Green Living: A Guide to Saving on Energy Usage

Three Tips For Designing A Wheelchair-Accessible Kitchen

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If someone who lives in your home utilizes a wheelchair, it is important to design a kitchen that is easily accessible. This way, your loved one can maintain some independence when it comes to preparing food. While you will need to work with a contractor to come up with a design that’s right for you particular needs as well as your unique kitchen setup, there are a few basic tips that can help you design a more accessible kitchen.  Utilize Drop-Down Cabinets While putting the most-used items in the lower cabinets is a good temporary solution, there are bound to be times when your loved one needs to access things in the upper cabinets. Drop-down cabinets solve this problem. These cabinets mount on the wall just like ordinary cabinets, but when someone pushes a button (or even manually pulls downward) on the shelves, they slide down on hinges or tracks, bringing the cabinet contents to wheelchair level. Those capable of standing can simply open the cabinets and remove content while they’re at eye level. Thus, nobody is inconvenienced by the height of the cabinets. Contact a company like Red River Granite for more information about this. Include Sinks With Knee Space Below When installing wheelchair-height sinks, one issue that is often overlooked is the fact that in order to utilize the sink, the wheelchair-bound individual needs to be able to reach it with the wheelchair in front of it. Traditional sinks mounted in enclosed cabinet structures make this difficult. Sinks with knee space below them allow for easy access. The wheelchair-bound individual can sit with his or her knees under the sink as if it were a table, and wash dishes or hands with ease. Choose The Right Appliances — And Put Them In Convenient Places When choosing appliances for an accessible kitchen, make sure they have handles and functions in an area that’s easy for your loved one to reach. For instance, stoves should have control knobs on the front rather than the back, so your loved one does not have to reach over hot burners to reach them. Refrigerators should have long, floor-to-top handles, not a single handle your loved one has to reach for. When placing appliances, make sure their locations allow your loved one easy access. For instance, do not place the refrigerator in a corner where, if your loved one wheels in front of it, there is no longer room for the door to swing open. With the tips above in mind, you’ll be off to a good start in terms of designing a more accessible...

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Clay Tiles Can Help To Keep Your Home Cool

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Your choice of roofing material should depend on more than just its cost. Because of how much space a roof takes up, it can dominate the view of your house from any angle where the roof is visible. A roof is also exposed to the full force of the sun’s onslaught. With these factors in mind, you should consider buying a roof that will reduce your cooling costs even as it enhances the aesthetic appeal of your home.  Aesthetics Clay tiles have been used on roofs for centuries in regions such as the Mediterranean, central America, and South America. Thus, using clay tiles on your home can help to enhance the look of your home if you’re looking to model your house in one of these styles. It pairs exceptionally well with adobe but can be used in other applications as well. While clay tiles will cost more than other choices such as asphalt shingles, their aesthetic appeal will increase the curb appeal of your home, so they can help you to get more money out of your home if you ever decide to sell it.  Cooling Costs Some roofing materials will absorb heat from the sun and allow it seep into you home while other materials will enhance your home’s defenses. For the best heat dampening effects, look for S-barrel tiles. These tiles will have an S-curve to them, which will create channels beneath the curves of the tile. Any heat that the tiles absorb will leak into these tiles and rise up your roof to the ridge where special vents will allow the heat to rise up and away from your roof. You can also find clay tiles that are treated with a reflective coating. This will help your tiles to reflect even more of the sun’s rays away from your home.  Clay tiles cost more money to install than other options, but as discussed, they have their advantages. They also have disadvantages. They are heavier than other roofing materials, so if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, the combined weight of the snow and the tiles can cause your roof to collapse. If you are considering clay tiles for your roof, you will want to weigh the advantages against the disadvantages and determine if they are right for your home. In general, clay tiles work well in the southern states but probably are not the right choice for homes built in the north of the country.  For more information, talk to a roofing contractor like Lawson Brothers...

