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Home Security

Protecting the home

No home should be left unprotected or invitations left for the prowling burglar. From Alarm installation to installing CCTV systems, you can have a look at the various ways you can guard against intruders and gives detailed instructions on how to fit locks securely to all types of doors and windows. Advice is given on what to do when you leave the house, whether for a short period or for a long holiday. Having spent time and money on improving the home, it is important all that effort is not wasted through a moment of carelessness. The intruder will often make quite a mess and it is heart-breaking to return and find your home in a shambles.

CCTV security

Whenever you leave the house

-Lock all doors and windows and remove keys.
-Lock garages and sheds and lock away ladders and tools.
-Never leave visible notes for trades people.
-Don’t leave keys under mats or in obvious positions.
-Never leave a key on a string behind the letter box; this habit will not go unnoticed.
-In the daytime open the curtains; at night close them and leave a light on – other than that in the hall; better still, fit a time switch to one or two lights so they come on as dusk falls.
-Never leave cars or bicycles unlocked even if in a garage.
-Never leave a window open for the cat to get in and out; provide a cat door.
-When leaving your car always lock valuables in the boot, again even when in a garage. Better still, take them with you.
-When shopping never leave a purse where it can be stolen such as in a basket, on a counter or in a pram- Use a small holdall rather than a basket.

Before going on holiday

-Tell your neighbours and the police so they can watch the house for you.
-Cancel all household deliveries, such as milk and newspapers.
-Ask a friend or neighbour to draw the curtains each night (and open them in the morning) and leave one or two lights on to give the house a lived-in appearance. Again it would be a good idea to fit a time switch so the lights will not be on all night and attract attention. .Also ask someone to remove any circulars from your letter box.
-If you intend to be away for a long time, make arrangements for your lawn to be mown overgrown grass can be an obvious giveaway.

At home

-Always leave the security chain fixed so, when you open the door, no one can burst in.
-Always check the credentials of callers such as meter readers; all public employees carry official identification ask to see it.
-Teach children not to open the door to strangers.
-Ensure the whereabouts of exit door keys is known to family and guests in the event of fire breaking out.
-Keep all documents, such as bank and credit cards, cheque books, insurance policies and passports in a safe place; but always keep cheque books separate from bank and credit cards which can be used to verify cheques.
-Keep duplicates of all keys in a secure place such as a safe; the loss of any could seriously affect security.


Every home and its contents should be properly insured; but this is not sufficient security on its own. Insurance can never recover the real value you place on your possessions or compensate for the mental distress caused by intrusion.

Locks for doors

Installing double glazing

If you are going to install your own double glazing, it is likely you will choose a DIY type since kits for these are widely available and are relatively easy to install. There are, however, a number of problems you may come across when fitting them.
For example, they can be fitted to existing timber or metal window frames; but if metal frames are fixed directly into masonry, you will have to drill and tap the frame to provide screw-fixing points or fit a secondary timber frame to accept the double glazing, particularly if the frame is too narrow. However, most metal windows are set in a timber surround and this can be treated as the window. If you want to fix the double glazing frame to the reveal, you may come across the problem of an out of square reveal; to deal with this you will have to pack the out-of-square area with timber wedges or choose a system which fits directly to the window. Again, certain types of kit require the channels in which the new glazing is fitted to be mitred at the corners and joined. If you think you will find this too much of a problem, choose a type which is supplied with corner pieces.
Remember to cut the channel lengths squarely at the ends or you will find it difficult to fit on the corner pieces and the final appearance of the glazing will be marred. Also, don’t expect the glass to be a push-fit into the channel; it might slide in, but often you will need to encourage this by tapping gently with a mallet or with a hammer and a block of wood placed to protect the glass. Warning If you are going to double glaze bay windows, remember to treat each window as a separate unit. There are many makes of secondary sash double glazing available and the manufacturers supply detailed instructions for installation.

There are, however, three basic types of system: plastic channel, fixed or hinged, and sliding secondary sashes.

