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5 Easy DIY Projects While You're Social Distancing
Posted: Apr 3, 2020 by Andy
Being stuck mostly indoors due to a stay-at-home order can be challenging mentally, physically, and spiritually. Many people find it just plain exhausting. Why not lift your spirits with some fun, easy, and rewarding home improvement projects?
When choosing what project to tackle first, we suggest focusing on one that will enhance your property value, save you money on your energy bills, and, of course, put a smile on your face. Here are five creative ideas to get you started.
Jazz up those walls
Since you're stuck inside staring at your walls, why not give them a new look? Adding crown molding, modern trim work, and a fresh coat of paint can dramatically improve the look of a room without having to spring for a complete renovation.
To add visual interest to your walls, you could go with a bold paint color or use painter's tape to create patterns or stripes. Another option is hanging wallpaper instead of painting. Wallpaper is making a comeback thanks to home improvement shows. It's a do-it-yourself project anyone can tackle - it just requires some patience and attention to detail.
Add personality to your kitchen
Looking to spice up your kitchen without laying out a lot of cash? Adding or updating a backsplash is a smart choice. For as little as $100, you can enhance the look of your kitchen and customize it to fit your personality. More than 400 different styles and sizes of tile are available, ranging from classic subway to natural stone and metal. While a new backsplash certainly adds pizazz to your kitchen, it also adds more functionality and emphasizes your countertops, cabinets, and appliances too.
Installation is a fairly simple process, but it's also tedious and time-intensive. Peel-and-stick tiles save time and eliminate much of the mess. Two pitfalls you should be wary of - 1) Not taking the time to prepare and lay out a template, as this can result in irregular lines or spaces, and 2) Not wiping grout off completely, which once dried can result in a haze that is extremely difficult to remove.
Lighten up those rooms
What better way to brighten up your spirits than with new lights and ceiling fans? They're easy and cost-effective ways to update any room's style. You'll also save on your energy bill. Electricity-sipping LED lights come in many contemporary and bold styles, and dimmable bulbs allow you to customize a room's ambiance.
It's essential to be very careful when dealing with electrical wiring and fixtures. Read the installation instructions thoroughly and be sure the power to the room is turned off at the breaker box. Be sure that ceiling fan is installed correctly, so it isn't loose or wobbly, which is both a safety and electrical hazard.
Turn a dull door into classy decor
Sometimes it's the most often-used parts of your home that are noticed the least. Consider the doors in your home - they're everywhere. Upon inspection, though, scratches, cracks, tired hinges, and outdated styles are pretty hard to miss. If your home is older and your doors and hardware are original, there's a good chance they're letting the place down visually and maybe even functionally.
Replacing interior doors is a relatively easy and affordable way to update your home's look. You may not need an expensive remodel. Doors with a unique or more modern look than what you have can dramatically lift an area's visual appeal.
There are a lot of options you might not even be thinking about. For example, double doors are much more functional and attractive than bi-fold or sliding doors, while French-style doors add natural light and architectural interest to a space.
A trend currently concerns not so much the door, but its hardware. Homeowners are choosing to update hinges and doorknobs with more modern finishes like aged bronze or brushed nickel or aged bronze.
Beware that while installing interior doors can be a do-it-yourself job, it can quickly become a bigger job than expected, especially in older homes. Most new doors are not going to fall right into place. The replacement will likely involve cutting, trimming, and shaping the existing doorway to fit, and sometimes more extensive modifications are needed. Do your homework, know your budget, and devote some forethought to what you like. And as the saying goes, measure at least twice, and cut once.
Make that drab bathroom into a fab retreat
The pandemic-induced toilet paper shortage is no laughing matter, but you'll smile from ear to ear after turning your boring bathroom into a spa-level retreat. Replace that old faucet, re-grout or upgrade that grungy tile, or add a fresh coat of paint. They're all relatively easy projects for the do-it-yourselfer. However, more ambitious jobs like replacing your worn-out tub with a modern shower enclosure might be better left to the professionals.
