Sealing Round A Bath

Filed Under: Bathroom, Do it yourself, Home repair    by: ITC

One of the commonest problems associated with baths, shower trays and wash basins is the difficulty of sealing the gap between the edges and the walls. It is extremely important that this is done effectively as, apart from being an unsightly dirt trap, water continually splashing through the gap can lead to attacks of rot in floor timbers, as well as damaging decorations in the room below.

An ordinary cellulose filler will be adequate, but you’ll probably find that it won’t last for very long. After all, repeated soakings are bound to start it crumbling. And even if this can be avoided, the chances are that the movement of the bath relative to the wall — as it fills with hot water or as someone climbs in or out — will have the same result.

The answer is to use a special kind of filler, one that is both waterproof and flexible. called silicone mastic. This is frequently sold as bathroom sealant in small tubes, or, for larger jobs, in cartridges that fit into a special mastic gun. In addition to white. it is available in a selection of colors to match the variety of colored bathroom suites now on the market.

If you are faced by a crack up to 3mm (‘/sin) wide, then filling it is a straightforward job. All you do is squeeze a bead of mastic along the gap, holding the nozzle at an angle of about 45′. If you are using a cartridge gun: you can cut the nozzle to produce a bead of the correct size. If the mastic ends up on surfaces where it’s not required, wipe it off with a damp cloth before it sets. With the bead in place you’ll have to finish it off with a piece of dowel or narrow piping. Dip it in water to prevent the mastic from sticking and don’t be tempted to use your fingers — you won’t get as neat a finish and you could run the risk of inadvertently getting mastic in your eyes.

However, if the gap is wider than 3mm (1/sin) or so, you’ll find it increasingly difficult to apply the bead smoothly and neatly, and to prevent it sagging once in place. The solution is to caulk the gap before applying the mastic. This involves filling the crack with soft rope or twists of soaked newspaper to provide a base that will help the mastic to bridge the gap until it sets. Provided you finish off with a good covering of mastic, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t last. However, it is a fiddly job and you might prefer to use an alternative method.

Removing the old radiator

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Plumbing    by: ITC

One of the great deterrents to anyone wanting to remove a radiator is the prospect of having to drain the whole system. However, this won’t be necessary provided the radiator to be replaced has a valve at both the hot water inlet and the outlet. Once these are closed. you’ll be able to keep virtually all the system’s water isolated in other parts.

At the inlet end you’re likely to find the hand-valve which is the control by which you open and close the radiator. At the outlet end you’ll find what is termed the lock-shield – valve. When you come to inspect your radiator, don’t worry if their positions are reversed — they will still be equally effective.

The first thing to do when removing a radiator is to close these valves. The hand-valve is straightforward, but you’ll have to remove the cover to get at the lock-shield valve. You’ll be able to close this valve using a spanner or an adjustable wrench with which to grip its spindle.

As you turn it, it’s a good idea to note carefully how many turns it takes to close. And you’ll find this task slightly easier if you mark the turning nut with a piece of chalk before you begin. The reason for all this is to maintain the balance of the system. After it was first installed, your system would have been balanced.

The lock-shield valves of all the radiators were adjusted to give an equal level of water through-flow so that they were all heating up equally. So, by noting the number of turns taken to close the lock-shield, when you come to fit the new radiator you can simply open it up by the same amount — so avoiding the somewhat tedious task of rebalancing the whole system.

Once you’ve closed both valves. you can unscrew the nuts which connect the valves to the radiator inlet and outlet. Do these one at a time after having placed a low dish under each end to collect the water and protect the floor.

Use an adjustable wrench to undo the coupling nuts. It’s wise to hold the circulating pipe securely in place with another wrench. Otherwise, if you apply too much pressure to the coupling nut you risk fracturing the flowpipe, and this would cause you a lot of extra work and expense as well as causing quite a mess.

It’s a good idea to get the radiator out of your home as soon as possible-just in case it leaks any remaining dirty water on to your carpet.

