spots.

What To Do If You Find a Problem

If you see any problems, you should get them checked out right away. Contact a local, reputable foundation repair or engineering firm for an inspection.

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Preventive Maintenance for your Sump Pump.

5 Steps for DIY Sump Pump Inspections

Before you start, make sure to unplug any electrical power leading to your sump pump.

Check for Debris in Sump Basin

Make sure the sump pump pit is free from debris. You might be surprised a the kinds of things that can end up here as part of typical home live – children’s toys, items stored nearby that fall in, etc.

Anything that falls into the basis can get into the sump pump unit and interfere with moving parts, particularly the float mechanism. The float mechanism has a key role in sump pump operation, so be sure there is nothing interfering with it.

Test the Float

Fill the sump pump pit with water and make sure the float starts and stops the sump pump as designed.

Inspect the Check Valve

The check valves ensure that when the sump pump shuts off, no water will go back into the sump pump pit. However, sometimes these are improperly installed.

There is an arrow on the check valve that points in the direction the water is supposed to flow, which should not be towards the sump pump.

Clean the Weep Hole

Some sump pumps have a “weep hole” between the sump pump and the check valve. You can clean this with a toothpick or other tiny object. Be careful not to break anything into the weep hole.

Clean the Impeller

The impeller is a small filter that can become clogged. If your sump pump has stopped running suddenly or is making a whining noise, this could be the problem.

If you are not mechanically minded, call a reputable local foundation expert or contractor to test your sump pump for you.

Power Outage Food Safety

Food Safety Picture

On the heels of the last weekend’s storms and wide power outages in and around #KansasCity, here are some food safety tips from Duane Daugherty (MrDoggity, the Safety guy)

Most modern refrigerators will hold temp in a power outage for about four to six hours if the door isn’t opened. Nearly all refrigerated foods will withstand a few hours out of range. However, if your power is out more than six to eight hours, even with a high efficiency rating, and nobody opening the door, you’ll need to toss some stuff – but NOT everything!

Here’s a handy guide:
Foods to Pitch:
Soups, Stews, Casseroles, any Pre-cooked leftovers
Meat, Poultry, and Seafood: Cooked, uncooked, or any other foods like casseroles that contain these things
Cheese: cream cheese, shredded soft cheese or anything “low-fat”
Dairy: Milk, cream, yogurt, sour cream, buttermilk, evaporated milk, canned whipped cream
Soy and Nut Milks or products made from these oils (tofu, hummus)
Eggs: Cooked, uncooked, and any foods containing eggs
Fruit: Cut fruit
Condiments: Fish sauce, oyster sauce, creamy dressings, spaghetti sauce, salsa, mayonnaise (if 8 hours or more)
Breads: Refrigerator biscuits, any unbaked canned dough, cookie dough
Pasta: Cooked pasta, salads
Sweets: Cheesecake, cream or custard pies, cream-filled pastries and pies
Vegetables: Pre-washed greens, cooked vegetables, vegetable juice, garlic in oil, anything made with cooked beans.

Foods to Keep:
Cheese: Hard, processed, grated hard cheeses like Parmesan and Romano, wrapped block cheeses (may require trimming), processed cheeses like “American singles” or “Velveeta”
Dairy: Butter and margarine
Fruit: Fruit juice, canned fruit, fresh whole (uncut) fruits, dried fruits
Condiments: Peanut butter, jams, jellies, ketchup, olives, pickles, mustard, hot sauce, BBQ sauce, relish, vinegar-based dressings, Worcestershire, soy sauce, hoisin sauce
Breads: Bread, rolls, cakes, muffins, quick breads, tortillas, bagels, waffles, pancakes
Sweets: Fruit pies
Vegetables: Raw
Herbs: dried or unwilted

Freezers will usually keep food safely frozen for 24 to 48 hours. The more food you have in the freezer, the longer it will keep. Check your ice tray and your ground meats. If your ice tray has loose ice to the bottom and your ground meat is solid, you’re fine. Any meats that have some “give” to them in the freezer should be cooked within a few days, and can be refrozen once cooked. NEVER refreeze raw meats that have begun to thaw.

RULE OF THUMB: IF YOU’RE IN DOUBT – PITCH IT OUT!
I am an environmentalist, too, and I don’t believe in wasting food. But nothing is worth making yourself or your family sick.

