Checking your heating system

If your heating system is more than about five years old it could be worth checking to see if the system is likely to scale up or the water difficult to circulate due to a sludge build up. If you live in a hard water area, scaling of the boiler can take place; this reduces the efficiency of the boiler consequently using more fuel making it more expensive to run.

To check this, draw off about a pint of water from the system and check the colour, this should be a dirty grey colour if it is normal, if it is black then you will have sludge building up, a rusty or brown colour indicates that corrosion is taking place.

If you find that sludge or rust is evident you will need to add an inhibitor, available from all plumbing or heating supply outlets, always ensure that you de-scale the system first. To de-scale the system first empty the header tank completely or until the water stops running out of the outlet hose. If the system is a number of years old it is better to flush the system through by draining and refilling a few times until the water is clear.

Now add the de-scaler to the header tank and refill the system. Turn the boiler to a high setting and run for about a week. Check the instructions to see if the de-scaler requires neutralising before draining of the system and refilling.

Now add a good corrosion inhibitor to the tank and refill the heating system, start the pump which will distribute the inhibitor throughout the whole heating system. This should be done every five or so years to ensure that your heating system keeps in good working order.


Picture: Simon James

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Fixing a difficult to turn tap

In time many taps become very difficult to turn, this is because most water in our country is hard in nature meaning that it has lime in it, the reason the taps become difficult or in some cases you find the not much water comes out is because it has become scaled up. Fixing the problem is not really difficult for a reasonably capable DIY person.

Turn off the water at the stop cock, you may have individual isolation valves on the pipe leading to the tap, if it is the hot water tap you will have to drain off the system by turning off the feed to the tank in the loft. Turn on the tap to make sure no water comes out.

Remove the valve by taking off the handle or knob which will be usually held on by a screw under the hot or cold symbol on the top. Using an adjustable spanner turn the vale anti clockwise this will also reveal a standard type of rubber washer which should be replaced at the same time; it could be a disc which will not need any attention.

Inspect the valve and it will probably have a lot of lime scale which can be removed with lime scale remover and finally grease it with silicon grease, normally available at you plumbers merchant. If the scale will not easy come off it may be best to just change the valve by buying a new on at the plumbers merchant. A word of caution, take the valve with you so it is perfectly matched, they are not all the same. A new one should not cost a lot more than about £5.

Bathroom Tap

Picture: Dan Harvey

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DIY Tips – measuring for a sliding wardrobe

So, you’re in the process of updating your bedroom and want to fit a sliding wardrobe, but don’t know where to start. Then this DIY guide is for you. In this article we’ll show you how to measure your room correctly so that you get the best fitting wardrobe possible.

Sliding wardrobes come in a range of different sizes, but for the best fit it is best to go to a specialist company such as Specialist companies provide made to measure wardrobes for the best fit possible, but it is important to measure your room correctly to get the best fit.

Measuring the height

It is recommended that you lift the carpet up where you plan to put the sliding wardrobe and measure the full height from floor to ceiling; this is because the bottom track must be secured to the floor and cannot be fitted on top of carpet. Once the carpet is up measure from the floor to ceiling at the right, centre and left hand side of the wall, and write down the smallest measurement; this is the one you will use for the height of your wardrobe.

Measuring the width

There are three different types of sliding wardrobe to choose from, wall to wall, wall to end panel and inside a frame; here we will show you how to measure for all three options:

Wall to wall

Measure from wall to wall approximately 30cm from the ceiling and 30cm up from the floor, the widest opening will be used to ensure the correct fit of the sliding doors.

Wall to end panel

Measure from the wall to where you want the end panel to be, include the width of the panel in your calculation (approximately 25mm).

Pre-made frame

If you already have a pre-made frame and are looking to update the doors then all you have to measure is the inside edges of the frame. Take measurements at the top and bottom of the frame and choose the widest number.

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Decorating on a budget

Changing the look and feel of a room needn’t be expensive, in this article we’ll show you to transform your home on a budget.

Adding colour to the walls

Painting the walls is possibly the cheapest and easiest way of transforming a room and is a great place to start. Whether you choose to create a focal point by painting a feature wall or want to use an exotic shade for the entire room there is a colour to match. Try out some tester paint before pulling the trigger to make sure that the colour you choose matches the rest of the theme.

Get rid of clutter

Getting rid of clutter is also a great way of changing the look of a room without spending a load of money. Reassess the furniture you already have and get rid of or update any tired looking pieces. Use places like eBay to sell your unwanted items, you never know you might be able to redecorate the room with the proceeds.

