What’s Your Emergency Plan?

Posted by on Oct 19, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What’s Your Emergency Plan?

It’s essential for all homeowners to plan for various types of emergencies. You and your family should discuss emergency plans for fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. That way when disaster strikes, you are prepared to deal with it quickly.

There are a couple of different ways you can prepare for emergencies, namely getting things together to evacuate your home quickly, and putting systems in place to keep your home safe in the event of an emergency. We’ll discuss both briefly in this article.

Preparing to Evacuate

Some natural disasters require evacuation. It’s as simple as that. Obviously, we’d all rather stay put in times of emergency, but for large weather events like hurricanes or flooding, it may not be feasible to stay put. You could be putting yourself at serious risk if you choose not to follow evacuation orders from the state, local, or federal government.

Many people put together what’s called a “bug-out bag” with various essentials ready to go in the event of an emergency. These bags should include:

  • Some amount of cash
  • Flashlight or glow sticks
  • A change of clothes
  • A space blanket
  • Bottles of water
  • A phone charger (battery powered if possible)
  • A knife
  • A list of important phone numbers in case your phone dies
  • First Aid Kit
  • A lighter
  • Sleeping bag
  • Copies of Medical records and birth certificates for everyone in the family
  • Map of your area

You may want to add or remove various items from the kit, but this is a basic list that should function for most evacuation situations. Generally, it is expected that you will be able to get to shelter fairly quickly. If it seems that you will not be able to get to shelter quickly you may want to bring additional supplies, especially food.

Luckily, this kind of emergency is rare. For most emergencies, you’ll be able to stay in the comfort of your home, but you might want to take some extra precautions.

Readying Your Home for an Emergency

There are many different things you can do ready your home for a natural disaster. Preparedness, in part, comes down to research, so it’s a good idea to find out how often your area experiences natural disasters to determine how much you need to prepare.

Here are some ways you can prep your home for a disaster:

  • Install a Whole House Generator: This one seems obvious, but many people don’t think to have a generator put in until after an emergency. Call your local generator installation company, like H.O. Feild Electric Co, and see what deals they’re offering on whole house generators. These will automatically turn on in the event of a power outage and keep your family safe and comfortable until the power comes back.
  • Keep Sandbags On Hand: Sandbags are a cheap and effective way to keep flooding at bay. Keep enough sandbags around to be able to firmly cover the bottoms of any doors that are at ground level and susceptible to flooding. This will help to keep floodwaters at bay in many situations.
  • Keep a Stock of Non-Perishables: Keeping your pantry stocked with enough canned goods to make it through an emergency is always a good idea. If your power goes out and you don’t have a generator, you want to make sure you have enough food to keep you and your family fed for at least several days. If you can find non-perishable food that doesn’t require cooking that’s always a plus, though a small camp stove can be useful for heating up canned soups and similar food items.
  • Keep Flashlights and Extra Batteries Around: Always have a stash of emergency supplies that includes battery powered flashlights and lanterns.
  • Make Window Covers: If you have plenty of storage space and live in an area that’s prone to high winds, you can easily create window covers out of 2x4s and particle board that you can cut to fit in your window spaces. Then you can pop them in whenever a hurricane or high winds are forecasted to protect your windows through the storm.

There are a multitude of things you can do to prepare your house for various weather emergencies or other disasters. Some of your preparation will depend on where you live and what kind of natural disasters are common in your area. Obviously, preparation for a hurricane is totally different than prep for a tornado. So take the time to research what you need to be prepared for in your area, and make the necessary arrangements to make sure your family and your home stay safe during emergencies and disasters.

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Dealing with Pet Stains in Your Home

Posted by on Sep 13, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Dealing with Pet Stains in Your Home

Pets are wonderful, but no matter how good they are, all pets have their little accidents now and then.  When those accidents happen on your carpet or hardwood floors, they can cause lasting damage if not dealt with properly.

