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Roof Care 101: Repair vs. Replace

Storm season is approaching, which means the elements may wreak havoc on your roof. You may find a leak or missing shingles, but how do you know if you should repair or replace your roof?

REPAIR VS. REPLACE

If you have a suspicion that the roof may need repairs or need to be replaced, start in the attic. Look for beams of sunlight coming through the roof boards, this could indicate a leaky roof. If light can shine through, so can other elements, like rain and snow.

REPAIR

Only one area is damaged

It’s definitely easier to repair or replace a small section that’s restricted to one area.

Only a few shingles are affected

If only a few shingles are affected, you can simply repair or replace those. But if your shingles look worn across the whole roof, you may consider replacing it.

There’s one leak

Be sure to get any leak fixed quickly before it causes further damage to your home.

 

REPLACE

Cracked shingles

Storms can be quite the hazard for shingles. If multiple shingles are cracked, a new roof may be in order.

Curled shingle edges

You’ll recognize curled shingles if the edges turn upward or the middle of the shingles are coming up. Look at your roof from the point that receives the most direct sunlight. This will give you an easier viewpoint to tell if the shingles are curling.

Sagging roof

If your roof looks like it’s sagging, this could become a big problem to your home. Look for rotting boards and trapped moisture. Visible moss on the surface can be an indicator of trapped moisture.

A general rule is to get your roof inspected about once a year and after each severe weather event, including heavy wind, hail or snow. Be sure to contact a professional roofing contractor for a full evaluation or to ask any questions regarding the care of your roof.

 

Wet Conditions

Always wait to work on the roof’s dry surface, even if you’re just examining it. If work has begun on your roof and the forecast calls for rain, stop work altogether. With the right tools and know-how, you can protect your hard work from succumbing to the rainfall.

  1. Do not start roofing when the roof sheathing is wet.
  2. Be sure to have tarps ready to go in the chance of a rain shower.
  3. Cover the decking with tarp while the weather turns wet.
  4. Allow the roof deck to fully dry if it has gotten wet already.

Just as you would not work in rainy or icy conditions, do not expect your roofing contractors to do so either. In fact, if a worker continues to work in the chance of rain showers, this may be a red flag. Roofing in the rain is not only unsafe for those working on it, it can also expose your home to damage.

Your roof keeps you covered, and Madison Mutual knows how important coverage is for you and your home. Contact a Madison Mutual agent today to find the best home insurance policy for you.

 

home maintenance

10 Simple Steps to Keep Your Home in Shape

Maintaining your home can be a daunting task at first. Unexpected mishaps occur, causing homeowners and landlords costly repairs. But with diligent checkups, you can prevent those mishaps from getting unmanageable and keep your home in shape all year long. Below are 10 basic maintenance routines that can save you headaches and prevent major repairs.

  1. Routine checkups

Start simple: Test and replace the batteries for your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. Even hard-wired smoke detectors have backup batteries that need to be tested and replaced. This routine checkup can prevent massive home damage and keep your loved ones safe.

  1. Yes, fire extinguishers do expire

If you’re not sure if you can still rely on your fire extinguisher, check the pressure gauge. If the needle is in the green, your fire extinguisher is in the clear. Otherwise, it’s time to get a new one.

  1. You have the power

Every month, test all Ground Fault Circuit Interrupt (GFCI) outlets by pressing the “test” button or using a GFCI tester. Call a professional electrician to help if you’re unsure.

  1. Clean air, clean home

Change your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) filters every one to three months, depending on your household. If you have a large household with pets, your filter may need to be checked more often. If your filter is damaged, replace immediately. Regular filter changes are key to maintaining healthy air quality in your home. Bonus benefit: increased HVAC efficiency, which means lower cost to run.

  1. Test the waters

If you have rooms that aren’t occupied daily, such as a guest bathroom, be sure to run the faucet and flush the toilet. This will help prevent grime or buildup.

