Finding the perfect boiler

If you have central heating, around 60% of what you spend on your energy bills goes towards running your boiler.

Buying the perfect boiler might not be up there with buying a top of the range home entertainment system or a new car. But choosing the right boiler could help boost the amount you have in your kitty to fund such purchases by slashing your energy bills.
And that’s not to mention the fact that an efficient and effective boiler will keep you warm and well supplied with hot water.
That’s why learning a bit about the three main kinds of boiler can stand you in good financial stead.

Types of boiler
1. Combination boiler

What is a combination boiler?
Combination or ‘combi’ boilers, found in around two-thirds of properties, heat your radiators and provide hot water. They combine the functions of a traditional boiler – basically a hot-water cylinder and a cold-water tank – into one unit.
Brands such as Baxi, Glow Worm, Worcester Bosch and British Gas provide combi boilers, which vary in shape, size and cost depending on the spec of the unit.

Pros of combination boilers

  • Combination boilers are compact and easy to store.
  • They don’t need to be installed in a loft.
  • They are perfect for smaller homes with fewer bathrooms.
  • Less structural change to pipes so installation tends to be cheaper.

Cons of combination boilers

  • May not be suitable if you have a big family or lots of bathrooms, as you will be unable to run hot water from two sources at once for any length of time.

2. System or ‘sealed system’ boiler

What is a system boiler?
System or sealed system boilers use cylinder storage (stored in an airing cupboard) to provide both central heating and hot water.

Pros of a system boiler

  • Ideal for larger homes with multiple bathrooms and en-suites.
  • Suitable for households with several occupants as a constant supply of hot water is provided to multiple taps.
  • They don’t require installation in a loft.

Cons of a system/sealed system boiler

  • You will have to wait for water to heat up in the storage cylinder if it runs out.
  • Can be tricky to find space for a cylinder unit.

3. Open vent boilers

What is an open vent boiler?

Regular boilers (often referred to as traditional, conventional or heat-only boilers) provide central heating and hot water by way of a storage cylinder housed in the airing cupboard and water tanks kept in your loft.
Pros of an open vent boiler

  • They have a high water flow rate, making them ideal for a powerful shower.

Cons of an open vent boiler

  • Can take up a lot of room in the average loft.
  • You will have to wait when the hot water runs out.
  • Finding space to fit a cylinder unit can be difficult.

Why should I change my boiler?

Most people stick with the boiler they inherit when they move into a property.
But investing in a newer, fuel-efficient boiler that’s more suitable for your home and usage can shave hundreds off your gas and electricity bills every year.

How much does a new boiler cost?

A new boiler typically costs between £2,000 and £3,000, including installation fees.
You may be able to get a free boiler under the Energy Company Obligation, which is funded by the ‘Big Six’ energy companies.
You’ll need to be on a low income or certain benefits, and have an old, inefficient boiler to qualify. For more details, visit the Energy Saving Trustwebsite.

How much does it cost to repair a boiler?

The type of fault or extent of damage will determine how much it will cost to fix your boiler. It can cost anything from £150 for a minor repair such as a replacement fan, gas valve or printed circuit board or closer to £300 for more serious work.

Looking after your boiler

Whichever type of boiler you have, maximise its lifespan and efficiency by having it serviced regularly.

Boiler breakdown and repair cover is also a worthwhile option. Visit our boiler cover page to find the right protection for your boiler.

Efficiency tips for your boiler

While investing in a new and energy efficient boiler will help bring down your running costs, the Energy Saving Trust recommends a number of smaller scale measures you can make:
Upgrade your heat recovery devices: There are a number of devices on the market, such as passive flue gas heat recovery systems, which help recoup any heat that escapes through the boiler’s connecting pipes. This recaptured and lost energy is then used to heat your water.
Insulate hot water cylinders: Newer hot water cylinders are designed with insulation to stop heat escaping. If you have an older cylinder, you could save in the region of £25 – £35 a year by bolstering the insulation of your unit.
Invest in chemical inhibitors: The build-up of scale can reduce the lifespan of your boiler, as well as the effectiveness of radiators and heating circuitry. Chemical inhibitor can reduce corrosion and maintain the efficiency of your boiler.

If you are looking to make your boiler more efficient or even looking for new boilers in Lytham APG Domestic Services can help.

8 Reasons You Shouldn’t Get A Combi Boiler

Combi boilers have a number of potential drawbacks. Here are a few of them… (quickly cut and pasted from my old bathrooms website to save time).

Reasons NOT to have a combi:

As you may have sensed from the section above, I’m not a fan of combi boilers! OK they work for many people but they have so many drawbacks that it’s hard to remember them all at once, and people keep asking me what the problems are so here’s a quickly compiled list.

1) Complicated system

They are obviously more complex than an ordinary boiler, so when stuff goes wrong, they are more difficult to diagnose and repair. (And they remind me of those TVs with video recorders built in – just a clumsy idea). Fewer heating engineers are prepared to attempt repairs to combis than ordinary boilers, which means it can take longer to repair a broken combi.

2) Water scale

They scale up just like an electric shower does. Then you have to buy a new heat exchanger or pay for a descale every year or three. Several hundred quid either way. (But note! The Worcester range of boilers have a ‘plate to plate’ heat exchanger designed to overcome this problem. Worcester even guarantee the plate heat exchanger against scaling for five years. I look after one of these boilers but I can confirm from personal experience that they DO still scale up. The difference is, Worcester seem happy to send us a free new one every 18 months under their five year guarantee, so if you MUST buy a combi, buy a Worcester!)

3) Latency

When you turn on the kitchen tap, it takes about 45 seconds for the hot water to arrive. Only after you turn on the tap does the boiler fire and start to warm up. It warms very quickly but it’s still much slower than having a tank of hot water connected to your hot tap. I find this irritating, but many people do not.