Pet urine, if left to sit, can not only stain your carpets or hardwood floors, but will also seep into your padding and subfloor. In addition, the odor left behind will encourage your pet (or pets as the case may be) to resoil the same area in a continued effort to maintain it as “their territory” which can lead to serious and lasting damage to your flooring.

Simple and Effective Home Remedies

Vinegar and Baking Soda – Who knew that this standard elementary school science experiment could help lift pet stains out of your carpet? The trick to this one is the bubbles created by the chemical reaction, which penetrate into the fibers of your carpet and break up stains and odor molecules. All you have to do is pour enough vinegar on the stain to soak it, and then add a helping of baking soda on top. You should hear it bubbling up and starting to dissolve the stain. Let it sit overnight for the best effects, we usually put something over the spot so baking soda doesn’t get tracked all over the house. Once it’s been left to sit for a day or so, wipe up any any excess that you can get with a paper towel and vacuum up the rest. Your carpet should look good as new!

Hydrogen Peroxide and Baking Soda – This works basically the same way as vinegar and baking soda. Pour enough hydrogen peroxide on the stain to completely soak it and then sprinkle deodorizing baking soda on top and let it sit. After it has absorbed most of the stain, wipe up the excess and vacuum up whatever is left after that. Easy peasy!

Citrus Enzyme Cleaner – This one is a little bit different, and takes some time to prepare. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 7 tbsps brown sugar
  • 5 cups of lemon and orange peels
  • 1 liter of water
  • A bottle to hold it all

Mix the ingredients together and give it a good shake. Loosen the cap a little bit to release pressure so the bottle won’t explode while it sits. The solution takes about 3 months to become fully incorporated, but when it’s finished it works just like the other solutions. Spray onto the affected area and let it sit for a little while. Blot it up with paper towels until dry. The enzymes in the citrus peels work to break down urine crystals, destroying stains and odors.

What If Those Don’t Work?

If you find that none of the home remedies are working on your pet-related stains, it might be time to pull out the big guns. Home remedies are most effective on fresh spots, but what happens when you don’t find a problem spot until well after it has happened. Chances are your animals have been using the same spot for a while, and the stain is crusty and ground in at this point.

To take care of more advanced stains, we recommend using a professional carpet cleaning service, such as Palmetto Chem-Dry, to remove the stains as well as the odor. Trained professionals have the know-how to peel up a part of your carpet and check the padding and subfloor for further staining, odor, or in serious cases, mold and rot. They have specialized equipment and cleaning solutions that are specifically designed to break down odor-causing urine crystals and remove them from your carpet, padding, and subfloor.  In serious cases, this may be the only way to fully remove odors and staining related to pet accidents.

Pet accidents in the house are certainly a nuisance, but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. With these homemade remedies you should be able to deal with the majority of pet stains, and if those don’t work you can always fall back on calling a professional. When dealing with pet stains on oriental rugs or specialty area rugs, you should always default to calling a professional, as home remedies can sometimes make dyes run or fade, forever damaging your expensive specialty rugs.

I hope these tips have been helpful, and I wish you the best of luck dealing with your next pet stain!

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Kitchen Refinishing – Cabinets, Sinks, & More!

Posted by on Aug 23, 2017 in Home Design, Home Styling, Kitchen Design | Comments Off on Kitchen Refinishing – Cabinets, Sinks, & More!

Kitchen Refinishing – Cabinets, Sinks, & More!

Deciding on whether or not to fully renovate your home’s kitchen can be a grueling decision. When you have to factor in your budget, the materials you want to use, and the final look and design you want to achieve, it can become a major process that is an extreme hassle. In many cases, a complete kitchen renovation is not the appropriate choice for a new look, and it could be better achieved with a simple refinishing process. Many families are unaware of the option for a wood renewal or refinish to get a new, revitalized kitchen, but it is a significantly cheaper, and just as high-quality, experience.

When you are looking to flip a home, or just want to breathe some life into an older-styled room, a full wood refinishing process can be just the thing you’re looking for. Affordable for many, and a significantly cheaper alternative to traditional renovations and overhauls, a refinishing experience makes an older home look brand new. The process is simple, and depending on who you choose to complete the refinish, can be completed in the same day, with no waiting on cabinets to dry.

