Radiator Cold Spots and How to Eliminate Them

Cold spots on radiators are one of the most well known problems of the heating system. They can be random spots across the radiator or it could be that the bottom of the radiator is cold and the top is hot or that the top is cold and the bottom is hot. It is important to know how to treat this problem to prevent paying more costly bills and to prevent future problems.

If your radiator is hot at the bottom and cold only at the top then the solution is quite simple, the radiator needs bleeding to release the excess air in the radiator. Radiators should be bled until all of the air has escaped and a drop of water comes out. This ensures water is right to the top of the radiator which is now fully utilised and will heat across its entire surface.

However, if it is the bottom or middle of your radiator that is cold and the top is hot, then the solution is not as simple. This problem indicates that your heating system may be clogged with a thick black sludge scale. No matter how high you turn the thermostat or how long you have the heating on, the cold spot will remain cold and your heating bills will be much more costly as the rest of the radiator is working harder to heat up this thick sludge.

One solution for the cold spots is the use of chemicals. Using a non acidic cleaner added via the expansion tank whilst the radiators are on should break down sludge and scale in the radiator. If after one hour of cleaning the radiator still has the cold spot, then it may be necessary to use more cleaning chemicals. When the cleaning has finished, drain the radiators and flush out the debris. This may need to be repeated if there is a lot of sludge in your radiators.

After this, adding a central heating protector eliminates corrosion and eradicates the chance of thick black sludge; it is therefore a good preventative measure for eliminating future cold spots on the radiator once your radiator has been cleaned and flushed of all debris.

Why Choose a Pier and Beam Foundation?

Building a home is an exciting venture. Homeowners get to choose wall coverings, flooring materials, up-to-date appliances, room size variances, and windows and doors. But, what most homeowners do not realize is that building a home starts from the ground up, from the foundation.

The most important step to building a new home is choosing the most efficient and safe foundation for your property location. Researching foundation bases is essential in securing the structure of your new home. Some contractors are knowledgeable about foundations and will help you choose which is best for your home. But, there are many who will pour a foundation of their choosing without discussing the choice with you, the homeowner.

Two foundation choices that a new homeowner should be aware of are slab-on-grade foundations and pier and beam foundations. The two are quite different when it comes to construction, cost, and longevity.

Slab-on-grade foundations are constructed with reinforced concrete and are usually shallow, quickly built, and inexpensive. For a builder that doesn’t have to live in the homes that he builds, slab foundations are a dream. Slab foundations are used with homes that do not have basements. A major disadvantage to slab-on-grade foundations is that they are not resistant to seasonal movement changes and moisture disbursement due to root growth. In other words, slab foundations are not a long-term option for homes in North Texas. Another disadvantage is that generally all piping is placed under the slab foundation causing a very costly procedure should a water pipe burst.

Pier and beam foundations, on the other hand, rate a few steps above a slab-on-grade foundation. Pier and beam foundations incorporate a crawl space (usually at least 18 inches) beneath the home and footings filled with concrete to support the slab. This type of foundation is not considered a time saver, but it is safer and more convenient. The crawl space allows access to heating and plumbing utilities without having to break through the concrete slab. The piers mean foundations are less susceptible to damage due to ground shifting, a problem many North Texas homes with slab foundations experience. If extreme ground shifting does occur, the foundation is easily adjusted, a process that is much less expensive than slab foundation repairs, a process most homes in North Texas will have to undergo.

Since pier and beam foundations leave homeowners walking on a suspended wood platform, they are much easier on the body’s joints. Pier and beam foundations are preferred by back pain suffers over slab foundations.

Pier and beam foundations are generally used for homes built in the Northern part of the country because the climate consists of the freeze and thaw conditions. This condition requires that the foundation be built deeply in to the ground. The safety feature here is that deep foundations are very rarely affected by climate changes. But, the shifting grounds of North Texas make pier and beam foundations the best, longest-lasting choice for foundations in the area.

Monster Constructors is professionally known for laying pier and beam foundations in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. They will test the ground on which the home is to be built to decipher the best foundation for that particular area.

Detecting Counterfeit Electronic Components Using Blacktop Marking Tests

When counterfeit electronic components first began surfacing it was often easy to spot them. The markings on the chip would be blatantly wrong such as the wrong logo for the company who supposedly made the product or a marking which would simply rub off. As the counterfeiters have gained sophistication, their fake components are harder to spot. Even checking the markings on the chip (Blacktop Markings) now requires rigorous testing procedures.

Counterfeit parts have become a significant concern in the electronic component industry. Sometimes these counterfeits are clones – attempts to copy the genuine parts. In other cases, the counterfeiters will re-mark a part. The counterfeiter will take a component created for a specific purpose and change the markings on part so it will appear to be another part.

Why does this matter? Electronic components are built to exact standards to perform highly specific jobs. These components then undergo rigorous testing to ensure they will perform as expect under all circumstances. You would not build an airplane with untested screws that almost fit. It is potentially more dangerous to use electronic components which are almost right.

The US military has developed detailed specifications for how to test components. These specifications have become the industry standard, used to test both military and non-military parts. The military standards are essential in determining the authenticity of components. Reputable electronic component testing firms adhere to those published specifications. Still, there are variations and proprietary approaches of how to implement those specs and maintain quality control during testing.

(Note: The following test is used as general example for the purposes of this article. Some specific steps and proprietary information has been omitted.)

Marking Permanency (Resistance to Solvents) Test:

The purpose of a Marking Permanency test is to verify that the parts when subjected to solvents will maintain their correct markings. Counterfeit parts often have new markings which are not permanent; they will dissolve when the solvents are properly applied. Also, the solvents will reveal evidence of previous markings which have been sanded off or otherwise replaced by the false markings.

Various Military Standard procedures are used which incorporate processes of working with several chemicals mixed appropriately and in detail is in accordance with the specifications. These chemicals consist of Aliphatic alcohol, mineral spirits, ethyl-benzene, organic solvents, de-ionized water, propylene glycol monomethyl either, or monoethanloamine.

Once properly mixed the components are submerged in a three phase process and analyzed in accordance with MIL-HBK-130 to uncover evidence of damage to the device and any specified markings which are missing in whole or in part, faded, smeared, blurred, or shifted (dislodged) to the extent that they cannot be readily identified from a distance of at least 15.0cm (6 inches) with normal room lighting and without the aid of magnification or with a viewer having a magnification no greater than 3X. In some cases, a strategic acetone wash will be used to reveal sanding marks and facets of previous markings.

Blacktop marking is just one test in a multi-step process used to discover counterfeit electronic components. Other tests include closely checking the physical dimensions and the packaging as well as the performance of the chips. Counterfeit electronic components are on the rise in both military and civilian products. As the counterfeiting gets more sophisticated, testing houses continue to develop finely tuned procedures to separate the fake goods from the real parts.

Gothic Architecture and Design – Cathedrals and Buildings

Gothic architecture was first used in cathedrals in France during the 12th and 13th century. The Cathedral Basilica of St.Denis is one of the most famous examples of a Gothic cathedral created during the medieval period. Abbot Suger (1081-1151) a French historian and Gothic architect, was the mind behind its creation. Suger’s inspirations came from travels to the east where pointed arches, varying colours and detailed patterns were used.

