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Homewreckers – and how to cope with them

Is your home under attack from the homewreckers? From toddlers scribbling on walls to Japanese knotweed, there's a multitude of possible threats to your home. See what you might be facing and what you can do to protect yourself.

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WRECKER:
Damp, condensation and mould – normal activities like boiling a kettle, showering and washing clothes add moisture to the air. This can result in condensation and damp that allow mould to grow.

SOLUTION:
Run cold water first in a bath, open windows and use the extractor fan, dry clothes outside and vent dryers outside. Treat mould with a specialist fungicidal wash. Use good fungicidal paint to help prevent it re-growing.

WRECKER:
Dodgy plumbing - hidden leaks can cause extensive damage, warping floors, collapsing ceilings, and damaging electrics. Insurance providers pay out hundreds of thousands of pounds every day for escape of water claims.

SOLUTION:
Be mindful of sudden patches of damp, drips and puddles and check walls for water damage. If you have a water meter, take a reading, don’t use the water for a couple of hours, then take another. If they’re different, you may have a leak. Call a plumber and let your insurance provider know.

WRECKER:
Children – from over-enthusiastic finger painting to using your bed as a trampoline, children can cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage to your home. Walls, woodwork, carpets, sofas and beds suffer most.

SOLUTION:
Remember you were young once too. Add accidental damage to your home insurance policy to cover costs of repair.

WRECKER:
Rodents – rats and mice will chew through furniture, walls, woodwork, piping and even cables, potentially creating a fire risk. They might look for nesting materials in your mattress, upholstery or insulation. Plus they can damage items stored in your attic.

SOLUTION:
Contact your local authority for advice. Most councils will help, but charge for treatment. Or you can call in the pest controllers. If you have Home Emergency as part of your home insurance, it may cover for removal of pests – check your cover and policy.

WRECKER:
Unruly pets – scratching, chewing and drooling – and maybe worse – can damage your home and furniture.

SOLUTION:
Make sure your pet is well trained, keep them happy and give them the right exercise. Avoid furniture with bare wood. Choose durable materials for your sofa. Unfortunately, accidental damage often doesn’t cover damage caused by pets.

WRECKER:
Dry rot – caused by a fungus that feeds on timber, leaving the wood crumbly and cracked. It thrives in areas with high humidity or water leaks. Dry rot can travel through brickwork.

SOLUTION:
Prevent dry rot by making sure your property is ventilated and maintained. If you find a problem, treat it as soon as possible. You may need to call in experts. It’s quite likely this wouldn’t be covered by your buildings insurance.

WRECKER:
Blocked gutters can cause damp and damage to roofs and walls as water overflows. If the problem is persistent, water can build up around foundations, potentially leading to subsidence.

SOLUTION:
Clean your gutters regularly – at least once a year after the trees have lost their leaves. Consider installing gutter guards. If you don't fancy climbing ladders, call in professionals.

WRECKER:
Trees – roots can dry out the soil around foundations, which can lead to subsidence. They can also block drains, and branches can damage roofs and guttering.

SOLUTION:
Most trees don't cause problems, but if your home is on clay and there’s a drought, get advice. You may be able to claim for subsidence on your home insurance. Likewise if tree root ingress damages your drains, your insurance provider might be able to help. If you want to plant trees, remember roots can spread to three times the tree’s height. 

WRECKER:
Japanese knotweed can grow up to 20cm every day, reaching over two metres high. Its roots can spread seven metres in all directions, and it can even break through tarmac, concrete and drains.

SOLUTION:
Call in the experts. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you can spread knotweed rather than remove it. Sadly, most insurance policies won't cover you for treatment or removal.

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