Finishing Your Basement? Avoid These 3 Mistakes

Is your basement dark, damp, and overall unused? If so, you may want to consider giving it a bit of a makeover. Recent surveys from the National Association of Home Builders show that over the past two decades, finished basements have become one of the most popular home improvement projects. And while basement finishing can give you more functional space in your home, there are some easy mistakes that can be made. So to ensure your finished basement comes out as best as possible, let’s take a look at a few mistakes you should try to avoid along the way.

Using wood materials: When you’re choosing materials for your basement remodeling project, it’s important to remember that basements generally hold more moisture than the rest of the home. And because of this, materials like wood should not be used. Wood and other materials that aren’t moisture-resistant will not hold up well and will show signs of mold growth after being exposed to the added moisture in the basement. So when you’re choosing materials for flooring and studs, choose materials other than wood.

Overlooking draining: Since they’re underground, basements to pose the risk of getting flooded. This is why it’s important to plan for drainage during a home remodeling project. When you’re planning your new basement design, make sure to have adequate drain systems in the flooring — and don’t cover them up! If there is an existing draining system, make sure it stays exposed so it can do its job. But all in all, remember that basements can get wet so you should plan for draining as needed.

Forgetting about functionality: If you’re planning a basement finishing project, it’s important to have at least a general idea of what you want to do with the finished area. Otherwise, you may end up with a design and floor plan that doesn’t work with what you want to do with the area. You can use a finished basement for almost anything — a home office, a workout area, an entertainment area, and more. So before you get started with construction, make sure to map out the area as to how you want to use it.

Basements don’t have to be dark, scary places that you only use for storage. With the right basement finishing contractors, you can have a basement area you love. So keep these common mistakes in mind to ensure your basement remodeling project goes smoothly.

How Long Does a Roof Last? Your Guide to Exterior Lifespans

Living under the safety and comfort of our home’s walls and roof, we often forget that the exterior of our house faces the brutality of the elements almost constantly. Year round, rain, sun, wind, snow and more constantly batter your home’s protective shell. To ensure that the outside stays outside, and to keep your family warm and dry, regular inspection, maintenance, and replacement of exterior materials are crucial.

Here’s a quick guide to caring for your exteriors.

Roofing

The best way to know if your roof needs to be fixed it to check it regularly. Ideally, your roof should be inspected once or twice a year. Signs a roof needs repairs include:

 

    • Sagging

 

    • Leaking

 

    • Mold and rot

 

    • Missing shingles

 
Determining the lifespan of a roof is tricky– it depends on the material and climate. For example, a wood-shingled roof can last 25 years, but a metal-shingled roof can last 75. Frequent inspection and good research can help you know when your roof needs replacement.

Siding

Siding, like roofing, has a variable lifespan depending on the material. Vinyl siding can last up to 60 years without much maintenance, while wood or aluminum siding may last less time. Still, there are pros and cons to each siding type. Regularly checking your siding at different locations around your house is the best way to notice problems early. Watch out for:

 

    • Infestation

 

    • Rot

 

    • Missing panels

 
Any of these signs may indicate a section of siding, or the whole surface needs to be replaced.

Doors

Unlike your roof or siding, your door is used directly by people almost every day. Though they are swung and slammed frequently, doors can still expect a lifespan of about 30 years. Keep an eye on your door for these warning signs that it needs repair or to be replaced:

 

    • Rusted handles, hinges and edges

 

    • Gaps between the frame and the door

 

    • Cracks

 

    • Peeling

 
Your door may also need to be replaced if it’s just not doing its job. If you have to put blankets in front of the door to keep out cold air, if you need a towel to mop up puddles, or if you have to pull and push hard to pass through, it’s time for a new door.

Windows

Quality windows bought new can be expected to last anywhere between 15 and 20 years. However, at around the 15-year mark, windows will begin to show signs of wear and will likely need regular maintenance and repair. Caulking, new insulation and retightening can all temporarily fix windows, but eventually, they will need to be replaced. Signs your windows may need to be replaced include:

 

    • Fogged glass

 

    • Cracks in the frame/glass

 

    • Difficulty opening or closing

 

    • Poor heat retention

 

    • Soft wooden frames

 

    • Drafts

 

    • Dampness near edges

 
By inspecting your exteriors regularly, maintaining them often, and replacing them when necessary, you can protect the rest of your home from outside damage for generations to come.

