Safety Tips for Home Heating Systems

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With the cold winter weather on the way in Maine, it’s important to check your home heating systems to be sure they are maintained properly and in sound condition. Here are some easy to follow safety tips to keep in mind for ensuring a safe and happy home for you and your family this winter.    Have Your Furnace Checked  Make sure you contact a professional heating contractor to get your furnace checked thoroughly, at frequent intervals. Doing this will allow you to have some peace of mind regarding the efficiency of the heating system. Be sure to explain the exact problems to the professional, if there are any. This will help him solve the problems better and faster.   Clear the Furnace and Vents  Be sure there are no rags, old newspapers, cardboard boxes or any other kind of flammable materials near the heating system before you start any repairing activities. You should also clean the vents thoroughly. If the ventilation system of the heating unit is not maintained properly or the airway is blocked, the furnace can cause a large blaze, leading to a dangerous situation. Make sure any kind of object, which is flammable, is kept at least three feet away from all the different heating equipment that you have at home. This includes furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves and space heaters.   Clean the Chimney  If the heating system at your place has a chimney, make sure it’s thoroughly cleaned at least once a year. If it’s not in regular use, there are high chances that you suddenly discover a small animal, with its nest, residing in your chimney. Consider contacting a heating contractor if you think that it’s not possible for you to check the chimney on your own.  However, be sure to clean the chimney before you use it for the first time this winter.   Turn Portable Heaters Off  Be sure to turn off the portable heaters before going to sleep or going out. It doesn’t really make sense to keep the heater on when you are not indoors. At the same time, you won’t be able to notice if there is a fire hazard when you are sleeping. Make sure you use the home heating systems properly and turn those off when these are not being monitored. This will help you ensure complete security for your home.    Follow General Heating Safety Rules  Apart from keeping the home heating system in a sound condition, it’s also essential to follow some general heating safety rules. For instance, you should never use an oven to heat your home. Also, be sure to use the correct fuel, which has been specified by the manufacturer, in case...

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Homeowners Insurance 101

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As a homeowner, you want to protect your financial investment. Homeowners insurance is designed to pay for damages to your home and your belongings. It also helps protect you from financial liability if someone is injured on your property.   How much homeowners insurance do I need? Ask yourself the following questions when deciding how much insurance you need: How much would it cost to replace my home today? You may need the help of a professional for an estimate — ask a real estate appraiser, builder, or your insurance agent. If you’ve made big improvements to your home, such as remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or building a deck, make sure your insurance policy is updated to reflect the increased value. Am I protected for inflation? Many companies automatically adjust policies for inflation; if so, your premiums would go up to cover the rising cost of replacement. Review your policy every year to see if your coverage limits are adequate. Am I planning any additions or renovations? Adding a family room or finishing a basement could increase the value of your home and the amount of coverage needed. Remember to inform your insurance company of any additions or renovations, otherwise you may not have enough coverage if you sustained a loss. Is my personal property covered? If you have valuable possessions, such as computers, cameras, jewelry, musical instruments, etc., you may want to buy optional coverage designed for these types of property and without any deductible.   What if someone got hurt on my property? If you or members of your household were hurt on your property, your medical expenses would typically be covered by your health insurance policy. They will not be covered by homeowners insurance. Homeowners insurance provides basic liability coverage that protects you and family members who are part of your household, if someone finds you legally responsible for injuries or damages, either on or off your property. You can be held legally liable for such events even though you didn’t intend for them to happen. Liability coverage includes the following: Legal defense costs Payments for first aid to others at the scene of an accident Payments for damage to someone else’s property caused by you or your family (e.g., your child hits a baseball through your neighbor’s window). Payments for reasonable expenses and for lost wages or salary up to the per day limit if you attend a hearing or trial at the request of your insurance company. Note that bodily injury and property damage generally are not covered while you are operating a motor vehicle, airplane, or boat. You need separate policies for these activities.   What questions should I ask about my...

