Archive for March, 2012

5 Steps To Protect Your Hardwood Floors From Disaster

Protect Your Hardwood Floors From DisasterHardwood floors have been the preferred choice for many home owners over the past 50 years and even longer. For a time carpeting and parkay flooring or laminates provided a lot of competition. However hardwood flooring remains the top choice of many home owners. There can be a considerable investment in flooring. Most people will want to protect your hardwood floors so that they remain pristine and last many years. After all you spent thousands of dollars installing hardwood floors in your home, so why not make it last even if it is just for resale value.

Protect Your Hardwood Floors

There are a number of steps you can take to protect your floor and they are all easy common sense things to do. Here they are.

  • Avoid using Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • Use a Dry Swiffer and not a Wet Swiffer
  • Protect your Floor with Area Rugs In High Traffic Areas
  • Use Floor Mats in areas which might get Wet
  • Use Floor Pads to Move Furniture


  • Use Felt Pads to Support all Furniture

Avoid using Murphy’s Oil Soap

Murphy’s oil soap is great for furniture , however if you use it on hardwood flooring it will gradually build up a coating or residue on your floors leaving them looking dull and lifeless. Keep your floors looking shiny and new by using a dry swiffer and vacuum often.

Use a Dry Swiffer and not a Wet Swiffer

Wet Swiffers have chemicals in them which interact with the coating on your hardwood floors. Over time the urethane will break down and not only no longer protect your floor, it will look dull and lifeless as well. Using a dry swiffer is far better as well as vacuuming often.  Be careful that your vacuum does not mark your floor also as you drag it across the floor to get at various areas of your home.

Protect your Hardwood Floors with Area Rugs In High Traffic Areas

High traffic areas such as hallways, entrances to rooms and entrances from outdoors to the inside will take their toll on your hardwood floors. You can protect these areas simply by placing area rugs on the floors in these spots. Entrances are particularly bad for hardwood floors. Grit and sometimes water will be tracked in and will quickly damage your floor if not protected by a rug or mat of some kind.

Use Floor Mats in areas which might get Wet

Kitchens and entrance areas are particularly bad for water to get on your floors. You can protect your floor with mats or area rugs. Many people will avoid using hardwood in these areas for that reason alone. But if you do have hardwood in your entrance area for example, you can prolong the life of the floor for many years by protecting it with a mat for people to step on when they come in from outside. Same thing in the kitchen around the sink or the stove. These are typical areas were water and other liquids are spilled. Protect these areas with  small mats that compliment your decor.

Use Floor Pads to Move Furniture

Moving furniture is always tricky. The best plan is to carry it so that it does not touch the floor. If you cannot carry it, use felt pads or a clean rug to slide it along the floor. Make sure your floor is clean and void of all grit or packaging material. Even small pieces of grit or staples from the packaging can dig gouges into the floor leaving unsightly marks.

We added a bonus step to protecting your floor!

Use Felt Pads to Support all Furniture

All furniture supported by some kind of foot, is going to leave a mark over time on your floor. the best way to protect your floor is to place felt pads under the feet of all chairs, couches and tables so that they will not mark your floor. these pads can be purchased in various sizes and some are also adhesive so that they will stick to the bottom of a chair when you move the chair around.

All of these 5 steps including the 6th bonus step are easy to implement and will protect your floors for many years, while maintaining your investment as well as the resale value of your home. They are inexpensive and easy to add. Also the various area rugs you put in place will add to the decor of your home as well!



Residential Home Management Check Lists

Residential Home Management Check ListsAs a property manager of a home on behalf of a client, what are the things you need to pay attention to? There are many, but some are more important than others and we will try to cover a few of these here. This web site is aimed at the home owner and although this particular post is about property manager’s, we thought it would be useful to understand how a property manager looks at the job! If you understand the other person’s objective, then you will have a better perspective on how to deal with property managers and what to look for when hiring a property manager! This is important for a number of reasons – peace of mind, financial and contractual!

Primary Focus of a Property Manager

It does not matter what anyone tries to tell you, the fundamental focus of a property manager is to make money. If they cannot make a profit in the services they are offering to you, they may just refuse to take you on or keep you on as a client. If you can recognize this fundamental truth, then you may be able to get the services you need at a price that you can afford! It is all about compromise and negotiation after that.

Most property managers will talk about the great service they offer, the reports they provide and the communications they provide to you the client. They will indicate that this is their number one objective.  Avoiding putting this down on paper in a contract is one way of retaining some control over what is contractually required. If you want something done, make sure it is listed in the contract, for how much, when it is to be done and to what level of quality! This may seem like overkill or indicate that you may not trust a person. It is really just a professional way to do business.