What You Didn’t Learn in the Last Post: 3 More Rules for Flood and Drain Hydroponics

In the last article, we explained four rules for flood and drain hydroponic systems. Rule one told you that you need to pick the right growing media, which is ultimately up to your own preference. Rule two stated that you need to keep a base layer of clay pebbles in your pot. Rule three referred to what considerations you should make regarding your flood cycle and rule four was all about keeping your system clean.

In this next part, you’ll learn about a few more rules for flood and drain hydroponics.

Rule #5: Don’t Plant Too Deep

Like you would in traditional farming methods, you want to place your young plants just two to three centimeters into your chosen growing media. If you place your plants too deep into the growing media, then when you flood your pot the water level will rise too high above the transplant block. A transplant block, if you’re not using one, can be an extremely effective means of potting young plants without damaging their roots.

Rule #6: Don’t flood too quickly

Typically, you should wait for your plants to absorb the remaining water from the growing media before you flood them again. In fact, your next flood should be at the very minimum 30 minutes after you turn on your grow lights. There are generally three types of grow lights you can use for your indoor setup, including fluorescent, HID, and LED. You really don’t need to flood your plants while the lights are off but you might need to do so once at most.

Rule #7: Rotate Pots

You don’t want the plant roots to clog your feed tube, so it’s important to rotate your inner pot every two to three days. You can check for a blockage by pouring nutrient solution (this is why you buy in bulk) into the pot. If it drains away quickly, you most likely don’t have a clog. However, if it drains slowly then you most probably have a blockage.

It’s not really a rule but a good tip is to buy bulk nutrients. You’ll end up going through more than you think, especially if you have a frequent flood cycle. Use these rules to ensure that your flood and drain system produces healthy plants with high yields.

Looking for grow supplies or merch? Check us out today.

Indoor Plants Versus Outdoor Plants: The Pros (and Some Cons) of Grow Methods

The never-ending debate about which type of crop is better, indoor or outdoor, has been argued for decades in the agricultural community. Growers who swear by indoor crops and hydroponic systems will argue that indoor crops are certainly superior, and traditional growers who grow outdoors will forever insist that sun-grown crops are the natural ideal.

So which is it? Are indoor crops better or are outdoor crops better?

The truth is that it depends on the location, plant, and grower. There are merits to both methods. So rather than trying to find out once and for all which crop is better, it might be more beneficial to list the pros of each. That way, you can make a decision about which is better for you.

Outdoor Crop Pros

For the purist and eco-friendly conservationist, outdoor planting seems to provide the best means of growth.

Reduced Carbon Footprint

Since sun-grown crops are grown outdoors and with natural light, they require fewer supplies and resources to flourish. The natural light removes the need for high-intensity lighting that requires lots of energy to operate. That also goes for dehumidifiers, air circulators, flood and drain hydroponics, and most of the other energy consuming grow supplies. Outdoor plants don’t typically need as much fertilizer, pesticides, and fungicides either, making them better for some environmental conditions. Water consumption is also a plus, considering that natural precipitation can supply a source of water.

Less Expensive
The other positive to outdoor growing, which is really just a byproduct of the last section, is that it is much more cost-effective — at least for smaller projects. Fewer supplies, equipment, supplemental nutrients, and energy consumption means you don’t spend as much per plant. Which, for the serious growers, can be a big positive. Although, an indoor grower will be able to plant four times the number of crops in a grow area using hydroponics rather than soil farming, so it’s a cost/product situation.

Indoor Crop Pros

Indoor plants provide a steady growth cycle for the year-round growers who like to control every aspect of their crop to get substantial yields.

Not Seasonal
A really nice aspect of indoor growth is the fact that they can be cultivated year-round, which means that an adept grower can essentially grow anywhere and at any time. Even in areas where growth would seem improbable, if not impossible, indoor plants could theoretically be cultivated by a skilled grower. Of course, these areas present more variables in the growth cycle and proper climate control.

