When outdoor temperatures drop and indoor temperatures threaten to join them, few things bring more comfort than a reliable central heating system — except when that system stops being so reliable. If you’re huddled under a mound of blankets right now because your heater has suddenly decided to take the winter off, rest assured that many heater issues can be dealt with by their owners. Here are four things you can check on your heater to discover — and quite possibly correct — the cause of the problem.
1. User Error
This one may be embarrassing to own up to, but you should always admit the possibility that someone in your household may have done something silly with the heater settings. For instance, when you’re stumbling around in the middle of the night trying to find and adjust your thermostat, it could be all too easy to switch the device to “Off” instead of “Auto” by accident. The thermostat could also be set to a lower temperature than you thought.
2. Electrical Failure
An HVAC system takes its operational cues from electrical impulses. If your heater isn’t receiving instructions, you need to troubleshoot the electrical sources and connections.
3. Furnace Problems
If the fan blows only cold air, then the furnace may be malfunctioning. If you have an electric furnace, the issue may be a faulty heating element, a wiring disconnection, a short circuit, or a bad piece of electronics. A gas furnace might have been switched off, in which case you can simply switch it on again, or it might have a closed gas valve. On older gas heaters, the pilot light may need re-lighting. Both electric and gas heaters can also suffer from a blower motor failure that requires the attention of a heating repair specialist.
4. Ventilation Blockages
Sometimes a heating system can’t transfer the heat it generates to your ductwork because its ventilation filter is clogged with dust and debris. This filter may be either permanent or disposable. Remove a permanent filter from its slot, clean all the gunk out of it, and then return it to its original position. Throw a disposal filter away and then replace it with another of the same dimensions.
Not every central heating problem can be accounted for in a quick troubleshooting session or fixed by the homeowner. If you’re still stumped by the fact that your heater doesn’t heat, professional heater repair services can come to your rescue. Good luck — and in the meantime, bundle up warm!Learn More
Canvas awnings over your windows add color and interest to your home’s exterior, while also providing a useful function. Homeowners can purchase awning installation kits from any home improvement or building supply store. You can have them professionally installed if you’re willing to pay more, but the average homeowner shouldn’t have any problem carrying out this project. The following steps will show you how.
What You Will Need
Step 1. Before you purchase an awning kit, use a measuring tape to get exact measurements of your window to ensure that you have exactly what you need before you start. You’ll probably have a range of decorative options to choose from.
Step 2. Use a stud finder to locate the studs you will be attaching your awning to. It’s essential that your awning is attached to joists or masonry studs to ensure that the wind and rain don’t push the awning around and cause damage. Once you have located the studs, use a chalk line to mark them. Then use a pencil to mark where the center of the window lies along the chalk line and start drilling pilot holes for the mounting hardware.
Step 3. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, assemble the rear section of the awning. To do this, you will usually fasten the two rear bar pipes together and align the aluminum channel inside them. Clamp the rear bar onto the mounting hardware.
Step 4. Before you handle the awning, make sure everything (including your hands) are perfectly clean. Then slide the rope connected to the awning into the channel inside the rear bar. If your awning design uses snaps, snap the awning material around the bar. Now assemble the front bar. There should be a front pocket on the awning material that you slide this bar into. Again, if you have snaps at the front, snap them closed.
Step 5. Now start assembling the diagonal rafters that go on the side. Lift the front of the awning up and out so you can slide the rafters into position. You might need an assistant to help you do this. It’s sometimes easier to get them in place by lifting the awning slightly higher than its final position. Screw the nuts on loosely to hold the rafters up, but don’t tighten them just yet.
Step 6. Now connect the side support arms to the rafter and front bar, again leaving the nut a little loose. Then connect the support arms to the rear section and start tightening down all the nuts, including the ones holding on the rafters. (For more information on commercial window repair, contact Ken Caryl Glass, Inc.)Learn More
The small white or brown mushrooms that pop up in your lawn, commonly referred to as lawn mushrooms, can be a nuisance. The mushrooms are actually the fruiting body of a large fungal system that is growing just beneath the soil. Cultural control practices can minimize their growth and keep your lawn beautiful.
Find the Food Source
Mushrooms won’t grow without a food source. The fungus feeds on decaying organic matter. Piles of pet waste or fallen leaves that need raking are the most common feeders for mushrooms. Maintaining the lawn and keeping it clear of debris helps prevent growth.
