“Spooktacular” Door Decorations

Are you looking for a way to make your home look “Spooktacular” this Halloween season?

Door decorations are a fun and simple way to spook your guests before they even walk into your home and they can be relatively inexpensive to do! Even our models in Ohio and Virginia are getting into the Halloween spirit and are decorating their doors this season.

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The best part? These “spooktacular” designs are made from simple materials including; crepe paper, brown paper bags, paper plates, construction paper, tissue paper, you name it! Most likely you already have these materials sitting around your home – you just have to find a creative way to use them to decorate your door!

Don’t forget to look for ways to use your front door for all of its great features! If you have a window in the center, think about using that to make a monster with one eye. Or if you have an opening for the mail in your door, use that as a mouth with teeth coming out! Be as creative as you can!

Guest Blogger: How to Choose the Right Color Temperature Bulbs for Your Rooms

How a room is lit affects the overall impression of the space. Lighting adds drama and function to a room, and the best lighting scheme uses natural light supplemented with ambient, task, and accent lighting, without overusing any of them.

The combination of indoor lighting and natural sunlight can completely change the feeling of a space when the bulb’s temperature is taken into consideration. Finding the right mix can be tricky, but it is worth the time and effort. A balanced mix of bulb temperature can sustain the warmth of a room while allowing homeowners to create different moods within a space.

Kitchen Lighting

Getting Control

One of the best, and least expensive, ways to control lighting is with dimmers, also called rheostats. Dimmers can not only set a mood, but also will conserve energy. They also help you custom-tailor light in a room for multiple uses and decorative effects. Another option is a control panel.

Lighting controls give you the flexibility to design a lighting plan with many uses and a variety of decorative touches. With the push of a button, you can use today’s sophisticated dimming systems to lower light levels to conserve energy and increase bulb life, alter the intensity of light to suit your activity, and create and save a number of different lighting scenes in each room.

2- dimmer photo

Beware Of Glare

When placing light fixtures, consider the glare they produce. Direct glare from a bare bulb is the worst kind. Remedies include deeply recessed fixtures, fixtures with baffles or small apertures, and diffusing shades or covers. You can avoid reflected glare, which is light that bounces off an object into your eyes, by placing fixtures at a 30- to 45-degree angle.

Choosing Lighting Sources

One might think that choosing light fixtures comes first, but professional designers pick bulbs — which they call “lamps” — and then the appropriate fixtures. Bulbs can be grouped according to the way they produce light. Though most of us have a sense of what to expect from a 40-watt incandescent bulb, watts are no longer a good way to describe a bulb’s light output — now, different technologies use different amounts of power to produce the same light.

Compare lumens to see how bright a bulb is. If you want to know how warm or cool the light produced will be, look for the Kelvin rating. For the warm light traditionally produced by incandescent bulbs, look for those close to 2,700 Kelvin. Most of the old fluorescent tubes you’re familiar with are around 4,000 Kelvin. Fluorescents come in many varieties these days, from warm to cool, from traditional tubes to compact fluorescents (CFLs), all in many interesting shapes. Each will have its own effect on the colors in your space.

Incandescent light is still available, but in a more efficient package. Look for halogen bulbs that look the same as traditional bulbs, but with the filament encased in gas. They are able to produce light like a 100-watt incandescent bulb, with only 72 watts.

  • To warm up a room’s color: Look for a bulb with a temperature close to 2,700 Kelvin. Halogens are a good choice, but all types of bulbs are available in warmer ratings.
  • To cool down a room’s color: Look for a bulb with a temperature close to 4,000 Kelvin. Standard fluorescents will generally cool down a room, but check the numbers.
  • To most accurately replicate natural daylight: Midday sunlight is around 5,000 to 6,000 Kelvin, but keep in mind that this is very cool light — contrary to what you might expect.

Halogen Bulbs

These give off the whitest light and do not change interior color perception. They are ideal for task and accent lighting. They must be used in halogen fixtures only.

Light-Emitting Diodes

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are the longest-lasting bulbs out there and they cost the least to operate. If your fixture is on a dimmer, keep in mind that while the color produced by the LED at full strength will match that of its equivalent incandescent, when dimmed, the incandescent will get much warmer in tone, while the LED will just dim and the color will stay pretty consistent.blog-lighting2

Fluorescent Bulbs

These create a steady, shadow-less light to simulate daylight. They are highly energy efficient, and come in both tubes and bulbs. The newest generation of fluorescent bulbs has minimal noise and flicker and comes in a wide spectrum of colors.