Residential Home Management Check Lists

With that said, we collected a list of things that can be considered when you provide services as a property manager to look after someone’s  home while they are away on vacation:

  • Frequency of visits to your clients home
    • Daily, 48 hours , 72 hours etc
  • Reporting requirements
    • Paper record
    • Email
    • Text msg
    • How soon after each visit
  • Specific items to check while in the home
    • Doors
    • Windows
    • Alarm system
    • heating system
    • Water leaks
    • Snow load
    • Pool
  • What to do in case of an emergency
    • Contact emergency contact
    • Call police
    • Advise insurance company
    • Call family , family friend or neighbor
  • Phone numbers to call
    • Your emergency number
    • Your insurance company
    • Police
  • Authority to make repairs
    • Specified limit with no authority
    • Temporary repairs to prevent further damage
  • Other Services that you may require
    • Water plants indoors
    • Water gardens outdoors
    • lawn care
    • Pool care
    • Snow removal
    • etc

These are the basics and everyone who needs their homes looked after will have more items to add to the list based on their own particular situation. We have not addressed pets in this case, however for those that need these services, you should add feeding, medicine requirements, exercise and emergency veterinary directions. As a property manager you will need to decide what services you will after including looking after pets, dog walking etc. Not everyone wants to take on the responsibility of looking after pets.

Providing Services as a Property Manager

Always have a contract and spell out the terms you need to have in it regarding the services you are offering to a residential consumer. This is a great way to manage expectations and avoid customer disappointment. We always include a questionnaire which we ask the client to fill in were they outline exactly what they need and any special instructions they wish to provide.  This is basic communications were you make it clear to both what is needed. I even have the client sign or initial each page.

Permission slips with the associated information are also included to allow us to contact insurance companies, alarm companies and veterinarians that might be needed in case of an emergency with one of the pets.

While this is not a complete checklist, it is a general guideline were we urge both parties to communicate the services provided and the services needed so that there are no misunderstandings.

Your comments are welcome. For more posts about property management topics, click here.


How does WiFi Technology Work?

How does WiFi Technology Work?The short answer in a summarized version re how does WiFi technology work  is as follows. Wi-Fi networks use radio technologies in the 2.4 and 5 GHz radio bands. It is defined by a standard called 802.11 . The objective is to provide secure, reliable, fast wireless connectivity. It should be without the need for cumbersome wires in homes and hard to get to business areas.  A Wi-Fi network in the home or office can be used to connect electronic devices to each other. Also to the Internet, and to wired networks which use Ethernet technology.

How does WiFi Technology Work

The longer and more consumer oriented answer is as follows:

Why is Wi-Fi so Attractive?

Wi-Fi in the home is welcomed by many consumers. Now they do not have to run unsightly wires around their home. These run from the cable modem or telephone modem to their computers. Home owners love this concept since they can roam around with their smart phones or portable computers all over the house. They can go even the back yard and still use their Wi-Fi connection to send and receive data.

Note that most smart phones have the option too use network data or data services provided by the wireless companies. This is usually expensive. It comes with limits in terms of how much data you can send and receive. Using your Wi-Fi connection, means that you are using the data connection supplied by a cable company or the telephone company usually at much lower rates.

Installing Wi-Fi in Your Home

Most cable companies and telephone companies offer a combined modem and Wi-Fi device which is hooked up to the cable that enters your home. If you can try to locate this device in a central location in your home and not in the basement. this will ensure that you have good wireless reception throughout your home and even outside in your yard. The data signal transmitted over the cable is reconfigured from a wired data signal into a wireless format and transmitted over the air for a limited distance which is usually sufficient to cover your home and yard.

The installer will configure the wireless modem for you, however most now are so simple and straightforward that they self configure themselves. The only step you must do is to first decide if you want your wireless network password protected or not and secondly configure your computer and smart phones to access your wireless network.

Password Protect Your Wifi Network

One of the basic decisions is whether you want to leave your Wi-Fi network in your home open to anyone accessing it or if you want to password protect it. If you password protect your network it means that only those people you give the password too can use your network. For example, a friend of mine does not even have a data connection at his home. Instead he uses his neighbors open wireless network! I have also driven around urban streets to see how many open vs. protected networks there are and have been able to access quite a few. We strongly suggest that you password protect your wireless network!

Home Network Security

There was a recent news report where someone hacked into a person’s home network and started talking to their baby over the wifi based baby monitor. Talk about a scary thing. Make sure you use a strong password and password protect everything.

When you connect your smart phone or computer to the network via Wi-Fi, you will have to have a Wi-Fi modem in your computer which most do these days. Once you start the application for wireless connection you will be presented with a number of wireless networks that are available in your area. Select yours. If it is password protected, you will be asked to enter the password in order to access it. From that point on your computer will remember the password.

