In Case of Emergency

Unfortunately emergencies do happen in your home when you’re least expecting it. In order to avoid being totally blindsided, make an In Case of Emergency (ICE) contact list now, in case the unexpected happens to you in the future. It’s a good idea to not only keep a copy of the emergency list for your family, but also to make copies to give to other family members so that you have access to the information if you can’t get to your list.

In the event of any serious emergency, get to a safe location and then immediately call 911.

In case of a fire:

• First call your insurance agent. They will tell you exactly what you need to do and how to do it, including what to do immediately and in the days to follow. Most likely, they will ask you to fill out paperwork, such as what was damaged and how much it cost.

• The U.S. Fire Administration recommends calling a local disaster relief organization, such as the Salvation Army or Red Cross, for help in finding essential items and perhaps even a place to stay.

• Your financial institutions, including your mortgage company or landlord, should then be next on your list of calls to make. Calls to replace cash or important documents that may have burned, such as a driver’s license, social security card or savings bond, are important, but can wait a day or two.

• Call a trusted contractor or restoration company to come out, look things over, and give you a written estimate. If you don’t know of any contractors or restoration companies, your insurance agent might be able to recommend someone.

• Be sure to save receipts for anything purchased or spent relating to the fire. You may need them for proof.

This information will help you get through the immediate aftermath, though there will be much to do in the days to follow. For additional information, check out the U.S. Fire Administration.

 

Stay tuned for next week’s quick list of what to do for flooded homes

 

Make The Most of 2013!

2013 is right around the corner! The beginning of the New Year often represents change and betterment. We’ve made a tradition of creating a list of goals we’d like to accomplish in the New Year and resolving to make the necessary changes. Some of the most popular resolutions are to get fit; go to church more; be a better friend, parent, daughter, son, or sibling; work less; be more organized; do better in school. Parents of older children may resolve to save for college, while new parents might just simply have a goal of surviving the first year with a little one.

No matter where you are in life, or what your resolution is, you have another opportunity to make this New Year the best of your life. Take advantage and live in the moment, enjoying everything and everyone you have around you every day.

We wish you a very happy, healthy, and blessed New Year!

 

Merry Christmas!

One of the most watched and  favorite TV Christmas specials is Charlie Brown. In the cartoon the kids are searching for what Christmas is really about. The only one that can explain it turns out to be Linus…he goes on stage and tells the true story of Christmas. We learn that Christmas is about giving to others, but the gift of Christmas comes from the heart, not in a package.

Mercer Home Solutions wishes you all a very Merry Christmas!

 

How To Save Energy During The Holidays

In addition to keeping your home safe for the holidays, cutting down on the amount of energy used may benefit you as well. All of the extra lights, cooking, and company could take a toll on your energy bill…try some of these helpful tips to reduce the energy use which in turn will reduce your energy bill.

• Use LED lights which use 90% less electricity than traditional lights, according to National Grid and NStar.

• Unplug lights before leaving your home or going to bed.

• Use a timer to turn lights on and off automatically to limit the amount of time they are on.

• If you will be using the oven and it will take hours for the food to cook, you don’t need to preheat it. Also, take advantage of the already hot oven and put several dishes in at the same time.

• If you will be cooking on the stove, make sure the size of the pot is the same as the burner it’s on. Otherwise, up to 60% of the energy used will be wasted.

• Keep your thermostat set at a constant temperature, and lower it if you will be having a house full of guests or traveling.

• Install a water-saving shower head in your bathroom which will reduce water heating costs and save water at the same time.

Try unplugging anything you’re not using. Remember, these tips don’t just have to be for the holidays…they are good year round. A little effort goes a long way. In time, you will see the benefits and will appreciate the decrease in your bill, increase in your wallet.

 

Tips For Safe Holiday Decorating

The holidays are the busiest time of year. Sometimes we get caught up in the whirlwind of trying to shop, cook, decorate, and still adhere to our normal daily routine. In our haste, however, we may become forgetful, careless, and even try to take shortcuts where we shouldn’t. Whether decorating inside or out, there are some basic safety measures to take so that you, your family, and your house stay out of harm’s way.

  •  Be careful on ladders, especially if handling large storage boxes while on the ladder. Make sure it is steady with all four legs on the ground. If hanging items while on a ladder make sure not to reach too far to the side (no more than 1 foot is recommended).
  •  When lifting heavy items, use your legs, not your back.
  •  If using candles, make sure they’re in a sturdy holder, away from flammables, and are never left unattended.
  •  While setting up lights, check to make sure that none are cracked or damaged, and that you are using appropriate lights for indoors and outdoors.
  •  When cooking, never leave food on the burner unattended or in your oven while away from your home.
  •  If you put up a live tree, remember to water it consistently to prevent it from drying out and keep it away from heaters.
  •  If you use an artificial tree, make sure that it is flame resistant.
  •  Make sure that tree ornaments aren’t broken and don’t have sharp edges, or aren’t harmful if pieces are ingested by children or animals.

