6 home hacks you need to try out

Want to know which home hacks you should try out? Then read on to discover our top recommendations, from things you can make to things you should look out for when you’re next shopping for your home.    
  1. Recycle and repurpose
Recycle and repurpose objects to give your home a fresh new look. The website for The Freecycle Network is a great place to start, with lots of items being given away for free in your area. Just log on to www.freecycle.org to find your local group, and see what items are in need of a new home. It’s a great way to inject some personality into your property with some quirky vintage or ‘nearly new’ finds. In addition, try architectural salvage yards, car boot sales, charity shops and local auction houses for items that are one of a kind. Look at objects a fresh and think about how you could repurpose them, from an industrial cable reel repurposed as a coffee table to antique chimney pots repurposed as garden features – the possibilities are endless.   
antique chimney pots
  1. Get crafty
There’s been a huge resurgence of interest in traditional crafts in recent years, and it’s time to join in if you haven’t already. From crochet to knitting and patchwork, to name but a few, crafts provide the perfect way to add some new accessories to your home. New curtains, cushions and quilts are all within your reach. Moreover, soft furnishings provide a great way to use up your stash of material, all those odds and ends you haven’t found a use for can be incorporated. You could even incorporate your vintage finds to give your home a unique style, from traditional floral designs to mid-century ‘atomic ‘fabrics, they’ll help set the tone of your home styling efforts.      
  1. Get ready, steady, paint
Painting is probably the most economical home hack at your fingertips. You could begin by using chalky paint to give furniture a shabby chic look. Alternatively, you could embrace special painting techniques such as stippling or rag rolling to give your home a whole new look.  
  1. Mirror or mirror on the wall
Maximise the light levels in your home by adding additional mirrors in strategic places, helping small spaces to seem larger. There are a plethora of affordable styles available on the high street from sizeable overmantel styles to smaller, decorative examples. Geometric art deco and mid-century sunburst designs are a firm favourite at the moment.     
  1. Ice at the ready
Ice machines, including ice makers and ice flakers, can transform your kitchen and will mean you’re always ready to cater for guests – even if they’re unexpected. From a fun slushy drink for your children to refreshments ‘on the rocks’ for the grown-ups, an ice machine is what you need. Ice machines will save you time and hassle when it comes to entertaining.
  1. Then there was light
Introduce a fun and practical element to your home with a remote control light bulb. You can introduce special lighting effects into your home, including a variety of colours – all at the touch of a button.
So there you have our top six home hacks that you need to try out, from hints and tips on things you can make and do, to the latest gadgets for your home. Get your next home improvement project underway, with our home hacks.     

from Home My Heaven: Home Improvement Blog UK http://www.homemyheaven.co.uk/2017/05/home-hacks-uk.html

Storing Things Safely In Your Garden

No matter what the size of your garden, it is handy to have a shed which gives you a place to store all manner of items, including tools, furniture, and maybe even bicycles. However, you will want to make sure that your shed is secure and you can find some excellent information on the safewise.com website on how you can secureyour shed properly. With just a little effort and investment, you can create a safe storage area for your garden and also deter any would-be burglars.

Purchase A Sturdy Shed

There are plenty of suppliers of garden sheds in the UK, so finding one will not be a problem. Whichever company you decide to purchase your shed from, make sure that you buy one that is sturdy with a strong frame around the door. The stronger your shed is, the less of an easy target it will be, and there are also other measures that you can take to keep your property safe.

Security Lights

An excellent addition to your garden’s security is to install a floodlight that has a motion sensor that will light up when movement is detected. The light does not have to be too bright as it will be a massive deterrent to any late night prowlers. The light is also handy for when you need to open the shed at night, and can be used as a source of light.

A Solid Lock

You should always keep your shed locked, and it is important to invest in a lock of high-quality. An average garden shed will come with one position where you can use a padlock, but you can also add some more if you wanted that extra piece of mind. If someone does steal from your shed and it was not locked, you may find that your house insurance may not cover your stolen items.

