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Making and using a water level :: Posted by: Admin on January 13th, 2016

Making and using a water level

Water levels can come in very useful when you need to make a level line across a big expanse, such as in a room and a level simply won’t do. You can buy laser levels but they can be expensive and you may only require it once, this post describes how to make a cheap water level.

Water levels can be used for things such as dado and picture rails, wallpaper borders etc.

close up water level graphic

Making a water level

To make a water level is fairly straightforward, you will need the following items.

  • A long length of clear tubing
  • Water
  • Something to bung ends of tube (optional)
  • Funnel (optional)

You will need a length of clear tubing, long enough to reach around your work area, such as a room. The tube needs to be clear so you can see the water, so a garden hose wouldn’t be any good as it isn’t transparent.

Once you have your length of tubing you need to fill it with water. This can be done by using a funnel in one end of the tube and running water into it to fill the tube. You can also try the syphon method, but what ever you find works best for you. Make sure that there are no air bubbles in the length of tube, if there are work them out to an open end.

Don’t fill the tube fully as you will need to allow the water to move without it coming out all over the place and for it to settle to get the level.

Once the tube is filled enough you will need to stop the water coming out again, this can be done simply by placing your thumb over the end or a bung of some kind if you have one.

Using a water level

Now that you have made your water level you are ready to use it. You will need a starting point, this can be achieved by measuring and making a pencil mark, or maybe using an existing level, such as a dado rail, it could even be something in another room if the tube is long enough. For example if you want to make sure the dado rail is the same in two rooms. This will be your starting point.

You will need a second person to help you with using the level. One stays at the original level point whilst the other uses the level and marks the wall at the level.

The person holding the ‘fixed’ end, that is the original level mark stays holding the tube at this point, whilst the second person moves to a new point and holds the tube against the wall. The first person instructs the second person to move up or down until the water is level with the original mark, the second person can then mark the wall level with the water in the tube, thus giving a level line.

Continue doing this in several places as required. Remember not to lift tube too high without having end blocked as it will flow out. You can then if required draw a line and join up the marks.

water level grapgic

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DIY jobs – The right tool for the job :: Posted by: Admin on July 22nd, 2014

Hammer and screw

DIY jobs – The right tool for the job

When it comes to tackling DIY jobs it is best to be planned and prepared, whether it be a building job, gardening, a simple handyman job, plumbing or woodworking job, it is best to be prepared with the correct tools. By using the wrong tool for the job you run the risk of personal injury, damaging equipment or the job you are working on, and more often than not using the wrong tool makes the job harder to do and makes the job take longer to complete.

The right tools for the job

It maybe an old saying and a bit of a cliche but, by having the right tool for the job, will make the job far easier, safer and produce a far superior job. Rather than struggling without the correct tools and in an unsafe way and finishing up with a botched job that you’ll more than likely end having to redo, or calling in a professional to do the job properly for you.

A clean workspace is a safe workspace

If you have a clean environment to work in, without clutter and dangerous hazards such as extension leads and tools all over the floor, the DIY job will be a far safer place to work and a easier place to work, so you will enjoy doing some DIY rather than hate it and shudder at the thought of any DIY tasks. It doesn’t take long to move stuff out of the way and tidy up.

Be prepared

Take time to think about the job, gather the tools you will need, remove any dangers (this includes small children and pets) from your work area. Think about how you are going to do the job, have you got everything that you require to complete the job, the last thing you want to do is have to rush out and buy something in the middle of the job.

If you are doing a plumbing job don’t forget to turn off any water supply before removing taps or cutting pipes. Make sure electrical supplies are turned off before touching wires or removing socket face plates.

Gardening

If you decide to do a DIY job in the garden you should still think about the right tool for the job, and of course safety, such as using an extension lead with a RCD plug (residual-current device) so that if you run over it with the mover the power will be cut immediately.

