Heating Repair

On the Level

The most important step in finding a good heating repair company is making sure they are on the level. This means they have all of their licensing in order. Every state has their own qualifications and requisites for becoming a licensed contractor. Make sure any company you’re considering has met those qualifications and can show you their active license as issued by the state. If you happen to live in a state where no such licensing is required, check to see if the company belongs to any professional organizations. These organizations have their own qualifications, which will at least let you know that someone considers this company a professional service.

Consumer Reporting

In the old days, you had to ask around to find out what people thought of a particular heating repair company. There’s nothing wrong with doing that today, either, but it can be frustrating when it seems as though no one you know has ever hired such a contractor. The internet makes it easy to get this kind of information. Look around for customer reviews, but be wary of any that seem too glossy or opinionated in one direction or another. Reviews can be faked very easily- both by the company itself and the competition- so you need to keep a clear head about what you’re reading. You may also want to check with consumer reporting sites such as the Better Business Bureau to see if any customers have filed complaints.

Customer Service

In the end, trust your instincts. You don’t have to have your decision made by the time you call a heating repair contractor. In fact, you can learn a lot just by calling around with some questions. Judge the companies by how professionally they answer the phone and how friendly they are when you explain your situation. Let these businesses tell you with their actions how much they want your business. If they don’t, then there’s little reason to give it to them.

Basics to Loft Extensions

The popularity of the loft conversions relate to the benefits that are gained by the homeowner. One of the main reasons is that an often unusable room is transformed into space that is fully liveable, which has the potential to increase the marketable value of a property by as much as 20%.

If consulting with a loft conversion specialist, you will likely find out that there are two main types of loft conversions, which relate to the dormer and roof window conversion. A roof window conversion is basically the process of installing a specific type of roof window, which are effective at letting in a significant amount of light throughout the daytime. A roof window is also highly aesthetically appealing when viewing the property from the outside. While the dormer conversion relates to a more extensive project and includes installing the windows, increasing the space and headroom in the attic, and creating space for permanent staircase access.

Prior to starting the construction phase of a loft extension, a specialist first inspects the available attic space to decide whether it is suitable for the type of work. It is important to decide that there is enough headroom and adequate space for the access stairs. A roof will also be given a detailed inspection to make sure it is in a sound and leak-free condition before any work can be undertaken.

If required, it will be necessary to apply for the right building and planning permits to make sure you have the consent from the local authorities to have this particular type of work completed on your property. Permits are often required where external construction takes place, such as a need to complete a roof extension, install roof windows, or to create necessary staircase access. If it is just minor internal conversion work, then this can often be completed without the need to consult with the local authorities.

A loft extension is often a quite costly project to undertake, but due to the complex nature of this type of work, it often benefits to use the services of a specialised conversion contractor.

Creating the Perfect Home Office

Choose the right space

The answer may not be as obvious as you might think. While, geographically, that corner in the living room may seem to make the most sense, its important to consider the level of distraction you may be facing in the future. Televisions, children, telephones, and pets can all come as unexpected distractions to your productivity. Choose a space with minimal traffic, minimal use, and minimal access to distractions.

Also, its important to be able to separate work life from home life- the ability to shut a door and “leave work” is absolutely crucial for reducing stress levels and reducing the risk of “burn out”. Perhaps an unused dining room, or formal living room could be a better option than using a spare bedroom.

Compliment, not Contradict

Your home office should compliment the rest of your home. If your home has a traditional design with lots of warm tones- then stick with that. Your home office space should seamlessly blend into the design of your home, not scream “cold, soul-less cubicle”. You also want to avoid clashing design themes- you may have that great desk your mother-in-law gave you- but if it clashes with the flow of the room, it may be worth the additional cost to avoid those architectural hiccups. After all, you want your home office to give you a sense of comfort and ease- not be a stark shock to the senses.

Built-in storage

It may seem like a superfluous or excessive expense to incorporate built- in organization or storage into a home-office when the option to run to a local store and purchase a desk or shelf (with assembly required) is always there, but adding furniture to a home can cause clutter- and when it comes to home office, clutter is the enemy. Talk with your designer about incorporating built-in shelving, cabinets, and drawers into your space. This will not only increase how seamlessly your home office space blends into your home, but will also avoid potential issues with purchasing organizational tools which inevitably add to the problem rather than solve it.

If you invest in nothing else, invest in a good chair

Likely one of the most crucial elements of any home office- the perfect office chair should be of utmost priority. When it comes to picking the perfect office chair- spare no expense. You’ll be spending a huge portion of your time sitting in that chair, so make sure it is as comfortable and functional as possible.

