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5 Home Emergencies – and How to Deal with Them Yourself

Home emergency or damage to your home can happen anytime, whether it’s electrical, plumbing or caused by severe weather conditions. However, when a home emergency occurs for a first time, a lot of homeowners get paralysed and unable to think rationally. Between the question “Should I call someone?” and “Do I fix it myself?” the best course is to accurately estimate the problem at hand. Let’s consider the five most common home emergencies and the best response to each of them.

Damaged roof or gutter

Damaged roof or gutter

Violent storms can sometime damage the roof directly, or cause a tree limb to fall and do the damage. A damaged and leaking roof is an emergency that calls for professional repairs. If you discover that you have a leak during a rain storm, try to reduce the water damage by placing a bucket under the leak to catch the water. In addition, as gutters are concerned, you can do a great deal on prevention. Gutter systems quickly degrade in harsh sunny climates, so it’s a good idea to check yours before the rainy months arrive, especially if you use them for water harvesting. So before the rainy season, make sure they aren’t blocked with leaves, sand and other debris.

Blocked toilet, pipe or drain

Blocked toilet

Aged plumbing and tree roots can damage your drains, causing unpleasant home emergencies, such as clogged toilet, sink or floor drain. In many cases, it’s the misplaced object or materials that causes the blockage. So, the first course of action would be to try to remove the material that is causing obstruction. If it’s beyond your reach, give it a try with a drain plunger to force the blockage out. If this fails as well, try pouring a caustic soda mixture or special drain cleaning granules, which will chemically break the blockage. When using these highly-corrosive materials, make sure you follow the instructions on the packaging and take all safety measures. As the blocked toilet is concerned, a forceful flush with a large bucket of water usually does the job. If not, the best thing is to call a plumber to prevent additional plumbing issues.

Power failure or tripping earth leakage

Power failure

Sometimes it’s the faulty electrical wiring in your home that is causing the problem, or there’s an issue with the supply lines coming into your home. In these cases, calling a qualified 24h emergency electrician is your only option. Not only should you never attempt to work on electrical problems yourself, but that kind of amateur work is also illegal and may void your insurance in many legislations, including all Australian states and territories. The same way, if a power outage is caused by something outside of your control, such as extreme weather conditions, vegetation or regular grid maintenance, there’s little you can do but unplug your electronics or kill the power strip switch until the power supply is restored.

Burst hot water tank

Heated water tanks have a limited lifespan, so if yours is acting funny, maybe it’s time to order a new one. However, one thing even worse than a water heater working inconsistently is when one bursts unexpectedly and floods the floor and the room below. In that case, no repairs can save the situation – you need a new hot water tank installed by an experienced installer. While you’re waiting for the cavalry, locate the mains shut-off valve outside the house and turn the water supply off. To prevent further water damage, place down buckets and towels at the most critical places to capture overflow and the water pouring from the ceiling.

Unwanted intruders

Unwanted intruders

A trail of ants between your sink and pantry is no reason to panic. Certain weather conditions might prompt ants to expand their business into your house, and if there’s an available food source, be it only a splash of sweet syrup on the pantry floor, there’s no reason for them to leave. It’s important to remove as many ants you can and spray the area with vinegar to remove their trail scents. Then, start looking for cracks and gaps in windows, doors and floorboards which they might’ve used to make entrance. If you can’t locate the point of entry, set up ant traps or call a professional if you’ve located a nest in the garden. Keep in mind that while common ants are pretty much benign, black carpenter ants might be a reason for worry, as they can damage the wooden structure of the home.

When a home emergency strikes, the most important thing is to act sensibly and estimate the hazard. In case of an electrical or severe plumbing disaster, there is little you can do but prevent further damage, while for minor scenarios, your knowledge and skill should be enough.

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