Not all food source is obvious. If your lawn is clean but mushrooms keep sprouting up, the food source may be buried. Usually you will find rotting wood, such as construction debris, an old tree stump or a dead root, several inches below the ground. The mushrooms will disappear on their own after the buried food source finishes decomposing. If the problem is severe, you can dig up the turf and remove the food source, but this is only necessary if your mushroom problem is severe.
Overly wet lawns are more prone to mushrooms than dry soil. For this reason, new sod is especially prone to mushroom growth because of its high irrigation needs. Mushrooms that only appear after heavy rainfall aren’t a concern, because they usually disappear soon after the sun comes out.
Avoid over-irrigation to help control the mushrooms. Provide your lawn with only 1 to 2 inches of water two or three times a week, and only water when the lawn is in its active growth cycle. If the ground feels wet, hold off on watering until after it has had a chance to dry.
Open the Soil
Poor air circulation inside the soil can also increase the chances of mushroom development. A combination of dethatching and aerating helps open up the ground. Thatch is the thin layer of decaying grass that builds up directly on top of the soil. Some thatch is good, but if the layer is more than ½ inch deep you should remove it with a dethatching rake.
Aeration removes small plugs of soil from the ground, which loosens the soil and allows air and moisture to soak in. You can rent an aerator or dethatching rake, or hire a lawn maintenance crew to perform the service as part of your spring lawn care regimen.
Destroy the Evidence
Fungicides and chemical controls won’t usually control mushrooms. Beyond removing the food source and managing moisture, there is little you can do to destroy the mushrooms. Fortunately, they aren’t usually harmful to your lawn. When you notice the mushrooms coming up, rake over them to break them from their stalks. This prevents them from producing spores and spreading.
Like all mushrooms, lawn mushrooms can be toxic. Take precautions and keep your landscape maintained if you have pets or children. Wear gloves when handling the mushrooms, and never eat an unidentified mushroom.Learn More
If you’re looking for new plants and trees to bring home, a nursery is a fantastic place to go. Caring staff offer locally suitable plants that are also often certified to resist or be free of pests and pathogens. However, even the best nurseries can find infestations starting unexpectedly — maybe a customer tracked something in on his or her shoes, or an errant bug discovered a hiding place in a dense shrub and multiplied. Before bringing any plant home, inspect it thoroughly to ensure you’re not bringing additional organisms home with you. Here are some basic things to do.
Leaf- and Stem-Dwelling Pests
Check under the leaves of the plant for evidence of bugs. You might not see the actual bugs — you could see things that look like scars, indicating bug damage, or bits of matter that could be droppings. Also look at the stems and the “elbows” where stems meet. If you see a particularly dense plant with lots of leaves, part the branches and leaves and look deeper into the middle of the plant. If you do see something, notify a nursery worker because they are not going to want to leave that plant near the others, where it could potentially spread the problem.
Look for fuzzy gray, cotton-like growths that could indicate a problem. Grayish, brownish, and blackish patches indicate different mold and mildew issues. Not all healthy plants will look perfect. However, you want to avoid those that have a definite problem.
Potential Future Problems
Check over the plants for areas that appear dry and shriveled — even a little. Obviously, a blossom that’s aged to the point of dropping off the plant will look dry and shriveled, but that’s not the issue. You’re looking for signs that the plant didn’t receive adequate water. In many cases, mildly dry plants can be nursed back to health with more water, but not always. Excessively dry, weakened plants can be magnets for pests. Even if that plant doesn’t appear to have a problem now, it could attract one later on.
Look at the top of the soil and at the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If you’re buying a large container plant, you might need a staff member to help you lift up the plant. Bugs can congregate around the drainage hole openings. Avoid plants where you see bugs living in the soil. If you can’t lift up the plant, douse the top and bottom of the soil with insecticide when you get it home, and keep it away from your other plants for a few weeks. Also give the plant a gentle but thorough bath, either by spraying it with a hose or dunking it in water for 15 minutes, if the plant can handle moist soil.
Look for plants that are certified disease- and pest-free, and that are planted in clean soil. Be wary of plants that are in soil taken from a yard — professional nurseries shouldn’t have these, but you might see these at fairs where people are selling cuttings. Soil is a major transfer medium for diseases and pests.
