House & Home Information and Tips for you
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.
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.
(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
factory into a fine powder. Moisture is added to
the calcium sulfate powder to form a white
appearing thick paste. Necessary
edge ruler, 4 inch putty knife, utility knife,
sheet rock sandpaper, small bucket of drywall mud, piece of drywall, a
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
area with plastic sheeting, held to the wall with blue painters tape. Step
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
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
Apply a light coat of drywall mud around the edges of the newly cut
and place the patch into the wall. Squeeze out excess drywall mud with
putty knife and let dry overnight. Re-putty the patched area, allowing
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
hardware store it is an exceptional product for larger repairs. They
to use and make a more permanent repair. This product is great for
are 3 inches in diameter or larger. But if you don't mind getting your
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
The powder form does have advantages in that you can purchase it with
drying times. Before
applying any joint compound make sure that you have
a nice smooth consistency. Most premixed products require mixing and
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
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
based version works better. The water based formula flattens out more
drying and the oil based formula seems to hold its texture resulting in
better repair. When
applying the texture use really short quick burst,
holding the can about 12" away from the area spraying and you will
a great match. Use a piece of cardboard to practice your texturing
If you are in the planning stages of sheet rocking, there
are some nice tricks to help you with how to texture sheetrock walls.
homeowners like the appearance and feel to texture sheetrock walls in
homes. You can create some very unique wall looks using texture
instead of traditional flat, painted sheetrock walls. Additionally,
sheetrock walls help to hide any taped areas and edging areas of the
the drywall surface to be painted is textured or
not, any problem spots will show up in the final product and the
paint you choose, the more prominent they will be. Finally, remove all
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do not vacuum any of the
chips and other electronic components.
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
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.
Often-Used Items at Close Range
GLUING HINTS :
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
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?
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
To Replace: Outlet Receptacle
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
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.
Tip: Do you know
where the main water shut off valve is at for your home or apartment?
Most eye injuries are
preventable, simply apply safety and precaution.
Practice Your Plan
Have a Battery-Powered Radio for News and Instructions!
Check for Damage in Your Home...
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.
Tools and Supplies
Important Family Documents
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.
Re-evaluate each cost
estimate. Be sure there is nothing you have overlooked.
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:
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.
-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.
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.
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.
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.
Corian® solid surfaces are
versatile enough to meet your needs, providing you with 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
Ladders are a great
convenience, they are also extremely dangerous. Thousands of injuries
happen yearly, due to ladders.
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.
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, Windbreaks 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 Coverings: 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.
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.
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
Is your work material
within easy reach?
Quick Tip: Never clean your Marble counters with Vinegar, it can etch them.
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".
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
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.
1. Select and Finish
Materials Appearance grades. moldings, trim
work, cabinets and interior walls.
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.
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 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.
Adequate ventilation in your house is important for two reasons:
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 AND COOLING
present heating system:
Quick Tip: When the toilet is overflowing, turn off the water at shut-off valve below the tank on the wall.
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.
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.
It is most important to:
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:
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:
Insulation Value of
Quick Tip: To rid your shower of mold and mildew, simply apply household Bleach, mixed with some water 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.
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.
A tray separator, inside a
cabinet, allows cookie sheets, muffin tins, and pizza pans to stand on
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.
your garage is overflowing and is beyond organization, sort through
everything and decide what
stack racks to place items on, as well as install storage racks and
hooks on the
the season at hand and place items used during that season close at
hand. Such as
other sports equipment, solid wooden or steel shelving units are an
excellent choice. If your family
are racks specifically designed for tennis rackets, gold bags, skis,
and more. Whatever your
you haven't already done so, now is the perfect time to add additional
storage space to help you
you use your garage as a work area, be sure to make the best use of
this space. Install a work
thought to remember, your garage is meant to be a place to park your
car, if you organize properly,
The Car: Inside/
Keep your title, registration and maps in your glove box or visor
If you use your automobile for business travel or need to carry files
and a lap top to
In the Trunk/ Use a specially
designed cloth grocery tote to prevent your bags of groceries from
Utilize plastic bins for organizing items
in your trunk, this includes one specifically
Use another tote to hold a few quarts of motor oil, windshield wiper
Keep pens, scissors, and other frequently used items at arm's reach inside a desktop caddy.
Use a desk drawer organizer to contain paper clips, and anything else small.
frequently used files and documents in a desktop file box or into
stacking letter trays
rolling file carts are perfect for organizing your files. Those with
smaller drawers do double duty
Rarely used documents can go into long term storage boxes, Label each before storing.
magazines, and even scrap book cut-outs can be neatly organized in
totes, boxes, and files
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.
your files out regularly. You should maintain utility, phone, cable and
credit card statements
there are professionals that do nothing but this a living, their
experience provides suggested
are four basic types of closet organization systems: long hanging,
short hanging, shelves and
addition to closet organization and storage systems in, many companies
sell furniture to organize
organization systems can range from inexpensive coated wire products to
A few other closet organization tips:
Some suggestions for creating more pantry storage in small kitchens:
Don't let your dryer shrink or ruin your delicate items. Hang them on a drying rack:
If you have room, consider utilizing a laundry sorter, there are two styles of sorters available:
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.
small baskets attached to the inside of a cabinet door will keep
brushes, dish clothes, and sponges out of sight.
Cleaning supplies are 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.
odors and keep pets out of the trash by using a covered garbage can.
Quick Tip: NEVER MIX AMMONIA AND BLEACH TOGETHER
Every sun room design has its advantages and disadvantages, some of which are directly related too 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
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.
fans make sense
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)
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.
Quick Tip: Try shaving cream to silence squeaky door hinges (WD40 & Candle wax also works great)
Quick Tip: Use Coca-Cola to loosen rusted locks.
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.
Your hardwood floor will eventually need extra care. It's here that much controversy exists.
'DAMP' MOPPING ( it does not have to be dripping Wet!)
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 remove 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
hardwood floors are tough and will last for years with the proper care.
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
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.
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.
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.
Water leaks are a common problem with skylights. Take the following steps to avoid water leaks:
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.
(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 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.
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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