Why fall is peak season for domestic disquiet

 

As fall merges with winter, those little maintenance problems we’ve been ignoring start to nag at us. Drafts become more noticeable, under-performing heating systems start to struggle even more and our electrical appliances start making all sorts of strange sounds that we aren’t used to hearing.

In temperate climates like most of Europe and North America, we demand a lot more from our homes during the colder months, but most home owners fail to give their homes anything close to the same care and attention as they would even to their car.

And our homes can do some unusual things during the colder months too. Timber-frame homes for example, often cause a lot of weird noises. This is because the wood in the structures begins to contract due to the cold temperatures. This leads to creaking and cracking.

Water pipes are another source of consternation for home owners. When water pressure drops, which is common in winter, the extra air in the system can cause the water to blast through the pipes, creating a knocking or banging sound as the pipes rattle against their fixings.

One of the biggest issues in homes as the temperatures drop is around appliance usage. The boiler and lights are on for longer and since we’re more likely to spend time indoors, even innocuous activities like watching TV or charging our smartphones can contribute to the general wear and tear on domestic electrics.

So it’s no surprise that a recent survey conducted by British property maintenance experts found that 64% of people feel unsettled in their homes due to outstanding maintenance and DIY tasks, with faulty electrics being a significant cause for concern. All those flickers, strange noises and even smells can really make our feels alien to us.

Nick Bizley, director of operations at Aspect.co.uk, who commissioned the study in October 2019, says “It’s certainly that time of year when our homes start to cause us problems. For example, electrics like lighting and electric heating are being used more and people are starting to use their central heating after several months of no use, so there’s more demand on the home’s appliances and systems.”

Nick explained that even some of the less common issues that make residents unsettled could be down to electrics “If you detect the smell of fish, it could actually be your electrics. Electrical shielding, when exposed to high heats, can give off an odd ‘fishy smell’.

“Kitchens can suffer from electrical problems because that’s where there are lots of appliances that use a lot of electricity, such as kettles, microwaves, electric ovens/hobs/grills and toasters. If they’re all on at once a circuit could get overloaded and trip. The only advice I’ll give here is to call in a qualified electrician. If your light switches or plugs ever behave in any way they shouldn’t, for example sparking sockets or flickering lights, it’s a job for a professional. This doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a big problem, but I’d recommend that only qualified tradespeople should be working on electrics.”

The months of October and November are the ideal time to think about paying a little TLC to your home. Fixing up those small faults now can really save time and hassle as we head into the dead of winter.