This post has focused in a non technology oriented way, how does Wi-Fi technology work. Our next couple of posts are going to focus specifically on the home. Also on the business applications of Wi-Fi. Watch for Is Wi-Fi for me? At Home?  and Is Wi-Fi for me? For my business?

For more information about using WiFi in your home, click here.



Tire Maintenance and what You Should Know

Tire MaintenanceTire Maintenance is a quite often discussed topic and you may  have heard your local automotive technician talk  about its importance. There are a number of aspects that many people should consider when it comes to maintenance of their car and maintenance of their tires. Safety and engine performance as well as economy are some fo the first things that come to mind. Without good tires on your car, not only are you sacrificing :

  • Safety of your car and occupants
  • Probably getting poor gas mileage, which costs you money
  • Doing damage to shocks and the support systems of your car
  • Accelerating the wearing out of your tires and initiating possible blowouts on the road.
  • Increasing the potential for an accident when your tire blows out at high speed.

Tire Maintenance

There are a number of variables to keep an eye on. If you use a to do list, add these items to your list to check on a regular basis and make some decisions about what you need to do relative to your tire maintenance.

Car tire Aging: Whether you use the car or you don’t, car tires age, primary indications of car tire aging would be cracking on the side walls, on the treads or fading of the treads, sometimes accompanied by tire wall distortion. Old or aged tires must be checked by a tire expert before use to ascertain it’s suitability for road usage.

Not only can your tires be dangerous because of age if you keep them a long time on your car due to the low mileage you drive every year, your tires might have been old before you bought them. Always ask the mechanic how old the tires are before they are installed new. There is an indicator on the side wall that will tell you when the tire was made. Anything over seven years should not be installed on your car.


Depending on the quality of the tire, they can be good for 20 thousand miles all the way up to 100 thousand miles. You should keep track of how many miles are on your tires and how well the tread on your car is doing. If it gets low, change the tires, if you reach the recommended miles, change your tires.

Your tires wear out depending on the number of miles driven, the type of the surface and sometimes even the kind of driving you do. Poor maintenance such as failure to rotate and poor inflation, off balance and poor alignment can accelerate the wearing out of a tire. Tire Maintenance means checking your tires on a regular basis.

Inflation Pressure

Tires are the only point of contact between the vehicle and the road surface, hence inflation pressure of your tire happens to play a vital role in safety driving characteristics, mileage and also fuel consumption.

Car manufacturers have tested your recommended tires for your car for gas mileage, handling and many more factors to arrive at the optimum pressure for your tires. Following this guideline will maximize the value you get out of these tires and also the safety of your car. This is the most basic of tire maintenance steps you can take.

Misalignment: Tires when not positioned properly, or if not aligned properly, can cause uneven wear either sides of the tire shoulder or both the sides and would have a slightly torn and faded look. Check periodically or at least once a month for wheel alignment, wheel balancing issues by  examining the tread patterns on your tires. Any abnormal wear is an indicator of a problem which should be addressed.

For much more information about tires and tire maintenance, click here.


How Can I Lower My Bills

How Can I Lower My BillsMany consumers are very frustrated with the monthly bills they pay. They want to know how can I lower my bills? I too had this same questions and discovered how I can lower my bills without too much work. There are lots of web sites out there that are focused on renegotiating mortgages and loans etc, but basically they want a piece of the action and they will end up costing you more money. There are lots of ways that you can knock a few dollars of a variety of things and end up saving hundreds of dollars a month. Some involve negotiating with the vender for a lower price, while others involve changing your habits so that  your monthly bill is less.

How Can I Lower My Bills

Ask for a Discount

We believe in the motto: “Always ask for a discount, the worst that will happen is that they say NO”!

Here is a Short list of Quick methods to Lower Bills

  • Use less fuel
  • Negotiate a new low interest rate mortgage
  • Get a new Telecom plan
  • Get a new Cable TV / Satellite TV plan
  • Eat out less
  • Buy Discount
  • Take the bus
  • Take your lunch to work
  • Coupons
  • Do It Yourself – DIY

Review all of Your Utility costs to Lower Your Bills

Water, Heating and electrical usage can not be negotiated since they are provided by city or large government agencies in many locations. But you can control these bills to some extent by managing your usage – turning the heat down at night during winter time and the AC up in the summer will make a significant difference on these bills. Dry your clothes in low cost time frames on the weekend and turn off lights in rooms that are not in use. Water usage can be reduced by migrating to low flow toilets shower  heads and faucets.

Cable TV, Telephone, Mobile and Internet services can all be negotiated. First you need to do a little work to investigate what the competition will offer you if you were to switch accounts to another provider. Then approach your provider and ask them what they are willing to do. Inmost cases if you have your facts together, they will offer discounts over your current billing. I recently did this and saved almost a $100 a month! That is a lot and really contributes to lowering my bills.

