From floods to household fires, Latest Interiors looks at common mishaps in the home and ways to prevent costly repair bills
Every now and then, even the best managed home can experience a mishap. Disasters can happen. A leaking washing machine, burst pipe, chimney fire or broken window can turn even the sanest of us into a helpless wreck. What’s the best way to prepare for problems, and what should you do when things go wrong? This week, we look at some common domestic disasters, and how to handle them…
Floods, leaks & water damage
According to confused.com, accidental damage is the most common reason for household insurance claims – and water causes the majority of those claims. Leaks can cause serious problems: leaking pipes, baths, toilets and washing machines need immediate attention. As soon as you realise there is a leak, switch the water off at the mains and call a plumber. It can be a good idea to open all the household taps once the mains are off to drain the system, and mop up all the water as best you can. If you’ve pierced a pipe by, for example, putting a nail into concealed pipework inside a wall, do not pull the nail out – leave it to plug the wall until the plumber gets there. Blocked toilets and sinks can also be troublesome – toilets can require professional unblocking with rods and chemicals, so if you can’t see the blockage or it doesn’t clear when you’ve moved any, um, debris from the bowl, call a professional.
Accidents & breakages
Floods and leaks can have serious after effects, like collapsed ceilings. If your ceiling is bulging and leaking, and you’ve switched off the water and called a plumber, you can – if you are confident there is no danger – try and ease the structural pressure by putting a bucket under the drip (have a spare or two to hand) and using a screwdriver to put a small hole in the plaster. Be prepared for a lot of water to come out, very quickly (hence the buckets. And maybe some towels). If any electrical sockets or fittings were damaged in the leak, switch off the mains and call an electrician, too.
Broken doors or windows should be boarded up as best you can right away – clear up any broken glass, and use whatever you’ve got to hand to keep the elements out. Many glaziers and locksmiths offer an emergency 24-hour service, and though costly, can be worth it to ensure your home is safe and dry.
When its serious
Of course, some domestic disasters need specialist help right away:
if you smell gas, turn off all appliances immediately and call the National Grid (http://www.nationalgrid.com/uk) and your gas supplier right away. If you smell smoke or see a fire, leave the room you are in immediately shutting the door behind you, vacate the premises and call the emergency services. Brighton and Hove City Council has a useful list of emergency contacts here: http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/index.cfm?request=c1191436
You can’t insure against all eventualities, but it is worth reviewing your household and contents insurance regularly to make sure you are covered for common emergencies. Some insurers also offer emergency callouts as part of their cover, giving you swift access to professionals when you need them most. Some monitored alarm systems also come with integrated emergency service contacts, alerting (as Latest Interiors discovered in the small hours recently) fire services when a smoke alarm activates, or medical services when an alert button is used. You might only ever use these facilities once or twice in a lifetime, but to have them there when you really need them is priceless.