How to fit outdoor lights

Tired of coming home at night and using your phone’s flashlight to help you see the keyhole space in your front door? Or maybe you simply haven’t had enough time to call a professional to change the light fixtures on your entrance door? Perhaps you want to make your home more welcoming with some outdoor lighting? No matter why you’ve decided that it’s time to install outdoor lighting – the Handy Squad is here to help.

Outdoor lighting has many benefits, some of which you might not even have thought about. Besides illuminating your entrance door or your patio, outdoor lights can help you identify any strangers who pass by your house at night and can even deter burglars from your home.

Safety Note

Before proceeding to install your outdoor lights, you must take hazards and safety into full consideration. Before you begin anything, follow these safety precautions:

  • Switch off the main power at the consumer unit/fuse box.
  • Attach a note to the unit to advise you are working on the circuit.
  • Get yourself a socket tester (or voltage tester for lighting circuits) to confirm whether circuits are dead and safe to work on.

Never take risks with electrical safety, any electrical work must be installed in accordance with local Building Regulations and must comply with the latest IEE Wiring Regulations. Please see more information online or from your local authority. If you are ever in doubt of any electrical work, we would highly recommend contacting a professional electrician. At the Handy Squad, we have a team of experienced electricians in London who will be able to carry out any electrical work you require.

Installing an outdoor light on a wall

If you are looking to install an outdoor light on a wall near your front or back door, please follow the guide below. When fitting outdoor lights ensure that the chosen lights are waterproof and solely for outdoor usage. To successfully install wall mounted lights outdoors, follow these steps:

  1. Start by drilling a hole in the area which you desire for the light to go. After doing so, line the hole with a plastic conduit and push the cable through.
  2. Once you’ve pushed the cables through, connect their cores to the destined terminals within the unit. After doing so, wrap them firmly in PVC electrical tape to prevent any water or damp.
  3. Position the light to the wall and use a small amount of silicone to prevent any moisture from entering.
  4. Go inside the house, run the light supply cable back to a decent position for cutting into the main circuit table using a four-terminal junction box.
  5. Fit in a switch and run a length of 1mm² two core-and-earth cable back to the placement of the junction box
  6. Segregate the circuit and ensure that the power is off with the help of a voltage tester. Proceed to then cut through the main circuit cable and make the appreciate connections needed in the junction box.

How to fit garden lighting 

Another type of outdoor lighting is garden lighting. This kind of lighting is used to illuminate back gardens, as well as to illuminate the pathway to your entrance door. We would recommend low-voltage garden lighting as it is the easiest and safest lighting to install. These types of light units often are on spikes which are simply pushed into the ground.

 

If installing outdoor lights seems like too much of an intricate job for you, contact our professional London electricians today. We offer many services to help you illuminate both the exterior and interior of your home, including changing light fittings, replacing hard-to-reach lightbulbs, installing spurs from existing sockets, among many other services. Our electricians will be more than happy to assist you to install all and any lights at your home, quickly and efficiently!

While our electricians are installing your garden lighting, why not ask them to help put up some string lights across your patio or on your trees to give your whole garden a stylish and magical atmosphere? Request a free quote today by filling our online booking form.

We hope that you have enjoyed this guide and that it has been helpful. In case you have any inquiries regarding our services, feel free to contact our friendly team on 0800-0 12 12 12.

How to decorate a small garden

Having a small garden doesn’t necessarily mean that you cannot decorate it to your custom liking, small backyards can, in fact, have a big impact. With a lot of creative thinking and smart planning, you can transform your small garden into something you never imagined it to be. Allow us to present our ideas to help you transform your small outdoor space into something amazing!

Planning and choosing a focus

Before getting dirty and decorative, it’s important to choose a focus and to thoroughly plan what exactly you intend to do. That way, you’ll find decorating much easier as you’ll have a secure plan to follow. You should also try to avoid doing too much within your small garden space as it may become and feel overworked.

To pinpoint your focus, think of the kinds of things/activities you plan to do in your garden and your favourite ways to spend time in your outdoor space. Once you’ve figured out your focus, proceed to design your space! Think about the essentials you need to consider, for example:

  • Which decorations you’d like to give life to your outdoor space.
  • The types of versatile furniture that complement your outdoor space.
  • What colour theme and designs you’d like to work with.

But don’t limit your creativity! These are just a few ideas to help kick start your imagination.

