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Safety Tips For Using Fire Logs At Home


A fireplace is undoubtedly one of the best ways of bringing heat into your home. The wealth of warmth that a fire can bring is incredible. It will make your house feel extremely cozy and comfortable.

Furthermore, it is also one of the most cost-effective methods as well – especially when you consider the rising energy bills in the current day and age. And, who can deny the beautiful character a working fireplace brings to any property? It is full of personality and tradition.

However, whilst all of these qualities are indeed fantastic, you do have a duty to uphold. This is a duty to ensure you utilise your fireplace safely. This article aims to give you a helping hand with that by providing you with some top tips for doing so.

Cap the chimney

First and foremost, let’s begin with capping the chimney. This comes highly recommended. Opt for a cap that boasts wire-mesh sides. This is important because it will cover the top of the chimney. As a result, it stops any debris, birds, and rain from entering and thus you have a much more controlled environment.

Use seasoned wood

Purchasing your wood carefully is imperative. The importance of purchasing seasoned logs for your property is something that cannot be stressed enough. Seasoned wood has been dried for at least six months. If you use fresh wood it will contain far too much moisture and so not only will the fire produced by largely ineffective but it can be erratic and consequently unsafe as well.

Regular checks

It takes a mere five minutes to check your fireplace. However, this is something that most homeowners fail to do. Make sure you dedicate the time to checking your fireplace for damage. It is extremely important and can ensure no disasters arise. You would not be able to claim with a public adjuster if a fire was your fault. So, what should you be looking for? Any missing mortar, any loose bricks and any cracks to the structure. In addition to this, checking the chimney liner is advised as well – look out for any deterioration or cracks.

Professional chimney sweeping

It is important to ensure you have your chimney swept. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association advises everybody to ensure they have a chimney sweep at least once a year. It is best to have this service at the beginning of the winter. By doing this you will get rid of all of the debris and soot.

Be cautious

Last but not least, don’t chuck ten logs into the fireplace. Be cautious. Overloading your fireplace is extremely damaging for the obvious reasons – the fire will become too hot and as a result, cracks can begin to appear in the chimney. Not only is this unsafe but it can prove to be very costly for you as well. Instead, start off with a small fire. This will produce less creosote build-up because of minimised smoke. If you then need to you can, of course, add another log. But never chuck loads on, to begin with – there is no need.

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So Long, Mickey! How to Clean Your Home After a Mouse Infestation

mice infestation

Since the beginning of the 20th century, rodent spawned infections have caused at least 10 million fatalities. Not only that, but diseases from rodents have also threatened all of human existence during the late Middle Ages as the Black Death plague swept across Europe.

While that may seem like ancient history, the fact is, even today rodents harbor all types of diseases that are dangerous to humans.

While keeping pests such as mice away from your home is always best, this isn’t always possible.

If you have experienced a rodent infestation in your home or commercial property, knowing the steps to take to properly clean the area is a must. Keep reading to learn what to do when cleaning up after mice infestations.

Ensure Complete Elimination of the Rodent Infestation

Before diving into the clean-up process, you need to make sure that all the mice have been eliminated from the infested area. Make sure to set up your traps and check them each day. Repeat this process until an entire week passes without any more rodent catches.

At this point, you can safely assume that the mice have been eliminated. This same amount of wait time also makes sure the droppings they leave behind aren’t infectious. Don’t forget to ventilate the area as you are cleaning it.

The Proper Way to Clean Up Mouse Droppings

You may be tempted to grab your vacuum or broom to sweep up any droppings or nests that are left behind. Fight this urge.

These cleaning methods are only going to stir up dust, exposing you to the pathogens you are working so hard to remove. A better strategy is to moisten the debris with a homemade bleach solution. For best results, use 90 percent water and 10 percent bleach. Once applied, wipe the area clean.

As you are cleaning, it’s important the entire area is cleaned to get rid of all the smells and germs that attracted rodents, to begin with.

When preparing to clean mouse droppings, keep these steps in mind:

  • Wear rubber or latex gloves
  • Spray the poop or droppings with a disinfectant and allow it to saturate for about five minutes
  • Use a paper towel to remove excrement
  • Once cleaned, reapply the disinfectant to cleanse the area again

If there is any sign the mice moved to other parts of your home or building, disinfect those areas, too.

