Hints and Tips
You can either read through them all from here onwards by scrolling down or by selecting the General or Travel options on the Navigation area to the left to jump directly to that category.
If you have some other Hints or Tips that you feel would benefit other readers then why not send them in to me to add to the list. It's easy enough - all you have to do is click on Contact Us and email your suggestion to me.
If there are other topics you'd like to see some tips for then please suggest them and I'll either research the topic or you can send them to me.
Anything you try from the following tips you do so at your own risk and we cannot be held responsible. All Hints & Tips are published in good faith and have been tried by either the source of the tips or ourselves at some stage.
Unblocking your drains
When did you last check your drains for blockages?
Just thought I'd pass on my recent experiences of a blocked kitchen drain.
We noticed the waste into the kitchen drain wasn't going down too well, and in fact it became blocked, as seen by the suds coming up over the top of the drain grid and seeping across the floor of the garage.
My first thoughts were "this is going to be expensive" and so I started asking around to see if anyone else had experience of this or ideas of the way forward in solving the blockage problem.
It was time to get down and dirty! I put my hand down the drain and was surprised at the solid lump of "stuff" I pulled out. I continued to pull quite a few lumps of "stuff" out of the pipe and hence thought I'd sorted it. Wrong! The water still didn't want to drain away.
Luckily for me a friend of mine suggested some stuff called "One Shot" drain cleaner and although they stock it at B&Q at over �10, it was only �5.40 at the local plumbers merchant. It's almost neat sulphuric acid (95%) and should be handled with extreme care, as it tells you on the box! You are warned about how harmful it is if it touches your skin, etc., so do be careful when using it.
I used it and eventually it broke through the blockage and now the waste is flowing smoothly. It does suggest on the box that it comes in to use it on a regular basis, and having seen the state of the pipes, we will now use it on a regular basis.
The only downturn is the smell, albeit not too strong, but so long as you maintain some air flow it's bearable.
I also noticed how much solid waste was in the waste pipe between the sink and the drain and so put some of the cleaner down the sink, following the instructions, and then after a short while, using a short piece of hose I backwashed the waste pipe hence releasing the deposit and washing it away, collecting it into a bowl rather than let it go down the clearing drain as I didn't want to re-block it!
The moral of this little saga is to use a drain cleaner on a regular basis to minimise the risk of a blockage and this includes the bathroom sink and shower.
You have been warned!
Number plates that peel off in the heat ....
Have you tried to remove sticky residue from price labels on goods? Does your car have number plates that are held on with double sided tape? That's the tape a thin layer of foam between two sticky layers.
Have you found that with the heat we've experienced recently that your plate has "shifted" or even come unstuck? I have experienced this recently and so set out to remove the old tape and replace with new strips. Easy you say! Have you tried to peel off the old stuff? It's a pain!
What I found useful was to use WD40! First of all, remove as much of the old material as possible, using in my case my thumb nails. Then spray WD40 onto the residue, leave for a short while and then the sticky residue starts to come away more easily.
Once you've done that you MUST then clean all traces of the WD40 from the surfaces BEFORE attempting to stick strips of the new double sided tape on or it will not stick! I used some good old fashioned washing up liquid to do that, although I know it's not recommended for washing the car as a rule, but it did the job in hand. DRY the surface after you've cleaned it. The plate is now fixed until the next time!
Thinking of putting a new seal round the bath?
If so then do remember to clean off all the old sealant and get the surfaces both clean and dry. Use a mineral based cleaning agent like meths to remove any silicone remnants to ensure a good surface for the new sealant to adhere to.
Before fitting the new seal, FILL the bath with water FIRST so as the bath will sit at the right height for the new seal and this ensures the new seal sits properly and, providing you cleaned the surfaces properly, you should get a good, long lasting, seal.
Like any good DIY job, the preparation makes all the difference to the finished job!
Another hint from a reader and contributor, Barry Hicks is as follows;-
While I was on a site, there was a comment about using ordinary silicon
sealant and needing to be an expert to apply it in a neat fashion.
The easy way around that is to use masking tape.
Put masking tape around the wall up to 1cm above the bath or sink and then another around the bath or sink about the same distance from the wall.
Ensure that the areas are clean and dry first though or the tape will not stick properly.
When you have done that apply the sealant, then using a wet finger or a piece of dowel rod (so you get a nice rounded edge) remove the excess sealant.
When finished remove the masking tape and allow the sealant to dry. The result is a professional looking seal around your bath or sink. Don't forget to fill your bath with water before applying the sealant.
Do you have a chest freezer?