4) Aesthetics

They are BIG! Ok if you have a big house and plenty of room, but they are mostly fitted in little houses where they take up valuable space and look ugly.

5) Water pressure

They are great when your water pressure is high, but come the summer evenings when everybody puts their hose pipes on to water the gardens, pressure drops. And your lovely new combi stops working. There’s NOTHING you can do about this, except complain to the water company and claim £10 statutory compensation each time it happens. Not much help there then unless you are happy with a tenner instead of a shower. Oh, and you have to produce evidence that it happened. Oh, and you can only claim the tenner once in a financial year.

6) Showers

Performance of showers connected to combis is pretty average. Not bad, and not brilliant. Problem is, if you want a better shower, you are stuck. You have to fit a bigger combi, and then the performance won’t be that much better. Adding a pump just doesn’t work. The boiler itself is limiting water flow so it can deliver the temperature your shower needs.

7) Leaks

Combi boilers have pressurised sealed system central heating circuits. This means that a very slow water leak from your heating system (and these are VERY common) will cause your system pressure to degrade to zero over weeks or months, and these leaks can be fiendishly difficult to identify and fix. The old way of having a header tank in the loft gets around this problem, but combis are not designed for use with them.

8) No back-up system

You need some! With a conventional boiler/hot water cylinder system if the boiler breaks down you can still have hot water by turning on the immersion heater in the hot water cylinder. When a combi breaks down your heating AND hot water are usually both out of action until it is repaired.

If you understand these potential issues and are happy they don’t apply to you, or you are happy to take the risk to obtain the benefits of having no bulky water storage tanks in your home then there is no reason not to buy a combi! Contact APG Domestic Services for boilers in Blackpool.

24 Essential Tools for Professional Flooring Installers

As with any trade, hardwood flooring professionals need an assortment of tools to install a floor properly, safely, and in a timely manner. The choice of which tools to have on hand, however, can be daunting.
While there are a lot of tools required to professionally lay a floor, here’s a list of 24 essential tools every flooring contractor should have on hand when installing a hardwood floor. Although some of these tools are also used during sanding and finishing, we are focusing today on installation.

Safety First: Protect Yourself

The last thing you want to do is risk your health or your livelihood at an unsafe job site. Fortunately, there are a number of tools to help you stay protected.

1. Safety Goggles

Eye injuries can occur when you least expect it. You never know when a piece of wood or metal or a bead of finishing material will hit you in the eye causing temporary or permanent damage. It’s why OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act) regulations require eye protection when using most power tools.
Safety glasses should meet British Standards which are the performance standards set by the BSI Group. There are many safety glasses to choose from. They come in a wide variety of styles and colour choices. Normal glasses or contact lenses do not qualify.
Goggles are a better choice for certain conditions. They protect the eye socket more effectively and completely than either glasses or face shields because they fit tightly against the face. If you have a vision prescription and you don’t wear contacts, then buy prescription goggles. Not being able to see at all isn’t very safe either.

2. Dust Mask and Vapour Respirators

Sanding or applying finish requires the use of a respirator. Failure to use one can cause inflammation of the nasal tract, tightness of the chest, shortness of breath, dizziness, asthma, and mucous irritations.
A dust respirator will protect your lungs and upper respiratory tract from wood dust. Some people are highly sensitive, and even allergic to wood dust, especially the dust from certain wood species.
A vapour respirator is necessary when applying a finish. Check the finish manufacturer’s Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the appropriate respirator. Another good tool for protecting your lungs is a shop vacuum. The less wood dust laying around, the less dust to fly around.

3. Ear Plugs or Ear Muffs

Prolonged exposure to loud noise, especially when using certain types of power equipment, can result in hearing loss. According to the Centres for Disease Control, the noise levels from a wide variety of power saws are over 100 decibels, which makes them dangerous to your ears after just two minutes! Many flooring professionals today have 30 to 70 percent hearing loss because they weren’t aware of audio hazards.
Earplugs are easy to use and inexpensive. They come either as foam inserts or pre-moulded plugs. If you’re concerned about earplugs getting lost in your ears, there are earplugs called “semi-inserts” that have a band or string connecting them together. Foam inserts are rolled and compressed into tiny cylinders that slowly expand inside the ear once inserted. Pre-moulded plugs are reusable, flanged plugs that you insert into the ear. Foam inserts come in different ratings, so make sure to get the proper inserts.
Ear muffs are dome-shaped protectors that fit over the external ear and employ a cushion or pad that seals against the head. Although bulkier than ear plugs, they are effective in keeping out sounds. Headphones used for music are not considered ear protection.

4. Knee Pads

Since you will be spending some of your time on your knees, knee pads will prevent strain and pain. Use contractor-grade pads, made of cloth, that are adjustable and fit well. Since they come with a soft non-marring outer surface, they will not damage floors like hard plastic or metal versions. There are also ergonomic type knee pads containing fluid that offer considerable comfort.

5. Work Safety Boots

The dangers to your feet are obvious. When you select a boot here are some features to consider:
Slip-resistant: Keep the treads cleaned out, or they’ll become less slip-resistant.
Safety toe: You have some choices here, they don’t necessarily have to be steel toed, which can get heavy and cold. Some good safety toe alternatives are carbon composite toe, aluminum toe, or composite toe.
Regardless of which material you select, make sure it meets or exceeds the ASTM Standards for compression and impact testing of I-75/C75. Consider how high up the ankle the boot should go, or whether a safety shoe offers enough protection.
Don’t forget that they should be well-cushioned and comfortable as well.

