Always call for help quickly of course, but here are some other important tips
Household emergencies don’t always keep working hours, and time is of the essence with some of them. The faster you respond to a household crisis, hopefully the less damage will be caused to your home.A survey showed these are the most common household emergencies:
Power failure or tripping power.
Blocked toilet, pipe or drain.
Broken or burst geyser.
Damaged roof, gutter or downpipe.
Locked out of home.
Broken door or window.
Leaking tap or showerhead.
Brett Emmerson, founder and chief executive of the newly launched Building Service Advisor (BSA) mobi site and website that helps users find their nearest source of help (www.buildingserviceadvisor.co.za) gives tips as to what to do in an emergency:
1 Power failure
If your electrical wiring has become faulty, or there is a problem with the supply coming into your home, call an electrician immediately. “Never attempt to work on electrical problems yourself,” says Emmerson. If a power failure is caused by something outside your control, like extreme weather or an Eskom power cut, then there is little that you can do, so light some candles and wait it out. But if in any doubt call in an electrician and keep in contact with your power supplier to find out if others in your area are experiencing a problem.
2 Blocked toilet, pipe or drain
The first thing to do is pull out whatever is causing the blockage. If this does not work then try using a drain plunger. A third option is to pour a caustic soda mixture down the drain. However, work carefully with caustic soda and keep children away. Follow the instructions on the packaging.
“A blocked toilet often needs to be flushed with a large bucket of water poured straight into the bowl. If none of this helps, then call a plumber.”
3 Broken or burst geyser
A geyser has a limited lifespan and so if yours is acting up, it might be time to get a new one. Worse is a geyser that bursts, pouring water into your ceiling and possibly the room below.
“Obviously, if you need a new geyser – whether in an emergency situation or planned – then you need to call an experienced installer,” says Emmerson.
“While you are waiting for their arrival, turn the water off at the mains outside the house. If the geyser has burst and water is running into your home, try to minimise damage by putting out buckets and towels to capture the overflow.”
4 Damaged roof, gutter or downpipe
A leaking roof should be repaired by a professional. If you find you have a leak in a rainstorm, try to minimise any water damage by placing a bucket under the leak.
Gutters can degrade and perish in our harsh African sun and it is a good idea to get yours checked out before the wet season arrives – particularly in the Western Cape where water harvesting has become so vital.
“Also check your gutters yourself to make sure they are not blocked with leaves and sand.”
5 Getting locked out
One way to make sure you don’t get locked out is to keep a spare key in your handbag or in your car. Alternatively give a spare key to a neighbour and/or a relative.
“However, if you don’t have a spare key at hand, call a locksmith.”
6 Broken glass in a door or window
If you have a broken glass door or window, you need to get it fixed fast for security reasons.
Emmerson says it’s best to call a glass-fitting professional. You don’t want to risk cutting yourself in the replacement process.
7 Gas leak
Gas leaks can be dangerous. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, adhere to the following:
Don’t smoke or light any matches.
Don’t turn anything electrical on or off.
Open all the doors and windows to air the room.
Turn off the gas supply at the bottle.
Contact a licensed gas fitter to detect and repair the leak urgently.
8 Water leak
“Water leaks in household pipes can cause a huge amount of damage if not repaired speedily. If you find or suspect a water leak it is best to call in the professionals. If you are lucky, the leak will be in an exposed pipe. In the worst-case scenario, the leak may be inside a wall or under the floor, which then obviously requires far more expertise to find and repair.”
Turn off the water at the outside mains to minimise the damage to your home while waiting for the plumber.
9 Leaking tap or showerhead
“If there’s a fountain of water coming out of the tap or showerhead, first turn the water off at the mains. Some people may feel able to try replace the shower head or tap themselves, but if you are unsure then rather call a plumber – especially in areas where we’re trying to conserve as much water as possible. Every drop counts”