Contractor Tips Blog


Tips For Finding A Good Contractor

If you are contemplating any large home improvement project like remodeling, roofing, painting, or pressure washing, you will need a good contractor.  A great contractor can make the job go smoothly and will make sure you are happy with the results.  A bad contractor can be an endless source of headaches. 

To find a good Alpharetta pressure washing contractor, start out by asking friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members if they can recommend a contractor they were happy with, or warn you away from a contractor they had a bad experience with. 

Other potential sources of contractors are online ratings sites such as Angie’s list and Yahoo.  Remember that anyone can post on some of these sites, so read the reviews critically. Your local home improvement warehouse will also have contractors that they can recommend. 

Once you have a list of candidates, interview each contractor.  Explain the job and ask if they have experience in this type of work.  Ask to see proof of liability insurance and workman’s compensation insurance.  Find out if they have a permanent business address and telephone number and be sure to ask for a few references from recent clients.  During the interview, you should get a sense of whether this contractor is someone you can work with. 

Call each of the references and ask if they were happy with the work done and if they would use the contractor again.  With all of this information in hand you are ready to choose the contractor who meets your requirements.


Fire Alarm Repairs

Posted in Home Security

If you are a homeowner, own or operate a business, or you own or lease a building and have invested in a fire alarm system, it is very important to keep it in good operating condition.  A fire alarm that does not function properly puts your family, employees, customers, and property at risk.  Avoid an unnecessary tragedy by keeping your fire alarm in good repair.

In addition, a fire alarm that malfunctions frequently can lead to complacency.  A fire alarm that gives frequent false alarms is almost as dangerous as a fire alarm that does not work at all.  Just like the boy who cried wolf, if a true emergency arises there is an increased risk that your family, employees and others will assume that the alarm is just another false alarm.   Frequent false alarms also cause lost work hours and negatively affects productivity.

Ignoring known issues with your fire alarms system not only endangers your family, employees and customers, but there is potential for exposure to not only civil liabilities but criminal penalties as well.  Also, your insurance coverage could be affected by any failure to have your fire alarm repaired as quickly as possible.

Regular service and repair of your fire alarm system should be part of the routine maintenance schedule.  Never attempt to repair or service your fire alarm system yourself.  This could invalidate any warranty and could result in an unreliable fire alarm system.  You should have any necessary fire alarm repairs and service performed by a trained fire alarm technician who has experience on your system.  Even the most basic fire alarm systems are complicated and require special skills.


Choosing a Home Alarm Monitoring Service

Posted in Home Security

Your choice of a home alarm monitoring service is a very important decision that should not be taken lightly.  Many people make the mistake of choosing a home alarm monitoring service based on price alone, but there are many considerations that are much more important than price.   No matter how inexpensive the monitoring service is, it’s not worth a dime if it does not provide the protection you need.

First, you should ensure that the monitoring service offers the type of monitoring you need.   Most monitoring services offer standard monitoring using a standard phone line, but not all offer cellular monitoring.  

Next, make sure that the monitoring service is UL approved.  There are no laws regulating monitoring services so independent organizations provide approvals or certifications that a monitoring service meets certain standards.  UL approval is one of the highest standards in the industry for alarm monitoring services.  Alarm monitoring services that are UL approved have to meet strict guidelines and undergo regular inspections to ensure they provide the highest quality of alarm monitoring.

Some alarm monitoring services have additional certifications such as the CSAA Five Diamond Certification.  To earn this certification, an alarm monitoring service has to meet additional standards beyond their UL approval.

Finally, check with the Better Business Bureau and online ratings websites to see if any complaints have been registered against the company.  Keep in mind that anyone can post a complaint, including an unscrupulous competitor or vindictive customer.  A few isolated complaints may not mean anything, but if you see a pattern of complaints or bad ratings, you may be better off with a different monitoring service.


Mosquito Misting Systems

Posted in Insect Control

With spring approaching quickly, now is the ideal time to finally do something about those annoying mosquitoes that have been plaguing your yard.  Spring and summer are great times for backyard entertaining and recreation, but persistent, biting mosquitoes can ruin all the fun.  You can use all the citronella candles you want, listen to your bug zapper all night, or waste money on useless ultrasonic mosquito killers, but if you really want a mosquito free backyard, you need to consider installing an automated mosquito misting system.

Mosquitoes can be very had to control.  You can spray an insecticide around your backyard and kill the mosquitoes, but they will soon migrate back into your yard from surrounding areas.  Also, they are constantly reproducing so unless you break the life cycle, new mosquitoes are continuously being hatched.

