Green Living: A Guide to Saving on Energy Usage

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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A Homeowner’s Guide to Troubleshooting Frequent Sewer Pump Problems

Posted by on 4:43 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Homeowner’s Guide to Troubleshooting Frequent Sewer Pump Problems

The sewage system that you have in your home contains many different components that make it a functional element to have around. However, there are few components of the sewage system that are more important than the sewer pump itself. If something goes wrong with the pump, you can pretty much guarantee that the rest of the system is null and void. The sewage coming from your home may flush, but it will not get pumped to the tank, which can create a major nuisance for any homeowner. Here are a few of the most common problems that sewage pumps can have and the possible causes. Problem: The pump only operates intermittently and seems to shut down during periods of heavy use. Cause and Solution: In most cases, this is a sign that the sewer pump is failing. However, it can also be related to a lacking power supply. You should check the pump’s wiring first to clear that as a possible issue, but if you continue to have problems, the unit may have to be replaced soon. Problem: The pump is making loud grinding noises when it is running. Cause and Solution: Most sewer pumps are rather quiet machines in spite of their power. Therefore, if the pump you have starts radiating grinding noises or loud knocks, there is definitely something wrong. It is likely a problem with the impeller of the motor. If the impeller has been warped or damaged, it will rub against the internal housing, which creates a lot of noise. The impeller will have to be removed and repaired or replaced altogether in these situations. Problem: You detect a sewage odor when the pump is in operation. Cause and Solution: The sewer pump is designed to prevent odors from radiating back into the home with heavy seals and gaskets. If you start to notice foul odors when the pump is in operation, there is a good chance that one of these seals or gaskets has been compromised. The pump will have to be disassembled and any damaged gaskets or seal replaced. When you are capable of diagnosing simple problems with the sewer pump that you have in place, it will be much less likely that you face an all-out sewage catastrophe. If you find issues you are unable to track down and handle on your own, never hesitate to call on a professional like Forrest Sewer Pump Service for help with the...

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4 Tips For Choosing The Best Flooring To Use For An Outdoor Dog Run

Posted by on 5:26 am in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Tips For Choosing The Best Flooring To Use For An Outdoor Dog Run

Getting a dog run installed in your backyard is a fantastic way of having a secure space for your dog to spend time outdoors, but some carefully planning is necessary in order for the run to be an aesthetically pleasing addition to your yard. If you’re concerned with how to have a dog run that looks great in your yard and is still very functional for your dog, consider some of the following five ideas for choosing the best paving possible. Opt for Poured Concrete to Save Money The most economical choice for flooring to use in a dog run is poured concrete. One of the reasons why concrete is so popular is due to the fact that it’s easy to pour on your own and can be finished in just a few days of hard wood and without much cost. Along with the ease of installation, it’s beneficial that the concrete can be sprayed down and cleaned without any trouble, making it ideal for a dog run. Try Paving Stones for the Best Aesthetic Look If you’re not a fan of concrete in your backyard, you may want to look into using paving stones. While this type of paving can be more difficult to keep clean when using in a dog run, it’s a much better choice if you’re concerned with appearances. Try choosing paving stones that don’t stain easily and look into what will be used as filling between the stones for easy cleanups. Avoid Bark and Loose Gravel Many people look into using both gravel and bark for dog runs, but this can be problematic for many reasons. While they may be affordable to use in a dog run, your dog will likely try to dig through this kind of flooring and end up making a mess of the dog run. Use Artificial Turf if You Want to Add Grass If you’re set on incorporating grass with the paving inside the dog run, it’s best to use artificial turf due to its sturdiness. Not only does real grass get destroyed easily if your dog enjoys digging, it can also die quickly from urine. By using artificial turf instead, your dog will have cool grass to lay on and you won’t need to worry about maintenance and watering. As you plan out the design of a new dog run, it’s important that you make practicality and appearance your two priorities. With the tips above in mind, the final result will look great and be an ideal space for your dog to use when in your yard. To learn more, try contacting a company like Interstate Paving LLC for help on knowing what to install and how much it will run...

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Two Tips To Safely Clean Your Car’s Exterior