Power tools

Lets face it we all love power tools, right? Well in the wrong hands they can cause serious injury and damage. However, having the correct power tool for the job will again make life easier, quicker and far more enjoyable.
Wallpaper and heat gun

Your stories

If you have any stories you would like to share, please do so in the comment box below. We would love to hear them,

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Autumn and winter jobs for around the home and garden :: Posted by: Admin on December 3rd, 2013

Fireworks

Autumn and winter jobs for around the home and garden

Winter is fast approaching and before the really cold and wet weather gets here now is the ideal time to do maintenance jobs around the home and garden in preparation for winter. So if you have a spare half day or a weekend and the weather is a lovely autumnal day why not get out in the winter sun and do those jobs ready for the winter months.

Leaves

Leaves look nice when they are golden brown and red whilst they are still on the trees but as they fall off they can be a real pain. They can make driveways and paths slippery under foot, block gutter and downpipes and generally make the garden look untidy.

So a good sweep up can make the world of difference and as an added bonus you can bag them up and compost them ready to be spread of the vegetable patch the following year.

Gutters and downpipes

As mentioned above, leaves can build up and block gutters and downpipes creating drainage problems and potentially damp issues in the property. If you have a ladder or access to one or maybe a friendly neighbour with a ladder you could borrow, you can clean out the leaves from the guttering and downpipes along with other debris that may of accumulated over the past year such as sand and grit from the roof tiles and grass that may of started growing, even bird nesting materials.

Simply remove the debris and run some water along the gutter and downpipe from a hose or watering can to ensure the gutters are in good condition, flow freely and don’t leak.

Broken glass and windows

If you have any broken or cracked window panes it is a good idea to get them fixed or replaced. If you have single glazing this is especially important to help reduce heat loss and draughts from getting in.

You will also stop any water being able to get in and causing more damage.

Draught excluder

If you have draughts around doors and windows, or even letter boxes you can quickly and relatively cheaply reduce or completely iliminate them simply by buying and fitting draught excluders.

Draught excluders and readily available from DIY merchants and stores and are easy to fit, many door and window draught excluders simply are self adhesive, some require fitting with screws, such as in the case of a letter box draught excluder.

Roof tiles

Slipped, missing or cracked roof tiles could potentially cost you a lot of money in damage. If water gets into a loft space and you are unaware of it not only could the contents of your loft be damaged but eventually the room ceilings and walls will get damp, this could be costly to put right.

So to prevent this take a walk outside and look up at your roof, can you see and ridge tiles missing, or any broken or cracked tiles, if there are either replace them yourself, or better still, call a roofer to do it for you.

If you have flat roofs do you get a pool of water when it rains, this could create a problem or even be a sign of a problem, if you have a pool of water after it rains on your flat roof it could mean the boards under the felt are rotten and sunk thus leaving a dip in the felt for the rain to gather, again it is worth investigating yourself or calling a roofer.

Painting

Ok the winter isn’t the best time for painting outside but you could to a temporary job by making sure wood is protected with paint, a simple undercoat and topcoat on the bare areas could help protect the wood over the winter and you can go back and do a proper job in the spring of the following year.

Boiler and heating

We all rely on our heating this time of year, so it is worth checking everything is working OK before the really cold weather comes, if you have radiators that are colder at the top than the bottom you may need to bleed your radiators, if you are unsure of this ask a plumber.

You should always call an registered gas fitter if you need work done on your boiler or gas fire.

If you have an open fire, when was the last time you had the chimney swept, does it need doing before you have an open fire?

Outside tap with hose fitted

Outside tap

If you have a outside or garden tap you should make sure the pipes are lagged to avoid the pipes from freezing, also if possible turn off the isolator valve that feeds the outside tap and drain off the water by opening the tap, so there is no chance of the water freezing. You could also buy and fit a garden tap jacket that goes over the tap to keep it from freezing.

Flooding and snow be prepared

If heavy snow is forecast make sure you know where the snow shovel is, if you have one. You can also buy rock salt for your paths and driveways. Keep heating on but at a lower level to help keep the house warm. Be aware of sliding snow of thawing roofs. If you have a conservatory you should ideally have a snow guard fitted to the fascia to prevent snow sliding on the the conservatory roof and damaging it.

