Advice and Opinion

Proactive steps for South Africans to protect their homes during winter

Winter

South Africans are set to experience a significant winter storm this week as rain and strong winds are expected in the west of the country from Tuesday (6th June) night. Ahead of the winter period – during which storms and heavy rainfall occur regularly – consumers need to conduct appropriate maintenance checks to ensure their vehicles are in a roadworthy condition to travel in unpredictable weather, as well as conduct comprehensive maintenance repairs and checks to relevant areas of their homes.

This is according to Christelle Colman, CEO of Europ Assistance South Africa, who states that severe storms can cause enormous damage to houses and cars due to gale force winds, hail or flooding. “By being pro-active and conducting the necessary risk-management, South Africans can lower their risk of facing damage to their homes and vehicles caused by extreme weather.”

She provides the below risk-management checklist for South Africans to mitigate damage to their possessions, ahead of the storm expected this week:

Important home maintenance checklist ahead of heavy rains:

Water supply:

When it comes to preventing water damage, the most important thing all home owners need to know is the exact location of shut-off valves for the following: the main water supply, appliances that utilise water (e.g. dishwasher, washing machine and ice makers), sinks and toilets. This will ensure that, in the event of a leak, the water supply can be quickly shut off before it causes further damage before a plumber can arrive to fix the problem.

Water pipes:

It is vital to conduct regular inspections along plumbing lines for any leaks, damage or corrosion. The sooner these problems are detected, the sooner the homeowner can contact a licensed plumber for further inspection and repairs to avoid higher costs of damage.

Walls and floors:

Inspect foundation walls and floors for cracks that might allow water leakage, particularly when living in an older home or an area with poor soil drainage. Also, avoid storing valuable items in a basement; however, if absolutely necessary, items should be stored on racks and shelves above the floor level to minimise damage.

The roof:

A home’s roof is one of the most important parts of the home as it protects the occupants, belongings and the structure of the building. Regularly check the roof for missing, worn or broken roofing materials that can allow water to infiltrate and weaken the roof’s structure. Also, look around for any water spots, standing water or mould. Dampness on ceilings or walls can signal leaks that are just getting started. After a severe storm, inspect the roof thoroughly or contact a licensed roofer for further evaluation and repairs.

Gutters:

Clean gutters and drain pipes to avoid leaves and other debris from clogging them up and damaging your exterior siding. It is also vital to ensure that the water is draining away from your house. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool on the roof which will result in rotting and leaks. Gutters should be checked at least twice a year; the best time to do so is during the transitional seasons of spring and summer.

Emergency home assistance:

Ensure that you have emergency home assistance in place and have these emergency numbers on speed dial in case off an incident at home, like flooding, or a tree have fallen on the roof. During storm periods the use of home assistance services can add tremendous value to homeowners should they experience any type of emergency.

“Being pro-active and bearing the above tips and advice in mind, consumers can lower the possibility of damage to their belongings caused by extreme weather conditions. By having assistance services on speed dial, consumers will also have peace of mind that they will get the necessary assistance when they are faced with an emergency at home or on the road,” concludes Colman.