Controlled Growth
In some limited scenarios, an outdoor plant may produce a higher yield than an indoor plant due to a more natural growth cycle and the inability for a grow light to duplicate the sun’s light. However, there are numerous other factors of growing conditions that can be controlled with indoor plants, and therefore adjusted to change the outcome. An indoor grower will need to closely monitor and adjust aspects such as humidity, air circulation, stalk support, lighting, nutrients, and watering, to name a few. Of course, if this is done properly, the yield for an indoor plant can be much, much higher. The more skilled the grower, the better the chances for a superior product.

Since there’s no one right way to grow, and despite those who may insist their way is best, it’s ultimately up to you. If you want natural crops with less work (less, not zero) and a better impact on the environment, then you might choose outdoor. Then again, you may not have the capability. So find the method that works best for you.

Whether you choose outdoor or indoor, you’re going to need nutrients and grow supplies. Contact us today for bulk nutrients and the best hydroponic grow equipment around.

3 Popular Kitchen Countertop Trends for 2018

Every time you look at one of your countertops, you feel a tinge of disappointment. They aren’t what you want them to be and they definitely don’t properly reflect the design and style of the home you’ve worked so hard to create. You haven’t made any efforts to replace those old, ugly counters with new ones yet because you don’t have the time to figure out what works.

Well, we’re here with some countertop inspiration. If you’re ready to finally upgrade your kitchen countertops, here are some trending tips for kitchen design in 2018.

Go quartz

When it comes to modern countertops, there are so many different materials that you can use, which is why you’ve had such a hard time picking one. Wood has reappeared in the past few years, but you aren’t sure if that’s the right choice for your kitchen. Granite has always been a popular choice, and natural stone can really class up your space. However, this year, more homeowners are opting for the clean and stylish appearance of quartz instead. Quartz is becoming increasingly popular due to its elegance and aesthetics, on top of the fact that it is one of the most hygienic options and doesn’t require re-sealings. That means it is super resistant to stains as well. Quartz can even come in multiple colors and patterns, which means you can match it exactly to your kitchen decor.

Go for character

Today, many homeowners are looking for character in their countertops. Veining and burl patterns are becoming more of a popular demand with homeowners everywhere due to their unique ability to draw the eye. They also add a bit more personalization and character to the kitchen as well. In general, homeowners are looking for accent features that draw the eye.

Ditch the bright colors

Bright colors are on their way out of kitchens all over the world, so it’s time to forget about millennial pink, mint, and summer pastels. Homeowners are instead choosing to utilize more neutral tones and colors. Neutral colors can easily fit into any home decor and create a uniform yet visually appealing accent to any kitchen. The transition to neutral colors and tones is typically matched with lots of natural lighting to give the perception of a much larger space.

When it comes to kitchen remodeling projects, 95% of homeowners update their countertops, making it the most popular feature to upgrade. Whatever your choice for countertop material, don’t feel as though you have to follow this advice. You can opt for soapstone, laminate, bright colors, and patternless options if you want to. If you still aren’t sure which direction to go, then it might help to consult an expert to make your kitchen look absolutely flawless.

Keep Cool And Carry On: How To Keep Your Costs Down This Summer

Summer’s nearly here and the temperature continues to rise. Soon, your air conditioning unit will be running day in and day out to keep your family cool.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing cool about a high electric bill at the end of each summer month. But how can you keep your cooling costs down without sweating the summer heat?

How To Beat The Summer Heat While Keeping Your Cooling Costs Down

Some homeowners believe you need to suffer through the heat to keep your cooling costs down. But that’s not true.