While a complete remodel may be a bigger investment, it's worth considering, especially in an older home. Many older homes weren't built using mold-resistant drywall, so if you're going to invest in a bathroom upgrade, that's arguably the best place to start. Knowing what's going on behind those walls is essential before you spend money making expensive updates.
Also, there's a lot of plumbing involved with replacing bathtubs, sinks, and toilets, and it may require an expert to ensure it's done right. Once the walls are finished and closed up, a small leak can go unnoticed for a long time, causing severe damage and possibly another remodel.
With all of these home-improvement ideas, if you're going to invest time and money - do it right the first time. The satisfaction and enjoyment of doing the job right the first time will be something you benefit from throughout your time stuck at home. Make the most of it!
Choosing The Right Thermostat
Posted: Mar 19, 2020 by Andy
You might have the most advanced air conditioning system on the market, but without a thermostat, you won't be able to use it. This seemingly insignificant piece of your HVAC system has one simple and essential job - operating your heating and cooling system and controlling the temperature inside your home.
A thermostat accomplishes this via a temperature sensor coupled with a switch to turn your system on and off as needed automatically. When your thermostat is installed and powered, you can set the temperature you prefer inside your home. The thermostat's built-in sensor then detects the indoor temperature and turns your system on or off to keep your home at your desired temperature.
There are two ways of classifying the types of thermostats you can have in your home. The first classification is based on the thermostat's mode of operation, and it can be considered one of two types: live voltage and low voltage. Most homes use a low voltage thermostat. The second classification focuses on the features and functions of the thermostat.
To break down the different types of thermostats and to help you decide which one you want in your home, we've compiled an overview of the common types.
You'll find a programmable thermostat in most homes currently. These thermostats' basic features let you preset your preferred temperatures. Once programmed, the thermostat handles the rest and adjusts the temperature in your home as needed.
For example, you can set the temperature you'd like while you are at work, then another for when you're home. Additionally, you can set some models based on the day of the week, allowing you to set different temperature ranges for weekends than you do on the weekdays. This adjustability helps you save on energy costs since your HVAC system doesn't need to be running all day, every day.
Like a programmable model, a non-programmable thermostat usually has a digital display but doesn't allow for advanced functionality. Instead, all settings and changes are input manually. The main attraction of a non-programmable thermostat is that it's an inexpensive option. However, it requires a bit more attention to achieve maximum savings on your energy costs - that is, you'll be fiddling with it often.
A mechanical thermostat is the oldest and most basic type. They're being phased out for newer digital thermostats in most applications. The main reason is that older mechanical thermostats used mercury to gauge temperature - a toxic substance. Later versions use a metal apparatus that expands and contracts with temperature changes, making them much safer. Neither method makes for accurate temperature readings, as there's typically a delay as the device slowly reacts to temperature changes.
While a mechanical thermostat is the most inexpensive option compared to the other types, we recommend using something more advanced. Upgrading from a mechanical to a programmable thermostat will save on energy costs and help keep your home a lot more comfortable.
Technologically advanced relative to a mechanical thermostat, a smart thermostat takes the functionality of a programmable device one step further. Also sometimes called a learning thermostat, this device takes your inputs over the course of a few days and learns your temperature preferences.
Once your smart thermostat learns your schedule and your preferences, you can leave it to do its thing as it makes temperature adjustments based on the time of day and season. A smart thermostat also detects when your home is unoccupied and lowers power usage accordingly to save energy. When your family is home, it sets your home to your preferred temperature once again.
Many smart thermostats are controlled remotely with a wireless device over a wi-fi network, such as a smartphone. Have you ever wanted your air conditioner to turn on when you're headed home, so you arrive to a cool, comfortable home? Now you can! Even better, after a few days, the thermostat will handle this action all by itself.
If you're looking for the widest array of features and to save the most on your energy bill, installing a smart thermostat will get you there.
Choosing the right thermostat
Deciding on which type of thermostat comes down to your needs and the functionality you want. A smart thermostat will cost more initially, but it has the potential to save you a lot of money on your energy bill in the long run. If you're looking for something simple, though, a basic programmable or digital thermostat is still a great choice that won't break the bank.