  1. Rinse and repeat

If your washing machine and dryer are not routinely monitored, it can be hazardous to your home. Regularly check for exhaust to come out of your dryer. (Tip: it should smell like fresh laundry!) If exhaust is not coming out, check for blockages — this may require a professional. Additionally, be sure there are no leaks in your supply hose. If you have a metal supply hose, tighten it until it cannot be tightened any further.

  1. Clean the lint

Always clean the dryer lint screen after every load of laundry to prevent fires!

  1. Basement patrol

Don’t forget about the basement! Take a look through the area for any repairs and mold. If your concrete walls are visible, make note of any cracks and water because these can be indicators of foundation issues. Use a piece of chalk to mark any cracks so you can track the “growth.”

  1. Chimney sweep

To prevent a chimney fire, check the chimney, fireplace and vents at least once a year to remove buildup of soot and creosote. Removing creosote can be a challenge, so it’s recommended to have your chimney inspected by a Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA)-certified chimney sweep. Another tip: Never burn trash, cardboard boxes or trees in your fireplace because these can spark fires!

  1. Deep clean

Just as dentists recommend flossing your teeth in addition to daily brushing, it’s recommended to give your home a deep clean to enhance home care. Take one day a month to walk through your home and clean all the nooks and crannies. This includes baseboards, doorframes, cabinets and more. A clean home is a healthy home.

 

By regularly completing these 10 basic tips, you reduce your risk of frequent and costly home repairs. When in doubt, contact an experienced plumber, electrician or other professional.

As all homeowners know, anything can happen; so make sure your property is covered with a home insurance policy from Madison Mutual. Be a champion of safety and contact an agent today to determine the best coverage for you.

towing a car on the highway

6 Things We Love About Madison Mutual

It’s true – you can get your insurance from any old insurance provider. But why should you when Madison Mutual is here to tend to your needs? After all, there’s plenty to love about our services and our company!

Here are 6 things that will send you head-over-heels for us!

We Protect Your Identity – When someone compromises your identity, to whom do you turn? The answer: Madison Mutual. Our homeowners policy includes protection from identify theft, keeping you safe from anyone who would try to steal your identity.

Our Direct Repair Program Is All the Rage – Getting in an accident is a stressful event. Our Direct Repair Program offers you peace of mind! The process is fast and efficient as we work directly with shops in our Direct Repair Program. These shops are contracted with Madison Mutual to guarantee quality repairs to your vehicle.

You Can Find an Agent Near You Quickly – Whether you’ve experienced a home invasion, an accident on the road, or simply want to make sure that your policy is up to speed, finding a Madison Mutual insurance agent has never been easier! Just visit our website at www.madisonmutual.com and click “Find an Agent.” Enter in your address, select a mile radius, and find the closest agent to you, along with pertinent contact information. It’s that simple!

We’ll Protect You on the Road, 24/7 – With our optional Emergency Towing and Road Service coverage, if you ever find yourself stranded on the side of the road, you will never have to worry about whom to call! Our emergency towing and road service helps provide peace of mind 24/7 should your vehicle become disabled or harmed. We will pay up to your limit for reasonable expenses including towing to the nearest facility, mechanical labor up to one hour, key lock-out service, and much more!

Our Discounts Are Fantastic – We are firm believers that you should be rewarded for good behavior and actions. That’s why we make it a point to offer you some of the best deals you can find! From multi-car, multi-policy, and safe driver discounts to discounts for good grades, loyalty, and more, we’ve got you covered.

We’ve Been Providing Superior Service for Nearly a Century – That’s right, ever since we opened our doors in January 1920, we have been dedicated to providing outstanding personal lines of insurance products to our wonderful policyholders at a competitive price. We are committed to providing you with the best insurance and the most fantastic service possible. You won’t find any better than Madison Mutual!

Don’t miss out on having the best insurance policies around! Learn more about what we can do for you by calling 1-800-766-MMIC or by visiting us online at www.madisonmutual.com.

