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Household emergencies… and how to handle them

Every householder knows that the next domestic drama is never far away – so check out our essential guide to common domestic emergencies.

Household emergencies… and how to handle them

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Burst pipe

Burst pipe

Turn off your water supply at the stop tap. In most homes this can be found underneath the sink, but if you’re not 100% sure, take a minute to check now, not when there’s water dripping through the ceiling. Next, turn on the cold taps to relieve pressure in the pipes. Now turn off the central heating system and drain the hot water taps. If the leak is near any sockets or a fuse box, take care and switch the power off too. Your next priority is damage limitation, so grab a mop and some towels and do your best to soak up any pooling water. And when you’ve done all that, it’s time to phone a plumber.

Blocked sink

Blocked sink

The typical hourly rate for a plumber is around £40 to £60, and that rises significantly in London. And sure, you’ll certainly have to pay a professional to fix a burst pipe, but with just a little DIY knowledge, you can tackle some smaller plumbing challenges yourself. So if your sink gets blocked, give this a go… First, seal up the overflow with a dishcloth, slide a plunger over the plughole to create an airtight seal, then vigorously pump it up and down. That’s often enough to dislodge the blockage, but if not, treat your plughole to a couple of teaspoons of baking powder followed by a cup of vinegar. And if that doesn’t sort the problem, unscrew the u-bend below the sink and clear the blockage by hand.

Locked out

Locked out

If you’ve lost your front door key and there’s no other way in, the smartest option is usually to bite the bullet and call a locksmith – because trying to gain entry yourself can result in damage to your property and even personal injury. So to guard against the cost and inconvenience of calling in expert help, take some preventive measures to avoid getting locked out in the first place – like leaving a spare key with a trusted friend or neighbour. Or if that’s not practical, consider installing an external key safe that securely stores a spare. There are lots of key safes available, but make sure you buy one that conforms to Police Preferred Specification.

Flood warning

Flood warning

According to the Environment Agency, around one in six properties in England are at risk of flooding – that’s about 5.2 million homes. And with the number of flood warnings on the rise, it makes sense to be prepared. If a flood warning is issued in your area, you need to act fast. Move family and pets to safety, and if it’s safe to do so, move vehicles to higher ground. Carry valuable items upstairs out of reach of rising water levels, and turn off your electricity, gas and water. If you’ve installed home protection devices such as flood barriers or air brick covers, now is the time to deploy them. To find out more, search ‘national flood information service’.

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