Homeownership is a wonderful thing, but it also comes with a responsibility to keep your home safe. Understanding where risks may lie can help you prevent bad things from potentially going wrong in and around your home.

Infographic: A Homeowner's Guide to a Safer Home

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A Homeowner’s Guide to a Safer Home

How to prevent damage from happening, and advice for making a claim if it does.

Water Damage

Common causes:

  • Burst pipes due to poor maintenance in and around water lines
  • Seasonal flooding, made worse by improper drainage
  • Overflows or backups from excessive debris buildup in drains and pipes
  • Sewer backup

How to avoid it:

  • Have a professional diagnose any issues causing recurring plumbing problems
  • Ensure your property is properly graded for drainage
  • Install drain filters on all sinks and appliances
  • Install a backwater valve or a sump pump
  • Ensure eavestroughs and downspouts are clear and expel at least 4 feet away from your house

Drain hack: Occasionally filling a large sink with hot water and letting it drain will help to clear the lines and prevent debris buildup.

Wind and Weather

Extreme weather conditions can cause damage to exterior elements including:

  • Windows and doors
  • Roofing, siding and fencing
  • Exposed pipes, vents and ductwork
  • Trees and landscape features

How to avoid it:

  • Proper maintenance — inspect for signs of damage or worn material and replace elements as they age. i.e. roof shingles
  • Cover exposed pipes and vents to protect them from extreme temperatures
  • Trim trees to prevent damage caused by branch breakage during storms

Winter roof awareness: If your neighbours have significant snowfall on their rooftops in winter and you don’t, it’s likely that heat is escaping. Check for roof damage or insulation deficiencies.

Theft

Common residential break-ins:

  • Occur during daylight hours
  • Are perpetrated by amateur burglars
  • Can result in damage to your property, such as broken windows

How to avoid it:

  • Install a home security system
  • Ensure proper maintenance of all potential entry points
  • Avoid leaving valuables in clear view
  • If you go away, have a trusted neighbour check on your home and collect your mail every few days

Anti-burglary tip: When not home, have your lights on a timer, and leave a radio or television on somewhere in the house—be sure to change it up each time you go out.

Fire Damage

Common causes include:

  • Cooking with oil/grease
  • Faulty electrical systems
  • Lit cigarettes and candles

How to avoid it:

  • Clean grease off of your stove burner and grills
  • Ensure electrical systems and appliances are in good shape and used properly
  • Avoid smoking indoors, particularly in bed where most cigarette fires originate
  • Never leave open flames unattended

Fire hazard warning: The buildup in your dryer’s lint trap is highly flammable and should be cleaned after each use to avoid this surprisingly common cause of house fire.

Tips for Making a Claim

Keeping records of insured property can help to facilitate a claim as fast and seamlessly as possible. When making a claim, include as much info as possible about anything that’s been damaged or stolen, such as:

  • Age of elements
  • Manufacturer
  • Model
  • Purchase price
  • Types of material used
  • Date of installation
  • Receipts
  • Manuals
  • Proof of ownership and photos in the case of stolen items

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.