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House Improvements

Top Plumbing Tips to Prevent Frozen Pipes

Burst pipes can be a disaster. And you won’t just need a plumber, either. While the plumber will replace the pipe-and should ensure it doesn’t happen again-even a small crack can release hundreds of gallons of water into your home each day, destroying possessions, causing structural damage and creating the kinds of conditions that dangerous molds love.
First a Little Physics: Why Do Pipes Burst?
Water expands when it freezes. Think of ice cubes-when you first put the tray in the freezer, the water is neatly contained in its little compartments. If the tray is filled a little too full, however, when you go to add a cube to your drink, you’ll find they’re all frozen together. At some point the water in each compartment expanded, overflowed and fused with its buddy in the next compartment over.
The same principle is at work when pipes burst.
Interestingly, though, it’s not usually the outward pressure of expanding water on the pipe walls that causes the pipe to burst. Here’s why. When a pipe is completely blocked by ice, water gets trapped between the ice dam at one end and the closed faucet at the other. As water expands further down the pipe and freezes, pressure builds up between the blockage and the tap… and the pipe will burst at its weakest point.
Think Prevention: Winterize Your Plumbing
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure… and in the case of frozen and burst pipes, a little prevention will save you whack of cash and some huge headaches, too.
Here are four tips worth taking as winter gets closer.
1. Wrap up to stay warm. Check that any pipes close to the exterior walls or floors in a basement or crawlspace are properly insulated. Insulation value increases with the thickness of insulation you use, so don’t be afraid to wrap to the max. Not sure if you’ve got enough insulation? Call a plumber to do a quick assessment.
2. Keep the heat in… and the cold out. Seal up any air leaks near your interior pipes to make sure they aren’t being exposed to freezing outdoor air. Cover any nearby outside vents that could let cold air. Don’t forget to check that there aren’t any gaps or cracks where the pipes enter your house, too.
3. Turn off the taps. Outdoor water taps are a recipe for pipe disaster if the pipe running between the tap and the interior pipe freezes and bursts. Turn off the exterior water source… and don’t forget to turn on the taps to drain all remaining water.
4. Keep the heat on. If your furnace quits, your basement pipes won’t stay warm for long. Invest in a little proactive heating maintenance to keep your water flowing well all winter. Even if your furnace is functioning properly, if your thermostat is turned down too low or you’ve closed all the vents in your basement, it may not be warm enough to keep pipes from freezing.
Plumber’s Wisdom: How to Fix a Frozen Pipe
Sometimes our best efforts at prevention aren’t successful. Or an early cold snap catches us unawares. If you turn on your tap and nothing comes out-and this is problem your neighbours aren’t also experiencing-here’s what you should do.
1. Stay calm. Just because your pipe is frozen doesn’t mean it has-or will-burst.
2. Turn off your main water valve. This is absolutely necessary if you know your water pipe has burst, as it’s the only way to stop the flow of good ol’ H2O. But it’s a good precaution if your pipe is frozen, just in case there’s a small crack you’re unaware of because the water is frozen.
3. Try to locate the frozen section. This will be a part of the pipe that is noticeably colder than the rest… and there may be more than one if you have multiple blockages.
4. Turn on the cold water tap closest to the frozen section of pipe. This will let the water escape safely down the drain when it melts.
5. Warm the pipe. A hairdryer is best-unless the pipe has burst and there’s been a flood, in which case you should never operate electrical devices in the area. Start near the closest tap and work your way towards the frozen sections. Never use an open flame to thaw a pipe-it’s a fire hazard and could harm your pipes.
6. Inspect the pipe for cracks. You’ll want to know you won’t cause a flood when you turn your main water valve back on.
7. Fix the problem. Call in a reputable professional plumber to assess the situation and make recommendations.…

