How to manage festive disasters

Nobody likes a home improvement disaster at the best of times, let alone at Christmas. Here’s how to prevent and deal with four potential home improvement problems over the holiday season.

Don’t pour fat in the sink

Disposing of roasting fat in the sink is bad for our sewage system (leading to those fatbergs you see on the news) and it’s also bad for our domestic waste systems. Animal fats can solidify and cause blockages, with even vegetable oils able to cause chaos in your pipework. If you want to dispose of fats then never tip them down the sink. Either wait for them to dry and solidify before putting them in your outdoor bin, or pour liquid oils into a mix of kitchen towel and old newspaper before doing the same. If you find yourself with a blocked pipe and you’re not sure what’s causing it or how to get it back to normal, a plumber can help.

neutral kitchen

Read more: how to unblock a sink

The power is yours

New gadgets may trip a switch and turn the power off – for example a battery charger has a transformer in and can short circuit. To find out if it’s one gadget or another tripping the switch, you need to check your consumer unit (you may still call it your fuse box). Unplug all likely gadgets and make a note of the switches that are off before turning them back on if you have circuit breakers. Plug each gadget in one by one (removing the previous one before you plug the next one in so you’re only plugging in one at a time). If the switch trips with a certain gadget plugged in, you’ll know that it’s a fault with that gadget that’s causing the problem.

If the whole power is off at home, this is a sign of a bigger problem rather than a faulty gadget, so you’ll need to telephone the National Grid on 105 (rather than your power supplier) or visit the Power Cut 105 website to see if there’s a local outage. If there’s no local problem listed then it’s time to find an electrician.

christmas gift

Read more: how to stay safe over Christmas

A handyman could be handy

A local handyman could be worth their weight in gold over Christmas. They can deal with minor leaks, put blown-over fences back on their feet and even replace a broken pane of glass caused by a gifted Christmas football. They may even help shovel snow or de-ice the path and can help hang heavy photos on a wall to make sure they stay put.

ice crystals on a window

Read more: how to hang photos

Know when to call the emergency plumber

It may sound obvious, but chances are that if you think you need to call out an emergency plumber then you need to call out an emergency plumber. If water’s cascading from somewhere or you find that you can’t get any water to come out of the taps then this is probably something that needs attention (although visit the local water board’s website first to double-check that there isn’t an outage). Yes, it may cost more over the Christmas period, but neither your insurer nor your home will thank you for waiting. Turning the water supply off may help with leaks or pouring water, but don’t mess with boilers. You’ll need a plumber or a heating specialist with a Gas Safe qualification to deal with any gas appliances in the home and ensure that any work that’s done is safe.

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