Dealing with internal corrosion in radiators

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Plumbing    by: ITC

Internal corrosion in modern radiators arises from an electrolytic reaction between steel of the radiators and the copper circulating pipes of the central heating system. This results in the production of a corrosive black iron oxide sludge (magnetite) and hydrogen gas.

In a similar fashion, if the original installation of your heating system was somewhat messily done, then copper swarf, produced when the pipes were cut, could have been retained within the circulating pipes.

This will also corrode the steel at any point where the two come in contact — usually within a radiator. Because the raw material from which the sludge is produced is the metal of the radiators, eventually they will leak and need to be replaced. And as the sludge is also attracted by the magnetic field of the circulating pump, its abrasive qualities are a common cause of early pump failure.

Early indications of serious internal corrosion are a need to vent one or more radiators at regular intervals, and cold spots on their surfaces. If in doubt, the diagnosis can be confirmed by applying a flame to the escaping gas when the radiator is being vented. If it burns with a blue and yellow flame, you can be sure that hydrogen is in the system and will have been produced by the chemical reaction of the two metals.

Once you’ve confirmed that corrosion is present within the system, you’ll have to flush it through and introduce a reliable corrosion preventative chemical into the feed and expansion tank. By doing this, you should be able to prevent further corrosion and so save your system.

Fitting the new taps

Filed Under: Bathroom, Do it yourself, Home repair, Kitchen, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

When fitting the new taps or mixer, unscrew the back-nuts, press some plumber’s putt round the tail directly below the tap body a fit a plastic washer onto the top.

Push the tails through the holes in the base. Slip flat plastic washers over the tails where they protrude from beneath the basin. screw on the back-nuts and tighten them up. Make sure that the taps or mixer are secure, but don’t overtighten them. To make tightening easier, (and undoing, if ever necessary) use top-hat washers.

All that remains to be done is to conned the swivel tap connectors to the tails of the new taps or mixer. You will see that a tap connector consists of a lining — with a flange — that is inserted into the tap tail and is then secured by the coupling nut. This nut provided with a washer to ensure a watertight connection. When renewing taps you may well need to renew this small washer.

It is possible that when you come to connect the water supply pipes to the taps you will get an unpleasant surprise. The tails of modern taps are slightly shorter than those of older ones and the tap connectors may not reach. If the water supply pipes are of lead or of copper it is quite likely that they will have enough ‘give’ to enable you to make the connection but, if not, there are extension pieces specially made to bridge the gap.

If you’re replacing existing bib taps with those of a more modern design. it’s a relatively simple matter of disconnecting and unscrewing the old ones and fitting the new taps in their place. However, it’s quite possible that you’ll want to remove the bib taps altogether and fit a new sink with some pillar taps. This will involve a little more plumbing work. To start with, turn off the water supply and remove the taps and old sink.

If the pipework comes up from the floor, you’ll need to uncover the run in the wall to below where the new sink will go. You should then be able to ease the pipes away from the wall and cut off the exposed sections. This will allow you to join short lengths of new pipe, bent slightly “if necessary, to link the pipe ends and the tap tails.

Alternatively. if the pipes come down the wall you’ll have to extend the run to be,row the level of the new sink and use elbow fittings to link the pipe to the tap tails. In either case it’s a good idea to fit the taps to the new sink first and to make up the pipe- work runs slightly overlong, so that when the new sink is offered up to the wall you can measure up accurately and avoid the risk of. cutting off too much pipe.

Rather than having to make difficult bends you can use lengths of corrugated copper pipe. One end of the pipe is plain so that it can be fitted to the 15mm supply pipes with either a soldered capillary or compression fitting: the other end has a swivel tap connector.

Taking out old basin taps

Filed Under: Bathroom, Do it yourself, Home repair, Kitchen, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

When replacing old taps with new ones the most difficult part of the job is likely to be— with so many plumbing operations removing the old fittings. Let’s first consider wash basin taps.