Think about rearranging the room as well, as this can also change the look and feel of a room.

Choose the right lighting

An often overlooked design criteria is lighting, but it can instantly have an effect on a room’s ambience and mood for very little money. Simple items such as a new light shade can make a drastic difference to a room and adding some lamps provides a relaxing atmosphere and a cohesive theme.

Update your soft furnishings

Updating your soft furnishings is a cheap and effective way of changing the style of the room. Try adding new cushions and curtains and you’ll see a drastic difference straight away. Can’t afford to buy a new sofa? Then why not buy an attractive thrown to put over it instead.

Add more light with mirrors

Mirrors are a great way of adding more light into a dingy room and are a great alternative to wall art. Mirrors can often also be used to make a room seem bigger than it actually is. If you’re looking for something unique why not look in second hand shops or reclamation yards, these places often have an array of interesting mirrors and frames.

Reupholstering old furniture

Instead of splashing out on some new dinning chair of a new arm chair consider getting them reupholstered. There are a range of different fabrics to choose from that will suit every room.

Create your own artwork

Artwork is expensive so why not create your own. This is a great family activity where your imagination is the only limit. Why not make a collage of family photos or get really inspired and paint your own masterpiece. You can also purchase ready-to-hang items at a budget price too, such as movie posters or reproductions of famous paintings.

Paint Samples

Picture: Doug Waldron

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Now the Christmas decorations are down

The one thing that most of us find is that when we have taken down the Christmas decorations, inevitably some minor scrapes and marks are usually left behind, especially when we try to get the Christmas tree out!

The first thing to do is not to become too depressed as often some minor work is all that is needed and the first thing to do is to look and make an assessment of just what is needed. If wall paper has been damaged and torn, then there will be little that can be done other than to repaper the room, but before you take that drastic step, can you put a small picture or object over the damage to hide it?

Walls which are painted with an emulsion are not a problem; to give a wall another single coat of emulsion is relatively simple unless you wish to change the colour scheme. It is a mistake to try to touch up the walls unless they have only recently been painted, with possible fading, touching up a wall will almost always show up.

Damaged woodwork again is not too difficult unless the paint has been chipped and then you are left with no alternative than to fill the chipped wood, sand down and re-paint. Touching up painted woodwork usually can work unless the paint is old; paint changes colour over time and will show. In this case it will be necessary to paint the whole of the previously painted surfaces.

Often just a simple wash down of the painted surfaces is all that may be required and a solution of sugar soap in warm water will remove all but badly stained walls and it will be worthwhile wiping over the whole surface, this is always a good method of preparing an emulsion pained wall before repainting.

Picture: zaimoku_woodpile

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Blinds for your baby’s nursery

Blinds are a great way to finish off your baby’s nursery.  You can buy blinds in any colour, pattern and style; from plain neutral colours to brightly coloured patchwork farm animals, the options are endless.  You can therefore find blinds that blend in perfectly with the style of your baby’s room.  Blinds are a good alternative to curtains in a nursery because they are clean and tidy, and look extra modern. 

Babies need as much sleep as possible to give them time to grow, and to give their parents time to rest too.  Therefore blackout blinds are a popular choice for nurseries, as they keep the room completely dark to simulate night during the day.  Additionally, blackout blinds will keep a room cool in the summer and warm in the winter.

The most popular sort of blackout blind is the roller blind, although it is also possible to buy roman blinds with blackout material.  Roman blinds are a very modern alternative to curtains, and will help to give your nursery a chic and unique look.

Picture: angi231700

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How to Remove Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is great for some areas of the house such as bathrooms and kitchens that are prone to water spills, but like everything that has regular use it will wear out or look outdated. Removing vinyl flooring may seem like a daunting task, but with a bit of elbow grease it’s an easy DIY project and is a great way to transform the look of a room on a budget.

Vinyl flooring is usually glued to the floor with strong adhesive, and the best way of removing it is by using a floor scraper. Start in the corner and work your way into the middle; you might be able to pull up big chunks of the flooring by hand if it isn’t too degraded. Use the floor scraper to remove the adhesive from the floor.

For stubborn glue you may want to use floor glue remover, it’s available from various manufacturers but always read the instructions fully before using. Other ways of removing floor glue include using the heat gun to warm the area up then use the scraper to remove the residue.

As always, safety is key for any DIY project so wear eye protection and wear rubber gloves if using solvent based glue removers.

Once the vinyl flooring is removed you can go ahead and put the new flooring down.

