Posts made in April, 2016

Plumbing 101: What You Should Never Flush Down the Toilet

If you have been struggling with your plumbing system, particularly with your toilet, it might be due to putting items down the toilet that are not permitted. Some items might seem harmless to the toilet, especially when they flush with no issues, but they often create problems in the plumbing pipes that become major issues later on. Here are some things to make sure you never flush down the toilet.

Wipes and Feminine Products

Make sure no wipes or feminine products ever go down the toilet. A common misconception is that when a feminine product says “biodegradable” it means it can be flushed, but this is not the case. These applicators can still clog the toilet or get stuck in the pipes, ultimately leading to bigger problems with the plumbing system. No types of wipes should be flushed, including moist wipes, baby wipes, hygiene wipes, and disinfectant wipes. Throw these in the trash can instead.

Paper Towels

Another thing that some people assume is okay to flush, especially in smaller quantities, are paper towels. While it may seem not that different from toilet tissue, the material is actually a lot thicker. Paper towels are made to be absorbent, which makes them dangerous for the toilet. The material doesn’t break up like toilet paper and will absorb a lot of water. This can cause the paper towels to get stuck in the plumbing pipes at some point, whether in your home’s plumbing or the main sewer line. You also don’t want to flush regular paper napkins, but instead throw them in the trash can.

Oil and Grease

It might seem convenient to pour your pan full of oil or grease down the toilet and let it flush, instead of clogging your kitchen disposal and pipes, but this will also cause issues in your bathroom. Oi and grease should never go down any drain in your home as it can stick to the sides of the pipes, which then leads to clogs. It is very difficult to remove from pipes once the grease goes down them, so put your oil in a jar, put a lid on it, and throw it away.


If you have older medications, dispose of them properly, don’t flush them down the toilet. Many prescription medications and over-the-counter pills contain ingredients and bacteria that can end up downstream. You don’t want to cause the damage to local wildlife. Bring your old medications to a local pharmacy so they dispose of them safely.

If you do end up with a clog or some such, always feel free to reach out to a local plumber

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Radiators Not Getting Hot? Try This Simple Trick Before You Call a Plumber

When you turn on your central heating system, does your home quickly become warm and cosy? Or do your radiators remain cold, even when the boiler is working hard? The problem could be very simple: air trapped inside your radiators is preventing hot water from flowing into them. This problem is easily fixed by bleeding your radiators to let out the trapped air.

What You Need to Bleed a Home Radiator

  • Radiator key or flat-head screwdriver

  • Old towel

  • Container for catching liquid

How to Bleed a Radiator

Begin by turning off your central heating system and waiting for an hour for the water in the pipes to cool. This reduces the risk of burning yourself while bleeding a radiator.

Next, take a look at the radiator that isn’t working properly. On one end, close to the top, there should be a valve, which usually looks like a metal square, circle or hexagon with a slot across the middle. Place your plastic container directly underneath this valve, with the towel spread on the floor beneath it, and then insert your radiator key or flat head screwdriver into the slot and use it to turn the valve anticlockwise.

As the valve opens, you should hear air rushing out. Some dirty water may also spill out of the valve, which is why it’s a good idea to have an old towel covering the floor. When you can no longer hear air rushing, you can close the valve by turning the radiator key or screwdriver clockwise until you can’t tighten it any more.

Repeat this process for all the radiators in your home that don’t heat up correctly. In fact, it’s a good idea to drain all hot water radiators in your home at least once every couple of years to keep them working well. Trapped bubbles of air can prevent hot water from circulating effectively in your radiators, therefore preventing your central heating system from working as efficiently as it should.

What if Bleeding the Radiators Doesn’t Solve the Problem?

After bleeding your radiators, turn the boiler back on and wait for the radiators to heat up. If they’re still not heating properly, it’s time to call a plumber. Bleeding your radiators is a useful trick, but it doesn’t solve every problem that central heating systems can develop. A professional plumber can diagnose and fix almost any central heating problem, so you can feel warm and cosy in your home.

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Three tips for building the home of your dreams

Building a home of one’s own is both challenging and exciting. After overcoming the initial obstacles of purchasing a suitable plot of land and obtaining planning permission, most people are, understandably, very eager to get to work on designing the home of their dreams. However, the choices you make at this stage will have an enormous impact on the end result you achieve, and as such, it’s important to take your time and think carefully before making any final decisions. Here are three tips to help you create your dream house.

Find the right roofing

Roofing is one area in which it is vital not to scrimp; this is especially true if you intend to build in a region with a volatile climate. A well-made roof will protect your home from even the harshest of elements for years to come. Metal roofing is a popular choice, and offers many advantages over other materials.

Facilities Net explains that even the most basic metal roofing, made from galvanised steel, will last over four decades. The site also notes that this type of roofing is more eco-friendly than other varieties, as it can be designed using recycled materials and – when painted with a reflective coating and installed with insulation – can deliver significant savings on heating bills. It’s best to speak directly to your local metal roofing contractors to find out which particular type of metal and coating is most suitable for your building project.

