How to inspect your roof for damage in Lakewood, WA

How to Inspect Your Roof for Damage

Six Areas to Look to Prevent a Costly Repair

How to inspect your roof for damage in Lakewood, WAWe all know that owning a home is an expensive investment. Unfortunately, you can’t just move in and let it set. Homes require constant maintenance to ensure you don’t get costly damage. We suggest doing a yearly home inspection.

Most people will never venture up onto their roof to see what is going on up there.  A homes roof takes a beating. In the summer, it bakes and the sealant can shrink and expand hundreds of times each year. Making sure your roofing is up to par will save you from costly damage such as mold, water damage, sagging rooflines, pests and much more.

During winter, rainwater can find its way through tiny cracks causing moisture in your attic or between the layers of roofing. Identifying these issues early on can save you thousands of dollars in repairs to the roof itself, drywall, mold or go into your walls creating all sorts of havoc.  It is critically important to understand that your home insurance does NOT cover water intrusion damages caused by deferred maintenance.

Things to look for on your roof inspection:

  1. Missing or damaged shingles
    1. Shingles can become damaged by wind and hail or even just years of use. When inspecting your shingles, make sure the granules are covering the shingle. Ensuring that your shingles are in proper working order will ensure water stays out of your home.
    2. Look for curling shingles, or if wood, cracked or decayed shingles.
  2. Flashing
    1. Your flashing is the metal pieces that go around skylights, butt up against walls and down the valleys on your roof.
    2. Make sure these pieces are whole and without damage such as being twisted upwards, or having holes in them from rust or other damages.
  3. Flat Roofs: Look for obvious patches, cracks, tears, or blisters.
  4. Gutters: Make sure your gutters are clear from debris, are not leaking and are butted up tight against the structure.
  5. Chimneys: Ensure your chimney cap is on tight and if it is brick, inspect for cracks.
  6. Ventilation: Make sure your ventilation caps are clear of obstruction.

Inspecting your roof is a quick and easy job. Take your time and be careful while up there as there are many trip hazards and climbing on and off of the roof onto a ladder can be tricky. But, if done safely, a roof inspection can identify problems that would normally not be covered by your homeowners insurance.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

How to deal with a fallen tree in Lakewood, WA

Who is responsible if your tree falls onto your neighbor’s house?

How To Deal With a Fallen Tree

How to deal with a fallen tree in Lakewood, WANeighbors are great! You can count on them to keep an eye on your place while you’re away, let out a furry friend or even borrow some last minute ingredients! Shoot, some of your neighbors are probably some of your closest friends. But having neighbors can sometimes cause some uncomfortable exchanges.

With spring on the way, often high winds occur when the cold air and warmer air mix together. This, mixed with sometimes wet soil can bring a vulnerable tree toppling down. So, what happens when YOUR tree drops down onto your neighbor’s house, car, fence or other property? Who is liable for that and which insurance company should you call?

Well, the answer is most of the time quite simple. Whoever owns the damaged property is responsible to get the damage repaired – not the owner of the tree.

Let’s look at some specific examples:

Your tree falls onto your neighbor’s house:  Neighbor responsible to mitigate damages and call their own insurance company.

Your neighbor’s tree falls on your car: You should call your insurance company.

Now, proving any sort of negligence on the part of the tree owner is exceedingly rare. Trees die but can remain strong and standing for many years. If you or your neighbor has a tree that has died and you’re worried about it, you should call out an arborist. If the tree is the neighbors, have a conversation about the risks it poses and potential harm it could cause if it fell. Perhaps this will remedy the problem.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

How to Protect Your Home from Mold in Lakewood, WA

Protecting your Home or Condo from Mold

Key Tips to Prevent Mold

How to Protect Your Home from Mold in Lakewood, WAEvery home in the US is vulnerable to mold damage and now that we’re coming into the cooler winter months, mold can thrive. Mold really needs one thing to grow: moisture.

Protect your home from mold by identifying and eliminating sources of moisture. Moisture can enter your home through many different areas including:

  • Damaged roof flashing
  • Damaged or worn out shingles
  • A downspout that is not properly setup to push water away from your home or foundation
  • A leaky pipe
  • Condensation from your laundry, shower or kitchen
  • A crawl space with no vapor barrier or an improperly installed vapor barrier
  • Single pane windows that are sweating
  • Seeping up through the floor

Eliminating these common problems is fairly simple. Identifying where the issues are coming from are sometimes more tricky as water can travel great distances before it makes it mark known. Look for mold on walls, around windows and in the corners of a room. Sometimes mold can grow under your carpet on cement slabs so if your basement smells moldy, that would be a good place to check.