Mapping the base and shape of your backyard as well as marking out the boundaries of the plot is a method that can help you keep track of the amount of space you have to work with. Once you have everything outlined, you can begin to try out different designs to see what can be included in your outdoor space, such as sheds, outdoor couches, a patio or versatile storage boxes.

Choose space-saving garden furniture

If you like spending most of your time in your outdoor space or maybe dining in your garden, then having comfortable furniture is a necessity. Furniture, however, can be space consuming, so be sure to choose furniture that is space-optimizing. If you like dining outdoors, perhaps opt for a bistro table set with foldable table and chairs. If you like entertaining, go for stackable furniture and storage benches to help make more room for your guests.

When it comes to putting your new furniture together, it can be pretty daunting and time-consuming, so, we are happy to offer you our garden furniture assembling service! This service among our many other furniture assembling services gives you the opportunity to sit back and relax while our handymen do all the hard work for you. If you’d rather spend more hours relaxing than putting together garden furniture, book online today.

Re-using old garden furniture

The furniture you use in your garden doesn’t necessarily have to be brand-new, there are many ways you can re-use old/stored away furniture! Perhaps you have an old bench or garden chair that’s sitting away in a storage place, if so, what’s the harm in renovating it and re-using it? Not only will this save money, but you’ll have more storage space when you decide to use it again. During the time your furniture was stored away, it probably collected a lot of dirt, stains or cobwebs (which could be another reason why you decided not to use it), if you fall into this category – don’t fear, the Squad will come to the rescue! We offer a variety of services to bring your old furniture back to life, including pressure washing garden furniture, treating wooden furniture and even repainting furniture.

Build a decking area

Decking is an ideal touch for a small garden as it provides sufficient surface for a dining or relaxing area. As opposed to gravel or paving, decking can easily be refreshed with a new coat of paint. However, if your decking area becomes a little dirty due to its usage, put your jet washing skills to the test! If you don’t own a jet washer or don’t have the time to jet wash a decking area, contact our handymen in London who will be able to pressure wash your decking in no time.

There are many other benefits to having a decking area in a small garden. For instance, the way you lay your decking boards can manipulate and enhance the overall area; laying decking boards vertical will elongate the decked area, whereas laying them horizontally will widen the decking area.

Using plants as ornaments

Hanging plants and having plants in pots is an easy and effective way of adding splashes of colour here and there without having to worry about taking up huge quantities of space. Not only that, but they’re removable at any time if you ever need to create extra space or want to replant any of your flowers. Certain plants are inherently architectural or can be pruned to look that way, so whatever type of plant you choose, don’t forget to get creative with different types of plants, styles of plant pots and their placement!

We hope that you have enjoyed this guide and that it has been helpful. In case you have any enquiries regarding our services, feel free to contact our friendly team on 0800-0 12 12 12. Alternatively, request a quote for our team to spruce up your outdoor area by filling our online booking form.

How to repair paving

Patios are a nice touch to our outdoor space. Along with their hard-wearing surface and presentable looks, the paving on your patio is more than prone to cracking, dirt build-up, and other types of damage, due to small ground movements or heavy usage.

Paving your outdoor space isn’t cheap, and it can cost a small fortune to have any damaged paving repaired, especially when it can be repaired with a little work of your own! Find out how to repair your damaged paving in the easiest and cheapest possible way in this guide. Alternatively, you can book online today with the Handy Squad, or call 0800 0 12 12 12 and we’ll be happy to help.

Replacing paving slabs:

If a paving slab has sunken or has been damaged beyond repair, it’s a pretty simple process to either re-lay or replace it. However, if you’re re-laying or replacing slabs that are 600mm x 600mm or larger, it’s recommended that you have somebody to help you do so. Make sure you have the right equipment and protection to help you re-lay/replace the slab(s). It is highly recommended that you wear safety goggles along with heavy-duty gloves for this task.

Steps:

    1. Using a plugging chisel and a club hammer, chip out the pointing around the slab.
    2. Using a spade, lift up the slab. To protect the slab next to the slab you’re lifting, use a timber cut-off.
    3. For easier removal, place a broom handle under the slab and use it to roll the slab out of the way.
    4. Dispose of the old mortar under the slab you just removed by breaking it up, you can do this using a bolster chisel or a club hammer. If your slab has been laid on sand, use a piece of timber to precisely level it, add more sand if necessary.
    5. If your slab was laid on mortar, wet the back of your slab and lay it into position for a fresh set of mortar. Ensure that the slab is in line with the surrounding slabs. Then, using a timber cut-off and a club hammer, press the slab into position and fill the joints with dry mortar.

