DIY Car Repairs Anyone Can Do

Basic Repairs are Not as Complicated as you Might Think

Whatever the age or type of your vehicle, there are plenty of things you can fix for yourself, without needing to call in the professionals.

You will often hear car enthusiasts bemoaning the fact that these days you need to plug a car into diagnostic equipment and have the right software to do anything, and that the DIY mechanic is now limited to tinkering with those automotive survivors from a bygone age.

You also hear people saying: “never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” and that’s certainly the case here. Sure, if you want to get down and dirty with the engine management system, you’ll need some diagnostic equipment, but there are still plenty of areas such as renewing braking or electrical components and car paint repair that have really not changed at all over the years, and certainly will not need any special computer software.

Battery

With winter here, now is the time to be checking your battery. You used to get plenty of warning when a battery was about to die, with that slow cranking in the morning, but these days, car batteries give up suddenly. You can get a great price on a replacement online, and it will be delivered direct to your door. Fitting it is a cinch, as it just involves slackening and removing the two terminal connections removing the securing clamp, taking out the battery, slotting in a new one and reconnecting the terminals and the clamp. A few extra points worth noting:

  • Always disconnect the negative terminal first, and reconnect it last.
  • Keep the car keys on you in case the central locking suddenly deploys.
  • Make sure you’ve got the PIN codes to hand for the radio and any other systems.

Car paint

Minor paintwork damage is annoying. It can really spoil the look of your car, but you’d probably think twice about taking it to the bodyshop for a little graze sustained in the supermarket car park. Car paint in itself has certainly changed over the years, but the basic principles for its application and repair are the same as they ever. Be patient and allow as long as it takes to get a perfect key and you will be able to get a finish that a professional would be proud of.

Brake pads

Brakes starting to squeal? That’s almost certainly because the pads have worn down and need replacing. That’s exactly what friction components are designed to do, so it is a job that will inevitably come up from time to time. If the squealing becomes a grinding, you’ve left it too long and are starting to damage the disc, and that’s when things get expensive, so sort those pads out now.

Windscreen wipers

If you are struggling to see where you are going, you are putting lives at risk. Like brake pads, the wipers are made of a material that naturally wears down through usage, so if you are getting streaks across your screen, invest in a new pair of blades. They come with a choice of fittings, so look carefully at the old ones to see exactly how the clips work, and always replace them one at a time, so you will have the other one to look at as a pattern.

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Car Disposal the Best Way to Cash In your Old Car

They Buy, They Pay, They Take it Away

When your old car has reached the end of its useful life, use an approved disposal company to get the best price and avoid potential disaster.

These days, you probably have four or five different bins for different types of waste. Glass, paper, metal and plastic can all be recycled to reduce landfill and turn your waste into something useful.

When it comes to larger items, like fridges or televisions, there are special areas at your local tip where you can leave them, and they will be similarly recycled. But when it comes to car disposal, the options are not quite so obvious.

Selling your car for scrap

If you have something very old and unusual that has been slowly rotting at the back of the driveway for 20 years, you might find a collector or enthusiast who would be willing to buy it to strip off any useful parts to keep their own classic car running.

In the vast majority of cases, however, we are talking about a run of the mill, everyday car that is probably about 15 years old and has simply come to the end of its useful life. Hundreds of cars like these are scrapped every day, and a quick look online will yield pages of results. This search, for example, showed that if you are looking for a pre-2007 Ford Focus for £200 or less, there are more than 50 to choose from on Gumtree alone. Many of those are actually roadworthy, so it becomes immediately clear that if yours has no MOT and needs work to get one, nobody is going to offer more than scrap value.

Professional disposal

There is good news, however, and that is in the word “value.” A few years ago, scrap metal was practically worthless, and disposal companies would come and collect your scrap vehicle, but they would charge you to take it away.

Today, the process is quicker and easier than ever, thanks to the wonders of the internet, and you will not only get rid of the car easily, you will get some money back for it, too.

All that is involved is filling out a simple form, giving some basic information about the car, including its mileage, condition and whether there is any outstanding finance. The company will come back to you with a quote based on the market value, and if you are satisfied, they will transfer the funds to your account, and send someone to collect the car.

Benefits of using the professionals

The cost and hassle of trying to sell privately should not be underestimated. Even if you take out a free ad, like the ones on Gumtree, you need to be prepared for a flood of chancers knocking at your door. The truth is that those who are in the habit of buying cars privately in the sub £200 bracket are often not the easiest to deal with.

