12/17/14

Choosing Between Carpet and Hardwood Floor

carpetToday the trend seems to lean towards having hardwood floors over carpet. Despite this, carpet remains a popular choice among home and business owners. Carpet may be a little more cost effective if a tight budget is designated to the flooring. Consider these things when determining whether to cover the floor in carpet or hardwood.

The traffic level of the room is a big indicator of how fast the flooring may wear out. If it is high traffic, it can wear on both carpet and hardwood. Carpets will eventually wear out in high traffic areas and show obvious discoloration or wear. Hardwood will also show a “path” in the stain where there is high traffic. Consider using a hardwood with a durable stain or a higher grade of carpet. High traffic areas can be covered with runners if they fit with the decor.

Maintenance on the floor will help to keep it nice looking and long lasting for years. Vacuum carpets often and steam clean monthly to keep it fresh. Hardwood floors need a good cleaning at least once a week with a wood safe soap. Shine and polish once a week to once a month to help protect the stain and keep it new looking.

07/5/14

Fixing a Diverter Valve Explained

The constant drip of a leaky faucet is annoying and wasteful. If the leaky faucet is a single handle type and has a sprayer or is the bathtub and shower faucet, the problem could be the diverter valve. This valve is what sends the water to the sprayer or shower-head when they are used. If the valve gets worn out or clogged, the result is that annoying constant drip. Though it is not the only cause of leaky faucets, it is a common one.

Fixing, cleaning or replacing the diverter valve is simple enough for almost anyone to do themselves. It also is cheaper than replacing the entire faucet. A few common tools are all that are needed along with a few simple instructions.

The first thing to do is gather your tools. A flat head screwdriver, a Phillips head screwdriver and an adjustable pipe wrench are all that are needed. You should also have a small container such as a small bowl to put the diverter valve in after you remove it. If you have a camera, it is a good idea to have it handy as well. Since a diverter valve is made up of two or three small parts, taking a picture of it right after removing it will help in putting the parts back together in the right order to save time remembering or guessing at it.

Next, shut the water off to the faucet you are working on. Most sinks have a shutoff valve under the sink. Some sinks don’t and bathtubs often don’t. In these cases, the water main to the entire house will need to be shut off. Once the water is shut off, turn the faucet on to let any remaining water in the pipes come out and release water pressure. Then plug the drain so if the diverter valve pops out, it won’t be lost down the drain.

Now you will need to find the screw to remove the faucet handle. If the faucet has a ball handle, the screw is located under a cap on the top of the faucet. Use the flat head screwdriver to pry it off. If the handle is a lever, the screw is usually located just below the underside of the lever. Once located, remove the screw using the phillips head screwdriver and lift the handle from the base. Put the screw in the bowl you have handy so it is not lost while you are completing the rest of the job.

After the handle is removed, you will then need to remove the ring holding the rest of the faucet assemble in place. This job will be done with the pipe wrench. It will be tight so getting it started will not be easy. Once the ring is removed, you will be able to lift off the piece that holds the diverter valve in place and put it in the bowl. Now you can remove the diverter valve. Sometimes it will pop out on its own, especially in bathtub faucets. Usually, it can just be pulled out but it may need to be pried sometimes.

After removing the diverter valve, inspect it for wear and mineral buildup. Also inspect the area it was in for mineral buildup or debris. If there is mineral buildup or debris in either, clean it thoroughly and it is ready for reassembly. If there are any worn or broken parts, they will need to be replaced. Put the parts that need replacing in a small bag such as a sandwich bag and take them with you to the hardware or home improvement store so you can get the right replacement parts.

To reassemble the faucet after putting in the new or cleaned diverter valve, simply reverse the steps followed to take it apart. Once reassembled, turn the water back on to the faucet and turn to water on at the faucet to get water running through it smoothly again. Then turn it off and check to make sure it no longer leaks.

Fixing the faucet yourself saves a good deal if you are on a tight budget as the replacement parts are inexpensive. It does take some time but it is time well spent.

04/6/14

Homeowner’s HVAC Maintenance Guide

It’s that time of the year again…Air conditioning time.

