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Identifying Faulty Foundations

Problems with a building’s foundations can be one of the biggest problems a homeowner can experience. It is one of those things which if not quickly addressed can lead to substantial issues which inevitably lead to very expensive repairs or worse. The quicker any problems with the foundations are identified the simpler and cheaper they will be to resolve but how do you go about spotting an issue which is basically hidden underground? Evidence of the problem can be seen throughout the building and so you should keep an eye out for them so you can address the problem as soon as possible. These are a few of the tell-tale signs.

External Cracks

wall crackIf you can see evidence of cracks in the visible foundations outside the home or within the basement this represents how the foundations have slipped on or sunk into the earth beneath the house. Alternatively, you might find cracks between the brickwork where the mortar has come apart. This is caused as the house sinks and the sheer weight causes a large portion of the bricks to crack apart and buckle. Cracks might also be visible around windows, fascias and doors as sizeable areas move around them and come away from them.

Leaking Basement

If you find evidence of leaking within your basement it is possible that is due to flooding. However, there is a possibility that it comes down to faulty foundations. If the earth on which the house is built shifts or compresses over time so the stress this causes on the concrete foundations can create cracks. These will then allow water to enter the building. It is possible for these cracks to be caused by pipe leaks or even tree roots which have forced their way through the foundations.

Windows & Doors

window_doorIf you begin to notice that certain windows or doors start to stick or become difficult to close this can potentially be down to issues with the foundations. As the walls around them shift slightly so they separate from them and they become slightly misaligned. This is what causes them to be difficult to shut. If you have a problem with more than one window or door in an adjacent area it is quite likely that it is not just a fault of the door or window itself but the foundations.

Internal Cracks

Just like external cracking if you see any cracks on internal walls there is a chance that this is a large chunk of the house buckling under its own weight as the foundations have shifted. Regular places to observe these cracks are running from the doorframe to the ceiling, vertical cracks in sheetrock and torn wallpaper indicating a hidden crack beneath.


There are three main methods to fix faulty foundations. A whole new set of foundations is one option which clearly will be very expensive and indicates severe problems. Another option is bracing the foundations with steel. The final option is underpinning. This method restores the foundation and will strengthen, stabilise, and level your homes footing to prevent cracking or movement.




Laundry Tips & Tricks

Some things which we have to do in life are quite simply a chore to some of us. Washing your clothes is one of them and whilst many of us might not like doing it or get annoyed at the time it might take to do, it is clearly a necessity. We cannot walk around in unhygienic and unpleasant smelling clothing. However, there are some things you can do to relieve the burden of it. This probably sounds a little daft, after all many of you are probably thinking what more is there to it than I ‘just wash my clothes’? Well, have a quick read and check if there are any things you could do to make your life a whole lot easier.

Wash Less Often

Now I don’t mean to say that you should keep wearing items until they fall off you. However, realistically you can wear lots of outerwear or tops under which you wear another layer multiple times in certain weather conditions. Also you can leave your dirty washing to do until you have a large amount and then just do a big batch. Do you really need to wash those few items immediately? If you really want to wear certain items for specific occasions then plan ahead and don’t wear them beforehand. The less often you have to do your washing the less it will be an annoyance.

Remove Stains Immediately

Remove StainsWhilst the above point stands, you will need to get the stains out of your clothes straight away. If you leave them they can become very difficult to remove at a later date. Simply follow the necessary methods of stain removal depending on the clothing and type of stain. Having done this the item of clothing can then sit with the rest of your pile of washing until you are ready to do it all. Remind yourself something doesn’t need washing straight away because you spilt something on it. Simply get rid of the stain and your clothes will be good as new once you come round to washing them.

Pre-Sort Your Washing

Not every item can be washed the same way. There’s nothing more frustrating than putting one of your favourite pieces of clothing in to clean and then pulling it out to find it ruined due to being on the wrong heat etc. Set up separate wash baskets for the different items so that you can simply throw them all in together without having to sort them every time. Also be mindful of the colours. Separate your whites, bright and darker colours else the inevitable is going to happen. The white tee-shirt that comes out the wash pink is something many of us have done before!

Laundry ServicesGet Someone Else to Do it

There are so many services out there nowadays that you don’t have to do your own washing if you really don’t want to. You can get your laundry picked up and then returned to you. Where I live I use laundry delivery services in Bangkok which will collect, clean and return your washing in period depending on your needs. Even if you are living elsewhere you can avail of the global services which serve a number of cities and provide you with a means to relieve yourself of the chore of washing yourself.


