Archive for October, 2011

Hardwood Flooring Basics

Hardwood Flooring BasicsHardwood flooring adds warmth and beauty to your home. Real estate agents will tell you that houses with hardwood flooring will sell for more easily and will sell faster than houses without hardwood floors. They always say that you never get out of your house what you invest in it in terms of additions and upgrades. However hardwood floors could be the one exception. Most people today would prefer hardwood flooring in their homes for many reasons. We will cover some of the the Hardwood Flooring Basics in this post.

Hardwood Flooring Basics – Low Maintenance

Hardwood floors are not high maintenance. In fact they are less maintenance than rug floors and do not get near as dirty. If you have allergies, switching to a hardwood floor will make a huge difference for you, especially if you install a central vacuum system that has the exhaust outside of the home. The finishes are tough and of course like everything in your home, you need to take care of your floors. They will last for many years!

Regarding the environment, wood is actually much better than using rugs for your floors.  Wood is also a good choice for allergy sufferers since its surface doesn’t collect dust, dander and other allergens. Would can be regrown in the forest and it lasts for many years with proper care.

Types and Styles of Hardwood Floors

There are many types and styles of wood floors and many types of wood can be used in them. The most common styles are:

  • Strip – A floor made up of wood strips averaging 2″ in width. Strip flooring is ideal for small rooms as it makes the room seem larger than it actually is. Place the strips with the grain running lengthwise to make small rooms look even larger.
  • Plank – Plank flooring uses larger wood boards ranging from 3″to 6″ in width. Same thing applies in terms of direction to run the planks.
  • Parquet – This popular style is made up of wooden pieces that combine to create an attractive pattern. The simplest parquet pattern is a 6″ x 6″ checkerboard design, but there is really no limit to how complex a parquet floor pattern can become.

Wood floors can be protected by a transparent varnish that lets the wood’s natural tint show through or they can be stained any color you like to compliment any decor scheme. Over 50 different species of woods are used in wood flooring, including familiar domestic woods such as Pine, Oak, and Maple as well as more exotic woods like Bamboo, Mesquite and Teak. All of these woods vary in hardness and wear resistance, so consider the traffic patterns where they will be installed.

With all the flooring options available for the homeowner to consider, wood flooring remains a very popular choice. They’re more affordable than you might think.  with the increasing cost of oil and other materials, wall to wall rugs are coming close to the same costs as hardwood flooring. They maintain their beauty and value as time goes by. As the expression goes, “It’s the wood that makes it good!”

Maintaining Your Hardwood Floor

A hardwood floor will last many years if maintained properly. Always remove your outdoor shoes before walking on your floor. Leave them at the entrance to your home and have a mat to step on when you come in from outside. This mat will trap all kinds of loose particles and grit that could scratch your flooring.

Vacuum often, at least once a week to remove all dirt and grit that could scratch your floor. If you feel that a lot of grit is being tracked into your home from outside, vacuum these areas more often. Pets can bring a lot of dander, pollen and dirt into the home if they are outside a lot.

Install a central vacuum with the exhaust outside to remove all dust particles, even the fine  ones to reduce the dust in your home and also to reduce the impact on allergies if someone in your family suffers from allergies.

With proper care your flooring will last many years without the need to refinish your hardwood floors.


Text Msg Shortcode Programs

Text Msg Shortcode ProgramsIf you are finding that your phone bills are larger than you expected check out whether there are text msg shortcode program charges on your phone. If you want the full story on these charges and what text msg shortcode program charges are click on the link above.

I was hit by 8 of these charges and they cost me $2 a pop for $16. They add up fast and I had no idea what they were. Nor did I even recall asking for them, however apparently according to my phone company I did sign up to receive them. Who in their right mind would sign up for a short code program that costs $2 every time you receive one? This is a serious scam from some company that is trying to make money off of unsuspecting consumers who do not routinely check their monthly phone bills.