So as to eliminate some of the pressure, try scheduling a block of time when you’ll be able to focus and decorate properly, rather than trying to fit it in here and there. Decorating for the holidays can and should be a fun and exciting experience. Enjoy the time, make it a tradition, and treasure your family memories. Make a decorating safety list and check it twice to ensure your home is risk-free and nice.

For additional decorating safety ideas, check out the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Holiday Decoration Safety Tips.

 

I Have Water Damage…Will My Insurance Help?

The realization that you have water damage can be a frightening moment. Before you panic, check out our blog, Help… I Have Water Damage!, and then explore the world of insurance with us for a moment.

There are two types of insurance policies that have to do with water. One is Flood Insurance and the other is Homeowner’s Insurance. Flood Insurance is a policy that you have to purchase separately and will only cover losses from a flood. Homeowner’s Insurance, on the other hand, does not cover flood damage, but does cover many types of water damage to the exterior and interior of your home. In order to know what policies and types of coverage you have, call your insurance agent. Don’t hang up the phone or leave the office without complete knowledge and understanding of your policy.

In the case of water damage caused by ice dams, frozen pipes, or power loss during a storm, it’s important to know exactly what your policy states. Most policies will cover exterior and interior damage to your home due to an ice dam. Snow or ice removal, however, is not usually covered. As far as frozen pipes go, it depends on the insurance company and your policy as to whether they are covered or not. Some companies will not cover the thawing of the pipes, but will cover replacement of pipes and water damage, as long as the damage is not due to negligence. And for those severe storms that cause power outages, damage to your home or appliances due to the power outage will most likely be covered. In any case, you will probably need a contractor to repair the damage to your home, which your insurance company may or may not provide for you- they will let you know.

Knowing and understanding your insurance policy is half of the battle. Once you have a real understanding of what is covered, you can then move on to filing a claim and working with your contractor to get everything repaired. If you have questions about filing a claim, check your insurance company’s website for information, or call your agent. They should be able to provide you with a step by step procedure for filing a claim. Yes, it will take some time and effort to file the claim and complete the repairs, but consider the other option; if you don’t try to go through insurance, you will be responsible for all the repairs and costs yourself. Why not take advantage of your insurance policy…after all, that’s what it’s there for.

 

Help…I Have Water Damage!

Having water damage in your home can be overwhelming and frustrating. Unfortunately it can occur anytime, anywhere, without any warning, especially in the winter and spring, due to ice, frozen pipes, or melting snow. If you find that you do have water damage, you’ll need to take immediate action. We’ve provided some tips to help you get started with the clean-up process.

Contact your insurance company. Calling them first will help you determine what is covered and how to proceed.

Locate the source. If you see water spots or drips on your walls or ceilings, or feel that your rugs are soggy and wet, try to locate where the water is coming from. That way, either you or a professional will be able to try to stop the leakage quicker and easier.

Assess the damage. Some water damage may be minimal enough that you can take care of it yourself; while some damage might just be too excessive that a professional needs to take care of it. You will be able to decide that once you look at how much and where the damage is.

Remove water. Try to remove and dry any water by mopping, wiping, or vacuuming (with a wet vac only). You can also use a fan to help blow the area dry.

Remove wet items. Wet rugs, floor coverings, and cushions should be removed, propped up, or hung to make drying easier. Any valuables, such as photos, paintings, and books should be dried and placed in a safe, dry area. Wet books can be spread out to dry.

Use a dehumidifier. A dehumidifier takes moisture out of the air, so using one in a wet room will help dry it out, and avoid or minimize mold and mildew growth.

Avoid using electrical appliances on wet floors. A wet electrical cord can shock you, and moisture may ruin the appliance.

Avoid entering a room with standing water if electricity is on. You never know where the water is and what it is touching, so walking in could be hazardous.

Stay away from visible mold. Mold can cause serious health issues; it’s better to stay out and avoid any problems.

Avoid sagging ceilings. If you notice that your ceiling is wet and sagging, stay out of the room as it could fall apart at any moment.

If you decide that the damage is too severe to take care of yourself, but you don’t know who to call, your contractor should be able to point you in the right direction. Asking friends and family for suggestions of trustworthy remediation companies is also a good idea. Again, make sure you talk to your insurance company to see what is covered and what the guidelines are so that you do everything accordingly.

 

We Are Thankful For You!

It’s Thanksgiving! It is the day America has set aside to think about, celebrate, and give thanks for our blessings.

