An Exploration of Air Conditioner Maintenance and Repairs

The Best Ways To Save Money On Your Driveway Installation

There are several ways that you can lower the cost of installing a concrete driveway. If you install the driveway yourself, you will save on labor and you will also be able to make other decisions that will help further reduce the cost of your concrete driveway installation. Also, for any stage of the process that you are not comfortable with, you can always hire a freelancer for that specific stage. If you have settled on installing your driveway yourself, there are several ways that you can save money.

Plan Your Driveway Carefully

Use a computer or a pad and pencil to sketch how you would like your driveway to look. By planning ahead, you will be less likely to make mistakes that would force you to start over. Grade the land yourself and pour your own ready-mix concrete. Try to keep your concrete driveway as simple as possible. You do not need to add any unique colors or textures. Simply add the features that are necessary for you to have a functional driveway.

Make sure that you perform calculations multiple times before ordering concrete. If you order too much, there is more of a risk that you will be forced to throw some away. Even worse is if you order too little and you are not able to finish your project properly.

Think Twice Before Purchasing Equipment

Do not purchase expensive equipment for ready-mix concrete if you will only be using the equipment once. You will be able to save a lot more money by renting the necessary equipment. Some tools might not even be necessary. Also, you will need brooms and other less expensive tools. If you do not already own them, ask acquaintances if any of them own these tools.

Find Cheap Sources Of Ready-Mixed Concrete

Look for local concrete sellers. They will not have to transport the concrete as far, so they will save money and can pass the savings on to you. Also, there might be a type of concrete that is created exclusively in your area and is therefore less expensive to make.

When In Doubt, Hire A Freelancer

If you feel like you have gotten in over your head, you can always hire a freelancer. For instance, if you are comfortable with mixing the ready-mixed concrete, but do not feel that you could handle the excavation, you could hire a freelancer for the excavation. You will still save money by performing some of the labor yourself.

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How To Dig Construction Fence Posts

If you need a temporary fence to mark off your construction site, fiberglass is a great option. It is extremely durable, yet it is more stylish than chain link fences. Fiberglass is most often used as a permanent fencing solution, but it can be great for temporary construction fencing. If you are going to install a temporary fiberglass fence in soil, you need to make sure the posts are properly installed. This article explains the best techniques and tools for installing temporary fiberglass fence posts in soil.

Don’t use Concrete Footing for the Posts

If you were going to install a fiberglass fence in a soil setting, you would want to pour concrete footings for the posts. However, this is not necessary if your fence is only going to be up for a few months. It is much more cost effective and quicker to install the posts directly into the soil instead of pouring concrete footing.

Dig the Hole for the Post

The most vital tool for setting posts is a post digging shovel. These specialized shovels are long and narrow, so you can dig deep without creating a hole that is too wide. The depth of your hole will vary depending on the height and width of your fence posts. Of course, a taller fence will need to have more of the post submerged in the soil. In general, you will be fine if about 1/3 of the fence post is beneath ground level. So a 6 foot tall fence would need to be built using 9 feet posts. 3 feet of the post will be in the soil, while the other 6 are above ground.

Tamping and Prepping the Hole

The difficulty of digging the hole will vary depending on the density of the soil. After the hole is dug to the perfect size, you need to prep it. With a tamping pole, you can pack down the bottom of the hole. This makes it harder and allows you to more easily control the depth of the hole. Once your hole has a nice, firm bottom, you can set the post. Hold the post in place (use a level to make sure it is straight) while a helper fills in the hole with soil. Tamp the soil around the post as you pour it to make sure it is dense.

Since no concrete is being used, the fence will be much easier to remove when the project is complete.

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Four Furnace Issues You Can Fix Yourself

Not all furnace problems require a repair visit. There are several common issues that you may not know about, but that don’t require the assistance of a furnace repair professional. The following guide can help you do a little preliminary troubleshooting so you can possibly fix the problem yourself. If not, you can rest easy knowing that the repair call is necessary and not because you overlooked something obvious.

Issue #1: Check the Thermostat

If your furnace isn’t kicking on, chances are that you already verified the thermostat settings. What you may not have checked the level of the thermostat. A wall-mounted thermostat must be perfectly level to work properly. Several things can affect the thermostat so it is no longer level, such as it getting bumped or the house settling. Use a simple bubble level or a digital level to verify that the top horizontal edge is level. If not, you can adjust it on its mounting screws until it is.

