Maintaining Your Property

Please see our advice below for help with minor repairs.  If you cannot find help on this page please call us on 0208 221 4000.

  • As we’ve said before on these pages, damp and condensation look similar but are two different things with very different causes (also have a look at the condensation pages for information and advice). How to tell the difference between damp and condensation. There are two types of damp:
  • Penetrating damp – this is where water gets into the inside walls from the outside. This is usually caused by problems with pipes, gutters, holes in roofs and leaks in window frames.
  • Rising damp: this can be because there’s a problem with the building’s damp proof course (DPC) or damp proof membrane (DPM). It can also be caused by the outside ground levels being high.
  • If you think your home has a problem with damp, please call our customer service line team on 020 8221 4000. If your home is newly built it could be damp because water used during the construction (in plaster, for example) is still drying out. If your home is damp it can cause mould on your walls and furniture and rot wooden window frames.Damp homes encourage mites and can sometimes increase the risk of breathing problems. When we visit we can tell you if your problems are caused by damp from the outside or because of condensation. Most problems we deal with are caused by condensations and, the good thing is, in most cases, you can do things to ease the problem. You can see more advice here too.
  • Where there is mould you can treat it very easily.
  • To kill and remove mould, wipe down walls and window frames with a fungicidal wash, be careful to follow the instructions precisely. These are available from most supermarkets. But vinegar and lemon juice can also work very well After washing down surfaces as described above, they can be painted with a good quality fungicidal paint
  • Dry-cleaning can get rid of mildew on clothes
  • Shampoo will remove it from carpets
  • It is not a good idea to disturb mould by brushing or vacuuming it as this can increase the risk of breathing problems
  • In cold weather, keep low background heating on all day, even when no one is at home. Local Space appreciate that heating your home can be costly and that keeping heating on when you’re out could appear wasteful, but if it is at a low level the boiler will not have to work as hard to reheat the home. A few tips:
    • Don’t block permanent wall ventilators or grills in rooms
    • Don’t completely block chimneys
  • Insulation and draught proofing will help keep your home warm and cut fuel bills. And condensation is less likely when the whole home is warmer.If you don’t have loft insulation then please get in touch with us, you may quality for free draught proofing. The numbers you need are here.
  • Through the daily routine of showers, baths, boiling kettles, cooking, drying clothes and breathing a family of four will contribute approximately four pints of water per person a day, equal to over 100 pints of water vapor a week. Before the days of double glazing, wall and loft insulation this humid, stale air would find its escape route through ill-fitting windows, doors, and lofts. It would be replaced by fresher, colder air – a draught! Three important factors that cause condensation:
    • The level of moisture in the air
    • The temperature of the air in your home
    • The surface temperature of the windows
  • Tips to reduce condensation:
    • Try to keep the inside temperature reasonably constant
    • Avoid drying clothes indoors
    • Do not dry clothes over any radiators
    • Ensure tumble driers are properly vented or the condensate is regularly emptied
    • Keep furniture away from walls
    • Do not disable extractor fans
    • Ensure extractor fans are well maintained and adequate
  • Many people will choose to open a window to remove condensation within the home, the problem with this is that the weather outdoors tends to have more moisture and a higher humidity than indoors – causing more condensation problems when you close the window. Having humidity levels of 50% or higher in your home can damage your property and can make allergies and asthma problems worse.
  • Air fresheners and toilet cleaners that attach to the rim of the toilet pan should be fastened securely to make sure they don’t fall off
  • Only flush away things designed to go down the toilet
  • Put things like disposable nappies and sanitary towels in a bin
  • If you’ve got young children in the house, put the lid down on the toilet when it’s not being used
  • If we have to send someone out to unblock the toilet and it’s blocked because of things like nappies, toys and air fresheners, you may be charged for the work
  • If the toilet pan is already full, remove most of the water with a jug or an old mug into a bucket or bowl
  • Push the toilet brush or plunger to the bottom of the pan and pump up and down hard 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 plunging and then flushing several times before the toilet flushes normally
  • Do not use plungers with a metal disk. These can chip or crack the toilet bowl
  • Make sure you’ve got rid of as much water as you can
  • Place a bowl underneath the pipe that goes from the plug hole (this is called the waste 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 joints are screwed tightly
  • Bail out most of the water using a cup, or something similar, and throw the water away down another drain
  • Hold a cloth or rag firmly over the overflow opening (towards the top of the sink) and place a plunger over the drain hole
  • Pump the plunger up and down rapidly until the blockage has moved and the water drains away. If this doesn’t work, see the next bit of advice here to suggest what to do next
  • You can buy plungers from most DIY shops (like Homebase or Wickes) and some local shops and supermarkets
  • Before you finish, clean out the waste trap
  • And we recommend you clean the area with a special drain cleaning product, which can be bought from most supermarkets or DIY stores
  • If your bath, sink or toilet is blocked, you’ll need to follow the instructions here to clear it.Blockages are normally caused by a build-up of things like fat, tea leaves and hair or because things have been put down the toilet that don’t belong, such as the plastic toilet cleaners, disposable nappies or toys. But if more than one of your rooms has a blockage (say your bathroom and your kitchen) you might have a problem further down in the sewage pipes or drainage system. If this is the case you’ll need to call us. The numbers are here.
