Air Conditioners: Worth It?

When the weather gets hot, people want to cool off inside their homes and when fans are just not cutting it, they wind up turning to the air conditioner to get cooled off. Air conditioning seems great and while you may think it’s not expensive to run, you’re sadly mistaken. Many people who have an idea as to how much an air conditioner can raise their electric bills in a month find themselves wondering if an air conditioner is really worth it.

So when you think about it and you do some research, you will learn that to operate an air conditioner, you will be spending an additional $40 to $120 per month. That cost doesn’t include what you are going to spend to purchase the unit in the first place and depending on the air conditioner you choose, you’re looking at a few hundred dollars at least. Now, sure, you will not be using the air conditioner every day or all year round, unless you’re living in a really warm climate, but the few months a year that you do have to pay to operate your air conditioner can really drain your pockets. You may even be thinking about all the extra money you could be using for something else right now.

The truth is, sure, air conditioners are great and can keep you and your family cool inside your home, but at the end of the day, they’re running you into a lot of money. You have to buy the unit and pay to have it installed which could require electricians to run wiring as well as HVAC contractors and on top of that you have to pay to run it and you could use that money for something else. Air conditioners are also not too great for the environment, so when you think about it, they’re not really worth the money or your time. Fans are still a better option, unless you want to opt for a central cooling system. Then, you’re winning at life.

5 Bathroom Remodeling Mistakes You Need to Avoid

If you have finally decided that you cannot stand your bathroom anymore and you want to remodel it, you are taking a step in the right direction, since remodeling your bathroom can be fun and give you a place to relax after a long day at work. However, there are some fairly common mistakes that are made during the renovation process that can affect the final results. Here are 5 bathroom renovation mistakes that you definitely need to avoid.

 

  1. Bathroom Renovation CalgaryDon’t Ignore Your Bathroom Fan
  2. When you are renovating your bathroom, you need to be sure that whatever you do, you never overlook the fan in the bathroom. Many people never install one and if they do, they just don’t clean it. However, without a fan or even with a dirty one, the bathroom is not being properly ventilated and that is a major problem. This can cause humidity in the bathroom, which in turn caused paint and grout to deteriorate and it will also cause the formation of mildew. All you need to do is vacuum your vent on a regular basis and you’ll be good to go. But, if you are remodeling, be sure you have a fan installed if you do not have one now.
  1. Don’t Start Remodeling Without a Clear Plan
  2. Whatever you do, do not start tearing your current bathroom apart without a plan for the new one. You must always have a plan set in place before you start demolition. Sketch things out, be sure you have the right materials and figure out who it is you will have doing the work for you. Planning is vital!
  1. Don’t Be Unrealistic When It Comes to Your Budget
  2. When you are remodeling your bathroom, you need to be sure that you are being real with yourself about the money you have to spend on the project. You won’t want to try doing a renovation that should cost $25,000 with only $10,000. That’ ridiculous and you will be cutting so many corners. In the end, you will be unhappy with the results.
  1. Don’t Overlook Small Mistakes
  2. As you move through the renovation process, you will want to be sure that you do not ignore any mistakes, no matter how small they may be. If you notice something isn’t right, have it fixed right away. You will not want to tell yourself that you’ll just learn to live with it. You can see it and so can everyone else. Plus, you are paying for the job to be done right.
  1. Don’t Lose Focus
  2. These tips will help you to get the most bang for your buck when it comes to renovating your bathroom. Keep them in mind as you move forward and you’re sure to have a successful bathroom renovation.
  3. When you near the end of the renovation process and are close to crossing the finish line, you may find yourself losing steam, but you cannot allow yourself to do so. You have to be sure to focus on the finish work, because believe it or not, it’s so important. Work at a steady pace!

Why Asbestos Removal is Important

As a homeowner, there are things you always have to be careful of. Depending on when your home was built and what materials were used, you may have asbestos in your home without even realizing it. Of course you know asbestos is a danger to your health and the health of your family, but you probably did not know that there are well over 3,000 products containing asbestos. The only real way to be sure the threat of asbestos exposure is avoided, as are the dangerous health effects, is to remove all the asbestos from your home. Because even removing asbestos can be dangerous, you should be sure to hire a licensed asbestos removal contractor to do the job.

