All posts by Julie

basement

How to Stop a Water Leak in your Basement

 One of the main problems when it comes to wet basement concerns is that you cannot always see the leak. If standing water visibly gathers in your basement or it always floods in this area, you know that you to find ways to deal with the problem right away. Here are some of the most common signs of a damp basement if you can’t see water at first glance.

  • Visible mildew or mold
  • Warped wall paneling
  • Musty odor
  • Bowing or collapsing walls
  • Flaking paint
  • Crack in floor or walls
  • Rust on hot water heater or furnace

If you see any of these signs, you should contact a basement contractor so that he can assess the situation and recommend the right solution to the problem. Ignoring the problem won’t do you any good. You run the risk of exposing your family to mold growth and damaging your home’s overall structure and foundation.

Water leaks can happen anytime. It can damage the appliances and furniture inside your home. Water leaks can also promote the growth of mildew and mold, which can lead to the development of various health problems like asthma, fatigue, allergies, respiratory failures and lung problems. These health concerns are more likely to occur if you have a weak immune system or an underlying lung problem.

Waterproofing the wall panels of the basement can help stop leaks and prevent the problems that are associated with it. Before you waterproof the basement balls with waterproofing paint or other water-resistant materials, you need to remove any excess water. The following tips can help you fix and stop water leaks in your basement.

  1. Find the source of leaks

You need to know the source of water leakage. Use a 12″ x 12″ sheet of aluminum foil to tightly seal a section of the basement wall that tends to be damp. This will help you know whether the water on the walls is coming from the inside or outside of the basement. Leave the aluminum foil there for one or two days. If water appears on the side of the aluminum foil that is against the wall, the problem is coming from the outside of your basement. If the outside of the aluminum foil is damp, it means that the water is coming from the inside of the basement.

  1. Fix your plumbing system

Plumbing leaks can boost the level of humidity inside your basement, so you should fix your plumbing system if there’s any leak. After you finish fixing the plumbing system, you should open all the windows and use fans to air out your basement. You can also use a dehumidifier to eliminate any remaining humidity.

  1. Repair broken gutters or downspout

A broken gutter or downspout can cause water coming from the roof to collect around the basement walls. Roof water can seep through the cracks and pores in the masonry and damage the structure of your house. Fix a broken gutter or if it’s beyond repair, you should install a new one. You can install a screen to protect the gutter from broken twigs, dirt, small pebbles and fallen leaves and prevent clogging.

  1. Exterior basement waterproofing

Exterior basement waterproofing uses membranes or polymers to waterproof the basement walls. The polymers can last for a very long time, so you can relax knowing that your basement is protected.

Making your basement waterproof is very important. Mildew and mold love damp basements and can do expensive damage to your property. Removing mildew and mold spores is hard. Follow the tips stated above and keep your basement dry at all times.

family pet cats and dogs

Should I Go for a Cat or Dog as Our Family Pet?

Should I go to have a cat or a dog as our family pet? The answer to this question is just so easy for some. If you like dogs, it will be a puppy that you can love, but if you love feline, you will not want to share that attention which a dog requires. Perhaps it is a simple and easy decision.

To know which one is the best pet, you have to be aware of the characteristic of each house pet.  If you have never owned a pet before, you can consult your local vet for advice.  We consulted our local animal hospital in Matthews, NC to get advice on what breeds would be good for us.

Cats

Cats love being outdoors occasionally. They might wander off now and then. The only thing they need to be trained to do is to utilize the litter box and not to scratch draperies or furniture. Cats will not stand for much more.

A cat is easy to handle and take care of. They will allow you to have a serene and independent life. Also, they don’t mind being left alone, except you are in need of being on your own.

Cats are definitely more independent than dogs and work well in homes were people are at work and school all day.  Some people also love their independence, as they answer to no one!

Dogs

Dogs thrive on regular exercise. They love to walk outdoors. They require more training and they really enjoy training. It provides them quality time with their masters. They love to please their owners and training gives that opportunity.

Dogs will greet you with delight. It does not matter if you went outside just to throw the garbage or if you have been at your work all day. Compared to cat, dogs aren’t happy when left alone and thrive on interaction with dogs and people once trained properly. While they may happy in being there to serve you, cats will let you to serve.

