You can find some simple, straightforward repairs advice below.
Click on the topic you are interested to find out more about how to maintain your property.
Tap washer replacement
Step 1: To start, turn off the mains water supply by turning the main stopcock off until your tap runs dry. If you are changing the washer on hot taps, you must also turn the immersion heater and boiler off.
Step 2: Put the plug into the plug-hole of the sink to prevent losing the washer or any tap components when dismantling it. Unscrew the top plate of the tap. If you can’t do this by hand, use a wrench and protect the tap with a cloth first.
Step 3: Some taps have a body cover, which you will need to remove before you can unscrew the top section (or stem) of the tap to access the washer underneath. Secure the tap with another wrench while you remove this section.
Step 4: The washer is underneath this and it will either be pressed into place or held in position with a nut. Use a screwdriver to release it then clean the stem before fitting the new washer.
Step 5: Reassemble the tap, take the plug out of the sink and turn on the water supply to test the tap.
Unblocking a basin/sink
Step 1: Plunger. Place the plunger over the plughole, and ensure a seal is formed, then drive the handle down and up in a pumping action. You’ll know the blockage is clear when you fill the sink up and it drains quickly.
Step 2: Blast it out. Sometimes a hard burst of water can push out whatever is blocking your sink. Take a plastic milk bottle or 2-litre drink bottle, fill it with hot water, tip it upside down with the bottle hole against the plughole, and squeeze as hard as you can. The fast, directed flow of water may well fix the problem.
Step 3: Down the drain. Sometimes a plunger can’t unblock the sink so you need to do something to break down the blockage. There are a lot of hardcore drain unblocking solutions on the market, and though they will often get the job done they’re pretty harsh, and can linger in the drain and around your sink too.
Step 4: Baking Soda and Vinegar. A more friendly solution to unblocking a sink uses a simple mix of baking soda and vinegar. First, pour a load of baking powder down your plughole. Then tip in the vinegar. You’ll hear a lot of fizzing, and may even get some froth coming back up the plughole. Once the chemical reaction subsides tip some hot water down to flush the pipe through.
Step 5: Bleach. If that doesn’t work you can also use bleach to dissolve blockages. The best approach with bleach is to pour some through the plughole last thing at night and then flush with hot water in the morning.
Step 6: U Bend Clearing. Most blocked sinks happen because the U-bend gets clogged up, and sometimes the only solution is to remove the U-bend and clear it out by hand. To do this you’ll need:
- Small bucket or dish
- Plumber’s tape (PTFE Tape)
- Wire coat hanger
Step 7: Look under your sink and find the U-bend, it’s the first bend in the pipe immediately below the plughole. Put your bucket/dish under the U-bend and carefully unscrew the section of pipe. The U-bend has two sets of threads, one at either end. As you loosen them any backed up water will drain out, so take your time. Once the flow of water has stopped remove the U-bend and use the wire coat hanger to clean out the inside of the pipe, you can also use a dishcloth and warm water to help clean everything out.
Step 8: Once it’s all clean, fix the U-bend back into place, using plumber’s tape to make it watertight if needed. Run the tap to make sure the U-bend is watertight.
Resetting a Trip Switch
1: Modern electric circuits are fitted with circuit breakers called trip switches. If there’s a problem with your electrics, a switch is tripped and the circuit is broken.
2: All of the fuses or trip switches are found in the consumer unit or fuse box.
3: A trip switch or button usually operates because:
- There are too many appliances on a circuit and it’s overloaded
- an appliance is faulty or hasn’t been used properly, for example a kettle has been over-filled or a toaster not cleaned
- water has leaked into a circuit
- a light bulb has blown
- there’s a problem with your immersion heater
4: Always have a torch handy in case you have a power cut.
5: If there’s a problem with one of your electrical appliances, leave it unplugged and get a qualified electrician or service engineer to check it.
6: If there’s a problem with your wall or ceiling light, keep it switched off (even put some tape over the switch) and let us know straight away.
7: Make sure your hands are dry when you touch electrical fittings.
Resetting the trip switch
Step 1: Open the cover on the consumer unit so that you can get to the trip switches.
Step 2: Check which switches have tripped to the OFF position and which rooms (circuits) have problems.
Step 3: Put these switches back to the ON position.
Stop tap location
Your internal stop tap is usually found near to where your water supply pipe enters into your home.
Most common places to find your inside stop tap are;
- Under the kitchen sink
- Kitchen cupboard
- WC, cloakroom
- Garage/Utility room
- Under the stairs
It is important that you are aware of where your internal stop tap is just in case there is an emergency and you need to turn off the water.
Internal stop taps aren’t used very often so it is worth making sure it is working properly regularly.
