From mysterious cracks in the ceiling to suspicious sooty black marks, three-quarters of homeowners have a niggling feeling about something in their house or flat that they’ve not got around to fixing.
Failing to recognise these niggles as early warning signs that something is wrong has already left homeowners out of pocket to the tune of approximately £17 billion, according to new research from Gas Safe Register.
In a study of 2,000 people who own their homes, 50 per cent said that not acting when they got that niggling feeling has ended up costing them more money in the long run than an early fix or maintenance would have: the average outlay per homeowner is estimated at £1,876, and one in 20 had to fork out £5,000 or more.
Gas Safe Register has launched its Winter House Whispers campaign with a crack team of the nation’s top ‘house whisperers’, including TV property expert Martin Roberts, and the head of Which? Trusted Traders Raj Kakar-Clayton, to help the nation better understand the risks to their health, wealth and safety if they let niggling feelings fester.
Martin says: “If our homes could talk, what would they say to us about what they need? After 20 years in property, I’ve heard every shoulda, woulda, coulda going when it comes to regrets about dealing with niggles too late. The costs can be high financially if repairs or replacements are needed, but you can’t put a price on the health and safety of your family.
“If you have damp or mould in your home, you’re more likely to have respiratory problems, allergies or asthma. Having unsafe gas appliances can not only put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning but they can leak gas and, in some instances, lead to fires and explosions. Learn to listen to your home.”
The costliest niggles, if left ignored, include rotting wooden decking (£3,344 average cost to fix), lazy yellow flames on gas appliances (£3,250), black sooty marks or stains on/around gas appliances (£3,239), leaking pipes (£2,520) and boilers making rattling and banging sounds (£2,333).
Lazy yellow cooker flames, rather than those that are blue and crisp, and sooty marks or stains are warning signs of unsafe gas appliances and can pose life-threatening risks such as carbon monoxide poisoning.
Gas Safe Register’s research also showed a lack of both awareness of the signs of unsafe gas appliances, and confidence on the right action to take on gas safety. Just one-third of homeowners knew the right action to take when they saw the signs of unsafe gas appliances, such as lazy yellow flames, sooty black marks and excess condensation on windows.
Only one-third knew that house fires can result from not having gas appliances checked every year, and just under half knew that collapsing and nausea can be caused by CO poisoning from unsafe/unchecked gas appliances.
However, one-quarter of homeowners would rather cut corners and avoid paying for expert help if there is an issue in their home, and nearly one-third said they would rather try a DIY fix than seek the help of a qualified tradesperson.
Bob Kerr, Gas Services Director at Gas Safe Register, says: “We want to help everyone become a house whisperer when it comes to their own home, to help them get to grips with what those niggling things they notice, but put out of their minds, might mean for their wealth, health and safety.
“This is of particular relevance to gas safety. As temperatures continue to plunge, gas boilers are under more pressure than ever. And, although it may seem like a niggle at the time, it’s always better to be gas safe than sorry.”
Raj Kakar-Clayton, managing director at Which? Trusted Traders, says: “With the colder winter months truly starting to kick in, coupled with the rising costs of living and the energy crisis, keeping your boiler in check by way of a frequent service – which usually costs close to £100 – could reduce energy bills and the number of repairs. Less than half of the respondents realise it can have those benefits.
“However, if you find yourself at the mercy of a broken boiler, each call-out could end up costing you up to £200. If a new one is needed, this could end up costing thousands of pounds. We’d advise consumers to pay attention to the seemingly small problems, as in the long term they can end up costing you more, both in time and money.”