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House & Home

 

Alarms & Smoke Detectors

Attic Ventilation

Bath Lighting

Building & Remodeling contacts

Ceiling Fans

Computer Tips

Dry Wall Repairs

Emergency Disaster Preparedness

Energy Savings

Entertainment Decks

Ergonomics 101

Exterior House Mildew

Eye care

Fireplaces & Inserts

Fixer-upper-tips

Fluorescent (CFLs) bulbs

Gluing Hints

Generators

Hardwood floors

Heating & Cooling

Home exterior maintenance

Home Insulation

Home Security

Home Ventilation

Hot Tubs/Spa's

Household Electrical repairs

Insulated Windows

Kitchen ideas

Knives

Ladder use

Lumber-Softwoods

Masonry heaters

Motion sensors

Organizing

Passive Solar Heating

Pellet Stoves

Portable Heaters

Roof Maintenance

Skylights

Solar Water heating

Summer kitchens

Sun Rooms (Solarium)

Ventilation

Wall Coverings

Windbreaks

 

DO YOU HAVE A FIRST- AID / EMERGENCY KIT AT THE READY?

Your kit should include antibiotic ointment, bandages, adhesive tape, cold packs, antibacterial hand cleaner, scissors, tweezers, eyewash w/eye cup and a flashlight (and extra batteries) in an easily accessible location.

 

Roof cleaning tip: Try dusting an area ten feet square on your shingle roof with powdered tide, with bleach included.  Let it work on the surface for a week or so, and see if that kills off the algae. Occasionally this works. depending on the coating of algae.

 

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ROOF MAINTENANCE


When it comes to the roof of your home, the rule of thumb is to "walk on its surface as little as possible"

The use of a pressure washing on a shingle roof, "can ruin your roofing". Any pressure over 300 Psi can lift your roofing and thereby destroy it.



Discoloration of your roof by algae is common throughout most of the United States, being most prevalent in the southeastern and northwest parts of the country. The build-up of algae expedites the deterioration of roofing materials. Roofs darkened by algae will absorb the sun's rays, which can heat the interior and raise your energy cost.

There are two methods to solve the algae problem. For those will shingles can utilize a zinc strip at the roof ridge, one placed on each side of the ridge., when it rains the runs off from the zinc strip will flow down the roof, eventually cleaning off the algae. The other method is directed at those with metal roofs. On these, it is necessary to manually (brush) apply an application of bleach, soap and water to eliminate the algae; You will have to be diligent in this, as it will require a few applications. After a section about ten feet square is done, you will hose off the residue.
Note: It is wise to hire a professional to perform this cleaning.

If your roof leaks, it can be very difficult to chase down the source of the leak, as they can be quite evasive.
When trying to locate a leak, use the following guidelines to assist you. Laying out a 10 foot square grid on your roof, which really helps, walk off this grid and look closely for signs of source of the leak. Bear in mind that it is really difficult to eliminate a leak while it is raining and unfortunately, you will most likely not be able to get a contractor to come out immediately.

Before you begin your search for the leak on your rook, ask yourself, has anyone been on your roof doing work? an electrical contractor, HVAC mechanic or anyone else? if so, were they anywhere near the leak area? It will help in your narrowing down the source of the leak. On occasion, plumbers, electricians and others working in attic, can accidentally knock loose flashing or possibly break loose a seam along a condensing line, or even punch a hole in the roof.

If this is not the case, then follow these tips:

For Low profile roofs:
-Inspect any roof drains near the leak area. If they are plugged or draining slowly, then there is a good change that they are the culprit. If so, clean out the debris, and if necessary flush down with water.
-Inspect any material seams in the area of the leak. Using a flat blade, gently run it along beneath the lap. If it slides in more than an inch, then the seam should be sealed. If it slides in for the length of a 2 inch blade, it’s a candidate for a leak.
-Look for holes in flashing, deteriorated caulking, curled flashing flanges that are sticking up through the roof, or any other visible defects.
-Look for blisters that have been punctured.
-If a leak occurs near the edge of the roof, check the edge metal, it can separate at the seams and tear the roof membrane in the process
-Check under piles of debris, often it has been sitting for a long time, then it can hold water which will speed up roof deterioration, especially that of shake. Occasionally you will find rodents and other vermin nest under these piles of debris.
-If in the end you find nothing that would preclude a leak on the roof, then it is time to check your attic or ceiling space. Occasionally what is mistaken for a roof leak, can be a problem with your plumbing in the attic.
-Another question, has any mechanical contractor been in the attic?-
-Lastly, is the drain pain under your heating /cooling unit leaking? The unit might be leaking. Normally there is a drain fitting at the bottom of the pan, allowing evaporate to flow down a pipe to the outside.

For Steep Roofs:
-Look closely at all roof penetrations in the leak area, your looking for holes or damage.
-Look for nail heads. Nails that are not covered by the following course of roofing material. If the nails are exposed too long, sometimes they will rust, leaving a hole and causing leaks.
-Take a look at the mortar on the chimney, it is rare that it is damaged, but sometimes it happens.
-Check that all drains are functioning and your gutter is not full of debris.  Sometimes when your roofing is installed and the edge details (overhang) and gutter details are not done correctly, water can back up over the top of the facia, run along the soffit, and down the side of the wall, the path of least resistance.
-Another item to look carefully is your roof mounted HVAC unit. Sometimes they can have a faulty pan, which will permit water to enter the house during a storm.
-Finally, look for piles of debris that can block water flow off the roof, sometimes this will cause the water to back up under the roofing itself. Look carefully behind chimneys and in the valleys of the roofing.

Leaks can travel a long way, so don't assume that the source is directly above.

 

Joint Compound removal tip: If you have residue left on window tracks, a good remover is a good plastic brush and a lot of white vinegar and water, it works great breaking down the dried compound. Do be careful on getting the water on your sheet rock, as it can soften it. A little common sense goes a long way.

 

SHEET ROCK (Drywall) REPAIRS


Sheetrock (drywall is the gypsum board product and Sheetrock is a brand name, but the two words have
come to be interchangeable)


Drywall is the most frequently used substance for walls. Actually it is a compound of calcium sulfate that has been ground at the factory into a fine powder. moisture is added  to the calcium sulfate powder to form a white appearing thick paste.

Necessary Tools:
Straight edge ruler, 4 inch putty knife, utility knife, sheet rock sandpaper, small bucket of drywall mud, piece of drywall, a minimum of six inches larger than the hole, and matching paint.

Step 1. Place plastic sheeting on the floor, around your work area. Also, it would be wise to cover around the perimeter of your patch area with plastic sheeting, held to the wall with blue painters tape.

Step 2.
Measure the diameter of the hole to be repaired.
Cut a square, four inches larger than the hole.
Place the square face down on a table and draw a line two inches from the edge on all four sides. Score the drawn lines with your utility knife and breakout the excess drywall, leaving the front paper intact.
Place the drywall patch over the hole in the wall and use a pencil to outline the square on the wall. Cut the traced square from the wall. Apply a light coat of drywall mud around the edges of the newly cut square hole and place the patch into the wall. Squeeze out excess drywall mud with your putty knife and let dry overnight. Re-putty the patched area, allowing the mud to dry one more day. Sand away excess mud and smooth out the wall.

If you don't mind working with joint tape and joint compound, use the Bear Claw Drywall Repair Clip. This is purchased at your hardware store it is an exceptional product for larger repairs. They are easy to use and make a more permanent repair. This product is great for holes that are 3 inches in diameter or larger. But if you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty and want a good permanent fix then give these a try.

Joint Compound can be purchased as a premixed ready to use product or in powder form that requires mixing to get the right consistency. The powder form does have advantages in that you can purchase it with different drying times.

Before applying any joint compound make sure that you have a nice smooth consistency. Most premixed products require mixing and thinning with a little water to achieve a good workable consistency.
Once you have covered the hole applied the joint compound and have a repaired surface that unfortunately stands  because it doesn’t match the rest of the wall.

Use Spray Texture, its great stuff and really works. This product comes in two versions oil based and water based. Quite often the oil based version works better. The water based formula flattens out more as it's drying and the oil based formula seems to hold its texture resulting in a better repair. 

When applying the texture use really short quick burst, holding the can about 12" away from the area spraying and you will achieve a great match. Use a piece of cardboard to practice your texturing technique.


Note: If you are in the planning stages of sheet rocking, There are some nice tricks to help you with how to texture sheetrock walls. Many homeowners like the appearance and feel to texture sheetrock walls in their homes. You can create some very unique wall looks using texture sheetrock walls instead of traditional flat, painted sheetrock walls. Additionally, textured sheetrock walls help to hide any taped areas and edging areas of the walls.

Whether the drywall surface to be painted is textured or not, any problem spots will show up in the final product and the shinier the paint you choose, the more prominent they will be. Finally, remove all cover plates and spackle all nail holes.

It is always a good plan to use primer, but not a necessity, unless your painting new sheetrock, then is is mandatory. After your primer has dried, proceed with your primary paint application.

Allow the paint sufficient time to dry before removing the painters tape and re-installing cover plates.

 

COMPUTER TIPS


Avoid placing your computer in a carpeted room. Static from the carpet could damage the computer's circuits. If you must keep the computer in a carpeted room, buy an antistatic mat.

  • Occasionally wipe your keyboard with a clean, lint-free cloth. You can use an antistatic cleaning fluid if necessary, but spray it on the cloth, not on the keyboard.
  • Electrical surges usually will not destroy a computer, but, they will wear them down and shorten the life of the equipment. A surge protector will prevent this. They also come in handy for organizing power cords and outlets.
  • Air must circulate freely around the computer to avoid building up heat. Never block the slots that allow cooling air to circulate.
  • Smoke, humidity, and dust can harm your computer. Try to keep the appliance clear of such conditions. Cover the keyboard, printer, and peripherals when not in use.
  • Be sure to use three-prong electrical outlets for your computer. The three-prong plug grounds the equipment.
  • When you buy a computer, check your homeowner's insurance policy to find out if you're covered if your computer is stolen or damaged

Do not vacuum any of the chips and other electronic components.

Do not use any kind of liquid cleaner inside the computer. Compressed will thoroughly clean interior areas.

Important points:
Monitor height
Neck strain caused by incorrect monitor height adjustment is something you really need to avoid. Sitting too height or too low down at your desk, can develop neck pain. Adjusting your monitor height is vital. Sit yourself comfortably in front of your computer and look straight ahead towards the screen. Adjust our monitor height until the top of the "screen" is level with your eye.
Distance from the screen
Being too close is not advisable when using computer screens. A safe distance needs to be maintained between you and your computer screen to avoid damaging your eyesight. You should maintain a minimum distance for prolonged use. Using your arm, pointing directly in front of you, with your fingers just touching the screen, is the ideal distance for safe viewing.
Your Seating
When sitting in the chair, you need to be at 45 degrees to other elements in your work area. Not only should the chair allow you to sit at 45 degrees to every other workspace element you also need adequate clearance between the back of your legs and the front of the seat. You should be able to fit approximately 3 of your fingers between the rear of your knee and the front of the seat. If this gap is not present you're going to have the base of the chair seat continually digging into the back of your legs. This will be uncomfortable to say the least.

When dealing with cords, they always seem to get tangled. A good way for keeping cords out of the way is to run them behind or under the desk. Small, self-adhering clips that help guide and hold cords in place are available at office supply stores.

To manage many cords, use a piece of foam-tube pipe insulation to guide the cords. Simply nail or glue the pipe insulation along the desk, then stuff the cords into the insulation tube through a lengthwise slit cut along the tube

Use a damp cloth to clean the screen of a computer monitor or television. As with all computer-cleaning situations, turn off the equipment first. Distilled water is good to use to dampen the cloth because it doesn't contain small particles that can scratch the glass surfaces.

 

If your mouse sticks or just doesn't move as well as it used to, it's most likely just dirty. They are easy to clean.

 

  1. Turn the computer off and unplug the mouse.
  2. Turn the mouse over and open the housing that covers the ball by either twisting or sliding the retainer.
  3. Remove the ball and clean it with an electrical cleaner or simply with soap and water.
  4. Be sure that any cleaner you use doesn't have any lubricant in it. Use a damp cotton swab to clean out dust inside the housing. You may actually need to use tweezers to pull dust out.

Keep Often-Used Items at Close Range
Items you use daily belong on your desk. Your computer, pens, calendar, message pad and anything else that's part of your daily routine can stay. Other items such as Scotch tape, stapler, calculator, writing paper and so on should be stored in your desk drawer -- handy to get at, but not in the way when you don't need them.

Your lighting needs are important

When setting up lighting for the home office, consider the layout of the room, including light from any windows and any other sources of ambient light. It is also important to consider the locations of any computer terminals, laptops, printers and other equipment, and then to place lighting fixtures accordingly. In some cases it will be possible to simply add on to the lighting that already exists in the room, while in other cases it may be best to start from scratch and redesign a lighting scheme that fits with the room's role as a home office.

As you set up the lighting in your home office, it is important to set up a comfortable work environment, one that is free of harsh contrasts and glare. Glare on computer monitors and other workspaces can cause serious eye strain and headaches, so it is important to position computer monitors accordingly, and to use anti-glare screens where necessary.

Task lighting is important as well, and as the workspace is set up, it is a good idea to add task lighting for such important tasks as reading, writing and working on the computer. In addition, the light in the surrounding area should be bright enough to provide for a comfortable workspace, but not so bright as to create undue glare. It is important as well to consider the changing nature of light coming from outside during the course of the day, and to design lighting solutions accordingly.

Task lighting can be provided by an assortment of adjustable desk lamps, as well as light bars mounted under cubicles or computer desks. The lamps should be positioned in such a way that they will not reflect on any computer screens, and it may be necessary to reposition the task lighting as the ambient light from outside the window begins to shift.

 

BATHROOM LIGHTNING


Originally curly-looking, CFLs now come in shapes that have a more traditional light bulb appearance, too. While the color is cooler, the lower operating costs and extended life contribute to their increasing popularity.

Recommended:

  • Vertical strip fixtures with multiple bulbs positioned on both sides of the mirror (as seen in actors' dressing rooms) are the classic solution for the vanity. This facial lighting from the side minimizes shadows and adds the brightness necessary for the tasks.
  • Wall sconces on either side of the mirror also provide wonderful light to work by, and are a decorative alternative.
  • Choosing the right bulbs will ensure that the light, while bright enough, still complements facial features and is pleasing rather than harsh. Look for coated or frosted bulbs that are made to enhance facial features and also reduce glare. Another option are warm fluorescent bulbs, which offer even illumination for the face.
  • Use an overhead fixture for general lighting in the room. This light source will contribute to the overall brightness for tasks. Cove and recessed lighting also work well for this purpose.
  • Positioning for sconces is 5 1/2 feet from the floor and 18 inches on either side of the mirror.

Not Recommended:

- Refrain from using down lights, or recessed (cans) lights over the mirror as your "only" light source. They cast shadows and create dark circles, making it difficult for detail.
- Avoid using a single switch to turn on all of your bathroom lights. You want to have the ability to turn on each set of lights on and off, providing various types of lighting for various task, as well as creating ambiance, when you require it.
- Avoid using clear bulbs or fixtures with exposed bulbs; they really increase the amount of glare, which is uncomfortable for many.