A Security Camera

Another excellent deterrent to stop thieves is to add CCTV to your home which can be done relatively cheaply. You can install one or two units that work using wireless technology, and with modern software and applications, you can check the stream using your computer or Smartphone. There are floodlight systems with motion detectors that also have built-in cameras, so you can purchase a complete system to keep your possessions safe and secure.

Do Not Advertise

Most thieves are opportunists, so if you present them with the possibility of stealing something of high value with ease, they will usually take it. If your garden shed has a window, install a net curtain, or even a non-transparent material, across it to prevent people from seeing what is inside when it is dark. Keep your shed door closed, and always keep it locked when you are not using it. Place stickers on the front of your property showing that a security system is being used, and also remain vigilant. By not presenting yourself as an easy target and investing a small amount in the safety and protection of your family, thieves may just pass you by and choose a much easier target.

from Home My Heaven: Home Improvement Blog UK http://www.homemyheaven.co.uk/2017/05/storing-things-safely-in-your-garden.html

Why You Can See Water Coming Out Of Your Boiler

If you are looking for a boiler for your home, you can get some excellent product reviews on the goodhousekeeping.com website to help you decide which model is best for your house. However, if you already have a boiler and you are experiencing problems with it leaking water, there are four main reasons as to why this may happen. Rather than going through the expense of a new boiler, you may be able to repair the problem which will cost a lot less than a whole new system.

Your Boiler

A Problem With The Pressure

It is very common for a boiler to have drips of water that come from the pressure outlet pipe which allows pressure to escape from it and prevent it from blowing up. Although it is common to have the occasional drip of water coming from this pipe, if you see water underneath the boiler on a daily basis, you may have a problem with the internal pressure of the boiler being too high. You will need to check the pressure gauge on the tank and take an accurate reading. If you are not qualified to work on your boiler, you will need to consult a specialist. You can type Worcester Bosch Boiler Repair in your internet browser, or whatever manufacturer your boiler is, and you will find some different companies that will be able to assist you with problems with your system.

Loose Joints

Another issue which can cause water to leak from your boiler and hot water system is loose joints. The biggest cause of loose joints is the climate, as the cooling down and warming up through the seasons can cause the metal to contract and expand, loosening the joints. Take a look at the blowdown valve making sure that it is not loose, and check all the other joints are secure. If you do find any issues, you will need to call your local service company to take a look at the problem for you.

Faulty Or Damaged Seals

Your boiler may also have worn or broken seals, which can also lead to water leaking out of it. As the water pump works, the water is pushed through the system, as well as also leaking out of the broken seals causing a puddle of water to build up. If you are experiencing this sort of issue, then you will have to replace the seals, as well as also potentially replacing the pump to solve the problem. Make sure that you fix the problem quickly as leaving it for a while could cause the problem to get bigger, causing more damage to your home and increasing the repair bill.

An Old Boiler

If your boiler has seen better days and is pretty old, you may find that the water tank can crack over time due to age and fatigue. The problem is the heating and cooling down of the system which over time can fatigue metals causing them to crack and allowing water to escape. When this problem occurs, you need to replace the whole unit, rather than attempt a repair, as it will be likely that it will fail again in the not too distant future.
Whenever you have any issues with your water boiler, do not take any chances at attempting to fix it yourself if you are not qualified. Have a registered engineer inspect and assess your boiler, and carry out any necessary repairs.

from Home My Heaven: Home Improvement Blog UK http://www.homemyheaven.co.uk/2017/05/water-coming-out-of-BOILER.html