Traditionally, monks were the architects that designed churches in France, and often their creations were basic and practical. However; as powers in France increased there was also an increased desire to create symbols of religion and authority that were grand and spacious. Out of this need emerged concepts in Gothic architecture and design.

One of the first changes Gothic architecture brought to cathedral design was a change in vaulting. Architects worked on how to substitute a stone vault for a wooden roof, while incorporating the use of intersecting stone ribs. That lead to the development of expanded of windows, the use of flying buttresses for support, and the use of slender piers.

Gothic windows covered almost the entire wall surface and had varied designs with delicate stone decorations.The thick and heavy walls traditionally used in Romanesque cathedrals to create stability were abandoned and walls were made thinner and used as an active skeleton that integrated arches, piers and buttresses.

During the medieval period cathedrals were built in two forms: Romanesque and Gothic. Romanesque cathedrals had a few distinctive features. Firstly, the buildings used rounded arches for structure support. The rounded top of these arches exuded an increased force onto the cathedral walls, and thus the walls had to be thick for support. Additionally, buttresses were added along the side of the outer walls as support. Due to the thickness of the walls around the base of arches and the obstruction of the buttresses, windows could only be placed near the top of the walls and were small in size. Only smaller windows could be places along the lower sides of the walls, if they were even placed at all. The overall structures in these cathedrals resembled that of a fortress.

 Gothic cathedrals created structures that managed structure forces differently. Gothic architects used flying buttresses to support cathedral arches. Basically, this meant that rather than placing the buttress directly next to the arch wall for support, the buttress was attached to the wall with a smaller connecting arch arm, creating support for the walls and rounded arches. This displaced the force from the arch walls and buttress to the foundation. Because of the space the flying buttress created between the walls and the supporting buttresses, windows could be placed lower on walls where the sun could enter and could also be made larger.Additionally, pointed arches were used as opposed to rounded for increased roof support.

Gothic architecture in cathedrals became the art of erecting buildings with stone vaults and thin walls, whose ribs intersected (concentration of load) and whose thrusts were supported by flying buttresses (the grounding of the thrusts). The downward and outward thrust of the vaulting was met by an equivalent resistance in buttress and solid earth, resulting in an equilibrium from well-adjusted opposing forces.

Although many think Gothic architecture was mainly concerned with elaborate design and heavy ornamentation, in actuality Gothic architecture emerged as a response to structural need with sound engineering. All forms of decoration came as an after thought to the practical designs. Gothic masters of work often said “nothing which is inherently needed could be ugly.” Gothic cathedrals sought to create larger buildings with increased support while doing away with blank walls and solid bland surfaces. Interestingly, modern copies of Gothic architecture tend to ignore the original engineering intent of the structures and often place a heavy emphasis on decoration.

How to Make Arch Supports That Relieve Pain

From reading the blogs and forums it is clear that there is a lot of confusion and frustration about arch supports. It is no wonder considering every ad you read says that their arch support will clear up everything from foot pain to acne. I have also read that many people spend a ton of money on arch supports only to find out they do not work at all. There really is no magic about arch supports and once you understand how and why they work you will understand that if the arch supports correct the problem they will likely relieve the pain.

In addition to being a family doctor I am also a biomechanical engineer. The biomechanics of the foot is particularly fascinating to me. The foot consists of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. The proper functioning of the foot depends upon the precise coordination of all these components. The foot must support your body weight in perfect balance just to enable you to stand. Imagine the forces on the foot when you walk or run.

As you walk the bones of the mid-foot, commonly referred to as the arch of the foot, will unlock and allow the arch to flatten-out. The unlocking of the mid-foot allows the foot to absorb shock and to adapt to the different surfaces you are walking on. As you go further in the step the bones of the mid-foot relock to reform the arch. This relocking of the mid-foot allows the foot to become a firm lever arm for efficient push-off to propel you forward. This unlocking and relocking of the bones of the mid-foot are essential for efficient foot function. It is malfunction of this locking and unlocking mechanism that causes many common foot problems.

There are basically two types of foot problems that most people experience. They either have a mid-foot that is always unlocked resulting in a flat arch that doesn’t support the body very well or they have a mid-foot that is always locked resulting in a high arch that doesn’t absorb shock very well. The person with a flat, unlocked foot will typically complain of heel pain (plantar fasciitis), pain in the arch, ankle pain, pain in the front of the lower leg (shin splints) and tired achy calf muscles at the end of the day. The person with the locked, high arched foot will have pain on the top of the foot, pain on the outside part of the foot, be more prone to ankle sprains and very often have knee and hip pain as a result of the locked foot that does not absorb shock very well.

In either of these cases, the flat foot or high arched foot, it is critical that the arch support is manufactured with an impression or cast of the foot while the foot is in what is called “the neutral position”. The neutral position is when the foot, ankle and knee joint are in alignment. When the arch support is made while the foot is in the neutral position it will keep the foot in this neutral position throughout the step. This allows the foot to absorb shock as you walk, evenly distribute the weight in the foot and allow the foot to act as a firm efficient lever arm when you push-off of the ground and propel yourself forward.

Making an impression or cast of the foot in neutral position is easy when the patient is in the office and the technician or physician is making the cast or impression of the foot. When arch supports are made using a foam impression that is sent to the patient after ordering online, they must be provided with clear, simple instructions on how to make the impression with the foot in the neutral position. If made properly, the arch support can be extremely effective at relieving foot pain, knee pain, hip pain and low back pain.

Please click this link for more information on arch supports.

Gender Construction

“Come you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here; and fill me, from crown to the toe, top-full of direst cruelty”.

“To be or not to be”….. How does it happen?

(Shakespeare, 1606-7)

The following five points may be significant for an understanding of how gender is socially constructed. (1) The first point is that there are a range of sometimes conflicting theories that attempt to explain gender and gendered behaviours, that raise questions that further research may not answer absolutely. The second point is that gendered behaviours have been viewed as responses/reactions to power and authority in such things as British Colonization, Capitalism, Patriarchy, families, adult/child relations, workplace, groups, and institutions such as schools. Point number three is that messages from media, texts, history, popular culture and social structures are believed to have a powerful influence on gender construction. Point number four is that gender construction has been viewed as taking place through ‘discourse’. The final point, number five, is that public places such as schools are important sites of gender construction/production, reproduction. These points are all interrelated and cannot be discussed in depth without overlapping into another.


The concept of Gender is ‘one of the muddiest concepts’ according to Constantinople (Connell, 1993, 174). It is ‘problematic’ (Thorne, 1993, 58), because it means different things to different people. Some use the word interchangeably with the word sex. Eg. ‘Gender’ is written on some documents to find out the biological nature of the person filling out the form. For some who view it from a biologically determined perspective, it is a natural outcome of such things as genetics, hormones and brain organisation. (Weiten, 1998, 464). For some who view it from an environmentally determined perspective, the word is used when referring to the variable and negotiable, culturally and socially constructed ways of being ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ in a particular historical or cultural circumstance (Measor and Sykes, 1992, 5). The concept is as problematic as the ‘nature versus nurture’ debate! It is also problematic because the concept of gender has introduced a range of influential and derogatory vocabulary that is reinforced, through popular beliefs and usage. E.g. ‘Tomboy’, ‘Wimp’, ‘masculine’, and ‘feminine’.

