Protecting Against Sink Leaks and Other Spills

This under sink mat from Xtreme Mats comes in various sizes to best fit your specific cabinet size. As the first line of defense against water damage underneath your sink, we’ve designed and manufactured Xtreme Mats to be unparalleled. Our under sink mats are guaranteed to hold between 1.3 to 3.3 gallons of liquid in case of an accidental spill or a common under sink leak. Prolonged leaks often cause mold and mildew buildup, wreaking havoc on your cabinets and creating a host of ongoing problems you may need to hire professional help handling. That’s why our under sink mats are a perfect solution to catching leaks early and helping prevent the overflow and immediate impact. This doesn’t give mold or mildew doesn’t the chance to grow and it keeps you step ahead of expensive repairs.

Our Xtreme under sink mats are super easy to install and can be removed for a quick cleanup. Mildew and soap scum can be sprayed or scrubbed off and for dry particles, a quick whip of your vacuum will do the trick. These mats aren’t just great at protecting against dangerous liquid hazards, but dust and grime too!

Aside from occasionally wiping down your mat and letting it dry, there is no other maintenance. If your kitchen or bathroom suffers from a cluttered, dirty, or a lack of organization under your cabinets, the under sink mat from Xtreme Mats is the perfect solution. The Xtreme mat lays flat and it will not buckle or curl, making it the perfect organization tray or cover for spotty cabinet bottoms. Available in multiple sizes, with more to be released soon, you can easily find one that fits your needs, though you may need to trim ½ to ¼ of an inch for that perfect fit should you have any piping that comes from the base of the cabinet. 

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Xtreme Mats Under Sink Mat Features

  • Our under sink mat holds 1.3 to 3.3 gallons of liquid in case there is a leak or product spill.
  • These under sink liners from Xtreme Mats feature a modern design and style with no off-gassing and no VOC.
  • Angled sides and a rear wall that will ensure a snug fit.
  • It is made from an eco-friendly and low-density polyethylene construction. This offers flexibility and durability.
  • The mat offers textured surfaces, so items are protected in case there is a leak.
  • It is a combination of a drip tray, a cabinet mat, and a shelf-liner.
  • Ideal for both kitchen and bathroom under sink mats and will also work for laundry room cabinet mats.
  • Designed with a fitted water sensor location on all mat designs. (We recommend installing a water sensor to any mat to monitor small leaks before they grow and stay aware of major leaks exceeding 3.3 gallons).

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Protect against unexpected leaks and spills with an under sink mat from Xtreme Mats so you can have the peace of mind that your bathroom and kitchen cabinets are protected from the dangers of moisture based damage. These mats come with the added bonus of a lifetime warranty and look beautiful in all homes. 

Get the protection of the strongest under sink mat on the market with the added benefits of organization and style today when you order from Xtreme Mats. 

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How to Install a Window AC Unit

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Window air conditioning units are a popular and versatile solution to combating the heat of summer. They can be used as supplements to central AC units, when you want to save energy and only cool certain portions of your home. They are also great for homes without central air, since they are fairly inexpensive, energy efficient, and can be taken with you when you move.

The idea of installing your own window AC unit can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before, but the process isn’t a complicated one. Here’s what you need to know to install a window air conditioner in your home.

Set-Up Checklist

Before you install a window air conditioning unit in your home, there are several things you’ll want to check.

Are window AC units allowed?

Some areas have restrictions on window AC units. If you live in a single family home, check with your HOA before installing a window air conditioning unit. Other dwelling types that prohibit window AC units for aesthetic or safety reasons can include apartments, townhomes, condos, and office or commercial buildings. Be sure that you understand any restrictions about window AC units in your home before installing one.

Do you have the proper set-up?

Not every window is a good candidate for a window AC unit. You’ll need to find a window that meets several requirements.

  • Window AC units require a double-hung window with a fixed upper pane and sliding lower pane. Other window types won’t safely work with a window AC unit.
  • You’ll need a three-prong outlet near the window. Note: Never use an extension cord for a window air conditioning unit. It can present a serious safety hazard, as well as void the appliance’s warranty.
  • The area inside and outside the window where the AC is positioned should be free from all obstructions within 2 feet of the unit.
  • Ideally, a window air conditioner should be placed in a shady or partially shaded window. Being in direct sunlight reduces the energy efficiency of the unit.

Do you have the right size AC unit?

There are two measurements you’ll need when choosing a window AC unit: the size of the window opening and the size of the room. Air conditioning units are rated to cool a certain amount of space, so you’ll need to ensure you consider both measurements when purchasing your window air conditioning unit.

Do you have someone to help you?

Window AC units can weigh upwards of 100 pounds, and trying to hold it and secure it at the same time can be very dangerous. Be sure you have someone to help you with the install so one person can steady the unit while the other secures it in place.

Installation Process

The process for installing a window AC unit is fairly straightforward and will be the same across most types of units. However, you should always check the owner’s manual provided with your appliance to ensure you understand any specific requirements for your unit and that you’re following all of the recommended safety practices for your specific unit.

Step 1: Prepare the Window

To start, you’ll want to open the window and mark the center of the opening. Next, wipe the opening to clear any dirt, dust, and debris from the inside of the window. If your window air conditioning unit doesn’t include weather stripping (not all of them do), install it now.

Step 2: Assembly

With most units, the side panels will need to be attached before the unit is installed. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and secure all screws tightly. By using all the screws provided, you will ensure there aren’t any gaps that could allow warm air to pass through and reduce the efficiency of the AC unit.

Step 3: Install

Now you’re ready to install the AC unit in the window. Remember: It’s best to have two people for this step of the process. Insert the air conditioning unit into the opening and center it on the mark you made in step one. Tightly close the window on the AC unit by sliding the bottom of the window into the slot on the top of the air conditioner. Most AC units require the unit to be slightly tilted toward the outside so the condensation doesn’t leak inside, but instead flows to the drip pan on the outside. Check the manufacturer’s instructions for the specifics on the angle required for your unit to operate properly. 

After the unit is securely in place, you’ll want to keep pressure on the window while you install the L-brackets. The L-bracket keeps the open window secured in place so it doesn’t raise up and release the pressure on the AC unit. This ensures the air conditioner remains securely in place and can’t slip out the window.

After securing the L-brackets, you’ll slide the side panels toward the window frame on either side of the AC unit and secure them to the sides of the window to create a complete seal around the air conditioner. 

Some manufacturers include additional braces or more weather stripping, etc with window AC units. Be sure to read the manufacturer’s manual to see if your specific unit requires any additional installation steps.

Now your window AC unit is properly installed and you can begin enjoying cooler indoor temperatures immediately. 

Maintenance

Window air conditioners require only minimal maintenance to continue operating properly. You’ll need to clean the filter regularly to ensure the unit operates at maximum efficiency. You’ll also want to check the drip pan inside the unit and clean out any standing water from time-to-time to ensure proper drainage and eliminate any possible mold growth. 

Are you struggling to achieve and maintain comfortable temperatures in your home? Call the experts at Hiller for a complete review of your home’s HVAC system. They can help you understand any problem with your current setup and recommend the best solution to get your home’s HVAC functioning at its best and keep your family comfortable inside your home, regardless of the temperatures outside.