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Kitchen Remodel

Four Things To Consider When Planning On Replacing Your Bathroom Floor

If you’re thinking of replacing your bathroom floor there are some things to consider while you’re shopping around.
Price
Along with the many different designs and styles of flooring available, there are also a wide variety of prices. The prices range from dollars to thousands of dollars per square foot depending on the material you choose to use. At the lower end of the price scale is linoleum, some tiles and woods. At the higher end of the price line there is granite, marble and some higher end tiles. When choosing your floor it is important to stay within your price range, and to choose something that you can live with for a while, since replacing bathroom floors is not something that a lot people do on a regular basis.
Strength
Many people do not take this into too much consideration when choosing a bathroom floor, but it is important to keep in mind that some of the things used in the bathroom can be heavy and when dropped may cause damage to floor. If you choose a floor that is thin and drop something onto it, the floor may be scratched or broken. When choosing a floor be sure to choose something that can stand up to the test of time and is durable.
Installation
The installation is perhaps the most important step in the whole process. You want to make sure that the floor you chose is properly installed and will not begin to lift of warp. After all a lot of time and money went into finding the perfect floor for your bathroom, you want to be able to enjoy it before problems start to arise from it not being properly installed. To prolong the life of your floor it should be installed by a professional who is experienced in installing the type of floor you are using. Most bathroom layouts are not perfectly square which can cause problems when trying to install the flooring yourself. The majority of floors require special cuts to fit correctly. That is why it is probably wise to choose a professional instead of trying to install the flooring yourself.
Maintenance
Because you are going to have your bathroom floor for years to come, it is important that you are aware of any special care that your floor requires. If, for instance, you chose tile, it is recommended that you reseal the grout every few years to prevent it from staining and cracking. Most types of floors have special instructions that you need to follow once it has been installed to prolong the beauty and longevity. If you follow the instructions for maintaining your floor, there is no reason for it to lose any of its shine or design.A bathroom floor is a choice that requires a lot of thought, you will have to look at it every day so choose something that you will enjoy and will not get tiresome after a few months.…

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House Improvements

Budgeting for a Home Renovation

Budgeting for home renovations is always tough. Even when you plan for everything and even a few glitches along the way budgets often find a way to be busted. In order to keep your progress from ending in a budget stale mate here are a few things to keep in mind when renovations are planned for your home.
First decide why you are renovating your home. What do you hope to accomplish with the renovation? Are you adding space for a new addition? Are you adding space for a kids play room or do you hope that with your renovation you increase the value of your home. Knowing exactly what you hope to accomplish with your home renovations will make it easier to create a budget and stick to it. It is often when a plan is not created that we go overboard with spending. So the more you can think out ahead of time before renovations on your home begin the better your finances will look in the end.
Speaking of a budget determine how much you can afford to spend on this home renovation. If you realize that what you hope to accomplish is not possible within the funds you have allotted for the project than you can easily put it on hold at this stage of the process. Determine the cost of all materials, tools and furnishings that will be needed to complete the renovation. If you are doing a kitchen renovation make sure to take into account large items like stoves and refrigerators. If you are doing a bathroom remodel take into account a new tub, sink and vanity. A toilet and new fixtures should also be added to the budget.
Next ask yourself are you up to taking on the challenge of a remodel or is it better for you to hire a contractor to ensure a smooth renovation. If you are the handyman type simple renovations can easily be done on your own and can save your contractor fees. If you are going to hire out a residential contractor make sure to look at examples of their previous work. Ask for references and check out their website. The detail put into their work, references and website will give you a good idea of their work and work ethic. It is also important to make sure your gut tells you that the contractor you have chosen is right for you and your home renovation.
A timeline is also important in home renovations. It is important to go over this with your contractor and get in writing a plan of attack. It is important that each step is broke down into a time frame so that you and the contractor can work together to make sure progress stays on track.
Making sure that the contractor you hire is on the same page as you is one of the most important steps in home renovation. You can have this by opening the lines of communication from the start. Know that sometimes things can take an unexpected turn but that you are interested in keeping up to date with the progress and would like updates even when something goes haywire
Once you have agreed upon a plan do not keep changing things. Nothing makes a contractor bitter more than an indecisive customer. They to have a time frame to stay within so that they can continue work with other clients. Every change adds time and money to the budget so stick to the original plan of attack. It will ease the schedule and budget if you stick to the initial renovation plan.
The last thing you will need to decide is if you plan on living in your dwelling during the construction or if you plan on finding a place that is more conducive to your life. If you decide to live in your home during the renovation make sure that you do not interrupt the progress. A happy contractor makes for a happy homeowner.…

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Kitchen Remodel

Are You Thinking About Bathroom Remodeling?

