Contractor Tips Blog


Energy Savings and Better Comfort With New Windows

Installing new windows in your home is an excellent way to save on heating and cooling costs.  According to EPA estimates, a homeowner can save up to $500 per year by replacing old single pane windows with new energy efficient double pane Energy Star windows.  In addition to saving energy, a home window replacement using new Energy Star windows  can increase the value of your home, keep you and your family more comfortable, and protect your valuables all while reducing your carbon footprint.

If your home was built with single pane windows or even standard double pane windows, you can dramatically improve the energy efficiency of your home by upgrading to Energy Star double pane windows.  Depending on where you live and your old windows, your energy savings can range from 7 to 15 percent.  To qualify for the Energy Star rating, the windows must meet certain minimum requirements for

Energy Star qualified windows also have special coatings that reflect infrared light and the harmful UV rays of the sun.  These coatings help keep heat outside your home in the summer and inside your home in the winter.  In addition, it reduces sun damage to curtains, upholstery, floor coverings, photographs and other valuable personal property.

Energy Star windows have at least two panes of glass with a layer of air or inert gas between the panes.  Combined with other features, these windows have excellent insulating properties that keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.  They also reduce drafts and those cool or warm areas near the window and new windows are designed to make cleaning the windows a breeze.

Upgrading to modern energy efficient windows can be a significant investment, but the upgrade will be reflected in the value of your home.  Meanwhile, you will enjoy greater comfort and reduced energy bills with your new Energy Star windows.  Talk to an experienced window installation contractor about upgrading the windows in your home.


Test Your Fire Alarms Regularly

Fire and smoke alarms are one of the most important tools in keeping you safe and secure in your work environment. In fact, it’s been shown that a working fire alarm could prevent many of the 3,500 deaths suffered by Americans who are killed by fire or smoke inhalation every year.

Here are six great reasons that you should have your fire alarms inspected and tested regularly:

  1. In order to meet the requirements of your local fire inspectors, or local building department or possibly your insurance provider
  2. People’s lives are on the line, a fire alarm can only save lives if it’s working and many faults aren’t obviously apparent without testing
  3. To reduce or limit your possible liabilities to others including but not limited to employees, tenants and guests
  4. It’s possible that your insurance provider won’t pay out on your policy unless you can prove your fire alarms were tested recently and were found to be working properly
  5. So that you don’t cause work unnecessarily for your local fire department, who don’t need to be called out to a false alarm and don’t forget when this happens it diverts resources away from others who may really need help
  6. And importantly for business owners it’s the law – and that means it’s required by the National Fire Alarm Code in section NFPA72

So don’t let your home or business become a fire risk when you can have a qualified fire alarm inspection and testing professional visit and make sure all your equipment is in top working condition.



Home Fire Prevention

Did you know that every year more than 3,500 Americans die and another 18,000 are injured in fires in their homes? That’s according to FEMA, and those fires cause an estimated $7.3 billion dollars worth of damage to homes and valuables too.

While insurance may cover the costs of replacing lost items, nothing may be able to bring back objects of great sentimental value like photographs of your children in their early years, or your wedding dress from the closet where it hangs as a reminder of one of the happiest days of your life.

One of the most important things to consider is that a fire can become life threatening in just two minutes from the moment that something in your home bursts into flame. You and your family deserve the best possible protection against this very real hazard.

The good news is that help is at hand. Heat and smoke detectors are available that keep an eye on your whole house so that you can be sure your loved ones will be safe. Not only do these systems work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year monitoring every part of your home for unusually high temperatures or smoke, but as soon as they detect anything unusual they will not only sound an alarm in your home but also send an alarm to a monitoring company.

For the best protection against fire for you and your family, chose a reliable alarm monitoring service that is approved by Underwriter’s Laboratories.  Ask if the monitoring is handled locally or off-site.  A local monitoring station can usually provide better and more reliable service in an emergency than one located hundreds or thousands of miles away.


Whole House Audio Solutions

Posted in Home Audio

Have you ever considered how great it would be to listen to the same music throughout your house? You could make breakfast, take it up to your partner in bed and share it together before jumping into the bathroom to prepare for the day and never miss a note of your favorite tunes. A whole house audio system can make this a reality. You can have speakers and a control system in every room of your house, so that you can enjoy listening everywhere.

Of course, sometimes in busy families, everyone wants to listen to something different and the good news is that a whole house audio system can support this too! With a rack system controlling the inputs hidden away in a closet or in your basement, there’s no problem to have as many media sources connected as you like. Your children can dance to the latest music in the den while you enjoy the classics in the living room.