Plastic channel

With this type, each pane of glass is fitted into a frame made by cutting lengths of U-shaped plastic channel to size; remove any sharp edges from the glass with a carborundum stone. The corners of the channel have to be mitred. Using a sharp knife and a mitre guide, cut the first mitre corner and then fit the channel to the glass to determine the position of the second corner. Remove the channel and mitre-cut at this position; repeat this process until all four corners have been cut. Secure the channel to the glass; some kits require the use of adhesive to form a rigid frame. Hold this assembly up to the window and fix it in place on the frame with the plastic clips supplied with the kit. With this type of double glazing, out-of-square reveals will not cause problems since the channel is always fixed to the frame.

Secondary glazing

Fixed or hinged
Usually this type consists of plastic or aluminium channel cut to shape and joined at the corners by mitring or by using special corner pieces. Fixing is either by clips to non-opening windows or by hinges to opening windows (the new windows can be hinged to open sideways or upwards). You could, of course, use hinges with fixed windows to make them easier to clean. This type of double glazing will, if correctly assembled, eliminate draughts and the new windows can be removed for summer storage. Before you buy this type of system, read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully to check the frame around your window is wide enough to take the double glazing and that it is made of the right material to take this particular system. With some systems the manufacturer recommends fixing only to wood rather than metal frames. Again. your existing window catches or handles may protrude in such a way they will interfere with the installation of the new system. You can usually solve these problems by fitting a secondary timber frame to take the double glazing; butt-join the corners of the frame, fill in any gaps with wood filler and apply a wood primer followed by two coats of paint. allowing the first coat to dry before applying the second. There is one system which uses PVC shatterproof panels instead of glass. These are fitted into self adhesive plastic tracks which are cut and pressed into place to the wall outside the reveal. The panels can be easily removed, but you may consider this too much trouble with opening windows.

Usually this type is fitted in the reveal. An outer frame is fixed in the reveal to square up the opening; use pieces of wood as packing if necessary. The glass is fixed in a separate frame which is fitted inside the outer frame to enable the glass and its separate frame to slide. The framed glass is removable and horizontal and vertical sliders are available. Depending on the size of the window, two or more sliding panels will be needed. One system can be fixed to the face of the window frame so you will avoid the problems of squaring up a reveal, although it can be reveal fixed as well. In this case the company offers a kit specially designed to suit your windows; it comprises plastic channelling cut to size and ready to be joined on site so no cutting or mitring is required. The glass comes complete in its tailor-made frame ready to be installed in the channelling.

Dealing with condensation

For most people condensation conjures up pictures of bathroom walls running with moisture, windows steamed up and water on the window sills. These more easily recognizable forms of condensation can be temporarily cleared up with a little time and effort devoted to mopping up. But there are ways of helping to prevent condensation forming in the first place. Condensation is caused when moisture in warm air comes into contact with a cold surface and turns to water. Kitchens and bathrooms are the obvious places to suffer, but condensation will often occur in patches on walls or ceilings in living areas too.

damaged window frame
Single glass windows are undoubtedly one of the worst offenders in causing condensation. In damp winter conditions few homes escape the problem and bedrooms in particular suffer from its effects. This is the result of lower night temperatures reacting with the warm air we breathe out or warm air circulated by heating equipment. The problem is made worse by the introduction of new moist air into a room by cooking, using hand basins or running baths. Probably the worst effect of condensation is the damage it can do in a short time to window frames and paintwork. Even when frames are correctly painted 3mm in on the glass pane, the lower beading quickly breaks down and allows moisture to attack the timber or metal beneath. One remedy is the installation of good quality double glazing. Although condensation may not be completely eliminated, the build-up is reduced sufficiently to prevent moisture being a problem.

Keeping the home warm

One of the greatest money-wasters is heat loss, caused by poor insulation and ill-fitting doors and windows. This section describes the way in which you can solve these problems and cut down on your heating bills. Check with the heat loss blogs to see where your money is going and follow the steps necessary to keep the warmth where it belongs inside.
winter london
Preventitive measures including double glazing and insulating the loft are both tasks you can do yourself. Broken windows should be replaced as soon as possible. Condensation can lead to the greater problem of damp; advice is given on how to eliminate it.