Use less Fuel

Take the bus to work, walk more, keep your vehicle properly tuned and ensure that your tires are properly inflated. Plan your trips to reduce mileage, drive at the speed limit instead of 10 miles an hour over and avoid jack rabbit starts and stops.

Negotiate a new low Interest Rate Mortgage

If your currently paying a high interest rate, you may save some money and reduce your monthly bill as well by renegotiating your mortgage. There will be fee’s associated with a new mortgage, so compare this cost with what you are saving to ensure that overall your monthly bill is going to be less.

Eat out Less

Many people eat out 4 or 5 times a week or even more. Even cutting one of those times can save a lot in monthly costs. In some cases well over $100 per month. Eating in with the family can be fun to if plan properly

Buy Discount

Never pay full price for anything you buy unless it is an emergency situation. All items either go on sale at some point or they can be negotiated to a lower price. Be patient and save money by looking for the discounts.

Take your Lunch to Work

More and more people are eating out for lunch, yet you can save money by making your own. I know people who spend more than $10 every day for lunch, yet they could save at least half of that by making their own lunch. That would add up to around $100 a month in savings.


Coupons are a big deal in some locations and not so much in others. Whenever you get the chance to save some money by using a coupon do it. We have all watched the reality shows , extreme couponing etc. You may not go that extent, but even if you save money each time you shop, it can add up.

Do It Yourself – DIY

This is potentially a big one and that is DIY or do it yourself. If you are not handy and not willing to learn it may not work for you. Many consumers save themselves thousands of dollars every year by doing repairs and renovations themselves. Teach yourself, talk to the experts, ask friends to help. Whatever it takes do it yourself, just make sure you know how to do the work safely and correctly.

These are lots of good ideas about how can I lower my bills. They may not all apply to everyone, but even if you can use one and save $100 a month your ahead of the game. Give us your comments about this post and how to lower your bills. If you leave a well written comment, we will even approve a link back to your own site if you have one.



Solar System Management?

You have had a solar site assessment completed and you have completed your solar power business plan which should tell you whether it makes sense or not to go ahead with your installation. However there are two  more major factor that should be included in your overall business plan. One is the subject of this post, Solar System management and the other is Solar System warranty program and maintenance, which we will discuss in the next post.

The system includes the panels on your roof, the inverters they are connected to and the electrical system connection in your area. One of the most important elements in this system is the measurement of the amount of electricity your system is consuming or providing to the network. All of these components must be managed on your behalf over the life of the contract that you have signed or will sign with your solar system provider. Someone with the technical know how must deal with any problems that arise over the life of the system. Much like your car, which is very complex these days, you need a skilled technician to maintain it.

What is Solar System Management?

The first part of this is negotiating the rate that you will sell the electricity you generate back into the grid. It varies by location and utility that you are dealing with. The rate per kilowatt is important as are the term of the contract and the rate that your initial rate will increase or decrease over the years. If you are signing a long term contract, then you want to make sure that your are protected for inflation.  The rates will vary year over year and of course each utility will have a different rate they will initially offer.

In addition in some areas, government subsidies play a large part in the economics of these installations. Some governments have also suddenly stopped providing these subsidies leaving the investors and owners with a loss based on the cost and the lower revenue. Potential investors should complete sensitivity studies taking into account changes in the costs as well as changes in the revenue for both increases as well as decreases.

It is important to pay attention to this and to ensure you remain protected over the years of your contract.

The second part of the solar system management  activity is monitoring your system. It is important to understand that your system is running optimally at all times and also when one component stops working or is not producing it’s optimum amount of electricity.  If one component stops working, you want to know about it immediately so that it can be corrected and not damage other components.  As consumers we do not have the time to watch this all of the time and probably we would not understand what the system was telling us anyway.

Are there automated systems that report to the consumer or to the technical monitoring company when a system is not running optimally. How much does this cost and how reliable are the monitoring systems as well as the company that is providing the service.

Solar System Management contracts

This should be part of your contract with the company doing the installation so that it is worry free and trouble free. The last thing you want to be doing is your own monitoring! It is in your interest as well as your provider’s interest to ensure that the system is generating electricity and feeding it into the grid so that you both get paid over the life of the contract.

There will be literally hundreds of different contracts available across the continent. Consumers need to protect themselves by ensuring they actually read and understand these contracts. What are your responsibilities and what are the responsibilities of your provider. What happens when you move? What happens if the company you are dealing with goes bankrupt? What rates are you guaranteed? Is inflation included? You probably want to have a lawyer review the contract, a lawyer who is familiar with solar systems and the peculiar idiosyncrasies of these contracts.

