Tips On Replacing A Plug

This is one of a series of articles provided by the Plumber Chelmsford blog.

Every once in a while you are going to need to re- wire or replace a plug on an appliance in your home. This DIY task need not cause panic as it is something that can be done easily and safely as long as you follow some simple guidelines. A damaged or faulty plug should always be replaced as soon as possible as it could potentially cause a safety risk. 

When removing a plug from its wall socket always switch the power supply off first and then remove the plug gently by its casing. Never pull it away by the flex cable.

You will then need a small screwdriver to disconnect the old plug. An important point before wiring your new plug is to ensure that you cut back the outer plastic cover by approximately 3-4cm to reveal the insulated wires. This is best done with a pair of pliers. You will then need to remove about 1cm of the insulating cover at the top of each individual wire leaving the exposed metal wires. These wire strands should be twisted firmly together so that they will form a good contact for each terminal in the plug.

You are now ready to connect your new plug that should be a British Standard three pin plug carrying the BS kitemark.

The brown live cable should be connected to the bottom right terminal next to the fuse. The blue neutral cable should be connected to the bottom right terminal. The earth green/yellow cable should be connected to the top terminal. An easy way to remember this sequence is that brown stands for bottom right and blue for bottom left.

Please not that some appliances do not have an earth green/yellow wire. These have extra insulation with no exposed metal.

Each exposed wire end, brown live, blue neural and green/yellow earth need to fit around and through each terminal in the plug cleanly. The terminal screws can then be tightened securely over the wires. The insulation covering should reach up to each terminal.

Once the fuse has been secured in place, the flex cable should be fixed firmly using the grip and screws at the bottom of the plug. Your plug should now be ready and safe to use. 

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Advice On Loft Insulation

This is one of a series of articles by the Plumber Chelmsford blog.

If you live in a home that is not insulated the chances are up to a quarter of the heat generated in your home disappears through the roof.  Many people fail to realise that insulating your loft doesn’t have to be a difficult task. It is a straightforward and very cost effective way to reduce your heating bills and something to be seriously considered at time when energy costs continue to rise.

The recommended depth of insulation for your loft is 270mm and industry research shows that on average a saving of £145 per year can be made based on a gas heated semi-detached house with three bedrooms.
To have loft insulation installed by someone else will cost around £250 and obviously you can reduce this cost if doing it yourself. In any event, loft insulation lasts over 40 years so making the investment will pay for itself time and time again.

As a general rule of thumb, your home will be suitable for loft insulation just so long as the loft is easily accessible. Even if it isn’t, the chances are that blown insulation could be used but this process has to be carried out by a professional installer.

A person with competent DIY skills may feel able to undertake the task themselves.  They would use loft insulation blankets or ‘quilts’ which basically have to be laid over the loft area. The job does have to be done to a good standard to avoid unnecessary waste. Don’t forget this can also be laid over any existing loft installation you have to boost your overall energy saving efforts.

Blown installation is installed by a professional and will involve specialist equipment which blows a loose fire proof material into the loft space.

Not only will loft installation save you money but you will effectively also be doing your bit for the environment. By saving energy you home will produce less carbon dioxide emissions that are one of the greatest causes of climate change.

It is also worth bearing in mind that you may be entitled to a government grant to help towards the cost of installing loft installation so be sure to check with your local authority.

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Fire Alarms - Why You Must Have One!

This is one of a series of articles provided by the Plumber Chelmsford blog.

Although their value is almost beyond measure, amazingly many people still do not have a fire alarm in their home. Every person’s number one DIY job in the home should be to install one.  In the event of a fire, this simple yet essential device could save the lives of your family. There is absolutely no excuse not to have a fire alarm in your home. They can be found at all good DIY stores and supermarkets, are cheap to buy and straight forward to install.

It will only take a few minutes to install and the only equipment you will need is a screwdriver. Then, you will simply need to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and attach it to the ceiling with the screws provided. Nearly all alarms require a battery and there will be a test button on the device to ensure that it is working correctly.

So how many fire alarms should you have? Well, obviously the more you have the safer your family will be but it is certainly advisable to have two.  You can then have one on each floor, probably on the ceilings in the hallway and landing. In most homes theses are usually the best places as they can be heard from as many different rooms as possible. It is also worth bearing in mind when you are selecting a location for your alarm that open fires and kitchens are likely to trigger them frequently. They should also be installed at least 25cm away from lights and walls.

If you are going to have just one smoke alarm, the best place to put it is on the ceiling at the top of the landing. This will ensure that it can be heard when people are asleep in their bedrooms.

Once installed it is then a question of maintaining the alarm properly. It should be tested every week by pressing the test button when the alarm should sound. A couple of times a year you will need to remove the casing and dust inside. Then, once a year the battery should be replaced or as recommended in the manufacturer’s instructions. After ten years, the alarm should be replaced completely.

In the event of a fire at your home, you are twice as likely to die if you do not have an alarm. Installing one will alert you to the dangers of fire and allow you vitally precious minutes that could save lives.

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How To Save On Your Heating Bill

This is one of a series of articles provided by the Plumber Chelmsford blog.

