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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.


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

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

Boxing in pipework :: Posted by: Admin on January 13th, 2014

Boxing in pipework

Boxing in pipework

Pipes such as heating pipes or waste pipes can look ugly and can be a dust trap, they can be hard to clean and even paint around. The ideal solution is to box pipework in, once they are boxed in, the box can be decorated the same as the surrounding area, such as tiled or painted.

Typically to box in pipework you use timber battens and plywood or MDF, the battens are normally 2×1 inches (50×25 mm) or 2×2 (50×50 mm). The plywood or MDF can be 6 or 9 mm. All of the materials used will depend on the circumstances you plan to box the pipes in. You may even wish to use plasterboard and plaster the box.

Tools required for this job

  • Battens (2×1 or 2×2) (50×25 mm or 50×50 mm)
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Screw or panel pins
  • Spirit level
  • Screwdriver / drill with screwdriver bit
  • Hammer
  • Plywood, MDF, Plasterboard
  • A pencil
  • Tape measure

How to box in pipes

Take the battens and hold them against the wall, use a spirit level to ensure they are upright and level, next drill holes through the wood into the wall, use rawl plugs and screws to fit the batten to the wall ensuring they are level.

Once the two wall battens are fixed you can cut the plywood to the correct size, fix a batten on the outside corner of one of the pieces of plywood, this will allow you to screw the other length of plywood to it giving the external corner a good strong fixing.

Decorating the box

Once the boxing in is done you can decorate the box, if you are painting the box, fill the screw holes and rub them down then apply the appropriate paint to match the surrounding area, you may have to prime the box first to seal the plywood. If you are tiling the boxing in, cut and fix the tiles to match in with to other tiles. You can add skirting boards to horizontal boxing in to match the room, and coving to vertical boxing in to make the box become part of the room and once decorated should like it has always been there.

Horizontal and vertical pipes

The same method for boxing in applies if you are boxing in horizontal or vertical pipes.

You can box in heating pipes, hot and cold water pipes, soil pipes and waste pipes to tidy them up and make them look part of the room.

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

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


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 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.


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

Water Softeners :: Posted by: Admin on October 3rd, 2013

Water Softeners

A water softener is not, as the name suggests, a kind of fabric conditioner. It is actually a device or system used at home to remove mineral ions (molecules or atoms) from tap water. When water has an exceptionally high mineral content, it is described as “hard” water. Although all water contains minerals, and in small amounts is actually beneficial to our health, excessive mineral content can interfere with the effectiveness of appliances in our homes. When this happens, it is often necessary to install a water softener system.

Hard water and why it occurs:

So, as mentioned, the term “hard” simply refers to water that has a high mineral content. Magnesium and calcium are two of the biggest culprits, but other minerals can play a part. The larger the amount of minerals dissolved in the water, the “harder” it will be. Although minerals are usually identified as the cause of hard water, iron and other metals can also harden it.

The science behind why there are differences in water hardness is relatively simple: as water evaporates from the earth’s surface it changes to a gas and rises up into the atmosphere, forming clouds. Eventually the clouds produce rain, which is slightly acidic due to the mix of water and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As the rain falls to the ground and seeps through rock and soil, it’s acidic properties make it easy to dissolve the minerals it encounters. This results in water that has an elevated mineral content, and is considered “hard”. The longer the water stays in contact with the minerals, the more it dissolves and the harder the water becomes. For more information about how this works, check out this explanation of the water cycle.

It might be surprising to realise that more than 60% of households in the United Kingdom have hard water, in varying degrees, with the eastern side of the country (in particular Norfolk and Suffolk) faring the worst. The water from our taps comes from two different sources: surface water (such as reservoirs or rivers) or underground. The surface water is less likely to be affected by minerals, so has a lower mineral content and is described as “soft”. In contrast, underground streams gurgle through rock formations, soaking up minerals as they flow, constantly increasing the mineral content.

The effect hard water has on your home:

Hard water does not have a detrimental effect on our health and is perfectly safe to drink, however, when particularly hard, it is a nuisance. Hard water pumped through our electrical appliances, toilet systems and water heaters can have disastrous and costly consequences; over time, the mineral deposits (referred to as limescale) become compounded leaving a hard, scaly substance on anything it comes into contact with. This can reduce efficiency in our appliances and prove expensive.

Adverse effects of hard water include clogged pipes and inefficient household appliances such as washing machines and kettles. Water heaters are often seriously affected because limescale occurs when the hard water is heated. Scale coats the heating elements, which means that it takes longer to heat the water, therefore costing more to operate. Hard water also prevents soap from lathering and reduces all soap (bars and powder) to scum.

How a water softener works:

Softening water is quite a simple process: the troublesome calcium and magnesium ions are swapped with more desirable ions, usually sodium. This is often done via an ion exchange column, which is a cylinder full of beads (known as resin). As the hard water passes through the cylinder, the calcium and magnesium ions switch places with the sodium ions. The problem-causing calcium and magnesium ions attach to the beads, which in turn, allows more of the friendlier sodium ions to be present in the water.

Benefits of using soft water:

Undoubtedly, the biggest benefit is the eradication of limescale from your home. This means that your appliances will function efficiently, you won’t have to buy soap as often and water heating costs will reduce significantly. All of these factors will not only save your sanity, but a fair amount of money, too. But, obvious benefits aside, softening your water can improve medical conditions such as eczema: initial studies of children who suffer with eczema showed a decrease in negative side-effects when they switched to water that had been softened using a water softener such as those from Kinetico.

The difference between a water softener and a water filter:

There is often confusion between the two, but their purposes are quite different. A water filter is often used when the quality or content of the water is less than desirable, resulting in possible health concerns. A water softener is used to remove hard water, so quality of the water is not necessarily the issue; the concern is the negative consequences that occur when using the hard water in your home.

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