Replacing a toilet seat
Step 1: Wearing gloves, remove the old seat and any old fittings. Every seat is different, but the release screws are usually found at the back of the seat or on the underside of the bowl rim.
Step 2: Unscrew the old fittings, you may need a wrench and screwdriver to do this, and then remove the seat
Step 3: Assemble the fittings for the new toilet seat. Because every seat is different, take time to read the manufacturer’s instructions.
Step 4: Attach the new fittings through the bolt holes in the rim and hand tighten. Do not over tighten, as you will need to adjust them when the seat is on.
Step 5: Click on the bolt caps and place the new seat in position. Line up with the bolts and ensure the seat is centred on the bowl prior to tightening.
Step 6: Hand tighten the bolts or use a wrench if necessary.
Unblocking a toilet
Following these simple steps should fix most blockages:
1: Try pushing a flexible drain cleaning wire down the WC pan.
2: If possible, ask someone to observe the drain chamber while you are doing this to see if the item causing the blockage emerges. Anything emerging that may have caused the blockage should be removed.
3: It’s worth using a plunger.
4: A chemical drain cleaner or caustic soda may help, but you must follow the instructions carefully and remember these products need to be handled safely.
5: Always use rubber gloves.
Using a Plunger
- Try using a plunger to unblock the toilet. Most people have a cup shaped plunger but this does not always work and can be a bit messy. Toilets bowls benefit from a specialist flange shaped or a ball shaped plunger. Both these types of plunger have a bottom which is shaped to seal the opening in the bottom of the toilet bowl. This seal action as you plunge creates the necessary vacuum and pressure and is more effective.
- Another useful tip is to consider draining water from your toilet pan. If the water level in the pan of your WC is high, try using any old container to bale out the water. You can also try pouring hot or boiling water down the pan as an alternative to using caustic soda. Often this can be helpful and will break down whatever is blocking your waste pipe.
Changing a tube light bulb
Step 1: Before you start to replace the bulb, cut off all power before proceeding with the task. You cannot ensure your safety by simply turning the switch off at the wall.
Step 2: The first step in replacing a fluorescent bulb is knowing how to be safe. Fluorescent bulbs are fragile and become very brittle once burnt out, making them easy to break or shatter. If you do happen to break a bulb, be aware that it contains mercury. When cleaning a broken bulb, use gloves and always wear shoes.
Step 3: Measure the full length of the bulb from end to end with your measuring tape to determine the correct length of replacement bulb required. Since these bulbs come in a wide range of lengths, measuring before you purchase the new bulb can save a return trip to the store.
Step 4: Now that you know what length of bulb to purchase, you also need to know which type of replacement bulb to purchase. To determine the type, you need to look at the lamp to confirm if it is a bi-pin lamp or single-pin lamp. A bi-pin or two-pin lamp will have contact pins on each end of the fluorescent bulb. The pins extend from each end of the light bulb and fit into a socket on either end of the lamp. A single-pin lamp will only have one contact pin extending from one end of the bulb.
Step 5: Installing the new bulb is simply the reverse of removing the old one. If the lamp is a bi-pin lamp, you will need to insert both contact pins to the end sockets and then rotate the fluorescent bulb clockwise to lock it into the lamp. If the lamp is a single-pin lamp, you will need to insert the contact pin into the socket and then push the fluorescent bulb upward to lock it into the lamp. After installation of the new bulb is complete, be sure to properly and safely dispose of the old bulb.
Changing a tube light starter
If the tube light flickers, works intermittently or takes a long time to illuminate, then the issue is caused by faulty / old fluorescent starter and it will need to be replaced.
Follow the steps below to replace the starter:
Step 1: Determine the correct starter for the light. Check the existing starter wattage (You may need to remove the bulb to access the starter) to ensure the right replacement is purchased to suit the light fitting.
Step 2: Once you have the correct replacement fluorescent starter, you will need to start by removing the bulb to replace it. The bulb will usually need to be removed because the starter is located directly above it. If your light has more than one bulb, you will find that each one has its own starter to make it work.
Step 3: Withdraw the bulb by twisting it out of the sockets at either end and descending the ladder to carefully lay it in a safe place.
Step 4: The existing starter can be twisted to remove it from its socket, which should be to the right, so twist and pull the starter to withdraw it completely.
Step 5: The fluorescent starter which has been removed can be discarded. Install the new starter by reversing the removal method.
All advice is offered as guidance only. All repairs you carry out at your property are done so at your own risk. We are not liable for any damage or injury incurred as a result of DIY. We reserves the right to recharge the cost of any and all rectification work required as a result of poor workmanship. If you are not confident in carrying your own repairs please seek advice and appoint and suitable competent and insured contractor.
You can find out more about Repairs and what your responsibilities are by reading our Repairs Policy: