Stay storm safe
The advice you need to know to keep your home safe this winter
Perth shivered through three destructive storms over the past week, with wild winds, rain and even hail battering the metro area.
While the cold front brought more than 105ml of much needed rain, it left a path of destruction - with winds of up to 110km/h damaging buildings and homes, felling trees and sending debris flying.
The storms were an early warning of what may be in store for Perth residents this winter, so we spoke to the experts on how to best prepare our homes this season.
Avoid costly damage
The BUSS roof plumbing team were run off their feet over the weekend, working tirelessly to repair leaks caused by the wild weather.
Head roof plumber Dylan Kavanagh said storms could cause a number of problems for homeowners, including a potentially costly repair bill.
He said while major water ingress can lead to significant internal water damage, it can also cause electrical lines to spark, possibly resulting in a fire.
“This usually occurs from broken tiled roofs and/or non-maintained roofs. Often storms can cause the silicone joints and flashing joints (which stop water from penetrating) to fail,” he said.
Another culprit is overflowing gutters, caused by a build-up of debris and leaves if left unchecked.
“When residents fail to have their gutters cleaned, there can be a backlog of what that can result in leaks and damages,” he said.
Not all leaks are immediately obvious, so it is important to look out for bubbling paint, sagging ceilings, small amounts of water trickling down walls and what appears to be a “coffee stain” appearing on white ceilings.
Prevention is key
Dylan said maintenance and gutter cleaning was the best way to avoid expensive repairs and lengthy insurance claim processes.
”We recommend a yearly check up on your ‘roof health’,” he said.
“In areas with not many overhanging trees, we recommend a once a year gutter clean. In highly tree-dense areas, clean them out at least twice a year.
“Safety is always a priority and we do not recommend residents ever get on the roofs themselves, as not all roofs are equipped with the necessary height safety equipment.”
Seek professional advice
With 14 years of experience in the industry, Zac Enders of Enders Roof Plumbing said it was also important to check your gutters and downpipes for rust and damage.
“You can normally see the signs of rust coming through the bottom, or even if you are up on a ladder, you should be able to tell what condition they are in,” he said.
Whether you are unsure if your property is at risk, or you have spotted damage, Zac advised it was best to call in a roof plumber for an assessment.
“They can come along and have a look or do a roof report if they have to,” he said.
“It pays to get a tradesman who knows what he is doing.”
Trees are often the cause of damage during a storm, so it is also important to have the trees surrounding your property inspected by a professional arborist and tree-lopper.
The Tree Guild of Western Australia is an organisation which ensures the 35 contractors in its membership adhere to a code of conduct and have up-to-date insurance.
Guild president Alex Morin said while trees in a forest environment grow straight and tall, trees planted in an urban setting have the space to grow out - allowing gravity to have more of an effect on their limbs.
“It is like trying to hold a 5kg weight out horizontally, as opposed to above your head,” he said.
“If you hold it above your head, you can hold it for 10 minutes for example, whereas if you hold it horizontally you can only hold it for a minute.”
This becomes more of an issue when storms and heavy winds are a factor.
“It is the trees which have poor form that fail during these storms… but at the end of the day, when you are getting upward of 120kmh winds, trees are going to break,” he said.
He urged anyone concerned with the safety of a tree on their property to seek professional advice.
“It helps to get two or three opinions as well. I am a big believer with any trade in getting two or three quotes, that way you get a good gauge of where you should be.”
He advised homeowners to shop around, ask questions and be wary of door knockers offering cheap and nasty tree-lopping services.
“Do your research… get feedback from previous clients, and in the quoting process, ask if they are insured,” he said.
“Sight the insurance; you want to make sure they are going to do the job safely, and make sure there is no damage done to your house.”
Alex said the guild aimed to professionalise the industry and give customers peace of mind.
“We also have a committee, that if you are not happy with the job that has been done or they have done damage, we can take disciplinary action and fix the problem for you.”