Our Home Membership engineers share their top tips
to help you look after your home
As the days get warmer, heat your home for less time by turning the heating off or down when you are asleep or the house is empty. And you can save more money by not overheating rooms that are unoccupied or need lower temperatures, for example bedrooms or rooms with lots of glazing. A programmable room thermostat allows you to set different temperatures for different times of the day.
If fitted, a thermostatic radiator valve (TRV) can control the maximum temperature of a room by changing the flow of hot water to the radiator. Set them to the level you want for the room – a lower setting uses less energy and so will save you money.
But avoid using radiator covers with TRVs. Heat is trapped between the radiator and the cover and the TRV senses that the room is warmer than it actually is.
You pull the plug but the water doesn't disappear - aargh! The pipes or drains are blocked. A quick fix is to use the palm of your hand as a plunger, though avoiding the problem in the first place is always best.
Don't let food, grease and hair go down the sink drain, and never pour fat down the plug. Instead, let the fat cool and dispose of it with the household waste.
To prevent clogging, run hot water through after using to stop build up in pipes, and routinely use a suitable household drain cleaning agent. A plumber's snake is cheap and useful tool for removing small blockages from your plumbing.
If you do have a blocked sink, take a look at our video on how to unblock it.
If you have a plumbing problem, or a leaking pipe or tap, in order to fix it you'll likely need to turn the water mains supply off at the stopcock. The stop-what?
The internal stopcock is a valve for turning on and off the cold water system in your home. They may look like the picture on the left.
So it's important that you know where the stopcock is, and frequently check that it can turn off. In a crisis, you don't want to discover that the valve is stiff or stuck.
The stopcock is often under the kitchen sink, where the mains supply enters the property, but not always. Once you have found it, run the cold tap in your kitchen and turn the stopcock handle clockwise to check if the cold water turns off.
As the days do get longer and warmer, you can't help noticing that the lawn is starting to look a bit shaggy. Sadly, the winter holiday from grass cutting is over.
Winter gales can throw lots of twigs and small branches on to your lawn, so first gather them up to avoid jamming the lawnmower. If you have a wood burner, keep the branches for next winter's kindling.
A major cause of lawnmower accidents is sticks and stones being thrown from the blades. To protect yourself, your mower and nearby windows, avoid the risk of an accident by picking up any stones or other debris that may damage your lawnmower (and its blades) if you go over them. Then, of course, you can mow the lawn.
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