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Your step by step guide to the most common repairs | Sandwell Council

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Your step by step guide to the most common repairs

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The following information is designed to help you diagnose your repair item quickly, and help us to provide a speedier, more efficient repairs service.

You may use the information in this section to give us accurate details of your repair.

By utilising this guide, try to be as specific as possible when describing your repair. The more detail we are given, the quicker we will be able to diagnose the problem and rectify the cause.

GUTTERING AND RAINWATER PIPES
Information we need when you call us...

Please check the following:

  • Is there a blockage in the system? If so, where? (front, side or rear)
  • Is there a leak? If so, where? (front side or rear).
  • Are any of the sections broken? If so, how many?
  • Is your system iron or plastic?

Drains and waste pipes are blocked
Your first step...

  • Check to see if you can remove the blockage yourself.

Information we need when you call us...

  • Where is the blockage?
  • Is water backing up in your toilet?
  • Is there any damage to your home i.e. flooding?

Waste pipes are leaking
Your first step...

  • Stop using the appliance (sink, basin or bath) until we visit. This will prevent the leak from getting any worse or causing more damage.

ROOFS
Tiles or slates are missing
Your first step...

  • If there is water leaking into your house that could affect the electrics, switch off the power at the mains.

Information we need when you call us...

  • How many storeys does your house have?
  • Can you see from where the slates or tiles are missing? If so, how many are missing and where are they front, rear or side).
  • If there is water coming in from the roof, which rooms are affected?
  • Try to prevent the leak from causing any more damage.

Damage to flat roof
Your first step...

  • If there is water leaking into your house, that could affect the electrics, switch off the power at the mains.

Information we need when you call us...

  • If there is water coming into your home, which rooms are affected?
  • Try to prevent the leak from causing any more damage.

CHIMNEYS
Information we need when you call us...

  • Is the damage affecting the brick, chimney pot, or lead flashing?
  • Is the chimney shared with your neighbour's property?

WINDOWS 
Broken window pane

Information we need when you call us...

  • Is the window single or double-glazed?
  • Is it clear or patterned glass?
  • How did the damage happen?
  • If the breakage was a result of vandalism or crime, you will need a police crime number before you report it (if you do not, we will not carry out the repair).

The window frame is jammed or sticking
Information we need when you call us...

  • What type of window is it?
  • What type of window frame is it? (Wood, plastic or metal for example)
  • Which room is it in, and on what floor?
  • Can you see any reason for this? (i.e. loose putty, rotting frames, etc)
  • Has the frame been recently painted?

DOORS
The door is jammed or sticking

Information we need when you call us...

  • Which door is affected? (Outside, or internal door and what room)
  • If it is an outside door
  • Can you see any reason for this? (i.e. warping/bending)
  • Has the door been recently painted?
  • What type of door is it?
  • Are you unable to get into your home?
  • Have you had carpets fitted recently, which may be preventing opening?

The glass in the door is broken
Information we need when you call us...

  • Which door is affected? (Outside, or internal door)

DOOR LOCKS
The striking plate for the lock should be fixed to the door frame.
If the lock is sticking you should try oiling it through the keyhole.
If you have lost or broken your key, you will be charged for us to force entry and change the lock.

Information we need when you call us...

  • Which lock is affected and is there a second lock on the door?
  • What type of lock is it? (Refer to diagrams)
  • Has the door been forced open?
  • What is the door made of? (wood, plastic, metal)
  • Is your home no longer secure?

 How was it broken?

  • Is your home no longer secure?
  • Is it single or double-glazed?
  • Is it clear or patterned glass?
  • What is the door made of?
  • If the breakage was a result of vandalism or crime, we will require the incident to be reported to the Police and for you to provide us with the crime number.
  • All other circumstantial work may be rechargeable

WALLS AND CEILINGS
Damp

  • Damp on ceilings may be caused by plumbing equipment, rainwater getting into the house, or faulty seals around baths, showers, etc.
  • Damp caused by external factors, will only appear on external walls. Often near windows or close to gutters on rainwater pipes.
  • Rising damp is caused by water from the ground getting into damp-proof courses. Sometimes causing floor tiles to lift and discoloured patches to appear on walls.
  • Mould on walls is usually a symptom of condensation and can generally be just wiped clean. However, you should report it if the problem gets worse

Information we need to know when you call us...

  • Does the damp only appear when it has been raining?
  • Is the damp on an external or internal wall/ceiling?
  • Is there damage to the inside of the property?
  • Is the damp patch near electrical items? If so, these should be switched off until the repair has been carried out.

