How to Limit the Cost of a House Emergency
However careful you may be around your house, there may still be times when you will face an emergency – a burst water pipe, an electrical fault or a gas leak. There are several important steps you can take to limit the costs involved in such a case.
A burst water pipe, or a leak in an appliance such as a washing machine, is not only annoying but it can cost a great deal of money if you are not prepared. Similarly, an electrical short circuit can cause a fire, with devastating consequences. A gas leak can have fatal consequences without a quick response.
Take some time to consider what could happen in your house. Then go through the following checklist to make sure you are prepared to react promptly and appropriately in an emergency.
Make sure that you know where the main water valve to your house is located and that you know how to turn it off. This will allow you to minimise the effects of any water leakage from a burst pipe, which can cause costly damage.
Most appliances that use water, such as washing machines, dishwashers and hot water systems have their own isolation valves or taps that you can use to turn off the water supply to just that appliance if that is causing the problem. Make sure that you know where these valves are and that they work correctly – if they are not used frequently they can become stiff and difficult to close.
If you are leaving your house unoccupied for any length of time, for a holiday or business trip, for example, it is a good idea to turn off both the electrical and water supplies to your water heater. This will not only ensure that your electricity costs will be lowered, but minimises the risk of the heater overheating and bursting. If your water heater is more than seven years old, consider replacing it with a more energy efficient model.
As with your water supply, find out where your main electricity distribution box is and how to turn off the power supply to your house. Should you see or smell smoke coming from any electrical appliance, turn off the main power supply first, then unplug the appliance from the power socket. Remember though that some telephones require mains power to operate, so if you have to call the emergency services, use your cell phone if the power has been turned off.
Don’t try to put out an electrical fire with water. It may seem obvious, but you’ll be surprised how many people react to a fire instinctively by using water. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher in your house rated for electrical fires as well as one for other types of fire.
The general rule applies to your gas supply – find out where the main valve is located and make sure you know how to operate it. If you smell gas in your house, turn off the main supply as a priority.
Take the time to check the outside of your house regularly. Look for telltale signs of water leakage around pipes and guttering – stains on a wall, excessive plant growth or moss, for example are clues indicating a water leak.
Preventative maintenance, such as clearing your gutters and trimming back branches that could drop leaves into your guttering, can help you to avoid costly damage in the future.
If you have problems with the structure of your house, you can search the Internet for a reliable builder to help you, but remember that you should never pay the full cost for any work up front. It is a good idea to use a credit card where possible as this gives you more protection.
If you have an electrical emergency, only use a licensed electrician. Make sure that the electrician leaves you with a compliance certificate when the work is completed to confirm that the work meets building regulations.