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How to Seal Air Leaks to Keep Your HVAC Unit Working Efficiently

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Air leaks are areas where air flows in or out of your home. Air leaks can make it difficult to keep your home’s interior at a controlled temperature and reduce the energy efficiency of your HVAC system by making it work harder than necessary to keep your home at the desired temperature. Forcing your system to work harder will also reduce the life expectancy of your HVAC system and cost you more money in energy bills. By sealing air leaks in your home, you can expect to reduce the time your HVAC system is running and reduce your home’s energy costs.

Here are some areas where air leaks are common in homes and how to fix them.

Attics

Attics are some of the main culprits behind energy loss due to air leaks in homes. A thorough check of your attic will probably reveal a multitude of air leaks that can be sealed to increase your home’s energy efficiency.

Recessed Lights

Recessed lights are a common source of air leaks, because they have vents that open into the attic. Some recessed lights are already sealed to account for this problem. If your lights are designated ICAT (on the label near the bulb), then they’re already sealed. If you don’t see that label, then it’s likely your lights are leaking air and making your HVAC system work harder. Luckily, there’s a simple fix to seal them. You can purchase an airtight baffle that will create a seal and stop air from leaking through the fixture. Baffles take only a few seconds to install and can make a big difference in energy efficiency, especially if you have a lot of recessed lighting in your home.

Flues and Chimneys

For building safety, wood framing can’t rest against flues and chimneys. However, this creates a gap that allows air to leak through. The simplest fix is to cover the gaps with aluminum flashing and seal it with a silicone caulk rated for high temperatures. This will eliminate the air flow while maintaining the safety of your home’s flues and chimneys.

Attic Access

Since the attic access is on the inside of your home, in most cases, there is no seal around the door or hatch. This creates another opportunity for air to leak inside your home. Add foam weather stripping around your home’s attic access to create a seal and eliminate the air leak.

Throughout Your Home

Once you’ve checked the main sources of air leaks in the attic, it’s time to test the remainder of your home.

Gaps

Though you’re less likely to find gaps in the main living areas of your home, gaps and cavities in the attic and basement can account for a big part of air leak problems. For larger gaps (from ¼ inch up to 3 inches), try expandable foam spray. It’s perfect for sealing gaps around areas like plumbing pipes and vents, wiring holes, and behind knee walls. For gaps that are ¼ inch or smaller, weatherproof silicone or acrylic latex caulk is the best choice. You can use it around doors and windows, electrical boxes, and any other small gap that needs to be sealed. 

Windows and Doors

Your home’s windows and doors can be another major source of air leaks, especially if they are older and not as energy efficient as new models. Replacing older windows and doors with new energy-efficient models can have a significant impact on the air flow in your home and reduce the work your HVAC system has to do to keep your home at the right temperature. 

If replacing your home’s old windows and doors isn’t possible at this juncture, you can still reduce the amount of air leaking through them. Take the time to caulk all the windows and doors in your home and add weather stripping. Combined, these two small fixes can add up to big energy savings.

Ducts

Did you know your HVAC system’s ducts can be another source of air leaks? Turn on your HVAC system and systematically check the visible ductwork throughout your home. Seal any leaks you find with HVAC aluminum foil tape and you’ll instantly improve the energy efficiency of your entire HVAC system.

Don’t Fret An Inefficient HVAC System

If you’re concerned that your HVAC system isn’t operating at peak efficiency, you can always call in the experts. Professional HVAC technicians know exactly what to look for when conducting a complete review of your home’s HVAC system and will recommend the most effective solutions for keeping your home a comfortable temperature year-round. The problem may not even be an air leak, but something that those with the expertise are much more attuned to handle.

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Doing It Yourself: What the Professionals Never Neglect in a Plumbing Project

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If you’re getting ready to take on a do-it-yourself plumbing project, you may be wondering if you have everything you need to do the job right. Here are some tips directly from the experts to help you prepare to tackle your next DIY plumbing project.

Get Familiar

Before you start any project, it’s important to have a good overall understanding of the system you’re working with. Take the time to really familiarize yourself with the entire plumbing system, and not just the area in which you’ll be working. Make sure you know where individual shut-offs are located, as well as the main shut-off. Check to see what materials are used throughout the system, so you can be sure to have the right parts. Evaluate the area where you’ll need to make repairs to ensure you have enough room to work, and that you won’t be interfering with any other systems such as HVAC or electrical. 

Documenting everything with photos before you take it apart is also a great habit to get into. If you have photos of everything then you can refer back to those pictures as you’re reassembling the system. It can also help to label all of the pieces that you take apart, especially if you’re planning to reuse any or all of them. It’s easy for parts and pieces to get shuffled around or lost during a repair project, so knowing exactly which piece is missing or broken can save a lot of time and frustration.

Good planning, organization, and doing plenty of research before you begin will help ensure that your upcoming DIY plumbing project proceeds smoothly with fewer surprises.

Technique

Depending on the difficulty of your particular project, there may be a lot of different techniques you need to employ during any type of plumbing repair. Using the correct techniques for the correct repairs is key to successfully completing plumbing projects that function correctly and are long-lasting. 

Tighten Correctly

Tightening connections in the proper way is a major component of plumbing repair. For example, when tightening two hex fittings together, you need to use two wrenches, one on each fitting, to ensure that both are tightened correctly. Otherwise, you run the risk of over-tightening one and under-tightening the other. Over-tightening connections can lead to broken fittings and leaks. Similarly, connections that aren’t tight enough can also create leaks because they lack a proper seal. 

Soldering

Soldering copper pipes is a skill commonly required for plumbing projects. While soldering isn’t difficult, per se, there is a lot of technique involved in getting it done correctly. For example, attempting to solder a pipe with any water in the line will generate steam, which creates pin-holes in the solder. This will result in a leak, and the entire process will have to be redone. 

Another common DIY soldering mistake is to heat the solder, instead of the copper. Really though, the copper needs to be heated to a temperature that melts the solder, so it will flow into the joint and seal it. 

Using proper soldering techniques will ensure your plumbing repair project is watertight and leak-free when you’re finished.

Wrapping Tape

Did you know that Teflon tape must be wrapped clockwise around threads so that it doesn’t unwind as you tighten the fitting? If the tape unwinds, it won’t embed in the threads and seal the fitting, which defeats the purpose of using the tape.

Though they often seem like tiny details, employing proper techniques when making plumbing repairs can make all the difference in achieving a successful result.

Correct Tools and Parts

Just like using the right techniques for a plumbing repair project are essential to getting the job done right, so is having and using the right tools and parts for the job. It can be tempting to save money by trying to complete the project with the tools you have on-hand, or by reusing questionable parts. But not doing the job right can ultimately cost more in the long run, if the repairs don’t hold and you have to do the job again or repair even more damage the next time. So, whether you’re trying to fix a slow draining toilet or install an entire new bathroom, always use the right tools and parts for the job and your DIY project will be much more successful.

Trust the Professionals to Get It Right

If your “little” plumbing repair turns into a big project that feels out of reach for you to complete on your own, you may end up having to simply turn to the real professionals. Don’t worry. It’s not the first time they will get a call like yours, as DIY repairs very often end up going to the plumbing experts when something goes wrong. With time, you may end up becoming an expert yourself though. After all, everyone has to start somewhere.  

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Quick Fixes for a Broken Sink

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When it comes to plumbing, small problems can quickly turn into big disasters, so it’s important to immediately address any plumbing problems you notice. Depending on the exact nature of the problem, a broken sink can be one of the easier plumbing problems for a homeowner to troubleshoot and fix.