Are you thinking about bathroom remodeling? You might be thinking about a bathroom remodel for any of a number of reasons.

You need more space or functionality

You need a second sink

You want to provide a little more privacy when two people are in the bathroom at the same time

You want to make your bathroom safer

You want to make your bathroom accessible to people with disabilities

You want to update or modernize your bathroom

You want to create your own spa in the privacy of your own home

You want to add a shower

You want to add a whirlpool tub

You want a linen closet in the bathroom

You are getting your house ready to sell

You just want a little change

These are all great reasons to remodel a bathroom. And your reason for remodeling will determine the changes you make. Your budget will also be an important factor in deciding how you will change your bathroom. But there are a few other things you might want to consider in your plans.

— Are you planning to stay in your house as you grow older? If so, you might want to plan to equip the bathroom with fixtures that will make it safer. Should you consider higher toilets? Should you consider stepping into a bathtub in order to take a shower?

— Will someone who has a disability use the bathroom? How will you need to arrange fixtures for ease of use and for the ability to move around in the bathroom? Do you need to plan for space to navigate a wheelchair? If the bathroom is to be used by someone in a wheelchair, should you lower the surface of the vanity? Should you use different sinks?

— One current trend in new homes is to build larger master bathrooms. If you are remodeling your bathroom because you plan to sell your house, this might be a consideration.

— Do you want to add a little luxury to your life? Do you want to create your own spa?

If your remodeling goal is to make your bathroom more accessible and safer, you will probably want to think seriously about access to the shower or to the bathtub. You will certainly want to place a few grab bars (near the toilet, near the shower and near the tub). You might want to install a seat in the shower or a raised toilet. You may find that some of the luxury features also serve comfort and therapeutic purposes as well. For example, multiple shower heads can be soothing for aching joints. A heated floor may be very comfortable in a cold climate.

If your goal is to add a little luxury to your life, you will find that the sky is the limit. Almost anything you can imagine is possible if you have the space and the budget.

If you just need a little extra space or an additional sink, you can do renovations that meet those needs and others at the same time. For example, if you want a second sink in the master bathroom, you can create dramatic effects by choosing a particular style of sink. If you want to remodel your bathroom to provide additional privacy when two people are using the bathroom at the same time, your remodel might be as simple as adding a short wall and a door to enclose the toilet area.

So what is popular now in terms of design and materials? The answer really depends upon what you want to achieve and the direction you want to go. Retro continues to be very popular. You might want to tear out existing vanity areas and bathtubs so you can replace them with a retro footed free-standing bathtub and pedestal sinks. You may be tired of chrome fixtures and simply want to try a new look like brushed nickel.

If you have decided to create a home spa, you might want to use more mirrors, particularly the fog-free mirrors. These mirrors can also be used as nearly-invisible doors to cabinets and cupboards. There are many new styles of small sinks that create amazing visual effects, as well as functionality. You can turn your bathroom into a steam room. You can install a shower with multiple adjustable shower heads at various heights to provide a full body massage. You can install a bathtub on any level (sunken, raised, etc.) for beauty and functionality. Your tub can include several types of jets for hydrotherapy effects.

Your choice of materials will be determined by the “look” you want to achieve. Ceramic tile has almost completely replaced vinyl floor covering. The many varieties and designs in ceramic tile can create virtually any style you want. You can install heating elements beneath the tile …