Regrouting paving stones

If the joints between your paving start to crack, this can lead to the joints being completely damaged, which will then lead to other problems down the line, such as your slabs becoming loose or weeds growing in between the cracks, which completely ruins the overall look of your paving. It’s essential to regrout your paving joints as soon as you start to notice any threatening cracks. Repairing the loss of jointing is easy to fix, but if you feel that this isn’t the task for you, or you feel that your skills are not up to the “standard,” then why not call the Handy Squad? They’d be more than willing to regrout your paving stones, making it look as good as new again!

Steps:

    1. Remove all of the existing cracked patio joints using a hammer and a bolster chisel, as these are the best-suited tools for this task.
    2. Once all of the joints are clear, you can start repointing them. The amount of sand and cement you will use to point will depend solely on the width of your joints. (It’s highly recommended that any pointing done is carried out when your patio itself is dry.) Using a bucket, sprinkle the mix of sand and cement along the joints that need repointing. Then, using a soft brush, carefully sweep the mixture into the joint(s). Ensure that the joint(s) are absolutely full. When the joints are full, brush off any excess of the mix and leave the joints to air-dry.

Jet washing stains on paving:

Stains and bad marks ruin the overall look of your patio, especially when they’ve built up over time. Removing stains is an easy task that will get your patio looking as good as new in no time. If a task that involves getting a little wet isn’t your forte, then a trained professional from our Handy Squad would gladly pressure wash your patio paving, leaving it sparkly clean!

Steps:

    1. Completely clear your paving of any furniture, pots, etc.
    2. Using a broom, brush away any loose debris, such as leaves or dirt.
    3. Before cleaning your paving, it’s recommended that you apply a detergent to the surface to help dissolve any stains and to help make the paving easier to clean. Applying detergents can also protect your paving surfaces from weather damage.
    4. Connect your jet washer to the mains electricity supply then turn it on to pressurise the system and to clean your paving.

How to give a home kerb appeal

Your home’s exterior is the first thing that your visitors will look at, and as we all know, first impressions are quite important. Have you ever walked into a home which was beautiful on the inside, but its outside didn’t make it look welcoming? That’s exactly what you don’t want to happen when your friends come to visit.

Kerb appeal is the term used to describe the attractiveness of your home’s exterior and we’re certain that you want to make sure your home is always in top shape, both inside and outside. Follow our tips and tricks below to give your home some serious kerb appeal.

Focus on your entrance door

Entrance doors are used every day and are exposed to all weather conditions, so it’s normal when they start showing wear and tear. Maybe the colour is fading, starting to peel off or there are some cracks on the door. Give a bit of extra love to your front door by taking care of these little details every now and then.

Maybe your door frame has been damaged after a break-in, we would recommend repairing it as soon as possible. Our team of carpenters in London will be able to repair your door frame and even hang a new door if needed. Go one step further and call our London locksmiths, who’ll be able to install a higher security door lock, so you can feel safe at home.

A fresh coat of paint makes wonders

An easy way to improve your home’s appearance is to repaint it. You can choose to paint it with the same colour, or you might want to choose something different. Maybe by having an accent colour on your front door? Or by giving a different colour to the door frame or window frames? If you don’t want to fully paint your home’s exterior, why not just gloss the wooden details and give a new shine?

In case you don’t have time to paint the exterior of your home or you simply don’t want to get your hands dirty, enquire with our decorators in London, who are always happy to help. They will be able to gloss your front door, paint your entrance door or paint your whole home exterior.

Don’t forget your windows

The entrance door should be your main focus; however, windows are also very important. If you live in an older property, taking care of your windows is not only vital for the appearance of your home, but also for the overall insulation of your home. Nobody wants to be cold during the winter months due to draughts that are coming through the cracks in old windows. Windows can be repaired, but if yours are beyond repair, our highly-experienced team can replace sash windows in a heartbeat.

Refresh your paving or driveway

The journey to your home should also be looked after. With time, pavement stones start developing cracks and start accumulating grime and dirt. If you need a professional to clean and refresh any paving or driveway areas, our team will be able to give you an extra pair of hands and pressure wash your paving. However, if you notice cracks between paving and broken grout, maybe it’s time to replace the paving stones or regrout the paving.

