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How to clear gutters

Guttering on houses, no matter what kind you have, must cleared regularly. Most people tend to clear theirs only every couple of years, but to keep them in good condition, try to do it at least once a year. Debris, such as dead leaves and dirt, runs down the roof and collects in the gutters. It’s not the nicest thing in the world to clear them yourself, but not doing so could bring you major problems in the future.If they’re not within reach of a normal ladder, or you are incapable of clearing them yourself, it is easy to find somebody to do it for you. Ask a neighbour to help out, or search the internet or phonebook for professionals who can do it for you.It isn’t difficult to do yourself though, so if you decide to try it, here are some simple tips. The best time of year to do this is at the end of winter as it’s heading into spring. At this time of year there will be no more dead leaves coming into the gutters, but there will probably be quite a bit of rain, so it’s a good idea to sort it them out before they start overflowing!Make sure that you have a good pair of gloves that are waterproof and thick to stop your hands getting injured by anything that might be caught up in the debris.Ensure that your ladder is safely propped against the building and have someone at the bottom to hold it in case of slippages.You can either clear the debris out into a bucket, or if your gutters are fairly long, use a hose pipe or pressure washer to clear them. If you use this method, ensure that you have covered the downpipe with a piece of chicken wire. This will prevent the debris flowing down it and blocking it.If you find any small holes during your cleaning, purchase some metal repair tape at a hardware store which can be stuck over the area. If there are any larger holes, it would be best to replace the gutters and make sure to clear them more frequently in future.

Tips for Kitchen Lighting

Tips for Kitchen Lighting

Lighting is sometimes overlooked when updating a kitchen but is an important factor to the functionality and practicality of the kitchen. Having a lighting plan is the best way of creating the right amount of light to the specific areas of the kitchen that need it. A common problem that most people have is trying to light the whole room with just one ceiling mounted light. This creates an overpowering glare in some areas and dark shadows in others that can ruin the look and practicality of the kitchen.Instead of using one light for the kitchen it is recommended to use multi-layered lighting for different areas of the kitchen, these include:Task lighting – task lighting is situated above work areas including worktops and the cooker. These lights are particularly effective when mounted below the overhead cabinets and create an illuminated area for chopping, cooking and preparation work.Ambient lighting – ambient lighting is used to provide a warm glow that fills the room whilst softening shadows. Ambient lighting provides a warm and inviting environment and are usually placed in the ceiling.Dimming lights – the ability to adjust the lights depending on the situation is ideal in a kitchen setting. While cooking or cleaning you may like to have more light, while dining or relaxing the lights can be dimmed to provide a more intimate setting. Adding a dimmer switch to each type of lighting will give you the best range of possibilities for your kitchen.

Wallpaper useful tips before you start

Your walls are prepared following the stripping of the old paper and any cracks, holes or other defects in the plaster have been rectified and you are ready to re-paper the walls of your living or other room.The very first thing that you must do is to carefully decide where you are going to start with the first length of paper. Before that, if you are using a patterned wall paper is to check the matching of the patterns on the design, as this will help you with the cutting of the paper, large patterns can mean that you will have a lot of wastage and therefore you must ensure that you have enough rolls of paper to complete the job. Ensure that all the paper has the same batch number to colour match this. Measure the width and height of all the walls to be papered, include doors and windows in your calculation. The DIY store or wallpaper supplier will tell you how many rolls of paper you will need.Before we can fix the wallpaper it has to have paste applied, unless of course it is one of the ready pasted types. For this it is best to have a pasting table, these are not expensive and will be useful for other wallpapering jobs. Paste the centre of the length then, paste the edge of the wallpaper nearest to you, ensuring that you have thoroughly covered the whole surface. Now fold the top of the paper over aligning the edges, this will allow you to move the paper and complete the pasting. When this is done, fold the newly pasted paper over to meet the top of the previously pasted section and very important set to one side and leave to soak into the paper. If you don’t do this for every length you paste, the paper will stretch and warp as the paste is absorbed which will lead to difficulty matching the pattern. You can then paste other sections of paper and then you can hang the paper to the prepared wall surfaces.

