When Your Home Lets You Down: A Survival Guide!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

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Sometimes, life can throw us a bit of a curve ball. Just when we think that everything is going fine, something completely out of our control rears its ugly head and we are faced with a huge problem. No situation is more relevant to this than when our home lets us down. After a long day at work, most of us love nothing more than coming back to our cosy, comfortable property for a bit of all-important 'me time'. Some of us like to relax on the sofa, while other people find an activity such as cooking therapeutic after a particularly rough day. So, if something goes wrong and our basic household needs are not being met, it can throw us into limbo a bit. The power may go out, or you may suffer a water leak. You may even have been broken into, leaving you feeling nervous and unsure of whether to stay in your property. Staying at friend's place while the issue (whatever it is) is sorted is always a viable option for most people, but it is not really practical. After all, being without your home comforts can be stressful, and after a week on a futon you are probably sick of the sight of the thing! In order to help you cope, here are some of the situations you may face where your home simply cannot function as normal, and how you can cope. 

Failed Water Supply 
Generally speaking, it is rare for most people's water supplies to completely fail. Most of the time, low pressure and other such problems are anticipated in advance by suppliers and the homeowner is notified in due course. But what happens if your home is an anomaly? Perhaps you are suffering such severe low pressure that you are barely getting a trickle out of your shower at taps, making it impossible for you to bathe, cook or even make a cup of tea! Or maybe your water has become very cold all of a sudden, or even dirty and/or contaminated. In any of these situations, the first thing to do is to speak to your neighbours or people you know nearby, to see if their homes have been affected too. Then, speak to a professional by calling something such as the southern water phone number. If there is a regional issue, the supplier will probably be facing a high volume of calls, so don't be surprised if you don't get through straight away. Once you do get to speak to them though, they should be able to tell you what the issue is and when your water supply will be back up and running again. Don't attempt to fix any pipes or sort out any blockages yourself; always leave it to the professionals. In the meantime, contact a friend or family member to see if you can use the water supply at their place for a few days. It might be a bit inconvenient, but it could be a number of days before your supply returns to its full capacity, so make the most of being able to shower elsewhere!

Power Outage 
Large-scale power outages are rare in the UK - usually a power cut only lasts for a few minutes, or involves the homeowner simply turning the switchboard off and on again. More often than not, power cuts are caused by a fuse that has tripped, meaning that the power cuts out in that specific home. If your neighbours houses are also affected by a lack of electricity, the issue may be more serious. In this instance, it is more likely to be a network issue, which means it is something you are not able to just sort out yourself. In a power cut, don't bother calling your electricity provider - they just provide the service that you pay money too and have very little to do with the operational side of your power supply. Instead, you will need to contact your local distribution authority. This has happened to me twice since I've moved into this house which is weird as it's never happened anywhere else (both times I've been on my own too in the dark- typical!) Make sure you have a supply of torches and battery powered lights in your home. I had to light all of my display candles where I was totally unprepared, which did the job but can be serious fire hazard so need to be supervised at all times. Especially if you have pets and young children around

Heating Problems
It's only typical that your boiler would decide to go bust just as winter approaches. When this happens it can be pretty devastating - new boilers don't come cheap. With it being an emergency we can rush into having them replaced, meaning we don't shop around or get the best deal. Before it is fixed or replaced, however, you will need to find some way of staying warm in the cold winter weather. Initially, work on making your home as secure as possible. That means checking all windows and doors for droughts or cracks, and using sealant to fill in any gaps should you find them. You may want to invest in a few convector heaters, providing that your electricity is still working. These can be very effective at heating up specific rooms, also like with candles, be wary about leaving them unattended, and never cover them with clothes or towels. This can be a serious fire hazard. Or, consider just going old-school with lots of jumpers and blankets! Encourage your family to wear lots of layers while it's very cold, as body heat gets trapped between the layers of clothing, providing effective insulation, Curl up on the sofa under a couple of throws or blankets and order a pizza in for the evening - no one really wants to be spending time cooking in their freezing kitchen, after all! Emergency boiler services do also exist in the winter months, so if you are really struggling, it may be worth calling one of those to see if they can come to help you.

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