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Saving money on your energy bills

Posted by admin
December 21st, 2018

Saving money on your energy bills

Utility Bill

Over the past few weeks the UK has endured some very cold weather including strong winds and several centimetres of snow. The first thing people do when we get this type of weather is turn on the heating and turn it up, but could you be doing things to stop the cold draughts and heat loss from your home?

If you lose heat from your house you are literally burning money, badly fitting doors and windows are often a major contributory factor to heat loss as well as badly insulated walls and loft spaces. So what can be done?

By spending a little bit of time and money you can reduce your electricity, gas or water utility bills. Many things you can do yourself if your are a keen DIYer or Handyman.

Doors and windows

Draughts from around doors and windows not only let cold in but can allow heat to escape, you can fit a self-adhesive rubber or foam seal around the window or door to shut onto to reduce draughts, fitting brush draught excluders on the bottom of a door will reduce the cold from coming under the door. Even fitting a simple key hole cover over a door lock will reduce heat loss.
door and window

Ideally good fitting double glazed windows is the best option but these can be expensive to have fitted, but if you have single glazed windows you can still do more, such as fitting thick lined curtains and pulling them across mid afternoon as it gets dark and the temperature starts to drop. You could also fit secondary glazing throughout the winter months and remove it during the warmer summer months.

If you have a letterbox on your door consider fitting a draught proof flap on both sides, alternatively you can add a brush letterbox cover inside to reduce draughts and heat loss.

You can also buy, or make a draught excluder for the bottom of the door, these are often ‘sausage dogs’ if you buy them but can easily be made from and old pillow case and filled with old rags, whatever they are made from or the style they can reduce heat loss from the bottom of the door.

Lofts and Loft hatches

Heat rises so ensuring the loft space has enough insulation, current recommendations for mineral wool insulation is 270mm but other types of insulation may need more or less, check with the manufacturer. Also don’t forget flat roofs, they also need to be insulated.

Having a well fitted insulated and draught proofed loft hatch also can not be overlooked, no point in insulating the loft space then not doing the loft hatch. Attach insulation on the inside and fit a rubber seal for the hatch to shut onto, just like any other door.

Pipes and pipework

You can buy pipe lagging very cheaply and is easy to fit, it is often made from foam and can be fitted over the pipes, both hot and cold. You can also buy felt insulation but is harder to fit over installed pipework. If you buy the foam type just ensure you but the correct bore size for the size of copper pipe, normally either 15mm or 22mm.

Often an overlooked area is the outside, if you have pipes going outside, make sure the gaps around them are filled in, this includes plastic pipes such as waste pipes as well as copper pipes. If you have copper pies outside, lag these to stop them from freezing.

Radiators

Radiator

If you have radiators, make sure you bleed the air out of them, to tell if they need doing feel the top, middle and bottom, if the top is colder it is more than likely filled with air and need bleeding. This is a simple job and all you need is a bleed key, then open the bleed valve on the radiator a small amount until water comes out, then do the bleed valve up tight again.

If you have cold areas in your radiator you are not using the radiator efficiently and if you turn the heating up to compensate for the cold area on the radiator you are using more energy to heat the bottom of the radiator, bleed them and turn the heating down a bit.

Hot water tanks

Your hot water cylinder is where you store your hot water, if this isn’t insulated properly and you lose heat from it you will need to keep re-heating the water, so using more energy. The insulation should be at least 75mm thick, if it isn’t you can buy a hot water cylinder jacket to wrap around it.

Walls

Cavity and solid wall

If your walls are not insulated but you have a cavity between the inner and outer walls it is worth insulating them, this will reduce the heat loss from your walls. If you are unsure if you have a cavity in you wall or if you are unsure if your walls have cavity wall insulation, if you can see your bricks, look at the pattern if it is regular you will more than likely have a cavity, if the bricks have alternate, that is if you can see a full length brick, then the end of a brick you may not have a cavity but a solid wall, check with a cavity wall insulation firm in your area.

If your house was built before or up to the 1920’s it is most likely to have solid walls, after this time it should have a cavity and any house built from the 1990’s will most likely have a cavity wall with cavity wall insulation.

As for the inside of the walls, you can line them with a thermal liner, this only really needs to be done on the exterior walls as it is fairly expensive, but can be done on all of the walls. By having a thermal liner it will help even more with the heat loss through your walls.

Solar Panels

If you wish to go a step further, you can install solar panels on your roof to help with your electricity bills, and even reduce your bills by feeding the grid with your unused electricity. Although initially expensive to install it is a long term investment.

Finally

Please remember that houses need to be ventilated to stop mould growth, wet and dry rot and to keep a healthy environment inside the house so please do not block any air bricks, window trickle vents or air vents such as those near a boiler.

With many of the ways to save money on your energy bills mentioned above, you may be able to get Government grants, financial support and even earn money such as if you install solar panels, so have a look around to see what you can get help with.

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What you will find under your wallpaper

Posted by admin
April 27th, 2018

what you will find under your wallpaper

When removing wallpaper, you never know what you might find underneath. This is typically true of older houses but can also apply to newer houses.