Let there be light

Add light fixtures to your entrance. This will help you find your keys late at night and will add a stylish and decorative touch. Front light can also make your home look more welcoming and cosier. If you have a front garden, why not add some lights to different areas of the garden? If you need a professional for the job, our highly skilled London electricians will be able to replace old lights and install new lighting fixtures.

Add flowers and greenery

Outdoor plants and flowers can really give a finishing touch to any home. Potted plants on either side of the entrance door always look stunning. If you need any help moving around heavy pots, give our team a call.

If the idea of enhancing your home’s exterior seems like an idea you’d like to pursue, but you simply don’t have enough time on your hands – leave it to the Squad. We are able to take on any big or small jobs you require. Give our team a call today on 0800-0 12 12 12 or request a free quote by filling our online form.

How to make your small room look bigger

It is important to make the most out of the space you have, whether you have just moved into a new place and found yourself in a tiny room, which feels like it doesn’t have that much wiggle space or maybe you’ve been living at your home for a while, but want to find ways to refresh the space.

We’ve put together a list of some of the easiest and most efficient ways of making your small room, look bigger. Some of the options are cheaper and others might require a full room makeover, which our team of reliable handymen can help with. However, all are brilliant ways to enhance your small room.

Be Ruthless

It sounds obvious, but if you know that you are not going to use or wear something – throw it away! Every little bit of space counts in a small room, so the key to de-clutter is being consistent and relentless.

Multi-functional furniture

Making sure you have multi-functional furniture is key for extra space. Ottomans are a great example, which can be used as both a coffee table and extra seating. You could also use a sofa bed or a bed that contains drawers underneath. This will then contain more storage and will not take up more space than is required. Similarly, furniture that can be folded, stacked or wheeled away is always going to help. When you’re not using it, simply move it out of the way!

Colour-coordination

It might not sound as though using colour coordination would help gain extra space, however, it is a massive help. Buying some of your furniture in the same colour as your walls means that the two colours will blend in and will widen your space. You should also try and ensure that your colour palette is light and neutral, which will also visually expand the space. Don’t want to get your hands dirty with paint? Our painters in London are just a call away.

Placement of furniture

Many people think that putting furniture up against the walls is always going to make for extra space – this is not always correct. Sometimes placing a furniture piece at an angle or surrounded by open space will make a room look bigger. The Handy Squad can help to move your furniture around the room to curate a different layout.

Illusions

Typically painting a ceiling in bright white will give the illusion of a grander and lighter feel within the room, if you require any assistance in painting and decorating, our team of London decorators will be happy to help. Another common illusion is having a striped floor, feeling like the floor carries on forever! Furthermore, hanging up large mirrors can give an illusion that your room is bigger than it is. Use a focal point and angle your mirrors towards it to give the illusion of depth. Mirrors are also vital, as they reflect both natural and artificial light to make a room brighter during the day and night, and making it appear larger.

Use the light

Keeping your windows clear of clutter will visuality create extra space. This is mainly so that the room becomes well-lit. This will then transform the room into being able to see all parts of it. If you do not have a window in the room or cannot keep it clear, adding more lamps or installing track or recessed lighting can also help to keep the room well-lit.

See-through space

Using materials that you can see through can really enhance a room’s visuality of extra space. A good example is replacing an opaque glass shower enclosure in a bathroom for a clear, frameless one. If this is a job on your to-do list which you haven’t got around to do, send us an online enquiry today. The room is the same size, you will, however, be able to see through it, and see the extra space on the other side.

Bigger furniture

I know, how can using bigger furniture make a room look bigger? Well, using a few large pieces of furniture can be much better than using lots of smaller bits of furniture. It contains more space for your belongings and also doesn’t take control of the majority of the room. With open space and large blocks of colour, the room will feel bigger.

Say goodbye to drapes, curtains and rugs

Making a room look bigger is all about tricking the eye. Curtains stop the eye from taking in the view outside, even if they don’t cover the whole window, and just add ‘things’ to the room. Eliminating them adds more space visually and physically, as well as keeping the space simple. Rugs are similar in this respect. If there are any rugs in your room, ensure that they are simple and minimal to avoid creating unnecessary clutter.

We hope you have enjoyed this post, and we hope you find these tips helpful! If you are short on time or are unsure about how to complete any of these jobs, don’t hesitate to contact our team of handyman in London. We’ll make sure that the job is done to perfection!

