Everyday repairs

Are your radiators much cooler at the top than at the bottom?

There might be air in the central heating system. This can be released by “bleeding radiators”, which is done by using a special radiator key to adjust the valve on the radiator to release the air. If you can’t find the key, you can get a replacement from hardware stores.

Here’s a video from British Gas on how to do it.

Want to change your toilet seat?

You’ll need a screwdriver and a wrench or pliers. It’s a bit fiddly but quite straightforward.

  • Use the screwdriver to pop open the caps attaching the lid to the toilet.
  • Use the wrench or pliers to hold the nut located on the underside of the seat bolt.
  • Remove the seat bolts with a screwdriver, and then lift off the seat.
  • Push the bolts of the new seat through the holes and hand tighten the nuts.
  • Once the seat is central, use the wrench to tighten the nuts. Don’t over tighten the nuts

Has your electrical appliance stopped working?

It might be the fuse in the plug that’s failed.

  • Unplug the item.
  • Check the type of screws in the plug: it will help you decide which screwdriver you need.
  • Unscrew the back of the plug.
  • There’s three different coloured wires.
  • The live wire is brown; the neutral wire is green; the earth wire is green and yellow striped.
  • Unscrew the screw holding the fuse in place and replace it with the same type.
  • Secure wires back in the correct position and screw the back onto the plug.
  • Plug the appliance back in, and if there is still a problem, it may be more serious. You’ll need to check with the manufacturer.

Don’t try to open it up. If you do, you might damage it further and the manufacturer won’t entertain a claim under the guarantee.

Is your sink blocked?

Sometimes it’s just hair or food or maybe a toy that’s stuck. Check that out first. If it’s not, you’ll need a plunger and an old rag/duct tape. And maybe a piece of flexible wire and a bucket.

Stage One

Cover/block the overflow hole in the sink. Place the plunger over the plughole and push up and down quickly to force a jet of water along the waste pipes. This should dislodge what’s there. Run the tap to flush through any debris and free up your overflow hole. If that doesn’t work, try Stage Two

Stage Two

Remove as much water from the sink as possible. Put a bucket under the trap in the pipework under the sink. Unscrew the collar on the trap. The trapped water should flow out into the bucket. Rescrew the collar. If that doesn’t work, try Stage Three

Stage Three

Put a bucket under the trap in the pipework under the sink. Unscrew the collar on the trap. Push the flexible wire into the pipe to try to dislodge the blockage. If that doesn’t work, try Stage Four

Stage Four

It’s probably the drain that’s blocked. Try a drain blocking solution or get a plumber.

Here’s a video from Collins Complete DIY Manual

Is your toilet blocked?

It’s an unpleasant job but thankfully an easy one to resolve. You’ll need a toilet plunger or a piece of flexible wire.

  • Remove as much of the water from the toilet as you can into a bucket
  • Using the plunger, push up and down to force a jet of water along the waste pipes.
  • Or use the flexible wire to push the blockage along (or pull it out). If that doesn’t work, there might be a blockage further along the waste pipe.
  • Find the outside drain cover nearest to your toilet. If the chamber is full, the blockage is further along. You’ll need to get a professional in.

Here’s a video

Is your tap leaking?

It’s probably a washer.

Step 1

Turn off the water supply To turn off the water supply to the tap, look for a valve underneath the sink and turn it until the tap runs dry. Older homes may not have individual washers for each tap – in this case, you will need to turn off the mains stopcock. This is usually located under the kitchen sink.

Step 2

Drain the water from the tap Turn on the dripping tap until the water stops running. If you are fixing a hot tap, make sure the immersion heater and boiler are also switched off. Turn off the valve on the cold feed pipe to your cylinder and run the hot tap. Turn on all the cold water taps in the bathroom to empty the tank. When no more water comes out, run the hot taps until these run dry as well.

Step 3

Carefully open the tap Put the plug in the sink to stop the parts from the tap falling down the drain. Some taps have a top cover on the handle that must be removed before you can unscrew the stem of the tap. A small flat screwdriver is required, gently slide this underneath the tap cover and lift off the cover. The screw that holds the handle onto the mechanism can now be removed by turning anti-clockwise. Once the screw is removed the handle can be removed. The next step is to remove the mechanism inside the tap. Use a spanner or adjustable wrench on the joint and firmly hold the tap spout with your hand to prevent the body of the tap turning on the sink. Once released, remove the mechanism and on the base is the washer.

Step 4

Fit the new washer Clean the mechanism with a cloth and fit the new washer. (You may need to take the whole mechanism to a hardware store to make sure that you get the correct washer). Screw the mechanism back into the body of the tap and replace any cover pieces. Take out the plug and turn on the water supply. If the tap still leaks, you may have to clean the brass in the body of the tap, directly below the washer (the ‘seating’) or speak to a professional.

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