Text Msg Shortcode Programs – Legitimate

There are legit txt msg shortcode programs and then there are scams. The phone companies use them to send information messages to their customers at no charge, however many companies use them to send information to their customers and scam there customers. I was receiving information about sports scores which I really do not care about and do not want.

Removing the charges

To make a long story short, after complaining about the charges, the phone company reversed the charges and told me how to stop the charges. If you get these messages and do not want them, just hit reply and type “stop” and then send! The company sending the messages is supposed to take you off the list and not send any more of these kind of messages to you. How many people just pay the bill and never question it. Stopping them was easy and I have not received any since.

Check Your Monthly Bill

A friend of mine would never even notice. He has his mobile phone bill on automatic payment and rarely looks at the details. There are probably all kinds of charges on his bill that he is paying for that he does not even use! He is well off and has a good pension and frankly does not worry about money too much. A perfect customer for this scam program. He could end up spending a hundred dollars a month on these charges and not even be aware of it. That is a lot of money in my books and there is no way that I want to pay these kinds of fees.

There are probably thousands of people or millions of people who fall into the category of never checking their bills and the details. They are the ones that these scammers are trying to rip off and really the perfect candidates for this kind of scheme. Even a quick glance at your bill will tell you if there is something unusual going on. Check the total every money. If it varys every month, there may be charges that you are not aware of that you would want to question.

Anyway that’s all I wanted to say about text msg shortcode program charges and how to avoid them. Click on the link above for more detailed information. Comments are welcome.


Weekend House Watchers

Weekend House WatchersMost people do not worry too much about their homes when they go away for the weekend. What about for the week or even for longer periods? They may tell the neighbors and family. However unless there is something unusual going on , no one will check the home while they are away. For the vast majority of people this is fine as long as your home is secure. It also assumes that you have followed some or all of the home security checklists we have discussed in earlier posts. Most homes are never broken into. The furnace works all of the time during the winter and there never is a water leak.

But it just takes that one time for a water line to break and you end up with thousands of dollars in damage. Then what do you do if the insurance company will not pay? Because you did not have anyone checking on the house.

What Steps Should You Take When Leaving a Home Vacant

Consumers should always check with their insurance companies before they leave to make sure that their home is still covered even while you are away from home. Some companies will demand that a person visits every 24 hours especially in the winter time when the furnace is running. Frozen pipes that burst can cause a lot of damage. Other companies are more lenient as long as the water is shut off and will only need someone to check on the home once a week. They are all different in their requirements so call them to find out what you need to do to make sure you are covered for all damages while you are away.

There are one or two exceptions that we can think of when you may want to make arrangements for someone to check on the house and / or visit your home while you are away even if it is just for the weekend.

Weekend House Watchers – What to Do With Pets

The first issue would be if you have pets. Cats can usually look after themselves for the weekend, especially if you put out extra cat food and water. Cats are known for not over eating and can survive quite well on their own for several days with no problem. If you have an older cat that needs medicine, then you may want to make arrangements for someone to visit and provide what ever is needed.

Dogs on the other hand need almost constant attention. They need to be walked and fed and given a chance to empty their bowels etc, otherwise you are probably looking at a huge mess when you get home, not to mention a very hungry dog. They will tend to eat everything in front of them at one time. Weekend house sitters and dog walkers can help most people in this situation by taking your dog for a walk several times a day as needed.

Snow Clearing

People in northern climates may also need to have snow cleared in the winter time and people with pools may have to have someone look after their pool in the summer time. Most neighbors will gladly do this for you for a free swim in the pool and a return favor some time. All of these activities will make the home looked lived in and as if someone is home.

Even with a weekend house sitter or a neighbor looking after your home, you should still have lights on timers so that there is no perceived change in schedule. If you use electric timers for lights while you are away, it will be hard to tell if you are home or not. Weekend house watchers can also water plants, check for water leaks, make sure that the heat is on and collect any newspapers that might be laying on the front step.