N-Hance Augusta Aiken Cabinets

There are many options and companies that specialize in fast, high-quality wood refinishing, such as N-Hance of Augusta/Aiken. My family down south used them for their entire set of kitchen cabinets, and the work came out absolutely amazing. There was no difference between the quick refinishing process that N-Hance used and a traditional renovation process. The cabinets looked great!

Wood refinishing can encompass many different options that you may be looking for, such as changing the colors of your cabinets, bring more gloss and shine to your cabinets, or fixing and repairing cracked or worn cabinets.

One of the biggest things you can do to revitalize your kitchen area and improve the overall aesthetics and design is a cabinet color shift. This either darkens or lightens the color of your cabinets, which can be the perfect compliment to a granite counter top or similarly-colored kitchen appliances.

Whatever option you decide to pursue, it’s extremely important that you take the time to thoroughly research the company you choose for your kitchen makeover. Whether you want to go with a traditional, more expensive kitchen renovation, or use a more affordable alternative such as a wood refinishing process, this tip stays the same. Do your research, and look at previous customers’ reviews on how the company handled their experience from start to finish.

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A Closer Look at Today’s Energy Efficient Windows

Posted by on Jun 27, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Closer Look at Today’s Energy Efficient Windows

If you want to improve your home’s energy-efficiency – and save money – one of the most impactful changes you can make is to replace your windows. This is because older windows are often responsible for a great deal of unwanted heat transfer. In summer, inefficient windows can let excessive heat into your home; in winter, inefficient windows allow heat to escape.

Today’s high-efficiency windows are much better at managing heat transfer – reflecting away heat in the summer and trapping heat in the winter. When heat transfer is managed, you’re more comfortable – and less heating or air conditioning is required to keep you that way. And when your heating and air system gets a rest, your pocketbook does, too.

Let’s take a closer look at how energy-efficiency windows work – and how much money they can save you:

Energy-efficient windows, such as these from Richmond’s replacement window experts, feature advanced low-e (low-emissivity) glass coatings. These coatings are designed to emit low levels of heat, reflecting the sun’s infrared heat rays away rather than allow them to pass through. These low-e coatings are quite effective; while standard glass absorbs more than 80% of infrared rays, low-e glass absorbs a third. Despite their effect on infrared rays, low-e coatings won’t compromise your window’s view or the natural light that you love.

Modern windows also employ two or sometimes three panes. Each extra pane provides an extra buffer, adding a layer of insulation between your home’s interior and exterior. Gases such as argon or krypton are often injected between the panes; these gases are clear, non-toxic, and odorless. More importantly, argon and krypton conduct heat only half as well as regular air, providing a stronger barrier to heat transfer.

Even the spacers between the panes of glass play an important role in energy efficiency. Not so long ago, spacers were made of aluminum – a metal that conducts heat very easily. Instead of metal, the newest spacers are made of foam. Because foam can expand and contract without losing integrity, it offers longer-lasting seals. And because foam blocks heat transfer, it offers excellent insulation.

When glass coatings, extra panes, gas fills, and spacers work together, windows can be very efficient. This efficiency is most commonly measured along two metrics: U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient (or SHGC). U-factor refers to the heat transferring quality of the glass; lower U-factors mean less heat transfer. SHGC reflects the amount of sunlight that penetrates into the house through the panes; lower SHGC values mean less light.

Windows with the right U-factor and SHGC values for the local climate can be certified by ENERGY STAR as being energy-efficient. In the Richmond area, we live in what’s called the North-Central Climate Zone – characterized by cold winters and hot summers. Here windows require a U-factor of 0.30 or less and an SHGC value of 0.40 or less qualify for ENERGY STAR certification.

So what can you expect if you replace old windows with new ones that have ENERGY STAR certification? In our South Atlantic region, we can expect to save about $450 per year when upgrading from single-pane glass and $59 per year when replacing double-pane glass. To learn more about your projected savings, visit ENERGY STAR.

