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The Top Most Common Household Emergencies

“When a home emergency hits, time is of the essence,” so says Brett Emmerson, founder and CEO of the newly launched Building Service Advisor (BSA) mobi site and website that helps users to quickly and easily geolocate their nearest source of help during an emergency.


“Time is of the essence with some home emergencies and the faster you respond to a household emergency, hopefully the less damage to your home – with less cost to subsequently repair this damage,” says Emmerson who also adds that household emergencies don’t always keep working hours. “Being prepared for what could happen – and knowing who to call for help – can make all the difference in these situations.”

According to a survey these are the most common household emergencies people are likely to face:

  • Power failure or tripping power
  • Blocked toilet, pipe, or drain
  • Broken or burst geyser
  • Damaged roof, gutter, or downpipe
  • Locked out of home
  • Broken door or window
  • Gas leak
  • Water leak
  • Leaking tap or showerhead

Emmerson gives some insight into what to do when faced with these household emergencies:

Power failure or tripping earth leakage

”If you are experiencing problems because the electrical wiring in your home has become faulty, or if there is a problem with the supply coming into your home then call a qualified electrician immediately and never attempt to work on or repair electrical problems yourself!” warns Emmerson. “If a power failure is caused by something outside of your control, like extreme weather conditions or an ESKOM power cut, then there is little that you can do but light some candles and wait it out.   But if in any doubt call in a qualified electrician and keep in contact with your local power supplier to find out if others in your area are experiencing the same problem so that you can assess the next best step to take.”


Blocked toilet, pipe, or drain

If your kitchen or bathroom drains, or a toilet, become blocked then the first thing you can do to rectify the situation is to pull the materials causing the blockage out. If this does not work then try using a drain plunger to force the blockage out.  A third option is to pour a caustic soda mixture down the drain.  However, work carefully with caustic soda and follow the instructions on the packaging.

“A blocked toilet often needs to be flushed with a large bucket of water poured straight into the bowl.  If none of this yields results, then the best thing to do is to call a plumber to come and do the job for you,” Says Emmerson.

Broken or burst geyser

A geyser has a limited lifespan and so the chances are that if yours is acting up, it might be time to get a new one.  Even worse than a geyser playing up is one that burst unexpectedly and invariably pours water out into your ceiling and possibly the room below.

“Obviously, if you need a new geyser – whether in an emergency situation or planned – then you need to call an experienced installer,” advises Emmerson.  “While you are waiting for their arrival turn the water supply off at the mains outside the house.  If the geyser has burst and water is running into your home try and minimise damage by placing down  buckets and towels where possible to capture the overflow.”

Damaged roof, gutter, or downpipe

A damaged and leaking roof should be repaired by a professional.  If you discover that you have a leak during a rain storm then try to minimise any water damage by placing a bucket under the leak to catch the water.

Emmerson says that guttering systems can generally degrade and perish in our harsh African sun and it is a good idea to get yours checked out before the rainy season arrives – particularly in the Western Cape where water harvesting has become so vital.

“Before the rainy season arrives home owners can also check their gutters themselves to make sure they are not blocked with leaves and sand.”


Getting locked out of home

One way to make sure you don’t get locked out is to keep a spare key in your handbag or in your car.  Alternatively give a spare key to your neighbour and or family member that you know and trust.

“However, failing having a spare key at hand, the best thing to do is call a qualified locksmith to come and help you get back into your home with minimal additional damage to your property, such as breaking a window in an attempt to get indoors.

Broken glass in a door or window

If you have a broken door or window pane then you need to get it fixed ASAP unless you want to leave a gaping hole and welcoming invite to passersby with corrupt intentions.

According to Emmerson calling a glass fitting professional to come and replace the broken glass as quickly as possible is the best way to go. You also don’t want to risk cutting yourself in the process.

Gas leak

More and more South Africans are using gas ovens and stoves.  However, gas leaks can be dangerous. If you smell gas or suspect there is a gas leak, make sure you do the following:

  • Don’t smoke or light any matches
  • Don’t turn anything electrical on or off
  • Open all the doors and windows to air out the room
  • Turn off the gas supply at the bottle
  • Contact a licensed gas fitter to come detect and repair the leak urgently.

Water leak

“Water leaks in household pipes can cause a huge amount of damage if not repaired speedily.  If you find or suspect a water leak it is best to call in the professionals to come and repair it.  If you are lucky the leak will be in an exposed pipe.  Worst case scenario the leak may be inside a wall or under the floor, which then obviously requires far more expertise to find and repair.”

According to Emmerson, the first thing to do is turn off the water at the outside mains to minimise the damage to your home whilst waiting for a plumber to come and repair the leak.

Leaking tap or showerhead

“The last common household emergency on this list is leaking taps and showerheads. If there’s a fountain of water coming out of the tap or showerhead, turn the water off at the mains before going any further.  Some people may feel adept enough to try replacing the shower head or tap themselves but if you are unsure then rather call a plumber to come do it properly – especially in areas where we’re trying to conserve as much water as possible.  Every drop counts”

Geolocate help for household emergencies

Nearly every home owner will experience one of these emergencies as some stage in their lives and now with the BSA mobi site and website you can log in and, using the unique geolocation function, quickly pull up the contact details of the right professional in your area that can help you.  “With the emergency services category featured on BSA you can find someone to assist regardless of the time of day – or night,” says Emmerson.


Building Service Advisor (BSA) lists building-related service providers ranging from 24/7 emergency services, to architects and interior designers, painters to plumbers, locksmiths to landscapers, and a host of others.

Services are listed on the BSA directory by their geographical location, making it easy for you to find selected tradesmen conveniently situated in your area. In addition, BSA has a geo-specific search tool, so that you can search for solutions right in your neighbourhood. For example, if you’re living in the CBD, and you need a plumber to replace a leaking pipe, you simply input your area and the type of service and BSA will automatically bring up a list of reputable plumbers in the immediate surrounds. You can also set the radius, controlling the distance from your home that you would like BSA to search.

BSA is currently live and available for use in the six main regions of the Western Cape. After this debut, the handy network will expand to cover Gauteng in May 2018. It will then spread to other provinces in South Africa before spanning the rest of the continent.


You can download the free BSA mobi site from the Android Playstore and IOS. For more information and services, visit and follow BSA on facebook @buildingserviceadvisor and use the hashtag: #BSA.