Plumbing Insulation

Loft & Roof Insulation

Making curtains

bedroom curtains

There are several advantages in making curtains yourself: not only is it much cheaper than buying them ready-made, but it also allows you greater flexibility in design and choice of fabric – and you can be sure of getting them the right width and length for your windows rather than having to accept the sizes available in the shops. Of course you can have your own fabric made into curtains by a professional, but this is expensive and, since curtains are not at all difficult to make up, it pays to do it yourself.

Measuring for width
To calculate the width of your curtains, measure the curtain track, add any overlap and double this figure. This is only a general guide, however, since gathered or pleated curtains require varying amounts of material depending on the type of or curtain tape you use.

Measuring for length
Using a steel measuring tape or rule, measure the distance from the top of the track to the bottom of the window sill or to the floor (since some sills and floors tend to slope, it is best to measure in several places to ensure the curtains will hang in line). To this measurement add 20cm to allow for hems top and bottom; if the curtains will have a stand-up heading, double its depth and add this to your measurement. Divide the width of the finished curtain by the width of your chosen fabric to give the number of fabric widths and multiply the length of each curtain by the number of widths required.

Choosing curtains

Very thick brocades, velvets and wools are hard for the amateur to handle if you want your curtains to look heavy. it will be cheaper and easier to interline them. Remember, too, that natural fibres are more prone to rot if they are exposed to direct sunlight. Think about how you will need to care for your curtains. Kitchen windows might be near the cooker and likely to become dirty very quickly” so choose something light, washable and flameproof. Pattern and colour will be your final problems. Large motifs and heavy fabrics are best left for long curtains. If the curtains play a very prominent part in the look of the room. you might be wise to play safe and choose a natural or plain coloured fabric which will blend in with many different furnishings styles. If you want to redesign the room later, you can do it without a huge cash outlay by changing smaller or less expensive items like pictures. lights, plants and cushions. Big bold patterns give a striking effect but they will dominate the room, so keep the rest of it simple.

Upholstery and curtains

However hard-wearing your chairs may be, sooner or later they will need repairing or re-covering. Replacing furniture is costly; repairs and new covers will make chairs like new. Some advice on how to restore a range of chairs and keep them clean. It also shows you how to choose and make your own curtains and how to hang them. Although sewing is obviously involved in these operations, expert skills and not necessarily required and the simple, some advice will help even the beginner to achieve satisfactory results on the furniture or windows.

Cleaning & repairing carpets

Carpets will become worn or damaged in the course of everyday use. There is no need to go to the expense of replacing them when you can patch and repair minor damage easily and at a fraction of the cost. You should remember to save remnants and off cuts when carpets are being fitted so you will be able to carry out repairs in the future. Regular vacuum cleaning, ideally every day, will remove grit which cuts into carpet fibres and backing as it is trodden in.

carpet stairs

Fluff will form on the surface of new carpets; this consists of short fibres which do not reach the base of the carpet and should be removed for the first few weeks with a hand brush, carpet sweeper or vacuum cleaner. Sometimes, while a carpet is bedding down, short loose fibres may become tangled with stronger fibres, causing small balls or pills of fibre on the surface. These should be trimmed off with scissors; never attempt to pull protruding fibres out of the carpet. Often the surface of a looped pile carpet may be caught up with a nail, in the base of a piece of furniture for example; this will cause a pulled loop. Look carefully to see if an adjacent loop has been pulled into the base of the carpet; if one has, you may be able to tease it up with a piece of hooked wire and draw the pulled loop back into the surface. If not, you will need to trim the loop level with the surface.

Cleaning carpets
Lightly soiled carpets can be cleaned with carpet shampoo, applied by a manual or electric carpet shampooer following manufacturer’s instructions. Treat heavily stained areas separately and test a small area before treating the whole carpet to check for discoloration. The best shampoos produce a dry foam which does not wet the carpet excessively; if the carpet is too wet, this could cause shrinkage and discoloration. After shampooing leave the pile sloping in one direction and allow the carpet to dry before walking or replacing furniture on it: vacuum it clean when it is dry. Heavily soiled carpet will have to be treated by professionals – or you can hire a ‘steam’ carpet cleaner; this is a large vacuum cleaner with a wet shampoo applicator. A hand-held nozzle sprays shampoo and hot water and the carpet is vacuumed so the shampoo, dirt and most of the water is drawn into the waste tank of the cleaner. The carpet is left drier than after ordinary shampooing, so the furniture may be replaced within about an hour.

