9 Quick Tips to Help You Prepare Your Home for Fall

As summer comes to a close, cooler temperatures, cascading leaves, and shorter days will serve as reminders that fall will soon be here! Even though fall has just arrived, it’s always a smart idea to begin preparing our homes for the change in season. After all, the weather can change quickly as the season progresses, and you won’t want to be caught unprepared.

Here are 9 quick tips to help you prepare your home for the cooler weather that fall brings with it!

Get Your Furnace Inspected – No one wants the furnace to short out when winter is in full force. Take the time to get your furnace inspected by a professional. Additionally, remember to stock up on a few extra air filters and change them every few months if you don’t do so already.

Start Winterizing – Go around your home and check for drafts around the edges of your windows and doors. An easy way to determine if you have any drafts is to hold a lit candle a few feet away from the doors and windows; if the flame flickers, then there’s probably a draft. You can tackle drafts by replacing seals and repairing caulking and weatherstripping around your windows and doorframes. Additionally, consider purchasing heavier or insulated drapery to keep the cold out.

Test Home Safety Devices – Fall is a great time to test your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide devices. Test them to ensure that they’re working properly. If they don’t respond, replace the batteries. If you’ve had these devices for at least 10 years, replace them with new ones.

Clean the Gutters – It isn’t a pleasant job, but cleaning the gutters is one of the best things you can do when fall comes around. Remove leaves, nests, and debris from your gutters, and check for leaks by running a pail of water down the gutters and into the downspout. This can help prevent ice dams during winter.

Get Your Chimney and Fireplace Cleaned and Inspected – If you have a wood fireplace and use it often, make sure to have your chimney and fireplace cleaned and inspected by a professional before winter sets in!

Turn Off Faucets and Store the Hoses – It’s time to put away your gardening gear! Drain your garden hoses and disconnect them from your outside spigots. Next, shut off the exterior faucets. Store your hoses in a dry place so any residual water won’t be able to freeze and damage the hoses.

Bring in the Plants – Do you keep plants or flowers in pots year-round? Now is the time to bring them inside! Keep them cozy indoors until next spring. If you have annuals in pots outside, empty, clean, dry, and store the pots for next spring.

Plant Bulbs – If you want to see some cute daffodils pop up and flourish in the spring, be sure to plant the bulbs in the fall! This also goes for other flowers like tulips, crocus, hyacinths, and snowdrops.

Close the Pool – Have a pool in the backyard? Before the temperatures dip, make an appointment for it to be serviced and close it for the season.

Of course, it’s always wise to check if your home insurance policy is updated, too! Remember to add calling your agent at Madison Mutual Insurance Company to the to-do list! Call us today at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com.

8 Smart Tips to Help You Prepare Your Car for Colder Weather

Fall will officially be here on September 22! While there’s plenty of time to enjoy the crisp weather, vibrant colors of the fallen leaves, and pumpkin spice everything, winter will be here before you know it. During this time of the year, it’s especially important to pay close attention to your car and the many parts that make your vehicle function properly so that you can remain safe on the road.

Don’t fall behind on your car maintenance this year! Make sure that your car is ready for the upcoming cold weather by following these 8 car maintenance tips:

Check Your Tire Tread – Pay close attention to the tread on your tires now before winter arrives. Without proper tread depth, your car won’t be able to grip the road properly, which means that you will have a greater potential to hydroplane on wet roads. All you need is a penny! Insert Abe Lincoln’s head into the tread in a couple different spots on each tire. If you can see the entire top of his head, that means that your tread is less than 1/16th of an inch deep, and your tires should be replaced.

Get the Radiator Flushed – Over time, the coolant in your radiator will begin to break down and corrode the inside of the radiator. This can lead to cooling problems and even repairs to the radiator. This fall, remember to change out your coolant in order to protect your radiator throughout the winter.

Replace Torn Wiper Blades – Nothing’s more frustrating than trying to drive in inclement weather only to have your windshield wipers smudge the wintery precipitation across your windshield. If your wiper blades are torn, cracked, or don’t properly clean your windshield, have them replaced! As a good rule of thumb, your blades should be replaced every 6 months. Don’t forget to make sure that your fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir is full, too!

Get Your Belts and Hoses Checked – Before the cold weather settles in, get your vehicle’s belts and hoses serviced. You will want to ensure that the belts are not worn down and that all the fittings are tight and not rusted, and your hoses shouldn’t have any holes in them.

Check Your Headlights – Before you know it, the days will grow even shorter, and you will find yourself driving home from work in the dark. It’s important to take care of your headlights during this time of the year! Take a look to see if you need to replace any headlight bulbs. It’s not only unsafe to drive without a headlight, but you can also get a ticket for doing so!

Check Your HVAC System – You might think you can handle driving without any ventilation, but it’s really unwise to do so. Check your heating, ventilating, and air condition (HVAC) system to see that it is properly functioning. Your heating and cooling is important for not only your personal comfort during the changing seasons, but also for safety reasons such as defrosting your vehicle.