The concepts raise questions such as: Why use the words ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ when referring to behaviours and characteristics, thereby inferring that some are normal for a particular sex? Why not just call them behaviours and characteristics? Surely leadership qualities are not ‘masculine’ or male behaviours. Surely caring qualities are not ‘feminine’ or female behaviour.

Are there any behaviours that are only socially constructed? Are all but physical differences between the sexes socially constructed?

How much control does a person have in becoming and being who they are?

Would genderless behaviour mean eliminating the word ‘gender’, ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’? Do we want to become so indiscriminate that we accept as many ways of being that are possible or desired?

In the field of gender research there are ‘problems’ also. Although much research has been done on gender differences, conclusions have sometimes been postulated in the form of group stereotypes about ‘average people’ which fail to show the range of individual differences (Weiten, 1989, 462-3), and make the presumption that girls and women / men and boys are a homogeneous group (Sturrock, 1995, 127). Differences between and within the sexes, have been magnified because similarities have been neglected in studies. According to Howard and Hollander (1987, 12), differences between the sexes have been found to be minimal.

There are a number of frameworks that have been used to classify the different gender theories. E.g Connell (1993, 41-65) uses, ‘extrinsic’ and ‘intrinsic’ to classify theories. The frameworks make it appear that the dominant academic theory has moved in stages from (1) favouring a biological imperative orientation to (2) a socially contracted one, to (3) a socially constructed one and now to (4) a more holistic one. I will use the framework that Howard and Hollander (1997) have used as a base to explain and discus some of the gender theories. Ie. Essentialist Theory, Socialisation Theory, Social Construction Theory, and Post-structural Theory.

Essentialist theories suggest that ‘natural’ things like sex, genetics, hormones and brain organisation determine gender (Weiten, 1989, 464), (Howard and Holland, 1987, 153). These theories neglect to account for the interaction of cultural and structural influences and of human agency. They tend to equate gender with sex.

In Socialisation Theory gender differences have environmental origins and are mainly the result of socialisation via the three main processes of ‘operant conditioning’, ‘observational learning’, and ‘self socialisation’ (Weiten, 1989, 465-7). They suggest that children actively learn through observation of role models and the reinforcements of powerful ‘others’ to classify themselves as male or female and to further value the characteristics and behaviours associated with their sex. Families, schools and media are considered to be the three most influential sources of gender socialisation. These theories do not explain the structural and physiological influences, nor why people develop ideological positions contrary to the significant others in their environment. They do explain some gendered behaviour. E.g. A number of mothers excuse what could be called anti-social behaviour on the grounds that it is ‘real boy behaviour’, when boys are preschoolers. The community is not so pleased with similar behaviours when the boys get a little older.

Social Constructionists theorise that gender is constructed by individuals through their actions. It sees the influence of the positions people have in social structures, character, cognition, and resources as deterministic but neglects to include the effects of human agency.

Post-structural Theories suggest that gender is consciously and unconsciously constructed as the result of cultural and social activities. It takes into account the complex interactions of human agency with the ‘constraining nature of social structure’ (Howard and Hollander, 1987, 43). It views gender construction as a process of ‘subjectification’ not socialisation and this takes place through the discourses they have available to them (Davies, 1993, 13-14). These theories tend to leave out the influence of the physiological area in the gender construction equation. The human being is a complex creature. If gender is only socially constructed, then aggression, which is sometimes referred to as a masculine trait, must be self-controllable. Yet brain injuries and medications such as Ritalin, and hormone treatments such as Progestin are known to impact on this social (or anti social) behaviour (Fausto-Sterling, 1992, 134). (2)

Franzoi (1996, 156), suggests that ‘together’ some of the theories give a better understanding than any single perspective. Each of the theories has something to offer. Biological potentials filtered through cultural beliefs and understandings have influenced the gendered division of labour, which in turn influences gender construction. Eg. the ability to sing soprano will influence choices about whether to do so or not. Some aspects of Gender are learned and maintained through socialisation. Social position in various social heirarchies such as race, class, age and sex orientation have an influence as do various structures. Human agency can also be seen at work in constructing and attempting to deconstruct gender realities


Many cultural practices are involved in the construction of gendered subjectivity (Clark, 1993, 81) . (3) Cultural ideals about men, women, girls and boys are created and maintained through overt messages from media, and intrinsic messages everywhere. Messages are embedded in and affect every area of production, the labour force, the market and society. For example, when clothing is designed, it is influenced by messages from the past and present. These are popularised through various media channels. Even the production process sends messages about the product. Desires for the product are created and influenced by a whole range of things such as store layout and atmosphere, display design and advertising. Clothing is advertised and displayed using life style messages about its rightness, ‘coolness’, and appropriateness for a particular sex and group. The clothes become part of the stereotyping of a particular masculinity or femininity and send gender messages. Moral judgements about who do and don’t wear the particular clothing are formed. People then resist or accept the messages conveyed in the clothing package, although life style may preclude the power to but. These include lifestyle and promises of things like beauty, power and acceptability.

Gender messages have a powerful influence on gender construction. However they are not ‘simply absorbed’ (Clark, 1993, 81). They can be accepted or rejected. E.g. Hursthouse, a Victorian emigrant, immigrated to New Zealand because he wanted to ‘throw off the chains of effeminacy’ that pervaded/engulfed Britain, and ‘become a man’. He lectured and published a book that was ‘excerpted’ in a popular emigration publication. (Phillips, 1987, 4-5). Hursthouse, recognised and rejected the influence of the gender messages he perceived in the job situation in Britain (Phillips, 1987, 4-5). He rejected what he considered ‘effeminate’ masculinity, which he saw as the hegemonic masculinity in his English world and he encouraged others to do the same. Some may have been influenced by the overt messages Hursthouse published such as “New Zealand is a man’s country” and consequently emigrated. This may have increased the power of Patriarchy in New Zealand and the acceptance of the Fred Dagg image.


Power (force and influence) and authority (legitimate power) are ‘fluid and contextual’ (Thorne 1993, 159). They work in many ways through many means to genderize. According to the socialisation theory of operant conditioning, ‘gender roles are shaped by the power of reward and punishment’ (Weiten, 1989, 465). Significant others use the power of rewards and punishment to reinforce what they consider to be appropriate gender behaviour. They are able to do this because of their powerful positions. E.g. the adult/child relationship.