They are complex and it is worth taking the time to understand them! This is a complex project and consumers should pay attention to this project in the same manner they would any other major project around their home.

For more posts about solar power business models, click here.

Check List for Vacant Home Watch

Check List for Vacant Home WatchNever leave your home vacant for an extended period of time. Make sure someone is checking on the home to make sure that everything is secure. There are so many things that can go wrong while a home is vacant. You can avoid or at least decrease the damage done while you are away. Animals can get in, the power might go off, pipes could freeze or someone might break in while you are away. While checking on the home is not going to stop these things from happening, at least you will control the amount of damage from that may occur afterwords. This is why you need a check list for vacant home watch.

Assume a windstorm breaks a window, or the power goes off, or there is a pipe break. Any of these situations, if left for any length of time can do considerable damage to your home. A Check List for Vacant Home Watch is worth following to increase the odds of your homes protection while away.

Will the Insurance Company Pay

You might think that there is no problem, the insurance will may. They might and then again they might not. turns out that many home insurance companies have clauses in their policies that require someone to check on a home on a regular interval when it is vacant.

If you do not follow this requirement or cannot prove someone was checking on the home, they may decline your claim for damages.  Some require a visit to your home every 24 hours if it is winter time and the water is not turned off.  Others are satisfied with once a week if the water is turned off and there is no danger of freezing weather. check with yours before you head off on vacation.

Hire a House Sitter

Hiring a house sitter does not mean that someone moves into your home. Instead they will visit your home on the schedule you require and provide you with a report and / or record of each visit. At the minimum, they should confirm the security of the home, the furnace is operating properly and that the water is not leaking anywhere. In addition they might water plants for you and bring in th email. Discuss any special requests with them and make sure everything is documented.

Your Check List for Vacant Home Watch

Check List for Vacant Home WatchWhether you are selling and have moved to another home while your old home sells or are just away on an extended vacation, there is a checklist of things that you may consider before you leave to help ensure that your home is secure. apply those that make sense for you in your neighborhood and your home:

  • Check with your insurance company concerning requirements
  • Ensure that your home looks as if someone is living in it
  • Have someone collect the mail
    • Make sure the lawn and gardens are maintained
    • Make sure the snow is cleared in the winter
    • Have several lights on timers ( they should follow your normal routine)
  • Advise your neighbors that you are away
  • Give your trusted neighbors your phone number
  • Have a trusted person check on the home on a regular basis
  • They should be able to contact you in case of emergency
  • They should have authority to make minor emergency repairs

As we mentioned earlier these steps may not prevent an incident in your vacant home, they should minimize the damage. Making your home look as if it is lived in when it is vacant, will help to ensure that it does not become a candidate for a break in while it is vacant.

Property Management Companies

Many property management companies will provide this service for a reasonable price if you are not able to find a friend, a family member or a neighbor to look after your home while it is vacant. Always have a contract that specifies the services they will offer and also include the specific things you need them to do while you are away. If it is not written down, there is a good chance someone will forget leading to a big disappointment when you return.

We have a number of other posts that provide a more detailed checklist of steps to follow while you are away on vacation. Check out our post ” Home Security Checklist ” for a more detailed list of items.

If you have other suggestions about check lists for vacant homes, feel free to leave us a comment. Our readers will appreciate the help. If your are simply leaving a random comment to generate a track back, note that our filters will consider this as spam. leave constructive comments and we may approve your comment.

For more vacant home watch lists, click here.



Solar Site Assessment for your Home

Solar Site Assessment for your HomeIn our last post we talked about some of the variables that would go into a business case or business model for your assessment of whether it makes sense for you financially to install a solar panel system on the roof of your home. One of those variables, a big one, is of course the revenue you will gain from this type of installation.  It may be net revenue or it can also be cost of electricity not used that you would need to factor into your calculations.  Either way you need to understand how much electricity can be produced from your roof.  This is where it gets complicated, because you really need a solar site assessment to be able to calculate the theoretical value of this income.

Some companies will charge for the solar site assessment and then write it  off if you decide to go ahead with a solar panel installation.  It is all in what you negotiate, so have that discussion up front so that there is no misunderstanding once the assessment is completed.

Information needed to Complete a Solar Site Assessment for Your Home

The following list is pretty straightforward and should be included in your assessment if it is completed in a professional manner. This is something that you need to make sure that you receive from a professional company  and that it is done right. If they estimate high in terms of the amount of electricity generated, then your business plan may not pay off as expected. Take your time to understand all of the assumptions and confirm all of the estimates before you take the plunge.

  • Which roof or roofs will be candidates for solar panels
  • Azimuth of each roof
  • Pitch of each roof
  • Number of panels
  • Wattage of each panel
  • Inverter make , model, and efficiency rating
  • Shading on the roof from External Factors

Which roof or roofs will be candidates for solar panels?