Asbestos Removal

Why You Should Test for Asbestos

 

Asbestos is highly toxic and in the past, it was commonly used in home building materials such as flooring, ceiling materials, insulation, cement, joint compound and much more. Therefore, when you own a home, it is important for you to test for asbestos before doing any repair jobs or improvements. You will want to text any structure that was completed before 1980 for asbestos just to be safe. If you do not, you can jeopardize your own health as well as the health of your family. You want to be sure you will not be inhaling any airborne asbestos fibers as they can cause mesothelioma.

 

What Happens During Asbestos Removal

 

If you have materials in your home that tested positive for asbestos, you’re going to want to have them removed by a professional. The professional will recommend the best removal or containment method for you and can ensure the job is done as safely as possible. The asbestos removal contractor will also determine whether or not you will need an HSE license to do the job in case asbestos fibers will be released into the air. You’ll learn about what is needed for the removal, how it will be done and how the materials will be disposed of.

 

Once the job is complete and the asbestos is removed, you will be able to perform the renovations you had planned. Your home will much be much safer and healthier to live in and you can be at ease knowing your family is not at risk of mesothelioma.

Easy Green Cleaning Practices for Home Owners

Cleaning the home is made even healthier when you can accomplish your goals without the use of chemical products. The bulk of cleaning products in the market are harmful not just to the cleaners and homeowners, but also the environment into which the effluent will eventually trickle. Here are a few ways in which you can avoid contributing to this environmental problem. The solutions below don’t necessarily replace the need to hire a carpet cleaning and maid service, or buy commercial products, but they can help to reduce your environmental impact, and save you money.

  • Learn how to make your own cleaning products

Many of the most effective green cleaning products include ingredients that are easily available in most household kitchens. Items such as vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda, olive oil and cornstarch are commonly available, and can be cheaply bought in bulk for both cooking and cleaning purposes. There are tons of simple recipes that can be prepared for cleaning everything from clothing to windows.

  • Buy Green

There is a growing niche of green cleaning products in the market. Even though you may not find many options at your local store, you can likely find a local supplier online. The prices are just as competitive as chemical based cleaning products meaning you will not have to dig deeper into your wallet. Also, talk to your cleaning provider. Many cleaning companies today make an effort to offer these kinds of products for clients who are more environmentally conscious. This is an easier solution where you may not have as much time to learn the varied recipes for DIY home cleaners.

  • Open up a window

Many people imagine that in order to have a lovely smelling home, they must use toxic air fresheners. While the air may end up smelling sweeter, anyone with an allergy to certain smells may end up having a fit. Even in colder temperatures, it is better to simply open up the window briefly for a clean breeze to waft through and leave your home smelling fresh without artificial odors. There are also odor killing DIY recipes that include effective ingredients like vinegar and baking soda that work well in enclosed spaces like refrigerators.

  • Recycle

Many old items that we consider throwing out can come in very handy when wanting to clean the home. Rather than invest in caustic tile cleaners to get dirt out of the tile grout, make use of old toothbrushes that have finer bristles than most other cleaning brushes in the market. Apply baking soda on the bristles and scrub away to get dirt out and disinfect the surface. Old towels can also be kept around for drying wet tiles and as absorbent floor rags.

  • Hot water

Water is an underrated cleaning tool, especially when it comes to cleaning out drains. Rather than invest in harsh drain cleaners, or degreasers, when your pipes seem clogged up, why not make a habit of pouring hot water down the sink and bath regularly. Boiling water will quickly cut through grease and push it further down the line into the sewers.

Getting Ready to Receive a House Cleaner

Hand CleaningWhen we say getting ready for a house cleaner, the more conscientious amongst us may actually think of cleaning before the service provider arrives. This is however not what we mean. Remember that you want the cleaner to take care of the household duties you lack the time, desire or equipment to undertake on your own. House cleaners are not like other guests you invite into your home and hope to impress. They come in for the express purpose of lightening your load in keeping your home clean and presentable. Because they do however offer a paid service, you want to get the best value for money in the shortest time possible. Here are a few suggestions from the  Domestic Cleaning Bournemouth blog, of things you should do to ensure this is what happens.