Issue #2: Turn It On

In some cases, there is more than one switch to turn on your furnace. Although most homeowners are aware of the switch on the thermostat, there is also often a switch near the furnace itself that needs to be flipped on. It may resemble a standard light switch, so any switches of unknown use could be the one. If the furnace still doesn’t fire up, check its switch in the breaker box to make sure it hasn’t been tripped.

Issue #3: A Bird in the Works

All furnaces have an exhaust flue. Birds will sometimes find their way into the flue when seeking out warmth. When this happens they may fall down the flue and clog up the works so the exhaust doesn’t port out properly. This causes a safety switch to flip the furnace off until the flue is cleared. Shut off the furnace and open the duct that feeds into this exhaust flue. Clear out any debris and then close the duct back up before turning the furnace back on.

Issue #4: Clear the Drains

This is a common occurrence with high-efficiency furnaces located in moist or humid climates. These furnaces drain off moisture via attached drain lines. If mold, algae, or sediments in the water collect inside the lines, they become clogged and the furnace will quit operating. Turn off the furnace and then remove the drain hoses. Rinse them out with solution of bleach diluted in water, which will remove and kill any mold. Once cleared, you can reattach them and try running the furnace again.  

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3 Things That Will Ruin Your Septic System

Your home needs a working septic system to keep everything moving smoothly and prevent debris, waste, and contaminants from backing up and into your home. While you might not think you need to do anything with your septic system, that isn’t the case. You have to take care of your system if you expect it to work the way it should. To help you better understand the things that are going to destroy your septic system, check out the three things below.

Ignoring regular maintenance

Oftentimes, people ignore the importance of draining their septic tank. They assume it can go year after year without ever needing to be drained. That is nowhere near the truth. Depending on how many people are in the home and the size of your tank, you might need to have it drained every year or two. Either way, you should never let it go for five years or more between draining, that is unless you have had a professional look at it and say it is in good shape still.

Neglecting tree roots

If you have trees around where your septic system is, there is a good chance that the tree roots are going to end up making their way through the pipes and into the system. These roots can end up destroying your system and causing it to fail. You need to relocate trees that are too close to the drain field and lines.

Throwing anything down the drain

Even though you might think you can throw whatever you like down the drain, that isn’t the case. The only thing you should be throwing down the drain is human waste and toilet paper. Anything else could cause a major clog and back your system up. Before you know it, you are having to call in a professional who can come in and clear the line for you to get everything back up and moving properly.

If you pay attention to the three things above, you can help to extend the life of your septic system and prevent any major issues from occurring. Don’t just assume your tank is fine. You need to call upon a rooting service who can come out and inspect the system for you. These professionals can root the lines and drain the tank if needed. You are better off being proactive about your septic system than you are letting it slip by the wayside.

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Deciding If You Need Asbestos Abatement

As most homeowners are already aware, asbestos is a dangerous building component, which when inhaled can lead to lung cancer. If you have asbestos components in your home, they may not necessarily pose a risk; in fact, they only pose a risk if they have the potential to become airborne. Thus, if you move into an older home, you will need to investigate your home and decide whether you need to undertake asbestos abatement.

What Materials Are Friable?

Any asbestos containing materials that can be crumbled are considered friable. Once crumbled, the asbestos particles can then become airborne, and this is where they pose a health risk. Floor tiles, roofing shingles, or gaskets may contain some asbestos and yet pose no threat if the material around the asbestos is solid enough to keep the asbestos in place. Thus, if you have old tiles in your house that contain asbestos, you don’t need to rush to remove the tiles. On the other hand, if you have insulation in your house that contains asbestos, the loose, fibrous nature of the insulation makes it more likely to break down and become airborne. 

What to Do to Remove Asbestos?

In order to safely handle asbestos, you have to do everything you can to prevent it from getting airborne. For starters, you will need to wrap the building in question with plastic sheeting that will prevent any asbestos that gets airborne from contaminating the air for passersby. You will then need to make sure that anyone who works in the house has a respirator and a way to remove asbestos from their work clothes. You will also need to break down any materials in your house that contain asbestos in such a way that they are damaged as little as possible. This will reduce the risk of asbestos separating from the materials and getting airborne. Finally, you need a way to wrap up the asbestos materials so that they don’t break down in transit or once they reach the disposal site. 

While the steps described above do not sound super complicated. Only one small mistake can make all the difference when it comes to keeping you and your home safe. While you might be tempted to attempt your own asbestos abatement, you owe it yourself and your family to take every possible precaution. Thus, your best choice is to leave the asbestos abatement up to highly trained, government certified professionals. 

