Posts filed under ‘Advice’
How to avoid burst pipes and failing heating systems in winter via Charlie Mullins of Pimlico Plumbers
Ahead of the expected cold spell during the winter months, ‘Plumber to the stars’ Charlie Mullins gives his expert advice to home owners on how to protect their property from winter conditions.
The Pimlico Plumbers founder said: “The winter weather can be very troublesome for homeowners who have not taken the necessary steps to prepare their house for the cold. By following these simple steps homeowners will significantly reduce the chance of encountering problems such as burst pipes and heating systems that cannot handle the adverse conditions.
“Not only will homeowners prevent problems but they will also reduce the amount they spend on heating their home in the long run.”
Charlie’s top tips:
1. In these freezing conditions it is crucial to keep your water moving so that pipes don’t freeze up – running your taps every now and then will help to prevent freezing and could save you a hefty plumbers’ bill.
2. Another great tip that people just don’t think of is keeping your loft hatch open a few inches to let warm air into your loft or roof cavity where your water pipes are, which will help no end in keeping water from freezing.
3. Keeping your heating turned on low when you are out or even when you’re away for a few days or longer. It doesn’t have to be high at all, just 5 or 6 degrees C will do it, but once again if water stays above zero it won’t freeze.
4. Make sure your lagging (thermal insulation) is up to scratch: people think it’s too late to do anything about this now but the forecast says there’s at least a couple of weeks of this weather to come, and his will help keep things warm and save real money.
5. Another winner is to have your loft and cavity walls properly insulated – hot air rises so it makes sense to keep the heat inside the building – remember you paid for it so don’t let it get outside as it puts more strain on your boiler and uses up more expensive gas replacing the heat.
6. Regular servicing of your boiler and radiators: since the recession we have noticed an increase in emergency call outs as people try to save a bit of cash by cutting down on things they think are not important. But it makes so much more sense to spend a little getting your heating system up to scratch. Aside from the safely aspect, It will last longer and will perform when you most need it to.
7. Have a timer installed on your heating system: this will save you money by not running things at full temperature all the time, but at the same time give your house a little boost every now and then to keep things from getting too cold and giving you the sort of expensive problems you can experience when your pipes freeze up.
8. Having thermostatic radiator valves fitted to all your radiators to control individual room temperatures will give you the ability to switch heat off completely in certain parts of your house, thus reducing your fuel costs further, while keeping things roaring where they are needed.
Renting is expensive. With the average price of renting a home rising, finding a lettings bargain can be tricky in the current climate. But it is not impossible, writes Jessie Hewitson.
Figures from LSL Property Services show the average cost of renting a home in England and Wales increased by 1.8 per cent in just one month, from August to September this year. Now the cost of renting the average home has reached a record high of £757 a month – and who wants average? Here are some tips to help increase your route to rental affordability.
1. It helps if you think like a landlord, suggests George Spencer, chief executive of the online lettings company Rentify. “We have heard from our own landlords that nothing beats a tenant who keeps complaints to an absolute minimum, pays their rent on time and looks after the property,” he says. “A landlord will be much more inclined to forego a rent increase to keep an easy tenant for the long term.”
2. If you are an existing tenant and you’ve been asked to pay increased rent, it’s worth requesting a meeting with the landlord to discuss it. There may be leeway if you agree to make some other concessions, such as an increased deposit. The landlord will be aware that they will incur plenty of other costs if they try to get another tenant, rather than sticking with you.
3. An obvious carrot to dangle under the landlord’s nose is to pay rent upfront in return for a better rate. If you can afford it, consider offering to pay three or six months in advance. “This can sometimes be a sweetener to a landlord who has incurred a large capital outlay, either in terms of the purchase of the property or a recent refurbishment,” says Raja.
4. And if you are looking at renting as a long-term option, offer a longer tenancy – something that is common in the rest of Europe. You won’t be the only one committing to several years as a survey carried out by the National Landlords Association (NLA) at the end of last year showed that more than 50 per cent of tenancies now cover three years.
Homeowners are being urged by police and estate agents to watch out for the tell tale signs of neighbours converting their premises into cannabis farms.
It follows the latest farm to be discovered at an address in Tolworth, Surrey, which resulted in two arrests.
Police suggested homeowners may not know if a cannabis factory has been set up in a next door property. But they urged the public to look out for signs in a bid to tackle crime and public safety.
As well as being illegal, growing cannabis is dangerous to those living in neighbouring properties, they said. It can be a major fire hazard due to the lights, the electric fans and the tampered with electricity supply.
The properties are typically rented, but those growing the cannabis are unlikely to ever live at the address, the police warned.
Edward Foley, of estate agents Winkworth, said: “While we don’t get much of this in Wimbledon Village, I know for a fact that several cannabis farms have been found in recent years a short distance away in Merton Park, Wimbledon Chase and South Wimbledon. I sit on the Merton Park Police Ward Panel and I am always amazed that when discovered how much damage is done.
“Often the loft has been used as well with growbags full of earth packed up there with heat lamps and it can take thousands to put right. Some of the properties that I have been aware of have often been owned by landlords that have either not used an estate agent to let their property or been attracted to an agent offering lower than average fees to attract business. The landlords, thinking they are saving money, often end up with thousands of pounds of damage, weeks of inconvenience and of course loss of rental income. I would always recommend using an agent that is a member of ARLA and or NALS and that checks references for the tenants and don’t take shortcuts. Often the gangs behind the cannabis farms conduct other criminal activities from the address which could lead to further problems when you come to sell the property and will probably have implications on your credit history.
“Of course, if you see a property with black bin bags covering the windows from the inside call the local police and let them investigate. They often work with the energy suppliers to combat this and of course they can use the thermal imaging from the police helicopter to check if there is an abnormal amount of heat inside the house.”
Police urged homeowners to ask the following questions if they think a nearby property is being used to grow cannabis:
• Are the windows of the property permanently covered from the inside?
• Do people visit the property at unusual times of the day or night?
• Does no-one appear to be living at the property?
• Is there a vent protruding through the roof or a rear window?
• Is there a pungent smell coming from the premises?
• Are there compost bags or gardening equipment lying around outside?
• Is there a lot of noise coming from the equipment, such as cooling fans?
• Have a large number of pots and lights been moved into the premises at the same time?
• If in a terraced house, do shared walls appear wet to the touch?
• Are powerful lights being left on overnight?
If you suspect that a property is being used to grow cannabis, contact your Safer Neighbourhoods Team or by dialling 101. If you don’t want to speak directly to the police, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. Crimestoppers is an independent charity, and not part of the police.