Most of these fixes are applicable to any sink, including bathrooms and kitchens, but it’s important to remember that not all plumbing systems are created equally, so not every fix will be applicable to your particular problem. If you have any concerns about the proper repair technique, contact a plumbing expert in your area to help.

Here are some problems you can quickly troubleshoot and repair when you have an issue with your sink.

Broken Faucet

Faucets are one of the most common components of a sink to need repair. Depending on the amount of use, parts can wear out over time and start to leak. Whether you’re dealing with a faucet that drips or a leak at the base of the faucet, the difficulty of the repair will be determined by the type of faucet you have. For common faucet types, parts should be readily available at the local hardware store. If you have a faucet with less common components, you may be facing an expensive and time-consuming repair. In some cases, it can be easier, less time-consuming, and even less expensive to replace a leaky or broken faucet than to fix the damaged one.

Water Leak

Unchecked water leaks can wreak havoc on your home, so it’s vital to repair any leaks as soon as they are found. You’ll want to begin by tracing the source of the leak to find out where it originates. It’s no fun to complete an entire plumbing repair only to later discover that the water was leaking from another point in the plumbing system. The location of the leak will determine the type of repair needed, but the first step is always to stop the water flowing from the leak. Locate the water shut-off that feeds into the line where the leak is and turn it off. After you’ve turned off the water, you can assess the problem and determine the best way to proceed with the repair.

There are several common causes for leaks in sinks.

Faucet

In faucets, leaks are often caused by damaged gaskets and washers. Generally, those parts are easy to replace, though it may sometimes require the faucet to be replaced.

Water lines

Water lines are another common location for water leaks in a sink. Water line leaks are most commonly the result of failed gaskets or loose connections. Unless the line has been damaged, tightening the connection and replacing old gaskets are your best bets for fixing the problem.

P-trap

A p-trap is a curved section of pipe under sinks. It stays filled with water to stop odors from coming back through the pipes. Similar to other leaks, it can be caused by a damaged pipe, loose connection, or worn gasket. P-traps are where clogs commonly occur, so it’s also possible the pipe has been damaged by a clog or previous repair attempts.

Drain

Sometimes the drain can be the culprit behind a sink leak, which can be much more difficult to identify. Drains are usually sealed with plumber’s putty at installation, but if the putty is very old or wasn’t installed properly, it can eventually begin to leak. To stop the leak, you’ll need to remove the drain and replace the plumber’s putty to make the seal watertight.

Damaged caulk

Caulk is often used to create a watertight seal in various areas when sinks are installed. If the caulk is old or damaged, water can leak into different areas. Caulk is easy to replace and should be redone if you notice it’s in poor shape.

If you’ve checked all the common culprits and can’t find the source of a leak, don’t wait to call in the pros. An unmitigated water leak can cause serious problems in your home if it isn’t repaired quickly and correctly.

Clogged Drain

A clogged drain is one of the most common plumbing problems homeowners face. Over time, hair, soap scum, and other materials can build up in the pipes and block the drain. This results in either the sink draining slowly or not at all. The most effective way of clearing a blocked drain is to use an auger. They are relatively inexpensive and can be used easily without damaging the plumbing system. Chemical drain cleaners are another option, but they can result in damage to the plumbing system, if used incorrectly. Be sure to understand the type of plumbing system you have and ensure any chemicals are compatible with your home’s materials before using any type of drain cleaning chemicals. Performing regular proactive drain cleaning with baking soda and lemon juice or vinegar will help maintain your pipes and reduce clogs.

Getting Help for the Sink Repair

As a homeowner, there are a lot of problems that can crop up within your home’s plumbing system. If you enjoy being a DIY-er, then you may want to attempt some of these repairs yourself from time-to-time. However, if that “small” broken sink repair turns into a big project that needs the expertise of a professional, then it may be time to call on some expert plumbing technicians.

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5 Common Bathroom Plumbing Glitches

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If you’ve ever attempted to fix some bathroom plumbing you’ll appreciate that it is almost always more complicated than it originally appears. That’s why you should have the number of a reputable plumber Sydney, they can help you resolve the issues or even do the work for you.

Once you realize the 5 most common bathroom plumbing glitches you’ll want to leave it up to the professionals.

  • Leaks

It’s not surprising that leaks are the most common issue, they can also be the most costly and damaging.

Most of the pipework in your bathroom will be hidden, making it difficult to spot a leak. The most effective way is to shut all your water appliances off and check your water meter. Check it again an hour later, if it’s moved you have a leak and you need to find it. 

Leaks that aren’t found can cause stains and rot wood, potentially causing structural issues. 

  • Toilet Constantly Flowing

A faulty, old, or badly fitted cistern can cause your toilet to run constantly. In older systems, this is often due to the flapper valve perishing or seals failing. If you’ve just fitted the cistern you’ll need to verify that all the seals are located correctly and that the water height is set properly. 

Replacing the inner workings will usually rectify the issue, providing you seat t all correctly. If not, it can be another costly error.

  • Drain Issues

The first sign that you have a drain issue is when your sink or toilet drain much slower than usual. This indicates you have a clog in your pipework. If all the drains are slow then it’s in the sewer outlet. If only one is slow-draining the clog is probably between that appliance and the sewer.

You’ll need drain rods, possibly a camera, and may even have to take sections of the plumbing apart.

Of course, if you’ve fitted the drains yourself you may simply not have set them at the appropriate angle, preventing the water from flowing smoothly away.

  • Smells

The most common smell to do with plumbing is methane or sewer gas. The smell is usually prevented from getting into your home because there are traps under all appliances that hold water. 

If any of these are dry the smell will get into your house and you’ll need to investigate the issue further.

Smells can also occur if sewer pipes have been damaged. 

  • Shower Position

Did you know that electrical fittings must be a specified distance from all water sources? If you’ve decided to change the lights, move the sink, shower, or even toilet, you may have inadvertently broken the regulations regarding electricity and water.

This increases the likelihood of an electric shock. You’ll need to adjust the position of the electrics or the sinks etc.

In fact, this is why it is so important to get professional advice and assistance when undertaking any work in the bathroom. The professionals can prevent costly mistakes, making them the cheaper and more efficient option.

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How to Save Money in Your Construction Business

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Running a construction company isn’t cheap. From the associated costs of sustaining a commercial property (i.e. lease, utilities, etc) to labor, materials, and the time that goes into each project, the cost of keeping a construction business operational quickly adds up. Beyond finding regular clients and pricing your services appropriately, construction company owners must continually search for effective solutions to keep costs down. Such strategies work to improve your bottom line making your construction business more profitable. 

Shop Around for Materials

Having materials on hand to complete various construction projects is a necessity. From lumber and flooring to roofing materials and plumbing fixtures, at any given time, contractors need to have these materials readily available to complete their job. There are literally hundreds if not, thousands of suppliers to purchase raw construction materials from. You can save money on construction costs by doing some comparison shopping to see which suppliers offer the best bang for your buck.

Evaluate Shipping Costs

Whether working on home improvement jobs or you’ve been contracted to help build an office, transporting raw construction materials from storage to the job site often requires the assistance of a shipping company – which also costs money. 

In order to keep the cost of transporting materials, supplies, and equipment to job sites, it is imperative to do a few things. First, be sure that you’ve chosen the best shipping service by doing some price comparisons. Secondly, make sure that your construction materials are packaged and weighted according to the carrier’s guidelines. Lastly, periodically audit your invoices. There is, for instance, Fedex audit software to check all your invoices from the carrier to ensure you haven’t been overcharged. 