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Moving In – Tips for Taking Control of Your Move

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You did it! The key has been given, the contract has been signed and the first payment has been provided. Maybe you’ll be staying in your new home for the rest of your life or maybe you’ll be moving out in a few months – either way, it’s an exciting time of life! Moving in can either be a great experience or a tough one, depending on how organized you are and the amount of enthusiasm your happy helpers have. Unpacking and preparing your new home may seem daunting right now, but once everything is said and done, you’ll breathe such a sigh of relief. Take advantage of this moving in checklist to keep the process as smooth and enjoyable as possible! To see the other three blogs in this four-part series, click on any of the buttons below. Preparing to Move Packing your Memories  Movin’ On Out     Inspect delivered boxes. Since you’ve already (hopefully) made your handy dandy household inventory sheet before moving everything out of your old residence, it should be easy to check each moving box against the detailed list as it’s brought into your new home. If a box seems to be missing, inform the moving crew and see if it was accidentally left in the moving truck or was misplaced elsewhere. Once the movers are gone, inspect each of the moving boxes/personal items for damages obtained while in the hands of the moving company. If you find any items that have been broken or seemingly mistreated, write down the specific damage on your inventory sheet and contact the moving company to work through the issue together. Hopefully, if you’ve done your research and found reliable movers, the company will resolve the issue quickly. However, if they are not as trustworthy as they should be, you have the right to file a complaint against the moving company.   Take pictures. Many rental properties charge a security deposit to new tenants in case damages are made throughout their stay. If you’re moving into an apartment or rental home, snap a few pictures of the place right when you move in to document any damages made before your occupancy. Unfortunately, security deposit scams are fairly common, so be sure to protect yourself from the unnecessary charges later on. Check for cracked windows, nail holes in the wall, or anything of that sort which might condemn you later on. Your landlord is not able to withhold your security deposit for normal “wear and tear” like worn carpet, faded paint, or worn hardwood.   Get utilities up and running. Hopefully you arranged the connection of the main house utilities before you moved, but if you didn’t, do it...

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Five Vacation Scams to Avoid

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Vacation is supposed to be a time to unwind. Unfortunately, there are thieves who are waiting to strike when we let our guard down. That’s why it pays to stay updated on the latest travel scams.  Here are five vacation scams to watch out for:   1. Fake Deals Many destinations offer deals on luxury items, but some sellers of gems, jewelry and antiques are scam artists who take a percentage of the agreed sale price, with the rest payable upon delivery. The outcome: Customers lose the down payment and be left waiting for a delivery that never comes. Avoid the scam by shopping at reputable retailers in the area.   2. Front Desk Scam Hotel guests should beware if they get a late night call from the front desk claiming their credit card has been declined. Avoid the scam by hanging up or calling the front desk yourself.   3. Fake Police You may be approached by someone posing as a police officer, demanding to see—and finding fault with—their identification or accusing them of having committed a crime. If he is willing to overlook the incident for a small fee, it’s a scam. Avoid the scam by knowing where the local police station, hospital and U.S. Embassy are located and offering to drive there to pay the fine.   4. Photo Bombs A bystander may offer to take your picture, and when you accept he informs you of the fee. Or, you hand over your phone and he takes off with it. Avoid the scam by just saying no or negotiating prices in advance. Use selfie sticks, too.   5. Taxi Fare Scam When a cab fare seems high, it may be due to rigged meters or drivers taking needlessly long routes. Avoid the scam by only taking licensed taxis and determining the fare in advance.   Subscribe to our blog If you would like to receive informative articles about saving money, staying safe and protecting your life & loved ones...subscribe to our blog today! Name* First Last Email*   Information courtesy of:...

