Repairs: questions and answers
- Heating and hot water
- Dealing with damp and mould
- Problems with toilets
- Blocked sinks, baths and hand basins
If your electrics are not working it may be due to a local power cut. Problems with electrics in surrounding homes could indicate this, so check with your supplier. If you have a prepaid meter, it’s also a good idea to check if it has credit and is turned on properly.
Checking your consumer unit
The consumer unit is located where the mains power enters your home. It’s usually a cream coloured box, located in the hallway, in a cupboard in the lounge or under the stairs.
If every switch isn’t set to on, something may have tripped the consumer unit. Turn off all sockets and unplug your appliances. When everything is off and unplugged, turn on all the switches in the consumer unit. Plug in and turn on your appliances, one at a time, to see which socket has caused the electrics to trip. If you find the socket that may be causing this, turn it off and turn the consumer unit back on.
Issues with appliances or sockets
You’ll now need to check whether it’s an appliance or socket that’s causing the problem. Try plugging in a different appliance into the socket that tripped. If it trips again it’s the socket that is at fault, stop using that socket and request a repair.
If it does not trip, plug the original appliance into a different socket. If the electric trips again you’ll need to stop using that appliance and replace it.
If your lights are not working, it may be that a bulb has gone and it has tripped the consumer unit. Check your consumer unit to make sure everything is working as it should.
Read our information on lighting and bulbs for details on replacing them where necessary.
Heating and hot water
If you find that your gas boiler is not providing heat or hot water, you may be able to resolve this.
Firstly, check if power is going to the boiler. There will be a switch with a fuse near the boiler, which may have accidentally been turned off.
If you pay for your gas and electric by card meter you may have run out of credit. This will need to be topped up and please ensure that both meters are on. Meters are your supplier's responsibility so call them for help with any issues.
It’s worth checking with your supplier to see if there are any issues in your area. You could also try turning up the thermostat if you’re having issues with low heating.
Our information on boilers and heating provides further details on managing your system. This includes details on pressurising your boiler and un-freezing a condensate pipe.
Is there an error code showing on your boiler? The internet can be used to identify what this means. Keep a record of the error code, as we’ll need this information when you request a repair.
Dealing with damp and mould
Damp and mould is caused by condensation. This usually happens in the kitchen or bathroom where moist air develops, but it can also affect other rooms.
Condensation can be reduced by keeping rooms warm and well ventilated. Try these tips:
- Use an extractor fan, if one is fitted, or open the window.
- Avoid drying clothes on radiators as this adds to the moisture in your home. If you do use the radiators, dry clothes in an area where moisture can escape through a window or extractor fan.
- Wipe off small patches of mould using black mould treatments. These can be bought in local supermarkets.
Get more information in our damp and mould booklet.
If you have a leak, depending on where it is, there may be an isolation valve that can be turned off so water stops escaping from that area. This is especially true for toilets. There will be a section on the pipework with what looks like a screw head. Turn this off and that should stop water escaping from that section of pipework without the whole water supply being affected.
You’ll need to request a repair as soon as possible if:
- There’s too much water and you can't contain it. If that’s that case, turn off the water at the stop tap.
- A leak is noticed following a bath or shower. This could be due to an issue with your waste pipes. Please stop using them and contact us.
- Water from a leak is affecting the electrics. Please turn off the electrics at the consumer unit if this is the case.
Occasionally water can't escape and becomes trapped under the ceiling plaster causing a bulge. If this happens, place a bucket under the bulge and make a small hole to allow the water through, until a repair is completed.
Do you think the leak is coming from another property? If so, contact your neighbour to make them aware of the problem.
Finding your stop tap
Internal stop taps are normally located in the following places:
- Kitchen cupboard
- Downstairs bathroom or toilet
- Garage or utility room
- Under the stairs.
If you have a water meter, the stop tap will generally be located in the same chamber as the meter.
Problems with toilets
Toilets that are constantly running
If you find that your toilet is constantly running, there may be a fault with the flushing mechanism. You can stop the water flowing into the system by turning off the isolation valve on the pipework that delivers the water into the cistern.
Once you stop the water flowing you can still use the toilet. Until a repair is completed, use a bucket of water to flush the toilet.
Toilets that are not flushing properly
If you have more than one toilet, are both toilets affected? It may be that your supplier has turned off the water supply in the area because of a mains fault. Check to see if you have cold water coming from the kitchen tap. If no water flows this will be the case.
Alternatively, use a bucket of water to flush the toilet, until we can repair any issues.
Blocked sinks, baths and hand basins
Blockages are normally caused by things building up in waste pipes. There are a number of ways to deal with blockages:
- Remove all the water from the area and pour it down the toilet.
- Clear any items from the plughole.
- Pour some boiling water down the plughole.
- Pour one cup of baking powder or bicarbonate of soda into the plughole and leave it for a couple of minutes.
- Add one cup of white vinegar, this will fizz and help to unclog any grease or grime.
- Put the plug back in and wait for five to ten minutes.
- Pour some more boiling water down the plughole.
Buy a drain un-blocker suitable to where the blockage is. There are kitchen and bathroom versions, with the instructions on the bottle.
If you regularly get blockages it might be worth buying a plunger. Using this forms a suction to help move the blockages. When using one ensure that any overflow drains are blocked to maximise the suction created with the plunger.
Read our information on water and drainage to keep your drains flowing freely.