There are many ways to remove moisture from your home. In bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens, install exhaust fans to remove excess moisture from laundry, showers and cooking. Without these fans, moisture can seep upwards and into your attic producing another hidden problem. A fan will quickly pull the excess moisture out of the room. Be sure to closely look at the size of the fan you install because a fan that is too small for the room may not even make a difference.

If moisture is entering your home through your crawlspace, a simple visual inspection can be completed. First, look to see if a vapor barrier exists (a black plastic). Make sure it is covering the entire surface, goes up over any pier blocks and extends to the edges of your foundation. If it doesn’t, consider a quick weekend project to remedy the issue.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Prevent Rodents and Rodent Damage in Lakewood, WA

Keep Your Home Free of Rodents and Rodent Damage

Protecting your Home from Rodents and Rodent Damage

Prevent Rodents and Rodent Damage in Lakewood, WAYou’ve spent a lot of time making your house perfect and keeping it clean. Don’t let a rodent destroy the inner workings of your home!

A single rat can destroy insulation, chew through wires, weaken floor joists and even chew through brick! Not to mention they carry disease and leave droppings wherever they go. The droppings will soak into insulation and the odors can emanate into your home.

Pest control and crawl space cleaning is big business. Just check a search online and see all the companies that do it. With hundreds of thousands of homes damaged each year in the U.S., these companies keep busy removing and repairing homes damaged by pests. Don’t fall victim!

Rodent damage is not typically covered by your home insurance policy. For most losses to be considered, it needs to be “sudden and accidental.” A rodent making a home in the crawl space of your home may come overnight, but the damage they cause is caused over a period of months, or even years.

So, how do rodents get into your home? A rat, for instance, has a very soft skeleton and can squeeze through the smallest of gaps. It is important to look at all areas that enter your crawlspace.

Crawlspace areas to check:

  • Screens that cover vents (ensure there are no gaps or holes)
  • Gaps around brickwork (if gaps exist, use expanding foam, mortar or weather stripping to fill the space)
  • Access panels (ensure the access door fits tightly and gaps do not exist)

Other things to keep in mind:

  • Never store food in your garage or crawl space
  • Keep trash in tight containers
  • Keep weeds and other plants away from your home so they can’t hide near your home
  • Don’t keep pet food in a garage or other outdoor area
  • Don’t stack items near your home where they could hide (lumber piles, wood piles etc.)

If you suspect a rodent may be in your crawl space, look for hanging insulation and feces left near the walls. Consider calling a professional to come and take a look. Keeping your crawl space clean is important to the inner air in your home, so if your crawl space has been damaged get a quote to repair and replace the insulation.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Hiring a Contractor from Craigslist in Lakewood, WA

Hiring a Contractor or Other Labor Off of Craigslist?

Avoid an Insurance Nightmare – Do Your Homework Before Hiring from Craigslist

Hiring a Contractor from Craigslist in Lakewood, WASo, you’re planning a home remodel or some landscape work – great! Most people start this process by laying out exactly what they’d like, then calling out to multiple companies to get the best quotes to have the job completed. After all, this is your palace and it should be exactly as you’d like it!

So, you browse the internet and find a contractor on the popular site, Craigslist or other internet directory who will perform your job for ½ of what your other quotes are. Can this be too good to be true? Maybe… Craigslist and other free classified ads are terrific resources for all sorts of goods and services. However, when you’re inviting in a contractor to your home, be sure to ask them for credentials before they come over to give you a bid. Following these steps can save you from theft, liability and even money.

  1. Research and ask questions: If you found a great contractor and you like him/her, ask them if they have a website or if there is someone who has had work done by them recently that you can talk to. If a contractor is proud of the work they do, they should have several resources for you to call. It is okay to ask for reference and most people expect it. Most small businesses survive off of word-of-mouth advertising, so don’t be shy.
  2. Utilize the internet to look up their license: Contractors are required to have a license to perform work. You can utilize your states resources to find these contractors. An internet search will provide you with some quick references. You can even make your job quicker by asking them to provide you with a copy of their license or number.
  3. Documentation: Ask the contractor for a copy of their license as well as documentation of their insurance and bond. Note: Check the dates on the license as well as the insurance to ensure they’re currently in force or active.
  4. Get specific: Not only is it important to protect your insurance from a scam, but ensure your pocketbook doesn’t get taken for a ride too. Ask questions like, “Is this an estimate or a final bid?” “Does this estimate include parts and labor?” “Can I see where you’re buying the products beforehand?” The more questions you ask, the better you will feel and the more the contractor will understand that you’re educated on this process.

