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7/13/2012 - The Unlucky List: 13 avoidable disasters for homeowners

Take precautions to prevent oven fires or other issues this Friday the 13th.

If you dread Friday the 13th, consider yourself in good company. It's actually estimated that between $800 and $900 billion is lost on the day due to people not conducting business as the normally would, according to the Phobia Institute.

While "cures" to avoid misfortune range from the practical to the absurd, perhaps no solution is more reliable than simply preventing accidents from taking place in the first place.

Here are 13 "disasters" that you can avoid through basic maintenance and awareness.

1. Oven fire. One of the most common mishaps that can result in a fire takes place in the kitchen. To help remember the oven is on, saying the words, "I'm turning the oven on now," lets others know, and can also help trigger your own memory bank.

2. Chimney fire. Over time, heavy amounts of creosote can form along the inside walls of the chimney, creating a fire hazard. Check and clean your chimney on a regular basis to help reduce this risk.

3. Broken furnace. Before the cold temperatures settle in, schedule to have your furnace checked out, as a professional will be able to determine maintenance needs, such as oiling the motors and inspecting the heat exchanger for cracks.

4. Power surge. Buy a surge protector to help prevent the loss of important data on your computer if a power surge occurs

5. Frozen pipes. Keep water pipes from freezing up by cracking the faucet slightly so that water trickles out ever so slightly.

6. Burst in washing machine hoses. Purchase no-burst hoses, which are made of a material that will not rupture to prevent washing machine break downs.

7. Dryer fire.  Washers and dryers cause one out of every 23 home fires in the U.S. Clean the lint trap regularly to help keep your dryer operating at a safe temperature.

8. Grill fire. Always remain near the grill when cooking food, periodically remove grease buildup from the trays and avoid starting a gas grill when the lid is closed.

9. Leaving candles unattended. Scented candles may be delightful to smell, but they can be fire hazards if left to burn for an extended period. No matter what type of candle it is, keep an eye on it at all times.

10. Missing shingles. Take a look at your roof every now and then, as there may be a shingle missing. If so, schedule to have it fixed, as leaks may start and more may fall off.

11. Burst water pipe. To stave off potential disaster from a damaged water pipe, err on the side of caution and turn your water supply off at the source. There may not be an issue at all, but better to be safe than sorry.

12. Damage from loose lawn furniture and toys. Hurricanes and tornadoes are known for creating heavy wind gusts, making lawn ornaments potential projectiles. Ensure that toys and lawn items are picked up or strapped down, as they could lead to injury or damage to your property.

13. Termites. It is estimated that termites damage 600,000 homes in the U.S. each year, and are one of the few household hazards that is not covered by homeowners insurance in most cases. You can avoid high out-of-pocket costs by doing some routine maintenance, such as paring back plants that are close to your home. This prevents moisture and mold buildup from forming on wood walls, which termites are attracted to.
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