May Home Maintenance Tips

Things are starting to heat up in Kansas City! Is your home ready for the warm weather? We’ve got the top 6 things to put on your to-do list this month.

1. CLEAN YOUR GUTTERS 

Clean and inspect your gutters. Use a garden hose to flush your gutter out and make sure that your downspouts are directing water at least three feet away from your foundation. A clogged gutter can cause water issues that are potentially not covered under your home policy so it’s best to be proactive.

2. GET YOUR POOL READY

It’s time to get your pool ready for summer. Be sure to schedule your appointment with your preferred pool company, so you don’t get stuck with your first pool party and a pool that isn’t ready!

3. PEST CONTROL 

Pests love warm months. Now is the time to check for signs of pests. You want to especially pay attention to any signs of burrowing in wood. Keep cobwebs clear, make sure you don’t have any standing-water issues in or outside of your home. If you have a pest problem, have an expert check it out before it becomes an out-of-control problem. Treating a small problem is always better then waiting until it becomes a large problem.

3. PRESSURE-WASH YOUR HOME, DECK, AND WALKWAYS

Pressure washing not only gives your home a nice clean look, but it also protects it! Want to get rid of spider eggs? Pressure washing will take care of that. Dirt, mold, mildew, soot, airborne pollutants & other contaminants can also cause damage to the surface of your home if it’s not taken care of.

4. DUST CEILING FANS

Dust ceiling fan blades and reverses the blade rotation. In warm weather they should rotate counterclockwise.

5. PICK UP YOUR GARAGE

Garages tend to be neglected in the winter and spring. Keeping it clean will extend it’s life and help you use it for what it’s intended for. If you have run out of room, consider garage storage solutions or having a garage sale to declutter.

6. GET READY FOR MOVIES AND ENTERTAINING

Nothing says summer like blockbuster movies and outdoor entertainment! Are you ready to take your home audio or outdoor patio to the next level? Get it ready now.  If you have metal patio furniture, coat them in auto polish before setting them out to protect them. Be ready to host an impromptu party or invite your family and friends over for a Memorial Day gathering!

 

What to do in the event of a water loss

 Whether the water loss is a result of a broken pipe, a broken water heater, or flooding, there are actions you can take to prevent further damage to your home or business.

1. Stop the Water and Turn Off the Utilities. Shut off the water main valve immediately if the water is a result of something broken inside your home or business.  It is a good idea to make sure everyone in the household or designated employees within the business knows where the shutoff valve is located.  In case of a major water event, turning off the power or natural gas might be necessary to ensure the safety of yourself and your family or employees. Turning off the power will ensure the prevention of electrocution of any appliances that may be in the affected area. If the water event is minor, there may not be a need to shut off any utilities.

2. Get the Water Out Quickly and Use Fans to Circulate Air

Quickly cleaning up of as much water as possible can prevent further damage.  This can be done by mopping or using any available towels to wipe up the water.  If fans are available, strategically place them to circulate the area to assist in drying. This is extremely important immediately following the loss and within the first 24-48 hours.  A reputable restoration company can also assist in the extraction and drying of water damage. Call us for a referral.

3. Get Property to a Dry Location and Don’t Throw Anything Out

If possible, remove any area rugs to prevent any possible staining of the floor and move contents to a dry area. Put furniture on blocks or slide a square of aluminum foil under furniture legs to prevent any further damage to the furniture or the flooring that the furniture is sitting on.  This would be a good time to conduct an inventory of the damaged property.  Do not throw anything out until the claims adjuster has had an opportunity to inspect the scene.  Photos are also recommended.

4. Call us ASAP.

We are your liaison between yourself and Farmers. We will be able to give you advise on coverage as well as the claims process, including your deductible.  If it’s in your best interest to file the claim, we will help you submit the claim ASAP.  The claims team will provide you further direction as to what your next steps will be.

 

Insurance Tip-Act NOW!

INSURANCE TIP__
Just a reminder to disconnect your garden hoses if you haven’t already! The Weather Service predicts lows in the single digits so to prevent freeze damage to your hose spigot, disconnect the garden hose so the spigot can drain properly. If the spigot does freeze and burst the pipe, you may not be aware of it until next spring when you use the hose again. A ruptured pipe can do significant damage in a very short period of time. An ounce of prevention can save thousands of gallons of water in your basement! We want you to keep your deductible and not spend it on home repairs!
Regards and stay warm!

