Posts filed under: Advice

Stain Removal Tips by Go For Cleaning

Advice

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Cleaning associates filth and dirt with the presence of debris and stains.

While garbage can be swept or vacuumed, stains do not give up so easily. To clean a stain properly, you should keep in mind – what material is the stain on, the type of the stain and if it is soluble or not.

There are different types of stains and each type should be approached with caution and with the right detergent – firstly to have an effect and secondly in order not to damage the surface on which the stain is. It is recommended that most stains must be cleaned as quickly as possible because they soak into the tissue and leave a lasting mark. The longer the spot stays, the greater is the probability that it would not easily be cleaned. Under the influence of air, some stains oxidize while others gets darken because of the sun and heat etc.
There are many problems with stains and you should not neglect them. You should be aware that there are no universal preparations despite the ads, which can be used equally successfully for cleaning all kinds of spots so stains should be treated with caution and different kind of stain needs different special treatment.

One of the most difficult to clean is grease. They are absorbed very quickly by the tissues and are quite stubborn. Fresh greasy stain can be recognised – it is darker than the fabric on which fallen but over time, grease becomes more opaque. However they penetrate more deeply into the tissue and if the surface is thinner, they appear on the reverse side.

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The spots on carpet or upholstery are the most difficult to repair and must be cleaned fresh. Try to wash it with cold water several times, and then with hot water. But care must be taken on what fabric you want to clean up, because sometimes spots are obtained from water. For this reason, we recommend you to do a wet test on a more inconspicuous area.

Spots of animal and vegetable fats are cleaned with an organic solvent. These are alcohol and gasoline, which do not dissolve in water. These stains can be cleaned with a brush, but not as a rub, but as a pat. The brush must be soaked with solvent.

For white fabrics safest way to remove stains is to use bleach, but it can be applied only in very few cases. For colored fabrics you can try with a weak solution of bleach, but again, we recommend trying this in a small corner or covered area to check how it reacts with the fabric first. Bleach can be used only for flax, cotton and rayon. For woollens, you can use hydrogen peroxide.
Artificial fabrics should not be processed with bleach, nor with hydrogen peroxide.

After treatment with solvent, you should then repeatedly wash with cold water, to remove it completely and then quickly dry the wet spot.

However if all that looks difficult, you can always turn to a Professional Carpet & Upholstery Cleaners. We guarantee they can treat all type of stains and marks much more efficiently than – “do it yourself project”.

One highly reputable company with more than 260 great Checkatrade reviews is Go For Cleaning LTD – http://www.goforcleaning.co.uk 

This is a recommended Carpet & Upholstery Cleaning Company operating in London and provides the highest level cleaning services. The technicians are friendly and certified. We like to use modern equipment and explain our work confidently and understandable. 100% Satisfaction is Guaranteed!

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You can find out more about Go For Cleaning at http://www.checkatrade.com/GoForCleaningLtd/

A Boiler Guide – Vol.1 – by WPJ Heating

Advice

What does a new boiler cost & how can you get best value for money?

We are WPJ Heating, a boiler installation company based in London and proud members of Checkatrade.
We have been installing boilers for over 15 years and would like to share some of our tips and recommendations with you.

Boiler Prices

There are many boiler manufacturers and boiler prices can vary depending on the boiler type, size, performance, quality and guarantee. Typically the price for a new boiler ranges from £800 – £2000. It is a long term investment so it’s important to find out which is the right boiler for your home. Prices can also vary on who you choose to install your boiler.

We choose to work with Worcester Bosch and Valliant as our main suppliers because of the quality of their products and commitment that both companies have demonstrated over the years. A new Worcester Bosch or Vaillant boiler with installation ranges from £1800- £3000.

Top Tip: Always get 2-3 quotes from different boiler installation companies in your area as the prices can vary drastically.

New Boiler Savings

Your current boiler may be costing you money!
The Energy Saving Trust tells us that a modern, condensing boiler can save you up to £350 every year. Investing in a quality boiler can pay off in the long run. See the table below for approximate numbers.

BoilerGuidePrices_Table

We always recommend choosing boilers with a guarantee longer than 7 years. These boilers might be a bit more expensive at first, but in the long run these boilers will workout a better investment as high quality boilers will save you money on your gas bill and will last you at least a decade.

