4 easy ways to prevent unexpected bills
Owning your family home can give you a lot of freedom, but it also comes with responsibility. On the plus side, you can choose how to style your rooms, and make home improvements. One of the downsides though is having to pay for home repairs.
No one wants to be surprised by an emergency plumbers or electrician’s bill – it’s hard enough juggling all those family expenses as it is. So how do you lower the chances of having to fork out?
It’s true what they say – prevention is better than cure. Here are four simple fixes that could help you avoid the next big bill.
1. Prevent blocked drains
A blocked drain isn’t just a pain, it’s a risk. Blockages can cause a build-up of pressure which could result in a leak or burst pipe. They also increase wear and tear, making it more likely you’ll have to call out the emergency plumber in future.
To stop your drains from clogging, use drain strainers to cover the plugholes in your bath, shower and sinks. You can pick these up at your local hardware shop, B&Q or many online stores. You’ll want to measure the diameter of your plugs first to make sure you get the right sizes.
Then, use this quick and cheap technique every week or so to flush out your drains:
- First pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain.
- Wait a few minutes, then add half a cup of bicarbonate of soda.
- Follow this with a cup of vinegar – the bicarb will start to fizz!
- After about five minutes, wash it all down with another kettle of water.
This simple trick should help stop small blockages from growing into big home repairs.
2. Stop pipes from freezing
Frozen pipes are another issue that can increase the risk of leaks and flooding in your home. Spring may be here now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get organised for next winter! Make sure your pipes and water tank are well insulated in advance, and you won’t get caught out the next time temperatures drop.
Buy a British Standard insulation jacket for your water tank (available from DIY or hardware shops) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to fit it. Again, you’ll want to measure your tank first to work out the correct size. Jackets cost as little as £15 and can actually save you money over time by cutting your heating bills. In fact, the Energy Saving Trust estimates you could save around £90 each year on your energy bills by adding 80mm of insulation to an uninsulated tank.
Next, lag your hot water pipes. Measure both the length and diameter of your pipes to choose the correct size of lagging. From here it’s usually just a case of slipping the insulation over each pipe.
3. Get your gas and electrics checked
Issues with your gas and electrics aren’t just a risk to your wallet. Faulty light switches, plug sockets or appliances can cause explosions and fires. That’s why it’s essential to get these things checked out regularly by qualified engineers and electricians. You should arrange a safety check in your home every year for gas, and every 5 to 10 years for your electrics.
There is a cost to these safety checks, which varies between providers. But they could save you money in the long run by picking up on issues early – before they become expensive home repairs. (Get in touch with your energy supplier if you receive benefits, as you may qualify for a free safety check.)
Search the Gas Safe Register for a properly qualified engineer – it’s illegal for anyone to work on gas equipment unless they’re on this list. To make sure you never miss your yearly gas check, you can sign up for free text or email reminders at Stay Gas Safe.
When it’s time for your electrical safety check, you can find a registered, government-approved electrician via Electrical Safety First.
4. Keep an eye on your roof
It’s easy to forget about your roof – after all, it’s not something most of us get up close to very often. But what starts out as a small roof problem can escalate into serious, costly damage if it’s not picked up on early. So get pro-active and give your roof a health check!
You can spot many issues from ground level or your attic. Never put yourself in danger to check out your roof – we strongly advise you not to jump on a ladder or climb on the roof itself unless you have the right equipment and training.
Make your roof check at least once a year, and add spot-checks after bad weather (e.g. storms or snow). Start in your attic and look for signs of damage. These could be:
- Wet or rotten patches
- Cracks or gaps where you see light shining through
Next do a visual inspection inspection from the ground outside your house. You’ll want to look out for:
- Cracked, loose or missing tiles
- Spreading moss growth
- Guttering that’s sagging or coming away from the wall
- Warping or pooling water on a flat roof
If you spot any of the issues above, it’s time call in a professional roofer. By acting quickly on this you’ll have more chance of nipping small issues in the bud before they become emergencies.
Taking steps to stop problems developing in your home can be quick, easy and often cheap. It’s well worth making a habit of these actions now to avoid being surprised by high-cost home repairs in the future.
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