Cleaning algae from external walls

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Existing Building Issues

Cleaned boundary brick wallWith our damp and warm climate, algae growth on external surfaces can be a problem. I generally just use a power washer every few years to clean the sheltered concrete areas where it can be a problem. However I discovered that the power washer was unable to remove the algae for my brick garden walls, probably as the brick was more porous than the concrete.

However lightly scrubbing the walls using a dilute solution of water and bleach provides an excellent result with little effort, see below.

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Interesting reading: Pyritic expansion

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Existing Building Issues

PyriteI have just read an interesting research paper, available on-line, about heave under houses caused by the pyritic expansion of unsuitable fill material. This is a huge ongoing problem, with tens of thousands of houses in Ireland alone affected.

The research details the results of experiments carried out to try to quantify the rate of pyritic expansion and study the influencing factors. This is important research.

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Winter Tips: A solution for slippy decking

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Existing Building Issues

Slippy decking
Slippy decking

In a previous post we discussed slippy decking, see link here . But the emphasis in that article was on building decking which prevented slips in the first place. However what happens when you have already installed decking and you need to make it less slippy, without removing it?

I had this problem. I installed my decking years ago. But in recent years I found it was prone to becoming slippy in the winter months, especially when it is covered in frost or snow.

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Low Quay Walls in Dublin City Centre

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Existing Building Issues

Low Liffey quay walls, DublinWalking along the River Liffey in Dublin City Centre recently, I was surprised at how low the protective quay walls were in some places. I measured the barrier heights as 700mm in two particularly areas I walked past. One was close to the Four Courts while the other was close to O’Connell Bridge. The low wall close to O’Connell Bridge seemed especially dangerous as it was at a busy location and is beside a taxi rank.

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Are your wall vents ducted?

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Existing Building Issues

Vent with cover on
Vent with cover on

There is greater interest at this time of the year in reducing heat loss from our homes and reducing fuel bills. Most home-owners correctly concentrate on the areas of biggest heat loss by upgrading the insulation to their roof, walls or windows. However a quick check will reveal whether your home is losing unnecessary heat from unlined wall vents.

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House insurance. Rebuilding costs.

By The Helpful Engineer / On / In Existing Building Issues

House rebuilding costsWhen renewing your home insurance the insurance company will ask for an estimate of the rebuilding costs. But if you over estimate this figure (over-insure) you will only receive the actual rebuild costs if you have to make a claim. On the other hand if you under estimate the rebuild costs you will only receive the amount insured and you will have to make up the short fall.

Therefore while significant savings can to be made by accurately and carefully calculating the rebuild cost, there is a risk of leaving yourself with a shortfall in the event of a claim. So how does the canny consumer calculate house rebuilding costs?

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