Helpful advice

Electrical Testing and Safety

We will inspect the electrical power and lighting installations in your home at least once every ten years to make sure they still meet current standards and to identify any necessary repair work.

To stay safe when using electrical appliances, you should:

  • Always make sure that plugs are wired correctly and fitted with the right fuse.
  • Always use a NICEIC-registered or equivalent contractor to carry out electrical repairs or wiring.
  • Never use an appliance that has a damaged cable/wire.
  • Never have too many items plugged into one socket.
  • Never use cracked or chipped plugs or sockets.
  • Never touch plugs, switches or any electrical appliance with wet hands.
  • Never fit a socket outlet in your bathroom.
  • Only use a shaver outlet if it is a special, permanently wired one.

Immersion Heaters

If your property has an immersion heater with a manual reset button, we would request that you contact us by email HousingRepairs@tendringdc.gov.uk or 01255 686477 on any occasion that this needs to be reset, rather than doing this yourself. Our contractor will then be able to make sure that your immersion heater is working properly before it is reset.

Where we install new immersion heaters in the future we will also make sure that the reset button is sealed within the unit and can only be reset by a suitably competent person, to further ensure your safety.

Important safety advice has been issued to raise awareness of a rare but potentially serious scalding risk from domestic hot water systems.

This advice has been issued following two similar fatal incidents elsewhere in the country in the last five years where a large volume of near boiling water poured through bedroom ceilings onto occupants sleeping below. The cause of these incidents was a faulty thermostat on an immersion heater on the hot water system.

An overheating immersion cylinder will normally show warning signs and these typically include:

  • Excessively hot water coming out of the hot water taps.
  • Excessive noise or "bubbling" from the hot water cylinder.
  • Hot water coming out of certain cold water taps (some storage cisterns also feed cold water taps in the bathroom)
  • Steam/moisture in the roof space.

In any of these circumstances you should immediately switch off the immersion heater in your home and contact us by email on HousingRepairs@tendringdc.gov.uk or 01255 686477.

You should not use your immersion heater again until after we have arranged for the system to be checked over.

The council has alerted its maintenance contractors and systematic checks will be carried out to ensure that no problems of this nature exist in any of our properties. All of our properties are also thoroughly inspected prior to letting. Further information can be obtained from the Health & Safety Executive through the useful link above.

How to Guard Against Frost

At the beginning of a cold spell:

  • Keep the property warm at all times
  • Let the warm air circulate
  • Make sure you know where the main control tap or stop valve is and how to turn it off (if it does not work properly, ask us to repair it).

If you leave your home empty when the weather may turn cold and there is a danger of hard frost, you should protect your home against water damage from burst pipes.

When you return home:

  • Turn the stop valve on again and make sure enough water comes out of your taps. This is to check that there is no air in your pipes.
  • If you have switched on your central heating, but the radiators are not getting hot, turn the system off and tell us. First check the timer is working and the pilot light is lit.

If you have any problems doing this, please contact us on 01255 686477.

What to do if you get a frozen pipe:

  • Turn off the water immediately at the stop valve.
  • Switch off any immersion heater.
  • Turn of all taps.
  • Contact us on 01255 686477.
  • Do not try to thaw frozen pipes with a naked flame.

What to do if you have a burst pipe:

  • Turn off the water immediately at the stop valve.
  • Turn on all the taps to drain the water from the system as quickly as possible, to stop it flooding your home.
  • Find out where the water is coming from.
  • Put a container underneath to catch any leaks.
  • Contact us for advice before you turn the water back on.

If there is any water coming through light fittings or ceiling roses, do not turn on the light and contact us immediately.

Watch our video below with advice about frozen pipes.

Condensation

Condensation is simply water vapour in the air condensing (or changing into) water on windows, walls, floors even clothing or cupboards. There is always some moisture in the air, even if you cannot see it. If the air gets colder, it cannot hold all of the moisture and tiny drops of water appear. This is condensation.

What causes condensation?

Condensation can occur because your home is too cold. Condensation can also occur because your home is poorly ventilated, maybe when you shut all the windows and vents, or don't use extractor fans. Condensation can also happen when your home is too wet. Maybe you dry your clothes on radiators, or use a tumble dryer without a vent to the outside, or use portable gas heaters.

Condensation and Mould Growth

There are several things that you can do if you have a problem with condensation in your property.

