Questions about Repairs & Maintenance

If something breaks in my home do I have to fix it?

This depends on if you own or rent your home and what kind of repair is needed.

Go to our Who is responsible for what? page for more information for renters and Homeowner’s Info – Repairs & Home Improvements if you are a leaseholder or shared owner.

How do I report a repair?

Go to our Report a Repair page to report a repair with our repairs contractor, Gilmartins.

What should I do if I have a problem with my gas/electricity, or I smell gas?

If you have a problem with your gas or electricity, you should contact your supplier.

If you have lost power, check with your neighbours to see if it is just your home or if they are having problems too. If they are also having problems, contact your provider for assistance – check your last bill or in the phone book to find their emergency call-out number.

If the problem only relates to your home, check your electric box – the fuses may just have ‘tripped’ and you can just turn the switches back on. If you have a key meter, check you still have credit on it.

If none of these actions restore your electricity, report this as a repair.

If you smell gas, do not use a naked flame, smoke or turn on any electrical switches. Open windows and doors and check you have not left any gas appliance switched on. If you can, turn your gas supply off, call the National Grid on 0800 111 999 and wait outside.

I have a repair – when will it be looked at?

We base how quickly we respond to repairs on how dangerous they are to your health and safety, or how much they affect your ability to live in your home comfortably.

Repairs that seriously impact the ability to live in your home comfortably, or that may affect your health and safety, will be attended to within 24 hours. Depending on the severity of the issue we may attend sooner should this be deemed to be necessary.

All other repairs will be organised with you at your own convenience. This means the person who you report the repair to will assess the situation and determine if it is an emergency. If it is not an emergency, they will arrange a time and date that is convenient for yourself, for a contractor to come and do the repair.

Who will do the repair?

Our repairs are mainly carried out by our repairs partner, Gilmartins.

You may be surveyed after you have had a repair, this is so we can ensure you can give us feedback on the repairs service.

I reported a repair but I haven’t heard anything back?

Please contact the appropriate contractor carrying out the repair to ensure it was logged successfully.

There seems to be an infestation in my home - what should I do?

This depends on where your home is and what kind of animal or insect it is.

  • If the infestation is in your home, you are responsible for getting rid of the infestation
  • If the infestation is in a communal area, please contact our repairs contractor, Gilmartins, as it is our responsibility to get rid of it

If the infestation is something that is not mice, rats or squirrels, please keep in mind:

  • Some bees are a protected species so cannot be removed
  • Birds who have made a nest cannot be removed until their young have left

I’m worried about a tree in the garden – it looks dangerous, what should I do?

This depends on if you have your own garden, or if you share it with your neighbours.

  • If you have your own garden: You should cut back trees and make sure they are safe. If you feel that you won’t be able to manage a tree in your garden, please let us know. Depending on your tenancy agreement we may be able to manage this for you.
  • If you share your garden with your neighbours: We are responsible for the trees so if you see one that you feel may be dangerous, please let us know and we will send a professional to look at it to see if any works need done.

Every 3 years we send a professional to look at the trees in shared gardens to see if they need any work done. This is part of our ‘Tree Management Programme’ and is there to make sure the trees at your home are safe. If you don’t share your garden with your neighbours but you have a tree you don’t feel you can manage, let us know so we can add it to our programme.

I have no water/severely low water pressure in my property, what should I do?

If you find you have no water in your home, eg. you turn on a tap but nothing comes out, or you have incredibly low water pressure, eg. you turn on the tap but the water only trickles or comes out very slowly, please contact your water supplier first to see if there are any issues in your area.

You can find who your water supplier is from a recent water bill or by visiting https://www.ofwat.gov.uk/consumerissues/watercompanies/map/#sew

Once you find your supplier they should have a contact number or website. If you check their website and cannot find anything to do with an outage in your area straight away, check the company’s twitter page to see if there have been any mentions of an incident near your home as you may find people in areas around you are having a similar problem.

If they do not already have a record of an incident in your area, report this problem to the water supplier.

If you are receiving some water in your home, eg. water is coming out of your kitchen tap (or a different mains point) but nowhere else in your home, please report this as a repair.

My radiator is on but it’s not giving off any heat, what should I do?

If your heating is on and not giving off heat, you might need to ‘bleed’ the radiator as trapped air is causing cold spots. You should double-check all the radiators in your home to see if this is happening to them too – look for if they are warm at the bottom but cold at the top (if not, they will need to be looked at by one of our gas contractors).

Please note: Those with ‘combination boilers’ or underfloor heating should contact their heating contractor below if there are any problems with the heating in their homes.

If you are unsure about anything, please contact us first.

To bleed your radiator you will probably need a ‘radiator key’ (available for around £2 or less online or in hardware shops). If you have a newer radiator you might be able to use a flat-head screwdriver so double-check before you buy a radiator key. You will also need a cloth or old towel and it takes about 5 minutes per radiator.

