By Nico Strydom
The rainy season will start shortly over large parts of South Africa and it could cost homeowners a lot of money if they don’t take the necessary precautions in time.
According to Virseker homeowners’ claims during the rainy season from March to October rise to a whopping 197% of the average for the rest of the year – which was the case in 2018, 2019 and 2020 – and this is caused mainly by weather-related factors.
Homeowners and lessees therefore have an ideal opportunity to inspect their houses, make the necessary adjustments and do repairs to avoid an expensive disaster.
“Water, hail and lightning damage or trees that fall over are typically the biggest culprits,” says Ricardo Coetzee, Virseker’s spokesperson. “Something that is worrying is that in a large number of cases this could have been prevented by good, proactive inspections and maintenance.”
Even if your house withstood the previous rainy season well it does not mean that you can now rest on your laurels. “Rather take the trouble to check it thoroughly again or have it done professionally, and take proactive steps and possibly save thousands of rands on damage and perhaps even avoid serious injuries.”
According to Coetzee there are many things homeowners can do to make sure their houses are ready for the rainy season.
“Clean all gutters and eaves regularly because leaves and other plant residue can prevent water from effectively draining from the roof.” It is also important to check the roof and look for tiles that have shifted, worn waterproofing and parts of thatched roofs that are no longer tightly bound. “Also inspect the underside of your roof to make sure that it is tightly sealed. No sunlight should be visible because if the sun can come in, so can water.”
Furthermore all door frames and window sashes, especially those made of wood, as well as walls, floors and foundations must be checked for cracks where water can seep in. “Make sure that all drainage ditches, pipes and holes are in a good condition and keep an eye open for water build-up when it rains. Build-up of water on your stand or around your house can cause rising damp and problems with the foundation.”
Paint protects your house against water just as varnish protects wood. “When you paint your house it is important to include a good sealant.”
The pressure of strong wind, heavy hail or excess water can easily cause trees and structures to give way. “Branches, garden furniture and tools, or parts of structures that come loose can also turn into deadly projectiles. Thoroughly check items exposed to the elements and address all risks immediately.”
Some areas or locations are more prone to flash floods or other extreme weather conditions. “It’s a good idea to have your own supply of sand bags and other reinforcements at hand.” Be on the lookout for safety risks close to your house, such as poor drainage, cracked structures and landslides and immediately inform the authorities.”
Inside the house you can install wall plugs that protect appliances against power surges caused by lightning.
“It could be a bother, but proactive inspections and repairs can spare you a small fortune in the long run,” concludes Coetzee. “It is, however, always wise to have good, comprehensive homeowners insurance for in case bad luck hits you.”