Maintenance Hints & Tips

Here are a number of useful hints and tips about maintaining your home and equipment to ensure everything is well maintained and operating safely but remember, if you have any concerns about your property or anything within it, you can always telephone Customer Services in the first instance on 0161 343 8128.


Hints & Tips - GAS SAFETY

What to do if you suspect a gas leak?

If you suspect a gas leak turn off the gas supply at the meter and call Transco immediately on 0800 111999

  • Open doors and windows and leave them open
  • Ensure that the gas tap e.g. to the cooker has not been left on accidently and switch off at your meter
  • Do not switch any electrical appliances on or off including light switches or wall sockets
  • Put out any cigarettes immediately and do not use any naked flames such as lighters or matches.

Gas safety check

Under the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 APH are legally responsible for ensuring that the gas appliances, pipeworks and flues are safe and well maintained. We will arrange for a Gas Safe engineer to carry out a gas safety check to your home every year, and to provide you with a CP12 record of this check.


Carbon monoxide can kill. Even relatively low levels can cause brain damage. You cannot see, smell or taste it.  It is a highly toxic gas that can be given off when a gas appliance such as a cooker, fire or heater has not been installed or maintained properly or if a flue becomes blocked.  So it is very important that you allow access for the gas safety check at your property when requested.

Signs of carbon monoxide poisoning;

  • Feeling weak
  • Feeling drowsy
  • Feeling sick
  • Getting headaches

Things that can indicate a problem:

  • Flames on gas cookers, fires, heaters or appliances should burn blue.  If the flame on any appliance burns yellow or orange please call us immediately
  • Pilot light goes out a lot
  • Smoke in the room not from smoking cigarettes
  • Soot or staining around an appliance

For more information on Gas Safety regulations please contact the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) on: 08701 545500


All properties have smoke detectors fitted for your safety and protection and are fitted with one of the following;

  • Battery operated – operated by a removable battery that is guaranteed for 5-10years.  After this they should be replaced to ensure the alarm remains operational
  • Hardwired mains powered – these are wired directly into the electricity supply with a rechargeable battery backup.

You should test your alarm on a weekly basis and report any faults to us.


How to unblock a sink

When a sink is becoming clogged it normally takes some time to drain or it may not drain at all. The most common cause of blockages is food matter, particularly fatty foods, and also hair deposits.

Please therefore ensure that you never dispose of food matter down the plughole, no matter how small the amount. You can also maintain your drain by regularly using a chemical drain cleaner, remembering to carefully follow the instructions on the label.

Using a plunger is the easiest method of dislodging debris. You may also unscrew the trap to the sink but this involves more skill and effort.

  • Block the overflow for the sink with some wet tissue, creating a vacuum effect (this stops the air being forced down the sink simply escaping through the overflow).
  • With some water in the sink, place a plunger over the sink waste, ensuring that the rubber cup is fully submerged (the presence of the water helps to provide a seal).
  • Push the plunger down quite a few times with both hands to force water through the pipe work, thereby dislodging the blockage.

How to unblock a toilet

Never put anything down the toilet except human waste and toilet tissue (this includes wet wipes)!

Another common cause of blockages is a dislodged toilet rim freshener. If you use these products, check to see if it has fallen down the U-bend prior to plunging. In any case, do not continue to flush as the bowl will simply overflow.

  • You need to force water down the trap with a plunger using both hands. Ensure that the water in the toilet bowl is pushed at force in order to clear the blockage.
  • If this doesn’t work, run some water down the sink or bath. If the toilet does not drain the blockage is probably further down the soil pipe, and a drain rod will be required.

In all circumstances, prevention is better than cure, so please ensure that you use sinks and toilets responsibly, as outlined above.


Why does condensation occur?

Condensation occurs when warm, moist air meets a cold surface. The risk of condensation depends on how moist the air is and how cold the surfaces of the rooms are. Both of these depend on how the building is used.

When does condensation occur?

Condensation occurs usually in winter because the building structure is cold and therefore windows are opened less, preventing moist air from escaping.

Where does condensation occur?

Condensation that you can see occurs often for short periods in bathrooms and kitchens because of the steamy atmosphere and quite frequently for long periods in unheated rooms.

Three important things

  • Prevent the spread of moist air from areas where it congregates, such as kitchens, bathrooms or places where clothes are put to dry.
  • Provide adequate ventilation to all rooms so that moist air can escape.
  • Ensure reasonable levels of heating.

