Daylight Saving Time Spring Checklist

Daylight Saving Time

It’s time to “spring forward” for daylight saving early this Sunday morning, March 13. Since it occurs twice a year, daylight saving is the perfect time to perform basic maintenance in and around your home:

  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check to see if they have expiration dates, and change the batteries.
  • After a winter of using your fireplace or wood stove, have your chimney cleaned and inspected.
  • Check your fire extinguishers’ gauges to make sure they are still charged sufficiently. If they’re low, contact your local fire department to find out where to recharge them. Extinguishers must always be recharged after use. Make sure one is always easily accessible throughout your home.
  • Check outside railings, stairs, and walkways if you have them for needed repair after the winter.
  • Check trees for signs of damaged branches that might need to come down. Consider contacting a tree professional.
  • Perform spring maintenance on appliances and home systems:
    • Change filters in your HVAC systems as needed, or have them serviced.
    • Clean your refrigerator—wipe down the inside and vacuum underneath and behind to ensure optimal operating efficiency.
    • Drain the water heater to flush out sediment.

(Did you know that sudden damage to these home systems and appliances caused by accident, breakdown, or human error is typically not covered under most warranties or service contracts? Repairs can often cost thousands of dollars. Read more on how to protect these systems.)

  • Change your windshield wiper blades. If you have snow tires, plan to remove them as the weather gets warmer and snow and ice are no longer on the horizon.
  • Contact your insurance agent to review your coverage to make sure it’s still adequate, especially if you’ve had any major purchases or life events in the last year.

Daylight saving is a helpful calendar reminder to do these routine maintenance tasks. We’ll make sure to publish one in the fall as well, which will be somewhat different due to seasonality.

How to Prevent a Dryer Fire

Dryer
(Photo Credit: iStock)

Did you know failure to properly clean and maintain a clothes dryer is the leading cause of a dryer fire? Here are some precautions to help prevent these fires:

  • Have your dryer installed and serviced by a professional, and make sure it’s properly grounded
  • Don’t use the dryer without a lint filter, and make sure to clean the lint filter before or after each load of laundry
  • Remove lint that has collected around the drum and wash the filter screen to remove chemical residue every six months. Vacuum the motor area to remove dust and lint. (You may have to remove a panel.)
  • Use rigid or flexible metal venting material to vent outside. Vacuum out accumulated lint twice a year.
  • Make sure that the outdoor vent flap isn’t blocked or covered and will open when the dryer is operating, especially when snow starts to pile up.
  • Clean commercial dryer vents regularly—they get a lot of use and have a common venting system.
  • Don’t overload your dryer.
  • Turn off the dryer if you’re going out and when you are going to bed.

These tips are courtesy of the Office of the State Fire Marshall, Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the National Fire Protection Association. To find more detailed information, view these NFPA dryer-safety tips.

Wood- and Pellet-Burning Stove Safety

woodstove

If this coming winter’s temperatures are even half as cold as last year, we’ll once again be doing everything we can to stay warm. For this, many turn to alternative forms of heating such as fireplaces, space heaters, boilers, and traditional wood or pellet stoves.

Wood or pellet stoves are an increasingly popular form of alternative or supplemental heating during the cold season, but like every form of heating, they must be used with care. As the prevalence of these stoves has increased, so has the number of fires caused by their misuse or improper installation and maintenance. If you plan on heating your home with a wood or pellet stove, make sure you take the necessary precautions by following the tips below:

  • Install the stove in a central room to maximize heating effectiveness.
  • Make sure your stove and chimney are Underwriters Laboratories tested and approved.
  • Hire a professional chimney sweep to keep the chimney’s flue and stove pipe clean and remove any blockages, oils, or creosote that may have built up.
  • Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, especially in the room where the stove is located.
  • Use only the fuel type (wood, corn, pellets, coal, etc.) the stove is specifically designed to burn.
  • If you are using wood, make sure it is dry and well-seasoned.
  • Non-flammable floor protection such as tile should extend out at least 18 inches on all sides of the stove.
  • Always keep flammable materials away from any heating source.
  • Never use liquid fuel such as kerosene in a stove.
  • Prevent small children and pets from getting too close to the stove by putting up a non-flammable safety gate.
  • Run the stove only when your home is occupied.
  • Check the charge on your fire extinguisher to make sure it is full and ready to use in case of emergency.

Before installing a new stove in your home, check to make sure the installation will comply with your local fire and building codes and always hire a licensed and insured installer.

Additional information and safety tips about using stoves can be found at the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety and at the Insurance Information Institute.