Homeowners Insurance Westfield MA - William Mis Insurance: Oil Heat Safety

Oil Heat Safety

Home heating safety is important for all homeowners. Maintenance and understanding is integral to the protection of your home and family.

In Massachusetts, home heating oil spills and leaks have become an all too common problem. The culprit in most cases is the delivery or supply line that carries home heating oil from the storage tank to the furnace. Oil-fired boilers and furnaces are especially popular in areas of the country with limited access to natural gas, such as the Northeast.

Depending on the age of your heater, you may consider the following options to increase safety and efficiency:

Vent Dampers

The most common retrofit is the addition of a vent (or flue) damper. A vent damper prevents chimney losses by closing off a boiler’s vent when the boiler is not firing. Steam boilers and big boilers benefit from vent dampers more than hot water or smaller boilers.

Barometric Flue Damper

During your annual service checkup, have a draft test. If too much heat is going up the chimney, install a barometric flue damper. The cost is minimal and can save up to 5% of your fuel cost.

Modulating Aquastats Controller and Time-Delay Relay:

Retrofits for hot water boilers can save fuel costs. The modulating aquastat, also called an outdoor reset, controls and adjusts the temperature of the hot water. The time-delay relay causes the boiler to circulate hot water through the system without turning on the boiler.

Fuel Supply Lines with Non-Metallic Sleeve and Safety Valve

A protective sleeve protects the delivery line from corrosion and physical damage. Since older delivery lines are neither visible nor encased, leaks can continue to go undetected.

Maintenance & Prevention

> Have annual maintenance for both your heating furnace and oil tank to prevent future problems
> Install an automatic shutoff valve
> Replace the fuel supply line with one encased in a non-metallic protective sleeve
> Keep the area around the heating system clear of debris and flammable materials
> Install smoke detectors and carbon dioxide detectors in your home and change the batteries (if applicable) each year

Review your homeowners policy with your insurance agent to make sure you have sufficient coverage in the event of an oil heat related loss
In the Event of an Emergency
Contact your oil company, fire department, or regional Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) office for assistance.

Preventing Water Damage Inside Your Home

Water damage inside the home can be a long-lasting headache. Here are some tips on how to be pro-active to avoid experiencing damage to your home and belongings. 

1. Plumbing Supply & Drains:

Homes 30 years old are 3 times as likely to have a plumbing supply or drainage problem. 


  • Visually inspect plumbing pipes annually, look for condensation around the pipes or an obvious leak and corrosion.
  • Pay attention to your water bill. A significant increase could indicate a leak. 
  • Call a plumber at the first signs of rust-colored water, backed up toilets or sinks and cracked or warped flooring.
  • Insulate pipes in attics, basements and exposed exterior pipes to avoid freezing.
  • During periods of freezing weather, open cabinet doors to expose pipes to warm air.
  • Disconnect garden hoses when freeze warnings are issued and turn off outside faucets.

2. Refrigerator Icemakers:

73% of losses involving an icemaker were caused by failure of the supply line hose. 10% of incidents involved new refrigerators and were linked to improper installation.


  • Proper installation of the icemaker supply line hose is important to avoiding water damage.
  • Tightly connect the hose to the valve. Avoid over tightening.
  • Ensure the valve connection is secure and check for kinks.
  • Inspect the hose every 6 months. If kinks are present, replace the hose.
  • leave a 3 to 4 inch space between the back of the refrigerator and the wall to prevent the hose from crimping.
  • When pulling the refrigerator out for cleaning or service, avoid getting the hose caught between the wheel.
  • Locate the water shut off valve.
  • Inspect the valve every 6 months to make sure the water supply is shut off. Replace the valve if needed.

3. Sinks:

Water damage from a sink averaged more than $7000 per incident. Of these incidents, 44% were attributed to faulty plumbing supply lines.


  • Inspect plumbing beneath sinks every 6 months.
  • Ensure connections are secure and there is no evidence of corrosion on the pipes. 
  • Look for kinks in copper or plastic pipes. These could lead to pinhole leaks over time.
  • Locate the water shut off valve
  • Inspect the valve every 6 months to make sure the water supply will shut off. Replace the valve if needed.

4. Toilets:

Water damage from toilets costs $2000 to $10000 per incident. 78% of incidents were caused by faulty supply lines, toilet flanges, fill valve assemblies or toilets that backed up and overflowed. 


