After Your Home
is best to have a regular routine in place when it comes to
the maintenance of your property. This not only helps reduce
long term costs and inconvenience but in case of emergency
it can save time.
Pipes that are Frozen
pipes that are exposed to freezing temperatures, can cause
the water inside them to freeze. Vulnerable pipes are usually
found in lofts and gardens. You can install a frost stat to
your central heating system, this will make sure that the
boiler generates warm flowing water around the pipes should
the temperature at the thermostat reach dangerous low levels.
Make sure that tanks and pipes inside the loft are in good
condition and that they are well lagged. Make sure that you
know where your water stopcock is located and that it turns
freely. Test it every now and again, and if it won't turn
easily call out a plumber. If you are going away make sure
you leave your heating on to keep a moderate air temperature.
Check internal pipe work for signs of damage and missing lagging.
The first signs of a freezing pipe is usually a reduction
in pressure at the tap. You can defrost pipes using gentle
heat with an electric hairdryer or hot towels and try to warm
a wide area of the pipe evenly. You must never use a blow
torch. The pressure in frozen pipes builds up and causes it
to burst with nasty consequences. In the event of a burst
pipe, turn off the stopcock, which is usually underneath the
kitchen sink, below the stairs or in the basement or cellar.
After Finding Frozen Pipes
the water supply off at the main stopcock, drain all taps
by leaving them turned on and switch off the central heating
system and immersion heater.
DIY and Home Improvements
improvements around the house hardly ever run smoothly. Here
are some useful tips for when you carry out any work: Always
read any instructions carefully before starting any job. Do
not attempt any dangerous work alone. Try to work out how
long a job will take so you won't need to rush or cut corners.
Don't over-estimate your abilities or under-estimate the job
always use professional help if in any doubt. Always use the
correct tools for the job. If you are hiring any tools, make
sure you understand how to use the equipment before you leave
the shop. Be careful with electricity and use a circuit breaker
on electric tools for extra safety. Always follow ladder safety
guidelines - even for quick and simple jobs. Make sure you
have the right safety equipment, goggles, protective clothing
and shoes. Store flammable liquids and gases carefully.
Safety Guidelines for Ladders
always present a safety hazard within the home. Make sure
they are in good condition and that they are securely anchored
to the floor. Retain three points of contact to the ladder
at all times, for example, two feet, one hand. Never over
reach while you are on the ladder. Avoid any overhead power
cables. Never work in wet conditions and wear suitable protective
Flammable Liquids and Gases
and flammable liquids present serious fire and explosion risks
when used and stored in the home. Here is some advice for
using and storing these liquids: Store them out of direct
sunlight and away from any heat source. Electrical control
equipment and other potential fire ignition sources; preferably
in a locked metal container out of the reach of children.
Never allow smoking in the vicinity of the liquids, even shortly
after application. Dispose of quantities of flammable materials
effectively for example at your local council refuse centre.
Home Health Checks
your guttering and drainpipes for signs of damage or blockages.
It is recommended that leaves and other vegetation is cleared
from guttering at least annually. Airbricks: blockages in
airbricks in your building's walls reduce ventilation. This
can lead to condensation and damp problems which can encourage
rot. The outside of your home: check that no repairs are needed
to make the walls windows or roof weather-tight for winter.
Fences: do they need repairing to withstand winter storms?
Heating: get your heating checked before you need it! Make
sure your heating systems are serviced and inspected annually.
Check electrical leads and plugs to ensure they are in good
order with no signs of wear and tear. If open fires are used,
ensure chimneys are swept at least annually before seasonal
use. It is always recommended that electrical installations
within the home are checked every 10-15 years by a qualified
electrician. Check your guttering and drainpipes for signs
of damage, blockages. Ensure roofs, especially flat roofed
sections are in good order with no tiles/slates missing. Inspect
and repair any damaged paintwork around the exterior of the
home, ensuring rotted sections are treated as a priority.
In older houses brickwork may require attention, with re-pointing
required to exposed sections. Ensure external surface drains
are clear of blockages, vegetation. Check for dry and wet
Gas heating systems
boilers, fires and water heaters should be serviced or checked
once a year by a CORGI registered engineer. Gas appliances
can produce deadly carbon monoxide, if they aren't working
correctly or the ventilation becomes blocked. Carbon monoxide
is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas. Carbon monoxide
poisoning causes headaches, sleepiness, streaming eyes and
lack of energy; in extreme cases it can result in death. Always
protect your family with a carbon monoxide alarm. In addition
to yearly inspections, you can make your own Gas safety checks.
Gas Safety Checks
for any staining, soot or discoloration on the gas appliance
or nearby. Gas boilers should burn with a blue flame, not
an orange or yellow one. Check that you have not blocked ventilators
fitted into doors, windows or walls. If you smell gas, immediately
call Transco 24-hour gas emergency service on 0800 111 999.
roof is an extremely important part of your home and can be
very costly if it is neglected. Regular maintenance reduces
the chances of major damage: Tiles can be damaged by high
winds or frosts. Old, flaking or cracked tiles should be replaced
or fixed. They could fall causing danger to people, cars and
anything else below. Damaged roofs result in leaks that may
not necessarily manifest themselves immediately below where
the damage occurs. Roof maintenance is a job for experts as
they have the equipment that makes repairs and renovations.
Never climb onto a roof yourself, if you want to view it at
close quarters, stand back and use your binoculars
Wet Rot and Dry Rot
rot is a type of fungus which looks like cotton wool
and has a distinctive musty smell. It thrives in moist,
poorly ventilated conditions indoors. Dry rot infects
wood and masonry and can cause serious structural damage.
Affected brick, wood and plaster must be removed. Wet
rot attacks wood which is wet rather than damp. Look
for dark, rotten wood, split along the grain around
window sills, doors and frames. Rising damp is seen
by stains up to 90cm high on walls with a tidemark of
salts and peeling wallpaper. It is a sign that the damp-proof
course is breached. Check for stains on ceilings which
may be caused by fractured roof pipes or leaking water
tanks. Condensation also leads to rot.
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