6. Heavy Gloves

Now that your feet and knees are protected, protect your hands and fingers as well.
Heavy work gloves with reinforced fingertips should a last long time. When you’re laying down adhesive, a simple latex glove may be sufficient.

7. Feather Boards

Whenever you use a table saw, use the feather board to push the stock past cutting edge. The feather board not only creates a smoother cut but also protects your hands from kickback and from getting too close to the blade. You can buy them or make them. Whichever option you chose, just make sure the feather board fits your specific project.

8. Electrical Testers

Electrical testers check for the presence and amount of current in an outlet. They let you know if a certain machine can be safely operated from that outlet. Make sure your extension cords are the proper rating to prevent fires. Too little power will burn out an electric motor.
Protect Your Investment
If you’re not measuring accurately, you’re laying the foundation for flooring failure. Flooring failure can occur quickly now or even years into the future. Here are some of the needed tools to keep your flooring installation precise:

9. Wood Moisture Meter

Determining the moisture content in wood flooring is crucial to doing a quality job. If the wood has too much moisture, the floor that fit so well when first installed may eventually show cracks, cupping or buckling, and that could mean costly callbacks for the installer.
According to marketing data, more than £300 million is spent each year on repairing flooring failures. That’s why flooring materials should be checked with an accurate wood moisture meter before, during, and after installation.
There are two types of wood moisture meters: pinless and pin-style meters.

10. Concrete RH Testing System

When installing flooring covering on a concrete slab, it is important to know the moisture content of the slab. Slabs with excessive moisture can cause adhesive failure, wood warping or cupping. Relative humidity (RH) testing that uses in situ probes is the most reliable method for testing concrete moisture conditions within the slab.
Other test methods, including calcium chloride testing or the poly-film test, often are unreliable and are being discontinued.
Surface concrete meters might help determine the most likely areas for necessary RH testing, but they do not provide an in-depth picture of moisture conditions within the slab as does RH testing.

11. Tape Measure

A tape measure is an inexpensive tool every installer should have. It’s best to invest in one that you can read easily, is retractable and has a hook at the end to stay in place. Without an anchor to keep the tape measure secure, you can get measurements up to 1/8 of an inch off. The cumulative effect of this kind of inaccuracy can have a great impact on your installation.

12. Level

A level will tell you if the subfloors surface is even and ready for the wood flooring to be installed. Installing the wood on an uneven subfloor is another way to create the circumstances for future flooring failure. You’ll want a large level to accurately measure the subfloors level.
You can find them in lengths of four and six feet. A complete level will have two bubble readings at both ends, one each to measure horizontal and vertical levels. The level edges should also be made of either metal or brass-edged wood.

13. Solutions for Straight Lines and Angles

A Carpenter’s square helps you measure out perpendicular edges and 90-degree angles with precision to mark cuts on your stock. They come in metal or plastic.A Protractor will help you set the proper angles on your saw so you’re cutting corners and mouldings correctly. You can select either a manual or digital protractor.
As with your moisture meter, you’re going to have to get the protractor into some challenging spaces, so make sure it’s easy to use.
Chalk Lines create straight edges for laying boards. Align your planks against it for even, precise flooring. Aligning the first row of boards with the chalk line assures that all subsequent rows will be straight. A chalk line (also called a chalk reel or chalk box) is a metal or plastic case with powdered chalk and an 18- to 50-foot string line inside.
It will make quick work of making a long, level line across a floor. If you lay a translucent moisture barrier over the subfloor before installation, snap the chalk line first. If the barrier is opaque, lay it in place before you snap chalk lines. Always store your chalk line in a dry place. If the string gets wet, you’ll need to leave the line unwound until it dries completely. If the inside of the tool gets wet, you’ll have to replace the caked chalk with fresh powder. Have fun with different colour chalks.

14. Spacers

Spacers are used to measure what’s called an “expansion gap”. Because wood either absorbs or releases moisture when relative humidity increases or decreases, it can cause hardwood flooring to expand and contract. The use of spacers will enable you to leave a small space around the perimeter of the room for the flooring to “breathe”.


Any wood floor installation job will likely need a variety of saws. Obviously, you’ll want to review the job’s specific requirements to determine exactly which kinds of saws, and what sizes, you’ll need. However, as a general rule, having one of each kind of the following saws with you is a good idea:

15. Saws

Hand saws are great when you have a small cutting job; a hand saw will do just fine. They’re also better for cutting down on noise and dust. Some hand saws you may want to purchase are:
Standard hand, crosscut and rip saws for basic straight cuts

  • Backsaw, a shorter, fine-toothed saw, used with mitre boxes
  • Coping saws used for fine, intricate cuts as well as curved or circular cuts
  • Hacksaws and mini-hacksaws, similar to coping saws, have longer, deeper fine-toothed blades and are used for cutting metals and plastic
  • Jamb saws come with an offset handle that allows for undercutting door jambs
  • Power saws come in a variety of options: circular saw, reciprocating-type saws, and band saws.
  • Circular saws come with a circular blade run by an electric motor. It makes fast, straight cuts, with blades ranging from less than five to more than ten inches in diameter. It also comes with tooth designs that cut hardwood, softwood, plywood, oriented strand board (OSB), masonry and tile. Different blade angles are available and they come in various horsepower ratings.
    Portable power saws cut from the bottom, so keeping the face of the board down yields the best quality cuts. There are saws, however, that cut from the top down and which require the face of the board be up when cutting. They include power mitre saws, jamb saws, radial arm saws, and table saws.
  • Reciprocating-type saws include sabre saws, reciprocating saws, and scroll saws. They all operate on the same principle: a small, straight blade that moves in an up-and-down or back-and-forth motion. They all cut in the same direction; up, so cut with the face of the board down.
  • Band saws cut with an endless band blade travelling around an upper and a lower wheel. They provide high-production guided cuts, re-sawing (cutting thinner boards from one thick one), and freehand scrolling cuts, when equipped with a fine blade. Since they cut down, saw with the face of the board up. They work well on parquet floors.
  • Mitre saws (also called chop or drop saws) are really a type of circular saw and also uses a rotating blade. However, a mitre saw lets you cut more precise angles. You’ll use the mitre saw to cut a variety of features, such as moulding, borders, and trim. Most mitre saws let you fix the blade in one-degree increments relative to the fence. In fact, when choosing your mitre saw, make sure it has the ability to cut past 45 degrees. This gives you the most versatility. Test out how easy it easy it to adjust the mitre index (that’s the measuring tool on the saw that fixes the degrees), and fix it in place.