Tiling a concrete floor

It is not uncommon to find that a kitchen, bathroom, or the rest of the ground floor has a concrete floor, indeed it is now usual to build homes this way to save on timber and have the advantage of not being draughty in the way a tongued and grooved floor can be. Normally of course the living and dining areas, hallways etc., will be carpeted, so the answer for the kitchen and bathroom, if you live in a bungalow, is to tile it.You have two options, ceramic or clay quarry tiles or vinyl or PVC tiles, both of which can be attractive and suitable for the areas mentioned. If t you have chosen ceramic or quarry tiles the floor does not have to perfectly smooth and level as the tiling adhesive can take up imperfection as long as they are not severe. However it is important to make sure that the floor is clean and dry and if there are cracks or holes in the floor, these should be filled with an appropriate mortar mix and allowed to dry before continuing.Assuming that you are using ceramic or quarry clean the floor thoroughly, removing any old paint, sealants or oil. Sweep and then vacuum the floor to remove dust and debris, wipe it down with a damp mop to pick up the finer dust particles and allow to dry completely. Planning the tiling is important and you should find the centre of each wall, mark them and draw lines between the four marks to form a cross this will give you the centre point. Lay the tiles dry and start by placing one tile into each of the right angles where the lines meet, if the pattern looks right you have planned properly.Using only the correct tiling adhesive recommended, spread the adhesive using a notched spreader to about one square metre of the floor to one of the boxes formed by the marks. Follow the instructions on the adhesive so that you get the correct depth to the grooves. When the whole of the square metre is spread, you can start to lay the tiles. Lay the first tile at your centre point. Press the tile firmly down into the adhesive, giving it a slight twist to make sure there is a good bond. Continue with the remainder ensuring that you use the correct spacers recommended for the floor tiles. Allow the tile adhesive to set overnight before you cut and lay the border tiles around the edge of the room. Once the border tiles are laid, allow these to set for the same amount of time.

What are compression fittings?

When you undertake to some DIY plumbing work you will have to decide whether to use capillary soldered fittings or compression fittings. If you do not have a lot of joints then compression fittings are certainly easier to use than capillary, but are more expensive. The fittings are connected to the pipe by compressing a soft metal ring called an olive; a water tight seal is then created.The first thing to do with any compression fitting and ensure that the joint is leak proof so first slide the cap nut onto the pipe followed by the olive followed by the main body of the fitting, ensure that the pipe is pushed all the way to the internal stop of the fitting. Now tighten the joint by hand and hold the body of the pipe with a pair of grips and using a spanner tighten the nut to compress the olive onto the pipe, do not over tighten this as it can split the olive, just a complete turn of the nut should be sufficient. Now you should undo the fitting and use PTFE around the olive, we suggest that eight turns of tape in a clockwise direction should ensure the joint will not leak. The nut should now be tightened as previously and you will have a tight waterproof joint.

Using bathroom furniture to turn a bathroom into a spa

Would you like to recreate the relaxing atmosphere of a spa in the comfort of your home?  With just a few changes, you can change the austerity of the traditional bathroom into an inviting spa-like environment.  A good place to start is by upgrading or replacing your current bathroom furniture.Why should you begin with bathroom furniture?  First of all, furniture allows you to make as many changes as you wish without having to tear out fixtures or replace baths.  Instead, you can simply try out a new accent piece of furniture or rotate the location of your existing furniture to see if you like the new look of your bathroom.  In this way, you will not be out of pocket if you find that you do not like the changes that have been made.Bathroom furniture can include items such as towel racks, vanity units, cabinets, linen stands, and medicine cabinets.  While some of these items of furniture are mounted on the wall, others are simply placed against a wall or in a corner, making it easy to move them around as desired.  Depending on your tastes, bathroom furniture to suit just about any budget can be found.How then can you decide what kind of bathroom furniture to purchase for your spa bathroom?  Think about the colour scheme that you want to have inside the room.  Since the colour scheme lays the foundation for the room and the furniture adds a complementary touch, you will want the colour of the furniture and accessories to pair well with the paint scheme of the room.Another thing to take into consideration is the type of fixtures that are in the bathroom.  If opting for one of the sleek, stainless steel taps that are offered by Dornbracht, the bathroom furniture should also contribute to the modern style of these fixtures.  UK Bathrooms features many such products from Dornbracht.

How to fit a pedestal washbasin

Pedestal washbasins are fastened to the wall and sit on top of a pedestal made out of matching china.  If an old washbasin is being removed the water must first be turned off.  Once that is done it is then a matter of marking the position of the new basin on the wall.  Depending on the type of washbasin it will either need to be screwed to the wall, or hung on brackets.  The basin will need to be sitting level and this can be checked with a spirit level.  Once it has been secured the china pedestal can then be positioned beneath it.  The next step is to connect the water to the new basin.  Ideally the supply will be able to be connected directly to the taps and sink traps.  If not, flexible tap connector pipes and waste pipe parts will have to be used.  If this is the case these should be put together, and the overflow connected to the waste pipe, before the basin is fixed to the wall.  The next task when installing the washbasin is to screw in the plughole and then attach the plug.  A mastic seal can then be made around the top of the pedestal and base of the basin.  Any gaps at the top of the unit should be filled using a waterproof sealant.If the washbasin is being installed as part of general bathroom renovation it can also be sealed where it meets the wall and around the pedestal’s base once the tiling is completed.

