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Kitchen is freezing (and falling apart)

(11 Posts)
CookiecutterShark Sun 18-Jan-15 21:32:08

Our kitchen is in great need of being replaced. It was going to be the first job done when we moved in (8 yrs ago now!) and we still haven't got round to it - main reason being the cost. Anyway as it is now literally falling apart we will have to do something about it; and it needs to be cheap.

My dh is pretty handy in terms of diy and we have relatives who have fitted kitchens in various family members' houses, so we're planning on doing the work ourselves (gulp).

Before we start though I have a few questions and hope someone will be able to help me. Firstly the house is a Victorian terrace with very thin walls - I believe the kitchen wall is one brick deep and as such it is freezing. There is currently no source of heating in there and I'm weighing up my options of what would work best, given that we can't afford to have the walls insulated.

- There is a draughty wooden door which is never used so firstly we're thinking of bricking it up - the room needs replastering anyway. Will this make a difference do you think? There is a draught around its edge and we have taped it up in the past with that foamy stuff you can stick along the edge; it looks awful though.
- We're thinking of adding some kind of heating but I assume that adding a radiator to the system will be costly. Is electric underfloor heating any cheaper? I understand it's cheap to fit (and recommended for smaller rooms) but will cost a lot to run - but surely it depends on what flooring is being heated up... if we put down a 'thin' floor covering would this make it more efficient? Or would a thin floor covering just make the room colder down to its being so thin?! I've also heard of plinth heaters, but I guess these are similar as they're also electric... Or alternatively a towel rail, but as they're designed to heat a towel rather than a whole room, albeit a very small one, I assume they're not a solution either.

Our other issue is steam and this is of course related to the heating issue. Now I know this is something 'everyone' knows, but how does a cooker hood work and is this what we need to clear steam? At the moment we don't have one and when cooking the kitchen is always either full of steam or the window is open (and the room is therefore freezing). Our cooker is on an internal wall, so am I right in thinking we wouldn't be able to vent one outside? And if so, is there any point in putting one in? Although, I suppose ducting could go across the ceiling, maybe? All of the descriptions I've read talk about cooking smells being removed and the air re-circulated if it isn't vented, but really I'm looking for something to suck up the steam - am I just thinking of the wrong appliance?!

I sound utterly clueless, I know, but then I don't know much about kitchens confused

PigletJohn Sun 18-Jan-15 21:47:09

plucked a couple of points out of that

do you mean the kitchen is a back addition sticking out of the house? Measure the thickness of the walls (at the doorway or window). It will be about ten inches or about five (including plaster). It you are going to remodel it, you can line the inside of the external walls with an insulation bonded plasterboard, which is made with a layer of hard foam on the back. You need at least 25mm of foam, 50mm would be much better. Celotex, Kingspan and Knauf are good makers and their websites will tell you more. An experienced local plasterer will know how to do it. It is better than drylining with wood and quilt. Electrical sockets, pipes and windowboards will need to be refitted.

Kitchen extractors must suck the steam and fumes out of the kitchen and blow them through the wall. If the cooker is not on an external wall, run rigid duct from the hood to the nearest external wall, hiding it on top of or inside the wall units, or else putting it in the angle of the wall and the ceiling. Do not use flexible duct. You can get a core drill from a tool hire shop to make a neat round hole in the wall, or a plumber or electrician will have one. It is rather heavy.

Recirculating cooker hoods are available. They make an attractive kitchen ornament but fulfil no useful purpose.

CookiecutterShark Sun 18-Jan-15 22:03:05

Hi, yes the kitchen sticks out the back. It's a typical terrace and would ideal for a side return extension if we had the funds! The house is a series of rectangles in a line with the final bit, the kitchen and storage room, half the width of the others.

I've measured the wall thickness - it's just under 10". We just had some plastering done in another room by a really good bloke so I think I might ask him about the plasterboard you mention. I assume we'd only be doing that on the inside of the external wall - is that right? The other walls back on to other rooms, either in our house or next door. It's going to be a vule job as we have horrible decorative plastering to knock off first - it looks like a cheap wedding cake! Couple of questions still: What are windowboards? And will it be expensive to have all that other stuff refitted? That wall has the sink, the washing machine and the dishwasher along it so probably a lot of pipes.

Thank you for the advice on the cooker hood. I guess it doesn't need to go straight across the ceiling then but can go around the room - that hadn't even crossed my mind, I was just thinking of the direct route! Dh drilled a hole for the tumble dryer in the summer so I'm familiar with a core drill and we'd be able to do that. That was also my impression of the recirculating option - couldn't understand how it was going to magic the steam away.

