With figures suggesting that one in four households across the UK are currently let out, and increasing numbers of people trying to leave “Generation Rent” in favour of home-ownership, it’s no wonder that Brits are re-embracing the “do it yourself” mantra in 2019. In an effort to reduce our outgoings, protect deposits and put our own stamps on our homes, we’re forgoing tradesmen and having a go ourselves… and we’re turning to Google for help.
But what are people actually looking for when it comes to their homes? Do they know their stop cocks from their radiator bleed valves? How many people don’t know where their gas meter is? To find out, we looked at Google search data, analysing over 1.2 million terms to reveal which household queries are leading the new “Google it Yourself” movement.
Our research highlighted that Brits were searching for the following 10 queries most frequently:
|How to fix a leaky tap||0|
|How to bleed a radiator||0|
|How to treat damp||0|
|How to read an electric meter||0|
|How to read a gas meter||0|
|How to fit laminate flooring||0|
|How to hang a door||0|
|How to hang a picture frame||0|
|How to change a lightbulb||0|
|How to put up a curtain pole||0|
That’s right; according to our search data we’re living in a country of poorly plumbed houses, with searches around how to fix a leaky tap and how to bleed a radiator taking the top two spots in our study. Perhaps unsurprisingly, searches around how to treat damp were the third most popular topic (with mould coming in at eleven).
A significant number of UK households are surprisingly uninformed when it comes to their energy usage, with 82,220 and 62,400 searches each year around gas and electric meters, including how to read them, and even where to find them!
Our data also shows that the spirit of DIY clearly still lives on, with almost 60,000 searches a year for both hanging doors and laying laminate flooring, and over 30,000 queries around fitting curtain poles and hanging picture frames.
To help address some of the nation’s most searched for problems, we’ve created the following simple guides to help you get proactive when it comes to DIY.
First you'll need to work out the cause of the leak; if it's an old tap, it's most likely a faulty washer. Top tip: you can tell how modern your taps are by rotating them - if they turn more than a quarter, they're likely older, and feature washers over ceramic discs.
With your water turned off, you'll need to take the tap apart to replace the faulty component. Start by locating the screw, which is typically found under the hot / cold caps on the taps, and can normally be unscrewed by hand.
Once you've found the screw, gently turn it and remove the top casing of the tap (the bit you twist to turn it on). You should be able to see a hexagonal nut at this point, once the casing has been removed, twist the nut with an adjustable spanner to release the valve.
Carefully lay all parts out on a tea towel, and remember to put a plug in the sink hole in order to prevent any parts from falling down the drain.
If your home features traditional taps, there's a good chance the washers will have broken down over time. These are perishable rubber rings that sit below the valve. In most cases, replacing these washers for a like-for-like part from your local DIY store should solve the problem. Simply remove the old washer and re-apply the fresh part in its place before re-assembling.
To work out if a radiator needs bleeding or not, first turn on your central heating and double check all radiators in your house - if any feel cooler than others, there's a good chance they'll need bleeding.
Wait for the radiator to cool before attempting to bleed it, to avoid burning yourself. Once cool, you'll need to locate the bleed valve, which is essentially a round hole with a square inside. This will be located at the top of the radiator, on one of the sides.
Once you've located the valve, insert the bleed key (or a phillips head screwdriver, for more modern radiators) and rotate about 90 degrees anti-clockwise to loosen. Make sure you use a cloth here, and lay down towels to catch any fluids that start to leak out.
As you turn the key you'll start to hear a hissing sound, indicating air is leaving the radiator. Continue with the key turned anti-clockwise until a steady stream of water is released, indicating you've bled all of the air from the radiator.
This process should take up to 2 minutes depending on the size of the radiator. Once you have a steady stream of water, begin to tighten the key again, taking care not to fasten too tightly. Use a towel to mop up any excess water, and move onto the next radiator.
Damp can seriously affect the value and structural integrity of your home, so prevention is often more important than the cure. With that in mind, here are five things you can do to help prevent damp & mould building up in your household.
Keep your rooms well ventilated. Poor ventilation is one of the primary causes of damp, specifically in flats and apartments. Ensuring areas like the bathroom have extractor fans, or leaving windows cracked open throughout the day can help reduce the build-up of condensation.
Maintain the outside of your home. Commonly neglected issues like leaking gutters or poorly maintained window frames can also allow damp to seep into an otherwise structurally sound property. Keeping these areas well-maintained can help stop the spread.
Give your walls room to breathe. It's often the case that small, poorly ventilated spaces are most likely to suffer from damp build up. With that in mind, try to position hard and soft furnishings at least 2-3 inches away from walls to allow the air room to circulate.
Remove moisture in the air. If you're already starting to see the early warning signs of damp, investing in a dehumidifier (either electric or otherwise) will help to lower the level of moisture in the air, and as such reduce the likelihood of damp.
Check which type of electric meter you have: dial, digital or smart.
Dial Meter - Read the dials from left to right, writing down the numbers as you go. If the arrow is pointing between two numbers, go with the lower number. If it's between zero and nine, write down nine and remove one from the previous dial. Ignore the last dial. In this example, the reading would be 79482.
Digital Meter - Read the meter from left to right. Ignore any numbers that appear in red or after a decimal place. If you've got an economy 7 meter you might have two rows of numbers. One will be your 'day' or 'peak' rate and the other will be your 'night' or 'off-peak' rate.
Smart Meter - If you've got a smart meter you don't need to worry about reading it - your readings are automatically sent to your supplier. Just sit back and put your feet up!
Check which type of gas meter you have: dial, digital or smart.
Dial Meter - Read the dials from left to right, writing down the numbers as you go. Ignore any red dials, dials marked '100 per rev' and the largest dial. If the arrow is pointing between two numbers, go with the lower number. If it's between zero and nine, write down nine and remove one from the previous dial. In this example, the reading would be 5548.
Digital Meter - Read the meter from left to right. Ignore any numbers that appear in red or after a decimal place.
Smart Meter - If you've got a smart meter your readings are automatically sent to your supplier, so you don't need to do anything.
Prepare your sub-floor (the surface you'll be laying laminate on top of). Make sure it's clean, smooth and dry.
Take your laminate boards out of their packaging and leave them lying flat in the area you are going to fit them for 48 hours. This will give them time to acclimatise to the room temperature.
Cut your underlay to the dimensions of your room and lay it down in parallel strips - stick them together with masking tape. Underlay is essential to help with insulation and sound-proofing.
Different types of laminate flooring will need slightly different methods - so check the manufacturer's instruction. Most will simply slot in and click together.
Start from one wall and move across to the opposite wall. Make sure to leave a small gap of around 10-12mm around the edges for expansion.
Take the measurements for your new door. If you're replacing an old door, just measure the height, width and depth of that. Otherwise, just measure your door frame.
With your new door you want a gap of 2mm to 4mm at the top and sides, and 6mm to 12mm at the bottom. If necessary, clamp your door between two door clamps and use a plane to trim equal amounts off either side to bring it to the right measurements.
Once trimmed to size, hold your door in position in the frame and mark where the hinges will go. Using a chisel and hammer, gently tap around the outline you've scrolln to create a shallow recess for the hinge.
Mark where your screws will go in the door and drill pilot holes. Then put your hinge back in place and screw in securely.
Finally, hold the door in place and screw the hinge to the door frame. Just fix one screw in each hinge to begin with, then check to make sure the door opens and closes properly before fixing the rest of your screws.