Don't forget Directional lighting, it  can be used in virtually any room of the home, to concentrate light where you want it. This type of lighting serves both functional and aesthetic purposes. It can be used to highlight work areas or places where you perform specific tasks, like reading or preparing food, or to accent special features in the home, like artwork.

Pendants Lighting:
 Lighting in rooms should come from a variety of sources, at different levels--and not just a single fixture hanging overhead, or a floor lamp at the side of the room.

Ask yourself:

- Do you need general (larger area) or task illumination? The answers to these questions will help define how many pendants you will want to install.

- Do you want your pendant lights to be a decorating element in themselves? Then choose a style and color that will stand out.

- Would you rather that your pendant lights blend into the style and look of the room? In that case, you are focusing more on their function (to light a specific area), instead of their form (look), and you might want to choose matte finishes, like brushed nickel or steel.

- How much light do you need from the pendant fixture? Choose your shade carefully. Glass will allow ambient light to shine form the fixture. An opaque shade will not.

- Consider putting your pendants on a dimmer, especially if you are using them in a dining area, or over an island in the kitchen. At different light levels, they can create different moods, depending upon the mood you want to evoke.

- What light source will you use for the pendants in your home? Your choices are incandescent, halogen or compact fluorescence (CFLs), which are energy efficient. While incandescent has been the mainstay, more halogens and CFLs are making their way into homes.

- How much have you budgeted for pendant lighting? Pendants are available in a wide price range.

- Have you visited a local lighting showroom and/or checked magazines and online for style ideas? You will be amazed to see the huge range of styles available.

Note: When you dim the lights by half, your bulbs can last up to 20 times longer which is another great way to conserve. You'll change fewer bulbs and be able to do without those costly three-way bulbs. Further, consider that dimmer switches can save up to 40% on normal lighting cost of your lighting energy portion. Dim your lights during dinner, while watching TV, or for social gatherings, you can conserve and enjoy the warmer ambiance. Light controls (Dimmer switches) are not expensive and are reasonably easy to install.



GLUING HINTS :

Number 1: Follow Directions.

2. Apply glues and adhesives to clean, dry surfaces.
3. Drying times can usually be reduced by increasing the temperature. 70 degrees or higher is generally preferred.
4. Be careful of the solvents and catalysts used in many adhesives, most are toxic and can also hurt your eyes, in some cased blinding you.
5. Hardwoods require less clamping time than softwoods.
6. The end grain of any wood is highly absorbent and will create a weak joint. To prevent this, apply a thin coat of glue to the end grain before the rest of the work and then give it a second coat when doing the normal gluing.
7. Precision alignment of parts glued with contact cement can be obtained by placing a thin sheet of paper between the pieces after the cement has been applied and then pull out the piece of paper for final bonding.
8. Do not glue green or damp wood.
9. Clamp glue joints whenever possible for increased strength.
10. Do not apply to too much glue; this can actually weaken a joint in some cases
.

 

            Your Child and Blinds = Blind cords can kill your child!

 

HOT TUBS/SPA's


Millions of homeowners are discovering the health benefits of home spas and the industry has produced many manufacturing innovations that make home spas and hot tubs more affordable, more portable and easier to install. But, you already know that and that's why you're here of you are thinking about investing in a home spa, hot tub, sauna, Jacuzzi, swim spa or related products. Hot tubs have come a very long way in the past decade, especially with the technological advances of spa jets and the knowledge that hydrotherapy can help diseases like arthritis and type-2 diabetes.

Your home spa or hot tub will certainly become one of the favorite areas of your home and a good soak after a long day will become one of your most eagerly anticipated activities

New trends in hot tubs and home spas include: spa ozonators, better chemicals and filtration, aromatherapy fragrances, fiber optic hot tub lighting and LED lighting for a complete hydrotherapy mind and body experience. Aside from the above, the most important item is to consider is the hot tub's jets and the seating configuration.

Once you have decided to purchase a hot tub or spa, you need to decide which type will best suit your home, your individual needs, and your finances. Once this has been accomplished, determine where you want to place your hot but. Do you want an indoor hot tub or an outdoor tub? Once you have determined the location, you need to establish whether you prefer an above ground model or an in ground model? As soon as you have made that decision, you can now proceed with the purchasing aspect. For an above (below ground spa's are wonderful, but relatively expensive, requiring permits, construction and more, as well as require much more maintenance) ground hot tub or spa,  Hot tubs and spas can range from about $2,000 to over $30,000 depending on the type you choose. Beware; when you are shopping for your tub, you will usually be presented with a basic low price unit. Once you begin asking about jet's and add-on, the price will climb, substantially! And don't forget you have to purchase the spa cover. Fortunately, must prices include the top, but not always?

There are many seat configurations available, and this is really important. How many seat do you want, as the amount of seats you choose will have a great impact on the size of the hot tub you choose. If you prefer a 2 seat hot tub, a square model may be best; whereas if you prefer a 4 or 6 seat model you will probably need a larger shape, such as an octagon or possibly even a large rectangle.

Take into consideration that you need a source of energy (Electricity/LPG-Propane/Natural Gas) to operate your hot tub or spa. Regardless of the energy source, you still have to have it brought to the unit. Natural gas, is by far the least inexpensive to operate, LGP the next, with Electricity running close. These costs are obviously on top of your purchase price. Many units today require only 110V power. This is accomplished by having an exterior power outlet in the vicinity of your chosen location. Once again your choice of placement might be determined by the source of energy.

When selecting a hot tub or spa, think about placing it under a (hopefully providing access to a nearby electrical outlet) deck or even constructing a roof over it.This will provide for year round use. There are now unique umbrella's that sit to the side, with a arm that swings the umbrella out over the spa. A roof is great, the downside is, it is hard to look up and see the heavens, when the roof it in the way, conversely, when it is pouring rain  or snowing, it is nice to have a roof or covering overhead.

It is very unwise to place a spa inside your home, even if you do have a specific room for it. Upon entering your home, you will always smell the required chemicals. If you do select to place the unit in your home, you must come up with a ventilation (exhaust fan pulling the air in the room to the outside) system. Having your unit in a room with a exterior door is great, but that is not sufficient for venting the moisture to outside. Also, make certain that your floor is ceramic tile. No other flooring can hold up to the water, rotting is imminent, with any other flooring.


It is a must that you purchase a solar blanket for your spa. This is placed under the spa cover and floats on the water when you are not using the unit. It is extremely worthwhile, as it saves the top from wearing out from excess moisture, and it provides for an additional thermal barrier.


If you decide on a Tub/Spa structure (walls, windows and roof) enclosure. Plan on placing the tub and enclosure on a concrete pad. There are many spa enclosures and hot tub enclosure styles to choose from, you're sure to find the exact fit for your needs. Even if that means inventing it! You can tweak most spa enclosures styles with scores of details, or design your ideal tub enclosure. Many manufactures perform this for customers, all of the time. Note: Unless you choose, it is not necessary to install a exhaust fan on these units, but many do..

Also consider that cedar ages well with repeated wettings, something that happens around hot tubs. They look great year after year.

Most pre-cut enclosures and pre-assembled spa enclosures are comprehensive-with finished windows and doors, all necessary wood, hardware and nails included. All enclosure pieces are exactingly cut for flawless assembly.

They're also easy to comprehend. All enclosure kits comes with a step-by-step spa enclosure assembly video plus a simply worded instruction manual on how your hot tub enclosures go together.

Enclosure Location - Choosing a site for a spa enclosure often becomes a balancing act between utility and aesthetics. Do you want a bright spot with loads of sunlight and a broad view? Or do you prefer a shady nook, private, and away from neighbors' eyes? Do you want to be right beside the pool for easy dips between the two? And will you want to stay close to the house to minimize the chill on the way back inside after a good soak?

If you intend to use your hot tub in all seasons, how easy will it be to access? Consider, also, what it will look like at different times of the year. A spot in the shade may be exposed in the winter but, for many people, the extra light this provides is welcome.

Consider that you will need easy access to the hot tub pump and plumbing connections, so consider this in the layout. Now's also the time consider ventilation and electricity. Think about the size too. It needs to be big enough to fit your hot tub, of course, but what else do you envision there?  A table and chairs? Some cupboards for storage? Some people also like to build a sauna in their spa enclosure. Before you decide on a size, it's wise to make a list of the many uses you anticipate. At this time you should lay out the area you have in mind and measure it. Ask yourself, does it blend into the existing environment?

Zoning requirements - In most cities and counties, a structure less than 100 sq ft doesn't need a building permit. However, there may be other bi-laws, like home owner covenants, setbacks from your property line, etc... It pays to find out ahead of time, so check with your local building enforcement office, they will walk you through the permit process, if one applies.

It is best to choose a level site with a slight pitch at the back. This promotes easy drainage. You can build your hot tub enclosure on a steeper slope but you'll want to give plenty of consideration to the foundation. It's best to avoid building at the foot of a hill but if you do, be sure you have excellent drainage.

 

ELECTRICAL REPAIRS


Electrical Switches and Receptacle outlets are reasonably simply to replace, It is not often that they must be replaced  but, since they are rather durable, they rarely cause trouble. Many older homes may have non grounded outlets and or non polarized outlets, calling for an easy upgrade. Sometimes vibration loosens outlets and their screw contacts and they may need tightening.

To Replace: Outlet Receptacle

  1. Trip the circuit breaker (on older circuitry remove the fuse) to off for the room or outlet you are replacing.  Make sure to test to be sure you have correct circuit by plugging a lamp that you know works into the receptacle.
  2. Unscrew and remove face the plate.
  3. Unscrew the mounting screws at top and bottom and pull the unit out.
  4. Notice how wires are connected and connect them to the new unit the same way. All white wires are connected to the side with a silvery color and the black wires to the brassy terminals. Note: on the face of the outlet, you will notice that on side is longer than the other. The white wire always goes to the long side on the reverse side, the black wire going to the shorter one.
  5. A green grounding wire is connected on newer systems so be sure to reconnect this wire also. If not and a loose ground wire is present, connect it to the grounding screw attached to the top of the metal support plate.
  6. Reassemble the outlet doing steps above in reverse order.
  7. Wrap electrical tape around the entire top, bottom and sides of the outlet so that when removing it in the future, you have less of a chance of touching wires.
  8. Replace the plate and test.

 

To Replace: Light Switch

When a light fixture is out, first replace the bulb with one you know lights. With the new bulb in the socket, turn on the switch. If light doesn't go on, check the fuse box or circuit breaker in the basement. If fuses are all good and/or the breakers are not tripped, the problem is most likely the wall switch.
 If you are dealing with a three-way or four-way switch, make sure you follow the wiring layout exactly. It really is not that difficult, but requires a little more concentration.

  1. Determine the type of switch needed. If the light can be turned on from two different wall switches, buy a "3-way switch." If only one switch turns on light, buy a "regular switch."
  2. Remove fuse or flip circuit breaker to off at the panel box, usually found in the ground floor or basement.
  3. Unscrew and remove the face plate from the wall switch.
  4. Unscrew the top and bottom mounting screws and pull switch out of box.
  5. loosen the terminal screws on the sides or ends of the switch and remove switch.
  6. Connect a new switch to the wires. Always curve or twist wires in a clockwise direction around screws so wires will wrap around screw when it is tightened. The black wire should go to the brass colored screw and the white wire to the silvery colored screw.
  7. Reassemble the switch, doing the above steps in reverse order.
  8. Wrap electrical tape around the entire top, bottom and sides of the switch so that when removing it in the future, you have less of a chance of touching wires.
  9. Replace the plate and test.


If you are experiencing continued tripping of a breaker in your electrical panel, there are one of two causes.
The breaker has simply worn out (wish for this one). Unfortunately it is difficult to tell if a breaker has worn out.
Never hold a thrown breaker to the open position manually; this is an invitation to a house fire.
 The only way to find out, is to purchase a new one and install it.
There is a short in the wiring. (call a licensed electrician)



HOME EXTERIOR MAINTENANCE

 

Clean the mold from your siding with a solution of bleach l gallon water / 2 cups household bleach and 1/2 cup of powdered (tide, etc.) laundry soap and soft brush on threaded 5-6 foot pole. Hose off residue with plenty of water. Bleach can damage some plants, so you may want to protect surrounding vegetation with plastic sheeting. Using a pressure washer on siding can cause damage to the paint, unless you use a pressure setting of 300 psi or less.

North and west walls are subjected to more damaging UV rays than south facing walls. South and wind exposed walls tend to suffer more from damp.

If your exterior walls are flaking or are cracked, this is the first sign that the paint is failing. It can also be a sign of rot or moisture. It could be due to incorrect preparation when the paint was first applied. 

Sand or scrape off existing paint, and prime before re-painting. For concrete, repaint with a suitable paint (such as an acrylic). If in doubt, check with the manufacturer of your particular exterior surface.

If moisture is the problem, address the cause of the moisture, if necessary replace any rotten timbers or siding.

Wash down the walls, windows and frames regularly. This is particularly important for houses near the sea .

Concentrate on areas that do not get rain washed, such as under eaves and at the top of garage door. Use a soft brush and low pressure hose. Do not use a high pressure water blaster.

For sea spray, moss and lichen, you might have to use specific cleaning products – check with the manufacturer of your particular siding.

All paint chalks. Minor chalking will not affect performance but chalking eventually causes the coating to thin. You will need to remove the chalking to prepare the surface for repainting.

The base of timber can rot or be damaged if it comes into contact with the ground or with paving.

You may need to install drains curbs to capture surface run-off, ensuring the path of water is diverted to, driveways or landscaping do not direct water towards or under the house.

Overflowing gutters or trapped water can wreak havoc to your siding and perimeter bedding, so you must address the cause of the dampness, if you can. Identify and repair leaks and clear the gutters out. When cleaning out gutters, place a piece of chicken wire over the top of the pipe to prevent blockages in the down pipe from going doing. Then scoop out. Do not forget to remove the chicken wire.

Note: You do not want to directly hose out debris in your gutters, as the debris bulk will block up your down pipes and subsequently plug up the landscape drains, then you really have a mess to deal with.



Precautionary Tip: Do you know where the main water shut off valve is at for your home or apartment?
IF NOT, LOCATE IT AND REMEMBER IT!

 

EYE CARE

Most eye injuries are preventable, simply apply safety and precaution.
Wear eye protection:
Safety glasses
Goggles
Face shields.
Whenever there is the risk of flying objects (tools, hammers, etc), chemicals use eye protection, whether you are on the job or doing projects at home, to include: hand and power tools, auto repair and yard work, such as lawn mowing, edging, weed cutting.

When participating in Sports, anytime there are balls, racquets, sticks, especially racket ball, handball, squash, hockey, basketball and baseball, you need eye protection, this includes the riding of bicycles.

Know eye safety hazards related to your specific activity on and off the job. And remember that eye hazards extend to bystanders too.

If you get something in your eye:
Don't rub it, Let your tears naturally wash the eye or use an eyewash. If you do not get relief, keep the eye closed, bandage it lightly and see your physician or emergency room, immediately.

 

DO YOU HAVE AN FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN PREPARED?


Your Family Disaster Plan

  • Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather, and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
  • Pick two places to meet:
    1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
    2. Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.
  • Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.