Hire the Right Team of Contractors

Getting construction jobs done on your own isn’t ideal. This is especially true when working on larger projects. Yet, who you hire to work with you can help or hurt your bottom line. A team of contractors that has limited experience or that lacks professionalism reduces the quality of work you provide your clients and can also kill deadlines which equates to wasted money.

Be sure to do your due diligence when hiring contractors for your team. Conduct quality interviews, review their portfolios, reach out to former employers or clients, and do some research to ensure they’ve had the proper training, education, and credentials necessary to complete the job. 

Invest in Quality Equipment

All too often, business owners make the mistake of trying to cut corners and save money by purchasing the bare minimum with regards to supplies and equipment necessary to complete their jobs. While this may work in some industries, purchasing poor-quality equipment (or foregoing the purchase altogether) is a waste of money. For instance, having contractors use a hammer to secure nails or hand saws for cutting plywood wastes a lot of time which increases the deadline and wastes money. On the contrary, purchasing quality nail guns and electric saws not only gets the job done faster but improves the quality and integrity of each project. 

Improve On-Site Efficiency

With every construction job, there are various steps and individuals required to complete the project. If there isn’t effective communication, comprehension, organization, and collaboration, a lot of time, and therefore, money is wasted. Construction companies can save themselves a lot of money by improving the efficiency of projects on the construction site. 

There are several avenues that can be taken including hiring construction managers to oversee workers, utilizing the best equipment to streamline processes (without reducing quality), and developing strategies to ensure workers are on the same page. Many construction companies have found project management software to be beneficial in that way. These technological platforms allow all involved parties to communicate, review project progress, assess the budget, review deadlines, and much more keeping everyone on task. 

Starting a construction company can prove to be a lucrative business venture - no matter what your specialty. That being said, to keep your company afloat it is vital that you continually look for ways to improve and/or streamline processes and cut costs. Not only does doing this make your company more profitable, but it helps you stay ahead of the competition while also paving the way for you to continue to provide high-quality services to your customers.

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Low Maintenance Home Exterior Trends That Are Designed to Last

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They say that trends come and go. While that might be true, some exterior trends are designed to last. These trends are the ones that focus on minimizing maintenance requirements while maximizing curb appeal. 

The reality is that all homeowners want to boost curb appeal. Whether they’re looking to sell or not, the appearance of a person’s home says a lot about them. Excellent curb appeal can increase property value, but it can also increase homeowner pride. There's truly no substitute for pulling into the driveway of a house you’re proud of every single day. 

However, people are busier today than they ever have been before. Longer work hours, multiple jobs, social clubs, familial obligations, and more keep people busy. So, more than ever before, people demand low-maintenance options. They want the exterior of their home to shine, but they need it to do so without a lot of upkeep. 

Thankfully, the design and home construction world has risen to the demand making way for several exterior trends that are both visually appealing and low-maintenance. All of these trends can increase curb appeal and boost property value, too. 

Here are five exterior trends that are sure to boost your curb appeal.

Trend #1: Go for Faux

If you peruse HGTV or Pinterest at all, then you probably know that wood is a huge trend in homes right now. Everyone loves the look of reclaimed wood roofs, siding, flooring, and more. But here’s the thing, wood is a pain to maintain. It’s porous, so it doesn't do well with moisture. It also attracts termites, and it isn’t very fire resistant. 

So, go faux instead. The market has everything from vinyl cedar shakes for your siding and roof to faux wood flooring for your interior. To boost your exterior curb appeal, jump on the wood trend, but don’t use real wood. 

Trend #2: Say Goodbye to Boring Roofs 

Asphalt roofs are out of trend for several reasons. One, they’re boring. Two, they’re bad for the environment and terrible for energy-efficiency. Three, they’re a pain to maintain. While they’re incredibly cheap, asphalt shingles don’t do very well in inclement weather, so repairs are frequent. 

The good thing is there are plenty of low-maintenance asphalt shingle alternatives including, synthetic shingles, metal roofs, and solar shingles. All three of those options are visually appealing and low-maintenance options. 

Trend #3: Go Neutral 

As far as exterior house and roof color combinations go, the trends are all over the place. Some experts are saying that dark colors like burgundy are the way to go. Others are saying light blue houses are going to really pick up steam in the coming years. Some insist that the grey trend that’s been going on will continue. Some designers say that you should paint your door a bright red or deep blue for a striking visual impact. 

When it comes to exterior colors, there isn’t much that’s certain. Color trends continuously change. If you want to boost curb appeal and ensure that you don’t have to repaint to ride the next trend, go neutral. Neutral colors are always in vogue. Go for high-quality, weather-resistant neutral paint colors for a guaranteed boost in curb appeal that will last for years to come.   

Trend #4: Be Strategic with Your Windows 

Large windows are on-trend. People are really into natural lighting inside the home, so large windows are a reliable way to increase curb appeal these days. However, if you aren’t looking to replace windows or increase the size of your windows, there are still several exterior window ideas that you can employ for low-maintenance designs. 

For the lowest maintenance windows, go for fiberglass and vinyl windows. Be sure to choose windows that are designed with easy-care and energy-efficiency in mind. While you might have to pay more upfront for low-maintenance, high-quality windows, they’ll increase your property value while simultaneously decreasing upkeep time. 

Trend #5: Do Simple Landscaping 

A neatly manicured lawn is the signature of curb appeal. However, you don't have to have a lush garden and perfectly kept grass to have fantastic curb appeal. Instead, several landscaping trends are low maintenance and offer high curb appeal. 

For instance, Asian-inspired landscaping is gorgeous and is comprised of rocks, peaceful fountains, and low-maintenance plants. Another trend is to forgo vegetation altogether and opt for a completely rock and stone landscape. You can also opt for low fuss plants, artificial grass, a permeable paving system, or some combination of easy-to-handle yard solutions. 

The key to landscaping is making everything look great without a lot of ongoing effort. As long as your yard is designed well, your curb appeal and property value should rise.

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Increase Your Curb Appeal Today 

These five trends are perfect examples of ways to stay on trend while keeping your maintenance goals in mind. You can boost curb appeal and renovate your home’s exterior in a way that will last for decades to come. The secret lies in choosing high-quality materials and opting for low-maintenance options rather than fussy ones. 

If you’re smart about your exterior design, you can have a home that is beautiful, low-maintenance, and high-value. 

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance. 

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How to Make Your Home More Weather-Resistant

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Inclement weather can be disastrous for your home. This is especially true if you live in a particularly harsh climate. From hurricanes in the south, to fires in the west, to tornadoes in the Great Plains, to frigid temperatures in the north, there’s no shortage of weather-related dangers for your house. 

There are several things you can do to make your home more weather-resistant. You can do simple fixes or start from the ground up with fire-and wind-resistant construction techniques. Whatever you do, it’s crucial to take some steps to make your home more weather-resistant. 

A few measures today can save you fortunes in the long run. How can you make your home more weather resistant? Let’s get into it. Here are four ways to make your home more weatherproof.

#1: Choose High-Quality Materials from The Beginning 

The most straightforward way to protect your home from weather damage is by choosing weather-resistant building materials from the start. For instance, avoid wood as a material. It’s porous, which means it absorbs water, which can result in mold, mildew, and damage. Moreover, wood isn’t very resistant to fire. 