Fight back against hackers during the smart home revolution

Engineers and innovators everywhere are building new ways to make our lives at home less demanding, more efficient, and more secure. Smart home devices have created a new market that is growing at a mind-bending pace. Today, the average household has 10 connected smart devices. By 2022, experts believe the average household will eclipse 50 connected smart devices.
There are obvious benefits to this growth. Advancements in data bandwidth and technology now allow homeowners to manage their house from anywhere on the planet.By using a video doorbell camera and smartdoor lock, users can open, lock, and answer their front door all from a remote device, wherever they may be.
However, this also opens the door for unwanted intruders. More (digital) doors and locks for a homeowner create more (digital) opportunities for hackers to enter a home. Each smart home gadget in a household essentially functions as another door or window that can be broken into. Growth in the market of smart home devices has outpaced growth in the market of home security, creating a gap that thieves and intruders will happily exploit.
The threat can come from anywhere. Security specialists showed during a demonstration at an exhibit that they could take control of the lights of an entire office complex by hacking into a smart lightbulb in a single room of the building. That video doorbell and smart lock used to let in guests in? It can also be used by hackers to monitor activity in the house and break in while you’re away. 
In the meantime, there are simple ways to protect your home. While the security industry catches up with the advancements in smart home devices, you can use basic yet effectives methods to secure your home, family, and gadgets. Check out the accompanying infographic to see how you can protect yourself.
This is a guest post and infographic is by Joseph Mack from smart homeSAGE, a blog that analyzes the impact that smart home technology has on home life.

from Home My Heaven: Home Improvement Blog UK http://www.homemyheaven.co.uk/2017/05/fight-back-against-hackers-during-smart.html

A Pluming DIY: How to Fix a Clogged Toilet


Clogged toilets can be a scary inconvenience, but in most cases, it’s an easy problem to fix. This process is less complex than replacing a toilet altogether or even fixing the components inside the tank. Clogs can happen suddenly when a user attempts to flush an object that’s too large, or they can build up over time and happen unexpectedly. Learn how to unclog a toilet with this quick tutorial.
Step 1: Shut off the water supply by turning the knob at the base of the tank where the plumbing connects to the wall. You should hear the water stop running; if you still hear it, tighten the knob. This will prevent the toilet from overflowing.
Step 2: Gently position the plunger at the base of the toilet bowl with the plunger centered over the opening. Press in gently to begin as the air in the plunger can cause the contents of the bowl to spray if you push in too vigorously.
Tip: Use a bell-shaped rubber plunger with an extension flange at the base. These may be a bit more expensive than the basic rubber domed shaped plungers, but they work better and are worth the cost.
Step 3: Maintain a constant position with the plunger to avoid breaking the seal over the toilet bowl opening. Press the plunger up and down quite vigorously for about 30 seconds.
Step 4: Check to see if the clog has cleared by taking the lid off the toilet tank and lifting the flapper valve. The water should flow down from the bowl into the pipes easily. If it does not, your toilet is still clogged. DO NOT FLUSH until you are certain the clog has cleared. Use the flapper valve until then.
Tip: If repeated plunging forces all the water out of the bowl and your toilet tank is empty, open up the water supply valve long enough to let the tank refill, then close it again. It’s important to keep water in the bowl to maintain pressure and indicate whether the clog has cleared.
Step 5: Continue plunging and testing (alternating between steps 3 and 4) until the clog is clear. You’ll know the clog is clear either when the blocked material in the bowl drains easily and rapidly. A slow-emptying bowl indicates that some blockage is likely still intact.
Step 6: Your toilet bowl should be empty when the clog is clear. You can turn the water supply back on and push the handle to refill the bowl, then flush again to test. Turn off the water supply to the tank after this test flush just in case the blockage hasn’t actually cleared. This will help prevent overflowing. If flushing does not proceed as normal, your toilet is still blocked.
Step 7: When plunging doesn’t work, you may need to use a plumbing snake or toilet auger to get the job done. You can also call a qualified local emergency plumbing company to diagnose the issue and fix your clogged toilet.
Author Bio:
Leo is the owner of Northridge-based plumbing company Rooters On-Time of Northridge. On his free time, he enjoys writing how-to articles and tutorials to help others.

from Home My Heaven: Home Improvement Blog http://www.homemyheaven.co.uk/2017/05/how-to-fix-clogged-toilet-diy.html

Basic Water Well Maintenance Guide

well water test

We’ve asked SimpleWater to share their knowledge about well maintenance and their new product Tap Score. Enjoy, DIY Folks

While we’ve come a long way since the hand-dug wells of Egypt and other ancient civilizations, modern wells are still susceptible to a range of issues that may affect the quality of your home’s drinking water.