I’ll use one of my jobs as a case study. The job was a spare bedroom, a simple remove old wallpaper, paint the ceiling and woodwork and then re-paper, but like the title of this post says, you never know ‘what you will find under your wallpaper’.

Removing Wallpaper

I removed the wallpaper top layer and soaked the under layer, all was going well and as expected. Then I removed the paper around the windows. These were not original windows and had been renewed with uPVC windows.

It was here that I found the broken away plasted that had left a deep hole. I have come across this problem many times so wasn’t surprised.

Luckily I always carry a fast setting filler so I could fill the deep hole to just below the surface, and finish of with a fine filler. This was done within half a day so I wasn’t help up, I then waited until the next day to hang the wallpaper and could complete the work on time at no extra cost.

As you never know what you may find under the old wallpaper, it is best to expect the unexpected, sometimes it maybe just lots of holes, other times it may involve blown plaster or loose render and plaster around replaced windows and doors.

You may be lucky and only find the dates of when the room was decorated over the years written on the wall, don’t forget to add yours!

Hole around a window

two Holes around a window

Filled hole around window

Filled holes around window

final fill around window

final fill around window

Finished job with wallpaper around window

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How to fit new glass into a window or door frame

Posted by admin
November 2nd, 2016

Broken glass in panel door

How to fit new glass into a window or door frame

Fitting a new piece of glass into a wooden or metal frame is a job you may need to do from time to time. Before you start running out to the shed a grabbing a hammer and chisel, safety first.

Make sure you wear suitable gloves to protect your hands and safety glasses or goggles for your eyes. You may also want to wear safety boots or at least sturdy shoes or boots and suitable clothing, this is not a flip flop, t-shirt and shorts kinda job!

Once you have to correct safety gear on you are ready to get the tools you require. Firstly determine the tools you need, is the glass held in with beading or putty?

For glass held in with putty you will need:

  • A hammer
  • A chisel or alternative to remove old putty
  • Small tacks to hold new glass in
  • Putty
  • A tape measure
  • A new pane of glass

For glass that is held in with glazing beads you will need:

  • A hammer
  • A chisel or alternative to remove glazing beads
  • Pincers or pliers
  • A tape measure
  • A new pane of glass
  • Putty, silicone, or caulk

It may be easier to remove the door of window and lay flat, but it isn’t always practical.

Removal and fitting of glass in a putted window or door

Firstly you need to remove any loose and large pieces of glass, it is a good idea to apply masking tape to the broken glass (carefully) so that as you remove the glass another piece doesn’t fall out. Once the loose glass is removed you need to remove the old putty from the frame, do this carefully with a hammer and chisel, taking care not to cut into the frame.

Ensure all putty is removed as any hard bits left can cause problems as you put the new glass in, and even crack the new glass. Remove any old tacks that held the glass in also.

Once all the old glass,putty and any tacks are removed, clear up, dispose of the old glass safely and remove dust and debris from the frame. A vacuum maybe useful to pick up any small bits of debris.

Now you can measure up for the new glass, of you haven’t done so already. Measure the width, height and thickness of the old glass, then you can either cut some glass yourself or go to a merchant and get them to cut some glass to size for you. The glass should be slightly smaller than the frame it is going in.

Now you are ready to fit the new glass, it is best to remove all the putty from the tub and put onto a board and knead like it is bread, this will mix in any linseed oil back into the putty and also warm it slightly to make it easier to use.

When this is done you can apply some putty to the frame, do this only on the edge the glass sits in. Then put the new glass in the frame, gently push the glass into the frame and making a seal with the new putty. Put some tacks in to hold the glass in place. clean of excess putty from inside frame.

Now you need to apply putty to the frame and smooth off giving an angled bead all around the glass with mitred corners.

Once you have glazed the frame, leave it alone, allow the putty to dry for a day before touching it at all, and a week or more before applying paint.

Removal and fitting of glass in a beaded window or door

You should remove any large pieces of glass, place masking tape of the glass to help prevent more glass falling out as you remove one piece, once all the broken glass is removed you can start to remove the glazing beads.

Take a hammer and chisel and gentle prize up the bead from the frame. You should be able to pull the nails out with pincers or pliers. Be very careful not to break the beading as it can be re-used. Make a note where each bead came from so that you can replace them into the same place.

Now measure for the glass allowing some movement, so 2-3mm smaller on each side. Either cut the glass to size yourself or get a merchant to do it for you. Now you have the glass the correct size you are ready to fit it.

Ensure the frame is clear from debris, use either a brush to dust or vacuum cleaner. The depending on situation and preference you need to apply putty, silicone (this can not be painted over) or caulk or the frame where the glass touches, then push the glass into position, pushing gently onto the glass to seal it against either the putty, silicone or caulk.

You can now start replacing the glazing beads, it is best to start at the bottom, put the bead into place and push it against the glass, lift the glass slightly off of the bottom of the frame and then put a nail into the bead to hold it tight, don’t hammer it all the way in just in case you need to adjust or remove the bead. Now add the second bead in the same way, and finally the two remaining beads. Once you are happy you can hammer all the nails all the way in and fill the holes ready for painting.

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