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Documents And Objects: Sorting Out A Home After A Relative Dies

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When a relative dies, it can suddenly seem like there’s so much to do. If they’ve been living on their own, a big part of this will be cleaning out their house or apartment. Sorting through their documents and belongings can be difficult, but it’s also a chance to remember them – and you never know what you’ll run across in the process. Sorting Documents: Important, Sentimental, And Sensitive When going through the documents of a deceased relative, you’ll need to divide up the documents you come across. You can separate them into three basic categories: important documents that need to be held on to, sentimental documents that you want to keep, and sensitive documents that should be shredded. Anything that doesn’t fall into these categories can be thrown away or recycled. Important documents include insurance policies; financial information such as tax returns, bank accounts, investment information, and bills; and any copies of the will. The executor of the deceased’s estate will want many of these documents, so consult with them about what they need. Any other documents with personal information such as social security numbers should be considered sensitive and shredded. Finally, set aside documents that have sentimental value such as letters or other personal writings. Even if you think you don’t have the space for them, you will likely regret it later if you get rid of them now. Instead, if you lack space, look into whether they can be stored at the home of another friend or relative. Sorting Objects: Keep, Donate, Sell, And Junk Depending on how much stuff the deceased owned, sorting through their belongings may be a long task. You’ll want to set aside the things that will be kept, of course. Everything else can be divided into things to sell, donate, or junk. If there are expensive objects such as paintings or antiques you want to sell, consider hiring an appraiser to be sure you get what they’re worth. For more everyday objects like clothing or accessories, check out local consignment shops; they can tell you whether they will be able to sell these items, and you will get a percentage of the selling price. Consignment shops usually sell higher-end or vintage clothing; if the local consignment shops aren’t interested, you can hold an estate sale. The items to be donated and junked can be handled together by a junk removal company. Most junk removal companies will be happy to help you find a non-profit organization to take unwanted items that may still be of use to others, and they can even haul the items there. Then they will load up and haul away anything the non-profit isn’t interested in, from trash to large appliances. Discover more here to find out about junk...

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Unclog The Submersible Pump Inside Of The Water Well On Your Property

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The submersible pump that is located inside of the well on your home’s property can become clogged with debris if the cover over the well isn’t secure. If this occurs, water won’t flow steadily when you turn on faucets inside of your residence. Learn how to unclog the pump and clean its surface with the following steps so that it works properly again. Use The Following Materials adjustable wrench industrial strength detergent water hose tube brush bucket of warm water mineral spirits  rag ​​Disconnect The Pump And Remove Blockages Turn off the power that is running to the pump before starting to protect yourself from getting shocked. Lift the lid to the well and look for the pump. Most likely, it will be located next to a portion of the well’s interior wall. Use an adjustable wrench to remove the hardware that is attached to the pump. Lift the pump from the well and place it on a sturdy surface. Use industrial strength detergent, a small amount of water, and a tube brush to remove debris that is stuck in the intake valve of the pump. This part can be found on the side of the pump and may have an arrow next to it showing which way the water flows from it. Remove the filter from the bottom of the pump. Place the pump and filter in a bucket of warm water and move them around with your hands to remove any pieces of debris. Wipe Off The Surface Of The Pump And Rinse It Use mineral spirits to remove any small particles or surface stains from the pump’s exterior. Pour a small amount of the spirits onto a rag and rub it onto the pump’s exterior. Once the pump is clean, rinse it off with a water hose and place the filter in the appropriate spot. Line up the pump inside of the water well and reattach it with the hardware. Turn on the power to the pump. Inspect the faucets in your home to make sure that a steady stream of water is coming out of them. If so, the problem that you previously experienced has been resolved. In the future, make sure that the lid to the well is secure. If you are going to be cutting the grass near the pump, cover the lid with plastic sheeting or a tarp to prevent debris from entering the well and clogging the pump.  If you’re still having trouble with your pump, contact a professional like T. W. Stanley & Son Well Pump & Plumbing Repair for more...