Thirty-eight percent of America’s population relies on groundwater for its drinking supply.  Private wells must be properly installed, inspected, and tested on a regular basis in order to ensure groundwater quality. And the thing is… you are responsible for the maintenance and care of your private well system.

If you’re one of the 38%, what can you do to ensure your well water is safe and contaminant-free?

Answer: Quite a lot, actually. The following is a quick and simple how-to guide:

  1. Check your well for proper construction and installation.

While you’ll surely be in a pickle if your well was originally constructed in a poor fashion, it’s important to first determine whether you’re at risk of water woes due to the nature of your well’s installation.

There are a few matters to check for here. First, the casing of your well should be capped off by a sanitary seal/concrete cover that stands approximately 12” above ground. This keeps unwanted pests and surface water out. Second, you’ll want to make sure that your well was installed a minimum of 50 feet from your septic tank and at least 100 feet from the septic system’s drainage field, although these distances can vary depending upon state regulations. Finally, the ground surrounding your well should slope away from the well in order to prevent water pooling.

  1. Clear the area around your well.

It’s important to keep the area surrounding your well free of undesirable elements, including fertilizers, pesticides, motor oil, and general debris. Any of these examples—including other forms of waste—can contaminate your well if used or stored  in close proximity.

  1. Perform regular well inspections.

You should give your well a close look at least once a year, even if you know your well was properly constructed. Over time, cracks and other forms of corrosion can occur that compromise the integrity of your well and the quality of your home’s drinking water. If you observe that there may be an issue, or if it has been over three years since a professional has inspected your well, contact a contractor licensed to perform well inspections.

  1. Close off wells no longer in use.

Improperly abandoned wells pose a threat. Those that have not been sealed off can act  as a surface water conduit that might contaminate groundwater. Wells no longer in use can be correctly sealed by a licensed well contractor before they are abandoned.

  1. Have your water tested yearly.

Even if your well has been properly built, placed, and has passed all inspections, it is still important to test your drinking water. Off-the-shelf at-home water tests are not usually complete, but they can be useful initial screens, especially if you know what to test for. Tap Score, powered by SimpleWater, is developed with private well owners in mind. Tap Score tests for lead, arsenic, nitrate, heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, and other known well-water contaminants. We test for over 100 contaminants and then provide you with a personalized water quality report, complete with actionable recommendations.

 

Note from the caring folks at SimpleWater

SimpleWater is a science and health services company educating you to improve your drinking water. We offer the only water testing service with Personalized Health Analysis and Treatment Recommendations

We serve homes, families and businesses asking: “what’s in my water, what does it mean, and how do I ensure the safety of what I’m drinking?”

SimpleWater’s national team of certified laboratory scientists, engineers, health experts and designers provide each customer with a personalized Tap Score Water Quality Report. SimpleWater’s Tap Score is the Nation’s First Smart Water Testing Service for affordable and informative contaminant screening and personalized treatment recommendations.

Call Anytime:: 888 34 MY WATER (+1-888-346-9928)

Learn more about Tap Score and Find Out What’s In Your Water at MyTapScore.Com

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Adjustable-Rate Mortgage vs. a Fixed-Rate

ARM vs fixed

If you’re in the market for a home loan, you may be wondering about the difference between an adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) and a fixed-rate mortgage.

