How to safely fit a power shower

Fitting a new power shower does not always have to involve securing the services of a plumber or an electrician.  As long as the electrical fittings, including the power switch, are in place in the bathroom, then careful following of the manufacturer’s instructions and a little bit of DIY know-how are all that is required.

Firstly, turn off all power to any circuits in the immediate vicinity of the unit, including lights and shaver power points, through the fuse box and check any metal piping is properly earthed.  Once the area has been made safe, remove the cover plate of the shower heating unit and measure out drill holes on the wall at the fixing points and for cabling.

Prepare the cable route to the pull-switch, which must not be over the bath or inside the shower unit, and run the cable through, connecting it to the terminal block inside the shower heater.  Each connector should be clearly marked inside the unit.

Run the connecting cable through into the entry hole and then attach the unit to the wall as per the manufacturer’s instructions, being careful to use the correct screws for the fixing holes. Once your power shower is connected do not use for several hours.  Always test the water temperature before getting under the shower.

To complete the new shower, you may want to add shower or bath screens, such as the ones available from Aqata.  Glass screens provide a hotel-style feel to make a home bathroom more glamorous.

Picture: Nick Fletcher

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Clearing an airlock

It does not happen often but it can be a problem when it does occur, which is an airlock in a water system, usually this will be in the hot supply, although it can occur in the cold as well depending on how this is fed.

Assuming that this is the hot system, it can be quickly and easily cleared by attaching a piece of hose between the affected tap and the cold supply tap , securing with “jubilee” style clips to ensure that a good tight fit is obtained. First open fully the affected tap and then the tap supplied direct from the mains, leave them both on for 30 seconds and then close the taps. Ensure that you turn off the cold tap first. You can now see if this has solved the problem, if not repeat until it does and it could take three or four attempts before water flows again through the affected tap.

In modern properties it is not unusual to have only one tap which is fed directly from the mains, the remaining ones will be fed form a tank situated in a roof space, this ensures that a supply of water is always on hand should a problem occur with the mains water feed. The one direct cold water feed will nearly always be in the kitchen and it is here that you should attach the hose as a good pressure will ensure that the blockage is quickly removed. If it is the cold system that is affected a long hose may be needed from the cold feed to the nearest cold tap not in the kitchen.

Now you should find out why the airlock occurred and this is usually due to the cold water storage tank not filling up as quickly as the tank is being drained. Here you will need some help to open up the taps on the bath whilst you look to see if the tank empties before the bath fills, causing air to get into the system. If this is the case it may be that a stopcock is not open enough or the float valve on the tank is faulty.

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Floor Coverings

The choice of floor coverings available today is as good and varied as it has ever been, no longer just a choice of a patterned carpet or a plain carpet. Many home before the Second World War had a wood block or strip floor fitted as standard, particularly in hallways and oak was the firm favourite along with African mahogany.

However with the cost of hardwoods and the stripping of the vast areas of tropical forests in Africa, the use of heavy wooden hardwood floors diminished and was replaced by the more common laminate type. In addition to laminate wood floors you also have a wide choice of tiles, carpets, vinyl as well as other specialist floor coverings.

Laminate floors are a made to look like traditional woods while offering easy installation and lasting durability. The appearance is one of wood but is really a thin layer of paper which is in fact a photograph under a very tough film and these can be made to appear as many kinds of wood as well as stone and ceramic if preferred.

One of the main advantages of a laminate floor is that it is easy to install, quite hardwearing and cost a lot less than a traditional hardwood floor. It is a fully floating floor and is not fastened to the sub floor, the lengths are simply clicked together making it fast without fuss or mess.

Picture: Daniel Slaughter

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Selling unwanted household items on eBay

If you’ve got a lot of stuff knocking around your house, old clothes, CDs, furniture, it can be tempting just to take it down to the charity shop and forget about it. But in reality that stuff could be worth a bit of money to you. So using eBay to sell it is one of the easiest ways to get rid of it.

eBay can seem a bit tricky to first time sellers. You need to make sure that you’re first signed up for an eBay account as well as a Paypal account, as this is the way that most people prefer to pay. You’ll also need to think about which delivery service you plan to use, as some are more expensive than others, and some offer different methods of tracking.

Companies such as Delivery Quote Compare offer competitive courier prices for all sorts of products including big items such as furniture, bikes and even cars and a shipping quote can be received in just a couple of hours.

When you’re selling something, make sure to get some good pictures of the item first. The better quality they are, the better the item will sell. Also ensure that you have written the description as accurately as it can be. Don’t forget to detail any damage to items and whether you’re used or not, as people can demand refunds for improperly described items.

It’s easiest when you’re starting out to list things for an auction. Start them at a low price, anything at 99p has no insertion fee, then they will build up from there. When the auction ends, it’s very simple – all you need to do is wait for the payment to be processed then send the item off to the address that is provided.

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Planning a garden

Designing a garden can sometimes sound a bit daunting, but if you take care and use the space wisely, you’ll have a practical area that will last for many years.

Designing on paper

First thing to do is measure your garden and all the nooks and crannies and draw a scaled plan on paper. Graph paper is a great medium to design on as you can easily plot the gardens dimensions and try out different layouts. Try and include all of your garden furniture and other fixtures such as a green house or shed so that you can get a good idea of how much space you have for other features.

Layout your design

Once you have your initial design finished it is a good idea to plot the design on the ground. Lay out all of the features you want using pegs with string wrapped around them and place any furniture where you want it. You can now get a feel for the true scale of your design that you can further modify to fit into your needs.

Live with it for a few days

Look at the layout of the garden from your house and make sure that you are happy with the layout and that everything you want fits nicely together. Once you are happy then it’s time to get your supplies together and create your new garden.

