- Is the power supply to your boiler switched on? There is normally an isolation switch near to your boiler, so make sure the switch is turned on.
- Is the gas supply to your property turned on? Check that the Emergency Control Valve (ECV) hasn’t accidentally been turned to the off position. The valve is usually located by the gas meter, and there should be a label indicating which direction is ‘on’.
- Is your boiler switched on? Make sure that the normal operational lights are on and any displays are showing the normal display screen.
- If you have a pre-paid meter, check if you have credit on your key.
- If your boiler has a pilot light, ensure it is still lit. If not, re-light it in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- If your boiler doesn’t have a pilot light is there a warning light advising you to reset your appliance? If yes, do so in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Does your boiler have a warning light indicating low water pressure? This can be rectified in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Is your programmer on? Check to see if the display is present and showing the correct time. Ensure the timer is set in the ‘on’ position and the timer hasn’t been set for 4 am instead of 4 pm, for example.
- Is your thermostat set high enough? Ensure that your thermostat is set high enough, normally around 21 degrees Celsius.
If you have checked all of the above items and your boiler still doesn’t work, call our customer contact centre and we can then discuss the next steps to resolve the issue.
How to detect a water leak in your home
The first step to fixing a water leak is finding one. Of course, the best way to find a leak is to see it. Whilst you may not directly witness water dripping, other warning signs such as damp walls, floors and skirting board can indicate that there is a hidden issue. For example, I found a water leak under the bath of my new property when I noticed that there was significant discolouration on the wooden skirting board across the bottom. Upon further inspection, the wood was wet and soft, so I removed the bath panel and found the leak.
Alternatively, you can check your water usage. If it has gone up significantly without reason it could be due to a leak. When you suspect this, a good way to confirm it is to take a meter reading and wait two hours. Ensure not to use any water during this time and take another reading. If your usage has increased, this indicates there is a leak.
How to fix the most common leaks
One of the most common leaks is a dripping tap. This can happen for a number of reasons, which can range from something as simple as the tap not being fully turned off, to something more serious such as a damaged washer.
If you have a dripping tap, you should inspect the tap to determine the cause. Firstly, switch off the water supply to the tap, either using an isolator valve or stopcock. Then, if you feel comfortable to do so, open up the tap and inspect the washer.
If there is a build-up of debris, this can be easily cleaned away, however, if the washer is damaged then it needs to be replaced. If you aren’t comfortable doing this yourself, a local tradesperson will be able to assist.
Another common water leak is from a radiator, either from the valve or valve spindle or from corrosion or pipe coupling. Because of how a radiator is plumbed, a leak can cause significant damage to your floors, walls and even wiring so it’s vital it is resolved as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, it’s usually best to call in a plumber to resolve the issue so to limit the damage caused, so you should turn off the water supply to the radiator.
Plastic Water Pipe Joint
A leak from a plastic/PVC water pipe joint is usually an issue that you can fix yourself. It is important to remember that water can travel a long way along a pipe before it drips into a leak, so it may be an issue that is significantly higher up on the pipe than it appears. To establish where exactly the source of the leak is, you should thoroughly dry the area and watch to see where the water begins again.
Once you know the source of the leak, you should turn off the water either for the affected area only or at the mains supply, whichever is easiest.
If you feel confident, you can then start fixing the leak. You can remove and replace the section that is affected, however, this may require cutting tools and equipment that you don’t have.
Alternative, you can make an easy fix using products such as silicone or rubber repair tape, or repair epoxy.
Plastic Water Pipe
The process of fixing a leaking water pipe is very similar to fixing a plastic water pipe joint. Make sure you know where the leak is coming from, turn off the water supply and then either replace the affected pipe or use a quick fix such as tape or epoxy.
Alternatively, for a super quick fix, you can use a rubber and hose clamp to give you some time to get a plumber in to fix it.
Indicators that you have a burst pipe in the garden will be water coming up in the garden, or a large puddle without significant rainfall. Due to the difficulty in accessing the leaking water, the best course of action is to call a competent plumber to resolve this for you. Using the tips above will help you to detect the leak.
Leaks from a toilet can come from a number of places and can be either clean or dirty water. If the leak is coming from the bottom of the toilet or from the bowl, it is probably dirty water. You should immediately stop using the toilet if this is the case. You don’t want to cause damage to the floor and potentially the ceiling underneath with unhealthy water. When clearing up the leak you should have some disinfectant to hand.
