Some simple DIYHealth
Okay, we know you’re not Bob the Builder but a little goes a long way especially when it’s your hot neighbour having the trouble. Remember, don’t try to be a hero – call your landlord or agency immediately if you have any emergencies.
Your own little tool box!
Have a quick rummage around at home for the following handy items: screwdrivers (flathead and crosshead), claw hammer, pen knife, pliers, spanner, spare fuses, screws, nails and duct tape (see the section on “Borrowing stuff from home”).
Turning the house supply of water off
To turn off your house supply, you need to locate your stop valve, which will usually be under the kitchen sink or a downstairs floorboard by the front door. Ask your landlord when you move in. Turn it clockwise to turn it off, and anticlockwise to turn it on. Remember “righty tighty, lefty loosey”. By turning this off, you haven’t cut off the water supply to taps in the house, as the cold water cistern will still be full.
Turning off the taps
The pipes to turn off the taps have a red/orange handle coming off them and may be located in either the airing cupboard (hot) or the attic (cold) and sometimes both will be located in the same place. Turn both handles clockwise to turn them off.
How do I unblock a sink/drain
Pour hot (not boiling) water down the plughole, and then use a plunger. Next, put on protective gloves and carefully pour soda crystals (caustic soda) down the plughole, using a length of stiff wire ( a wire hanger unfurled always works a charm) to dislodge any stubborn blockages. If this
doesn’t work, contact your landlord. Make a habit of regularly pouring drain cleaner down your drains to prevent grease sticking.
The toilet won’t stop flushing
Lift up the cistern cover and pull the plastic float as high up as possible to stop the water. Then phone your landlord and ask them to send a plumber round.
Take the drawers out and sandpaper down the wear marks to a smooth edge. Rub candle wax on the surface. Repeat inside the chest of drawers.
Re-setting the electricity ‘trip’ switch
‘Trip’ switches can be set off for loads of different reasons. This means that if you lose power in your house, it may well be the trip switch. Your landlord should have told you where the fuse box is (usually the hallway or under the stairs). Have a quick check of the appliances in the house first and see if you can find the problematic one. If you don’t find it, open the cover of the fuse box to expose the trip switches. Check which switches have been tripped to the OFF position and put them back to the ON position. If it trips again then you should unplug all appliances and start plugging them in again one by one to find out which appliance is setting it off. When you find the problematic appliance you should have it checked by an electrician. In the meantime don’t use it and make sure everyone else in the house doesn’t either.
How do I change a fuse?
Release the central screw that holds the two halves of the plug together, lever out the old fuse and replace it with a new one of the same amperage. Never use a fuse of different amperage. Put the plug back together.
Changing a plug
Most accidents with electricity in the home are caused by faulty or incorrectly wired plugs. The correct wiring of a plug is extremely important for your own safety. Please follow these guidelines carefully.
They cover the two most common types of plug used in this country – the 3-pin,13 Amp plug and the 2-pin, 16 Amp side-earth plug.
- Remove the cover and loosen the screws of the cord grip and the brass terminals.
- Measure the flex against the plug and strip the outer covering back as far as the cord grip, taking care not to cut through the coloured insulation on the wire strands.
- If the coloured cables have to be trimmed, ensure that they are long enough to reach the terminals without straining: allow for a little slack on the green/yellow earth wire.
- Strip about 10 mm (1/2 inch) of the coloured insulation from each core.
- BROWN to the LIVE (L) terminal; BLUE to the NEUTRAL (N) GREEN/YELLOW to the EARTH (E) terminal. Note: Some foreign appliances use different live colourings. If in doubt, ask an electrician.
- Pass the flex under the loosened cord grip,
- Twist the exposed wire strands of each core between the finger and thumb so that there are no loose strands. Double the twisted bare wire back on itself for about 5 mm and insert it fully into the hole in the appropriate terminal. Tighten the terminal screw firmly on the wire.
- Tighten the cord grip screws, making sure that the cord grip is clamped on the full outer covering of the cable and not on the inner cores.
- Replace the cover.
Note: If the appliance has a moulded plug fitted, this cannot be opened or re-wired. If it is damaged or faulty, it should be cut off and a new plug fitted as described above.
Never mess around with electricity or gas. If you are in any doubt at all, call an electrician or the gas company to deal with it, even if it’s just a seemingly simple job. Never take risks!