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Proper home maintenance can preserve your home, while saving you money and headaches in the future. However, a new survey from Erie Insurance conducted by Harris Poll reveals Americans have alarmingly poor upkeep habits.
"By overlooking common DIY projects, homeowners are not only putting themselves at risk for major financial loss, but also are exposing their families to dangerous hazards," says Joe Vahey, vice president and product manager at Erie Insurance.
In an effort to help people become more aware of what they can be doing to protect themselves, the experts at Erie Insurance list five commonly overlooked areas of the home that should be regularly inspected and maintained:
Inspect Your Roof
Replacing or repairing a roof is one of the biggest expenses a homeowner may have and the need to do it often comes without warning.
Nationally, the average homeowner spends about $6,600 to install a new roof, according to HomeAdvisor, but prices can soar upwards of $20,000 depending on certain factors.
But the Erie Insurance survey found that nearly one in four homeowners (23 percent) admits they never inspect their roof or have it inspected only if there is a problem.
Even scarier, nearly a third (27 percent) of those who own a house either mistakenly believe their insurance will pay for damage that occurs to their roof over time, such as through normal wear and tear or have no idea how their insurance works regarding this type of damage.
Insurance generally only covers things like roof damage from unexpected storms.
Unclog Gutters and Downspouts
Nearly one out of four homeowners (24 percent) say they never care for their gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters can cause water to flow down the sides of a home and pool around its foundation, often leading to major issues like uneven floors, cracks in walls and interior water damage. This type of claim, also known as seepage, is often not covered under your home insurance policy.
Clean Out Dryer Exhaust
One in five homeowners (21 percent) admit they never clean their clothes dryer ducts, unless they have a problem. Unfortunately, the most common cause of dryer fires is failure to do a thorough cleaning. According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), dryers cause roughly 15,500 home structure fires, 29 deaths, 400 injuries and $192 million in direct property loss each year.
Check the Furnace
Only 36 percent of homeowners have their furnaces inspected and serviced at least once a year. According to NFPA, U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated average of 56,000 home fires involving heating equipment.
These fires resulted in annual losses of 470 civilian deaths, 1,490 civilian injuries, and $1 billion in direct property damage per year.
Clean Sump Pump and Pit
Sump pumps are used to remove excess water from homes, but 44 percent of those who own one admit to never cleaning it or the pit, unless they have a problem.
Water damage due to sewage and drain backups generally requires additional insurance coverage beyond a standard policy. Without that coverage, it could end up costing you, on average, $2,156, according to Home Advisor.