Section 6 Repairs and maintenance

Section 6 Repairs and maintenance
Section 6
Repairs and maintenance
In this section
• What repairs we will do, what repairs you should do
• What to check before you report a repair
• How to report a repair
• Emergency repairs when the office is closed
• When will the repair be done?
• Appointments
• Repairs we will charge you for
• Gas servicing and safety
• Planned and cyclical maintenance
• Estate services
• What to do if you are unhappy with the repairs service
• How to do it yourself: useful advice about everyday
repairs and maintenance
CHS Homes
6 | Repairs
and maintenance
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
CHS Homes
What repairs we will do,
what repairs you should do
As your landlord, we are responsible for
maintaining and repairing the structure
of your home, plus plumbing, heating and
electrical services. You are responsible for
keeping the property in good order, keeping
it clean and decorating to a reasonable
standard. You are also responsible for
certain minor repairs. The following
table shows what repairs we will do,
and which ones you are responsible for.
Please note: we will only do repairs free
of charge where these result from fair wear
and tear through reasonable use of your
home. Where we believe that repairs are
caused by carelessness or deliberate acts,
we will ask you to do the repair yourself.
Inside your home
Window boards, sills & frames.
Window catches,
locks, sash cords.
Curtain rails, poles,
tracks and hooks.
Internal doors and frames.
Unless damaged by you, your
household, visitors or pets.
Loose or damaged
internal door handles,
hinges and locks.
Adjusting doors for carpets.
Or other floor covering installed
by you, such as laminate flooring.
Lost or damaged keys,
keys jammed or snapped
off in locks – internal doors
and window locks.
Concrete floors.
Floor tiles, sheet vinyl covering.
Fitted carpets,
laminate flooring.
Only if we have provided them.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance Repair
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Major plastering and vents
Minor plastering – cracks
and small holes (cracks
up to 3mm wide).
Wall tiles.
Only if we have provided them.
Skirting boards.
Decoration (internal).
Hat and coat rails and hooks.
Telephone socket.
Stairs, banisters, handrails.
Kitchen cupboards,
drawers, catches, hinges.
Cup hooks, hanging
racks, shelves.
Including seal around.
Alterations to install your
own appliances or fittings.
You must ask permission before
doing this. You are responsible
for maintaining anything you
install yourself.
Washing machine plumbing.
Not connector hoses. We do not
connect or install your appliances.
Your own appliances,
fittings, plugs, leads etc.
Installation and connection (e.g.
cookers) at your expense.
Blocked kitchen sink.
Dripping tap.
Tap loose from sink.
Tap won’t turn on or off.
If jammed on, turn water
off at stop tap.
CHS Homes Repair
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
Stop tap and valves.
Plug and chain to sink.
Gas cooker point.
You must arrange for the gas
cooker to be installed by a Gas
Safe qualified person at your
own expense. This includes
providing a bayonet fitting.
Extractor fans.
Cooker hoods.
Only if we have provided it.
Replacement filters and bulbs
are your responsibility.
Bathroom and toilets
Dripping tap.
Tap loose from basin or bath.
Tap won’t turn on or off.
If jammed on, turn water
off at stop tap.
Plug and chain to
basin or bath.
Blocked basin, bath
or shower waste.
Basin, bath, shower tray,
including seal around.
Except unblocking waste.
Shower hose and head.
Electric shower unit
(excluding hose and head).
Only if we have provided it.
Shower rail.
Shower curtain.
Toilet pan and cistern.
Blocked toilet
Do not put nappies or other
large objects down the toilet.
Toilet seat, mirrors, cabinets,
toilet roll holder, towel rail.
Leak from water supply pipes,
waste pipes, waste traps.
Bath panels.
Shelves in airing cupboards.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance Repair
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Heating and hot water
Gas meter and supply,
gas meter box.
Contact the gas company
about meter box repairs.
Gas boiler – servicing,
repairs and maintenance.
You are responsible for
re-lighting the pilot light.
Hot and cold water tanks
and overflows, water pipes.
Immersion heater.
Radiators and valves.
You are responsible for
bleeding radiators.
Heating controls – time
clocks, programmers,
You are responsible for
re-setting controls.
Gas fires.
Only if we have provided them.
Electric fires.
Only if we have provided them.
Removing radiators
while decorating.
This must be done by
a qualified person.
Storage heaters.
Electric meter and supply,
electricity meter box.
Contact the electricity company
about meter box repairs.
Consumer unit (fuse box).
You are responsible for
resetting a tripped switch.
Wiring, sockets, fixtures
and light fittings.
Only if provided by CHS,
not dimmer switches.
Light bulbs, fuses,
fluorescent tubes and
starters, dimmer switches.
We will replace light bulbs
in communal areas.
Pull cord strings.
Mains wired smoke alarms.
Smoke alarms.
You must test, and change
the battery if needed.
TV aerials and sockets.
Unless communal (shared) aerial.
Satellite TV dish.
Permission needed.
Intercom and door
entry systems.
CHS Homes Repair
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
Outside your home
Roofs including tiles,
slates, flashings.
Fascia boards, soffits,
barge boards and other
external timber .
Canopies and porches
over doors.