Why take the chance and leave your home unchecked. After all your insurance could end up being invalid and a claim rejected all because you were going to save a few dollars. Your home and your contents are worth far more than what you would pay for someone to house sit your home or to check your home on a schedule that you have set up that satisfies the insurance company.

If you have thoughts on this subject or wish to leave a comment, please do so.

Critical Tire Maintenance

Critical Tire MaintenanceCritical Tire Maintenance keeps Your Car Rolling Smoothly with no delays. It saves you thousands of dollars in gasoline costs over the life of your tires. Did you know that if Americans simply maintained the proper tire pressure in their tires, they would save over 4 billion dollars a year. This is significant not to mention the repairs needed on tires that fail prematurely and require replacement. It is also much safer for the driver and passengers to also have properly inflated tires.

Maintaining your tires is so important and we do not even think about it until it is too late.  Accidents are also caused due to under inflated tires which can cost more money and possibly cause death to your family. You could potentially be avoiding some or all of the following:

  • Uneven wear,
  • Poor performance
  • Lack of control of your car
  • Failure to respond in an emergency situation and
  • Possibly even a blowout.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire failures or blowouts are believed to contribute to over 400 deaths and 10,000 injuries in the United States every year.

We can quote all of the statistics we want, but most people feel that it will never happen to them or it is always the other guy. Why take the chance, why not protect your family?

Under-inflation is one of the leading causes of tire failure. This means putting too much air or not enough into the tires and both cases can cause stress and excessive heat to build up, which can lead to overheated tires which  may even result in a blowout or a car crash. Combine high speed with an under inflated tire and if you do not crash from a blown tire you probably will crash due to poor control of your car since the tires just cannot respond well enough.

Temperature Change – Tire Pressure

Changes in outdoor temperature can actually affect a car as well as the pressure in the tires.In cold weather air condenses and your tires lose pressure. In hot temperatures, air expands increasing the inflation of your tires. Both are lethal combinations and should be monitored closely. Snow birds who drive from the cold north during winter are particularly pron to this problem as they hit warmer climates.

The rate at which tires lose air is higher during the warm spring and summer months. A tire will lose approximately one or two pounds of pressure per month on a normal basis. During the warmer months, pressure loss is even greater.

Check your tire’s pressure every time you fill up your car’s fuel tank, especially if you go for several weeks between fill ups and at the least checked once every month as well as prior to leaving for a long road trip.

Gradually apply the break until you have regained control over the vehicle if you have a blow out while driving. Once you have brought the car under control, slowly guide your car to a safe area as far away from the road as possible. Never apply the brakes until you have control of the car.

Perform regular inspection of your tires:

  • Regular inspections of all four tires
  • Uneven tire wear
  • Missing balance weights
  • Checking the air pressure often.

With the proper maintenance, a potential problem can be diagnosed before it occurs and will help to ensure you and your family will arrive at your destination safely.

More posts about tire maintenance, click here.


What is Green Energy Anyway?

what is green energy anywayWhat is Green Energy Anyway? Well the answer is that it really depends on who you talk to and what you read. Fortunately many companies have realized that it is important to be seen to be on the Green bandwagon. Unfortunately many are using this new phenomenon to further market their existing products. They may or may not use green sources of energy. We decided to write this post, because as we are doing some of the research for our posts we started to realize that all energy generation causes pollution of some kind – Air, visual, habitat and manufacturing processes.

Local Power Supply

Take your local electrical supply company. If you read some of the brochures in your monthly bill, or read their annual reports, they will likely talk about how they are gradually going green and buying power from green electrical generation companies. But what is really green and were does the power come from, given that our power system across North America is totally connected and integrated?

Power comes from coal and oil fired plants, it comes from nuclear generating plants and power also comes from hydro electric generation plants which are dams that use flowing water to turn turbines to generate electrical power. Added to the mix is power from solar panels and wind farms that are increasingly being set up!

