Friday, December 30, 2011

Before You Call Your HVAC Repairman

Let's say you're enjoying a cozy evening at home. Maybe it's winter, and you have the heat on - or else you're trying to keep the house cool during a heat wave. Suddenly in the middle of your favorite show, as you're unwinding from a long day at work, your HVAC system goes on the blink. The air is stifling in your living room now, and you're agitated. What now?

Your first instinct is to check the air conditioner or heating system to see where the problem lies. If you know next to nothing about how your HVAC system works, though, you could end up just staring at the setup and wondering what to do next. Tinkering with the AC or heater could solve the problem, or make it worse. If you rely on gas to heat your home, it could be a matter of relighting the pilot, but do you feel comfortable doing that?

The problem with your heating and air system, however, may only be minor, yet you might feel more comfortable having a licensed HVAC contractor have a look. Before you make that call however, here are a few things you may wish to consider before you pick up the phone.

1) Is this a persistent problem? If you have experienced a breakdown of your AC or heating more than once through the week, it definitely warrants a call to a reputable repairman. Some homeowners may be content to wait out the problem if they believe they can rough it for a night. This may largely depend upon the age of the unit and the weather situation. Be intuitive when looking at your HVAC as you think about whether or not to call.

2) How old is your unit? Age and wear play important roles in the health of your HVAC system. If you can remember when your unit was installed, it could portend that you need a replacement instead of a simple repair. Did the unit come with the house? Knowing how long you've lived there will tell you whether or not to make the call.

3) Has the outside weather affected your system? If you use gas, a severe wind might blow out a pilot if it reaches it. Your heating problem could only be a matter of relighting it. If you feel comfortable doing it yourself, use good judgment. Otherwise, let a professional take care of it for you.

Of course, there are other considerations to take when looking into an HVAC repair. If you find the problem doesn't resolve itself, or you do not know how to fix it, call your local repairman.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Hampton HVAC services and Hampton HVAC repair.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Remodeling Tips to Make a Tiny Bathroom Appear Larger

If you have shopped around for a new home or condo, you may have noticed that newer model homes feature spacious, large bathrooms. Compared to older model houses, contemporary designs focus as much on comfort as they do efficiency - whereas your home may have a smaller bathroom because it isn't designed for leisure, but functionality. These days, though, people want to pamper themselves with a lengthy bath or take their time getting ready for the day, and it cannot be accomplished well in a small bathroom. If you are unable to widen the area, there are still ways to remodel so the space looks bigger and more comfortable.

Looking for ideas to get rid of that closed-in feeling every time you use the bathroom? Here are a few ideas to get you started. Some you may be able to do yourself, while others may require the help of a reputable contractor who specializes in bathroom renovations.

1) If you have an under cabinet sink, consider replacing it with a pedestal model. The removal of the cabinet will free up that space and make your bathroom look less cluttered. It's not uncommon to let your bathroom build up with dozens of half-empty tubes and bottles. Try to economize with your toiletries and use one common shelf unit - like something that positions over the commode - while clearing up other space.

2) Consider a second mirror or replace your current bathroom mirror with a larger one. Mirrors are used often in decorating to add depth to a small space. They train your eye to see the room as lighter and larger.

3) If you are able to replace the flooring, try something in a light color that better reflects the light rather than absorbs it. Larger tiles, too, may help open up the room.

4) Bringing more light into a room not only helps open the space, but makes the room more pleasant. If you have curtains, try removing them for a short time and see if it makes a difference.

Above all else, keep the bathroom clean whenever possible and remove items that don't necessarily have to be there. If you keep a laundry hamper in your bathroom for convenience, try moving it to a closet or the laundry room to make more space. More light, and a color scheme that emphasizes the brightness in your bathroom can help create the feeling of space that you want.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Norfolk home remodeling services and Virginia Beach remodeling services.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Should I Hire a Professional to Remodel My Kitchen?

So, you are sitting in your kitchen now and looking at the same cabinets and fixtures that probably came with the house. Whether you have lived in your home for ten, twenty, or even more years, you know your tastes have changed over time. What appeared fashionable back when the home was built may look completed outdated now, and unfortunately too worn to be considered vintage. When you come into your kitchen you want to be inspired to cook and entertain, and enjoy wonderful meals at home. A remodel of the space can be helpful, but is this an undertaking you should do yourself, or should you hire a contractor?

Do it yourself projects, some may argue, can save you money initial as far as labor goes. However, if you are not particularly skilled in home improvement - and a kitchen remodel requires a fair amount of work - you might find the improvements you make now need more improvement should things break down. If you plan on a complete overhaul of your kitchen, replacing certain appliances in addition to cabinets and counters, you may want to consider bringing in a professional to assess the job.
Why hire a remodeling service for your kitchen job? There are a number of reasons:

1) A contractor can advise you of ways to make your kitchen more energy efficient. You may not be aware of green innovations in home improvement, and your contractor can point you in the right direction. Energy efficient appliances and installation of eco-friendly windows can contribute to the lowering of your utility bills, saving you money in the long run.