Power relations in cultural processes and social structure also genderize (Gilbert and Taylor, 6). According to James & Saville-Smith (1989, 14-16), New Zealand gendered culture emerged out of the ‘exigencies of British colonisation’. It was not imported, nor part of the Maori culture. It developed as a way to cope with struggles over land. This resulted in social problems which some believe resulted in the ‘elaboration of particular forms of femininity and masculinity’ and their organisation into distinct female (‘the cult of domesticity’) and male (‘the man alone’ and ‘the family man’) cultures. It is believed that these Patriarchal cultures were maintained because difference was seen as biological, therefore normal and desirable, benefiting those in dominant positions in the hierarchies of race, class and sex. There were also some benefits to some subordinated groups who were able to expand their access to power and resources. The ‘glass cellar’ effect, where men feel ‘drafted’ into hazardous jobs because of the money they pay, could be used to support this theory. (4)

Power has a constraining function on social practice (Connell, 1987, 107). Its role as a constraint can be seen in what is called the ‘glass ceiling’ effect where ‘male dominance’, among other things, has lead to conditions that keep women from advancing into positions of power and prestige (Connell, 1987, 83). 5 It can also be seen in the limiting, legitimising and/or marginalisation of some forms of masculinity and femininity. Power also plays a part in what is questioned or challenged. Clark (1993, 83) suggests that some forms of gender persist because they are not questioned or challenged.

Power shapes language and knowledge and this includes the definitions of words relating to gender. This power can be seen in how and what adults teach children, or what children learn from adults, and what educational institutions such as schools and universities put forward as acceptable language and knowledge to be learned. Some words, theories, and subjects are made more powerful in all sorts of ways because of the power that individuals, groups and institutions have . (6) Those who support, and /or use them are also invested in power.

Power works in all of the structures and processes of credentialing which in turn empowers those who are credentialed. 7 According to Connell (1993, 199) credentials open the door for a gendered identity for males, that include forms of passivity, rationality and responsibility, as opposed to ‘pride and aggression’ for those who are not. 8 According to Kerr (1991, 69 & 72) it is a sense of ‘separation’ and a refusal to acknowledge gender limitations, that allows eminent women to resist the ‘daily barrage of stereotypic sex-role images and media comments’, and ‘powerful peer group pressure to conform’. Fleming (1996, 138) puts forth an argument for social self-esteem as an important factor in androgyny and agency. (9) Perhaps the measure of the power within has the greatest influence on which form of masculinity or femininity (types of behaviour/characteristics etc.) a person exhibits/accepts/constructs/resists. (10)


The social construction of gender takes place through ‘Discourse’. Feminist Post-structural Theory changes the ‘ideological’ understanding of the word to mean the complex interactions between language, social practice and emotional investment (Yelland, 1998, 159).

Language is used to categorise people on the basis of sex and gender. E.g. wife/husband, masculine/feminine, waitress/waiter. These categories give rise to expectations about how people should be. E.g. The category ‘girl’ influences gender specific expectations about what a girl is, looks like and does etc. Patterns of desire become associated with particular categories and social practises arise. (E.g. Clothing is designed to distinguish girls from boys). Emotional investments are made to ensure that the social practices are ‘right’. Discourses produce a sense of what is right and/or normal and can become institutionalised enabling some people to exercise power. E.g. parenting theories and Piaget’s ages and stages theories. Those discourses that have more political or social power dominate and can marginalise others. This political strength can be derived from their institutional location. E.g. schools.

Although gender is actively negotiated, ‘powerful discourses circulate in and via social structures and institutions’ and shape desires, making some ‘ways of being’ more possible than others (Yelland, 1998, 160). According to Weedon (Yelland, 1998, 160), the range and social power of discourses, the political strength of the interests they represent and a persons access to them will determine some of the gendered choices people make.


Gendered behaviour is more often visible in public places particularly in public places such as schools (Thorne, 1993, 49-55). Schools are important sites of gender construction and reproduction because they are invested consciously and unconsciously (The not so Hidden Curriculum!) with authority to reproduce dominant ideologies, hierarchies, and gendered culture. E.g. ‘Hegemonic masculinity and emphasised femininity’ (Connell, 1985, 183). This is done through such things as age separation, the choice of knowledge, timetables, resources, teacher expectations, interactions, control of space, and heirachical structures. 11 They are important sites also because of the inequalities that their gendered structures and practices produce for their ‘captive audience’, and because it is a site where changes can and are wrought. E.g. One of the changes that primary schools made in the name of anti-sexism, was to eliminate the images of females in traditional sex roles and include images of men in non traditional sex roles. This powerful practice was another form of ‘sexism’ and gendering. It sent and continues to send value-laden messages about (behaviours/characteristics) which forms of masculinity and femininity are acceptable. This may have contributed to the loss of social status and other negative attitudes, that women who choose to ‘stay at home’ now often face (McKenna, 1997, 130-1).


Gender construction is as complex a subject as the human being, and would benefit from multi and interdisciplinary analysis (Miller, 1993, 17). It can be viewed as a form of self-preservation. As an individual and social construction, it is negotiated actively as a response and/or reaction to power and authority, and messages from everywhere including media. Gendered behaviours tend to vary with the context. Flexibility is seen not only in the development of a gender self-concept (Fausto-Sterling, 1992, 89), but also in its maintenance. It is not a rigid way of being or a passive form of ‘osmosis’ (Yelland, 1998, 7). However, desires can be shaped by external influences such as medications and the way in which powerful discourses circulate in, and via, social structures and institutions’ (Yelland, 1998, 149).

MacNaughton encourages people to continue to search for more effective ways to theorise and not assume to have found the ‘right way forward’ (Yelland, 1998, 172).

Perhaps the door might be opened to valuing the variety of behaviours that are possible and helpful for unique people to express themselves, not so much by deleting certain forms of masculinity and femininity, but by allowing more to be seen and experienced. Ie. Limiting the hegemonic nature of some forms.

Oh to be sexless where love can be unlimited!

To be or not to be? How does it really happen?

If the answer could be practiced, would it be what we really wanted?


1. ‘Are significant’ is too powerful for me to use after such a short excursion into this topic.

2. It is interesting to note also that a correlation has been found between giftedness and physical superiority, giftedness and intellectual ability, and intellectual ability and some forms of masculinity and femininity (Clark, 1992, 509, 516).

3. “Subjectivity” describes who we are and how we understand ourselves, consciously and unconsciously’ (Yelland, 1998, 13).

4. ‘Invisible barriers that keep men in jobs with the most hazards’ Farrell, 1994, 107)

5. ‘Invisible barriers and difficulties that prevent women rising in organisations’ (McLennan, 1995, 189).

6. The ‘sciences are connected to power”. ‘They represent an institutionalized version of the claim to power hat is central in hegemonic masculinity’ (Connell, 1993, 201).

7. According to Connell (1993, 200), ‘masculinity shapes education and education forms masculinity’. It could also be argued that femininity does the same thing. The ‘feminisation’ of schools is referred to as one of the reasons for boys lack of success in schools (Video Classroom).

8. It is interesting to note that gifted girls ‘who reject the traditional feminine sex typed behaviour have higher intellectual ability than those who accept the feminine stereotype (Clark, 1992, 509). Or put the other way, androgyny is a trait that is more often seen in gifted girls.

9. Instrumental traits (independence, decisiveness) that contribute to a ‘sense of agency are stereotypically viewed as masculine’ (Fleming and Hollinger, 1988, 254). Does a person need a sense of agency in order to construct it?