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Taking care of your car’s exterior is an important task for anyone that is wanting to maintain both the value and appearance of their vehicle. Unfortunately, this is a part of car ownership that many people do not fully understand. This lack of knowledge and experience can cause people to make mistakes that can make it more difficult or damage the paint. Luckily, if this is a task that you are unfamiliar with, there are a couple of tips you can follow to keep your car looking its best.  Opt For Sealants Over Wax Most people are aware of the important benefits that come with waxing their cars. Whether it is protecting it from scratches or moisture damage, this has long been the preferred option for many car owners. However, they may not realize that using an automotive paint sealant is actually a superior option.  The protection offered by wax is notorious for fading, and you will need to regularly reapply it to ensure that your car is protected from threats. However, sealants are far more durable than wax because they chemical bond to the paint. While the protection from a sealant will wear away, it will usually last for far longer than wax.  Avoid Using Dish Soap  There is a common myth that many people believe that says dish soap is a safe option for washing the car. While it is true that dish soap is relatively safe, it can cause gradual damage to your paint, which can lead to complications down the line. For example, dish soap is excellent at removing greasy substances, and this means it will rapidly eat away at the wax or sealant that you have on your car.  To avoid this problem, you should always make it a point of only using auto paint cleaner. These cleaners are chemically balanced to ensure that they will not strip away your sealant or wax, but they are still highly effective at removing dirt and grime from the car’s exterior. While these cleaners are slightly more expensive than dish soap, they are the best option for cleaning your car without causing damage to it. Car washing can be a surprisingly risky endeavor because there are some mistakes people routinely make during this task. Making these errors can substantially degrade the appearance of your car, which can further lead to body damage. By opting to use sealant instead of wax and avoiding cleaning the car with dish soap, you can keep your car looking great without shortening the lifespan of the exterior paint. You can also opt to get your car professionally detailed. For more information on this, visit sites...

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The Type Of Concrete Foundations That Can Be Used To Build Your Home

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Are you wondering what type of concrete foundation types to choose in order for your home to be built? If you are finding it hard to decide, then make sure to learn more information about the different concrete foundation types that are out there. By doing so you can make a decision that’s informed so that you won’t regret it down the line. With that thought in mind, here are the common types of foundations that you can choose from: Frost Protected This method uses two polystyreneinsulation sheets – one is located on the outside wall, and the other is laid on the gravel bed where the base of the wall is located. This kind of setup will prevent freezing, and that’s advantageous over other foundation types such as slab-on. The frost protection works by the foundation preventing the escape of heat at the edge of the slab, because the heat is contained under the footings.  Another advantage of this type of foundation is that the concrete will be poured in one go, which means the duration of construction will be shorter when compared with the other options. For example, T-shaped foundations require the foundation to be constructed from 3 concrete pours. Slab-On Grade This is a foundation type made from a single slab, and the thickness is typically several inches thick. An integral footing is formed by making sure the slab width at the edges is thicker, and rods are used to reinforce the edges. For improved drainage, the foundation will sit on crushed gravel, and a wire mesh can be cast within the concrete slab so that the chances of cracking are reduced. This type of foundation is most suited in locations where ground freezing is not going to be a problem. T-Shaped This foundation type can be used to support a home in location where the ground freezes on a yearly basis. The foundation is protected from frost because the footing is placed below the frost line – the walls are then constructed above. There is added support at the base of the foundation, and that’s because the width of the footing is larger than that of the wall. Once the footing is constructed, then the bulk of the foundation between the two walls is poured. It is a foundation construction method that many homeowners opt for because of how well it protects homes from frost and provides strong structural support. (for more information, you can contact...

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How To Use New Green Windows To Create An Eco-Friendly Zero-Energy Home

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A “zero energy” home is one where the net energy it takes to keep the household running is zero. This means that you don’t need to draw any energy from outside of the home, and all of the energy is generated from inside the home. If you’re looking for ways you can use new window technology to help you achieve a zero energy household status, here are a few options: Solar Windows Solar panels aren’t just for the top of your roof, although they should go there too since you’re going to need all the help you can get in order to achieve zero energy status. But, there’s new green tech out there that can turn some of your windows into solar energy generators.  One of the advantages of doing it this way is that the approach is completely non-intrusive. After all, the point of having a zero-energy home is to have as little negative impact on your environment as possible.  If you have a giant wind turbine in your backyard that cuts up half the birds flying through the area, this whole process is going to be self-defeating. This is also a problem with some hydroelectric systems as well since they can destroy local aquatic ecosystems, for example.  But solar windows are completely non-intrusive and non-disruptive to local wildlife. The system makes use of organic molecules that naturally absorb certain wavelengths of sunlight that are invisible to the human eye.  The organic molecules that absorb this energy start emitting infrared light, even though humans still won’t be able to see it. This energy will then be absorbed by photovoltaic cells located at the edges of the window.  This means that this type of window can convert solar energy into electricity without creating a lot of bothersome light that could disrupt people and animals alike in the process. Energy Efficient Windows For replacement windows that aren’t ideal for collecting solar energy, you can use technologies that help make windows more energy-efficient in general. In order to make a zero-energy house, you need to not only create positive energy, but also avoid energy loss.  There are technologies emerging now that allow for a special window film that helps increase efficiency without disrupting your view, for example. The technology works by using tiny capsules with only vacuum space inside.  Since vacuum space is a bad conductor, this will make it much more difficult for heat to find its way out of your house when you want it to stay in during the winter. The same will also be true for keeping the cold air in during the summer.  These capsules are invisible to the naked eye, so they won’t be an eyesore either. You’ll be able to use the new film on windows just like you use traditional tinting.This technology, when combined with existing low-emission window tech, will be able to make windows as much as 80 percent more efficient. This will go a long way to helping your zero-energy...

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