Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Laws and Regulations For Outdoor Firepits

On a cool autumn evening, or perhaps during the summer backyard barbecue, a cozy sit in front of a fire pit makes for great conversation and comfort. Whether you have a fire shoppe built in your backyard or you use a portable bowl to burn wood, you have the ability to turn a simple yard into a place of relaxation and recreation. Because you will have an open flame close, however, you need to be aware of fire safety and any laws regarding owning a fire pit. Depending on where you live, the laws will vary.

Tips for Fire Pit Safety

The key to enjoying your evenings outdoors on your property is having your fire pit professionally installed. Planning is important in that the fire area must be situated on solid, level ground and in an area with no foot traffic. Your fire should not be placed anywhere near flammable objects or in a place where potential damage could happen. For example, the pit should not be installed near any gas lines or close to a pool, where people are likely to walk or run.

If you are setting up a permanent pit that is concrete or brick-based, arrange seating so that it is not too close to the flames. As you burn wood, there is the chance that sparks will fly from the fire and you do not want to get singed. Where possible, install your fire pit in an area with no tree cover - dry pine needles and leaves should be cleared away before you light a fire. If you have small children, keep them away from the fire as well.

Knowing the Law

Once you have decided to set up a fire shoppe on your property, before you do anything, you should consult with your area Fire Marshall. The Marshall will keep you informed of all fire laws in your city. More than likely, you will learn that having a small pit that maintains a low flame is okay to have in your yard, but many areas may enforce a law that says you can have a pit only if you intend to cook with it. This, of course, includes open pit barbecues. However, if you use your fire pit for roasting marshmallows and hot dogs you may be okay.

To be safe, consult with the Fire Marshall and a professional contractor who deals in backyard recreation facilities. Get all related information on size restrictions and other requirements, and soon you can enjoy those cool evenings by the fire with friends.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Norfolk outdoor firepits and Virginia Beach fireplaces.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Why You Should Consider Going With a Saltwater Swimming Pool

Thinking of having a new swimming pool installed in your back yard? If you have the money and time to devote to the maintenance of a pool, it's a great thing to have during the warmer months when you desperately need to cool down. These days you have so many options for your backyard recreation. Above ground pools are popular, and these days you can choose from different sizes and depths. However, many people are finding that the in-ground salt water pool is more desirable, and why not? Salt water swimming pools provide a greener way to enjoy backyard fun.

Of course, by green we mean environmentally sound - you definitely don't want your pool water turning green! That is one advantage of owning a pool with a salt system: such devices are built to clean themselves. This way you probably won't spend as much time cleaning your pool than if you used chlorinated water. This gives you many more hours spent in the water enjoying it.

If you are concerned about skin issues as you swim, it may encourage you to know that salt water tends to be softer and gentler on the skin than chlorinated water. It is less likely to sting your eyes and damage your hair. Also, the fact that chlorine is part of salt's chemical breakdown, you are likely to save money on products you would normally buy for maintenance.

As you decide on the procedure for installing you swimming area, take note of initial costs. It may cost more up front to have a salt system put in place, which may make you wonder when the savings come in. This happens in the fact that you are not constantly buying chemicals to refresh your water. Therefore, monthly payouts won't be as bad. Repair of such systems are affordable as well, and cleaning a salt water pool is much easier to do.

Consult with a professional for more information on salt versus chlorinated systems. You will definitely note the differences as they apply to your lifestyle. Once you are in the water swimming and enjoy the time with your family and friends, you just might experience the difference in the water's consistency. If your eyes aren't stinging and the scent of chlorine doesn't tickle your nose, you might realize your summer recreational pleasure is enhanced by their absence. A salt water system for your new pool is a great option for your backyard entertainment.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Norfolk pool supplies and Virginia Beach pools.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How Not to Hire a Plumber

When the hot shower in your shower turns tepid, when your toilets or sink drains clog, when your pipes freeze after a bad winter storm, your first inclination may be to contact a plumber. If you own your home and have not yet experienced a plumbing problem, you may not have a ready number to call. It is not uncommon to rely upon word of mouth for references, but there are ways to avoid hiring such a home mechanic to improve the way water flows through your home.