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Measuring up blinds

Measuring up for blinds can be a daunting prospect. After spending so much time decorating a room to the colours, textures and atmosphere that you want, blinds are very much an important finishing touch. If they are installed incorrectly, this can negatively change the aesthetic of the room. Additionally, from a safety point of view, if the blind is not fixed properly it could fall down or become loose.

Measuring up for blinds accurately is essential in making sure that your new roller blinds can be quickly installed and will look good. Taking a tape measure, hold one end securely to the inside of the wall if it is being fitted within the recess of the window, and measure directly across to the other side of the recess. Sometimes, blinds are fitted to the wall either side of the window, so it is at the homeowner’s discretion as to how long to have the blinds running either side of the window. Some DIY style blinds can be cut to fit with a good pair of scissors for the material and a small saw for the plastic fittings. The correct measurements will ensure that your new roller blind is not cut too long – or worse – too short!

Picture: Phillip Taylor

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Drilling Tiles

Sometimes it is necessary to drill into ceramic tiles to fix accessories, especially in a kitchen or bathroom. Drilling into tiles without cracking or damaging a tile is straight forward, providing time and care is taken. However a safety tip; please wear goggles to prevent any shards or small pieces of tile from hitting your eyes.

Firstly remember that a tile in a kitchen or bathroom is glazed and has an extremely hard surface so it is necessary to use a masonry drill to make the hole. Masonry drills do have a tendency to slide across the surface of the tile and this can cause damage or drill in the wrong place. To prevent the drill bit from slipping stick some masking tape to the tile and mark exactly where you the hole is needed, use a slow speed on the drill.

Although the progress of drilling may seem slow, once the drill bit has penetrated the glaze you will be into the masonry behind and you can then turn the drill to hammer action. This should be repeated for every hole that is required, simple actions and slow drilling means that you will not have cracked or broken tiles which have to be replaced, that is if you can still obtain tiles that match the existing!

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Bathroom design ideas

Sprucing up a bathroom can be done easily and inexpensively.  To create a brand new look does not have to mean forking out for a whole new suite; it can be a case of a few simple touches which alter the overall feel of the room to your satisfaction.

A brand new colour can make a bathroom feel like a totally different room in just a few hours. Choose special moisture resistant bathroom paint for a clean, fresh look that will last.  If opting for a themed look, stencils can be used to add images and patterns to complement the chosen theme.  Lighter colours open up a space and make it feel bigger than it really is, which is ideal for most bathrooms.

A bathroom suite can be altered dramatically through the installation of new taps, such as those available from Sagittarius.  A new style of tap followed by a good scrub can make your old bathroom suite seem as good as new.

By the same token, adding new handles to existing bathroom cabinets can also update the look of the room without costing a fortune, and wooden cabinets can be repainted at the same time as the walls.  Installing mirrors to cabinet fronts opens up the space, making the smallest room in the house feel larger and airier.

Accessories are the key to any decorating scheme and the bathroom is no exception.  New sets of plush towels, a different bath mat or a new shower screen from Aqata can all refresh a room quickly and easily.

Picture: Burlington Bathrooms

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Repotting plants

If you’ve just moved into a house that has a garden, or you’re only just beginning to dabble in growing your own plants, one of the first things you’ll need to know is how to repot a plant. It’s not at all difficult, and is really very quick and easy.

You will be able to tell when a plant needs repotting because the roots may have begun to grow out of the holes in the pot of the pot or are getting tangled at the top of the soil.

Before you repot, make sure that the plant and the soil is moist. This means making sure they are watered a day or two before you repot them, as they are easier to move when damp.

You’ll need to have your potting mix ready; this means have it mixed with some warm water and stirred together. Now you can start moving the plant.

Press the edges of the pot gently to remove the soil and roots from around the edges. Place your and over the top of the pot, with the stem secured between your fingers, being careful not to crush any leaves. Tip the pot upside down, then firmly tap the bottom of the pot and knock the rim gently against a hard object, such as a table. When it is removed, check that the root ball is healthy. If it is surrounded by thick roots, use a sharp knife to cut away around 2 to 3cm.

Pour in the mixture of pre-moistened potting mix to your new pot, then place the plant into the centre of the pot and completely cover the roots with the mixture. Make sure to water your plant in its new home, then keep it out of direct sunlight for around a week.

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How to keep your home well-insulated

Whether you live in a warm climate or a cool one, or even mixture of both at different times of the year, you’ll need to make sure that your house is well-insulated. You may use air conditioning to keep your house cool, or central heating to warm it up, and both mean having a home that doesn’t let that air escape. Having a well-insulated home will save you money on bills as well as reducing your carbon footprint. Here are a few easy ways you do this.

Make sure that all doors and windows have been weatherproofed. If you have newer models of windows and doors, they’re often already very good at insulating. But older ones may need weather stripping adding to them. This is very easy to install and available at a number of hardware retailers.

Try inserting some insulating foam behind switch and face plates. Any electrical outlets that you have on exterior walls will let in some of that warm or cool air, and this is a simple way to stop it.

Try to use any ventilating fans you have as little as possible. They will draw heated and cooled air out of the house, meaning the appliances have to work harder to replace it. They are usually located in bathrooms and in kitchens in the hood above the hob. Only switch on the hood ventilator when you are cooking, and ensure that the bathroom fan does not automatically come on when you switch on the light.

If your windows and doors are still a little draughty, even with insulating tape, make sure you have some heavy curtains over them to stop heat entering your home. This is particularly useful for homes where the exterior door leads straight into a room that is used.

Finally, ensure that you don’t bother to heat or cool rooms that aren’t used as much as others. If you have a spare bedroom or a dining room that are not used during the winter, shut the door and leave the heating down low. Don’t switch it off altogether though as you don’t want things to freeze.

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