  • Leave the heating on during cold weather.
  • Wipe down windows, sills and frames where condensation occurs, but do not leave the cloth on a radiator to dry.
  • When taking a bath or shower keep the doors shut and the windows open slightly to avoid moisture spreading through the house.
  • Wherever possible dry clothes outdoors, not on radiators and if you have a tumble dryer make sure that is is vented to outside the property so that the moist air does not build up in your home.
  • Avoid using portable gas or oil heaters as they produce very large amounts of moisture.
  • Try to move furniture so that the area behind your wardrobes and cupboards is well ventilated and is preferably against an internal wall and try not to overfill them as this prevents air circulation.

You can usually identify dampness as an area of brown staining on walls. Staining on the lower walls may indicate rising damp, which occurs where the damp proof course is defective or is covered by a pathway or garden. Leaking plumbing or broken pipes can also cause dampness. If you think you have dampness please contact us on 01255 686477 or by email HousingRepairs@tendringdc.gov.uk and a surveyor will call to investigate.

Watch our video below with advice about condensation.

 

Preventing Legionnaires Disease

Legionnaires disease is a kind of pneumonia, which is named after an outbreak of sever pneumonia that affected a meeting of the American Legion in 1976. It is caused by water borne bacteria that can be transferred to people by breathing in droplets of water contaminated with the bacteria.

The symptoms of this illness are very similar to those of the flu and include a high temperature, cough, muscle pains and headaches and these are treated with antibiotics. However, most people who are exposed to these bacteria do not become ill and the disease is rare.

Although cases of legionnaires disease are normally associated with large industrial water systems, it is possible for the bacteria to form in domestic water systems in certain conditions. We would therefore recommend that you follow the advice given below to make sure that your water system remains safe:

  • Keep your cold water storage tank covered.
  • Make sure that any lengths of pipe, showers or taps that are not used regularly are flushed through frequently to remove any stagnant water.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect any taps and shower heads in your home.
  • Make sure that taps and showers are flushed through following any periods when they have not been used to move any stagnant water, for example when you get home from holiday.
  • Report any repairs that are needed to pipework, taps or showers in your home promptly and contact us if you have any concerns about the equipment installed in your home.
  • Follow the advice that we give you if you apply for permission to install your own shower.

If you have any concerns about the quality of your drinking water, please contact Veolia Water Through the useful link above.

Home Fire Safety

We have produced a Home Fire Safety Guide that gives advice about things that you can do to reduce the risk of a fire breaking out, as well as the action to take in the event of a fire. You can find this guide in the useful documents area at the top of this page.

Gas Safety And Servicing

Every year, a number of people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances and flues that have not been properly installed or maintained. You can't see, taste or smell carbon monoxide but it can kill within just a few hours.

That is why we, as your landlord, do everything we can to ensure your safety by carrying out checks of the gas appliances that we have installed in your home.

Before You Move Into Your Home

Before you move into your new home, we will have tested any gas pipework and appliances to make sure that they are working safely and efficiently. It is then your responsibility to arrange for for the gas supply to be reconnected, using a supplier of your choice and to pay the gas suppliers charges.

If it has not been possible for us to test that the gas heating and/or hot water appliances are working safely and efficiently before you move in (because the gas/electricity supply has been turned off) Red warning notices will be fixed to all appliances.

Once you have set up an account with a gas supplier, you will need to contact us on 01255 686477 Monday-Thursday, 9.00am-5.00pm and 9.00am-4.30pm on a Friday to arrange for a gas safety check to be carried out. This gas safety check includes the un-capping of the gas supply. The contractor has 24 working hours in which to attend to carry out this test.

If you want to install a gas cooker in your new home, by law the work must be carried out by a competent person, that is someone with the right knowledge and technical experience to undertake the work. This will be a gas installer or engineer who is Gas Safe Registered.

Living in Your Home

Day to Day Repairs

You are responsible for reporting any suspected faults, leaks or repairs to us immediately. You should do this by telephoning 01255 686477 or 01255 222022 for emergencies outside of normal working hours. You can also report repairs by email to housing.services@tendringdc.gov.uk or via our Website www.tendringdc.gov.uk (council housing-Report a repair) although repairs reported in this way will only be dealt with during working hours and so these methods should not be used for reporting urgent repairs to us.

Annual Gas Safety Check

As your landlord, we will carry out a safety check and service of any gas heating and hot water appliances that we have installed in your home once every 12 months to make sure that they are working safely and efficiently. This is a legal requirement of the Gas Safety (installation and use) Regulations.