Family Checklist

  • Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
  • Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.
  • Show each family member how and when to turn off the utilities (water, gas, and electricity) at the main switches.
  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
  • Get training from the fire department for each family member on how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
  • Conduct a home hazard hunt.
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
  • Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster

Practice Your Plan

  • Quiz your kids every six months or so.
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuations.
  • Replace stored water and stored food every six months.
  • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.

Have a Battery-Powered Radio for News and Instructions!

Check for Damage in Your Home...

  • Use flashlights. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect damage.
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
  • Shut off any other damaged utilities. (You will need a professional to turn gas back on.)
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids immediately.

Remember to...

  • Confine or secure your pets.
  • Call your family contact--do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
  • Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off. Keep at least a case of bottled water on hand at all times.
  • Stay away from any downed power lines.

 

There are six basics you should stock for your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to carry container. Possible containers include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag.

Water

  • Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.
  • Store one gallon of water per person per day
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person in your household for food preparation/sanitation).

Food

  • Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight. Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster Supplies Kit:
  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
  • Canned juices
  • Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
  • High energy foods
  • Vitamins
  • Food for infants
  • Comfort/stress foods

First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.

  • (20) Adhesive bandages various sizes.
  • (1) 5" x 9" sterile dressing.
  • (1) Conforming roller gauze bandage.
  • (2) Triangular bandages.
  • (2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads.
  • (2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze pads.
  • (1) Roll 3" cohesive bandage.
  • (2) Germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • (6) Antiseptic wipes.
  • (2) Pair large medical grade non-latex gloves.
  • Adhesive tape, 2" width.
  • Anti-bacterial ointment.
  • Cold pack.
  • Scissors (small, personal).
  • Tweezers.
  • CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield.

Non-Prescription Drugs

  • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
  • Laxative
  • Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)

Tools and Supplies

  • Mess kits, or paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
  • Emergency preparedness manual
  • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cash or traveler's checks, change
  • Non-electric can opener, utility knife
  • Fire extinguisher: small canister ABC type
  • Tube tent
  • Pliers
  • Tape
  • Compass
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Signal flare
  • Paper, pencil
  • Needles, thread
  • Medicine dropper
  • Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
  • Whistle
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Map of the area (for locating shelters)

Sanitation

  • Toilet paper, towelettes
  • Soap, liquid detergent
  • Feminine supplies
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Disinfectant
  • Household chlorine bleach

Clothing and Bedding
Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.

  • Sturdy shoes or work boots
  • Rain gear
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Hat and gloves
  • Thermal underwear
  • Sunglasses

Special Items

  • Remember family members with special requirements, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons

For Baby

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered milk
  • Medications

For Adults

  • Heart and high blood pressure medication
  • Insulin
  • Prescription drugs
  • Denture needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Extra eye glasses

Entertainment

  • Games and books

Important Family Documents

  • Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container:
    • Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks and bonds
    • Passports, social security cards, immunization records
    • Bank account numbers
    • Credit card account numbers and companies
  • Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
  • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
  • Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the supplies kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Keep items in airtight plastic bags. Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh. Replace your stored food every six months. Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
  • Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.

 

Water Heater Maintenance

 

The majority of water heater problems begin by unusual noises or by water that's either too hot or not hot enough. Often you can correct the problem yourself. A possible exception is a water leak, which requires repair, by a qualified person.

Whenever someone turns on a hot water faucet, heated water is drawn from the top of the tank and is replaced by cold water that is carried to the bottom through the dip tube. When the water temperature drops, a thermostat activates the two heating elements. An electric heater needs no venting. An anti-corrosion anode attracts corrosion that would otherwise attack the tank's walls.

Safety note: For Electric Water heaters, the Electricity should be turned off at the circuit breaker.

Open the drain valve at the bottom about every 6 months, letting the water run into a bucket until it looks clear (usually about 5 gallons). This will prevent sediment accumulation. If there are bits of metal or rust in the water see Draining and Flushing section below and have the anode replaced.


Annually test the temperature-pressure buildup by lifting or depressing the pressure release (TPR) valve's handle and draining water from the overflow pipe. If water doesn't drain out, shut off water to the heater, open a hot water faucet somewhere in the house, and replace the valve.

How to drain & Flush your tank.
Turn off the circuit breaker to the water heater, for electric models.
Close the cold water valve.
Attach a garden hose to the drain valve, so the water will either drain to outside or into a floor drain.
Open the drain valve and open one hot water faucet somewhere in the house to let in air.
When all water has drained, turn the cold water valve on and off until the water from the drain looks clear.
Close the drain valve and the hot water faucet, open the cold water valve and restore power.

If the temperature is to cold or to hot, "turn off the circuit breaker to the Water heater". Open both side panels with a screwdriver. Remove the insulation and you will see the thermostats. Do not make major adjustments -- make them incrementally over a period of one week. Always replace the insulation and panel covers before turning the circuit breaker back on.



KITCHEN IDEAS

A well-equipped, beautifully dressed kitchen provides both a sense of well-being and a favorite place in the home.

The kitchen is the second most costly room, per square foot, in your home, after bathrooms, and is worth a significant investment, but there are ways to cut costs, bringing your purse and your dreams together with a plan that is agreeable to both!

Re-evaluate each cost estimate. Be sure there is nothing you have overlooked.

Consider what items you might be willing to negotiate compromise or eliminate.

FYI

  • Dishwashers - 24" wide (for installation in a cabinet, raising the height, allow 27")
  • Free-standing and drop-in ranges - 3 -" wide
  • Cook Tops - 30", 36" wide. (Some modular units available in 42" and 48" wide)
  • Wall Ovens - 27", 30", 36" wide. (typically)
  • Refrigerators - free-standing models, 30 - 36" wide. (Built-in models, up to 48" wide)
  • Trash Compactors - 15" and 18" wide (you need a 110V electrical outlet)
  • Microwave Ovens - come in various sizes
  • Your wall cabinets are 18" above your kitchen countertop.
  • Your kitchen upper wall cabinets are typically 30" in height
  • The height to the top of your kitchen counter is typically 36"
  • Lower kitchen cabinets come in widths ranging from 9" to 72".
  • When ordering custom cabinets, seriously consider having laminate installed on the shelving.
  • In new kitchen construction have your heating and A/C ducts installed in the kick base of cabinets

 

The Lightning:

Creating the best lighting design for your kitchen is presenting your kitchen in it's best light. You are highlighting various appliances, the floor, the cabinets and the wall covering.

The biggest mistake is not having a good mix of lighting that meets your needs. “When you talk to someone who doesn't really know what's new in the business, you may end up with only recessed can lighting, Recessed lighting is great for creating a blanket of light, but not for bringing light specifically to where you need it.

When visiting a lighting showroom, be prepared. Bring a picture of your kitchen, if possible or at least know your kitchen dimensions. How tall is the ceiling? Where are the doors? How much space is there between the cabinets and the ceiling? How much space is there between the cabinets and the countertop?

If you are planning to update an existing kitchen, consider how drastic you want to be with regards to tearing apart your existing ceiling. If you are tearing the ceiling out, that is important to know because then you can add recessed lighting, If you don’t want to destroy the ceiling, then one must go a different way with mounting installations.

Once you have the plan in place, use the same color bulbs throughout the kitchen so that the tone of the floor, counters and cabinets will all be the same intensity.

Some areas in your kitchen need supplemental task lighting.

One or two track lights over the sink will give you the illumination you need for washing dishes and scouring pots and pans.

-At the sink and range, an individual recessed down light, equipped with an energy-efficient compact fluorescent tube, will provide you with adequate task lighting when installed in the ceiling or in soffits over these two busy work areas.

-Island counters and breakfast eating areas can be lit with decorative pendants. When used with a dimmer control, these ceiling-hung fixtures will provide you with adequate task lighting for homework, hobbies, or family business and allow you to lower the light for dining or entertaining.

- Under Cabinet Task lighting is ideal for countertops. Mount as close to the back of the cabinets as possible to avoid glare and reflection off work surfaces. Choose energy-efficient fluorescent fixtures that cover at least two-thirds the length of the counter.

- Highlight your cabinetry! Lighting effects on kitchen cabinets can give you an opportunity to give an original, modern look to your kitchen. Lighting can be accentuated by placing low-voltage mini-lights over, under, or inside cabinets.

A few tips:
Highlight your cabinets with lighting.
Utilize Dimmers, they are great at setting a mood.
Utilize warm colors in your kitchen to create a welcoming atmosphere.

The Flooring:

Your selection of flooring material is really broad; ceramic tile, wood floors, laminates, vinyl sheet. Each one has its cheer leaders and some choices are more prevalent in one part of the country more than others. Ceramic tile is often chosen for homes in the West and South. Wood floors are extremely popular in the East and Mid-West. Vinyl floors are the perennial favorite in all parts of the country and laminates are gaining popularity all across the country. Some require little care and they are quite resilient. Vinyl has its fans, but it requires much more maintenance and is more susceptible to damage.

The sink:
Is grand central in your kitchen. Nearly every task begins or ends at the sink. Choosing the right one for the way you will use it and the way it will look may be one of the most important decisions you will make when planning your kitchen.

-Stainless Steel is more popular than ever, the stainless steel sink is the perfect complement to the 'professional' kitchen that boasts stainless steel appliances. These sinks are easy to care for. The quality of a stainless steel sink is measured by its gauge (the higher the number, the lower the quality). Tile and solid surface counters allow under mount installation for easy clean up - just push the wet and the mess right in with no lip or edge to collect debris or dampness.

-Brass and Copper is sometimes chosen for kitchens seeking the "gourmet" appearance.

-Solid surface (Corian®) sinks are attractive. They are all custom made to meet your specific measurements. These wonderful man-made composite materials present an easy to clean surface that is stain and scratch resistant. Solid surface sinks also allow for either surface or under mount applications and can be fabricated to create a completely smooth transition from a solid surface top with no discernable ridge or line where they are joined. Computerized cutting allows fabricators to create custom designs for both decorative and functional choices.

-Porcelain continues to be number one, there is nothing to compare with the gleaming surface of a quality porcelain sink. Surprisingly durable, porcelain on cast iron sinks are available in bolder colors and more shades than any other material. Available in either under mount or surface mount styles; porcelain sinks are available in every imaginable style and with a wide variety of functional options and features.

-Enamel sinks are also less durable. Available in several colors and configurations enamel sinks do require more careful maintenance. One caveat is that top mounted models may be changed out with relatively little trouble, so enamel sink may be a better way to cut costs than with some more permanent choices for your kitchen like the cabinets. A good quality enamel sink may be expected to last for several years with some TLC. Be sure not to scour with abrasive cleaners.

-Soapstone is a natural mineral substance, it is easy to care for, available in several colors. ranges and in some of the most 'now' styles like extra deep farm sinks with wide apron fronts.

The Countertops:

When you choose your countertop, select a color and texture that compliments your cabinetry, floor or paint selection.

Remember also that it pays to select a material that will withstand years of use without extraordinary maintenance requirements. Up front you are paying a lot of money to update your countertops, get your money’s worth, and is easily repairable should an accident occur.

Granite, marble, and limestone, all popular for countertops, are beautiful natural materials. In most areas, you'll find a great selection of colors and figures.

Granite Countertops:
Granite is second only to diamonds in hardness. It is simply the best work surface available. Its polished finish won’t wear off. Unlike marble, synthetic and laminate countertops, granite will not blister, scratch or crack; and it is highly stain resistant. "Granite "is stone". Though costly, when buffed to a shine it creates a beautiful look for kitchen counters. There are numerous colors and designs to pick from. It is imperative that you work with a craftsman who has the experience and expertise to fabricate your countertop.

Pros: holds up to heat; comes in a range of beautiful colors; looks permanent and substantial; will last a lifetime; has a high value to home buyers.

Cons: very expensive but it's becoming more affordable as it becomes more widely used; requires considerable maintenance, including periodic sealing; absorbs stains; can crack if stressed; somewhat limited range of colors available, though again, more become available all the time.

Marble, Limestone and Dolomite is comprised of calcium and magnesium carbonates; it can actually dissolve when in contact with acidic food materials such as vinegar, tomatoes, lemons etc. It is recommended one maintains a regular sealing these types of countertop materials.

Soapstone does chip and scratch easily, but it also depends on the type of soapstone you choose. There are many different kinds out there and they can really range in look (dark green to fairly black, lots of veining or very little) and in how hard they are (easily scratched vs. fairly hard) is not recommended for kitchen countertops since it is so soft, absorbs everything and scratches easily, But, many of those who have had it installed in their kitchens, rave about it, despite that as time goes by,  it becomes covered in a network of fine scratches, so if you are looking for a smooth unbroken surface, this is not the material for you. Many like this effect because it makes the counter look like it's always been there. Soapstone can be sanded and smoothed out if desired.


Honed slate  countertops looks great. Slate looks great, costs the same or less than granite, and holds up well. One should oil it a few times a year.

Concrete countertop makers often develop their own signature looks by using proprietary mix ingredients, casting techniques and surface treatments. Some fabricators prefer to cast the countertop onsite, setting the mold on top of the base kitchen cabinets and then filling it with concrete. Regardless of the casting method used, these are not off the shelf creations. Every casting is specifically designed for you and is thus, inherently unique, .are precast in molds built to the customer's specifications so they can be formed, cured and finished under controlled conditions  the final product.

The uniqueness of concrete countertops.

  • Incorporate curves and angles. Customize the color to match another kitchen design element, such as a tile, a swatch of fabric or a favorite piece of china.
  • Add sparkle with aggregates or glass chips even fiber-optic lighting.
  • Incorporate personal mementos, such as bits of broken dishware and bottle fragments excavated from the backyard of an old home.
  • Integrate built-ins: sinks,, drain boards, soap dishes and trivets are all easily integrated into concrete countertops and, in many cases, are also cast from concrete.

Corian® solid surfaces are versatile enough to meet your needs, providing you wth distinctive desires-and design considerations. To complete the look, add a Corian® manufactures sink and a coved backsplash. Get creative with inlays of wood, tile, metal or glass

Stainless steel countertops:
If you seek a restaurant-kitchen look This is the one to have. It is somewhat tough, due to  a alloy steel that contains a dash of chromium to make it rust-resistant. Stainless steel is typically attached to plywood to provide strength and deaden its sound. The metallic hue blends well with most any color. The surface is also the choice of restaurants for a reason: Stainless steel is nonporous (which limits the growth of bacteria), doesn't chip or scratch and requires minimal maintenance.

Note: Though stainless steel shows scratches and fingerprints, new non-directional finishes limits their visibility.

Pros

  • Can handle hot pots.
  •  Won’t stain.
  • Easy to wipe clean.
  • Smooth and cool to the touch.
  • Flexible enough to make an integral sink.

Cons

  • Shows scratches and dulls knives, you must used cutting boards.
  • Shows fingerprints, so it might not be the best choice if you have young children.
  • Can dent and be noisy if not attached to a strong base.
  • Difficult and costly fabrication.

To Clean
Stainless steel is used in busy restaurants for a reason a quick wipe with warm water and soap should do the trick. Be sure to avoid abrasive pads, as they'll scratch the surface.