And it’s not just audio that can be shared.  These amazing systems can handle video too.  You and your family can all watch the same films or TV programs in different spaces, or you can all do your own thing without interfering with anyone else’s viewing. It’s very simple to do and the controls are all part of the same easy to use system.

Each whole house audio/video system is custom designed and installed so it is up to you to choose what you want and where you want it.  Whole house audio/video systems have almost unlimited flexibility.  You can go for simple audio to complex systems with or without video support in every room and mix and match until it’s just right for you and your family.



Home Automation Saves You Time and Money

Posted in Home Automation

For years people have talked about saving time and money through their home doing things for them, and now the reality has caught up with the dream. Smart homes are the new technology revolution taking the effort out of humdrum tasks and making the pennies go further than ever before. Many new homes come with structured wiring that enables easy integration of home automation features without enormous amounts of effort.

So what kind of automation is possible? You’d be amazed! You can start with the temperature controls in your house which monitor the way your thermostat or HVAC system works to ensure maximum energy efficiency which means saving money on air conditioning and heating bills. Then you can try out automated lighting controls, you can save money by having all your lights turn off when you leave home and then turn on just as you arrive.

When you’re away, lighting controls can help with security too, you can set your lights to turn on in different parts of the house at different times of day and night to give observers the appearance that someone is at home and burglars prefer empty houses.

Or why not consider a control for your oven that you can call when you’re on your way home, using just your cell phone and start getting it warmed up for dinner. You can even automate aspects of your home security system and watch your CCTV footage on your iPhone. And don’t forget to automate your sprinklers so your garden is always in perfect condition.

If you want to get more out of your home for less, home automation can make your life easier.



Loss Prevention Cameras Decrease Shoplifting

According to recent statistics from the National Association for Shoplifting Prevention, more than $35 million dollars worth of goods are stolen from American stores every single day of the year. It’s a problem that costs businesses more than $13 billion every year, and the problem is getting worse as the financial crisis continues to cause problems throughout the country.

More and businesses are turning to loss prevention cameras to protect their profits from unwanted thieves. There are many different styles of loss prevention camera to choose from and your security professional can help you choose the right model to ensure maximum results. Dome cameras are particularly popular in businesses that want to let their customers and staff know that an area or store is being monitored for suspicious activities.

Of course not all problems in business can be solved by advertising your monitoring presence with a sign, particularly if you want to identify a thief rather than just deter them from committing an offense again. In this instance trained security professionals recommend something more subtle like a bullet camera.

A bullet camera is a very small camera which can be easily placed in a strategic location or locations to monitor activity discretely with minimum fuss. And of course your security professional will be happy to help you choose the right equipment for recording the footage which will be DVR based and should be H.264 certified for your peace of mind. Many systems are compatible with your iPhone and can be plugged straight into a computer network too.

In fact it’s a very simple process to install and maintain cameras in your workplace, and over time they pay for themselves by reducing theft and keeping your stock on the shelves until it is sold.



Golf Cart Battery Maintenance

Posted in Golf Carts

The batteries are one of the most important components on an electric golf cart.  Taking good care of your golf cart batteries will help them hold a charge better, last longer, and avoid expensive golf cart repairs.  Replacing a set of golf cart batteries costs several hundred dollars so it makes sense to follow good maintenance habits and maximize the life of the batteries.

Golf cart batteries need more care and maintenance than your car battery because larger demands are placed on them.  Unlike the engine starting battery in your car which is kept almost fully charged by the alternator, golf cart batteries are used until they are deeply discharged before recharging them.  This discharging and recharging cycle is hard on a battery.

The basics of golf cart battery maintenance are cleaning, watering, and charging.  When performing any maintenance on your golf cart batteries, be sure to wear appropriate protective gear to protect your eyes, skin, and clothing.  Also, golf cart batteries give off hydrogen gas so no smoking and avoid sparks while maintaining your batteries.

Golf cart batteries should be charged after every use.  Avoid discharging the batteries completely and always charge the battery fully.  Regularly undercharging or overcharging the batteries will shorten their life.

Once a month, clean the batteries and check the water level.  The water level in each cell should be checked and distilled water added to bring it up to the proper level.  Always add water after the battery is fully charged and don’t overwater.

