How to prep your home for summer storms

Ask the Expert Home Improvement
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We survived last winter’s bombogenesis, but we’re not in the clear. Every season brings its challenges. This is New England, after all.

Protect your home from extreme summer weather with these tips from local experts:

Get in the gutter

Keeping water out of the house should be your top priority, according to Jeff Baxter, a Wellesley-based carpenter who serves Greater Boston. It’s important to direct water off the roof, which means removing leaves and Frisbees from the gutters.

Unclog downspout elbows, so water can flow freely from the roof and away from the house, keeping your basement dry, Baxter advised.

While you’re cleaning the gutters, take a look at the roof. Make sure there are no holes in your shingles that will let water seep in, Baxter suggested. Leaky roofs can lead to mold and mildew, which pose a health hazard, he warned.

Be safe with generators

If the power goes out, know how to fire up your generator safely. According to Nicholas Caruccio, a master electrician at 128 Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electric, a generator should be placed a few feet away from the home and other flammable objects. “Give it room to breathe,” he said. The state recommends placing it 5 to 10 feet away and keeping it away from doors, windows, and vents.

If you’re operating a natural gas generator to power the whole house, make sure it’s properly grounded, Caruccio added. Hire a licensed electrician to wire and install it.

And always keep electrical panels, indoors and outdoors, free of clutter and debris and easy to reach, he said. If there’s ever an emergency, you should be able to access the panel without tripping over boxes in the basement. Keep flammable objects a safe distance from the panel, he said.

Protect your appliances

Caruccio recommends using a whole-home surge protector, which can be installed in your electrical panel. This will protect any plugged-in appliances — televisions, appliances, etc. — if there’s a lightning strike or power surge.

For extra safety, you can purchase outlet surge protectors, Caruccio said. These power strips sell for as little as $5 at Walmart.

Trim the trees

Take a look at your trees before summer storms roll in, Baxter said. Branches shouldn’t be touching the house, he said.

Install air conditioners wisely

According to the National Weather Service, there is a 50 percent to 60 percent chance New England could experience higher-than-normal temperatures this summer. If a heat waves strikes, think before you plug in that air conditioner.

Never install more than one air conditioner on the same circuit, Caruccio advised.

In some homes, especially in small apartments and older houses, multiple rooms may be wired on the same circuit, he said. Running air conditioners on the same circuit could trip the breaker and cause greater issues over time, including electrical fires, Caruccio said.

Know your coverage

Even when we take precautions, accidents happen. It’s vital to know what your insurance covers, so you’re prepared in the event that your home suffers damage, Baxter said.

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