Only if we have provided
them. Not including glazing.
Guttering, rainwater
pipes, gullies, grids.
You are responsible for cleaning
leaves, garden waste etc.
from gullies.
Drains, drain covers and grids.
Except where you have
blocked the drain by misuse.
Soil pipes
Except where you have blocked
the soil pipe by misuse.
Drains and pipes
External walls, mortar and
wall finishes, cladding.
Garden walls.
Only if we built them.
Garages and outbuildings.
Only if we built them.
Window frames, sills.
Glazing in windows and doors.
Where caused by criminal
damage and reported to the
police (crime number required).
Glazing in windows and doors.
All other reasons.
Entrance doors, hinges
and frames.
Entrance door locks,
handles, latches, letterboxes,
draught excluders.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance Repair
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Door knockers, bells,
door numbers.
Door entry systems
Only if we fitted them.
Repairs to damage
caused by forced entry
if you get locked out.
Lost door keys – lock change.
Lock change after tenant
is a victim of crime.
You must report to police
and obtain a crime number
before we will do the work.
Including light bulbs in
communal areas.
Communal areas
Hallways, landings, stairs,
refuse chutes, doors, locks.
Private Gardens
and boundaries
Garden maintenance,
removal of rubbish.
Footpaths, hard
standings, paving, patios,
ramps, rails, steps.
Only if we or Social Services
installed them (e.g. a
wheelchair ramp).
Outbuildings, sheds.
Only major repairs and if we
installed them.
Fencing, gates
Only if we installed them. You
must renew gate catches.
Gardens and boundaries
Replacement locks and
padlocks to garages
and outbuildings.
Boundary marker
(concrete post and line
wire, fences, gates).
Not minor repairs.
Clothes posts, lines,
rotary driers.
We will repair communal (shared)
rotary driers which we installed.
Water butts.
CHS Homes What to check before
you report a repair
Please check the following before
you contact us to report a repair:
• Is the repair your responsibility?
Please check the table at the
beginning of this section, to see if it is your responsibility or ours
• Was the thing that needs repairing
put in by a previous tenant? If so,
please see the note on ‘Gifted and
non-standard items’ section
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
Gifted items fall into 2 categories:
1 Fixtures and fittings that we would
normally provide, such as kitchen
units, worktops, bathroom suites
etc., but which are not the standard
type that we would provide
2 Items that we would not normally
provide, such as fitted wardrobes,
cooker extractor hoods, garden
sheds, patio paving etc. (this is not
a complete list – please ask your
Housing Officer for more information)
• Do you know what the problem is?
Please give us as much information as
possible to help us order the right repair
Our policy on the repair and replacement
of these items is as follows:
• Check the information in: How to
do it yourself: useful advice about
everyday 'Repairs and Maintenance'
at the end of this section
Fixtures and fittings that CHS would
normally provide, but which are not the
standard type that we would provide
We will maintain any non-standard item,
in line with our repairing obligations, only
where it is cost-effective for us to do
so. Where the cost of repairing a nonstandard item would be more than the
cost of repairing a standard item, you
will be given the choice of doing the
repair yourself or accepting replacement
with a standard CHS fixture or fitting.
Gifted and non-standard items
Some of the fixtures and fittings in your
home may have been put in by previous
tenants, and may differ from what we would
normally provide. If the items are in good
and safe condition, our normal practice is
to ask the incoming tenant if they wish to
keep them, and if they do, we make a gift
of the items to the tenant. A list is made
of the items, and the tenant and CHS
sign the list to agree that the items will
not be maintained or serviced by CHS.
Fixtures and fittings that CHS
would not normally provide
Where you have accepted responsibility
for something that CHS would not
normally provide, and that item later
needs to repaired, replaced or removed,
you will be responsible for doing this,
and for any ‘making good’ (repairing
damage to walls, floors, ceilings,
decoration etc.) that this involves.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance If you smell gas
• Open doors and windows
to get rid of the gas
• Do not use any electrical switches –
on or off – including the doorbell
• Do not smoke
• Do not use matches, lighters or anything with a naked flame
• Check to see if a cooker ring or gas
oven has been left on unlit. If so,
turn it off, and do not try to relight
it until all smell of gas has gone
• If the leak cannot be stopped, or if you
are unsure whether it has been stopped,
turn the gas supply off at the meter
and phone the gas emergency service
immediately – phone 0800 111 999
Burst or leaking pipe
• If the leak is serious, turn the water off at
the main stop tap (this is usually under
the kitchen sink or in a cupboard in the
kitchen). The stop tap looks like this:
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How to report a repair
Phone: 0300 111 3555
(24 hours for emergencies)
non-emergency repairs only
Minicom: 01223 713784
Fax: 0300 111 3556
In person
at our office:
Endurance House
Chivers Way, Histon
CB24 9ZR
See a map in the 'contact us' section
You can also write to us at the address
above, although you should only request
a repair in writing if your repair is not urgent.
What you need to tell us
When you report a repair, please tell us:
• Your name (and the tenant’s name
if you are phoning on their behalf)
• The address of the property
• A contact phone number, including
a mobile number if you have one
• A clear description of the problem
Turn it to the right to turn the water off.