Instead, opt for materials and construction techniques like ICF construction. ICF stands for insulated concrete forms, and it’s a type of construction that uses pre-made, insulated, concrete, interlocking blocks to build instead of traditional wood or metal studs. Ultimately, this technique is more energy-efficient and weather-resistant. In fact, ICF homes have even stood up well to tornadoes. 

This also extends to roofing materials, siding materials, and more. Always go for weather-friendly options. For your roof, stay away from asphalt shingles that absorb heat and are easily damaged in high winds and rough storms. For siding, fiber cement is always a terrific choice. Ultimately, opt for high-quality, weather-resistant materials in the beginning, and you’ll be way ahead of the curve when the storms roll in. 

#2: Regularly Check and Seal Windows, Doors, and More

Water leaks cause some of the most expensive damage to homes. You can avoid these leaks by employing some window weatherproofing. First, be sure that your windows and doors are correctly fitted and that there are no leaks. If there are any issues with fit or any cracks, be sure to seal them up. Additionally, always use weather-resistant windows and windows that prioritize energy-efficiency. 

Weatherproofing your windows and doors helps prevent water damages, but it also helps prevent cool or warm air from coming in or out of the home. This helps keep energy costs down. 

Aside from your windows and doors, be sure to regularly do a sweep of your exterior siding, especially if you have stone or brick siding. If you see any cracks, be sure to seal them up as soon as possible. Water can get in and cause significant damage to your siding. If you live in an area that freezes, rain and freezing can cause severe cracks to form in your siding and foundation. So, be sure to inspect, seal, and repair frequently. 

#3: Insulate and Focus on Energy-Efficiency 

We’ve already talked a bit about energy-efficiency, but it’s worth talking about a bit more. One of the best things you can do for your home is to ensure that it’s adequately insulated. If a home isn’t well insulated, you’ll pay much more to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Insulation is incredibly essential if you live in harsh temperatures. 

Be sure your attic and basement are both adequately insulated, and do spot checks twice annually to make sure everything is up to par. Check for any spots where air is seeping in or out of the home and patch them up. 

#4: Smart Yard and Driveway Design 

Standing water can wreak havoc on your yard, driveway, and your home’s foundation. One of the smartest things you can do to protect your home is to invest in solutions to eliminate standing water in your yard. This is incredibly important if you live in areas that are prone to flooding. 

There are several driveway drainage options. From French drainage systems to permeable paver systems, there’s no shortage of options to control water buildup in your yard and driveway. You can even do things like turning your yard into a sloped yard or planting a rain garden. The key thing here is to do something to manage water buildup in your yard, because flooding damage can be expensive and difficult to repair. 

Start Making Your Home Weather-Resistant Today

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These four ideas are fantastic ways to make your home more weather-resistant. With a little forethought, you can save yourself tons of time, money, energy, and frustration in the future. Take preventative measures today to protect your home in the future. 

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

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Office Interior Design Ideas that Maximize Productivity

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Most businesses want the same thing. Ask most CEOs and business owners, and they’ll tell you that they want increased revenue and profits. One of the best ways to increase profitability is by improving productivity. While there are several effective means for increasing productivity in the office, productivity maximization really begins in the design of an office building. 

If an office is designed with productivity in mind, then you can expect an increase in employee output. But how do you design an office to maximize productivity? 

There are several ways to emphasize productivity with design. Here are four design ideas to get you started. 

Idea #1: Incorporate Quiet Areas 

Wide-open offices have been a trend in office spaces for the last several years. Collaboration became a buzzword, and people everywhere were raving about breaking down the walls and having a free flow of conversation and ideas in the workplace. While those concepts have merits, this emphasis on constant collaboration virtually eliminated designated quiet spaces. 

Quiet spaces are critical for the completion of some jobs. They’re also crucial for private meetings. However, there’s a way to benefit from both the creativity that comes from open designs and the productivity that comes from quiet spaces. It’s not uncommon to see the inclusion of temporary or non-limiting walls, like a conference room glass wall, for instance. Glass walls allow for quiet while still feeling open. 

So, this first idea is all about creating quiet areas for employees to do their job and have meetings but do it in a way that still allows for the free flow of ideas. This ensures that you maximize productivity on all fronts in your office’s design. 

Idea #2: Emphasize Clean and Sustainable Workspaces 

Clutter is a known productivity killer. Your office must be designed in a way that eliminates clutter and emphasizes cleanliness. For example, storage space and organization tools should be abundant in the layout of your office. 

In addition to cleanliness, there’s been a significant upswing in sustainable and natural material use in the workplace. This could be because of nature’s positive effect on productivity, or it could be because employees take pride in working for a company that makes sustainable and eco-conscious decisions. 

Either way, it’s a smart move to incorporate sustainable materials into your office’s design. Consider using things like reclaimed wood, recycled metals, or natural stones, like quartz in your office’s design. As a bonus, sustainable products can be more cost-effective than other alternatives. As a warning, they can also be more expensive. 

Just be sure to price things out. Get natural stone or quartz pricing and compare. Check out studies over sustainability, natural elements, and their effects on worker productivity, and decide if these investments will result in a decent ROI for you before going all in. 

Idea #3: Focus on Office Acoustics 

While we’ve already talked a bit about noise’s effect on productivity, acoustics play a significant role in employee output. If employees can’t easily communicate, hear, or if they’re distracted by noisy office acoustics, it’ll be difficult for them to be productive. 

Too often, very little thought is put into an office’s acoustics until it’s too late. CEOs mistakenly build office buildings with insanely high ceilings, concrete floors, and little in the way of insulation. This layout creates a giant echo chamber that can effectively drive employees crazy rather than helping them be productive. 

There are several ideas for focusing on office acoustics. You can use insulation, louvers, panels, sound masking, bulky furniture, or even more complex office screen and wall systems to help control acoustics. 

Idea #4: Consider Comfort and Flexibility in The Design

While comfort and flexibility might seem like enemies of productivity and focus, as it turns out, they aren’t at all. Employees who are comfortable and who are allowed to work in flexible spaces outperform employees who work in stuffy, uncomfortable cubicles. 

Giving employees the freedom to work in a way that they’re most comfortable allows them to focus less energy on ignoring their discomfort and more on the task at hand. To translate this idea to design, many business owners are creating office spaces with larger work areas, bigger desks, more comfortable chairs, and they’re adding in several “flex areas.” 

In other words, they’re creating alternative areas for the employees to complete their jobs, so they aren’t chained to their desks. 

Maximize Productivity in Your Office Building

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These four ideas are just a few ways that you can maximize productivity through design. If you create quiet areas, emphasize cleanliness, prioritize sustainability, and consider employee comfort, you’ll be well on your way to creating a more productive workforce in no time. 

Jordan Swift is a contributor to the Innovative Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Jordan is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.

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Prep Your Air Conditioner for the Summer 

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Summer is almost here! OK, maybe not quite yet, but before you know it, you’ll be pulling out the barbeque and the patio furniture. And as the warmer weather approaches, you’ll be cranking up the air conditioner to keep you and your family nice and cool.

Just like a car, your AC requires regular maintenance to run efficiently. After a year of being inactive, your unit must get a professional maintenance check-up. You want to make sure that it's still in good working condition and that it's safe to run all summer long.

Get ahead of the game and schedule your AC repair in time for summer with a professional HVAC company before the weather gets too hot. It might be hard to believe right now, but soon you’ll be complaining about the heat instead of the cold!

Read on to discover what you can do to prepare your air conditioner just in time for summer.