Disregard the Norm

Make your space uniquely “you”. Forget the muted, office beige (unless that’s what works for you) and paint or accent your space a color you love. We’ve already had some discussion about how color can affect your mood, and when it comes to productivity in the office place- we all know how much mood can affect productivity. Set your space up to be relaxing, permanent, functional, comfortable, and is tailored to your needs and wants. Don’t be afraid to be daring- as long as the space is functional,then who’s to say you can’t design your desk to have a built-in snack bowl, perch for your kitty to sleep next to you, or even something as radical as a place to put a patch of grass underneath so while you’re working you can take off your shoes and feel the grass under your feet? If you’re working from home, you have the distinct freedom to toss aside convention when it comes to design- use it!

Don’t underestimate a good view

In an ideal situation- we could all build our home offices to overlook the skyline of our city, or overlook a white sand beach, but the reality is that we have to use what we can. Giving yourself something more interesting to look at during those brief moments when looking away from a computer will make you more comfortable. A window is ideal- but even a picture or painting you really enjoy can provide those mental breaks that are so important to a productive work environment. No one likes staring at a blank wall, so while most of us can’t be afforded the perfect view, treat yourself to the best of what you can.

Illumination

Give yourself plenty of light. Of course natural light is preferred, but the daylight hours are limited- so make sure that your office space provides ample, bright light with a good hue. You will likely need more light than you’d anticipate- so adding additional light fixtures is an important consideration. Increased light will reduce eye strain and prevent those pesky headaches. Don’t forget to choose a bulb that offers light in a spectrum that works for you! Pale, crisp light sitting nearer the blue side of the spectrum often offers added energy and produces ample light. Stick around 900 Lumens minimum (depending on space) and make sure that your light source is in easy access from a seated position.

Drainage Systems for Home

A well-maintained property including an attractive yard is a great asset to have; not only will you be able to enjoy it to the maximum but you will also be able to command the best possible price for it in the market. Therefore, you need to invest in proper drainage solutions for your property. In other words, you’ll need to hire a company that can offer you a comprehensive range of services that includes:

Re-sloping the ground in order to guide water flow in a particular direction, i.e. away from the foundation, flower beds etc. and towards outside drains.
Building and maintaining drainage channels to divert excess water away from the property. Drains below the surface will prevent the soil from becoming soggy.
Building retaining walls to protect certain elevated areas from collapse and erosion. In fact, the company should also put erosion control measures in place so that you do not lose a lot of soil.
Installing and managing a proper system of gutters on your building’s roof so that water is not allowed to accumulate there. While downspouts should be esthetic and durable, they should also be placed in such a manner that they do not channel water into areas where they can cause damage.
Putting a proper irrigation system in place using professional sprinkler design. Many water problems are caused due to incorrect watering systems. This also leads to unnecessarily large water bills every month.

Buying A Whole House Water Filter

I suspect that your first question will be if this type of system is right for you and your family. Also, will it fit in your house? Some home may be more difficult to retro-fit than others. If you are renting a property, you will most likely not be able to fit a whole house water filter, but check with your landlord to see if they will allow you to. After all, they will benefit in the long run. Let’s look at a few of the benefits and drawbacks of using water filters or, in particular, whole house systems.

The obvious main benefit is that they can provide clean water to your whole house, via one single filtering unit. Other systems may require that you have devices attached to each faucet, but with this type, the entire house benefits from cleaner water. This will be ideal for large houses with lots of bathrooms, showers or sinks. You might be thinking that having filtered water in your shower or bath may not be something you need – however, studies have found that chemicals commonly present in domestic water supplies, such as chlorine, will be able to enter your body quicker when it is in the steam from your shower, than if you sat in a bath. Information like that may change your mind about where you need a water filter in your home.

Another obvious benefit as I stated earlier is that you have only need for one main filter system, rather than separate ones around your home. There are cost benefits from having a filter in a central location and is the obvious choice for providing water for the whole house. It is much easier to install and maintain than having single filters in each room. Although you will have to change the cleaning filter in a whole house system, changing a filter in each room suddenly becomes much more expensive. Therefore, the cost of a central system immediately outweighs separately installed ones.

With the benefits, there are also some drawbacks that you will need to be aware of too. The main one is the cost of installation, which will have to be performed by a professional tradesman. Although it is just a one-off cost, it will certainly stretch to over several hundred dollars. You could try to fit it yourself if you have the skills, but you must be able to plumb, solder and fit the device securely to ensure that there are no leaks. Buying the filter and a fitting service is the best advice and will keep your stress and the cost to a minimum.

