Safeguarding Your Home for the Holidays
In his 12 years with the Michaelis Corporation, Rick Michaelis has seen his share of holiday tragedies. "We get a little bit of everything this time of year," he said, including fires from kitchen mishaps, water damage from refrigerators, ice makers or toilets, and destruction from Mother Nature. Whether you are celebrating at home or traveling somewhere else, here are four tips to safeguard your home for the holidays.
- Pay attention in the kitchen. "People make mistakes when they get comfortable with their family," Michaelis said. Fires can happen from unattended cooking, cooking oil becoming too hot or people being unsafe with their ovens. Turkey fryers overflow and cause issues. Make sure there aren't too many cooks in the kitchen and keep an eye on your stove.
- Be prepared for cold weather. If your holiday plans include travel, check the weather forecast at home, too. "Make sure to leave your furnace running," Michaelis said. "We've seen so many people come home to their house completely frozen." If you have concerns that your furnace may go out, keep a faucet on a drip. If your pipes freeze, you won't realize you have a problem until they thaw; by then, the damage may be done. Shut off your exterior spigots, too. If you have a leak, you may not know until spring when your basement or crawlspace floods.
- Prep your house before snow comes. Clean the last of the autumn leaves from your gutters before flakes fall. If your gutters are full, snow will melt during the day and refreeze inside the gutters overnight. "The ice expands and goes up under the shingles until it thaws, and then it goes inside your house," Michaelis said. If gutters aren't draining, water falls down to your foundation; any leak there could cause damage to your basement.
- Expect the unexpected. Perhaps a houseguest clogs the toilet and is too embarrassed to say anything. Maybe too many Thanksgiving cocktails cause you to ignore a dripping sound. Accidents happen when you are out of your normal routine. Michaelis remembers damage caused when a guest pulled out the ice maker under a kitchen countertop. "He pushed it back in and didn't realize it was crimping the water line," he said. By the time the homeowners realized what had happened, their basement was destroyed. So, as you are enjoying time with your family and friends, survey your house regularly and keep an eye out for anything that seems out of the ordinary.