Removing Dead Mice

As you are cleaning the area of mice droppings, you may come across a carcass. While this is definitely a cringe-worthy moment, it’s one you might have to face.

When facing a dead mouse, the first step is to double up your sanitation steps. After donning your latex gloves and having your disinfectant in hand, do the following:

  • Spray the dead mouse and the area directly around it
  • Dispose of the body outside the home or building
  • Dispose of your gloves and wash your hands

This is the process that needs to be followed for every dead mouse you come across while cleaning the area.

Disinfecting Other Items After a Mice Infestation

While it’s already been said several times, make sure to wear latex or rubber gloves while cleaning any contaminated items. Gather together your pillows, pillowcases, quilts, sheets, clothing, and any other item exposed to the mice.

After washing the items, place the fabrics (or other washable items) in your dryer and put them on spin at the highest temperature setting on your machine. Anything over 115 degrees should effectively kill remaining hantaviruses.

Any furniture, carpets, or rugs that are infected require the use of a professional steam cleaner with a disinfectant and/or shampoo.

If the mice have touched any item in your home or building that can’t be disinfected with a liquid formula, such as documents, magazines, or books, a different strategy has to be used. For these items, leave them outside in the sun or store them in an indoor area that’s disinfected for at least seven days.

The ultraviolet rays will kill any left-over hantaviruses. These can linger on some surfaces for as much as three days.

Be sure to wear gloves while you are handling the items you think are affected. On hardback books, it’s a good idea to wipe the hardcover with a bleach formula-soaked rag.

Call for Professional Help when Cleaning Up After Mice

Finding mice in your home or building can be stressful. If you aren’t sure you can handle the process on your own, then it may be necessary to call in the pros. While resources like this guide are helpful during this process, to be sure the threat is fully eliminated, having an exterminator’s help and guidance can be invaluable.

With professional help, you can feel confident that all traces of the mice, and the deadly diseases they carry, will be eliminated. There’s no reason to take chances when it comes to your health and the health of your home and family.

Handle Mice Infestations and Take Your Home Back

When cleaning up after mice, it may seem like a hopeless situation. You may be ready to throw in the towel and move. Don’t do this – with the tips here, the process doesn’t have to be that bad.

Keep in mind, while cleaning up after mice is crucial for homes you plan to stay in, it’s also necessary if you are trying to sell. Any signs of a rodent infestation are going to turn potential buyers away from your home.

If you want other tips to optimize your home, such as ways you can save water, then be sure to check out some of our other blogs.

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How To Reduce Costs By Cutting Power Usage In The Home


Getting ahead financially is not just about increasing your income. Reducing costs and expenditure also plays a vital part and a good place to get started is reducing your electricity bill.

With our increased use of technology, in kitchen appliances and for our personal use, the average home is increasing their electricity consumption and it’s predicted to increase further, so assessing what and where the power is being used in the home is great place to start – to reduce costs.

Once you know your power usage switching to solar could be a great option to reduce your reliance on the national grid.

To kick start the process of making your home more energy efficient, the first step is to get in a qualified electrician to do a wiring and points health check, especially if you’ve got an older home. Like all things, there are ongoing improvements in electrical wiring and infrastructure and having the latest in your home reducing leaking power and save you money.

Average Electricity Usage

Take a look round your home with the following guide and you’ll be able to start calculating where your electricity is being used and how much you are actually using.

electricity usage

Of course the exact amount of electricity you use will depend on the number of electrical appliances you have and how much they are on.

The above guide will give you some average usage figures but it is a good idea to look at the power label on your appliance. This will confirm how much power your appliance draws. You’ll then be able to calculate how long you have it on and how much electric any specific appliance uses every year.

Electric Saving Tips

You can reduce your electricity usage with some very simple steps:

Turn Lights Off

The most obvious way to save money is not to use an appliance unless you need to. This means turning off lights and other equipment when you are not using it. You may be surprised at how much difference this makes.

Unplug Chargers

A charger that is plugged in but not charging will still draw electricity; this is simply a waste. When you’ve finished charging anything unplug the appliance and the charger. Think, computers, devices like tablets, mobile phones in the bedrooms.

Unplug Appliances

You’ve probably become accustomed to switching your television and other appliances off with a remote. Unfortunately this leaves them in a standby mode where they will still draw power.

Shut them off at the mains, or better still unplug them. This will make a difference to your annual consumption.