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Kitchen Remodel

Regular Home Maintenance

Sometimes we get carried away in life with so much things to do and things to see. But there are some things that we must not overlook are things inside and outside of our homes. Our home is very important to us, it is where we live, meet others, sleep, eat, raise children and pass our time. That is why it is so important that this home of ours is kept in good shape. Throughout my experience and also talking to home inspectors I have came up with a list of items around our homes that need regular maintenance. These maintenance items can be checked either by the owners themselves or by hiring a home inspector. These inspections around our home can even save us from future problems and costs to repair the damages.
1) Clean the gutters in the spring & fall.
2) Check for damaged roofing and flashing materials twice a year.
3) Cut back trees and shrubs from the house walls, roof and air conditioning system as needed.
4) Clean the tracks on horizontal sliding windows annually, and ensure the drain holes are clear.
5) Test ground fault circuit interrupters, carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors using the test button, monthly.
6) Service furnace or boiler yearly.
7) Check furnace filters, humidifiers and electronic air cleaners monthly.
8) Check the bathtub and shower caulking monthly and improve promptly as needed.
9) If you are in a climate where freezing occurs, shut off outdoor water faucets in the fall.
10) Check reversing mechanism on the garage door opener monthly.
11) Check attics for evidence of leaks and condensation and make sure vents are not obstructed, at least twice a year.…

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Kitchen Remodel

Check Out Available Government Grants For Essential Home Repairs

Did you know homeowners with low incomes who need repairs to their homes might be eligible Rural Home Repair grants and/loans from USDA Rural Development? Any rural areas and communities that have a population of 20,000 or less are eligible. Types of repairs that can be done range from improving the safety or sanitary conditions of a home to correcting any safety or health hazards as well. However, grants are used for the removal and repair of safety or health hazards only.

The Purpose Of Loans And Grants

Grants are available only when the repairs or improvements will take away any safety or health hazards that have been previously identified. However, if the goal is modernizing or improving a home in addition to health/safety hazards being removed, then loan funds may be available. Also, the repairs made to a home with grant or loan funds do not have to meet the development standards of the agency, nor do all known hazards have to be removed as long there’s no further major safety/health concerns when the scheduled repairs have been done.

The work covered by authorized grants and loans includes, but isn’t totally comprised of, the following:

Sanitary Disposal Systems: repair or installation, including fixtures or plumbing, that are in line with the requirements of the area health department.

Needed Insulation

It is required, before filing the USDA Rural Development application, that the applicant is the owner and has been living in the home. A permanent foundation defined as either:

A foundation that is a complete below grade, or

The home sits on piers, blocks, or a similar foundation that has anchored tie-downs and skirting.

Maximum Amount of Grant or Loan

Rural Development rural home repair loans have a maximum limit of $20,000, either initial or subsequent, to any person.

Limitations On The Use Of Grant/Loan Funds

Grant funds or a home repair loan from Rural Development cannot be used for:

Help for the construction of a new home.

Limitations On How Grant Funds Are Used

Additionally, the grant funds from Rural Development rural home repair cannot be used for any changes made for convenience or cosmetic purposes unless those changes have a direct connection to the hazards that are being removed. The definition of convenience and cosmetic changes might include, but will not be limited to:

Any Painting

Requirements For Eligibility

Applicants for Rural Development rural home repair are expected to meet these requirements:

Must be a United States citizen.

Application is for only a Rural Development rural home repair grant.

Must be a minimum age of 62 years.

You can get additional information at any of the USDA Rural Development Offices, located in all the states, for Rural Home Repair Grant and Loan Programs.…

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House Improvements

Bathroom Blinds

The bathrooms in our homes are often our own personal sanctuaries where we retreat at the end of the day to relax and forget the day. Homeowners across the country are investing more money into their homes and one of the primary places that the investment is best spent is in the bathroom. Bathrooms now are much larger than they were in the past and often have lavish showers and spa tubs.
When shopping for our bathrooms, textiles are an important part of the progress. It gives us the opportunity to add our own personal touch to our baths and leave our own unique mark. We, of course, want our textiles to follow a common theme. Bathroom blinds are a great way to tie-in our tastes in our baths. As we are spending more time in our bathrooms as a personal resort from the world, blinds have become a necessity.
We find ourselves sometimes spending hours in the comfort of our bathrooms and don’t want to be bothered or seen by outsiders. Bathroom blinds come in a variety of designs and styles, but functionality should be the foremost concern. Cloth blinds are not good for bathrooms as they will become moist and possibly become moldy. Solid woods are a better choice, but synthetic woods are the best bet. These types of blinds will not be susceptible to bathroom moisture or aging due to the humid bathroom conditions.
Finding the perfect bathroom blinds can give you the privacy that you need while adding your own personal style to your home bathroom.…