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs

Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) use 70% less energy than the incandescent light bulbs they replace. They’re available in various sizes and shapes to match different fixtures and come in different shades of white light. You can even find CFLs for use with a dimmer switch or a three-way fixture.

Other Light Sources

Some specialty lights don’t provide a great deal of useful light but can be fun as decorative elements. These include neon, fiber optics, and rope lights.

With a rainbow of choices, what bulbs will you use in your space?Rainbow of Lighting

***Kerrie Kelly, an interior designer, writes for The Home Depot on décor and lighting. Kerrie provides tips on a breadth of décor topics from color pallets to the type of light bulbs to create the right ambiance in a room. Check out The Home Depot website to view the LED and CFL light bulbs that Kerrie wrote about in her article.

Guest Blogger: Hints on Servicing Your Hot Water System

A hot water system is an integral part of a great many homes, accounting for nearly a third of the typical household’s energy use. For this reason alone, you should get acquainted with the basic servicing tips to ensure that your system operates smoothly for many years, saving you significant amounts of money in doing so.

Slope

Each hot water system relies on a proper slope. All radiators and pipes have to slope back toward the boiler. If your system fails to heat the water or you hear hammering noises, this indicates an incorrect slope. In order to address these issues, you should check the slope of pipes radiators, and fasten pipes or prop radiators making sure that all the components are properly tilted.

Water Level

The water level in your hot water system’s boiler should be retained at about half full, knowing that a water level that is too low may result in inadequate heating. You should leave an air space between the top of the tank and the surface of the water. For the most part, an automatic filling system will keep the boiler filled with the right amount of water. However, if the water level of your system is constantly low, inspect the pipes for leaks. This can be done by closing the water supply valve and observing the water level for a couple of days. If the level drops dramatically, you’ll be best advised to call out a professional, tell us at a reputable Sydney-based plumbing service.

Expansion Tank

If you want to ensure efficient heating, the water in your hot water system should be heated well above boiling. The water won’t turn to steam since the pressure-reducing valve and expansion tank keep it under pressure. The expansion tank is commonly hung from the basement ceiling, close to the boiler. If you have an older system, the expansion tank could be placed in the attic. If the expansion tank is not filled with enough air, the buildup of pressure will expel the water through the safety relief valve found above the boiler. Without sufficient air in the tank, water will fill it, expanding as it heats up and subsequently escaping through the safety relief valve.

In order to check for air in the tank, you should by lightly touch it. The bottom half of the expansion tank usually feels warmer than the top. If the tank is hot all over, however, it is filled with water and you must drain it. To this end, turn off power to boiler, close the water supply shutoff valve, letting tank cool. Once a combination drain valve is opened, it will let water out and air in. Attach a garden hose to the valve and drain some 10 litres of water. In case you don’t have a combination valve, simply shut off valve between the boiler and expansion tank and then completely drain the tank. Now turn water supply back on, and then turn on power to the boiler to set the system in motion again.

Flushing the System

You should flush the entire hot water system at least once a year to ensure that the water flows freely and keep the pipes clear. Flush the system by opening the blow-off valve and emptying the water into a bucket until it starts to run clear. Watch this video to learn more about it. If the water still appears rusty after the flush, give a professional a call.

 

*** Lillian Connors is a blogger and home improvement enthusiast ever so keen on doing various DIY projects around her house and passionately writing about them. She is also an online marketing consultant, closely collaborating with a number of companies from all over the globe. You can check her out on G+, Facebook and Twitter.

 

Fall Maintenance Tips!

With the first “official” day of fall almost here, pumpkin lattes, apple cider, and candy corn seem to be popping up everywhere! But what does this mean for your home?

If you’re like most of us, you’re probably so excited about the leaves changing colors that you have probably forgotten that eventually you’re going to have a lot of raking to do! Yup – it’s that time of the year! Why not get ahead of the game and start preparing your home for fall?

Not sure what to do? Check out this list of fall maintenance items to help you get started!

Clean out & Inspect your gutters – Help prevent winter water damage by making sure these are clear!

Clean & Inspect Gutters

Clean & Inspect Gutters

Drain Outdoor Faucets – Help to prevent your pipes from freezing and potentially cracking in the winter.

