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Monthly Archives: November 2016

  • Bathroom hacks: Keeping warm in the winter

    Taking a bath in winter is a sure-fire way to get warm and feel cosy. But if your expansion vessel for bathroomsbathroom floor is chilly and stepping out of that steamy shower or bath is like stepping into Siberia, here are ten clever bathroom hacks to keep you toasty. And the clever use of an expansion vessel may surprise you!

    Think Cosy, Think Rug

    Thick, warm, inviting rugs - they just make you want to bury your toes in them, don’t they? These are the quick-fix solution to icy bathroom floors on a cold winter’s morning. If you can, add a large and colourful rug to the centre of the floor - a rich, spicy red will be instantly warming.

    Use Colour Psychology

    Strange as it may seem, the warmer a room looks, the warmer it feels. If you favour the ice white bathroom look, then icy is how you’ll feel. Paint the walls a deeper, richer cream and add plenty of spicy and warm red, orange and gold accents for a cosier feel.

    Go on a Draught Hunt

    Your window or door may be the culprit if your bathroom feels significantly colder than the rest of the house. There’s an easy way to check - just see if a piece of toilet paper moves when you hold it up to the window or door. Repair or use sealant and add draught-proofing around windows and doors to keep the warm air in and keep those cold draughts out.

    Let the Sunshine In

    It may seem counter-intuitive, but letting light into your bathroom can make you feel warmer even on the coldest days. If you’re concerned about privacy, apply an attractive window film to let light in and keep prying eyes out.

    Keep Towels Hot and Handy

    There’s nothing nicer than a warm towel after a warm bath, so fit a towel rail if you have the space. These can be turned on to provide background heat before you run your bath and give you the luxury of a toasty towel afterwards. If you don’t have the space or the budget, drape your towel over the shower rail so it heats in the steam from the bath.

    Steam Heat

    Here’s a clever hack to keep you warm as you dress - and make sure your clothes look great too! Just decide on your outfit and take it into the bathroom with you and hang it on the back of the door. The steam will gently heat the fibres and steam out any annoying little wrinkles at the same time.

    Spot Hot

    Instead of heating the whole bathroom if you’re just diving in for a shave or to do your make-up, install a small heat lamp to warm up a specific area - like round the sink and vanity unit. Ask for advice on the safe solution for your bathroom and you’ll save energy, too.

    Let It Bleed

    If you have a radiator in your bathroom and it’s not heating efficiently, give it a bleed - this is quick and simple to do if you have an open heating system. If you have a sealed system (you’ll know if you do because you’ll have an expansion vessel, a pressure gauge and a filling loop), you’ll need to let them get completely cold so you can read the pressure. A job best left to the professionals.

    Splash Out - Get Underfloor Heating

    Heating mats are an investment, and they can be time-consuming to install, but the disruption and expense are worth it for a bathroom that gives you toasty toes as soon as you step out of the bath.

    Crank Up the Heat

    If you really want to invest in a big-money way of heating your bathroom, fit a sauna or steam room. Yes, it’s luxurious, but it really will make your bathroom a pleasant place to be on a frosty morning. For absolute luxury, install a faux fire that adds glamour and heat to your bathroom.

    Worried about bathroom plumbing? Here's how to hide it.

  • How to avoid basement flooding

    Converting a basement or cellar, or even excavating a new one, is an increasinglysump pumps for flooding popular way of extending your property. It can provide you with more living space, a home cinema, an office or any number of other things. But it’s important to take steps to prevent flooding. Many basements rely on using sump pumps to keep them dry, but there are some other maintenance measures and checks you can carry out to ensure that you don’t suffer from flooding or water damage when the weather turns wet.

    1. Gutters and Drains

    Keeping your basement dry during wet weather actually starts outside the house. Ensuring that your guttering and downpipes are kept clear and that the drains they feed into aren’t blocked by leaves and other debris will help to make sure that rain water is kept away from the base of the building and therefore won’t find its way to the basement.

    It’s a good idea to get your drains checked too. A blockage could lead to flooding, so getting them inspected or cleared out will provide you with extra peace of mind.

    2. Property Maintenance

    You should also inspect the walls of the basement itself and around the outside of your property for cracks and damage that could allow moisture to penetrate. If there is damage, you need to get it repaired as soon as possible before it becomes any worse. If you have basement windows at or below ground level, these should be checked too. Make sure the frames are in good order and that there are no cracks in the glass that could allow water in.

    3. Sump Pumps

    If you have a sump pump, you need to ensure that the sump itself is free of debris. Make sure the pump is working properly too. It may have had an easier time over the dryer months, and you need to make sure it will work when needed. If it does need replacing - perhaps because it isn’t working as efficiently or it’s become too noisy - then it’s best to get it done before it fails completely. See out guide on how to install a sump pump.

    4. Power Supply

    Of course, your sump pump will only work if it has a power supply. If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding and is likely to suffer power failures, then you might want to consider a back-up power source - either using a generator or batteries. It’s worth finding out how long you can be without power before it becomes a severe problem. If you suffer from regular power loss, it might be worth increasing the size of the drainage sump.

    5. Get Insured

    If the worst should happen and your basement does get flooded, then the clean-up costs could be substantial. Make sure that your household insurance policy covers you for flooding to the basement. If it doesn’t, then look at taking out a separate policy, but check carefully what is and isn’t covered and if there is any excess payable should you need to make a claim. Find out more information about flood insurance.