In case your choice as a house pet is a dog, there are many things you have to think about. The initial step in picking a dog is looking for the one which suits your daily lifestyle. Are you a home buddy, or a person on the go? Logic might seem to say that a smaller dog will be less trouble. This isn’t essentially so. A mastiff might love to lie around your home all day and wait for you patiently to return. A Russell terrier will bounce her way around your home it doesn’t matter if you are present or not.

How old must your dog be? A puppy is cute and will increase your responsibility. A puppy needs house training as well as behavior training. You’ll have to tolerate accidents and chewing. If you don’t have time to give over to these steps, you’ll be glad adopting an older dog. Keep in mind that not all older dogs are accessible because of bad behavior. Most often they relinquished as of changes in the status of the family, illness and moving of the owners. Through dealing with a reliable rescue, you’ll know lots about the dog prior to adopting your new friend.

Conclusion

In general, choosing between dog and cat as a house comes down to what you wish for a pet, energy and time you are ready to devote. Where you reside also plays an essential role in making a choice. But, no matter what you choose, cats and dogs are lovable and enjoyable to be with.

Swim Spa

Should I Get a Pool or Hot Tub For My Home?

If you need a way to relax and have fun in your home, one of the best ways to do this is by adding a hot tub or an above ground pool. Here are some tips on both so you can decide to get one or both:

When it comes to hot tubs, it’s much easier to install an above ground hot tub, as an in-ground one requires digging and/or some renovation to the inside of your house. Some of the options to consider when choosing hot tubs are the size (usually 2-8 people), seating arrangements (molded or benches), color (tan, white, etc.), shape (oval, round, square, etc.), exterior cabinet (wood, stone or composite), water jets (different sizes and types), or upgrades like LED lights or waterfalls or sound systems.

Cost of Hot Tubs

Hot tubs can cost anywhere from a range of about $2,000 and up. It all depends on the choice of the things mentioned above, and if you install it yourself or have the manufacturer do it or if it is delivered, as that can add on costs. Some of the best brands of hot tubs to choose from are Jacuzzi, Coast Spas, LifeSmart, QCA Spas, Sunbelt, and SpaBerry.

Yes, hot tubs can be expensive, but when you take the hydrotherapy benefits into play, you may find that you may cut down on your visits to your local massage parlor.  I love my massages, but now only go once a month to my favorite massage spa in Charlotte.

Hot Tub Care

It is necessary to properly maintain your hot tub if you want it to be sanitary and last a long time. Things like testing the chemicals and pH levels are some of that required maintenance. Plus, they should be inspected periodically by a hot tub specialist.

Above Ground Pools

Many homeowners also consider building an above ground pool as swimming is fun and a good source of exercise. Above ground pools can be far less expensive than in-ground pools for several reasons. The above ground pools, for instance, require lots of plumbing fixtures, as well as excavating dirt from your yard, etc., while that is not needed for above ground pools.

In fact, above ground pools are said to cost a quarter what an in-ground pools costs. Plus, they come in easy to install kits and can be installed with only two or three people doing the job.

Maintenance And Safety of Above Ground Pools

Above ground pools are also safer and easier to manage. Of course you still have to use the proper chemicals to keep it clean, and remove debris like leaves, but they are easier to maintain. Plus, you can put a special kind of ladder to get into an above ground pool and use a locking gate or just drain it and take it apart when you don’t plan on using it for long periods of time, as this will make it safer to have one in your yard.

Plus, if you move away to a new home, you won’t lose your pool if you have an above ground pool because you can just take it apart and move it along with all of your other household goods.

 

3 Signs of a Good Bankruptcy Attorney

Financial misfortune is part of life due to various reasons – sickness, bad judgment, overall economic instability. Often we are threatened to lose our home due to foreclosure as a result of failure to pay the mortgage installments on time. In such cases, one of the best solutions to your problem will be to file a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy so that you can avoid the most negative repercussions on your financial status. But in order to be successful in this hard undertaking you need a good and reliable bankruptcy attorney who has the necessary skills and desire to help you. It’s better to choose a local attorney since they will be absolutely familiar with the exact procedure followed in your region, and if you are living in the USA it is an absolute must. The best option is to contact someone, who you are familiar with or who was recommended to you by a trusted friend or colleague but in any case you can look for these 3 signs that are a guarantee of a good professional in the field of bankruptcy.