It began in Plymouth after the Pilgrims, half of whom died throughout the harsh winter, met and became friendly with the Native Americans that occupied the land. Squanto, who was one of the Native Americans who had been brought to meet the Pilgrims, knew how to help them. He had been captured by an English captain, sold as a slave, and then escaped to London where he lived before returning to New England. Since he could communicate with the Pilgrims, he taught them how to live in a different land. He taught them how to plant and harvest crops, fish, hunt, build sturdy homes, and store food to sustain the newcomers throughout the next winter. Because he was friends with the Pilgrims, as well as a member of a Native American tribe, he was able to help the two develop a relationship. That fall when the crops were successfully harvested, the Pilgrims organized a feast with their new friends to celebrate and give thanks.

As you go through the next few days leading up to Thanksgiving Day, try to reflect on your blessings and all that you have. Whether it’s our great country or family and friends, blessings large or small, there’s always something to be thankful for.

Mercer Home Solutions wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving! Have fun, eat lots of festive food, be safe, and remember…we are thankful for you!

And we thank God for all that we have…

Ward Off Winter Water Damage From Frozen Pipes

Water damage in the winter doesn’t sound like too big of a deal because all the water is frozen, right? Not exactly…

Weather.com simply illustrated how frozen pipes work. Take a can of soda. If you’ve ever put a can in the freezer to chill and then forgotten about it, when you finally remembered and went back, you found out that it was too late and had already burst. That’s because the liquid expands when frozen, and when it doesn’t have anywhere else to go, it explodes. The same is basically true for your pipes in the winter. The water inside freezes and expands, which causes increased pressure, which then results in an exploded pipe and a disaster in your home. Fear not! There are ways to prevent this from happening to you.

As with almost anything, there’s more than one way to get this done: the do-it-yourself method, or the call-a-contractor method. Should you choose the DIY way, you first need to find any exposed pipes in areas such as the attic, basement, or garage. Once you find them and if they are accessible, you can insulate them. In order to do this, you’ll need to buy some foam-rubber pipe insulation and possibly some plastic fasteners. The insulation does have adhesive on it, but if for some reason that doesn’t work, you will need to use the plastic ties to keep it on. Wrap the insulation around the pipe and attach it. That should help keep the warm air where it belongs and the cold air where it belongs.

If you will be traveling, DO NOT turn the heat off to save yourself some money. Doing that may end up having the opposite effect because if the pipes freeze and burst, you will be welcomed home to an expensive disaster. The best thing to do is leave your heat on. It doesn’t have to be set at the usual temperature, just no lower than 55 degrees.

If the pipes are not easily accessible or you just feel better about calling a professional, ask around to see who can recommend a good, trustworthy, licensed contractor or plumber. It may cost you a little more to be proactive, but consider this…a little now is better than a lot later.

How To Conquer Ice Dams

Winter can be fun, beautiful, and loaded with memories, but it can also create stress and anxiety when it comes to withstanding the harsh climate it brings with it. We’ve discussed some ideas on how to prevent ice dams before they occur, but what do you do if ice accumulates on your roof and gutters? How do you get it off without causing further damage to your home, what do you do if you start seeing leaks, and who do you call when this happens? We’ve provided some tips on how to temporarily take control of ice dams. Once the warmer weather arrives, you can then utilize a more permanent solution.

First things first…don’t panic! Panicking and acting rashly can result in more damage than the ice itself caused. The following are a couple of things to stay away from once icicles or ridges of ice form on your roof:

  • Stay away from rock salt. Salt and corrosive melting chemicals can ruin the gutters and downspouts, as well as the plants below.
  • Try to control the urge to take a shovel and chip away at the ice…it’s not safe for you or the house. You could end up hacking off shingles which is bad for the roof and yourself, should they fall off and hit you, while putting up a ladder in icy and snowy conditions could result in a bad fall.

Once you’ve discovered that you don’t have any serious problems, the following are some tips to get you through until the warmer weather arrives:

  • Try using a fan. If you do find minor leakage in your attic, place a fan up there so that it blows on the area that is leaking. This will create colder temps, which will keep that section from thawing and causing further leakage in your attic.
  • Purchase a snow rake and scrape off the excess snow from the roof and gutters. (You only need to rake off what you can safely reach from the ground, not the whole roof.)
  • Try a non-corrosive melting chemical, such as calcium chloride or calcium magnesium acetate. You can buy it in pellet form, or sometimes in a stocking-like sleeve that you can lie on the roof and gutter so that it will release heat over time and forge a drainage path.
  • If you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to be working, call your contractor. They might be able to come help you, or suggest a reputable ice dam removal company.

If you do find major leaks or water damage, first call your insurance company to see if your policy covers damage from the ice dam. Then, call your contractor to see if you need water or mold remediation. If you do, the contractor should be able to suggest a good company.

Icicles may look pretty, but they are a hidden danger. Preventative maintenance is key in avoiding damage and significant home repair bills. Conquer the ice dams before they conquer you!

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