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Common Problems With Automatic Garage Doors

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The garage door is an important part of keeping your car and garage safe from a variety of threats, but it is an unfortunate fact that automatic doors can encounter issues that may lead to malfunctions. For those that have only recently purchased their first home, ti can be easy to overlook this part of the house, but after having a couple of questions answered, you should be in a better position to keep your automatic garage door running smoothly.  Why Won’t The Garage Door Close? One day, your garage door may simply refuse to close despite there seeming to be nothing mechanically wrong with the door or opener. When your garage encounters this problem, the first thing you should check is to ensure the safety sensors are aligned and clean. If these lasers are not perfectly aligned, the safety system will activate, which prevents the door from closing. Often, the screws that hold these safety sensors in place can loosen, which may cause one sensor to sink lower than the other.  If this is not a source of the problem, there is likely a mechanical issue in the opener that is preventing it from reversing to close the door. Due to the complexity of repairing a garage door opener, you should leave this task to a professional because an improper repair can ruin your garage door opener.  Will Ice On The Garage Door Lead To Problems? Ice storms are an unfortunate part of the winter months, and in addition to being unpleasant, these storms can lead to serious issues for your garage door. In a relatively short period of time, it is possible for a layer of ice to form on the garage door, and this can add a substantial amount of weight to the door.  When the automatic garage door opener is used with ice on the door, it can experience a tremendous amount of wear due to the additional weight it is being forced to lift. To avoid this, you will need to scrape away the ice before using the garage door. If you live in an area where this is a common problem, you may be able to invest in garage door ice prevention systems. These systems heat the garage door to prevent the formation of ice.  Keeping your garage door running smoothly requires you to be informed about some of the issues that these devices may experience. Having an understanding of the importance of not opening the door when ice is on it and ensuring the safety sensors stay aligned will help you to avoid routine problems with these doors. For more information, talk to a company like American Eagle Garage Door...

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4 Tips For Getting Your Home Ready For Winter

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Winter is right around the corner, so it is time to get your home ready for the frigid temperatures ahead. Spending some time preparing your home for the winter during the fall months will give you peace of mind and ensure that your house is ready for cold temperatures and heavy snow or rain. Do the following tasks to make sure that your home is ready for winter: Clean the Gutters A properly maintained gutter system is essential for removing rain water or melting snow. Towards the end of the fall, after the trees in your yard have lost their leaves, make sure that the gutters are totally clean and free of debris. Failure to clean your gutters can result in excess water collecting on your roof, which can cause extensive damage. If you have a multi-level home, you may want to consider hiring a professional company to thoroughly clean the gutters. Propane Tank Maintenance  If you live in a home that uses propane for heat, some simple steps can ensure that you and your family will stay warm all winter long. It is a good idea to have your propane tank inspected in the fall by a company like Blue Flame Gas Service. They can ensure that the valves are functioning properly and there are no cracks is the pipes connecting the propane tank to your home. Inspect the outdoor vents, chimneys and flues to ensure that they are not blocked by debris in order to lower the chance of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. While it may be expensive, having your propane tank completely filled during the fall will leave you prepared for freezing winter storms where you need a lot of fuel to heat your home. Have Your Roof Checked Out Roof damage isn’t always obvious from the ground, so you may want to have your roof inspected before snow or freezing rain makes its appearance in your area. Loose or missing shingles can cause leaks in your roof, which can lead to interior damage and costly repairs. A roofing contractor can typically do a pre-winter roof inspection in a few hours and then recommend any repairs needed. Inspect Your Attic Fall is the perfect time to inspect your attic to look for signs of leaks or any cracks that let in outside air. A properly insulated attic can keep your house warmer and save you a lot of money on energy costs, so think about having a contractor look in your attic and inspect the insulation. If your insulation is old or has had any water damage, replacing it or adding extra insulation may be worth the one time...

