With many of us extending our stay on the East End, having transformed our once summer homes into everyday abodes, our Manhattan addresses run the risk of being neglected. This time of year, when hurricane season becomes snowstorm season, it’s especially important to maintain our properties and take preventative measures to minimize potential damage. Gary Mindlin, co-founder and owner of Top Hat Home Services, shares some tips to keep your townhome, condo or brownstone safe this season.
1. Water, Water Everywhere
Forty percent of homeowners will suffer from water damage, whether it’s due to a storm or some other plumbing catastrophe. It’s also the area in which most claims are rejected by insurers. To have a better chance of avoiding water damage, especially during severe storms, keep an eye on the sump pump, the basement, drains and water sensor.
Dump about a gallon of water at least once a month up to the fill line to make sure that the sump pump is working. The sump pump also needs to be cleaned if it’s slightly older. And don’t forget to make sure it’s plugged in.
Take a look around your basement. Check for signs of previous water penetration or pools of water. If you see signs of water, it might be seeping through cracks in the foundation, which can lead to mold and mildew, which means costly repairs. There have been many backups in New York from the sewage system, so make that extra trip downstairs during a storm. In order to avoid many water-related problems, check your water drainage regularly to make sure that the water is going down smoothly.
Ask your alarm company to install water sensors or water bugs. A water bug is a water sensor tied into your alarm system that will detect leaks and alert you if there is a leak. This is invaluable, especially if you have a leak when you’re away from home. Also, always have a water vacuum on hand. They’re handy in case you do get water in your basement.
2. Drain, Drain Go Away
It can’t be overstated how important it is to keep gutters, scuppers and downspouts clear of debris, securely attached and protected. If your gutters are full of leaves, water will overflow, causing exterior and interior damage. And if they’re not covered, you’re allowing more debris into the gutter than it most likely can handle. If they’re not properly attached or you have pointing issues, water can seep into your home.
You also need to make sure that there’s proper drainage away from the house. Otherwise, water will flow towards instead of away from your foundation.
3. U.F.Oh My!
Always keep in mind that umbrellas and other loose objects can turn into missiles if the winds are strong enough. Many windows have been broken and siding damaged due to flying outdoor furniture. When a storm is coming, bring in any furniture that’s likely to be blown around and clear the area of smaller clutter, like planters, privacy walls or other décor.
4. Turn Off, Tune Out
There have been more power outages in the city than usual. This can lead to a dangerous power surge or loss of electricity. Newer appliances and major electronic equipment are much more sensitive to a power outage because of their reliance on sensitive circuit boards. It’s strongly advised that you invest in surge protectors and a backup electrical supply. Many companies are making these now, making them easier to get your hands on.
Gary Mindlin is co-founder and owner of Top Hat Home Services, a full-service property care and management company. Top Hat services homes in Manhattan and are known as experts in every aspect of building management, maintenance and repair, as well as renovation and construction supervision.