Tips for Floor Maintenance

Are you sure that the surface you are walking on every day is clean?  The floor is one of the easiest areas to get dirty. Different floors require different techniques to maintain them. Here are a few tips of how to clean different floors to give the best finish. Then, you will feel awesome walking on your clean floor.

Cleaning Hardwood Floors

Hardwood requires regular cleaning to maintain its beautiful surface. Your wooden floor may be new or have passed through many generations. To respect the trees that were cut down, you should keep it shiny.

Vacuum your hardwood floor or sweep and dust it off daily. Every week clean it with vinegar. Fill a bucket with warm water mixed with a quarter-cup of apple cider vinegar. Then, clean it with a mop. Or, alternatively you can use tea bags. Put the tea bags in a bucket of water and use them to clean for a shiny effect.

Do not leave your floor too wet because it can damage the texture. Waxing is essential to have a shiny finish. It should be done every year.

Cleaning Laminate Floors

Laminate is another choice of flooring that requires little effort to maintain. Here is an easy way to keep it shining.

Clean all the dirt on the surface by sweeping or vacuuming it. It should be done daily. Beware that you need to be cautious with the vacuum, use an attachment if you are worried about scratches. Fill the bucket with water and clean the floor with a soft mop. Do not use soap or detergent as it may leave a film and dull the floor. If you want you can use baby shampoo.

The surface of laminate floors should not be waxed, polished or refinished. Any hard spots can be removed by alcohol and acetone.

Cleaning Marble and Granite Floors

Marble and granite floors are strong but cleaning them with the wrong methods can damage the lustre. Follow these tips to keep your stone looking good.

Wash all soil, dirt and debris from the surface as soon as possible to avoid stubborn stains. Buff any floor finish out (if used) to protect the surface. Mix warm water with a mild detergent, stone cleaning products or even vinegar or baking soda to clean. Remember to keep the floor wet when you are working on it. Avoid using products that contain powder and dye, steel wool and colored scrub pads on the surface. Finish it by mopping the surface again with a soft cloth to remove any excess water.

Outdoor marble and granite floors can become even dirtier. Use flat surface cleaners to clean up all the stains. This will make the job quicker and also save your time and energy.

Cleaning Carpet

Before you start to vacuum your carpet, collect all objects off the floor i.e. toys, coins and papers. These objects can damage your machine. Clean the area both horizontally and vertically. Your carpet fibers can be twisted, so make sure you vacuum in many directions. Change the nozzle to a smaller one for cleaning in the corners or behind furniture. Vacuum your floor 2-3 times a week but if you have a pet, it should be done daily for sanitary reasons.

Use the right carpet cleaner to clean spots. Spray it on the area and use a clean white cloth to dab around the stain. Rinse the carpet with a cloth and water and do not make it too wet. Let the carpet air dry and then you are done with cleaning.



Economic benefits of double glazing

We are living in a world that is undergoing massive changes in all spheres of life, from the economy to the climate. Global warming has made its effects and consequences felt in every corner of the globe. Focus has therefore shifted to ways in which we can reduce its harmful effects, as well as ways in which we can prevent the further worsening of an already deteriorating situation. The ordinary man and woman on the street can also play a role in reducing this scourge of climate change. This is through implementing energy efficient methods and practices at home, at work and everywhere else. One of these methods is using double glazed windows. Double glazed windows are windows made of two sheets of glass that are separated by a thin film of air. In some cases, this gap is artificially filled with gas. The gap acts as an insulator, preventing extreme fluctuations of temperature within the home.

Once you have installed the double glazed windows in your home or office, you will begin to experience numerous economic benefits. Some of these benefits and advantages include:

Smaller energy bills.

One of the major ways that you will come to appreciate these double glazed windows is the fact that your energy bills at the end of the month will be much cheaper and lighter to bear than before. This is due to the fact that less energy will be required to maintain the temperature of rooms fitted with double glazed windows. This will free up more money for you to use at the end of each month. This money can be used to further improve your economic situation, or it can be used to enjoy the finer things in life. The fact is you will have more disposable income to play with.

You will reduce your carbon footprint.

The fact that you will be using less energy also means that you will have successfully managed to reduce your carbon footprint, thus lessening your impact and input in promoting global warming and climate change. This is certainly going to make you happy as you will be reducing your culpability in destroying the earth that we know as home. The more people adopt double glazed windows, the better the whole world will be in the long run.

