Archive for March, 2011

Happy Hour at Restaurants

Happy Hour at RestaurantsHappy hour at restaurants  is not really about home maintenance, but it is all about saving money so we thought that we would include this post on our blog. Many people are going on vacation in the spring and in the summer and although a vacation can be expensive, there are ways to control or decrease your costs.

One of those is to take advantage of Happy Hour offers at restaurants  when you go out for dinner. This approach may not appeal to everyone, however if you are looking for an inexpensive meal and do not mind eating early, you can save a lot of money and still have a nice time out with the family and friends. Prices can be half price for drinks or food or even for both at some locations. These deals can really make a huge difference in the cost of eating out.

Happy Hour at Restaurants – Times

Many restaurants experience a slow period from about 4 pm until 6:30 pm in the afternoons. After 6:30, more people will typically show up for dinner and have their evening meal. Many restaurants have decided to offer happy hour during this slow period in order to fill their restaurant and generate additional revenue as well during a period that typically would not make much money for the restaurant.

Every Body Wins

Customers get better deals on booze, which are often half price and also on smaller meals that are discounted or also at half price. Sometimes you must eat in the bar area, however there is nothing wrong with that since there is more going on in the bar area anyway. sometimes drinks will be at the regular price and appetizers will be half price or vice versa.

The restaurant makes money in a period that would otherwise be slow and they can keep their staff working longer as well so the staff makes more money and they make more tips. So really it is a good deal for all concerned.

In addition, patrons may be willing to try a restaurant during happy hour, find out that the enjoyed the menu and the ambiance of the restaurant. Returning patrons end up driving the overall business activity up and increasing revenues.

Not All Restaurants Offer Happy Hour

Every city has them, but not all restaurants offer happy hour every day or even at all. You have to look for them and watch for them. We will often go up to a receptionist in an area were there are a lot of restaurants and ask if they have a happy hour. If they do, great if not, we try some other place and they learn that customers are looking for deals and maybe they will get the idea to also offer a happy hour.

Some places have one specific day, such as wing Tuesdays, or even during football games. Once place we went to had beer on half price as long as there was a football game playing on TV. Great way to watch the game at a great location. Another location we visit has draft beer for $2 and pizza at the regular price on Mondays only. This is an excellent example of enticing your customers to try your pizza while having a beer and then those same customers may return on other days since they enjoyed the food so much.

Check them out and save some money. You and your significant other can go out more often with the money you save and that always goes over well ! It is an evening out with no meals to cook and no dishes to wash which has many other advantages. We always enjoy going to happy hour and trying new restaurants to help us decide if we want to try their main courses at some future point.

There have been several locations that we would never go back to based on the poor food offered during happy hour or sometimes even the service we received from the staff. This is a great way to check these places out. You have to be careful when you order because not all items on the menu are included as part of the happy hour prices.


Buying Hardwood Flooring

Buying Hardwood FlooringAre interested in installing hardwood flooring in your home? It is a good idea that you  search many different suppliers, comparing quality and pricing. You can find everything you need with one hardwood floor provider. However you are taking a chance on paying too much. Some of the larger stores will have the largest inventories of hardwood flooring with great prices and quality. They have many different types of flooring available. They are often backed with a satisfaction guarantee. If you are not in a huge hurry, sometimes you can pick up sales. Sales can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars depending on quality and the size of the floor you are covering.

Buying Hardwood Flooring – Varieties of Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood floors come in many different forms and varieties, each with their own benefits. Wood flooring may be unfinished or pre-finished. Most people settle for pre-finished flooring these days. The width of the floor boards can vary with strip, plank or parquet flooring. Also, there are a large number of wood species that can be used. Each kind of wood comes with its own characteristics and grades. We chose our flooring based on what we liked in terms of color, texture and the overall look that the floor would contribute to our home. To some extent we matched it to our existing decor as well. We did not want have to change many things in their home.

The variation in flooring doesn’t end there as there are various cuts, finishes and recycled or reclaimed woods. There is a lot to consider when finding ideal flooring. However if you shop around you can usually find something that meets your requirements and will not break the bank.

Alternatives to Hardwood Flooring

As an alternative to hardwood flooring, laminate flooring should be looked at. Laminate flooring is not true hardwood but is made from a dense fiberboard covered in a patterned paper layer under high pressure. You can tell the difference between laminate flooring and true hardwood flooring. The knots and grain patterns of the wood will be repetitive and this surface does not age in the same way as real wood. The advantages of laminate are essentially in cost and durability. Laminate is resistant to denting and stands up to high traffic areas.

