How to cope when disaster strikes at home

Disaster is often just around the corner. You have the day all planned out – a trip to the park, a playdate with friends, and a nice meal out in the evening with the family – when one of the kids comes down with a tummy bug or the washing machine leaks all over the kitchen floor. None of us can predict these things (unless you have a crystal ball or the prawns were a week out of date), but there are ways and means to survive the situation with a few less grey hairs.

Burst or Leaking Pipes

Burst pipes can cause a huge amount of damage. Often pipes rupture during a cold snap. Water inside a poorly insulated pipe freezes and then, once temperatures rise, the pipe ruptures, spewing water everywhere. Leaking pipes may be leaking for a while without your knowledge – often under floors or behind appliances. Either way, you need to call an emergency plumber as soon as you spot the problem, or your water damage cleanup operation is going to take a while.

Appliance Breakdowns

Washing machines typically last around five years. In fact, it is not unusual for a washing machine to die within a few days of the extended warranty expiring. Since most families use their washing machine several times a day, 365 days a year, you probably can’t do without yours for long.

If your machine does break down, check to see if the breakdown is covered by a warranty. If it is, call for an emergency repair. If you are not covered, make a quick decision as to whether it is worth fixing the appliance. And if it isn’t, buy a new one.

Leaky Roof

Roof leaks should never be ignored. Water causes a huge amount of damage if left to trickle in through cracked lead flashing or missing tiles. If you notice water stains on an upstairs ceiling, perform a visual inspection of the roof or go into the loft space and see if you can see daylight. Water leaks around a chimney breast are usually caused by problems with soakaways and lead flashing, but leaks elsewhere may be caused by missing or slipped tiles.

If you do have a problem with the roof, ask an experienced roofer to take a look.

No Central Heating or Hot Water

No central heating and/or hot water in winter is no joke. The first thing to check is whether the boiler has cut out for any reason. Secondly, check whether the water pressure inside the boiler is at the right level and adjust if necessary. If neither of these things apply, call a heating engineer. Your boiler may be covered by a warranty if it is relatively new, so check this first.

Blocked Toilet

Blocked toilets can usually be cleared by a simple rubber plunger. However, if the blockage is further down the pipe or your child has flushed a plastic toy away, you will need a plumber.

If you suffer a home emergency, don’t panic. More often than not, the problem can be fixed without too much expense or mess.

Flooding lounge image by ShutterStock.

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