Change the Filter 

The role of the filter is to keep dust and debris out of your HVAC equipment. You’d be shocked at how much builds up on there in a very short amount of time. Think about how much dust and debris you pick up when you use the vacuum cleaner — and it’s even worse if you have pets.

Change or replace your air filters regularly to avoid any unnecessary (and unhealthy) buildup of dust and debris. Not to mention the damage that all of that buildup can cause to the parts of your AC unit. It gets clogged with all of that dust and dirt, causing wear tear on the parts. A clogged filter also prevents air from flowing through effectively in your home.

Consult your heating and cooling service provider to change or replace your filter correctly. They’ll be able to answer any specific questions you may have.

Clean the Coils 

The coils in your air conditioner are a critical component of the unit because they absorb the heat from the air in your house. They're located inside the air handler or attached to the furnace. Over time, the coils become insulated with dust and debris, and this reduces the amount of heat they can absorb. Therefore, your AC has to work harder to cool your home. 

Dirty coils can lead to:

  • Increased operating temperatures (excess dirt and can cause undue stress on the AC, causing fans and compressors to work harder at increased operating temperatures to achieve the desired level of indoor comfort)
  • Higher humidity levels inside your home
  • Decreased cooling efficiency
  • Higher cooling costs

To prevent placing unnecessary strain on your air conditioner, be sure to keep the coils clean. Consult your HVAC professional first, but you can also get rid of any debris found around the outdoor condenser unit.

The spring season is the perfect time of year to have your AC unit professionally checked out. With a little tender loving care, your air conditioner will be good to go all summer long!

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Buying a New Home? Check These Things First 

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Pretty much every homeowner has a maintenance checklist that they follow to ensure that, no matter what season it is, their home stays up-to-date and their appliances are in prime working order. What many people don't realize is how important it is to check appliances out fully when you are buying a new home as well. 

Many potential homeowners just assume that the appliances in the home are of good quality and in great working order. This isn't always the case. In this blog, you'll find a few of the top appliances you should inspect carefully before signing on the dotted line to secure your next home. 

Hot Water Heater

While there may not be water service in the home, you can check that the water heater is in good repair. If there is water service to the house and the electricity is on, make sure that you let the water run until it gets hot, then check to make sure the water heater isn't leaking anywhere. If you're in doubt, you can call a reputable San Diego water heater repair service (or someone local to you) to check it for you. 

Refrigerator

Replacing a refrigerator is expensive, so if there's one in the home you're purchasing, you want to ensure it's in good working order. When checking out the appliances in the home you're purchasing, make sure that the fridge is cooling and freezing properly. Check for rust on the inside as well as the outside of the fridge and check for any possible leaks as well. It's also important to check the gaskets and seals to see if they're sealing properly. If the fridge has been maintained properly then you shouldn't have any problems with it yourself.  

Stove 

Another appliance that is extremely important to your well-being in your new home is the stove. Whether the stove in the home is electric or gas, it needs to be inspected carefully before the purchase of the home is finalized. An oven or stove that is faulty is not only expensive to replace, but it can also be dangerous as well. You want all the burners on the stove to be in good working order.

The oven needs to heat up properly and the clock and timer function should be in good working order as well. It's especially important to be careful when inspecting a gas stove, which is something that might be better left to the professionals.

Test the Outlets

While not an appliance, the outlets that you plug your appliances into need to be checked as well. The last thing you want is to purchase a home, only to find out later that only half of the outlets work. Non-working outlets aren't only aggravating, they can be dangerous as well, depending on why they aren't working. One of the best ways to check your outlets is by bringing your phone charger along for inspection. Test to see if your phone charger works in all outlets, and insist that the ones that don't work get fixed before you make a final decision. 

Take a Peek into the Electrical Panel 

Err on the side of caution and don't leave everything up to your housing inspector. Take a peek inside the electrical panel yourself when doing your own inspection. If the panel is messy, things aren't clearly labeled and wires are jumbled, it could be a sign that the electrical work on the house is messy as well. 

These are just a few of the appliances and other things you should check out before buying a new home. It's better to inspect these things now than have to replace them once you've moved in. 

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How to choose a coffee machine for home?

Any coffee lover knows that there are several ways to make an invigorating drink. You can brew it in a Turk, a coffee maker or an automatic coffee machine – an apparatus that frees the gourmet from the cooking process.

Every coffee lover who wants to enjoy a drink without the big labor and time, should think about buying this equipment.

They all have different ways of making coffee and appearance. In addition, many coffee machines must be washed every time after preparing your favorite drink.

But not many of us want to wash the entire kitchen every time after making coffee, especially if you live in a large private house.

The best option for home is a Nespresso coffee machine.

Nespresso machine is an ideal solution for those who want to spend a minimum of time servicing the device, but at the same time indulge in various types of coffee. Perhaps the main difference between such an apparatus and its analogues is the ability to easily prepare the first cup of one kind, and the second after it - completely different. Unless the varieties themselves can be selected only from the proposed Nespresso capsules. The principle of operation of such a coffee machine is based on passing hot water under high pressure through a coffee capsule containing natural coffee - roasted, ground and pressed. Therefore, the preparation of the drink takes so little time: you need to place the capsule inside the device, substitute the mug, press the button. And also does not completely stain the kitchen.

We’ll talk about how to clean capsule coffee machines later. At the same time, it is worth noting that the hand wash method works pretty well. Unlike ordinary coffee makers, which are preferably washed every day, the capsule coffee machine can be washed once every 1-2 weeks. She does not need to wash more often, since the machine is very slowly dirty and generally keeps its cleanliness for a long time. There are also special flushing capsules for these coffee machines that will do all the work for you.

The device is suitable for people who love modern style and conciseness, because such a coffee machine does not catch the eye and does not attract attention, fits perfectly into the interior and is suitable for a comfortable arrangement of space.

The manufacturers of these coffee machines made a whole line of  best Nespresso capsules. Caffeine-free varieties are available, different versions of espresso, Americano, lungo, latte, etc. For clarity, consider the possible varieties of coffee using the example of the popular manufacturer of capsular coffee Nespresso:


best nespresso capsules

Best Nespresso capsules contain the highest quality traditional coffee that most coffee lovers enjoy.

  1. The Espresso collection contains 7 Nespresso capsules of various intensities containing ground coffee.
  2. Pure Origine Capsules As in the previous paragraph, Pure Origine capsules contain espresso.
  3. The coffee in this collection of 3 Nespresso capsules can be traced back to where it was grown.
  4. Lungo Capsules are used to create a taller beverage.
  5. When making Lungo (“tall” coffee), approximately 2 times more water is used than in espresso.
  6. De Caffeine Capsules are Nespresso special caffeine-free capsules.

There are 3 such capsules in the Nespresso collection. They give tastes of varying intensity.

Conclusion

The coffee machine is practical to use and ideal for home interiors. In addition, they have a huge set of active Nespresso capsules in which everyone finds something for themselves.

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How to protect a child if he is left alone at home?

Is it possible or not to leave a small child alone? The question is complex. Children they are different. The character of the famous film was able to defeat the bandits alone, go to the store and travel around New York alone, gaining valuable life experience and new friends.

But very often children, when they are alone, unfortunately, get injured, get seriously injured or just spoil the appliances and furniture in the house. Therefore, of course, leaving children alone at home is undesirable. But still, you should have left the child at home.