–How to avoid freezing pipes–

Unoccupied buildings are susceptible to damage especially when Mother Nature sends an unpredictable wave of frigid air across the country.
freezing-pipes-2We usually associate freezing pipes with cold climate states, but temperatures low enough to freeze or damage pipes can happen anywhere in the country.  The water damage can be more severe when pipes burst in areas considered to be “warm” because proper precautions and action plans are not in place.

Here are some tips to aid policyholders in protecting their properties:

  • Turn on the heat to keep the entire building warm.
  • Confirm cracks or wall penetrations are sealed, and doors and windows are securely closed.
  • Install devices to shut off water in the event a pipe leaks and water is flowing.
  • Inspect/replace appliances and water supply lines as recommended by the manufacturer, and when damage is observed.
  • Insulate or apply heat tape to water pipes, including wet sprinkler system pipes.
  • Install a monitoring system for building temperature.
  • Heat sprinkler control valve/fire pump rooms with UL approved devices.
  • Develop a plan and locate all water shut-off valves so quick action can be taken for a leak.
  • Use a qualified service or individual for interior inspections during weather events or any extended unoccupied periods to confirm the security of the property.

When small problems go undetected, they become big problems.  Business and rental property owners should prepare for events or seasons when buildings may go unoccupied for a planned or unplanned period of time.

freezing-pipes-3

Moving and Selling Your Home? What To Do When Your House Is Vacant

Selling your home can be a stressful process, especially when it doesn’t move quickly.  With a new job looming, you may have no choice but to leave the home vacant for a short time until it sells.

moving

So is there a problem?  Truthfully there can be.  When you have a homeowner’s policy, on of the insurance company’s requirement is that the property is “Owner Occupied.”  Since you no longer occupy the property, generally these now vacant homes fall under different insurance rules and can leave you at risk.  Homes are typically considered vacant when the utilities are shut off and/or furniture has been removed.

Insurance companies view a vacant home as a higher risk.  There are more opportunities for vandalism and no one living there to protect the home from fire or storm damage should they occur.

So what should you do when moving?

First you need to talk to your insurance agent and get the details on your policy.  Since policies vary by state and insurance company, there is no single right answer.

Explain the situation to your agent.  Ask what coverage is included and what is excluded (specifically for vandalism as well as water damage).  And find out what changes can be made to protect your home.

Selling a home doesn’t always follow a quick timeline.  If you’re facing the possibility of leaving your home vacant, contact us first  and find out how to best protect yourself and your property.

We are always here to answer your questions. Call 816-795-5977 or email anytime-jolson3@farmeragent.com

 

March Home Maintenance

What do you need to do this month to keep your home running smoothly and your family protected?  Read below to find out!

Change Batteries In Smoke Detectors – When the time changes, it’s a great idea to change the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.  This way you always know that they are working and in good order!  The spring time change this year is on Sunday March 8th.

Make A Severe Weather Plan – Designate a safe place in your home in case of bad weather.  Stock it with basic emergency supplies and throw in an extra flashlight and batteries too!

Check Your Credit Report – March is Credit Education Month.  When was the last time you checked to see that your credit reports were accurate?  If it’s been over a year, stop by www.annualcreditreport.com and order a free copy today.

Review Your Insurance Discounts – Are you getting all the discounts you qualify for?  Call us to review your policy and see if there are any changes that need to be made.

 

And as always, give us a call if you have any questions or need assistance with auto, home, business, or life insurance.

Preparing Your Home For Winter Freezes 

Oct Blog 4

With winter arriving soon, now is a great time to prepare your home for freezing temperatures.  Use the checklist below to give you ideas for keeping warm, preventing fires, and saving money.

Have your furnace inspected and serviced by a professional at least once a year. Catching an issue early can save you thousands and if you’re a preferred customer of a local HVAC company, most will put you at the top of the list should you have a furnace issue during the extremely cold times.

Have chimneys and vents cleaned and inspected.  (Built up creosote is the leading cause of chimney fires!)

Stock up on dry, seasoned wood for the fireplace or wood stove.

Check the condition of your fireplace screen.  Is it in good condition and secure?

Get a covered metal container ready to dispose of cooled ashes.  (And keep it at least 15 feet from your home.)

Review fireplace safety with your kids!