If you're new to owning your own home, you'll have probably not encountered any of the following issues before and could be a little lost when it comes to resolving them. We've provided below some basic advice to follow - we would also advise you to consult with an expert in the field if you are ever unsure of what to do.
It is a very common problem to have blocked sinks and basins. Blockage in sinks is normally caused by the accumulation of fat, tea leaves, hair, etc. It is highly recommendable to clean wastes with hot water or a bio-degradable cleaner at least once a month.
Blocked toilets are fairly common and it is possible to clear the blockage yourself. The first thing to remember is not to flush the toilet as this can often make the problem worse and cause the water to overflow. If you cannot remove the blockage easily, try plunging. Once you are sure this has done the trick, you can try to flush again to test everything is totally operational.
Gutters and downspouts need to be checked and cleaned twice annually and more often during the rainy season if there are tall trees near the house. Use a small garden shovel to clean gutters and insert a hose into gutter drains to flush the downspouts.
Electric circuits are designed to carry certain amounts of electric load. Sometimes this load is exceeded, which may lead to localised failure of the electricity supply in the home. To prevent the fuses melting when this happens, circuit breakers called trip switches are installed. These are located within the electricity fuse box inside the property.
If the electricity is not working but only on certain appliances or light bulbs, it is highly possible that a trip switch has operated. To fix this problem, you need:
If you have trip switches operating on a regularly basis, it can mean that a faulty appliance is plugged to that electric circuit. You might need to identify which circuit is causing the problem (e.g., microwaves can load over 2500 watts). Each trip switch should be labelled.
In order to keep your boiler in good conditions, you must have it serviced once a year. You should not try to do it yourself, as it must be done by a Gas Safe approved contractor.
Do not close or block ventilators in the room where the boiler is, as this would limit the supply of air to the boiler. You should always check the type of flue you have with your boiler, as boilers with balanced flue incorporate their own air supply.
If any part of the system shows signs of corrosion or leakage, may be an indication that the system, or parts need to be repaired or replaced. However small surface rust on radiators can be considered normal and is easily removed by a gentle sanding prior repainting as a part of normal redecoration.
When you redecorate your new home, you must not paint over the small valves at the top of the radiators.
If you are suspicious of a gas leak; you must not turn on any lights. Turn off the gas tap, open doors and windows, do not operate any electrical appliances and notify your gas supplier on their emergency number. It is important not to seal off or obstruct any vents allowing fresh air to circulate around appliances, and have them serviced regularly by a Gas Safe approved contractor. Signs of a poorly functioning appliance could include stains around a gas fire or orange flames.
It is important to check on a regular basis the operation of smoke alarms, by pressing the test button.
When you are moving in, you should consider the means of escape and a safe open space to shelter, in the unfortunate event of a fire.
Part of decorating your new home, is to shape your new garden. If you intend to plant trees, or cut the existing down, there are some aspects that you should consider.
The roots of all vegetation take water from the soil to make good the water lost from the leaves. If the soil contains clay it will shrink as it is dried, or swell if it is allowed to rehydrate. If the shrinking or swelling extends below the foundations, the foundations will subside or heave respectively. If the movements are in excess of those that can be tolerated by the building, damage is likely to occur.
You should consequently obtain advice from an expert before planting or removing any tree. Trees can not only cause damage to the structure, but drains can be damaged, as well as your neighbour’s property.
When carrying out any DIY or maintenance work, it is important to remember that damages caused by such work are unlikely to be covered by our policy.
Care should be taken to ensure that the work you undertake is done safely, and follows the guidelines provided by the manufacturers of the products and materials you use.
Your property may be constructed from a number of different materials and you should ensure the correct fixing method is adopted having regard to size weight and use of any shelving.
New woodwork absorbs considerable amounts of paint, so the first painting of a house needs extra attention. If you are painting for the first time, surfaces must be clean, prepared properly and be completely dry before repainting. Outside woodwork should be repainted more regularly.
An extension or alteration allows you to personalise your home by creating space or character. However care must be taken to make sure this work does not damage your property. Damage caused by this kind of work will not be covered by your structural warranty, and could in some cases, invalidate your policy.
In the event that your new home would be unoccupied, especially during winter time, it is highly recommended to leave a thermostat set to 10ºC and set the programmer or time control to keep this temperature steady. This will avoid an excess of moisture in the house, as well as the service pipes freezing.