Removing stains
When treating stains on carpets you should always test an area to discover whether the treatment has any effect on the colour dyes in the carpet. Remember it is much harder to remove all liquids and semisolids if they are allowed to dry. Stains fall into two basic categories and there are specific treatments for each type of carpet stain.

Water soluble stains
These should yield to a carpet shampoo. Remember to add one teaspoonful of white vinegar to each pint o[ shampoo; this will keep the solution acidic and prevent the dye in the carpet bleeding. Use a clean white cloth to apply the shampoo and blot the stain from the edge towards the centre; don’t rub vigorously. Mop up excess moisture with paper tissues and, when the area is dry, vacuum it clean.

Solvent soluble stains
These should be removed with a solvent-based dry cleaning fluid, which you should use sparingly. If you have applied water or carpet shampoo to the stain, allow it to dry thoroughly before applying the fluid on a pad of clean cloth. Work from the edge towards the centre and, if blotting is insufficient, rub gently. Turn the cloth as it becomes discoloured and blot excess fluid with paper tissues. Use carpet shampoo to remove final traces of the stain; if it does not, use an aerosol spot remover or call in professional carpet cleaners.

Repairing carpets
Bare carpet can be patched with a new piece, such as a remnant saved when the carpet was fitted; but remember such repairs are rarely entirely satisfactory. The adjacent pile is likely to have flattened and faded, which means the new piece will stand out from the rest. Carpet tiles can be moved around by taking some from under pieces of furniture, for example; but again the replacements are likely to stand out from the surrounding tiles.

Patching woven-backed carpet
To patch woven carpet, turn the carpet to expose the backing (although you can use the surface method described for foam-backed carpet). Mark out the area of the damage on the backing and apply a coat of carpet adhesive in a broad band along the lines you have drawn will prevent the carpet fraying when you cut out the damaged area. Place a sheet of hardboard under the carpet and cut along the marked lines with a sharp knife. Put the piece you have cut out upside down on the back of an off cut of the carpet and carefully match the direction of pile and pattern (the pattern will usually show through the back of a woven carpet). Mark out the exact shape of the worn piece onto the new one, with adhesive and cut out as before. Lay strips of 50mm carpet tape around the edge of the hole in the carpet to accept the patch; you can use either self-adhesive tape or woven fabric tape (which requires carpet adhesive). Re-lay the carpet and press the patch into place over the carpet tape; take great care not to push down the surrounding pile as you press the patch into place. Hammer it down along the edges to ensure firm contact with the carpet tape beneath.

Patching foam-backed carpet
This is easier because you can patch from above the surface of the carpet. Lay a large off cut over the worn area and match the pile direction and pattern; very carefully cut both layers at the same time with a sharp knife. If it is a large patch, you can tack the pieces down to prevent movement as you cut through. The foam backing will prevent fraying. If you intend to use this method with woven carpet, you will need to apply carpet adhesive along edges of both the hole and the patch roughly halfway up the pile. Cut strips of carpet tape so they will overlap around the hole, raise the edges of the carpet and apply the tape so half its width is exposed (sticky side up). Place the patch in position and hammer down the edges to ensure sound contact with the tape.

Repairing tears
Tears in carpet are usually caused by movement of the underfloor; this should be rectified before you make the repair. Tears often occur at the back and front edges of stair treads because of movement between treads and risers. To repair a tear, turn the carpet over and hold the tear closed before sticking 75mm wide self-adhesive or woven carpet tape along it. If you use woven tape with carpet adhesive, you can make the repair stronger by stitching along the sides of the tear with a curved needle and strong thread.