Ever increasing energy costs have hit UK householders hard in recent years and there looks to be no respite in the immediate future. Heating your home has never been so expensive and government research shows that the energy costs eat into the average family budget like never before.

It has never been so important to keep the cost down, so how can you take simple steps to do just that.
Most people start thinking about switching their heating back on at the end of the summer and at the beginning of autumn. There is an urge to prolong the summer warmth in the home around October time when the nights draw in.  If you want to save money, the answer is to wait until the true cold weather kicks in, say by November or even December. The average household can save £19 per week by doing this.

When you finally decide it is time to switch on the boiler, turning down the temperature on the thermostat by 1 or 2 degrees lower than you would normally have it set at could save you 10% on your bill each month. Most homes in the UK have their thermostats set at around 20 degrees. Turning down to 17 or 18 degrees is unlikely to make any significant difference to the overall temperature in your home, particularly on warmer days, but will save you money.

Another energy money saving tip that is certain to work is to keep your bedrooms at a cooler temperature. If your bedroom radiators have thermostatic radiator valves turn them down to a low setting.  Scientific evidence proves that the human body is naturally inclined to go to sleep at lower temperatures so it makes sense to keep bedroom temperatures lower than the rest of the house. It will not only save you money but may also help those who struggle to get to sleep consistently.

For those wishing to make long term savings that will have a high impact on your bill for years to come, it will mean updating your central heating system with the latest technology. This is likely to involve hefty costs in the short term but the long term benefits will be significant.

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Tips On Dealing With Damp

This is part of a series of articles by the Plumber Chelmsford blog highlighting problems you may encounter at your home and tips on dealing with them. This one covers damp.

Because of the wet climate in the UK it is inevitable that many homes, especially older ones, will suffer with damp problems. That said, any home that is not cared for to a certain degree, could face problems caused by damp and if not addressed the consequences could be dire ranging from damage to furniture and interiors to major structural repairs.

Walls, in older houses in particular, are solid and this can encourage damp although poor maintenance is the ultimate cause.  The warning signs are usually obvious with a damp patch appearing inside the home.  Some of the most common places are a damp patch at the top of a chimney breast which is likely to mean a leak through the chimney stack. Damp near windows and doors are also common as well as at the top of a wall when there is a leak in the guttering.

Bear in mind though that damp patches can sometimes be deceiving and do not necessarily mean that the leak is near by. Water could be finding its way inside the home from a distance, for example, by finding its way along a joist in the loft.

One of the most straight forward cures for damp and one that is often overlooked is ventilation.  Keeping your home well ventilated will go a long way in preventing damp. You will also need to keep check on some of the more obvious places where damp occurs.

Go into the loft and check the roof for leaks. Missing or damaged tiles will need replacing immediately.  Check any chimney stack for cracked mortar. This will need repair with mortar or a sealant. Guttering should be kept clear from blockages and any cracked or damaged joints should be replaced. External and interior paintwork at your home should be monitored and maintained. Apply more than one coat of paint and where necessary use a damp proof paint. A damp proof paint applied to a patch found on an interior wall is often enough to stop the damp from spreading.

If you live in a modern home, one built in the past 50 years, damp is likely to be less of a problem. Your home will probably have cavity walls i.e. a space between two layers of bricks - to help prevent damp.
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How To Unblock A Toilet

This is one of a series of articles provided by the Plumber Chelmsford blog.

For many people a blocked toilet can feel like an emergency plumbing situation but in most cases the problem can be resolved fairly easily and without having to go to huge expense.

As with any DIY task at home it is advisable to have the correct tools and in the case of a blocked toilet you will at the very least need some rubber gloves, a plunger and a bucket. 

When a toilet becomes blocked it can be frustrating when it becomes obvious that in spite trying to flush it through you have a problem. Not surprisingly, blockages are usually caused by too much toilet paper being put down the pan. That said, your first task is to find where the blockage lies. If you have a drain cover outside your house it is worth lifting it to look there first. If the chamber is full you need to either use a specialist rod or in some cases, a piece of wire or a strong piece of wood to try to clear the blockage in the pipes or around the drain. If the chamber is unblocked, you are going to know that the blockage exists between the toilet pan and the chamber. Now is the time to investigate the toilet pan itself.

Unfortunately, most people who have a plunger have one that is cup shaped and this is not ideal for the job. A ball shaped plunger is much more effective as it is designed to seal in the opening in the bottom of the toilet bowl. This seal action as you plunge creates the necessary vacuum and pressure to dislodge the blockage. It is worth bearing in mind to have someone keep an eye on the drain chamber outside your home while you do this. If the item that caused the blockage in your toilet appears it is a good idea to remove it. If not, it could cause another blockage further into the system which may prove even more difficult to clear.

If you do not have a plunger, you may be able to improvise. Use an old mop with a plastic bag tied around its head and use in the same way as a plunger. 

If these efforts fail, another alternative is to push a flexible drain cleaning wire down the toilet. You could also use a chemical drain cleaner. If you go down this route remember that these products must be treated with great care. Always read the instructions fully and use rubber gloves.

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