When it comes to home emergencies, most homeowners respond with a “Whoa!” and maybe an obligatory shake of the head. Unfortunately, from there, responses vary since most have little or no idea what to do.
The good news in this is that when many homeowners don’t know what to do, they usually know to call a professional. The trouble only comes when a homeowner isn’t sure what to do. For those folks, this article is intended as both a help and a warning. From times when you have a clogged drain to a power outage, these are eight common household emergencies and how to deal with them.
Grease Fire in the Kitchen
Some emergencies are best dealt with before they occur. Such is the case with a grease fire in the kitchen. First, these happen so often and without warning. The important thing to remember with a grease fire is to NEVER throw water on it. This only makes the grease pop all over and spread fire. Instead, there are a variety of solutions. The first, and often the most convenient is to put a pot cover on top of it. This will suffocate the fire and put it out. If you don’t have a cover, try dousing the flames with baking soda. Finally, make plans for dinner out.
A Broken or Burst Pipe
If you find out that you have a bad water leak, find the water valve and turn the water off. The water valve is usually located in the basement or someplace in the front of the house. If this happens and you don’t turn the water off immediately, you will likely have a lot of expensive water damage. A broken water pipe is nearly always best dealt with by a professional.
A furnace is another one of those appliances that is best dealt with by maybe a look-see by the homeowner, but anything else should be dealt with by a professional. Furnaces are either electrical or gas powered, but either way, damage can happen or pilot lights can go out.
Toilets overflow when, for a variety of reasons, they can’t stop running and don’t drain properly. Begin by turning off the water at the valve on the wall or by lifting the bulb arm inside the tank. This will stop the flow. After doing that, find the source of the problem. Is the bulb or the clapper in the bottom stuck? Are there obstructions? Any of these can cause overflowing, but call a professional if you are unsure what to do.
Before you do anything on a broken window, put on a good pair of gloves to prevent cuts. Then look at the window to see what has happened. Replacing a pane can be tricky, but if you are good with your hands, it can be done by a homeowner. Fixing a wooden-frame window is easily done with replacement glass and some sealer, but if your windows are metal framed, a repair is best left to a professional.
The first thing to do in a power outage is to make sure everyone is okay. Then, look out the window to see if the entire neighborhood is affected. If everyone else has power, check the circuit box to see if you overload a circuit. If so, flip the main. If you still have a problem, call an electrician for help. In the meantime, pull out the board games.
A Mouse in the House
If you start finding droppings, or maybe what appears to be a nest or chewed items that might have been made into a nest, you probably have mice. This is a frustrating problem since you rarely see them. Start with a few mouse traps (hint: use peanut butter as bait, not cheese), and if that doesn’t solve the problem, call an exterminator.
If you have an ant infestation, the chances are good that you will start seeing trails of them everywhere. Wipe them away the best you can, then use vinegar spray to erase their scent trail. Then look for cracks or gaps where they are getting in. Ant bait is a good idea to start with, but if that fails, call a professional.
Of course, there are many more home emergencies besides those listed above, but these are some of the most common. As can be seen, some might be easy enough to conquer by most homeowners, but if in doubt, always ask a professional. The money and trouble you save as a result will probably be your own.