We will analyze all methods of monitoring a child. A special GPS tracker helps to locate the child; it is also called a locator or beacon. This is a compact device in the form of a toy, bracelet, smart watch or sensor, which can be put in a backpack or attached to boots.

The simplest devices for children. If the child has disappeared from the field of view, the parent presses a button on the parent device, after which the child’s sensor makes a loud sound, allowing you to find the child. The range of the tracker is 50 meters. But if your child is older and able to independently move around the house and the area next to him. More “smart” tracking methods include automatic alarms on the child and parent devices if the child is removed at a critical distance (10, 20 or 50 meters, depending on the settings). The new generation beacons operate at a distance of 100 meters and indicate the direction to the “bug” if it has gone beyond a certain perimeter.

The most convenient option kids smart watch

best smartwatch for kids

Benefits

  • Find the child at the moment and send the exact coordinates to the parents;
  • Convey the route of movement of the child;
  • Store the coordinates of certain places (for example, “school,” “circle,” “grandmother’s house”) and send notifications to parents when a child comes and goes there;
  • Receive calls from your smartphone like a real phone;
  • Receive “secret calls” from your smartphone, allowing you to calmly listen to what is happening around the child;
  • Send notifications when the “panic button” is pressed if the child has problems.


Track the baby’s heart rate and turn on the alarm in case of critical indicators. The set of functions may vary from model to model. For example, advanced kids smart watch send you notifications if a child takes them off their hands this especially applies to freedom-loving teens. Or they signal with a built-in sensor that the child got into someone else's car and is going to leave somewhere

As already mentioned, of the watches in the GPS accessory for a child, there is only a shape and a dial. In fact, the watch case is packed with various electronics, the amount of which depends on how advanced your model is.

Inside the watch case there is usually a battery, a GPS module responsible for determining the location, and a SIM card with which data is transmitted to parents. The costs of paying her bill should be included in the home budget.

Also, depending on the model, the watch may have a microphone and speaker for making and receiving calls, a Wi-Fi module and various sensors, for example, an gyroscope and a pedometer.

The watch also has a small built-in memory that allows you to store phone numbers and, in some models, the history of movements over the past few days. The dial of the watch is different: touch, made of shockproof glass or none at all.

Most models of children's GPS watches are equipped with a SOS button that a child can press when he feels dangerous. In this case, the parents will immediately receive an alarm, the coordinates of the baby and will be able to take action.

You can view data using a smart watch through the application installed on your mom or dad’s smartphone. In the simplest version, it contains a map for viewing the child’s movements, a movement log and notifications.

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Why It’s Still a Good Idea to Get Into the Construction Business

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While there may be some talk about a future recession, you may be wondering if it is a good idea to get started in the construction business. Fortunately, the field is growing steadily, which is allowing people to work in the industry that they want. If you are considering starting this type of career, it is important to know how and when to get started. This will help you to work with the right clients to see which option is best suited to your needs.

How In-Demand Are Contractors?

Contractors and construction professionals are in high demand. This is because there will always be a need for professionals who can build and maintain infrastructure regardless of the current economy. Building your own construction business means that you can provide help to local homeowners and businesses, which can be beneficial in terms of the amount of revenue that you receive. The great thing is that the demand for drywall contractors and other construction services remains steady, so you can be working in the field of your choice without it being a problem.

How to Get Started

The best way for you to get started with your new business is to know what type of construction you'd like to do. There are many different categories that you can choose, so knowing what is right for you will help a lot. This is something that will allow you to feel confident in all that you've done, and it will allow you to make the revenue that you need and want to stay afloat. There are a lot of reasons for you to get started, but it is important that you know what you'd like to get involved with when it is most convenient for you. You can easily get going in a way that works for your needs, knowing exactly what you need to begin the career that will keep you going for years to come.

Understanding the Type of Work That’s Needed

There are many different projects that homeowners and business owners will have that you might want to consider for yourself. For example, you might choose to work construction projects that are specific to businesses. This means that you can work for stores, hospitals and other departments that allow you to do your job without fail. On another hand, you may want to consider working for homeowners and providing them with the work that they need for their homes or apartments. This is why so many are choosing to get back into the field themselves, and it is easier to do than you might think.

Now is the time to consider getting back into the construction industry. It is never a bad time to consider starting the career that you either need or want to make your dreams a reality. The most important thing to get started is to have the right education and tools. This allows you to get on the job without any problems coming up while it is being done. You will find that there are many different options for who you might want to work with once you've created your own business. Knowing what type of business or homeowner you'd like to work with when doing construction projects will make a big difference when it comes to actually providing the care that you need for them. You will enjoy the amount that you can receive when doing this type of work.

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getaway

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This’d be a good way to avoid Covid-19, American politics, and city existence overall.

Far North Wilderness Cabin, cc-licensed photo by JLS Photography, Alaska

It is currently very warm up here in Alaska, with temperatures reaching for 80° Fahrenheit in the interior. It is now that we year around northerners melt, and long for autumn. It is also the time of year that cabin doors stand open to let in the slightest breeze. Do the mosquito's swarm in as well? You bet they do - but we'd rather put up with the pesky bugs, than succumb to the heat.

*This cabin looks rather primitive – but when I took a peek behind it, I discovered two small solar panels and a very large LP bottle – so they have all the comforts of home.

 


7 Things to Think About Before You Install Solar Power

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Solar energy is everywhere. Families, business owners, and entire communities are adopting the technology. The number of systems installed has seen a steady rise around the world. The global solar market grew by nearly 30% in 2017 alone. The increase brought the world’s total capacity to over 400 GW.

There are many benefits to using solar at home. The Connect Electric team wants you to consider the following to ensure that your home is prepared for solar installation.

  • Roof Surface Area

Your roof needs to have enough room to accommodate the number of solar panels required to power your home. If you don’t have enough panels, then your system won’t generate enough power to keep up with consumption.

If there isn’t enough surface area on your roof, you may be able to install a ground-level array. Alternatively, you could try a hybrid setup with part of your energy powered using solar and the rest relying on the grid.

  • Roof Integrity

Your roof needs to be strong enough to support the added weight of solar panels and the wires and equipment they need. If you identify damaged or weak points on your roof, now is the time to repair them. This should be done before installation to preserve structural integrity. 

  • Net Metering

If you plan on hooking up to the grid or using net metering to earn money back, make sure you know what is required for your region. Some areas may have fees you have to pay. You should also find out how long hook up will take so you can plan accordingly.

  • Home Optimization

You should take steps to manage your electricity consumption before installing a solar system. The first step is to replace any old or malfunctioning appliances with energy efficient models. Look for those that can handle your household workload while offering the highest efficiency possible. 

  • Reduced Consumption

Along with buying new energy efficient appliances, you should also take steps to reduce your daily consumption wherever possible. This includes things like only running the dishwasher or laundry when there is a full load and turning down the temperature on your water heater. Turn lights off in unoccupied rooms and install a programmable thermostat to control indoor temperature.

  • Solar Financing Options

The initial cost of installing solar panels goes into the thousands of dollars. Now is a good time to look at your financing options. If you have enough cash to pay outright, then that is the easiest option. Otherwise, you may be able to lease your system or obtain a loan.

Don’t forget to check for local and federal tax incentives that can further offset the cost of your installation.

  • Gutters and Rain Runoff

Anything placed on a roof can interrupt the flow of water into gutters and off the structure. Make sure this is accounted for prior to installation. Talk to your installer to figure out how rain runoff will make it to the ground without pooling or damaging equipment or your home.

