Repairs

There are several different types of repairs — take a look at our guide below for how to deal with your repair.

Routine repairs

These are repairs that are not classed as an emergency (see bullet points listed below under the Emergency Repairs section) . You can easily report routine repairs to us in the Resident Area.

We will then:

  • We will acknowledge receipt of your repair
  • Provide you with an appointment based on the options you have given us
  • Text you to let you know when we are on our way to your repair
  • Text you once your repair is completed to confirm that your repair has been finished to your satisfaction

What is classed an emergency?

 

  • A complete loss of power — have you carried out a trip test to try and identify the problem?
  • Having no heating or hot water in the winter
  • A leak that cannot be contained
  • Doors or ground floor windows that are insecure.

If your repair falls into the emergency category, please call us on our local rate number 0300 123 1966. Emergency repairs can be reported 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

We will aim to attend your property to make safe or fix (where possible) any emergency repairs within four hours of you contacting us.

You are expected to share responsibility for looking after and maintaining your home and there are some things we expect you to do yourself such as:

 

  • Replacing light bulbs and fuses
  • Replacing keys and lock changes if you lose your keys
  • Unblocking toilets, sinks, showers and baths
  • Replacing batteries in smoke alarms and doorbells
  • Looking after your garden

If your repair falls into one of the categories above, take a look at our fixing a home repair hints and tips.

It is important to keep your home safe and in a state of good repair.

Below are some hints and tips to help you deal with common home repairs that you are responsible for fixing and are not covered by Plumlife repairs service.

This information is designed as a guide only. If you do not feel confident about carrying out these repairs yourself then we recommend you contact a suitably qualified tradesperson. Plumlife cannot take responsibility for any damage caused to you or your home in trying to carry out these repairs.

How to carry out a trip test if I have no power?

If your fuse box keeps tripping it means you have a faulty electrical item or wiring somewhere in your home. Working out what is wrong is a process of elimination, and you can often do this by following these simple steps:


  • Unplug everything in your home — removing all plugs from their sockets.
  • Switch the electricity supply back on (by flicking the switch that is facing the wrong way to the others at the fuse box), then push the RCD down so it is green.
  • Start plugging items back in, one at a time, until the electricity trips again. This will identify that the last appliance plugged in was the faulty appliance.
  • Do not use this item again until it has been checked by a qualified electrician or replaced.

If you still have no power after conducting this trip test, please contact us.

How to change a smoke alarm battery

  • Smoke detectors can be battery-powered or wired into the mains. But nearly all smoke detectors, including those that run on household current, contain a battery (they use this battery to provide backup power in a fire).
  • Smoke detectors with fully-functional batteries are critical to the safety of your family and home so if you hear beeping or chirping from your alarm it means the battery is low. Do not ignore this. Change the battery immediately. Do not ever remove the battery without replacing it with a new one.
  • Remove the cover or body — pry the cover open/unclip the body of the detector from its base with a slight twisting motion. Inside, you will find three main parts: the sensing chamber, a loud horn, and a battery (and in some cases, house voltage power source).
  • Replace the battery — unclip the old battery from its holder. Most detectors use a nine-volt battery and you need to install a brand new, lithium nine-volt battery. Make sure the +ve and -ve terminals are properly aligned.
  • Close up — snap the cover shut or lock the body of the smoke detector back into its base.
  • Test it — press the test button on the surface of the detector to make sure the battery is working. When the button is pressed, the detector should beep or chirp.

How to change a doorbell battery

 

  • Unscrew the doorbell using a screwdriver or drill if the doorbell is mounted.
  • Open the battery compartment of your doorbell.
  • Remove the old batteries from the doorbell and replace them with the new batteries.
  • Close the battery mount.
  • Test the doorbell to make sure it works. 

Unblocking toilets and sinks

Step one: unblocking a toilet manually
If you know what’s blocking the toilet — and you think you can dislodge it manually — use your gloved hands to do so. If you manage to remove the blockage, be sure to complete step two to flush debris down the drain. Your toilet’s function should return to normal.
Step two: using hot water and gravity to flush manually
Unblocking toilet pipes can be as simple as pouring hot water into the toilet bowl from a height. The hot water should help dissolve blockages and gravity will push water harder through the pipes than a normal flushing process. Be careful not to scald yourself.
Step three: unblocking a toilet with suction
Everyone knows you can unblock toilet pipes with a plunger, but did you know there are different types of plungers — and you need to choose the right one for your toilet?
Ask at your local DIY shop for the right model and then get to work: slowly push down on the plunger to produce a vacuum over the hole, then sharply pull the handle up to dislodge the clog. Make sure the toilet bowl has water in, or you won’t get the right effect. Repeat as needed to dislodge debris and clear the blockage.
Step four: Using a commercial drain cleaner for toilets
This is the last step you should try before calling out a plumber. Only use this method if you’re sure the blockage is organic, not plastic or metal. Read the instructions carefully and be sure to take any necessary safety precautions.
Please note that if items not designed to be flushed down the toilet such as nappies or wipes are discovered as the cause of a blockage and you ask us to attend after you have tried all of the above methods to unblock the toilet you may be recharged for the call out. 