Repairing frayed edges
Frayed edges occur most frequently at doorways and they can be repaired by fitting aluminium binder bars, which are available in various designs. Use bars with small teeth for woven-backed carpets and bars with small lips to hold foam-backed carpets. Cut the binder bar to length (to fit the doorway) and nail it down; on a concrete floor you can fix the bar with masonry pins or use adhesive. If the carpet has a woven backing, you should seal the edge by working in a 25mm strip of carpet adhesive and trimming off the loose ends. Make sure the carpet lies flat without rucks or wrinkles before hammering down the lip of the binder bar, using a wood block as protection. You can also seal frayed edges with carpet tape; this is especially useful for frayed carpet squares. If the carpet has a woven back, cut off a small amount of carpet to give a neat, straight edge. Seal this edge with adhesive, taking care not to get the adhesive higher than the base of the tufts. Stick carpet tape along the edge, allowing 3-6mm to overlap; turn the overlap over so it sticks to the base of the tufts all along the edge. It is more difficult to bind the edges of foambacked carpet because it crumbles at the edges. The foam may make binding difficult because you need a good key for the adhesive or self-adhesive tape. It may be necessary to experiment with different adhesives to find one which gives the best bond.

Repairing burns
You may be able to trim off the tips of burnt fibres to remove a mild cigarette burn; more serious burns on woollen rugs and carpets can be patched with thick knitting wool. Trim off the burnt tufts with a small pair of nail scissors and cut the patching wool into 13mm pieces. Hold back the carpet pile around the damaged area and work carpet adhesive into the trimmed tufts with a matchstick. Ease a bunch of wool pieces into the damaged area with.a matchstick, filling the hole as tightly as possible. When the adhesive is dry, cut the ends level with the pile and pull out any loose ends. Use a needle to tease the new wool fibres into the fibres of the carpet. Serious burns in woven, nylon and man-made carpets must be patched using the technique described for worn carpets. Repairing rush matting This type of floor covering is not easily repaired, but you may be able to stitch loose pieces back into position. Replacement pieces are available for square rush matting which you can stitch into place to repair worn areas

Laying carpets

Before laying carpet it is essential to prepare the sub-floor carefully to make sure it is dry, level, flat and clean. Any bumps in the surface will cause the carpet to wear prematurely and unevenly.

carpet fitters London staircase

Preparing the sub-floor
Clear the room of furniture and inspect the floor thoroughly, walking all over it to check for squeaks, uneven or loose boards and protruding nail heads. If there are any signs of damp or rot, deal with the problem immediately.

Loose and squeaking floorboards
Squeaks below a fitted carpet are irritating and not easily remedied once the carpet is laid. They can indicate the nails securing the boards are working loose, causing a floorboard to rise and fall when walked on. Some squeaks may be cured by sprinkling talcum powder or French chalk between the boards. Where squeaking persists, if the boards are loose, secure them with screws. First sink protruding nails below the surface with a nail punch. Drill countersunk clearance holes through the boards for the screws, about 13mm from each nail head, drill pilot holes into the joists and tighten the screws firmly, making sure the heads are below the surface. Always be careful when hammering nails or inserting screws into floorboards. If you are doubtful about what lies below. lift the board and make sure there are no pipes or wires nearby.

Levelling the surface
Check for any sharp edges or uneven boards. Where possible, plane down protruding boards flush with the surround. If, as sometimes happens. a board cannot be levelled off completely. at least round off any sharp edges. Fill any wide gaps between boards with wedge shaped wood strips, cut to length and coated on both sides with woodworking adhesive. Tap the strips down firmly and plane down any protruding edges. Fill smaller gaps with mastic. If the floor is very uneven and cannot be levelled successfully, cover it with hardboard or replace the boards. Level concrete with screeding compound.

Do not lay carpet over thermoplastic tiles unless you have taken measures to eliminate condensation in the room. Otherwise the tiles will ‘sweat’ and moisture will work through to the carpet, causing mildew stains on the pile. Never use rubber or foam underlays over thermoplastic tiles always choose felt.
When the subfloor has been prepared, clean it thoroughly.

Checking doors
Check to see if the new carpet will raise the floor level to a point where the door will not pass easily over it. The door must clear the carpet completely; if it brushes over it as it opens and close it wears the pile. The solution is to remove the door and plane off enough from its bottom edge to ensure it clears the carpet. Do this before laying the carpet since it will make the job easier; even if the door does not need modifying it is easier to lay carpet with the door removed.

Lying the carpet
If you are using carpet grippers to secure the carpet, fix them in position around the edges of the room and fit a binder bar in the doorway (as described). Take the carpet into the room, open it up fully and position it roughly with excess carpet lapping up the walls, it is usual to lay the carpet with the pile leaning away from the light sine this prevents uneven shading in daylight which may be particularly noticeable in the case of plain carpets. If the carpet has a definite pattern, this should be the right way up as you enter the room.