How to fix issues with your radiator

It would be anybody’s worst nightmare to have a fault with their heating system during the bitterly cold winter months, even worse, not knowing how to fix the fault themselves.

Ensuring that your heating is fully functioning to keep your home warm is essential – not just for your own comfort, but to save money as well. Knowing how to resolve any minor problems, DIY style is handy, but if you’re looking to save time and want to avoid fiddling around with your radiators, our London handymen at the Handy Squad are able and willing to fix any and all problems that you’re facing, we’re just one phone call away.

  • How to fix a noisy central heating system

Remember, different models and makes of boilers have different controls, so be sure to store your operating instructions in a safe place for future usage, if needed. The majority of faults have straightforward solutions, which you should be able to do yourself – but be sure to call a professional if you are ever in doubt. We would recommend calling a gas safe engineer to deal with any boiler-related tasks (we don’t supply these engineers; however, our plumbers will be happy to help with any other tasks you might require).

Different types of a noisy central heating system include (but are not limited to):

  1. Creaking pipes

Possible cause: Hot pipes expanding and rubbing against the floor, wall or other pipes. This causes friction, which can be an unpleasantly annoying sound.

Solution: Get your pipe notches in joists widened (don’t deepen them, this will weaken the joists), clip any unsupported pipes or install insulation around and between pipes.

  1. Humming sounds in pipes

Possible cause: The pump speed could possibly be too high, or your pipes are too narrow for the system flow.

Solution: We’d recommend calling a professional for this job.

  1. Rushing sounds in pipes

Possible cause: Air or gas bubbles in the system.

Solution: Bleed the radiators. See our article on how to bleed your radiator.

  1. Hissing or banging noises

Possible cause no.1: Faulty boiler thermostat.

Solution no.1: We’d recommend calling a professional to replace your boiler thermostat.

Possible cause no.2: Limescale build-up.

Solution no.2: The limescale can be cleaned out by a professional.

Possible cause no.3: Noises could also indicate that the pump isn’t working when using a solid-fuel system (where fuel such as wood is used to heat the system).

Solution no.3: Shut down the boiler first (you can find how to do this by using your boiler operating instructions), then check that the pump is turned on and the impeller running by feeling the casing for vibration. If the switch is turned on, but the pump isn’t running, turn off the power at the mains and check that none of the wiring connections have become loose. If the pump is running, but the outlet pipe is cool, open the bleed valve to release trapped air.

Possible cause no.4: The water level in the system is too low.

Solution no.4: Follow the easy step-by-step guide below to help resolve this issue.

  • Step 1: Turn off the boiler and pump. Then, examine the feed-and-expansion cistern in the loft; if it’s empty, check that the ball valve isn’t jammed closed, also that the water supply hasn’t been turned off or check that a supply pipe isn’t frozen.
  • Step 2: If you’re able to identify and fix the cause yourself; that’s great. You can then top up the system water level again but do be sure to follow the boiler operating instructions.

 

  • How to fix cold radiators

If your boiler is still running problem-free, but you are somehow experiencing issues with cold radiators there could be numerous reasons why.

When all radiators are cold, the most common cause is when the pump isn’t working. To fix this, see this issue, we’d recommend calling a professional. Another cause of all cold radiators is that the pump’s thermostat or timer is incorrectly set or faulty. Fortunately, this can be fixed DIY style! Firstly, check the thermostat and reset it if necessary. If the thermostat or timer is incorrectly set, switch off the power and check the wiring connections, ensuring that you are following the radiator’s operating instructions.

Sometimes not all of your radiators will be cold, only some. The first possible cause of some radiators being cold is when your zone valve’s thermostat or timer is incorrectly set or faulty. A quick and easy solution for this is to reset it. Again, if set incorrectly, switch off the power and check the wiring connections, using the operating instructions. Another possible cause might be that the system may be unbalanced and needs balancing. Balancing means that all of the radiator valves are adjusted to make sure that all of the radiators heat up simultaneously. The last possible cause is the zone valve itself may be faulty. The solution is simple; replace the zone valve with a new one.

When there’s a single radiator that’s cold, the main possible cause is that the radiator’s manual control valve is turned off. To fix this problem, open/turn on the valve. However, the thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) could be incorrectly set and this could be causing the problem instead. If this is the case, reset the TRV. Speaking of the TRV, it being faulty could possibly be another cause of a single cold radiator.

