Move Over Law

move over law

 

 

 

 

The move over law requires all drivers to move one lane over while approaching a vehicle on the side of the road. If you can’t move over one lane then you must drastically reduce your speed.

This applies not only to Police, Fire, and Ambulances and Tow trucks, but also to DOT workers, Utility workers, municipal workers, and disabled vehicles on the road.

There is no downside to keeping distance or reducing your speed while passing stopped vehicles on the roadside. When we don’t, people get hurt.

“Every year about 23 roadside workers and first responders (one every two weeks) lose their life at the roadside and hundreds more are injured while tending to disabled vehicles.”

“Despite being passed in all 50 states, 71 percent of Americans are unaware of Move Over laws that require drivers to reduce their speed and switch lanes to protect these workers.” (NHTSA)

AAA publishes each state’s move over law:

MASSACHUSETTS

Drivers traveling in the same direction and approaching a stationary emergency vehicle, highway maintenance vehicle, or tow or recovery vehicle with flashing lights must slow down to a safe speed and, if practicable, move to a non-adjacent lane.

 

Do I need umbrella coverage? (Yes!)

Do I need Umbrella coverage?

Personal liability umbrella policies help safeguard you against financial hardship in the event of a lawsuit.  They provide liability coverage that sits on top of your home and auto (and boat and second home if applicable).  Umbrellas are available in million dollar increments from $1,000,000 to up to $10,000,000.  Defense costs are also included- on top of the liability coverage and often the defense costs are higher than the damages awarded.  The costs are low and the coverage deep.  We believe the average family should have at least a $2,000,000 umbrella sitting over good auto and home liability limits.  Here are four situations where you should consider even higher limits:

Homeowners with pools

From 2005-2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal, unintentional drownings (non-boating related) annually in the United States- about ten deaths per day. About one in five people who die from drowning are children, aged 14 and younger. For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.  More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments require hospitalization or transfer for further care.  These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g. permanent vegetative state).

Dog owners

Dog bites are the single largest cause of liability loss to insurance companies.  Big dogs bite.  Little dogs bite.  In conclusion even the nicest of dogs can have a bad day- and the damage they do comes back to (ahem) bite it’s owners.

Parents of teenage drivers

The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration reports that in 2015, 1,886 drivers aged 15-20 perished in auto accidents.  An additional 195,000 were injured in car crashes, so young drivers (ages 15-20) account for 5.4% of total drivers but for 9% of those drivers involved in fatal crashes.  An umbrella policy provides a serious layer of protection between you and all you have worked for.

Families with toys

Motorcycles, four-wheelers, snow mobiles, boats, jet skis- they sure are fun.  But accidents resulting from their use can often be extensive and end up with expensive bodily injury claims.  Again, use your umbrella to protect your home and family.

So if you are taking the time to read this and don’t have an umbrella policy, or you think your policy might have limits too low, give us a call to review.  (781) 224-0909.

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from Johnson & Rohan Insurance

Happy Holidays from your friends at Johnson & Rohan Insurance.

2020 has been, well, a tough year.

Here’s to the hope that there are better days ahead and a return to “normalcy.”

To all of our clients we offer BIG THANKS.

Thank you for insuring with us.

“Auld lang syne” translates literally to “old long since” and means something akin to “times gone by.”

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
Happy New Year.
Johnson & Rohan Insurance will be open on Christmas Eve from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm, closed on Christmas Day and open on Saturday, December 26th from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm.

If you’re looking to report a claim during off hours. You can do so 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week by clicking or calling:

Travelers: 1-800-252-4633
Safety Insurance: 800-951-2100
Vermont Mutual: 1-800-435-0397
Mass Property: 1-800-392-6108
Progressive Insurance: 1-800-274-4499
Bristol-West: 1-800-272-7865
Swyfft Insurance: 1-877-799-3389
Hagerty Insurance: 1-877-922-9701
Utica First Insurance: 1-800-456-2139
MAPFRE/Commerce: 1-866-351-2548
Grundy Insurance: 866-338-4006

Antique Plates

Antique Plates

What is an antique car or truck? Under MA antique license plate rules, an antique vehicle is a car manufactured at least 25 years ago, which is maintained for use in exhibitions, parades and other public events. If you are interested in Antique Plates there are certain rules to be aware of.

The Registry of Motor Vehicles designates antique plates as “restricted.” “Restricted to those vehicles over 25 years of age, restricted to test drives, movement of vehicles to and from repair locations, and public functions such as parades.”

