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   Looking After Your Home Advice

Looking After Your Home

It is best to have a regular routine in place when it comes to the maintenance of your property. This not only helps reduce long term costs and inconvenience but in case of emergency it can save time.


Pipes that are Frozen

Uninsulated pipes that are exposed to freezing temperatures, can cause the water inside them to freeze. Vulnerable pipes are usually found in lofts and gardens. You can install a frost stat to your central heating system, this will make sure that the boiler generates warm flowing water around the pipes should the temperature at the thermostat reach dangerous low levels. Make sure that tanks and pipes inside the loft are in good condition and that they are well lagged. Make sure that you know where your water stopcock is located and that it turns freely. Test it every now and again, and if it won't turn easily call out a plumber. If you are going away make sure you leave your heating on to keep a moderate air temperature. Check internal pipe work for signs of damage and missing lagging. The first signs of a freezing pipe is usually a reduction in pressure at the tap. You can defrost pipes using gentle heat with an electric hairdryer or hot towels and try to warm a wide area of the pipe evenly. You must never use a blow torch. The pressure in frozen pipes builds up and causes it to burst with nasty consequences. In the event of a burst pipe, turn off the stopcock, which is usually underneath the kitchen sink, below the stairs or in the basement or cellar.


After Finding Frozen Pipes

Turn the water supply off at the main stopcock, drain all taps by leaving them turned on and switch off the central heating system and immersion heater.


DIY and Home Improvements

Home improvements around the house hardly ever run smoothly. Here are some useful tips for when you carry out any work: Always read any instructions carefully before starting any job. Do not attempt any dangerous work alone. Try to work out how long a job will take so you won't need to rush or cut corners. Don't over-estimate your abilities or under-estimate the job always use professional help if in any doubt. Always use the correct tools for the job. If you are hiring any tools, make sure you understand how to use the equipment before you leave the shop. Be careful with electricity and use a circuit breaker on electric tools for extra safety. Always follow ladder safety guidelines - even for quick and simple jobs. Make sure you have the right safety equipment, goggles, protective clothing and shoes. Store flammable liquids and gases carefully.


Safety Guidelines for Ladders

Ladders always present a safety hazard within the home. Make sure they are in good condition and that they are securely anchored to the floor. Retain three points of contact to the ladder at all times, for example, two feet, one hand. Never over reach while you are on the ladder. Avoid any overhead power cables. Never work in wet conditions and wear suitable protective clothing.


Flammable Liquids and Gases

Gases and flammable liquids present serious fire and explosion risks when used and stored in the home. Here is some advice for using and storing these liquids: Store them out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source. Electrical control equipment and other potential fire ignition sources; preferably in a locked metal container out of the reach of children. Never allow smoking in the vicinity of the liquids, even shortly after application. Dispose of quantities of flammable materials effectively for example at your local council refuse centre.


Home Health Checks

Check your guttering and drainpipes for signs of damage or blockages. It is recommended that leaves and other vegetation is cleared from guttering at least annually. Airbricks: blockages in airbricks in your building's walls reduce ventilation. This can lead to condensation and damp problems which can encourage rot. The outside of your home: check that no repairs are needed to make the walls windows or roof weather-tight for winter. Fences: do they need repairing to withstand winter storms? Heating: get your heating checked before you need it! Make sure your heating systems are serviced and inspected annually. Check electrical leads and plugs to ensure they are in good order with no signs of wear and tear. If open fires are used, ensure chimneys are swept at least annually before seasonal use. It is always recommended that electrical installations within the home are checked every 10-15 years by a qualified electrician. Check your guttering and drainpipes for signs of damage, blockages. Ensure roofs, especially flat roofed sections are in good order with no tiles/slates missing. Inspect and repair any damaged paintwork around the exterior of the home, ensuring rotted sections are treated as a priority. In older houses brickwork may require attention, with re-pointing required to exposed sections. Ensure external surface drains are clear of blockages, vegetation. Check for dry and wet rot.


Gas heating systems

Gas boilers, fires and water heaters should be serviced or checked once a year by a CORGI registered engineer. Gas appliances can produce deadly carbon monoxide, if they aren't working correctly or the ventilation becomes blocked. Carbon monoxide is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes headaches, sleepiness, streaming eyes and lack of energy; in extreme cases it can result in death. Always protect your family with a carbon monoxide alarm. In addition to yearly inspections, you can make your own Gas safety checks.


Gas Safety Checks

Look for any staining, soot or discoloration on the gas appliance or nearby. Gas boilers should burn with a blue flame, not an orange or yellow one. Check that you have not blocked ventilators fitted into doors, windows or walls. If you smell gas, immediately call Transco 24-hour gas emergency service on 0800 111 999.


Roofs

Your roof is an extremely important part of your home and can be very costly if it is neglected. Regular maintenance reduces the chances of major damage: Tiles can be damaged by high winds or frosts. Old, flaking or cracked tiles should be replaced or fixed. They could fall causing danger to people, cars and anything else below. Damaged roofs result in leaks that may not necessarily manifest themselves immediately below where the damage occurs. Roof maintenance is a job for experts as they have the equipment that makes repairs and renovations. Never climb onto a roof yourself, if you want to view it at close quarters, stand back and use your binoculars


Wet Rot and Dry Rot

Dry rot is a type of fungus which looks like cotton wool and has a distinctive musty smell. It thrives in moist, poorly ventilated conditions indoors. Dry rot infects wood and masonry and can cause serious structural damage. Affected brick, wood and plaster must be removed. Wet rot attacks wood which is wet rather than damp. Look for dark, rotten wood, split along the grain around window sills, doors and frames. Rising damp is seen by stains up to 90cm high on walls with a tidemark of salts and peeling wallpaper. It is a sign that the damp-proof course is breached. Check for stains on ceilings which may be caused by fractured roof pipes or leaking water tanks. Condensation also leads to rot.


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