Simple but effective

Having tried almost everything to eliminate a persistent air lock in a gravity fed hot water supply to a remote bathroom basin I sorted it in a jiffy by doing this:
I put my thumb over the mixer tap spout turned, on the hot using the lift lever then slowly swung the lever to bring the mains fed cold into play. The pressure from the cold easily pushed back along the hot feed and shifted the air lock in a matter of seconds. Job done.

Calling all Handymen

The Guild has been approached by Megalomania regarding a new TV show, please contact them if you are interested:

Being a handyman

You have not been a handyman for long enough if some of these haven’t happened to you, been seen by you or been done by you.

Hot and cold get mixed up and in extreme cases the toilet suffers from hot flushes.

You turn off water at a gate valve and it jams closed needing replacement of the valve.

You open a new box of tiles and several are broken from previous rough handling or storage.

You need your tools to fight your way into indestructible packaging usually for roller blinds or curtain poles.

You forget to wash a paint brush out and it solidifies.

While painting you dip your brush into your cup of tea by mistake.

You’ve been frustrated during painting to see silicone used where caulk should have been.

Injured yourself while removing carpet gripper strips.

Add you own to the list —

Painting skirting

Painting skirting boards in a carpeted room or painting the stairs stringer on carpeted stairs is always tricky. You want to paint as close to the carpet as possible but not get any paint on the carpet. It is seldom practical to fold back the carpet, and even if you can, the gripper strips are lethal so the obvious thing is to use masking tape.

Masking tape will not stick well to carpet but it should stick well enough especially if it is tucked down into the join where the carpet meets the skirting. But the most important aspect of doing this is not so much to keep paint off the carpet but to keep fluff off your paintbrush. Obviously such fluff makes a complete mess of the smooth gloss finish you are trying to achieve.

Decorating tip

Everyone has their own decorating tips, here’s one of mine.
Window reveals can be a pain to wallpaper when three faces effectively come together.
The vertical wall inside a room above a window turns under to meet the top of the window frame while at each side of the frame, the wall turn inwards the meet the frame. At both top corners there is a three-way ‘meet’ so it is impossible to make patterns look consistent.
The easiest way it to treat the top part of the reveal as a bit of ceiling and paint it white (or the same colour as the ceiling). Wallpaper on the inside wall (above the window) then just has to be trimmed flush at the bottom edge where the paper would ordinarily turn under.
The wallpaper needs to be stuck down well on this face in case the drawing of curtains catches and lifts a join in the paper but a much more satisfactory look will be achieved especially with patterns or stripes.
Note: The wallpaper still turns inward at each side of the reveal to meet the window frame.
As a matter of course I just do it this way and if I am ever questioned I simply say it is the more modern way it is done and it also give better light into the room.
Clients just accept this without question and I honestly believe it look much neater.

Towel Radiator

A common job these days is changing an existing rad for a towel ladder and here are a few thoughts.

To accomplish the job you will need to adjust the plumbing since widths of normal rads where the valves enter from the sides are generally not suited to towel rads where the valves enter from the bottom.

Altering the plumbing means partially draining the system. I say partial because there in no need to completely empty the central heating of all water since the bathroom is most likely to be upstairs. So turn off all rads upstairs at both sides to keep the water retained inside. If it is not a combi boiler system go to the loft (or wherever located) to prevent the expansion tank from filling usually by holding the ball valve up or using an isolation valve if fitted and then bail this tank out into a bucket.

Now when you start to remove the old bathroom rad there should be very little water to catch. I use a large plastic tray and with basically just the connecting pipes between the upstairs rads to empty plus the bathroom rad itself this won’t be much water and it won’t take long.

Combi boiler systems will have less water to drain since there is no expansion tank but initially the water will be under more pressure so it may spurt as you release the radiator by loosening the valve connections.

Once the rad and pipes have stopped emptying, remove the rad and wall brackets to adjust the plumbing to suit the towel ladder.

Another consideration is that many towel ladders can be dual fuel so they can be made to accept an electrical heating element that will serve to heat-up just this rad during summer when the system is off but towels still need drying. Obviously this needs an available electrical supply which is almost never present within a bathroom. Regulations forbid anyone but a proper ‘sparky’ working within a bathroom so this fused spur, possibly also with a protective RCD, needs to be done by a qualified electrician.


