Discover Your Home's Top 10 Danger Zones
Fires are one of the costliest disasters that can strike your home, and water damage caused by leaks or plumbing problems is among the most frequent triggers for insurance claims.
READ: Create the Ultimate Home Emergency Kit
Here are 10 common problem areas that could lead to catastrophe—along with a few simple precautions you can take to keep trouble at bay.
The Hazard:About 40 percent of fires start in the kitchen, and the cooktop is the most common culprit.
How to avoid it:Never leave burners unattended when in use, and store combustibles such as paper towels or pot holders a safe distance away.
2. Smoke detectors
The Hazard:Dead or missing batteries are the leading causes of malfunction.
How to avoid it:Change the batteries at least once a year. Replace models that are more than 10 years old (see How to Prepare Your Home for Emergencies for the kind to get).
The Hazard:A roof that's too warm in wintertime melts snow, creating runoff that freezes when it meets the gutter. There it forms an ice dam that forces water beneath the shingles.
How to avoid it:Add attic insulation and venting to keep the roof cool.
READ: Childproof Your Home For Safety
The Hazard:Clogged gutters overflow and allow water to pool around the foundation, leading to basement leaks.
How to avoid it:Remove leaves and debris from gutters every spring and fall.
The Hazard:Bad wires can short out and start a fire. Signs of trouble: frequent blown fuses, flickering lights, and a tingling sensation when you touch a wall switch or appliance.
How to avoid it:Replace old circuit breakers with arc-fault circuit interrupters, which cut the electricity when they sense danger. Consider replacing wiring that's more than 40 years old.