It is important to note that you generally cannot refinish laminate flooring in the same manner that you would refinish hardwood flooring.

New Style Hardwood Floors

A relatively new style of floor you can find with many suppliers of  hardwood floors is bamboo flooring. Bamboo is extremely strong, durable, dimensionally stable and environmentally friendly. It can be re-grown quickly with little fertilizer. You will find low prices on all of these flooring types at Lumber Liquidators hardwood floor.

Many flooring companies will provide samples that you can take home and visualize what your new floor will look like. Sometimes even with a sample it is still really difficult to get a good idea of what the floor will look like once it is installed. In some cases the hardwood flooring store may be able to arrange for you to see another customers home with the same flooring. Many customers are more than happy to show off their homes when they have just acquired a new hardwood floor. If you are fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of an offer like this, always be very complimentary. Thank the owners for their time and allowing you to take a look inside their home. They are going out of their way to let you view the final results so it is the time to show your appreciation.

One of the important things to do as well is to talk to your friends and colleagues who may be able to give you tips on buying hardwood flooring, pricing and installation. Readers are welcome to leave their comments about their experience with hardwood flooring to help our readers.


High Performance Tires

In the early 1980’s Goodyear Tire prepared a few high performance tires for high performance cars, mostly the Chevrolet Corvette. The tire’s roots were based in formula one racing which demanded a tire that could withstand high speeds for an extended period and deliver excellent traction at those speeds. The tire’s design was very different from most passenger car tires and was an overnight victory with devotees of the race car.

The tire featured a low profile side wall, large tread blocks for good dry traction grip, a very stiff sidewall and a nylon cap over the steel belts to hold the tire together at high speeds. The tire received a unique sidewall rating and it was designated with a “V” which meant the tire had been safely tested in the laboratory to stay together at speeds as high as 149 mph. This is the first time the high performance tire was made in America and they were here to stay in America.

Cost of High Performance Tires

This tire was an instant hit and were also very costly, even by today’s standards. It was not uncommon for them to cost over $200.00 each. This was an immense price for a tire considering the average tire cost around $45.00 at the time. Even today, high performance tires are much more expensive and consumers are still being hit with a surprise when it comes to replacing their tires.

Since then however, the high performance tire has made its way onto almost every modern car. This is because automobile manufacturers found that high performance tires helped cars handle better, corner better, stop better, steer better, were safer and worked well with anti-lock brake technology. These tires also appealed to the public’s imagination and romance. Many people wanted to have high performance tires because it made them feel a little better than the average driver who just drove his car on regular tires.

Touring Tires

During this time tire manufacturers began to produce a multitude of intermediate high performance tire known as “touring” tires which were designed to accede to high performance demands and lessen ride and wear issues. Within a few years, there was an entire list of high performance tire categories which include Ultra-high performance, performance, touring, cosmetic performance, touring performance, etc.

As technology advanced, automobile manufacturers began to equip nearly everything with a performance tire even the mini van because of one simple reason: they help sell cars because they are attractive and because of the benefits they add to the cars steering and braking.

The problem of this was that a consumer would buy a family sedan and then end up unexpectedly having to pay up to $700 dollars for replacement tires. Performance tires in Canada are even more expensive with the same tires costing up to $300 more for a set of 4 tires.  This creates problems because consumers don’t want to pay for this because they don’t believe they are “performance” drivers so, instead of replacing them, they end up driving on bald tires.

But the fact is that we are all performance drivers. Everyone profits from performance tires because they are safer, stop better, react quicker, steer better and are less likely to blow out on the highway. They react and work better with modern car systems, and so, it is a good idea to look into getting performance tires, if not for your flashy sports car, at least for your own safety.


Check Tire Pressure Regularly

Check Tire Pressure RegularlyHow often do you check your car’s tire pressure? Maybe you have a tire pressure monitor in your car that alerts you to low tire pressure with an alarm on your dashboard? Even with one of these devices, which are excellent, they will not operate if your tires are only slightly below the optimum tire pressure for your car. They will operate if you have a sudden slow leak caused by a nail or a leak that gradually loses air over a period of several days. New tire pressure monitors provide specific information about each tire like the one shown in this picture. You can easily see which tire is low! Not everyone has this type in their car.

