Home & Garden Maintenance

5 Things That Could Destroy Your Home

Flood KitsOur home is our sanctuary, our place of comfort and rest, as well as the place that houses those that are most dear to us. Accordingly, we would do anything we can to protect our house. The most unnerving threats however are the ones that catch us unawares. To educate you on the lesser-known threats to our home, we have compiled a handy list of 5 things you did not know could destroy your home.

Climbing plants

Climbing plants like ivy can look very pretty at first glance, but more often than not they are causing havoc with the very foundations of your home. Through the process of biological weathering, your walls are being gradually worn away.

Climbing plants, or creepers (a name more befitting of their sinister designs on your home) grow into any cracks or gaps in your walls, making them weaker and weaker over time. If left unattended, they can cause serious structural damage that will be costly to repair.

Loose tiles and weak trees

Loose roof tiles often don’t present themselves until it’s too late. I was rudely awakened to this issue myself in recent weeks.  A single roof tile had wiggled itself loose, and Storm Doris had sent it crashing through the roof window of our bathroom. Nightmare. To make sure you don’t experience the same misfortune, it is worth pre-empting any challenge from the Great British weather by making sure all of your roof tiles are secure.

The same logic applies to any trees that are ominously looming over your home. High winds can knock over even the sturdiest looking of trees, making it imperative to trim any that appear look particularly vulnerable.

Faulty appliances

Sure, the sheer versatility of the five pronged USB charger is impressive, but it is equally adept at setting your house on fire. Often manufactured in China, where appliances are not subject to the same rigorous safety standards checks, faulty chargers can provide a serious threat to the safety of your home.

Vintage appliances can be just as threatening. Invariably made according to antiquated safety codes, vintage appliances are all too often rife with frayed or damaged wires that are just waiting to become a fire hazard.

Faulty pipes

Being oblivious to the network of pipes carrying water around your house is one of the biggest crimes homeowners can commit. The UK insurance industry pays out £2.5 million every day to repair damage caused by escape of water in the home, making it a better time than ever to invest in a flood kit.

Frozen or burst pipes are often the chief culprits. Amending any leaky taps and making sure all tanks and pipes are properly insulated should be enough to ward off any immediate threat.

The only way to safeguard your home long-term is to replace any old pipes with new ones, which also means installing new water booster pumps.

Pests

Always the unwanted visitors, pests can cause more damage than the most unruly of house guests ever could. Termites and woodworms gnaw away at the structural supports of our homes whilst nests made by wasps and bats destroy wiring and framing.

These nests thrive in small spaces and it is therefore essential to secure any such areas with hardware cloth or welded wire-fabric.

Hopefully you feel more aware of some of the more inconspicuous threats to your home and feel you are prepared to face them head on. Are there any other dangers to your home that belong on this list? Let us know!

How to Get Rid of Mould in Showers!

How to Get Rid of Mold in Showers!

Mould in your shower room can be a real problem. Not only does it look unsightly, but it can cause serious health problems if left unchecked.

Mould can appear because your bathroom is humid and not well ventilated, so try to air out the room by opening a window frequently. This will allow fresh air to circulate. If the problem persists, consider using a dehumidifier.

Mould frequently appears around showers, sinks, baths and toilets – in fact, anywhere where moisture accumulates. Make sure you have no leaking taps and that any shower pumps are functioning correctly. Keeping unnecessary moisture to a minimum by promptly mopping up any spills will also inhibit the growth of mould.

Regular cleaning will also inhibit the formation of mould. Give bathmats a regular wash and invest in a mould-proof shower curtain if you use one. Make sure any products are wiped down and stored after use so they don’t remain in your shower, creating conditions where mould can grow.

If mould has taken hold in your shower, there are several methods you can try to get rid of it, either using household products or off-the-shelf mould-cleaning solutions. Whatever you use, remember to always wear gloves to prevent any irritation, and always read the instructions carefully.

Brilliant Bicarb

Check in your baking supplies and you’re bound to have some bicarbonate of soda. Bicarb can be an effective mould cleaner – just mix one cup with one teaspoon of washing-up liquid and enough hot water to make a paste. Work the mixture into the mould – an old toothbrush can be very effective – and then rinse off.

Try Bleach

You can buy bleach sprays in the supermarket. Or you can make your own by mixing one part bleach with two parts of water in a spray bottle. Spray on to tiles and allow to dry.

Now spray again and scrub with a brush. Rinse with water and repeat until the mould has gone. You may need to regrout if you can’t get rid of all the mould, so use a product with a mould inhibitor.

An old toothbrush dipped in bleach can be an effective way of removing mould on grout lines and in hard-to-reach places.

Kill Mould with Hydrogen Peroxide

Yes, the stuff the hairdresser users for your highlights can make an effective household cleaner. Many people prefer it to bleach, as it’s environmentally friendly. You’ll need 3% hydrogen peroxide for cleaning away mould.

Use a dark spray bottle, because hydrogen peroxide becomes less effective when exposed to light, and add a little vinegar to boost your solution’s cleaning power.