Drain Faucets

Drain Faucets

Clean Fireplace and Chimney – If you’re someone who loves to have fires in the winter, you’ll want to make sure the fireplace / chimney are clear! If not you risk the chance of smoke coming into your home instead of up (and out) the chimney!

Clean your Chimney

Clean your Chimney

Inspect your Furnace – You would hate to learn that something is wrong with your furnace on the first cold day of the year, wouldn’t you?

Inspect Furnace

Inspect Furnace

Apply a Fall Fertilizer– This helps your grass recover from the hot summer months and prepares it for next Spring!

Apply Fall Fertilizer

Apply Fall Fertilizer

Change the Direction of your Ceiling Fan - This creates an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling.

Change Direction of your Ceiling Fan

Change Direction of your Ceiling Fan

Clean Yard Equipment – Prepare your yard equipment for storage. Don’t forget to also check on your winter items (snowblowers, shovels, etc) to make sure they’re running properly and are easily accessible!

Clean Yard Equipment

Clean Yard Equipment

Replace Smoke and Fire Alarm Batteries –  Help to keep your family safe year round!

Change Batteries

Change Batteries

Inspect Weather Stripping Around Doors - Proper weather stripping will keep cold air out and warm air in (saving you $$ on your energy bills!)

Inspect Weather Stripping

Inspect Weather Stripping

 

 

 

Guest Blogger: How to Maintain Natural Stone Features at Home

Each type of natural stone is unique, varying in texture, colour and marking, so the possibilities of creating stunning designs with it are practically endless. Provided that you follow some simple care and maintenance rules, this natural product will keep on looking gorgeous for years to come. Here’s what you should know.

M/I Homes of Houston

Cleaning

You should clean your stone surfaces with a stone soap, neutral cleaner, or a mild liquid detergent and warm water. As with cleaning most of other items in your house, an excessive concentration of soap or cleaners can easily cause streaks or leave a film, so you don’t want to go overboard with it. After washing with a soap solution, thoroughly rinse the surface, changing the rinse water frequently, and then dry with a soft, clean cloth.

In the bath and other wet areas, you can minimize soap scum by using a squeegee after each use. Using a solution of ammonia and water (around 1/2 cup ammonia to 5 litres of water) can help you get rid of soap scum, but bear in mind that overuse of ammonia-based solutions may dull or etch the surface of certain stone types in the long run. Whatever you do, never mix ammonia and bleach because this combination produces a toxic and lethal gas.

There are many commercial solutions for stone cleaning but you have to be careful with most of them. For instance, products containing vinegar, lemon or other acids can dull calcareous stones, whereas scouring creams or powders containing abrasives can scratch different types of stones. Hydrofluoric acid (HF) can be found in some rust removers and literally all natural stones will be attacked if exposed to it.

M/I Homes Natural Stone

 Sealing

Sealing is a step commonly taken on different types of natural stones as a precaution against staining. In reality, the sealing products used for this purpose actually impregnate the stone, rather than sealing it, i.e. sealing doesn’t make natural stones stain-proof, but is does make them more stain-resistant.

Even though your supplier may tell you that natural stone for kitchen doesn’t require sealing, you should know that is a common practice to apply an impregnating sealer on it. In any case, if a sealer is applied on a surface where food is prepared (a countertop, for instance), make sure that it is safe for use and non-toxic.

M/I Homes Natural Stone Kitchen

 Preventive Measures

Following several simple tips will allow you to preserve the beauty and get the longest possible life of your natural stone. For example, area rugs or mats on both sides of the entrance door can help minimize the dirt, sand and grit, which are all quite abrasive and can easily damage your natural stone floor. You should also frequently dust mop the floor with a clean, non-treated dry dust mop. If you use a vacuum cleaner, ensure that the wheels or the plastic and metal attachments are not worn because they are likely to scratch the surface of most natural stones.

Using coasters under all glasses and bottles, especially those containing citrus juices or alcohol, is always a good idea. In case there’s a spill, you should immediately blot it with a paper towel, but don’t wipe this area, as it will only spread the spill on the stone. Instead, flush the area with mild soap and water, then rinse it several times and dry it thoroughly with a soft, clean cloth.

***Lillian Connors is a blogger and home improvement enthusiast ever so keen on doing various DIY projects around her house and passionately writing about them. She is also an online marketing consultant, closely collaborating with a number of companies from all over the globe. You can check her out on G+, Facebook and Twitter.

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