Advice sheets

Helpful hints and tips

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which is released when a gas or solid fuel appliance has not been fitted or maintained properly, or when a flue or chimney is blocked.  It is dangerous because you can’t see, smell or taste it.

Every year about 30 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by gas appliances or flues which have not been properly installed or maintained.  That is why we, as your landlord, do everything we can to ensure your safety by carrying out an annual gas/chimney safety check at your home.

As it can be difficult to detect, look out for one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Feeling tired and weak
  • Having a headache
  • Feeling sick
  • Pains in your chest or stomach
  • Problems with your vision
  • Being out of breath

Here are some things to look out for which may indicate a release of carbon monoxide:
• Gas flames may burn orange and yellow instead of a steady blue
• There will be soot stains on or near the appliance
• You will find it difficult to light your fire
• Your chimney flue may be blocked
• The pilot light will frequently blow out
• There will be more condensation in in your home than usual.



As Winter approaches, condensation on can be a problem if steps are not taken to control it.  There is always moisture in the air and as the temperature drops the air gets colder and tiny drops of water appear—this is condensation.  You notice it when you see your breath on a cold day, or when the mirror mists over when you have a bath or shower.

When your home gets condensation, black mould appears behind furniture and curtains, or in ceiling corners and window surrounds.

Electrical Repairs

Legislation on dictates that only a competent and properly registered electrician should be completing electrical repairs. Please do not attempt DIY electrical repairs as this is very dangerous and you will be re-charged to put it right.

If you have a problem with your electrics you need to identify which circuit is affected and which appliance on that circuit is causing the problem.

What Causes it to Trip or Blow a Fuse?

  • an overloaded circuit
  • too many appliances being used at the same time
  • a faulty or misused appliance
  • over filled kettle
  • unclean toasters
  • cooker rings worn out or cracked
  • faulty immersion heater
  • faulty connectors on leads on appliances eg. TV’s
  • light bulb blowing

Electrical Fitting Giving Off Smoke

  • DO NOT touch the fitting
  • switch electricity off at consumer main switch
  • contact the Association on urgently.
Fuses and Curcuit Breakers

Electricity is usually controlled by fuses which are designed to cut out (or “blow”) before anything dangerous happens.  Other homes have special switches called “circuit breakers” that do the same thing.

When a fuse blows, several electrical things in your home will suddenly cut out.  The fuses are usually in a box in an inbuilt cupboard or under the stairs.  The switch that turns the whole mains electricity supply on and off will usually be next to the fuse box.  Make sure you know where they are - if you can’t find them contact the Westfield Housing Association office.  You are responsible for dealing with a blown fuse.  If you are elderly or disabled, we can send someone to do this for you (although you will have to change plug fuses yourself).

You should

  • unplug, or switch off at the wall, anything that you think might have caused the problem (the cut-out could have happened immediately after you turned on something like a drill or hair drier)
  • switch off the electricity at the mains (it’s a good idea to keep a torch near the switch as fuses have a habit of going in the dark)
  • check the fuses to see which one has blown (the wire will be burnt)
  • replace the burnt fuse wire with new wire. It’s obviously a good idea to have a supply of  fuse wire in before a fuse blows.  Make sure it’s the right sort (there are different strengths - called the “amperage”) and keep it handy
  • switch the electricity back on
  • if the replacement blows straightaway, or quite soon after, there could be a fault in the system so please contact us.

“Circuit breakers” automatically switch off when there is a problem. They’re a bit easier to deal with than fuses, but again it’s a good idea to make sure you know where they are and what to do.

If several things go off at once you should:

  • unplug, or switch off at the wall, anything you think might have caused the problem
  • switch off the electricity at the mains
  • find the switch that has turned itself to “off” and tick it back “on”
  • if the switch cuts out again please contact us urgently.
Garden Gate Locks

Historically we have renewed these in the past but not anymore.  It is the tenant’s responsibility to replace the locks. We will replace broken latches and catches etc.