• If electrics are affected, turn off the
electricity at the consumer unit (fuse box)
Phone: 0300 111 3555
(24 hours for emergencies)
• When we can get access to do the work
• Any special circumstances, for example,
if you or someone who lives with
you needs time to get to the door
CHS Homes Emergency repairs when
the office is closed
We operate an emergency service when
our office is closed. Calls to our repairs
phone line will be put through automatically
to the emergency service.
Phone: 0300 111 3555
(24 hours for emergencies)
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
Repair Categories
Emergency repairs - within 24 hours
These are repairs that could put your
health, safety or security at risk, and/or
could cause serious damage to the property.
If it is outside of office hours, we will normally
make the problem safe, then complete the
repair during normal working hours.
Emergency repairs are repairs that
have an immediate and severe health,
safety or security risk, and/or where
serious damage is taking place to
the property. If you use the service
when it is not necessary, you may
be charged with the extra cost of
carrying out the repair out of hours.
Examples of emergency repairs include:
When will the repair be done?
• Complete loss of heating in cold weather
(31 October – 1 May) or at any time
if resident is elderly or vulnerable
We prioritise repairs by how serious
they are. We have a number of different
categories – emergency, urgent, nonurgent and minor – which determine how
quickly we will do the work. When you
report a repair, we will let you know which
category we put your repair in. We will
confirm this in writing, and send you a
form that you can use to give us feedback
when the repair is done. We always aim
to make sure that people with special
needs, like older people or those with
disabilities or a serious illness, receive
priority. If your repair is not an emergency,
we will make an appointment with you to do
the repair when you contact us to report it.
• Severe water leak through a ceiling
• Burst pipes
• Blocked main drains
• Unsafe electrical fault likely
to cause injury or fire
• Complete loss of electrical power or light
• Complete loss of hot water
• Non-secure external door or
ground floor window
• Blocked soil pipe (where the toilet
is found to be blocked, you will be
charged for the cost of the work,
plus an administration charge)
• Offensive graffiti
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance Urgent repairs - within 7 days
These are repairs that may affect your
comfort or convenience, or which if left
could become a risk to people’s health
or safety, or cause damage to the property.
Examples of urgent repairs include:
• Partial loss of electrical power or light
• Partial loss of heating or hot water
• Minor leak from water pipe or radiator
• Leaking overflow
• Repairs to stairs or floors if potentially dangerous
• Door entry phone not working
• Non-working extractor fan in
kitchen or bathroom if no other
ventilation (e.g. opening window)
• Tap that cannot be turned on
Non-urgent repairs within 21 days
These include repairs that do not involve
serious inconvenience to the customer
or long-term deterioration of the property.
Examples of non-urgent repairs include:
• Plastering
• General carpentry work
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date. In a small number of cases we may
tell you that we have noted your repair
request and will be doing the work later.
This is because the repair does not need
doing straight away, and it will be more
economical for us to do it as part of a
planned programme of minor works.
For example:
• Renewing old fencing
• Insulation work and other
energy-efficiency work
For most non-emergency repairs we aim
to give you an appointment, morning or
afternoon, when our contractor will call
to do the repair. We will normally agree
this with you when you report the repair.
For heating and some other repairs, our
contractor will contact you directly to
arrange an appointment. If you are unable
to keep an appointment, please contact
us or the contractor as soon as possible
so we can make another appointment
and avoid a wasted journey.
Morning appointments: 8:30am to 1pm
• External carpentry and roofing
repairs (where property watertight)
Afternoon appointments: 12pm to 5pm
• Repairs to external brickwork,
paths, steps, fencing
Repairs we will charge you for
• Routine plumbing jobs such as
bathroom fixtures, loose taps, guttering
• You have neglected your home
If your repair is needed because:
• Doors or windows sticking
• You, a member of your family or a visitor,
have deliberately damaged your home
Minor planned repairs
• You, a member of your family or a visitor,
have accidentally damaged your home
We will put off this work and schedule
it to be completed as part of a planned
programme of minor works at a later
CHS Homes Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
• It was due to criminal damage and
you have not obtained an Incident
Number from the police (we may
make some exceptions, for example
where domestic abuse is involved)
• The repair is something you are
responsible for doing under the terms
of your tenancy agreement (see ‘What
repairs we will do, what repairs you
should do’ section), but we have agreed
at our discretion to do the work.
We will charge you for the cost of the
repair plus an administration charge.
If we do this, we will:
• Let you know if we are going to charge
you for the work and explain why
• Ask you to sign to say that you
agree to pay for the repair later
when we send you a bill
Gas servicing and safety
Under the Gas Safety Regulations, we
must make sure that all gas appliances in
our properties are serviced at least every
12 months. We are responsible for:
• Making sure gas appliances and
flues are kept in a safe condition
• Yearly maintenance and safety checks
• Making sure we keep records and
issue Gas Safety Certificates to you
• Making sure all installations,
maintenance and safety checks are
done by a Gas Safe registered person
We only employ Gas Safe
registered gas fitters
How we arrange your yearly
gas service
Shortly before your gas service is due,
our contractor will write to you to tell you
the date your service will be done. If this
date is not convenient, you should contact
the contractor and arrange a different
date. You can also choose a morning or
afternoon appointment. After your gas
service has been carried out, you will be
sent a copy of the Gas Safety Certificate,
which you should keep in a safe place.