When you defrost it switch the freezer off, empty it and then put hot water in the body and fast freeze areas in suitable containers and then shut the lid. Alternatively before closing the lid, to speed up the defrost, soak the ice round the sides and allow it to soak in. After a short while, lift the lid and the ice will be either dropping off or loose enough to dislodge etc, and using a dustpan, remove as much of the ice and water from the floor of the freezer as practical and then use a Vax or similar wet vac to suck the rest of the water out. After that, wipe with a dry cloth and then switch the power back on. On refilling the freezer, spray the top seal with WD40 as this helps prevent ice forming round the top seal.
Are you a follower of Savings rates and other financial information?
Then why not try this site? I first heard about it on the Radio 2 Jeremy Vine show.
Try it out - www.moneysavingexpert.com - and see if you find it useful, and then if you do, you can pass the link on to others. You can sign up for regular email updates on rates etc, so see the site for information.
Did you know that Cash ISA's revert to the £1000 limit in the tax year 2006 and that new savings in an equity will be restricted to £3000?
Thinking of moving house at all in the near future?
Then take a look at this document as issued by ITV about Moving house - it's quite informative.
Do you suffer with slow water run off from your sink or bath?
I have found a useful way to remove the offending blockage using a VAX wet vacuum cleaner.
Place the nozzle up against the drain hole and wind a cloth tightly round the end of the nozzle so that it seals at the plug hole and then switch on the vacuum cleaner. It will suck the offending blockage back up the drain and into the vacuum, although any hair ball will quite possibly just get as far as the plug hole and then have to be fished out manually. Whilst it might sound somewhat messy it works!
When all clear put a stainless steel plug hole cover on and this should extend the period between blockages somewhat! Experience has shown that it doesn't eliminate them altogether!
Having problems removing stains and marks from clothes etc ...?
Are you having problems removing stains and marks from clothes, furniture, kitchen, bathrooms, drives and paths etc? Then take a look at the article "Queen of Clean" (Linda Cobb from Michigan), that I've put together from info available on the gm.tv web site.
One or two things I've tried and they've worked, like this one - To Remove damp marks from wood, like glass circles - coat in mayonnaise, leave for an hour and then wipe off. If the marks persist, repeat but leave overnight.
Recently I received a tip from the makers of WD-40 about using that product for removing chewing gum from clothes and the sticky residue that price labels leave on various items. Just spray it on for a few seconds then wipe it off and away comes the residue. Go to the WD-40 site for further details, but be warned, if you sign up to receive the newsletters you may not be able to opt out ever again! I've tried!
Are you into DIY around the home?
A useful tip if doing DIY around the home - search the web first via a question on either Google or Ask Jeeves and even look on sites of the likes of Focus or B&Q and look at their DIY Help files - they can be quite useful.
If you are attempting any electrical work, do ensure you turn the electrics OFF
before you attempt any connections to the existing
live circuit. Fit and connect any new devices BEFORE connecting
to the existing circuit as then you'll have both power for tools
and lighting to see what you're doing and you'll also have the power OFF for
a minimum period too! Again, if in any doubt, consult a professional/qualified
On re-connecting the power ensure any devices with timers are reset as required, like videos, clocks, etc.
When using electric power tools outside the house then DO USE a residual circuit breaker (RCD) as these could end up saving your life.They aren't expensive either at around a tenner from many decent DIY centres. What price your life?
Always keep an old metal clothes hanger about - it makes an ideal toilet cystern replacement for hooking the handle back to the syphon mechanism!
A Word of Warning! Don't take the remains of the old one out of the rod until you have the replacement to hand or you'll have to dismantle the whole syphon mechanism from the cystern. Not impossible or hard, but definitely time consuming and wet!
Suggestion! It might help to tie up the ball valve whilst doing this as it will stop the cistern from re-filling as you attempt to fix it! Flush the cistern by manually pulling on the rod to empty it before working on it, or use a VAX or similar equipment to empty the cistern.
A new product for sealing around baths is called Teleseal. It looks good too, and effective.
Here's a short description of the product from the web page ...
"Water damage due to adhesion failure of silicone sealant is the single most common cause of complaint by homeowners. The inconvenience and cost of removing the failed seal and its residues, replacing it and making good the damage can be considerable. Most sealing products rely on their resilience or flexibility to absorb the movement in a bath, be that from the filling and emptying of the bath or the flexing of the timber floor on which the bath sits. This constant stretching of the seal often over-stresses the adhesion of the seal, thus resulting in water leaks.
Teleseal is a real alternative to other seals in that its patented design allows movement of up to 10mm to be absorbed through its telescopic action. It is a revolutionary, permanent seal design, with three UPVC precision interlocking extrusions, which form a neat, compact, telescopic assembly and appears as a single strip. This unique strip-seal allows up to 10mm of movement, not by stretching the adhesive, but by it's concealed, self-adjusting, telescopic action, thus the fixing adhesive remains un-stressed."
For further details visit their web page - just click here.
