Archive for the ‘Bath / Shower / Spa / Basins / Vanities / Toilets’ Category

Image courtesy of Deep-Fried Goodness

Condensation is common in homes and can cause serious issues like water stains on carpet, streaking on walls, mould / mildew can grow, your health may be affected because breathing in wet air is not good, mediums such as plasterboard and wood, including MDF may swell and disfigure and other damages, such as the tiles or grout falling off in the shower, which then provides a great place for mildew to grow undetected.

So what is condensation?

Quite simply, if the air inside the home has a high level of water vapour it is said to have a high humidity and the warmer the air the higher the humidity.  When air with a high humidity comes in contact with a colder surface, condensation will occur.

In Darwin the humidity is often very high, and a common problem occurs when you order your beer, within seconds condensation has formed on the outside of the glass and in a few minutes is streaming down the sides, which means every time you pick it up you end up with a wet hand.  This is clearly because the hot air has a high humidity which when touching the cold beer glass causes the condensation.

Of course you do not need to go to Darwin, condensation is very common in all homes that have a dryer or a shower, simply use either without ventilation and you will find streams of water and condensation on your windows, tiles, paint work etc.

How to control the level of condensation?

Controlling the levels of condensation within a home can be managed, but because many things can cause condensation there are many different ways to address it.  We explore each below:

1. Baths and Showers – Probably the most common cause of condensation in many homes is the bath or shower, and thankfully most homes have some level of protection against a build up of too much moisture in the form of an extraction fan.  Extraction fans can be attached to the wall or roof and deal with the moisture laden air by drawing it out of the room.  In addition to having an extraction fan, or if you do not have one, open a window to let the humid air escape and shut the door to outside rooms to contain the condensation to the one room.

2. Clothes dryer – Before running your clothes dryer always consider how you are going to let the humidity escape.  The best solution is an extraction fan, however many laundries do not have these attached.  Open the laundry door/window, or preferably both to let hot air escape.  Wipe down walls and windows that do become covered with condensation.

3. Cooking – Extractor fans while cooking are fantastic allowing steam to be removed, however you can also assist by not over boiling the contents and by using a lid to minimise the amount of steam.

4. Breathing – Well you can’t stop breathing, but you can minimise the condensation through breathing by maintaining a warm house.  This is particularly important in winter.  Our bodies are about 37 degrees, where as the air can get very cold 0-10 degrees depending on where you live.  In this instance the chances of condensation are much higher.  To reduce it, if you keep your house warmer by using heating and insulation.

Whether you decide you need fans, vents, heating or insulation check out the DIY Bargain Bin first.

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Photo courtesy of Greg Rigler

So you have read our other posts on saving water and you want to do something but you are a little reluctant to start messing with the fittings? Perhaps you are a child and your parents are not too keen for you to turn apprentice tradesman on their fixtures?  So are there any other ways that you can save water?

The answer is of course, Yes!

Here are our top 10 ways of saving water around your home that anyone could do regardless of age or DIY expertise!

1. Only run your dishwasher or washing machine when you have a full load of washing!  In this way you are minimising the number of loads and therefore the amount of water you are using.

2. Shorten your shower time.  This one is often a hard one because we love long showers, but if you can reduce your shower time by even 1 minute you will be saving between 7 and 25 litres of water.

3. Shower with a bucket.  Don’t laugh, I do not mean wash yourself out of a bucket, but if you collect 1 bucket of water every shower you can water a lot of your garden with it, or at least all the inside plants. We generally have a small bucket that has a good pouring lip. It sits in the bath tub and we top up the watering can with it for our indoor watering needs.

4. Have a shower instead of a bath.  You will use a lot less water in a shower than in a bath if you keep it short.  If you do have a bath, scoop the water out to water your garden. Friends of ours had an ingenious idea, and using a piece of rubber tube would open their bathroom window, feed the tube into the bath then suck it to get the flow, then water their back garden with the waste.  Of course your bathroom window does need to be near the area that requires watering.

5. While on the subjects of baths, start first by putting the plug into the bath, then running the water.  Adjust the temperature as the bath gets full rather than wasting all the cold water at the start while waiting for it to get to a nice temperature.

6. Turn off the tap while you are brushing your teeth and use a glass of water.

7. If you do have a great garden, then reduce the amount of water that it needs by applying a good coating of mulch.  This will stop the quick evaporation of water in the soil, which will mean you can water less without risking losing your plants.

