Category Archives: Home

Spring Home Maintenance for Savings

copyright: premier roofing

We’ve already seen how some basic cleaning can save you money in efficiency dollars, and in this post we’re going to expand that to include exterior maintenance and prevention.

It’s a good idea to give your house an annual whole house physical to catch issues before they get out of hand, and do routine maintenance that will extend the life of your home. In the case of home ownership, a penny of maintenance can be worth tens of thousands in repairs. Catching issues before they get out of hand will save time, money, and frustration in the long run.

Outdoor Inspections-
Roof–  Checking out your roof might seem like a daunting, ladder requiring task, but if you know what you are looking for, a simple pair of binoculars should do the trick. Below are some of the basic things to look for. If you see any of these,  call a roofer to come out and inspect further (or contact your homeowners insurance carrier if the damage is following a storm).
Cracked or Missing Shingles
– Shingles That Have Shifted

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 –Nail Pops-                                                              copyright frisby construction

Chimney Check-Up

Even if you don’t use your fireplace or chimney, it is important to look it over regularly from the outside. Look carefully for anything missing or gaps between the bricks. Also beware of any greenery growing on chimney, as it is a signal that water is getting in between the bricks, which can ultimately lead to the chimney becoming unstable, dangerous, and expensive to fix.  Another indicator of water is something called “efflorescence”, which appears as an almost chalky white  layer on the outside of the chimney (see picture)In some cases, a special sealer can be applied to stop or repair the water damage, but in other cases an actual chimney repairman will have to be called.

Exterior Inspection

Take some time to walk all around the house and look over the exterior walls and foundation, paying special attention to trouble prone areas like under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Check to see that everything, including siding, looks in tact, as holes and misaligned siding can make way for carpenter ants and wookpeckers.

It’s a good idea to do a similar mini-inspection after any storms, especially those with really high winds, hail or if any trees fall. If you notice anything, take a picture and call your homeowners insurance and they can tell you what to do.

Top to Bottom In the House

Attic– Head to the attic and look for signs of insects or critters colonizing up there like animal droppings or bee/wasp nests. Also look carefully for mold, which can appear as gray or black blotches that look like staining. Good insulation, and proper ventilation will help deter mold growth.

Basement– Down here the things you want to look for are insects (again!),  and mold. As you probably know,  basements can be prone to dampness, which can lead to mold growth. Just like in attics, mold appears as a gray or black staining on wood. Installing a dehumidifier in the basement can help keep it dry.

Be sure check the interior foundation for any cracks in the masonry. If you see anything, call a qualified repairman to take a look at it. Avoid putting caulk into the crack or trying other DIY solutions. Foundation issues can be serious and ultimately affect the structural integrity of the house and should be handled by a professional.

If you live in an older area or historical house: While you are down there, keep your eyes peeled for areas that may have been built to cover up hidden passageways or uneven basement flooring that may be hiding buried treasure.



Hot Water Heater

During your whole house physical, be sure to take time to inspect your hot water heater.  Check it for signs of leaks or corrosion.

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist
Money Saving Home Maintenance


Home Maintenance Problems: Is Your Home Speaking To You?

home maintenance

courtesy of google images

Is your home giving you signs there are underlying issues that you need to address before they get worse.  Are you hearing strange sounds, getting funny odors or even some visual clues you might be ignoring?

Pay attention to the early warning signs your home is giving you to help with diagnosing common home issues.  Here are a few clues and fixes from houselogic that will help you.

Peeling Exterior Paint

Cause: Moisture is probably getting underneath the paint, perhaps from a leaking gutter overhead or from a steamy bathroom on the other side of the wall.

Cure: If you catch the problem right away, you might just need to address the moisture issue and then scrape off the loose paint, prime bare spots, and repaint that wall, for a total of a few hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Delay too long and the siding might rot. Patching and repainting the whole house could cost $10,000.

To prevent a chronically steamy bathroom, install a new ventilation fan with a humidity-sensing switch that automatically exhausts moisture-laden air. Cost is about $250.

Flickering Lights

Cause: If only a single bulb flickers, it might be loose in its socket or in need of replacement. If lights always dim when the refrigerator or other appliance turns on, the circuit might be overloaded. If groups of lights flicker, connections at the electrical panel or elsewhere might be loose, causing power to arc — or jump — over the gaps. Arcing is a serious problem; it starts fires.

Cure: Anyone can tighten a bulb. Handy homeowners can shut off circuits and tighten loose connections within switch boxes. If you’re not comfortable doing that, or if you suspect an overloaded circuit or loose connection at the panel box, call in a licensed electrician. You’ll pay $150 to $250 for a new circuit, and $500 to $700 for a new electrical panel — way less than what you’d spend to recover from a fire.

Loud Knocking

Cause: If the knocking occurs when you turn off water, you have “water hammer,” caused when fast-moving water comes to a sudden stop and there is no air chamber (a short, specially designed piece of pipe) to cushion the shock wave. If knocking occurs when your furnace switches on or off, metal ducts are expanding or contracting as temperature changes.

