There’s no place like home…
…until things start to go wrong. Unnecessary worry and stress can be generated by a sudden problem with your house and the subsequent repair bill. However, with a little planning and preventative maintenance, such issues can be greatly minimised. Let’s consider some common household problems and how they can be avoided.
Wind, rain, hail, snow – whatever the weather, the roof takes the brunt all year round. It covers and protects everyone and everything inside our homes, yet most of us give it little more than a cursory glance.
Many are put off inspecting the roof by the dizzying thought of clambering on and around it, but a lot can be learned by a simple inspection from inside the loft space. Go into the loft during daylight hours and turn off the lights; if the felting is damaged then you should see daylight seeping through. With the lights back on, look on the flooring and around the roof timbers for water stains or mould, which may indicate that your roof is leaking.
Leaks caused by broken roof tiles or damaged lead flashing can only be diagnosed properly by physically getting on to the roof to inspect these areas. DO NOT attempt this if you do not have the necessary equipment, safety gear, stamina and experience for roof work. If you suspect that there is an external issue, then it’s far safer to ask your local roofing expert to carry out an inspection than risk life and limb trying to do it yourself.
Damaged or Blocked Guttering
Guttering and its associated downpipes carry out the vital task of channelling rainwater from the roof into the sewerage system. Guttering damage or blockages will cause the water to take a different route, possibly down the brickwork and into the foundations. An annual inspection, clean and repair of the gutters can go a long way to prevent such problems.
Plumbing and Central Heating Problems
The common reaction to finding a serious water leak is…. panic! But a calm head will tell you that all you need to do initially is turn off the mains water supply. It’s therefore important to know in advance where this enters the house (very often under the kitchen sink or in a downstairs cloakroom) and to ensure that it can be turned off easily in an emergency. Once you’ve stopped the leak, you can clean up and decide if it’s a repair that you can tackle yourself or if you need to contact your local plumber.
Central heating should be maintained at least once a year so that it continues to keep you warm during the long winter months. However, due to the complex nature of boilers, pumps and other central heating components, parts will wear out or break down and eventually need replacing. If you are comfortable carrying out such repairs yourself then Heating and Plumbing World boiler spares will be a great help in getting your system up and running again.
Don’t delay in dealing with blocked drains, since any other matter put down the same drain will simply add to the blockage and make the problem harder to sort in the long run. Many enthusiastic DIYers like to keep a set of drain rods handy to deal with such an emergency, but if drains are not your thing then ask a drainage expert to carry out the work for you.
Your loft space can easily be accessed by insects and vermin looking for a warm, dry home. Periodically check around the loft to see if this is happening. If it is, then there will be obvious signs, such as droppings on the floor or damage to wiring or possessions stored in the loft. You may also see insects entering under the eaves from outside the property. Get a professional to deal with any such infestation as soon as possible to minimise further damage to your property and possessions.
Problems with old or badly installed electrical wiring can pose a serious fire hazard and must not be ignored. If you find yourself frequently resetting the circuit breaker, if you notice that lights are constantly flickering or if you can detect an electrical burning smell, then ask a qualified electrician to investigate immediately. Due to the UK’s stringent electrical regulations, it’s likely that the repair work will also need to be carried out by an electrician, so obtain two or three separate quotes to ensure that you are being charged a reasonable price. Although it may be an expense you can do without, it will be nothing compared to the emotional and financial cost of a house fire caused by an ignored electrical fault.Use an online calendar or reminder app to prompt you at the same time every year to carry out the above checks. It might seem a lot of work for something that may never happen, but that little bit of time and effort can spare you the pain and expense of a much bigger problem.