For the most part, the heating and air conditioning system that you’re using is always running. Whether it is cooling or heating it’s operating 24/7 and, as such, regular HVAC service and  maintenance is required. Just like a person, your heating and cooling system is going to give some symptoms that you’ll notice long before it breaks down. It will start to be less efficient and show signs of wear and tear. Regular maintenance is important because every part of your air conditioner or heating unit needs to be kept in peak operating condition not only to be efficient, but to be safe.

Air Filters & Indoor Coil
Normally when we consider the filter we’re thinking about air quality. There are other reasons to keep the unit clean. They must stay clean to maintain the right air flow and to prevent mold from building up in the AC unit. If dirt is packed into place the unit can become clogged, leading to overflows, water damage and other issues. The heat transfer doesn’t take place efficiently and of course that means that it’s going to cost you a lot more to pay for the cooling that you need to have accomplished every day.

Condenser Coils
The external part of the system, this is on the outside and it’s where the transfer of heat is going to take place. The pressure of the refrigerant is kept down and the compressor is protected here, making your entire air conditioning unit run better and with a greater amount of efficiency. As the coil is exposed, regular cleaning is most important here.

Unit Lubrication
It is imperative that you lubricate any of the moving parts on your unit. This will be the key to keeping the unit living longer. Our technicians can help you to know which parts of the unit require lubrication and how you can accomplish this between regular maintenance if you so desire.

Electrical Connections
The air conditioning and heating unit has a wide range of different electrical parts. Each of these has a connection. Over time those connections can become loosened and will build up heat. This can cause failure of the unit overall. Usually this is going to happen in the hottest part of the summer or the coldest part of the winter. Make sure that all electrical connections are checked and tightened or have that accomplished with your regular air conditioning maintenance.

The Refrigerant.. The heating and cooling pump system that you have requires a refrigerant. It is imperative to maintain the proper level of coolant in the system. If you have too little it can damage the compressor. Having too much can do the same thing.

Ducting
The duct work in your system is going to be another part that needs a regular inspection. It won’t perform well if it isn’t inspected regularly because vibration and other things can cause the ducting to pull apart and not give the kind of seal that you need to keep the house cool or warm as it should be. This results in a higher heating or cooling bill and that you’re spending money to literally heat or cool the outside.

Every aspect of your heating and cooling system requires a quick once over on a yearly basis. We’ll be pleased to ensure that your system is working at peak efficiency. Call for an annual inspection today before the winter time is upon us again.

03/27/14

DIY Caulking

For home improvement, DIY caulking is an essential skill that everyone should have at least a little experience in. Caulking can take care of exterior cracks, gaps between building materials, and leaks or poor fittings.

The biggest advantage to caulking is that it’s an excellent filler material. The only disadvantage is that it can be hard for beginners to achieve professional results if they don’t have the right help.

Whether you’re caulking to improve insulation, or to take care of a pest problem, make sure you read this guide first to ensure you get the best results, even if you’ve never picked up a caulking gun in your life.

What you will need

  •     A tube of caulk
  •     A Caulking gun
  •     A Razor Blade Scraper
  •     Professional Painters Tape
  •     Pure Alcohol Solution
  •     Rags

Choosing your Caulk
Different caulks work best for different applications. For dry interior jobs, latex caulk is your best option. For areas that are wet or may be exposed to moisture, like bathrooms or laundry areas, go for a silicone caulk. If you’re caulking exterior cracks or gaps in fitments etc. you can go with a rubber (butyl) based option.

Prep the Area
Remove any debris from the gap using your scraper. If possible, vacuum the gap to remove any particles. If you’re re-caulking, remove the old caulk first. You can cut it out using your scraper before vacuuming the area.

Now you can use your painters tape to seal off the edges of the area that you will be caulking. This is the easiest way to ensure that you achieve a professional looking finish. The tape will prevent the caulk getting on to the surface around the gap or crack that you’re filling. You can also use the tape to control the size of the caulking joint. Generally, a thinner joint will look better, so aim for about ¼ of an inch.

Once the area is clean and taped, you can move on to applying the new caulk.