  • We all know that energy is expensive, so here are some tips on how to save money and make running your home cheaper. There are some simple ways to save money and reduce your carbon footprint around your home:
    • If you have central heating turn down the main thermostat a couple of degrees and use the timer to keep the temperature constant. It’s cheaper to keep a room a constant temperature than heat from cold several times a day
    • If your home gets so hot you need to open windows to cool it down you’re wasting energy. Experiment with temperatures that you’re comfortable with, try starting at 20°C
    • If when you run a basin of hot water you have to add lots of cold water to avoid burning yourself, then the hot water thermostat is too high, turn it down a few degrees
    • Avoid using a tumble dryer. Using a washing line is cheaper. If you have to use a tumble dryer and space permitting, use a stand alone dryer as it is more energy efficient than using a washer/dryer combination
    • When boiling a kettle only fill it with the amount of water you need; boiling a whole kettle of water for one cup of tea boil wastes a load of energy (and a lot of water, if you empty the kettle each time you boil it)
  • There are many different central heating systems in our homes so we can’t give you detailed advice here on how to make your heating work properly
  • Please have a look at your heating manual for more information
  • If you don’t have a manual, call us (click here for the numbers) and we’ll send you one
  • If there’s a problem with a plug socket (the socket is the bit that’s in the wall), ring us and we’ll sort it out
  • But if there’s a problem with the plug itself, you’ll have to solve the problem
  • Each plug needs a fuse to make it work
  • We don’t supply plugs. You have to buy them yourself
  • You also need to buy the fuses
  • Fuses come in different sizes. You need to use the right one for the appliance
  • You’ll find out what is needed on the plug or on the wire coming from the appliance
  • Don’t overload sockets with multi-plugs or multi-plug extension leads
  • Some of the common reasons, and things to avoid are:
    • Too many appliances being used at the same time
    • A faulty electrical appliance (or one that’s not being used in the right way)
    • Over filled kettles
    • Unclean toasters
    • Cooker rings worn out or cracked
    • Faulty immersion heaters
    • Faulty connections on leads to appliances, like computers, TV, etc
    • Light bulbs blowing
  • The fuse box/consumer unit may show you which room or area is tripping (the areas they link to are sometimes named in the box)
  • If it does, you can just concentrate on that area
  • If it doesn’t, you’ll have to look at it room by room
  • Go around the house looking for the room where either the lights or the things plugged in aren’t working
  • Unplug everything in that room and switch off the immersion heater too
  • Switch the tripped switch to the ON position again
  • And then plug things in again one by one until the trip goes again
  • When it goes off again, you’ll know the last thing you put in was what’s causing the problem
  • If it is one of our appliances, report it to us as a repair.
  • Open the cover on the consumer unit (which most people call the fuse box) to show the 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. If you need any help call us on 0208 221 4000. 
  • If it trips again, this probably means that you have a problem with something you have plugged in and you will need to work out what it is (see the next section for more help)
  • 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, which means if there’s a problem with your electrics (or something plugged into it) it will automatically go off
  • Your electricity can go off for many different reasons. It may be a problem with a fuse or something you’ve had plugged in, or a problem with your mains supply. Warning:
    • Never touch the electricity company’s fuse and seals
    • If you’re not sure what to do, contact us. Click here for the numbers.
  • If you need to turn off all the electricity (because water has got in or for some other reason), use the main ON/OFF switch on the consumer unit, which some people call the fuse box
  • Do not touch the plugs or appliances but turn it off at the meter, if that is still dry and safe
  • If you’re not sure how to do this then please do not touch the meter. We’ll arrange for an electrician to come to you
  • You should know where your main stopcock is and check that it turns easily so you can shut off the water supply if you need to
  • It’s usually where the water pipe enters the house or near the kitchen sink
  • Also find out where the gate valves for the hot and cold water tanks are
  • Turning them off should stop the water flow
  • Turn off the water at the main stopcock, and any gate valves from the water tank, and switch off any water heaters, if you have any
  • Report it to us immediately. Click here for the numbers.
  • If you have a small leak in a pipe, put a bowl or bucket underneath the leak
  • And, if possible lay down newspapers or towels to soak up any water or dampness
  • And then call and report the repair
  • If you do not report the problem or try to limit the damaged caused by the leak, you may be charged for any damage caused