Many mitre saws will come with pre-fixed stops on the index at commonly used angles, like 15, 22.5, 30, and 45 degrees. You can also find mitre saws with laser beam guides that provide a visual marker of where a cut will go based on the saw’s current configuration.
The standard mitre saw cuts just on a horizontal angle. If needed, you can get a compound mitre saw, which has both a horizontal and vertical pivot. This sort of dual angle is quite common in crown mouldings. When selecting the right mitre saw for the job, be careful not to mix up a compound mitre saw, which has the dual angles, with a dual action mitre saw. Most mitre saws are single action, which means they only tilt into one side of the vertical. A dual action mitre saw tilts in both directions, which you’re not likely to need on a flooring job. Always check to make sure angles are correct when starting a job.
Jamb or undercut saws are designed specifically to cut door jambs, moulding, and trim. They’re available as either a power or hand tool. The power tool version is a rotating blade that can usually be set at different heights based on the requirements of the job. The hand saw version is usually rectangular or in a trapezoid shape. It’s not adjustable, but if you have the right size, it’s certainly lighter and easier to carry around.
Routers are a popular speciality tool, but can be extremely dangerous to handle. They’re basically motors with a cutting bit on an arbour and handles. They come with a wide range of bits and jigs, and on many models, the cut depth is adjustable while in use.
Flooring installers can use a router for removing wood for decorative inlay and borders. Special bits also allow them to cut grooves on end joints for tongue-and-groove strip fits and moulding. They’re also handy for repair work, especially floating floors that have been glued by tongue and groove. A few simple passes and the proper router and slot cutter bit can clean the glue to accept any new boards.

Locking It Down

The exact tools you’ll need to fasten the wood flooring to the subfloor will vary with the job, but here are some high-level options that you’ll need on every job:

16. Nail Set & Nailing Machines

Nail sets look like awls. You use them to drive nail below the surface of the wood. When hand nailing tongue-and-groove flooring, use the nail set on its side to avoid damaging the corner of the flooring strip.
Nailing machines help keep nailing time to a minimum and eliminate time spent reaching for nails. They work as fast as you can position the machine.There are different styles of nailing machines.
The ratchet and spring-loaded nailers release nails when you strike them with a mallet.
Pneumatic nailers, also known as air nailers, use compressed air to operate and require a higher degree of safety consciousness.
The ratchet-style nailers are easier for novices to use because they can operate with several strikes.
Spring-loaded nailers operate on the one strike, one nail principle. The pneumatic nailers shoot fasteners into wood (some are designed to nail into concrete) in one of two ways. Some require hitting it with a mallet while others require you only pull a trigger.
These machines come in two configurations: side (45-degree) and face (90-degree, for work against walls). They can be adjusted for installing varied thicknesses of flooring by using changeable adaptor plates.
Another issue to consider is the nail magazine. You have a choice between a stick-style or circular (also called “coil-style”) magazine. A coil-style magazine can hold up to 300 nails, far more than a stick-style magazine. That means you don’t have to refill it as often, but it also means that it’s heavier in the hand, and more expensive.
Also, consider whether the nail gun lets you adjust the fastener depth into the wood’s surface, and how it lets you do this. In some nail guns, you can adjust depth by hand while other nail guns require additional tools in order to make a depth adjustment.

17. Fasteners

Installers use fasteners to attach the subfloor to the concrete. They allow for wood movement in a highly efficient way.
Cleats are barbed nails with a T- or L-hooked head. Most are proprietary designs for use only with a specified type of nailer. Their thin rectangular shape guards against nail splitting.
Some nailing machines use staples rather than cleats. They, too, can be effective. Installers can also use case nails, cut nails, finish nails and screws to fasten wood flooring. Hand nailing is best for the first and last few rows of flooring in a room when there isn’t room to operate a nailing machine. Screws can be used to fasten plank flooring.

18. Hammer/Rubber Mallet

Since most wood flooring materials join together using a tongue and groove system, it helps to have a rubber mallet to give them a good whack when nailing. If not, the gap between the boards will remain and creaks will occur.
Use a good quality rubber mallet, one approved for wood flooring. If not, you may find that a non-approved mallet will leave marks and stains on the flooring. A flooring type of mallet may still have a rubber head, but it’s encased in a soft, white material that won’t leave scuff marks on the floor. The white casing can also be replaced after it gets too grungy.
You can also find them with graphite handles, which make them lighter and easier to handle.
Mallets are great for the edge boards where you’ll manually knock in the nails instead of using a mechanical flooring nailer.
Another option is a dead-blow hammer. The hammer’s hollow head is filled with steel shot to deliver a solid blow without rebounding. This minimises surface marring when used to tap planks together.

