September, 2023 | Boizelle Insurance Partnership

Common Problems With Clogged Gutters

A few leaves in your gutters may not seem like a big deal at first. You’d be right. It’s not. It’s when you continue to neglect your gutters and more and more leaves get clogged inside that can and will present a problem.

Gutters are specifically designed to divert water away from your home. This is extremely important because even a little bit of water can cause a lot of damage. And a lot of damage means you’ll be paying a lot of money for repairs to your home.

What Can Happen If I Don’t Clean My Gutters?

Foundation Issues

When there is heavy rainfall, the excess water needs a place to flow to. A gutter that is functioning properly will carry that water through a downspout and away from your house. A clogged gutter actually does the opposite, allowing the water to spill over the sides and down your walls. When water has the ability to pool, it can cause erosion which weakens the walls, thus leading to foundational cracks and settling.

The worst part of a scenario like this is that serious structural problems are not covered by most homeowners insurance policies.

Broken Gutters

Whenever your gutters are clogged, the water that is collected has no place to go. Because of this, your gutters overflow with water. When each gallon of water weighs as much as eight pounds, that extra weight can take a serious toll on your gutters, either bending them or tearing them away from your roof altogether.

It’s important to keep in mind that the average cost of replacing your gutters can range anywhere from $1,000 to as much as $7,000. Maintaining that your gutters are free and clear of debris will not only give you peace of mind; it will do wonders for the health of your bank account.

Wall and Ceiling Damage

Clogged gutters can also cause damage to the inside of your home when water leaks inside. Water can rot the boards that your gutters are mounted to, or it can flow behind the siding of your home.

In either case, moisture can enter your home, forcing you to have to replace wood, insulation and drywall. All of this can add up to a hefty sum.

Ice Dams

Were you aware of the fact that clogged gutters can cause damage during winter as well? When temperatures drop, water that is trapped inside your gutters turns to ice. This is what’s known as an ice dam. When ice and snow melts and has no place to travel to, it can go underneath your shingles.

Wet Basement

If you’re the type of person that stores a lot of your belongings in your basement, listen up. Wet basements can contain harmful mold and mildew, causing significant damage to your belongings, not to mention your overall physical health.

Insect Infestations

Pooling water in your gutters can be a haven for mosquitos. Damp mud and leaves can be an attractive place to bees and wasps to build their nests.

Is Damage From Clogged Gutters Covered by Homeowners Insurance?

Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by normal wear and tear or neglect. Procrastination is your enemy when it comes to maintenance of your home. Damage caused by neglecting your gutters will most likely need to be paid for out of pocket.

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Your Stuff In Your Garage Could Start a Fire

If you’re like most people, your garage is packed with boxes and boxes of stuff. Your best-case-scenario is that you have a tiny bit of clutter to deal with. At worst, your garage contains fire hazards that could pose a threat to your home as well as the overall safety of yourself and your loved ones. Did you know that 5% of house fires start in a garage? To find out how you can prevent a massive headache and a hefty insurance claim, review this list of common garage hazards.

Heating hazards

The danger: ERIE typically does not cover garages that are heated by wood stoves and space heaters unless they are in a specially designated sealed-ff area of the garage where hot air is piped in for heat. This is due to the fact that heating devices with an open flame can potentially emit gas fumes that are highly flammable and could cause a fire.

What you can do: If your heating device is cleared for use in a garage, you will want to take a few safety precautions. First, keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from heating equipment. This includes items that are combustible such as car batteries, as well as general clutter like piles of rags or stacks of loose papers.

Electrical hazards

The danger: Wiring, extension cords, plugs, circuit breakers, transformers, light fixtures and battery chargers can cause a fire when they malfunction.

What you can do: Make certain that your wiring and lighting is in compliance with your state’s laws, use bulbs with the proper wattage and do not overload outlets. To ensure that everything works properly, have an electrician install more receptacles so you don’t have to use extension cords.

Chemical hazards

The danger: Chances are you have a virtual stockpile of flammable chemicals like motor oil, paint, gasoline, fertilizers and lighter fluid in your garage.

What you can do: Don’t smoke inside your garage. All it takes to ignite a fire is one spark. Instead, head out to the driveway or sidewalk. Store any chemicals out of direct sunlight and far away from any heat or ignition sources. Be sure to check containers for cracks or defects.

Vehicle and power tools

The danger: When oil and gasoline from cars, motorcycles, power tools and lawnmowers drips and collects over time, the possibility of a fire becomes very real.

What you can do: Regularly check your vehicles and power tools. If you notice any leaks, clean up the spill ASAP by spreading an absorbent material such as kitty litter over them. Then sweep up and safely dispose of the material before taking care of the repair.

Cooking equipment

The danger: Ovens, microwaves, charcoal grills and gas grills can ignite the flammable stuff in your garage.

What you can do: They call it a cookout for a reason, so make sure you only use your grill outside and a good distance away from your garage. Propane tanks pose a special danger, so store them outdoors—they’re sturdy enough to handle the elements.

As a final precaution, make sure to stash a fire extinguisher and install a fire alarm in your garage.