8. Collect a large bottle or jug of water and put it in the fridge.  This way you can have a nice cool drink every time you want one and there is no risk of wastage!

9. Wash vegetables and fruit in a bowl of water rather than under the running tap.  Similarly rinse plates, knives and forks in the sink rather than under running water.

10. Use a glass a day for your water.  When they say it is healthy to have 4-6 glasses of water a day, no one said that they had to be different glasses each time!  Choose a glass and then use it continually throughout the day to cut down on washing.

Of course there are heaps of DIY ideas that you can put in play as well.  Check out the DIY Bargain Bin Bath, Shower, Spa, Basins, Vanities and Toilets section for some great water saving products.

Picture from WonderHowTo video

Sinks can clog up over time, because hair, hair products, soap, and other products can clump together inside the drain. The good news is however, that sinks are usually quite easy to clear.

There are several ways to clear a blocked drain, here are three ways, that do not use harsh chemicals that you can try.   The best option for a bad block in the pipes.

1. Non-chemical clean

For this technique you will need some baking soda, white vinegar and hot water.  It is pretty simple, first you pour down some baking soda and then follow it up with the vinegar, this will cause it to bubble like soft drink.  As soon as the bubbles cease (about 15 minutes), follow it with some recently boiled water.  The result is that all the stuff that was blocking your drain will come bubbling back up to the surface.

Refer to this great video from Wonder How To, for how to do this and how to plunge your drain (below).

2. Use a plunger

Seal your sink’s overflow hole, then get out a plunger, pop it into the sink and half fill the sink that is blocked with water, so that it is slightly above the plunger head.  Keeping the plunger sealed to the bottom of the sink, in fast motions pump up and down, keeping the plunger sealed to the bottom of the sink.

Should you see any other reaction (as shown in the WonderHowTo video), stop immediately and call a plumber.

3. Clear the pipes

The best way however to clear a blocked sink though is to remove the two pipes under the sink and thoroughly clean them.  This will ensure that your drain is as clean as it can possibly be.  To see how easy this is to achieve, check out this video from Mark Donovan of HomeAdditionPlus.

Alternatively if you have a plumber’s snake you could clear it in the way shown on WonderHowTo.

Image courtesy of Steven Depolo

Water is one of Australia’s most valuable resources and although this winter we have had plenty of rain, we are still a long way away from seeing our dams back to good levels in all states. Especially Victoria where the dams are still at less than 40% capacity.  So it is good during these times to look for ways to save whatever water you can.  One way of doing this is to install a water saving shower nozzle to your shower.

You may think that one shower nozzle will not help save the country from drought and you are probably correct, however you may cut down your water usage from up to 25 litres per minute to 7 litres and that is a pretty significant saving.  If more people do this, then the savings will add up.  Not to mention the benefit that your water bill will reduce.

You will need:

  • your new water saving shower head
  • some teflon (white plumbers) tape
  • a rag
  • a washer for the shower head
  • adjustable pliers

Step 1 – Wrap the shower head in the rag then use the adjustable pliers to remove the shower head by twisting it.  After some initial resistance it should come free quite easily.

Step 2 – Remove any teflon tape from the shower stem, then use the rag to thoroughly clean it.  This will remove any left over grit or bits of tape that still remained.

Step 3 – Wrap the teflon tape around the stem in the same direction that the new shower head will screw on.  In most cases this is clockwise.  This will ensure that it doesn’t peel off as you screw the new shower head in place.  Apply about 3-4 rotations.

Step 4 – Place the washer into your shower head.

Step 5 – Using your hands screw on the new shower head till it is firm.  Then use your adjustable pliers to lightly tighten the fitting.  Remember to wrap your rag around the chrome first to ensure that it is not damaged.  You want your shower head to be firm but not too tight.

Check out the DIY Bargain Bin for all your water saving needs, including the Bath, Shower and Spa section for your new shower head and the Plumbing section for all your other plumbing needs.

Looking for other water saving ideas?  Then check out our Water feature!

Image courtesy of Marie G

So you have been watching your little baby steadily grow, each day they amaze you with the new things that they can do, from frowning to smiling, to rolling and sitting.  But when they suddenly discover the ability to move, be it by crawling or going commando across the floor, the joy may quickly turn into hazard brainstorming session.  And, well, that is a good thing!

Little children learn from their mistakes, but there are some that you just want to avoid them ever making! So now is the time to think about what you need to do to child proof your home!