Different installers give different guarantees on the same boiler

It’s important to note that it’s not only the choice of boiler that determines the length of your guarantee. It also depends on who installs your boiler.
Leading manufacturers such as Worcester Bosch and Valliant go through a process of vetting and accrediting installers with different grades and that affects how long certain heating companies can guarantee your boiler for.

For example, we are top level Diamond members of the WAI Scheme (Worcester Accredited Installers) which means that Worcester Bosch trusts us to do an exceptional job with their products. We can therefore give the longest guarantee on their boilers, 8-10 years depending on the type of boiler. If you would choose an installer that’s not a Diamond member, you would get a lower guarantee on the same new boiler.

Three top tips when getting a new boiler

  1. Always get at least 2-3 boiler quotes from local boiler installer companies. Price, diagnosis and quality of workmanship can vary drastically.
  1. Always check the guarantee on your new boiler. Guarantee on a boiler often depends on the installer, not only on the boiler manufacturer or type of boiler. Compare installers in your area and their accreditations to get the longest guarantee.
  1. Always check the company’s review. Reviews don’t lie and it’s the one tool you as a customer have to asses if the company is reliable. Companies with bad or no reviews are more likely to give a disappointing service than companies with good reviews. We all operate in different ways and have different standards.

You can get a quote for a new boiler installation on our website, we will e-mail it to you immediately.

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Watch out for our next installment of Boiler Tips soon on the Checkatrade blog.

Action Fraud Warning

Advice

action fraud

Please see the below information that was sent in to us by ‘Action Fraud’;

Payment diversion alert 
Fraudsters are emailing members of the public who are expecting to make a payment for property repairs. The fraudsters will purport to be a tradesman who has recently completed work at the property and use a similar email address to that of the genuine tradesman. They will ask for funds to be transferred via bank transfer. Once payment is made the victims of the scam soon realise they have been deceived when the genuine tradesman requests payment for their services.

Protect yourself

  • Always check the email address is exactly the same as previous correspondence with the genuine contact.
  • For any request of payment via email verify the validity of the request with a phone call to the person who carried out the work.
  • Check the email for spelling and grammar as these signs can indicate that the email is not genuine.
  • Payments via bank transfer offer no financial protection; consider using alternative methods such as a credit card or PayPal which offer protection and an avenue for recompense.

If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud, you can report it online http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud or by telephone 0300 123 2040.

How Important is it to Complete the Burn Test before cleaning Carpets and Rugs?

Advice

Many of you have never heard of the Burn Test, however this is why It is beneficial to book a Professional Cleaning company like ourselves http://premiumclean.co.uk/carpet-cleaning-london/ , We are fully Qualified and Registered giving you peace of mind knowing that we know exactly what we’re doing. The Burn Test is very important to us and we will complete this test before we begin to clean your Carpets. This test is carried out by our Fully Trained and Skilled carpet cleaners, they know all the safety checks and how to complete them to ensure that the correct cleaning materials and cleaning products are used to clean safely, and not cause any damage to the surface area. To remove carpet stains and so on sometimes it requires the use of our professional cleaning products and some of these products are just simply not suitable for certain carpet types. We believe that it isn’t worth the risk of just guessing so this is why we need to know what kind of carpets you have in the property.

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For the test we will need to cut a piece of your carpet loose, don’t worry we will take it from a inconspicuous place such as a closet, behind a pipe, usually toward the edge where it will go unnoticed. We will then burn the fibre that we have removed to watch and see what reaction we get with the flame. We have helpfully listed the types of reaction to expect from all the different types of carpets available.

So the results to expect are as follows, we have begun with some of the more common types of fibres that are found in your homes:

Polyester Carpets: The flame on polyester carpets will burn rapidly and will also melt. you will get a orange flame that will sputter and the smoke given off will be black and it will leave a hard black bead that is round and shiny once it has been put out.

Cotton Carpets:This will produce a smell like burning paper and will create a orange/yellow flame, it will create grey ash and will crumble when touched easily.

Nylon Carpet: This fibre will melt and eventually extinguish itself, it gives off a scent that resembles sealing wax. It will also produce a brightly coloured orange tipped flame with a blue base.

