FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MARСH 19, 2020 • SPRING THING • THE QUEENS COURIER 47
Four outdoor cleaning tips that could help you save thousands
Th e sounds of birds chirping, longer daylight
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hours, and budding trees and fl owers
are early signs that warmer weather and
spring are on the way. Th at means more
time outside to enjoy nature, but it’s also
a sign it might be time for a little spring
“Cold temperatures, snowfall and winter
rains can have a big eff ect on houses
and landscaping, so now’s the time
to check for potential home repairs and
maintenance,” said Christopher O’Rourke,
Mercury Insurance vice president of property
claims. “Spring cleaning isn’t just about
getting rid of belongings you no longer
want or need - it’s also a time to get your
home in tip-top shape so you can enjoy it
throughout the rest of the year.”
Here are four tips O’Rourke recommends
to welcome the new season and
save some money down the road.
1. Clean your gutters.
Gutters collect debris over time, especially
when rain, snow and wind causes twigs,
pine needles and leaves to settle on your
roof and in your rain gutters. Accumulated
debris can create blockages that direct
water into the home or, in areas without
much precipitation, can act as kindling in
the event of a fi re. Buildup also allows mildew
and mold to develop, which can slowly
decay a home’s exterior and roof.
“Preventable damage like mold or mildew
that develops and rots a home’s exterior
isn’t covered by homeowners insurance,”
said O’Rourke. “It’s important to routinely
clean out gutters - even if you have gutter
guards installed, they don’t completely protect
against debris building up eventually.
An hour or two spent cleaning or checking
your gutters is time well spent compared to
2. Trim branches and
remove dangerous trees.
Th understorm frequency picks up in
summer months, and high winds can
occur year round, so it’s best to get a
jump on tree maintenance in early spring.
Regularly trimming tree branches reduces
their chance of breaking during a storm,
which could cause power outages or property
“Properly trimmed branches present a
lower risk of falling onto your home, power
lines or possibly injuring someone on your
property,” said O’Rourke. “Also, in areas
that are prone to wildfi res, trimmed trees
create a buff er zone to help lower the
chances of fl ames easily jumping onto your
Consider having the trees on your property
inspected by an arborist to determine
their health and have diseased trees
removed before they topple over unexpectedly.
Removal costs vary depending on
height and diffi culty, but range from $100
to around $1,800. Th ese preventative costs
are not covered by your homeowners policy,
but can be a wise investment that saves
you time, money and anxiety.
3. Watch out for service lines.
Homeowners who want to plant gardens,
trees or install additional landscape features
to enhance their outdoor living space
should be aware of potential underground
utility lines. Most service lines - a network
of exterior, underground utility lines or
pipes that supply a home with electricity,
gas, water and sewer functions - are only
buried a few inches beneath the ground.
Accidentally hitting one when digging can
result in loss of service, expensive repairs
or a serious injury.
If a break to a service line happens on
a homeowner’s property, special machinery
may be needed to excavate pipes from
beneath the ground, which may require
digging under your home, garden or driveway.
Th e homeowner is responsible for
repair or replacement costs, and this damage
can be inconvenient, expensive and
isn’t covered by a standard homeowners
“Th e average cost to repair a break to
a service line is about $5,000 and most
Americans wouldn’t welcome such a large
surprise bill,” said O’Rourke. “Homeowners
should defi nitely consider purchasing
an endorsement to their insurance policy
to protect against losses of this nature.
Mercury off ers this coverage as an addition
to our home insurance policy and it
costs as little as $8 a year, depending on the
To be safe, homeowners should call 811
before digging so the utility companies can
send a locator to mark the approximate
locations of underground service lines.
4. Service your air conditioning
Regular maintenance of heating, ventilation
and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
is essential to ensure the equipment
is in proper working order, which can
save money on energy bills, as well as protect
against expensive repair and replacement
“No one wants to unexpectedly fi nd
themselves living in a sauna during the
dog days of summer, so the start of spring
is a great time to have your air conditioner
inspected,” said O’Rourke. “You should
also change your air fi lter to make sure it’s
operating at its highest effi ciency, so when
that heat wave hits you’ll be nice and cool
inside your home.”
Have a professional inspect your HVAC
unit to make sure its exterior condenser
coil and compressor are clean and free
from blockages - the average cost for an
inspection is about $300.
Your home will bring you security and
joy for many years to come. Taking the
time to maintain it is well worth the investment.
— Courtesy of BPT