Doing your research now can help you plan a smooth, hassle-free installation. Contact Connect Electric if you have questions about what you need to do to switch to solar energy.

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How to Clean and Maintain Your Solar Panels

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Solar panels can generate enough electricity to power entire homes and businesses. They are one of the most popular choices for renewable energy. One of the most appealing things about solar is that it requires minimal effort to use. You don’t have to do any heavy-duty maintenance to keep your home running.

Of course, that doesn’t mean there is nothing to be done. You should still take steps to ensure that your array remains in good working order. Most solar systems have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years. Connect Electric wants to help you keep yours working for as long as possible with the following care and maintenance tips.

  • Check Tree Growth to Prevent Shade

There may be no blockages when you install your solar panels, but that can change over time. Trees grow over the years. Their branches will reach further and eventually, one may end up along your roof. When this happens, it can cast a shadow that reduces the amount of sun exposure your panels receive. This will lower energy output.

Keep all trees trimmed back from your roof. You may need to hire a professional to handle this if your home is two stories or more or if you aren’t comfortable climbing a ladder. Removing branches also reduces the risk of storm damage.

  • Monitor Energy Production and Consumption

Many manufacturers include technology to monitor solar production and energy consumption. This can provide insight into how and when your household uses most of its electricity. It’s helpful information if you want to try to reduce consumption and increase surplus energy that can be fed to the grid for credit.

Monitoring performance will also help you identify a problem if one should arise. If you notice a sudden spike in consumption, check your wiring, electronic devices, and appliances for a problem.

  • Clean Your Solar Panels Yearly

Most solar panels should be cleaned at least once a year. This will vary depending on the environment where you live. Some places may require more frequent cleanings. Make sure you adjust your schedule accordingly based on how much dirt and debris ends up on the surface of the panels.

You should try to clean from ground level if you can. You may be able to spray water with a garden hose onto the roof to rinse the panels. If you can safely access them, then a bucket of water with a soft sponge or cloth can work as well. You do not need to clean the wiring under the panels, only the surface.

  • Schedule Maintenance During Cooler Hours

Remember to schedule maintenance during the cooler hours of the day, especially if you plan to get close to the array. The surface can become very hot in direct sunlight. It is best to work in the early morning or toward evening when the sun isn’t at its peak.

Connect Electric can help you keep your solar panels working for years. Contact us to discuss your needs or to request professional maintenance for your array.

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How to Start a Successful Construction Business

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Starting your own construction business can offer several fantastic benefits. This includes the opportunity to be your own boss, manage your own team, and achieve your financial goals. Starting a business takes time and dedication, but any company has the chance to become successful with the right planning and hard work. Here are some useful tips on how to start a construction business: 

Write a quality business plan 

The first step to starting any new company is to write a quality business plan that outlines your specific business goals. This should include details on what action you are going to take to achieve each goal, along with other crucial information such as financial forecasts. Keep in mind that your business plan is a vital document that will guide you throughout your business venture. It will also be presented to investors and financial lenders to convince them to invest in your business. Every business owner should take the time to draft a quality business plan that clearly outlines their short term and long-term business goals. 

Ensure legal compliance 

Starting a company can be complex, and several rules and regulations must be followed to ensure legal compliance. The legal requirements vary between states and countries, so you must do your research before starting a construction company. For instance, labor laws in Mexico are different from those in force in the United States. Understanding the business laws in your location will help you avoid any costly fines later down the line. If you’re unsure what legal standards apply, then it’s always best to seek professional advice from a specialist business lawyer. 

Develop strong marketing strategies 

You should start marketing your construction company as soon as possible to build brand awareness and generate new business. Marketing campaigns will be key to the success of your company, so take the time to conduct thorough market research and develop quality campaigns that reflect your brand image. Try to use a variety of online and offline marketing techniques to increase the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. For instance, combine print marketing like flyers and business cards, with digital marketing such as social media and email marketing. According to smallbusiness.chron.com, you can enhance your marketing by promoting your construction experience, specializing in a particular area of construction, and offering a generous referral program to encourage existing customers to recommend your products and services. 

Don’t forget to apply for liability insurance 

Liability insurance is essential for any business. If you don’t have insurance, then you will be personally liable for accidents and injuries that occur in the workplace, as well as any damage or theft of property. If you do not have the finances to cover these costs, then you risk having to declare bankruptcy and close your business. For that reason, you must take out insurance when starting a new construction company. Opt for general liability insurance and make sure that it offers the correct level of cover to protect your business in all possible situations. 

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Long-Term Upgrades for Your Home

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These homestead upgrades aren’t for the house flippers, the keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, or the downsizing empty-nesters. They’re not quick and flashy, and you can’t hammer your way through the list over a long weekend. These upgrades are for the craftsmen who love their homes and plan to stick around for awhile – a long while. They’re for the homeowner who admires clean lines and straight edges, who thinks long and hard before ever picking up a tool, and who can learn to be patient.

Open Up Your Floor Plan

Maybe you’re lucky and your home came with what is called an “entertainer’s floor plan.” Maybe your kitchen already opens to the dining room and primary living/family room, complete with fireplace, vaulted ceilings, and French doors to a side patio. But there’s a high probability that your home did not come this way; and so you’ve got a good project that will take you a good, long time, and once you have finished, it will feel like you’re in a completely new living space. And everyone will say, “I thought that was never going to be finished,” but they’ll be so happy they suffered through all the dust.

Add a Second Kitchen – Outside

This project can be as involved as you want to make it. Ideally, an outdoor kitchen is equipped with refrigeration, a sink with running water, and some kind of equipment to cook on. Your cooktop could be a traditional range or, since you’re outside, a gas grill. If you opt for a grill, you can choose between freestanding and built-in options; just remember that a built-in model will probably feel like more of an upgrade.

Then… A Built-In Firepit

When the evenings aren’t too warm and aren’t too cold, there’s nothing quite like spending time around a firepit. The flames mesmerize, and the camaraderie feels that much more special. As with the outdoor cooking set-up, you once again have a variety of options; you may consider gas for its ease of operation and because it does not tend to flood your backyard with smoke the way wood-burning fire pits do.

Back Inside for a Bathroom Remodel

A well-remodeled bathroom will bring you more joy than all the popcorn ceiling removal and all the carpet upgrades in the world. One area of primary focus should be that of reforming your showering experience into one that rivals a luxurious hotel; it’s honestly not that difficult to do. Some in your home might really appreciate updated toilets, and if you live in a colder climate, heated toilet seats may not be out of order.

Nothing Says Pride of Ownership Quite Like Mature Landscaping

If you plan to live in your home for a long time, begin landscaping early on with an eye to the future - the distant future. Plant trees now that might take several years to come into their own, and before you know it you’ll be happy you made that decision. Mature landscaping is not unlike an overnight success; everybody will see (and probably envy) the sudden manifestation of awesomeness, but you’ll know that it took years of hard work. 

Update Your Fencing

Finally, let’s look at your fencing situation. If you’re still rocking the chain link fence that came with your home, you might want to consider installing something nicer. Because fence work is hard physical labor and can be difficult to do correctly, many homeowners bring in professionals. However, if you’re willing to put in the effort, you can save money on labor and spend those savings on the materials instead; this will result in a far more enjoyable fence. Don’t rule out privacy hedges and other forms of perimeter landscaping. While it may take some time for these plants to serve their purpose, they will grow soon enough, and you’ll be happy you got a head start.

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