On this page you will find Frequently Asked Questions regarding Home Maintenance in your Wythenshawe Community Housing Group property.
This also includes information on Leaks, Pipes and Damp, Condensation and Asbestos Management here at WCHG.
If you can't find what your looking for please don't hesitate to contact us.
Home Maintenance FAQ's
When you move in to your new home, it’s a good idea to get to know how your heating and hot water system operate. It’s also important that you know where your fuse box is and how to switch off your water and gas supply.
Ask your Tenancy Management Officer if you are not sure where your stop tap, fuse box, gas tap, boiler or water tank is located. In an emergency it will really help if you have completed the table below:
|Important equipment||Where it is?|
|Mains water valve|
|Electric fuse box and trip switch|
|Gas supply tap|
|Central heating boiler|
|Cold water storage tank|
|Hot water tank (if no combi-boiler)|
When you move in, there are gas and safety checks that need to be done. These checks cannot be done until you have moved in and switched on the supply.
Your Tenancy Management Officer will tell you about any outstanding checks/repairs at your letting interview. If you discover other repairs are required once you have moved in, please report these to the Customer Services Team on 0800 633 5500 or 0300 111 0000.
Bleeding a radiator
If the top part of a radiator is cold, this is because air is trapped in the system. Bleeding the radiator releases this air and allows hot water to fill the whole system.
Do not bleed if
Do not bleed the radiators if you have a combination boiler: this type of boiler will have either a pressure gauge or a low pressure light on the front of the boiler, and you will probably not have a hot water cylinder.
- If the whole radiator is cold, check that the radiator valve is open. If more than one radiator is cold, the whole heating system will need to be checked by a plumber.
- Turn off the heating system before bleeding; otherwise the pump might draw more air into the system.
- You will need a special radiator key, available from most DIY and hardware shops. You will also need a rag or cloth and a bucket or bowl.
How to bleed
The bleed valve is the small square nut at the top end of the radiator. Place the key over the valve and hold the cloth around it to catch any water. Gently turn the key anti-clockwise until you hear a hiss – this is the air being released. When water starts to come through, turn the key back clockwise to shut the valve off. DO NOT unscrew the valve completely as the plug will come right out.
Fuse or trip switch
Check your consumer unit or fuse box: it will either have fuses or trip switches. Modern electric circuits are fitted with a circuit breaker fuse system: if a fault develops, a switch is tripped and the circuit is broken. Older ones have fuse holders and when the fuse is blown it must either be replaced, or rewired using special fuse wire of the correct amperage. Only replace a fuse if you are confident you can do it safely, and have a replacement of the same amperage. If in doubt contact us or a qualified electrician.
Setting a trip switch
Open the cover on the consumer unit to expose the trip switches. The consumer unit is usually next to the electricity meter. Check which switches have tripped to the OFF position and put them back to the ON position. For more detail, refer to any handbook supplied.
If tripping occurs again
It is probably being caused by a faulty appliance. You need to identify which circuit is affected and which appliance on that circuit is causing a problem.
Which appliance is faulty?
Go around the house noting which set of lights or sockets are not working. Unplug all appliances on that problem circuit and switch off the immersion heater. Switch the tripped switch to the ON position and plug in the appliances one by one until the trip goes again. Leave that appliance unplugged. If one of our appliances is at fault, report the repair; otherwise get it fixed yourself by a qualified electrician or service engineer.
What causes it to trip or blow a fuse?
- An overloaded circuit.
- Too many appliances being used at the same time.
- A faulty or misused appliance.
- Overfilled kettles.
- Unclean toasters.
- Cooker rings worn out or cracked.
- Faulty immersion heaters.
- Faulty connections on leads to appliances e.g. hi-fi, TV, etc.
- Light bulbs blowing.
The socket outlets in your home will take square pin plugs. The plug which you require will have a fuse inside it. We do not supply plugs and you will have to obtain them yourself. To find out the correct type of fuse to fit in a plug check the rating plate on the appliance, do not overload plug sockets by using multiple plug adaptors.
- Never tamper with the electricity company’s fuse and seals.
- Never take any action unless you are confident you can do it safely.
How to set a digital timer
Check the clock is showing the correct time. If not, put the timer switch to ‘clock’ and adjust the time using the ‘forward’ and ‘reverse’ buttons. Reset the timer switch to ‘auto’. Set the ‘heating’ and ‘hot water’ switches to come on once, twice, or stay on all the time, as you require. During freezing spells, keep the heating on all the time, and turn the thermostat down during the night and if you are out all day.
How to set a clock timer
Turn the clock until it is showing the correct time. Decide when you want the heating to come on and go off and set the pins or arrows for those times (see below for how to change pins and arrows). Set the timer switch to ‘timer’ or ‘auto’ as appropriate to the unit. During freezing spells, keep the heating on all the time, and turn the thermostat down during the nigh and if you are out all day.