Peace and quiet at home or in the office

You will also be able to enjoy peace and quiet on a completely different level. This is due to the fact that the double glazed windows will not only insulate against heat fluctuations, but also prevent external noises from interfering with your daily activities. This is particularly advantageous to people working in offices that need a lot of peace and quiet to make clear decisions that will impact a lot of people. This also applies to old people and the sick lying in hospital that do not need to be disturbed by loud, startling noises from the environment.

There are still other benefits of energy efficient windows to be found.


Installing a TV Aerial

Whilst the work itself can be entirely achievable for a savvy DIY person, it will regularly involve working in an elevated position such as being on the roof of your property. Due to this, you must use extreme caution at all times and ensure that you have the relevant safety equipment beforehand. Additionally, it must be noted that whilst some installations are reasonably simple some may require detailed technical knowledge and specific tools so if you are unsure of anything make sure to contact a trained specialist. Antenna installation will alleviate any of these concerns but if you feel capable and willing to attempt the work yourself, we will look at a few key pieces of advice to make the work simpler.


This can be one of the most important factors for determining the overall performance of your TV aerial. Different locations will receive different strengths of signal and if you live in an area with poor reception then choosing the correct location will be key to receiving the quality picture you would expect. The best location is having the aerial installed on the roof. Alternatively, you could place it within the loft where it will be sheltered from the elements. The standard of reception received will generally deteriorate the lower it is mounted so make sure to check the quality of the incoming signal to help you determine which location would be best.

Roof Mounting

Roof top aerials provide the best performance due to their elevated position and the lack of obstacles blocking their path. The higher the antenna mast reaches then the stronger the received signal will be. This, however, needs to be weighed up against the potential damage that the elements can cause to high masts as they can be battered by winds or tree branches etc. If an aerial can be mounted onto a gable wall it should prove to be reasonably simple whereas the chimney stack can be the most complicated. You will need a bracket to fix the mast to the building or chimney and a lashing kit to tie it in place. Always attempt to spread the load and use multiple brackets as one will cause excessive strain on the mast. When drilling into the building its best to always try to drill into the centre of the bricks and never use the uppermost three bricks. Test a number of positions before starting any installation work because a position that looks ideal to fit an aerial to may not provide the best signal. Test it before you begin to avoid undoing your hard work.

Loft Installation

If you have a reasonably strong signal in your area, then a loft aerial should suffice. It is possibly worth checking if this will work or not as it is generally simpler and safer to do than getting up on the roof. What you need to consider when installing a loft aerial is whether you have a metal roof. If this is the case, it will not work. Try moving the aerial around the loft to see what position is providing the best picture. Remember also to factor in where you place it if you use the loft space efficiently. It needs to be out of the way so you do not damage it so certain locations may not be particularly practical. As well as this, TV aerials are often much bigger than you think and they might take up more space than you first imagined.



Cleaning and Maintaining a Foam Mattress

There used to be a time when everyone had an innerspring mattress but nowadays there are about as many people buying foam mattresses as their traditional counterparts. Foam can be used in a variety of forms for bedding, ranging from memory foam, latex or polyurethane mattresses to hybrids mixing foams with a coil support system and even foam mattress top covers. Foam bedding products cover the full range from top quality high-end luxury products to storable temporary beds and foam mattresses available through suppliers. Whilst they vary greatly they share many similarities when it comes to the maintaining and cleaning of them so keep these in mind to make sure you can keep your mattresses fresh, hygienic and in good condition.

Flip Your Mattress

It is a common misconception that foam mattresses don’t need to be flipped like innerspring mattresses. However, you should still be doing this as they can start sinking down over a period of time in the spot you tend to regularly sleep. Not all-foam mattresses are suitable to be flipped over as they are designed to be used only one way up having a different finish on either side but if this is the case, then just rotate them around 180 degrees. Doing this will still help to spread the wear evenly across your mattress.

Routine Vacuuming

One advantage foam mattresses have over innerspring mattresses are that they are less prone to bed bugs but like any surface, you sleep on they will still gather dead skin, dust and hair. To stop this accumulating too much you should vacuum the top monthly. Like any type of mattress, you should use a mattress cover. These will prevent any spillages or stains getting directly onto the foam mattress itself but even so you should still do this routine vacuuming for better hygiene as well as extending the lifetime of your mattress.

