Valentine’s Day lesson: Show some love to your home


By: Stacey A. Giulianti, Esq. Chief Legal Officer Florida Peninsula Insurance Company Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

In February, enjoy the “love” that abounds, but we also ask that you show your home some love as well!

Proper and regular inspection and maintenance of your home – whether a house, condominium unit, apartment, or duplex – will keep you and your residence safe and sound. Some of the most commonly neglected maintenance items may cause thousands of dollars in damage, but they are easy and typically inexpensive to prevent.

Start by walking through your home – both inside and outside – and look for anything unusual.  Holes, large cracks, broken or frayed pipes or wires, leaks or moisture, sharp objects – and begin by cleaning up and repairing those issues.

Since water damage from broken pipes or plumbing lines is the number one cause of residential property damage, now is a good time to:

  • Check your AC units and look for any broken or frayed hoses or connections. Have a professional tighten or replace those parts.
  • Look under your sinks for any dripping pipes or long-term leaks, and have a plumber replace those items.
  • Inspect your washing machine and dishwasher connections and ensure that no water is escaping from those appliances.
  • Look behind your toilets, showers, and bathtubs for any leaks or excessive moisture.  Replace any parts that are old or worn.
  • Know where your water main switch is located, so that you can turn it off in the event of a pipe rupture or break.
  • Monitor your water bills; a higher than usual monthly charge may indicate a leak somewhere in the system.
  • Consider adding a water monitoring system, like WaterCop.

Frankly, hiring a plumber to review all your water connections and pipes is a terrific idea to do at least once a year. Of course, there are always hurricane shutters to inspect – especially now, months before the summer. Still, this is a good month to look at adding, replacing, or upgrading window protections to a home, since the rush of the hurricane season is not yet upon us. Taking care of window protection now will alleviate stress in June. Fires also cause incredible damage and potential loss of life, so it’s critical to check your home for any danger signs. Show some love to your home, and follow these simple guidelines:

Inspect all your electrical cords throughout the entire home. If they are damaged, frayed, or cracked, please replace them.

  • Extension cords are to be used temporarily, never for long periods of time.
  • Don’t overload extension cords or wall outlets.
  • Always plug appliances directly into wall outlets.
  • Have a professional contractor fix any broken outlets or switches.
  • Update any outdated or malfunctioning fuses or circuit boxes.
  • Check that you have installed the correct light bulb wattage for all fixtures or lamps.
  • Move lamps away from draperies and shades and install proper lampshades as needed.
  • Replace the batteries in your fire/smoke detector and test them to ensure proper functioning.
  • Keep matches and lighters in a secured location and out of your child’s reach.
  • Purchase mini fire extinguishers, and show every family member how to use them.

Your homeowners insurance policy may also cover injuries to other people that come onto your property – a coverage known as Liability Insurance – and minimizing injuries to your friends and neighbors is good old common sense as well. Some policies contain an animal liability endorsement. Tips include:

Put the dog away when visitors come by, especially those with whom your animal is unfamiliar.

  • Always keep your dog on a leash while outside your residence.
  • Young children should never play with a dog without immediate adult supervision.
  • Make sure your backyard gate automatically closes and latches shut.
  • Inspect the fencing to ensure that the dog cannot escape from your property.
  • Complete a dog training and obedience class with your furry friend.
  • Other injuries can occur, and you can prevent them with a few easy steps:
  • Don’t let children run around the pool deck and prohibit any diving.
  • Keep firearms stored properly and locked away.
  • Mop up spills immediately.
  • Inspect furniture, especially tables and chairs, and make sure that they are in strong, solid condition.