Gas Applicances that are your own

It is your responsibility to ensure your appliances are safe and you should have them serviced regularly.  When we attend to carry out your gas service safety check we will also check any gas appliances including cookers to make sure they are safe.


The Association’s policy, when requested to carry out or pay for any glazing repairs, is to advise tenants of the condition of their tenancy agreement which states that tenants are required “to replace at their own expense any cracked or broken glass irrespective of the reason for such damage”.

Leaks and Bursts

Are you going away?  Leaving your property for more than 24 hours during the Winter? Don’t come back to find your belongings swimming in water.  Shut your water off or leave your heating on a low background setting, room stat between 10°C and 15°C.  If you neglect to take these steps the Association will have no alternative but to re-charge you for any repairs that occur as a result.

You need to find out where your main stop tap is (it is normally underneath the sink), check you know where it is, and the tap turns easily and that it cuts off the water supply.

Your Housing Services Officer should advise you of the location of this tap during your tenancy sign up appointment.

Unfortunately, if your possessions are damaged due to a leak, it is not our responsibility to replace or repair your possessions.  We can only be responsible if damage has been caused by our actions or negligence.  We recommend that tenants take out home contents insurance.


If a shower was in your home at the start of your tenancy the Association will carry out a repair only (possibly not replace). If you fit your own shower you will be responsible for repairs and any other possible replacement.

Smoke Alarms

Make sure that your smoke alarm is working properly. Remember to test the smoke alarm every week and vacuum it every six months.

If you are uncertain about doing the test and would like further fire safety advice please do not hesitate to contact the office and we will arrange for you to be referred to Cumbria Fire Service for a home visit.

To test the smoke alarm, press the test button until the alarm sounds and then release.  Please do not test with a naked flame as this may present a fire hazard in itself.  Abnormal air conditions may cause the highly sensitive smoke alarm to give a ‘false alarm’. If no fire is apparent, ventilate the room and/or blow fresh air to the unit until the alarm stops.  Once cleared, the smoke alarm will automatically reset.

Please ensure you do not paint over any smoke alarms or any electrical sockets.

Stop Condenstation and Mould

A lot of moisture goes into the air whenever you cook, run a bath, or dry clothes in your home.  When this moisture meets a cold surface like a window or outside wall it turns into droplets called “condensation”.  If this is left it can be unhealthy and damaging. You can stem the problem by:

  • wiping moisture away whenever you see it - it may collect on windows every night
  • keeping a window open if you are drying clothes indoors - dry them outside whenever possible and only use a tumble drier if it has direct ventilation to the outside
  • keeping rooms warm - even a low “background” heat will help
  • ventilating the room - nobody likes draughts, but some air does need to come in and out
  • not using bottled gas or paraffin heaters - they actually produce water in the air and are a fire risk too
  • not blocking up air vents fitted in your home.
Stop the Blockage

Kitchen - There are certain things that should be put in the rubbish bin and not down your kitchen sink.  These include cooking fat, food waste, paint, and baby/hand wipes.

Oil based products and white spirits must be taken to a waste disposal facility only. 

Toilets - Please do not put baby/hand wipes, sanitary towels, kitchen roll or any other objects other than toilet paper down your toilet (even if instructions on the packet say you can). We will have to re-charge you if we find that you have put any of the above down your kitchen sink or toilet.


When removing wallpaper please follow the guidelines below to avoid damage to plasterwork.

If using a steam stripper be very careful not to leave the steam head on the wall for too long as this will penetrate the plaster beneath causing the plaster to fall off. Please follow the guidelines of the steam stripper.

Do not be overzealous with your scraper, please use a proper wallpaper scraper in an appropriate manner.  We may have to charge you for damage if you don’t follow the above guidance.

Artex - some of our older properties have had a substance called artex painted on the ceilings.

Please do not drill or disturb this coating in any way. If you need to remove please contact our Maintenance Department, 

Tenants are asked not to install polystyrene coving or tiles in their property.  Polystyrene is a fire hazard and has to be removed during the void period.  If Westfield Housing have to remove these items from a property it could result in you being re-charged.  

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