 

Range Hoods:

Appearance aside,  the specific function of your  kitchen ventilation unit is to remove all the greasy, smoky, steamy, gaseous byproducts that you don't want lingering in your kitchen. When it comes to your choice of the right range hood, it usually depends on the design and layout of your kitchen, your local building codes, and your own  preferences.

Many of the new, innovative range hood systems use carbon filters. The carbon filters provide better, cleaner ventilation and may eliminate the need for an air duct that leads outside. In addition, the durability and effectiveness of carbon filters is far superior to that of conventional filters.

One of many advantages of range hoods is the ease of assembly. Many modern hoods have a telescopic chimney which allows more freedom for adjustments to the placement of the cooker hood. The newer hood chimneys are also easier to bypass through rough walls which makes installation faster and easier.

Kitchen Cabinets: Prior to you contacting any cabinet maker, off-the-shelf supplier or kitchen remodeling specialist, make sure you get some basic points clear:

  • Material used. What kind of material do you want your kitchen to be? Wood or veneer covered doors and drawer faces. Wooden kitchen cabinets will give a warm and friendly kitchen atmosphere.
  • Take into consideration your storage requirements; you can never have enough in a kitchen, so make certain to maximize the possibilities.
  • When having new cabinets made to order, think about maintenance requirements. Have your shelves and drawers covered with laminate for an easy to maintain surface.
  • Framed or panel kitchen doors and drawer fronts are also an important decision. Nicely framed mortise and doors will give the furniture a more traditional look than plain panel fronts.
  • Material for the Worktop. This is a very important point for your decision. The material used for the worktop can make the difference if you later on like the kitchen or not. You can choose from a variety of different materials like marble, granite or other stones, to laminated plywood, metal and massif wood e.g. ashwood.
  • Hinges, knobs and drawer slides should be of excellent quality. Especially this type of kitchen hardware is really what you want to be as durable as possible. So look for high quality fittings at all your cabinets, i.e., knobs, hinges and drawer slides (today you can purchase sets, that by-the-mere-touch, the drawer will close itself)
  • Make sure that the sink and faucet (as well as complement each other) you have in mind will flow/work with your design..

 



HOUSE EXTERIOR MILDEW


For those that are plagued with outside house mildew, it is simple to eliminate.

Materials needed:

50' Garden hose with adjustable pressure nozzle.
Empty 5 gallon bucket
1-2 gallons "household bleach"
1-2 lb.. of powdered laundry detergent (all, tide, etc.)
5 foot wooden handle w/ threaded end
5-6 ladder
1 threaded nylon brush (2" x 6")
Clothing apparel, you are not fond of.

Mix:
Fill 5 gal. bucket 2/3 full with water.
Pour in (l cup) household powdered detergent
Pour in 1/2 gallon of bleach (Always pour in after the water)

Application:
Make certain that your windows are closed.
Lightly hose 20 -30 foot section down with water spray.
Dip wooden stick with nylon brush attached into solution.
Swab on the mixture, make at lease 2 passes over each area.
Do a 10 foot wide section at a time.
Let mixture sit for about 10 - 15 minutes.
Hose off.

Occasionally, you will have to repeat the application twice.
Your house exterior will now have a fresh clean look to it. Do this cleaning procedure every spring or fall.



LADDER USE

Ladders are a great convenience, they are also extremely dangerous. Thousands of injuries happen yearly, due to ladders..
Select the right ladder for the job. Do not use a metal ladder when around any type of electrical line or electrical equipment.
The correct ladder height is a minimum of 3 feet above the roof line or work area.  Do not exceed it.
Your ladder should be on a flat, level surface.
When using a extension ladder, it should be at a 75 degree angle.
Do not use a ladder if the rungs are unsafe.
When climbing up or down a ladder, go one-step-at-a-time. Always look down at the next rung, when going down.
Make sure your shoes are free of mud or anything that could prove slippery when going up or down. A smart move would to wear slip-resistant soled shoes, but they still must be free of anything slippery.

 

KNIVES

Are one of the most useful tools in the kitchen, they are also one of the most dangerous. Always cut away from your body on a proper cutting surface.

 

ENERGY BILL $AVINGS


Many households could save 20-30 percent on their household energy bills by implementing energy efficiency improvements

Typically appliances are responsible for about 20% of your energy bills. Refrigerators, freezers, clothes washers, dryers Hot water heaters, dishwashers, and ranges and ovens are the primary energy-using appliances in most households.

Some simple tips for keeping down your power bill. In the Winter/Summer.

Computers, Monitors & TVs:
These units are ravenous users of energy. Some even use energy even when they are turned off.
Turn off all equipment every night, especially monitors and printers.
Consider attaching all electronic devices in a room into one power strip: simply switch off the power strip after shutting down your computer to shut down unused electronic devices.

During cooler months, keep the draperies and shades on your south exposure open in the daytime, to allow the sunlight to enter and provide warmth, Conversely, in the hotter months, close them..
If you do not have energy efficient windows, install exterior or interior storm windows, which can reduce heat loss through the windows by  25%-50%. Ideally, the windows feature weather stripping at moveable joints; strong, durable materials; and interlocking or overlapping joints.
Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows that leak air.

Bright Idea
Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent (CFLs) bulbs, this is a great $avings place to begin. A little at a time. The $avings is significant. They use to 60% less energy on average and last about 10 times longer than incandescent lights. note: Incandescent bulbs do not put our heat, as do conventional bulbs, so do not use for winter protection of pipes, etc. Homes that incorporate these features not only use less electricity, but also stay cooler in the summer because less heat is being generated by lights. Light bulbs also create uneven heat loads in your home, which makes constant and even temperature control harder to achieve.
Rely on natural lighting by opening blinds and shades. Turn off lights when you leave the room.

In the Bathroom & Laundry room:
Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
Turn off kitchen, bath and other exhaust fans within 20 minutes after cooking or bathing.

Utility Room/Appliances:
Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater; 115 degrees is comfortable for most users.
Make sure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are properly maintained. Check manuals for maintenance frequency.
Clean or replace filters on furnaces every three months, or more often, if necessary.
Older appliances which are not energy efficient are even worse at wasting energy. When replacing your appliances, make certain to purchase appliances that are "Energy efficient"

In the Living room:
Keep your fireplace damper closed with it is not in use. (Tip: place a colored ribbon on the handle, so you know what position it is in) If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.

In the Kitchen:
Use a microwave oven or a toaster oven when cooking smaller meals instead of using a conventional electric range or oven.
Vacuum the coils of your refrigerator regularly. Refrigerators consume a high amount of energy, and a routine coil cleaning can keep them running at their most energy efficient levels.

Landscaping:
A well-designed landscape not only can add beauty to your home but it also can reduce your heating and cooling costs. On average, landscaping for energy efficiency provides enough energy savings to return an initial investment in less than 8 years.

Properly selected and placed landscaping can provide excellent wind protection, or windbreaks, which will reduce heating costs considerably. Furthermore, the benefits from these windbreaks will increase as the trees and shrubs mature.

Basically, a windbreak can lower the wind chill near your home. Wind chill occurs when wind speed lowers the outside temperature. For example, if the outside temperature is 10°F (-12°C) and the wind speed is 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour), the wind chill is -24°F (-31°C). A windbreak will reduce wind speed for a distance of as much as 30 times the windbreak's height. But for maximum protection, plant your windbreak at a distance from your home of two to five times the mature height of the trees.

 

Never carry an aluminum ladder close to power lines. "If" you live, you will never be the same.


  

Quick Tip:  To estimate wall covering: l. Measure the entire distance in  feet around the room (2 X Length + 2 X width) 2. Multiply this by the height of the walls in feet for the total square feet to be covered. 3. Divide this number by the number of square feet in a roll of the wall covering patter you have chosen for the number of rolls necessary. Note: by not deducting for windows, doors or other non covered spaces, you will be sure to order enough.

 

Never hook up a generator to your main panel box "Without first turning off your MAIN BREAKER". Your generator will send electricity back out into the grid! Electrocuting your lineman or neighbor. Never operate a generator or any other type of internal combustion motor inside. Not in the garage, basement, or carport. Carbon Monoxide Kills!

 

Never,  leave an electric space heater running when you are out of the room or out of the house. These things cause many house fires each year. They have their place as a secondary heat, not primary heat.

 

ENTERTAINMENT DECKS

A carefully planned and well built deck not only adds value to your house, but is an extension of your home and your lifestyle. Decks are often the central point for family gatherings, outdoor cookouts, and outdoor entertainment. Decks also allow you to relax outdoors. A backyard deck can be a variety of shapes from square or rectangular to octagonal. How you plan to use the space? A place for entertaining large groups? A cozy spot for two? An outdoor dining area for the family? or just a large open space to relax.

Synthetic materials are a rapidly growing alternative to wood in the deck industry today. The main advantages to alternative deck materials are that they are maintenance free. Decking and railing products from Trex (which come in different colors) products or L.P. Weather Best, they are made from a composite of virgin plastics and wood so they look just like wood, but doesn't need to be treated like wood. There's no need to stain, seal, or paint because the color runs completely through the planks. The decking can be cut, drilled and installed just like wood, but unlike wood, it resists warping, splitting, splintering and termite and mold damage.

Typically decks are built on the first floor outside of the kitchen or family room, but of course, can be they built anywhere there is access from the house. Some people put decks outside a first or second floor master bedroom, others place it off a second story theater, for use as a "Intermission Deck". More often than not, you want to pick a backyard spot that receives a mix of sun and shade or a place that is private or can be screened by adding large shrubs. Generally the southwest and southeast corners of a house offer the best combination of sun and shade.

There are many varying uses for decks. Some place them on upper story decks, and may be constructed without stairs in situations where there are security concerns or pets and small children. Most municipalities will have code requirements for safety railings on upper story constructions. Patio Decks can be constructed to match the floor level of a main entrance. They can extend the floor space of a house. Patio decks can be elevated above existing original slabs to enhance the landscaping and set apart an outdoor entertainment area. Screen and Panel decks have removable glass panels that make them available for enjoyment in any season, removing them in the warmer seasons.

 

 

Clothes Dryer fires are number three on the list that cause house fires. Keep it clean and If you can't do it yourself, hire it done

 

FIXER-UPPER TIPS


If you enjoy doing projects, follow these "do-it-yourself" safety tips.
Read the manufacturer's instructions before using any tool.
Read the labels on containers of paint, solvent and other products, and always follow safety guidelines.
Wear protective goggles, gloves and face mask, when recommended.
Make sure all power tools, extension cords and electrical outlets are in good condition, this includes looking for frayed or worn cords..
Before you begin any project that is behind a wall, make sure you are aware of the location of any electrical wires or pipes before drilling, cutting or hammering. There are detectors available at your local hardware store make specifically for this purpose.
Do not wear loose clothing when operating saws, drills, or any other equipment that could become entangled, this includes rings and watches.
Always turn off and unplug power tools prior to making any adjustments or repairs.
Be sure a tool is switched off before plugging or unplugging.
Do not twist or turn while lifting. Always turn to face the object you are about to lift.
Think before you lift. Don't lift more than you can handle.
Bend at your knees, not at your waist. Lift with the strong muscles of your hips and legs. Keep your back straight and your stomach muscles tight.
Straighten up slowly.

Work gloves:
When handling slippery objects, use gloves made of cotton or fabric blends, to improve your grip.
Wear metal mesh gloves to protect your hands from accidental cuts and scratches.
Use disposable gloves, usually made of lightweight plastic, to help guard against mild irritants such as cleaners and detergents.


Do not touch anyone in contact with a power source. Instead, unplug equipment or turn off the power at the breaker panel. NEVER touch a fallen power line, or anything or anyone in contact with it.

Your home should have Ground Fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) throughout, especially in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room. They are necessary anywhere where there is a chance that you can come in contact with a live wire and be around water or water pipes. A GFCI could very possibly save your life.



ERGONOMICS 101

Is your work material within easy reach?
When sitting at your workstation, are your feet flat on the floor? they should be.
Is your monitor at eye level, straight ahead and at a distance at which you can read the screen without leaning forward or backward?
Is your keyboard positioned so that key stroking can be performed with your writs, hands, knuckles and fingers in a relaxed, natural or neutral position.?
Do you type gently?
Do your arm rest interfere with your movement?
Is your posture good?
Do you occasionally take a break and remove yourself from repetitive motion?.

 


Quick Tip: Avoid putting celery or banana peels in your garbage disposal, it can clog them up. Any garden vegetable or herb with string type texture is simply bad for the disposal.


Quick Tip: Never clean your Marble counters with Vinegar, it can etch them.

 

ALARMS AND DETECTORS

Even the most careful homeowner can experience a fire, so you need to be prepared. "When fire occurs, you could have only minutes to get out".

Working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors can save your life. They should be located on every level of your home and in every sleeping area. Test the units monthly to make sure they're working. Also be sure to choose models that are approved by an independent testing lab, such as Underwriters Laboratories.

Quick Tip
: If the alarm is too high to reach, simply use the end of a broom to reach it, pushing on the "RED'" button.

Smoke detectors differ:

Ionization detectors
maintain a small internal electoral current. When smoke enters the chamber and interrupts the current, the alarm sounds. These types of alarms are set off by a relatively small amount of smoke, so are a good choice for sleeping areas.
Photoelectric detectors use light instead of electrical current. These units require heavier smoke for activation so are less susceptible to false alarms. They're a good choice for rooms where people smoke, cook, use candles or there's a fireplace
.

Additionally:

                    Keep Matches and lighters out of kids' hands, preferable in a hard-to-reach location.
                    Never allow children access to lighted candles.

                    Don't allow children to place near space heaters, and keep heaters at least three feet away from    anything flammable.

                    Don't allow unsupervised children under the age of 13 to use the stove


Fire becomes an additional concern when small children are in a home. Their curiosity unfortunately is unlimited, regardless of the danger. Teach your children about fire danger as early on as you can. Research has shown that children catch on to fire safety messages early on, sometimes as early as pre-school. When you are performing your monthly testing of smoke detectors in your home, have your children participate. It is also very important that you design and practice a fire escape plan. Obviously, you must have your children participate and know how to exit their home and wait at the designated meeting place ousted of the home.

Keep fire extinguishers in your kitchen and garage. Most fire extinguishers are combination Class ABC types. Class A puts our fires of ordinary combustibles. Class B is used on fires involving flammable liquids, such as oil. Class C is used on Electrical fires. Ideally all of yours will be Class ABC, one for all.

Smoke detector batteries should be replaced twice a year!

 

Do not overload electrical circuits or sockets. Make sure every room has enough electrical outlets to avoid the need for multiple attachment plugs, which overload the circuit. If outlets or switches feel warm, shut off the circuit and have them checked by an electrician. A electrical outlet or cord "should never feel warm".

 

Quick Tip: Pour a cup of baking soda into the opening of your clogged drain and then add a cup of hot vinegar. After a few minutes, flush the drain with a quart of boiling water.

 




Does your home have a fire extinguisher? it should! and It should be easily accessible and charged. If the arrow is in the "RED", the unit needs to be recharged or replaced.

 

Quick Tip: Turn power off at the breaker box before attempting any electrical work. Which Breaker? simply plug in your nearest lamp or use a radio turned on loud if you are alone to see if you have thrown the right breaker.