10. With more space and time, the links of power with fear could have been examined, as it has an important bearing on gender choices. Mckenna (1997, 132) calls it a ‘powerful adhesive’.

11. ‘Researchers found that gender separation and age separation went together’ (Thorne, 1993, 50).


Clark, M. (1992) Growing Up Gifted. 3rd Edition. New York: Merrill Publishing Company.

Clark, M. (1993) The Great Divide. Gender In The Primary School. Brunswick: Impact Printing

Connell, R. (1993) Gender & Power. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers

Davies, B. (1993) Shards Of Glass. St Leonards: Allen and Unwin.

Farrell, W. (1994) The Myth Of Male Power. Milsons Point: Random House Australia Pty Ltd.

Fausto-Sterling, A. (1985) Myths Of Gender. Biological Theories About Women And Men. Revised Edition. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Franzoi, S. L. (1996) Social Psychology. Dubuque: Brown & Benchmark.

Gilbert, P. and Taylor, S. (1991) Fashioning The Feminine. Girls, Popular Culture And Schooling. Sydney: Allen and Unwin.

Howard, J. and Hollander, J. (1997) Gendered Situations, Gendered Selves. Thousand Oaks: Sage publications, Inc.

James, B. and Saville-Smith, K. (1989) Gender Culture & Power. Critical Issues In New Zealand Society. Oxford: Oxford university press.

Kerr, A. (1991) Smart Girls, Gifted Women. Cheltenham: Hawker Brownlow Education.

Limerick, B. and lingard, B. (Ed.). (1995) Gender And Changing Educational Management. Rydalmere: Hodder Education

McKenna, E. (1997) When Work Doesn’t Work Any More. Adelaide: Griffin Press.

McLennan, R. (Ed.) (1995) People And Enterprises. Organisational Behaviour In New Zealand. 2nd Edition. Sydney: Harcourt Brace And Company.

Measor, L. and Sikes, P. (1993) Introduction To Educaton. Gender And Schools. London: Cassell.

Miller, B. (Ed). (1993) Sex And Gender Hierarchies. Cambridge: University Press.

Phillips, J. (1987) A Man’s Country? The Image of the Pakeha Male. A history. Auckland: Penguin Books

Rudduck, J. (1994) Developing A Gender Policy In Secondary Schools. Individuals And Institutions. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Shakespear, W. (no date given on this old book. Editor could be B. Hodek) Shakespear. Complete Works. Comedies. Histories. Tragedies, Poems. London: Spring Books

Thorne, B. (1993) Gender And Play. Girls And Boys In School. Buckingham: Open University Press.

Weiten, W. (1989) Psychology. Themes And Variations. Third Edition. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company.

Yelland, N. (1998) Gender In Early Childhood. (Ed) London: Routledge.


Fleming, E. and Hollinger, C. (1984) Internal barriers to the realisation of potential: Correlates and interrelationships among gifted and talented female adolescents in Gifted Child Quarterly. Volume 28. Number 3.

Fleming, E. and Hollinger, C. (1988) Gifted and Talented Young Women: Antecedents and Correlates of Life Satisfaction in Gifted Child Quarterly. Volume 32. Number 2.


The Trouble With Boys. Education and Training Resources. Melbourne: VC Media Video Classroom

Integrating HVAC, Lighting and Building Automation Systems

The Quest for Energy Efficiency

The main driver for integrating building automation systems is the cost of energy. Prices relatively have fallen compared to the peaks and the spikes that characterized last year’s market, but the expected increase in demand due to stabilizing world economies and the emergence of new markets will most likely push the price of energy towards an upward direction.

Although there were recent new discoveries of natural gas deposits that could boost existing reserves up, as well as new renewable energy projects that focus on wind, solar PV and concentrating PV taking shape and nearly operational, there is still the question of storage and transmission issues. This even gets even more complicated if political agenda is taken into consideration. This and continuing pressures from new clean air policies and carbon emission reduction efforts will make it certain that energy prices will continue to rise substantially in the coming periods – thus increasing the clamor for more energy efficient buildings and establishments.

A Fully Integrated Building Automation System

An effective green building program should start with establishing a fully integrated building automation system that can address all the individual issues and concerns of each building element taken into consideration. Not only that, each of these building elements should first achieve better efficiencies before building planners and project managers even attempt to integrate all these separate systems. A good starting point would be to follow the protocols described in LEED reference guides for new or previously existing building projects.

Energy efficiency initiatives in individual building elements can create significant reduction results, with HVAC and lighting systems at the forefront. Significant and probably the largest savings can be achieved through the HVAC systems with new Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) developed such as demand controlled ventilation in buildings with variable occupancy rates using automated airflow adjustments using carbon dioxide sensors.

At least 35% of the electricity consumed in commercial buildings and establishments come from lighting. Aside from that, the heat generated by lighting systems can also affect HVAC performance, thereby affecting the overall efficiency of the building. For this reason, ECMs focused on lighting are being introduced and implemented including daylighting controls, automatic dimming of non-emergency lighting, and automatic lighting controls based on occupancy using ultrasonic or passive infrared (PIR) sensors.

Although individual energy reduction strategies can be performed for each building element like those described above, integrating all these elements into a unified building automation system will open new doors to even more energy efficiency strategies. A good example is the use of occupancy sensors that controls not only lighting but the HVAC system as well. With integrated systems, energy efficiency strategies will be easier and simpler to implement with even far better results.

Integrated building automated systems are primarily an evolution of earlier protocols of energy management control systems. With an integrated building system, monitoring, recording and controlling all pertinent information needed to operate the building and its substructure can be done from a single workstation. Under this system, operational costs can be well under control and energy saving strategies can be properly implemented, increasing the building’s energy efficiency and paving the way for future improvements to come.

House Prices Set To Decline

With a Huff and a Puff, They’ll Blow Your House Down

Over the last decade, the housing boom has been the lead driver of the UK’s economic growth. At the start of 1996 when the housing recovery began to take shape, the average house was valued at £62,453. Today, the national average is £210,578; an extraordinary increase of 237% in eleven years.

But the market is quickly heading towards a reversal of fortune. Rising interest rates, consumer indebtedness, and the global credit squeeze are all working against the property boom. And what’s more, the Government has recently enforced some impromptu bureaucracies, further adding to the stress of selling up – and putting many sellers off the idea altogether.

Home Information Packs

These new documents, called Home Information Packs (HIPs) were introduced by the Government on 1st August and apply to all houses with four or more bedrooms. Amongst other things, HIPs contain information about how energy efficient a home is on a scale of A-G. Your rating can be improved by installing loft insulation, for instance, thereby saving money on your heating bill.

A HIP is a mandatory requirement when selling your house. It involves giving various details of land searches and title deeds, and the Energy Performance Certificate costs up to £400. Significantly, when the new ruling was applied, the number of four bedroom houses on the market dropped dramatically.

It came as a surprise, then, that the Government extended HIPs to cover three bedroom houses on 10th September. Jeremy Leaf, a spokesman for The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, told The Times: “We find it hard to believe that the Government is pressing ahead with this policy at such short notice without first conducting a proper market-impact study.”