DIY plumbing advice

Before you begin any plumbing work you should first and foremost find out where the stop tap is situated, this can be under the sink in the kitchen, cloakroom under stairs cupboard, if in any doubt there will almost certainly be one outside the property, but care should be exercised hare as the stop tap outside can sometimes serve a number of adjacent properties.Another must is to see what kind of piping is used in your home, they could be lead but unless the building is very old they will be of copper. This is fine but again cooper tubing went from Imperial to metric some years ago and for the normal small pipes, this will be 15mm or slightly over an inch in diameter. Modern compression fittings will cope with this minor size difference without problems. However, the main difference is that whilst imperial was measured externally the metric pipe is measured internally the difference is too small to be concerned about. The sizes that are used in domestic situations are 15mm, 22mm and 28mm, the Imperial sizes are one inch, three-quarter inch and one inch.Two types of fittings are available, soldered and compression and all fittings today are metric, so if you wish to use a soldered fitting to join an Imperial pipe to a new metric pipe, adaptors are available, with compression fittings it is not necessary but you would be well advised to buy Imperial olives for the older pipe. So before you decide to undertake fitting new taps, basins or putting a new water supply to another room, note where the stop tap is, and what kind of piping you have installed in your home.

Hand Mixing Cement

Mixing cement is something that many DIY hobbyists must eventually try at some point. However, it is a given that not everybody will have a cement mixer on hand, so knowing how to mix a decent load of cement prevents any future problems with the mixture cracking or perishing.Firstly, be aware of the conditions in the area where applying the cement. Freezing temperatures inhibit the solidifying process of cement when it is used outside, so try to use the mixture on a dry day that is not too cold. On the flip side, too much heat causes cement to crack, as it solidifies too quickly. Finding a sensible balance is important and gives the job a better finish.Cracking MixCement is purchased ready mixed, mixed by hand, or by a cement mixer. Many outdoor DIY patch-up or walling jobs need only a small amount of cement. It is advisable to use a hand mixed load, so it is easier for the person doing the mixing to monitor the amount needed. Pour the amount of sand or ballast needed onto a large mixing board or concrete slab. Add the required amount of cement and chop the sand and cement together, using a shovel. Make a hole in the middle of the pile. This is used to contain the water needed, so be careful not to let the water seep through the hole and out of the mixture. Add small amounts of water to the hole, and be careful not to use too much at once. Too much water ruins the mix. After adding the water, slowly gather sand and cement from the sides of the pile and add to the watery hole in the middle. When the water is absorbed by the mixture, chop the entire mix with a shovel until the pile is all of the same consistency.

Tips for removing a cast iron fire surround

If you are ready to redo that fireplace and it has a cast iron fire surround, you are going to need to remove the surround first.  These can be valuable to resell, so remove it carefully.Remove the screwsThe first step is to remove the hidden screws that attach it to the wall.  They will be under wall plaster, so you will need to chip away the plaster around the fixing lugs to remove the screws. Before removing the screws, prop up the fire surround with some timber that is wedged between it and the floor to prevent it from falling, since these surrounds are quite top heavy.  Clear the plaster and remove the screws if you can.Removing the surround and grateThe surround and grate should come out together, so do not remove the bolts connecting the grate to the surround.  Simply pull the entire unit out as one.  Have someone to help you because of the weight of the cast iron, and pull it forward, lowering it onto the floor.  Removing a heavy cast iron fire surround is really that simple.

Treating Woodworm

Woodworm is a collective name for the many wood boring insects, some of which are common to us and many that are not. In the UK the one that is prevalent is the Common Furniture Beetle and thankfully it is not so much of a problem today as it once was. Traditionally built brick houses have little in the structure which can be attacked by woodworm, the notable exception being the roof trusses, but with more wooden framed houses the problem could become more serious, but now timbers are usually treated with wood preservative before construction.The first thing to say is that if you have seen a woodworm attack to the roof timbers or the floor boards or joists, professional advice should be sought, the problem could be a lot worse than it looks superficially. If the attack is minor you can treat the problem yourself with a chemical insecticide spray. This is available from most DIY stores and online. If you are in any doubt about the severity of your woodworm problem in the structural elements of your house, please always seek professional advice.If you spot woodworm in furniture this is easily treated by injecting the flight holes with fluid make sure you inject every 50-100mm. Paint the untreated wood with a couple of coats of the fluid to further protect it.

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