Plaster
You should report a bulging ceiling immediately.

There could be several reasons for plaster flaking off ceilings or walls. Many buildings experience some minor movement, which can cause plaster
cracks. These should be dealt with by yourself when preparing to redecorate.
If they re-occur, you should contact the Repairs Contact Centre for an inspection.

JOINERY
Loose floorboards
Information we need when you call us...

  • Where is the problem?
  • How big an area is affected?

Uneven or broken stairs
Information we need when you call us...

  • What part of the stairs is faulty?
  • Are the stairs part of your own home, or part of a communal block?
  • How many stairs are affected?
  • Are the stairs wooden or concrete?

IN THE KITCHEN
Cupboards
Information we need when you call us...

  • Which unit is damaged?
  • Which part of the unit is damaged?
  • What is the size and colour of the unit?
  • How did the damage happen?
  • If the handles are broken, what type are they?

The sink unit is blocked
Your first step...

  • Check to see if you can clear the blockage yourself.

Information we need when you call us...

  • What caused/is causing the blockage?

WATER
Shutting off your water supply

At times we may need you to turn off your water supply. You should make sure you know where your stopcock is. It is wise to test it twice a year to make sure it is working. You can do this by shutting it off to check it closes, then opening it fully. Then close it slightly by turning it a little towards off.

Note - if you do have to turn off your water supply, you may also need to turn off your heating system.

Some items, such as a toilet cistern, have their own isolation valves, so the water supply to this item can be turned off without it affecting anything else in your property. If this is not the case, you may be able to turn the supply off at the gate valves on the pipes coming in from the cold/water tanks.
 

LEAKS
Your first step...

  • If the water is collecting near electrical fittings, turn off the electricity at the mains (for more information refer to turning off the mains)
  • If you have shut off the water supply, you may also have to turn off your central heating system and immersion heater.

Information we need when you call us...

  • If there is a leak, can you see where the water is coming from?
  • Which item of equipment is affected?
  • Is the leak from the cold water or hot-water supply?
  • How serious is the leak?
  • Are your electrics affected? If so turn off immediately!

IN THE BATHROOM
Toilet

  • A toilet that will not empty when flushed is possibly blocked in the pan outlet.
  • A leak can happen at the soil joint.
  • A leak can also happen on the flush pipe, or the joint between it and the pan (the cone joint).

Overflow system
There can be a problem with the cistern, causing it not to fill up. If you lift the lid, you may be able to see if this is the case.
 
Your first step...

  • You may be able to take temporary action while waiting for your toilet overflow to be repaired. Tie the float in the up position. This will close the ball valve and will shut off the water supply to the cistern.
  • Turn off the cold water supply at the stopcock.

Information we need when you call us...

  • Which overflow is causing the problem? (i.e. the toilet, the cold water tank, etc)
  • Where does the overflow run out? (e.g. outside front, rear or side)
  • Is the overflow running continuously?

The toilet will not flush
Your first step...

  • Has the water authority mentioned the water may be turned off?
  • Lift the lid on the cistern to see if the flushing arm has become detached from the siphon.

Information we need when you call us...

  • Is this the only toilet in the house?
  • Is the cistern filling properly?
  • Is the cold water supply running?
  • Are there any broken parts inside the cistern?

The toilet is leaking
Your first step...

  • Try to prevent the leak from causing more damage.
  • Turn off the cold water supply at the stopcock.

Information we need when you call us...

  • How serious is the leak?
  • Is the pan cracked or are any pipes or joints leaking?
  • Does the toilet only leak when it is flushed?

SINKS, BASINS, BATHS AND SHOWERS
Faulty taps

  1. TAP HEAD (handle) - may become loose.
  2. RETAINING SCREW - may be missing.
  3. WASHER - A worn washer may prevent the tap from turning properly.
  4. BASE - A tap can also be loose or leaking from the base.

Your first step...

  • You may need to turn off the water supply at the stopcock

Information we need when you call us...

  • What type of tap is it?
  • Where is the tap? (i.e. kitchen, bathroom, bath, sink, wash basin, etc).
  • What is the problem? (loose handle, dripping, etc).

Blocked sink
All washbasins are fitted with a trap. Many have a bottle trap like the one pictured. These can be easily removed and cleaned if there is a blockage.

To clean a trap:

  • Make sure both taps are turned off.
  • Place a bucket or bowl underneath to catch water.
  • Unscrew the relevant sections and clean them out.
  • Replace the trap, making sure it is tightly fitted.

Damaged sink or basin
Information we need when you call us...