In my opinion, all power generation has an impact on the environment depending on how the equipment is manufactured, depending on the footprint of the facility that generates power and of course the fuel or energy source that is used.  Wind farms and solar power generation are broadly accepted as green technology because they do not pollute the air, however they do pollute our space and they take up a lot of land. Hydro generation causes thousands of acres of land and wildlife habitat to be flooded. So are they really green?

What is Green Energy Anyway

The broad categories include:

  • Manufacture of equipment
  • Land use for the power generation facility
  • Fuel used to generate the electricity
  • Connecting the plant to the distribution systems

These are very difficult to measure so that you have absolute comparisons. We have yet to come across any real comparisons using mathematical or financial measures. What we have read so far are really opinions based on perceived common sense which can be suspect some times.

Land use for the power generation facility

It appears that hydro generation from dams and rivers would have the largest impact since thousands of square miles can be flooded. However I have not seen comparisons of how much land would be covered if you generated the same amount of power from solar panels for example. It could be calculated and some would say that if you confined the solar panels to roof tops and desert areas, what is the harm. We have not found anyone looking at this yet, although the information may be there.

Fuel used to generate the electricity

Oil, coal and uranium to power nuclear sites are clearly the most polluting in terms of the air and radiation. But do not forget the mines that these fuels come from in the case of coal and the impact on our economy for the oil we pay to other countries. And nuclear power really has a bad name these days due to the catastrophe in Japan.

Connecting the plant to the distribution systems

All of these plants must be connected to the grid. Power lines must connect to dams and solar power as well as wind farms, while new oil and coal plants can be built closer to were the power will be consumed. If you do not like long miles of power lines, then dams will not be your favorite source of power. Nor will wind farms or solar power since they must be located were they can maximize the efficiency of power generation.

Manufacture of equipment

This one is incredibly complex. All of the systems that generate power have a manufacturing process, some which have less impact on the environment than others. Right now it looks like that solar panels might be the worst based on a kilowatt of power generated, but that is just opinion at this point.

We would like to get your comments on this subject and any sites that can provide more information.

Fall Home Maintenance

Fall Home MaintenanceWell it is mid Oct and it is time for fall home maintenance. Time to get ready in preparation for the winter, especially in northern climates.  Inspect your home on a regular basis. Follow good maintenance practices is the best way to protect your investment in your home during the winter months. Consumers can save a lot of money and frustration by doing this home maintenance.

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. There are many handyman service companies that abound in very city that will do this type of work. If you need general work done, a general handyman is ok and not too expensive. However for furnace maintenance as an example, you are better off to hire the professionals.

Fall Home Maintenance

Performing these checks and steps will not only save you money, but will ensure that your home continues to look great. Perform any repairs to any areas that you notice during the performance of your check list. Here is our list of items to consider on your checklist:

  • Furnace or heating system serviced by a qualified service company every two years for a gas furnace, and every year for an oil furnace, or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • If you have central air conditioning, cover and protect the outside unit with a tarp or cover that comes with the unit. Turn the power off to the AC so there is no danger of the system running with this cover in place. The cover will protect your outdoor unit from damage from debris, ice and snow.
  • Lubricate circulating pump on a hot water heating system if you have one.
  • Bleed air from hot water radiators.
  • Connect 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.
  • Check chimneys for obstructions, such as a bird or squirrel  nest, before turning on your furnace.

Remove Dust

  • Vacuum electric baseboard heaters to remove dust.
  • Remove the grills on forced air systems and vacuum inside the ducts.
  • Turn on gas furnace pilot light, set the thermostat to heat, and test the furnace for proper operation by raising the thermostat setting until the furnace starts to operate. Once you have confirmed proper operation, return the thermostat to the desired setting.
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the 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.
  • If the heat recovery ventilator has been shut off for the summer, clean the filters and the core, and pour water down the condensate drain to test.

Check Safety Items

  • Check smoke, carbon monoxide and security alarms, and replace batteries. Detectors should be replaced every seven years.
  • Clean portable humidifier, if one is used and install a new foam dispenser.
  • 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 window screens with storm windows.
  • Remove interior insect screens from Windows to allow air from the heating system to keep condensation off window glass. It will allow more free solar energy into your home.
  • 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.