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The Meanings Behind These 15 Symbols On Your Car’s Dashboard

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When something goes wrong with your car or if a feature you should know about gets activated, a signal funnels through the electrical system and into the dashboard. This illuminates a hieroglyphic, and these cover a wide range of issues—some of which may be serious. Here are the meanings behind 15 of these curious-looking markers (and what they look like, in case you need a mnemonic device to help your memory). Your dashboard may be different and the symbols may have altered designs or indicate slightly different things, so be sure to consult your owner’s manual. Some of these lights could portend a serious malfunction. Don’t ignore them. When in doubt, have a professional check it out.   1. ENGINE TEMPERATURE WARNING LIGHT What it looks like: A pirate ship with its sails down as if to say, “I’m just a normal boat, no pirates here.” What it means: Your engine is too hot, friend. Here is a useful guide for what to do if your engine overheats.   2. TIRE PRESSURE WARNING LIGHT What it looks like: A Buckingham Palace guard telling you the field goal is GOOD! What it means: The pressure in one or more of your tires is too low and needs to be attended to.   3. OIL PRESSURE WARNING What it looks like: You’re about to get three wishes. What it means: Your engine is running low on oil, or there is a problem with your car’s oil pressure system.   4. TRACTION CONTROL What it looks like: A squid wearing a fedora. What it means: The car’s traction control system is engaged.   5. ENGINE WARNING What it looks like: Yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine. What it means: It can blink on for a number of reasons. Read about some of those here.   6. ANTILOCK BRAKE WARNING What it looks like: The cover of a fitness magazine. What it means: There is an issue with your anti-lock brake system that needs to be diagnosed and fixed.   7. AUTOMATIC SHIFT LOCK OR ENGINE START INDICATOR What it looks like: The bat signal, if Bruce Wayne had been afraid of shoes instead of a bats as a child. What it means: You need to engage the brake, either to start your car’s ignition or to get it out of neutral.   8. BATTERY ALERT What it looks like: Math lego. What it means: The car’s charging system is short of power. You are running solely on battery.   9. FUEL INDICATOR SYMBOL What it looks like: A snake-infested ATM. What it means: You are running low on fuel. Fun fact: The symbol on the fuel gauge also has an arrow...

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Spring Home Maintenance Tips

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Milder days offer a prime opportunity for spring cleaning and home maintenance. After a long winter, be sure to spend some time on preventive measures that will help maintain your home and property all year long. From cleaning out your gutters and checking for dead trees and branches, to cleaning and inspecting your home mechanical systems such as your heating and air conditioning equipment, we offer ways to help make spring a season of safety.   Inside Your Home Check your electrical outlets for potential fire hazards, such as frayed wires or loose-fitting plugs. Make sure outlets, fuse boxes and extension cords are not overloaded. Move your multi-purpose fire extinguisher to an accessible place, and make sure it is filled and ready for operation. Have your air-conditioning system inspected by a professional as recommended by the manufacturer. Check your water heater for leaks and corrosion. Clean or replace your furnace filter. Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct and space under the dryer. Remove all lint, dust, and pieces of material. Inspect your smoke detectors. Make sure there is one on each floor of your home. Test them monthly, and change the batteries annually or as needed. Check the light bulbs in all your fixtures. Be sure they are the correct wattage as recommended by the manufacturer. Replace all high-intensity bulbs with fluorescent bulbs. Other types of bulbs, like incandescent, produce more heat than fluorescent bulbs. Outside Your Home Check for damage to your roof. Clean gutters and downspouts to keep debris from accumulating. Remove dead trees in your yard. Keep healthy trees and bushes trimmed and away from utility wires. Safely store oil and gas for lawn equipment and tools in a vented, locked area. Repair cracked, broken or uneven driveways and walkways to provide a level walking surface. Download this great Spring Maintenance Checklist from our partners at Travelers Insurance  Spring Maintenance Checklist   Subscribe to our blog If you would like to receive informative articles about saving money, staying safe and protecting your life & loved ones...subscribe to our blog today! Name* First Last Email*   Information courtesy of: Travelers...

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