Acrylic Carpet: The smoke that this fibre will give off will be black and it will give off an odour that smells of burning meat. The flame itself will give a splutter as it burns down and the ash will be black and more solid than the other fibres. The flame will be white/orange.

Wool Carpet: This fibre gives off no smoke at all, it will burn considerable slower than the others and it will not melt. The ash it leaves will be black and will crumble easily. It will give off a strong smell of burning hair.

The following fibres are rarer but can still be found in some carpets:

Silk Carpets:This one will also give off an odour similar to burning hair but unlike the wool carpet will leave little or even no ash at all, the flame will be steady.

Olefin Carpet:This fibre will burn rapidly and give off a strong scent of asphalt or tar, it will melt as it burns and leave behind a smooth beady ash. The flame will be orange tipped with a blue base.

Rayon Carpet: This fibre will also like the Olefin carpet burn very rapidly but it won’t leave any ash and will smell more like burning paper

After completing these burn tests we will be able to tell exactly what carpets that you have in your property. This means we know exactly what cleaning products can be used and not cause any further damage to the carpets. We want to come and improve your carpets not make them worse.

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Written by

Kiril Natov (Premium Clean Ltd. Director)

http://premiumclean.co.uk

Checkatrade customer feedback

Tel: 02030040643

How To Clean Gum and Rust From Your Carpet Efficiently

Advice

carpet-cleaning

It’s terrible for any homeowner to see their carpet stained. First comes the panic, then mixed feelings of anger and helplessness.

In most cases, you’ll grab the first product you see and start to bitterly scrub the area. Sometimes this has an effect…. sometimes, even when you try your best, not quite. 

When traces of chewing gum or rust appear, you might think that everything is lost because we think there’s no way to tackle them. 
That’s where you’re wrong!

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There are different ways to handle these problems and you can learn these from Cleaner Cleaner’s carpet cleaning specialists. Anyone can do it with our easy methods and you won’t require any special products or preparation.

Chewing gum is the substance which can cause the most damage on the carpet, especially if you try to remove it the wrong way. Even if you are unable to remove any sticky particles, it is very easy to get lint from the carpet together with the gum and break the integrity of the rug.
There is also a risk that the stain will remain. Therefore, specially for you, we have selected the most efficient methods for dealing with it.

Cleaning by freezing

You will need a few ice cubes, a plastic bag and a spoon or knife with which to scrape the gum from the carpet. Put the ice cubes in the plastic bag and place it on the contaminated area. Wait a few minutes until the gum has solidified then take the spoon and carefully remove it. If necessary, repeat several times to complete removal of the stain from the carpet.

ice-cubes

Cleaning with a hairdryer

This method is the exact reverse of freezing the gum. Using the warm setting on a hair dryer, heat the gum. Be careful not to overheat the carpet surface and to avoid damage to the fibers. After the gum is soft and smooth enough,  pull it out of the carpet. Use nylon or rubber gloves so your hands stay clean. Remove as much as possible of the gum.
To help remove the remaining residue, check our advice below. 

Cleaning of chewing gum residue on the carpet

Even though it sounds strange, residue can be removed with peanut butter or muscle pain relief cream. Both have lubricating properties and that’s just what you need. Apply the cream on the affected area and rub it in with your fingers. With the help of a soft cloth, remove any residue of chewing gum from the fibers of the carpet. It may be necessary to use your nails.
Then it will be necessary to remove the traces of the selected cleaner. However be careful and match the product with the particularities of your carpet.

You can also use a DIY product. For it, you will need to make a solution of water and dishwashing product. Apply it on the area and rub with a moist cloth.
The rinsing can be done by absorbing with a clean cloth. If you want it to dry faster,use a very dry cloth to remove any remaining water. 

Tip:

The spots of the chewing gum on the carpet may be removed with the aid of warm vinegar. Heat a small quantity of it and apply it on the desired area. Let it act for about 15 minutes and then remove the gum with a cloth. It is best to use white vinegar, especially if the color of the carpet is light. Don’t worry about the strong smell – it will ease when the liquid has evaporated.