The danger of reviews

B&Q (at invite reviews on the products they sell and having discovered this product

XQ-Lite 20W Mains Powered PIR Floodlight

was utter crap I tried to post a review to let people know my views which are based on a lot of years’ experience.
The following review was rejected by B&Q because [quote]:
We have read your review and value your contribution even though it did not meet all our website guidelines. Thanks for sharing, and we hope to publish next time!

My review reads:

Having been a full time handyman for over fifteen years I have rarely seen a worse piece of design. Hex screws are used all over and unnecessarily, just to make everything more fiddly it would seem. Wiring access is extremely poor with some great lump of workings taking up most of the space in the rear compartment. The sensor does not twist sideways, only up and down. If you tried to wire this in-situ doubtless perched at the top of a ladder forget it. I wired it prior to fixing it in place and actually was not surprised when it didn’t work. So now I’ll have to grapple the back open to double check my wiring (in which I have confidence) or I just assume this is in an out of the box failed unit …which is the likelier. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can rate it with zero stars so when I give it just one star please assume this is an overrating.

Consequently I can only conclude in this instance that while the product is shit, it is not as shit as B&Q themselves for this attitude.

The danger of a hidden push fit waste.

Sometimes waste from a basin, shower or bath can disappear beneath floorboards enroute to exiting the property.
If at some point this pipe is insufficiently inclined to keep a good downhill flow, the pipe will silt up with general gunk created by soap residues, hair, spat out toothpaste and everything just about everything else that goes down the plug hole.
Eventually, as a result of this lethargic flow there may be a blockage and the usual method of clearance will involve a plunger of some kind to force water down the pipe and force the build-up of crap along.
However, if unseen, there could easily be push-fit fitting employed at joins or angles along this waste pipe.
Pressurising the water inside this pipe, which unlike air cannot compress, can easily force any push-fit joints apart …so beware!
Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 22.00.51

The ‘salle de bain’ of my life

Having replaced the syphon, drop valve or fill valve in many toilets over many years I can say with some authority that these things are horrible.


The reasons are twofold:
Firstly they are often what I call ‘hard-plumbed’ into position. In the other words they end up where necessary on the end of extremely rigid 15mm copper tubing usually having capillary (sweated) joints.
Any toilet cistern replacement/repair that is called for is unlikely to position the inlet back to this exact location on reassembly so the chances this nut will connect properly are slim. Invariably, just the tiniest misalignment will cause the nut to cross-thread resulting in a leak or worse still the stripping of the weak plastic thread on the inlet valve.
Secondly these things contain a fibre washer as the means to seal. The fibre washer is a comprehensively ill-conceived idea because they readily disintegrate on disassembly requiring a new one. But they are made from what looks like compressed cardboard which is not known for its sealing qualities.
My advice and usual technique is ditch this connection and go for a flex connector with a valve like this.
These seal reliably using rubber inside the tap connector part and either the compression or push-fit connection onto the existing pipework work is easy.

Sunken bath?

Baths have a very common problem:
When full of water and person, the weight is very substantial and this often causes the bath to settle slightly over time which in turn causes the sealant around the edge (where the bath meets the wall) to be stretched slightly and fail.
The common way to address this is to fill the bath before the edges are sealed (or resealed), and leaving the bath full until the sealant has fully cured (often 12 – 24 hours).
However, this is not really getting to the root of the problem.
Suspended floors on the first floor of many houses are commonly timber construction and over time this can ‘sag’ leading to the floor to slightly resemble an old trampoline.
This will be evident in two ways:
Firstly, a gap will often open up between the skirting board and the floorboards of maybe 5 to 10mm
Secondly, items placed around the perimeter of the room, such as wardrobes, will show up the floor’s sagging by leaning away from the wall towards the top.
This is why wardrobes and such need fixing to the wall at the top and/or propping with small wedges or blocks under the front edge.
So given this tendency for a floor to sag, it is hardly surprising for a heavy bath to pull away from the wall leaving a gap around the tiles or wall at the bath lip that is similar to the gap that occurs between a floor and the skirting boards.
While this gap can often be closed subsequently by removing the bath panel and ‘jacking-up’ the bath by adjusting the threaded feet that support the bath, it is still not the best solution in my opinion.
Whenever I fit a bath, I fix a wooden batten (using 2″ x 1″ PSE timber) to the wall around the wall edges at the exact height required for the bath panel to marry up.
Because this effectively supports the bath lip at the wall, it remains immune to any problems of the floor and a gap never opens up regardless of the bath being full or empty.