Day: December 2, 2018

Choosing An Home Improvement Loan

If you have got all the plans approved and have drawn up the approximate costs for your home improvement project, you need to start thinking about how to finance the project. Any minor improvements can be financed by a credit card or savings but a major improvement, like an extension or a loft conversion requires a large chunk of money. There are various ways of getting this money. One such method is the home improvement loan. This article will cover how a home improvement loan works and some things to consider before you go for one.

Getting an home improvement loan depends on the type of modification or renovation you are planning. If, for example your home is an old building it may be eligible for a restoration grant. The same might apply in certain parts of the country where you plan to install solar powered energy panels. Check this out at your local town planning offices first, it could save you money on any other loans you take out.

After that, there are a few other home improvement loan options available.

The simplest is probably a standard unsecured loan. This is just like a personal loan that you take out for other things you need, like a car or white goods. Criteria for this type of loan may include things like your salary, your credit score or your ability to pay the monthly repayments installments.

Other types of loans revolve around securing the debt of the loan around the house that you are renovating. You can renegotiate the mortgage with your current lender. They will probably give you the money at the current rate of the existing mortgage. You will be negotiating altering the term of the loan or the amount for the repayments.

A note on this is that you can often renegotiate the mortgage if you have shopped around before hand and know that you can get a better deal elsewhere in terms of interest rate (or other criteria that you feel are important – a payment holiday for example) .

If you have equity in the house you can draw down on this equity to fund the renovation. The equity can be in the form of a lump sum or a line of credit (whereby you can effectively use the equity as a credit card and take out money when you need it).

When going for these types of loans, it helps to know what is involved in the home improvement. Will it be completed in stages? In this case you probably want a line of credit or a loan where the lender releases the amount in chunks. This will save you money over time as you are not paying interest back on one lump sum that may just be sitting in your account.

You may also choose to refinance your home loan completely if you can find a better rate. This has the advantage that you get a better rate or conditions that will save …

Masonry Repair – Matching Mortar for Repointing

Masonry repair is essential to the general maintenance of your home. Cracks in the mortar allow water and pests into your home, and can lower the value of the house or even prevent a sale. However, not any repair will do. If the mortar used to repoint the cracks does not match, it can cause more damage to the wall and still have the same effect on the value or sale of the home. This is why it becomes so important to get the right mortar for repair.

The right mortar for repairing masonry cracks and repointing is different for every house. This is due to inconsistencies in the mixing of mortar, different types of mortar being used, and/or different aging and staining of the mortar. Even if you match the mortar composition and compressive strength of the mortar, the repair can look bad and stand out if the mortar color and gradation of the sand are not matched.

Most of the professional masonry repair specialists assume that they can match mortar by simply matching the color of mortar with pigments or stains, and some try to match the sand. While this may work most of the time for them, it only works because the customer does not know that it was wrong and neither party are understanding the problems this method can cause. This issue happens most often in right-to-work states that require no license for masonry repair and city codes do not enforce a standard of repair that relates to this issue.

With that being said, the correct and only way to identify your mortar and find a suitable repair mortar is through mortar analysis.

There are different types of mortar analysis available. The most commonly used is acid digestion which is limited for accuracy. In fact, all official individual testing methods have wide ranges of error. It is only through a combination on different mortar testing procedures that accurate results can be made. By collecting more information about the mortar, it’s compressive strength, acid digestion, chemical reactions, weight loss, and comparing these results along with a calculation of the specific gravity of the binder materials and sand, the mortar composition can be more accurately identified.

Only after identifying the mortar composition can the color begin to be matched correctly. This is because many base tones of the mortar color are a direct result of the mortar composition. For instance a white sand with grey and black particles in a white mortar will give a bright white mortar with a slight grey tone in the light, but a blonde sand with red particles will appear buff to pink in a white mortar.

After the base formula is determined, the color can be matched by making minor adjustments of different colors of the base materials as long as the ratio and formula remain constant. Then the final adjustments can be made with pigments or stains as needed.

With a proper repair mortar, masonry repairs will bond better and last …

Bathroom Toilet Repair: The Smell From Hell

I received a question from Samuel C. asking: “I have a constant smell in my bathroom I can’t seem to find or fix. Any suggestions?”

Yes…. Flush when you’re done.

No, I’m kidding Sam.