You can keep your family comfortable this summer by following these three tips:

  1. Make sure your HVAC system is ready to run. Approximately 42% of homeowners will call a professional to perform HVAC maintenance. Yet, many homeowners will wait until their system needs an HVAC repair before calling a professional. Waiting to get a repair done can make your air conditioning unit work harder to cool down your home. The harder your AC works, the higher your electric bill. That said, have a professional take a look at your system before the summer officially starts.
  2. Set your AC a degree or two higher. It may be uncomfortable to set your HVAC system to 78 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 72. So instead of making yourself sweat to save money, set your system only a few degrees higher. You won’t have to worry about sweating through your clothes, but you won’t have to worry about your bills as much either.
  3. Save cleaning activities for the evening. It can be tempting to get your housework done during the day. But your home can quickly become an oven with so many machines running. When your washing machine, dishwasher, and oven are all going at the same time, you can really heat up the house. This makes your HVAC system work overtime to keep things cool. Try to keep your housework to the evening when the sun’s gone down and isn’t cooking your home. You can also do your dishes by hand to keep the dishwasher from heating up your house.

Homeowners’ Guide To Optimizing Air Conditioner Efficiency

In the last post, we discussed some maintenance steps necessary for your AC unit to work as efficiently as possible. Studies show that regular maintenance of your commercial HVAC system will reduce unexpected breakdowns by about 70% to 75%, and having an understanding of the full range of maintenance procedures can help your air conditioner work as efficiently as possible throughout its entire lifespan. Here’s part two of our homeowner’s guide to optimizing air conditioner efficiency.

Clean The Coils

Near your air conditioner’s evaporator are the condenser coils, and both of these components of your air conditioner need to be cleaned every so often, as they accumulate dirt and debris over time. When too much debris gathers around the coils, it not only reduces air flow, but it insulates the coil and makes it harder for it to absorb heat. Look at the area surrounding the outdoor condenser coils; if it’s particularly dirty or dusty, or if there’s a lot of foliage in close proximity, chances are the coils will build up dirt faster than normal. It’s best to consult an HVAC professional to assess this problem and help you find and maintain a solution, but fortunately, the cleaning process tends to be relatively simple.

“Use a soft brush to dust off the coil, then spray the coil with commercially available no-rinse coil cleaner (available at home improvement stores). The spray will foam up and then drip into the drain pan. Clean out the drain pan with soap, hot water, and a little bleach. Then, pour a cup of 50% bleach/50% water down the drain. To keep the drain clear longer-term, place a commercially available drain pan tablet in the pan. This will inhibit future algae growth,” writes Jeff Wilson on DIY Network.

Readjust Coil Fins

Finally, it’s important to mention that over time, it’s not uncommon for the aluminum fins located on the evaporator and condenser coils to bend and affect airflow. Straightening the coil fins isn’t too difficult, but unless you know exactly what you’re doing, it’s best to consult an HVAC professional.

Ultimately, understanding these essential maintenance tips is the key to maximizing the efficiency of your AC unit.

5 Reasons Everyone Loves Granite Countertops

granite countertopsDid you know that 93% of homeowners are considering a countertop update as part of their kitchen renovation? Most of them are planning on implementing natural stone materials. One of the most popular stone materials to use for kitchen countertops is granite. Here are a few reasons why.

  1. Durability
    Since granite countertops are made from thick slabs of rock, you know immediately that they’re going to be tough. Granite doesn’t chip or scratch easily, and if you drop a cup or dish on your granite countertop, guess which will break. Having a tough and resilient material for your countertops is essential to all the chefs out there.
  2. Style
    Made from interlocking crystalized minerals, granite has a rich depth to its aesthetic. From deep, consuming blacks and grays, to fair flecked tans, granite can span the color spectrum for that extra personal flair.
  3. Depreciation?
    Nope. Granite countertops don’t depreciate. In fact, they often add value to a home. This is due in part to their overall quality and durability, and to the visual appeal they provide in the kitchen.
  4. Heat Resistance
    Perhaps the best feature for all the chefs out there, granite has incredible heat resistant qualities. This means if you want to take a hot pan off the heat and set it somewhere to cool, your countertop is an acceptable option.
  5. Permanence
    Some people might see this as a negative, but once you install granite countertops, you’ll never have to worry about them again. This is because of their durability, their labor-intensive installation, and the fact that they glue onto your cabinets. That said, you can consider these countertops a one-time investment that can save you big in the long run.

Choosing new countertops for your kitchen is like choosing new carpets for your living room. They both cover a lot of surface area, and once you make the decision, you’re mostly stuck with what you decide. That’s why it’s important to spend some time considering what you want the most. If you have any questions about how to choose a countertop, don’t hesitate to contact us today for more information.