  • Is it your kitchen or bathroom sink that is damaged?
  • What is the problem? (i.e. blockage, leak or crack).
  • If the leak is on a supply pipe, is it the hot or cold?
  • If the sink is blocked, what type of trap is it? Have you tried to clean it yourself?
  • How did the damage happen?

Baths
Damaged sealant between the bath and the splashback tiles will need attention to prevent water seeping through.

Leaks may occur from:

  • Overflow - if the bath is overfilled
  • Waste pipes - when the bath is emptied
  • Supply pipes - (at any time)

Your first step...

  • Check where the leak is coming from (which pipes).
  • Check the sealant between the bath and the splashback tiles.

Information we need when you call us...

  • If there is a leak, which pipe is it from?
  • If the leak is from a supply pipe, is it the cold or hot water one?
  • If it is the overflow pipe, where does it empty out?
  • If any of the tiles are damaged, how many?
  • Has the leak caused any other damage to your home?

Water Heaters
It is common for homes to have a hot water cylinder. An electric immersion heater incorporating an integral thermostat to control the temperature heats the water.

If an immersion heater is fitted there will be a nearby power switch and perhaps a timer (Economy 7) similar to the one pictured.

It is also common for the cylinder to be heated from a boiler, which can be either independent of, or part of a central heating system.

The temperature of the water in this case may be controlled by a thermostat fixed to the outside of the cylinder, Economy Time switch for hot water, or, you may have a different type of heater in your home, such as a gas/fired instantaneous water heater.
 
Information we need when you call us...

  • What type of heating system do you have?
  • Do you have hot water at any time, or not at all?
  • Is the water cylinder hot, even when hot water is coming through the taps?
  • Do you have any other ways of heating water in your home?
  • Do you have water supply problems?

HEATING SYSTEMS
The radiator does not heat up
If your radiator does not heat up, it may be due to air in the system. You should try to bleed them.
This can be done with a radiator key.

Only open the valve enough to let the air out. Do not open it fully as hot water will flow out. When you open the valve it will hiss as the air passes through. Once the hissing stops and water starts to appear, the radiator is free of air and you should close the valve tightly.

Your first step...

  • Try bleeding the radiator (as shown in the diagram overleaf).
  • Make sure the radiator valve is turned on fully.

Information we need when you call us...

  • Have you tried to bleed the radiator?
  • Is the room thermostat set high enough?

Faulty boiler
Your first step...

  • Check to see if the power is still on.
  • Has the pilot light gone out?
  • Is the boiler thermostat set high enough?
  • Is the room thermostat set high enough?

Information we need when you call us...

  • What type of heating system do you have?
  • What type of fuel does your system use? (Gas, electric or solid fuel)
  • Does your heating system also provide the hot water?

Electric heating
Storage heaters, convector heaters, panel heaters, wall fires.
Your first step...

  • Ensure the control switch adjacent to the heaters is in the ON position.
  • Ensure control settings are appropriately set.

Information we need when you call us...

  • What is the problem?
  • Which heater is it?
  • What is the make and model of the heater?
  • Are there any problems with your electricity supply?

Note: Following a repair to a storage heater, you may need to wait for an overnight charge before it can be used again.

Safety Note: Do not put clothes, fabrics etc on the heaters. Do not block air outlet grilles. Do not sit or stand on the heater.

Smoke Detectors/Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Detectors should be checked weekly.

  • Check power supply indicator light is on   (mains type)
  • Test sounder for 10 seconds
  • Remove any contamination from external surfaces with narrow nozzle vacuum
  • Do not remove batteries from detectors
  • Do not paint external surfaces of detectors
  • If the alarm fails to sound when tested, report it to us
  •  If the smoke detector 'chirps' occasionally, this may be an indication that the battery needs replacing. (Even mains systems contain a back-up battery for use in the event of a power failure). Detectors can also 'chirp' occasionally if the temperature drops too low, this stops when the temperature rises.

Note - In the event of a false alarm due to cooking, it will help the alarm stop if you create a supply of fresh air.

ELECTRIC FITTINGS
Lights

Always take care with electrical equipment and fittings.

Problems such as flickering lights, exposed wires, overheating sockets, smell of burning or any
event of a serious risk of life or property should be reported immediately.

Where possible the appropriate circuit e.g. lighting, power should be switched off.

Telephone the Customer Services Team immediately on 0121 569 6000. Outside normal working hours you should ring the emergency out of hours free phone: 0800 844112

Power failure
Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs) Automatically switch off if there is a fault on the circuit and/or appliance

The Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB) is a large switch with test button. This will also automatically switch off if there is a fault.