Good nurseries have knowledgeable staff who can help you look for issues with plants. If you have any questions about what pests and diseases might be an issue in your area, your local nurseries are among the best places to go.Learn More
Quartz has always been considered one of the most beautiful stones in the world. It is used in a variety of different jewelry settings, as well as tabletops and other pieces of home decor. Quartz is now being used as a material in creating stunning countertops for the kitchen. Quartz countertops are becoming even more popular than granite countertops, which were once considered the most attractive type of countertops on the market. These are some other advantages of choosing quartz countertops for your home.
It Is Stylish and Beautiful
Of course one of the most common reasons that homeowners love quartz countertops is the astounding beauty it adds to their kitchen. Each quartz countertop is very unique and has a variety of different patterns and textures. These countertops are also available in both light and dark colors so that they can be coordinated with the rest of your kitchen decor easily.
It Is Very Low Maintenance
Quarts countertops are also a very low maintenance option for your kitchen. They can be wiped down easily with only soap and water. Because they have a nonporous surface, stains do not soak into the countertop. To remove stains on the surface, gentle cleansers can be used.
It Is Antimicrobial
Because the quartz is mixed with a resin binder, this gives the countertops a smooth, nonporous finish. This prevents germs, bacteria, mold and mildew from penetrating into the surface of the countertop. This gives you a germ-free, sanitary area for preparing the foods you serve to your family.
It Is Strong and Durable
Quartz countertops are also very strong and durable. Because quartz is more flexible than granite, it is considered a stronger material. Quartz is also a heavier material which gives it the ability to withstand more weight if it is installed properly.
It Is Nearly Seamless
When quartz countertops are installed properly, it is nearly impossible to see where each piece begins and ends. Some companies even off extra large slabs of quartz countertops. These may cover each counter completely so that there are no seams showing at all. Also, even if smaller pieces are installed, the seams in darker colored quartz countertops are nearly invisible.
Adding a quartz countertop is a wonderful way to bring new life to any kitchen. Even if you cannot completely remodel your kitchen, having quartz countertops installed will improve the appearance of your kitchen instantly by giving it a stylishly updated look. Companies like Artisan Granite & Marble and others can help you find the right kind of quartz countertop for your kitchen.Learn More
Most gardeners and cooks love fresh herbs. Herbs are not only useful plants for cooking, they also provide an attractive touch to your landscaping design. While many varieties of herbs grow in abundance in wild locations, quite a few can also be grown domestically. There is a wide range of different types of herbs that are used for both culinary reasons and for medicinal uses. With a bit of persistence, anyone can learn how to grow their own outdoor herbs.
What You Will Need
Tiller or Garden Shovel
Plants or Herbs Seeds
Step 1. Placement is an important part of having a successful garden. The spot you choose should provide both protection from windy conditions and lots of direct sunlight. Herbs require a normal amount of moisture within the soil so winds can’t dry out the herbs. Herbs can do quite well as borders along a walkway. For your convenience, you can place an herb garden close to your kitchen for easy access.
Step 2. Select your herb seeds or plants. There are many types of herbs to select from, and it’s important to choose herbs that will have the same water, sunlight and soil requirements. Rosemary, chamomile, catmint and thyme, for example, share similar requirements, as do elderberry, lemon grass and loveage. Keep in mind that fennel, mint and dill can be aggressive, so you should take care in planting these alongside other herbs.
Step 3. Next, prepare the site where you intend to plant your herbs. The majority of herbs do well in well-drained, average soil. Add an equal amount of sand and compost to make hard clay usable. Use a rototiller or garden shovel to loosen up the soil. Herbs do best in fine soil, therefore make sure to break up larger clumps prior to planting.
Step 4. Begin planting the herbs you’ve chosen in your garden. Place smaller ground covers in the front and larger ones toward the back. Make sure that there is enough room between your plants to allow for weeding and harvesting. To ensure there is enough moisture in the soil, add a fine mulch layer around the plants’ roots. Give the plants a thorough watering after planting, as well as any time the soil seems dry.
Step 5. Remove cuttings from your herbs when they are fresh and young for culinary uses. For herbs not being harvested, it will be necessary to prune them to maintain their shape in your garden. Remember to harvest flowering herbs before their blossoms dry out.
For more tips on planning your yard and garden, contact a local landscaping company, like Marlowe’s We Care Company.Learn More