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Cleaning Rust

Cleaning the stains from rust may prove to be a difficult task. They are stubborn and annoying and emerge from the various metal items that are present in the interior of your home.

At first glance, this contamination on a carpet appears to be hopeless for stain removal. The spots of rust are a true challenge, but there is a remedy for them. Although it‘s difficult, their removal is not impossible and there are methods with which to solve this problem.

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Lemon

Put the carpet on suitable surface. Soak the stain with lemon juice directly put on the affected area. Do not wet the carpet in advance to achieve the desired effect.

Let the acid stand for 24 hours then wash the spot and there won’t be a trace of the stain. 

Tip:

Before you start to treat your carpet with lemon juice, test to see how will the fabric react to it on a spare or harder to see piece of carpet. This will prevent possible fading of colors.
The DIY carpet cleaning method with lemon juice can be more succes    sful if you add baking soda. The catch here is that the soda has very strong bleach action, so only use this option for bright carpets.

Author: http://cleanercleaner.co.uk

Get Your Home In-Law Ready This Christmas!

Advice, Inspiration

With those chilly mornings and evenings drawing in, it can mean only one thing – the countdown to Christmas is on!

While the festive season is a great time to get together with friends and family, it can also be a stressful time. With so much to think about in terms of planning and preparation, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed.

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Add to this, guests staying at your home for a couple of days and you have the recipe for a potentially stressful situation!

The key, of course, to a successful festive break is to get organised in plenty of time. While I can’t help you decide what to get your Great Aunt Alice this year, I can share some of my top tips for getting your home guest-ready.

If you do have guests coming to visit, the most important thing to consider is where they will sleep. Ideally this will be a room of their own. Not only will this give them a space of their own to escape to for some quiet time but will also be the perfect place to store all their luggage and gifts.

If your spare room is looking a little neglected, don’t panic! There is still plenty of time to get it ship-shape and in-law ready!

Of course in an ideal world, getting your home ready for guests would require little more than a clean and tidy. However many of you may be faced with a much larger project.

Firstly, if your spare room is a dumping ground then spend an afternoon sorting it out and store what you can in the loft space. Invest in some basic storage solutions such as lidded plastic boxes to neatly store and stack everything else away.

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Once the space is tidy, you can see what you are working with. Firstly check the walls – are they in good repair? If the walls are papered and seen better days, you will need to strip them.
From here, assess the quality of the plaster. While it may seem like a big job, giving the walls a light skim will leave them looking smooth and fresh and offer the perfect base for painting.

Re-plastering the walls will require the skills of a professional plasterer, visit www.checkatrade.com to find a trusted and approved plasterer in your area.

Whether your walls need plastering or not, if the room has been left untouched for a while it will most likely require an update of the décor.
The easiest way to achieve this is with a coat of paint, while this is something a competent DIYer can do themselves. For those short on time or unwilling to tackle the project, a professional decorator can be called upon to paint walls, ceilings and woodwork to a high standard.

With the décor refreshed, you should next consider storage for the room. Not only will this make your guests stay more comfortable but it will be useful all-year round.
If your room is especially small or unusual in shape, consider inviting a joiner to design bespoke storage for the space.

With over 23,000 vetted tradespeople including plumbers, decorators and electricians, Checkatrade.com is the perfect place to start when it comes to getting your home ready in time for Christmas!

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By Craig Phillips
Checkatrade Ambassador

Cyber Crime Prevention Tips from Dorset Police Cyber Crime Unit

Advice, News

dorset

Dorset Police Cyber Crime Unit have kindly put together their top tips for this ever growing problem.