You must allow us into your home to
do the gas appliance service, to protect
you, your family and your neighbours.
If you do not give our contractor access
for servicing, we may take legal action
to get access. You would have to pay
any legal costs.
Faulty gas appliances which are
not maintained regularly can become
dangerous, and can give off carbon
monoxide gas. You cannot see, taste or smell this gas, but it can kill. For your
own safety you should not sleep in a room
containing a gas appliance, such as a
gas fire, boiler or wall-mounted heater.
Gas servicing helps to keep you
safe: help us to help you.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance Planned and cyclical
Planned maintenance is work done to
replace building parts that have reached
or are reaching the end of their useful life.
Examples of planned
maintenance we do include:
• Replacement windows
and external doors
• Electrical rewiring or upgrading
of whole properties
• Replacement kitchens and bathrooms
• Insulation and other energy
efficiency measures
Cyclical maintenance is work that is carried
out on a regular cycle to prolong the life of
building components, and avoid expensive
repairs or replacement. Planning work
in this way, and organising it into larger
contracts, helps us keep costs down
and keep your home in good condition.
Examples of the cyclical
maintenance we do include:
• Painting of wooden window
frames and other exterior
woodwork – every 5 – 7 years
• Decoration of communal hallways and
other inside areas – every 7 years
• Gas servicing and smoke alarm
maintenance - annually
• Testing of electrical installations
in properties – every 10 years
How we tell you about cyclical and
planned maintenance programmes
We put details of our planned maintenance
programmes in our customer newsletters.
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Shortly before the work is due to start, we
write to the customers affected to tell them
what we are going to do and when. We try
to keep disruption to a minimum, and our
contractors work to a code of conduct.
Estate services
Gardening and estate maintenance works
are provided by CHS to communal areas
of estates, schemes and projects, for
which customers pay a service charge.
Gardening and estate maintenance
includes the following services:
• Grass cutting
• Maintenance of shrub beds
including pruning and weeding
• Clearing litter and rubbish from shrub
beds, pathways and car parks
• Weeding and sweeping
pathways and car parks
This service standard is linked to the
Service Standard for Service Charges.
Our Commitments – we will:
• Provide you with details of the
services you are paying for
• Tell you who is providing the services
• Tell you when the services
will be delivered
• Meet regularly with your estate inspector
(a resident living at the scheme) to
check the quality of the service being
delivered, and propose any changes
• Consult you before making any significant
changes to the services or how they
are being delivered. We will tell you the
reasons for the changes, any changes
to the service charge you pay, and
provide you with written confirmation
of the changes before they are made
CHS Homes • Get regular feedback from customers
and estate inspectors on the quality of
the service being delivered, and tell you
about what action we have taken to
improve service delivery where necessary
Our commitment –
our contractors will:
• Provide an annual list of visits at
the beginning of April each year
• Carry out the works as set out in the
list. If the contractor is unable to attend
on the dates listed, new dates for the
visit will be provided to the Society
within one week of a visit being missed
• Provide reasons for missed visits
or any changes to the list
• Make sure that all their operatives will
carry identification, and will sign in and
off site as necessary. The operatives
will be polite, courteous and make due
allowance for customers’ needs and
wishes, and provide good customer
care. In Supported Housing Schemes,
operatives shall take account of
instructions from the Manager
• Leave an agreed feedback form with
the estate inspector after each visit
• Carry out the works to the
agreed specification
• Provide quotations for works outside
of the agreed specification within two
weeks of a request being made
• Provide advice to the Society on
areas to be replanted. Customers will
be consulted fully on any proposed
changes, including the costs
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
What to do if you are unhappy
with the repairs service
We aim to provide a high quality service
at all times. However, we recognise that
there will be times when customers
believe that our services fall short of
the standards set. When this happens,
it is important that we hear about it so
that we can put things right. As well as
putting things right, we will improve our
procedures and systems to prevent the
same problems happening again.
There are a number of ways you can
tell us if we get something wrong:
• Phone our Customer Services Team
on 0300 111 3555. If they cannot
deal with your problem, they will put
you in touch with someone who can
• Email your comments to:
Please tell us why you are not
happy and what you would like
us to do to put things right
Write to us or visit us at:
Endurance House
Chivers Way
CB24 9ZR
You can complain yourself, or a friend
or relative can complain on your
behalf (with your permission).
Please see the ‘Contacting us’
section of this handbook for full details
about how to make a complaint.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance How to do it yourself: useful
advice about everyday
repairs and maintenance
No electricity
• Check if your neighbours are also
affected – there may be a power cut.
If there is, call the electricity company
• If you have a card meter, is there
any credit on the meter?
• Check your consumer unit (fuse box) –
a switch may have tripped. Reset the
trip switch, following the instructions
below. If it keeps happening, call us for advice. 0300 111 3555
(24 hours for emergencies)
How to reset a trip switch
Open the cover on the consumer
unit (fuse box) to show the trip
switches (see the picture below).
Check which switches are in the
OFF position and put them back
to the ON position.