The fear is that there will be a sudden decline in three bedroom homes for sale, further accelerating the property slowdown. HIPs are now compulsory for half of all UK homes, and The Association of HIP Providers is pressing ministers for an October launch for all remaining properties.

The Credit Crackdown

House prices will also be hit by the credit squeeze. The collapse of the subprime industry has left estimated bad debts of £15 billion in the global financial system. That is a major blow and will not go unnoticed.

In fact, the effects have already started to hit the UK with the devastation of Northern Rock. Since the building society relies on inter-bank lending to sustain its loans business, it was dangerously exposed to any crackdown in the money markets. Other high street banks will not suffer in the same way, although they are all acutely aware of the bad debt overhang.

Debt has to be well managed. If a bank lends you money, it has to know that you will somehow be able to repay it. You must be able to pay back the loan in full (with interest on top) or have assets of equivalent value that may be seized should you default.

So what happens when you buy a £200,000 house with the bank’s money, but during a property crash it’s devalued to £160,000?

That is what is happening in the US, and when homeowners started defaulting on their negative equity loans, someone was left short-changed. The value that everyone thought was locked into their house simply disappeared. However, it was not the banks that were left footing the bill – it was the poor old private investors, who put their money into AAA rated bank loans.

This has caused a real shake up of the industry; so it’s not surprising that mainstream banks like HSBC and Barclays are slashing credit card limits. Mortgage lenders are also reviewing their criteria and becoming increasingly stringent when issuing new loans. It’s not just those with poor credit histories who are struggling – now anyone with the smallest blemish on their record will be considered higher risk.

Interest Rates

Meanwhile, wholesale lending rates (the interest rates between institutions) have shot up. That’s bad news for landlords since many buy-to-let mortgages are based on wholesale rates, forcing landlords into unprofitable contracts.

There was perhaps one reason to be cheerful this month: the Bank of England kept interest rates on hold. A further rise would have added salt to the wounds of typical mortgage payers. Because of rising rates, the annual interest payment on a £150,000 mortgage has risen by £1,450 in the last year alone.

Market commentators now believe interest rates have peaked in the current cycle, while the Bank is adopting a wait-and-see attitude towards the credit crunch.

In the US – which is suffering a housing slide and a wider economic recession – the Federal Reserve recently slashed interest rates by 0.5% in just one session. Likewise, there are calls for the Bank of England to reduce its rates to stem an economic slowdown next year.

5 Creative Kitchen Design Ideas You Can Try

Among the areas in a home where there’s a lot of action is happening is the kitchen. It is for this reason that it must be renovated whenever necessary so that there will be an improvement in the way that most activities will be carried out.

These days, there are lots of ways to guarantee such advantage like making the most out your space. One excellent way of doing so is by integrating space-saving solutions that can do lots of great things. By getting help from a reliable renovation company, all of these can be incorporated successfully in your new kitchen design.

Different Kitchen Design Ideas

If you do not have much counter space, consider creating an island. This can be a sturdy table with built-in storage which can be moved around or perhaps taken out of the kitchen once you need more space. This will also serve as your food preparation area and an informal dining area for you, your family and/or friends.

Replace your wall-to-wall cabinetry with open door upper storage units. These units can hold everything – from plates for dining to different kitchen ingredients. The main benefit these integrations offer is that they can easily be accessible and have a very enticing, unique appearance.

Modify the seating. Due to the fact that they provide a lot of movement, stools are perfect for your kitchen. Know that there are bar height models which are sturdy, compact and light to carry. Most importantly, there are affordable even when they have fancy design to complement your kitchen’s current design.

Improve the lighting. You must direct your attention to your kitchen’s ceiling. One thing you can do to make the most out of them is to improve lighting. Apart from that, it would be a great idea for you to hang storage units from them. Oftentimes, the ceilings are neglected; however, if you have limited space, explore its potential for enhanced illumination and organization. Consider attaching pot racks to your ceiling as this will make it a lot easier for you to get the cooking pans and pots you need for cooking.

Paint the old hardwood floors with patterns. This won’t just boost the aesthetic appeal of your floors but will also conceal imperfections. In fact, you will surely be amazed on how a newly painted floor can greatly affect the overall appeal of your kitchen. Take note also that it will be a lot easier for you to clean painted floors.

Indeed, there are lots of things you can do to boost the beauty and functionality of your kitchen. For more info, check out this site.

How to Hookup Your Outdoor Wood Boiler to Your Existing Heating System

You just bought or are thinking of buying an outdoor wood boiler. How do you integrate that boiler into your existing home heating system? The guy selling you the boiler wants the sale and tells you that hooking it into your system is very simple.

Outdoor wood boilers come in many shapes and sizes. For the most part bigger is better for these things. The next thing you need to consider is whether the boiler is open or closed. It does make a difference in the way it gets hooked up. Closed systems can be hooked right up to your existing boiler system in a primary secondary configuration. This means that the wood boiler circulates to two tees in your home system and the home system circulates the water through the home. The two waters mix through the tees.

If your wood boiler is an open system then you need to install a stainless steel flat plate heat exchanger to divide the two waters. The hookup of the heat exchanger is not that hard if you follow the instructions properly. This heat exchanger is very effect in transferring the heat from the wood boiler to the inside heating system. It also keeps the water of the inside system pressurized and isolated.

If you are installing your outdoor furnace to a hot air heating system then you need to buy a coil similar to your car radiator to install in the plenum on the supply side of your existing hot air furnace. To this coil you will hookup the water pipes from the outdoor boiler. The water running through the coil will heat it up so that the air going through from the hot air furnace will be warmed. The water hookup for this style of heat is very simple, but the electrical hookup of the blower, pump, and circulator may not be as simple. You may need someone with a good electrical knowledge to make everything happen in the right sequence.

Outdoor wood boilers can heat your home effectively if they are installed to your existing heating system properly. If they are installed properly you will notice no difference in the heating of your home. It will be warm and comfortable. Make sue that you do your research properly before trying to install your outdoor wood boiler.

What Exactly Does an Oil Rig Decommissioning Contractor Do?

Oil rig decommissioning offshore is big business. A company will be contracted to do the work, but what exactly does an oil rig decommissioning company do? It’s a good question, and a better understanding of what is involved can help us to more fully understand the complexity of the matter, as well as the many difficulties that can arise from this kind of work.

The decommissioning of oil rigs takes place both offshore and onshore, though it depends on the actual rig and where it is to a large degree as to how it is dealt with. It is a very costly business and not one to be taken lightly. It is for this reason that rig decommissioning contractors should be chosen carefully. A past record of good work with an excellent reputation works well for a decommissioning contractor.

The costs involved are huge. Decommissioning an oil rig in the North Sea will cost somewhere between 30 and 200 million pounds, depending on the size of the structure. Current legislation allows the operators of oil fields that were leased prior to 1993 to claim a rebate on their decommissioning costs from the UK Government. This rebate can be up to 75%, and is considered to be a rebate on their past oil revenue taxes.

