13 Most Common Home Emergencies and how to respond to them

 

Emergencies take different forms in different homes. A  minority of homeowners and rents in the UK, but it may one evening, unexpectedly, have an emergency. and if you do not have a home emergency cover – then you are left with picking up the pieces yourself.

Emergencies can induce a paralysing response. We can freeze up or become frustrated, unable to operationalise our options as best as we would like. The best response always depends on the circumstances which can vary.

Taking a look at frequent household emergencies and the more common range of responses will give you a way into safe and suitable actions.

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  1. Burst and Broken Pipes

Burst and broken pipes often happen in winter when pipe can become froze and water solidifies and expands, causing future problems.

Your home will often have a main water valve often near your boiler– that controls the flow of water: If there is a leak, this valve off needs to be turned off straight away to prevent costly water damage.

Take a look at the pipes after this to find out what is damaged and needs to be replaced. If freezing water caused your pipes to burst pipe insulation should be considered.

Insulation or pipe lagging is fitted around water pipes to stop damage like bursting by keeping the heat in the pipes.

burst pipe

 

  1. Overflowing Toilet

 

Maybe it was something to do with the size of your stool, or maybe someone has been flushing things they should not have been flushing. Whatever the cause(s), toilets typically overflow when they can’t stop running and cannot drain properly.

The flow can be first be slowed and stopped by turning off the valve in the back of the toilet near the wall.

It is important to mop water before it causes any damage, then explore for the cause of the issues. It is often the case that issues with the fill tube and float may keep the toilet running. It may also be clogs and other issues that are keeping the toilet from draining.

clogged toilet
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  1. Confirmed mice and/or rats

Shine a light on the finer inches both in and out around your property. There will be three tell-tale signs: droppings, any signs of chewing/nests and any tiny crevices that they may be using will add to your suspicions.

Cover crevices with a fast-drying sealant or wire mesh to prevent further rodent problems. This will eventually need to be filled with concrete or something more permanent. It would be wise to invest in a series of traps too.

If signs of mice and rats continue to appear, call up a professional inspector before your new furry friends start causing more serious structural damage.

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rodent in house

  1. Ant Infestation

Like mice and rats, if you notice trails of ants, remove any of the visitors that you find and clean everywhere they have been with a domestic vinegar-water solution in a spray bottle to eliminate any of their scents.

Spray between all cracks and gaps the ants may be emerging from. If you cannot narrow it down, set up traps and call a specialist to see if there is a nearby nest. Thanks to climate change, the UK will have warmer summers that will be beneficial for ant reproduction.

Insects in home

 

  1. Ceiling leaks

 

If the ceiling is dripping, water damage can be temporarily managed by gathering buckets or plastic sheets under the leak. Climb into the attic or equivalent upstairs space to identify the causes of the leak it could be broken pipe to a damaged roof underlayment.

The leak may not be the only factor in the problem, so stay patient. If the cause of the problems cannot be identified, call in an experienced professional. Meanwhile, get ready to patch and repair your ceiling.

These type home emergencies will need to be dealt with quickly.

There are many different kinds of roof repairs, some more difficult than others:

leaky roof

 

Leaky roof – at a glance

If you have water stains that spans ceilings or pour down walls, your trouble is probably with a leaky roof. Identify the leak down is the more difficult task compared to repair which is usually uncomplicated.

This is better fixed immediately since even over a short duration, small leaks can lead to big problems, including mould, rotted framing and sheathing, destroyed insulation and damaged ceilings.

 

A Trick for Finding Difficult Leaks

If a leak is difficult to identify, grab yourself a helper and head up to the roof with a hose. Start low, pouring water over the area just above where the leak appears inside. Isolate areas when the water is poured.

For example, soak the descending sides first, then each side, then the top on both sides. Have your helper stay inside the attic area to observe. Allow the water run for several minutes in one area before moving it up the roof a little farther.

Message your helper (via phone or word-of-mouth, it’s up to you) to communicate when the leak has become visible. You’ll be able to localise the area where the leak is occurring.

This process can take a few minutes, so be patient and do not move the hose too soon. If running water doesn’t reveal the exact location of the leak, it would good to slowly start taking away roof shingles in the possible area.

After this happens, there will be more evidence of the leak and the ability to narrow right down to the source. It will be possible to see water-stained, and even rotting wood below and around the roof.

How to find a small leak

In contrast to other leaks, some roof leaks may be more like fractures that are barely visible to the naked eye: tough to identify, but still causing problems. Sometimes the water shows up at a ceiling spot distant from the leak.