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If the switch trips again
The most common cause of a switch
tripping is a faulty appliance, such as
a kettle, toaster, electric cooker etc., or
a faulty immersion heater. It can also be
caused by too many appliances being
plugged into the same circuit, or by a
blown light bulb. To find out what is causing
the switch to trip, follow these steps:
• Note which set of lights or
sockets is not working – e.g. the
downstairs lights or sockets
• If it is a lighting circuit, check if any
bulbs have blown and replace them
• If it is the sockets, unplug all the
appliances on that circuit and
switch off the immersion heater
• Switch the tripped switch to the ON
position, then plug in the appliances
one by one until the trip goes again.
Leave that appliance unplugged. Finally,
if the appliances do not trip the switch,
turn on the immersion heater. If the
immersion heater causes the trip to
switch, please phone our repair service
• If one of your appliances caused
the trip to switch, either have it
repaired by a qualified engineer
or replace it with a new one
• If you cannot sort the problem out yourself, please contact us
Please be aware, however, that if
we send someone out to fix your
electrics, and we find that the
problem was caused by a faulty
appliance owned by you, we will
charge you the cost of the call-out
plus a 15% administration charge
CHS Homes Blocked sinks – how to
avoid them getting blocked
and how to unblock them
Kitchen sinks
Kitchen sink waste pipes can easily
get blocked by cooking fat and grease,
together with food scraps, vegetable
peelings and other solids. To avoid
the sink becoming blocked:
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
How to clear the sink if it gets blocked
There are two main ways to unblock a
sink – with chemicals and with a plunger.
A ‘Which?’ magazine test in June 2009
found that plungers were much better
at clearing blockages than chemicals.
‘Which?’ recommended a power
plunger like this (cost around £10):
• Never pour cooking fat or grease
down the sink, e.g. from mince meat,
sausages, bacon, roasts etc. Pour
the fat into a container, such as a
metal or glass bowl, wait for it to set
hard, then scrape it into the bin
• Buy a sink strainer. This is a metal disc
with holes in that fits over your plug hole.
It catches food scraps and peelings
and stops them going down the drain.
When it gets full, empty it into the bin.
These are cheap – as little as £1 each
A sink strainer
But traditional plungers like this worked
almost as well (cost £2-5)
Plungers are also safer than chemicals,
and cheaper in the long run.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance CHS Homes
How to use a plunger to unblock
a sink or bath
1 Block up the overflow with wet tissue
or similar. This prevents the air which
is going to be forced down the trap
from escaping from the overflow
Power plunger
Another variation on the plunger is a power
plunger. To use one of these, fill the sink or
bath with a little water and ensure that the
overflow is blocked as in the picture above.
2 Using a suitable plunger, place the
end completely over the plug hole
for the sink or bath. Ensure there is
some water in it to create a seal.
3 Push down on the plunger several
times with both hands, this will
force water through the waste
pipe and dislodge the blockage.
Place the end of the power plunger
over the plug hole and pull up the
handle; this will suck in some water.
Now push the handle down fast and a jet of
water will be forced through the waste pipe
and this should remove any blockages.
It may be necessary to do this a few times.
CHS Homes Baths and bathroom sinks
Baths and bathroom sinks tend to
get blocked with a mixture of soap,
toothpaste and hair. To avoid the sink or
bath becoming blocked, buy a hair trap.
This sits over the plug hole/drain and stops
the hair going down and blocking the waste
pipe. These are cheap – they usually cost
£2-3 from any hardware shop and some
pet supply shops. Empty the trap into the
bin when it starts to get blocked up
with hair.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
up fat, soap and toothpaste. Note: never
use caustic soda. This is very dangerous
and it can damage plastic waste pipes.
Blocked toilets – how to
avoid them getting blocked
and how to unblock them
To avoid the toilet becoming blocked:
the only things that should go down
the toilet are human waste and toilet
paper. You should never put nappies,
baby wipes, sanitary towels, cotton
buds or cotton wool down the toilet:
wrap them in paper and put them in
the bin. Toilet blocks in plastic cages
that hang from the rim of the toilet can
sometimes fall in and block the toilet, so
we recommend that you do not use these.
Even if you take these precautions, toilets
sometimes become blocked by heavy
deposits and tissue paper. The blockage
usually occurs in the bend behind the toilet:
A hair trap
How to keep sinks and
baths running freely
You can help keep sinks and baths running
freely by flushing the waste pipes through
with boiling water and washing soda
crystals. Washing soda crystals can be
bought from supermarkets and hardware
shops. Empty the sink of water and pour
½ a packet of washing soda crystals into
and around the plug hole. Bring a kettle of
water to the boil and pour the whole kettle
full down the plug hole. The hot water will
dissolve the crystals, and the washing soda
solution will clean the waste pipes of built-
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance How to unblock a toilet
To unblock a toilet you will need:
• A plunger or power plunger (see
above). Use a plunger without a metal
disc, as these can damage the toilet
• A pair of rubber gloves
What to do
Do not keep flushing the toilet as this
can eventually cause the toilet to overflow.
If the toilet is full of water, bale the water
out into a bucket using a cup or similar,
leaving a normal amount in the bottom.