Hiring a contractor this way can be a great option! It is possible to really save money on these services, but just using some simple, quick research and asking the right questions can save you a bundle as well as a headache! As far as saving money on your home goes, contact the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Carbon Monoxide Safety in Lakewood, WA

Keep your Friends and Family Safe from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Lakewood, WA

Keeping your Home in Lakewood, WA Safe from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon Monoxide Safety in Lakewood, WAOur homes should be places of comfort, relaxation and memories. That’s why it is important to protect your homes from dangers such as fires, theft and one people too often overlook: carbon monoxide (CO).

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that is produced when fuels such as wood, oil, natural gas and propane are not efficiently burned. Carbon monoxide can be produced by your household equipment such as generators, lawn mowers, barbeques and your furnace.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that each year, 170 people in the United States are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in their homes. These deaths can be caused when equipment malfunctions or when the products are used in areas that are not properly ventilated, such as a closed room.

The Center for Disease Control lists the common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning as headache, dizziness, vomiting, chest pain and confusion.

The good news about all this is that protecting your family from CO poisoning is relatively simple.

 

 

 

Follow these tips for Carbon Monoxide poisoning prevention:

  • Always have your home’s gas burning furnace, water heater and fireplace serviced by a professional. A professional will ensure the appliance is burning properly and is properly vented.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors on every floor of your home (newly constructed homes, apartments and condominiums will likely already have these installed). For an extra level of protection, consider installing a CO alarm in every bedroom of your house.
  • Never leave a car idling in a garage
  • Keep portable generators at least 20feet from an open window
  • Never use a charcoal barbeque inside a home, tent or camper
  • Never use a gas oven to heat a home

Even a single carbon monoxide detector in your home could save lives. If you rent a home or apartment that does not currently have a carbon monoxide detector, ask your landlord to provide one. Many states require that homes have them installed. Review your state laws here.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

Fire Extinguisher Safety in Lakewood, WA

Learn how to Keep and Maintain a Fire Extinguisher in Lakewood, WA

How to Keep and Maintain a Fire Extinguisher in your Home

Fire Extinguisher Safety in Lakewood, WAYour home is much more than the place that you live or where you sleep. It is where you create memories, raise a family and have family and friends over to visit. Keeping everyone safe while they’re there should be a first priority. But, when was the last time you looked at your fire extinguisher to ensure it would perform if a fire broke out in your home?

A fire extinguisher is arguably one of the most important pieces of safety equipment in your home or apartment (second only to a smoke detector) and should be kept up at regular intervals. Just because you have a fire extinguisher in the home doesn’t mean that it will function in case of emergency. With these tips, however, you’ll be better set in case of emergency and in the event you have to use an extinguisher to put out a fire.

1.) Inspect your extinguisher once per month.

 

Inspecting your fire extinguisher will ensure the canister is charged and ready to work in case of a fire. You should inspect the extinguisher for damage and check the charge meter (typically a green to red meter near the top). Try to inspect your fire extinguisher monthly to ensure it is where you left it and that the extinguisher is in good shape.

 

2.) Maintenance

Your fire extinguisher really doesn’t require much, but should be maintained at least one time per year. Like any pressurized system, the canister will lose pressure over time. Ensure that it is “charged” and if required, get it recharged or replace the extinguisher.

Other items that should be considered are:

  • Is your extinguisher accessible? Are there items in front of your extinguisher that would cost you time or block your access to it in case of emergency?
  • Is the needle pointing to green on your extinguisher’s gauge?
  • Is the nozzle in good shape (perhaps it was dropped and damaged). If not, replace the extinguisher.
  • Is the pin intact and appear to be in good shape?
  • Is the canister itself in good shape and free of dents, rust or obvious signs of leaks?