Check Tire Pressure Regularly Once Per Week

Your car’s tires should always have just the right amount of pressure for optimum performance and gas mileage as well as safety. This may not seem to be a big deal, however, remember that your tires are very  import when it comes to your car’s overall performance. Low pressure tires can cause poor gas mileage, poor handling and premature tire wear. We recommend that you check your cars tire pressure at least once a week.

According to automobile experts, your car’s tires should have the right amount of pressure to protect you and your car from damage caused by accidents due to poor control. As long as you are driving in a straight line, you will probably be ok, however if you need to swerve for some reason to avoid an accident, your tires are not going to perform at an optimum level and you risk a possible accident.

If you do have under inflated or over inflated  tires, you would be experiencing much too many rattles and shakes as you drive your way through various types of roads. Over inflated tires can be just as dangerous. In both cases the tire can overheat and a blow out at high-speed can occur.  Also, tires that are not inflated properly give you a more bumpy ride. They also tend to wear down quickly compared to tires that are inflated just right.

Gas Mileage Efficiency Suffers

Another fact about tires is that when they are over inflated or under inflated, they actually cause your car to use more fuel. Compared to having a car with tires inflated just right, your car might use 10 to 20% more gasoline. Most people love to brag about the gas mileage they get with their cars especially now with gasoline rising in price almost every day. Had to do when you have tires that are not inflated properly.

Check Your Tires Pressure

Always  check the your tires’ pressure when your tires have already cooled down since the hot air inside the tires expands increasing the pressure. Keep in mind that tires get more inflated when warm for the air inside expands. Remove the cap from the valve on the tire that you are checking. Caps keep dirt and corrosive salts out away from the valve of the tire which can cause the valve to leak.

Press a tire gauge hard on to the valve and take a look at the given reading. You will know if you have inserted the gauge properly if you hear the sound of escaping air. Check the pressure twice to make sure that your reading is accurate.

Then, if you notice that the tire needs more pressure, add air and recheck the tires pressure to make sure you have not overfilled the tire. If your car has had just too much pressure, then release the air. You can find the recommended air pressure of your tires by checking your car owner’s manual.


Refinishing Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood Floor ResurfacingTaking on the job of refinishing your hardwood floors can take time and hard work. But when done properly a good refinishing job can be well worth the effort saving you thousands of dollars.  Compared to ripping out the existing floor and installing a new one, refinishing an existing floor is much less expensive. You can hire someone to do it for you or it can be done by most home owners who are handy with tools. You should be comfortable doing this kind of work. You can save thousands of dollars when you do your own work around the home.

The ability of hardwood to be restored to its original beauty is one of its great properties  that should be taken advantage of.  If it is done properly, you will have a floor that looks just like new. You will want to be prepared before attacking this project. Here are a few tips regarding refinishing hardwood floors.

From beginning to end, refinishing hardwood floor can be broken down into many steps. They are usually spread out over a few days. The work depends on the working conditions and the size of the floor that you need to refinish.

Refinishing Hardwood Flooring – Is the Floor Suitable to be Refinished

First, you will want to make sure you are dealing with true hardwood. And not flooring made from engineered wood. Also, check that there is at least 1/8” of wood above the tongue. You can find out by removing a ventilation grate or threshold from a doorway and inspecting the boards. If this is an old floor which has been refinished many times it is possible that there may not be enough wood left to refinish. If this is not the case, refinishing the  hardwood floor here will not be possible. It will have to be left in place or removed. Sometimes a light sanding will do the job if you want to try it yourself. You might not get the brand new look, but it might be sufficient for your tastes.

Refinishing Hardwood Flooring – Tools You Will Need

The tools you will need for the job include a belt sanding machine, edge sander and floor buffer which you should rent or borrow before beginning. Prepare the room before refinishing the hardwood floor by removing everything inside including vents and grills. Remove all furniture and  then cover doorways and vents with plastic sheeting.The fine dust from the sanding activity is going to go everywhere. Plugging the vents etc is a must unless you want dust everywhere. Also if you have central air conditioning or central heating, make sure it is turned off. Otherwise you will have dust in every nook and cranny of your home. You will be cleaning for months.

Refinishing Hardwood Flooring – Sanding the Hardwood Floor

Begin sanding the floor along the wood grain in smooth even strokes. Beginning with the coarsest paper (36 grit) and moving to finer paper sequentially (36, 60, 80, 100).  Take your time and never sand across the grain. If you sand across the grain, you may leave scratches on the wood that cannot be removed. Repeat this with the edge sander until you are satisfied with the look.