Picture: Gary & Kirstie Sullivan

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Insulation check

With the onset of winter not all that far away, now is the time to take a serious look at whether your home is adequately insulated. Poor insulation, or worse still no insulation can cost hundreds of pounds extra  in fuel used each year, fully insulating does cost some money, but it will pay for itself many times over.

What then are the points to look for? First and foremost the roof space which is the easiest to insulate and also is the area which loses the most heat from a home. As you are probably aware, heat rises and so insulating the loft of your home is one of the best energy saving measures that you can take. The savings from installing loft insulation are considerable. If you had no loft insulation at all and you fit the recommended 270mm, then you could save over £200 from your heating bills. If you have insulation already, but not the recommended 270mm then you can still make considerable savings by topping it up to 270mm. Following on from insulating the loft space ensure that all pipework is lagged and in good condition, otherwise you could have expensive and wet damage if pipes freeze.

Naturally you should look at doors and windows and ensure that these have draft proofing strips in place and if they have been there for some time they should be replaced as they harden if rubber or lose spring if metal.

An area which is often forgotten is the integral garage which can be a source of cold next to the house. Because most garage doors are made from metal they are extremely good at conducting heat which means that if it is freezing outside the garage will be freezing on the inside unless the garage is heated. Insulating a garage door is not difficult and can be accomplished in a couple of hours. This can be achieved using off cuts or new panels of insulation material glued to the door. It wіll make a huge difference and not be seen from the outside when closed and an up an over door will still function.

loft insulation

Picture: Southend in Transition

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Tips for assembling flat pack furniture

Flat pack furniture has given consumers access to quality furniture that is cheap and can be assembled at your own pace. Some people are put off by flat pack furniture as they feel that they don’t have the expertise to build it, but in fact just about any piece of furniture can be built by anyone if the right precautions are taken.

Check all of the parts

There is nothing more frustrating than getting part of the way through the build to find out that you don’t have all of the parts. Unbox all of the components and check that they are all there; if you are missing something you can get in touch with the manufacturer and get the parts that are needed.

Read the instructions thoroughly before you start

This sounds like a no-brainer but you’ll be surprised at how many people start building there furniture pieces without reading the instructions fully, then find that they have parts the wrong way round or in the wrong place.

Lay out the parts in order

Reading the instructions is only the first part of a stress free build; it is also a good idea to lay the parts out in the order in which you will need them. Once all of the parts are in place it is just a matter of picking up the next part when you need it.

Assemble the piece on its front or back; this will minimise the strain on the corner joints and make sure that all of the fixtures are fully tightened before lifting the piece into position. For bigger items such as wardrobes or beds it is a good idea to have another person helping to make the job a lot easier.

Taking these precautions takes the stress out of assembling flat pack furniture and ensures that the piece will last for many years.

Picture: Manuel W.

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A Guide to choosing bathroom cabinets

Adding a new bathroom cabinet to your bathroom can transform the look and can help a dated bathroom look modern and sleek. Cabinets also have the benefit of adding extra storage space to one of the smallest rooms in the house.

With so many types of bathroom cabinet on the market, it can be hard to decide which one to choose. Here is a handy guide to the most popular types of bathroom cabinets.

Mirrored Cabinets

Possibly the most popular design for bathroom cabinets, mirrored cabinets are a great option for small bathrooms as they combine the storage space of a standard cabinet with a mirror to help save space.

Mirrored bathroom cabinets are available in a range of different sizes for 1 door to 3 door cabinets and usually have the option of built-in lights to make it easier to see what you’re doing when shaving or applying makeup.

Tall Bathroom Cabinets

Tall bathroom cabinets are great for when space is at a premium; these cabinets maximise the storage space whilst taking up minimal floor space. Available in a range of different styles and designs, tall bathroom cabinets can come with optional doors, lockable cupboards and even mirrors to fit your exact needs.

Lockable cabinets

Great for when you have children who use the bathroom too, lockable bathroom cabinets can be used to store all of your cleaning chemicals and expensive items away from little fingers and mouths.

Moveable Bathroom Storage

Sometimes you have products that you use all over the bathroom such as shampoos and conditioners and having to move them to different parts of the bathroom when needed can be a chore. Moveable bathroom storage is a great option in these cases as the storage unit can be easily moved to other parts of the bathroom when needed and stored back in the corner when not in use.

Choosing a bathroom cabinet can be tough, but once you have chosen the type and cabinet that best suits the room you can choose from various high quality brands such as Roper Rhodes, Bauhaus or HIB.

Picture: UK Bathrooms

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