When it comes to DIY you either love it or hate it. Some people will have a go at anything and some will be put off or unable to tackle even the simplest job. Knowing a reliable local handyman is like having an insurance policy.

It’s estimated that it costs around £42,000,000 a year to rectify DIY projects that have been started and either not finished or gone disastrously wrong. In many cases a professional tradesman has to be employed to correct the work, costing on average an extra £871 above what it would have cost if they had commissioned a builder to undertake the work in the first place.

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The London skyline is set to change again with the addition of a new ‘skyscraper’ which has been approved at Leadenhall, overlooking the historic market place. With 51,500 sq ft of retail space planned for the first three floors it should add significantly to the current shops in the area.

At 37 stories it’s not the tallest building, but will be replacing the existing 7 storey building occupied by the online retailer Amazon. Demolition and building is estimated to take 3 years and work is planned to start later this year with completion sometime in 2019.

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New Apple app

AzkoNobel the paint manufacturer have relaunched their innovative phone app Dulux Visualizer.

Tapping the app enables you to view your surroundings and then choose a colour from the Dulux range to change the colours of the walls. You can also share information with friends or your Decorator.

The app was first launched in 2014 and has been downloaded in excess of 10 million times. The latest version has a lot more features including allowing you to share your designs on social media.

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World Toilet Day – 19th November

Today is World Toilet Day!

What is World Toilet Day?

Yes, the United Nations General Assembly have designated 19th November as the day that we think about sanitation issues and the enhancement of water management.

Believe it or not, 2.5 billion people do not have access to a clean and safe toilet and 1.1 billion still defecate in the open air.

To celebrate, there is a History of the Toilet Infographic, courtesy of: Victoria Plumb

world toilet daySee the “full infographic

From the holes in the ground of our forebears, through the first dedicated sewer systems of the Romans, the privies of the Middle Ages and the outdoor lavvy of the early 20th century, the loo satisfies a very fundamental need. Continue reading

A Very Private Marvel of Engineering – The History Of The Toilet

Toilets have added years to our lifespan, civilized our domestic habits and cleaned up our act. They have evolved over the years, reaching their current apex of reliability and style. Though things can go wrong, as a rule they handle our needs for years with few problems.

The history of the toilet

A timeline for the toilet would show major activity starting a century ago. Before that, few homes had a room dedicated to personal care and sanitation.

Families used an outdoor toilet, usually a bench with a cutout placed over a hole in the ground, housed in a small shed. For indoor use, a ceramic chamber pot was used, which was emptied each morning.

The modern toilet is said to have been invented by Thomas Crapper, who gave his name to the appliance, although even the dissenters admit that he played a prominent role in its development. It’s not recorded how he felt having his name so intimately attached through the years to the device. He took the existing technology for a flushing water closet and improved on it.

Rudimentary technology was around even in the time of Queen Elizabeth I who used one designed by Sir John Harrington. Since sewer systems were rare, it was never feasible for common use.

By the early 1800s, health practitioners and government officials understood the direct link between disease and lack of domestic sanitation. Big cities like London, Liverpool and Birmingham didn’t have the land and soil available to safely dispose of so much human waste. The larger the populations became, the more often urban areas had to deal with outbreaks of disease like typhoid and cholera.

But until sewer systems were built in major cities, not much progress was made. That took hold in the late 1800s when the push for cleaner cities became a battle cry of social workers and doctors. As a direct result, a number of flushing water closets were designed and patented during this period.

Real progress happened when a design using a cistern mounted on the wall was engineered. For the first time, a water closet had adequate water pressure. The next big steps were dealing with sewer gases efficiently and making toilet bowls from vitreous china – it was Briton, Thomas Twyford in 1885 who built the first.

Hundreds of patents were applied for in both the UK and the United States in this period, each with a slightly different approach for draining waste and preventing the buildup of methane gas.

Crapper’s 1891 solution was clearly the best of a crowded field, using a system of siphons and valves. City dwellers quickly took to the new fangled invention. At first, most people used communal water closets that served entire neighborhoods.

Only the rich could afford to dedicate a single room to the new appliance. But within three decades, indoor plumbing and the water closet as we know it became common even in middle class homes.

Refinement of the toilet design is ongoing. Fresh, clean water is harder to come by every year. This has lead to the design of toilets that use less water.

What can go wrong with your toilet

Though they are models of reliability, there is always a chance something can go wrong. When it happens, your best approach is to call a plumber. Toilets are dependable, but complex. Possible problems include:

  • The flush mechanism breaks. On newer toilets, the entire apparatus is usually replaced. You can try doing it yourself with components from the home improvement store. Often it is cheaper to have a plumber fix it. They do it right the first time.
  • Leaking around the bottom of the toilet. You need to definitely call the plumber for this one. It can be a problem with the siphon or the overflow tube. It also might indicate a crack in the bowl or tank.
  • It blocks. This is by far the most common problem people have with a toilet. Try using a plunger to break through the clog. If this doesn’t work, call a plumber. He has the skill and the special tools that will get rid of the problem quickly, without damaging the bowl or pipes.

To prevent blockages:

    • use the thinnest possible toilet paper that is adequate for your needs.
    • don’t put anything in the toilet other than waste or toilet paper. It was never meant as a garbage disposal.  Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG), sanitary waste and wet wipes are major no-nos!  There are over 35,000 pipe blockages in the Essex region every year and over half of these are avoidable!
    • if your body has a great deal of waste to get rid of in one sitting, flush the toilet about half way through. Too much waste can cause problems for the drainage.

Check out this infographic on the evolution of the lavatory!

If you’re home or office is based in EC1, EC2, EC3 or EC4 postcodes in London, we have plumbers who can resolve your toilet problems.

How do they sleep at night?

I’ve been doing some paving work for a nice old lady – she must be in her 70s, and noticed that she had had some new plastic verges put up on the roof.
I thought they looked a bit wonky, so got my ladder to check them over for her…..unbelievable…..they are totally the wrong size and each one leaves a perfect bird nesting hole. They are only fixed at the lower edge and were actually flapping about in the very slight breeze.
They turned up out of the blue, (“just passing and noticed they needed doing, we could do it straight away….blah blah blah….”) were there for just an hour and a half, and charged her £280……. ::b

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