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How to fix external problems to your property

How to repair a leak in your guttering with tape

You can use joint repair tape to fix minor leaks or cracks in your cast-iron guttering or downpipes.

If a downpipe leaks during heavy rain, it may be a sign that the section of pipe below the leak is blocked by leaves or some other obstruction. You might be able to dislodge it with a garden hose, though. Just cover the drain, turn on the water and direct it up the downpipe. If that doesn't work and the blockage is near the top of the pipe, use a length of wire to clear it. If it's near the bottom, you might need to use a drain rod or take a section of the pipe apart.

Step 1: Start by cleaning around the area you need to repair with a wire brush - this will remove any loose paint or rust. Then cut off a length of repair tape a few centimetres longer than the width of the downpipe, removing the paper backing.

Step 2: Wrap the repair tape around the joint and overlap the ends.

Step 3: Press the tape firmly with your hand to mould it around the shape of the joint.

How to unblock a drain

You'll need special drain-cleaning rods to clear a blocked drain, as well as some disinfectant to clean them when you've finished.

Step 1: Start by lifting the inspection cover off the blocked drain. You can do this by fitting a rubber plunger to the end of two drain rods and inserting them into the bottom of the inspection chamber. Then slide the rods into the drain outlet pipe - if the inspection chamber is full, you'll have to probe with the plunger to find it. Push the rods down into the drain, adding more rods as you need them. Try to use a 'push and pull' action, as this'll help to dislodge the blockage. You can also turn them in a clockwise direction - but not anti-clockwise, as they might unscrew in the drain and add to the blockage.

Step 2: Take the rods out of the drain and have a look to see if the waste water is draining away. If it isn't, go through the process again and use more rods. When the drain is clear, take the rods apart and stand them in the inspection chamber. Use a hose-pipe to wash the rods and flush the drain through with clean water. Then drench the rods and your gloves in diluted disinfectant - you can use a watering can to pour it on.

If your manhole is blocked or overflowing please contact Southern Water.

How to remove a wooden fence panel and post

Wooden fence panels and posts can be prone to storm damage, rot or attack by insects. And when they do need repairing, it's essential to treat them as soon as possible to prevent the rest of the fence being impacted.

Safety first

  • We recommend undertaking any fencing project with the help and assistance of a friend
  • Always wear protective safety gear when necessary
  • If using concrete, always wash your hands after use as wet cement can cause burns
  • Don’t allow concrete to dry on your tools - clean it off with a stiff brush

Watch a step-by-step video showing how to fix a broken fence, with expert advice and top tips to help you complete the job with confidence.

How to reinforce a rotten wooden fence post

The part of a wooden fence post most likely to rot is the section buried underground. If not reinforced in time, it will eventually collapse and pull down the fence. If the fence post is becoming loose and the fence is moving, a concrete repair spur can be used to support the wooden post.

Step 1: Support the fence with lengths of timber on either side whilst you make the post repair.

Step 2: Use a shovel to dig a hole around the base of the fence post on the side where the concrete repair spur will go. Dig the hole to a depth of approximately 45 to 60cm deep (the deeper the better).
Saw off the rotten part of the post with a panel saw and coat the sound wood with a wood preservative.

Step 3: Place a concrete spur post in the hole against the remains of the post. Brace the wooden post with wooden props made from lengths of timber.

To create these props, cut two lengths of 19 x 38millimetre (mm) timber (or similar) and nail together into either an 'L' or 'T' shape. Spike the prop at one end with a panel saw - this helps when driving it into the ground. Repeat as necessary.
Brace the post by temporarily screwing it to the props which are driven into the ground with a club hammer. Use a spirit level to check that the fence post is perfectly vertical.

Step 4: Insert the coach bolts through the holes in the concrete spur and tap them with a hammer to mark the fence post. Remove the spur and use a power drill to drill holes through the post at the marked spots, being careful to keep the drill level when in use.
Replace the spur and push the coach bolts through the spur and post so that the tails appear on the post side. Attach the nuts and secure with a spanner.

Step 5: Mix the concrete and fill the post hole as per the manufacturer instructions, this is usually to just above ground level. Use a trowel to smooth the concrete surface downwards so that rainwater will drain away from the wooden post.
Leave the props in place while the concrete sets, and take down when the concrete has hardened off.

If you live in a flat and have a blocked or leaking manhole please call us. Otherwise, if a manhole is blocked or overflowing please contact Southern Water.

If you would still like to report a repair to us, the easiest and quickest way is to do this online.

Copyright © B&Q plc.

B&Q has kindly given Southampton City Council permission to use these DIY tutorial videos to provide advice and guidance for council tenants. In using these videos, Southampton City Council is neither endorsing nor recommending B&Q products or methods. Other DIY self-help tutorials are available online. Simple repairs of this nature should only be undertaken if you are fit and healthy to do so and have the necessary tools and safety equipment. These repairs are undertaken at your risk and Southampton City Council accepts no responsibility for any damage or injury as a result of DIY repairs relating to these videos