 

Extensive experience in the field

The first and most important sign of a good bankruptcy attorney is their experience in the field. When you find the name of a person you believe is your future legal representative you can look for them in the respective country association of lawyers to check first and foremost that they are actually professionals registered there and then to see their experience, you can also google them but bear in mind that heaters tend to post more comments round the web so don’t take all the bad (and good for that matter) information at face value. On the website of the legal company of the particular attorney you have chosen, you will usually be able to find a short bio of the person, which will also give you a hint of their knowledge. A good sign is if the person has some experience both in practice or as a study, in any other related field such as accountancy for example.

 

Reasonable number of cases per year

Do not be seduced by the common pitfall of hiring an attorney you saw on TV boosting to have solved more than 1,000 cases per year. This will only mean that most of the cases are transferred to the assistants or junior colleagues to deal with and only the most well-paying get the attention of the star lawyer. If you want a real person attitude and an attorney who will listen to you and give you proper advice, you need a professional who deals with about 150-180 cases per year. In this example less actually means more – more attention to your individual problem. You should be able to book a consultation and spend a good 3 or 4 hours talking to your bankruptcy attorney and discussing the options and possible outcomes.

 

Free consultations

Most of the best professionals offer free initial consultations, especially on issues such as filing Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy or what are the other options for fighting foreclosure. A good sign is also the availability of free advice and comprehensive information that you can find on the site of the particular attorney. It may be in the form of informative posts or free online brochures and books that you might download. This clearly shows that the person in front of you is there to help and not simply take your money.

 

These were just a few simple tips that will help you recognize a good professional if the time has come for you to a file a bankruptcy. Choose the right attorney and you will be able to overcome this temporary difficulty and return to your normal routine.

How to Take Proper Care of Your Natural Stone Tiles – 5 Simple Tips

Natural stone tiles have become quite popular in recent years and are no longer the priority of the wealthy. It is quite common now to have a white marble kitchen top, grey granite floor tiles or antique travertine bathroom walls. Natural stone is a symbol of longevity and durability, however it is also a gentle material that deserves proper care and maintenance in order to reward you with its excellent qualities. The good news is that it is not difficult to clean your natural stone tiles especially if you follow these 5 simple tips given below.

 

Get to know your stone

In order to be able to take proper care of your natural stone you should know a few details about its origin and qualities. The stones can be divided into two main categories depending on their composition – siliceous and calcareous. The first group are sedimentary rocks that consist mainly of silicon dioxide (SiO2) in the form of quartz or quartz-like particles and silica. These stones are quite popular and include granite, sandstone, quartzite, slate, bluestone and brownstone that are used both as interior and exterior tiles. Siliceous stones are more durable and are resistant to acidic fluids, hence granite is one of the preferred stones for countertop since some juice or vinegar spills won’t ruin it. Calcareous stones, on the other hand, are more delicate and sensitive. They are composed of calcium carbonate that is found in shells or pearls and to this group belong the well-known marble, onyx, limestone and travertine. Another important feature of natural stone is their porosity, i.e. the ability to absorb water. The more porous the stone is the more prone it is to stain and to freeze in harsh conditions if used outside.  according to this quality the stones that are usually used rank as follows: sandstone is the most porous, travertine, limestone and slate follow it, marble is next and granite is the least porous of all.

 

Choose the appropriate finish

There is not only a variety of natural stone tiles  to choose from but also an array of different finishes and surfaces that enhance one or another quality of the stone. Some of the most popular finishes are polished, honed, tumbled, and antiqued.

  • The polished finish gives the surface gloss and shine and makes it reflective similar to a mirror. It is often used for marble, granite and travertine but can be applied to other stones as well. The advantage of this finish is that it enhances the color of the stone but also makes the surface quite slippery, so it is not recommendable for floors.
  • The honed finish makes the stone look smooth and matted, while preserving its color. The surface has a lighter shade and is not so shine and reflective. The finishing can be applied to almost all stones and is very suitable for tiles that have to withstand high wear and tear, such as floors.
  • The tumbled finish of a stone makes it look aged and as if walked on for years. It is an ideal finish if you want to give your home the unique atmosphere of the ancient times. You can have marble or travertine tiles with this finishing and use them both for walls and floors in the kitchen or bathroom
  • The antiqued finish is also very popular type of surface since in addition to giving the stone a worn look it also stimulates its further aging and makes it more durable. It is a popular finish for a variety of stones, including limestone, marble, granite and travertine.