How to control the temperature
To set the thermostat turn the dial so that the arrow or marker is against the temperature setting you want. A comfortable temperature is between 18°C and 22°C.
Changing pins on time clock
Push them in against any time you want the heating to come on. Pull them out against any time you want the heating to go off.
Changing arrows on time clock
Slide the ‘on’ arrows (usually red) around the clock to the time when you want the heating to come on. Slide the ‘off arrows (usually blue) around to the times when you want the heating to go off.
Blockages and Overflows
Clearing a sink or bath blockage
Bail out most of the water using a suitable container. Hold a rag firmly over the overflow opening and place a plunger over the drain hole. Pump the plunger up and down rapidly. Plungers can be obtained from most DIY shops. After clearing the blockage, it is advisable to clean out the trap.
Cleaning out a waste trap
First bail out any excess water from the bath, basin, or sink using a jug or bowl. Place a bowl underneath the trap and unscrew the joints to remove the trap. Clean thoroughly and replace the trap, checking that the seals are in place and that all the joints are screwed up tightly.
If more than one fitting is blocked
The problem may be in the soil stack or main drain. This will need to be cleared by one of our contractors. Blockages are usually caused by the build up of fat, tea leaves, hair etc. It is advisable to clean wastes with hot water and soda crystals.
Clearing a blocked WC
If the pan is already full, remove some of the water into a suitable container using a jug or bowl. Push the toilet brush or plunger up and down vigorously about 10 times. This creates a vacuum and pressure which may shift the blockage. Check by flushing the toilet to see whether the blockage has gone. You may need to repeat the process several time before the toilet flushes normally. Do not use plungers with a metal disk, as these may crack the toilet bowl.
Air fresheners that attach to the rim of the toilet pan should be fastened securely to ensure they do not fall in and cause a blockage. Blockages are usually caused by unusual objects: nappies, toys, sanitary towels, air fresheners, etc. If such a blockage occurs as a result of one or several of these objects becoming lodged, you may be charged for clearing the blockage.
To stop an overflow
If the toilet cistern is overflowing try lifting the float to close the ball valve: if this stops the overflow, try to tie it up, using a piece of wood and some string as in the diagram.
You can do the same with a cold water storage tank as a temporary measure
All our front line staff have regular asbestos training to identify and manage asbestos in our homes and places of work. We have a comprehensive asbestos policy to ensure training, management and control of asbestos is in line with current legislation.
As part of the management of asbestos, we record and monitor any asbestos tested and found or thereafter, removed on a database. For asbestos retained in the home or indeed our offices and communal areas, the material will be regularly monitored for its condition and will be removed if we deem it necessary.
Where we use contractors to test, monitor or remove asbestos, we ensure they have the appropriate accreditation and are licensed to carry out the task and that all the work is recorded. Prior to operatives attending appointments to carry out work, they will be provided with any asbestos information we hold on our database. If on attendance at a property, they feel a material should be tested, this will be carried out before work proceeds
Leaks Pipes & Damp FAQ's
Damp can cause mould on walls and furniture, and make wooden window frames rot.
Some damp is caused by condensation. There’s always some moisture in the air, even if you can’t see it. If the air gets colder, it can’t hold all the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. You notice it when you see your breath on a cold day, or when the mirror mists over when you have a bath.
Condensation is mostly a problem in cold weather – whether it’s raining or dry. It appears on cold surfaces and in places where there is little air movement – in corners, on or near windows, in or behind wardrobes and cupboards.
Condensation isn’t the only cause of damp. It can also come from:
- Leaking pipes, waste and overflows – see how to prevent burst and leaks in cold weather.
- Rain penetrating gaps in the brickwork, roof, window frames, and around doors.
- Rising damp due to a faulty damp proof course.
Meanwhile if your home is damp for any of these reasons it may take weeks of heating and ventilation to dry out. You also need to tackle the cause of the problem to stop it coming back and damaging your home even more. You can report the problem online.
There is no point removing mould if you haven’t removed the cause. So stop condensation first.
To remove mould:
- Wipe down walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash – make sure it carries a Health and Safety Executive approval number. Follow the instructions carefully.
- Dry-clean mildewed clothes and shampoo carpets.
- After treatment, redecorate using a good quality fungicidal paint. Don’t paint over with ordinary paints or wall papers.
When pipes leak
Place a dish or bowl underneath the leak. Pull back any carpets and lay down newspapers or towels to absorb any dampness.
When pipes burst
Turn off the water at the main stop tap, and switch off any water heaters. Open all taps to drain water from the system.
Can it be isolated?
Some items of equipment may have their own isolation valve (either a gate valve, or service valve). If not, you may be able to isolate the fault by just turning off a gate valve on a pipe coming out of the cold water tank. This will leave you with some services, even though it may be cold water at the kitchen tap. You could then temporarily flush toilets using a bucket of cold water.
If electrical fittings get wet, do not touch and turn off the electricity at the meter.