Keep Up with Outside Maintenance

  • Insure that the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation wall. Avoid water collecting against the wall and does not enter into your basement.
  • Clean leaves from the eaves trough and roof and test downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof.
  • Drain water from outdoor hoses. Clean interior valves to outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib ( exterior Faucett), unless your house has frost proof bibs.
  • Have well water tested for quality. 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 before the spring. Tanks should be pumped at least once every three years.
  • Winterize landscaping, for example, store outdoor furniture, prepared gardens and if necessary protect young trees or bushes for winter.

If this list appears a bit daunting, schedule an activity every day. You will be surprised at how quickly it is finished. Comments are welcome concerning anything that we might have missed.


Electric Timers for Lights while Away

electric timer for turning on lights in your homeThe golden rule for using electric timers  for lights while you are away on vacation is to make the house look like someone is at home at night. For example if you always turn on the hall light at night and leave it on all night. It should be on a timer with the same cycle. If you always turn on the family room lights at night the same thing applies. However if you never turn on the outdoor lights at night and suddenly they are on all of the time or on a timer, anyone who is monitoring your home is going to know that you are away.

It is as simple as that in terms of when to use timers. Also were to use electric timers for lights while you are away on vacation. Having an alarm system and locking all of your windows and doors is important as well, however in this post we will only talk about timers for lights. We have included additional posts about security for your home at all times as well as when you are away from home.

Electric Timers for Lights

Follow the Same Pattern

When we leave, our lights follow the same pattern whether we are at home Home Securityor not. Our outdoor lights are on light-sensitive diodes, which means as soon as it gets dark they automatically come on and stay on until dawn. Sometimes they are on during the day as well if it is a particularly cloudy day with dark clouds. I do not need to check them after a power failure, since there is no electric timer involved. They really work well for me and they even have light-sensitive diodes that work with fluorescent lights as well so it does not cost me a lot of money to have them on.

Indoors, I use the standard mechanical electric timer to turn on and off my lights. I use the mechanical ones since they will work with the fluorescent lights and I save money again with these lights. There is probably an electric timer available now that is electronic that is also compatible with fluorescent lights, however I have not purchased any since I already have enough electric timers.

Morning and Evening

We always leave the hall light on at night so there is an electric timer on this light. Same with the family room and the kitchen.  I also have one in each of the bedrooms that were used so that it looks like someone is home. We typically go to bed around eleven so the lights stay on in the family room and kitchen until 10 or 10:30pm then go off and the bedroom lights come on at that time until around eleven pm.

The reverse is true in the morning. On in the bedrooms first , then downstairs and then off around the time we go to work. In the summer, the morning is not so important since there is a lot more hours of daylight. However in the winter time, we have the timers turning on our electric lights in the morning as well since it is usually dark when we get up.

That’s about it from the point of view of using electric timers for turning on our lights while we are away on vacation or on business. Comments are welcome,

Avoid Expensive Tire Repairs

Expensive Tire RepairsPurchasing a new set of tires for your car can be expensive so it pays to take care of your tires and not have them prematurely wear down. Adding the cost of the tire replacement, balancing and even possible alignment of the car can add anywhere from $500 to several thousand dollars to your car operating cost. Some low profile tires are very expensive and you should look after them as you would any other investment to avoid expensive tire repairs.

The best way to avoid expensive tire repairs is to take preventative steps that will keep your car and tires in the best condition possible.

Expensive Tire Repairs – Follow Regular Maintenance

The first thing to do is to follow the maintenance schedule as outlined in your owner’s manual, which among other things will tell you to make sure your tires are adequately inflated. Always be sure that your tires are properly inflated. This is especially important because tires with too little air, or too much, can result in excessive wear and may cause a blow out.

It is often recommended that tire pressure be checked during every visit to the gas pump. While this may seem like a lot, you won’t be sorry that you have kept your tires in the best shape possible. For reasons of both safety and the expense of new tires, this exercise is well worth it.

