As so eloquently stated in a recent New York Law Journal article, “Winter storms can create a legal tightrope that a property owner must walk as carefully as a potential plaintiff walking on an icy sidewalk.” In addition to slippery sidewalks, there are other threats that could be lurking around your home this winter.
Here are four potential threats from which to protect yourself and your home.
- Slippery sidewalks- If you live in a condo, your homeowners association is probably responsible for snow removal. Brownstone and single family home property owners, on the other hand, are responsible according to New York City’s summary of sanitation rules and regulations which outline who must maintain the sidewalks in front of buildings. Published by the New York City Department of Sanitation, the regulation regarding snow and ice removal states, “Every owner, lessee, tenant, occupant, or other person having charge of any lot or building must clean snow and/or ice from the sidewalk within 4 hours after the snow has stopped falling, or by 11:00 AM if the snow has stopped falling after 9:00 PM the previous evening.”
- Leaky plumbing- Each year, plumbing leaks account for 10,000 gallons of wasted water—which is enough to fill an entire swimming pool! Consider that if one toilet in your home is constantly running, you are wasting up to 200 or more gallons of water every single day—which totals 73,000 gallons of water annually! Clearly, plumbing leaks can be extremely costly; especially if the leak results in damage to your home’s floors, wall moldings, etc. Worse yet, standing water can cause mold growth which could be detrimental to you and your family’s health. Fortunately, it only takes one call to a reputable plumber to resolve the issue. If you are going to be away for the holidays, check for leaks beforehand to prevent returning home to a flood.
- Carbon monoxide- One major safety issue common to all homeowners is carbon monoxide. Each year, approximately 200 people in New York State are hospitalized because this ‘silent killer’ is highly poisonous. To protect your home and family, make sure that you install carbon monoxide detectors and check to see that any gas, oil and charcoal burning appliances are functioning properly. If you already have carbon monoxide detectors installed, test them every month.
- Inefficient water heater- If your water heater requires frequent repairs or does not heat up quickly, it’s time to buy a new one. An average new unit should not cost more than $1,000 and is worth every penny when you consider the comfort of having hot water on demand and also the fact that newer models are much more energy efficient than those previously on the market. Most importantly, damaged heaters can actually explode with could cause serious damage to your home and also harm loved ones. If you are unsure if you need a new one, enlist a professional to inspect it for signs of failure and inefficiency.