Keeping your fire extinguishers in your home in good working order is just one of the important steps to keeping your home and house guests safe. It is also a way to avoid a costly and emotional homeowner’s insurance claim. If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

 

 

Fireplace Safety, Lakewood, WA

Keep your Home in Lakewood, WA Safe this Winter by Following Proper Fireplace Safety

Protecting your Home and Guests from Fireplace Dangers in Lakewood, WA

A fireplace is one of a home’s greatest features and can bring an ambiance and warmth to a space to create that perfect night in on a cold evening. As important as they are for creating the perfect mood, it is equally important to ensure that you properly maintain your fireplace.

Fireplace Safety and Maintenance

Wood Burning Fireplaces

  • Ensure your flue is open and clear from obstructions. It is important to take a peek up your chimney (before lighting your fire of course) to be certain the chimney is not blocked. Often time birds or other animals will make shelter in your chimney in the off-season, so be sure to check if you haven’t used your fireplace in some time.
  • Keep glass doors open. If you have a normal, wood burning fireplace, keep the screens closed, but the glass doors open. The doors are usually designed to keep a room insulated when not in use, not to keep the fire in. A chimney requires air to be pulled through and up the chimney, so keeping the doors open allows this air to flow properly while your screen keeps debris and sparks from flying out onto your carpet or other flooring.
  • Install a chimney cap. Chimney caps keep rain from damaging your chimney and keeps birds and other critters out. You should also put a screen across the chimney to prevent sparks from flying out and onto roofs or lawns potentially causing a fire.
  • If you have burned 70-100 fires call a chimney sweep to come and inspect your chimney. They’ll clean out any build-up and do a visual inspection to ensure your chimney is healthy and structurally sound.

Gas Burning Fireplaces         

  • Install an oxygen-depletion sensor, commonly known as a “safety pilot.” These safety pilots will turn off the gas if they detect the fireplace isn’t functioning properly or if too much carbon monoxide builds up.
  • Install carbon monoxide detectors near the fireplace and every floor of your home. A couple per floor would be ideal.
  • Maintain proper distance from the fireplace. Keeping objects away from the fireplace is the best way to avoid a fire or smoke damage. Keep curtains and other fabrics at least 3 feet away from the outside edge of the fireplace.
  • Contact your gas company or call 911 immediately if you smell gas in your home.
  • Clamp your fireplace damper open to prevent carbon monoxide from entering your home.

With all fireplaces it is important to keep your children and pets away. Burning fireplaces in a home can deplete the home of oxygen and replace it with carbon monoxide. Keep your carbon monoxide alarms in working order to ensure your family stays safe.

Keeping your fireplaces in your home in good working order is just one of the important steps to keeping your home and house guests safe. It is also a great way to avoid a costly and emotional homeowner’s insurance claim.

If you have questions about your home, auto or commercial insurance, call the insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. in Lakewood, WA. They have years of insurance experience and can help you insure everything from your home to your auto or commercial Insurance. They live where you do and are an independent insurance agent, so they can help you find the right company to fit your needs. You can also check out their website, 24/7.

Condo Insurance Lakewood, WA

“What does my condo insurance policy cover?”

Congratulations, you’ve purchased a condo!! Home ownership with little or no yard work. You can remodel your kitchen, paint the walls and enjoy your new space. During the purchasing process your agent probably told you that the homeowner’s association insures the building, the walls and the physical structure of your unit. What that insurance does not cover is the personal contents of your unit or any remodeled or upgraded areas within the unit.

Condo Insurance 101 in Washington:

  • Why do you need it: While your walls and building are covered in the event of destruction, your belongings and any upgrades are not. You are responsible for the physical contents, additions and upgrades in your unit. Condo insurance also provides liability coverage should a negligent act by you (fire, water damage, glass breakage, etc.) affect units other than your own. Say you left the bathtub running and it overflowed causing damage to the unit below. Your condo insurance would cover the damage to the unit below you as well as repair the damage to your unit, after a deductible. Pro tip: never leave your bathtub running unattended.
  • What may be covered: Like a renter’s insurance policy, your belongings are covered up to a certain dollar amount. Like a homeowner’s insurance policy you can add scheduled property like art, jewelry and other collectibles. A condo insurance policy also includes a negligence and liability portion in the event that you damage a unit other than your own, the common areas or if someone is injured in your unit. A condo insurance policy may also include reimbursements for living expenses if your condo is unlivable and needs to be repaired.