There are strict government rules regarding vehicle disposal, and you could face a fine of £1,000 if you do not inform them that the car has been scrapped. Not the ideal result if someone gave you £100 cash for it and took it away. A reputable firm will deal with all the DVLA paperwork on your behalf, so you know there will be no come back.

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Biomass Boiler Safety

The Primary Risks and Hazards of Biomass Systems

Anyone involved in the use, installation and maintenance of a boiler system needs to have health and safety at the forefront of their minds. Whatever type of system you are using, where there is a heat source and water, there is always the potential for accidents and injury if someone is careless or does not know what they are doing.

This is particularly the case when it comes to biomass boilers, for which there are a variety of factors that need to be considered, including correct installation, appropriate storage of fuel and safe operation.

Regulations

There are no specific Health and Safety regulations for biomass systems as such, but if you have one professionally installed, the fitter is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 and the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations from 2015.

However, the responsibility does not end with the installer. The owner and operator also has a duty to ensure both the system and the fuel is used correctly and for the purposes intended – this is particularly important if the boiler is operating in a public place.

Inherent risks

Most systems are imported from elsewhere within Europe, so it is important to ensure that yours is manufactured in accordance with the appropriate safety standards. Look for a CE mark, which will tell you that it meets European requirements.

The risks associated with a biomass system essentially fall into three categories, which are fuel delivery, fuel storage / handling and combustion. We will take a look at each in turn.

Delivery

The fuel for a biomass system is typically delivered by truck, which tips the wooden pellets into a store. The risks associated with a large vehicle manoeuvring in a confined space are obvious, but there are also considerations relating to potential falls from height, people getting caught in machinery and even asphyxiation if someone is in the storage facility when the delivery takes place.

It is important to keep the area well clear of people, particularly children, and pets when delivery takes place, and to make absolutely certain that there is nothing and nobody in the store prior to unloading.

Storage

When storing a flammable substance, the foremost risk is that of fire. Keep the storage area secure, and ensure nobody smokes in or close to it.

There is also the potential for slips and falls, particularly where children are concerned. A wood store or silo can look like a tempting place to play, so keeping it locked up tight is doubly important if there are kids around.

Combustion

The risks here come in three sub categories. The wet side risks are much the same as for any other type of boiler where hot water, at potential pressure, is involved. It is important to bear in mind that unlike other boilers, a biomass device cannot be instantly shut down.

The fire side risks are specific to biomass. The type of combustion means that users are inevitably getting close to the fire source, and therefore correct operation is absolutely essential to reduce the risk of fire.

Finally, there is the risk associated with flues and chimneys. Toxic gases, including CO, will be created by the combustion process, and adequate ventilation is imperative. There is also the potential for explosive gases to build up, and for this reason, having explosion relief measures built into the flue is an excellent safety precaution to consider.

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Can’t Afford A New Driveway? Park On Your Grass!

Cost effective ways to make use of grassed areas for parking and more

You may wish you could make use of grassy areas around your property without going to the expense of having a new driveway or hard standing area built. The problem of course with parking on grass is it soon wears and, whether during dry or wet conditions, grass can soon look unsightly once cars and other vehicles have driven or manoeuvred on it.

Also, you may only require a temporary parking or hard standing facility so may consider the expense of a new driveway inappropriate for occasional use. Help is at hand in the form of the following effective and flexible solutions.

Grass reinforcement

You can select from various grass protection and reinforcement options depending on your requirements; Suregreen grass reinforcement products are a good starting point.

Ground protection mats

A good, basic way of protecting grass and offering flexibility in that the more parking or pedestrian access you require, the more mats you can add.

Made from a lightweight and durable plastic, the mats can be interlocked when more than one is used and they feature anti-slip surface patterns on each side and can handle the expansion and contraction caused by hot and cold weather conditions.

Grass protection mesh

Available in various types depending on the demands likely to be placed on it, grass protection mesh reinforces the grass to enable it to withstand heavier use without rutting and wearing.

The mesh is placed over the existing grass and fixed in place usually with steel U pins. A certain amount of time needs to be allowed for the grass to grow and become entangled and cover the mesh before first use, but once established the hard wearing mesh should last a good 15 to 20 years.

It will eventually disappear into the grass providing a natural yet heavily reinforced surface to help protect the grass by redistributing loads and protecting the root structure.

Another benefit of grass protection mesh is it won’t affect the natural drainage of water through the grass, so adheres to Sustainable Drainage Solutions (SUDS) standards.

Rubber grass mats

Suitable for protecting access ways from wear, and popular around children’s play areas for protecting grass and providing grip, these rubber mats are fixed by steel pins and sit on top of the grass providing protection and grass reinforcement as it grows though the apertures of the mat itself.