If your ceiling has a polymer vapour barrier between the drywall and any insulation, push the insulation aside and look for flow marks on the polymer barrier. Often water flows in the direction of openings in the vapour barrier, such as at light fixtures.

If there are no visible flow marks look at the underside of the roof for ‘shiners.’ These are any nails that missed the framing member. Maybe there are none, but any moisture that escapes into the cold attic from the rooms below often condenses on chilly nails.

On a night where the mercury dips to around or below zero degrees Celsius, the nails will look white because they have frosted over. When the attic heats up during the day, the frost melts and drips, and so the cycle continues, causing problems. The solution is to clip the nail with side-cutting pliers.

 

  1. Fire in the Kitchen

Most of us use our kitchen every day, making kitchen-related emergencies one of the higher ranking of likely home scenarios. All home emergencies are best planned out before they take place: future planning is everything.

Absolutely avoid using water to put out a grease, frying-pan or wok fire on a stove – water will scatter the grease around and often make things worse.

A metal lid from a nearby pot (a wok lid, for example, is ideal). Cover the fire with the lid until it de-oxygenates the fuel for the fire and stops it completely. While your dinner may be non-edible, your kitchen will be safer.

After covering with the lid, carefully douse the fire with baking soda to stop all smouldering.

You can also avoid kitchen fires, by never leaving the kitchen while something is cooking on the stove. Remove all combustible materials, like aerosols, from the cooktop. This includes curtains and wall hangings too. Make sure everyone in the house gets the memo too.

In some cases, clothes and other textiles piled too close to a gas water heater can ignite when the water heater comes on, especially if protective doors for the gas burners are not around.

To prevent this, ensure water heater combustion chamber covers are in place. It should also be a fairly frequent practice to clean all the lint from the interior and around the drum as well as cleaning built-up lint from the ventilation areas too.

Finally, keep all clothes and other combustibles at least 60cm from your gas heater to avoid fires.

Here are some other high-ranking home emergencies:

  • Smoking materials: This is responsible for around 10% of all UK house fires. It is best to not smoke in bed and large ashtrays should be used on tables. Ashtrays should be soaked briefly under the tap before throwing butts away.
  • Candles are another large source of home emergencies in the statistics. Avoid fire by using only tip-proof containers. Burn candles only while you are awake and in the same room with them. Keep candles at least 60 cm away from combustibles like curtains, blind, or clothes. Do not burn candles that contain flowers, leaves and potpourri in the wax.
  • Children and fires It should almost go without saying, but store matches and lighters up high, well out of the reach of children.
  • 6% of fires are from cooking appliances:

Have all gas tested and certified by a gas technician every 18 months.

Here are some other high-ranking home emergencies:

7. Smoking materials:

This is responsible for around 10% of all UK house fires. It is best to not smoke in bed and large ashtrays should be used on tables. Ashtrays should be soaked briefly under the tap before throwing butts away.

8. Candles are another large source of home emergencies in the statistics.

Avoid fire by using only tip-proof containers. Burn candles only while you are awake and in the same room with them. Keep candles at least 60 cm away from combustibles like curtains, blind, or clothes. Do not burn candles that contain flowers, leaves and potpourri in the wax.

9. Children and fires:

It should almost go without saying, but store matches and lighters up high, well out of the reach of children.

10. 6% of fires are from cooking appliances:

Have all gas tested and certified by a gas technician every 18 months.

11. The same applies to electrical equipment:

make sure all extension cords that are undersized or frayed are replaced. Extension cords should never run under rugs. Undersized cords should be replaced with larger-gauged ones or plug appliances directly into the sockets. Make sure hidden problems causing frequently tripping circuit breakers are identified. If necessary, an electrician should be called. You should also call an electrician to open up and troubleshoot electrical boxes that have warm covers. Finally, make sure all the light bulbs have bulb wattages that do not exceed the fixture’s recommended maximum wattage

12. Broken windows:

Double glazing has not made windows more indestructible, but it has meant that casements can be repaired more quickly. If this happens, tape several layers of this bag plastic to the window’s frame with duct tape as a temporary measure.

13. Power’s out:

The UK is surely one of the more secure parts of the world for energy security, but as more extreme weather in coming years threatens Power outage may become more likely. If it happens, pull out a guiding light – usually your phone — and ensure everyone is safe.

If nearby homes and streetlights have their electricity, it is worth checking the breaker switches to see if there was an electric overload or other problem that caused the shutdown in your home only.

If the local area has lost power, call up your company (or visit online via phone) to document the power loss and get information about repair times. If the loss of service is going to last at least