What do you think about the heating issue? Is electric underfloor heating a really bad idea?

RandomMess Sun 18-Jan-15 22:09:20

It may not be expensive to have a radiator in there.

Your current boiler may be large enough to run another one of it. How near is the nearest existing radiator, and do you have wall space in there on which to put a radiator?

With underfloor heating you would surely only need to use it in the depths of winter anyway? Plus it would be a warmer room if you bricked up the door and added the insulating board. Does it have a high ceiling? If so you could duct the extractor fan across and then put in a lower false ceiling which would make it warmer too?

We are renting at the moment in a property that sounds similar, the kitchen and WC at the end are utterly freezing you have my utmost sympathy!

CookiecutterShark Sun 18-Jan-15 22:17:33

The nearest radiator is not far - nothing is, it's a tiny house! There is a little radiator in a room leading off the kitchen, really just the other side of the doorway, and the other end of the kitchen leads into the dining room and there's another radiator there. I guess if we had one it would go at the dining room end and be about 3' and up a step away. Hmm... food for thought smile

PigletJohn Sun 18-Jan-15 22:20:38

energy from electricity costs three times as much as energy from gas.

electric ufh on an uninsulated concrete floor in a small Victorian addition will warm the worms and cost a fortune. Try to get a radiator attached to your current boiler. You can get water-heated plinth heaters that blow warm air out, but they seem to be rather troublesome.

If you ever need to dig up and relay the floor, e.g. to mend the drains, that would be the time to waterproof and insulate it, and incorporate wet ufh.

Windowboards are what you probably call windowsills. If you are in an older part of London you will not have them for reasons relating to 1666.

Moving the pipes will not be a big job, done once for all your sinks and appliances in one go.

321zerobaby Sun 18-Jan-15 22:26:46

We have put electric underfloor heating in our kitchen. Insulating boards were put down first, and it's very effective, heats up within half an hour. We have it in the hallway, without the insulating boards, and it takes several days to warm up, presumably warming the worms up first!

CookiecutterShark Sun 18-Jan-15 23:03:27

321: That's good to hear. We've just had a look at the radiators and the connections are off the other end of the nearest one - the pipe kind of loops around underneath it; maybe as the floor's concrete and the other rooms (other than kitchen) have floorboards. I think the kitchen is actually entirely missed out of the system as it stands. Did you notice an increase in your bills when you had the heating put in?

PigletJohn - We don't have a window sill in the kitchen at all. We're in Birmingham and most of the work done on the house seems to have been diy. We suspect done by the previous owner's dad - and it's tended to be the cheapest option that makes it look OK rather than what works well... The window is new-ish and badly put in generally. It just reaches the worktop and stops. If we're doing a lot to that wall anyway I might look into getting a new window and raising it up slightly - a window sill would be useful.

I'm also now considering moving the cooker so it's on the external wall, but that would give us a line of fridge, cooker, washing machine, sink, dishwasher in 4m and not sure if that's just crazy! I don't want anything tall along the other wall as it's a galley kitchen and the only feeling of any space comes from seeing right through to the garden along that wall. So I don't want to swap the cooker with the fridge and all of the pipes are on the external wall so I can't move anything else. God, I'm starting to hate even thinking about it.

Another reason why we've put up with things for 8 years! grin

RandomMess Sun 18-Jan-15 23:42:26

Could you go fridge, washing machine then cooker? If you're having someone in to sort out the heating then extending the pipes to move the washing machine would not be a lot of extra work? Plans would be good to help think outside the box grin

It was fantastic when we had shorter windows installed and gained a windowsill in a previous property! If space is at a premium I can highly recommend get drawer units instead of traditional cupboards. Although more expensive you can get so much more stuff in them.

Also we had tall skinny radiators put in due to lack of wall space - still heated the rooms really well. Although the cats were disappointed to not be able to sit on the radiators anymore...

321zerobaby Mon 19-Jan-15 19:05:37

We have a small radiator in our kitchen too, and a concrete floor. It's a modernish extension, so insulated etc. sorry can't answer re bills, pay by direct debit and don't actually know the cost (head in sand) but only have it on for short amount of time, an hour or so in the morning, maybe a couple of hours in the late afternoon/ evening.

hiccupgirl Mon 19-Jan-15 21:40:53

We had a small towel radiator added to the end of our kitchen nearer the rest of the house after 2 freezing winters in there. It was all there was space for and the only place it could easily go and it has made a reasonable difference. The kitchen does get colder as you get towards the back door but it's a lot better than it was before.

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