4 Home Emergencies that May Catch You Unaware—and Some Simple Steps to Prevent Them


Being a homeowner is many things, but one thing’s for sure: it’s never boring. You just never know when an unexpected emergency is going to crop up to cost you money, cause you stress, and take lots of time to resolve.

But with a little preventative maintenance, you can stop many emergencies before they happen. We’ve pulled together a list of some of the most common disasters that can hit your home, along with preventative maintenance to help you head them off. And if you can’t avoid them? We’ve got tips on what to do if a home emergency strikes.

1. Water Leaks and Flooding: Whether it’s caused by a burst pipe, a faulty appliance, or a heavy rain, water leaks and flooding are one of the most common emergencies that homeowners face. Apart from water damage and the mess of clean up, water and moisture can cause a cascade of other problems, like mold and mildew that can be harmful to your home and your health. The key to mitigating these risks? Early detection and swift action if an issue arises, and preventative maintenance to avoid leaks and flooding in the first place.


□ Regularly inspect your plumbing, appliances, and roofing for potential leaks.
□ Install water detection devices that can alert you to water issues.
□ Make sure rain water and ice melt are directed away from your home’s foundation—read this article for 4 ways to manage the flow of water.
□ Stop pipes from freezing by insulating exposed pipes and taking these steps during a cold snap:

• Turn faucets on so they drip slightly; the movement of water through your pipes should keep them from freezing.
• Leave sink cabinets open to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.
• Set the heat to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit when you’re not home.
• Keep the garage door closed, and keep interior doors open so warm air circulates from room to room.

Action Steps: If you discover a water leak or flooding, shut off the main water supply (if necessary), move valuables and electrical items to higher ground, and get to work removing standing water with towels, buckets, or a wet vacuum. Open windows and doors to promote ventilation and expedite drying. Remember that time is of the essence to prevent mold growth.

If your roof is leaking, cover the source of the leak with a tarp, if possible, and call a roofing company.

2. Roof Damage:  Roof problems can lead to water leaks that can cause structural damage, mold, and other expensive issues. And with the average new roof costing $10,000, it pays to take some basic steps to protect your roof.


□ Regularly clean and clear gutters to ensure proper water drainage and stop water from accumulating, and add gutter guards to keep leaves and debris out of your gutters.
□ Trim overhanging branches to keep tree limbs from falling on the roof during storms or high winds.
□ Periodically inspect the roof for damaged or missing shingles, and promptly replace them.
□ Prevent ice dams by ensuring proper attic insulation and ventilation, and install electric roof cables to keep ice melt flowing into gutters.

Action Steps: If you notice roof damage, take immediate action: cover exposed areas on your roof with tarps (if possible) and contact a roofing professional to repair the damage.

3. Pest Infestation:  When bugs and rodents make their way into your home, they can chew through wires, nest in insulation, and cause structural damage…plus it’s just plain gross. Your best bet is to stop an infestation before it occurs by taking some basic steps to make your home less hospitable to these unwanted house guests.


□ Regularly inspect and seal any gaps, cracks, or holes in walls, windows, and doors with caulk or weatherstripping to block pest entry points.
□ Store food in airtight containers and promptly clean up crumbs or spills.
□ Fix water leaks and dry out damp areas that could attract insects.
□ Keep living spaces clean by regularly vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting, and eliminate clutter that gives pests a place to hide and breed.
□ Use sealed trash bins and dispose of garbage regularly to minimize food sources.
□ Store firewood 20-30 feet away from your home.

Action Steps: Signs of a pest infestation include droppings, unusual odors, gnawed or damaged items, nesting materials, scratching noises, tracks, holes or entry points, and changes in pet behavior. If you notice any of these signs in your home, don’t wait to take action and try to minimize your contact with the affected areas. Try to locate entry points and seal them off. If you want to treat your home with pesticides, be sure to use them properly or hire a professional.

4. Water Heater Failure:  Most people don’t give much thought to their water heater—until it fails and they’re suddenly faced with just how much they count on a constant supply of nice warm water. You can expect a water heater to last anywhere from 8 to 12 years, but there’s always a chance it could fail sooner. Be on notice for warning signs like rusty or discolored water coming out of hot water taps, fluctuations in water temperature, reduced hot water pressure, or strange noises like popping, rumbling, or banging coming from your unit—they’re all your water heater’s way of letting you know it might be time to replace it.


□ Regularly flush the water heater tank to remove sediment and mineral buildup.
□ Test the pressure relief valve annually to ensure it's functioning correctly and releases excess pressure as needed.
□ Periodically inspect and replace the anode rod to prevent corrosion inside the tank and extend the water heater's lifespan.
□ Examine the tank for any signs of rust or corrosion.

Action Steps: If your hot water tank fails, act swiftly to minimize damage. Turn off the power/gas supply and the water supply. If you’re handy, you can install a new unit on your own, otherwise, contact a licensed plumber or water heater professional and have them determine whether your unit can be repaired or if a replacement is necessary.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for educational and informational purposes only. Homeowners should always consider safety precautions before starting any home improvement project.  While we strive to offer accurate and helpful advice, Frost King does not assume responsibility for any actions taken based on the information provided or for any consequences resulting therefrom.