If anyone has used it we'd love to hear what you think about the product.
...and talking of seals!
When taking the seal off the plastic milk containers, remove them carefully but DON'T discard them. Put them back into the lid and you'll have a seal on the bottle which not only stops leaks if you lay the bottle down, but also keeps air out and helps keep the milk fresher!
Having problems with items moving in your cabinet drawers?
If so why not line the drawers with some non-slip liner material like Magic Cover Grip?
I was having problems with pens etc sliding back in my desk drawers till I came across this material and being plastic it can be washed and re-used. Now everything stays just where it's put. Wilko's does a similar product.
To get rid of the smell of burnt food
Just simmer some lemon juice in a pan and hey presto, the smell disappears!
Also when cooking fish, simmer some vinegar by the side and the smell of the fish is said to not permeate the house.
Do you suffer Silverfish in your kitchen or bathroom?
- just follow the link for information both on the harmless creature and ways of ridding your house of them.
They may be more common than you care to think and they live longer than you'd credit also!
Various Travel sites and information
There are a number of sites that provide one with route planning, whether it be road, rail, bus or air, and others that will display various hold ups on the road, rail or air.
On the web links page we list a variety of these web sites that you might find useful, so why not give them a try before you embark on any trip?
If you know of others that you use and feel confident in recommending, then why not send them on so that they can be incorporated into the list?
Looking for Travel Insurance?
Whilst looking for travel insurance, I enquired via the usual big named companies, the likes of Direct Line, Norwich Union, etc., only to find their premiums quite high (for me anyway).
Not to be disheartened, I then ran a check via the Google Search facility on my PC and imagine my surprise to find the same (or similar) cover elsewhere for a lot less! I would therefore suggest you do something similar before committing to one of the big names.
Going on Holiday this year?
Have you thought of booking direct with the hotel and getting one of the cheap flights? That's how we booked our New Year break in Majorca and saved pounds over the Travel Agents brochure price.
If you talk to the Hotel in question and tell them when you're thinking of going over and ask what vacancies they have for a range of dates then tell them you have to organise a flight first before confirming, they are usually quite co-operative and helpful. Give it a try and see what you can save. It's not hard work and you'll be pleasantly surprised at the outcome and what you can save for minimal effort on your part!
One thing I would just mention at this point is that there will be no transport laid on from the airport to the hotel and whilst you might first think this is a disadvantage then think again. When on a package tour you get the coach laid on and you get herded onto one accordingly. How long does that take to get to your hotel? How long does a taxi take and it's direct don't forget, so no dropping off on the way?
At the end of the day it's your choice, but it does give you more monies to spend on your holiday does it not?
Booking cheap flights
With the recent demise of the local airline, Duo, you might do wise to heed to warnings on the TV about the methods of buying the tickets on line.
If you use a debit card then you are more likely to lose your monies if the airline ceases trading whereas if you use your credit card then the issuer of that card will most likely reimburse you due to the law as regards credit cards.
The only relatively safe way is to book via an ABTA agent so that you are covered. Any package tour that includes an airline that ceases to trade will most likely be covered.
Moral of this story is to read the small print and be aware that you have more rights when using a credit card!
Yet another little tip when abroad.
When in the EC, pay by credit card or debit card as the exchange rate is better. Whilst we were in Mallorca at the New Year, we noticed that the various Exchange Houses were offering from €1.31/£ to €1.34/£ (euros to the pound), whereas using the credit card for purchases we got €1.38/£. If you use your Cash Card some banks do not charge a handling fee. You might find this more advantageous than travellers Cheques at the end of the day - ask your bank!
By the way, ensure you tell your bank and Credit Card company that you are going abroad and give them the dates so that they can mark your account as such and that way the cards shouldn't be bounced! If they don't know you've gone abroad they might assume your card has been stolen or cloned and hence put a stop on it! How embarrassing that would be!
Towing a caravan?
Keep your Caravan front window clear of insects and other objects or marks by wrapping cling film around it before embarking on a journey and then when you reach your destination remove it for a clean screen!
Take creases out of your clothes
If you're going away and have packed your clothes in a case etc and then they're creased when you take them out, try hanging them on a hanger in the shower where they sit in the steam for a few minutes and the creases (usually) drop out! Try it and see!
Take a photocopy of the important documents
It's always worth taking a photocopy of the important documents like passports, just in case the worst happens, like losing your documents. At least you have something to start with to get home again!
Talking of documents, do take an E111 form with you when touring the EU as it allows you to take advantage of the medical facilities there - again read the small print for full information. Do also take insurance with you anyway as the E111 won't cover repatriation to the UK.
Did you know ...
Garlic helps keep the mosquitos away, or so it's said.
Did you also know the biggest killer of mankind is the mosquito?