If the toilet is still blocked
You can try to break up the obstruction
using a piece of wire (from a wire coat
hanger), or you can buy a plumber’s snake.
This is a coiled metal wire with a handle
on one end and a metal head on the other.
You put the head end down the toilet and
turn the handle to break up the blockage.
Make sure you buy one that is suitable for
use in a toilet, and take care not to scratch
the bottom of the toilet. Toilet snakes cost
£10-15 from hardware shops.
Put some newspaper or old towels on the
floor around the toilet, in case some water
splashes out.
A typical plumber’s snake
To clear the blockage you need to force
water down the trap, which will usually
dislodge the blockage. This can be done
with a suitable plunger, by giving it 10 -15
hard pushes with both hands. Be prepared
to be splashed a little. Ensure the water in
the bowl is pushed at force through the trap
and this should clear the blockage.
CHS Homes
CHS Homes How to set your heating
and hot water controls
Heating Controls
The more control you have over your
heating the more energy you can save.
This section lists the controls necessary
for each type of heating system, and
explains their use. It focuses on the
controls you are likely to have
in your home.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
Room thermostat
A room thermostat works by sensing
the air temperature and switching on
the heating when the room temperature
falls below the thermostatic setting, and
switching it off once this temperature has
been reached. It reads the temperature
in the room where the thermostat is.
Central heating with radiators
and a boiler
A properly controlled system should have:
• A boiler thermostat
• A room thermostat
• A programmer
• A programmable room thermostat
(instead of separate programmer
and room thermostat)
• Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
Boiler thermostat
This is on your boiler. It controls the
temperature of the water flowing through
the radiators. If it is the only control on
the system, it should be set on high/
maximum in the winter, and low or halfway between maximum and minimum
in the spring and autumn. If there is also
a room thermostat and/or thermostatic
radiator valves, use these to control the
temperature in the rooms and set the
boiler thermostat at high/maximum.
Room thermostat
It should not be located near a radiator, or
other source of heat, or in a position which
is either sunny or draughty. This thermostat
should be set at a comfortable temperature
between about 18 and 21°C.
If you only have numbers on the
thermostat, check the temperature in the
room with a thermometer. It is very easy
to get used to heating that is set higher
than it needs to be, and this will waste
energy and make your heating bills high.
If you have no trouble keeping warm,
turning the thermostat down by 1°C could
save up to 10% on yearly heating bills.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance CHS Homes
Thermostatic radiator valves (TRVs)
Thermostatic radiator valves sense the
air temperature around them and control
the flow of water through the radiator
which they are fitted to. They help improve
comfort in your home by allowing you to set
different temperatures in different rooms.
This also helps you save money and energy.
Programmers allow you to set ‘On’ and
‘Off’ time periods. Some models switch
the central heating and hot water on and
off at the same time, while most allow the
hot water and heating to come on and go
off at different times. As a general rule, set
the system to come on half an hour before
you want the house to be warm, and go off
half an hour before you go out or go to bed.
If you change your routine, use the override button to switch it on or off. Some
systems have a button you can press
for an extra hour’s heating or hot water.
Avoid having the heating on for 24 hours
if possible. If it is very cold overnight, and
some heating is essential, low background
heating is better than leaving it on at the
daytime temperature. In this case, use the
room thermostat to adjust the temperature.
Never turn the radiator valves tightly off,
as this can cause them to jam. As a
general rule, setting the radiator valve
to the middle setting will produce a
comfortable temperature. Turning the
radiator valve higher will not make the
room heat up more quickly; it will lead to
the radiator continuing to heat the room
beyond the temperature you need, making
it uncomfortably hot and wasting energy.
There are many different timers, and it
is impossible to give detailed instructions
for all of them.
They are all either manual or digital, and
the following is a guide as to how the two
types should be programmed. Many of
them will have instructions written on them,
and while these can seem complicated,
working through them a step at a time
should help.
CHS Homes How to set a central
heating timer
Manual timers
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
1 Set the clock to the time of
day it is when you set the timer
(most use the 24 hour clock,
so 5pm is 17:00, for example)
2 If you want the heating to come on
in the morning, and stay on all day
until late in the evening, set button
number 1 to the time you want it to
come on, and button number 4 to the
time you want it to go off. Then set the
sliding control to “once” or “all day”
3 For heating that comes on for a while in
the morning, goes off during the day and
on again in the evening do the following:
• Set button number 1 to the time you
want it to come on in the morning
• Set button number 2 to the time you
want it to go off in the morning
• Set button number 3 to the time you
want it to come on in the evening
• Set button number 4 to the time you
want it to go off in the evening
• Set the sliding control to
“twice” or “auto”
4 If you need the heating on all the time,
set the sliding control to “constant” or
“on”. When the heating is on constant
or on the positioning of the buttons only
applies to the hot water which can be
set in the same way as for the heating
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance Digital timers
CHS Homes
Most digital timers have instructions on
them, often inside the flap covering the
setting buttons. Some allow you to set
the hot water and heating separately,
and to have different settings for each
day. For example, you might need
different settings at the weekend.
All timers are different, but the
following steps will be necessary:
1 Set the day and the time now.
Move the slider to “Clock” or “Time”.