Your first step...

  • Check if your neighbours have also had a power failure, if so this is a problem for your supply authority and you should contact them.
  • If it is only affecting your home you should locate your consumer unit/fuse box and check if the RCCB or any of the MCBs are in the off position. Switch off main, switch reset RCCB/MCB and switch back on.

Loss of Supply to Power Sockets, Cookers, Lighting etc.

  • Check if any trip switches (RCCB/MCBs) are in the off position.
  • Switch off or unplug any appliances, cooking equipment or blown lighting bulb that may have caused the trip switch to operate.
  • Reset any trip switches.
  • Switch off at main switch, identify and replace any blown fuses (use correct rating fusewire or barrel fuse). Switch back on. If any trip switch fails to reset or fuses continue to blow contact the Operations and Development Centre.

If it is an appliance or tenant's own fitting causing the loss of supply then it is your responsibility to have it repaired or replaced.

GAS
Sandwell has its own Gas Services team responsible for carrying out the annual gas safety checks to all Council owned gas appliances, flue systems and gas pipework installed in your property.

We will also carry out repairs to Council owned gas appliances, providing the appliance has not been subjected to vandalism.

When Council-owned gas appliances become obsolete and spare parts are no longer available we will replace the appliance.

The tenant must pay for a repair if the damage is caused deliberately, through neglect or carelessness by yourself, members of your household, visitors or friends.

The following telephone numbers can be used for contacting the Gas Services team.

Breakdown and appointments 0121 569 6000

Out of Hours Emergencies only 0800 844 112

An out of hours Emergency Call Out Service is available for the following situations only:

  • Elderly/Disabled pensioners where the gas central heating system has failed totally and a visit has been requested. Even if alternative form of heating is available.
  • Addresses where total heating failure has occurred and there is no alternative form of heating from any other source available.
  • Excessive water leaking from central heating systems.

Suspected gas leaks or fumes from gas appliances must be reported to National Grid on their emergency freephone telephone number:
0800 111 999

Annual Gas Safety Inspection
During the visit when the gas safety check is being carried out we will carry out a free of charge visual inspection on privately owned gas appliances.
You will be informed of any defects noted on the appliance, which must be repaired by a gas safe registered installer of your choice.

Privately owned radiant log or coal fuel effect gas fires fitted to a class 1 flue or similar will have a free-of-charge gas safety check carried out. You will be informed of any defects noted on the appliance, which must be repaired by a Gas Safe registered installer of your choice.

The appointment for carrying out the annual gas safety checks on gas appliances will be made by the gas team who will send a letter to notify you 7-10 days prior to your appointment.

Sandwell Council has a legal obligation to ensure that all gas appliances, flues and gas pipework owned by them are checked for safety every year.
 
It is very much in the interest of the occupier
of the property to allow access to the property on the appointed date to carry out this work as gas appliances that operate without regular safety checks can result in carbon monoxide poisoning and ultimately death.

If you fail to keep appointments and we are unable to gain access to your property on a number of occasions, arrangements will be made to gain entry by force and any costs associated with this course of action will be passed on to the tenant.

To avoid this action we ask for your co-operation in allowing our gas service engineer access to your property on the appointed date to carry
out the works.

REDUCE THE RISK OF
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

NEVER     Use a gas appliance if you think it is not working correctly. Look out for signs that include yellow or orange flames, soot or staining around the appliance and pilot lights that frequently blow out.
NEVER     Cover up a gas appliance. 
NEVER     Block or obstruct any internal or externally fixed ventilation grille or airbrick.
NEVER     Block or cover any internal or externally fitted flue from a gas appliance.
NEVER     Allow an unqualified gas fitter or person to install or carry out works on your gas appliances, or attempt the work yourself. (All qualified Gas fitters are registered with Gas Safe and must present an up to date Gas Safe identification card)
CARE!       Whenever draft exclusion, double-glazing or a conservatory extension is fitted to a room containing a gas appliance, the appliance must be checked for safety as soon as the work is complete.
ALWAYS  Allow your Landlord to complete these annual safety inspections.

Gas Leaks
If you smell gas, think you have a gas leak, or are worried that fumes containing carbon monoxide are escaping from a gas appliance: Turn your Gas supply off at the meter.

Please call the free National Grid Gas emergency line immediately on: 0800 111 999
This is a 24-hour emergency line.

DO           Turn off the meter at the control valve 
DO           Put out any naked flames
DO           Open doors and windows 
DO           Keep people away from the affected area
DON'T     Smoke or strike any matches 
DON'T     Turn electrical switches on or off