It also will recommend that you rotate the tires on a regular basis.  This will even out the wear and tear on your tires and avoid having to replace all four tires prematurely.

Listen to Your Car

If you notice unusual noises on your car, check with your owner’s manual for information. Quite often, noises are perfectly normal and there is no need for concern. Your owner’s manual will let you know whether or not a visit to the car repair shop is necessary. You can also consult with your service counter technician to determine if these noise are anything to worry about. They might even want to do a test drive to listen for themselves.

If you notice that there is a vibration on the steering wheel or to the car in general, your tires could be unbalanced and if left for too long a time may cause uneven wear on the tire. Don’t put this off, have them check the tires immediately. Sometimes a wheel balancing weight will fall off, particularly if you hit a curb or a bump in the road too hard.

When it comes time to have any work competed always get an estimate in writing. This includes rotating and balancing tires. A quality repair shop will be able to provide this information and should also be able to assure you that the repairs will not exceed 10% of a specific dollar amount as outlined in the estimate.

Comments are welcome on avoiding expensive tire repairs. For more details about tire maintenance, click here.



Convert to Fluorescent Lights

Convert to Fluorescent Lights

There is a huge debate right now in many circles about ending the production of incandescent lights and converting to fluorescent lights. Many people do not want to be told what to do and incandescent lightothers are just upset at the cost of the fluorescent lights compared to the regular incandescent lights we have used for many years. We have made the conversion and are finding that there are benefits. We will cover some of them in this post, since this conversion supports reduced energy needs as well as avoids the new construction of undesirable power generation through coal of nuclear generating sites.

Ugly Fluorescent Lights

Many people are just not interested in converting because the light bulbs fluorescent lighton sale at stores are just not that attractive or do not fit the form factor that we are used to.  We have a lot of the type shown on the left , however we use them in locations were the bulb is hidden by a shade or they are outdoor lights and we do not care how they look since they are really there to provide security. These bulbs really last for a long time and operate fine outside as long as they are in a dry place protected from the weather.

There are also the straight line fluorescent lights as well, however the bulb shown in the picture are really intended to replace the fluorescent lightstandard incandescent bulbs. In the last few years we have found more and more products available on the market which makes them more attractive in many areas of your home. The picture on the right is one such example. They are now beginning to come in all sizes and shapes, with quick start ballasts that cause them to immediately brighten a room, rather than need to take a few minutes to warm up and light up a room.  We use these new fluorescent bulbs outdoors now as well as long as they are protected from the elements. We also found a light sensitive switch made to work with fluorescent bulbs so that they turn on at dusk and off at dawn.

What About the Cost?

You can purchase an incandescent bulb for around a $1.00, while many of the fluorescent bulbs will cost as much as $8 or $9 dollars. They do last longer and they use less electricity, but do they save money over the long run?

This is a bit complicated, so please stay with me. Here are the assumptions.

  • Incandescent bulbs last approximately 1000 hours while
  • Fluorescent bulbs last 10,000 hours
  • Incandescent bulbs consuming 60 watts of power produce 800 lumens of light.
  • Fluorescent bulbs consuming 13 watts of power produce 900 lumens of light.
  • Our cost for power is 5.9 cents per kilowatt hour
  • The manufacturer claims that you save $56 per fluorescent bulb

Using our assumptions above and the price we pay for power in the evening which is the lowest rate, we calculated that we are saving $29 per fluorescent bulb, which is still substantial. At our highest rate of power which is 11.6 cents per kilowatt the savings goes up to $55 per bulb which is very close to the manufacturers estimate.

These savings for consumers are substantial considering that most homes will have up to seventy five lights or more. At the same time you are causing much less energy to be produced which reduces our dependence on coal, oil and nuclear generated power and the associated pollution they generate.

