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Many people dream of buying a property next to a lake or river in rural Portugal. castelo construction

Rain pouring into their home

Rain pouring into their home

 

The winter is on its way at last and we are suffering storm force winds and heavy rain with occasional hailstones so it won’t be long before we receive calls from people who say they have rain pouring into their homes.

 

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Rain pouring into their home

We all rest easy here in Portugal during the long spring and summer month. Our motivation is to find shade not think about rain and hour home flooding or leaking.

That’s why it’s a shock to the system when it actually happens.

Rains pouring into their home where does it come from

 

The roof,

Adjoining buildings

Under the external doors

Through the window frames

Through the floor

These are the most likely problem areas –

Missing or broken roof tiles, Bent or rusted through roof flashings, Blocked gutters and downpipes. Miss aligner roof tiles due to the roof timbers sagging.

Adjoining buildings – usually it’s down to bent or rusted through flashings between the two houses, it could also be caused by an internal rainwater pipe built into the wall.

Under the external doors – Portuguese doors rarely incorporate a thresh system and use a piece of stone or marble. The wind can simply blow the water under the door. You can install a thresh by simply cutting the door and installing one underneath.

Through the window frames – The window frames in Portuguese houses and apartments are fitted with a damp proof course around them like they are in the uk. They rely on a thin bead of silicon sealer the keep out the rain. Trouble is these silicon joints are often applied to damp stone or render so don’t stick properly. You may have to cut them out and reapply silicon on a warm dry day.

Through the floor – This is usually the most problematic area. We are used to damp floors here in old houses and some more recent builds!. The floor will not have had a damp proof course installed so when there is a sudden downpour rain from outside cam come under the house and appear in pools on your ground floors. This problem can be treated but it is very disruptive and costly. Insist on a damp proof membrane being installed.

 

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Cracked walls

Cracked walls

 

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cracked walls

Horizontal cracking, vertical cracking, angular cracking, crazing, blown render, stone wall, stone house wall, damaged wall, damaged render, render replacement.

I was asked to look at a Portuguese house recently which had suffered with the external walls cracking. The couple were about to buy the property but wanted to make sure that the cracking wasn’t recent and that is was not going to get worse. Obviously they didn’t want to put their hard earned money into a money pit.

 We don’t have a crystal ball so you have to research the property and look for evidence.

Here are a few things we look for. New building close by, land slippage, flooding, property extensions, part demolitions of connected out buildings or adjoining properties. Cellar excavations or new drainage installations.

Then we start to look at the overall structure. How is the property built, with what materials and methods. Is the roof old, is it straight or sagging, what is the condition of the main roof timbers. Do they have splits, cracks or breakages are they suffering from bad woodworm infestation.

Then we look inside the property to see if there are cracks matching those outside on the inside. Is there evidence of rain water entering the cracks and passing to the inside of the property.

Once we have established that there are no obvious and serious external factors causing the cracks we can look at the types of cracks Horizontal cracking, vertical cracking, angular cracking, crazing, blown render, stone wall, stone house wall, damaged wall, damaged render individually.

It is not often appreciated that most old Properties in Portugal do hot have what we would call foundations in northern Europe.

They relied upon building flexible walled houses that would move slightly over time and settle into the ground. Ground frost is not usually a problem here so the houses stay viable for a couple of hundred years.

It takes many years of construction experience and many years of Portuguese building method experience to be able to read property problems.

If you are contemplating buying a property in Portugal contact Kelvin@casteloconstruction.com and we will be pleased to help.

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Gas bottles

Gas bottles

You may not have used portable gas bottles before unless you had a caravan or a boat.

Gas is the most common source of hot water and cooking here in Portugal.

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Bottled Gas

A lot of people don’t like gas bottles, they are heavy 47 Kg or 13 Kg for a small one, people think that they may explode and they are ugly. They are also inconvenient when they run out.

The thing that I dislike the most is the time it takes to have a replacement full bottle delivered because you stand the risk of having no gas for a couple of days unless like me you have kept a small gas bottle in reserve.

Gas what sort of gas are we talking about ?

There are two types. Propane and Butane which are LPG or Liquid Petroleum Gas. Butane is the one used most commonly for homes.

In their natural state, LPG (Propane and Butane) and Natural Gas  are all odorless. The distinctive gas smell that people associate with these gases is added to them as a safety measure.

Bottled gas  safety.

Leaks. Fortunately you can usually smell a gas leak. Do not ignore it and make sure to turn off the gas at the bottle and remove the regulator.

The leaks usually come from the regulator vale that sits on top of the gas bottle. There deteriorate over time.

The connections to the hose from the regulator up to the gas appliance,

The gas hose its self.

If its black in colour renew it immediately. The hose should be white and have its replacement due date stamped on it. It should have the correct gas hose connections fitted not hose clips.