If major flooding is warned, take all valuables upstairs to keep them dry and safe. Put sandbags at the bottom of doors to try and reduce the amount of water getting in. Take a look at the Met office guidance for flooding.

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How to fix squeaky floorboards :: Posted by: Admin on March 17th, 2013

Floorboards with support on joist

How to fix squeaky and creaking floorboards

You know how it is, you creep home late at night and head up to bed trying not to wake the family, then squeak the floorboards make a noise like the floor is falling through and wakes the family, not a good scenario but one fairly common I would guess.

If you suffer from squeaky and creaking floorboards it can not only wake the family as I jokingly mentioned above it can just be annoying. Well thankfully it isn’t too much of a problem to fix them for any handyman or DIY enthusiast.

Floorboards not on a joist

What causes squeaky floorboards

Squeaky floorboards are caused mainly by badly fitting boards. If the boards are taken up to run electrical cables or pipework and are not put back properly, or the boards nailed back using the old nails in the old nail holes which means the nails don’t have a tight fit on the board and allow for them to move and squeak. Sometimes the end of the boards are not sitting on a joist and can move rubbing against the floorboards next to it.

Another reason for squeaky floorboards is simply that the boards have dried out and the nails are no longer holding the board down tight enough or the boards have moved and are rubbing together, whatever the reason you should be able to fix the problem.

How to fix squeaky floorboards

The first thing to do is to remove the floor covering, or part of it if you can’t fully clear the room. Once the floor covering has been removed you need to tread the boards, walk around and identify the squeaks and creaks and mark the boards where the noise is with a pencil. Do this over the entire floor.

Now go back and look at each mark you have made and identify what the problem is, for just boards that are rubbing together, you can either remove a board and plane a little off the edge, or try adding some talcum powder or chalk dust between the two rubbing boards to help movement between the two boards.

If the boards seem to be moving around the nails at the end of the boards, you need to screw these down. Don’t just put a screw in though as you may go through an electrical cable or a pipe, you may have to lift the board to see what is underneath first. Remove the nails and drill pilot holes next too the old nail holes so not to split the wood and then put a screw in making sure it pulls the board down tight.

If the board is split at the end, you may have to replace that board, or you may be able to lift it and turn it round so the other end is under the skirting board.

If the end of the board isn’t supported on a joist you will have to lift the board and put in a support. This can be done by lifting the unsupported board and fitting a length of 2×1 (50mm x 25mm) under the boards, ideally fixing it to a joist with screws. If a joist isn’t near, screw through the floorboards under either side of the unsupported one fixing the support to the underside of the boards, then re-fix the previously unsupported board and screw this board into the timber support you have fitted.

Do I need a new floor

Depending on how the floorboards have been lifted and cut will depend on if you need to replace boards or not, as mentioned above you may be able to lift a board and turn it around so the damaged end goes under the skirting, or even under furniture that doesn’t move. On the whole squeaky and creaking floorboards can be rectified.

Floorboards screwed down

Floorboards on a joist

How to lift floorboards

To lift floorboards you can use a club hammer and a wide bladed chisel such as a cold chisel or by using a crow bar. Prise the board up from one side then the other, be careful not to split the board, once you have the board slightly lifted up lay a piece of timber underneath to hold the end up and continue working along the board and moving the timber support as you go. If the floorboards are tongue and groove, you will need to cut the tongue off first in order not to damage the grove on the board next to it.

Safety First

Always remember to check under the floorboards for pipework and electrical cables before nailing or screwing down the floorboards, this will avoid driving a nail or screw through them. It is always a good idea to mark on the floorboards where the cables and pipes run under the floor, you can do this by using a pencil or better still a permanent marker pen. By marking the floor you will know where the cables and pipes run if you remove the floor covering or wish to run new pipework or cables in the future.

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