Fitting the underlay
When the carpet is arranged, roll half of it back to expose half of the floor area This is to enable you to put down your underlay one half at a time. If you try to put down all the underlay and then the carpet, you will almost certainly disturb the underlay as the heavy carpet is dragged over it. If you are using felt paper, lay it in strips across the room, but doing the edges with self-adhesive tape. Trim the edges of the paper to butt against the carpet grippers. Stick it to the floor with double sided adhesive at the edges of the room and around any projections. An alternative method of fixing felt paper is to use latex adhesive applied from a washing-up liquid bottle. Put down the underlay in strips across the room, joining the edges with self-adhesive tape. To do this, turn the two lengths of underlay reverse side up and butt the adjoining edges. Remove the protective paper from the tape and press the sticky side down along the joint. Fix the underlay to a timber floor with tacks or staples with adhesive to a concrete floor. Trim it to butt up against the carpet grippers. Unroll the carpet to cover the floor and roll up the other half, laying the felt paper and underlay as before. Finally, unroll the carpet again to cover the entire floor.

Fitting a stretched carpet
If possible start fitting the carpet in a corner where you have a reasonably uninterrupted run of walls, that is, without recesses radiators or other obstructions. During the initial positioning try to leave only about l0mm of carpet lapping up against the starting walls. This will save you having to trim these two edges.

Starting edge technique
A special method is used to engage the starting edge of the carpet onto the carpet gripper to ensure the carpet is firmly held during stretching Using the fingertips with steady downward pressure press the edge of the carpet

along the wall onto the back row of pins. With a hammer, press the surplus carpet down to form a U shape of carpet between the gripper and the wall. The starting edge technique is used along the first two walls to be fitted; the carpet is hooked along the other two walls by stretching.

As work progresses, use a knee kicker (as described earlier) if the carpet needs to be stretched. Stretch one part of the carp€t and hook it into the pins. Move along a few feet and stretch the next portion, continuing in this way until all carpet is gripped.

Check the carpet carefully tor make sure it is evenly stretched- Distorted pattern lines and crooked seams indicate faulty stretching. If the carpet is plain unseamed faults are not so obvious; look closely to see if the pile is running straight. If there are any distortions, unhook the affected part and re-stretch it. Do not hook the carpet onto any binder bars at this stage.

Trimming the carpet
Trim the carpet with a sharp trimming knife. At straight edges take off just enough surplus to leave a 10mm overlap to be pressed behind the carpet grippers. Use an awl or spoon handle to turn the trimmed edge into the gulley.

Right angle projection
Press the carpet into the front edge of the projection, using a length of hardboard to hold it firmly in the angle between wall and floor. Trim along the front edge with a knife, leaving about a 25mm overlap to avoid overtrimming – you can trim it accurately later. Fold back the carpet towards you. Place a piece of hardboard underneath to protect the carpet below and cut it to fit from the corners of the fireplace, or projection, to the wall; still leave about a 25mm overlap.

Cut slits in the carpet at the corners of the room and any right-angle projection so the carpet lies flat around the corner. Stretch the carpet onto the carpet gripper and trim.

Lap up the carpet against the front of the pipe, apply latex adhesive to the back of the carpet at roughly the centre of the pipe and cut a slit in the carpet. Ease the carpet round the pipe and tuck under the edges. For large diameter pipes, it is better to use a card template or a shape-tracer to draw the outline of each half of the pipe on the corresponding sides of the split in the carpet. Cut out the shapes and ease the carpet round the pipe.

Fitting carpet to binder bar
Tuck the edge of the carpet under the lip and stretch the carpet onto the hooks . Place a piece of hardboard onto the lip to protect it and hammer the lip down.

Joining seams with tape
Although carpet suppliers will seam body widths for you, you may find you have to make a seam to fit carpet into a recess. You may need to make seams if you move house and fit your old carpet into a different shape room. Professionals use stitching or heat-bonding to join seams, but the simplest method for the amateur is to use 50mm carpet tape and latex adhesive.