We have already noticed the difference in power consumption. For example, we leave one light on all night inside the house, and 3 lights on all night outside our home. In addition, we have the standard set of electronics with their always on LED lights that consume small amounts of power. During the middle of the night with these lights on we use 4 or 5 cents worth of power, which is pretty cheap!

Comments are welcome on ways to save money and help with alternative energy sources or in this case alternative consumption sources. For more posts about saving energy with LED lights and Florescent lights , click here.


Protecting Your Hardwood Floors

Protecting Your Hardwood FloorsYou have just moved in to a new home with hardwood floors or perhaps just installed a new hardwood floor. You are still recovering from the invoice and paying for this floor that makes you home look great and even increases the value of the home. Now is the time to decide that you are going to protect this investment and make sure that it stays looking great for a long time! All it takes is a few simple steps to maintain your floor, protect your investment and keep your home looking great for many years.

Protecting Your Hardwood Floors

Do not use Murphy’s Oil Soap.

Murphy’s oil works great on wooden furniture, but don’t make the mistake of using it on your hardwood floors. Your floors should already be sealed and varithaned. Adding Murphy’s oil will not enhance the already great look your floor has. You won’t notice anything wrong after applying it once, but if used consistently, residue will build up and leave your floor with a dull appearance.

Do not use a Wet Swiffer.

A Dry Swiffer is great for collecting dust, dirt, and pet hair from your floors, and it is also less abrasive than a traditional tub vacuum cleaner. Central vacuum are better in that you can vacuum with a head that is suitable for hardwood floors. However, a Wet Swiffer can cause major long-term damage. The chemicals in the cleaning solution can break down the urethane finish on your floor and leave it dull, faded, and lifeless. A full sanding and re-coating of your floor will be required to bring back its original luster.

Place area rugs anywhere that are high traffic areas.

Prime high traffic areas are in front of the refrigerator, by the dishwasher, and near any sinks. Also hallways, in front of the couch and on the stairs are all high traffic areas. Make sure that the floor is protected in any spot that is susceptible to minor leaks and water spills. A small pool of water can quickly destroy your floor.

Use floor mats at entrance locations.

These are  spots where people step on the hardwood directly after being outside. In addition to protecting against wet or muddy footprints, floor mats will help collect any sharp or abrasive materials stuck in the treads of shoes. Add a shoe mat if there is moisture on your shoes as well to collect any water and grit that may be dragged in with your shoes. This step will help prevent accidental scraping or scratching of the hardwood.

Use felt pads when moving furniture.

Always lift the furniture off the ground to move it  instead of sliding it across your hardwood floor. If the furniture is too heavy and you must use felt pads make sure that they are free of any debris that could scratch the floor. The smallest stones or pieces of grit can scratch and gauge your floor leaving a lasting mark.

If you know of other approaches to protecting your floors please leave us a comment. We assume that everyone removes their shoes before entering their home, however not everyone subscribes to this habit.  Each time you enter your home you track in small particles of grit that will act as sandpaper on your floor each time you walk across it. This will quickly scratch your floors and remove the shine from them. If you insist on wearing your shoes, vacuum often. You should vacuum often to protect your floors especially near entrance areas and high traffic areas. You might even put down area rugs to protect your floors even further.

Trees are Impeding Satellite Signal

This is not really an indoor signal coverage issue. Instead we are writing about finding a clear path to the satellite for TV signals. We will discuss how trees are Trees are Impeding Satellite Signalimpeding satellite signal.  Most people will arrange for a professional to install their satellite dish. In most cases on the side of the house or on the roof. Some will even use a separate pole to mount the satellite dish in order to find a good strong satellite signal. Finding a clear path in the fall or winter may be much different from finding a path in the spring or summer due to leaves and growing trees.

For those of you who may not be aware the satellites that broadcast TV signals are placed in orbit around the earth. They occupy the same position all of the time. This is the reason that you can point a dish at the satellite and it will usually always receive good quality signals that are then broadcast on your TV set.