You must, of course, cut off the hot and cold water supplies to the basin. The best way of doing this will usually be to tie up the float arm of the ball valve supplying the cold water storage cistern so as to prevent water flowing in. Then run the bathroom cold taps until water ceases to flow. Only then open up the hot taps. 1 his will conserve most of the expensively heated water in the hot water storage cylinder.

If you look under the basin you will find that the tails of the taps are connected to the water supply pipes with small. fent/ accessible nuts, and that a larger — often inaccessible pack-nut secures the tap to the basin. The nuts of the swivel tap connectors joining the pipes to the taps are usually easily undone with a wrench or spanner of the appropriate size. The back- nuts can be extremely difficult – even for professional plumbers!

There are special wrenches and basin or ‘crows foot’ spanners that may help, but they won’t perform miracles and ceramic basins can be very easily damaged by heavy handedness. The best course of action is to disconnect the swivel tap connectors and to disconnect the trap from the waste outlet.

These are secured be undone. Then lift the basin off its brackets of hanger and place it upside down on 1:4-* floor. Apply some penetrating oil to the tag tails and, after allowing a few minutes for it tir soak in, tackle the nuts with your wrench a crowsfoot spanner. You’ll find they arc much more accessible. Hold the tap when you do this to stop it swivelling and damaging the basin.

Replacing Taps

Filed Under: Bathroom, Do it yourself, Home repair, Kitchen, Plumbing, Remodeling    by: ITC

There may be a number of reasons why you wish to replace the taps supplying your sink, basin or bath. They may continually drip or leak, where new taps would give efficient, trouble-free service. Perhaps you want the advantages that mixers have over individual taps or perhaps it is simply that the chromium’ plating has worn off leaving the taps looking incurably shabby.

It is more likely, however, that appearance, rather than malfunction, will be your reason for changing. There are fashions in plumbing fittings as in clothing and furniture. Taps of the 1950s or 60s are instantly recognisable as out-of-date in a bathroom or kitchen of the 1980s. Fortunately, fashions in sinks, basins and baths have changed rather less dramatically over the past three decades. There is probably no more cost-effective way of improving bathroom and kitchen appearance than by the provision of sparkling new taps or mixers.

When you come to select your new taps you may feel that you are faced with a bewildering choice. Tap size, appearance, the material of which the tap is made, whether to choose individual taps or mixers and for the bath — whether to provide for an over-bath shower by fitting a bath/shower mixer: all these things need to be considered.

Size is easily enough dealt with. Taps and mixers are still in imperial sizes. Bath tap tails are Sin in diameter. and basin and sink taps ‘/ in in diameter. There are, however, a few suppliers who are beginning to designate taps by the metric size, not of the taps themselves, but of the copper supply pipes to which they will probably be connected. Such a supplier might refer to bath taps as 22rnm and sink and basin laps as 15mm.

Most taps are made of chromium-plated brass, though there are also ranges of enamelled and even gold-plated taps and mixers. Although taps and mixers are still manufactured with conventional crutch or capstan handles, most people nowadays prefer to choose taps with ‘shrouded’ heads made of acrylic or other plastic.

In effect, these combine the functions of handle and easy-clean cover. completely concealing the tap’s headgear. A still popular alternative is the functional `Supatap’, nowadays provided with plastic rather than metal ‘ears’ for quick and comfortable turning on and off.

There is also a very competitively priced range of all plastic taps. These usually give satisfactory enough service in the home, but they cannot be regarded as being as sturdy as conventional metal taps, and they can be damaged by very hot water.

So far as design is concerned the big difference is between ‘bib laps’ and ‘pillar taps’. Bib taps have a horizontal inlet and are usually wail-mounted while pillar taps have a vertical inlet and are mounted on the bath, basin or-sink they serve.

Taking out sashes

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

By far the most serious possibility, however, is that eventually a sash cord will break and need replacing. When this happens you should replace all four, because if one goes the rest are sure to be near breaking-point. In any case the hardest part of the job is dismantling everything; fitting four new cords is very little more trouble than fitting one.