They’re made from recycled rubber and, along with foot traffic, can accommodate wheelchairs and pushchairs and are suitable for use in contoured areas. They can be used straight away or left for a time for the grass to grow and ‘entangle’ with them, but if used immediately cable ties securing each mat to one another should be used.

So, there are plenty of options at various price points depending on your needs; you can make use of that grassed area without having to go to the expense and possible upheaval of having an entirely new driveway built.

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Health and Safety Team Building Events

Enhance Cross-Departmental Collaboration At Any Time Of Year

Health and safety is one of the most important aspects of industrial business and studies have shown that teams that work together well are less likely to suffer from accidents in the workplace. So let’s look at team activities to help build a stronger team this year.

If you’re looking to enhance productivity and boost the team spirit of your internal departments, then corporate team building events are a must. They allow your employees to step outside of the relative comfort zone of the office environment and to try new activities, which when done well are an incredibly fun day out for all involved.

However, there are such an extensive range of team building activities available that it can be difficult to choose one that is ideal for your organisation, particularly when you have to think about the logistics of finding space either at your office, in a hotel event venue or risk going outdoors in the good old British weather. While no-one can predict the latter, here are some team building options that are suitable for the various seasons of the year.

Spring

When the weather is still a little Arctic outside, it can often make sense to book an indoor team-building activity so that your team is able to make the most of the experience without worrying about keeping warm. A Crystal Maze activity is ideal in all weathers – participants are split into teams and get to complete tasks in a variety of different Physical, Mental, Mystery and Skill games with the opportunity to win a crystal for their efforts. As the finale, the crystals are converted into seconds that each team spends in the ultimate arena of the Crystal Dome. Teams must grab as many golden tickets as they can within their allotted time and those with the most win the coveted crystal trophy!

Summer

Summer team building activities are exceptionally fun and can even save you money on venue costs if you opt to host your event in a local park. One of the most popular events is an ‘It’s a Knockout’ style tournament which is the perfect way to bring out the competitive nature of your employees whilst enjoying some incredibly silly behaviour. Your team members can enjoy battling against each other in hilarious games involving crazy costume relays, giant inflatables and throwing water-filled sponges.

Autumn

With the summer holidays over, signalling start of term for the kids, why not hold a ‘Back to School’ event for your team too? Your employees are bound to enjoy the nostalgic nature of games such as the Egg and Spoon race, Blindfold Sprint and the Backwards Long Jump. The day concludes with an enormous team relay race and medals aplenty will be dished out to successful competitors.

Winter

Morale is often high in the pre-Christmas period, as the festive spirit seeps into the office and encourages a positive atmosphere. Why not capitalise on this natural boost in morale by rewarding your team with a team bonding experience that can double as a Christmas party. As well as the typical celebrations that you might expect, you can also incorporate Christmas team-building games which are guaranteed to encourage cross-team relationships.

These are only a small selection of seasonal team building activities that are available – have a think about the size of your team, the end goal of what you’d like to achieve from your corporate bonding and the personalities that make up your various departments. This will allow you to narrow down the selection and create an experience that is effective for both your team members and your company.

 

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Is Your Business Wiring Safe?

The importance of ensuring your business wiring is safe and meets your requirements. Hiring electricity generators if extensive wiring work is required.

Checking for safe wiring and how to stay operational if work is required

It’s obviously very important to ensure your business wiring is safe and capable of providing a reliable supply. There’s also the legal implications of providing a safe workplace and complying with Health and Safety regulations, so regular checks and remedial work is important. Thanks to alternative power sources such as portable generators, this needn’t disrupt your workload.

What electrical safety measures are required?

There are certain basic wiring requirements for electrical installations (IET Wiring Regulations), and these cover various aspects of a typical electrical installation such as the fusebox, switchgear, power sockets, light fittings and the wiring itself.

The type of wiring and its condition is taken into account; for example, black rubber coatings on wiring has been superseded by PVC insulation.

How to ensure your wiring is safe

It’s not really a job for anyone other than a qualified electrician. They will inspect your wiring for safety using the IET regulations as a benchmark and provide a full report; their inspection could take half or even a full day.

Ensure your electrician is NICEIC (National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting) certified, and arrange to have an inspection done at least every five years. If your premises is leased or rented, then ensure your landlord has had regular electrical inspections carried out.

Is your wiring adequate for your needs?

Even if your wiring is safe structurally, it may be inadequate for the demands you’re placing on it – effectively meaning it could soon become unsafe. This information from the Health and Safety Executive website could prove helpful.