You can consult the natural stone tiles manufacturer for the best finishing of your stone in accordance with its purpose.

 

Always seal your stone

The most important advice you should follow is to always seal your natural stone tiles, no matter what type of stone you use or what its finish is. The sealer protects the stone from scratching and stains and enhances its life span. Always choose a sealer that is recommended for your specific stone tiles.

Take daily care

The proper regular care of natural stone tiles is of extreme importance. Both countertops and floors covered with such tiles can be cleaned with mild dishwasher detergent or soap stone and warm water. All food or liquid spills should be swiped immediately to prevent the stone from staining. In order to protect the kitchen tops always use mats under hot surfaces and avoid cutting directly on them as you can scratch them. As for the floors it is good to always vacuum bigger debris and sand particles before mopping and washing them. You can also place doormats or area rugs to protect place that are subject to high traffic.

Remove stains properly

No matter how good we take care of our natural stone tiles they will get an occasional stain or two. If you use the right techniques to clean them, there is nothing to worry about. First you need to identify if the stain is organic (from tea, coffee, food, etc.), oil, rust or other and then proceed accordingly. Organic stains can be cleaned using 12% hydrogen peroxide (hair bleaching strength) and a few drops of ammonia. Oil stains are better cleaned with a poultice with acetone, ammonia or mild household detergent, while rust is best treated with a commercial rust remover.

Observe these 5 recommendations and the natural stone tiles that you have will serve you very long time, while looking as good as when first installed.

Energy efficient home

Home Energy Tips For the Smart Homeowner

Everyone wants to save money on their home energy bills.  Better yet, wouldn’t it be even better to save money and reduce your impact on the environment?

Younger generations are placing a bigger and bigger emphasis on environmental concerns than older generations, which is great.  We have limited resources on this planet and need to make sure we take care of our planet and leave resources and a healthy planet for generations to come.

When it comes to our home, there are lots of little things we can do that can add up to big savings to your checkbook as well as minimizing the impact on our environment.

Below are some tips for saving money and the planet when it comes to your home.

 

Use Clean Energy For Your Fireplace

Instead of using wood or coal fireplaces, which produce carbon monoxide and other toxins into the atmosphere, consider using cleaner energy sources like natural gas or better yet, go electric.  Electric fireplaces have come a long way in terms of looks and energy efficiency.  My friend Jeanne over at Stylish Fireplaces in Toronto (now in Vaughan) says that younger people are moving more and more towards electric fireplaces due to their versatility and energy efficiency.

 

Use Solar Energy

Solar energy roof panels is still an emerging market but many homeowners are making the switch thanks to federal and state-level subsidies available.  While the upfront costs can be high (20K+), subsidies can offset that costs and often within 10 years your investment will start producing a positive ROI for you as well as a greatly reduced impact on the environment.

 

Energy Efficient HVAC System

If you have an old HVAC system or one that runs poorly, maybe by poor installation or m=workmanship, then you have a chance to save a bundle with a new HVAC system.  If your system is under 10 years old, a good cleaning and regular maintenance plan may be all that’s needed.  If you have an older system, replacing all or parts of the system may be in order.  We had old fiber based ductwork in our house which was falling apart and leaking all over the place and saw an immediate 20% savings on our energy bill, which works out to over $600 a year on our bill.

 

Tankless Water Heater

A hot water tank can use up to 20% of your monthly energy bill, continually heating water that is just sitting in your tank, even if you are gone all day at work or on vacation.  A tankless water heater produces hot water on demand and only heats it when you want to use it.  A tankless water heater can add up to big savings for you over the course of the year.

The only thing I will add is that if you have a large family and people tend to take showers simultaniously, a tankless hot water heater may stuggle a bit trying to supply enough hot water to every shower head.

 

Insulate your attic

Do you have your attic insulated or is it old and not efficient anymore?  In the summer, attic insulation will help keep the heat shining on your roof from getting into your home and causing your HVAC system to work overtime.  In the winter, it will help you keep warm air in the attic and stop it from escaping from the house.  A bonus would be to get an attic fan, which will help get heat out of your home during the summer months.