Again, the fix for this is straightforward and DIY friendly, replace the TRV with a new one. If you’ve found that neither of those problems are what’s causing your single radiator to be cold, then you may have an incorrectly set lockshield valve. To fix this, open the manual valve fully, then remove the plastic cap from the lockshield valve and use an adjustable wrench to open the valve until the radiator warms up. The next time a handyman pays a visit to service the system, ask them to balance the radiator, they’ll ensure your radiator is successfully balanced. Having corrosion deposits blocking the inlet and outlet is the final possible cause of your single cold radiator. To resolve this, remove the radiator and flush it out or replace it if it needs to be. Be sure to add a corrosion inhibitor to the system.

If you’re experiencing a slightly different issue, such as a radiator with a cold top, it could possibly be that there is air trapped inside of the radiator. What’s the solution, you may ask? Open the bleed valve so that it can escape. See our article on how to bleed your radiator.

Your radiator may have a cold center or bottom, here’s how to fix it! Firstly, the possible cause of this is a build-up of sludge. To fix this, remove the radiator and flush it out, or replace it if it needs to be replaced. Also, be sure to add a corrosion inhibitor to the system.

We hope that this detailed guide was helpful and that you’ll be able to keep warm during the cold months. Our reliable handymen can be contacted if you face any difficulties when trying to resolve issues by yourself or if something can’t easily be fixed, you can always count on us. Call our friendly team on 0800-0-12-12-12 or request a free quote by filling our online booking form.

Help to set up your Christmas tree and decorations at home or in the office

The holidays are quickly approaching, presents need to be wrapped and decorations need to be put up. You may be surprised to know that we provide services to help with all your Christmas requests. As lovers of odd jobs, we have handymen in London who can help to hang up Christmas decorations, put up the Christmas tree or move Christmas furniture.

Christmas party coming up? Not enough hands? Our partners provide event setting up services including installing marquees, setting up lighting, handling audio visuals and much more. With our moving and transport team, we can also assist you with transporting party equipment. Our decorators in London specialise in various painting services for your home or office, if it’s just a pop of colour you need, a retouch or a whole room we can help you out. No matter how big or small we’ve got the hands to help.

Don’t hesitate to call. The Handy Squad has the London handymen to assist with any odd request you have regarding your Christmas planning. Need lights put up around the house? No problem, the team is always happy to help. As the nights get dark and cold, sometimes all you need is an extra pair of hands to help you tackle those winter worries and thankfully the Handy Squad can assist you with that.

We also offer many other services that can help you through the winter such as draught proofing to save you from the cold and save energy. Even if you need to baby proof Christmas decorations we have the handyman for you.

Leave your Christmas crisis with the Handy Squad. Just call with any Christmas request you have, and a handyman will be sent to you as soon as possible to make sure the holidays are filled with fun and festivities. If you need a free quote just give the team a call on 0800-0-12-12-12 or book online.

How to winter-proof your home

It’s almost that time of the year. The days start to get shorter, the scarves get out of the closet and the best thing to do after a long day of work is sitting next to the fire with a nice cuppa. Although the British weather is already famous for being cold and rainy, the British winter is the holy grail of cold and rainy days. That’s why you should winter-proof your home, thus making sure you’ll keep warm and stay away from unwanted colds.

  • Clean gutters and drains

Clearing any leaves and garden debris from your gutters and drains is of the upmost importance. By cleaning your home’s gutters, it will prevent damp from getting into the walls and by cleaning the drains you’ll be preventing blockages, which will prevent future water overflow.

  • Check your pipes

Start by making sure your downpipes aren’t cracked and that the water is running properly. To prevent burst pipes, frozen pipes and avoid blockages, wrapping your pipes in lagging would be the way to go. Lagging can be easily bought online or in some DIY stores for just a few pounds.

  • Insulate your home

Proper home insulation can reduce heat loss, reduce utility bills and save energy. Some of the heat in a house is lost through the walls and loft, for this reason insulating your loft and wall cavities is more important than ever. Loft insulation will not only help your home stay war during the winter, but it will also help your home stay cooler during the summer.

  • Seal windows and doors

If you are feeling chilly breezes in your house, it is most likely draughts coming from cracks or gaps around doors, windows or even letterboxes – these gaps are easily sealed with insulating strips. Additionally, if you have standard windows, we would recommend to double or triple glazing them to reduce heat loss.