Replacing your windows is an investment that provides excellent returns in comfort and energy savings. If you’re still living with single-pane or older double-pane windows, now would be a great time to consider an upgrade.

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Keep Your Allergies in Check This Summer

Posted by on Jun 6, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Keep Your Allergies in Check This Summer

If your allergies are just as bad in the summer as they are in the spring or fall, you’re not alone. It simply means that you’re more sensitive to summertime allergy causes than most. Thankfully, there’s a lot you can do to alleviate summer allergy symptoms.

Let’s look at the causes, starting with grass. When grass is growing rapidly and displaying seed pods, then it’s pollinating. Grass tends to release pollen from mid-spring through early fall. The same can be said of weeds, although they tend to release pollen in earnest a few weeks after grass does. While they may lack the sheer volume of trees, grasses and weeds release pollen that can travel in the air for miles.

Dust mites are another common allergen. These microscopic creatures live inside the home, usually inside carpets, upholstery, pillows, and mattresses. They thrive in warmer temperatures, and in high humidity

Despite the abundance of pollen – and potentially dust mites – you don’t have to give into the idea of suffering from allergies. There are several practices you can follow to mitigate the effects of pollen and dust mites, both in and around your home. You can also mitigate their effects on you.

Start by keeping pollen out of your home. Keep your windows closed. If you’ve been outdoors for a few hours, change and wash your clothes after you re-enter your home. If you have pets, wash them more regularly to reduce the amount of pollen they bring into your home.

No matter what you do, some pollen will enter your home – but you can manage it. Start by using high-quality air-filters in the intakes for your heating and air system; be sure to change them regularly. Dust and vacuum regularly. Schedule a professional carpet and upholstery cleaning; Chem-Dry, for example, has cleaning processes that have been proven to be particularly effective to removing allergens from homes.

You can mitigate the effects of dust mites by keeping your household humidity low; dust mites can’t survive when humidity levels are kept under 50%. Wash your bed linens regularly. And, again, use high-quality air filters to pull dust out of the air.

You can also manage the pollen in your yard. Keep your lawn short, cutting grasses and weeds before they have a chance to produce seed pods. Keep weeds or other pollinators from proliferating in your yard by spraying them or pulling them out before they can bloom. If yard work makes your allergies worse, wear a mask designed to pull pollen from the air while you work.

Don’t forget to manage pollen’s effects on you when you’re not in your yard. Many over-the-counter anti-histamines and nasal sprays are effective when taken regularly. If these aren’t enough, an allergist may be able to prescribe additional remedies that can provide relief. Check the daily pollen count in your area. On a dry, windy summer’s day when the count is liable to be high, plan to minimize your time outdoors – and, again, keep your windows closed.

You can’t control pollen or dust mites, but smart practices can minimize their effects on you. If you’re suffering from itchy eyes, a runny nose, or incessant sneezing, do something about it.

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Make Your Home Safer & Healthier with HEPA Filters

Posted by on Apr 4, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Make Your Home Safer & Healthier with HEPA Filters

No matter how often you clean your home, your furnishings, or your carpet, they can each play host to a range of impurities. Some of these impurities are airborne. Others are trapped in your upholstery, carpet fibers, or other surfaces in your house. Some impurities, such as dust or pollen, can become airborne when there is some disturbance.

These impurities aren’t just unsightly – they can also cause allergies and induce asthma attacks. Furthermore, they can worsen conditions such as sinusitis. Since you don’t want to develop any of these respiratory conditions, it’s important you clean your home thoroughly on a regular basis. But simply cleaning more often isn’t the answer; you also need the right equipment.

Professional Cleanings

The best cleaning technicians have the ability to deep-clean carpets, rugs, and upholstery. They’re able to apply cleaning solutions more deeply and remove them more thoroughly than is possible with typical household equipment. When combining these processes with the use of sanitizers, expert cleaners like my preferred carpet cleaner in Tacoma, are able to remove the vast majority of impurities from both surface and air.