The problem comes in when these dishes have been installed for some time and something gets in the way to block the signal. Sometimes it is another building that blocks the signal from a straight line of sight. Most often though it is trees that are impeding satellite signals. Typically what happens is that when the dish was installed the trees are small or may not even be planted. Some years later and this can be only a couple of years, these trees grow and begin to block the signal. The solution is to either trim the tree or to move the satellite dish.

Trees are Impeding Satellite Signal – Installation

Another common problem involving trees impeding the satellite signal is a bad installation. The installer installs the satellite dish in the fall or over the winter when there are no leaves on the trees. The signal is strong and your TV works fine. Unfortunately as spring evolves and the trees fill out with leaves, they block the signal for the spring and summer. Again, you either have to move the dish or trim the tree’s. There is no other answer.

Rain and snow will also block the signals. Heavy rain has been known to block a signal from a satellite. It will momentarily  cause you to lose your TV signal on your TV, usually at the most inopportune times. Snow is another matter. Snow buildup on your dish can cause a significant degradation in the signal strength. If you already have a weak signal, you are going to lose reception as well. Fortunately both are temporary and can be cleared easily enough.

So if you have a satellite dish, remember to make sure you have a clear line of sight to the satellite. That is not blocked or will not be blocked by growing trees!

For more details about satellite dish installation, click here.


Look for discounts and coupons

Look for discounts and couponsHave you watched any of these shows lately called, Extreme Couponing”? We have watched a few and are amazed at the amount of money that these people save. Now many people look for discounts and coupons since it can save them a great deal of money. Sometimes they buy a thousand dollars worth of food and end up paying a couple of dollars for the food items they are purchasing because of the coupons they collect and use. They end up with many items of the same thing, and I guess that is ok as long as it will not spoil. Some even donate what they cannot use to charity which is a really great thing. They need to have lot’s of storage since they are buying many things on special with these coupons.

Look for Discounts and Coupons – Other Peoples Garbage

It has sparked another kind of problem. Apparently because of these shows, there are people now who are rummaging through garbage bins on garbage day and collecting coupons that people are throwing out. Others are collecting coupons by stealing them from the inside of newspapers before they are delivered. This is clearly wrong and we do not condone this method as a means of saving money. There is a lot of money to be saved and there are sufficient coupons for everyone. I am also not sure that the stores really want this type of savings through mass coupons, unless it is good advertising for them as well.

Save your Coupons and Obtain all of the Discounts

Still, if you can collect coupons, it is a great way to save money on things you need. My neighbor recently received a coupon in the mail for Philips fluorescent lights. It had a value on it of $3.27 and he figured that he would get a discount of that amount off the regular price. Instead when he got to the cash register, the $16.00 cost for three lights had been reduced to $3.27 for $12.73 cents savings. Add sales tax to that and it is even higher. What a great deal. On top of getting such a good price, he is also going to save money as well on his electrical usage!

We are not big collectors of coupons, however after watching these shows and seeing what my neighbor saved we are considering saving coupons. It is a lot of work to collect them, sort them and then remember to use them at the grocery store. I used to think that only poor people would use coupons, but when you can save hundreds of dollars , why not use coupons? It really comes down to how much effort you want to put in to saving money.

Where You Live Makes a Difference

Now each country is different. Apparently in the US, coupons have a much greater overall value than they do in Canada. For some reason they are not used as much here and are not as popular. But as my neighbor demonstrated there are still lots that can you save you money. While you may not reduce a thousand dollars of groceries to almost zero, still saving a few hundred dollars is well worth the effort!

Coupons are also moving to online web sites. Consumers are using their smart phones to collect coupons now. At some grocery stores you must sign up as a user and then you will receive all the coupons electronically. Your usage will  be tracked and coupons will be targeted more closely to your buying habits. We still have to explore how this works and plan to try it in the near future on our smart phone. We are going to try out this approach shortly and will add a post about electronic coupons.

If you have coupon stories let us know. I am sure our readers would love to hear about these money-saving deals too. Especially people who are using their smart phones to find deals and use coupons displayed on their smart phones at the register.


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