Steps in the Massachusetts Registration Process

  • Fill out and submit an insurance company stamped, RTA form.
  • Submit previous, signed over, certificate of title.

Fees to Register an Antique Vehicle in Massachusetts

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles requires original, signed over title, antique vehicle application, RTA form (Registration and Title Application) and check payable to the “RMV.” Costs should be: $75.00 for new MA title, $50.00 for plates and 6.25% sales tax.The Registry of Motor Vehicles charges an annual fee of $50.00 for antique plates. The also charge $50.00 for year of manufacture plates.

VEHICLES that qualify

  • Classic Cars
  • Hot Rods
  • Antique Cars
  • Modified Cars
  • Street Rods
  • Exotic Cars
  • Lowrider
  • Classic Motorcycles

Rules to follow

You can drive your car:

  • Holidays
  • Parades
  • Weekends

Your collectible car needs to be and must be stored inside in a secure locked garage or structure.

Insurance companies will not cover damage to antique vehicles done due to racing.

Antique plates application

Massachusetts Junior Operator Law

Massachusetts Junior Operator Law

Getting your driver’s license is an exciting, and sometimes scary, event for the new driver and the new driver’s family. Operating a motor vehicle is serious business and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a strict Junior Operator Law for new drivers.

As a refresher course:

Any motor vehicle operator or motorcyclist between the ages of 16 1/2 and 18 is considered a Junior Operator. The Junior Operator Law has several requirements and restrictions that significantly affect the operation of a motor vehicle by a person who has a Junior Operator’s License (JOL). The basic purpose of the law is to provide new drivers supervised opportunities in which to develop good driving skills, while keeping those drivers free of the possible distractions caused by friends under age 18 who are present while the drivers are behind the wheel.

Following, from the MA Registry of Motor Vehicles Driver’s Manual, we offer Massachusetts Junior Operator License Restrictions:

  • You may not operate a motor vehicle within the first six months after receiving your JOL while any person under age 18 is in the vehicle (other than you or an immediate family member), unless you are accompanied by a person who is at least 21 years old, has at least one year of driving experience, holds a valid driver’s license form Massachusetts or another state and is occupying a seat beside you.

General Rule: The passenger restriction that applies to the Junior Operator (Under age 18) is lifted once the Junior Operator completes the six-month period or you reach age 18, whichever occurs first.

The six-month passenger restriction period will stop running, temporarily, during any suspension. When your JOL is reinstated, you will still have to complete the remainder of the six-month restriction period that existed at the beginning of the suspension period, unless you have already turned 18.

  • As the holder of a Junior Operator License (JOL), you may not operate a motor vehicle between 12:30 a.m and 5:00 a.m. unless you are accompanied by one of your parents or your legal guardian. If you are found operating a motor vehicle in violation of this restriction, you may be charged with operating a motor vehicle without being licensed. This is a criminal violation.
  • If you violate the passenger restriction or the night restriction, you will be subject to a license suspension of 60 days for a first offense, 180 days for a second offense, and one year for subsequent offenses. For a second or subsequent offense, you will also be required to complete a Driver Attitudinal Retraining course. The law requires the Registrar to impose this suspension in addition to any other penalty, fine, suspension, revocation, or requirement that may be imposed in connection with a violation committed at the time you were violating the passenger or night restriction.
  • You may not operate a motor vehicle that requires a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
  • You will be suspended for one year if you are under 18 when you have committed certain driving offenses and alcohol or drugs were involved (180 days if age 18 to 21), in addition to any penalty assessed by a court or other law.
  • You will be ineligible for a full license until you have completed the period of suspension imposed while operating with a JOL and you reach age 18.
  • You will face additional suspension periods of one year for a first drag racing offense and three years for a subsequent offense, you will be suspended for one year.

Call or click us at Johnson & Rohan Insurance if you would like more information on Massachusetts insurance or the Massachusetts Junior Operator Law.

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving 2020

 

 

Although Thanksgiving celebrations may look a little different this year, one thing remains: we are thankful for all of our clients. Happy Thanksgiving.