Choosing a layout – practicality over image

When it comes to planning the internal design of your new home, it’s crucial to consider whether certain architectural features – however beautiful they might be – actually fit in with your lifestyle and your budget. Functionality should take precedence over aesthetics; for instance, you might love the look of enormous floor-to-ceiling windows, which allow lots of light into the space, but this type of feature could make it harder to keep your home warm, and thus lead to much higher energy bills during the winter months.

Pick the perfect frame system

The type of frame system you select will impact not only the cost of your construction project, but also the time it takes to build your home. According to Self Build, timber frames are a better choice if you have a tight deadline to meet, as these can be ready in as little as a week. The site also adds that timber frames, which don’t have internal load-bearing walls, allow for more choice when it comes to designing the interior layout. Conversely, as this site explains, masonry frame systems tend to be low maintenance, have superior sound and thermal insulation, and are more resistant to mould and fire than their timber counterparts. As such, this type of structure may be a better option if you are concerned with long-term energy savings and avoiding future maintenance work.  

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How to Know When to Use a Concreter or Handle the Work Yourself

Pouring concrete isn’t always an overwhelming task for a homeowner; many homeowners will mix up concrete in a wheelbarrow and then simply shovel it onto a marked off path for a new walkway or patio, and the work may proceed somewhat easily. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s always a good idea to handle your own concrete installation on your property, as some jobs may be outside your area of expertise and better left to a professional. Note some of the reasons it may be better to use a concreter than to handle the work yourself.

1. When covering a large area

Trying to manually shovel concrete from a wheelbarrow to cover large areas can be virtually impossible, so concrete pumping might be better suited for the job. Concrete pumpers are machines that pump concrete from a mixing truck onto a surface. While it may seem like a simple solution, note that concrete pumpers are not all alike and they may take some expertise to choose and to use properly. Concrete with certain aggregates mixed in may clog the pump, and you need to ensure you know how to pump the concrete slow enough to allow you to level it before it starts to set. If your job is too big for manual shoveling of concrete, you could use a concrete pump yourself, but you may want to leave the job to a concreter who has experience working with this type of machinery.

2. When concrete will see heavy traffic

Your standard family sedan may not put much undue weight on your concrete driveway, but if you own a trailer or recreational vehicle, you may want to strengthen the concrete as you pour it. This can mean adding rebar or another type of metal brace inside the layer of concrete. This isn’t always as easy as you might assume, as you need to know where and how to place the rebar so that the concrete stays level and even but is still strong enough to withstand that added weight of a heavy vehicle. If you are concerned that you don’t know how to do this on your own, hire a concreter that is familiar with this process.

3. When matching concrete

Concrete is a mixture of cement, sand, gravel and other ingredients, and trying to match existing concrete with new concrete can be a challenge. You want the color and consistency of your concrete to match, as well as the strength of any walkway or driveway extension. A professional concreter may be more experienced in noting the overall color and texture of your current concrete so as to know how to mix up new concrete for a closer match.

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Questions You Might Have About Getting a Driveway Extension or Widening

Getting your driveway extended or widened can make room for added vehicles or just give your children a place to play outdoors. It might also be needed if you’ve changed the footprint of your home or the layout of your yard, and you now want to redirect your driveway or need to lengthen it. Whatever your reasons for wanting to extend or widen your home’s driveway, note a few questions you might want to consider before you start work, and why it can be best to leave it up to a professional contractor to handle.

1. Are permits needed?

Permits are dictated by every local area, but it’s usually quite standard that a permit is needed to put down any type of concrete outside your home, even if it’s to expand an existing driveway. A permit ensures that the work won’t encroach on your neighbor’s property and that you won’t be bringing in equipment and machinery that is not allowed in your area or that might cause too much of a disturbance. If you need to know if a permit is required, call your city clerk’s desk for information.

2. Why is a land survey needed first?

You might be told that you need to have a land survey done before you extend or modify your driveway in any way. This is often to ensure that your driveway doesn’t cross your property boundaries, or if there are restrictions about how close a driveway can come to neighboring property, that it sits back enough from those boundaries. Even if you’re not required to get a land survey, you might want to consider it to check if there will be adequate drainage under the concrete driveway. If your property isn’t sloped and graded properly, the concrete might trap moisture, and water and this can damage the concrete as well as allow that moisture to collect around your home’s foundation, causing leaks and cracks.

3. Why have a concreter handle this job?

Widening a driveway might not seem like such a big job to you but note that all concrete is mixed with a variety of ingredients, and getting a mixture to match your existing concrete might be a bit tricky. You would want the same ratio of sand, gravel, and cement in your new concrete as what’s in your existing driveway, so that the two areas look alike and one side won’t be heavier than the other, putting pressure on the driveway. A concreter might have more skill and knowhow when it comes to matching concrete for a driveway extension.

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Reminders for Any Renovation

If you've decided to undertake a project around your house, there are a few things to remember. First, make sure to have a good idea of the cost going in. Talk to local specialists for estimates or do research on the cost of supplies and labor. Second, always make sure to take necessary safety precautions. While a landscape project may seem like a lower-risk task than a rewiring job, it never hurts to be too careful. Finally, don't bite off more than you can chew. Plan out your renovation and repair projects in detail and then tackle one thing at a time. If you ever feel out of your element, hand the job over to a contractor. They'll know how to get the job done efficiently, safely, and correctly.


April 2016
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