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Is It Fact or Fiction?: Myths of Deer Collisions

More one and a half million drivers are involved in deer collision every year, causing nearly $1 billion in damage to vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

What about the all too common stories that everyone has seemed to have heard about deer collisions? Are the stories true?

6 Common Myths About Deer

Myth: Deer are more active at sunrise and sunset.


It’s possible to encounter deer at any time of day. However, dusk and dawn are their most prominent hours of activity. Deer tend to move most frequently during twilight. If you are driving as the sun is either rising or setting, be sure to be especially cautious behind the wheel.

Myth: It is more likely that you will hit a deer during the fall season.


Almost half of all vehicle collisions involving deer occur between October and December which also happens to be deer mating season as well as peak hunting season. So, be extra cautious on the roads during these months.

Myth: Deer whistles can help prevent collisions.


There has never been evidence to suggest that deer whistles effectively prevent collisions. In fact, a study at the University of Georgia discovered that no matter how loud or how high-pitched the frequency of the sound from the whistle, the sound wasn’t enough to change the deer’s behavior.

Myth: Hitting a deer is not that dangerous.


Any collision, whether it’s with a deer, a wall or another vehicle can be dangerous. However, deer collisions tend to be more of an inconvenience than a clear and present danger. Of course, you should never be driving down the road fifty miles above the speed limit anyway. If you hit a deer at that speed, you’ll have a much bigger problem on your hands. Also important to remember is to know when to swerve and when to stay in your lane. Always be aware of the other cars on the road because you never want to be anyone else in danger.

Myth: More deer are present where you see “deer crossing” signs.


Whenever you see a deer crossing sign, understand that it’s there for a reason. These signs are also usually placed in areas with less than optimal road conditions and decreased visibility.

Myth: If I hit a deer, I can take home the meat.

It depends.

Depending on the state, it might be illegal to take a dead deer home with you. Check with your local authorities before removing the animal from the road.

Does My Auto Insurance Cover Hitting a Deer?

If you have what’s referred to as comprehensive coverage on your auto policy, you will be covered if and when you collide with a deer.

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Never Sleep With The Door Closed

According to firefighters, every second counts during a fire. In fact, house fires can double in size every minute that goes by. About half of home fire deaths happen between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. when most people are sleeping.

But here’s the good news: There’s a simple step you can add to your nighttime routine to keep you safe.

Research from Underwriters Laboratories Firefighter Safety Research Institute (FRSI) shows that closing your bedroom door helps prevent a fire from spreading, lessens smoke damage and could even save lives.

Just like having the right homeowners insurance, a little preparation can go a long way to help you rest easy.

Here’s why it works: The more oxygen a fire has, the quicker it will spread. Keeping your bedroom door closed has been proven to slow the spread of a house fire. Additional benefits include reduction of toxic smoke levels and lower levels of heat inside the bedroom. It is important to note – within 60 seconds of a fire starting, ceiling temperatures can reach over 1,000° F.

Having the right kind of fire extinguisher nearby can also help. But when it comes to fire-related deaths, it’s usually not the flames that are to blame. Smoke and heat are actually more likely to cause suffocation and death.

Why Should You Sleep With the Door Closed?

When a door is closed during a fire, a person in that room experiences:

  • More survivable temperatures: Temperatures typically stay below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Livable oxygen levels: Oxygen levels read around 18%. (For comparison, regular room air is about 21% oxygen.)
  • Less toxic carbon monoxide levels: Close to 100 parts per million (PPM) of carbon monoxide (CO).

When a door remains open during a fire, a person in that room is exposed to:

  • Less survivable temperatures: Temperatures can get hotter than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Low oxygen levels: Oxygen levels can decrease to 8%, making it harder to breathe.
  • Extremely toxic carbon monoxide levels: Dangerous levels can increase to 10,000 PPM of CO.

How Much Time Do You Have to Escape a Fire?

Forty years ago, the average time people had to safely escape a fire was 17 minutes. Today’s homes only allow for three minutes or less to evacuate. Why? Modern synthetic construction materials, lower quality components, home furnishings and contemporary layouts allow fire to spread and become toxic much faster than in the past.

But don’t panic — even three minutes is a lot of time to escape a fire if you remain calm, have a plan and close doors in your home. One way to prepare is by establishing a fire escape plan with your family and practicing it twice a year. (It’s also a good idea to test your smoke alarms once a month to ensure they work properly and that everyone knows what they sound like.)

While you’re practicing your fire escape plans, remember to cover these additional safety tips:

  • Roll off your bed, don’t stand up if your smoke alarm wakes you up from sleep.
  • Use the back of your hand to test your door for heat (and don’t grab the doorknob – it could be HOT). If it’s cold you can open the door, but if it’s hot, you need to find another exit.
  • Crawl, don’t walk, if there’s heavy smoke in your home. Heat and smoke rise, so cooler, fresher air is low to the ground.
  • Never go back in for pets or other people. Your safety is the most important.
  • Remember Stop, Drop and Roll if your clothes catch on fire.

One final tip: When you escape a fire, remember to close the door behind you once you exit. This will cut off the oxygen to the fire and may stop the fire’s growth.

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