One of the best things about the long summer holiday is that it gives you the chance to get away for a decent break. But while you’re soaking up the fresh air and sunshine at the beach, you don’t want to be worrying about what’s happening back at your place. What are the long-term things you should be doing now to make sure your house remains damage-free?
Whether it’s coming out of pipes or out of the sky, water can do a surprising amount of damage to your home. A burst pipe while you’re away will gush water until it’s discovered, ruining carpets, walls, ceilings and belongings. To check for leaking pipes in your house, walk around late at night when it’s quiet and listen carefully for dripping. Check crawl spaces or beneath floors for puddles or wet patches. Run your taps and note if any of them have reduced pressure. If you have a readable water meter read, turn off all the taps and check if it’s still ticking over. Any of these signs may point to a hidden leak that could suddenly get worse. If your water is discoloured or your pipes make strange noises when you run the taps, this may be a sign they are damaged and in need of repair. Outside, make sure your gutters are kept clear of leaves and debris to prevent them overflowing during a sudden downpour and flooding your ceiling cavity.
Summer in New Zealand is also cyclone season. Although they are rare, they have the uncanny knack of showing up right as everyone is heading off on holiday. As well as heavy rain, high winds from a cyclone can cause property damage while you’re away. Before you go, make sure that there are no dead or dying tree limbs that could fall onto your property. Many trees are now able to be cut down or heavily pruned without the need for consent, so it’s a good idea to tidy them up before summer arrives. Also, don’t forget to secure anything that is likely to become airborne in a storm, like trampolines.
Electrical faults are a common cause of house fires. Keep your eyes open for signs of faulty wiring and get them fixed before you go away. These include frequently-blown fuses, flickering lights, buzzing electrical outlets, sharp burning smells and getting shocks from electrical switches. Outside the house, keep lawns and shrubbery tidy and remove any dry, dead foliage that may catch fire easily.
Your best defence against burglars is a good security system. Not only is it a good deterrent, but a professionally-installed alarm often makes you eligible for a contents insurance discount. Wireless cameras that you can view on your smartphone are inexpensive and a great way to check your home quickly from anywhere. Having someone at home is also a great way to keep burglars at bay. Hiring a house sitter helps your home look occupied, and they can do little jobs like feed the pets and water the plants. Be aware, however, that damage or theft by a house sitter may not be covered by your contents insurance. It’s important to check your policy wording to see what is covered and whether you need to inform your insurer of your holiday plans. It’s also a good idea to make sure your sum insured is adequate, especially if you’ve not updated it in a while.
To make sure your home and contents are properly protected over the summer holidays, give us a call!
Photo by Brian Babb