Is there a wrong way to hire a plumber? Yes, indeed. If you want to put your pipes and fixtures at risk, these are the best methods:

1) Don't ask friends and family for help. You trust the people closest to you to assist in finding recommended products and services. When you need a plumber, you may be inclined to ask a friend who they call in an emergency. Without this helpful expertise, you are left to peruse dozens of local listings, all of whom will claim they are the best. Who is, really?

2) Don't check ratings online. Organizations like Angie's List and the Better Business Bureau are set up to keep consumers informed if rogue companies have given homeowners trouble. These days you can log into a site and search potential plumbers for quality ratings and complaints. Even using Google search on a plumber will pull up reviews, which is a great way to learn more about the people you are thinking of hiring.

3) Call the first one you see and give them the job. It is okay to ask plumbers for an initial estimate. If you live in a large, urban area chances are you will have many choices. Don't feel as though you need to hire the first person you contact. Get the information you need, then comparison shop. Check websites and social media accounts to get a feel for how everybody stacks up. Then make the final call.

Remember, the plumbing mechanic you bring into your home is supposed to fix the problem for good. If you work full time, this will involve altering your schedule to accommodate the plumber while he or she works. You definitely do not want to keep calling people in to repair the first fix, so make sure you research thoroughly your options before giving one person the job. Your wallet and your sanity will remain intact.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach plumbers and Palatine plumbers.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Swimming Pools - In-Ground Vs Above-Ground

When you decide to have a pool constructed in your backyard, you not only create a recreational environment for your family, but you stand to enhance the value of your property. Owning a pool provides many opportunities for fun and relaxation in the warmer months, more so if you live in a temperate climate that yields more time to swim and play. Question is, once you've decided to build that pool, should you go for an above ground model or in-ground?
Regardless of the style of pool you choose, you're certain to enjoy the cool water and play with your family and friends. Both models are seen in backyards throughout the country, but as a homeowner you must decide which is best for you. Above ground and dug pools each have their own benefits and challenges, so if you are not leaning directly one way or the other here are a few considerations to help sway your choice:
How much does it cost to install a swimming pool? For in-ground models, prices will vary depending on size and depth. Do a search on the Internet and you may find numbers ranging from just over five thousand dollars to as much as ten grand - also factor in whether or not you have somebody install it for you.
By contrast, a nice above ground pool won't set you back as much. Depending on size, you could pay as little as a few hundred dollars to as much as five thousand - the price often factors in the materials used to make the pool's interior and walls. Traditionally, the above ground model will be less expensive, but that doesn't mean it is always the correct choice for you.
Above ground pools have come a long way in the last few decades. Once upon a time, we might skim a peek over the fence to see the round blue object in the neighbor's yard, while these days homeowners may choose between round and oval models. Above ground swimming pools typically start at twelve feet in circumference and may be extended to as much as thirty-three for round and oval models. If you have the yard to suit, you can even buy an oval kit that stretches forty feet long.
With in-ground pools, however, you can be more creative. Pool designers can offer designs from the simple rectangle to curvaceous shapes that give your backyard an aesthetically pleasing look. Depending on where you live, too, you can have one end as deep as eight feet. Above ground models, by contrast, usually go no deeper than four and a half feet...otherwise you'd need a tall ladder to get in!
Just because you have an above ground pool doesn't mean you can get away with not buying a pump and filters and chemicals to clean the water. You cannot treat this model like an overgrown kiddie pool - it will need to be maintained the same as you would care for an in-ground pool. Issues like mold, clogged filters, and pump maintenance carry over to both types of pools.
To get into an above-ground pool, you'll use a ladder. However, you can always enhance the look of your swimming area by constructing a raised deck around the edge. This not only makes for better socialization space around the pool, but easier access for swimmers - if a family member or guest has limited mobility, it may be difficult to get into the pool otherwise.
With an in-ground pool, there are ways to beautify the area with landscaping as well. In-ground models may also come with a diving board, something you don't normally see on an above ground pool.
Swimming pools come in different shapes and sizes, and if you intend to have one installed at home you have the advantage of choice. Take into consideration all characteristics of above ground and in-ground pools before making your decision, then enjoy the water!
Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Norfolk pool supplies and Virginia Beach pools.