New Year's Resolutions

5 Smart Resolutions You Should Consider Making for a Safer New Year

It’s that time of year again! That’s right; it’s time to reflect on 2016 and begin making resolutions for a better year ahead. Whether you’re striving to lose weight, get fit, learn something new, or spend more time with those you care about, having goals to work toward is always smart. Here are 5 great ideas to consider adding to your New Year’s resolutions:

Save More Money – Tidying up your budget to help save a little extra money here and there can help build up funds for things like a new home, a fun family vacation, or a larger retirement fund. You can help save a little more money at home by taking a few extra precautions. Make sure that your home is properly weather-stripped to keep the warm air inside. Also, consider turning the thermostat down a degree or two and turning off lights and devices that you aren’t using – it can help you save more money than you realize! Finally, talk to your insurance agent to see if you qualify for any discounts on any of your insurance policies.

Make a Home Inventory – Maybe you received some nice gifts for the holidays. Perhaps you have a collection of jewelry, electronics, or other valuables already in your home. If so, make this the year that you take an inventory of your belongings. Go through your home and take photos or make a physical list of your valuables. You will want this on hand in case you ever need to file a homeowner’s insurance claim. It will help you figure out exactly what is damaged, lost, or stolen should a disaster occur.

Become a Safer Driver – Resolving to be safer behind the wheel is a win-win situation for both you and the other drivers on the road. Stay focused on your driving at all times – put your smart phone out of arm’s reach, and never drive while drowsy or impaired. Make sure to obey the speed limits, use your turn signals, and give plenty of space between your car and the person in front of you. You’ll find that your driving experiences will become more enjoyable when you take these steps!

Protect Your Identity – Identity thieves are constantly coming up with more ways to snatch your social security number, credit card numbers, and any other important personal information. Prevent identify theft by keeping your information to yourself and shredding any important documents that you need to throw away. Also, never give your social security number or credit card numbers over the phone, and keep a close watch on your bank accounts. If you notice any unauthorized activity, be sure to call your bank right away! Keep in mind that Madison Mutual homeowner’s policies include identity theft protection at no additional charge.

Review Your Insurance Policies – Want to protect your financial livelihood? It’s always a good idea to check your insurance policies to see if they’re up-to-date. Consider making an appointment with your Madison Mutual insurance agent early next year to discuss your coverages. You may be able to save money by bundling your auto and homeowner insurance policies or by increasing your deductibles.

We hope that you have a happy and safe New Year! Don’t forget to call your insurance agent at Madison Mutual to discuss your policies at 1-800-766-MMIC. Learn more about us by visiting us at www.madisonmutual.com!

how to deep fry turkey safely

9 Tips to Help You Deep Fry Your Thanksgiving Turkey Safely

There’s nothing quite like enjoying a delicious, crispy fried turkey on Thanksgiving Day! This method of cooking will give you a mouth-watering, tender turkey to savor; however, you will need to take the proper steps to ensure that your meal is cooked properly and that you stay safe. After all, deep fryers present quite a few fire hazards, so extra caution needs to be taken.

Don’t let deep frying scare you away from having an amazing Thanksgiving meal! Just follow our tips below to stay safe when you’re frying your turkey:

Keep Them at a Safe Distance – When using an outdoor fryer, make sure that you keep them off decks, out of the garage, and more than 10 feet away from all buildings, cars, and trees.

Thaw and Dry the Turkey Completely – It is especially important to thaw and dry your turkey completely before placing it in the fryer. Even the smallest amount of water or ice can cause dangerous flare-ups when it comes in contact with hot oil, which can cause terrible burns or fires.

Watch the Weather – Keep an eye on the weather. Never operate a fryer outdoors in the rain or the snow.

Keep It on a Level Surface – Always be sure that your fryer is placed on a level surface and avoid moving it once it’s in use.

Protect Yourself – Always use thick oven mitts when handling your pot. The sides, lid, and handles can reach extremely high temperatures due to the hot oil inside. It’s also a smart idea to wear goggles to shield your eyes.

Watch the Oil Temperature – If you don’t have one already, purchase a fryer with temperature controls. When you’re cooking, watch the oil temperature carefully. Oil that is heated beyond its smoke point can catch fire, so if you notice that the oil is smoking, turn the fryer off right away.