  • Service the boiler

The worse thing that could happen on a chilly morning while you are trying to get ready for work is turning on the shower and water is completely freezing – we all know how that feels! In order for this not to happen again, make sure you get a professional to undertake an annual servicing of your boiler. This way, you’ll be assured that you’ll be able to take warm showers in the colder of wintery days.

In case your radiators are cold at the top and warm at the bottom they will require bleeding. It might seem daunting, but it is easily done. By doing this you’ll release excess air and ensure your radiators will keep your home warm throughout the winter.

  • Be smart with a thermostat

Be sure to keep your heating low during the day manually or with a timer to prevent frozen pipes. In case it’s a very cold day remember to switch the heating on earlier than turning on the thermostat up really quickly.

  • Hire an expert to undertake an energy audit

Our experienced electricians in London will be able to conduct an energy audit in your home or office to find any faults with your electrical circuit or with any of your electrical appliances to make sure you’ll keep warm and cosy during the winter.

How to lay a patio

With the summer season well under way, there has never been a better time to start planning and constructing a brand new patio design for your garden. This can be easily achieved once your flex your imagination and use some simple and effective DIY techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laying down and maintaining patios is just one of the many technical DIY tasks that can be handled by the Handy Squad. With our Handyman in London service, you will receive a qualified tradesmen with the required expertise to make your dream patio a reality.

Planning the layout  

You firstly need to understand the overall layout of the garden in its current state. It’s vitally important to make a drawing on graph paper to clearly indicate where any trees, shrubs, walls and fixtures are situated.

This is a simple but important step, since this drawing will enable you to make accurate estimations on how much material you will need for specific areas of your garden.

You must also consider where any patio furniture is going to be positioned and determine whether they could end up being obstructive during the process.

The Handy Squad will be able to provide a handyman to assemble patio furniture with ease, which means you will be able to pick and choose any style to suit the layout of your new patio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can also provide assistance with flat pack garden furniture assembly, to help you install general garden furniture such as benches, hammocks, deck chairs, sun loungers and gazebos.

Types of paving

There is a multitude of different paving styles currently on the market which means any patio design can be constructed. The premium option has always been the flagstone which offers a pastoral and rustic tone for your garden.

When choosing your preferred style, you will need to plan for any features you may wish to add in the future. Whether you decide to add a built-in barbeque, pond or planter, you will need to have the required space to ensure there is no upheaval as they are being installed.

A simple way to implement this whilst keeping your garden looking clean would be removing large slabs in certain areas and filling them with the appropriate amount of shingle.

It is also common for chairs and tables to be present within gardens, which will need regular wooden garden furniture treatment in order to blend with your new patio design.

Setting out the patio

You will need to mark out the exact layout of your site with pegs and string. When you are pushing any pegs into the ground, you will need to make sure that their tops are positioned at the proposed finishing level.

The patio’s level at the house wall should be at least 150mm below the damp proof course. This is typically seen as an extra wide line of mortar within the brickwork. However, in older houses, you may still see the slate initially used.

Unless you follow this procedure, there is a strong possibility that any walls on your house will start to get damp. This could also prove to be detrimental to any garden furniture you have positioned nearby. If you discover any damaged furniture that needs to be cleansed, you will need to use the Handy Squad’s jet washing garden furniture service.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Choosing your drainage

You will need to create a small slope for your patio to sit away from the house so that rain water does not pool onto it. In most circumstances this will be 1:40, however larger designs will need a cross fall of 1:80 to enhance the water run-off.

It’s important to consider the fall between the pegs being used so you can then place an appropriately sized offcut of wood on top. When you have levelled out the batten between pegs, the offcut will then account for the necessary fall.

Once you have measured down from the top of the pegs, you will be able to calculate the amount of soil needed to be removed. There needs to be enough room to account for the thickness of any slabs as well as any layers of the base. It’s always beneficial to tie string lines to each of the pegs to help assist the process.

Dig out for the base

You will firstly need to dig out any topsoil and save it for other areas of the garden. The depth in which you dig down below will be dependant on the size of your patio.

For light usage, the slabs can be placed onto a compacted 50mm bed of sand. If you want more stability, it is recommended that a 50mm semi-dry mix of sand and cement is used.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Foundation of the patio

For any areas of heavy use, you will need to have a compacted 75mm layer of hardcore placed below the sand and cement mixture. This particular substance is broken down brick and rubble, which needs to be laid over the ground and then compacted to guarantee a firm and stable base.