When we renovated our home a few years ago, we converted our attic into a family room for our growing family.  The home renovation company in Toronto we hired needed to retrofit the attic with proper wallboard, HVAC system, and air circulation to make sure the room did not get too hot in the summer and cool air could reach the third floor when needed.

 

So here are just a few tips to save money on your energy bill at home.  Have any tips of your own?  Let us know in the comments below!

Why I Decided To Hire an Office Cleaning Company

I’ve had my office now for 6 years and during that time I have always cleaned the office myself, or enlisted the help of my husband (on the weekends no less) to help out.

My office is pretty small, two small offices with a central meeting room and a single bathroom.  I thought it was crazy to spend a few hundred dollars a month on cleaning when I can just spend 1-2 hours a week cleaning it myself at the end of the day.  I did this for 6 years until I realized how wrong I was.

The trigger started when I got sick this past winter.  I had a chest infection that I couldn’t shake.  One day my husband went down to the office to do a thorough clean and called me to tell me something gross.  He pulled out the furniture from the wall and found so much dust behind there that he started having a sneezing attack.  To make matters worse, he found some mold behind the water cooler, which had been leaking for who nows how long.

Now I don’t know if my chest infection was a result of breathing in junk in the office, but what I do know is that what I thought I was doing (cleaning the office), wasn;t actually cleaning at all.  I decided I had enough and decided to call in a professional cleaning company to come in and do it right.  If I calculated the 6-10 hours I spent each month doing a poor job at cleaning, I realized that it was cheaper, easier and more efficient to just hire a cleaning company.

The next week, Steve from Carolina Office Cleaning, an office cleaning company in Charlotte, came down and gave me an estimate.  I signed up with them 3 months ago and couldn’t be happier.  I leave the office at night and come back the next morning to a very clean office environment.  I didn’t realize how dirty the office was until it was really cleaned.  I feel happier in my clean environment and it has motivated me to organize everything else in the office, making me an efficient bee for the first time in my working life.

So if you don’t have the funds to hire a cleaning company for your office, put it on your list as it can make your working environment just a little better and maybe make you and your employees more efficient and productive.

Also check out this handy infographic I found, courtesy of Lamar Cleaning Services

Office Cleaning Infographic Charlotte NC

Why Electric Fireplaces Are Better Than Gas and Wood

Are you considering getting a new fireplace for your home?  Before you go out and purchase a gas or wood fireplace, learn more about the benefits of an electric fireplace!

Years ago, electric fireplaces were basically space heaters with a picture of flames on the front glass.  Oh how times have changed! Not only is the flame media much more realistic, some people can’t tell they are not real flames until they have their face pressed up against the glass.

The realistic look and energy and health benefits, make an electric fireplace an attractive option.  Let’s look at some benefits of an electric fireplace.

1 – They are energy efficient.  The costs to run an electric fireplace compare favorably against a gas fireplace and offers the convenience of being able to be placed anywhere an electrical outlet is nearby, you can’t do that with gas.  And with wood, you need to vent 90% of the heat out of the flu or else you’re at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

2 – They are convenient.  Turn on, turn off, set a timer and away we go.  Get clean heat on demand without any gas or wood smell in your home.  Want to turn it on during the summer?  No worries, use the flame only feature and have a fireplace without the heat, something you can’t do with any other fireplace.

3- They are eco-friendly.  No pollutants in the air, no carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.  It just delivers clean, cheap and efficient heat and ambiance whenever you feel like it.

So where you get an electric fireplace?  There are dealers all across the country, Dimplex, Napolean, Amantii and Modern Flame are some fo the better options out there.  We purchased our Dimplex wall fireplace from a Dimplex fireplace dealer in Toronto last year and loved it.  If you live in the States, there are many online options as well that offer great prices.

Check out the tips below for some more electric fireplace tips and hopefully, it’ll help you decide what type of fireplace to buy for your home.

Why Electric Fireplace

Outdoor Fireplace

How To Create A Perfect Backyard For Your Family

Most homeowners know that the act of buying a property hardly comes without a certain amount of compromise. For some, instead of having sprawling grounds, it is better to make peace with a seemingly cozy yard.