If you’re looking to report a claim during off hours. You can do so 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week by clicking or calling:

Travelers: 1-877-425-2466
Safety Insurance: 866-906-5016
Vermont Mutual: 1-800-435-0397
Mass Property: 1-800-392-6108
Progressive Insurance: 1-800-776-4737
Bristol-West: 1-800-272-7865
Swyfft Insurance: 1-877-799-3389
Hagerty Insurance: 1-877-922-9701
Utica First Insurance: 1-800-456-2139
MAPFRE/Commerce: 1-866-351-2548
Grundy Insurance: 866-338-4006

Please note, our office will be closed on Thursday, November 26th. Normal business hours will resume on Monday, November 30th.

Thank you for insuring with Johnson & Rohan Insurance.

 

 

Covid and the Homeowner Policy

Covid and the Homeowner Policy

Covid and the Homeowner Policy: what you need to know

The coronavirus pandemic won’t affect your homeowners insurance too much, but there are a few coverages that could be impacted because of the temporary lifestyle change. Companies are also offering flexible payment options due to financial hardship.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

• The coronavirus won’t affect your ability to acquire homeowners insurance or re-shop your current policy for lower rates
• The coronavirus won’t directly affect your homeowners insurance coverage or servicing of your policy
• With kids home from school and parents working from home, your liability coverage and business property coverage may come in handy
• Expect a more “remote” insurance claim process

Homeowners insurance is a type of financial protection that covers your home, personal belongings, and additional living expenses in the event the house is damaged or burglarized. It also covers legal expenses and medical payments if you’re held liable for an accident.
If you’re reading this, you may be wondering how, if at all, the coronavirus, or COVID-19 pandemic impacts that coverage. The deadly virus has penetrated nearly every corner of the globe and impacted just about every industry — namely certain kinds of financial protections like travel, life, auto, and disability insurance. But is your homeowners insurance affected?

The answer is, sort of. The changing circumstances definitely highlight the need for existing components in your policy like liability coverage; in addition to coverage enhancements like a home business coverage endorsement if you moved your business to your house. From a claims standpoint, insurance companies may no longer send an adjuster to your home, so you may see a greater reliance on photo and video claim evidence, at least in the near future.

Covid and the Homeowner Policy: How the coronavirus impacts new homebuyers who need coverage

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted certain aspects of the homebuying process. On one hand, if you’re looking to buy a home and have decent job security, now may be as good a time as ever to apply for a mortgage — the crisis has indirectly led to some of the lowest interest rates in history. On the other hand, millions are now unemployed and may be unable to afford mortgage or homeowners insurance payments.
Many lenders and loan servicers are offering payment suspensions and extensions to accommodate borrowers.
Similarly, homeowners insurance companies are offering payment solutions of their own for existing policyholders and new home purchasers who need coverage to satisfy mortgage requirements but can’t afford to pay the monthly or annual premium because of COVID-19–related financial hardship. If you’re shopping around for coverage and find a policy you like but you’re unable to afford the quoted premium up front, don’t let that be the end of it — reach out to the insurance company and see if they offer any payment accommodations for those impacted by the current crisis.

The importance of social distancing also may impact home inspections — one of the final steps after you get approved for homeowners insurance.
Normally, the insurance company will send over an inspector, or adjuster, to perform at least an exterior inspection of the home to check on its condition for the purpose of coverage or rate adjustments. But in some cases, an interior inspection will also be required, especially if the insured property is older or has a history of water damage or mold-related loss.
Insurance companies appear to be continuing interior inspections, but they’re also giving social-distance conscious customers the option to request an exterior-only inspection. Keep in mind that you’ll still be covered if you decline an interior inspection — it’ll simply be made up at a later (and safer) date.

Covid and the Homeowner Policy: How the coronavirus could affect your homeowners insurance coverage

Since your home and personal belongings can’t catch the coronavirus, the property coverage in your policy won’t be impacted. However, the current reality of working from home and kids staying home from school could necessitate more liability coverage or a home business endorsement for your policy.

Additionally, if you’re paying for additional home-sharing coverage for a room or rental property that you’re no longer able to rent out on a short-term rental app like Airbnb or VRBO due to the pandemic, consider pausing that coverage so you’re not paying for something you’re not using. Contact your insurance agent and ask them to put a pause on that coverage.