To fix a leak coming from the base of the toilet, you may need to replace the rubber seal on the base or the wax ring. You should make sure the toilet is positioned correctly, and have an adjustable wrench to unscrew or tighten bolts. If you don’t feel confident tackling this repair yourself, you should call out your local plumber.
If the leak is coming from a crack in the bowl, then you need to replace the whole toilet.
A leak originating from the cistern may be from damage to the ballcock and float or from the feed line. Both of these faults can cause water to continually enter the tank and overflow. These issues may be fixable yourself through tricks such as readjusting the position of your ballcock and float.
Shower or Bath
Whether you have a shower enclosure or a bath, there are several aspects that can cause a leak. Ideally, you should check them all. Start with the seal around the plug hole and overflow wastewater pipe. If the seal is broken, then this can cause an overflow or leak.
You should also check the pipes that connect the water supply to the bath taps or shower hose. To detect this leak, you may need to remove the side panel of the bath. Shower pipes may, unfortunately, be hidden behind a wall. However, if you notice the tiles in your shower are lifting, this can indicate that there is a leak. Don’t let this leak continue, as it can cause significant damage.
Another common bath leak is caused when the silicone seal around the bathtub starts to degrade, allowing moisture through. It is important to reseal your bathtub regularly to prevent this issue, as it will naturally happen over time.
During a long, hot summer you may find yourself wishing for rain. Your lawn is dead and your plants are barely hanging on. The beautiful flowers are gone and all that remains is long expanses of dust, dirt and brown grass.
But summer is the perfect time to ensure your home is ready for Autumn and the rain that will once again dominate the weather forecast. The last thing you want is to find an issue in the middle of a storm.
Preparing the outside of your home
Check your roof
It’s better to do this before the weather turns, but we should all be in a routine of checking regularly. A leak in your roof can spiral into hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds worth of damage to your property.
Be on the lookout for any loose or missing tiles. Calling someone to fix a loose tile is better than trying to repair damage.
Clear your gutters and check they’re secure
Gutters are easily forgotten but are an integral part of your home. They deposit all running roof water into a drain, rather than falling freely and causing issues.
Keeping your gutters clear can help to prevent water damage to the rest of your home.
If you do see water overflowing along your gutters, this could indicate that you have a blockage. This will need clearing out.
If you aren’t confident doing this yourself, a local tradesperson should be able to help you relatively easily.
Protect valuable items
If you have valuable items in your garden, such as tables, chairs, or even a BBQ, it’s a good idea to cover them and secure them during bad weather. Even if they are waterproof, covering them will prolong their lifespan and keep them looking nicer for longer. This will also reduce the number of times you find yourself cleaning them.
If you have a shed, it’s the perfect place to store these items during heavy rain.
Clear your storm drains
While they’re not necessarily part of your home, keeping the storm drains on your street clear prevents flooding which can cause damage to your property.
Debris and rubbish can collect around storm drains, which reduces their effectiveness. This can cause a flood if all the drains along a road are blocked. Clearing this blockage will help increase the amount of water they can drain, and how quickly they can drain it.
If you notice the drains are clear but the water is still backing up, you should contact your local council and report this.
Preparing the inside of your home
Check the roof again
Check the inside of your roof by heading into the loft to make sure there are no leaks that are hidden from the outside. Wet or damp walls, mould or rotting wood indicates that you could potentially have an unchecked leak.
If you can see daylight through cracks or feel a draft, then water could get in. Anywhere light or a draft can get in, so can any water on your roof. If you notice any crack or leaks, you should make sure the area is secure and move any valuables away from the area.
This may seem like an obvious piece of advice, but if you don’t have a welcome mat then you will be bringing dirty rainwater into your home on your shoes. If you don’t have a welcome mat, a cheap alternative is to put down a couple of sheets of newspaper in the entrance to your home and leaving wet shoes to dry on a few more sheets.
Check window and door seals
If your windows and doors don’t seal properly, they can let in both the cold and the wet. A relatively cheap and easy solution is to invest in a waterproof draft excluder to block up any gaps at the bottom of your door.
Unfortunately, if the seal is letting in a significant amount of water, or water from a number of places, the only long-term solution may be replacing the door or window.
If you notice your roof is leaking, don’t panic.