 

SOFTWOOD LUMBER  GRADING

1. Select and Finish Materials Appearance grades. moldings, trim work, cabinets and interior walls.

2. Boards-Five Grades referred to as "Common" General Building, crafts, form lumber, flooring and sheathing.
The "Stress Related Boards" are special use products for light trusses, rafters and box beams for factory built and mobile homes.
3. Dimension Lumber- This category is limited to surfaced softwood lumber that is 2 to 4 inches thick and is to be used as framing components.
     a. Light Framing: General framing and stud walls. Up to 4 inch wide.

     b. Structural Light Framing: Studs This is suitable for higher stress applications such as roof trusses and concrete forms. Up to 4 inches wide
    
     c. Studs: Loan bearing and stud walls of 2 x 4 and 2 x 6 construction. Lengths are less than 10 feet. Up to 4 inches wide.

     d.. Structural Joist and Planks: Roof rafters, ceiling and floor joist. 5 inch and wider.

     e. Timber: Heavy beam support and floor and ceiling supports.

      f. Appearance Framing: High bend strength ratio, over 2 inches wide, and good appearance for special applications. Appearance framing grade has a 5% Bending Strength Ratio.

 

PORTABLE HEATER SAFETY:
Heaters should have a 3 foot minimum distance from any surrounding wall or anything that can burn. Portable space heaters should never be left unattended or left on while you sleep. Have your wood stoves (including any other type) and chimneys inspected annually by a professional and cleaned as often as recommended. As for clothes dryers, clean the lint trap every time you place a load to dry. It is wise to check the vent for clearance also, at least every six months.

 


 

Quick Tip: Sprinkle salt on a piece of paper and run your sticky iron over it a few times while the iron is hot. You should notice a big improvement next time you use the iron. Waxed paper (just a few seconds) is also excellent.

 

HOME SECURITY


keep shrubbery trimmed, thick shrubbery and trees cover your windows, allowing burglars to work undetected.
Plant thorny bushes around windows.
When you retire at night or leave your home, make sure all doors and windows are locked. It is recommended that you install peepholes on all exterior doors, this way, you can ask for identification from those wanting access.
Make sure that your address is visible from the street, this is vital in a emergency situation.
Always have your mail held at the post office while you are out of town, as well as not having your newspaper delivered while you are away, this is a sure sign that the way is clear to a burglar.
Ask your neighbor to pick up and packages that might be delivered, if that is not possible, advise your delivery company to hold the item, until you return.
Do not leave out garbage cans.
If possible, leave your extra car in the driveway; this gives the appearance that the house is occupied. Also, make sure that the vehicle is also close up to the garage door, this way , thieves cannot back up to your garage for loading.
Do not leave keys under your doormat, flower pot or window ledges, intruders check these first.
Use timers for lights, radio and perhaps a television, have each go on and off at difference times to give your home a lived-in look while you are away.
Utilize Motion Sensors - they are used so that the lights go on when someone is in the space. They also provide convenience and security when used for outdoor lighting, while minimizing the use of the lighting.

 

 

 Home Ventilation

If too little outdoor air enters a home, pollutants can sometimes accumulate to levels that can pose health and comfort problems. Likewise, one approach to lowering the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in your home is to increase the amount of outdoor air coming in.

Outdoor air enters and leaves a house by: infiltration, natural ventilation, and mechanical ventilation. In a process known as infiltration, outdoor air flows into the house through openings, joints, and cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings, and around windows and doors (air may also move out of the house in this manner -- this is called exfiltration). In natural ventilation, air moves through opened windows and doors. Air movement associated with infiltration and natural ventilation is caused by air temperature differences between indoors and outdoors and by wind. Finally, there are a number of mechanical ventilation devices, from exhaust (vented outdoors) fans that intermittently remove air from a single room, such as bathrooms and the kitchen, to air handling systems that use fans and duct work to continuously remove indoor air and distribute filtered and conditioned outdoor air to strategic points throughout the house. The rate at which outdoor air replaces indoor air is described as the air exchange rate. When there is little infiltration, natural ventilation, or mechanical ventilation, the air exchange rate is low and pollutant levels can increase.

Unless they are built with means of mechanical ventilation, homes that are designed and constructed to minimize the amount of outdoor air that can "leak" into and out of the home may have higher pollutant levels than other homes. However, because some weather conditions can drastically reduce the amount of outdoor air that enters a home, pollutants can build up even in homes that are normally considered "leaky."

Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Opening windows and doors, operating window or attic fans, when the weather permits, or running a window air-conditioner with the vent control open increases the ventilation rate. Local bathroom or kitchen fans that exhaust outdoors remove contaminants, including moisture, directly from the room where the fan is located and also increase the outdoor air ventilation rate.

New homes are normally built to minimize leakage to control energy loss, improve comfort. These homes should then also have mechanical ventilation to remove pollutants generated in the home and provide outdoor air in a controlled manner. Whether a mechanical ventilation system makes sense in your existing homes depends on the house, your existing heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) system, and the changes you have planned. You should discuss this with your HVAC contractor. A local Weatherization office, or building performance contractor, might also be able to help you with this decision or point you to local experts.

How much ventilation?

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineering recommends (in its Standard 62-1999, "Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality") that homes receive .35 air changes per hour, but not less than 15 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person. A common rule of thumb is the 15 cfm multiplied by number of bedrooms in the house plus one. For example, a 3 bedroom house would require at least 60 cfm of outdoor air. [(3 bedrooms + 1) x 15 cfm = 60 cfm]. Kitchens should have an intermittent exhaust capacity of 100 cfm; bathrooms an intermittent capacity of 50 cfm. (ASHRAE also notes that "dwellings with tight enclosures may require supplemental ventilation supply for fuel-burning appliances, including fireplaces and mechanically exhausted appliances.

Attic Ventilation:

Adequate ventilation in your house is important for two reasons:

  • Moisture Control - Ventilation will prevent elevated moisture levels within the conditioned space during the heating season. These elevated levels can lead to condensation on window surfaces and give rise to surface mold and mildew, as well as concealed condensation within walls and roof spaces.
  • Avoiding Indoor Air Pollution - When natural ventilation has been sharply reduced, as in super-energy-efficient houses, it may be necessary to provide fresh air ventilation to avoid build-up of stale air and indoor air pollutants. Special air exchange units with heat-saving features are available for this purpose. The Home Ventilating Institute can give you more information about such heat-recovery ventilators.

A well-insulated attic should be adequately ventilated to prevent moisture accumulation. Attics may be ventilated with a combination of soffit vents at eaves and continuous ridge vents. Attic vents may also be installed in gable faces. Many codes and standards require one square foot of unobstructed ventilation opening for each 300 square feet of attic floor area if a vapor retarder is included in the top floor ceiling. Twice as much ventilation is recommended if there is no vapor retarder. The net free area of a vent is smaller than its overall dimension because part of the vent opening is blocked by meshes or louvers. The openings should be equally distributed between the soffit and ridge vents or between each gable face. Never cover or block vents with insulation. Take care to prevent loose-fill insulation from clogging vents by using baffles.

 

Quick Tip: Do you change your forced air heating and air conditioning unit filters often? if you don't, you are wasting money. As dirty filters force the unit to work harder, costing you money and clean air.

 

Quick Tip: Shower Tile Mildew problem?  try using a little of your car paste wax on the walls of the shower. (Certainly "not- on- the" floor)

 

HEATING

 

Assessing  your present heating system:
An older furnace, even while running well, may extract only 60% of the available heat from fuel over the heating season. That means that 60% of your heating dollar is going into the house as heat; the rest is going up and out the chimney or other escape routes.

heating & Cooling: HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning)
Heating and air conditioning account for about 56% of your energy use. Heating is the largest energy expense in most homes, accounting for almost two-thirds of annual energy bills in colder areas of the country.

Install a programmable thermostat: it can be set to raise and lower your home's temperature when you choose, eliminating the need to remember to turn down the thermostat throughout the day.
Set your thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.


Installing a new Electric furnace, should that be your choice, is so efficient that they waste less than a nickel of every dollar spent, and consume as little as 25% of the electrical energy, your standard furnace may consume.

A high efficiency (Natural Gas, Oil or Propane) furnace with sealed combustion or a power vent, not only saves you money over the life of the furnace (a 40 percent reduction in heating cost is common), it also reduces the chances of combustion gases entering your home.

Comparative heating cost by fuel in the Midwest.
The price may vary by local.
100 million BTUs Average Annual usage.
When selecting your home heating needs. Consider the energy source available and its annual cost for Different fuels.

Natural Gas: ------------------$ 1,004.00
Electricity:----------------------$ 2,490.00    
Propane:-----------------------$ 1,700.00 
Heating Oil:------------------- $ 1,246.00


  

Quick Tip: When the toilet is overflowing, turn off the water at shut-off valve below the tank on the wall.

 

 Insulated Windows



Windows represent large insulation voids in a house, and while much heat often moves through the roof and via air leakage at sash seals and trim, expanses of glass can be a significant path. Because the high-tech mechanics and materials behind these improvements can be radically different than the design and construction of traditional windows, understanding the options that manufacturers offer, and what their impact can be on an old house, can help guide anyone considering new windows for historically appropriate replacements or additions.

Energy is able to flow through a basic window in two forms: solar radiant heat gain (solar radiation admitted through a window and released indoors), and heat conduction through the materials (frame, glass, etc.). Sometimes this flow is useful, as when sunlight warms a room on a winter day, but when its going in the wrong direction, its a problem. In regions with high heating bills, windows that allow indoor warmth to be lost to the outdoors are considered to be low in energy efficiency. In warm regions the reverse situation is the concern: keeping the heat out, rather than in, and limiting cooling bills. Even more important in some ways is the perception of heat or cold by the occupants. In a room that is heated to a comfortable 70 degrees, the inside surface of a single pane window can be as much as 20 degrees colder, and this can make a person feel cold because the window is not reflecting back their own body heat  phenomenon sometimes called ñcold 70.î A cold window is also prone to moisture condensation, which is unsightly and damages finishes. How then to increase window performance? Typically, by looking for thermal improvements in the three areas of glass, gas, and frames.

One of the first places manufacturers looked for improvements was the glass itself. Tinting glass by coloring it with mineral admixtures reduces the percentage of radiation that it can pass. However, because tinting also reduces visual transmittance (the visible light transmitted through the glass), and the coloring looks subtly unlike traditional glass, it became less popular for residential windows than other applications. So manufacturers shifted their attention to another front: altering the surface of the glass. In the past, these alterations have been in the form of reflective coatings and films that limit heat gain and glare, but since the mid-1990s the trend in residential windows has been toward low-e (low emittance) coatings that improve window performance during both heating and cooling seasons.

Low-e coatings are layers of metal or metallic oxides that are extremely thin (on a molecular level), virtually invisible, and permanently bonded to the glass surface. In double-glazed windows, these coatings face into the gap between the panes of glass and are designed to suppress the heat flow through the window that is, the radiation from a warm pane of glass to an adjacent cooler pane. Low-e coatings can also be produced to obtain different levels of solar heat gain. Low solar gain coatings, for example, are preferred in regions where keeping the house cool is the main issue. High or moderate solar gain coatings may be desirable where the emphasis is on heating the house, rather than cooling, and the extra warmth from solar gain is welcome in winter. Luckily for old-house lovers, a byproduct of standard low-e coatings (as well as plain glass) is reducing some of the UV rays that cause fading and fabric damage in furnishings. Plus, these coatings can also be designed to be spectrally selective and keep UV transmittance as low as 16 percent. Even better, low-e coatings are relatively inexpensive options to add to a window ($1 to $1.75 per square foot), a cost that may be nearly inconsequential on high-end windows.

The most common configuration for American houses is the double glazed window, that is, two thickness of glass separated by an air space that reduces heat and sound transfer, triple-glazed windows are made for commercial applications or super insulated houses in cold regions such as Canada. In fact, some manufacturers have developed ways of achieving some of the benefits of triple glazing without the weight or thickness of more glass by incorporating one or more stretched plastic films between double-glazing.

Today many manufacturers also do their best to bolster the thermal performance by filling the void with a low-conductance gas. When a multi-glazed window is made using air alone, the air space is carefully dried and sealed to guard against condensation and to maximize the insulating ability. Even so, sometimes it can travel in currents that conduct heat between indoors and outdoors. Swapping air for a gas that is more viscous or less conductive helps mitigate this problem. Argon, an inert, nontoxic gas, is commonly used because its  inexpensive and works best in the same spacing as air, about 1/2" between panes. Krypton is a more expensive gas, but it has better thermal performance than argon, so krypton is often the choice for filling windows that must be kept thin (say 1/4" between glazing’s), which is often the case when trying to maintain the look of historic windows. Mixtures of argon and krypton are also employed to balance cost and performance.

The materials that wrap glass and gas influence window performance too. In the 1960s and Í70s manufacturers started using aluminum spacers at the perimeter of the glass to separate the panes at the proper gap, ideal structurally, but a problem, it turned out, thermally. Aluminum is an excellent conductor of heat, and these spacers became an easy path for heat to bypass the glass-and-gas sandwich, compromising the insulating performance of the window and creating cold edges and condensation.

Since then manufacturers have devised a variety of low-conductance edge systems that cut heat loss. Moving to less-conductive metals, such as stainless steel, is one popular approach, often used in combination with thermal breaks, clever cross-sectional designs that make it harder for heat to migrate across the spacer. Some manufacturers eliminate metal altogether in favor of materials with better thermal resistance, such as thermoplastics, fiberglass, or silicone foam. There are even hybrids that combine a metal or plastic spacer with a desiccant, for instance, or add a thin aluminum or stainless shim to a plastic spacer.

Lastly, glass and spacers have to be held in some sort of frame, and this window component can be a major thermal conductor too. Aluminum frames, for example, are very conductive and can affect energy bills as well as draw condensation. Fortunately for old house owners, wood is a good insulator and can deliver about the same thermal performance as materials such as vinyl, fiberglass, or composites that are employed for energy efficient widows today. Plus, wood is light and easily maintained, and has a proven track record of weather service and beauty. 

 

Quick Tip: If you have an older style toilet, put a brick in the toilet tank bottom (on-end at side, away from float), it will significantly reduce water use, but not effect flushing. Also, a leaky toilet tank can waste up to 20 gallons of water per day and cost around 67 cents or more per day. Water faucets inside and outside the house can also leak. Even the smallest drip may cause a loss of 10-15 gallons per day. Over a period of one year, that little leak could add up to over two ($200.00) hundred dollars.

 

 

Quick Tip: Halogen Fixtures achieve their maximum effect when they are controlled with dimmer switches; turned down or up, the light brings out the true colors of the surfaces around it. This is pure white light.

 

Quick Tip: Insulate your older electric hot water storage tank and pipes,  You will $ave lots.

 

INSULATING YOUR HOME


Thermal insulation in buildings is an important factor to achieving thermal comfort for its occupants. Insulation reduces unwanted heat heat loss or gain and can decrease the energy demands of heating and cooling systems. It does not necessarily deal with issues of adequate ventilation and may or may not affect the level of sound insulation.