  1. Open the Radiator Valves: Turn all of the numbered radiator valves to their highest number (or left if it has no numbers) to fully open all the valves and run your heating for 10 minutes.
  1. Turn your heating off: Make sure your heating is off as it means you will be able to handle the radiator safely and without getting water everywhere.
  1. Release the Air: At one end of the top of the radiator there will be a valve with a square bit in the middle. Have a cloth ready to catch any drips and put the radiator key into the square and slowly turn anti-clockwise (left) to open the valve. There might be a hissing sound as the trapped air comes out. When water comes out, close the valve again (turn the radiator key right) and wipe any water away. Repeat on other radiators if necessary. Some systems have an automatic air release valve which usually has a small red top which is slack to let the air out.
  1. Check there are no leaking valves: Turn your heating on and check that there are no dripping valves on the radiators you have bled. If there are dripping valves, use your radiator key to tighten them until it stops.

You should bleed your radiators around once every year to make sure you’re getting the most out of your central heating.

If you find that they need bleeding more often than this, or if your radiators feel cold at the bottom, are colder in one part of your home or are still cold after you’ve bled them, call Smith & Byford on 0800 804 8456, tell them what is wrong and arrange the repair with them (if you rent, it is our responsibility to pay)

I turned my light on and it went out, what should I do?

You will probably need to change the bulb. New lightbulbs are available for between £2-5 each. There are two types:

  • Bayonet – two prongs (most common in UK lamps)
  • Screw – a spiral (most common in all other lamps)

Remember to double-check that the new bulb is the same wattage as the old bulb (e.g, a 40w bulb is being replaced with a 40w bulb or equivalent energy efficient bulb) and follow these steps to change the bulb:

  1. Go to your electricity box and turn your power off. If you are unsure if the light switch is on or off, this will stop you getting shocked. Bring a torch if it is dark.
  2. Let the old bulb cool. If the light has only just gone out – let the old bulb cool for around 30 seconds.
  3. Make sure you can reach the bulb comfortably. Use a ladder or a stool (or a tall person) so you can comfortably hold the bulb and socket.
  4. Remove the old bulb
    1. Bayonet: Hold the bulb, push upwards and turn left until it comes out the socket.
    2. Screw: Gently turn the bulb left until it comes out the socket.
  5. Put the new bulb in
    1. Bayonet: Hold the bulb, push upwards gently and turn right until it stays in place.
    2. Screw: Gently turn the bulb right until it won’t go any further in the socket.
  6. Turn the power back on & switch on the light. If the light still does not come on, go to ‘I have a problem with my gas/electricity’

When you get rid of your old bulb, if you know if it was energy efficient, it can be recycled, if you’re unsure, wrap it up in the packaging for the new bulb and put it in your normal bin.

There is damp and mould in my home, what should I do?

This depends on what is causing the damp or mould.

If the area has tidemarks please report this as a repair (if you can, include pictures of the damp and where you think the leak might be coming from).

If there are no tidemarks but there is mould, then the problem is condensation in the home.

To avoid condensation in your home:

  • Avoid drying clothes indoors. If you dry it inside, dry it in the bathroom with the door closed and the window open or fan left on.
  • Always vent your tumble dryer outside.
  • When cooking, put lids on pans and don’t boil them or the kettle for longer than they need, and use extractor fans or make sure your mechanical ventilation unit is working
  • To reduce steam, part-fill your bath with cold water before topping it up with hot water
  • Open windows or put on extractor fans in steamy kitchens or bathrooms and close the door
  • Try not to overfill cupboards or wardrobes and don’t push furniture up against walls – leave room for air to circulate (if possible, position furniture against internal walls)
  • Do not block the vents in or outside your home.
  • Do not draught proof rooms where there is condensation/mould or in bathrooms or kitchens

Condensation normally happens in cold weather when the air gets too cold to hold all the moisture. Condensation usually appears on the coldest surfaces in the home such as windows or external walls.

Some extra things to do in cold weather to stop condensation:

  • Close the curtains at dusk and if people are in the room, open a window slightly for ventilation
  • Keep your heating on a low setting all day, even if nobody is in the house.
  • Dehumidifiers only get rid of the moisture in the air – they do not stop the source of condensation. They only work in warm homes that are damp (not cold ones), and are expensive to run so they are only used as a last resort.

To get rid of the signs of mould in your home use:

  • Vinegar: Fill a spray bottle (don’t add water).  Spray directly on the mould spots, let it sit for a while then wipe away. Repeat as needed.
  • Tea tree oil: Add 10 drops to a spray bottle and fill it with water. Spray the mixture on mould problem areas, let it sit then wipe away. Repeat as needed.
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