When ceilings bulge
To prevent the ceiling falling down, place a bucket under the bulge and pierce a small hole to let the water through.
When pipes freeze
Turn off the water at the main stop tap and open the cold taps. It is best to leave the pipes frozen, but you may try to thaw the pipe using hot water bottles or a hairdryer. Take great care and do not use a blow lamp. Take care to thaw from one end of the frozen section and not from the middle. Conserve hot water until the pipes are thawed.
Know where your main stop tap is and check that it turns easily and is able to shut off the water supply. It is usually where the water pipe enters the house or near the kitchen sink. Get to know where the gas valves for the hot and cold water tanks are. If you go away for a few days in winter, lower the setting on your central heating room thermostat but leave the heating on.
Follow these tips to cut condensation and drive out damp and mould.
Produce less moisture
Some ordinary daily activities produce a lot of moisture very quickly. So:
- Cover pans and don’t leave kettles boiling.
- Do not use paraffin or portable bottle gas heaters – you would be breaking your tenancy agreement if you used things like this.
- Dry washing outdoors. If it’s raining, put it in a room with a fan on, like the bathroom or kitchen, and close the door.
- If you have a tumble dryer put the outlet pipe through an outside wall using a fixed dryer vent kit, not out of a window
Ventilate to remove moisture
You can ventilate your home without making draughts. So:
- Keep a small window ajar, or open a window-ventilator if you have one, when someone is in the room.
- In the morning open a window at the front of the property and one at the back to create a draught and remove the moisture built up during the night and from washing/showering in the morning.
- Close kitchen and bathroom doors when the rooms are in use, even if you have an extractor fan, to stop moisture reaching other rooms.
- Don’t put too many things in wardrobes and cupboards – it stops the air circulating.
- If you replace your windows, make sure they have ventilators – you need our permission to put in new windows.
- Don’t block ventilators or chimneys.
Insulate, draught proof and heat your home
Keep your home warm, and help cut fuel bills. When the whole home is warmer, condensation is less likely. So:
- Insulate your loft – but don’t block the openings or under the eaves.
- In cold weather, keep the heating on low all day – even when there’s no one at home.
- Draught-proof windows and doors – but get rid of mould and condensation first. Don’t draught-proof bathrooms, kitchens or rooms with a cooker or gas fire.
Hot tips for cold snaps
Winter weather can burst your pipes and ruin your home. Follow these hot tips to keep the warmth in and the plumber out!
Prevention is better than cure
Find your stopcock – the tap that turns off the main water supply. Find it now rather than look for it when there’s water pouring everywhere! It’s probably in the kitchen near the sink.
Get to know your heating controls. Central heating thermostats and time switches are complicated. Get advice from a heating engineer or energy advisor. Contact Manchester City Council’s energy experts for more information.
When you’re at home
If you have central heating use the thermostat to keep the temperature comfortable. During the day a good setting is between 18°C and 22°C. If it’s freezing outside set the heating to stay on continuously, but turn the thermostat lower for the night. Remember, the higher the thermostat the more fuel you use.
When you’re away
If you’ve got central heating and you’re away in cold weather, leave the heating on continuously with the thermostat right down to 6°C. This will stop your pipes freezing, but it won’t cost much. If you haven’t got central heating turn the water off at the stopcock and drain off all the cold water. Then turn off the immersion heater. If you have a solid fuel boiler, let the fire die out. Then drain off all the hot water.
If you are experiencing frozen pipes, please follow the tips below to assist in getting the water supply back to your home.
If your have no water, firstly check whether neighbours are similarly affected. If they also have no water, contact United Utilities on 0845 746 2200. If they have water but you don’t, your pipes are probably frozen, so:
- Locate your main stop tap (usually under the sink or closest to where water supply enters your property).
- Check your stop tap to see if it’s working. If it is, turn it off to minimise problems when your pipes thaw. If there’s a stopcock on the system side of the header tank, turn this off to stop water leaving the tank.
If you are confident in DIY, please follow the next steps to thaw your pipes:
- Before you start to thaw the system, do what you can to protect or remove anything which might be damaged by the thawing water running from a potential burst.
- Check all visible pipes for damage or evidence of freezing.
- Turn the COLD taps nearest to the frozen part of the pipe on, so water can escape when pipes are thawed – but don’t turn HOT taps on until the central heating or immersion heater is switched off.
- Apply a hot water bottle to affected pipes or use a hairdryer in short bursts but take care, the pipe may burst as it thaws and spray water. NEVER use a naked flame. Do not use a blow lamp or heat gun. Keep heat away from water meters.
- Once pipes are thawed, allow water to flow until normal flow is restored – then insulate pipes.
- Turn off your tap and insulate your pipe work to prevent further freezing or provide additional heating in the affected area.
- If necessary get some water from your neighbour.
If none of the above has helped please call Wythenshawe Community Housing Group on 0300 111 0000 or 0800 633 5500.