To find specific requirements for Insulation in your area, visit:
R-Value Recommendations

Energy Savers R-Value map

Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes of energy waste in most homes. Insulation saves money and our nation's limited energy resources. It can also make your house more comfortable by helping to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the house. Walls, ceilings, and floors will be warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Insulation can also act as a sound absorber or barrier, keeping noise levels down.

Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam (these boards are lightweight, provide structural support, and generally have an R-value of 4 to 7 per inch.) boards, in high ceilings and on exterior walls.
Install insulation in your attic to provide for long-term savings, careful not to cover the side vents, you need that circulation in the attic.

Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting, or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors and ceilings.

Although minor duct repairs are easy to accomplish, ducts in unconditioned spaces should be sealed and insulated by qualified professionals using the appropriate sealing materials. Here are a few simple tips to help with minor duct repairs.

  • Check your ducts for air leaks. First look for sections that should be joined but have separated and then look for obvious holes.
  • If you use duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, look for tape with the Underwriters Laboratories logo to avoid tape that degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age.
  • Remember that insulating ducts in the basement will make the basement colder. If both the ducts and the basement walls are uninsulated, consider insulating both.
  • If your basement has been converted to a living area, install both supply and return registers in the basement rooms.
  • Be sure a well-sealed vapor barrier exists on the outside of the insulation on cooling ducts to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Get a professional to help you insulate and repair all ducts.

It is most important to:

  • Insulate your attic to the recommended level, including the attic door, or hatch cover.
  • Provide the recommended level of insulation under floors above unheated spaces, around walls in a heated basement or unventilated crawl space, and on the edges of slabs-on-grade.
  • Use the recommended levels of insulation for exterior walls for new house construction. When remodeling or re-siding your house, consider using the levels recommended for new construction in your existing walls


Obtaining advice

In a home energy audit, professionals evaluate the energy efficiency of the home, using blower doors, infrared cameras, and other air leakage measuring equipment. They identify the greatest leaks and recommend the best ways to improve the energy efficiency of your house. They tell you what you should do first for the best efficiency.

Whom to call for a home energy audit:

  • Public utility companies, or their energy conservation department.
  • Independent, private-sector companies such as energy services company, insulation contractor, or air sealing specialist.
  • State energy office.
  • Websites for any of the above.

Utility companies are usually eager to provide this service, as well as loans and other incentives to insulate. They also often provide incentives to switch, for example, if you are an oil customer considering switching to natural gas.

Where to look for insulation recommendations:

  • Local building inspectors office.
  • Local or state building codes.
  • US Department of Energy.
  • Websites for any of the above.

Insulation Value of materials:
 Insulation Material                                     Thickness Inches                        R Value
Cork Board                                                             1 .00                                     3.38
Fiberboard sheathing                                                1/2                                    1.32
Fiberglass Batt                                                       3 1/2                                  11.00
       "              "                                                          6.00                                   19.00
       "              "                                                          8.00                                   25.30
Fiberglass loose fill                                                1.00                                      1.10
Glass wool                                                               1.00                                      3.76
Mineral fiber            (loose, fill,  blown in)              1.00                                      3.25

 

Quick Tip: To rid your shower of mold and mildew, simply apply household Bleach to a damp sponge and wipe down. It will be gone in minutes. "Do be careful of the fumes". and don't get it on your clothes or towels.

 

 

ORGANIZING

 

You don't have to make closets and other storage spaces bigger to make them better. A little planning and a wide variety of affordable, easy-to-install products can put every square inch of space to work throughout your house.

Begin with a quick inventory of the items you want to store. Then choose the accessories that accommodate those items. Here we'll broaden the scope to include a variety of storage products for every room in the house.

When buying storage products on your own, be sure to check on installation hardware; sometimes it is included with the product, though most often you must buy it separately. And, before making a decision, find out whether a storage product is easy to assemble and can be expanded to hold added items.


The Kitchen: The storage areas in the kitchen are prime candidates for organizing. Try to create
dedicated storage for each work area in this room. A cooking area, for example, should have cookware and
utensils nearby. If you do a lot of baking, store bowls, mixers and cookie and cake pans near where you work.

You can make kitchen base cabinets more efficient and items easier to find by outfitting cabinets with
pull-out shelves or drawers. Finally, store frequently used items where they're easiest to reach — between your
eyes and waist, in most cases.

Baskets serve as great catch-all. They are especially useful for foods stored in their original bags
which might otherwise get crushed. Consider using a basket to hold all of your baking supplies
Use another basket to hold chips, cookies and other goodies. A small basket works great for your mix packets.

Stack-N-Store bins are ideal for holding bulky items or big quantities, such as Potatoes, onions,
dog and cat food.  Another option for canned goods is a pantry rack that mounts onto a door or wall.

Cabinet shelves and under-shelf baskets can double your existing shelf space and keep you more
organized. Use them to divide different sized plates, glasses, mugs, and even serving pieces.

Padded, zippered dish savers with dividers will protect your fine china and holiday dishes.

Install heavy-duty, slide-out bins inside a cabinet. Not only will you be able to keep your pots,
pans, and baking dishes organized, buy you will be able to reach the pans at the very back of the cabinet, by simply sliding the bin out.

Door mounted lid holders keep pot and pan covers organized in another wide unused space.

A tray separator, inside a cabinet, allows cookie sheets, muffin tins, and pizza pans to stand on end.
This frees you from having to remove all the pans in the cabinet, just to get one at the bottom.


A gadget drawer can become a catch all for different tools. Find what you're looking for easily by tidying
up the drawer with an in-drawer utensil organizer, They have larger compartments for larger kitchen tools

Garden Tools: Separate all lawn maintenance tools. Every tool should have its proper storage place. One can pick up various utility racks designed to hold rakes, shovels and spades, as well as any other gardening tool you utilize. The obvious best location for your potting and storage area, is on an outside wall, covered by the eaves and rain gutters. If you are really handy, build a small roof to cover your work area. Make sure any garden tool that has a wood handle, is kept out of the rain. The weather does real damage to wood handles.

Many gardeners construct their own potting beach from industrial post, others utilize condiment tables with wood slats on top. You can place a solid piece of plastic over the slats for a flat surface, should you require it.
The condiment shelves, come with a lower and upper shelf. Place 5 or 6 sixteen inch patio step up against the house and out 3 rows. This way the entire potting area will be on dry ground, year around.

Use plastic bins or drawers to sort small tools or to hold potting soil and soil additives.

 

The garage. Start by sorting everything into categories. Separate your sporting equipment, electric tools, etc. Once you realize how much stuff you actually have, you can determine the best ways to organize and store everything.

If your garage is overflowing and is beyond organization, sort through everything and decide what
should actually be in the garage and which items could be stored elsewhere in your home and those
items you don't use and should dispose of them.

Purchase some stack racks to place items on, as well as install storage racks and hooks on the
walls for tools. Anything that is used on a regular basis should be kept in an easy to reach spot.
 Place larger items, those that won't hang on the walls, directly into the shelving. Place all smaller
 items into see-through plastic bins. Plastic will keep out moisture and last longer than cardboard.
Place the bins onto the shelving.
Use bins with lids, these will protect your items, as well as they are designed for stacking one on
 to the other.

Consider the season at hand and place items used during that season close at hand. Such as
snow shovels, snow blowers, and ice scrapers in an easily accessible place. Along these same
 lines, if you have skis, sleds or other snow toys, group these items together. Purchase a tall
storage cabinet built for a perfect place to stash these items. Buy a used dresser at a garage
sale and utilize this as a place to store off-season clothes like hats, gloves, scarves and boots.

For other sports equipment, solid wooden or steel shelving units are an excellent choice. If your family
has multiple bikes, buy large, sturdy hooks at your local hardware store and hang them. Some hang
them from the ceiling in the off season, utilizing a pulley to let them down.

There are racks specifically designed for tennis rackets, gold bags, skis, and more. Whatever your
favorite activity, there is undoubtedly a rack for your equipment.

If you haven't already done so, now is the perfect time to add additional storage space to help you
maintain your organization in the months to come. You could have shelves or cabinets mounted on
 the wall or, for a more inexpensive option, consider purchasing clear durable plastic totes and
 drawers. Remember, store the items you use on a regular basis in a way that allows you to easily
 access them.

If you use your garage as a work area, be sure to make the best use of this space. Install a work
 bench or table. A pegboard and a sturdy tool chest are a great way to store your tools, yet keep
 them easily accessible.

A thought to remember, your garage is meant to be a place to park your car, if you organize properly,
it too, will have a home. Leave room to open your car doors in the garage.

The Car: Inside/ Keep your title, registration and maps in your glove box or visor organizer.
                             Keep a garbage tote to collect rash inside the care. It can be place behind the driver
                             or front passenger seat, sit it relative unseen.
                           
                             It is easier to keep some toys in the car to entertain your child, instead of carrying them
                             back and forth from the house, every time you venture out with your child. Use a plastic
                             bin or basket for each child, this helps to keep it in one place.

                             If you use your automobile for business travel or need to carry files and a lap top to
                             and from the office, use a handled file tote or bin.

        In the Trunk/ Use a specially designed cloth grocery tote to prevent your bags of groceries from
                              toppling over, when you drive around corners and up hills.

                              Utilize plastic bins for organizing items in your trunk, this includes one specifically
                              for your in case of emergency tote. In this you will have your roadside kit, first -aid              
                              supplies, a fire extinguisher, a flashlight, some bottled water and other necessities.

                              Use another tote to hold a few quarts of motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, jumper-
                              cables, a few tools and a 12 Volt air compressor, a small military shovel and
                              hand wipes.

The Office:

Keep pens, scissors, and other frequently used items at arms reach inside a desktop caddy.

Use a desk drawer organizer to contain paper clips, and anything else small.

Place frequently used files and documents in a desktop file box or into stacking letter trays
so they are easily accessible.

Large, rolling file carts are perfect for organizing your files. Those with smaller drawers do double duty
holding pens, stapler, tape and other office essentials.

Rarely used documents can go into long term storage boxes, Label each before storing.

Photos, magazines, and even scrap book cut-outs can be neatly organized in totes, boxes, and files
designed specifically for these items.

Use hanging file folders that are tabbed on the front flap. Then simply pull the tab to open.

Give folders room to slide. Leave at least 3-4 inches of empty space in each file drawer or box.

File the most recent documents in the front of each folder.

Clean your files out regularly. You should maintain Utility, phone, cable and credit card statements
for at least a year. Bank statements and IRS filings for years.

                           

The closet:

Today there are professionals that do nothing but this a living, their experience provides suggested
ways to create more organized storage space. There are also many stores that now provide for off the
shelf ready to install apparatus for closets, or you can provide your own measurements and other
 information to help the designers create a plan for you. There are various ways to organize your space. 

There are four basic types of closet organization systems: long hanging, short hanging, shelves and
baskets/drawers (to organize accessories jewelry, belts, and ties).

In addition to closet organization and storage systems in, many companies sell furniture to organize
 homes and office, bedrooms or components of entertainment systems. For instance, a fold-away
 bed would even allow a room to serve as an office by day and a guest room by night.

Closet organization systems can range from inexpensive coated wire products to custom-built wood
systems, though most systems combine several different products. Coated wire products are
economical, easy to work with and allow visibility and air to circulate.
Installing coated-wire shelving
takes just a few hours and it can save you valuable time every day by helping you live in an orderly way.
 Imagine how quick your morning routine would be if all your clothes were organized and hanging neatly
with shoes and accessories nearby. Also, If you are in the designing stages of your home, think Cedar wood
on the closet walls. The strong scent (unfortunately, some have cedar allergies, so this is out of the
question) discourages
 moths from entering the storage area.  Store your cashmere and other fine woolens in sealed bags
 with fresh cedar products whenever they are not worn

A few other closet organization tips:

  • Group clothes using a system, such as week-end wear, work clothes and by color., also by tops
  • and bottoms.
  • Do not store clothing in dry-cleaning bags, remove the plastic wrap.
  • Do use clear storage bins to organize accessories, saves a lot of time.



The Kitchen:  Remove everything from the kitchen counters, including items on top of the refrigerator, microwave and ledge over sink. Remove everything that you do no use on a daily basis, leaving only such appliances as your coffee maker, toaster, cooking spoon jar. Your clearing your counters will instantly unclutter your kitchen; There is usually room for your sugar/flour/spice jars in the lower level of the upper cabinets. Also this includes the washing and drying of dishes when meals are completed.

Pick up a unique low profile porcelain bowl or basket to place on your counter, a place where you can place your keys and notes, preferably by your telephone. Magazines do not belong on the kitchen counter, they belong in a magazine rack, or a "few" on the coffee table for timely reading.
 
When going through the kitchen drawers and cabinets, ask yourself if you really need all of this clutter. Just how many sets of odd glasses and dishes do you need? As to your empty plastic shopping bags, just how many do you need? Hang a panty hose on a hook in the pantry, cut out the bottom and now you have a place to store the four of five,  that you actually need.

The proper temperature is essential for keeping food fresh. Your refrigerator should be kept at "40" degree's
or even a little lower. The freezer temperature should be at "0" degrees or lower.

To prevent odors from transferring to and from different foods, always use storage containers with tight
fitting lids.

If your power goes out, do not open the refrigerator or freezer door unless necessary. Food can stay cold for hours with the door closed.

Date everything that is stored in your freezer. All freezer bags have a space for writing what is in the bag and the date the item was placed in there, as well as you should note a use before date.
placed in the package.

Kids’ Rooms: You can arrange a closet any way that works for you. Use it to the best advantage for everything that your child owns. If you need things out of sight, put color-coordinated storage boxes on the shelves. Carefully mark each box with contents, using a label maker or press-on letters. If the child is small, put the things that they will get at themselves down low at eye level. You probably won't need much hanging space, so add shelves, drawers, and boxes to store things, or one can utilize versatile furniture and unusual accessories, try storage baskets and bins for all those toys and shoes, as well as modular storage units to accommodate them.. If you want kids to put things away, make it an enjoyable (if possible) and a fun experience. Remember your instilling discipline and order in your Childs life today, rest assured it will be a real asset to them in later years. Install a shoe rack on the closet wall; insist that they place their shoes on it. Purchase a nylon hammock for stuffed toys, or a divided bookshelf filled with storage baskets is another way to organize toys, when your child is done playing with it, it goes back in it, before they can move to the next one. Place a giveaway box in the room and give kids the option of putting a toy in the giveaway box if they'd rather not put it away ask them what toy is their favorite and which is not as you go through the toys, giving the kids more control over what they give away.