Benefits To Using a Real Estate Company

real estate company Buying or selling a house can be very stressful. A home buyer may want to consider looking into a real estate company before researching homes for sale. About 30% of couples looking to purchase a home will be first time home buyers. Some of the advice a real estate service can provide may be helpful in understanding the details of when and where to buy, and how a mortgage works. Some of the benefits of going with a real estate company when purchasing house for sale are:

  • A real estate company can put you in contact with knowledgeable real estate agents. They can give you information regarding the area you are looking to purchase in. They also do a large percentage of the leg work for you. Since their one occupation is real estate, you get to benefit from their time and resources. A real estate agent can be invaluable when purchasing a home.
  • A real estate company can provide you with a listing of homes for sale. They can give you detailed information that you may not find online. They can also put you in contact with homeowners in your area who have their houses listed and maintain contact for you if needed. This can be especially helpful when moving to a new area or city. They can also help in negotiating the price.
  • The real estate company can provide you with services tailored to meet your needs. For example, they can help you find places for you to purchase within your price range, and with the precise features you have in mind (studio, two-story, pool, etc.). This particular feature of a real estate company can save you so much time that may have been wasted looking through places you would never consider.
  • A real estate company can make the overall process of buying a home easier and faster. Since the real estate company’s main profession is in helping sell homes, they know the process and how to do it efficiently and quickly when needed. After all, time is money.

Regardless of which real estate company you decide to go with when buying your home, make sure to check their credentials and that their real estate agents are licensed. Often, a good sign of a real estate company is how long they have been in business.

How Trees Make Life Better

tree service northern vaWhen people buy a new house, they might appreciate the aesthetics of the trees on the property. But besides making sure that none are tall enough to flatten their house in the event that a lightning storm or lumberjack comes through the neighborhood, most people treat trees like just another brick in the wall.

However, there are many advantages to having trees on one’s property– provided that you take care of your trees correctly. Whether it’s by hiring a plant health care specialist or professional tree care services, or by learning how to go about tree pruning and stump grinding yourself, it’s crucial to practice proper tree care. Here are the reasons why the tree care industry is such a big one– why trees are important and useful.

Trees Cut Down On Heating Costs
Having a good windbreak of strong trees can reduce residential heating costs by 10 to 15 percent. The next time you’re tree pruning, think about the winter wind hitting the side of your house. Maybe that line of elms isn’t so bad after all. Having a tree on the west side of one’s home can save you a lot of money on energy bills in the summer, too, as the evaporation has a cooling effect comparable to 20 air conditioners.

Trees Shield Your House From Noise
Similar to above, trees also serve as great barriers against noise pollution. Having a belt of trees 100 feet wide and 45 feet high between your house and the nearest highway can cut down on traffic noise by 50%. If you’re concerned about lightning protection issues resulting from such large trees, an arborist can recommend the best trees for the job.

Trees Add To The Value Of Your Home
No one wants to live in a house with no trees nearby– it’s simply human nature. It’s been found that homes with trees on the property sell faster and at five to 15 percent higher prices than homes without.

The Importance Of Having The Right Trees
With all this being said, there are many factors to consider when choosing trees– height, size, species, location, and many other things need to be taken into account. A tree specialist can recommend how to go about tree pruning, tree removal, root fertilization and everything else that you need to know to optimize the trees on your property.

Trenchless Sewer Repair, While Not Well Known, is a Less Invasive Option

Trenchless sewer line replacement

According to experts, how long a sewer lasts varies because of several variables. If, however, your sewer is more than 40 years old, chances are it is in need of repair or replacement. If you are faced with the repair or replacement of your aging sewer system, chances are you are imaging broken concrete, ruined sod and piles of dirt that become a muddy mess if it happens to rain during the lengthy process. This, however, does not need to be the case. Did you know that there is a process called trenchless pipe bursting that will not create the mess that usually comes to mind with sewer repair? Trenchless pipe replacement is a method that does 90% less damage Continue reading “Trenchless Sewer Repair, While Not Well Known, is a Less Invasive Option”

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