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Top 10 tips to avoid home emergencies

Home emergencies can strike at any time, leaving you feeling powerless and out of control. But with careful planning, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Anticipating potential home emergencies and taking the necessary steps to prevent them can save you a lot of stress (and money) in the future. We’re firm believers that prevention is better than cure so here are 10 tips on how to avoid home emergencies and keep your property safe.

1. Keep your drains clean

Do you often push bits of food down your kitchen sink? How many baby wipes or sanitary products have you flushed down the toilet? It may not feel like you’re doing anything wrong but these are all things that cause blocked drains.

Blocked drains are smelly, inconvenient and pretty disgusting to deal with. Many people turn to drain unblocker cleaning products, available from DIY stores and supermarkets but they’re often ineffective. You’ll more than likely have to call out a plumber or get your hands dirty and attempt to unblock the clogged drain yourself.

The best way to prevent blocked drains is to be mindful of what you put down your sinks, baths, showers and toilets. Remember, even things like soap suds and hair can build up over time and cause blockages.

2. Insulate your pipes

External pipes are vulnerable in cold weather. You’ll need to insulate them to prevent water from freezing inside them, causing blockages and leaks.

You can pick up pipe lagging (a type of foam insulation) from all good hardware stores. It’s relatively cheap and is something you can fit yourself.

Pay close attention to your boilers condensate pipe. This is the pipe that allows water to drain from your heating system and is usually located externally, hence why it’s more likely to freeze. If your boiler condensate pipe gets blocked, it can prevent your boiler from providing heating and hot water.

How do I unblock a frozen pipe?

Luckily unblocking a boiler condensate pipe is fairly straightforward. Simply pour heated water onto the pipe where the blockage is located or apply a hot water bottle until the ice melts.

3. Service your boiler

Ever had a broken boiler in the middle of winter? You’ll know just how stressful it can be. Having your boiler serviced regularly is the best way to stop small issues from becoming bigger and more expensive problems.

How much is a boiler service and what’s involved?

gas boiler service will cost you around £60-£80 and will take no more than 30 minutes. A typical boiler service will involve checking all components of the boiler to ensure it is operating safely and efficiently. The gas engineer will also check the emissions to ensure your boiler isn’t leaking any harmful gasses.

One way you can save money on the cost of a boiler service is to take out boiler cover with Hometree. We offer a free annual boiler service, along with cover for labour and repair costs.

Our boiler breakdown cover can save you from having to fork out for a one off boiler repair, should anything go wrong with your appliance and there’s no cap on how many claims you can make.

4. Get electrics checked

Are you constantly tripping the electrics and having to reset the switches in your fuse box? It may be time to get your electrics checked to avoid future power cuts and reduce the chances of potential dangers, like electrical fires.

We’d recommend getting your electrics checked at least every 5-10 years by a qualified electrician. Any new electrical installations should also be checked before they go live.

5. Don’t overload your circuits

Plugging in multiple devices and using them at the same time can overload your electrical circuits and result in a power cut. Although extension leads often have multiple points for you to use, it doesn’t mean you should use them all at the same time. Be very careful not to overload them, as if your fuse box fails, you could cause an electrical fire.

Get your electrics and fuse box checked to help improve the safety of those living in your household.

6. Don’t use a faulty electrical appliance

Using faulty electrical devices can be very dangerous and may cause electrocution or result in an electrical fire. If you believe an electrical appliance is faulty (if there’s a burning smell or its tripping your electrics), unplug it immediately and get it checked by a qualified electrician.

You should never attempt to carry out repairs on a faulty electrical appliance or your home electrics, unless competent in doing so. It’s always safer to leave it to the experts.

7. Clean your gutters

Removing leaves and other debris from the gutters can prevent external drains from getting blocked and reduce the chances of leaks and damp in your home. Try and clean them out twice a year, in the early autumn and end of spring. If you’re unable to this yourself, see if a family member can help or call in a professional.

8. Take care when doing DIY work

You’ll be surprised at how many home emergencies occur as a result of poor DIY work, with one of the biggest problems being burst pipes.

You see, many people start DIY work in their homes without knowing where the pipes run. Leading them to accidentally drill through central heating pipes and cause massive leaks.

Before carrying out DIY work, make sure you know the location of any pipes and cables in your home. If you’re not sure where you can drill or hammer, buy a stud sensor and scan each wall. It’ll beep when it finds a pipe or cable so you can mark it on the wall with a pencil and avoid it at all costs!

9. Test smoke alarms

Fatalities caused by house fires are often a result of there not being a working smoke alarm present in the property. Keep yourself and those living in your property safe by regularly checking the smoke alarms. Read our guide on how to test smoke alarms and replace the batteries to keep them in good working order.

10. Take out home cover

Not all home emergencies can be prevented so it’s a good idea to have a security blanket in place, in the form of home emergency cover. A good home cover policy will help reduce the stress and financial implications of home emergencies, ensuring you get the help you need to get your home back in a liveable condition.

Our comprehensive home care package provides protection for your boiler (including a free boiler service), heating, drains and electrics. Take a look at our home emergency care plans or call our team on 0330 912 4843 to get a quote.

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