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Heat Pump Reversing Valve Diagnostics

A heat pump consists of several moving parts, each of which serves its own purpose for helping the unit function. The reversing valve is what toggles your heat pump from cool to hot air and back again. If there is a problem with this part, it can mean no working heat in the winter and no cool air in the summer. While the problem with your unit could be a variety of other issues, it’s important to determine whether or not it is related to the reversing valve.

Diagnosing the Problem

In many cases, the reversing valve simply gets stuck in one position due to debris or something else clogging it up. Since your outdoor unit is outside, it doesn’t take much for dirt, leaves, or even small twigs to make their way in and eventually cause the valve to stick. Another problem the valve may face is leaking refrigerant. This can be a bit more difficult to troubleshoot since other parts of the heat pump can also leak this material. The compressor is a common suspect as well. The issue of a stuck or leaking valve are the two most common problems, so if you know how to remedy the issue, your unit should be back to normal.

Fixing a Stuck Valve

If in fact your reversing valve is simply stuck, try to use a leaf blower to blow excess debris out of your unit. You can also try to do this using a high powered wet/dry vac. If it’s matter of a few bits of debris, this should correct the problem within a few minutes. If it’s just stubborn debris you can easily see, take a flat head screwdriver and try to pry the debris loose. If your valve is stuck due to something else, you may have to do more work to relieve it. Use a powerful magnet and place it near the pilot valve. If it shows resistance, then it’s possible the pilot valve is not receiving enough power in order to operate the reversing valve. Take an electrical multimeter and check the current. If it does not match the manufacturer’s specs, the pilot valve may need to be replaced or rewired. 

Fixing a Leaky Valve

In order to determine if the valve is leaking, you’ll need to eliminate other possibilities first. A common problem with leaking heat pumps is that the refrigerant has flooded the evaporator coil. If it’s the compressor, you will want to run the heat pump without the use of the compressor motor for a few minutes and check to see if the liquid is building up. Use a pressure gauge to monitor this, and when the gauge gets to the highest reading, turn the system off. You should hear gases start to escape, and then you can visually inspect to see if they’re coming from the reversing valve or the compressor. This will help you determine which part is leaking and will need to be replaced.

If you find the problem may be more complicated than you expected, contact a local specialist, such as Lowry Services: Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling.

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Is It Bad If Moss Grows On Your Roof?

Moss grows on rooftops in some climates. This is especially true in moist, shady parts of the country. If you live in an area where moss is prone to growing on rooftops, then it’s important to know why moss grows on the roof, what it can do to your roof, and how you can stop it.

Is it bad if moss grows on your roof?

Moss that grows on a roof will hold moisture against the roofing material. During freeze/thaw cycles, this can cause the quick deterioration of the roofing material and the sheathing underneath. This cycle is especially problematic on wood shingle roofs, because it causes wood to crack and rot very quickly. If moss is allowed to continue to grow on the roof, it may eventually damage the roof so badly that it necessitates roof repair.

What’s the difference between roof moss and roof algae?

Roof moss is thick, fuzzy, and plant-like and can easily absorb and trap moisture against the roof shingles. Algae is thin and doesn’t hold moisture against the surface of the roof. Roof algae is more of a cosmetic problem than a maintenance issue.

What causes moss to grow on a roof?

Moss is especially prone to growing in areas that lack direct sunlight and in areas where the temperatures are generally cool and mild. Moss is commonly found in wooded areas with a lot of trees and plant life already growing.

How can you remove moss from a roof once the moss is growing on it?

Moss can cause roofing materials to deteriorate, which means that any homeowner trying to remove moss from the roof should do so carefully. Power washers can wash away deteriorated shingles, doing more damage than good. Harsh chemicals can also help speed the deterioration process. The best way to remove moss that’s growing on the roof is to use a rake or a soft brush to gently push the moss off the roof. If possible, you should sweep off the moss from a ladder, instead of doing so while standing on the roof. This is the best way to remove the moss and protect the roofing material.

How can you prevent moss from growing back?

If you would like to prevent moss from growing on the roof in the future, remove branches of trees nearby that put the roof in shade. Moss occurs naturally in some environments and will be difficult to completely eliminate, but making the environment more unpleasant for moss will help stop it from growing back.

For more information about how you can protect your roof from moss, speak with a roofing contractor from a company like A-1 Roofing & Siding.

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