Cost is in important factor and you may initially be put off by the higher price of a whole house water filter system. However, it is good to remember the benefits you will be getting. One single filter system, compared to several disparate units that all require their own maintenance will be more effective over time. If you project the costs over time, the whole house filter will work out more cost effective, due to the lower maintenance fees. Normally, the whole house water filters will require that you change the chemical filter once every ten years or more (dependent on the model). Compare that to the type of under counter filter that is installed in each room, that needs to have the filters changed every three months and the cost (and hassle) benefits are obvious. Filters in each room could stretch to over $400 per year if they are changed at the recommended time. Many people (myself included) forget to change the filters and therefore do not get the benefits of cleaner water. Unchanged water filters can build up bacteria over time, causing more harm than good. If you have also installed filters in your bathroom, you will need to change those too which could lead to more cost.

Something that may shock you is that the number of whole house filters in use in the nation is actually quite low. They are only used by a small consumer base. The main reason for this is that the filters are installed and used on a basis of need rather than something that people want to aspire to. Presented with the cost of installation, people who do not need the filter system installed may decide not to have it installed, perhaps opting for a counter top filter jug or point of use system instead. This may also be because they have some confusion of the types of filter there are on the market or that they are unsure if they need one at all. This may also lead people to not have any water filters at all. This is one of the main reasons why we believe that it is important to become educated about water filters and the various options before you buy. Make sure you understand what you are buying and the pros and cons of the systems available to you. Make sure you ask questions and learn about this filter system you are thinking of buying. Your installation partner can provide you with the information you need. A good question to ask is around the size, or capacity of the filter itself. Smaller filters tend to be more problematic than larger ones, sometimes clogging if there is too much dirt or particles in the water.

Gas Safety Importance

Gas Safety Week highlighted the dangers of gas and recent and old stories of carbon monoxide poisoning surfaced, reminding everyone how lethal gas can be. Trevor and Alan Leighton died of carbon monoxide poisoning in 1992 when a landlord reconnected a gas supply to an appliance that had been already been judged as unsafe by a registered engineer. An incident like this is easily avoidable and having a day’s worth of home cooking is never that worth it.

These days, registered engineers are incredibly accessible so make sure that you hire a safe, registered engineer when carrying out any gas work inside your home. ‘Gas safe’, the legal body for gas engineers also make it easy on their website to check if an engineer is registered to their system and all you have to do is type in their ‘Gas Safe’ number and all the information will come up for you.

All registered engineers should carry their badges with them at all times so you can always check for yourself. Gas companies should also have a number so you can ask for this when choosing who to go to for your work.

Often people wait till carbon monoxide is a problem for them before they check their appliances in the home. However, carbon monoxide can kill within minutes so make sure you keep a close eye on your gas. Here are a few tips to look out for carbon monoxide: Make sure all your gas appliances are checked at least annually. These are things such as your boiler, cooker or gas fire. Always make sure that you are using a ‘Gas Safe’ registered engineer to carry out any of your gas jobs. This is the law and only they are fully qualified to keep your appliances safe. To check you can visit the Gas Safe Register website and check your engineer’s badge number. Make sure you are familiar with the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. These are headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness, collapse and loss of consciousness. Look out for signs that your appliances are not working properly. If you see yellow flames instead of blue ones, black marks, stains on or around the appliance or too much condensation, this can be a sign of a leakage. You can also purchase a carbon monoxide alarm for your home which you can make sure is close to your gas appliances. These are not expensive at all. Do not use barbecues or even the small disposable ones in the house or within a closed environment. This is lethal. Always ensure there is enough ventilation around your appliances. Make sure you report ANYONE who is working with gas appliances and is not registered. This is illegal and this can put many lives at risk.

Water Heaters

Your Fuel Options

Before you make any purchase of water heaters or even compare the various options, you will need to think about fuel first. Most homes use one of three options in their current systems. This includes electric, natural gas or propane gas. Any of these can be a good option for you. However, for those who want to save bigger, it may be possible to use a solar or geothermal option too. If you plan to switch sources of fuel, be sure to factor in the cost of making such a switch.

Family Size

The next consideration in selecting a heater is to consider your family size and usage needs. In most cases, the system will have a specific chart on it to tell you what size it can handle. For example, if you have five or more people in your home, you should have an 80-gallon tank minimum to ensure there is plenty available. For those with three or four people, the recommendation is for a 50-gallon tank. Those with two or three need 40-gallons minimum.

