Jargon buster for landlords

If you’re a landlord, it’s your responsibility to take out landlord insurance and keep your property in a good state of repair. You might need to do a bit of maintenance from time-to-time (if you’re brave enough), so here is an explanation of some technical terms that might come up.


If there’s no water coming out of your taps, your pipes might have an airlock. This is a blockage caused by a trapped pocket of air and is an extremely common problem. To solve the problem, simply attach a section of hosepipe to the tap that’s not working and connect the other end to a tap that’s working properly. Turn both taps on for a few minutes and the pressure should get rid of the air bubble.


If you look inside your kettle you might find an off-white chalky deposit clinging to the metal. This is called limescale and can be found in hot-water boilers and poorly maintained hot-water central heating systems. It builds up over time and can be removed by a process called de-scaling. Many chemical cleaners will do the job, but it’s important to call a plumber if you’re unsure what to do.

Non-return valve

A non-return valve, also known as a check valve, clack valve or one-way valve is a device which allows liquid or gas to flow in one direction only. They’re often found in domestic heating systems and can be used with different types of pump. Non-return valves can be found in many shapes and sizes and are often inexpensive to buy.


A stopcock is the small valve which controls the water supply to your house. It’s usually found under the kitchen sink but can also be found in the bathroom, cloakroom, cellar or basement. You’ll need to turn it off in a plumbing emergency, so make sure your tenants know where it is. Always take out home emergency cover for landlords, just in case and regularly check your water pipes.


A washer is a thin plate that’s usually got a whole in the middle. It’s used to seal off the flow of liquid and gas and can be made from plastic or metal. Washers are usually disc-shaped and are often used in the construction of toilets, sinks and showers. They can wear away with time and need to be replaced if there’s a leak.

DIY jargon can be complicated, but it shouldn’t stop you from making home repairs.