19. Trowel

To get any adhesive down on the subfloor, you’ll need a trowel. As with the mallet, buy one specifically designed for use with a wood flooring adhesive.
For wood flooring jobs, you’ll have two notch design options: V-shaped or square. Some people believe the v-shaped notch design is best for wood flooring adhesives. Regardless of their shape, the notches on the trowel also come in different sizes. The quarter inch v-notch is considered best for wood flooring installations.
You also want the trowel plate itself to be on the larger size, around 11 inches. The plate should be made of steel, but test out grips to select the one that feels most comfortable for you. They’re available with rubber handles, which may offer a very natural feeling and stronger grip. To keep your trowel in good condition and remember to clean it off before any adhesive on it dries. If the adhesive dries, you’ll have to chip it off, which may create chips in the trowel plate. A chipped up trowel will only mean poorly spread adhesive on the next job.

20. Tapping Block and Pull Bar

These tools will help you move the wood planks tightly into place. It might be tempting to use a stray piece of cut board as your tapping block, but that’s not a good idea.First, using the cut board is the easiest way to chip the installed wood plank, especially the tongue or groove you need to make the next plank fit in nicely. It also risks splits because the cut board won’t distribute the pressure of the tap well.
This is all unnecessary, especially since a specifically designed tapping block is so inexpensive. Most will be made of high-density plastic, which won’t chip or damage the wood plank.
There are also new tapping block designs that include a small groove running along the block’s long edge. This groove aligns with the tongue of the plank you’re tapping giving it a cushion.
Providing this protection makes it less likely the tapping will cause damage to the tongue. You can even find some tapping blocks with multiple groove lengths and depths cut into them so they can fit with different tongue specifications.
There are also ergonomically-designed tapping blocks with ball-shaped handles. This type lets you grip the tapping block more gently and naturally so your hand doesn’t tighten up. A standard consumer tapping block is usually in the seven-inch range, but you can find them up to 20 inches long. The longer block will distribute the pressure better, which better protects the plank.
Pull bars are useful for doing floating installations as well as nailed and glued floors. They are used for engaging boards as they run vertically across the installation or for pulling in that last row or finished baseboard. Some pull bars come with interchangeable blades, handles, and fulcrums that make installations go faster and easier. You can also configure components to pry up hardwood and sub flooring.
Look for pull bars that include an extension for greater leverage and an ergonomic grip for greater control. Avoid the cheaper pull bars. They tend to bend easily. Better-quality pull bars can take the major blows of a hammer.
Also, get an adjustable pull bar with unique magnetic adaptors to fit different flooring thicknesses, from 8mm to 20mm. Ones with thick felt padding on the bottom of the bar prevent damage to flooring, yet comes with a hard rubberised hammer-tip for maximum strength and durability.

Finishing Off

21. Wood Filler and Putty

These terms are often used synonymously since they can both be used to fill in gaps and holes in the wood once it’s been installed. However, there are differences between them. Wood fillers are usually water-based and dry much more quickly than wood putty, which is oil-based.
Because wood putty is oil-based, it will only work with oil-based finishes. Therefore, the decision whether to use filler or putty to fill in seams may be made for you based on what finish you’ll be using.Wood fillers can be made with a variety of binders. A latex or epoxy filler works well with unfinished flooring. Polyurethane or lacquer fillers are only going to work well with pre-finished or pre-lacquered surfaces, respectively.
Choose a filler that most closely resembles the colour of the wood being used. Keep in mind that this means you might want a few different coloured fillers on hand, as there can be considerable colour differences in the wood. However, this isn’t a putty filler like you would use to fill in a nick on a finished floor, so the colour doesn’t need to match exactly. More important is that the filler can absorb the colour of the stain that will finish up the floor.

22. Sander

Obviously, floors are wide spaces, so you want a walk-behind sanding machine. The two main options are a drum or orbital floor sander. Whichever you choose, these standing sanders both come in a variety of sizes, usually to support either eight, ten, or twelve-inch pads.
A drum sander is the most efficient sander, but it has some drawbacks. It’s an aggressive sander, which is why it works well to sand off a finish. However, if this in a floor installation of unfinished wood, it can cause scratches and grooves. This is especially true when used at a right angle to the wood’s grain.
Instead, the round pad on a random orbital sander moves in an elliptical pattern, but also oscillates back and forth. This prevents the sanding pad from sanding in a fixed pattern, which is when scratches and grooves are most likely to occur. Sanding the floor will take longer with a random orbital sander, but it may well be worth it to prevent scratching and grooving the floor. It’s important to note here that not all orbital sanders are random orbital sanders. Only the random style uses both the elliptical and oscillating motions designed to work well against the grain.

Regardless of whether you use a drum or random orbital sander, you’ll also want a flooring edger. This is a special type of sander where the sanding pad is at an angle, allowing it to get into the tight spaces at the edges the floor. If the room does have some small or intricate spaces, you may want to bring a hand sander as well. There are handheld random orbital sanders.
Depending on the job’s specific needs, a finishing or detailing sander may be appropriate. Different sander models will use different power sources. Many will be electric, so with these, you want to make sure you have enough extension cords to cover the floor. There are also models that use air compression. If you’re bringing an air compressor for your flooring nailer, make sure the volume and pressure specs of the air compressor meet the needs of both tools.
You might want to look for a sander machine that has a power-on lock. A power-on lock means you don’t have to keep your thumb pressed down on the power button to keep the sander moving. Therefore, you can focus your strength and concentration on controlling the movement of the sander.
Another issue to keep in mind is whether the sander has its own dust collection mechanism. If it doesn’t, you may need a separate dust collector. Regardless, you’ll want a vacuum at the job site to keep things clean and safe anyway. You can rent these large machines if you determine that a specific job calls for a sanding machine you don’t own. As an alternative, there are also sanding machine models that can be used to sand, edge, and buff.