Energy Saving Bulbs

A standard light bulb uses 100 watts of power but an LED bulb will draw just 20 or 30 watts while giving you the same level of light. That is a big difference, especially when you multiply it by the number of bulbs in your home. Plus consider solar powered lighting.

Finally as mentioned earlier it is worth considering adding your own solar panels for all power usage. Every bit of electricity your home generates is a reduction in the cost of your energy bill; even if it’s not a reduction in your actual energy usage. Let’s face it with the rise of electric- everything from your garden appliances, and cars, reducing power usage drastically in the future is probably unrealistic but where we get the power from, now that is likely to be more in our control.

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How To Budget When Moving House In A Big City

New York

When you decide to move to a big city, there’s a lot to consider. You might need to think about the type of neighborhood you want to live in as well as education options if you have children. Commute times are also going to be another issue to think about and of course, you need to find a property that you love where you can build a new home.

Moving is very stressful so it’s best to plan it in advance and then tick off milestones along the way.

One of the most important factors of moving is always going to be the cost. It’s crucial you know how much moving is going to cost you and whether it fits into your budget. For instance, you might be moving in a big city like New York. Let’s explore some of the costs here, what you’re going to need to budget and potential areas that you just might be able to save.

How Much Is It Going To Cost?

The average cost for moving in New York City is just above $1000. It is worth looking at how this figure breaks down and what you’re going to need to pay for. So, first, you need to think about how much you’re going to pay the removal team.

On average a moving company in New York, may charge between $90 and $150 per hour. This is based on the larger players on the market and you might find cheaper prices if you shop around. So, if your move takes roughly six hours, you will probably spend roughly $700 here alone.

But that’s not the only cost that comes into play. You also need to think about boxes and packaging. You might be surprised to learn that, depending on the amount of furniture and items that you need to package you could spend well over $150 here.

You also need to think about how much you are going to have to tip the removal team that you choose. The standard tip is ten percent which could add at least another hundred on which brings us to that $1000 figure we mentioned. It’s worth pointing out that this is for a one bedroom home for two working professionals.

For a small family, you would be looking at a two bedroom home. As you might have expected, this pretty much doubles the cost. So, instead of over $1000, you could be looking at anything up to $2250.

Build Your Budget

The numbers below are just a rough estimate. There are a number of factors that you’ll need to consider that will impact that actual price you pay. For instance, the move could be trickier. If that’s the case, then you’re going to need a removal team for more hours adding to the cost.

The amount of items you need could also mean you require more than one truck as well and of course there’s the distance they have to travel. A ten-mile move is going to cost you significantly more than a five-mile move. You will also need to think about how heavy items are, the level of furniture you have and the number of rooms that need to be packed up. All these factors will help you build up the actual cost you’ll need to pay.

Can You Save?

Finally, there are a few ways that you can save when moving in a big city. First, if you decide to move in the middle of a month, you will typically find that the costs are lower because this is a less popular time. As for boxes, ask around at local stores to see if any business owners have spare ones you can have or buy cheaply rather than purchasing them online. You might also want to think about using a flat rate company.

Flat rate companies make the costs easier to understand and are great if you’re worried issues with traffic or accessibility are going to balloon the time it takes and therefore the costs.

We hope this helps you budget your move in a big city like New York, and here are some tips on top things to consider when moving into your new home.

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How To Get A Property Before You’re 30

get onto property ladder

With property prices continuing to soar and average yearly earnings stagnating, it should be no surprise that millennials are finding it much harder to buy their own property than previous generations.

The statistics are clear: first-time property buyers are getting older, while the percentage of those in their twenties who own property is shrinking. Only one-in-five 25-year olds own a property. Just ten years ago, it was two-in-five.

On The Property Ladder Before 30?

So, is it impossible to set your foot on the property ladder before you’re thirty? Of course you can. 🙂

You don’t even have to be rich. It takes patience, it takes the willpower to start saving right now, and it takes a close eye on the market, but here we’re going to look at how you can get a property before your 30th birthday.

Figure Out The ‘What’ and ‘Why’

First of all, you have to consider why, exactly, you want to buy property.

While rising costs are one of the reasons that fewer people in their twenties are buying properties, there’s also the consideration that because of higher job mobility, people are less willing to “put down roots” and commit to staying in one place for over a decade.