Make sure the caps are tight, then clean the batteries using a solution of 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 1/2 gallons of water.  Spray the mixture on the batteries and let it sit for about five minutes.  Rinse with fresh water and dry the batteries with a clean rag.  Avoid spraying water directly on any electrical components.


When Can Asphalt Pavement Be Installed?

Asphalt is an excellent material for paving driveways, parking lots, tennis courts, walking paths, and other areas.  It is much less expensive than concrete and can be poured and ready for use in just a few days.  Unlike concrete, asphalt paving has some flexibility and it is resistant to cracking due to tree roots growing under the surface.  This flexibility is an important advantage in colder climates because asphalt is less affected by frost heave than concrete.

However, in colder climates, an asphalt driveway, parking lot or other area should not be installed in cold weather.  In warm climates, asphalt can be installed throughout the year but in other areas, asphalt should not be installed in the winter months or any time the temperature is too low.  The minimum temperature for installing asphalt depends primarily on the thickness of the asphalt, but other weather conditions such as wind and rain need to be considered as well.

Asphalt is heated to over 300 degrees and poured while it is hot.  It hardens as it cools and it needs to be graded and smoothed before it hardens.  In lower temperatures it will harden too quickly and the result will be a lumpy, uneven, and roughly finished driveway or parking lot.

Most experts recommend a minimum temperature of 70 degrees for laying a thin layer  (1 1/2 inches) of asphalt.  Temperatures can be a little lower if you are laying a thicker layer.  However, wind and moisture can also cause the asphalt to harden faster and need to be taken into account.  In fact, if there is too much moisture your asphalt paving contractor will probably recommend waiting until conditions improve.


Benefits of Seal Coating Asphalt Driveways

A little regular maintenance will help your asphalt driveway look great and last a long time.  One of the most important maintenance tasks is seal coating the driveway.  Seal coating is applied to the surface of the driveway to fill small cracks and to protect the asphalt against the elements.

Asphalt seal coating should be applied about every three years.  You should wait until the previous coating has worn off to apply a new coating.  Applying seal coating too often will result in unsightly peeling and flaking of the coating.  Waiting too long between seal coating will accelerate the wear and tear on the driveway.

You can purchase seal coating made for do-it-yourself application at your local home improvement center or you can have it professionally applied by your asphalt driveway contractor.  Professional grade seal coating usually has consistently good results.

Seal coating sold to homeowners can vary in quality between brands and even the same brand of seal coating can vary in color and quality from batch to batch.   If you choose to tackle the job yourself, it’s worth the extra cost to buy high quality seal coating and try to buy all of your cans from the same batch.  If you have to buy cans from different batches, try mixing some of the seal coating to avoid abrupt color changes.

Be sure to follow the instructions on the container.  The driveway should be clean and free of oil, transmission fluid, and other stains.  Fill larger cracks with crack filler and allow the product to cure thoroughly before applying the seal coating.  Choose a warm, dry day with no rain in the forecast for several days and start early so that you can get the job done and allow the seal coating time to dry before nightfall.


Mosquito Control

Posted in Insect Control

Consider this scenario – It’s a wonderful spring evening and you are entertaining friends and family on your outdoor patio, but just as the evening is getting started, the mosquitoes start swarming and drive everyone indoors.

If you want avoid ruined weekend get-together, you will need to know how to control mosquitoes in your yard and lawn.

First and foremost, eliminate breeding areas for mosquitoes. Water is the only breeding requirement for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes need stagnant water for laying their eggs so you need to find any pools of water and remove them. These can be anywhere that a small puddle of water can form including children’s play areas, birdbaths, and so on.

Remember following points to control mosquitoes in your lawn:

#1: Check your drainage system. See if there is any breakage or leakage and subsequently small puddles are formed close to leaking points. Repair the damaged points.

#2: Water can accumulate in garbage cans. Drill holes in the bottom of garbage containers so water does not accumulate.  Make sure the water has somewhere drain and doesn’t simply puddle under the garbage can.

#3: When you are going to be away from home for vacations or for work, make sure your pool is properly treated with chlorine.  Arrange for a pool service to keep the pool chlorinated or use an automatic chlorinator.

#4:  Check your yard for low areas that accumulate standing water.  Have your landscaper grade these areas or install french drains to keep your yard dry.

#5: Do not over water potted plants.  Remove old tires, cans, and other debris from the yard that can hold water.

Finally, consider installing an automated misting system to control mosquitoes.  These systems use safe, natural pesticides that are automatically released at timed intervals to kill mosquitoes and break the mosquito life cycle.

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