These systems control mosquitoes by spraying a small amount of insecticide around your yard at intervals throughout the day and evening.  Unobtrusive pray nozzles are installed around your yard and home.  The spray nozzles are connected to a tank of insecticide through pipes hidden underground.  Timers control the misting schedule so you don’t have to worry about it. 

These systems typically use pyrethrum which is one of the most effective insecticides known for use against mosquitoes.  Pyrethrum is a natural insecticide made from chrysanthemums.  When used according to the label instructions, pyrethrum has low toxicity to humans, pets and other mammals.

Pyrethrum also breaks down quickly in sunlight so concerns about residual exposure are minimized.  When you are ready for effective mosquito control, call an Alpharetta GA mosquito control specialist and ask about installation of a mosquito misting system for your home.


Pyrethrum for Effective Mosquito Control

Posted in Insect Control

As winter winds down, we all look forward to the warm spring and summer days ahead.  With the return of warm weather is the return of outdoor entertaining.  Relaxing on the deck, outdoor barbeques, and having fun in your swimming pool are all great activities to look forward to, but unless we take action to control them, we can also look forward to biting, annoying mosquitoes.

Controlling mosquitoes should be an important part of your outdoor spring maintenance.  One of the best insecticides for controlling mosquitoes is pyrethrum.  This natural insecticide is an excellent choice for controlling mosquitoes in the residential setting.

Pyrethrum is derived from oils found in a type of chrysanthemum.  It is one of the most effective insecticides known and has very low toxicity for humans, pets, and other mammals when used according to label instructions.

Pyrethrum affects the central nervous system of mosquitoes and, in high enough concentrations, kills mosquitoes on contact.  In lower concentrations, pyrethrum causes beneficial changes in mosquito behavior.  It has a “flushing effect’ that brings the mosquito out into the open where it will be exposed to a lethal level of insecticide and also inhibits normal biting behavior.   In addition, it has a repellent effect that causes mosquitoes to attempt to leave the area of the chemicals.

One reason that pyrethrum is well suited to the residential setting is that it breaks down quickly in sunlight.  Because it degrades so quickly, it poses less of a hazard than other insecticides.  However, pyrethrum is still a powerful insecticide.  To maximize the effectiveness of pyrethrum and minimize the hazards of exposure for people, pets, other wildlife and beneficial insects, the best option is to let a mosquito extermination professional apply the pyrethrum or install a mosquito misting system.


Low Pressure Exterior Washing For Painted Houses and Businesses

If you have ever had your home or office exterior pressure washed, you probably know what a conventional pressure washer does to paint.  Pressure washers have their place, but cleaning a painted home or office building is not one of them. 

A conventional pressure washer cleans using a stream of water that has been pressurized to between 2,000psi and 5,000 psi to blast away dirt and debris.  In comparison, the water coming out of a spray nozzle on a garden hose is about 50 psi.  This high pressure water does the job on dirt, but also does a number on the surface being cleaned. 

This is particularly true with paint.  When you pressure wash a painted house or office building, any loose paint or caulk is stripped away.  If you accidently get too close to the house with the pressure washer’s wand or use the wrong tip, even good paint will be stripped off.  As a result, you have no choice but repaint the whole house or office building. 

Low pressure washing is a much better alternative for cleaning the exterior of painted homes and buildings.  Low pressure washing uses effective, biodegradable, environmentally safe chemicals to clean the dirt, mold, mildew, and other debris from the outside of your home or building without harming the existing paint.  The surface is then rinsed with a high volume of low pressure water to safely clean the home or business.

With low pressure washing, all you get is clean.  Unlike conventional pressure washing, there is no danger of any damage to the paint or the underlying surface.  For a clean, great looking painted home or commercial building call your Cumming GA pressure washing contractor.


Cleaning the Outside of a Home with Vinyl Siding

Vinyl siding is a popular material for the outside of homes and businesses because, unlike other types of siding, vinyl siding does not rot and never needs to be painted.  All your vinyl siding needs to keep looking great is a good periodic cleaning.   Dirt, mold, and mildew accumulate over time and a thorough washing will make vinyl siding look like new again.  Regular washing will help prevent the dirt and mildew from permanently staining or discoloring your siding.

Many homeowners use a conventional pressure washer to clean their vinyl siding, but a pressure washers use such high pressure that they can actually cause damage to your home.  These pressure washers rely on a stream of water that has been pressurized to very high pressure to remove dirt by the force of the water. 

The problem with using such high pressure water is that the water can infiltrate under the siding and soak the studs and wood sheathing.  Vinyl siding is made with perforations along the bottom edge that air can circulate under the siding. 