Oil rig decommissioning contractors face many technological challenges. Depending on their size, oil rigs can weigh anything from 10,000 tonnes to over 150,000 tonnes – that’s an awful lot of steel and other materials to process! This material has to be cut up (mostly using safe, water cutting techniques), taken from deep waters to a base onshore, usually many miles away and stored, recycled and eventually reused for some other project.

It can be a slow and arduous process requiring a lot of careful planning and implementation. Overcoming the numerous difficulties which are commonly found in places like the North Sea has allowed many technological advances to be made. Over time, contractors can take advantage of someone else’s discoveries of how to best tackle a particular problem building up the expertise required in such a complex issue. Each contractor is able to stand on the shoulders of those who have gone ahead, and so the knowledge and expertise has been accumulated over the years. As an example, the Brent Spar saga of 1995, where Shell faced numerous problems trying to dump the oil platform in deep water off the edge of the continental shelf off Scotland’s west coast, has taught the decommissioning industry a lot. They have learned to work with environmentalists and to pay attention to popular opinion. New approaches have been developed as a result making oil rig decommissioning offshore contractors more efficient than ever.

10 Power Selling Tips for Making Door-To-Door Sales

Door-to-Door sales is a profession that dates back as early as the late 1800’s when companies like Avon built empires through the use of direct sales to consumers. Today, door-to-door sales remain one of the most powerful sales channels for a whole host of industries.

I’ve spent years in the door-to-door sales business and have made thousands of sales to customers at the door. Below are 10 tips I’ve garnered from my years of experience that will help anyone selling door-to-door regardless of their experience. These tips are in no particular order of importance, but if I were you, I would start with numbers eight, nine and ten. Then start over from number one, just so you can get eight, nine and ten…one more time!!

1. Present a smooth and natural body language. You must come across as having a purpose for knocking on the customer’s door. The customer has to know upfront that you are comfortable with why you are standing at their door. Use body language to reinforce the responses you are looking for. Pointing, waving of the hand, breaking eye contact at the right moments are all keys to smooth and natural body language.

2. Stand with a slight angle to the door. This gives the customer a feeling of comfort and non-aggressiveness. “You don’t want to be right in the customer’s face.”

3. Act official and look busy. Remember, your time is valuable as well. You are at this customer’s home to provide good customer service. The impression that your time is as valuable as the customer’s gives the customer comfort that you are there in an official capacity, and they need to listen attentively to what you have to say.

4. Speak with a flat, relaxed voice and SMILE!! The smile will set the tone, and people naturally respond favorably to a smile. Ensure that tone of your voice is not too excitable or aggressive, but rather matter of fact. Work to give the customer a feeling of comfort so they will listen to your message.

5. Know your pitch, own your pitch.The customer has to immediately believe you know what you are talking about. You have 30 seconds to break down a barrier, build a rapport and ask for a desired response. You have to be trusted immediately.

6. Overcome objections and use proper rebuttals. When faced with an objection, agree by relating sincerely to break down resistance. Turn the objection around using a logical response or counter argument (you may want to practice these and think through your answers to common rejections in advance). Recap the program, product or company you are pitching. Then close with the assumption that you’ve overcome the objection, and you are ready to complete the transaction.

7. Name dropping. Use neighbor’s names to give customer comfort that they are not alone and “everyone is doing it.” Do as the Jones’ do!!

8. Listen!

9. Listen!

10. Listen! There’s one simple rule that the best sales people follow. Listen to what the customer is telling you. Let me be more blunt. SHUT UP AND LISTEN!! The customer is directing you to exactly what you should say or do next. If you shut up and listen to what they are telling you, you will know exactly what to do next. Many salespeople blur right over customer buying signs because “they’ve got something important to say.” So they miss the most important signs. The buying signs. Shut up, listen and always be closing!!

Happy selling!!

Why Use Primers and Sealers

Any good painter & decorator will Know why and when to use a primer or sealer, but for the novice house painter this can be something of a mystery that can lead to poor results when they finish their paint project.

By using primer and sealer they can improve the appearance, performance and life span of the finished paint project.

Primers are generally pigmented while sealers are often not pigmented.

What are the benefits of using a Primer or Sealer?

o Adhesion, they help the paint stick better to the surface being painted, by making the surface more uniform and accepting of the paint to be applied and allowing it to get a better grip.

o Uniformity, On porous and surfaces uneven in porosity, they make the sheen more uniform and attractive.

o Stain blocking, Some Primers prevent stains such as nicotine, resin or water stains bleeding through the surface.

o Protection, Can protect the finished coats on Masonry surfaces from alkalinity and efflorescence.

When to use a Primer or Sealer.

o When painting previously unpainted surfaces like bare timber new plasterboard (dry wall),

o Uneven or badly deteriorated surfaces.

o When painting a stripped surface.

o Problem surfaces like melamine.

Check with the manufacturers instructions of your finish paint to see what primer they recommend you use for their product and the surface you intend to use it on.

You can also ask your paint stockist what they recommend depending on where you buy from as this sometimes can be a hit or miss affair.

You can also email me, here at interior paint decorating for further advice.

Hope these painting tips come in handy.

How to Remove or Repair Your Lath and Plaster Ceilings and Walls

Lath and plaster work is a means of finishing the internal surfaces of a house and was very common up to the introduction of plasterboards (sheetrock in the USA) in the 1950’s.

This method of internal finishing consists of thin strips of timber, called laths that were either sawn or riven (split along the grain),which are nailed cross-ways onto the timber framework of the house approximately 1/4″ or 6mm apart. The lath was then covered with a plaster, usually a two coat haired lime mortar mix and levelled off. A further thin coat of fine plaster was applied shortly afterwards and trowelled smooth to provide a good and durable finish.

Many lath and plasterwork walls and ceilings lasted well over one hundred years before requiring repairs apart for normal decorating, some lath and plaster ceilings have been in place for several hundred years, especially in the UK.

A crucial element of this construction is the 6mm gap between the laths, as this provides a ‘key’ for the plaster as it pushes through and bulges out the back of the lath slightly. This crucial keying of the plasterwork is also the source of most plasterwork failures; as the keys gradually break away due to normal movement of houses over extended periods of time.

Once a significant amount of the plasterwork keys have broken away, the plasterwork starts to crack and can separate from the laths, dropping down or sagging.

There are many ways of repairing sagging lath and plasterwork, but due to financial reasons, it is often removed and replaced with modern materials such as sheetrock (plasterboard). This method does at least allow for much better insulation material to be used, thus saving energy and heating costs in the future life of the house.

My Top Ten Ways to Repair Lath and Plaster

This is a short summary of all the ways that you can repair the lath and plaster in your home, depending upon the look you want to achieve, the time you want to spend on it and of course, your budget.

