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Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Ron Martin - Thursday, March 23, 2017

Avoid Basement Flooding During Spring Thaw

Ron Martin - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

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Preparing Your Home For Winter

Ron Martin - Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Winter can be very tough on a home, especially if you have not taken the necessary steps to prepare for the harsh weather that is right around the corner. Winterization projects can be relatively straightforward and affordable, all the while preventing significant damages that can hinder the comfort, safety and integrity of your house throughout the colder, wetter months. 

Let's go through some of the key preventative measures you can enact to prepare your home for winter. 

Energy-efficient improvements
The very same steps you need to take to keep your heating costs down can also be viewed as protective for your home's structure and systems. Popular Mechanics, a publication devoted to technology news and tips for consumers, suggests the following steps to boost your home's efficiency and protect it from common damages associated with winter weather:
  • Bring in a professional service provider to prepare your air conditioner, water, fuel, vent and all other systems and pipes. 
  • Consider replacing normal doors and windows with storm-proof products. 
  • Get your furnace serviced, and change out filters that were used last winter. 
You will also want to thoroughly evaluate your home for drafts and leaks, which are most common in attics, crawl spaces and basements, but can be found virtually anywhere. One of the easiest ways to check for drafts is to light a candle in the center of each room of the home and watch to see if the flame flickers or bends. Once you've identified the drafts, use weatherstripping and caulk to seal them up. 

Roof and drainage
To prevent flooding both in the home and outside, you will need to prep your roof and irrigation system. Here are a few tips:
  • Cleaning and removal: Clear all gutters of leaves and other debris before the first snowfall. Remove snow from the roof during times of very heavy precipitation.
  • Ice dams: If you have a sloped roof, ice dams can be an issue. This Old House, a home improvement website, suggests putting ice melt products that contain calcium chloride into a porous material, such as a stocking, and placing it on ice dams for safe, easy removal.
  • Avoid floods: Always make sure the roof’s drain pipes are pointed away from the house, and that your irrigation system and lawn have been winterized to avoid damage from the increased precipitation.

Protective measures for plumbing 
Frozen pipes can lead to massive expenses and damages. The Balance, an online publication that offers a range of tips to consumers, suggests wrapping all exposed pipes and plumbing with insulation. According to the source, you will need to keep your valves and taps open to prevent water from staying in the pipes, which can lead to freezing and expansion, followed swiftly by cracks and damage.
Even when you are not home, the website recommends keeping the home's temperature warm enough to prevent freezing of any kind. This can be trickier for pipes that are outside or in parts of the home that do not have access to heat. In these situations, The Balance states that heat tape can be used to protect pipes. Also, when temperatures dip below freezing, keep your water dripping in sinks and other faucets to further prevent freezing and bursting in the pipes and plumbing. 

Get the right coverage
Make sure that your insurance provides the coverage you need for your home this winter. Winter involves more precipitation in the Northeast, which could lead to flooding - a threat that is not generally covered by homeowners insurance. Speak to your us to ensure all of your assets throughout the home, as well as the structure itself, are protected by your insurance coverage before the harsh weather sets in.  read more

Snow and Ice Removal for Slip Trip and Fall Prevention

Ron Martin - Thursday, January 21, 2016

Reprinted with permission Philadelphia Insurance Company  read more


Prevent Freeze-ups of Automatic Sprinkler Systems

Ron Martin - Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Every winter, plummeting temperatures bring ice and snow to most regions of the country and present us with a unique set of loss prevention challenges. A common, yet significant winter challenge is how to prevent interior water pipes from freezing.

Nearly all commercial buildings have automatic sprinkler systems in place to protect against fire. While a fire can cause monumental loss, so can its polar opposite: ice.

 

Frozen pipe photo

 

A freeze-up of automatic sprinkler system pipes, caused by insufficient building heat, may result in burst piping and subsequent water damage to a building and its contents. If a fire occurred while the sprinkler system was incapacitated, the resulting loss could be catastrophic.

To prevent sprinkler system pipes from freezing, these standard building management procedures should be followed:

 

Prior to the official start of winter, the building’s heating system should be completely serviced and then checked on a regular basis throughout the cold weather months.

 

The structural components of the building should be inspected for any deficiencies or problem areas. Broken windows and wall cracks should be repaired promptly to prevent drafts from entering the building.

 

Temperatures in areas protected by wet pipe systems should be kept above 40°F.

 

Adequate heat should be provided to concealed areas, such as attics and areas above ceilings, where sprinkler piping has been installed.

 

Although dry pipe systems are less susceptible to freeze-ups, they should also be included in any winterizing program.

 

Fire pumps should be in a heated room and should be tested at periodic intervals. Suction taken from open water should have lines that are buried below the frost level. Intake screens should be kept clear of ice.