Cyber Crime Prevention Top Tips

  • Backup your files and data to external hard drives, the cloud and don’t forget to back up your phone regularly.
  • Check that a websites address is genuine by looking for misspellings.
  • Use 3G/4G for confidential browsing instead of free public WiFi.
  • Do not enter personal information on a website that has no padlock in the browser or https:// at the beginning of the web address.
  • Always ensure you are running the latest version of your chosen browser.
  • Ensure you have effective and updated Anti-Virus software and firewall running before you go online. Do not install 2 Anti-Virus programs as they will conflict.
  • Be aware of USBs containing malware that can run without your knowledge.
  • Use strong and random passwords/passphrases i.e. use at least 10 characters, include numbers and letters, both upper and lower case.
  • Different site – different password.
  • Use a password manager to remember all your passwords.
  • Use multi factor authentication.
  • Delete and block spam/junk emails. Be careful when opening attachments or using internet downloads and don’t click on links in emails from unknown senders.
  • Change your default WiFi passwords
  • Especially if you run a business, make sure you double check who is sending you invoices and where they want the money sent.
  • Make sure your internet browser and any plug-ins are updated (e.g. Flash, Java, Silverlight).
  • Use reputable companies when shopping online.
  • Use secure payment methods, such as PayPal or credit cards for online purchases.
  • Be aware of scams: criminal gangs operate scams and use the internet to defraud people and businesses, i.e. asking for money to pay for travel, finance a sick relative, or winning the lottery.
  • Protect your identity online and beware of social engineering. Remember if you share any pictures or information with anyone online you will lose control of it and could be used in attacks such as trying to guess your passwords.
  • Take 5 minutes to think when about to send a large amount of money online. Is everything adding up as it should?
  • Report any suspicious activity to Action Fraud

If you have any specific questions relating to this subject please email [email protected]

NEW CAMPAIGN TO TACKLE CRIMINAL SCAMS LAUNCHED

Advice, News
  • Scams cause between £5bn and £10bn worth of consumer detriment every year
  • Campaign to help people identify, change perceptions and prevent people falling victim to scams

A new campaign has launched today to raise awareness of scams and encourage people to take a stand against them. Scams often target people in vulnerable situations – the Friends Against Scams campaign aims to protect and prevent these people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to ‘Take a Stand Against Scams’.

Each year scams cause between £5bn and £10bn worth of detriment to UK consumers. In addition to the financial impact, scams can have a severe emotional and psychological impact on victims.

The Friends Against Scams campaign, launched by the National Trading Standards Scams Team, is open to anyone who wants to protect themselves, their neighbours or their loved ones against scams. Free training and awareness sessions – available online and in person at local awareness sessions – are being rolled out, which will provide people with the confidence and skills they need to identify and prevent scams. Those who participate in the training will become a Friend Against Scams and will be encouraged to put their knowledge to use in their local communities.

The Friends Against Scams campaign aims to:

  • Highlight the scale of the issue by encouraging communities and the nation to talk about scams
  • Change the perceptions of why people become scam victims
  • Prevent people from becoming or continuing to be a scam victim by providing better support
  • Recruit individuals and communities to join the fight against scams to make this a scam-free nation

In addition to empowering members of the public the campaign will also partner with a range of organisations who will help promote awareness of scams and take steps to help tackle scams. Founding partners of the campaign include NatWest, Bournemouth University and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Louise Baxter, Team Manager at the National Trading Standards Scams Team, said:

“Scams do huge damage to our society and we have launched this campaign to protect our communities, particularly people in vulnerable situations who are deliberately targeted by criminals. Scams defraud people and – in addition to the financial damage – many victims are left feeling socially isolated, often too uncomfortable to tell their friends and family what has happened.

“It is time that we took a stand against scams. Friends Against Scams aims to tackle the lack of scams awareness by providing information to enable communities and organisations to understand scams, talk about scams and convey messages throughout communities about scam prevention and protection. I’d encourage anyone interested in stopping scams to visit the Friends Against Scams website – http://www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk/ – and sign-up.”

Lord Toby Harris, Chair of National Trading Standards, said: 

“I strongly believe this campaign can play an important role in helping stop scams. Criminals often prey on victims who find themselves in vulnerable situations and we can all play a part to protect ourselves, family members, friends and neighbours from falling victim to scams, which is why I welcome this campaign and encourage people to get involved.

“Anyone who is worried they may be being scammed or who is concerned about someone who they fear may be a victim should report it to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06.”

Getting The House Insulated for Winter!

Advice

By Craig Phillips, Checkatrade Ambassador

We are waving goodbye to the summer and unfortunately having to welcome in the colder seasons. We all know that the winter brings with it; bitter winds, snow and ice and much of the time people forget that these conditions can cause detrimental problems for their homes.

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So this month, I am going to talk you through a few of the best forms of insulation for your roof, ceiling and walls that will help keep you and your family cosy this winter.