Additional Essential Tools for Wood Flooring

23. Air Compressor

There are a number of air compressors available for job site operation of pneumatic staplers and nailers. Choosing one is simple – get one that’s the right size to produce adequate air volume (cubic feet per minute) and air pressure (pounds per square inch) for your pneumatic floor stapler or nailer.
A one-horsepower electric compressor with a four-gallon tank produces about three cubic feet per minute of air volume at 90 pounds of pressure. It weighs less than 50 pounds and is adequate for running one tool at medium speed.
A 1.5 to 2-horsepower electric compressor with a five-gallon tank produces roughly six cubic feet per minute at 90 pounds per square inch. It weighs less than 70 pounds and is adequate for one fast operation tool or two at medium speed.
A 1.5 to 2-horsepower unit with an eight-gallon tank weighs about 125 pounds and is adequate for two fast operation tools. When in doubt as to which one to get, select the larger unit. You won’t be forced to wait for the compressor to catch up.

24. Shop Vacuum/Broom

A powerful portable shop vacuum is useful to pick up any powdery sawdust generated from sawing. Be sure to get one with sufficient amps in the motor. Low amps in small motors typically mean less power and less suction. Consider getting one with wide wheels to prevent damage to the floor.
Also, consider systems that link their vacuums directly to dust-producing tools to collect dust and debris at its source.
A good quality push broom is also quite handy for moving and gathering sawdust and other debris. Use it with a matching hand sweeper and a dustpan. A natural bristle (horsehair) broom pushes more dust with each sweep and doesn’t kick up as much dust as one with thin synthetic bristles.

In Summary

While there certainly are many tools not covered in this article, these tools are the most essential ones needed by flooring professionals. Some of these tools can be rented, but rental equipment often may have improper settings from the previous rental or not be in the best condition. Owning one’s equipment is a better option, and you can source all of your flooring tools from one place.

A look into boiler finance and potential savings

With all the options available when you are looking into getting a new boiler, it can get overwhelming and confusing. In this blog post we hope to tell you what a combi boiler and how much you’ll expect to pay if you’re looking to get one installed. We also will show you potential savings you could make.

What is a combi boiler?

A combi boiler is a small, wall-mounted boiler that provides dual heat and hot water. They are the most popular option for new heating system installations, and make up nearly 75% of new boilers in  the UK. It uses predominantly natural gas and are small, economical and efficient, without needing additional tanks.

You may not be a suitable candidate for a combi boiler however, and the reasons for this are listed below:

  • You don’t have a gas supply
    • You will need to be ‘on the grid’, otherwise you will need to look into other options, such as a storage heater or oil powered boiler.
  • You have more than one bathroom
    • They are the best choice for small homes with only one bathroom, but not for large residences where a lot of people may be needing to use hot water at the same time.
  • Low water pressure
    • Combi boilers rely on a ‘closed system’ to move water through the pipes to taps and radiators. If you have low pressure the water will not be able to do this easily.

How much would a combi boiler cost me?

One of the common mistakes people make when considering a new boiler is to simply google ‘combi boiler prices’ – the search results would have you think a new boiler can be installed for less than £1,000.

Unfortunately there is no fixed price for a boiler installation. The final cost depends on a number of factors – supplier, installation cost, size of boiler and residence… You would need to acquire a specific quote for your circumstances.

Have a look at the chart beneath that displays the average cost of an installation and any additional extras.

Combi boiler installation estimates

  1. Combi boiler purchase prices

    1. Detached home: 42-50kw £1500
    2. Semi/terrace: 32-38KW £950
    3. Small house/flat £700
  2. Boiler installation prices

    1. Trade in gas heat only for combi boiler: £1450
    2. Install new combi in new position: £1100
    3. Replace old boiler in same position: £700
    4. Replace existing combi in same position: £600
  3. Added extras

    1. Power flush (variable): £500
    2. Moving pipes (variable): £300
    3. New thermostat: £200
    4. Chemical flush: £200
    5. Add magnetic filtration: £150
    6. Add radiators (per rad): £100

Considering all of the above you can add up what you need to get a good idea of how much your new boiler is going to cost. You will need to choose your boiler size, an estimate of installation (remember this will vary between installers), and have a little surplus in case there are any surprises.

If you are looking at a new boiler and/or new boiler finance have a look at APG Boilers On Finance.

How does counselling help with anxiety?

Every person suffering with anxiety shows similar traits to others, but it must be remembered that is is truly unique experience for the person involved. Counselling can help people manage their anxiety and in some cases overcome it completely.

Counselling by a certified counsellor does many things for a person with anxiety, and these are outlined below.

Education and comprehension

Understanding the condition, researching coping methods and talking to other people about their anxiety can start people on the road to recovery.

Meditation and relaxation

Sometimes all it takes to prevent someone have an anxiety or panic attack is deep breathing, and teaching people how to do this and to relax helps them control their anxiety by removing the physical effects.


Also known as cognitive behavioural therapy, CBT connects thoughts with anxiety, and helps the sufferer understand this connection. It aims to demonstrate that anxiety is ‘in the mind’ rather than a real, physical threat.


Exposing a sufferer of anxiety to events or situations that can cause anxiety can help them see that nothing bad is going to happen as a result of being in the said situation, and eventually the fear diminishes.

Problem Solving

Anxiety can take over the thoughts and paralyse a person’s thinking. Introducing and developing problem solving techniques can lead an anxious person through a process that helps them think their way out of their anxiety.


Living in the present is something we all forget to do when we are tied up in the past and dwelling on problems out of our control. Reminding ourselves of the here and now can re-establish control and help with anxious thoughts.

If you are struggling with anxiety it may be worth speaking to a professional who will be able to help. Cheryl King Counselling Associates have years of experience and trained counsellors who can help. Contact them now for anxiety counselling Preston.


Looking to hire a roofing contractor?

