Believe it or not, 2009 is the 30th birthday of the Black & Decker(R) Dustbuster(R). And to mark the occasion, the company has added some innovative models to its range.
There are the Dustbuster(R) Eco Extreme DV1205 (around £64.99, available from Comet and Currys from this month), which uses 66 per cent less charging energy than a standard hand vac and is Energy Star approved; the 9.6V Cyclonic Action Dustbuster(R) DV9605 (around £60, available from Argos from this month), which is aimed at pet owners; and the 12V Pivot Plus Stick Vac FV1205N (around £79.99, available from Currys online), which can be used on tiles, wooden floors, rugs and carpets, and folds to half its size for storage.
I road-tested the 18V Dustbuster(R) Pivot Vac PV1805 (around £84, available from Comet), the most powerful hand vac on the market, according to Black & Decker(R). I found it ideal for cleaning up after DIY jobs that haven’t created masses of mess – and for day-to-day cleaning.
As well as being impressively powerful, the Pivot Vac, as the name suggests, has a pivoting head that locks into 10 different positions, letting you get to those hard-to-reach areas easily. It also has a double-action filtration system and cyclonic action, so there’s continuous suction and no danger of clogging. The transparent dust chamber enables you to see when it needs emptying, while the side-empty chamber door makes it easy to get the contents into the bin.
The Pivot Vac is powerful, easy to use and handy for vacuuming up everything from sanding dust and sawdust to dirt and fluff. It has a run time of 19 minutes, giving you plenty of time to clean up your DIYing as you go or when you’re done.
ASK THE EXPERT…
Q: I like the look of a slate floor but I’m worried that it will be too hard for me to fit myself, which I want to do to keep costs down. Is there an easier alternative?
A: You should find ceramic imitations of slate easier to cut and lay or, if you want to avoid tiling altogether, slate-effect laminate, which should be straightforward for you to fit, after a little practice.
Now’s a great time to bag yourself some DIY sale bargains, with many retailers offering better-than-usual discounts. B&Q, for example, currently has a third off all modular bedrooms and half off all kitchen units and bathrooms, plus half-price installation, if your DIY skills aren’t up to the job.
TOP TIPS FOR… winter plumbing and heating
It’s not just Christmas and New Year – going away at any time during winter can cause problems with your home’s plumbing and central heating system, especially when it’s so cold. So, when you’re away, programme your boiler’s timer (if it has one) so that the heating comes on regularly, even if it’s only for short periods. This will help to prevent frozen pipes.
Locate and label your main stopcock. This will be on the incoming mains water supply and is often under the kitchen sink. If you have a leak, you’ll need to be able to find and turn off this stopcock quickly, so don’t take any chances.
Your stopcock can corrode over time, so check that it’s working properly by turning it from fully open to fully closed and back again a couple of times (leave it half a turn from fully open once you’re done). Do this every six months or so.
Make sure that all your pipes and water storage tanks (if your boiler has tanks) are properly lagged, especially in cooler areas like the loft, where tanks should be insulated along with the rest of the loft. This will help to prevent freezing, as well as saving energy. Another tip is to open the hatch to warm the loft in cold weather, if you can bear it, which should also help to stop the pipes up there from freezing.
Inspect your boiler’s water storage tanks from time to time. If there are any signs of corrosion or leaking, contact a reputable plumber. Ask any plumbers you phone about call-out charges and find out exactly what they cover.
Drain Doctor (www.draindoctor.co.uk) doesn’t levy call-out charges and claims to be the first national organisation in its sector to register under the government’s Quality Mark Approved scheme, which aims to protect householders from unscrupulous tradespeople.