The time will be set using + or – buttons
2 Set the times you want the heating
to come on and go off. There will
be a button to select “heating” or
“hot water”, and probably another
to register or set each setting
3 There will probably be a way to copy
these settings for the next day if you
wish, or you can set each day separately
4 Do the same for the hot water
5 Select “twice” (turns on and off at the
times you set), “once” (comes on at the
time you set in the morning and goes off
at the time you set in the evening, so it is
on all day), “on” (on all the time) or “off”
CHS Homes Electric Storage Heaters
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
The Output control controls how much
heat is given out by the heater. This should
be turned down when you go to bed or go
out, and adjusted if the room is too warm.
Some newer heaters have an automatic
charge control which regulates the
amount of heat stored according to
the temperature of the room, or the
temperature outside. Some output
controls include a room
thermostat and a timer.
These heaters use cheaper off-peak
(Economy 7) electricity during the night.
They store the heat, which is then given out
when it is needed during the day. They have
two controls, one called Input (may be
called “Auto-set control”, or “Charge”), the
other called Output (“Room temperature”,
or “Boost”).
The Input control controls how much heat
is stored in the heater. In winter turn this
to a higher setting to make sure enough
heat is stored. Between 3 and 5 is usually
right, but you may need to experiment to
work out the right setting for you. Turn
them down in spring and autumn, when
some heating is still needed. In summer,
turn the heater off at the wall socket.
Some people find that they need to
use an extra heater later in the evening,
usually an electric heater. This will be
much more expensive to run than the
storage heater, so check that the output
control is on maximum before you decide
to use extra heating. Remember to turn
it back to low before you go to bed.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance Hot Water Controls
Boiler or hot water cylinder?
If you have central heating, your hot water
will normally be heated by your boiler,
which will look something like this:
Hot water tank with jacket
Boilers are usually mounted on the wall
in the kitchen, but they may be in another
room, and sometimes they are at low
level, under a work surface, for example.
Hot water tank + immersion heater
Some central heating systems also
have a hot water tank, which is usually
found in the airing cupboard. You will
also have a hot water tank if you have
electric storage heaters. It will either
be covered with foam insulation or
have an insulating jacket fitted to it.
Insulated hot water tank
— Thermostat
CHS Homes
CHS Homes Thermostat
This may be on the hot water tank or
on the boiler if this is a Combi boiler.
The temperature usually recommended
is 60°C, high enough to kill off bacteria.
If the thermostat is on the outside of your
tank it will usually look something like this:
Use a small screwdriver to turn the
dial to set the temperature you want.
Immersion heater
An immersion heater is fitted to the hot
water tank to provide back-up in case
your boiler is not working. If you have
electric heating, it will be your only water
heater. There may be 1 or 2 immersion
heaters fitted to your hot water tank.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
If you have an immersion heater and you
need to change the setting of your hot
water temperature, please contact us
and we will come and set it for you.
If you have electric heating there may be a
timer that allows you to set when your hot
water comes on and goes off. If you have
central heating, there will be a switch to
turn on your immersion heater if you need
hot water and your boiler isn’t working.
Programmer or timer
The water heating can be programmed
in the same way as the central heating.
Usually they can be programmed
separately so that if the heating is on all
day, you may only need hot water for a
short time in the morning and evening.
Think about what times of the day you
need hot water; you may need it in the
morning, for washing, showers etc. and
in the evening, for washing up, baths etc.
You may only need the water heating on for
an hour in the morning and an hour in the
evening. Experiment to see what suits you.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance CHS Homes
No hot water or no heating
If you have electric heating (electric
storage heaters) try the following:
If you have central heating (a boiler
with radiators) try the following:
• Are the electric switches near the
storage heaters turned on?
• Room Thermostat (if fitted) - this will
normally be in the hallway, if this is
turned down or your home is sufficiently
warm, the heating may not come on
• Is the Input dial on the storage heater
(may be called “Auto-set control”,
or “Charge”) at the right setting?
• Thermostatic Radiator Valves (if fitted)
-if all the valves have been turned to
the * symbol they will not allow the
radiators to become hot (except the
radiator without one which should
be hot). Turn them to 3 and see
if the radiators become warm
• Timer / Programmer - has this been
set correctly? Check the time of day
(24hr clock), the on/off times of the
radiators, and the hot water heating
if a non combination boiler (combi)
• Has there been a power cut? When
the power is off most central heating
boilers will not work. If the electricity
supply is off or has been off for a long
time, the timer / programmer clock may
need to be reset using the 24hr clock
• Has the electric switch which is near
the boiler been switched off? If it
has then the boiler will not work
• Do you have enough credit in the gas
and / or electricity meter? If you have
run out of credit and have used the
emergency credit in either meter then
your heating and hot water will not work.
Has the gas supply been cut off?
• Is the timer that sets your water
heating to come on and go off set to
the correct time? If you have had a
power cut it may need to be re-set
• Is the switch to your immersion
heater turned on?
• Do you have enough credit in the
electricity meter? If you have run out of credit and have used the emergency
credit in the meter then your heating
and hot water will not work
Condensation and mould:
how to avoid it and how
to deal with it
What is condensation?