When you need a new roof there’s lots of things to consider. It is a huge investment in protecting your home from the elements, and as it supposed to last a long time it should be something you don’t need to decide on often. Apart from repairs, a roof should really be doing its job with little maintenance and hassle.

If you are thinking of getting a new roof, there are several options to consider, from materials to fascias, soffits, drainage and gutters. To the general homeowner where a roof only becomes a problem when there’s something wrong with it. If you are getting the roof str

So what you really need is someone who is going to be open and honest, someone who is going to give you a breakdown of what exactly you need to do. Finding a roofing contractor who will do this is the hard part! This post aims to give you the main things to consider when hiring a roofing contractor.

Don’t think price is the most important part of your decision

Everyone is terrified of getting ripped off these days. However, it’s really all about knowing how to get the best bang for your buck. Some roofers will charge a massive amount for not a lot of work, relying on their reputation in you hiring their firm, and justifying the cost with happy previous customers.
Others will charge not a lot, but their inexperience will speak volumes. You could also however be getting a good deal. A cheaper quote might also mean you have to get more work done down the line.
Your best bet is to get a lot of quotes in writing and look at them all objectively. Analyse what work they are doing, what materials they are using, and how long it will take. You should also take into account your gut feeling, especially when discussing the quote face to face with your potential roofing contractor.

Once you have decided on who to hire, they are entitled to ask you for a deposit so they can purchase materials, however never pay for the whole job before it’s finished. You remove the sole motivation for the roofer to complete the work and you may be left with an unfinished project.

While the work is being undertaken

One thing that people forget is to think about when the work will take place. Do you want to be around to oversee the project? Do you work nights, and have to suffer sleepless days of hammering and banging? If you’re having a total re-roof have you somewhere to stay while the work is complete? Minimising the amount of hassle roofing work will have on your routine is paramount in a job going smoothly.

It is a good idea to find out when the roofers would like to work – will they be early risers, on the roof before you’re out of bed? Or still up there while you’re sitting down to your evening meal? Do they work short hours? If this is the case the job would take twice as long as roofers who work a full day.

Many roofers don’t work when it is raining due to bad weather – it can get very slippery up there and removing slates and other roofing materials during a downpour will probably result in leaks. Have a look at the weather forecast. It might be a bad idea to schedule in roofing work at the beginning of monsoon season.
Once the roofing work is complete, will they be tidying up? Check the small print. Many contractors will include removal of debris in their quotation, however it’s definitely worth checking unless you want your old roof dumped in your back garden!

Warranty and Guarantee information

Always, always check the warranty and guarantee. Without it, you may find you are out of pocket if there are any issues with the work, even having to pay another company to come in and fix the problem. If a warranty is offered ensure that the guarantee also applies should the company go out of business.

You also need to know if the warranty covers both the materials used and the workmanship. Even the most reputable firms can go out of business due to financial reasons, retirement or ill health.

To conclude

You need to consider both cost and quality when looking to hire a roofing contractor. If you are looking for roofers in Preston, we would recommend Total Roofing Solutions.

How to Hang Christmas Decorations Without Damaging Your Roof

That time of the year is fast approaching – when the twinkling of Christmas lights can be seen in neighbourhoods across the UK! If you’re eager to join in with the festive spirit, you might have been thinking about decorating your house, specifically hanging decorations from the roof with minimal damage and maximum effect. Whilst decorating the home is exciting, it should also be done with both your roof’s health and your own at the forefront of your plans, and most importantly, as safe as you can be. Below we’ve spoken to Total Roofing Solutions, a Preston roofing firm, about how to hang Christmas decorations without damaging your roof.

Plan and prepare

Preparation is the most important thing to start with. You will need to make a plan of where your decorations will be hung and what sort of effect you’d like to produce. This means you can check all your lights for any unsafe elements such as loose wiring, faulty plugs or broken bulbs. It also has the added bonus of not being a wasted effort should the lights not work! Anything that could potentially be a fire hazard should be avoided, for example having too many lights connected to one power source. An important tip is to always ensure that your chosen lights are suitable for the outdoors. Also make a note of any overhead power lines above your house; these will need to be avoided during decoration.

Don’t damage your roof

Don’t drill or make holes in fascias or shingles. These materials are brittle and even more so in winter, leading them to crack easily. Try not to attach the decorations to your exterior with staples or nails, as these holes will allow water to enter your roof structure, wreaking havoc and causing water damage and rot. Instead the use of clips is advised, as these will cause no damage to your roof. These handy items will clip your decorations onto gutters, shingles and eaves, and are easy to attach and remove.

If you have any inflatables or figures such as Santas and reindeers, beware that strong winds may blow them from the roof if they are not secured properly. Once again, avoid roof damaging nails and staples, and instead experiment with more gentle attachments such as duct tape, ropes or cords.

Keep safety in mind

Hospital is the last place anyone wants to spend Christmas, so make sure to consider roof and ladder safety during the wintry weather. Avoid walking on your roof or using a ladder in the middle of icy spells, as they can become slippery and hazardous to walk on. In general, walking on your roof should be avoided as it can cause damage to the roofing material and potentially reduce its lifespan. If you must walk on the roof, try and step on the middle of shingles rather than the overlapping edges, as this reduces damage.

Hire a professional

If you struggle with vertigo, or if you just don’t fancy braving your rooftop in winter, another alternative is to call in a roofing professional to install your decorations safely – we would definitely recommend Total Roofing Solutions who specialise in roofing in Preston.

The 7 most common boiler questions

What should the pressure gauge on my boiler be reading?

Normal operating water pressure for your central heating system is between 1.0 and 2.0 bar. If the pressure drops below 1.0 bar, you need to re-pressurise the system. If the pressure goes above 3.0 bar, you will see water coming from the pressure relief valve. You can easily reduce the pressure by bleeding a radiator or draining some water out of the system using a drain point , usually found underneath a radiator.