Never Leave It Unattended – Don’t leave your fryer unattended, and keep children and pets away from the fryer at all times. Fryers can be easy to tip over, which can be a recipe for disaster.

Keep a Fire Extinguisher Nearby – Should a fire break out, you will need a fire extinguisher close by to help you put it out. Make sure that you and your family members know how to use it properly as well.

Take Care Once the Turkey Is Done – Once your turkey is done, carefully remove the pot from the burner and place it on a level surface. Cover it to let the oil cool overnight before you dispose of it.

We hope that these safety tips will help you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving this year. Don’t forget to keep your home up-to-date with an insurance policy from Madison Mutual! Visit us online at www.madisonmutual.com to learn more about us.

home maintenance tips

7 Essential Fall Maintenance Projects for Your Home

The leaves may still be falling, but winter is coming. Make sure your house is in order by spending some time on maintenance! Keep you and your loved ones safe and warm by preparing your home for the winter storms.

Here are 7 simple and cost-effective projects to check off your list before the cold weather hits.

Step Up Home Safety – Make sure all your safety devices work properly before you turn on the heat. Replace batteries in carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and purchase new fire extinguishers if the ones you have are expired.

Keep Warm by Weatherstripping – Gaps through which heat can escape are found in many places around the house. Examine doors, windows, around protruding pipes, foundation lines, and near chimneys to see if there are any problems. Slowly move your hand around the area and feel for a leak. If you find one, plug it up appropriately by applying weather stripping, caulk, or sealant to the area.

Show the Insulation Some Love – Install new insulation or improve existing insulation to prevent cold air from seeping into your home. Focus on lining the attic and walls to help save on energy costs.

Get Your Furnace and Chimneys Checked – Preemptive maintenance can save time, money, energy, and lives. Make sure your chimneys and furnaces are clean and in good working condition before you even have to use them. Schedule an inspection from a qualified technician to ease any worries or fix any problems you find.

Clean the Roof and Gutters – Check your roof for loose shingles, branches, or nests, which could fly off in heavy winter winds. Be on the lookout for any weak spots susceptible to caving in from the weight of heavy snow or ice. Check that all gutter hangers are fastened securely. Thoroughly clean leaves and any other debris out of your gutters, especially around the elbows and bends in your downspouts. Remember, clogged gutters can lead to water damage to your roof or siding.

Give Your Landscape Some TLC – Be sure to trim your trees and shrubs! Cut away limbs that are dead or dying to prevent them from falling during winter storms. When in doubt about which branches could pose a threat, hire an arborist to point them out or cut them for you. Rake leaves off your lawn so spring growth can thrive. While outside, check your driveways and walkways for any cracks and seal them. If you have any outdoor furniture, make sure you clean it and store it in a dry place.

Check Your Pipes and Faucets – Prevent water problems inside your home by fixing any leaky faucets, draining your hot water heater, and checking the tank for a buildup of sediments or rust. Take care of your pipes outside, too! Unscrew all garden hoses, store them in a safe place, and turn off the valves to your exterior faucets. Make sure you run the water until the pipes are completely drained to keep them from freezing, and don’t forget to drain your irrigation system while you’re at it.

Anything can happen as the days grow colder, but we’ll keep you covered like a cozy blanket with our homeowners insurance policy. Call your local Madison Mutual agent today to make sure your coverage is up-to-date!

fire safety tips

7 Fire Safety Tips to Keep You Safe During the Cold Months

As the cold weather creeps upon us, many homeowners and renters will begin turning on their furnaces or fireplaces to keep warm. Before the winter arrives, however, we need to take a step back and think about fire safety. Each year, approximately 3,400 people’s lives are taken in home fires or by burn injuries. Unfortunately, 8 out of 10 fire-related deaths occur at home.

Fires can be largely preventable, and Madison Mutual is here to help keep you safe. Here are 7 of our best tips to help you prevent fires in your home:

Watch What You’re Cooking – Did you know that cooking, especially stove-top cooking, is the leading cause of home fires across the nation? These accidents are preventable and mostly occur because someone is distracted. When you’re cooking, give the task your undivided attention! If you do happen to leave the kitchen for some reason, don’t leave the stove on. Turn off the burner before you leave the room instead!