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Important French Drain System Maintenance Tips

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Did you recently purchase a home with a French drain system? Have you had a French drain installed in your basement, not that long ago, in order to prevent flooding? Initially, you might not think about the system very often, so long as it works as intended. However, a French drain can become clogged and stop working, the same as any other types of drains. Here are some tips for making sure that your drain continues to function properly: Clear away debris as soon as possible: If you have an exterior French drain system, organic debris like leaves and twigs can start to build up around the drain opening. You might think that the drain will simply flush this debris away on its own but, due to the low pressure in the system, this is seldom the case. When you notice debris starting to build up, it’s important to remove it as soon as possible in order to prevent flooding. If you have an interior French drain, you may want to check regularly to make sure that neither your children nor your pets have decided to use the drain opening as a secret hiding place for their toys.  Use a pressure washer as needed: If you don’t already own a pressure washer, you should consider investing in one to help you clean out your French drain system. Although there may not be any obvious organic debris buildup around the drain opening, silt or small bits of gravel could be flushed through the system and start to cause issues. While it could take years for the dirt to build up into a serious clog, there’s no reason to wait for it to do so. By using a pressure washer once or twice a month around the drain opening, you can help keep it clean and can help it to drain correctly.  Check the landscaping cloth: When an exterior French drain system is installed, landscaping cloth is put over the drain and then a layer of dirt or gravel is laid over the cloth to conceal the drain from view. Over time, things like excessive flooding or landscaping work can cause the fabric to shift slightly. When this happens, dirt and other debris can be flushed into the main drainage system. Even if the fabric is in place, the cloth itself can become clogged and require replacement. If not remedied quickly, either issue could lead to potentially costly flooding. Two or three times a year, you should visually inspect the landscaping cloth to make sure that it hasn’t shifted significantly and that it hasn’t become clogged with dirt and sediment. If you hire landscapers to redo your yard, you should check afterwards to confirm that they didn’t disturb the cloth enough to cause it to allow debris into your French drain. Contact a company like Perma-Dry Waterproofing & Drainage, Inc. for more...

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How To Maintain Newly Installed Wood Laminate Floors

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Laminate floors are a popular alternative to hardwood floors, and though they are not real wood, they are nevertheless designed to be easy to install and maintain. However, laminate floors are still considered floating floors and can suffer from some of the same problems as hardwood, so taking care of your floor means making sure of its correct installation and limiting its exposure to harmful elements. Make Sure Your Floor Has Been Acclimatized Before your wood floor was installed, it should have been acclimatized to your house’s environment; this is done by letting the floor panels sit in your house for about a week prior to installation. This isn’t always an absolutely crucial step, but it can help prevent damage down the road. If panels aren’t acclimatized, sudden changes in weather could cause buckling as the panels expand and contract. If this wasn’t done, this isn’t necessarily a problem. Just try to keep your house within the same 10-20 degree range and humidity levels over the course of the next few weeks, as the panels can still acclimate after they are installed. Give Your Floor Expansion Room Laminate floors don’t expand and contract quite as much as hardwood floors, but it’s still a floating floor, which means it needs room to move if necessary. Take a look at your baseboard; the laminate floor should be under it, but only just – if it was pushed against the wall during installation, it has no room to expand. If it was installed too tight, don’t worry; a contractor can remove some of the floor to give it the room it needs without having to tear up your floor. However, this should be ascertained before any peaking occurs. Clean Your Floors Dry Laminate floors from places like Apex Floor Coverings are designed to be somewhat resistant to moisture, but this doesn’t mean that water won’t hurt it. Water damage to laminate floors is more serious than peaking from too little expansion space; laminate panels can fall back into place if they are given expansion room, but panels that are buckling or warping from water damage will need to be replaced. If your panels used a tongue and slot design, this means pulling up everything until you reach the damaged point. Everyday cleaning can be done using a vacuum or dry mop. If you need to do a more thorough clean, you can use a flat damp mop or a wet cloth to clean specific areas, but take care to dry the floor as soon as you’re done rather than letting it air dry. Be especially careful around baseboards and room transitions; these areas aren’t as watertight, and moisture can seep into the cracks and below the floor. When vacuuming, use vacuums without a beater bar; these can cause chipping in your floor. If you have an area with a lot of foot traffic that seems to get dirty often, rugs can help prevent damage and wear. Rugs can also take a bit more of a beating when cleaning, so you can use whatever cleaning tools you have...