What you are most likely smelling are sewer gasses. All of the drains in your bathroom lead to a central drain that takes waste-water out of your house to either a city sewer line or a leach field depending on where you live. Those drain lines can contain sewer gasses such as Methane, hydrogen sulfide, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and more.

The way we stop those gasses from coming back into your house is by means of a “trap”. What’s a trap?

A trap is when a woman asks you if an outfit makes her look heavy….. It’s also a U-shaped bend in the drain line that “traps” water creating a barrier between you and the open sewer system.

The Usual Suspects:

In a full bathroom there are typically three traps:

One under the sink (which is often located in the vanity cabinet)

One under the tub/shower (which is usually hidden in the floor)

One in the toilet (This one is actually built into the toilet itself)

One or more of these could be causing that smell. Typically, if a sink trap is faulty, you will see signs of water damage below the trap suggesting it’s not holding water as it should. That would show up in the vanity cabinet floor. For the tub/shower it can be trickier as the trap is enclosed and may show signs of leaking in the ceiling below if it’s a second floor bathroom.

All of that being said, the first place I always check and the most likely candidate is the toilet and let me explain why.

As I mentioned, the toilet has a built-in trap. This trap allows the toilet to maintain the water level inside the bowl. If there was no trap, the water would just flow down the drain and the toilet bowl would be empty and dry. When a toilet is installed, it’s placed onto a floor drain using a wax ring gasket.

The wax ring is used to seal the drain outlet on the bottom of the toilet to the drain opening in the floor. When a toilet is installed, the ring is placed onto the drain… the toilet is dropped onto the ring… and the toilet bolts (also known as closet bolts) are tightened enough to lock the toilet in place. If that wax gasket ring starts to fail or isn’t seated properly? Sewer gasses can sneak out from under your toilet causing your bathroom to have that suspicious smell. It can also cause water to escape, sometimes invisibly, with each flush potentially damaging the floor hidden under the toilet.

How To Repair A Toilet Gasket:

1) Turn off the water supply to your toilet

2) Flush the toilet and hold the handle down to drain as much water from the tank & bowl as …

How to Clean Your Kitchen Appliances

Kitchen appliances should be thoroughly cleaned inside and out at least twice a year to keep dirt and bacteria under control. Below are some of my suggestions, but always consult your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommended way to clean your appliances, inside and out.


Remove all of the food from the refrigerator and sort through it. Throw out any expired foods and almost empty food containers.

Now that the refrigerator is empty, remove the drawers and shelves. Be careful when handling glass shelves, especially with wet hands. Wash the shelves and drawers with a mixture of mild soap, lukewarm water and a small amount of baking soda. (The baking soda helps to dissolve grease and dirt and removes odors.)

Wipe down the inside of the refrigerator and freezer before you put the shelves, drawers and food back using the same solution you used to clean the shelves.


Place a coffee cup filled with vinegar in the dishwashing rack and run it through a complete cycle, using the hottest water setting available. If your dishwasher still doesn’t smell right, try this: sprinkle a cup of baking soda around the bottom of the tub and again run it through a complete cycle using the hottest water. If your dishwasher has a filter in the bottom, pull it out, rinse it and clean it thoroughly.

Finally, wipe down the outside of the dishwasher using a mild detergent. And, don’t forget to clean the top, bottom and side edges of the door.


Remove the glass tray from the microwave and wash it by hand or in the dishwasher. Wipe down the inside of the microwave using a mild dishwashing liquid, general all-purpose cleaner or a mild baking soda solution.

If there is built-up dirt and you’re having a hard time removing, try placing a microwave safe bowl containing 1 cup of water and ¼ cup of vinegar in the microwave and boil it for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the microwave and leave the bowl there for 15 minutes with the door closed. Remove the bowl from the microwave and again wipe down the inside. The built-up dirt should be easy to remove now.


Cleaning the stovetop is probably the toughest job in the kitchen.

Start by removing the knobs, grates and burner covers and cleaning them. Wipe the stovetop down to remove any lose dirt. Then wash the whole surface with hot, soapy water using a good dish detergent. If things are really grimy, you might want to try a commercial degreasing product. Just make sure to follow the package directions.

Avoid using abrasives on your stovetop because they can scratch or damage the surface. And, if you have a gas stove, be careful around the gas ports because you can wipe dirt, grease and cleaning solution into the port and the port can get clogged. If this happens, use a toothpick to carefully clean the opening before using the burner.

Finally, wash the walls and the cabinets behind …