Cleaning Stains

Inevitably something will get spilt on your mattress or soak through the cover and stain it. You need to be careful what products you are using when you clean a foam mattress as certain chemical reactions with the foam can cause a lot of damage to them. The first thing you need to do is soak up the liquid as quickly as possible to remove as much excess liquid as possible. Do this by continual dabbing with a water-absorbent towel or cloth so that you don’t rub any more into the mattress and cause the stain to set. If there is still any stain remaining or you discovered it after the stain had already dried, you can use watered down washing up liquid and rub it into the stain in a circular motion moving from the outside in.

Removing Odours

Whenever you have had any stains which caused odours they can be treated with a mixture of 50% vinegar and 50% water. Put this into a spray type container and spray a small amount onto the area and leave it for 5 minutes. Then soak up the excess liquid with paper towels and repeat until the smell has gone. Finish this by putting a little baking soda on the area and leave it for a good few hours to air dry. It is very important that foam mattresses are only ever air-dried. Then vacuum up any baking soda and both the unwanted odour and the vinegar smell will have disappeared.



Best Methods for Tree Maintenance

Gardening is a common pastime across the globe. The community of green-fingered people worldwide see that various plants are nurtured and flourish under such skilful care. While many may dive into sowing flowers and herbs, some within this very community are geared more towards trees.

Planting and maintaining this towering vegetation may not be as straightforward as many would think. Although, once you grasp the technique of how to upkeep trees, you are set for a lifetime of companionship with these sturdy giants.

The idea of tree maintenance varies from person to person and regardless of which school of thought you subscribe to, tree pruning and tree lopping are two of the most common ways of tending to your beloved plants. On top of that, you should perform constant checks to ensure that your plants are clear of pests and diseases.

Tree Pruning

Whether it is for aesthetics or health purposes, the first rule of thumb is with most species you should only prune trees when they are dormant. This usually means anytime between late autumn and winter. It is imperative that you do so only during this time as most trees bleed sap if you cut them when they are active, especially so in early spring.

When pruning trees, it is also imperative to consider the type of tree, whether it actually requires pruning and its age. For example, conifers usually require minimal to no pruning at all other than the removal of infected or dead branches.

Finally, when undertaking this task, heavy and sharp equipment will usually be involved. To ensure the safety and long-term health of your trees, it is normally advisable to contact a trained and qualified professional to do this for you.

Tree Lopping

Tree Lopping is essentially the removal of the overgrown parts of a plant for various reasons. When a tree grows too close to a house and leaves start to collect on the roof or simply when owners want to avoid having the tree fall on the house under severe weather conditions, tree lopping is employed. This method is also performed to ensure that the tree is healthy and to avoid the possibility of tree removal.

In the case where gardens are sculpted to a specific design, parts of a tree are also then removed. This process has to be undertaken only in certain parts of the year, like pruning. Otherwise, the plant might just die from the trauma. Also, finding the right time to remove such a large section of a tree can ensure a smooth recovery, lest the exposed section cannot callus over and in turn result in decay. When recovery fails to occur properly, trees are also then vulnerable to fungi and bacteria infection that cause the tree to rot.

While most trees, if lopping is done correctly, may recover well, new branches that sprout from the area that was cut could possibly be weaker than they are supposed to be. This results in the tree never achieving its former state and beauty.

The Experts

No matter what method of tree maintenance you subscribe to, one has to admit that caring for a tree is tricky business.

Therefore, when it comes to tree lopping or tree removal, again, hiring a professional is the way to go. This is especially for the safety and wellbeing of you and your family. Be it swiftly removing parts to save your precious trees or preventing a possible accident from happening, a reputable organisation will certainly tend to those needs. Companies like The Tree Firm specialises in providing top quality tree maintenance services that will grant you the peace of mind that your plants are in good hands.



Specialised Building Maintenance Procedures

Which are the most effective high-rise maintenance procedures?

I always remember wondering how on earth people managed to keep the windows so clean on these gargantuan high rise buildings that you see in the major cities such as New York and London. Having an irrational fear of heights myself I think that it was always something that I refused to acknowledge until one day I was watching a movie that involved a rope access platform hanging off the side of a building, one that eventually fell down and crashed on the concrete below.

Fortunately I learned that while there are always risks, for the most part the workers on these platforms are very safe, provided they follow a strict set of procedures and the equipment that they use is regularly and thoroughly maintained.