  1. Keep pets out – pets, especially dogs, can be a real hassle when a person is trying to clean up. The more rambunctious types will pull laundry out of baskets, make marks on a freshly vacuumed carpet, track dirt in and out, and more. Do not let them interfere with your cleaner’s ability to quickly and peacefully get the job done. If they have behavioral problems, like barking at people they are unfamiliar with, this will be even more important.
  2. Pick up clothes off the floor – even though most cleaners are happy to pick up after you, this is a basic task that you would not want them wasting time on. Be sure to also advise your kids to put away stray items like toys, books and so on. If you have a home office or desk, be sure to also keep it tidy. Loose papers and other documents may be put together incorrectly by your cleaner when trying to tidy up and make it a nightmare for you to try and find them later.
  3. Know what was damaged – many homes often have some level of damage that does not call for urgent attention. A torn curtain, cracked vase and more can be present in your home, so make a quick inspection and note how everything looks. This is particularly important when allowing new cleaners into the home that you do not yet trust completely. Making a false accusation for damage that may already have existed to a house cleaner can prove highly embarrassing and offend them.
  4. Hide small valuables – this is again very important if you are yet to establish trust with your cleaners. Make sure to keep easily stolen and expensive valuables, like jewelry, important documents and money, stashed away from where your cleaner may find it. This will help you feel more comfortable about letting them loose around your house.
  5. Know what you want done – when you have specific household tasks that you need done, it is a good idea to list them to your cleaner upon arrival so he or she will not skip. You cannot accuse them of failure to perform an unusual task like recycling the trash if it is not on the itinerary.

Vacuum before you dust or dust before you vacuum?

Vacuuming illustrationWhen I was a child my mother taught me always to dust before I vacuumed so that I’d vacuum up all of the dust after dusting it onto the floor.  This is a similar concept to cleaning up the spill on the counter before cleaning up the spill on the floor.  Working from the top down makes sense in almost all home cleaning procedures.  So you’ll imagine my surprise recently when I was at my friend’s house, who has worked as a maid for many Winnipeg cleaning services, and it came up that she always vacuums before she dusts.  The rationale is that vacuuming actually kicks up loose dust particles, and if you have a good duster, then almost all of the dust should stick to the duster, and very little should fall on the floor.  Obviously neither method is perfect, but if you weigh out the pros and cons one option should be superior to the other.  Obviously two factors that play into this are the types of floors being vacuumed (carpet, tile, wood etc.) and also the height of the lowest dust collecting surfaces in the room.  Other factors that would have an effect would be the type of vacuum being used and the quality of the duster being used, as well as how often each is cleaned.  With so many variables involved I decided to take a poll of the top home cleaning services in Winnipeg and see if one method was used more than the other.  Of the seven cleaning services called six of them dust first and vacuum second, and one vacuums first and dusts second.  I understand that this isn’t a large enough sample to be statistically valid, but since this is the way I’ve been doing it my entire life I have no plans on changing now.  If you have a very good duster, and your vacuum is not so good, you might want to consider doing this the other way around, or if you have very low flat surfaces that can collect dust.  Assuming however, that you are using a typical feather style duster, and a mid range vacuum, you’re probably better off to start with the dusting and then vacuum after.  Another good method that could solve this issue all together would be to dust and vacuum on opposite schedules.  This way you’re never directly undoing work that you’ve done, and every few days you get to enjoy a new clean aspect of your home.  You can check out some other people’s answer to this question on this yahoo answers question.  I’m very interested to hear thoughts from my readers, so if you have a strong opinion on this (not so strong opinions are okay too) then please leave a comment below.  If you like this style of post that involves me doing a little research and contacting local companies then please also let me know about that.  It was actually really fun calling all of the maid companies and asking to speak with the employees that actually do the house cleanings.  They were all really excited to talk to me, and gave me some other great tips for cleaning my house that I’ll be sure to put into action, and most likely blog about at a later date.

A Propane Fire Pit Table Is the Perfect Addition To Your Living Space

Using the element of fire in your decor can turn your living space into an attractive area for relaxation or entertaining. A propane fire pit table can be a lovely focal point of this space. Whether you want to design area where you can entertain, or just have a place where you can lounge around and relax, you can consider the addition of a fire pit.