  1. Re-decorate as it is. Vacuum to remove dust, (wash down, if required) and then re-decorate with suitable water based paint. Not a good repair if the plasterwork has gone beyond the cracking stage, i.e. sagging badly. Depends on original plasterwork condition.
    • Cost: Very economical and quick.
    • Pros: Period charm in abundance. Ideal for very old cottages that don’t have a straight edge or surface in them. Shows imperfections.
    • Cons: Potentially dangerous and possibly very short term solution for damaged plasterwork. Not a ‘flat’ finish. Shows imperfections!
  2. Fill the cracks and blemishes. Scrape out all cracks and vacuum out loose material. Fill cracks and small blemishes with decorators’ filler using a suitably sized scraper or drywall spreader. Gently sand the filler flat and vacuum all dust away. Wash down if required and re-decorate.
    • Cost: Economical repair.
    • Pros: Retains period feel. Looks good initially. Easy and quick repair.
    • Cons: Might only last a few years depending on plasterworks original condition.
  3. Use thick lining paper. Scrape out and fill cracks as No.2. Glue a thick grade of decorating lining paper to the plasterwork. Re-decorate.
    • Cost: Reasonably economical repair.
    • Pros: Retains period feel. Could gain many more years out of reasonable plasterwork.
    • Cons: Relatively difficult on uneven surfaces. Won’t stop further cracking over time if surface is still moving.
  4. Glue sagging plasterwork back into place. Plasterwork can be ‘glued’ back into place by drilling holes in the plasterwork, vacuuming out the dust and injecting a suitable adhesive. The plasterwork is then gently pushed back into place and supported until the adhesive dries.
    • Cost: Medium to high cost, depending on time taken and plasterwork condition.
    • Pros: Medium term effectiveness. Retains period feel.
    • Cons: Arguably a specialised job and may be too difficult for an effective DIY repair.
  5. Expose the beams. Completely remove the lath and plaster, de-nail and clear away. Wire brush all plaster marks off the joists. Re-route any wiring, if required and repair any damage, holes in the timberwork etc. Clean up and vacuum all surfaces. Leave as is or decorate with varnish, wood stain, or paint. Usually just used on ceilings.
    • Cost: Economical to medium depending on timberwork condition.
    • Pros: All the old plasterwork is removed and finished with newly decorated surfaces.
    • Cons: Different look and feel, arguably only suited to certain properties and owners. Difficult electrical wiring and limited choice of light fittings.
  6. Over board with plasterboard or sheetrock. Find the frame or ceiling joists, mark their position on the wall and then over-board with plasterboard / sheetrock using long (60mm to 75mm) drywall screws into the original timberwork. Board joints are then taped and filled if tapered edge drywall is used or skimmed with finish plaster if square edges boards are used. One of the most common methods to ‘repair’ a lath and plasterwork.
    • Cost: Medium to high.
    • Pros: Effectively a brand new surface is created out of plasterboard/sheetrock.
    • Cons: Potential problems with adding additional weight or levels if there is a cornice. Loses that period feel.
    • This one is not strictly a lath and plaster repair as it removes it! But I include it, as this is a VERY common solution to lath and plaster ceilings that have badly failed and sagged.

  7. Remove the plasterwork and lath entirely.Replace with plasterboards / sheetrock. Mark positions of all joists and timbers then fix 12.5mm plasterboards to the underside of the original joists using 38mm drywall screws. Board joints are then taped and filled if tapered edge boards are used, or skimmed with finish plaster if square edged boards are used.
    • Cost: High. Removal of old material, new boards and finishing makes this one of the most expensive options.
    • Pros: Plasterboards/sheetrock are stable and very flat. A permanent repair.
    • Cons: Loses the period feel.
  8. Re plastering keeping the original laths. Removing the existing plasterwork entirely and if the lathwork is sound, re-apply the three coat plasterwork, two base coats and a thin finish coat.
    • Cost: High, due to special skills and materials needed.
    • Pros: Good as new finish, that also matches the surrounding period work. Long term repair.
    • Cons: Arguably not a DIY proposition due to work involving lime plasterwork.
  9. Heritage quality. Fully support the plasterwork from underneath on blanket covered timber on props or staging. Working from above, gently remove all loose debris, old keys or nibs and dust. Employ one of the various systems available, for example fixing a wire mesh to the inside edges of the joists just above the plasterwork and then applying adhesive to the plasterwork embedding it into the mesh.

    • Cost: Expensive due to extreme care needed and labour involved.
    • Pros: Retains all original period features. Usually only used on plasterwork of significant historical interest.
    • Cons: Arguably not a DIY proposition due to care needed to preserve original features without damage.
  10. Buy a newer house. Sorry, I couldn’t make ten and nine ways to repair your lath and plaster just didn’t sound right. Any ideas for number ten are most welcome…
    • Cost: Horribly expensive, removal companies, estate agents, lawyers etc.
    • Pros: No lath and plaster to repair.
    • Cons: Everything is very, very flat, smooth and arguably…boring.

The above list is roughly in order of cost to carry out, although some aspects are moving into specialist craftsmanship where costs could escalate. It could be argued that the two most common solutions are, either to over-board the ceiling or remove it entirely and replace it with sheetrock or plasterboard.

It should be noted that complete removal of a lath and plaster ceiling involves a significant amount of mess, notably large amounts of dust and debris that requires extensive time and effort to contain and clear away.

Suitable safety equipment should be used when working on old lath and plaster.

Why Clay and Hard Soils Need Gypsum

There are many people that are faced with a soil problem that includes hard clay and/or a subsoil that is almost like rock. If this is the case for you then gypsum may be what you are looking for to alter the soil structure. The only draw-back that gypsum, also known as gypsite, may have is that it may take 2 to 3 years to get that compacted soil in a position to manage. It is not a fast acting substance. The good thing about it is that it is inexpensive and easy to apply where it is needed.

You can use it in many different situations where:

  • many soils are too salty.
  • your ground may be clay.
  • You have had large machinery or livestock compacting the soil.
  • Earth movement has exposed the subsoils that are hard.

To have a healthy productive garden you need to have good drainage for your plants to thrive and the roots to grow correctly. But with compacted soil what you have is mucky soil and very bad drainage.

To prepare the soil for your new garden, adding humus, composted manure, compost, mulches and conditioners are usually the additives that one would use. These items will loosen the soil and do their job over time also.

Alright, you have an established garden and have been fighting the ground for years. To recondition the soil will take some work and patience. Here is where gypsum may come to the rescue. Since it does not have to be worked into the ground you can just spread it out on the surface of ground. Use it on the lawn, the bed of flowers and vegetable garden.

Gypsum is really easy to broadcast, just use a lawn spreader and use at a rate of 40 to 60 pounds per one thousand square feet if you use the granular kind. To get it going to do its job you must start watering it in to the soil. Of course, gypsum should be applied per directions.

What gypsum actually does is enter the clay particles of the heavy or hard soils and causes the structure of the soil to open with slots of air and moisture and then you have a more flexible soil to work with.

It can be applied anytime of the year and only needs to be done twice per year. When broadcasted correctly it is not harmful to people or your pets and livestock, has no affect on the pH of the soil and will not burn.

Since it is a neutral pH conditioner it is also safe to use around acid loving plants like Azaleas, Camellias and Rhododendrons. However, heed that gypsum contains no nutrients, in other words it does not fertilize. Though it is made of calcium and sulfur which is needed for growth of plants.

In addition, continue to put out organic humus, compost, mulches and organic fertilizers as you plant. By applying organic material continually will serve the same purpose as well.