Firstly the most well known and most in-expensive type of insulation is Rockwool which can be rolled between the loft joists. This can be done easily without the need for a professional but be careful where you are standing in the loft space! If your space isn’t boarded out, the insulation should go between the rafters and ceiling joists.
While working in the loft, it would be a great opportunity to board out the loft which is not only another effective way of trapping the heat in the building but it will also give you a lot more storage space – perfect for when it comes to hiding Christmas presents from the kids!

Other more expensive but great performance insulation is a liquid spray call Lapolla which can go in between the rafters and the ceiling joists.
This option not only insulates the house by sealing underneath the tiles but also contributes towards sound proofing. Depending on the age of the house, it can also add to the structure of the building. If you live in an old cottage and the roof tiles have been on for hundreds of years, it is likely that there are lots of gaps so this is an ideal way to ensure that no heat escapes.

Wool insulation is one of the most effective forms of insulation and can be installed in three different ways:

  1. Insulated Plasterboards: This causes quite a bit of disruption to the inside of the house but if you are renovating or re-plastering anyway, this process is certainly worth it in the end. Insert thermal insulated plasterboards to the inside walls before re-skimming and plastering on the outer skin of the building.
    Insulated plasterboards are extremely effective and substantially decreases the U Values and also helps with sound proofing.
  2. Expansion Foam: This form of insulation is dependent on the structure of your house. If you have cavity walls (an outer block and an internal block with a cavity gap in between them), an expansion foam can be injected both from the inside or the outside by drilling small 10mm masonry holes through the brick or blockwork.
    A specialised company will be needed for this process and will spray either an expansion foam or a loose fit woollen foam inside the holes. I have used both methods in some of my properties and both varieties of foam work extremely well.
  3. Polystyrene Boarding: A polystyrene board can be bolted to the external walls and re-rendered with a lightweight silicone render – I am using this on one of my properties at the moment! This process causes no internal disruption and can all be done from the outside, however it is weather dependent as January and February would be too cold so now is the perfect opportunity to do it.
    Polystyrene Boarding is also a maintenance free render and the render comes with a vast array of coloured pigments so there is not much painting to do afterwards. In some areas the council have grant money that contribute to external insulation and silicone render so it is certainly worth looking into and finding out if you are in one of these areas.

Nothing is worse than cold feet in the winter and if you are in the process of, or planning to rip up the carpet or laminate flooring then what better opportunity to apply under floor insulation and heating? ~
This is a great way of keeping the energy bills down and keeping the house warm if your central heating isn’t up to scratch.

There is a rigid insulation available which can be found from a number of suppliers including British Gypsum, Kingspan or Celotex. Not only is it cost effective, it is also a great DIY job. Just place or interlock the insulation on the floor and then apply the plywood and carpet/laminate flooring back on top of it.

A great company called Flexel provide innovative and inexpensive electric underfloor heating which again you can install yourself but you will need to get an electrician to make the final connection.

Some other ways to ensure heat can’t escape from your home this winter:

  • Cap off your unused chimney breast
  • Check for gaps in all external pipes and use an expanding foam to fill them
  • Ensure all doors and windows are closing properly and all have draft excluding strips (you can buy these from your local DIY store very cheap)

We hope you find these tips useful, let us know if you give any of them a go!

By Craig Phillips, Checkatrade Ambassador

craig

 

It’s Time to Get Your House Ready For The Colder Months

Advice

As you bask in the heatwave of another British summer – well, we can dream! – the last thing you will be thinking about is the coming autumn and winter. But remember when the government used to talk about fixing the roof when the sun was shining? Well this time we should take the politicians seriously because that’s precisely what we have to do.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves by talking about roofs, let’s start on the ground floor and work our way up.

It certainly pays to be prepared and perhaps the most important thing to consider now is what happens when you turn your heating back on after all those weeks and months when the system has been switched off and you’ve been saving on your bills!

Gas Boiler (Low)

Gas safety is absolutely essential and so before you fire up the boiler you really need to get it checked by a qualified and registered engineer. Firstly, you need to make sure that it will work when you need it – nobody wants to be replacing their boiler in the winter! – but also you need to be checking if any carbon monoxide is being released.