Get Your Brakes Checked – During this time of the year, consider having your brakes and braking system checked. This includes your brake linings, drums, and rotors as well. Your brakes are absolutely paramount to your safety, especially in snow and on ice-covered roads, so make sure that they are in solid working condition before the bad weather comes!

Keep an Eye on Your Battery – Batteries very rarely give off warning signs that they will soon fail, so take a peek to make sure that the battery’s connections are tight, clean, and corrosion-free. Remember, cold weather is especially hard on batteries, so take good care of it now before winter arrives. If your battery is more than three years old, consider replacing it.

Make sure that your car is properly protected with an auto insurance policy from Madison Mutual Insurance Company! Call your agent to get your policy updated or visit us at www.madisonmutual.com to learn more about how we can serve you.

5 Factors That Could Impact Your Auto Insurance Rates

Are you in the hunt for a solid auto insurance policy that will protect you and your car while saving you money? While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, your auto insurance rates can vary depending on a few factors. Here are 5 factors that can impact your auto insurance costs:

Your Driving History – Have you been involved in a handful of accidents or fender-benders? Have you been issued a glovebox-full of speeding tickets? If this is the case, you might need to pay higher auto insurance rates. Conversely, if you are a safe driver and have very few incidents of accidents or tickets, you may possibly lower your rates!

Your Deductible and Discounts – Sometimes, a higher deductible can mean a lower premium. If you want to save money, choose the highest deductible that you feel comfortable with. Just keep in mind that you will need to pay the amount of your deductible out-of-pocket in the event of a covered loss. Don’t forget to ask about discounts, too! You might be able to take advantage of discounts such as a safe driver discount or good student discount.

Where You Live – Rates can vary from state to state and even from city to city. If you live in a metropolitan area, which tends to have more traffic, you might pay higher rates. Live in a rural area? You might be able to enjoy lower rates.

Your Vehicle and How Often You Drive It – If you have a longer commute, you might find yourself with more elevated auto insurance rates. That’s because the longer you spend on the road, the higher the chances are that something could happen. Also, if you drive a vehicle that has strong safety ratings, your rates could go down. Conversely, if you have a car that doesn’t have the best safety track record or that has a higher likelihood of being stolen, you could see your rates go up.

Your Age, Marital Status, and Sex – Statistically speaking, married drivers tend to have fewer accidents than single drivers, which can ultimately mean lower premiums for married drivers. Younger drivers tend to pay more for their auto insurance since they are inexperienced; typically, the rates will be lowered a little once a driver turns 25. In addition, female drivers tend to experience fewer accidents, so they might receive lower auto insurance rates than their male counterparts.

Have any questions about these 5 rating factors? Want to get a great auto insurance policy that will cover and protect you and your car? Call Madison Mutual Insurance Company today at 1-800-766-MMIC or visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com!

5 Tips to Help You Prevent Termites in Your Home

Termites – they’re every homeowner’s worst nightmare. No matter how long you’ve lived in your home, the threat of termites will always be alive and well. After all, termites don’t care if they destroy your home in order to enjoy a tasty meal of wood. From scrap wood in your backyard to the support beams inside your home, anything is fair game. That’s why it’s incredibly important to take steps now to prevent termites from appearing before any damage can happen.

Here are our top 5 tips to help you prevent termites from entering and damaging your home:

Get an Annual Inspection – If you aren’t getting your home inspected for termites once a year, then put this at the top of your to-do list. Start getting regular, annual termite inspections from a qualified professional. He or she will be able to determine if termites are around or if there had been any previous activity by examining the wood in and around your home.

Close Off Their Access Points – Look for any gaps around your water and gas lines where termites could enter and seal them. Also, examine your home’s exterior for any small cracks in the exterior wood, and seal all cracks, joints, and crevices to prevent termites from entering. Wood-to-ground contact is also a common access point for subterranean termites in particular, so wherever possible, reduce any wood-to-ground contact in your home and treat the wood with termite-targeting pesticide.

Cut Out Their Food Sources – While you can’t completely eliminate wood in and around your home, you can take steps to reduce termites’ food sources. Start by removing dead trees, firewood, and any other dead wood that could house dry-wood termites from your property. Also, throw out any extra cellulose materials around your home, including in your crawlspaces. Make sure that you use cellulose-free landscaping materials and that they are at least 6 inches back from your foundation, too.

Reduce Excess Moisture – If you have any moisture issues in your basement or crawlspace, make sure to address those problems right away to keep subterranean termites away. Fix any leaky plumbing, faulty gutters, and air conditioner condensation lines that might be dripping as well.

Keep an Eye Out for Any Suspicious Activity – Although an annual inspection for termites can be a great help, it’s always important to check wood as you go. Inspect any lumber you might use for home or gardening projects before using them. Also, watch for any signs of dry-wood termites near areas that have wood shingles as they can grant them easy access into your home or garage.

Prevention is always smart when it comes to protecting your home not only against termites but also against storms, fires, and other hazards. Remember to call your Madison Mutual agent to see if your home insurance policy is up-to-date!