Simple DIY

It is your responsibility to carry out minor repairs needed in your property. This page tells you how to do some of these basic DIY repairs.

Turning off your water supply

Stop valve

Every house or flat should have one main stop valve which turns off the water in an emergency. These valves can be found:

  • in a duct near the entrance to the house or flat;
  • underneath the floorboards near the front door;
  • underneath the kitchen sink or
  • underneath the stairs in a cupboard.

Other valves which turn off individual appliances can be found:

  • under the bath, basin or sink;
  • in an airing cupboard or
  • in a duct casing.

Check to see if a service valve is fitted on the supply pipe to the tap. If so, the water can be turned off temporarily. To turn off, turn the screw on the valve a quarter turn.

Replacing tap washers

To re-washer a tap, you will have to turn off the water first (see above). Once you have turned the water off, open the tap and let the remaining water drain out.

1. Using a screwdriver, remove the handle of the tap.
2. Using a spanner, open the tap body.
3. Renew the washer or turn it around.
4. Then tighten the two parts of the tap body again and refit the handle.

If in doubt, please ring us on 020 8709 4300.

Unblocking a sink or basin

Blockages are caused by food and other waste getting stuck in the u-bend or pipes. A simple plunger is the best way of clearing this. Don't use strong chemicals, especially caustic soda. If they don't work you will have a sink full of nasty liquid to deal with.

Remove as much of the water as you can from the basin by bailing it out with a cup. Seal the overflow by holding a cloth over it. Pleace the plunger over the plug hole and pump up and down quickly. This pushes and pulls the blockage apart. This should clear it.

Cleaning the u-bend or trap

If you can't clear the blocked sink with the plunger the next step is to take the u-bend or trap apart. Modern plastic traps are easy to take apart without tools as they unscrew.

Put a bowl under the trap. This will catch the water trapped in the pipes. Unscrew the joints and remove the trap. Don't lose the rubber seal rings that are with them. About a pint of water will come out into the bowl.

Remember not to use the taps or pour water into the sink. It will go all over the floor until you replace the trap.

Clean the trap. Use an old toothbrush and hot water. Put it back together, making sure all the rubber rings are in the right place and the joints are screwed up tight. Run some water and check that there are no leaks from the joints.

Fat waste

Hot fat poured down the sink can cause blockages as it goes solid in water. Try warming the u-bend gently with a hair-dryer. This should soften the fat for a minute and once the water starts to go down, run the hot tap for two minutes to flush it away.

Replacing a toilet seat

Replacement toilet seats will fit most standard toilets. However, unless you buy a replacement seat from the same manufacturer as the toilet bowl, there is no guarantee that the seat will fit.

To remove the existing toilet seat
To remove the seat, lift the cover up using a flat screwdriver to expose the retaining screw. Simply unscrew the screws and the whole seat lifts of the mounting holes.

To fasten a new seat to the toilet pan
The two hinges must be pushed into the two holes in the seat and lid and must face the way shown. If you put these on the wrong way round it is almost impossible to get to the screws to tighten them. The covers must also be in place as shown before fastening to the toilet.

Changing a cylinder lock

Standard cylinder locks are also called night latch locks or Yale locks. They are fitted on the front door, whcih should also have a 5-lever mortice lock. Both are easy to remove and replace with screwdrivers. Remember, you don't need to buy the whole lock set, just the cylinder.

1. Undo the screw on the lock body and remove it (keep the screws safe).
2. Undo the two long mounting plate screws.
3. Take out the old cylinder.
4. Check the length of the old metal strip against the new one. If it's shorter, cut the new cylinder to match the length of the old one. Hold the metal strip with a pair of pliers and cut along the line with a junior hacksaw.
5. Put the new cylinder into the hole from the outside and secure it to the mounting plate from the inside of the door with the old connecting screws.