Investment Property

However, there are plenty of good reasons to buy a property, particularly as an investment. You may want to purchase a rental property so that you have real, tangible assets contributing to your need worth as providing an income.

Flip A Property

You can buy a share in a property with friends, family, or investment groups. You can flip a property, making improvements to increase its value before selling it at a profit.

Principal Place of Residence

Of course, you may simply want a place to live. Figuring out your reasons to get on the property ladder can help you spot the right opportunities and help you draft up an appropriate budget.

Draft up a budget plan

Having a budget and sticking to it is essential if you want to buy property. So long as you have any income, you can find the costs that you can cut and put aside at least a little bit of every single paycheque.

It regularly takes first-time homeowners four years to save for a deposit, a lot more than the year or two it would take a couple of decades so don’t worry if you feel like progress is slow.

The crucial point here is that you don’t procrastinate or neglect your savings. You can automate transfers from your current account to your ISA, for instance, or you can simply follow the rules of “pay yourself first.”

Therefore every time you get paid, you put aside the savings towards your deposit or other savings goals first. This means before you pay your rent, before you pay your bills, or spend a single penny otherwise. It’s a good way to ensure that you’re following the budget no matter what.

Get The Best Mortgage Suited To Your Needs

The overwhelming majority of first-time homeowners take out a loan to help them purchase a property.

The mortgage market can be hard to understand, so spend plenty of time doing your research while you’re saving.

You want to know what you’re looking for by the time you have a deposit together.

Besides scanning the market for deals, there’s plenty you can do to get a loan that’s in your favour.

Improve your credit score

Work on improving your credit score by using credit cards or smaller loans reliably or by inspecting your credit report and contesting any erroneous entries.

Save up a larger deposit on the loan so that the long-term payment plan becomes a lot more manageable.

Just ensure you have your mortgage pre-approved before you look at properties so you have an idea of how much house you can afford.

Know The Property Market

Property costs are rising, but there are still opportunities to be capitalised on and area specific changes to be followed closely.

If you know the area you want to buy property in, ensure that you’re subscribed to papers and online publications covering property and development in the market.

Property Discussion Forums

Join the discussion and benefit from the knowledge of others who have been in your shoes. Forums like PropertyTalk.

Join Local Property Investor Associations

local property investor associations can help you form a network with likeminded people and benefit from their experience.

Meet Local Real Estate Agents

Don’t forget to pair up with real estate agents that know the specific area you want to buy a property in, too.

Take Advantage Of Financial Help For First Home Buyers

More and more first-time property buyers are getting their foot on the property ladder with a little help from the state. Depending on your area and your circumstances, you may be able to benefit from a whole host of financial assistance options.

There are specific ISAs, for instance, that allow you to get an added bonus depending on how much of the deposit you save that can knock down the overall cost of the property. Do a little research on home-buying schemes locally and nationwide to see what’s applicable to you.

Expect The Unexpected Costs

Buying property is expensive and it’s not just the cost of the home itself that makes up all those costs. You have to consider the legal conveyancing fees, the fees of the realtor, travel fees, the cost of moving, and much, much more.

Depending on the kind of property investment you want to make, ensure you have a full breakdown of the costs. There’s plenty of itemised budgets on the net for specific costs.

At the same time, make sure you have some wiggle room in your budget for unexpected costs. Buying a property doesn’t always go smoothly and you find yourself having to reach into your pocket a little more often than expected, so prepare for that.


Hopefully, the points above show that it’s most certainly do-able, and more cost-effective, to buy a property while you’re still young. This is only a jumping off point, and you should continue to read voraciously, stay connected with like minded people and keep a close eye on the market.

You can do it, you just have to be prepared for the effort, savings, and sacrifice it might take.

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Moving house? How to avoid becoming a horror story

moving house

You are probably aware of how stressful moving house can be. Removals are definitely one of the worst parts because you are trusting strangers with your most personal and perhaps valuable possessions. Should you worry more about the UHDTV getting damaged, or the baby pictures getting lost? The truth is that in the worst case scenario you’ll need to worry about both.

