Preventing Common Types of Property Damage

March 16, 2015

Owning a home is expensive enough — and then you get hit with a hefty bill for fixing a problem you never saw coming. If you want to save money on home repair, focus on simple ways to prevent property damage from occurring in the first place.

Remember: prevention is almost always cheaper than making a home repair.

Naturally, you’d rather not spend your weekend on home DIY repairs. But taking the time to carefully inspect your house and make small fixes can be an effective way to prevent property damage. Remember, too, that your homeowner’s insurance may deny a claim if property damage was caused by lack of maintenance or excessive wear and tear.

Preventing property damage caused by water

Water damage can be hard to detect and extremely expensive to repair. Water can sneak in from anywhere: missing shingles, peeling caulk, leaky pipes, surface backups or even sewage systems. Keep a close eye — and nose — on your house. If you see peeling paint, mold or mildew on walls, or if you smell a persistent musty odor, you may have a problem.

Fortunately, there are some easy DIY home repairs that can stop water from getting in. Keep your gutters and downspouts clear, maintain your sump pump (and make sure it has battery backup) and regularly inspect water supply lines to your refrigerator and washing machine. If you have a basement, consider raising your washer, dryer and other appliances a few inches off the floor. Liberty Mutual offers more tips for preventing water damage.

Preventing property damage caused by crime

When burglars or vandals target your house, you feel angry and helpless. But you do have the power to prevent property crime by installing better lighting with motion detectors, stronger locks and security film on windows. As a bonus, you can probably save money on your homeowner’s insurance if you install a security system or other safety measures. This home security checklist (PDF) will help you identify your home’s vulnerabilities and think of easy home repairs that can improve security.

Most wild animals are pleasant neighbors — until they move into your house.

  • Squirrels can damage your home’s exterior and even cause electrical fires by chewing on wires. Discourage squirrels with some home DIY fixes: trimming tree limbs that are close to your house and blocking entry holes after you’ve determined no squirrels are inside.
  • Raccoons may cause property damage, such as chewed holes and torn shingles  if they decide to move into your house or outbuildings. Deter raccoons with chemical or electronic repellents, or by trapping them.
  • Woodpeckers’ persistent hammering on wood surfaces and siding is impossible to ignore. Once a woodpecker claims a drilling site as its own, it’s hard to drive it away, so take immediate action to prevent property damage by installing visual or audio deterrents.
  • Bats are silent housemates, slipping into an attic under the soffits. They don’t cause visible damage, but over time a colony’s droppings (guano) can build up, causing a health hazard. Excluding bats must be done carefully and humanely.
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