The Pantry:

Some suggestions for creating more pantry storage in small kitchens:

  • Re-organize to make a smarter pantry. Taller items on pantry shelves in back, shorter in front. Use baskets for bulky items and containers to corral small, misc. items.
  • Adjust height of shelves to match the size of the pantry item and maximize the efficiency of your pantry storage space.
  • Consider moving food items to drawers. More items can be stored in a drawer; label tops for quick identification.
  • Install roll-out pantry drawers for easier access. Because you can see more, you can store more.
  • Reclaim a closet.
  • Reclaim storage between studs of wall.
  • Take out the kitchen soffits to move infrequently used items above kitchen cabinets; make new pantry cabinet space below.
  • Delegate pantry food storage outside of the kitchen; under the living room couch or out in the garage.
  • Tuck pantry food items inside decorative furnishings, like a crock.
  • Think on a smaller scale: consider a mini-version of a walk-in pantry.
  • Take 12" out of hallway width for pantry shelves
  • Recycle wooden crates from wine, mount to walls as a shelf (can get free from wine stores or superstores).
  • Make a skinny box on wheels next to empty space next to your refrigerator (same height) that can wheel out.
  • Use over-the-door racks for extra storage on closet doors. For very narrow doors, take a hanging shoe pouch for over-doors and cut to fit.
  • Purchase an antique or used furniture cabinet at a garage sale or flea market and refit the furniture for pantry use. Hanging up items is an alternative to using cabinet space.
  • Install pantry shelving in kitchen where spices and staples can be stored out in the open.
  • Hang pots up on a pot rack to free space up inside cabinets for pantry goods or keep inside oven when not in use.
  • Put utensils in utensil caddies on the countertop to free up additional pantry space inside cabinets- flatware can be stored also in a decorative container on the table.
  • Take a lesson from closet clothing storage experts and copy their unique storage ideas or even utilize their products for your food storage needs.



The Laundry/Utility Room:

Don't let your dryer shrink or ruin your delicate items. Hang them on a drying rack:

  • A folding dryer rack replaces the use of the back of dining room chairs and the rod in the shower.
  • Drying racks are sturdy and easily fold away for storage.
  • The bars on the rack should be coated to prevent picking or staining delicate items.

If you have room, consider utilizing a laundry sorter, there are two styles of sorters available:

  • One simply has a sorting area with mesh or canvas bags to separate and fold laundry. This laundry sorter is available with rolling casters for easy mobility.
  • The other style provides racks for hanging clothes as well as bags for sorting. This sorter has rolling casters for easy mobility when it's time to do laundry.

Sorters are available in chrome or PVC. Both types of sorters are easy to assemble and sturdy.

Wire shelving definitely has a place in the laundry room world. Use the wall space available in your room to create essential storage space. Install shelves above and next to the washer and dryer.

If you currently use the top of your dryer for storing detergent, fabric softener, bleach, etc., a rolling laundry product organizer is a possible solution. The organizer slides between the washer and dryer for easy storage. The only requirement is 9" of space between the two machines. Also, an ideal addition to your laundry area is the convenience of a folding area.

Hooks and small baskets attached to the inside of a cabinet door will keep brushes, dish clothes, and sponges out of sight.
Paper towels should be kept in a convenient location for quick clean ups. Their holders come in wall mount, counter top, and even magnetic types.
Cleaning supplies are ore readily accessible when kept in a slide-out bin inside your cabinet. Or store them in a handled tote, so you can easily carry them to other rooms of the house.

Recycling:
While you are in the midst of de-cluttering, don’t forget to recycle old cell phones or rechargeable batteries from power tools, laptops and camcorders. Go online to http://www.call2recycle.org/, enter your zip code you will be provided with a drop-off locations near you.

Control odors and keep pets out of the trash by using a covered garbage can.
Door-mounted garbage containers attached to the inside of a cabinet door are a great space saving solution.
Slide-out bins under the sink or large bins at the bottom of a pantry shelf work great for sorting recyclables.

 

Quick Tip: NEVER MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH TOGETHER

 

SUNROOMS (Solarium)

Every sun room design has its advantages and disadvantages, some of which are directly related to the design itself and others that are related more to how it is furnished and decorated.  Both aspects are extremely important as they influence the comfort, attractiveness, and usefulness of a sun room space.  

A common mistake homeowners make in designing their sun room is to look for the shape and size of their sun room before they take a detailed look at where it should be located in relation to the home itself.  It can be very difficult when you decide upon a particular size and shape, only to find that it does not fit the space available or does not integrate well with the design of your home.  Begin by selecting the side of your house that gets the most direct sunlight in the winter and make adjustments from there so that the new sun room flows smoothly with the interior of your home. .

If you plan on using it for a cozy retreat to read and relax then you probably do not want to put sparse, stark furniture in the area.  Soft, comfortable furniture is a better fit for that use, along with a good floor lamp or two and an end or coffee table nearby.  Should you choose to utilize it eating or entertaining, select furniture and design elements that fit with those purposes.  A high table with tall chairs might be a good fit, or perhaps a mini bar for serving food and drink. Your attention is to make the most of your sun room area, consider how you want to use it and then avoid making design choices you will regret.

The number of hours of sunlight that your sun room gets makes a lot of difference in the temperature of your sun room. If your sun room gets a lot of direct sunlight or is exposed to the sun for most of the day.  However, if the sun room allows the light to reflect off the glass at an angle, it will stay cooler in the room.

your choice of the size the your room will make a significant difference in what sun room ventilation systems you consider.  The larger the area or the more thermal mass space you have in your sun room, the harder it is to heat or cool the room.  The larger the room, the more the air. Consider that in order to cool a hot room; all the air must be cooled. Another factor to consider is whether your sunroom will have UV protection in the glass walls, if so, this will make a big difference in the amount of cooling the room will require. It will also help lengthen the life of the floor you choose.

Instead of using specially made sun room ventilation systems, some people try to cool their sun rooms with fans or by opening the door connecting the sun room to the house. This does not always work, but it is worth a try, especially if you have budget constraints.

Do not tie into your present air condition duct system, because when it was installed, it was rated to the amount of cubic feet that were in your home, at installation.

For those of you that choose to use their sun room as a greenhouse, you will have a lot of dirt around, and may even have it on the floor if you have a free-standing sun room.  In this case, it will be most beneficial, as it will cool your sun room because the dirt will absorb heat during the day to cool the sun room and release it in the evening to warm the sun room.

If your purpose is to have a hot tub in your sun room, ceramic tile flooring would be an excellent choice. If there will be a lot of moisture in the areas, make sure you choose flooring for your sun room that can withstand the extra humidity. Another reason you may want to consider tile is if there will be dirt and other outdoor muck tracked in. The tile is easy to clean and won't be damaged by tracking materials in from outside.



Buying and Installing Ceiling Fans

Modern science has brought us scores of energy-saving advances to make our homes more comfortable--argon-filled windows, high-efficiency heat pumps and polymer sealants to name a few. Though most of these are born of technology, a child of the Industrial Revolution is still one of the most sensible solutions to home comfort: the ceiling fan. Fans have been a simple but charming supplement to home heating and cooling for more than 100 years.

Of course, fans have enjoyed a number of improvements during this century. The best of today's ceiling fans benefit from better motors, materials, finishes and controls than their air-churning ancestors. And thanks to the fan's lasting popularity, today's selection is staggering. A visit to a lighting showroom, lighting store or a fan specialty shop will reveal scores of styles, configurations, sizes, materials, finishes, prices and accessories. Or you can request catalogs from manufacturers listed in the resource guide below.

Ceiling fans make sense
Why this lasting popularity? Certainly charm is one big factor. A fan fixture can bring distinction to a room. And for some people, the steady, quiet whirl of paddles evokes the romance of bygone days, of sultry summer afternoons.

More importantly, there's the fan's practical side. It makes a room more comfortable and lowers energy bills. By forcing warm air downward in the winter and stirring up breezes in the summer, it decreases demands on heating and air conditioning systems, operating on just a few pennies a day.

During the summer, using a ceiling fan in conjunction with an air conditioner will allow you to set the thermostat higher without a noticeable difference in comfort. A fan's breeze will make a 79-degree room feel more like 72 degrees. By raising the thermostat, you can save up to 30 percent of your air conditioning bills, depending upon your home's construction and where you live.

In the winter, a fan will recirculate warm air that naturally rises in a room and is trapped at the ceiling. You simply turn it on in the reverse direction (most have reversible motors). By bringing warm air down into the living space, the furnace is needed less.

Quick Tip: Most Ceiling fans can be switched to reverse direction. SUMMER: Air Down: Normal mode for creating a cooling breeze below the fan (Counter Clockwise) WINTER: Air Up: Re-distributes trapped air during winter months (Clockwise)

Ceiling fan controls
Most fans are mounted at a ceiling box where a light fixture was formerly located. Typically, the light switch is replaced with a control that allows various fan speeds and --if the fan includes lights-- light settings. It's important that this control have a capacitor design and it should be made by the same manufacturer as the fan to eliminate buzz and hum.

Fans located at an electrical box that isn't controlled by a wall switch can be operated by a pull chain or, for some brands, a remote control.

Ceiling fan installation

All fans should come with complete ceiling mounting kits. Though techniques vary with manufacturers, the job of hanging a fan is quite similar to that for mounting a new light fixture. Most fans require some assembly and all demand support that's strong enough to hold their considerable weight. The junction box must be labeled "suitable for fan support," otherwise you must retrofit a new box onto the ceiling. For places where there is no box, you can buy easy-to-install fan supports.

 

 Quick Tip: Try shaving cream to silence squeaky door hinges (WD40 & Candle wax also work great )

 Quick Tip: Use Coca-Cola to loosen rusted locks.


*Building & Remodeling Contacts*

Alcoa
Alloc Precision Flooring
Andersen Windows
Aristech
Armstrong
Benjamin Moore
Boise Engineered Wood Products
Broan Mfg. Company
Bruce Floors
Cabot Woodcare
Certainteed
Craftmaster
Dupont Corian
DuPont Stainmaster
Flooring America
Hunter Fan
KWC Faucets
Loewen Windows
Mannington Floors
Marvin Windows
Owens Corning Insulation
Pella Corporation
Pergo Laminated Flooring
Phantom Screens
Pozzi Wood Windows
Premdor
Screen Tight
Society Brass Collection
Trex Company
Weather Shield
Western Red Cedar Lumber


800-962-6973
888-673-8724
800-426-4261 Ext. 1100
800-485-1124
800-233-3823
800-6-PAINT-6
800-232-0788
800-692-7826
800-722-4647
800-US-STAIN
800-782-8777
800-504-1020
800-986-6444
800-4DuPont
800-4FLOORS

800-4HUNTER
877-KWC-FCTS
800-245-2295
800-FLOOR-US
800-382-6682
800-GET-PINK
800-54-PELLA
800-33-PERGO
888-PHANTOM
800-257-9663
800-663-DOOR
800-768-7325
800-327-5625
800-BUY-TREX
800-477-6808
604-891-1225

 

Quick tip: To keep your Garbage disposal in top condition, drop in about 6 ice cubes weekly, while disposal is running. It will absorb any grease build-up, carrying it down the drain.

 

 

   Hardwood Floor Care

Your hardwood floor will eventually need extra care. It's here that much controversy exists. 

DAMP MOPPING  

Many professionals recommend that you damp mop your hardwood floor and others cringe at the suggestion. Just remember, if your floor's finish is in good shape and mopping is done correctly, the water won't penetrate even the oil and wax finishes. You're cleaning the finish, not the wood, so don't use water if the finish is in poor shape.

Damp Mopping is the fastest and best way to deep-clean solid hardwood floors. Depending on how much use your floor gets, you may have to mop it as often as once a week. Use a neutral pH wood cleaner and water, or manufacturer-recommended products. Wet the mop and wring so it's about half-dry. Wet the floor with the mop. Dip the mop into clean water, wring it as dry as you can and mop over the floor again.

Quick Tip: To have really beautiful Oak floor. Pull up rugs and move furniture to one side of the room. Thoroughly sweep floor. Damp mop to romove dust. Apply hardwood floor (No-Buff) Johnson's wax. Let dry for about 1 hour and replace furniture and then do the other side. Make sure that you clean and wax that portion that was at the end of your earlier cleaning , so you cover all the surface with an overlap.

Polyurethane finished floors

Polyurethane-finished hardwood floors are tough and will last for years with the proper care.

Clear as much furniture as possible for open space cleaning. (this makes for a equal uniform cleaning)

Thoroughly sweep or vacuum the entire floor . Any debris left after mopping can act like sandpaper to your floor.

Mix about 1 tsp. grease cutting dish soap or oil soap into a large bucket full of warm water. The exact mixture isn't crucial; just keep the amount of soap to a bare minimum  .

Start mopping in a corner along the wall farthest from the door, and mop the entire floor with firm strokes. Make sure the mop is well wrung out and not drippy. Both foam and string mop heads will work.

Use new solution when the water begins to grow cloudy or dirty.

Repeat the process with fresh water (no soap) once the entire surface has been thoroughly mopped with the cleaning solution. This rinsing will pick up the soapy residue and leave your floor clean and shiny.

 

 

PELLET & WOOD BURNING (Appliances) FIREPLACES

Instead of the old conventional fireplace a newer arrival in the 80swas pellet fuel appliances, which burn small pellets. Pellets are made from compacted sawdust, wood chips, bark, agricultural crop waste, waste paper, and other organic materials. Some pellet fuel appliances can burn a wide variety of biomass fuels.

Today’s consumer can choose from a new generation of wood-and pellet-burning appliances that are cleaner burning, more efficient, and powerful enough to heat many average-sized, modern homes. It's also important to use a properly sized appliance for the space to be heated. When an appliance is too big, residents tend to burn fires at a low smolder to avoid overheating, which wastes fuel and is one of the biggest causes of air pollution.  a good rule-of-thumb is that a stove rated at 60,000 Btu's can heat a 2,000 square foot home, while a stove rated at 42,000 Btu can heat a 1,300 square foot space.

Wood burning appliances and fireplaces may emit large quantities of air pollutants. Wood smoke contains hundreds of chemical compounds including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, organic gases, and particulate matter, many of which have adverse health effects. In many urban and rural areas, smoke from wood burning is a major contributor to air pollution. Because of this, some municipalities restrict wood heating appliance use when the local air quality reaches unacceptable levels. Others restrict or ban the installation of wood burning appliances in new construction. Before installing a wood burning system, you should contact your local building codes department, state energy office, or state environmental agency about wood burning regulations that may apply in your area.

If you have an older wood burning appliance, consider upgrading to one of the newer appliances certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). They include a catalytic combustor that allows combustion gases to burn at lower temperatures, thereby cleaning the exhaust gas while generating more heat. Any wood stove sold in todays market must bear an EPA certification sticker. High-efficiency appliances not only have lower emissions but they are also often safer, since complete combustion helps to prevent a buildup of flammable chimney deposits called creosote.

If you want to retrofit an existing non-catalytic wood burning appliance with a catalytic combustor, you can buy a catalytic damper. These are available as kits and are usually installed in the flue collar. To monitor the stove temperature after adding a catalytic combustor, you should also install at least one heat sensor on the stove body or stove pipe. Several manufacturers sell retrofit kits, and they may be available from wood stove retailers. Always follow the manufacturer's installation and operating instructions.

The location of the appliance (and chimney) will influence how well heat is distributed and conserved in your home. Most wood- and pellet-burning appliances are essentially space heaters, and should be put in the room where you spend most of your time. Ideally, there should be a way for heat to circulate to the rest of the house.

High-efficiency fireplaces and Inserts are designed more for show; traditional open masonry fireplaces should not be considered heating devices. Traditional fireplaces draw in as much as 300 cubic feet per minute of heated room air for combustion, and then send it straight up the chimney. Fireplaces also produce significant air pollution. Fireplaces in general are still energy losers, although manufactures have taken steps to improve them. Note: whenever you are burring a fire in your fireplace, you should turn your heat down or off and open a window near the fireplace.