If you have more questions about which type of thermostat would be best in your home, give us a call. We're happy to help you not only make the best decision for your family, but we'll also install your new thermostat when you're ready. That's how neighbors should treat neighbors!™
What Does SEER Mean?
Posted: Mar 5, 2020 by Andy
SEER is a frequently encountered air conditioning term, and it's helpful for a homeowner to know what it means. SEER stands for Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio. It's a rating system that allows users to determine how efficient an AC unit is. The unit's rating is calculated by dividing its number of BTUs (its cooling speed) by its wattage.
Your heating and cooling system generally uses more electricity than any of your other household appliances. Knowing this, it's in your best interest to compare SEER ratings when selecting an air conditioning system for your home. The higher a unit's SEER rating, the more efficient it is - and the more efficient a unit is, the more you'll save on your energy bill.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that all air conditioning units manufactured in 2015 and newer must have a minimum SEER rating of 14. Older air conditioners generally have a SEER of 10 and under. In most cases, you can identify your air conditioner's SEER rating by locating its EnergyGuide® sticker on the unit's exterior.
Upgrade and benefit
Systems that are a decade old (or even older) are significantly less efficient than currently available models. Older units also tend to require repairs more frequently than newer models. They also use much more electricity than an AC unit with a 14 SEER rating or higher. By upgrading to a newer model, you'll save on utilities, need fewer (if any) repairs, and live a greener lifestyle. If you're thinking about upgrading, call us! We'll be happy to show you how much electricity you'll save by upgrading.
Choosing the right SEER
A higher SEER rating means higher efficiency - as we said above - but it shouldn't be the only thing you take into account when purchasing that new AC unit. An air conditioner only reaches its highest potential efficiency when it's operating in its ideal environment. An HVAC system that's too large or small for your home's air space can't reach its SEER rating. The same is true if it's installed in a home with leaky ducts, poorly insulated windows, or other issues. Its SEER rating can also be compromised when operating in conjunction with an older or mismatched furnace.
Selecting an air conditioner that will operate at maximum efficiency in your home requires careful research. Our team of expert comfort consultants is prepared to find you the perfect system for your family! Call us today to schedule a no-obligation in-home visit. It's our goal to keep your family, cool, comfortable, and under budget!
Owning a home requires year-round responsibilities, but you don't need to dread these tasks. Home maintenance is easier than you might think. The key is to take seasonal preventive measures that are manageable and certainly less expensive than the costly repairs that'll be needed if you neglect your property. Here's a guide to the essential tasks you'll want to complete this spring.
Spring can be an unpredictable time. Early on, snow is still a concern, while heavy rains, flooding, and high winds occur throughout the season. Experts estimate that 30% of all home insurance claims occur in the spring. Household chores during the spring months should focus on preparing for unpredictable weather patterns as well as cleaning any damage from the winter. Here are some vital spring home maintenance tasks.
Clean out your gutters. Between the snow melting and spring showers, there is the potential for a lot of water to be pouring through your downspouts. Make sure your spouting drains are clear and working properly.
Conduct an exterior inspection of your property. You likely haven't spent much time outside during the winter. Spring is the ideal time to look for loose siding, missing shingles, and hanging branches.
Check your sump pump. Spring is a great time to go down to your basement and inspect your sump pump. It's crucial to take action to ensure that water from the outside doesn't cause damage inside. Test to ensure that your sump pump has enough water to raise the pump's float and make sure it's pumped out properly. If you have any concerns, consult a plumbing professional.
Renovate with modern materials. Hail can cause expensive damage in the spring. If you need to replace siding or roofing, use impact-resistant material to help prevent future damage. Modern materials follow a national standard that can be used to ensure you're using the correct products to guard against hail and wind damage.
Turn off your home's water supply when you're on vacation. Experts say 45% of property claims are related to interior water damage. To avoid costly damage to your home, consider turning off your home's main incoming water valve when you'll be away for longer periods. It's also wise to inspect the pipes to appliances, sinks, and toilets for leaks or loose connections.