In an ARM, the interest rate adjusts periodically, depending on the direction of interest rates. ARM interest rates are typically low for the initial period. After that, they go up or down, depending on the direction of rates. When you see information about an ARM, you will see the initial period first, followed by how often it can adjust after that. So when you see 3/1 or 5/1, you are being told that the initial interest rate will last for three years or five years, respectively, and can reset every year after that.

ARMs usually carry a cap beyond which the interest rates can’t rise.

A fixed-rate mortgage, on the other hand, always carries a fixed interest rate. If you sign the mortgage paperwork with a fixed rate of 4 percent, you will be paying 4 percent for the entire life of the loan.

Interest rates are important because they are a factor in how much a mortgage payment costs. The lower the interest rate, the lower your monthly cost.

Both ARM and fixed-rate mortgages have a standard loan term of 30 years.

Home mortgage borrowers should know that there are pros and cons to each kind of loan. Many of them depend on your circumstances.

Adjustable-Rate Mortgages

If you’re not sure about an ARM, here are a few scenarios to consider as you make your decision.

Pros

  1. If you plan to be in a home five years or less, ARMs can be your friend. Why? Because most ARMs come with an initial period of low interest rates. They don’t start rising for three, five or seven years. This means you will be paying a low interest rate as long as you are in the home.
  2. Your payment can fall if interest rates decline. In the 2008-2015 period, for example, interest rates trended pretty steadily downward. Holders of ARMs in that period didn’t need to do anything to make their payments fall — they did so automatically.
  3. If you will be in a home a short time and have an initial low interest rate ARM, you can save the money you would otherwise have spent on a fixed-interest rate mortgage with a higher rate.

Cons

  1. ARMs can end up costing you when interest rates rise. We are in a period of rising rates now. If you planned to move after five years and your plans change, you may receive a rude shock when the interest rate resets and suddenly you’re paying more. Homeowners interested in ARMs should make sure their budget could withstand the rise to the lifetime cap. Otherwise, they may end up with a mortgage they can’t pay.
  2. Depending on the ARM terms, the climb in rates can be sudden. If there is a lifetime cap of 6 percent, for example, it doesn’t necessarily take place over the course of a lifetime. It can rise 6 percent in one year. So that low introductory rate of 3 percent in 2017 can become 9 percent in 2022. That’s a considerable rise in the monthly budget.
  3. ARMs are complicated to understand. The loan will be full of terms like lifetime cap, margins, initial rates and so on. They are more complicated than fixed-rate mortgages.

Fixed-Rate Mortgages

With a fixed rate mortgage, you’ll have more predictability — but you could be locked into a rate higher than the going market rates:

Pros

  1. If you get a fixed-rate mortgage, your mortgage rate is constant. There are no rude shocks ever, no matter what interest rates do. They can rise to 18 percent — which is historically extremely high — and you’d still be sitting pretty. Fixed-rate loans are best for people seeking financial stability and planning to stay in their home more than seven years.
  2. Because you pay a fixed amount, you will be able to plan monthly budgets much more effectively. ARMs rely on how much interest rates rise or fall, which is difficult, if not impossible, to predict. Your mortgage budget will always be predictable with a fixed rate.
  3. If you lock in a fixed-rate mortgage when mortgage rates are low, your housing payments will be very low as long as you live in the home. This protects you from housing payment fluctuation. Unlike renters or ARM holders, no one can raise your mortgage.

Cons

  1. The drawback to fixed-rate loans is that they aren’t flexible. There is no introductory rate that allows new home owners to pay less the first three or five years.
  2. If you buy a home in a period of falling rates, your fixed-rate loan might become a relatively high interest-rate loan, given the environment. While they can be refinanced, it is expensive to do so. Many lenders charge points and fees to refinance.
  3. Some fixed-rate mortgages can’t be paid off quicker than the term, or can only be paid off with a penalty. Be sure to read the fine print to make sure that there is no penalty for pre-payment.

Choosing between an ARM and a fixed-rate home loan can be daunting. The best choice depends on your circumstances. Be sure to consider the pros and cons carefully.

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