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Power Washing Your Vinyl Siding: Important Dos And Don’ts

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Power washing your home can be an excellent way to maintain its curb appeal and reduce your risk of a pest infestation. However, if you have vinyl siding on your home’s exterior, then there are some special precautions you’ll need to take so as to thoroughly power wash your home without causing any damage to the siding itself. After all, unlike brick and stone, siding is not quite as durable and poses more of a challenge when power washing. DO Work From Top to Bottom When power washing your home, always start at the top and work your way towards the bottom. If you work bottom to top, you’ll end up with dirty water dripping down and drying on the areas you just power washed. To make the job as easy as possible, work top to bottom on one section of your home at a time. DON’T Aim at an Upward Angle When you power wash siding, it’s important to be extremely careful. This means always pointing the power washer stream at the siding from a slightly arched angle downwards. Never point the power wash stream upwards at a section of siding, as this could result in water getting underneath and behind your siding — possibly causing water damage, mold, and mildew in your home. DO Keep a Safe Distance Power washers — as the name suggests — have a lot of force behind them. Make sure you know how high of a power setting is safe to use on your siding, and be sure to stay a fair distance away from your home as you use the power washer. The last thing you want is to end up with is cracked, dented, or otherwise damaged siding because you were operating the power washer too close to the surface. DON’T Spray Doors or Windows Finally, never spray windows or doors with your power washer. The stream will be too powerful and can very easily end up shattering windows and damaging doors. Lots of homeowners mistakenly believe they can kill two birds with one stone by washing their siding and windows at once, but this is never a good idea! Exercise special care when washing siding in areas around windows and doors, or contact a professional who offers power cleaning services to do your power washing if you’re not confident in your abilities.  By keeping these precautions in mind while power washing your home, you’ll be on your way to a clean home exterior in no...

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Emerging Eco-Friendly Methods For Cooling A Building Without Sacrificing Power

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People who are focused on cooling their buildings in an eco-friendly way often have to settle for much slower cool times since the new methods often aren’t as powerful as traditional methods. Fortunately, there are a few emerging methods that let you have plenty of both eco-friendliness and power. Weak Power Issues with Many Eco-friendly Cooling Systems An example of an eco-friendly cooling system is something like a ceiling fan. But this system cools down a room rather slowly, and it’s often only able to cool a room by a few degrees. Many other systems work by simply turning the air conditioning off more often. These approaches are often not going to be nearly enough in the hot summer heat, especially if you live in a particularly warm climate. But this doesn’t mean that you have to deal with being too hot if you want to have a greener building. Hybrid Solar Thermal Air Conditioning The sun is probably not the first thought that enters your mind when you think of cooling down your building. But solar energy can be used to power anything. Advances in HVAC tech are using a hybrid approach to cut peak electricity use of air conditioners by combining traditional approaches with solar systems. This way, when the sun is at its hottest and the need to cool a building is at its strongest, the solar panels will also be pulling in the most energy. This energy could cut peak electricity costs for cooling a building by as much as 90% according to Cnet. The system will run more normally during non-peak hours. This way, no cooling power is sacrificed since the regular system is still running, but the largest drain on energy during the hours with the most sun is cut dramatically. Some of these systems also bring in cool air at night and then trap it inside when the outside air heats up during the day. Ice-powered Air Conditioning In the old days, ice made in cold places and then shipped to warm places was basically the only way to keep anything cool. These days, hybrid systems are taking advantage of a similar principle. Essentially, the ice-cooling system works by exposing water to cool temperatures at night in order to freeze it. Then, during the day, the ice helps to cool traditional moving through a tank in a traditional air conditioner. This can cut air conditioning costs by as much as 30%, all by simply making use of cooling forces already existent in nature. Plus, you don’t have to sacrifice any cooling speed or power in order to significantly reduce your energy use. To learn more, contact an HVAC company like Spell’s Mechanical...

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