Personal liability coverage

Personal liability coverage is the part of your home insurance policy that reimburses you for legal expenses in the event that you or any members of your household cause an injury or damage to someone’s property. This coverage is particularly crucial for homeowners with kids or dogs, as any injury or property damage caused by dependents or pets is your responsibility.
With the coronavirus pandemic keeping so many kids home from school and potentially wandering about the neighborhood, it’s especially crucial to be mindful of attractive nuisances — like a pool or leashed dog on your property — in the event that a curious child makes their way onto your property.
If a guest or passerby is injured on your property, you may be covered by personal liability coverage, but only up to the limit in your policy. Be sure to have at least $300,000 in liability coverage. Additionally, if you have a dog, check with your insurance company to see if its particular breed is covered.

Life Insurance in the Time of Covid

Life insurance and covid

 

 

 

 

Life Insurance and Covid-19

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has taught us a number of valuable lessons, one of which is how financially vulnerable we are.

Many have witnessed first-hand how quickly life can change and perhaps been reminded of the importance of having financial protection in place.

If you’ve been motivated to take out life insurance since COVID-19, here’s what you need to know.

What is life insurance?

Life insurance pays out a lump sum to your family or other dependants if you pass away during the term (length) of the policy. It offers peace of mind that your loved ones would be financially protected if you were no longer around to provide for them.

Effect of COVID-19 on life insurance

While coronavirus has had a huge impact on the insurance industry as a whole, the life insurance sector has been left relatively unscathed. There has been no evidence of life insurers pulling out of the market, premiums have remained steady and COVID-related claims are being paid.

Life insurance is still readily available to buy and – whether new or existing – policies will cover coronavirus.

And, while the process of applying for life insurance is taking longer as insurers have been updating their underwriting processes, these issues have been largely resolved and application times have improved.

One undeniable change however, is the introduction of COVID-19-specific questions on life insurance application forms.  Insurers are asking a few more questions and underwriting has tightened in some areas, especially for those with diabetes, asthma or who might be overweight.

This means that when you run a life insurance quote, you’ll need to answer questions such as:

Within the last 30 days have you:

  • tested positive for coronavirus?
  • been advised to self-isolate?
  • had any symptoms of coronavirus?
  • been in direct contact with anyone who has been diagnosed with or who is suspected of having coronavirus?’

If you answer yes one or more of these questions, your life insurance application is likely to be postponed – how long for will depend on the insurer but it’s often around a month (after the point of recovery if you actually contracted the virus).

And if you have suffered particularly serious symptoms, for example if you were hospitalised, your application could be postponed for longer.

It’s crucial you answer these and all other questions honestly however, and don’t fail to disclose pre-existing conditions. If you ever make a claim and your insurer discovers you were dishonest, it may well be rejected.

Can I still get cover with a pre-existing condition?

The short answer is yes, but it will depend on the type and severity of the condition, and many insurers have become more selective about who they accept.

If your condition puts you at greater risk from COVID-19, such as asthma and diabetes, or you’re over 50 years of age, you may find it harder to get life insurance coverage, while those insurers that do offer cover are likely to charge higher premiums.

It is typical for the insurer to review your medical records from your General Practitioner before making an offer. You will also likely need to have a medical examination, called a paramedical exam. These usually only last around 20 to 30 minutes and involve answering some questions about your health and lifestyle, as well as having your height, weight and blood pressure checked, and having a blood or urine sample taken.

If you’re concerned you won’t be able to find coverage, it’s worth speaking to an independent agent, like Johnson & Rohan, whose experts will discuss your options and help find you the most appropriate coverage.  Our agency works with over 70 life carriers- we’ll find you the best available coverage and premium.

 

Business Insurance and Covid 19

 

Business Insurance

How Business Insurance Responds To COVID-19 

After weeks of shelter-in-place orders, crashing markets and industries decimated virtually overnight, business owners can’t help but embrace reality and prepare for the long-lasting impacts of COVID-19. As part of the process, it’s crucial to understand how business insurance responds to COVID-19-related issues.

So how can various types of business insurance help companies get through the pandemic? Here are the insurance coverages and major factors — operational, political and regulatory — that can make or break coverage in this trying time.

Business Interruption: Physical Damage And Civil Authority Issues

The business interruption (BI) feature of a property insurance policy responds when a business is inoperable due to physical damage, such as a fire or structural damage. Disasters of this caliber can quickly, albeit temporarily, close businesses, resulting in severe loss of income. Some policies also include coverage for civil authority interruptions, which is when a governmental authority orders the closure of businesses. In both cases, claiming income losses typically triggers BI insurance to respond.