    Shop sump pumps now to avoid your basement from flooding.

  • 7 things you didn't know about flood insurance

    If you have a property that’s in a flood-prone area, the chances are you’ll need tosubmersible water pump for flooding take out flood insurance. With over 15,000 homeowners making claims last year alone, it’s important to remember that anyone can get flooded - yes, even on top of a hill. But before you invest in a submersible water pump, read on for seven things you may not know about flood insurance.

    1. Everyone has it

    Flood insurance is usually included as part of your buildings insurance, whether you’re at risk of flooding or not. However, your contents will not be insured unless you have separate contents insurance, and you’ll need to find out exactly what you’re covered for.

    2. You might not be covered for everything

    It makes sense to go through your policy with a fine-tooth comb and check out everything to do with flooding and what you’re covered for. You should be covered for the cost of drying out and repairing the fabric of your home, repair and replacement of damaged belongings, removal of debris, any professional fees and alternative accommodation when you can’t live in your home.

    Replacement of damaged belongings will depend on the kind of cover you have, so upgrade to a new-for-old policy if you don’t have one. And be sure to keep an inventory of everything that’s been damaged - insurers will accept labels from spoiled food as proof of purchase, and these costs can really add up.

    3. You need it - Even if you live on a hill

    It doesn’t matter where you live, or if your property has never flooded before. Climate change is producing heavier rainfall than ever before, and you can be at risk from run-off or a pipe that has burst because it’s unable to cope with the pressure and volume of water. No longer is it just waterside properties that need to make sure they have adequate cover - every property is potentially at risk of flooding.

    4. You might not have enough cover

    If you think flooding doesn’t apply to your property, the chances are you don’t have enough cover. Talk to your insurance company directly about your flood cover. And if your house may be prone to flooding - even if it hasn’t - tell the insurance company. Although the onus is on them to ask for information rather than on you to provide it, if they’ve never asked about flooding you may encounter complications if the worst does happen.

    5. You can assess your risk

    The Environment Agency in England and Wales have flood maps available on their website, as do the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in Northern Ireland.

    If you live in Scotland, it’s worth knowing that the Scottish government does not allow insurance companies to use this information to set your premiums.

    You can also ask the Environment Agency for an insurance-related request letter that outlines your risk, or pay for a flood risk assessment. These should help protect you against unfeasible insurance hikes.

    6. Take preventative action with a submersible water pump

    Be proactive - join local flood action groups and support large-scale flood defence projects. You can also sign up for flood alerts and lobby the local council for flood improvements. Protect your home by installing flood-resilient floor boards and air-brick covers and buy a good-quality submersible water pump. These actions may reduce your insurance premiums.

    7. You can get help if your premiums go up

    If the worst happens, and your insurance company hikes your premiums unreasonably - if, for example, you share a postcode with properties that have flooded, though yours hasn’t - you can get help. Use a specialist broker to help find cover that suits you and has a reasonable premium. You can also talk to the National Flood Forum about your options. Or get in touch with Flood Re, a joint government/insurance company initiative to help householders find affordable flood insurance.

    Find out other ways you can prevent flood damage.

  • How to install a sump pump

    More and more householders are making use of their basements to provide extrasump pumps for basement conversions accommodation. Rather than trying to keep water out completely in order to keep the area dry, most conversions now rely on a system that allows water to drain down the walls behind the décor and then uses sump pumps to remove the water that accumulates.

    Many people will have a builder install the pump as part of a basement conversion, but if you’re doing the work yourself, installing sump pumps isn’t as difficult as you might think.

    1. Low points

    The first thing to do is identify the lowest part of your basement. This is where you’ll need to locate the pump. Excavate a hole deep enough to hold the sump and the pump. The top of the pump generally sits flush with the floor, though various types of sump pumps are available. A layer of gravel in the bottom of the hole gives a firm level base for the sump to sit on.

    2. Drainage

    Water needs to get into the sump in order for the pump to remove it. Usually, there are channels around the edges of the basement, and water will be piped from these into the sump itself. In some cases, it may also be allowed to ‘weep’ into the sump from the surrounding soil. In the latter case, you need to line the sump cavity with filter fabric to prevent clogging with dirt and debris.

    3. Choosing your sump pump

    When you choose a pump, you need to ensure that it has sufficient capacity to cope with the volume of water you expect to move - also that it’s powerful enough to be able to lift the water away to your chosen drain point. Note too that some pumps are submersible, whereas with others the motor needs to remain clear of the water.

    It’s important to understand the valves on your sump pump. The float valve triggers the pump to operate based on the level of moisture in the reservoir. Make sure that it is unobstructed and able to move freely. There will also be a non-return valve which prevents the water that’s being pumped out from running back into the sump.

    4. Piping

    The water that the pump removes needs to go somewhere, and this involves piping it out of the basement to a suitable drain. Most systems use plastic piping to take the water out of the basement. Make sure that this is securely fitted and that the joints are properly secure. The pipe needs to run to a drain or gulley outside the house to ensure water is carried away safely. Make sure any places where the pipe passes through walls are properly sealed.

    5. Ready to go

    With everything connected up, you can test that it all works. Slowly pour water into the sump and check that the float valve operates and the pump starts up. With the pump working, check all of your pipe joints for leaks. Once you’re happy that everything is fine, you can fit the sump cover and seal up around its edges. You’re then ready for anything the weather can throw at you.

    Need help choosing the best sump pump for your requirements? We've got you covered.

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