Because of its effective bleaching properties, hydrogen peroxide is best for cleaning white tiles. Do a patch test on darker tiles to see whether it fades the colour.

Now spray all over the tiles and leave to work for up to two hours. Ventilate your bathroom, as the fumes, though non-toxic, can be very strong and unpleasant. Then simply wipe down.

Go Natural with Vinegar

Vinegar kills 82% of all household moulds, so spraying surfaces with vinegar once the mould is gone is a good preventative.

You don’t need to dilute it: simply fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and then spray on mouldy surfaces. Leave for an hour, airing out the bath. Now spray the tiles with hot water and dry thoroughly with a towel.

Vinegar is also extremely effective against limescale. Spray it neat on to any scale build-up, then leave overnight before rinsing.

Use Borax

Borax is a good natural cleaner and insecticide. It’s simple to use – just dilute one cup of borax in one gallon of water. Before you apply it, vacuum the tiles with a HEPA filtered vacuum cleaner to get rid of any loose spores.

Work the borax solution into the tiles with a scrubbing brush, being careful not to dislodge any stray spores as they will rapidly spread to a new location. Now clean off with a cloth and let the tiles dry. For extra security, spray the area with vinegar to inhibit regrowth.

Disinfect That Mouldy Shower Drain

Vinegar is excellent at getting rid of mould in the shower drain – simply pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain, followed by half a cup of bicarb. Leave to work overnight, then flush with hot water. Repeat a couple of times a month to keep the drain mould-free and sweet-smelling.

Autumn tips for getting your home and garden ‘Winter ready’

 

winter home and garden

It’s official. Climate change is here and with it a devastating change in our weather patterns. The outlook for winter 2016/2017 is already bleak, with raging storms and flooding predicted between December and February.

So what precautions can you take now to get your home ready for another winter battering? Even if the weather is currently mild, it pays to be prepared!

Clean Your Gutters

Guttering is the first line of defence in carrying water away from your home. If gutters become dammed by debris, they can cause damp problems for your home as water breaches the exterior fabric. A few hours spent cleaning your gutters and drainpipes now can avoid costly damage later.

Damn the Air Leaks

Doors, windows and letter boxes are major sources of energy loss in the average home. By letting warm air escape, you’re expecting your boiler to work harder to keep your home at a comfortable temperature.

Seal leaks with silicone where applicable, and fit insulation strips round windows and doors.

Get Your Boiler Serviced

Winter is the season when you most rely on your boiler, so it makes sense to have it fully serviced before the worst weather arrives. This will ensure that it’s running at optimum capacity, passing energy savings to you and keeping your house warm and cosy as the storms rage outside.

Fit a Hot Water Circulating Pump

Consider fitting a low-energy Hot Water Circulating pump that ensures you have hot water on demand when you need it in the winter.

Many models can be easily fitted by a competent DIYer and are low-energy, saving on electricity and water costs as you no longer have to run the tap waiting for the hot water to arrive.

Consider a Wood-Burner

More and more people are going ‘off-grid’ for their energy needs, but this doesn’t mean that you have to replace all your heating and water with renewables. A wood-burner can simply be used to supplement your home’s existing heating.

If you do decide to take it further, the right wood-burner can be integrated into your existing heating system with minimal fuss. And they make an attractive feature in their own right, being far more energy-efficient than an open fire.

If you don’t want to lose an open fireplace, consider blocking off the chimney instead. You won’t be able to use your fireplace except ornamentally, but you’ll prevent major heat loss.

Up Your Lighting Game

Exterior lights are essential in the winter to prevent accidents as the nights draw in. Ensure yours are equipped with low-energy bulbs or, if you’re fitting new, make sure they’re low-energy compliant. Take it one step further and replace those old fairy lights with LED ones.

Be Prepared for Flooding

If flooding has already been an issue in your property, or you’re in a high-risk area, you can fight back and reduce your insurance premiums by being flood ready.

Make a flood defence plan and reinforce the fabric of your home. Sign up for flood alerts and equip yourself with a good submersible pump or even a full-scale flood kit so you’re prepared for the worst the winter can throw at you.

Window Dressing

If you’re installing double glazing, choose the most effective windows you can afford. Good old-fashioned curtains and blinds can also be highly effective at keeping out draughts and preventing heat loss.

If you get good daylight through your windows during the day, leave blinds and curtains drawn to maximise the heat.

Insulate, Insulate and Then Insulate Some More

Proper insulation in the right places will prevent a huge amount of heat loss in your home. According to the NIA The average home loses 66% of its heat through solid walls, 25% through the roof and 20% through windows and doors.

Some energy companies offer free cavity wall and roof insulation, but even if it meets standard requirements, you can always add more roof insulation. You’ve already dealt with leaks in your doors and windows, haven’t you?

Create Windbreaks in Your Garden

Erecting fences or planting hedges around your property can give you valuable windbreaks when the cold winds blow. If you’re prone to snowfall, knock down vulnerable tree branches to prevent damage.

Following these preventative measures, will ensure your home will be kept snug and warm throughout the colder days of winter.