Typically, east, south and western roofs will be included in your assessment. Northern facing roofs will generate electricity, however since most are not receiving direct sun unless you are very far south, it is just not worth it to include a norther roof in your solar assessment.

Azimuth of each roof?

The azimuth is the angle between the north point and the direction your roof is facing. This is the accurate measurement of the direction each roof is facing and will be a factor in calculating the efficiency factor associated with each roof..

Pitch of each roof?

The pitch of each roof is the angle from the horizontal and also plays a part in the calculation of the efficiency factor of each roofs as well.

Number of panels?

The number of panels is a combination of the area of your roof as well as the ability of your roof to support the additional weight. Each panel will produce a specific amount of electricity depending on the Azimuth, the Pitch, the time of day and the season.

Wattage of each panel?

Each panel has a wattage that it is capable of producing. Different solar panels will have a different wattage rating or power that they will produce.

Inverter make , model, and efficiency rating?

Each solar panel is connected to an inverter, which converts the electricity generated to the desired voltage and amperage level required to interconnect with all other panels and the electrical distribution system. Depending on the manufacturer, each will have their own efficiency rating as well.

Shading on the roof from External Factors?

This can be a huge issue and may vary depending on the time of year. Shading from surrounding trees will change from season to season as the leaves grow and fall from the tree. Other buildings or  obstructions on the roof such as a chimney can also provide shade as well which decreases the amount of power that will be generated. Decisions may have to be made in terms of trimming trees or locating panels only were there is no shade. Shading can be different in the  morning vs. afternoon so time of day must also be taken into account.

All of these factors should be assessed  in your solar assessment. These are mathematical calculations which can be generated by a computer model. We would recommend that some sensitivity analysis be completed on the results to assess the impact more or less solar power generated will have on your budget and payback.

Consumers have to remember that sales people are motivated to sell you a solar system and will more often than not make assumptions in their favor. It pays to take as much as 20% off the estimate of electricity generated to see what impact it has on the business case for your system.

More to come on alternative energies and solar systems. If you have added comments or opinions please leave us a comment. We are trying to learn as much as possible about this subject. For more help with solar power assessments, click here.

Tips at Restaurants: What is Enough?

Tips at RestaurantsNow here is a sensitive topic! How much should you tip for service at a restaurant and when should you hold back or exceed the recommended amount? There is bound to be a lot of disagreement on this topic so we are looking forward to hear what other people think about tipping and how much you should tip. We decided to add this post to our blog, because it really does affect how much money you spend, although it is not really related to home maintenance. Let us know what you think the tip should be. One thing for sure, never leave pennies as a tip. They are not worth much and are heavy. Who wants pennies these days as well?

We have two friends who work in the service industry and obviously have strong feelings about tipping. They both feel that you should tip 15% automatically whether the service was great or not and only decrease your tip if the service was really bad. Actually they feel they always provide great service so why would you not tip a good amount?

Formula for Tips at Restaurants

Someone once wrote that you should break down the tip as follows: 5% for the decor, 5% for the food and 5% for the service . If all three met your expectations then 15% was the correct amount to leave with your meal. If they exceeded your expectations, then by all means leave more. Many people have a problem when they receive bad service or their food was not up to par and they still leave 15% to avoid any kind of conflict or confrontation.

We have found that mentioning the issue, whatever it is, bad food, your meal not cooked as requested, etc.  during your meal usually brings a positive response and the restaurant usually goes overboard to correct the problem. When they do not correct the problem cut the tip. They need to understand that their income is related to the level of service you receive at the restaurant you are at.

But they Only Make Minimum Wages

In some locations this is absolutely true and if they received no tips, the salary the waiters and waitresses would make would be very low indeed. However as with all jobs there are good people who do excellent work and then there are those who only do average work at best.

Should those that perform average work make as much as those who do excellent work? Personally I like to reward those who work hard and provide excellent service and have no problem leaving a good tip. But when it comes to less than average servic,  leaving a good tip is only reenforcing bad service.

We know a couple, who have dual incomes. One was a NASA scientist, while the other was a waiter in a very popular restaurant. The waiter made more money from tips than the scientist did from his salary! They were both good at what the did, but the waiter was really  good at what he did, provided excellent service and was rewarded for his efforts. The good ones do very well and deserve it.

Tips as High as 20 % or Even Higher

Both of our friends who work in the business have received tips that are 20% or even higher. Typically this has been with a large group and the group was very happy with the service they received.

This is the way it should be and please do not hold back if you find yourself in this situation.

Groups Were the Tip is Automatic

I detest this rule that many restaurants have for large groups. They automatically add 15% or sometimes more as a gratuity to ensure they get their tip. I have been to places were they have done this and the service has been excellent. They deserve 15% and more.