  • After flushing, remain in or near the bathroom until the fill valve has finished refilling the bowl. 
  • If the bowl or tank begins to overflow, turn off the water at the supply valve.
  • Inspect the flushing mechanism inside the toilet and the supply line every 6 months.
  • The fill valve should shut off when the float reaches the proper water level. 
  • Replace the flapper or fill valve assembly if you notice intermittent or constant tank refilling when the toilet is not in use. 
  • Inspect the supply line every 6 months.
  • Ensure the connection to the valve is secure.
  • Operate the valve to make sure the water supply will shut off. Replace if needed.

5. Shower Stalls:

Homes more than 20 years old were 37% more likely to have water damage involving a shower. More than half of the shower stall water damage incidents involved a faulty shower pan. 


  • Inspect tile and grout every 6 months, paying attention to loose or cracked tiles and cracked or crumbling grout lines. Repair as needed.
  • Test the shower pan annually: 1. Block the floor drain. 2. Fill the shower stall with approximately 1 inch of water. 3. Use a pencil to mark the water line. 4. Leave the water standing in the shower pan for 8 hours. 5. If the water level decreases, contact a plumbing professional.

6. Washing machines:

A burst water supply line caused half of all water damage incidents involving washing machines. On average, these incidents caused more than $6000 in damage per incident. 


  • Turn supply valves off when not in use. 
  • Consider installing a lever type valve that is easy to operate between uses.
  • Do not operate the washing machine while the home is unoccupied.
  • Leave a 3 to 4 inch gap between the back of the washing machine and the wall to avoid kinking the hose near the valve connection.
  • Inspect the water supply line hoses every 6 months. 
  • Ensure that the connection to the valve is secure, but avoid over tightening.
  • Hand tighten first. Then tighten an additional 2/3 of a turn using pliers. 
  • Check the hoses for cracks, kinks or blisters. 
  • Washing machine manufacturers recommend replacing washing machine hoses every 5 years.
  • Consider reinforced braided stainless steel hoses. 

7. Water Heater:

The chance a water heater will leak or burst begins to dramatically increase when it is 5 years old. 3/4 of all water heaters fail before they are 12 years old. 


  • Have a professional plumbing inspection of the anode rod at least once every 2 years and annually once the warranty has expired. The rod will eventually corrode and leave the tank vulnerable to damage. 
  • Remove sediment by flushing the tank every 6 months. Sediment will build up faster in areas with hard water. 

8. Sump Pumps:

Power outages were the cause of 18% pf water damage incidents involving a sump pump. Another 40% of incidents were attributed to things such as a clogged inlet screen or a faulty float switch. 


Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for sump pump maintenance. These vary from running the sump pump every 2 to 3 months to a yearly cleaning before the rainy season.

To inspect the sump pump: 1. Open the lid and remove debris that may be blocking the water inlet screen. 2. Pour approximately 5 gallons of water into the pump and watch the float valve rise. 3. As the float valve rises, the pump should turn on and the water should discharge through the outlet pipe. 4. Go outside and inspect the outlet pipe. Water should be flowing from the pipe and away from the home. 5. If the sump pump fails to operate during this inspection, contact a plumbing professional. 

Install a battery back up system. Choose a system with a battery replacement warning. Replace batteries every 2 to 3 years. 

We here at William Mis Insurance hope you found this blog post helpful. Please keep us in mind for auto, home, renter's, business or recreational vehicle insurance for Western Massachusetts and beyond. I'm Tanya, your online insurance specialist, so please give me a call or drop me an email for a quote or with questions! 413-568-6111 or



Auto Insurance & Homeowners Insurance Western Massachusetts

Welcome to our very first blog post on our new and improved website! William Mis Insurance Agency is located in Westfield Massachusetts and we provide auto insurance and home insurance for all of Western Massachusetts, as well as other areas of Massachusetts. We also provide business insurance and recreational vehicle insurance. 

We are not an online based company that is faceless....we provide the same service ONLY BETTER. You will receive actual servicing for your policies. What does that mean? It means that you can stop in if you need to, to get plates, or make payments. It means you can call, stop in or email with questions. It means you know who we are and how to find us. 

DID YOU KNOW that we actually have an RMV connection right from our office that allows us to issue plates, transfer plates and renew plates without having to leave our office? WE DO! 

The owner offers weekend and evening appointments if the Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hours are not convenient for you. 

I'm Tanya, and I'm your online quoting and policy specialist for the office. Please reach out and allow me to provide a no obligation quote to you. 

I think to kick off our first post, we should give you a handy resource list of helpful links for you to bookmark...

Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles
Driver’s License Renewal
Crash Operator Report Form
Registry Renewal
Plate Return/Cancelation Form
Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA)
Massachusetts Emergency Management Association (MEMA)
NADA – Vehicle Appraisal