 

Gravity tanks should be checked for leaks and overflows. Should leaking or overflowing water freeze, it could cause structural damage to, and the subsequent collapse of, the tank.

 

Fire hydrants and valves should be kept clear of snow and ice to prevent freezing. Piping
for outdoor systems should be buried below the frost level to prevent freezing. Piping that is exposed to freezing temperatures should either be insulated or heated. Fire hydrants should be checked for adequate drainage and post indicator valves should be checked for leakage.

 

Once winter has arrived, management should keep a close watch on weather conditions. All commercial buildings and facilities should have a plan in place for handling extreme snowfalls and extreme cold spells that may lead to heating problems.

 

Supervisory personnel should be provided with a list of emergency numbers to call in case of trouble.


Despite following all of the recommended procedures, a freeze-up may still occur. If that happens, management should contact the experts for repair, rather than attempt to make repairs in a “do-it-yourself” manner.

While the sprinkler system is down, special emphasis should be immediately placed on controlling ignition sources and securing known fire hazard areas throughout the facility:

 

Cutting and welding operations should be postponed until repairs have been completed.

 

Smoking should be prohibited throughout the unprotected area.

 

Supplies of flammable and combustible materials should be kept to a minimum.

 

A temporary water line should be supplied to provide water to the unprotected area.

 

If possible, a staff person should be posted to monitor the area while repairs are being made.


In summary, by implementing preventive measures, emphasizing prompt, efficient repairs, and controlling known fire hazards, building managers can decrease the likelihood of frozen, incapacitated sprinkler systems and minimize the potential for loss should the sprinkler system become incapacitated.



For more helpful information about Loss Control initiatives, best practices and training ideas that can help control costs, please visit the extensive Loss Control page on our website. We maintain a Loss Control library, which offers a wide array of safety training and educational materials that provide both technical guidance, as well as general safety and training resources.
 
 Reprinted by permission: AMTrust North America
 

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Winter Weather - Property Protection

Ron Martin - Wednesday, December 11, 2013

PREVENTING FREEZE UP - FROZEN & BURST WATER PIPES
Cold weather freeze-ups can cause vital fire protection systems to malfunction. Cold temperatures can cause sprinkler piping to burst resulting in major water damage to buildings, contents, and equipment. Pipes bursting can also impair automatic sprinkler systems and leave a major portion of your facility without fire protection. A fire during this situation may result in a major interruption to your business and a huge loss.

In the interest of preventing water damage claims for your property, designated key personnel should be aware of freeze protection and emergency preparedness procedures. Utilize the
Winter Weather Precautions Checklist to assist with your risk control program.

Best Practices include:

Building temperature should be monitored, documented, and maintained at 55° F or higher   read more


Property Insurance sees premium increases

Ron Martin - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

As 2013 begins, we continue to see repercussions of past year's natural catastrophes which tallied $57.9 billion in insured losses in 2012 alone.  Insurance is being used to rebuild entire communities. To that end, consumers will see is a sharp increase in property insurance rates, both on the Homeowners and Commercial Property sectors. Almost  all insurance companies are seeking rate in order to mitigate losses and build up their reserves for future severe weather events which are becoming the new normal.    read more


Property Policies to See Changes as a Result of Catastrophes

Ron Martin - Wednesday, August 15, 2012

As an insurance advisor, wekeep current on the trends in the insurance industry that may affect your insurance protection. To that end, we want to make you aware of some changes we are seeing as a result of last year’s catastrophic losses that are illustrated in our March 8th blog entry.   read more


Despite Mild Winter, Keep An Eye on Rising Insurance Rates

Ron Martin - Thursday, March 08, 2012

We have had an abnormally mild and snow-less winter. That doesn't mean that Mother Nature has been taking it easy. In fact, her activities caused about $36 BILLION in losses in 2011. Four of the Top 10 catastrophic events worldwide took place in the United States. From Hurricanes Irene and Lee, to the tornadoes in the South (and more recently in the South and Midwest), to winter storms, to tsunamis (in Hawaii and California), to flooding, even an East Cost Earthquake, insurance companies have paid out in record amounts. All but seven states had one major disaster and more than half had two or more. Pennsylvania had 3 and New Jersey had 5.

What's this mean for you? Insurance companies rates are based on their pay outs in the past. They adjust their rates to mitigate future payouts. Bottom Line - most insurance companies are increasing their rates. The amount of the increase depends on a number of factors, but base rate increases are ranging from 5-40%. Now is the time for you to review your coverage and maximize the numerous discounts that companies now offer.

It is also the time to make sure you have essential coverages, such as Flood Insurance (which is not covered under your Homeowners policy) or Sinkhole coverage, which must be specifically added to your policy. This is where your local agent can be most beneficial. Take advantage of his expertise. You've worked too hard to have Mother Nature's nasty moods ruin it for you.

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