Summer is a great time to tackle those home-improvement projects, such as painting the dining room or installing new fixtures. Why not add a few to-dos that will prevent larger remodeling fixes in the future? These projects don’t require much time or money, and they could help you avoid having to make a homeowners insurance claim or calling in a general contractor to solve the problem after its too late.

Check plumbing for leaks in the kitchen, the bathrooms, and the laundry room

Cost: Free
Time: Up to an hour
Materials needed: None

Why you should do it: The largest number of homeowners insurance claims are due to water damage caused by broken pipes and supply lines. If you catch a leak early on, you can have the plumbing repaired before the drip becomes a deluge. Check everywhere, from the water heater to behind the refrigerator to inside the toilet tank; any faulty connection can lead to flooding.

Inspect all electric cords in your house

Cost: Free, or $30-$50 if you need new cords or surge protectors
Time: 30 minutes
Materials needed: New surge protectors and cords, if necessary

Why you should do it: Damaged electric cords and overloaded outlets can cause failure to the fixture, appliance, or receptacle they are connected to. Since power strips and extension cords tend to be hidden behind large pieces of furniture, many people don’t see the safety hazard until it’s too late. Be sure to check behind entertainment centers, computer desks, and anywhere else you use a lot of electronics, and replace damaged cords. If you find that circuit breakers in your home trip periodically, evaluate outlets and power strips to make sure they are not overloaded. If you have more than two fixtures or appliances plugged into one outlet, use surge protectors.

Safeguard your garage

Cost: Free
Time: Up to an hour
Materials needed: None

Why you should do it: To reduce fire risk, make sure your lawn mower, gas-powered tools, paint, and extra portable gas tanks are as far away as possible from the pilot light of a furnace or water heater.

Change the batteries in your smoke detectors, and place fire extinguishers in strategic places

Cost: $10-$15 for batteries, about $18 per extinguisher
Time: $15-$45 minutes, depending on how many smoke detectors you have
Materials needed: Batteries, a ladder, and possibly new detectors

Why you should do it: Smoke alarms provide the best early warning signal of a fire in your house. If you can detect the fire quickly, you can minimize the damage. In the kitchen, store a dry chemical Class B or Class ABC fire extinguisher near the stove to put out grease fires (never use water) and make sure it is new and operable.

 

Re-published from AAA Westways Magazine, June 2012 edition.