Applying the Caulk
The biggest mistake that first time caulkers make is filling the area in too quickly. Start off by cutting the end of your caulking tube and penetrating the membrane (you can cut it off with your razor blade scraper, or use a nail or sharp point to penetrate it).

Insert the caulk at around a 45degree angle, making sure that you use the gun slowly and consistently.

Once the caulk is fully applied to the cavity, you can begin smoothing out the caulk.

Smoothing the Caulk
Smoothing can be done easily with your finger, you’ll just need a little lubricant and the rags for cleaning off excess caulk. For latex caulk apply water to your fingers, or for silicone caulk use pure alcohol.

Press firmly along the edge of the caulk joint, working from one end to the other. As you move along, wipe off excess caulk from your fingers and reapply your lubricant. Keep going until you’ve smoothed over the taped area.

When the joint is smoothed off, you’ll be able to remove the painters tape carefully. The tape will leave a defined edge and the surface around the caulking will be clean of any excess, leaving a professional looking result.

Caulking doesn’t have to be difficult, you just need the correct techniques and a little patience while applying the caulk. Try out our method in your bathroom, around window fitments, or on outdoor cracks. If presentation is not a concern, you can skip the tape, but remember to stick to the rest of our tips.

03/3/14

Your Home Improvement, Your Way!

Small kitchen and ready for a new one? No money to get the job done?  Look into a home improvement loan. Home Improvement loans can be a smart way to renovate. We think they are fine if used to increase the value of the home and for repairs that will help the home hold its value.

For a home equity loans, you are borrowing money against the value of your home. If the home improvement project increases the value of your home you can borrow up to 80% of the home equity. Make sure you can afford the monthly repayments and ensure that the house is worth more than what you owe for the loan. It is a loan laid out by either a finance company or bank to finance your home improvement project. Remember, you are pledging your home as collateral and it will be at risk!

02/27/14

High Traffic Flooring for Yor Home

When you enter a home, the first thing that you’ll likely notice will be the flooring. If it is clean and inviting, your first impression of the home is favorable. If it is frayed and worn, quite the reverse will be true and you’ll be looking around to see what else may be worn and torn. You don’t get a second chance to make that great first impression on your guests. The warmth, the ambiance, the overall look and feel that comes to you immediately will usually come to you from the flooring.

The floor is quite likely the first thing that someone will see when they enter your home. The flooring in any given space contributes a great deal to the overall look and feel of any room. It plays a large part in defining the room. From the living room to the kitchen each floor needs a special style– a special feel to feed into the look of that room. Interior designers will tell you that the floor which is being selected will be a big part of the design of the room and will set off the walls or detract from the decorating style if it isn’t right.

Many people use wall to wall carpeting in their home. According to Best Carpet Value (www.bestcarpetvalue.com), due to a vast array of traffic which may be part of the room that kind of carpet will see a lot of wear and tear. It will require replacing more frequently or it will detract from the rich and warm look that you’re trying to achieve for your room. The worn carpet can take away from the ambiance of your home and make it look less than it really is. It will detract from the style that you want people to see when they come in, but how do you prevent that when the room is a busy one which has a lot of foot traffic on a daily basis? A few answers may be to use methods that are easy to repair or change rather than to carpet the entire room in one piece. Considering hardwood flooring or carpet tile which is easy to repair and keep clean may be something you’d benefit from.

The rooms which may see the most traffic will typically be the game room or the living room or family room. They will get used far more than the average space. Kitchens too can become worn with the amount of traffic that will fall into them every day. Tile, carpet tile or hardwood flooring will keep those rooms looking their best for a much longer time span.

The thousands of footfalls in the room can offer dust and dirt and stains that are hard to remove and may make your room look like less than it really is. Replacing the flooring can be costly but if you must replace it, replacing it with flooring that will keep the wear and tear to a minimum and will give you a more attractive floor for a longer period of time is the best option for you.

Your best option to create a look and feel that will stand up to hard traffic and high wear and tear will be hardwood flooring, tile, or even carpet tile, which will provide you the means to repair worn areas and to keep your rooms looking and feeling as sharp as they day that the floors were laid.