As finer weather approaches, it’s worth taking the opportunity to do a little spring cleaning, both inside and outside your home. Keeping your home shipshape can also help you stay within the terms of your home insurance, as most policies will specify in their conditions that you should take ‘reasonable precautions’ to avoid damage.
Here, we explore why home maintenance is so important from an insurance perspective and share our top spring home maintenance tips.
- What has home insurance got to do with maintenance?
- Outdoor spring home maintenance
- Indoor spring home maintenance
- Maintain your home all year round
You’ll usually find home insurance policies require homeowners to take ‘reasonable steps’ to maintain their property. Policies may even include more formal wording that instructs homeowners to ‘mitigate losses’. This means you should try to minimise the risk of damage by taking steps to properly maintain your home.
If you make a claim and your insurer feels you have not tried to mitigate loss by carrying out basic maintenance, they may reject your claim. For example, if your blocked gutters caused damp, or if a leaky pipe went unrepaired then burst and ended up flooding your home.
If your claim is rejected you can appeal to your insurer’s customer complaints department. You can also take your case to the Financial Ombudsman Service who will investigate your case for free. However, if your insurer’s decision is upheld it will mean you face paying for repairs yourself.
As we move into spring it’s a good idea to do some investigating to check for signs of damage from winter, here are our top areas to check:
Check gutters for leaves and other debris that could block water flow and cause damp over time. Fix any gaps in guttering that could lead to downpours of water damaging woodwork.
Check the roof
Needless to say, keeping your roof watertight and secure should be a priority. So, look for missing or loose tiles or gaps in flashing.
Check brickwork, paths, and patios
Look for loose steps or broken brickwork that could be a trip hazard and cause an accident. It’s typically much easier to fill in gaps and replace the odd brick or slab rather than wait for it to become a much bigger (and more expensive) problem.
Repaint or reseal fences and decking
Weather damage is one of the main reasons behind home insurance claims. Keeping woodwork in good condition can slow down degradation and help it withstand weather extremes.
Carry out garden maintenance
Spring home maintenance wouldn’t be complete without carrying out some garden work. Check outdoor taps run properly and are leak free. Trim hedges and trees, especially any that are close to your, or your neighbour’s, home.
Remember to check locks on sheds and if you have a greenhouse, make sure windowpanes are secure.
Check outdoor security
Check that any outside lighting you have works properly or consider motion sensor lights if you don’t already have them. If you’ve got a back or side gate onto your property, make sure this is secure too.
Visit the loft
Check the roof felt is intact to prevent future leaks and look for any signs of mice or other vermin that could damage wires or pipes. If you don’t have insulation, spring is a good time to think about adding this or topping up if you need to.
Clean windows and windowsills
Wipe down windows and windowsills to remove dirt and early signs of mould. If you have wooden window frames then check for signs of rotting timber and repair if needed.
Sweep the chimney
If you have an open fireplace or log burner, it’s important to have the chimney swept each year. It’s best to hire a chimney sweep who should also give you a certificate of the work carried out.
It’s worth noting that chimney sweeps don’t need a licence to work. If you’re concerned about safety, sweeps who are part of a professional trade body will need to abide by certain codes of conduct, they will usually also have to take part in mandatory training as part of their membership. Two widely recognised organisations for chimney sweeps are:
Close up draughts you noticed over winter with excluders. This can be done relatively quickly and cheaply using off the shelf products such as draught excluder tape. If you have gaps under doors, you could even make up your own solution by using old fabric or clothes as filler for a homemade excluder.
Check indoor security
Windows and doors should lock properly with no rust or damage to stop keys from working. Keys shouldn’t be left under doormats or flowerpots, if you need to leave a spare, consider a drop box or other secure method.
Spring home maintenance goes hand in hand with winter maintenance and some tasks will overlap. The main point is of course, to give your home a little care and attention. Not only can this help lower the chances of a serious issue developing, it minimises the risk of jeopardizing your home insurance.
Plus, don’t forget to check that your home insurance policy fits your needs as it comes up for renewal. If you carried out any extensive work on your home, double check your policy reflects this.
If you’d like advice or information about how Alan Boswell Group can help you, you can visit our home insurance hub or speak to a member of the team on 01603 649650.