On the other hand we have dined in restaurants were this rule was applied and the service has been terrible. It is almost as if they do not care , they know they are going to get paid anyway. I always make a point of mentioning that the service should be excellent if they are going to apply this rule.

They usually get the message and we are often very satisfied with the service in this regard. One place to avoid in a situation like this is the Matchbox Restaurant in Palm Springs. They applied this rule and then proceeded to give us rude service, mixed our meals up and were extremely slow. Why would I ever go there again?

Your comments and opinions on this sensitive topic are more than welcome. I am sure there are lots of other opinions out there just waiting to be heard.



Colored Tires – A New Fad?

Are you tired of the same old black tires? We used to actually have white wall tires and they were very popular at one time until consumers decided they just were not cool anymore. I am not sure if you can even buy them any longer. consumers starting installing their tires with the white wall on the inside of the tire rim so that you could not tell that the tires actually had white walls. Times have changed and there is a new fad for tires.

Well now you can buy tires that are colored to match your car or make a statement. Apparently they are really popular in Japan, however we have not seen here in North America yet. You can still purchase the standard black tires, but as you can see from the picture there are a variety of tiers in various colors now available.

Yellow, pink, green and light blue tires are available to match your cars paint or just to make a statement. Imagine the looks you are going to get when people see you driving down the street with one of these babies.  I am not sure that I am going to be one of them. I really cannot picture a set of tires on any car that I would drive.

Attracting Attention with Colored Tires

Imagine a hot rod with lots of power ready to hit the streets and impress the girls with yellow or green tires. Somehow that just does not seem to catch my imagination! Anyone driving a a nice car wants to have great wheels with alloy rims, the tires jet black and brand new. who would want to shell out the money to have colored tires on a muscle car for example?

We also do not really see gram-pa or grandma picking up a sedan with colored tires. Sure it would be a conversation piece around the coffee shop or the golf course, but they have other things to spend their money on and it is not tires with colored sidewalls. Even the 30 somethings with a family are not going to spend money on this, they just have too much other things to put their money towards. So who is the target market for colored tires? Is there one?

Tell Us What You Think

If you read this article we would really like to hear from you to get your thoughts and impressions on who might purchase these tires.  We happen to think that people who are single, young and a have a bit if the artistic flare would be the potential buyers for this product. they just happened to like stuff that is different and attracts attention. They also have the money to spare and may be willing to shell out a few extra dollars for colored tires on their car. We are not sure if there is a large enough market for this product. There might be but it will take awhile to catch on!

Now colored tires for golf carts would be all the rage and probably quite attractive. if everyone had different tires of various colors on their golf carts, the players would all get a good laugh and it would be something to talk about on the 19th hole. maybe it would be too distracting for everyone’s game to have a bright pink golf cart with matching pink tires roll up beside you just as you are about to hit your shot!

let us know what you think about colored tires. We are in no way associated with anyone who is selling these tires, but thought it would be a neat addition to our blog for our readers.

For more posts about buying tires and specialty tires, click here.

Canadian Tire Hours of Operation in Ottawa

We recently have had a lot of people looking for information about the Canadian tire hours of operation in Ottawa. We decided to include a short page on this site to provide that information. Store hours for Canadian tire stores will vary based on location and also if there is a holiday or not.  You should really check with your local store to confirm if they are open.

For example the Canadian Tire Store in Orleans which is just outside of Ottawa on the east side is open during the following hours.

  •            Store                                   Auto Center
  • Mon 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Tue 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Wed 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Thu 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Fri 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Sat 08:00 AM – 07:00 PM 07:00 AM – 06:00 PM
  • Sun 08:00 AM – 06:00 PM 08:00 AM – 05:00 PM

Each store will be slightly different. For example the Canadian Tire store in Gloucester, on Ogilvy road which is also part of Ottawa on the east side has the following hours. Each store is independently owned and operated under the general franchise and they keep their own hours based on the market need in their area. This store stays open longer on Saturday nights for example.

  • Store                                   Auto Center
  • Mon 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Tue 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Wed 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Thu 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Fri 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Sat 08:00 AM – 09:00 PM 07:00 AM – 09:00 PM
  • Sun 09:00 AM – 06:00 PM 09:00 AM – 06:00 PM

Canadian Tire Hours

We cannot possibly list all of the stores along with their hours, however we wanted to give readers an example of two stores and their general hours. I think that you can be pretty safe in going to any of the Canadian Tire stores between 8am and 6pm. You may want to check with the store closest to you if you need to go to the store after 6pm, especially if you are thinking about getting some work done on a vehicle.

They may have to keep it in the garage over night before they can fix it. Many of the stores will give their customers a ride home under these circumstances. This is a really great service if you have to drop your car off to be worked on and cannot wait for the car to be completed.

