Plumbers And Boiler Engineers Aren’t One In The Same

Every so often in life you discover something that you realise you’ve had wrong for years. In this case, I called on a friend that I’ve written about before who’s a plumber that lives nearby, and helps out with renovation projects that crop up from time to time.

A Vaillant boiler f22 error usually means no hot water.
A Vaillant boiler f22 error usually means no hot water.

The other day I gave him a call when we woke up and discovered that we’d got no hot water, which is always a slightly unpleasant experience when you step into the shower. First of all, you never get to the end of that normally brief period of ten seconds or so waiting for the warmer water to make its way to the shower head, and secondly, you realise you still need to get rid of your morning stench to go to work. I started with a British Gas checklist on my phone, but had no luck, so having wandered down to the kitchen, our I saw the dreaded Vaillant boiler f22 error code, something that I’d heard people on our estate refer to before. As we live on an estate that was built around ten years back, it’s no great surprise that things are beginning to need attention, and boiler failures seem to be a common gripe at present!

Even more unfortunately, I soon discovered that my friendly plumber couldn’t help me, as he’s not a gas fitter. I had been under the impression that plumbers tended to do boiler repairs, but apparently its actually more the other way around – those that have the gas safety training do the odd bit of pipework to save getting other people in for relatively small jobs. It make perfect sense when you think about it – I’d just been under the wrong impression for years.

Luckily for me, he knew of someone who could help. His mate the gas fitter even pointed out that the F22 error wasn’t necessarily something that needed a call out either – he talked me through the process of putting water in the system using two valves under the boiler and everything was back up and running in five minutes – 20 minutes later the water was hot enough for a much more enjoyable shower!

So, in the end it was two bonuses – firstly the hot water taps worked as labelled, and secondly, I’m no longer asking plumbers to mess with gas – I know now that it’s not only unlikely to be something they’ll do, but also illegal unless they’re trained and registered!


Cutting Costs With Mitre Saw DIY

Home improvement can be expensive, very expensive! Sometimes there’s no alternative but to get the professionals in, for example you wouldn’t want to replace your kitchen single handed (unless that’s what you do for a living, perhaps). Other jobs, though, aren’t necessarily as important to spend a ton of money on as you might think. A great example is skirting boards. They’re not the sort of thing that many people have replaced on their own before, but it’s not that difficult.

There are a few tricky parts like making sure that the corners meet well, and you won’t have ugly gaps in the joins, but there’s a simple solution to use to avoid that. Investing in a mitre saw will usually set you back a few hundred pounds, but it’s an incredibly useful addition to your workshop, and hugely broadens any DIY lover’s spectrum of ability. It slices (pardon the pun) down the amount of time required to cut wood to size, while at the same time increasing accuracy. When you stack that cost against getting professional tradesmen in to do the job (who probably aren’t that much better at skirting board than you, but do have their own mitre saw!), the cost of the machine is soon saved against labour costs.

Twin Mitre Saws
Dewalt & Evolution Mitre Saws

You might be thinking that you don’t have a clue what to buy, where it buy it and so on, but a little research is all you need. Look at a few websites and you’ll be on your way in no time. For example, there’s lots of mitre saw reviews at which go into masses of detail about the features that make the different tools stand out from each other, and even guide you towards the ones that are likely to be best suited to your skill level based on cost and the sort of projects that you’re wanting to take on.

Other common tricks when fitting skirting boards is to have ‘liquid wood’ at the ready. Much like sealant around a shower tray, you can use this amazing invention to fill the shadowy gaps on uneven walls where the skirting doesn’t fit quite flush and tight to the wall. It also gives a nice smooth finish to help when you need to clean them later – much better than trying to get dust out of uneven surfaces.

That’s just one example of where you can do it yourself when your instinct might be to get someone in to help. The savings really add up with getting better at each skill, so spending a bit of time getting used to how the bevels work and chopping up some test lengths of wood, and before you know it you’ll be on to bigger and better things, although probably still nothing as grand as that kitchen refit!

Home Improvements For Energy Savings

One of the more popular recent types of home improvements are those that help to get the household bills down. Some are large investments like new boilers, while others cost just a few pounds, like a new, energy saving letterbox.

Energy Saving Letter Box BrushesYou’d be surprised how the cheaper jobs can mount up too. To take the letter box example, the brushes in the cavity help to prevent draughts getting in, and heat getting out. During the winter months, you can find the savings from a simple improvement like this can save you as much as replacing poorly fitting windows, as they’re essentially doing the same job.

There’s a lot of ways to get these types of home improvements paid for too, whether it’s loft insulation, replacement windows, boiler replacements or little things like letter boxes and draught excluders.

For a start, there’s the government’s energy saving programme, the Green Deal. If you’re on benefits or pension credits, there’s also the Affordable Warmth programme, and there’s some near universal opportunities under the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO).

Doing a little research into the available funding could saving you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on the cost of getting energy efficient. That’s before you even think about the savings on your bill, and that’s the motivation for doing the work in the place! There’s even the chance that you’ll create the side effect of putting a bit of value onto your home too.

Renovating Homes For Profit

For the first time since about 2008, many of us have an eye on the housing market from a positive viewpoint. The crash is behind us, and the phrase negative equity is no longer in everyday use.

Now, we’re back to thinking about our homes as investments, items of value which can offer future security to our families, and even, god forbid, something in the way of inheritance for our children. Now that the government are finally looking to change the crazy situation where our children’s future wealth is swallowed up by our final years, we can finally believe that we’re going to be looking after our offspring from beyond the grave.

Before we get too airy fairy, it’s important to remember that we need to provide value in our homes. We all see our homes as a place of refuge from the daily grind, but do others see them in the same way? For example, is the leaky tap that’s an inconvenience to you likely to be more of a problem to a potential buyer? It may come across as a sign of a neglectful household, which is the last impression you want to create and make your buyer wonder what else is lurking that they’ve not spotted. The fix is simple in this case, is a very simple and affordable task, especially if it prevents a buyer from knocking you down on your asking price. A quick call to your local plumber will have things remedied in no time at all. The same goes for getting that mouldy grout sorted around the bathroom tiles – and tilers in Sheffield are still used to charging very low rates from the recession times, so it’s a great time to invest in getting your bathroom up to scratch.

It’s not all about hiring tradesmen, though – you can make a big difference when the time comes to sell by doing a little decorating and thinking about what you’d like to see as a buyer. If money is tight, get creative to find ways to spruce things up. You can often find ways to do something for nothing, perhaps by getting your hands on some free vouchers to spend in Asda, maybe to get some new towels, a fresh shower curtain or bright bath mats for that tired bathroom we mentioned earlier.


Yes, I hear you cry, free Asda vouchers? Where do I get such things? Well, first of all, don’t fall victim to the scams on Facebook or scammy websites promising them to every user that registers. Those sites are just after your personal information. We’ve updated this post as more and more people seem to have fallen prey to criminal activity on the web, and even Asda themselves have been forced to issue warnings. The way to get freebies is to stick with the reputable and well established sites. For example, sites that don’t collect your information themselves in order to guide you to enter to win a free voucher are a good place to start, especially if they’re giving you a few places to try, as it’s less likely that they’re just trying to funnel you into a scam. When you do type in things like your name and email address, look for the https on the beginning of the address on the website you’re on and a padlock symbol (indicating a secure connection), just as you would do when banking or doing anything else with sensitive information online.


The important thing is to see the place through the eyes of your buyer, and not fall into the trap of just wanting to get it sold. Your home is your biggest investment, your prize asset. Don’t sell it short – you might just be able to get more from it than you thought possible!