Cure: If water pipes are the issue and there is an air chamber near the faucet, it may be filled with water and needs to be drained. You might be able to do this yourself. If you’re not confident tackling that or if there is no chamber, call a plumber ($65 an hour) to add one. Those snapping ducts? Just get used to them. There’s usually no cause for concern.
For more causes and cures from homelogic read more here.

Always remember Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance is here to keep you protected with the proper Connecticut Home Insurance.


Making Your Home or Apartment Eco-Friendly

making your home eco-friendlyWhether you live in an apartment or house there are many ways you can be environmentally-conscious.  Simple affordable changes to your daily routine and living space will make a big difference.  The way you decorate your home or apartment can impact your carbon footprint.

Take a look at these simple tips to turn your home or apartment into a green living space.

Sustainable Materials

Using sustainable materials can both improve the look of your living space as well as bring you closer to your eco-friendly goals.  Recycled materials such as bamboo along with soy-based products can make your home “greener”. Other eco-friendly materials include Teak, 100 percent cotton and wool, which are environmentally friendly. Many times you can find these products at local thrift shops or boutiques right in your home town.


You can illuminate your living space with light fixtures that are energy efficient and made with recycled goods, such as glass bottles.  Upcycling is an awesome trend that’s here to stay.  Taking old materials and transforming them into something new and decorative.


When choosing to paint your home or apartment, look for non-toxic paints.  Look for paints with zero VOC or low VOC on the label. VOC’s are volatile organic compounds that are not safe to breathe in.  Choosing either of these types of paints will ensure you continue to make your home or apartment eco-friendly.


Looking to give a facelift to your kitchen your bathroom?  Consider adding an eco-friendly touch such as bamboo.  A bamboo mat in your bathroom not only looks nice, but is durable and water resistant. Add some color to your space with organic cotton throw pillows.  You could even be creative and make decorative items using wine corks.

Going green will not only guarantee long lasting pieces but it won’t break the bank.

For all your home and apartment insurance needs contact Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance.

Protecting YOU is our Job



7 Brilliant Hacks For Your Home Or Apartment

We all love great hacks that make our life a little easier.  Whether its saving space in your home, or finding a new convenient way to organize things.  Here are seven you’ve probably never considered and once you’ve seen them you’ll think, “How Come I didn’t think of that?”

1.Velcro remotes to your coffee table.  Sounds funny doesn’t it.  But how many times have you spent several minutes trying to find your t.v. remotes? They get lost in the couch cushions.  Not only does this save clutter on the coffee table, but you’ll know where they are at all times.

7 brilliant hacks for your home


2. Power strip in a drawer. Adding a power strip to your drawer will help you keep all your electronics charging in a nice neat area and out of sight.  It’s as simple as drilling a small hole in the back of your drawer, then pull the power strip through the back. It helps to leave the drawer cracked when charging to allow some air circulation inside.

7 hacks to make your life easy

3. Wine holder doubles as a towel rack.  This is pretty cool trick I’d say.  Any easy way to keep your bathroom towels organized.  Doesn’t take up a lot of space and looks nice.

7 hacks to make your life easy


4. Soda tabs on your hangers.  Sounds strange right?  But if you add a soda tab (which we all have plenty of that we just throw away) to your hanger, you can hang a second garment of it.  Now you are fitting more clothes in the closet and saving space.

7 hacks for your life

5. Bread tabs.  This is a great idea and so easy to do.  Use bread tabs as labels for your cords.  Attach them to each of your t.v., dvd, stereo and computer cords and label them.  This keeps them organized and easy to recognize which cord is which without guessing.

7 hacks to make your life easy

6. Put your phone in a cup.  Sounds strange already, right.  Well if you use your phone as your alarm or to listen to music and don’t have speakers…this is the trick for you.  Placing your phone in a cup (empty of course) helps to amplify the sound.  Give it a try next time and see if it works for you.

7 hacks to make your life easy

7. Ice removes furniture indentations.  Who really thinks of putting ice on your rug.  In this case it will actually help remove those indentations in the rug from furniture.  We all like to move furniture around for a change, but those indentations left behind can be annoying.  Place the ice in the area of the indentation, let it melt, vacuum over it and work the indentation out by rubbing with a towel.  Give it shot, what do you have to lose.

7 hacks to make your life easy

Hope these handy hacks will be helpful for you in your home or apartment.

Photos courtesy of Apartment Guide



Keep Your Home Safe During Vacation

keep your home safe from burglarsYes, it’s vacation time.  The warm weather is here, long holiday weekends and it’s time to take a few vacations this summer.  Burglars are also looking forward to you taking a vacation. Is your home an easy target for burglars? Research shows that if it takes more than four or five minutes to break into a home, the burglar will go elsewhere. Don’t let your home be an easy mark for burglars.  Check your home for weaknesses and make these corrections to keep your home safe.