Latches

Children will love to open cupboards, pull on draws and peak behind closed doors.  This is a great sign of their curiousity and development, so you do not want to stop all exploration.  However you do want to prevent their little fingers finding anything that could be dangerous.

The items to consider as potentially hazardous to a child include:

Kitchen – Any draw with knives or sharp implements, any draw with plastic bags, any cupboard with chemicals or cleaning equipment, any cupboard with medicinal supplies.

Laundry – Anywhere cleaning products or laundry products, pest control or gardening equipment (such as fertilizers etc) are kept.

Bathroom – Anywhere medicinal supplies, hair products such as hair moose and any cleaning products.

Cooking

While cooking you need to be alert.  Either fit a safety door to the kitchen or ensure that you are vigilant.  Turn pot handles to the back of the stove and ensure the child stays away from a hot oven.

Water

There are a number of things you can do to safe guard your child from water.  The facts are that children can die in a small bucket of water, so it is good to ensure that all outdoor water features, pools or buckets are either empty or have protective fences around them.  Inside ensure that the bath is always let out.

Another task to attend to is the temperature of your hot water, ensure that you have set it at an appropriate level in order to not burn or scold the child should it come out hot.  See Adjusting your gas hot water heater.  Also get in the habit of always turning the hot tap off first, so the cold water can cool the metal fixtures.

Finally ensure that you have a good quality mat down to reduce the chance of your child slipping.

Electricity

It goes without saying that electricity is one of the most dangerous currents pulsing through any household.  Given a child’s curousity it is hard to ensure that they will never stick something inside a power point, so cover all accessible power points with a plastic cap when not in use.  Also ensure that you have a safety switch fitted, this will flick your power off should it happen to short circuit, hopefully protecting the child.

Door stoppers and strips

These are often overlooked, but they are quite important.  Look around your home for any door that shuts too quickly or sharply, and doors which have dangerous inside edges (that is when the door is open, does it leave a gap between door and frame where a child may place their finger).  If so, address these by putting in a door stop or a strip to ensure that your child’s fingers remain safe.

Stairs

Stairs can prove fatal to a little child, so it is worth getting a gate.  These are usually very easy to fit.

On the fun flip side, you may also want to protect your DVD, VIDEO, WII etc from little fingers, slices of toast and being used as a money box.  In these cases your child is likely to be fine, in fact probably proud of their achievement, however you may have an expensive repair bill.

Check out the DIY Bargain Bin for all your child proofing needs.

Image sourced from the Water Rating website.

In many countries they just cannot understand that water could become a commodity of such great value, but here, we have grown up with doing little things to conserve and save it.  As a child my mother used to scold me for leaving the tap running while brushing my teeth, and still to this day I will turn it off while I brush.

Things today though are a little more sophisticated with the introduction of WELS in 2005. The Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Scheme started by making predictions of water use and set about encouraging and developing water savings with their aim to reduce water usage.

The Australian Government’s Water Efficiency website hopes that by using water efficient products it will help to:

  • reduce domestic water use by more than 100,000 megalitres each year;
  • save more than 800,000 megalitres (more water than Sydney Harbour); and
  • reduce total greenhouse gas output by 400,000 tonnes each year – equivalent to taking 90,000 cars off the road each year!

That is a lot of water saving, and you can do your bit by:

  • Replacing an inefficient washing machine with an efficient model.  32% of all water savings will come through this initiative.
  • Replacing old style flushing toilets with a dual flush.  Old style toilets use up to 12 litres of water per flush, where as a new one on half-flush uses about 4 litres.  21% of water savings will come from efficient toilets.
  • Replace your standard showerhead with a water efficient one, cutting down your use of 25 litres of water per minute to just seven litres.

Image courtesy of Matt Tiegs

The first two ‘replaces’ could involve quite an outlay, but the third, is both inexpensive and very easy to do as this do-it-yourself video from the ‘for Dummies’ series demonstrates. You can find your new showerhead (and thereby reduce your level of guilt next time you have a shower that exceeds your three minute quota) in the DIY Bargain Bin Bath / Shower / Spa / Basins / Vanities and Toilet category.

One bonus is, that in some cases you can get a rebate from buying a WELS rated product.  This rebate still applies over the internet, so there is no restriction to choosing and purchasing products you see here in the DIY Bargain Bin. To check whether a rebate is being offered for your showerhead check the Living Greener Rebates Assistance website.  Then use the WELS public search database to determine if the product you want to buy meets the rating requirement.