To Tank or Not to Tank

The next question to consider is whether you will need an actual tank for your system. Many people are making the switch to a tankless option. These will heat water on demand rather than holding 80 gallons of water and maintaining that temperature while it is not in use. Be sure to consider the various elements of such a purchase, including the installation costs and limitations you may have. You may also want to consider the energy efficiency of any model you select to be sure it is worth the investment in the long term.

Aluminum Balusters

Aluminum balusters are just one of many deck and patio railing options, along with wooden, plastic, and wood-composite materials, they are able to provide the most versatility. Because it can be molded and curved, the aluminum choice offers visual interest to a deck. It doesn’t weigh down a space, making it darker, harder to see through or harder to decorate with potted plants, ivy, or outdoor entertaining accessories. Aluminum balusters can have designs along the rods; they can be painted; they can blend with and compliment the posts, or the aluminum can be used in a mixed medium with wood or wood-composite posts. The aluminum balusters cover necessity of railing and decorative appeal of the outdoor dining, seating, and entertaining area around a home.

They can come in any colors and designs and can be placed in any indoor or outdoor staircase, landing, balcony, or patio. The color is of course applied in order to blend with the aesthetics tastes of the homeowner. But the architectural improvement they can make to a space comes in the form or shape of the actual bars that can be smoothly curved or sharply angled to enhance the shape of the deck or shapes of the home’s exterior architecture. There can also be ornamentation shaped into the individual rods that act as an accessory to the overall hardscaping design.

The thinner metal rails also allow for better sight line from within the house. More of the yard and tree greenery, garden color or pool and spa water are visible from any area of the deck or any window or patio door on the house. Homeowners get the safety of the aluminum balusters without the obstruction that is quite common with wooden or similar materials. Thinner railing options that tend to blend more with the tree lines that are beyond it. It lends a slightly more elegant presentation to any deck of any material particularly wood and composite construction. They are especially useful around or near pools so that their children or pets are always more visible.

Clearing Out the Clogs

The Plunger

The wise homeowner will have at least two plungers in their home at all times. One should be a larger one for toilet clogs and the other should be smaller for sink and tub clogs. These can be terrifically handy when you can’t get the water to go down like it should. As long as you don’t have a major drain cleaning job ahead of you, the plunger can more than rise to the challenge in many situations. Give it a try before you move on to more advanced and elaborate fixes.

Saltwater

This is a not only a good trick for drain cleaning, but one of those things you can implement every now and then simply to keep things from getting clogged up in the first place. Make up a gallon or so of salt water and pour it down the sink to keep grease from clogging up the sides of the pipe. Remember, the best defense is a good offense. If you can stop clogs from happening, you’ll have to concern yourself less with what to do afterwards. Plain water can also be a help after the clog has happened. Boil a pot on the stove and pour it into the sink. Used in conjunction with the plunger, you can often get pretty good results.

Commercial Chemicals

Some of the commercial drain cleaning formulas sold at your local retailer can actually do quite a lot to get rid of a clog. The ones that promise a foaming action often work better than those that are purely liquid, especially for tough clogs. There are two caveats to using these chemicals, however. One, you need to read the directions and warnings very carefully. Not only are these chemicals caustic to the skin, but also they can cause damage if used in areas or on certain pipes that they weren’t intended for. Two, you should limit your repeated use of these formulas. If you’re constantly pouring these harsh chemicals into your pipes, you could be creating some serious plumbing problems.

Importance of Indoor Air Quality

This is especially important for people with babies and small children. When people are in their early stages of life, their immune system isn’t that strong. So, it’s harder for them to fight off diseases and sicknesses. That’s one reason that many new mothers require people to wash their hands before touching their baby. It’s not that they are trying to be difficult. They just want to make sure that their baby stays as healthy as possible. Not only is it important for mothers to protect their babies from germs that could be given to them through human contact, but also it’s important that they are protected from airborne germs, bacteria, and diseases.

The same can be said for the elderly. As people get older their organs and body parts don’t work as well as they used to. In actuality, their overall health begins to fail. All of these things cause them to be more susceptible to the same airborne culprits that babies are susceptible to. That’s one reason why having good indoor air quality is so vital. It helps to promote a healthy environment. This is especially important if they are already sick and dealing with certain health-related issues.

As previously mentioned, indoor air quality is important for everyone. So, although it’s seen as more vital for the aforementioned groups, it’s just as essential to the average adult with near perfect health. Some people believe that just because they are in top-notch shape, they eat healthy, drink lots of water and exercise regularly that they’ve done all that it takes to maintain their health. Little do they know that inhaling certain harmful toxins and chemicals can jeopardize their health just as much as eating the wrong foods can.