These fire pits come in many attractive designs. Figure out how much space you have overall in your area. You will want to have adequate seating areas for everyone if you intend to entertain there. Loungers offer a place where you can put up your feel. Ottomans can serve as a footrest or a place where you can place a tray of snacks and beverage.

When considering the addition of a fire pit in your living area, do not forget safety measures. The right type of fire pit screen should be used to prevent any flames from getting to places where they are not suppose to go. When you are shopping for your fire pit, do not forget to get the right screening.

Look for propane fire pit tables that are solidly made from iron and stone. There are many manufacturers of fire pit tables out there, but they vary greatly in beauty and quality. Avoid ones with inferior workmanship because that can result in a greater risk of safety hazards. Do not shop by price along because you do get what you pay for. When shopping for anything that deals with flames, always get units made from the best materials. Not only is that a safer choice, but a high-quality product will provide you with many more years of use versus an inferior product that may fail on you after only a few years.

Visit a dealer or showroom with propane fire pit tables and get an idea of the designs and styles that are out there. Bring along the dimensions of your living space, whether it is an outdoor space or an indoor space. Narrow down your choices to the units that fit your dimensions. Look at the specs of the fire pits. If you intend to get a fire pit for indoor use, make sure the unit can be safely used indoors.  Fire Pit Plaza has some very high quality fire pit tables from California Outdoor Concepts.  These make beautiful backyard centerpieces.

A fire pit table is a great focal point for friends and family to gather around to talk and to have a good time. This is a great way to warm up those chilly evenings. The right fire pit table can enhance your decor in the most stylish way. Be sure to explore all of your options before you settle on one. Talk to your dealer about the various features of a propane fire pit table. Learn how to maintain one properly so that you will get enjoyment out of it, year after year. When you choose the right unit, it can transform an ordinary space into an extraordinary one.

Home Acoustics

What Do Acoustic Diffusers Do?

Acoustic diffusers are a necessary addition to auditoriums, cafeteria, music rooms and presentation areas. As the name implies, they scatter the reflected sound into many different directions. The effect is high-quality sound within any room.

High-quality sound is especially important in music schools and music studios. If your room is suffering from high levels of background noise and high reverberation time, it will definitely benefit from sound diffusers.

There are actually many different types of diffusers. There are those that are specifically made walls and there are those that are specifically made ceilings with acoustic tiles. In terms of shape, they could either be in pyramid or barrel form with a square base. They can come in a variety of different finishes.

A company that specializes in sound diffusers won’t have a cookie-cutter solution across all spaces. Instead, it would identify what is causing the acoustic problem and make a custom solution for it.

For example, one company that worked on the Pennsylvania Academy of Music identified high ceiling, drywall ceilings and walls, and hardwood floors as the main cause of the school’s sound problem.

The company solved the problem by installing a fabric-covered wall system that reduced reverberation time by fifty-five percent and sound diffusers that produced high-quality sound.

In order to reduce the reverberation time, 432 square feet of 85 wall panels were installed six feet from the ceiling on the front walls cut the reverberation time. Also, 36 sound diffusers were installed on the lateral and rear walls to improve the sound quality for everyone in the room.

Those with a professional ear for music would know the difference that an acoustic diffuser makes.  Diffusers can scatter around ten times the sound as flat ceiling tiles.

Not all acoustic diffusers, however, would have the same sound absorption capabilities. Sound scattering capability is measured in terms of sound scattering coefficient. If an acoustic diffuser has a coefficient of 1.0, it means that it reflects 100% of sound, and scatters it in all direction. A coefficient of 0.0 means the sound is only reflected in one direction.

There are many companies out there that offer sound diffusers. If you don’t know where to find them, just search for “acoustic diffusion products” plus the name of your area on Google.

Don’t be content with hiring the first company you encounter online. Instead, be a smart client and ask for a quote from at least three companies.

As we said before, acoustic diffuser companies typically do not offer cookie-cutter solutions. That said, make sure to have a company representative visit the area where acoustic diffusers are to be installed before a price estimate is issued. Also, when it comes to the actual hiring, price shouldn’t be your only consideration. You should also consider the warranty and company’s previous work. That said, ask for a list of former clients.

The cost of installing custom sound diffuser solutions really depends on how many panels need to be used in order to decrease the sound reverberation time.