  1. Take the time to “case” your house or apartment, just as a burglar would. Where is the easiest entry? How can you make it more burglar-resistant?
  2. Trim trees and shrubs near doors and windows, and think carefully before installing a high, wooden fence around your back yard. High fences and shrubbery can add to your privacy, but can also be an asset to a burglar. Consider trading a little extra privacy for a bit of added security.
  3. Force any would-be burglar to confront a real enemy—light. Exterior lights and motion detectors, mounted out of easy reach, can reduce the darkness a burglar finds comforting.
  4. Simple security devices—nails, screws, padlocks, door and window locks, grates, bars and bolts—can increase the amount of time it takes to break into your home.
  5. Invest in a burglar alarm. The most effective ones also ring at an outside service.
  6. Are any of your valuables—paintings, a silver collection or a computer—easy to see from outside the house? Rearranging your furnishings might be advisable if it makes your home less inviting to criminals.

These tips can help with keeping your home safe from a potential break-in.  Spend a few minutes before you head on vacation and take these preventative measures to keep your home secure.  You’ll be more comfortable the next time you go on vacation, knowing your home is safe.

Also remember that most insurance companies provide a discount for devices that make your home safer, such as dead bolt locks, smoke, fire and burglar alarms.  If you have made any of these upgrades to your home be sure to give us a call and let us know.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job

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Hidden Hazards in Your Home

home insurance, phh insuranceHome is where the heart is, but it’s also where tons of health dangers dwell. What you breathe and touch could actually be making you sick.  Here are few of the top hazards in your home. Learn how to keep your family safe from these hazards.


Does your bathroom, closet or basement have an old musty odor?  Blame mold spores. They make themselves at home in damp spots.  “Mold can grow within 24-48 hours where there’s moisture and what they consider a food source,” says Jeff May, co-author of My House Is Killing Me! 

Complex heating and cooling systems can make mold matters worse, especially if you suffer from allergies or asthma. Mold spores can trigger asthma symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, the Mayo Clinic reports.

Ways to remedy:

  • Use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in mold-prone rooms below 50%.
  • Operate an oscillating fan in the bathroom after showering and fix leaks as soon as possible.
  • Keep rooms well ventilated.


Over-the-counter and prescription medications are tempting to toddlers and preschoolers because they look like candy.

Ways to remedy:

  • Store all drugs in a safe place where children cannot find them
  • Never leave meds within easy reach
  • Make sure all bottle have child-resistant caps
  • Put the number of your local Poison Control Center where you can easily find it in case of an emergency


They may keep your sweaters from resembling Swiss cheese, but moth balls are a danger.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), “acute exposure through inhalation, ingestion and dermal contact is associated with anemia, damage to the liver, and, in infants, neurological damage.”

Ways to remedy:

  • Replace moth balls with natural moth repellants such as cedar blocks or chips or dried lavender.  It will smell better than a moth ball and ward off those moths.

Cleaning Products

You’ll find them all over our houses, usually under the cabinets. Because of bright colors and smells of many of the products, these too look appealing to children.

Ways to remedy:

  • Keep out of reach of children: don’t leave under the cabinets, look for a high spot to store
  • Put a danger or hazards mark on all cleaning products and teach your children what this means and to steer clear of these when they see them

We hope this information has been helpful and will allow you to find the dangers in your home and remedy them.  Keep you home and family safe.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job



Saving money on your home energy bills

save energy in your homeWe know that the cost of energy just keeps rising, whether it’s electricity, oil or fuel for our cars.  It’s rare that we see this ever go down in costs, so how can we counteract this?  There are ways you can save money in your home and reduce your energy costs.

  1. Appliances:  How old are your appliances?  Washer, Dryer, Refrigerator are they over 10-15 years old?  This is one of the biggest draws of energy in your home. On average each new appliance can save you $10-$15 per month on your electric bill. That adds up when you have say four appliances that are over 10-15 years old. None of us can run out and buy all new appliances of course, but start with replacing your oldest appliance first and then update the others once a year.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the savings.
  2. Light bulbs:  By now many of us have switched our lights bulbs over to CFL (compact fluorescent light bulbs).  Or have you?  If you haven’t made the change through your home, you are missing out on a huge savings in your energy bills.  Average savings are from $40 to $135 in energy bills over the lifetime of the bulbs.  CFL use 75% less energy and last 10 to 25 times longer.  So consider making the switch and in no time you will start seeing the savings in your energy bill.
  3. Cooking outdoors:  Warm weather is here.  Consider making more use of the grill outside for cooking instead.  Food always tastes better off the grill anyway.  Less time cooking inside will help lower your energy bills during the warm weather.
  4. Hang clothes to dry: Instead of using the dryer consider hanging your clothes outside or on a drying rack. This saves on energy and fresh air is better than any dryer sheet.  If you have to dry clothes using a dryer, then what until the evening when electricity rates are lower.

CL&P has a great Home Appliances calculator that estimates your total home appliance cost.  Take the test here and see how much you are spending, and then see how much you could be saving with more energy efficient appliances.

We hope these tips were helpful for ways to save energy costs in your home. Looking for other ways to save money? Give Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance a call and we will be happy to quote your home and auto insurance to see if we can save you even more.

Penny Hanley & Howley Insurance

Protecting YOU is our Job