Read Your Home Insurance Renewal Notices

My home insurance is coming up for renewal in a few weeks, and my insurer was kind enough to send a letter saying, “You better read how our water damage coverage is changing”, so I was warned, and thus I read over all of my coverage that showed up with my renewal documentation.

My sewer backup coverage is now being capped at $15,000 seems to be the major change to things. To quote what I was sent exactly:

“… We adjusted this amount in response to a sharp increase in the number and total cost of water damage claims in recent years, due to climate change and aging infrastructure…”

Nice, so there are arguments going on all over the world about climate change and such, but my Insurance company has embraced it as a fact and are changing my premiums due to it. It seems almost like Miracle on 34th Street (the original version), if Insurance companies think Climate Change is important enough to change my coverage, it must be true! (OK, I digress, and apologies for the sarcasm for the lovers of old movies too).

It is also a damning statement about the City of Ottawa’s infrastructure that it is mentioned specifically as another reason they think sewer backups are more likely as well.

OK fine, given the number of floods I have seen in Canada, it’s not really that surprising (it’s still annoying as a consumer, but then again, all I can do is shop around and call to see if this can be dealt with to my satisfaction).

My insurance company also seems to think that I have a crappy old roof, as they are removing the “… Weight of ice, snow or sleet — Ice Damming — Roof Water Damage Endorsement…” as well. I am pretty sure my roof was redone in 2006 (see writing a blog gives you a wonderful records keeping option as well), so I will call to see if they were aware of that, since I am not sure I told them either. I can’t believe that an 8 year old roof is now viewed as a risk in their eyes, but I need to call and confirm that with them.

I guess I should tell them about all the upgrades I have done as well (upgrades? not really, I just replaced the windows, heating and air conditioner as well).

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Free Furnace Inspections

At our previous house there was an interesting tactic used by Furnace companies that I must tell folks about.

Our house, at the time, was part of a larger development where most of the houses

These can be very expensive!

These can be very expensive!

were built by the same builder and about the same time. The Furnace Repair companies knew what kind of furnace was installed in most of the houses, and knew of a fault in the design of these furnaces which caused the Aluminum heat exchanger to crack prematurely (i.e. but still long after any warranty on the furnace).

The furnace companies had a neat trick, where they would offer folks a Cheap Furnace Cleaning and a Free Furnace inspection. Inevitably the free inspection was done first and if the furnace did have a cracked heat exchanger it was “red tagged” (i.e. turned off and not allowed to be turned on again until repaired or replaced) and then the chap who did the inspection would then say that his company couldn’t repair the problem and the furnace would need to be replaced. As a matter of coincidence this same company sold furnaces as well, and you can guess how the story might end.

Was it dishonest ? Well I fell for it, and ended up having to get a new furnace, thanks to this fun bit of “salesmanship”.

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The Perils of Home Ownership

This past weekend, my wife and I had a small crisis with our house, which made me again wonder if renting a home might not have been simpler at the end of it all. Every year you must to turn off the spigot in the garage (and maybe in the back of your house) in the fall, or it may freeze up and crack. Last year I forgot to do this and sure enough something in the pipes split and we ended up with a fair amount of water in the basement. It wasn’t enough to worry about an Insurance Claim, but it was one hell of a mess.

I Should Have Turned THIS off in the Fall

I Should Have Turned THIS off in the Fall

Michael James has railed and lampooned me for what a huge mess I have in my basement, well, I can assure him that there is a lot less mess, because we have had to throw out a great deal of stuff that was in cardboard boxes  (and that should have been thrown out a long time ago).

It’s interesting the things that I found down there, such as:

  • Tax Returns going back to 1981 (I am destroying those not of this century).
  • Lots of art work from our kids (who are all at University). Strangely for my 8 year old son we don’t have any art work.

Anyhow, the moral of this story is many fold so let me count it (as is my love of numbered lists):

  1. Turn off the interior faucet (if you have one) for your outside faucets (and if you don’t have an interior cut off, you might want to get one).
  2. If your basement is full of cardboard boxes sitting on the floor, you mustn’t care much about what is in there because it doesn’t take much water to destroy those.
  3. Go through your records and only keep those things that are needed (32-year-old tax returns are not needed, except for a good laugh about how much I made as a co-op student).
  4. If you hear water running in your house, but you can’t find any open faucets, check your basement FIRST.
  5. Always know where the water shut off is for your house (and if you need a wrench or vice grips to shut it off, have one near by).

My, that was an interesting weekend.

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Is That Really A Solution to the Problem?

This past week we purchased yet another replacement Bar B Q at the Big Cajun Chateau (we get a new one every 4 years or so (if anyone can give me a method to make them last longer, feel free to leave a comment)) and this new one is working quite nicely, however there is a problem that I have had with every propane Bar B Q that I have owned, and that is I never can figure out when my tank is empty and needs to be refilled (I find out when the bar b q goes out).

When Your Bar B Q is Full of Insulation from a Squirrel, Time To Get a New One

When Your Bar B Q is Full of Insulation from a Squirrel, Time To Get a New One

I have noticed that the tank seems to always run out about 10 minutes into cooking either chicken or pork, I am not sure how this happens, but it just does seem to happen that way. It has on occasion run out 2 minutes into cooking hamburgers as well, and in these situations we are stuck trying to finish cooking things that really do need to be cooked well.

I have come up with a fantastic solution to this problem, that should resolve this confounding problem.  If I simply only cook steak on the Bar B Q I will never run out of propane, because I have yet to have a tank “give out” in the middle of cooking steaks.

In a non-related story, I have also noticed that my AmWex card doesn’t seem to ever have a very high balance however my MisterCarte seems to have high balances every month, so I am thinking of using my AmWex card more, so I have lower balances.

Anyone see the flaw in this logic?

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Replace Old Windows?

This week I continued replacing the old wood windows that came originally with my house and as I found out last year, none of the windows in my house (Model Home Version 0.1 for our area) were very well insulated (if at all), which in itself suggests the “investment” in new windows will be a good choice, however, if we ignore the shoddy workmanship of the builders of my house, the question arises, does it make sense to replace old windows in a house?

In my case, I think it is an easy yes:

Lousy Windows

If your windows look like this, replace them!

  • Aesthetically the old windows were not very pretty, and would be a sticking point should we want to sell this house. Many house buyers would see the old windows as they walked into the house and would dismiss the house off-hand, without even looking closely at the rest of the house (which isn’t in great shape in other ways, but that is for another story).
  • The continued up keep of old wooden windows is an investment in time and labour I was not willing to continue with (well Mrs. C8j did the painting and upkeep, but I am pretty sure she agrees with my evaluation).
  • The fact that the new windows are an upgrade in performance ( for keeping out sunlight, and heat) will help with cooling the house in the summer (the lack of insulation in the old windows make this point even higher in importance), and keep in the house in the winter.

I am not going to do the math on when the windows will “pay for themselves”, because I view those claims as a bit trite, the windows needed replacing, and I don’t think, in this case, it is a frivolous home expenditure. Still have more money to drop into the remaining windows, but for now, this needed to be done as well.

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