Rope access and abseil maintenance are two of the most frequently used procedures when working on a high rise building. Whether it is the repairing and maintenance of a building or the cleaning of the windows, health and safety is always of the utmost importance. It is imperative that the workers who are in charge of carrying out these tasks have been thoroughly trained in carrying out these procedures as safely as possible.

In certain parts of the world however, the requirements and expected level of health and safety are not always as up to par as you’d expect. I remember when I was living in Bangkok for a while; I was working in a high-rise building on the 40th floor. I was typing away at my desk, minding my own business when all of a sudden a couple of ropes were dangled down past my window and shortly after a gentleman sat on a plank of wood was slowly edging his way down, cleaning as he went. This was an incredibly frightening experience for me as he had very little in the way of safety gear on. One wrong move and this man would have been plummeting to his death and there would have been nothing that I could have done about it.

Health and Safety is paramount when carrying out high rise maintenance.

This is why it is paramount that you ensure that you are carrying out the safest procedures. Many companies do not consider rope-access for high rise maintenance and prefer to use scaffolding or cherry pickers. These are some of the more commonly used methods however for some of the tallest buildings in the world; they aren’t really a viable option at all. In general this is the slowest method and can be ineffective at times as certain parts of the building that need cleaning can be missed due to the platform blocking the way.

Ultimately it all boils down to the size of the building in question and the nature of the work that needs to be carried out. Weigh up the pros and cons of the various methods and roll with the most viable procedure for your high rise building maintenance.



Choosing the Right Mattress

It’s estimated that we spend around 30% of our adult lives in bed. Therefore, it’s not surprising that selecting the right mattress is so important to so many people. Given the amount of marketing jargon and sales spin in the world, it can sometimes be hard to see the wood for the trees, so to speak. There are two main types of mattresses available but how do you know which type to choose from. This article will help to explain some of the advantages and disadvantages when comparing spring mattresses and foam mattresses to help you to choose the one that suits you best.

Spring Mattresses


Spring mattresses tend to have a long life span. Obviously, this will be determined by the quality of the mattress purchased so don’t expect a cheap sprung mattress to last a long time but generally speaking if you are purchasing one of reasonable quality or above you can expect a lifespan of about 10 years.

They tend to retain a cold surface temperature which might be something you place great importance in when selecting a mattress. Factor in the local temperatures alongside your sensitivity to heat and if this is a major concern, spring mattresses should keep you cooler than foam equivalents.

Overall spring mattresses tend to be cheaper than foam mattresses but given the wide ranges within both types of materials, this obviously varies somewhat. Generally speaking, the equivalent standards will often be slightly cheaper than their foam counterparts.

If you prefer to sleep on a firmer bed, then spring mattresses normally feel firmer than foam ones.


They do not always provide the adequate lumbar support you might be seeking in a mattress. Whilst the benefits of spring mattresses are much greater than they are often portrayed, if this is a major concern of yours often a foam mattress, particularly a memory foam one, will grant greater support.

Often spring mattresses can feel remarkably comfortable initially but deteriorate over time so what once felt reasonably supporting and very comfortable may not be so after a number of years.

Foam Mattresses


Foam mattresses conform to your body shape and due to this will distribute your weight more evenly across the bed as well as supporting the body better without creating points of pressure.

Due to the lack of moving parts inside of them, foam mattresses create no noise and they don’t experience that sensation of spring back as you move across them.

Spring mattresses sometimes suffer from bowing slightly in the centre causing couples to roll together into the centre. Foam mattresses will not cause this to happen due to the nature of the material they are constructed from.

They are very easy to transport and store away. Folding a spring mattress can break them completely and so they can prove difficult to transport or tidy away if they are only used temporarily, whereas foam mattresses can be rolled up or easily folded up to fit into the back of a car.


Some users of foam and/or memory foam mattresses have been known to complain about the additional heat of the sleeping surface of these mattresses when compared to spring mattresses. Depending on your location or how sensitive you may be to temperature this could prove to be a factor worth considering.

Generally speaking, foam mattresses, especially memory foam ones, can be more expensive than spring ones. If cost is a major factor, then consider what it is you really need from your mattress and whether the extra cost justifies it or not. However, one compromise to this is to purchase memory or gel foam toppers such as are available, which will allow you to experience much of the benefits but at a reduced cost.