Dealing With Damp Patches on Internal Walls

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It is important to ascertain whether any damp­ness you find is due to penetrating or rising dampness in the wall, indicating a structural fault, or whether the problem is condensation caused by a build-up of moisture-laden air in the room saturating the wall.

A simple test to distinguish between penet­rating dampness and condensation can be car­ried out using cooking foil. Dry out the damp patch with a heater and stick a sheet of foil over the area, sealing the edges with adhesive tape. Then leave it for a few days.

If moisture droplets accumulate on the sur­face of the foil, the problem is due to condensation and steps should be taken to reduce the amount of moisture in the air. If the underside of the foil becomes damp or the damp patch reappears on the wall under the foil, then the problem is due to penetrating dampness coming through the wall.

Damp patches on internal walls usually indi­cate problems elsewhere. If the dampness is on the inside of an external wall, look for faults on the outside. Damp patches on a chimney breast wall can often be traced to water penetrating the flue at or above roof level.

If the damp patch is on a partition wall, it may be caused by rising dampness due to a faulty dpm, if the wall is loadbearing with conventional foundations. In this case, a new dpm may be required, which can be installed as for an external wall.

If the wall is simply an internal partition one, it is likely that the damp patch will have been caused by a problem in the plumbing. This could be a leaking water pipe within the wall or possibly a leaking waste pipe nearby. Equally a poor seal around a bath, shower tray or lavatory could be the culprit, if the damp patch is within the vicinity of these fittings or in a room that backs on to them.

If the problem is condensation, the cure is to reduce the amount of water vapor released into the air and to increase ventilation and heating levels. Fit extractor fans in kitchens and bathrooms, where most water vapor is gener­ated. Depending on the circumstances, other action to be considered includes making sure clothes driers are fitted with vent kits, installing a stove hood, buying a portable dehumidifier and improving wall and window insulation.

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How to Install the Cabinets for Your Kitchen

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Categorized Under: Do It Yourself, How To, Kitchen
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Once you have finalized plans for your kitchen, selected and obtained all the cabinets you need, it is now time to fix them in place. But first you must empty the kitchen as far as possible and clean off the walls. If the floor is uneven, this must be leveled to ensure the base cabinets sit squarely.

You must also make sure all the necessary utilities are in place, particularly those running along the kitchen walls. Incidentally, cabinets are designed with a space at the back to allow for pipe and electrical lines. You will obviously not be able to finalize, for example, the plumbing for the sink until the cabinets are in place. But you can fit the main pipe lines to their approximate final positions.

You should also install any electrical outlets or stove connections. In some cases you may have to cut a hole in the back of a unit to accommodate an outlet where the two coincide. Ideally, however, you will have planned before­hand the position of these to avoid such a problem. For example, outlets should preferably be sited above the countertop and below the wall cabinets.

With regard to any gas supply, you will not be able to install this yourself. So you should leave sufficient access to the nearest gas line for a later connection.

The first cabinets to be installed should be those in corners. Normally this will involve screwing to the floor and wall as appropriate using special brackets. Make sure the top of the cabinet is absolutely level. You can then fix the adjoining units, using the screw holes drilled for that purpose to lock each one together.

You are almost certain to find that the wall is not square or straight – particularly at the corners. The important thing to remember is that the front of the cabinets need to be joined accurately together for a straight, flush finish. This is the part that is visible. But you do not have to worry if there is the occasional gap at the back, since the countertop will cover this. Continue fitting the cabinets until you have completed the planned run round the kitchen.

The next stage is to fit the countertops. These can be bought in standard lengths and joined where necessary end to end using the special joining strips available. If you have to make a right-angled join using preformed coun­tertops, you can buy special jointing strips that enable you to make a neat and hygienic joint.

You will have to cut the required holes to accommodate a sink or cooktop in the counter-top. Normally manufacturers supply a template for this purpose or the exact dimensions for the hole. Mark this out accurately on to masking tape stuck on to the countertop. This will ensure you do not accidentally erase the mark before you have finished cutting.

Drill a 1/4in diameter hole in the waste material near to the edge and insert the blade of a jig saw/saber saw through it. Make sure you fit the small plastic anti-chip guard to the saw and carefully cut out the required shape. It is best to take care to cut out the exact shape with your saw, since it is a very slow process to clean up the edges afterwards.

Before installing the sink, apply a strip of bath caulk to the underside edge before screwing up the special clamps that locate it. This helps to ensure a watertight seal. You can now complete the plumbing for the sink.

To fix the faucets, you may find it easier to use connector pipes, since these overcome the problem of bending pipes accurately. Then connect up the waste. All sinks normally take 1 1/2 connections and the waste needs to be connected to a suitable trap. The pipe must then fall at a slight gradient – roughly 1-5° from the trap.