Unfortunately, recovering COVID-19 losses under a Property policy is an uphill battle at the moment.  It’s highly unlikely that, under most policies, insurance carriers will qualify COVID-19 BI losses as caused by physical damage or a civil authority claim. We’ve seen this already in the declination letters received from many carriers.

Physical damage requires direct physical damage to the property and many insurers have taken the position that direct physical damage does not exist under the current circumstances. While some business owners have sued, claiming that the virus can be present on surfaces in their office or store, therefore directly physically damaging it, courts are far from resolving this dispute. Most policies have a standard virus exclusion that may also exclude coverage. Furthermore, claims based on civil authority are being declined because police have not physically cordoned off spaces, which is typically required for a successful recovery under this coverage.

For further discussion or to answer specific questions about your coverage or circumstances, please give us a call.

49 or so Fall Homeowner Tips

49 or so Crucial Fall Maintenance, Homeowner Tips You Should Never Forget

 You’ll definitely regret skipping over any of these important home maintenance tasks this fall

Fall Homeowner Tips

  1. Aerate the soil

“Aerating” simply means making holes in the ground by removing plugs of soil. And it’s the single most important task you can perform to maintain a healthy, good-looking lawn. Nothing else comes close! It relieves compaction caused by foot traffic and creates extra pore space in the soil, allowing air, nutrients, and water to enter. All of that helps roots to thrive. Aerate your lawn at least once a year, preferably in the fall. Do it two or even three times each year if you can. The more, the better. You can rent a lawn aerator at any equipment rental store. Get one that will remove plugs of soil rather than one that pokes holes in the ground.

2. Gutter cleaner

An old plastic spatula makes a great tool for cleaning debris from gutters! It doesn’t scratch up the gutter, and you can cut it to fit gutter contours with snips. Grime wipes right off the spatula too, making cleanup a breeze. Don’t feel like putting in that much elbow grease? Consider a gutter cleaning robot!

3. Clean weep holes

Weep holes may be the tiniest feature of many sliding windows and vinyl replacement windows, but they serve a big function. The little holes, located on the exterior bottom of the frame, are an outlet for rainwater to drain away from the home, but they often can become clogged up with debris. To make sure they’re working properly, spray the outside of the window with a garden hose—a steady stream of clean water should exit from the holes. If it doesn’t, use a wire hanger or compressed air to force the blockage out. Re-test with fresh water to ensure they’re completely cleaned.

4. Reseed late in the growing season

Reseed in the late summer/early fall. Whether you’re seeding a small patch or a whole yard, you’re going to be much more successful if you wait for the cooler, damper weather of late summer or early fall. It’s almost impossible to get seed to survive during the dog days of summer. It’s simply too hot and dry. You’ll most likely just waste your time and expensive seed.

5. Get your gutters ready

Make sure your home is ready to deal with the rain and snow that comes as the seasons change. Walk around your home and check for loose gutters, broken pieces, and detached downspouts and make the necessary repairs. Ensure your gutters are clear of leaves and other debris and that your downspouts are directing water away from your foundation.

5a. Check exterior caulking and weatherstripping

Fall is the perfect time to make sure your house is properly caulked and your weatherstripping is in good shape. Inspect around windows, doors, and anywhere else two materials meet to make sure the caulk is in good shape. Check the weatherstripping around doors and replace if it’s broken or missing—it’s super easy to do.

6. Give your roof a once-over

No one wants to be fixing a roof in the dead of winter. Give it a once-over to make sure there aren’t any signs of trouble. Pay attention to broken or missing shingles, missing flashing and any discoloration.

7. Fix driveway and sidewalks before they get worse

Changing temperatures and moisture can turn a small concrete problem into a big one. Take some time to repair broken concrete and get some more time out of your sidewalk, driveway, and steps before they’re in need of full replacement.

8. Install frost-proof outdoor faucets

New outdoor faucets are frost-proof and also prevent unsanitary water from contaminating your water system. Installing a new outdoor faucet takes just a few hours and will give you peace of mind all winter long.

9. Winterize your gas grill

If you’re not a winter griller, now’s the time to pack away your grill before it’s covered with a foot of snow. In addition to giving your grill a thorough cleaning to remove grease and food scraps, take these steps to help prevent any unpleasant surprises when you fire up your grill again next spring.