Refinishing Hardwood Flooring – Apply Stain

Applying stain and finish are the last steps in refinishing hardwood floor. Ensure the floor is clean and dry before applying your stain.  Use a tack cloth to wipe up all of the fine bits of dust that may be left on the floor. Apply the stain  in even strokes along the grain with a brush for darker color, or rags for a lighter look. Ensure you have proper ventilation to avoid damage to your lungs.

Allow the stain to dry before applying the well mixed polyurethane finish in the same technique with a brush or roller. The polyurethane finish will protect the floor from scuff marks and other marks from furniture. Apply as many coats as you think are necessary and then you are done.

Refinishing Hardwood Flooring – Let it Dry Thoroughly

Wait until the floor has dried thoroughly. If the humidity is high you may need to wait a few more days or use a dehumidifier to help with the drying. When the stain or the polyurethane finish is still wet avoid causing any dust whatsoever  to be in the room. Leave the central furnace fan off and the windows closed until the polyurethane finish is thoroughly dried, then air out the room to get rid of any smell from the polyurethane finish.

When you are ready you can move your furniture back in. You may want to place an area rug on the floor to add decoration and contrast as well. For more tips about do it yourself projects refer to this page, click here.

Please feel free to leave comments about refinishing hardwood floors and your experiences.


Spring Home Maintenance

Spring Home MaintenanceAs we prepare this post, the days are getting longer and depending were you live the snow may beginning to melt which indicates that spring is just around the corner. It is time to take stock of your home and note any damage that might have occurred around your home during the winter months. Winter can be hard on a home, your plants and out buildings, so this is a good time to plan all of your spring home maintenance tasks.

Inspecting your home on a regular basis and following good maintenance practices is the best way to protect your investment in your home. If you do not feel comfortable performing some of the home maintenance tasks listed below, or do not have the necessary equipment, for example a ladder, you may want to consider hiring a qualified any person to help you. Even if you are going to do some of the more minor spring maintenance activities always complete your work with safety in mind.

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

Here is our checklist of items you may want to look at:

  • If you have central air conditioning, make sure the drain pan under the cooling coil mounted in the furnace is draining properly and is clean.
  • Lubricate circulating pump on a hot water heating system.
  • Bleed air from hot water radiators.
  • Disconnect the power to the furnace and examine the forced air furnace fan belt, if installed, for wear, looseness and noise. Clean fan blades of any dirt buildup.
  • Vacuum return vents and cold air return vents to remove any dust buildup
  • Remove the grills on forced air systems and vacuum inside the ducts.
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the cooling and  heating season. Ventilation system, such as heat recovery ventilator, filters  should be checked every two months.
  • Check to see that the duct work leading to and from the heat recovery ventilator is in good shape, the joints are tightly sealed in any depth installation of plastic duct wrap is free of tears and holes.
  • Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace batteries.
  • Clean portable de-humidifier, if one is used.
  • Clean humidifier, if one is used and turn off the water supply
  • Check to see that the bathroom exhaust fans and arrangements are operating properly. If possible, confirm that you are getting good airflow by observing the outside vent exterior damper which should be held open by the airflow.
  • Check sump pump  and line to ensure proper operation, and to ascertain that there no line obstructions or visible leaks.
  • Replace  storm windows with window screens
  • Ensure windows and skylights close tightly; repair or replace weather-stripping as needed.
  • Insure all doors to the outside shut tightly, and check other doors for ease of use. Replace your weather-stripping if required.
  • If there is a door between your house and garage, check the adjustment of the self-closing device to ensure it closes the door completely.
  • Remove cover from the air-conditioning units and turn on power.
  • Insure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall, so that water does not enter into your basement.
  • Clean leaves from the eaves trough and roof and test downspout to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
  • Install outdoor hoses and turn on indoor valves.
  • Have well water tested for quality. It is recommended that you test for bacteria every six months.
  • If you have a septic tank, measure the slide and scum to determine if the tank needs to be emptied during the summer. Tanks should be pumped at least once every three years.
  • Remove winterizing landscaping material, for example, prepared gardens and if necessary protect young trees or bushes for winter.
  • Set up all lawn furniture, inspect fences and gates for damages or movement due to frost
  • Rake the lawn, remove all debris from the winter and add fertilizer once the ground is unfrozen
  • Plant flowers, shrubs etc at the appropriate time for your area and climate.

We hope that this list helps you in the maintenance of your home. Doing some or all of the above will help to prevent serious problems from occurring. Over time this will cost you much more money and time if you do not do this maintenance. If any of our readers have comments or additional ideas, please feel free to leave a comment.

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