Once you have multiplied the patio area by the thickness of hardcore needed, you will then be able to calculate the required volume.

It is recommended that you hire a plate vibrator for the preparation stages to ensure you achieve a firm and solid base. Once the base has been prepared, you will then be able to lay the flagstones into one of the corners.

Laying down the slabs

In the case of light use, you will need to trowel five reasonably sized dabs of mortar onto the base area and then place down the first slab. Then tap the surface of the slab using a rubber mallet or the end of a club hammer and then check the spirit levels in both directions.

For heavy use, the slabs will need to be laid down on a consistent bed of 50mm tick mortar. This will ensure that the slab is supported correctly and therefore less likely to break.

It is also possible to lay down paving directly onto the sand, providing you have carefully levelled to fully support the slabs. You firstly need to place battens down at intervals in the sand, making sure the tops are at an appropriate level. Then use a straight edge to level out the sand between them by marking it along the battens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continue the process across the main area of your patio, making sure you regularly check the level. It is advised that you firstly work across the house wall, then down one side using string as a guide to ensure you are working diagonally.

It is quite common after a few years for the cement between each slab to crack and come out of place. This means regrouting paving stones is of paramount importance, since it will help get them back to their original state and prevent the growth of weeds.

Cutting the paving stones

It is preferable to leave out the slabs that need to be cut until the bulk area has been laid. You can then fill in any gaps with cut slabs, using a grinder of bolster chisel to make scores around each slab.

You must take the necessary health and safety precautions when you undertake any cutting work. It its vitally important that you wear safety goggles, work gloves and ear defenders.

Once you have scored, you will need to raise the smallest section on a thin batten and then tap the main area of the slab. This will need to be done along the cut line with the use of a bolster hammer.

It is vitally important to oversee regular maintenance of your patio in order for it to remain radiant. We have an unrivalled London Jet Washing service available at the Handy Squad, which means we can provide both a jet washing paving stones service as well as a jet washing stone steps service.

How to fix doors

At the Handy Squad, we understand the problems that can occur when doors have been fitted incorrectly. Here are some important things to consider when you first start to notice critical issues that may affect the style and functionality of your doors.

Many doors typically start sticking when edges start to rub against the frame or floor. On many occasions, something as simple as shaving away small amounts of wood could help doors to open and close more effectively.

If you have a door that starts sticking near the latch area, you will need to remove the latch before you start repairing, as this could cause structural damage to the wood plane.

Any doors that have been adjusted appropriately shouldn’t start to rattle. A majority of strike plates come equipped with a flange which can be slightly bent to help alleviate the problem.

Doors that have been fitted too loosely will most certainly begin rattling during a draught. The leading causes for this problem are doorstops being poorly positioned or the strike plate being put in the wrong place. These can both be easily moved to instantly solve the issues.

For a thorough Draft Proofing service, we have a team of highly skilled Handymen in London. They will optimise your household to ensure you save vast amounts of money on your yearly heating bill.

If you have a door that is binding on a hinged edge, you will need to ensure that you have packed out at least one hinge. This is a simple task that requires you to unscrew a hinge and then cut thick cardboard to fit the size of the hinge leaf. Make sure you position the card behind the hinge and then screw back into its original place.

 


If your door has a latch that doesn’t catch when you close the door, you may need to consider filing down the inner edges of the strike plate. Latches are unlikely to function correctly if the plate has been installed too far back within the frame.

Doors won’t close properly if the hinges have been fitted too loosely. To ensure this doesn’t happen, you will need to drill out the original holes, plug them with wooden dowels and then drill new fixing points into the surface area before re-installing the hinges back onto the frame.

Wet weather is likely to cause wooden doors and windows to stick. When this happens, you should consider rubbing beeswax around the edges that are sticking. If this solution doesn’t work, you will need to remove the door or window and then plane or sand down the edges that stick.


Never attempt to adjust windows or doors too much as they are likely to swell during warm weather conditions and then shrink once the temperature starts to decrease.

Also make sure that you never hang an external door or leave bare wood exposed since water is likely to enter the grain and cause swelling. If this does happen, you will need to remove the door, dry it and plane away the affected areas.

If you feel hesitant about undertaking certain tasks related to doors, you should consider contacting any of our highly-skilled Carpenters in London. They offer a variety of relevant door related services, which includes: Hang New Door, Plane Door & Rehang and Repair Door Frame.