Only high-efficiency fireplace inserts have proven effective in increasing the heating efficiency of older fireplaces. Essentially, the inserts function like woodstoves, fitting into the masonry fireplace or on its hearth, and use the existing chimney. You must install a flue collar that continues from the insert to the top of the chimney. A well-fitted fireplace insert can function nearly as efficiently as a wood stove.

Studies have shown that proper installation of fireplace inserts is very important. Have a professional installer examine the fireplace and chimney to determine if they are suitable for an insert. Inserts should be as airtight as possible. The more airtight it is, the easier it is to control the fire and the heat output. The installer should use only approved fireplace insulating materials to fill any gaps between the fireplace mouth and insert shield.

It is a must that the chimneys or liners be thoroughly cleaned each season, sometimes this means having to move an insert to perform the task, this is one consideration you should consider, before installing one.

Some modern fireplaces heat at efficiencies near those of wood stoves and are certified as low emission appliances. Although designed to include the fire-viewing benefits of a traditional fireplace, this generation of fireplaces can effectively provide heat as well. Through vents under the firebox, room air is drawn in, heated through a heat exchanger, and sent back into the house either through vents at the top of the fireplace or through ducts leading to nearby rooms. Some of these fireplaces are approved to route heated air to a basement auxiliary fan. The air then travels through ducts to other rooms in the house. The fireplace should have a dedicated supply of outside air for combustion.

Flues are ideal for leaking heat and warm air out of your home. so, if you don't use your fireplace, plug and seal the flue. If you use the fireplace, be sure to close the flue when the fireplace is not in use.

Wood stoves are the most common appliance for burning wood. New catalytic stoves and inserts have advertised efficiencies of 70%–80%.

Advanced combustion wood stoves provide a lot of heat but only work efficiently when the fire burns at full throttle. Also known as secondary burn stoves, they can reach temperatures of 1100°F hot enough to burn combustible gases.

These stoves have several components that help them burn combustible gases, as well as particulates, before they can exit the chimney. Components include a metal channel that heats secondary air and feeds it into the stove above the fire. This heated oxygen helps burn the volatile gases above the flames without slowing down combustion. While many older stoves only have an air source below the wood, the secondary air source in advanced combustion stoves offers oxygen to the volatile gases escaping above the fire. With enough oxygen, the heated gases burn as well. In addition, the firebox is insulated, which reflects heat back to it, ensuring that the turbulent gases stay hot enough to burn. New advanced combustion stoves have advertised efficiencies of 60%–72%.

Another benefit is that the secondary channels funnel hot air toward the glass doors, keeping them clean for viewing the fire. They can also be slightly less expensive than conventional wood stoves fitted with catalytic combustors. Like wood stoves, centralized wood-burning boilers have been improved over the last several years. Modern, centralized wood heaters use wood gasification technology that burns both the wood fuel and the associated combustible gases, rendering them efficient up to 80%. In addition, systems are available that can switch to oil or gas if the fire goes out.

Masonry heaters produce more heat and less pollution than any other wood- or pellet-burning appliance. Masonry heaters include a firebox, a large masonry mass (such as bricks), and long twisting smoke channels that run through the masonry mass. Their fireboxes are lined with firebrick, refractory concrete, or similar materials that can handle temperatures of over 2,000°F (1,093°C).

A small hot fire built once or twice a day releases heated gases into the long masonry heat tunnels. The masonry absorbs the heat and then slowly releases it into the house over a period of 12–20 hours. Masonry heaters commonly reach a combustion efficiency of 90%.

Most are intended for burning wood, but they were historically designed to burn almost any type of solid fuel. The relatively small, but intense fire also results in very little air pollution and very little creosote buildup in the chimney. Because most of the heat from the fuel is transferred to the masonry and slowly released into the room over the day, this type of heater does not need to be loaded with fuel as often as other types of wood heating appliances. In addition, if the masonry heater is built where sunlight can directly shine on it in the winter, the heater will absorb the sun's heat and release it slowly into the room.

A wide variety of masonry heater designs and styles are available. Larger models resemble conventional fireplaces and may cover an entire wall. Smaller models take up about as much space as a wood or pellet stove.

In addition to their expense, masonry heaters have one significant disadvantage when compared to conventional wood stoves and fireplaces: They cannot provide heat quickly from a cold start.

Pellet fuel appliances burn small, 3/8–1 inch-long pellets that look like rabbit feed. Pellets are made from compacted sawdust, wood chips, bark, agricultural crop waste, waste paper, and other organic materials. Some models can also burn nutshells, corn kernels, and small wood chips. They are more convenient to operate and have much higher combustion and heating efficiencies than ordinary wood stoves or fireplaces. As a consequence of this, they produce very little air pollution. In fact, pellet stoves are the cleanest of solid fuel-burning residential heating appliances. Pellet stoves have heating capacities that range between 8,000 and 90,000 Btu per hour. They are suitable for homes as well as apartments or condominiums.

A pellet stove is often cheaper to install than a cordwood-burning heater. Many can be direct-vented and do not need an expensive chimney or flue. As a result, the installed cost of the entire system may be less than that of a conventional wood stove.

Pellet fuel appliances are available as freestanding stoves or fireplace inserts. Freestanding units resemble conventional cordwood heaters in that they generally heat a single room well, but not adjacent rooms unless you use a fan to force the warm air into those other spaces. There are also fireplace inserts that fit into existing fireplaces.

Pellet appliances usually require refueling only once a day, and since the fuel is compressed and bagged, the operator does not have to lift heavy, dirty logs.  Since pellet stoves burn fuel so completely, very little creosote builds up in the flue, posing less of a fire hazard.

Unfortunately, pellet appliances are complex and unless the stove has a back-up power supply, the loss of electric power results in no heat and possibly some smoke in the house.

If you are designing or building a new home, consider placing the chimney inside your home. A more traditional chimney, constructed along the outside of a home, will lose valuable heat to the cold, outside air. If the chimney air temperature falls below that of the inside air, the cold, smelly chimney air will be pulled into the house by the low pressure of the stack effect. In such a scenario, the house has become a better chimney than the chimney. So when a fire is lit, smoke fills the room.

Chimneys must match the size of the appliance, meaning the flue size should match the stove outlet. If the chimney is bigger than the stove or fireplace outlet, exiting exhaust slows, increasing creosote buildup and decreasing efficiency. High-performance chimneys are also insulated. Older masonry chimneys can be relined to safely and efficiently connect them to newer high-efficiency, wood-burning appliances. Again, the chimney liner should be continuous from the appliance outlet to the chimney top. It is not uncommon to pay as much for the chimney as for your appliance.

Free-standing woodstoves exhaust into a connecting pipe, which then connects into the chimney. If the connecting pipe is longer than 8 feet (as in a vaulted ceiling), you should consider investing in double-layer pipe with 1-inch airspace between pipe layers. Efficient modern stoves produce large amounts of heat. Much of this heat can radiate from a longer length of single-layer pipe, slowing down the draft, which can impact the overall efficiency of your wood-burning system.

 

SKYLIGHTS

Even the most energy-efficient skylight must be properly installed to ensure that its energy performance is achieved. Therefore, it's best to have a professional install your skylight.

In addition to following the manufacturer's guidelines when installing a skylight, it's also important to consider slope and moisture control.

Slope

The slope or tilt of the skylight affects solar heat gain. A low-slope will admit relatively more solar heat in the summer and less in the winter, exactly the opposite of what is desirable.

As a general rule of thumb, you want to achieve a slope equal to your geographical latitude plus 5 to 15 degrees. For example, the optimum slope for a south-facing skylight in Columbus, Ohio, at 40º North latitude, is 45º to 55º. At least one skylight manufacturer makes a prefabricated, tilted base that increases the angle of a skylight above the roof.

Moisture Control

Water leaks are a common problem with skylights. Take the following steps to avoid water leaks:

  • Mount the skylight above the roof surface
  • Install a curb (a raised, watertight lip that helps to deflect water away from the skylight) and flashing
  • Thoroughly seal joints
  • Follow the manufacturer's guidelines.

It is also prudent to apply a layer of sheet waterproofing over the flanges/flashing of the skylight. This is generally installed under the finish roofing material as an aid in protecting against ice dams. Avoid water diversion devices such as roof crickets or diverter strips, as they often create more problems than they solve.

 

Passive solar heating is best incorporated into a house during the initial design; the concepts of passive solar heating can also be used when remodeling or adding to your home. Window design and glazing choices in particular, are critical factors for determining the effectiveness of passive solar heating in a home. In heating climates, large south-facing windows are used, as these have the most exposure to the sun in all seasons.

Windows can also be located to provide solar heating in cold climates or avoid solar heating in hot climates. In cold climates, large south-facing windows allow significant solar energy into the house and also provide day lighting; properly sized overhangs can prevent overheating in the summer. In hot climates, north-facing windows can provide day lighting without heating the house.

East- and west-facing windows generally cause excessive heat gains in the summer and heat losses in the winter, and are usually sized small. Although overhangs are impractical for east- and west-facing windows, vertical shading can be used, or trees and shrubs can be strategically located to shade the windows. Landscaping has other benefits, including natural cooling and protection from the wind.

Windows can now be designed for a number of purposes. Some windows are designed to let the sun's heat in while insulating against the cold, and are ideal for south-facing windows in cold climates. Others are designed to reject the sun's heat while providing insulation, and are ideal for all windows in hot climates and east- and west-facing windows in moderate climates. 

Thermal mass such as tiles, masonry, or even water-filled walls provides a means of storing the solar energy that enters through the windows. Built into the floors and walls near the south-facing windows, thermal mass will absorb solar energy during the day and keep the house from overheating. At night, the thermal mass will release the heat, keeping the house warm.

An alternate approach is to locate a thermal mass wall on the south-facing side of the house, with glazing on the exterior, separated from the wall by only a few inches. The wall absorbs heat on the sun-facing side and releases it slowly into the living space over the course of the day. Although the wall will block the sunlight, day lighting can still be achieved through narrow windows located above the thermal wall.

For thermal mass to be effective, air must circulate freely through the house to carry the heat from the thermal mass to the places where it is needed. Fans are sometimes used, but natural convection will often circulate the air sufficiently. For instance, a central staircase provides an effective means for allowing hot air to rise, and to complete the circuit, vents between the upper and lower floors along the exterior walls will allow cooler air to flow back to the thermal mass. Doors must be left open for this approach to work.

 

Solar water heating is achieved by the use a solar energy collector, usually mounted on the roof of the house, to heat a fluid such as water, which is pumped through it. The hot fluid is stored in a tank, usually located in a basement or utility room, and the cool household water is piped through a heat exchanger in the tank to heat it. The hot household water can then be stored in another tank, or it may be piped into a standard water heater, which can serve as both a storage tank and a backup water heating system.

The basic concept described above can be accomplished using a wide variety of solar collectors and a number of plumbing configurations. For systems in regions where the temperature can go below freezing, an automatic drain-back system is also employed to drain the solar collector when freezing conditions become a threat.

 

SUMMER KITCHENS


(Year-Round outdoor kitchen)

Whether you are designing it yourself or taking the help of a designer some factors which you need to consider while planning are:

  • Your budget limit.
  • The type of cooking you will do and how often.
  • Whether you will you eat the food outside or bring it inside the house. 
  • Whether you are designing the outdoor kitchen for a small family or are planning to use it as a place to host party gatherings.
  • The furniture that needs to be used with the design.
  • The time of the year you will be using the outdoor kitchen. 
  • Whether you want the outdoor kitchen to be a flexible, movable arrangement or do you want it permanently installed.

 

Your Summer Kitchen Is an excellent place to spend more time relaxing and entertaining outdoors, in your covered (or retractable roof) year round kitchen. Ideally you will construct your outdoor kitchen far enough from the house (at least 40 feet), that at night, you will enjoy the subtle glow of your home on one side and the open yard (pool, spa) landscape and view on the other sides. You want your kitchen open on all sides. You need power, water and a roof. The structure should be approximately 24 feet by 20 feet. You want enough area for dining, counter space, cooking and storage, as well as a conversation area. You want subdued lighting, as well as normal (which can be accomplished with a dimmer switch) lighting.. For areas that are cold, provide room for a pedestal LPG or Natural gas heater, they are great.

When people get home, they want to be outside (of course, unless it's freezing cold). It's much more pleasant to be outside in the evening and a summer kitchen lets people take advantage of the outdoors. A summer kitchen in the evening should provide the peace of being suspended in darkness; strive for this, as it is unique and restful.

Although they are one of the hottest new home design features, summer kitchens are an update of an old idea. Before air conditioning and electric stoves, a summer kitchen provided a place to cook while keeping heat, and cooking fires out of the main house. Today, they're strictly about convenience, entertaining and providing a tranquil atmosphere. They are an extension of your home, outside.

A basic summer kitchen might have a large grill, sink and small refrigerator set in an island with plenty of counter space and storage. A top-of-the-line installation could add a bar with an icemaker, a wine cooler, and grill side burners and even a dishwasher, deep fryer or pizza oven. Designs are limited only by budget, space and imagination, but remember: the roomier, the more comfortable. You will have regrets, if you make it too small. Creating a pleasant, functional backyard kitchen that works for you, the essential elements include a cooking area usually centered around a grill and a counter on which to organize meal preparation. Below the counter, shelf and drawer space can easily house tools, dishes, and napkins to prevent unnecessary trips to the kitchen. Add cabinet doors so contents are protected from weather, don't forget the ceiling fans. Not only are they functional for air circulation, but the keep out the (flying insects do not like downdrafts) flying insects.

Not only are more homeowners remodeling to include summer kitchens, many new-home builders are recognizing their appeal, incorporating them into their new homes.

If you decide to install a fire pit, which are great, take into consideration prevailing winds, you don't want yourself and your guest to flee from the smoke. Normally the outside edge of the pit is about 10-12 feet from the summer kitchen roof line. Your pit should be about 5 feet (overall) in diameter, the center being a 3 (circle opening) feet, the depth being at least 24 inches from the bottom to the pit to the top. You want the sides (above ground) to be 14 -18 inches high, so you can rest your feet on the perimeter top.

About the grill

A kitchen island and good quality grill and most of us would be ready for the entire summer, or most of the year, for that matter. Your grill might be natural gas or propane, electric, charcoal (note: there is little noticeable smoke from a charcoal fire (or a fire that has burned down to embers). This process drives off all of the volatile organic compounds and leaves behind pure carbon and ash (the non-burnable minerals in the tree's cells). When you light the charcoal, what is burning is the pure carbon. It combines with oxygen to produce carbon dioxide, and what is left at the end of the fire is the ash -- the minerals. This produces a very intense heat with very little smoke, making charcoal very useful as a cooking fuel that will not overwhelm the flavor of the food with the elements found in normal wood smoke. , and wood.) Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Grilling enthusiasts passionately argue the merits of charcoal versus gas grilling, citing especially the difference in flavor. Charcoal (charcoal is not a rock or even some type of coal. It is actually wood) does provide a distinctive flavor that is not easily reproduced. It is a tough call for many people: the convenience of a gas grill against the flavor of charcoal.

 

 

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