Things you really ought to know

minor jobs

Minor jobs you should be able to do

Scuseme is all about helping connect you with experts who can fix your domestic breakdowns.  A few years ago, most of us would be able to undertake some of the minor jobs ourselves, but my tradespeople tell me that nowadays it is more common to ‘call in a man’.  However, there are some basics which we should all know about.  I’ve listed a few suggestions below: 

Bleed a radiator  

A radiator is designed to distribute heat evenly so if it is not the same at the top and bottom it will need bleeding.  This is simple to do.  You will need a radiator key and a towel to catch the water.   It’s routine and something you should learn to do.  Turn off the heating. Put the key into the air vent and slowly turn it anti-clock wise until the air starts to hiss.  When all the air escapes and water flows out then close the vent and turn the heating on again.  

minor jobs

Don’t blow a fuse 

For major electrical faults around the house you must call out a qualified electrician. However, there are some things you can do to identify the fault and sometimes repair it.  First you must find the main fuse box (consumer unit) which will be in the same place as your electricity meter.   This is where the electricity from your house is controlled so you must know where it is and ideally keep a torch nearby.  

Your fuse box will have fuses or trip switches. Open the unit to see which switches have been switched to OFF and turn it to ON.  If it trips again you can identify which circuit the problem is in.  Unplug all appliances on that problem circuit and switch off any immersion heaters (if you have one). Switch the tripped switch to the ON position and plug in the appliances one by one until the trip goes again (this is best done as a two person job).  It may be something simple such as a faulty light bulb, or a fuse in a plug.  For the latter you can change this before calling out an electrician but be careful to use the correct amp for the appliance.  

Warning: 

  • Do not tamper with the electricity company’s fuse and seals 
  • Do not take any action unless you are confident you can do it safely and legally

Locate the stop cock  

Knowing where the stopcock is in your house is essential if you need to immediately stop water flow or in an emergency.  Find it and know how to stop it.  It’s usually inside a house; mine is in my utility room, but it is often under a sink, or sometimes in a cellar or garage, or downstairs bathroom or toilet.  As a householder you are responsibility for all inside taps. If you are in a flat it will be in a shared communal area with shared responsibility.  

Outside stop taps control the main water supply to your property and are the responsibility of your local water authority, in my case Cambridge Water Authority.  You should never rely on this in an emergency, always on your inside stop cock.   

Unclog a drain  

 This is a job that will need immediate attention.  Before you call out a plumber try these fixes:  

  • Flush with a kettle full of boiling water. Sometimes this can release the build-up of grease.  However only use boiling water if you have metal pipes, of you have PVC pipes use hot water, as boiling water can soften the joints.  
  • Make a baking soda drain cleaner; here’s a really good and simple drain de-clogger recipe.
  • Take the plunge and invest in a good plunger that is big enough to get the job done. 
  • Snake your drain either with a home-made tool or one bought from your local hardware store.  Also invest in a drain catcher. 

If you’re still not convinced about your DIY ability then post a job and our tradespeople will be happy to help. 

Dawn Giesler, is the founder of scuseme Cambridge, an online marketplace that helps your family run smoothly. She has lived in Cambridge for over 20 years and offers advise based on her own experiences. For more information visit scuseme