Shut off the gas at the LP tank, unfasten the burner, slip the gas tubes off the gas lines, and lift out the unit. Coat the burners and other metal parts with cooking oil to repel moisture that can build up over the winter and to prevent rust. Then wrap the burner unit in a plastic bag to keep spiders and insects from nesting in the gas tubes during the winter. This is a common problem that can make for balky starts, uneven flames or even a one-alarm fire the next time you light your grill.

If you’re storing your grill outside during the winter, just keep the propane tank connected (but shut off) and put a protective cover over the entire grill when you’re done cleaning it. If you’re storing the grill indoors, don’t bring the tank inside, even into the garage or a storage shed. A small gas leak can cause a huge explosion if the tank is stored in an enclosed space. Instead, disconnect the tank and store it outside in an upright position away from dryer and furnace vents and children’s play areas. Tape a plastic bag over the grill’s gas line opening to prevent insects from nesting.

10. Winterize your sprinkler system

You don’t have to pay someone to blow out your sprinkler system. You can do it with your own compressor, but be aware that even the largest home compressor isn’t powerful enough to blow out the entire system at once.

If you like number crunching and you have the original irrigation layout showing the gallons per minute (gpm) of each sprinkler head, divide the gpm of each zone by 7.5. That’ll give you the cubic feet per minute (cfm) you need to blow it out. Otherwise, rent a 10-cfm compressor and hose from a tool rental center.

Set the compressor air pressure regulator to a maximum of 80 psi for rigid PVC pipe systems, or 50 psi for flexible black polyethylene pipe. Then turn off the water supply and set the system timer to open just one zone. Next, open the manual drain valve at the end of that zone (if equipped). Then, connect the air line to the blow-out port, as shown. Close off both valves on the backflow preventer. Then remove the plug on the blow-out port and screw in a quick-connect hose adapter. Snap on the air hose and connect the other end to the compressor. Now blow out the line. The heads should pop up and spit out water. Disconnect the hose as soon as they run dry. Don’t overdo the blow-out—without water cooling the plastic gears, they can melt in less than a minute. Move on to the next zone and allow the heads to cool. Then go back and blow out each zone a second time.

11. Seasonal battery storage

You’ve emptied the gas, sealed the exhaust and prepared the engine for seasonal storage. But before you throw the tarp over your boat or roadster for the long winter sleep, think about how you’re going to care for the battery.

Batteries lose their charge when they sit idle, and when that happens, you could wind up with a worthless battery in the spring. To keep batteries healthy, they should be charged every six weeks. But leaving a standard battery charger connected for the whole season isn’t a good idea—that will overcharge the battery and shorten its life. Instead, invest in a ‘battery maintainer.’

Battery maintainers are designed to be left on for the entire offseason. They monitor battery voltage and automatically adjust the charge to avoid under- and over-charging.

12. Drain garden hoses or waste money on replacements

Due to circumstances (laziness), I sometimes neglect to drain garden hoses before putting them away for the winter. Usually, it’s not a problem. But every once in a while, freezing water splits a hose open. I’ve lost a few cheap hoses this way and a super-expensive one (ouch!). That’s just dumb because draining hoses is so quick and easy: Blast out the water with an air compressor or stretch them out on a sloped yard or driveway.

13. Change your furnace filter

Changing your furnace filter is one of the easiest things you can do to keep your furnace in good shape. If you haven’t changed it in a while, make sure you have a fresh one before you turn your furnace on for the first time.

14. Take a peek at your furnace

Make sure your furnace is in good shape before you really need to use it. With a few tools and some time, you can perform a DIY furnace inspection to head off problems before they start.

15. Check your chimney or risk a fire

Creosote buildup causes chimney fires. You should have your chimney professionally inspected or cleaned after every 70 fires. If you burn wet wood (which you shouldn’t), have it inspected or cleaned every 50 fires.

Don’t remember the last time you had it cleaned by a pro? A quick way to tell if your chimney needs cleaning is to run the point of your fireplace poker along the inside of your chimney liner. If you find a 1/8-in. layer (or more) of buildup, call a chimney sweep.

16. Stop airflow up the chimney

Fireplace chimneys can be very inefficient, letting your warm inside air disappear like smoke up a chimney. If you have airtight glass doors that seal the opening, you’re in good shape. (The doors are available at fireplace retailers and home centers.) If not, a special balloon or chimney-top damper will get the job done.

For fireplace chimneys that are seldom or never used, inflate a Chimney Balloon inside the chimney to stop the air leaks. Buy it directly from the company. Partially inflate the balloon by mouth or with a pump, then stick it into the chimney and blow it up the rest of the way.

