A great seasonal list from our friends at houzz.com. Seasonal maintenance is fundamental to preventing winter water damage. Repairs now will prevent expense later.
According to the Associated Press/WABI the Maine Bureau of Insurance recovered the following for Maine’s insured-
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — Dealing with auto, life and other kinds of insurance can be a headache, and one Maine agency is dedicating to helping Mainers sort it out.
The Maine Bureau of Insurance said Mainers made 6,007 calls last year and filed 790 complaints on issues related to insurance. All told, Maine residents and businesses recovered nearly $970,000 last year with the agency’s help.
Mainers lodged 254 written complaints and made about 2,800 inquiries to the bureau’s property and casualty division, which includes auto and homeowners insurance.
Another 636 written complaints and 3,213 inquiries were directed to the consumer health care division, which includes health, life and disability insurance.
More information: http://www.maine.gov/insurance
The Bureau of Insurance is diligent in assisting policy holders-
Maine insurance regulators say they helped consumers in the state to recover more than $3 million owed to them during the past year. Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa says nearly $2.2 million was recovered by the Bureau’s Consumer Health Care Division, and almost $950,000 was recovered by the Property and Casualty Division. Cioppa says most insurers operating in Maine pay claims properly and quickly. But when individuals or business owners contact the state because of a dispute with an insurance company or agent, the state can often provide assistance. Cioppa said the Insurance Bureau fielded almost 9,000 inquiries and more than 900 complaints during 2012.
State Farm posts this advice for cold winter temperatures and storms-
When the mercury plummets
Even if you’ve taken the right preventative steps, extreme weather conditions can still harm your pipes. Here are a few more steps you can take:
- A trickle of hot and cold water might be all it takes to keep your pipes from freezing. Let warm water drip overnight, preferably from a faucet on an outside wall.
- Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during both day and night. You might be in the habit of turning down the heat when you’re asleep, but further drops in the temperature—more common overnight—could catch you off guard and freeze your pipes.
- Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to un-insulated pipes under sinks and appliances near exterior walls.
Before you skip town
Travelling in the winter months might be good for the soul, but don’t forget to think about your pipes before you leave. What can you do?
- Set the thermostat in your house no lower than 55°F (12°C).
- Ask a friend or neighbor to check your house daily to make sure it’s warm enough to prevent freezing.
- Shut off and drain the water system. Be aware that if you have a fire protection sprinkler system in your house, it may be deactivated when you shut off the water.
If your pipes do freeze
What if your pipes still freeze, despite your best preventive measures? First step: Don’t panic. Just because they’re frozen doesn’t mean they’ve already burst. Here’s what you can do:
- If you turn on your faucets and nothing comes out, leave the faucets turned on and call a plumber.
- Do not use electrical appliances in areas of standing water. You could be electrocuted.
- Never try to thaw a pipe with a torch or other open flame because it could cause a fire hazard. Water damage is preferable to burning down your house!
- You may be able to thaw a frozen pipe using a hair dryer. Start by warming the pipe as close to the faucet as possible, working toward the coldest section of pipe.
- If your water pipes have already burst, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve in the house; leave the water faucets turned on. Make sure everyone in your family knows where the water shutoff valve is and how to open and close it.
The most important thing to remember to include as part of fall yard work is to prepare outdoor faucets for winter. Remove hoses and be certain exterior water spigots are shut off. It may be a good idea to have a plumber look at exterior spigots to be certain there is no threat of a pipe break.
Fall is a good time to trim landscaping to keep plants away from buildings and foundations. Gutters, downspouts and extensions should be cleared and cleaned so water will flow freely through them.
Maine insurance adjusters, are generally honest and credible. NPR is broadcasting a shocking and informative investigation of gross malfeasance under the flood insurance program, which the U.S. taxpayer subsidizes if there are not enough funds to cover large scale catastrophic losses.
Sept. 20: Business of Disaster
Who profits when disaster strikes? FRONTLINE and NPR investigated the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy — revealing that private insurance companies working for the government have made hundreds of millions of dollars at the same time that thousands of homeowners are claiming they have been underpaid. “We found that disasters like Superstorm Sandy aren’t a disaster for everyone,” says NPR reporter Laura Sullivan, who along with FRONTLINE producer Rick Young and his investigative team spent a year digging into how Sandy recovery dollars were spent.
“In 2009, a Government Accountability Office audit told FEMA to figure out how much profit the flood insurance companies are making off the flood program and take that into account when it paid them.
But Wright, who took over the flood program for FEMA last year, says he doesn’t know how much money the insurance companies make from the program.
“I’ve never looked at the book of business to understand their profits,” he says. “So you’d need to go specifically to the companies to understand those numbers.”
The nation’s largest insurance firms declined to disclose their profit margins on the flood program.
However, every year the insurance companies report what it actually costs them to do their flood work to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an industry association of government regulators. And every year, FEMA reports what it pays insurers who participate in the flood program. With both numbers, you can do some math. Government auditors used a similar method in 2009.
Based on the latest figures, that analysis shows the insurance companies together made anywhere from $240 million to $406 million a year just on their flood work since 2011 — without having to pay any claims.”
- Look for condensation and wet spots from the attic to the basement.
- Maintain living areas; clean kitchens and bathrooms regularly, do not allow unused organic materials to accumulate and dispose of refuse in a timely manner.
- Leave a 2-3″ space between furniture and walls allowing air to circulate freely.
- Repair plumbing leaks and other building leaks as soon as possible.
- Prevent moisture condensation by reducing the moisture level in the air and increasing air circulation.
- Keep HVAC (heating, ventilating and air-conditioning) drip pans clean, flowing properly, and unobstructed; change filters regularly.
- Vent moisture generating appliances (e.g., clothes dryers) to the building exterior (i.e., outside) when possible.
- Be sure to check water hoses on appliances e.g. dishwashers, washing machines, refrigerators/ice cube makers, as well as reviewing hot water heaters for wear and deterioration on a quarterly basis.
- Vent kitchens and bathrooms to code requirements.
- Leave the bathroom door open and run the exhaust fan for a few minutes after showering/bathing.
- Provide adequate drainage around buildings and slope ground away from building foundations; follow local code requirements.
- Clean gutters and downspouts; add downspout extensions to divert water away from building foundation if necessary.
- Be sure there is at least 2′ between buildings and landscaping; the gap will allow air to circulate and prevent moisture accumulation.
- Remove snow from roofs to prevent structural damage/ice dams and to keep ridge vents and DWV pipes working effectively.
- Identify areas where leaks have occurred, correct the causes and take preventative action to ensure leaks do not recur.
- Never leave buildings while appliances are running unattended.