Having the proper amount of condo insurance coverage may help protect you from having to pay out of pocket for liability claims or damage to your unit. There are several options when it comes to the condo insurance you feel is appropriate for your needs and budget. Have questions? Talk to your local, independent insurance agents at Insurance Unlimited, Inc. Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, Washington can guide you through a condo insurance policy and add additional coverages like flood insurance or earthquake insurance. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and they live right in your area, so know first-hand what your insurance needs might be.  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the insurance products they offer.

Homeowners Insurance Lakewood, WA

Winterize your Lakewood, WA home: May help avoid a homeowners insurance claim

The weather is starting to change, we are entering those warm days of fall where the mornings are brisk and the afternoons are warm. The leaves are starting to turn orange and yellow here in Lakewood, Washington, the kids are back in school and it will soon be time to start making plans for the holidays as winter is on its way. Before winter arrives, there is plenty of time to prep your home, both inside and out, for the coming cold months. Some simple winterization prep can save you from a costly homeowners insurance claim from frozen pipes or huge heating bills from drafty spots in your home.

Four areas to focus your winterization in Washington:

  • Water, water everywhere: Gutters can get jammed up with leaves, branches and other debris. Once the leaves have fallen from the trees, grab a ladder and gently remove the debris from the gutters. Then, rinse the bottoms of the gutter to ensure good flow of water for those winter showers. If your gutters become clogged, rainwater can accumulate around the foundation of your home and possibly seep into the foundation or basement, in which case, you should check for cracks in your foundation and fill them, pronto. A flooded basement can result in a costly homeowner’s insurance claim. Also, anytime you are using a ladder or plan to be on your roof, please let someone know or have someone working with you. An extra pair of hands and eyes can help prevent painful accidents.
  • Where is that draft coming from: The cold winter draft that is leaking in around your doors, windows and from your attic. Take a candle or piece of incense around your home on a windy day and go near doors, windows and attic to look for wind making its way into your home. If your attic has less than 12” of insulation, regardless of where in the country, you should consider adding more. It is an easy do-it-yourself project; any home improvement store should have the tools to help you complete that. It you have single-pane windows you can purchase an inexpensive window insulation kit to add another “pane” to the glass. This keeps the cold air trapped between another layer instead of entering your home. Other areas drafts can creep in are: recessed lighting, door frames and electrical outlets. A variety of caulks, gaskets and weather-stripping is available at any local hardware store.
  • Keep warm:  Do your heating bills spike up during the winter? Aside from performing the aforementioned “draft tests” checking that heating equipment is in good repair may help keep that heating bill down. The furnace can run much more efficiently if it has a clean filter in it. Consider changing your filter once a month. They are inexpensive and pay for themselves in efficiency gains. Also think about checking out your duct insulation. Ducting in homes can become exposed from being bumped in the attic or crawlspace over time and there are huge efficiency losses from this. Ensure your ducts are covered with insulation and not exposed. Also, check for any leaks in connections while the system is running. Speaking of exposure, pipes that are exposed during the cold winter may freeze and explode if not properly insulated. Protect any exposed water pipes with insulation, if a pipe bursts in winter it can cause thousands of dollars in damages. It takes just a few minute to insulate your pipes, a step that can save a headache down the road.
  • Do you smell smoke: Turning on the fireplace is a winter tradition, whether it is a gas or natural wood fireplace. It can also be a hazard if your chimney is dirty. A cleaned chimney will remove creosote, a flammable byproduct of burning wood. Keep your home safe from chimney fires by hiring a professional chimney sweep to remove any build-up. Make sure you are prepared if a fire does break out with a fire extinguisher (it may qualify you for a discount on your homeowner’s insurance in Lakewood, WA) and make sure you have fresh batteries in your smoke detectors. It is always a good idea to check your batteries in the smoke detectors a couple times per year. Count this as one.

While you are taking the time to prep your home for the upcoming winter, talk to your licensed insurance agent to ensure the homeowner’s insurance covers events like floods or fires that may occur during the winter months. Insurance Unlimited, Inc., in Lakewood, Washington can guide you through your homeowner’s insurance policy and add additional coverages like flood insurance and earthquake insurance. Their years of insurance experience can save you a bundle, and they live right in your area, so know first-hand what your insurance needs might be.  You can also visit their insurance website 24/7 to learn more about the other insurance products they offer.