There is always some water in the air,
even if you cannot see it. As the air gets
cooler it can hold less water, so droplets
of water appear, especially on cold
surfaces. This is known as condensation.
Everyday examples of condensation
are when you see your breath in cold
weather, or when the mirror and windows
mist up when you have a bath.
CHS Homes Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
How can I recognise condensation?
Other forms of dampness such as
rising damp and leaks from plumbing
or through the walls or roof often leave
“tidemarks” or lines on the wall, as shown in the photo below.
Where does condensation happen?
Condensation can happen on any surface
that is cold enough. It usually happens in
places where there is little air movement,
such as in corners of rooms, behind large
pieces of furniture and in wardrobes and
cupboards. It also appears around
windows and on outside walls. Soft
furnishings, such as curtains, carpets,
sofas and beds, can also have
condensation form on them, and
often absorb moisture from the air.
Rising damp tidemark
Condensation does not leave a “tidemark”.
Condensation often leads to mould growth.
Mould can sometimes happen because
of dampness caused by leaks, but rarely
with rising dampness. If it is cold and the
dampness appears in the areas listed
earlier, then there is a good chance that
it is condensation. Condensation tends
to be worse in cold weather. Other forms
of dampness tend to be worse in wet
weather, except for plumbing leaks.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance The pictures below show mould growth on
walls and ceilings caused by condensation
CHS Homes
How can I prevent condensation?
To prevent condensation you need to:
1 Reduce the amount of water
going into the air in your home
2 Increase the ventilation (air going in
and out) and heating of your home
Reduce the amount of water going
into the air
In the kitchen
• Put lids on boiling pans and
don’t leave kettles to boil
The picture below shows mould
in a bathroom cupboard
• Use extractor fans or open the window
slightly when you are cooking
• Keep the door closed when
you are cooking, even if you
have an extractor fan
CHS Homes Drying clothes
Dry clothes outside if possible
If you have to dry clothes inside,
dry them on a rack in the bathroom.
Keep the door closed and the window
slightly open
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
If you use a tumble dryer,
make sure the vent hose (if it has one) goes
outside, or use an indoor vent kit
Never dry clothes on radiators or in front
of a fire or a heater
Never use portable gas or paraffin heaters
because these put a lot of water into the air
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance In the bathroom
Use extractor fans or open the window
slightly when you use the shower or run
a bath, and afterwards until all the steam
has gone
CHS Homes
Ventilate – let the air in (and out)
It is important to remove condensation
and excess moisture by ventilating rooms.
You can ventilate a room without making
draughts or causing it to become cold.
To do this, you may only need to open
the window slightly or open the trickle
vent that can often be found on new
UPVC windows. This allows warm (but
moist) air to escape to the outside and let
in cool (but dry) air. Make sure large ground
floor windows are shut when you go out.
• Run the cold water into the bath
before the hot water – this helps to
reduce the amount of steam created
• Keep the bathroom door shut during
and after you shower or take a bath,
even if you have an extractor fan
Wipe up water on windows and sills
Wipe up any water that gathers on
windows and sills every morning
Let the air move around inside
your home
Clear window sills of clutter that will restrict
opening the window
• Wring the cloth out rather than
drying it on a radiator
• Leave space between the back
of furniture and cold walls
• Place furniture against
inside walls if possible
• Ventilate cupboards and wardrobes
and avoid overfilling them as
this prevents air circulating
• Leave bedroom and living room doors
open to let the air move around
CHS Homes Heat your home a little more
In cold weather, the best way to keep rooms
warm and avoid condensation is to keep
low background heat on all day, rather than
short bursts of high heat when you are in
the house. Make sure that bedrooms and
any unused rooms are heated – use the
radiator valves to ensure a low level of heat.
Section 6 | Repairs and maintenance
• After treatment, redecorate using
a good quality fungicidal paint to
help prevent mould coming back.
This paint is not effective if covered
with ordinary paints or wallpaper
• Continue to take steps to reduce
condensation in your home
• Put the heating on for at least 3 hours
at a time
• Set the heating to come on an hour before
you get up, and go off an hour after you
leave for work. In the evening, set it to
come on an hour before you get home,
and go off an hour after you go to bed
Getting rid of mould
If mould grows on your walls, ceilings
etc, this is what you need to do:
• Do not disturb mould by brushing or
vacuum cleaning. This can increase
the risk of breathing problems
Trouble paying for heating?
Contact us for advice
• Wipe off mould growth
immediately with a wet cloth. Do not use washing up liquid
We know that many people
on low incomes struggle to
pay their heating bills.
• To kill and remove mould growth, wipe
down affected areas with a fungicidal
wash or spray. This is available from a
hardware or DIY store or supermarket.
You should choose a product which
carries a Heath & Safety Executive
‘approval number’. Always follow the
instructions carefully. Do not use bleach
• Dry-clean clothes affected by
mildew and shampoo carpets
Our New Horizons Money Matters
advice service may be able to help
you increase your income and save
money on your heating costs. The
service is free to all CHS customers.
Contact us for further details:
please phone Customer Services
on 0300 111 3555, email us at, or call in
to our Histon office for further details.
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