But we can’t rely on professionals to clean our carpets and upholstery all of the time. Effectively managing impurities requires us to deal with them in between visits from our local carpet cleaner. Vacuuming is a great start, but traditional vacuums aren’t quite up to the task.

Vacuuming with HEPA Filters

Along with air, vacuum cleaners inhale dust and other minute particles from the carpet, rugs, furnishings at other surfaces. This dirt- and allergen-filled air is passed through a filter before being released back into the room. These filters usually have tiny holes that trap most of the dirt while allowing air to pass through. Unfortunately, many types of impurities are also small enough to pass through a typical vacuum air filter.

In order to effectively capture the dust, allergens, and other impurities you vacuum, you need to employ a more efficient air filter. What you’ll want is a vacuum that uses a HEPA filter.

HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air.” HEPA filters are mechanical, employing a fine mesh that can trap tiny airborne particles. These filters are so efficient that they can trap tobacco smoke, pet dander, pollen, and dust mites along with other tiny air contaminants. The most efficient HEPA filters are even capable of dealing with military-level biological, chemical, and radiological particles.

According to the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, a true HEPA air filter should be able to trap 99.97% of particles that are 0.3 microns thick, or thicker. To put this into perspective, the human hair has a thickness of 50 to 150 microns; true HEPA filters can trap particles up to 450 times smaller than the thickness of your hair. This level of efficiency ensures that HEPA filters can trap all the common allergens found at home.

Not even the best HEPA filter can capture every allergen at once. You’ll still want to to vacuum on a regular basis. But you can do so knowing that you’re doing something that is helping to keep you and your family safe.

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Picking the Right Generator

Posted by on Mar 15, 2017 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Picking the Right Generator

In this day and age, it’s almost impossible to survive without access to electricity. Losing power on any given day – let alone several days – can be disastrous. It’s no wonder that more households are choosing to protect against power outages by purchasing and connecting both standby and portable generators. The choice isn’t always easy, however. Picking the right generator requires taking several factors into account:

Standby Generators

A standby generator automatically provides power in the event of an outage. These types of generators are permanently installed on your residence, usually in concrete, and are connected to the building’s electrical circuits. During a blackout, an automatic transfer switch will turn the generator on within seconds, bringing power back to your home. When the blackout is over, the transfer switch will shut the generator down again.

Backup Generators

Unlike standby generators, backup generators are not permanently installed and don’t work automatically. These portable generators must be started manually by the user after a blackout has occurred. Many households elect to plug devices directly into the generator; others prefer to connect the generator to the house’s electrical panel in order to power outlets as well as household systems.

Generators can be easily connected to an electrical panel by installing an interlock kit that functions like a manual transfer switch. While the interlock kit will not automatically engage or shut down power, it will isolate the household and utility systems to protect against unsafe overloads.

Selecting the Right One

The type of generator that will work best for you depends entirely on the needs of your family and your home or business. A portable generator may work best for small homes with few electrical needs or in an area where blackouts are not common. However, for those considering the more reliable (and larger and more expensive) standby generators, there are still a few more things to take into consideration.

Size & Strength

Different sizes of generators exist to suit different needs, and standby backup generators can be quite large. A large generator creates more power, making them ideal for homes with a lot of electrical needs. If you need to run your air conditioner during a blackout, for instance, you’ll need to purchase a stronger generator. You’ll need to know exactly how much power you require in order to select the right unit for you. Portable generators typically max out at 10,000-watt units, while standby generators can be as powerful as 30,000 watts.

Price

The vast difference in power also results in a vast difference in price. Portable generators are a far more economical choice with units ranging from $500 to $1500. On the other hand, standby generators carry a heftier price tag. The permanent generators start at a price of $5000 but can get as pricey as $15,000. In addition to that price tag, the units will need to be installed.

Picking the right generator for your family really comes down your specific needs. Some families may not be able to handle the cost of a permanent standby generator, while others wouldn’t be able to survive without it. When it comes to picking a backup generator, carefully weigh the pros against the cons.

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