How to unblock a sink

  • Clear the plug hole thoroughly.
  • Pour baking soda down the plug followed by vinegar*.
  • Wait a short amount of time and then flush through warm water.
  • If necessary, pour a small amount of bleach down the sink and leave overnight. Then flush through warm water.
  • If the blockage is still there, look beneath the sink and locate the first bend in the pipe that falls down from the plughole.
  • Place a washing-up bowl beneath the bend and slowly unscrew the U-bend, allowing water to drain at a steady pace.
  • When the water has completely drained, clean the U-bend thoroughly. (A hooked coat hanger may help you reach anything lodged in the tube).

*Make sure the vinegar is completely flushed away before pouring bleach or any other chemical substance in to the sink. 

How to isolate a leak

  • Find your stop valve — the stop valve (sometimes called a stopcock) will usually be in the kitchen or bathroom, but don’t forget to check the garage if it’s attached to the house. If you have an internal water meter, the valve will be on the pipe going into the meter. Renovated houses sometimes have stop valves hidden behind cupboards, under floorboards or boxed in to strange places. This will turn off all the water in your property.

 

  • Turning off the water — your stop valve is a metal tap that you can turn off by rotating it clockwise until it’s completely closed. Don’t force it if it’s stiff – just spray a little WD40 on the spindle to free it up.

 

  • If it’s an isolated leak...then turning off your isolation valves will be just as effective. They control the water supply to washing machines, dishwashers, taps, electric showers and toilet cisterns. Turning off here means you won’t need to go without water in the rest of the house. You can do this using a flat-head screwdriver. Again, turn the valve 90 degrees so that it’s across the direction of the pipe.

 

  • Damage control — grab a bucket and place it under the leak. If it’s a minor pipe leak, grab a towel and wrap it around the pipe. It’s possible to limit the amount of water spraying out by reducing pressure in the system so turn on your taps to do this. If the leak is near electrical fittings, turn off all electricity at the fuse board.

How to replace a toilet seat

  • Remove the old toilet seat wearing rubber gloves— there should be two wing nuts holding the old seat on to the toilet bowl.
  • Check the size of the old seat to ensure your new one fits.
  • Install the new toilet seat by sliding the plastic bolts into the slots on the back of the new seat and tighten the screws.

What to do about condensation and damp in your home

Condensation is caused by water vapour/moisture from inside your house coming into contact with a colder surface, such as a window or wall. It usually occurs during the colder months, in the corners of rooms, north-facing walls and on or near windows. It is also found in areas where there isn't much air circulating, including behind wardrobes and beds. It can then soak into wallpaper, paintwork or even plasterwork and cause black mould.

Condensation and mould growth

Most homes will be affected by condensation at some point, caused by everyday activities such as:

  • Cooking
  • Washing
  • Drying clothes indoors
  • Breathing

The amount of condensation in a home depends upon three things:

  1. How much water vapour is being produced by activities in the house
  2. How cold or warm the property is
  3. How much air circulation (ventilation) there is
  • Turning up the heating will reduce condensation but it won't sort the problem. You will need to address all three of the points above.

Black mould

Mould spores are invisible to the human eye and are present in our homes and outside. They only become noticeable when they land on a surface and grow.

For mould to thrive it needs:

  • Moisture — from condensation
  • A suitable surface
  • Suitable temperature
  • Oxygen

By dealing with the causes of condensation you will deal with the problem of mould. This five-step plan can help reduce the amount of condensation and black mould growth in your home. You need to do the below every day.

  • Produce less moisture
  • Remove excess moisture
  • Ventilate to remove moisture
  • Heat your home a little more
  • Deal with black mould

For more detailed information refer to our booklet

Other types of dampness

There are three other main types of dampness that could affect your home.

Rising damp

This is caused by water rising from the ground into your home, either through natural brickwork or via a broken damp proof course (DPC). A DPC is a horizontal layer of waterproof material put in the walls of a building just above ground level. It stops moisture rising through the walls.

Rising damp will only affect basements and ground floor rooms and will rise no more than 12 to 24 inches above ground level (300mm to 600mm). It usually leaves a ‘tide mark’ and you may also notice white salts on affected areas. Rising damp will be present all year round but is more noticeable in winter. If left untreated it may cause wall plaster to crumble and paper to lift in the affected area.

Penetrating dampness

This type of dampness is only found on the external walls of the property or in the case of roof leaks, on ceilings. It appears because of a defect outside, like missing pointing, cracked rendering or missing roof tiles that let water in. Penetrating dampness is far more noticeable following a period of rainfall and will normally appear as a well defined ‘damp-patch', that is damp to the touch.

Defective plumbing

Leaks from water and waste pipes, especially in bathrooms and kitchens, are relatively common. They can affect external and internal walls and ceilings. The affected area looks and feels damp and stays damp whatever the weather conditions. Checking the water and waste pipes serving the kitchen and bathroom and the seals around the bath, shower and sinks; plus the external pipework, such as guttering, will help you find the problem.

Black mould will rarely be seen with these other forms of dampness. If you think you have any of these three types of damp please contact us.

If there are pests in your home you will need to speak to the environmental services team at your local council or contact a specialist pest control company to have them removed.

We will then come and block up any entry points in your home once you confirm the pests have been removed. You can request this repair in the My Plumlife customer area.

We appreciate that you may want to make changes and add your own personal touches to your home but you will need our permission before you can make any alterations.

To raise an improvement request, please register and use our form on the My Plumlife customer area.