Tuesday, 22 July 2008

London Handyman - Experience Counts

One of the messages we try to get across to all of our customers is the fact that we don't just take on general handyman jobs like other handyman services, but a wide range of specialist tasks as well.

One of the most obvious benefits of employing the most experienced Handymen in London is the knowledge they all bring with them and are able to pass on to the rest of the team. This means that Silver Saints can take on almost any home or office repair that comes our way.

The more specialist jobs we take on include:

Installing LCD TV's
Unblocking Toilets, Sinks and Urinals
Replacing Sash Cords and Sash Spiral Balances
Electric Showers Repairs
Grout Cleaning
Garbage Disposal Repairs
Mouse Proofing
PAT Testing

In fact there aren't many jobs our multi-skilled London Handymen cannot take on.

Monday, 21 July 2008

The Rat Zapper

There is an 'urban stat' that has spread like wild fire amongst Londoners. I don't know where it came from or how they worked it out, but it is said that in London you are never more than 5 meters away from a rodent.

Been a very houseproud person, I was horrified to have discovered that I had a mouse living behind my kitchen cabinets and at once took measures to exterminate it. A quick web search for mouse trap revealed a wide range of the latest technology in rodent death apparatus. I settled on the 'Rat Zapper'. This is a battery powered execution chamber, that zaps the unfortunate vermin with a large current of electricity as soon as it enters the chamber. Killing it instantly, without the usual blood and gore of the old school mechanical traps.

I followed the advice on the quite comical instruction booklet to the word. It said that a small piece of bait should be placed at the entrance of the trap with the trap turned off for the first night. On the second night the trap should be rebated and this time the bait pushed a little further into the trap. On the third night, the bait should be placed at the back of the trap and the unit turned on. According to the instructions, rodents are suspicious of changes to their surroundings and need to get used to taking food from the chamber before they will enter into it completely.

Having baited the trap on evenings one and two with a small cap full of peanut butter. I wasn't sure whether the mouse had been taking any bites. On the third evening I added a bit of cheese to the bait and turned the trap on. Sure enough the next morning a red light on the trap was flashing, indicating a successful kill!

I've left the zapper baited and ready for another few nights, the hunt is on.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Office Maintenance - London Handy man

About 45% of the work we do is for offices. The most common jobs we do for commercial customers include:
- Repairing Toilets
- Unblocking Toilets, Urinals & Sinks
- Changing Light Bulbs
- Hanging Whiteboards and Pictures
- Repairing Office Furniture
- Fixing Dripping Taps
- Repairing Door Handles
- Hanging LCD TV's

Although most London offices will have a maintenance contract for larger works through the buildings management, they often battle to get smaller repairs and odd jobs done. That is why companies love Silver Saints London Handyman Service. We provide a multi-skilled handyman who can take care of all the general jobs listed above as well as many more specialist tasks.

Monday, 14 July 2008

Really Really Old Sash Windows

One of the most requested jobs Silver Saints Handyman Service undertakes is the repair of broken sash window cords and spiral sash balances. But our London handy men also get requests to repair sash windows that just aren't in balance and won't stay open. I'm sure we've all experienced the problem, you open a sash window and as soon as you let go of it, it slides closed.

The reason is that the counter weights on either side of the window are not heavy enough to keep the window up. The answer is to add an extra lead weight, called a make weight, to the current window weights.

Our handy man Don, undertook just this job for a media company in Covent Garden last week. The interesting part of this job was that they had a dozen windows which seemed to be over a hundred years old, which still had the original Victorian 2mm thick glass in them. As a result Don had to be extremely careful in the way he handled the windows.

It was amazing to see young creatives sitting at ikea desks with multiple flat screens using the latest the Apple software to edit films and documentaries while starring out a window that is 150 years old.

Friday, 11 July 2008

Intercom Madness

One of the jobs that makes even experienced electricians nervous is fault finding on an intercom system.

We attended a job for a commercial customer based in Covent Garden this week. The complaint was that one of the twenty intercom handsets installed on the system was not opening the main door when the door release button was pressed.

Armed with the wiring diagrams for this particular system we set out to test for a faulty handset or loose connections. After about an hour of testing it became clear that the handset was fine and the problem with the wiring from the handset (on the 2nd floor) down to the buildings main door.

In the end it took us four hours to repair the problem, but I'm happy to report that both Don and I are now experts at fault diagnosis of intercom systems having run through every possible fault and tested every connection in the system.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Wobbly Washing Machines

A landlord asked us to attend one of his properties last week. The tenants had reported that their newly installed under counter washing machine was vibrating violently when it reached the spin cycle. The shaking was so violent that the downstairs neighbours had complained that a picture had fallen off their wall as a result.