Putting in and taking out the reusable balloon can be messy, so you don’t want to hassle with chimney balloons if you regularly use your fireplace. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for energy loss. Instead, you can install a chimney-top damper system, like the Chim-a-lator, which seals the top of the flue when the chimney’s not in use. A lever in the fireplace controls the damper via a long cable.

Installation involves attaching the damper and screened-in cap to the chimney top, then mounting the lever in the fireplace. If you don’t feel comfortable working on the roof, hire a chimney sweep or mason, who can install the system for you.

17. Check your water heater

Extend the life of your water heater tank and maintain your water heater’s efficiency and safety with a few minutes of basic maintenance once a year.

18. Winterize your lawn mower

Don’t just shut off your lawnmower and leave it until spring—that’s a bad idea. But winterizing your mower only takes an hour. Give the deck a thorough cleaning. Then, add fuel stabilizer and a few ounces of oil to make sure the engine will start right up without hesitation in the spring.

19. Store outdoor furniture

Don’t leave your outdoor furniture exposed to the elements all winter long. At the very least, give your furniture a thorough cleaning and cover it or bring it inside for the season.

 

20. Take care of those leaves

Once leaves are on the ground, put aside some time to tackle that chore.

21. Deep clean rugs and carpeting

Take advantage of one of those beautiful fall afternoons to give your rugs a deep clean. Take area rugs outside and give them a good shake (or a good whack), then give them a thorough vacuum with your shop vac. Don’t forget our interior carpets—you can rent a carpet cleaner and give your carpet a deep clean before you start hosting holiday gatherings.

22. Get your snowblower ready for service
You’ll want to be sure your snowblower starts before the first big snowfall. Take some time to get your snowblower running and in good order so it’ll be spitting snow as soon as it hits the ground.

23. Get your property ready for snow

Before the snow flies, take a few minutes to inspect your property. Remove rocks, dog tie-out cable, extension cords, holiday light cords, and garden hoses. Then stake out paths that run near gardens so you don’t accidentally suck up rocks and garden edging. Mark your walk and driveway perimeters by pounding in driveway markers. If the ground is frozen, just drill a hole using a masonry bit and your battery-powered drill.

24. Make a winter driving kit

This kit is overkill for year-round driving, but it could be very useful during winter. It only takes a few minutes to put together and you probably already have most of the stuff! Then, make sure you make these winter car care fixes as well so your car survived the winter.

25. Stockpile firewood

Whether you have a source of wood on your property or need to purchase a cord or two, fall is a great time to spend cutting and chopping wood to burn in your fireplace all winter long. And if you’re using a chain saw, make sure to brush up on your safety knowledge before you hit the forest.

26.Cut your lawn short

Keep mowing your grass until it stops growing. And your last mow of the season should cut your grass nice and short. This reduces the chance that your lawn will get snow mold and vole damage.

27. Fertilize your lawn

It’s important to apply fertilizer to your lawn during the fall—in fact, if you only apply fertilizer once a year, fall is the time to do it. Your lawn has spent all summer growing and it’s hungry.

28. Bring paint inside

Freezing can ruin latex paint and other finishes, so make sure to move your paint inside before the first frost. Some latex paint can survive a couple of freeze/thaw cycles, but it’s better not to chance it.

29. Don’t let glue freeze

Many adhesives–wood glue especially–can be ruined by just one freeze/thaw cycle, so it’s a good idea to store them in a heated space during cold months. Even glue just left overnight in a car can freeze and make it unusable.

30. Water your lawn in the fall

Your lawn still needs water in autumn, even though the leaves are changing, the growing season is winding down and your grass isn’t growing fast. Fall watering helps your lawn recover from summer stress and gain strength for the winter ahead. Also, if you fertilize in the fall, watering is necessary for the fertilizer to dissolve and soak into the ground where it’s needed. So don’t put your hoses or sprinklers away until the ground starts to freeze, your fall grass needs it.

31. Build a mitten and shoe dryer

Drill pairs of 1/8-in. holes in a scrap of 2×4 and insert U-shaped pieces of galvanized 14-gauge wire. If you have forced-air heat, drill 1-in. holes between the pairs of 1/8-in. holes using a spade bit, and set the rack on a register for fast drying.