You are almost certain to find that the back edges of the countertop do not fit snugly to the wall. It is more than likely you will want to fit tiles above, so a gap of about 1/4in is acceptable without posing any problems. If the gap is larger than this, you will have to scribe the rear edge of the countertop to shape to fit the contours of the wall behind.

To achieve a really neat, watertight finish between the countertop and the wall or tiles, you can use one of the many sealing strips available. These are very easy to fit and separate corner and joining pieces are available to cope with these awkward areas.

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How to Fit a Shower

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Categorized Under: Bathroom, Do It Yourself, How To
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A shower is a very useful addition to any bathroom and will bring considerable savings in water and heating costs, not to mention the easing effect on the morning ‘rush hour’. Of course, a shower can also be fitted quite easily elsewhere in the house – for example in a downstairs cloakroom. There are four basic types from which you can choose the most suitable or convenient. Only the first two types are commonly installed.

Mixing Valve Shower

Installing this type involves replacing the bath faucets with a mixing valve with a shower connection. One thing you must check is that the existing hot and cold supply lines can be easily reconnected to the threaded tails on the new mixing valve; they may need extending.

With the mixing valve in place, you will have to fit the shower head to the wall and also put up a suitable shower enclosure. This can be a simple screen fixed to the wall and pivoted into place, a curtain running along the bath or an enclosed curtained space.

Thermostatic Shower

This type also uses the domestic hot water supply and is subject to the same restrictions as faucets with regard to the feed of water. It does have the advantage that it can be positioned anywhere in the bathroom – or elsewhere – and gives a better flow rate and better control of water temperature.

If you live in a hard water area, make sure the shower you buy is suitable for hard water and will not be affected by scale, particularly in the mixing valve.

Pumped Shower

Pumped showers are sometimes used in situa­tions where the local water supply is drawn at low pressure. They provide an invigorating shower and the rose is usually adjustable to give variations in the pattern or volume of water spray that is provided by the shower head.

These showers, which often take their supp­ly from a cold water storage tank, comprise four main components – the shower head with its fixings; the mixer valve; the pump with filters and flow control valve; and a transformer. The shower head and mixer valve can either be fixed on to a wall or sunk into it with the connecting pipes concealed under tiling.

The pump motor usually works at low voltage for safety and is switched on and off by a flow valve, which detects the sudden flow of water when the shower is turned on. The pump can be positioned in any convenient location near the shower and is connected by feed pipes to the mixer valve and the water supply.

The transformer converts full mains voltage to the special low voltage required and again can be positioned in a suitable dry location reason­ably near the pump.

Electric Shower

This type of shower, which can be fitted over the bath or in a separate enclosure, is occa­sionally recommended for use in remote loca­tions where full-scale plumbing arrangements do not exist. The water is heated electrically as it passes through the shower. Because it takes a high current, it is best to leave the installation to an electrician.

If you are considering buying one, remember that the hotter the shower the less water flows. The higher wattage versions give better flow than the low wattage ones, which in some cases do not really provide a sufficient water flow to keep you warm in a cold bathroom. Make sure you take professional advice if you live in a hard water area since some models are affected by a build-up of scale.

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Backyard Lighting Tips

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Categorized Under: Outdoor
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Does your back yard look too dull and boring?  Then it is time that you took things in to your hand and did some alterations to change things for the better especially when the change is within your reach. The simple technique of brightening up that dull back yard can be done with some proper lighting. You will soon see how this will add dimension to your yard and you will find yourself spending more time in there than before.

Keep in mind that the installation of lights will create a different look for your yard during the day and night. You can decide which parts of your yard need more focus and therefore the lights can be installed to show case your yard’s best features.
Out door lighting is sold in the market in diverse forms and styles. One of the simple and easy to install package is the one that has around a dozen bulbs with a 100 inch cord and a timer. All you need to do is lay out the electrical cord around the region that you need and then attach firmly the preferred lamp on the cord. The principle behind it is, all the lamps will have exposed prongs and when the power is on, they will all light up.

The lamps are usually low post ones made to illuminate a pathway of are spotlights that will give attention to a specific detail that you want to emphasize in your garden. Some products offered have a combination of both these types of lamps and would be ideal for the lighting up of smaller regions.

When pondering about what exactly the spotlights should focus on, there are number pf things that cross my mind. It could be a fountain, some piece of garden statuary or even perhaps a nice looking shrub. While fixing the spotlight to show case any feature of interest make sure its set up at least three feet away and is positioned slightly skywards.