As we know, carbon monoxide (otherwise known as CO) is a silent and odourless killer and just a few simple steps can keep you and your family safe. Firstly, get a CO detector in your house and make sure that it’s working. Then if you haven’t had your gas appliances and flues checked for a while, now’s the time to do it.

And while you’re checking flues you might want to look at any air vents or even your chimney (if you have one) to make sure nothing has grown over and is causing a blockage. Finally, when you are happy with everything and you come to fire up your boiler, make sure that the gas flame burns blue. If it doesn’t, shut the boiler down immediately and call that engineer. Of course, your heating system’s efficiency is not just about the boiler so take time out to check all your radiators – do they leak, do they have air in them and so need bleeding, do the controls still work or have they seized up?

Another way of preparing your home for those colder months is to minimise the risk of having any floods or water damage when the downpours come or when the snow falls. Gutters and drains are always susceptible to getting blocked by leaves or other debris and if you get a spell of heavy rain or lengthy periods of snow you could be in big trouble. Also, make sure that no downpipe connections have come loose because that could lead to water pouring down an outside wall which you really need to avoid. One more thought: is all your guttering strong enough to take the weight of snow sitting there for days or even weeks on end? Does it need replacing?

Roofer (Low)

Now let’s look at that roof. You need to make sure that all the tiles are in place, that lead flashings around your chimney (again, if you have one) are in good condition and that there are no gaps anywhere that could either let in water or allow the wind to get underneath and cause havoc and even potential danger. On the subject of chimneys, it’s always good practice to have it swept before you start up a fire since there can be debris, old birds’ nests and all sorts of things causing an unsafe blockage.

Of course, you should always get an experienced roofer to climb up and check your tiles – never think you’ll just nip up there yourself! – but one job you can do is go into your loft and check the roof from the inside. Assuming your loft is boarded and you have a light in there, get yourself into a safe position away from the loft entrance then turn out the light and look for daylight coming in. This only works if you do it during the day, of course, and bear in mind that there will always be some chinks of light coming in but you are looking for major tears or yawning gaps. Hopefully, there will be no bird or squirrel damage. Whatever you do, make sure you turn the light back on before you move away from your secure position!

By the way, if you haven’t g  ot your loft insulated and boarded, now is the time to think about doing it and also about insulating elsewhere in your home. Insulation has been shown to make a big difference to the size of energy bills, with some people reporting savings of over £200 a year!

Speaking of bills, with it starting to get dark at around four in the afternoon and still being dark when you go to work in the morning, you will obviously be using your lights for long periods of the day. So why not go around now and check your lightbulbs? Do you still have the old-style energy sapping versions? Fitting energy-saving bulbs can also make a major difference to your electricity bill while at the same time helping you to play your part in saving the planet.

Coming back down to earth, while you may have welcomed a bit of a breeze coursing through your home in the warm months, when the cold sets in you will want to get rid of any drafts that drift into your home through leaky door seals or windows. Most people now have double-glazing but you’d be surprised where those bone-chilling gusts of wind can come from. No house is fully sealed and everywhere that there is a void in its structure – including letterboxes, anywhere that holes have been created for passing pipes or cables through, and even cat flaps – there is the potential for a draft that you will almost certainly feel down the back of your neck as you watch TV. Even inner doors can be a problem so, even though it may seem a tad old-fashioned, the humble draft excluder across the bottom of a door can make all the difference!

Home Security (Low)

Before we finish, let’s go back to the subject of home insurance. It’s something that you hope you never have to call on, of course, but it is worth spending a little time double-checking that it covers you for weather-related damage. Many people get a rude awakening when they find out that they cannot claim for any of the thousands of pounds worth of rain or wind damage that has wrecked their home. It’s a double whammy that you really need to avoid.

Follow these tips and you will be well prepared for the colder months. In the meantime, let’s hope that they are not here for some time to come and that the only problem we have to worry about is having to keep ourselves cool!

Of course, if you can’t manage any of these jobs yourself, just check out Checkatrade and find a tradesperson that you can trust to do the work for you.

Craig Phillips is an official brand ambassador for Checkatrade.

For more information please visit www.checkatrade.com