Summer is approaching, and so traditionally does South Africa’s annual rainfall frequency.
As the effects of climate change become more evident, heavier storms are experienced.
These have devastating consequences for the property, particularly if it is not maintained as it should be.
This in turn impacts your homeowners’ insurance, which is required if you have a home loan.
Natasha Osman, Absa’s head of Homeowner’s Insurance Cover, said regardless of the season, the onus is on the homeowner or policyholder to review their policy at least every six months.
“A homeowner must ensure that the updated policy conditions are read and understood and that the renewal terms, including the sum insured and premium, are relative to the current replacement value of the property insured.”
Home maintenance obligations are indicated in brochures and in the policy renewal, and with the onset of summer, now is a good time to review the condition of your home.
• Clean your gutters. During winter, gutters, drains and valleys can become clogged by leaves, which prevent water from flowing freely. Overflow can result in water entering the roof, causing internal damages to ceilings and other internal structures.
• As temperatures fall and rise, metal roofs expand and contract, loosening screws and washers. These need replacement at least twice a year. Joins and laps between roof sheets also need to be resealed for protection against rust.
• Tiled or slate roofs are prone to loose or missing tiles. Ridge tiles should be secured and any cracked or missing tiles need to be repaired or replaced.
• Flat roofs need sealants checked on a regular basis.
• Thatched roofs need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years, depending on the weather and general roof wear and tear. It is important to install a lightning conductor and cover the thatch with fire protection liquid. Thatch also needs combing every two years.
• Pool maintenance includes the replacement of sand filters as often as is required, but generally at least once annually or bi-annually depending on pool size and climate.
• Pool lining should be checked frequently for cracks or bubbling as this is a sign that the fibre lining is starting to delaminate.
• Filter the pool for at least eight hours a day in summer.
Pipes and water outlets
• Check for bubbling paint internally and externally, as this is a clear sign of dampness caused by a leaking pipe or a rise in the underlying water table. This can also be caused by water ponding against a wall.
• Structural cracking may also be attributed to leaking pipes. Identifying these can prevent substantial damage to your property.
• Inspect your waste pipes and taps at least once a year to ensure they are properly sealed and watertight.
• Check exposed pipes for signs of rust or wear and tear, and address those issues immediately.
• Signs of mould or damage caused by mould require the use of professional services to identify the cause, and to rectify the problem.
• The installation of a timer on your pool pump and geyser, or insulation of your geyser will save a significant amount of electricity. Set the geyser thermostat at 60°C, and not higher.
• Unplug unused appliances and chargers, as these still consume electricity, says the Energy Saving Trust.
• Have a professional clean and sweep your chimney to remove blockages.
• Check windows and doors for deterioration.
• Regularly inspect windows and walls. Repair cracks or leaks as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration.
• Watch water consumption. If you see a sudden spike in your water bill usage, contract a plumber or the municipality to investigate. It may be as a result of an underground burst pipe or leak.
Osman said that although insurers are unable to check maintenance on all properties insured, it is emphasised in the renewal correspondence that the home owner is responsible to ensure ongoing maintenance.