Begin by levering off the staff bead. Swing the lower sash inwards, tie a length of string to each sash cord just above the sash, and cut each cord below the knot, letting the weights down gradually to the bottom of their compartments. With the string now attached to the cord, there’s no danger of being unable to retrieve the weights from their pockets. Lift out the lower sash, remove the parting bead, pull down the upper sash and repeat the process. Lift that out too, and remove the old cord and fixing nails from each sash.

Now that you’ve got the sashes out, you can take the opportunity to do major surgery on them if necessary. Where a corner joint is rickety, dowels make a neater and more professional repair than a metal plate. You’ll need to cramp the sash firmly in place on a workbench first, both to hold it steady and to keep the joint tight while you drill the dowel holes. The joint will almost certainly be a mortise and tendon, so the best place to run strengthening dowels is sideways through the tendon, or perhaps lengthwise on either side of it.

If one of the sash members is cracked or rotten, it may be possible to remove the bad piece by sawing lengthwise, and to replace it with new timber — cut slightly too large, glued, nailed and finally planed off flush. For both these jobs, use urea-formaldehyde adhesive, which resists damp.

Sometimes a sash sticks in its channel because it has warped or swollen. In this case, removing a few shavings from the offending part with a plane may be the answer.

Use a blowlamp or chemical paint stripper to remove layers of old paint if it’s in bad condition. and then coat the timber with wood primer. Alternatively just sand the old paint- work down and spot-prime any bare patches. Then apply the rest of your paint system in the usual way.

Repairing Sash Windows

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

The sash (or double-hung) window was used a great deal on homes right into this century almost to the exclusion of any other type. It’s a period feature, often adding a touch of authentic charm. Unfortunately Sash windows can be very difficult to keep in good working order.

Sash windows actually consist of two separate windows – sashes is their proper name – each sliding vertically in its own channel. When both are closed, the sash in the outer channel is at the top, and the inner sash is at the bottom.

The channels are formed by three sets of beading, running round the inside of the frame. These are known (starting with the outermost one) as the outer, parting and staff beads. The outer and staff beads lie flat on the window frame, but the parting bead is fixed on its edge. The outer bead, in fact. may well form part of the frame itself; the other two are always separate pieces, nailed in place. For easy removal they should never be glued, or maintenance of the window becomes impossible.

How sashes work

Counterbalancing weights, each pair of which weighs the same as the sash they’re attached to, ensure that the sashes stay in whatever position you choose and don’t come crashing down – perhaps with such force that the glass is shattered. There’s a weight on each side of each sash, hidden in a compartment inside the frame. Each weight is attached to its sash by a cord that passes over a pulley at the top of the frame and is nailed to the side of the sash.

The drawback of sash windows is that it’s almost impossible to make them fully draught-proof. although some success can be achieved with brush-type draught excluders. The only sure way is to install secondary double glazing – the type that fits within the window reveal and is hinged to, or slides in. its own frame. You can’t attach fixed double glazing panels directly to each sash because they won’t slide past each other. And even if you could, the extra weight would throw the sashes out of balance. preventing the inner one from remaining in the open position and the outer one from remaining closed.

Minor repairs

However, many lesser faults can easily be cured if you know what to do. Often you needn’t even dismantle the window.

Hacking out and replacing old. crurnblinp putty, and renewing a cracked pane of glass, for example, are two jobs where dismantling the window is unnecessary. And if a pulley squeaks – just oil it.

You can even repair a sash corner joint that has begun to open up, provided you wedge the sash firmly in place while you’re working on it. All that’s needed is a flat, L- shaped metal plate which you can easily, buy: you just screw it across the corner. It looks a hit unsightly if left exposed; but you can conceal it by first chiseling out a shallow L-shaped recess to take it, and afterwards covering it with paint (not emulsion paint), Cellulose filler and then a top coat of paint – in that order, so that the water in the filler doesn’t rust the metal and discolor the paintwork.

