7 warning signs you mustn’t ignore in your home

"I'll do it later" isn't an excuse when it comes to these household upgrades

There’s always something that needs doing around the home; the picture which has never been hung, the tap that drips and the garden that always seems to need mowing.

With the to-do list seemingly never completed, it’s no surprise that home maintenance is something we love putting off. In fact, a survey by Standard Life Savings found 86% of us put DIY in the ‘I’ll do it later’ list.

But what are those jobs that you just shouldn’t ignore? And which problems have you put off doing to your detriment?

A silent killer

Rob Lyon of Project SHOUT, a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning, recounts the lucky escape of the Handy family. Mum Amanda, her daughter and step-sister experienced headaches and dizziness. It got to the point when her step-sister passed out at the kitchen table.

A test in A&E revealed they had between 10% and 70% CO in their bloodstream – all caused by a faulty boiler. Rob says: “Carbon monoxide is odourless gas, can’t be seen and is incredibly dangerous. The symptoms of poisoning include a dull headache, weakness, dizziness and confusion – all symptoms which can be confused with other illnesses such as the flu or a common cold.

Carbon monoxide alarms should be installed in every room containing a fuel burning appliance, which a flue passes and in each bedroom.”

Boiling up

According to boiler manufacturer Worcester, Bosch Group, less than half of us remember to get our boiler serviced. And as they’re often tucked away in cupboards, we’re unlikely to see any flashing warning lights.

Martyn Bridges of Worcester says: “A boiler is one of the most relied on appliances in the home but is largely forgotten about until it actually stops working. Depending on the problem it can cost hundreds to fix and at best leave you without heat or hot water when you need it most. In many cases, it shouldn’t get this far if a simple annual service had been carried out.”

Staying secure

Your home is most likely to be the most expensive asset you’ll ever own – which is why the Master Locksmiths Association urges us to keep on top of those seemingly-small security jobs. This includes checking windows regularly for rust, rot and cracks which make them easier to break through and updating your locks; if you’ve moved, you should always change the lock as you never know who else has an old key and it’s even a good idea to modernise your locks to ensure they’re in good order and to beat the burglars who become familiar with certain locks and develop methods to defeat them. And don’t forget, if you told your insurer you had an alarm and particular types of locks and they’re no longer fit for purpose, your insurance could be invalid in the event of a break-in.

That loose roof tile

Insurers will turn down claims for damage caused by a lack of maintenance. Therefore, warns uSwitch, it’s important to keep your home well maintained. For example, if your roof gets damaged in a storm but none of your neighbours’ roofs were, it might be clear that your roof was in need of maintenance. Time to fix those loose tiles!

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Being driven round the u-bend

A Cardiff marketer tells us: “I thought I had a weak flush on our toilet – for seven years! It would occasionally block and I’d have to plunge it. When I decided to rent out the house, I got a plumber in who told me the u-bend had never been properly connected. There was years’ worth of sewage that hadn’t drained away properly. If only I’d realised, I’d have saved myself a lot of plunging!

Electrical safety

There are 350,000 incidents of electric shocks every year, according to Electrical Safety First. Electrical installations should be checked every five years, says surveyor Tim Davies, who inspects nearly 300 homes a year. “If your fuse board is old, get it replaced with a modern one. It will only cost around £200 but could save your life,” he said.

Guttering gunk

Gutters will get clogged with dirt over the year and it’s important to get them cleaned annually or risk paying out much more down the line. Tim said: “I see some wonderful roof gardens growing out of gutters. If you ignore these you could get lateral damp, where the water will run down the walls and penetrate the side of the house.”

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