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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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Posted in Building, Decorating, DIY Tips, Handyman tips, Woodwork | No Comments »


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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Posted in DIY Tips, Handyman tips, Woodwork | No Comments »


How to bleed a radiator :: Posted by: Admin on February 11th, 2013

How to bleed a radiator

If you have central heating and radiators you will from time to time need to bleed them. This basically means allowing any build up of air out of the system and allow that space to be filled with water.

If you do not bleed the system you will get cold areas within the radiator and the system will not be as efficient and you will not be getting the full heat out of the system.

How can I tell if I need to bleed my radiators

You can tell if you need to bleed your radiators simply by feeling them once they have been on for a while, the radiator will feel cooler at the top than the bottom, mostly the air will be at the top of the radiators, but you may feel cooler spots lower down also. If you find cooler areas more than likely this will be air which doesn’t get as hot as the water so therefore is cooler. If this is what you find, bleed the radiators.

Radiator

How do I bleed my radiators

This is a quick and easy job, firstly open up all the radiator valves fully, including thermostatic ones, then run the system for around 10 minutes and then turn the system off. You will then need a radiator bleed valve key and a cloth. If you haven’t got a bleed valve key, they can be bought cheaply at a hardware store.

Go around all radiators and open slightly the bleed valve by turning anti-clockwise, this will be located at the top of each radiator and on one edge. Depending on the age of the radiator you may have a small plastic end over the bleed valve, this will direct the water away from the wall. Make sure this is facing away from the wall if not turn it so that it is, you could aim it into a bucket before opening the bleed valve.

Radiator Bleed Valve

Carefully open the valve slightly with the valve key, air should then come out, keep the valve open until water comes out then shut the valve by turning clockwise. Hold the cloth around the bleed valve as you do this to catch any water.

Once you have done this to all radiators you may have to check the pressure of the boiler by looking at the gauge, if the pressure has dropped you may have to ‘top up’ the pressure. This is normally done by opening a tap on the boiler until the correct pressure is reached. To top up the boiler open the tap on the filling Loop, check the boiler handbook to find out how to do this.

If you find that after you have bled the radiators the radiators nearer the boiler are hotter than those furthest away, this means the radiators aren’t balanced and you may have to turn the valves down on the radiators near the boiler and leave the ones furthest away fully open, this will allow the water to reach the furthest away radiators before cooling down.

Top Tip
Top Tip : If the bottom of the radiators are cold, this could be due to a build up of sludge and rust, this needs solving by draining the system down and flushing it all through. If you are unsure call a plumber / heating engineer.

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Posted in DIY Tips, Handyman tips, Plumbing | 1 Comment »


What is decorators caulk :: Posted by: Admin on January 8th, 2013

What is decorators caulk / filler

Decorators caulk is a decorating gap filler, is made of an acrylic and is flexible once dried. It is ideal for areas that have movement but cannot be used like a powder filler and cannot be rubbed down, it can be painted over. It is the best kept decorators secret ever, my wife had never heard about “flexi-filler” as she calls it until I met her.

Notice the spelling also, it is decorators caulk, not cork.

What is decorators caulk used for

Decorators caulk, or decorators filler as it’s sometimes called is used for filling gaps around door and window frames, along the top of skirting boards, gaps around the ceiling and coving line and is ideal for using if there is movement due to it’s flexible properties.

Caulking Gun

Use decorators caulk for:

  • Around Door frames
  • Around Window frames (Wood or UPVC)
  • Skirting boards
  • Ceiling and wall line
  • Around coving
  • Staircases
  • Interior wall corners

How long does decorators caulk take to dry

This is dependent on many factors such as room temperature and humidity, size of gap filled and porousness of where it has been applied. The drying time can be anything from 20 minutes to 2 or more hours. If unsure it is best to leave for a few hours before over painting it.

How to use decorators caulk

Decorators caulk is easy to use, we have written a post detailing how to use decorators caulk on our other blog DIY By Design so there isn’t any need to cover it in depth here.

Why does decorators caulk crack

Decorators caulk may crack if the gap you filled is too large, it may also sink or shrink slightly. If this is the case apply a second layer of caulk over the top of the first one.

If the caulk has cracked or crazed when you have painted it, this could be you didn’t leave it long enough for it to dry.

It isn’t uncommon for paint to crack or craze on top of the filler, this is mostly a problem for emulsions, a simple solution is to paint over the caulk with a non-vinyl paint, such as an acrylic primer.

Update

I have done a review on a caulk that doesn’t crack or craze, I have been using it for a while and the results are good.
Read my Review Of Dunlop Pro Decor Flexible Acrylic Filler Caulk here. And if you would like to buy some for yourself you can buy Dunlop Pro Decor Flexible Filler caulk from here.

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Posted in DIY Tips, Handyman tips | 38 Comments »


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