Gas bottles should be kept in a gas house with a ventilated door so they are safe from interference and shaded from the sun.

One cheery piece of information – Gas bottles even when full do not explode.

If in the event of a fire they are subject to direct and extreme heat the safety release valve will vent gas however so keep your bottles in a gas house.

 For more detailed safty  information on gas bottle fed appliances go to.

http://www.elgas.com.au/blog/503-home-gas-appliance-maintenance-lpg-natural-gas

Home gas appliances need to be regularly checked and have routine scheduled maintenance.

This is important to maintain proper function and safety.

Important for Safety & Saving Money

Having your gas appliance inspected and cleaned periodically by an authorised service technician will benefit performance, help ensure safe operation, minimise any potential down time and extend the life of your appliance.

Only use Qualified Personnel

It is important that your gas appliances are only service by qualified technicians.

In most cases, this means a licensed gas fitter or a factory technician.

Never attempt to fix a gas appliance yourself or allow an unqualified person to attempt to fix it for you.

  1. Service Frequency

Regular Home Gas Appliance Maintenance

Manufacturers typically recommend that their gas appliances be serviced every one or two years.

For example, both Rinnai and Bosch generally recommend 2 year service intervals while Rheem and Paloma recommend annual servicing.

You should always refer to your owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance schedule that is applicable to the make and model of appliance you own.

A ‘tune-up’ just before heating season is ideal.

  1. Read Your Owner’s Manual

It is very important that you understand the correct and safe operation of your gas appliances.

Improper use can result in safety hazards.

If you don’t have the owner’s manual, most gas appliance manufacturers have them available for downloading on their web sites.

If not, contact them directly to request a copy.

  1. Warning Signs

Yellow flames are a warning sign

Key warning signs that your gas appliance requires servicng are a yellow or red flame, a flame with a yellow burning tip, the accumulation of yellow/brown soot around the appliance, pilot lights that frequently blow out or an acrid smell and eye irritation.

The exceptions to this are gas fireplaces and gas log fires that are designed to have yellow flames.

The above signs may be indications of incomplete combustion.

The result is that you could be wasting gas and/or generating carbon monoxide.

The latter is a serious safety problem, if it occurs with an indoor appliance.

If you observe any of these warning signs, you should schedule a service ASAP.

  1. Burner Operation

The burner should be cleaned and checked for proper operation.

Burners blocked with dirt can result in improper combustion, leading to soot build up inside the appliance.

  1. Air Filters

Air filters and fans can become blocked by lint and dust. The result can be overheating and burner combustion problems.

Depending on the make and model of gas heater, you may be able to clean the air filter yourself.

Please consult your owner’s manual to see if this is recommended and how to do it.

 

Damaged flue

Flue pipes should be checked for damage, corrosion and blockages.

Holes, punctures or loose fitting joints require immediate attention.

If a flue needs servicing, call your licensed gas fitter to have it cleaned or repaired.

Gas Pressure

Part of the regular service should include the checking for correct gas pressure and adjusting, as required.

Incorrect gas pressure can affect the amount of oxygen drawn into the burner with the gas.

If this happens, it can cause improper combustion.  Excessive pressure could also create a safety hazard.

Fluctuating Water Temperature

If you have a tankless continuous flow hot water heater and the temperature keeps fluctuating, you should call for a service.

It is normal for a gas hot water storage tank to experience a gradual temperature change, as you use up the available hot water.

Storage Tank Hot Water Heaters

Hot Water Pressure Relief Valve

These units have a Pressure Relief Valve.

This valve relieves excessive temperature or pressure build up that may occur inside the tank.  It is normal for the valve to release a little water.

A continuous leakage of water from the valve and its drain may indicate a problem.

If you notice this valve frequently venting or continuously leaking, you should contact your plumber/gas fitter to check the entire water heater.

If you smell gas take the following gas safety precautions:

 

    Turn off the gas at the source.  At the meter for natural gas or at the cylinders for LPG gas users, but only if safe to do so.  Avoid contact with any visible gas cylinder leak, as the gas stream can cause cold burns.

    Extinguish all flames and do not smoke or strike matches.

    Do not operate electrical switches or devices, including mobile telephones.

    If the leak is inside of your home, open doors and windows to ventilate the area, but only if safe to do so.

    Keep people away from the affected area until the gas dissipates.

    Call your gas supplier or gas fitter, from a safe area, for repairs.

 

 

 

 

http://www.elgas.com.au/blog/352-how-to-prevent-bbq-gas-fires

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ik7y39gal3c

 

This is a short sampler video comprised of excerpts from an online training module created by Chiltern Consulting Ltd, a leading Health & Safety consultancy. The training covers handling, transporting and changing of these cylinders. For more information call 01494 778499 or check out www.chilternconsulting.com.

 

https://www.calor.co.uk/gas-bottles/gas-cylinder-safety