Canadian tire is not typically known for selling hardwood floors which is what this web site is all about. It is known for car parts and repairs and of course tires. Recently they have expanded into a broader market offering small appliances, sports equipment, paint, Christmas products and much much more, including plumbing, electrical and hardware related items for most repairs around the home.

You can find a lot of the tools that you may need for work around your home at the Canadian Tire store including the tools you may need for laying a hardwood floor. Compare prices and warranties. Some items although they may be a bit more expensive, have a life time warranty on them and this can be valuable for items that are more expensive. this store in Orleans is close to us and we tend to go there a lot to get whatever we need for general items for our vehicle and our home repairs. On top of that, this company is Canadian and we should support Canadian companies who are competing with the big box stores from the US. This is a Canadian Company and represents the very essence of Canada. Let’s support it.

We hope you have found this short post useful. leave us a comment if you did.

What is WiFi?

What is WiFiWith all of these new technologies and acronyms, consumers are having a difficult time keeping up. What is WiFi? Wi-Fi is one more that benefits many consumers in their homes as well as at the office and the coffee shop.  Wi-Fi is a technology that eliminates the cable or wire between your computer and the modem that sits in your home which the cable or the telephone wires are attached too. If you have a smart phone that is Wi-Fi capable it also can take advantage of the wireless access in your home or at the office and coffee shop.  Wi-Fi eliminates the need to find a wired network connection.

While this is a great step forward with no more wires running around your home, you still need to understand how to program your computer or smart phone to take advantage of the Wi-Fi wireless network.
Every device is different, although most are intuitive and easy to set up. Ask the sales person to walk you through the set up procedure so that you can set up your computer or smart phone on your wireless network when you get home.

The following provides a little more information for the average consumer.  For most people, you just want to know that it works and these devices today are so user friendly that most people can set them up easily in their own home. Just follow the instructions that come with the device and you should be good to go.  Read on for more info about Wi-Fi. we will also be adding additional posts about how W-Fi is used in the home and in the office as well.

What is WiFi Technology

For the average person, Wi-Fi technology is basically a box that has one or more antenna’s on it, sometimes they are inside the unit. This unit is usually attached to a cable modem for example or more often now, manufacturers are combining the cable modem and the Wi-Fi terminal in one box to eliminate even more wiring and cost.  Position the Wi-Fi terminal in a relatively central location in your home, in an out of the way location and you will have uniform wireless coverage through out your home. Same applies to the office, although you may end up having more than one Wi-Fi device if it is a large office.

Once installed and connected, you can send and receive all of your usual email, data, video etc via your Wi-Fi device. These devices save hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in cabling that is no longer needed.

All major communications suppliers including the cable companies and the telephone companies now offer Wi-Fi terminals for your use, usually combined with your standard monthly data service.

What is WiFi Frequency Band for Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi products operate over a specific set of radio waves. In the same way as your cell phone, garage door opener, TV, radio, GPS navigation system or microwave. Each of these types of products  have been designed to operate in a specific frequency band of the radio spectrum to ensure that there is no interference between them.

Radio Band Examples

  • AM broadcast band (530-1610 kHz)
  • Shortwave bands (5.9-26.1 MHz)
  • Citizens’ band (26.965-27.405 MHz)
  • Television channels 2-6 (54-88 MHz)
  • FM broadcast band (88-108 MHz)
  • Wi-Fi (2.4GHz or 5GHz)

Wi-Fi products operate in the 2.4GHz or 5GHz bands. Most radio bands require a license from the government. Not so with Wi-Fi.  These bands are designated as “license-free”. This indicates that individuals may use products designed for these bands without a government license. A great deal of coordination in the design of these devices with other products has taken place. This is needed to ensure that there is no interference and all manufacturers must adhere to these rules. For the average consumer, you just need to know that this is all taken care of. They will have no impact on anything else in your home.

What is 802.11?

Standards bodies control the design of all products in the world. Each design, in this case for Wi-Fi receives a designation.  Wi-Fi products are identified as 802.11. They are then further identified by a lower case letter that identifies which specific technology is in operation. Each specifies a set of features that relate to performance, frequency and bandwidth. When you purchase a Wi-Fi device, you want to make sure that device is compatible with the latest Wi-Fi standard.

Wi-Fi Generations

Most new devices are tested to ensure they are back word compatible. In other words that they will work with older devices. There is a limit to this. Even though you may not have the latest Wi-Fi compatible software on your computer for example, it may still work. You can just try it and see or compare the specs for the Wi-Fi device you are buying. For most people this is way too much information and complexity. 99% of all new computers are equipped with the latest Wi-Fi technology.

For more information about using WiFi in your home, click here.




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