When high pressure water is directed at the siding, it shoot up into the perforations and gets everything behind the siding wet.  When wood framing or sheathing gets wet, it will begin to rot.  In addition, mold and mildew will begin to grow behind the siding.   

Low pressure washing is the better alternative for cleaning vinyl siding.  Low pressure washing uses environmentally safe chemicals to clean away the dirt, mildew, and debris, followed by a thorough rinse with high volume, low pressure water.  This technique gets the siding spotlessly clean while avoiding water infiltration issues.

Call an Alpharetta GA pressure washing contractor to have your vinyl siding safely cleaned with modern low pressure cleaning and it will look like new again.


How to Safely Pressure Wash Your Deck

A deck is not only a beautiful addition to any home, but it also provides an excellent outdoors area to entertain guests and for family relaxation.  Like anything else exposed to the elements it will accumulate dirt, grime, mold and mildew.  Periodic cleaning of your deck will help keep it looking great and providing enjoyment for years to come.

Many people try to use a pressure washer to clean their deck.  While it is possible for an experienced pressure washer contractor to clean a deck using a pressure washer, it is much more difficult than it looks to get a deck clean without damaging it.  Unfortunately, in the hands of most homeowners and even some professionals, pressure washing a deck can do as much harm as good. 

A typical pressure washer uses water pressurized to between 2,000 and 5,000 psi to blast away dirt and grime.  However, wooden decks are made from relatively soft woods that can be damaged very quickly by a stream of high pressure water.  In the blink of an eye, a pressure washer can turn a perfectly good but dirty deck into a clean, but severely damaged deck.

The stream of high pressure water from a pressure washer can take off a quarter inch layer of wood very quickly.   At best, a typical pressure washer will leave the deck surface “fuzzy” with wood fibers raised by the pressure washing process.

 A better method of deck pressure washing involves cleaning it with a low pressure washer. In this method, environmentally save chemicals are applied to remove the dirt and grime, then the chemicals and dirt are removed by the application of low pressure, high volume water.  The result is a clean deck with no damage.


Pressure Washing with Low Pressure

Most people who need to clean the outside of their home, a driveway, basement or have any other large outdoor cleaning project use a pressure washer that cleans by blasting away dirt and debris by using water that has been pressurized up to 5,000 psi or more. 

You can buy or rent a pressure washer and do the job yourself or hire a professional pressure washer.  In either case, however, it is easy to do a lot of damage to your home or commercial building with an ordinary pressure washer.  Water under very high pressure can very quickly damage siding, concrete, bricks, mortar, and stucco.  It can drive water underneath siding and shingles and can damage the glazing or seals around window panes, causing the window to leak.

Inflicting damage with a pressure washer is most common with inexperienced homeowners, but even a professional can create a lot of damage before realizing it.  To get good results with a pressure washer without causing damage you have use the right tip on the spray wand and use the least amount of pressure needed to get the job done. 

Even then, sometimes damage is inevitable. For example, if you are washing bricks with soft mortar, the amount of pressure needed to clean the brick could severely damage the mortar. 

Fortunately, there is a better way to clean large outdoor surfaces.  Low pressure washing uses environmentally safe chemicals to clean the surface, followed by a large volume of low pressure water to rinse away the cleaning solution along with the dirt and debris.  Low pressure washing techniques are safe for all surfaces and avoid the problems inherent with high powered pressure washers.


Paver Driveways

Posted in Paver Driveways

If you are building a new home, or looking for a way to add to the attractiveness of your existing home, consider installing a beautiful new paver driveway.  Not only do interlocking paver driveways add to the beauty and value of your home, they have many advantages over concrete or asphalt driveways.

Interlocking pavers are concrete, brick or stone blocks that are manufactured in a wide variety of shapes, colors and styles.  Each paver is designed to interlock with the adjacent pavers to minimize movement and maximize weight distribution. 

Interlocking pavers require less maintenance than asphalt or concrete driveways and because they allow for some movement, they can expand and contract with heat and cold and will not crack like concrete or asphalt. 

Pavers are also much easier to repair than concrete or asphalt driveways.  Repairs involve removing the affected pavers and replacing them.  If the ground has shifted or if the area had to be dug out under the driveway for some reason, the ground can be leveled and the pavers reinstalled.  Unlike a concrete or asphalt driveway, the repair will be virtually invisible. 

Installing a paver driveway is something best left to an experienced landscaper.  Pavers are relatively easy to install and many do-it yourselfers install their own patios and walkways, but for a large project like a driveway that will be bearing a lot of weight you will get a better, more durable driveway by having it installed by a professional.  When you are ready to install an attractive new paver driveway, call a reputable local landscaping company that specializes in installing interlocking pavers.

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