It happens every once in a while to anyone living in a home of any kind: you’re going about your business as normal, and suddenly disaster strikes. Okay, “disaster” might be pushing it, but we’ve all been in the position where, seemingly out of nowhere, some part of the home fails, leaving you in a situation where repair or replacement is needed, and while you wait for that to be complete you’re forced to work around the problem.
Let’s be clear, there is no way to guarantee this situation won’t arise. Even the most circumspect homeowners, tenants and renters will end up having to juggle things to avoid a crisis. However, there are ways to make sure that these issues happen less often, and are less severe when they do happen. It’s always going to be worth knowing a bit about how your house works, and when it comes to dealing with issues, you can be prepared and may even be able to run repairs yourself.
However, the single best way to save money on household repairs is to fix the issue as soon as possible. If this means getting a professional out, then so be it. It’s better to know when to call an emergency plumber for a leak issue, rather than to leave it until you also have to pay to repair water damages. Don’t let your quest for savings put you in even deeper trouble.
Below, we’ll talk about a few issues that can happen in any home, and how they are to be dealt with.
Fuses keep blowing
Blown fuses are not that uncommon in houses these days, and may occur because you have too many appliances running at once. In many cases, you may be living in a house that was initially wired some decades ago, and the circuit has been designed for a time when there were fewer appliances running. Also, it may just be that one appliance is faulty. One blown fuse in one appliance can take down a whole room in your house, or at least part of a room.
If you experience a blown fuse, and suddenly half of your kitchen is without power, the first thing to do is switch off and unplug every appliance in that part of the house. Then switch the trip-switch back on in the fuse box (you’ll know which switch that is because it will be in the down position – push it back up). Then, start plugging appliances back in and turning them on.
Do this until the switch trips again, and whichever was the last item you turned on has a faulty fuse. You can replace this yourself, and on modern appliances usually all it will take is lifting a flap on the plug and replacing the fuse that’s in there with one of equal strength (you can buy a box of replacements for less than £10, and you just need to pick one of the same colour). If you switch the appliance on and it’s still faulty, you’ll need either a repair or replacement of the appliance itself.
Radiators aren’t getting hot
There are a few reasons that the radiators in your home might not be getting to the heat you expect of them, some of which will require the assistance of a plumber or heating engineer. The most common reason, however, is that the radiators have air bubbles in them which is stopping the heated water from getting to the whole appliance. It is a good idea to touch the radiator and see if the lack of heat is only affecting part of it. If so, this is a sign that the problem is indeed caused by air bubbles.
If this is the case, this handy guide to how to bleed a radiator will assist you in getting things back up and running and it won’t cost you a penny. Plus, you’ll know how to do it again in future, which is useful because a radiator that needs bleeding is a pretty common problem. Any plumber or heating engineer can do it, and it usually won’t cost the earth to get them to do so, but if you can do it yourself then why spend money and time waiting for someone else to carry out a repair?
If you’ve bled the radiator and it’s still not getting hot when you turn the heating back on, then it may well be time to get someone else to come out and have a look at it. It may be a sign of a deeper issue, and getting that remedied is a matter of priority. Problems rarely do anything but deteriorate when they are left alone.
Sinks and bathtubs drain slowly or not at all
A blocked drain is always bad news. Whether you’ve just finished the washing up, or stepped out of the bath or shower, when you pull the plug out and see the water stay where it is, you have a problem. Stagnant water is a hazard to health, and if it doesn’t go somewhere it will likely begin to smell. Even a slow-draining plughole can be bad news if you need to wash or rinse something in a hurry.
In the first instance, it is worth using one of two options. First, you can look for a plunger and seek to unblock the drain yourself. This is a fairly simple process: place the open end of the plunger over the plughole so it is covered entirely. Press down on the plunger to create a seal around the area, and then press down with more force to try and push any blockage out. This will work by forcing air and water downwards, essentially forcing the blockage out of place.
If this doesn’t work, or you don’t have a plunger, drain unblocking gels can be bought in any supermarket. Pouring these compounds into the sink and then leaving them for the stipulated period of time – usually 10-15 minutes – should allow the gel, by force of weight and possibly chemical reaction, to clear the blockage and allow the drain to run freely again. If you have tried both a plunger and an unblocking compound, then it is time to call a plumber. The blockage may be something more stubborn, and will need a technician to definitively clear it – usually, they will need to take the pipework apart to get to it, and while you may be able to do this yourself, you may struggle to reassemble it safely.
Knowing how to carry out key household repairs can save you a lot of money, but if you find that you are getting nowhere with your efforts, it is important to know when to cut your losses and hand over to an expert.