You don’t have to look for long online to find some horrendous home move horror stories online and there are some surrounding home removals. From damage to items to lost valuables and the van arriving late, you don’t want this to become your reality when you move home. How can you avoid this nightmare situation? Well, there are a few options you can consider when you plan your home removal and here are some tips from Mr Shifter London Home Removals & Storage:

Don’t Opt For The Cheapest Service

You might think that all home removal companies are equal because they are all providing the same service. While on the surface this might be true, standards and quality of service can differ dramatically. That’s why it may be worth paying a little more to make sure that your items and possessions are looked after.

Check Out Real Reviews Online

These days, it is impossible for business owners to avoid bad reviews online. If a company has delivered a poor, shoddy service, you can bet that someone will have complained. No company is going to have reviews that are 100 percent positive, but if they have more complaints than praise from customers, they are probably not offering a great service. Remember, customers are the only people you can trust when you’re trying to decide whether to use a business or service.

Ask The Right Questions

You need to make sure that you are asking all the right questions when you choose a removal company. Not every home move is the same. Are you moving with pets or children? you need to know what insurance will and won’t cover. Ideally, insurance should cover all damaged or lost items, but this isn’t always the case. And, what happens if something is lost or broken that had sentimental value? Will you still be able to gain a fair amount of compensation for something like this?

Speaking of damages, you should check all your items as quickly as possible when they reach your new home. You’re far more likely to be able to claim compensation if you address the issue quickly.

You should also ask the team about the level of security that they provide. Don’t forget that documents and papers that perhaps have sensitive information will also be transferred during the move. Ask about what security systems they have in plan and get full details of their insurance coverage.

Are they moving heavy items? If so, then they should have a removals VOSA number to show they are qualified to operate a vehicle carrying that level of weight.

Are the workers on full contracts and are they trained by an official organisation such as The British Association of Removers (BAR). By finding this out, you can take some comfort knowing that professionals will be looking after your items and possessions.

Take this advice, ask the right questions and you should be able to completely avoid the home removal nightmare.

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4 Things To Do As A New Homeowner

first home buyer

Buying your own property for the first time is perhaps a moment the vast majority of us consider a watershed moment. It’s a milestone that’s celebrated everywhere as a moment in time that will be most likely remembered forever. After all it’s some achievement, there was the deposit to save and the home loan to secure, and then the hunt for the perfect property so it’s not a light undertaking by any means and it’s getting tougher for first home buyers. It’s still the biggest purchase most people are likely make in their lifetime, and a new homeowner can benefit from the wisdom of seasoned homeowners and investors. Assuming you’ve got your insurances sorted i.e. your building and contents there’s one task you should do as soon as possible – change or rekey the locks.

1. Rekey or Change the Locks

This advice is not just for the overcautious out there, it’s recommended for all homeowners whom have bought a property that’s been owned and occupied by someone else and in many cases multiple owners. Therefore invest in a new sets of window and door locks or rekey existing locks to prevent unwanted visitors. It may even be a prerequisite on your insurance policy.

2. Set Up Utilities, Data etc

The previous owner cancels their commitment to the property’s utilities and as the new homeowner you need to work out what you need and whom you want to supply your home. Ask for referrals and do some market research for the best gas, electricity and datacom providers. This is an opportune time to select new providers so allow yourself time to review what’s on offer. If you’re changing to a new business let your old provider know you’re switching to a different company. If you keep your existing provider, you still need to inform them that you no longer have the same address. In this situation, they will most likely simply update the new information on your account.

3. Professional Clean

Just as you do when you sell a home, it’s best to hire a professional cleaning company to deep clean the property before you and your family move in. In our experience this service is indispensable. It comes at a time when you’re run off your feet and need to be spared the unenviable task of cleaning the property from top to tail so to speak. There will be the obvious items: carpets and windows, to appliances and everything in the bathroom. However, there will also be the less noticeable areas too like the curtain rails, shelving etc so it’s definitely worthwhile assigning the cleaning over to the experts.

4. Renovate

When you buy a second hand property it’s style is that of it’s previous owners. Now the property is yours, you’ll want to put your own stamp on it and add your own design and finishing touches, such as the cosmetic work which could include: sanding and finishing hardwood floors, plastering and painting walls and maybe wallpapering too. Of course it’s easier to undertake these tasks before the furniture is in and your kids are running around the house and while you’re at it consider more major works too like a kitchen and/or bathroom refit. There’s no better time to do than before moving in.

Buying your first home is a wonderful achievement and one worth celebrating but don’t crack open the bubbly until you’ve knocked off at least the first three tasks aforementioned.

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