Whether you can hear the water or see a spreading dark spot on your ceiling, it is time to act. A leak left unattended can cause significant damage.
The very first thing you should do if there is water dripping is to place a bucket under the leak. Top tip: to muffle the sound of the water dripping into the bucket, place a small wooden board across the bucket. You should then unplug and move any nearby electronics. These could be damaged and even cause a fire if they get wet. It’s important to minimize any potential hazards as quickly as possible.
If water is visibly spreading across the ceiling but has not broken through, you need to allow it to drain in a controlled manner. If the water continues to pool, it could cause your ceiling to collapse or leak into your walls, light fixtures and wiring. Use a ladder and a screwdriver to poke a hole in the middle of the ceiling. Have a bucket ready to catch it. Put some towels down on the floor to catch any water in case you miss with the bucket. Again, move any electrical items out of the room and minimize any other hazards.
Now that you are managing the leak, you need to find where the water is getting in. Go up into the loft (if this is possible) and look for any major gaps, holes, or visible damage. If you can’t detect any visible damage, look where the water is coming in. Keep in mind: the original hole may not be where the water is dripping. Water can travel a long way before becoming a visible leak, and the hole may be on the outside of your roof and flowing downwards before entering. Leave it to the professionals to check the outside of your roof.
To control the water that is getting into your loft, a temporary fix is waterproof roofing tape (known professionally as Flashing Tape or Flashband). You could also use roof and gutter sealant. These items can be purchased at most home improvement shops and are great to have to hand should anything happen.
Following these steps will minimise the damage to your home but you will want your local roofers to come as soon as possible to asses the situation and find a permanent solution.
Due to our climate, British homes are built to keep the heat in to see us through cold winters. This can become an issue, however, when we come into summer and the temperatures are setting record heights. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says 2019 has an “almost certain” or “99.9% chance” of ending among the 10 warmest years on record.
A Mintel report in 2008 found that just 0.5% of houses and flats in the UK have any kind of air-con, which leaves many homeowners turning to fast, cheap remedies for cooling rooms filled with unbearable hot air.
This is what the experts have to say for how to cool a room down fast.
1. Encourage airflow
Sometimes simply opening a window is not enough to cool down a room. Ideally, you should open 2 windows that are in line with each other, or at least on opposite sides of the room. This will encourage air to flow freely through the room, creating a nice breeze.
If this isn’t an option for you, you can try placing a fan in front of an open window. The back of the fan should face the window blowing the air into the room. This means the fan will draw the cool air from outside.
2. Avoid appliances that generate heat
Almost all electrical appliances will generate a small amount of heat when in use. Small electrical appliances are unlikely to make that big of an impact, but appliances such as your oven, tumble dryer, hairdryer and even your dishwasher can kick out a lot of heat.
If you are really struggling with the heat, you should try to avoid using these appliances altogether. Swap your tumble dryer for an indoor airier. Swap cooked meals for a light, refreshing salad or other meal that requires no cooking.
3. Block out the sunlight
Our first instinct on a sunny day may be to open all the curtains to let the light in, but this can seriously disadvantage you when you are trying to keep your home cool. Heat will creep in through your windows and the glass can even have a magnifying effect, making the room hotter.
Ideally, you should open the window and close the curtains. This will block out the heat and direct sunlight whilst allowing cool air inside. If your curtains are thin and ineffective to block out the sun, draping bed covers over the window can be an alternative.
4. Keep cool at night
One of the best tips to keep cool at night is to fully open your curtains and windows once the sun has set. Once the sun has gone down, the outside temperature will drop and you can use this to cool your home. If you have double-hung windows, see if the top will open as well as they often do.
Because heat rises, one easy way to keep cool is to lower your sleeping area. This might be as simple to sleeping in a room that is lower in your house or moving your mattress to the floor.
Another great idea is to invest in a good fan, a cooling pillow and some gel cooling packs. A cooling pillow is specifically designed to draw heat away from your head which in turn will help to cool your whole body. A gel cooling pack (or even a frozen hot water bottle) in bed will work wonders to keep you cool. Sleeping under lightweight covers and 100% cotton sheets during summer will also help to keep the heat at bay.
