Autumn in South Africa: Protect your home
With autumn in the air, homeowners need to be mindful of the impact the season can have on their homes. Here are seven things to consider doing around the house this autumn – or perhaps over the Easter break! – to mitigate the risk of damage to your property as winter approaches.
As leaves fall from trees, they accumulate in gutters and downspouts, creating blockages that can prevent water from flowing freely. This increases the risk of water damage and possible flooding in winter rainfall areas, which can lead to expensive repairs if walls, floors or ceilings are damaged. Make it a habit to clean your gutters regularly in the coming months.
2. Branches and Trees
Autumn could bring strong winds and early storms that run the risk of downing branches and even trees. This raises the risk of broken windows or roof tiles, and perhaps even structural damage. Take a walk around your property to identify any potential hazards, and see whether tall trees, long branches and large shrubs need a pre-winter trim.
A fireplace is a wonderfully warm and welcoming gathering place during the colder months, but it also exponentially increases the fire risk to your home. A house fire can start quickly and spread rapidly, causing serious damage to property, and loss of life to pets and people. Take extra care to reduce these risks by ensuring that fire alarms are working correctly, thinking about the type of furniture and furnishings you place close to your fireplace, devising a fire-safety plan, and trimming overgrown vegetation in the garden. When your fireplace has been in use, always make extra sure that it has been extinguished completely before you go to bed at night, or leave home.
4. Roof Tiles
High winds and stormy conditions could damage roof tiles and compromise the integrity of your roof. This could let water and dirt accumulate in the roof cavity. BetterBond CEO Carl Coetzee explains, “This type of damage can lead to significant problems. Water that collects in the ceiling can result in mold and mildew growth, which can cause health problems for those living in the home, and result in structural damage like unsightly stains on your ceiling, as well as rotting support beams. Maintaining your roof is vital, so as a homeowner, consider having your roof inspected professionally and make sure that the necessary repairs are done before the winter weather sets in.”
5. Home Security
With less daylight during the autumn and winter months, your home could be more vulnerable to burglary and theft. Check your existing home-security systems and physical barriers, like burglar bars, to make sure that everything is in good working order. If your budget allows, you could also consider adding measures like security cameras, deadbolts on doors.
Make sure all outdoor lights on your property are working, as a well-lit exterior is a strong deterrent to crime. Areas that are worth giving extra attention to, are walkways, the route to your garage or car, and directly above your front door or entrance. Coetzee adds, “Solar lights are a great addition, to ensure that the exterior lighting on your property stays on during load shedding.”
6. Power Outages
Load shedding is predicted to increase this winter, so make sure you are prepared with everything from flashlights and batteries, to a back-up generator or UPS, helping to keep essential things running even when the power is not. If your budget allows, switching to solar isn’t just a sound investment that provides relief from load shedding, but it will also increase the value of your property over time and therefore bolster your resale value.
According to Matthew Cruise, Head of Business Intelligence, Hohm Energy, your decision to take action and install solar not only guarantees you energy independence but may contribute to helping Eskom balance its expense sheet so that it can afford to complete projects to solve the country’s energy crisis.
“By using solar power wherever possible, you will help reduce the load on Eskom’s grid. Eskom is already scrambling to find diesel to power its open-cycle gas turbines during load shedding,” adds Cruise.
“Finally, it’s essential to understand your home insurance policy and how it may be impacted by autumn in South Africa,”advises Coetzee. “Depending on your policy, you could be covered for certain risks, like theft, but not for others, like flood or fire damage. Review your policy documents and speak with your insurance provider to ensure you have adequate coverage,” he concludes.