2) A contractor may be able to get certain counters, cabinets, and other fixtures at a better price than if you tried to buy the materials on your own. Contractors work with specific brands and know where to get their supplies. You may be limited, too, to places where you can get the decor you want.

3) Hiring a quality contractor to handle your home renovation frees up your time. Depending on the extent of the work, this can be a time consuming process, and if you work you may find you have to set remodeling aside. This, of course, can leave your kitchen useless for days or weeks. A contractor can work during the day and help get your kitchen functional when you need it.

Employing a reputable, bonded construction company to handle your kitchen remodeling can help you save money in the long run. Consider shopping for a good fit to beautify and modernize your home.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Virginia Beach remodeling and Norfolk home remodeling services.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Needs to Be Shredded? Take Care of Your Identity's Safety

When you have the opportunity to take your personal documents to be shredded, you can decrease the risk of having your identity stolen by thieves who will apply for credit cards in your name. It is important to ensure that none of your important papers with personal information are made available to people who may try to take advantage of you. Therefore, when you meet with a professional shredding service, here are the top items to have ready for destruction.

Cancelled Checks - After you have reconciled payments from your checking account, shred the checks that come back to you - if your bank still does this. Don't leave any trace of your checking account number behind.

Pre-approval Mail from Credit Card Companies - We may be inclined to throw out that envelope that screams how we are pre-approved for credit. If you throw it out whole, somebody could fill out that application and get a card in your name. Don't take that chance.

Expired Credit Cards - Leave one behind and somebody could try to use it to steal your identity.

Medical Records - These records contain your life health history and other private information. Some things do not need to be made public.

Storage Data - Anything you have used to keep personal information - USB drives, cassettes, floppy discs, and even microfilm - should be destroyed if it's no longer used.

Work-Related Documents - These may include payroll reports, employees records, accounting records, contracts, and proposals for projects. Anything considered exclusive and confidential should be shredded if they are no longer relevant to your needs.

Inventory Records - If you maintain a warehouse, an inventory list can assist in thief in knowing what to take from you. What records you do not need, seal them away or have them destroyed.

Legal Documents - Leases, contracts, outdated wills are among the legal documents you should shred if you no longer need them.

Correspondence - Letters, faxes, and e-mails saved to a disc reveal more personal information than an identity thief needs to know about you. If you have no reason to keep the letters in a safe place (for sentimentality), take them to a shredder.

Once you rid your home or office space of the paper clutter, you reduce the risk of somebody finding your information and using it to their advantage. Thieves are clever when it comes to stealing identities, so don't give one an easy ticket.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Newport News shredding and South Carolina shredding.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

How Often Should You Change Air Conditioning Filters?

If somebody were to ask you when is the best time to replace the filters in your air conditioner, you would probably answer "When they are dirty". A simple answer to what may seem a silly question, but as you go about your business at home you aren't likely to think about things like AC filters. You know that when there's something in the air that shouldn't be there, perhaps you should check your system to make sure it's working. Unless you are vigilant enough to keep track of such things, how can you really know?

The question of when to replace an air filter in an air conditioning system is going to vary among households. To answer this for yourself, you will need to look at a number of factors concerning your household and lifestyle, and the style of air conditioning system you use. Let's take a look at some of these factors as they relate to you.

The Air Filter

When you purchase a standard AC filter, you may note on the packaging that you are advised to change them out every one to two months. This is probably a good guidelines to adhere to if you consider yours a "normal" home with no variance on quality of life issues. These may include the following.
  • Number of people in the home - do you live alone, or with your family? The population of your household can determine the air quality and usage of filters by virtue of daily activity. If you are single and keep a clean home, for example, you may check your filter after a month and discover it may hold out a while longer.
  • Pets - Dogs or cats in the house? If so, you have pet dander. This could to put a bit of wear and tear on your AC filters. You may find with pets in the house you are changing the filters more often, perhaps every thirty days.
  • Allergies - If anyone in your family has severe allergies, you no doubt are doing everything possible to keep your home clean. Regular checking of the filters may result in changing every thirty days.
  • Overall environment - Where do you live? Urban condos and apartments are likely to be more subject to pollution that gets sucked into the filters as opposed to rural living. Of course, a home in the country is not without the opportunity for dust, dander, and other allergens. Consider where you live and get a good gauge on checking every thirty to sixty days.
When you change your AC filter will depend on a number of factors - your home, the people living there, and other elements. Once you have a good feel of when the filters have taken everything they can handle, you'll know when to change them.

Kathryn Lively is a freelance writer specializing in articles on Newport News HVAC services and Williamsburg HVAC services.