5. Change your fan setting
Whether you have a ceiling fan, or another cooling fan, adjusting its setting can be an easy way to keep a room cool. During colder weather, a ceiling fan spinning clockwise will be best for distributing warm air throughout the room. Therefore, during summer, a ceiling fan running anticlockwise will distribute cool air. The majority of ceiling fans will have a little switch on the side which will change the direction of the fan blades.
6. Keep doors closed
Cooling down an entire house is going to take significantly more time and effort than cooling down a single room. Where possible keep doors to rooms you aren’t using closed. This will prevent hot air from wafting around your home. Closing the door will trap the heat in that room, meaning you can cool down your other rooms more effectively.
7. Ice and fans
One effective, if a little strange, method to cooling down a room is using ice alongside your fan. Position a shallow bowl of ice or a frozen hot water bottle behind your fan and it will distribute the cool temperature around your room.
To keep cool at night, you can mimic this tip by using a small fan and a spray bottle of chilled water.
UPVC is one of the most commonly used building materials for many modern homes, but very few people actually know what UPVC is and why it’s used. UPVC is an abbreviation of unplasticised polyvinyl chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is a sturdy but lightweight material which is normally made flexible by combining it with other plasticisers. UPVC hasn’t had these plasticisers added, so it remains strong and rigid, which makes it perfect for construction.
The most common uses for UPVC is doors, windows and guttering because it can withstand being exposed to the elements. It can withstand wind and rain, however, heat can cause it to expand. Whilst it shouldn’t cause any of your components to break, it isn’t ideal.
Expanding UPVC can cause issues with opening, shutting or locking doors and windows.
As it cools down, it will return to it’s original size. However, it can be an annoyance if it is a warm summer night and you need to lock up before going to bed. A quick fix is to try pouring cold water over the frame. You can also use a cold, damp cloth.
If that doesn’t resolve the issue, you can try to adjust your hinges. UPVC doors are fitted with easy to alter ‘flag’ hinges, which are specifically designed to accommodate for heat expansion. However, adjusting the hinges could be a problem. While it solves the issue in the short term when the door shrinks back, you may struggle to close it again so would need adjusting again.
If the problem keeps happening, it may be worth altering the size of your door or have it replaced. For example, is your door catching on the bottom of the frame? You could consider shaving some length of the bottom of the door. This can be risky if you don’t know what you’re doing so it may be worth seeking professional advice first.
So, should you avoid using UPVC?
It does have many benefits. It’s easy to keep clean, robust in design, can withstand wet and cold weather and is often more affordable than wood or aluminium. Heat expansion is a worry as there is a possibility you will need to replace your doors and windows sooner than you’d like. It’s not that UPVC is a bad building material, after all, it is the popular choice for building materials, it’s just deciding if it is the right choice for you.
With the annual Gas Safety Week hosted by Gas Safe fast approaching, we are again reminded of how important it is to be gas safe.
The figures from last year’s Gas Safety Week revealed that 76% of people own a smoke alarm but less than half of people (47%) own an audible carbon monoxide alarm. Carbon monoxide is known as the silent killer because it can’t be seen, tasted or smelt. Every year there are around 60 deaths from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning in England and Wales. The main risk for carbon monoxide poisoning is unsafe gas appliances, such as your boiler or gas hob. The Gas Safe Register recommends the gas appliances should be checked annually. One in four of the 2,000 UK adults polled don’t follow this guidance, and a shocking one in ten don’t even know if their appliance is Gas Safe registered.
Gas Safe Register recommends six simple steps to stay gas safe:
- Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer
- Double-check both sides of your engineer’s Gas Safe Register ID card. This way you know that they’re registered and qualified to work on your gas appliances.
- Have all gas appliances serviced and safety checked every year.
- Familiarise yourself with the six signs of CO poisoning. These are: headaches, dizziness, breathlessness, nausea, collapse and loss of consciousness
- Check appliances for warning signs that they are not working properly. These signs are black marks or stains on or around the appliance, lazy yellow flames instead of crisp blue ones and condensation around the room
- Fit an audible carbon monoxide alarm for a second line of defence against carbon monoxide poisoning.
It is a legal requirement that all gas engineers must be on the Gas Safe Register. Our dedicated Supply Chain Team perform thorough checks to ensure all engineers working for our contractors are compliant. You can rest easy that any install, repairs or services are being done by a registered professional, so you know you are getting the best possible service.
You can follow along and support Gas Safety Week with the hashtag #gsw19