32. Bleed hot water radiators

When trapped air clogs a hot water radiator, some or all of the ‘fins’ will stay cold. At the top of the radiator, look for a small valve like the one shown. Take a radiator key, 1/4-in. 12-point socket, or a flat screwdriver (depending on the valve type) and slowly turn the valve counter-clockwise until water starts dripping out. This releases the trapped air and lets hot water into the cold fins. While you’re at it, you might as well repeat the process on all of your radiators. Have a cup or dish handy to catch the water.

33. Clear steam radiator vents

Steam radiators have an air vent like the one shown. Unfortunately, many of these vents get painted over, plugging the air hole. Clear the air hole in the top of the vent with a small wire or sewing needle. If you’re still worried about the air vents working properly, consult a hot water/steam heat specialist who can replace the vents.

34. Install stovetop fire suppressors

Kitchen fires can quickly get out of hand, and with Thanksgiving on the horizon, you’ll likely be cooking more. Do yourself a favor and get a pair of fire suppressors. These magnetically-mounted cans live in your range hood and are activated when flames reach the fuze on the can. You find them for about $50, which may seem spendy, but they’re cheap insurance against something much worse.

35. Inspect and fix your garage door

Cold can wreak havoc on garage door tracks. Make sure your garage door is in good shape so you don’t find yourself stuck in the garage (or worse yet—stuck outside).

36. Check your detectors

With furnaces turned on, the windows closed and portable heaters humming along, fall is a great time to make sure your smoke and CO detectors are working. Check batteries and expiration dates—smoke detectors are typically good for 10 years, and CO detectors last for about six years.

37.Empty pots and planters

The water in soil left in flower pots and planters over winter can freeze and expand. Make sure to empty your clay and ceramic planters so they’ll survive for next season.

38. Fix your furniture

Not only is fixing your furniture a fun and easy indoor project, but you’ll also be glad to have sturdy, good-looking chairs and tables when guests stop by for holidays.

39. Insulate pipes

Pipes running through unheated basements and crawlspaces as well as exterior walls can be prone to freezing during winter (and causing bigger problems). Make sure it doesn’t happen to you.

40. How to seal outlets and ceiling boxes

The tiny gaps around outlets on exterior walls and ceiling boxes let cold air in (and warm air out). Sealing these areas takes just half a day and will help cut down on drafts (and your heating bill!).

41. Protect your house from critters

As temperatures drop, mice and other vermin will want to find a warm place to hunker down. Don’t let it be your house! Seal up any critter gaps and have a game plan for getting rid of any critters that might make themselves at home.

42. Test for radon

If you haven’t tested your house for radon, now is the time to do it. Sealing up your house for the winter also means you’re trapping potential cancer-causing radon gas. Get your house tested and take means to mitigate it if it’s a problem.

43. Clean dryers and vents

Thousands of dryer fires are caused by lint every year, yet they can be easily prevented with a few minutes of cleaning. With drier air and cooler temperatures approaching, make it a fall ritual to clean out your dryer and vent..

44. Handrail safety check

Go around your property and test and secure any loose handrails. Think about someone grabbing a handrail when slipping on some ice or snow, and make sure it’s up to the task.

45. Fill your bird feeders

If you’ve been feeding birds around your property, make sure to keep the bird feeders full through winter. They’ll come back to the area looking for food, and you want to make sure they don’t go hungry.

46. Don’t prune your trees

While intuition might want to make you get out your chainsaw and start pruning after the leaves fall, you could do more harm than good. Most trees are still active in the fall and any pruning during fall will encourage new growth at the wrong time. Wait until your trees are truly dormant to do your tree trimming—during winter or early spring.

47. Save your tender bulbs

A lot of northern gardeners treat tender bulbs as annuals, allowing them to die at season’s end. Instead, overwinter them. To make it simpler, plant tender bulbs in containers. Then, after frost kills the tops, whisk the containers into cool storage in a basement or attached garage. Water sparingly—maybe once a month—while they’re dormant so the soil doesn’t totally dry out—and bring the containers back out in spring.

48. Store lawn chairs

Here’s how to store your lawn and folding chairs so they’re out of your way. Take two pieces of 1×4 lumber (any scrap lumber will do) and create some simple, cheap and useful brackets on the wall. Cut each board 7-3/4 in. long with a 30-degree angle on both ends. Fasten pairs of these brackets with three 2-in. screws to the side of the exposed wall studs, directly across from each other, and you’ve got a perfect place to hang your chairs..