New washing machines almost all arrive with long bolts, called transit brackets, which secure the drum in place during transit and delivery. They normally have big orange or yellow arrows pointing at them telling the installer to remove them when fitting the machine. You'll be surprised how many experienced installers forget this vital step. The result of not removing the transit brackets is obvious when you try and run the machine for the first time. The machine attempts to shake the transit brackets loose itself by bouncing across the room.

So when the landlord described the problem, we thought we knew the answer straight away. The installer (not Silver Saints) had left the transit brackets in. But alas, when our handyman arrived and inspected the machine he found that the transit brackets had been removed and the violent shaking was as a result of something else.

On further investigation it became clear that the problem was been caused by the fact that the washing machine was resting on top of floorboards which were not level or very stiff. This meant that the washing machine was constantly fighting against the eccentric forces caused by the weight of the spinning load of washing. The reasons a washing machine should be level are the same reasons your car wheels need to be balanced. Out of balance centrifugal forces cause vibrations. (Read more about cetrifugal forces)

The cure to this particular problem was to fit a piece of 18mm ply wood across the floorboards as a stable surface for the washing machine to sit on. The handyman then spent some time adjusting the feet of the machine to make sure it was perfectly level. He then attached the feet of the machine to the ply wood with screws drilled through each foot of the machine (this particular machine did have pre-drilled holes in each foot for this purpose, however I'm not sure if all machines have these)

The end result spoke for itself. Amazed tenants watched on as the machine smoothly went through it's spin cycle. A very satisfying job all round.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Leaking Silicone Sealant - A Cultural Problem

One of the most common jobs our London handymen undertake is the resealing of baths and shower cubicles. People sometimes just want the old sealant replaced because it has become discoloured or mouldy, but mostly it is because signs of a leak have appeared on the ceiling below the bath or shower.

It must be said, it is not always the silicone, in some cases there are cracks in the grout or water is making its way behind a valve or tap. However nine times out of ten there is a gap or hole in the sealant. The cure is often simple, scrape out all the old silicone and replace it.

Leaking sealant is a very common problem in the UK. If you visit your local B&Q or Homebase you'll find a whole aisle dedicated to different kinds of sealants, sealing strips and sealing tapes. All offering new and improved ways to seal your bath or shower. But why are there so many baths and showers that leak, is it the sealant?

I spent the first 24 years of my life in South Africa and I had never seen a tube of silicone, a silicone gun or heard anyone complain about a leak due to a hole in their bath or shower sealant until I moved to London. I realise now when I go back to South Africa on holiday that all baths and showers are sealed with silicone exactly the same way they are in the UK. So why is leaking silicone sealant such a problem here and not in South Africa.

As with most blog articles, I pose the question just so I can answer it myself. So here goes.

I believe the answer lies in space, or lack there of. The UK, or London in particular, has a lack of space. Houses are split into halves, quarters, basements and lofts. Flats are shared, even rooms are shared. Everybody lives either on top of or underneath someone else.

If you have ever lived in a flat or house share you will know that the efficient scheduling of shower/bathroom facilities is the cornerstone of any successful house share. The shower is in almost constant use. Some flatmates shower in the morning, some in the evening, some in the morning and evening. My point is the average London shower cubicle sees a lot of action and a lot of water. If there is even the slightest hole in the silicone with a constant stream of water flowing over it day in day out. Of course there is going to be a problem.

I propose that even the best silicone job is susceptible to wear and tear and a shower or bath that sees constant use day in day out will need to be resealed every couple of years to ensure a permanent and good seal.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Good Neighbours

One of the jobs we are doing today has an interesting story behind it that I thought I would blog about.

We took a call last week from a gentleman who wanted to know what the cost and availability was for Silver Saints to supply and fit a replacement front door. He attached a photo of the current door and wanted a like for like replacement. After a bit of research we found the same door was available from Wicks in SW19. Having given him a fixed price for the supply, delivery and fitment of the new door. He agreed to go ahead with the work and asked us to contact someone else to gain access to the property as the person who lived at the address where the door was to be fitted was in hospital.

It turns out that the door had been kicked in by paramedics who needed to gain access to the property because the elderly gentleman that lived there had fallen ill and was unable to let them in.

The gentleman who had contacted us was one of his neighbours who had volunteered to arrange and pay for the replacement of the door and the person who was going to give us access to the property was yet another neighbour. They wanted to ensure that the property was secure and that the elderly resident would not have to worry about having the door replaced when he returned from hospital later in the week

Its good to know that people still go out of their way to help each other out and that a sense of community still exists within a very complex city like London.