How you can prevent condensation in your home

  1. Reduce the moisture content of room air
    • In areas prone to condensation, it is important to try to prevent or minimise this. In the kitchen, for example, try to use the extractor fan when laundering clothes or cooking. If you don’t have one, closing the doors and opening a window can have the same effect.
    • After bathing, keep the bathroom window open and shut the door for long enough to dry out the room.
    • Remember to provide adequate ventilation in other rooms. In old houses a lot of ventilation occurs through fireplace flues and draughty windows. In modern homes sufficient airflow does not occur unless a window or ventilator is open for a reasonable period each day. All that is needed is a very slightly opened window or ventilator (about 1cm is sufficient).
    • When drying washing remember to close doors and allow ventilation by means of an extractor fan or window. Otherwise the moist air may spread to other rooms and cause problems.
  2. Provide reasonable heating
    • Try to make sure that all rooms are at least partially heated. Condensation mostly occurs in unheated rooms.
    • To prevent condensation, room surfaces need to be kept reasonably warm. It takes a long time for a building to warm up, so it’s more economical and effective to have a small amount of heat over a long period than a large amount over a shorter period.
    • Houses and flats left unoccupied and unheated during the day get very cold. Whenever possible, it is best to keep heating on even if at a low level.
    • In houses, the rooms above a heated living room benefit to some extent from heat rising through the floor. In bungalows and most flats this does not happen. Furthermore, some rooms lose heat due to the number of outside facing walls, as well as the close proximity of the roof. Such rooms are most likely to have condensation problems, and adequate heating is therefore necessary.

Mould growth

Any sign of mould growth is an indication that moisture is present. You should remove any such growth with an anti-bacterial agent such as ‘Dettox’,’ Savlon’ or even bleach. This should be carried out at least once a week until the area is clean to the touch. Apply a stain block to keep the pigment from showing through on new paintwork. To prevent further reoccurrence, you should follow the guidelines above on a regular basis.

Hints & Tips - GARDENING

Many people regard gardening as boring, hard work. But a chore is only a chore if you let it become one. Gardening can be enjoyable, rewarding, fruitful, educational and good exercise. Certainly, it can be hard work but there are many ways in which you can make your garden low maintenance.

The gardening year

The gardening year broadly follows the traditional four seasons – each season requiring its own activity.


This is the time when bulbs begin to emerge from the ground. The days are lighter and cheered by daffodils, crocuses and snowdrops. Generally it’s a time for planting seeds, both flowers and vegetables, and if you have a greenhouse, you can get a head start and begin work some weeks in advance.

Around Easter, garden centres start selling bedding plants such as petunias, begonias, geraniums, impatiens and surfinias. These are wonderfully colourful plants that flower throughout the summer, usually lasting until September. Please remember, however, that you should only begin planting outside when you are sure there is no risk of frost, as this can quickly destroy all your good work. Similarly, plants that require vigorous pruning, like rose bushes, should only receive your attention when the weather turns fine.


A season in which you can mostly relax and enjoy the colours of your garden. Light a barbecue on those warm summer evenings and enjoy sitting out. Don’t forget that there are some jobs that that you can’t avoid doing, however!


Go round the garden two or three times a week and pull out any encroaching weeds.


This will have to be cut at least once a week and fed regularly to keep it looking like Wembley turf.


If there is little rain, then you will have to water bedding plants at least once a day. But take care to conserve water and observe any hose pipe bans which the local authority might enforce.


Invest in a couple of environmentally friendly water tubs to collect rain from your roof. Also, put water retention pellets in the soil with plants. These will help retain moisture and lessen the need for watering.

Why not consider laying gravel instead of having a lawn? This means you can throw the lawn mower away but also will give you a lot more flexibility in garden layout. Flowers and small shrubs can be planted in decorative containers, which you can then move to different positions throughout the year to change the look of your garden.


As the days grow shorter and cooler, many flowers begin to fade and die. If they are annual bedding plants, then pull them out and dispose of the roots and dead leaves. Remember to take them to your local recycling tip or put them in the appropriate bin if the council have provided you with one. Perennial plants will grow again the following year and can be trimmed down and left.

There will be less frequent weeding and grass cutting to contend with at this time of the year, but hopefully the barbecue can still be put to good use. It’s also time to enjoy the vegetables that you planted in spring – potatoes, carrots, onions, runner beans and peas are all delicious, especially when home grown.


Earth should be dug over to allow the forthcoming frosts to break it down and kill off stray weed roots. Clean up all the rotting, fallen leaves and cut down the last of the dead flower foliage.

However, you can still maintain your garden’s colour by planting winter flowering plants; pansies are probably the most popular of these. Plant seeds bulbs ready for the spring into small pots for the greenhouse. Keep delicate plants protected from frost by wrapping them in special material sold in garden centres. Move any pots nearer to a sheltered wall which will keep them frost free.