These safety checks and services will be carried out on our behalf by a specialist contractor. They will write to you to tell you when they intend to visit your home and give you the opportunity to arrange a different appointment if this is not convenient. All of the workmen employed by our contractors are required to carry identity cards and you should ask to see this before allowing them into your home.

What Should You Expect Our Contractor To Do

  • Carry out a visual inspection of any/all gas appliances fitted.
  • Check and record the gas rate/ burner pressure to ensure economical running.
  • Carry out a tightness test at the gas meter to ensure there are no leaks on pipe work or appliances.
  • Test the appliance flue gases with an electronic meter, ensuring complete combustion and safe operation.
  • Check and clean the condense trap as required.
  • Check the ventilation requirements as required.
  • Check the correct operation of all safety devices.
  • Ask you general questions about the heating system, such as are there any leaks or have you experienced any problems?
  • Carry out a visual check of your heating system to look for defects, including radiators, hot water cylinders and associated controls.
  • Reset your time clock, if required.
  • Visually inspect the entire length of the boiler flue system including a head and shoulders inspection through the loft space if relevant.
  • Check the pressure vessel inside the boiler to make sure it is working properly.
  • Complete an electronic Landlords Gas Safety Certificate on their handheld devices. You will then be sent a paper copy of this in the post. If any faults are identified during the service, the engineer may also leave any supporting paperwork with you.
  • For older appliances or where the manufacturer's instructions require it, your appliance will be stripped down, cleaned and reassembled and this will be carried out before the above tests are carried out.

In addition to the above they will:

  • Complete a visual safety check on the gas cooker if present.
  • Test the smoke alarm.

What you need to do to help us

  • Make sure that you allow access on the day that our contractor is due to visit your property. If the suggested time is not convenient, please let us know and another more convenient appointment will be arranged with you.
  • The space around the boiler should be cleared to allow access and enough space for our contractor to carry out their tests.
  • They may need to run the hot water tap to complete their inspection on the boiler.
  • We will need credit on both the electric and gas meter, if one is present, to complete our tests.
  • Complete and return the satisfaction survey that we send you telling us how satisfied you were with the servicing.

We have to keep records to show that we have carried out these annual checks and you can ask to see these. You will also be sent a copy of this certificate.

Allowing Access To Your Home

Your tenancy agreement says that you must allow us access to carry out any required gas safety test or checks and servicing of gas appliances in your home. If you do not let our contractor in, you are breaking the conditions of your tenancy agreement and may also be placing yourself, your family and neighbours at risk. If you fail to respond to our requests for access, we will have no option but to take legal action against you. This will either be in the form of an injunction or Warrant of Entry, both of which will require you to allow us access to your home, or we may start legal proceedings to evict you from your home. We will charge you for any costs that we incur in taking legal action against you.

We will also charge you for any appointments that you make, but do not keep.

Important Safety Information

  • Never use an appliance that you think might not be working properly.
  • Never cover an appliance or block the convection air vents.
  • Never block any fixed ventilation grilles or air bricks.
  • Never block or cover outside flues

Warning Signs To Look Out For

  • Yellow or brown staining around appliances
  • Pilot lights that frequently blow out
  • Increased condensation around windows
  • Yellow rather than blue flames

If you are concerned about any of these items, please contact us on 01255 686477

If you Suspect a Gas Leak

  • Don't Smoke
  • Don't use Naked Flames
  • Don't turn electric switches on or off
  • Do turn off the gas supply
  • Do open the windows and doors to get rid of gas
  • Do call national Gas Emergency Service on Freephone: 0800 111 99 (24 hour service)

How To Use A Storage Heater

How They Work

Most storage heaters are wall-mounted and look a bit like radiators. They work by drawing electricity over the course of a few hours at night (normally between midnight and 7am during the winter months and between 1am and 5am during the summer, although this can vary) and storing it as heat in a 'bank' of clay or ceramic bricks to use the following day.

The advantage is that they can consume electricity at night, when it is cheaper, and give out their heat many hours later. As a consequence they work best if the household is on an Economy 7 tariff.

Avoid using supplementary plug-in heaters or the convector button (found on some storage heaters). It is better to turn up the input on your storage heater and store more heat. Understanding how to operate your storage heaters as effectively as possible will help you to stay warm enough and not waste energy.

For further information about the controls and settings on your storage heaters please see this PDF document.

Please see some more useful documents below-

Damp & Mould Leaflet

Repairs Handbook

Gas Safety Leaflet

Condensation Leaflet

Home Fire Safety Guide

 

Last updated on: 28/01/2016 - 10:44