Sockets – do you have enough of them? With the amount of electrical equipment in use in modern workplaces, with some of it often permanently switched on, you may be constantly having to plug and unplug equipment to provide power – or find yourself over-using splitters and extension cables.

If this is the case, some additional sockets may be required. A larger space with only one or two sockets could indicate relatively old wiring.

Fusebox – if it’s an older design with renewable or wire fuses it could likely require replacing; your electrician can advise. If you have a newer looking fusebox, it doesn’t necessarily mean your wiring is also new.

Tripping, cut outs and dimming –

power interruptions, especially if the main trip switch ‘trips,’ could indicate an overloaded wiring system as would lights dimming or flickering periodically.

Keep powered up even if wiring work is required

If a new wiring system is required, possible in an older business premises, then you don’t have to suffer major business disruptions as you can keep the power on using a generator. These can be hired for a short period or longer from companies such as this generator hire in Hertfordshire specialist.

You can choose a model to hire of a power output suitable for your business needs along with related equipment such as cabling and connectors. The hire company will usually deliver the generator to your business place and collect when you’re finished with it.

Check the generator hire company you use is industry qualified such as holding ISO 9001 and 14001 certification, and that they’re happy to advise on what equipment to use based on your requirements.

A popular power alternative

Generators are a popular option, and indeed play a very important part in circumstances where any kind of power outage would be inconvenient. Hospitals and data centres where computer servers have to be running at all times are typical examples, and many have generators in place ready to step in as and when required.

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How To Reduce Risk of Falling in Later Life

6 Simple Steps To Help Prevent Falls

Falls become more common as we get older and the consequences can be serious. But there are a few healthy and safety at home steps you can take to help minimise the risks.

As we get older, many of us become less steady on our feet and, as a result, trips and falls become more common. In fact, around one in three people over the age of 65 will suffer at least one fall each year.  Falls in later life can be serious, leading to broken bones, head injuries and fractured hips. They can also impact on our mental health and wellbeing, causing anxiety and affecting self-confidence. Luckily, there are some simple steps we can all take to help minimise the risk of falls as we enter later life.

Exercise

Improving your balance, strength, flexibility and coordination can help reduce your risk of falling, so consider taking some form of regular gentle exercise. Swimming, tai chi or walking can all work well, and Independent People Homecare advise undertaking a programme of home-based exercises to help you feel steadier on your feet. To find the best exercise for you, ask your doctor to refer you to a physiotherapist who will be able to devise an exercise programme that is tailored to your individual requirements.

Sensible shoes

It may sound obvious, but wearing the right footwear can make a big difference when it comes to ensuring your health and safety. Avoid shoes with slippery soles, high heels, or slippers with no support; instead opt for sturdy, well-fitting shoes with a non-slip sole. As well as helping to prevent falls, sensible shoes can also have the added benefit of helping to reduce joint pain.

Regular eye checks

Poor vision can affect your balance and coordination, and is estimated to be responsible for over 270,000 falls amongst the over 60s each year. With this in mind, it’s important to have regular eye tests so that any problems with your eyesight can be detected and dealt with at an early stage, helping to reduce the risk of accidents and falls.

Home modifications

When it comes to preventing falls, some simple home modifications can make all the difference. What you need will depend on your individual situation, but features such as grab bars for the bath or shower, raised toilet seats, and hand rails for the stairs can all help to make your home a safer place. Smaller measures such as installing good lighting, moving furniture, and using non-slip mats in the bathroom can also be surprisingly effective. A good place to start is with a home hazard assessment where a health professional visits your home in order to identify potential hazards and suggest solutions.

Review medication

Some medications can cause side effects such as dizziness or dehydration which, in turn, can lead to falls. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your GP to have your medication reviewed. This should happen once a year in any case and is especially important if you are taking four or more different medicines a day. If your medication is causing a problem, your doctor may be able to lower the dose or prescribe an alternative.

Care and support

If you are increasingly unsteady on your feet it may be that you require some additional support in order to keep yourself safe and well. When it comes to care, there are a number of options available, from residential care homes through to day care and home help. Generally speaking, people who are cared for in their own home are less likely to fall as they are more familiar with their surroundings. Hiring a live-in carer can help you to safely remain in your own home, and it also means that help will be on hand immediately in the event that you do suffer a fall.

Growing older comes with its hazards, but that doesn’t mean your quality of life has to suffer. By taking some relatively simple measures you can help to keep yourself safe and reduce your risk of falling, enabling you to enjoy your later years to their full potential.

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