If you want to the spotlight to show off your favorite tree, then position the light a good 6’ from the tree and letting it shine to give to give the highest possible angle of elevation. Or you could try placing the light on the tree itself, preferably on top with it bent toward the floor to add to the drama of the setting. You could alternate between both settings and then decide which suites your decorative style the best.

After you decide how best to place the lights, next you can set about the task of hiding the electric cords connecting the lamps. Either you can bury in a few inches deep in the soil or it could be concealed with a few layers of bark dust or other such substances that is in line with your theme and doesn’t look out of place. But these decorations will need to be changed time to time like for an instance let’s take a shrub that had a light etched in its top most layer. After some time this shrub would have sprouted upwards and then you need to change the position of the light or move it away altogether.

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Repair a Garage Door Opener

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It has been scientifically proven that garage door openers will not show signs of inoperativeness until it is raining. Then, while you are standing on the outside of the garage attempting to rush in for a hasty drive to somewhere you were supposed to be an hour ago, the normally helpful contraption will make an unusual sound and completely stop. It will also automatically lock all other accesses to the inside of the garage. Isn’t technology wonderful?

Don’t worry. After you’ve kicked a hole in the door from anger and made your way in, you can make a mental note to fix the thing this weekend.

How it Works

The typical electric garage door opener operates by pulling the overhead door along a sidetrack toward the rear of the garage. Reversal allows the garage door slowly to fall back into the closed position. The problems that can occur include a burned out motor, a short circuit in the opener, an unplugged unit, a blown fuse, a broken chain or cable, a broken or misaligned track, a broken or misadjusted spring, or simply a loose mounting screw.

Complete instructions on electrical wiring and troubleshooting are offered in Effective Lighting For Home & Business by Dan Ramsey (TAB BOOKS, 1984). However, we can cover the basics here. Electric current can be compared to a current of water. The more current there is in a wire, the more light, heat, and power it will produce. The ampere, or amp, is the measurement of the amount of electric current flowing through a wire at any given time. Fuses, switches, and outlets are rated in amperes. That rating determines the size of the wire or cable needed for safe operation.

The volt is the unit of electric pressure that forces amperes of current to flow through the wires. The watt is the measurement of electrical power used. The amps times the volts tells you the watts. For an example, an appliance using 5 amperes at 110 volts will consume 550 watts. However, the watt is too small a measurement for most purposes; the kilowatt is preferred. A kilowatt hour is 1000 watts consumed over a period of one hour. Meters register power consumption in kilowatt hours.

Electric circuits are closed systems through which current runs from a power source to outlets where it is used, and back to the power source. In a series circuit, current passes through several outlets one after another, each taking from the current the amount of power it needs. However, if a light burns out or is removed, the circuit is broken. Most homes use parallel wiring circuits in which one unused fixture or burned out bulb does not shut down the circuit.

Your garage is probably wired either with a two-wire or three-wire system leading into the garage, depending largely on local electrical codes at the time the home was built. Many pre-1940 homes contain a two-wire system. In these, the white wire is neutral, and is probably grounded at the power panel by an attachment to the water pipe. The black wire is the “hot” wire. Both carry current, so be careful when working near them.

Today’s garages are normally wired with the two-wire system, which provides approximately 115 volts, adequate for most electrical usage. In the three-wire system, two of the wires are hot and the third is neutral. The hot wires are usually black and red, while the neutral is white. All three feed into the main power panel, then branch out as two-wire systems within the house and to attached and detached garages.


First check along the track and connector arm to the door for any obvious problems that could jam the track. If the track on some units meets excessive resistance, it will shut down and need to be reset with the button. The problem may simply be a loose bolt on the track, bracket, or opener. Consider all the mechanical problems before attempting to move on to electrical troubleshooting.

By understanding how electricity operates a garage door opener, you can often “logic out” the problem and easily solve it. You will need a VOM or volt-ohmmeter to test circuits.

Electricity runs from the circuit box at the garage to switches and then to fixtures, or directly to the fixtures themselves. Switch/fixture combinations include your lights. Your garage door opener, on the other hand, is a directly wired fixture. Often the problem is simply that the garage door opener has become unplugged from the nearby outlet or that the cord has been damaged by the chain. So first check that the circuit fuse is functioning and that the opener is plugged in. Then check to see if your opener has a reset button (usually red) or a fuse that can be changed to bring power back to the unit. Finally, open the unit up and see if you can easily tell why the unit is not moving. It may be that the chain has jumped off the sprocket or that a bearing is frozen. If the damage is extensive and the motor or system needs a major repair, you should consider replacing the entire unit. A replacement is sometimes less expensive than a repair.

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