Taking a little time and investing a little effort will ensure that spring remains the beautiful and joyous return to the warmth we all love, and not a home maintenance headache. And, if we haven't said it enough before now, spring is also the perfect time to change your furnace's air filter if you haven't swapped it out lately. That way, you'll be well-prepared for spring's airborne allergens.
Improve Your Winter Air Quality
Posted: Jan 30, 2020 by Andy
In the winter, it's cozy being snug as a bug in a rug in your home. However, it'll also wreak havoc on your indoor air quality (IAQ) and can cause health problems. We recommend taking some precautions to avoid the commonly-suffered issues associated with poor indoor air quality.
Why does winter cause air-quality problems?
During the warmer months, your windows are often open to let fresh air into your home. During the colder months, however, you do the opposite. Everything is locked up tight, with caulking and insulation preventing cold air from creeping in.
While this certainly keeps you toasty warm, unfortunately, it also traps your indoor air inside with all the impurities produced by your home. Homes are becoming more and more energy-efficient, and there are fewer ways for outdoor air to infiltrate and help ventilate your home.
What are some common air-quality issues?
All of the confined air can cause a host of issues. Dr. Marilyn Black, an IAQ pioneer, found after years of research that poor indoor air quality was "directly related to the 500-1,000 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) coming from everyday materials, such as paint, flooring, furnishings, and printers."
It has also been proven that smoke, pet dander, cleaning and personal-care products, mold, dust, mildew, asbestos, lead, carbon monoxide (CO), and a host of other factors contribute to your home's indoor air pollution. Due to poor indoor air quality, your family may regularly experience one or more of these common symptoms:
• Flu-like symptoms
• Itchy eyes, nose, and throat
• Aggravated asthma, allergies, or chronic illnesses
How to improve your winter air quality
Just because it's winter, don't assume you have to suffer from poor indoor air quality. There are ways you can improve it. Here are some that we recommend:
Have your ductwork inspected and cleaned. A professional inspection of your HVAC system's air ducts will alert you to leaks, where unconditioned air may be leaking and causing a problem. Having your ducts cleaned will remove any dust and debris that has built up, preventing it from polluting your indoor air. This is especially important in an older home, where decades of allergens have likely accumulated in your ducts.
Have your furnace annually inspected and cleaned. Ensuring that your furnace and its filter are both clean will help prevent dust and debris from finding their way into your lungs. Your furnace is the primary component of your home's HVAC system, so having it regularly tuned up will keeps things working properly for a long time to come.
Consider adding an air purifier. Your heating and cooling system's air filter can only stop so much. Many airborne particles aren't visible to the human eye yet can still do harm. An air purifier - such as Air Scrubber Plus™ - can eradicate them from your home's air.
Check your home's humidity levels. Ideally, your home's humidity level should remain between 30% and 50% year-round. During the colder months, your home's air dries out, so be sure your humidifier is providing adequate humidity to your home while not over-humidifying it. Excess moisture breeds mold and mildew - both are toxic to your body.
Open your windows briefly every day (or at least a few times a week). During the winter months, your home's ventilation doesn't bring in nearly as much fresh air from outside as other times of the year. Naturally, your home is shut tight to keep the cold out. One easy measure is to open your windows daily for a short time, even for a few minutes. This brings that much-needed fresh air into your home and will help purify the stuffy, stale air trapped inside.
Use natural cleaning and personal care products. Chemicals from everyday products will linger in your home's winter air without the flow of fresh air. Concentrated, they can do real damage to your body over time. Consider substituting healthier alternatives.
Add houseplants. Indoor plants will clean and purify your home's air. Adding greenery to your home can only help remove the toxins and stale air present during the colder months.
Clean your home regularly. You should pay special attention to carpets, floors, and dusty areas. A once-a-week tidy-up will go a long way toward keeping dirt and dust from your home's airflow. Carpet is particularly notorious for harboring pollutants. Vacuum often, using a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter vacuum - it will dramatically cut down on your indoor air pollution.
Let us help with your air quality needs
Our trained professionals will help you improve your home's indoor air quality, especially during the frigid Ohio winter months. Call us at 877-247-7661 or schedule service online today to discuss how we can help.
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