Give Heaters Some Space – Space heaters are a leading concern in the winter months since sheets and window curtains can come in contact with a unit in use and ignite. Give your space heater some, well, space! Make sure that the unit has 3 feet of clear space all around it in all directions, and keep it away from draperies, bedspreads, furniture, other people, and pets.

Get Your Furnace and Fireplace Inspected – Before the winter arrives, be sure to get your furnace inspected and serviced by a professional. This will not only help prevent fires but will also keep you warm throughout the cold months. Have a fireplace? Make sure to get it serviced and cleaned annually as well.

Check Your Electrical Cords – Cords that are frayed or cracked can pose as a danger to your home. They can easily create sparks, and if those sparks reach flammable surfaces, you could have a fire on your hands. Remember to check all of your electrical cords periodically and replace those that are in good shape.

Install Working Smoke Detectors – This is one of the best defensive moves you can make in protecting yourself and your home from a fire. Put a smoke detector on every level of your home and outside of each bedroom. Remember to test and clean them every year and replace the batteries twice a year.

Be Careful With Candles – Candles are a mainstay in many households across the nation, but they can also be a common source of home fires. If you light a candle, be sure to remain in the room with it and extinguish it whenever you leave the room. You can also consider using battery-operated candles that look and function like a real candle.

Create a Solid Escape Plan – It’s always a smart idea to create, review, and practice an escape plan! Teach the members of your family to stay low to the ground and practice escaping from each room frequently. Additionally, keep a fire extinguisher nearby in an easily accessible location, and teach everyone in the family how to use it.

Be sure to protect your home as well. Home insurance can help protect you, your family, and your valuables in the event of a fire. If you’re in need of more information or a home insurance policy, call the best – Madison Mutual. You can reach us at 1-800-766-MMIC or learn more online at www.madisonmutual.com.

fall home

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.

how to prevent termites

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!

updated kitchen

5 Easy and Inexpensive Remodeling Ideas You Should Consider Before Selling Your House

Are you thinking about putting your house on the market? Before you contact your realtor, take a close look at your home and your yard. Is there anything that could use some improvement? If so, how much money should you spend on renovations before putting your home on the market?

While it’s best to skip any extensive remodels, which could delay getting your home on the market, you can focus on smaller renovations to help improve your home’s look without destroying your budget. Here are # remodeling ideas to consider before you put your house on the market:

Make Small Kitchen Improvements – You don’t need to totally revamp your kitchen, but you can make some small improvements. Swap out old and outdated hardware, faucets, and lights. Replace any old or broken tiles. Spruce up the cabinets with a fresh coat of paints. These little changes will make a big difference and will draw the eye of a potential homebuyer.

Update Your Bathroom – An outdated bathroom can really turnoff a potential homebuyer, but the good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of money to make it look irresistible. Give the walls a fresh coat of paint, update the light fixtures, and install a new sink. If your toilet is older, you can also replace it as well.

Replace Old Flooring – You don’t need to tear out all of your flooring for this update! See if there is any worn down flooring in your home that could be replaced. Look in high-traffic areas like your kitchen, hallways, and living room. This includes replacing broken tiles or hardwood floors that have a lot of scratches.

Fix Damaged Siding – First impressions are incredibly important when it comes to selling your home. You don’t want to be known as the house with the dingy siding. Grab a power washer and give the exterior a good scrub-down to make it look just like new. If there are any holes or cracks, fill them in. You can do most of these tasks yourself or a professional can help you!

Up Your Curb Appeal – Your yard and curb appeal matter! Always keep your lawn trimmed and tidy, and trim your trees and shrubs. Lay out fresh mulch and plant eye-catching, low-maintenance flowers to draw potential homebuyers in.

Renovating your house before putting it on the market doesn’t have to blow up your budget. Protecting your house or your future home from the unexpected doesn’t have to be expensive either. Call your agent at Madison Mutual at 1-800-766-MMIC today to learn more!