You can transform your postage stamp yard to an amazing hideaway with just a little planning and forethought. You can create a space a highly functional and aesthetically pleasing small backyard if you can put certain simple ideas together. Here are some small background ideas that can help you transform that ordinary space behind your house to a perfect backyard for your family.

 

Render Your Space Function

One effective way to make your space look more cohesive is by defining its function. You can begin by thinking of various ways through which you can ideally choose to use your exterior. This may include installing a large dining table for some kind of al fresco summer feasting or a turning it into a perfect relaxation spot with plush seating area. You can either decide to break up your yard into a few distinct areas or stick with one feature depending on the availability of space.

 

Build a Tree House

This is almost a must have for every home with a backyard and kids. In fact, the tree house is the No. 1 DIY project for the backyard. This is a place where kids will love to set up meetings, play together and have fun all through the day. If you do not have any in your backyard, it is important you start constructing one with your kid but if you already have one, ensure to render a quick makeover.

 

A Nice Pool

No doubt, swimming pools has a calming effect. They tend to give a backyard that cooling effect. Building a swimming pool or even a Jacuzzi in your backyard would definitely go a long way in transforming your space into a soothing oasis. This special edge can even be obtained from a simple bird bath.

 

Plant a Vegetable Garden

Your yard can be brought to life if you plant flowers and shrubs in it. Even if they may only live for a few months, change the look of your backyard and make it come alive by strategically placing flower beds, shrubs and herb gardens. This will make your space lively and perfect for family parties and pensive personal moments.

 

Put in a Hot Tub

Whether in the middle of a regular-length day or at the end of a long day, nothing is more relaxing than soaking in a hot tub. However, ensure to apply extreme caution around the water, so as to keep things family-friendly.  If you want to use your hot tub for health and exercise, then consider getting a swim spa for your home.

 

Construct an Outdoor Fire Place

An outdoor fireplace comes in very handy during the chilling times of the winter season where you and your family members can cuddle up together to share warmth. It is also a great spot for barbecue parties and to enjoy your backyard in the cooler months of the year.

Physiotherapy after Car Accident

Massage Therapy After a Car Accident

Car accidents can really change the life of any person that is involved in such an unfortunate incident, especially if that person is a victim. The outcome of such an accident can even be felt dozens of years after it happened, but it can also have a financial impact as well.

While the financial problem might be solved in the end, it’s important to take care of your body after such a perilous problem happens, and the best way to do it by contacting a physiotherapist that specializes in auto accident rehabilitation. It’s important to undertake massage therapy as fast as possible, as this is the best way to take care of any physical problems and conditions that were created by the car accident.

Multiple Injuries

As you might probably know by now, there are multiple types of injuries that occur during an accident, but also some mental conditions go with it as well. The problems that can be encountered might include muscle strains or sprains, whip lash, numbness, vertigo, lower back subluxations and many, many others. A car accident can cause one or even more of these conditions, and there are some situations in which you can get a combination or injuries, which can be really unfortunate. This is why you shouldn’t wait until you get a treatment, and the massage therapy is surely the best way to solve this problem.

All of the conditions presented above can be solved by accessing a great, licensed massage therapist as that is the best way to get forward in your life and get back in shape as fast as possible. With such a therapy you will be able to recover from the trauma, both on a mental and physical standpoint, which is very important, of course.

Deep Tissue Massage

You can opt for a deep tissue massage that can easily help you recover the strength of your muscles after the injury or reverse the effects of the scar tissue. In addition, you can also go for a way to clean up the lymphatic system in order to get rid of those toxins and feel much better, as that is crucial as well. There is also a type of massage called adept therapy that allows you to open up the blood circulation, which in the end will make your muscles work properly. This type of therapy surely increases the chance of recovery, and that is why you should always try it, especially after such a shocking accident.

Always remember that a car accident doesn’t have to be the end of the world. After all, you should realize that with the help of a massage therapist you can easily overcome all those problems without too much hassle. The benefits for your body will be tremendous though, with better muscle movement and a rapid recovery that can’t be achieved otherwise. So, if you had a car accident recently and want to recover very fast, then you should immediately undertake a massage therapy treatment, as this is the best way to heal after such a misfortune.