Why isn’t my water hot?

Combi boilers provide central heating and instant hot water from one single unit. When you turn on the hot tap, a diverter valve inside the boiler opens to let water into the heat exchanger, temporarily closing off the water used for your space heating. When you turn off the hot water the valve switches back to divert heat back to your radiators.

If the water at your tap isn’t hot, it’s possible that the diverter valve is either worn, faulty or just stuck in the ‘radiator position’, therefore not allowing the water to heat up in the first place. 

My hot water fluctuates. Is this right?

Depending on heat output, combination boilers can only supply a one tap at a time. Turning on additional taps will reduce the flow of hot water. If the water is not hot enough you may have to reduce the flow to increase the temperature. This may be necessary especially in winter when the water supply to the boiler is colder.

How often do I need to get my boiler serviced?

Your boiler should be serviced annually by a Gas Safe registered installer (we recommend APG Domestic Services!) to make sure it is working safely and efficiently. Annual services are required to ensure your warranty remains valid. An annual service is a legal safety requirement if you live in a rented property.

Where can I find the serial number of my boiler?

The serial number can usually be found on the drop down panel on the front of the boiler. Some boilers have a tag underneath the boiler that slides out to reveal the serial number. 

How old is my boiler?

Visit the official industry database. Fill in details of your boiler and the dates when manufacture of that model began and ended will be displayed. You can search for all brands and models of boilers in this database. Or you can look at your boiler’s serial number. This can usually be found on the drop down panel on the front. The serial number has all the information needed for us to tell you when your boiler was manufactured. Contact us with the details.

Where in my house is it safe to install a boiler?

You can have your boiler installed safely in most rooms, or even the loft. There are, however a few things to consider:

  • Your boiler should be installed inside a building and can be fitted to any suitable wall strong enough to take its weight when full of water.
  • The boiler’s flue must be able to pass to the outside, either through an outside wall or through the roof. The boiler installation manual gives the minimum legal distances the flue terminal must be from windows, air bricks, other buildings etc, to comply with Building Regulations.
  • As well as the flue, you must consider where to fit the condensate pipe that takes away the liquid that condenses as the gases cool inside the boiler. We recommended that this pipe discharges internally into the household drainage system. If the condensate pipe is fitted outside, it could freeze during cold weather and make the boiler shut down.
  • Our heat only boilers don’t require a pump overrun or permanent live. This means you won’t need to worry about getting a wire from the pump to the boiler or a permanent power supply to the boiler.
  • If you decide to have it fitted in a garage or outhouse, we recommend you get additional frost protection fitted to protect the system pipework, even if the boiler has its own frost protection. When positioning the boiler, you must allow sufficient clearances and access for servicing. Please check the installation instructions for details.
  • The boiler may be fitted inside a cupboard without having air vents. Modern boilers are room sealed and will run sufficiently cool without ventilation.
  • If the boiler is fitted in a bathroom or shower room, please refer to the current Wiring Regulations and Building Regulations, which explain the different zones in the bathroom where it is safe to install and boiler, and where it is unsafe to do so (In GB this is the current I.E.E. Wiring Regulations and Building Regulations.
  • In IE reference should be made to the current edition of I.S. 813 “Domestic Gas Installations” and the current ETCI rules) If your house is a timber framed building, please refer to the current edition of Institute of Gas Engineers Publication IGE/UP/7 (Gas Installations in Timber Framed Housing)
  • If your boiler runs on LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas), you should not have it installed in a basement or other position below ground. This is because LPG does not rise, and will therefore not be dispersed should there be a gas leak. 
  • Your Gas Safe registered installer will be able to survey your home and tell you the most convenient, safest and legally compliant place for your boiler and discuss where the flue and condensate pipe should go.

If you are stuck or need some advice with your boiler, please call APG Domestic Services if you are struggling with your boilers in Preston.

The many benefits of taking a day excursion by coach

Climbing aboard a coach and heading off to a fun destination with your friends and family used to be one of the best ways to get to the UK’s tourist attractions for anyone who didn’t have access to a car.

In many ways it still is – and we offer some fantastic day excursions from Preston should you want a low-cost, no hassle adventure!

Cheaper than the train, taking you right to the door of your destination and then home again, coach trips also give passengers the opportunity to have a wee tipple during the day without worrying about getting behind the wheel later on.

The good news for AvaTravel fans who fancy a day out at a reasonable rate this year is that there are plenty of grand days out to be had in winter 2017.

What is Counselling for depression?

Counselling assumes that people have a core or natural ‘self’ and that people have a natural tendency to want to be in harmony with their ‘self’. When someone develops psychological difficulties, counselling assumes that they have lost touch with this natural self in some way.

Counselling for depression follows the NICE guidelines and has been developed to help people suffering from depression, specifically. The type of depression counselling we offer typically suits those who present mild to moderate depression.

The aim of counselling for depression is to help patients access underlying feelings, make sense of them, and draw on the new meanings which emerge to make positive changes in their lives. Typically, people will receive six-10 sessions, once a week, for 50-60 minutes.

How does it work?

This form of therapy tends to view depression primarily as an emotional problem along with interpersonal processes (such as excessive self-criticism). Through the provision of a safe, confidential environment, counselling for depression helps people explore and understand the feelings underlying their depression; how to express these feelings; and then empowers them to develop new ways of looking at themselves and the world around them.

Is it effective?

It has been reported that counselling has a significant impact on depression and anxiety; and has also been found to be equally as effective as cognitive behavioural therapy. Counsellors have reported that they see noticeable changes in their patient’s perceptions of themselves and of their relationships.