Filler will also take care of minor cracks, dents and other blemishes in the wood. You can do a certain amount of redecorating, too, without removing the sashes. but you’ll find it hard to get a neat edge as you approach the concealed parts.

Major repairs

Some jobs, however, do call for taking the window to pieces – a procedure that’s far easier than it sounds. One such task is silencing a rattle; the root of the trouble in this case is that the beads are too far apart and need repositioning.

Pries off first the staff bead and then the parting bead on each side of the frame. There’s usually no need to interfere with the sections of beading at top and bottom, but you’ll have to take out the inner sash to get at the parting bead. To remove a bead, cut down the angle with a sharp knife first to break the paint seal and avoid tearing off flakes. Then push a chisel between it and the frame, as near the nails as you can, and spring it out gradually.

The various beads may well have become damaged over the years. In that case you can simply replace them with new ones, bought from a timber merchant (ask for them by their proper names, and he’ll understand). To lessen the risk of splitting, drill pilot holes for the nails oval nails are best. When re- fixing the beads, position them close enough to each sash to cure the rattle, but not too close. or you’ll bring about the second common fault: sashes which won’t slide freely, or at all.

The other and more likely reason for that. however, is a build-up of paint in the channels? You can’t just go on putting coat upon coat of paint when you redecorate them. and the only remedy when they jam is to sand or scrape off the paint where thrashes are binding, leaving room for the primer and one or two further coats that will have to be re-applied to the bare wood.

Treating rotten windows

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

The opening lights of windows often suffer from the same defects as hinged doors — loose joints, faulty hinges, etc — and the remedies are similar. However, you have to proceed with more care to avoid breaking the glass, especially on repairs that involve driving in wedges.

But the most common defect is rot, usually in the window sill. If the rotten section is not too extensive then you can make a repair, but if it has spread, you may find that the best policy is to remove the frame completely and fit a modern replacement window.

If the rot is in the middle of a sill, make a saw cut about 75mm (3in) each side of the rot. The cuts should be at an angle so that you remove a wedge-shaped piece from the sill. You will then have to cut a new piece to fit. Timber merchants sell standard sill sections but in the case of older houses you’ll have to buy a rectangular section and shape it yourself.

Treat the new timber and the cut ends of the existing sill with preservative. The repair is held in place with dowels set at intervals of 100mm (4in) and fixed into the frame. Smear all meeting surfaces with adhesive before finally fixing in place. For additional strength on wider sills, fit steel repair plates to the underside of the repair. Corner repair pieces are fitted in the same way, except that they are slightly more difficult to shape to the correct profile.

Remember that the outside of any window is exposed to the weather so be sure to give any new timber a coat of primer and then a good coat of gloss paint to protect it. Older properties are more likely to have sash windows and for a complete discussion on how to repair these.

Repairing a Cracked Panel

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

The panels in a paneled door are usually rebated into the stiles at each side. These panels are relatively thin and can easily crack and split, perhaps because of accidental damage or simply through old age.

A crack may have been filled in the past and covered up with layers of paint and it’s only when you strip the door that it becomes apparent. Stripping the door can also loosen the glue holding the panels in place so the panels become free to move and the split opens up even further. A crack of this sort is impossible to fill and if you plan to leave the door unpainted you would not want to see a line of filler anyway.

The only answer is to make a proper repair which forces the crack shut

External door frames can start to rot at the bottom and the rotten parts must be cut out and replaced. Probe into the timber to find out how far the rot extends, then cut out the affected portion plus a further 75mm (3in) of sound timber. You get a considerably neater finish if the new timber is scarf-jointed into the frame.

Remember to treat the ends and back of the new timber with preservative and then screw it in place into wall plugs. If the original frame was machined out of solid timber you will find it easier to make a matching section out of two separate pieces which are glued and nailed together.

If the doorstep is wooden the frame may be tanned into it, so you will have to saw through the tendon in order to remove the defective part. There is no need to try to tendon the new timber into the step.