Monthly Archives: May 2016

Guide for Choose the Right Exhaust Fan for a Bathroom

When it comes to the bathroom, ventilation is extremely essential to get rid of unpleasant odors and excess humidity. Excess humidity occurs due to the usage of water faucets and showers inside the bathroom, which may result in the formation of mold and mildew. Not only this, higher amounts of humidity can damage the walls and wooden furniture present in the bathroom.

Ventilation in the bathroom can be brought about by installing a bathroom exhaust fan. With advancements in technology, you get fans that have a very low noise level, and are efficient in creating a dry and fresh environment in your bathroom. So, what are the features you should look for when buying an exhaust fan for the bathroom?

Factors to Consider When Buying an Exhaust Fan for the Bathroom

When selecting an exhaust fan for your bathroom, you should consider the four main factors―size, noise output, features, and aesthetics. Here, we shall focus on each of these points, and learn why they are important.

1. Airflow Capacity

This is the most important factor when choosing an exhaust fan for your bathroom, because a small fan will not be very efficient for a relatively larger bathroom, while getting a larger fan for a smaller bathroom will result in wastage of energy. As per the guidelines set by the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI), the air in your bathroom should circulate at least 8 times every hour. The volume of air circulated per cubic feet per minute (CFM) is used to rate the efficiency of your bathroom exhaust fan, and is proportional to the area (in square feet) of the bathroom. Here’s how to calculate the value of CFM ideal for your bathroom.

2. Noise Output

Once you’ve calculated the right CFM rating for your exhaust fan, the next factor to consider is its loudness. How loud is too loud? Well, that depends on your comfort level, but most bathroom exhaust fans are in the range of 0.2 to 2 sones. Sone is the unit of measurement of the noise emitted by your fan, where 1 sone is equivalent to the sound of a quiet refrigerator. Most loud fans have ratings higher than 4 sones.

3. Features

What all features do you think your fan can have? Well, you’ll be surprised to know that modern exhaust fans come with a host of features. Here are a few that you should seek.
Timers help save power by turning off your fan automatically a few minutes after you switch it on.
Some exhaust fans come with a built-in heating feature that enables the fan to let out warm air.
Motion sensors are a smart way to conserve electricity as they allow the fan to automatically switch on when someone enters the bathroom, and also switch off a few minutes after the person has left.
4. Style or Aesthetics

Today, exhaust fans are available in a host of colors and designs, and buyers are spoiled for choice. When choosing an exhaust fan for your bathroom, choose one that best complements the color scheme and theme of your bathroom decor. You can choose from square, circular, and other cool shapes. And if you are bored of the plain white fan, then you can add a touch of style to your bathroom by installing an exhaust fan with metallic shades.

Just like every other electrical appliance, you should always seek professional help for the installation and repair of the bathroom exhaust fan. Make a wise and informed decision to install an exhaust fan, and improve the air quality of your bathroom.

Guide for Choosing Bathroom Countertop Material

When you select a countertop material, remember to consider the style of your bathroom, your family’s lifestyle, and your cleaning preferences.
A good countertop is an essential feature of not just a kitchen but also a bathroom. Unlike a heavy-duty kitchen counter that has to survive a daily dose of knives, rolling pins, cookie cutters, and hot baking trays, a bathroom countertop can be custom-made to suit your personal style. Your bathroom countertop can make a statement while still being of practical use.

A little thought while remodeling your home and bathroom in particular will go a long way in deciding the look and feel of your home. It’s time you lend your bathroom an attitude of its own with a statement-making countertop. Remember, the bathroom countertop will have to hold up to residue from your soaps, spilled toiletries, and steamy showers. Which is why, the countertop ought to be durable, stain-resistant, and most importantly, non-porous. While choosing the material to suit your home, do take into consideration its size, thickness, and resistance to breakage. You definitely do not want a bathroom countertop that will give way within a matter of time.

Stain-resistant Granite

Granite countertops are not just long-lasting but also highly stain-resistant, giving you a high-end bathroom. Granite is, by far, the most durable and easiest to maintain natural material that is preferred for countertops. You can choose from an infinite variety of styles and colors, ranging from glossy to matte finish, and from solid to speckled to suit the desired bathroom style.

Choose it for a look of luxury that will complement any décor.

Classical Marble

Essentially slabs of metamorphic rocks, marble countertops are not only waterproof but also heat-resistant, making it a popular choice with most homeowners. Although marble is porous and can eventually trap dirt and germs, they can be used to enhance the beauty and elegance of your bathroom and kitchen.

Choose it to accentuate your bathroom along with other types of countertops.

Synthetic Quartz

Easy to clean and durable, manufactured quartz countertops are one of your best bets for your bathroom. It not only imitates the look of granite or marble, but is relatively more resistant to scratching and staining. It is made of 90 percent quartz particles, giving you a variety of colors and thicknesses to choose from.

Choose it for its ability to not chip and crack as easily as granite does, and because it requires less maintenance.

Versatile Tiles

They can be colorful, they have immense variety, and they are relatively cheaper than natural stone and quartz countertops. In addition to that, tiles come in a variety of sizes, thus, reducing the amount of time and effort needed to install them. You can choose from a variety of porcelain or ceramic tiles to do up your bathroom.

Choose it to achieve a timeless look in your bathroom.

Hypoallergenic Solid Surfaces

Nonporous, synthetic countertops are one of the most popular choices of most homeowners. This is partly because it is easy to maintain and can be molded to fit any design specification, and mainly because it is very hard and durable.

Choose it for a seamless, custom-made look in the bathroom or kitchen.

Dressy Laminates

You can never go wrong with a laminate when it comes to remodeling your home. Made from paper and acrylics or from bonded layers of plastic, laminate countertops come in a wide range of colors, designs, and texture that allow you to be creative. It is durable, nonporous, and easy to clean, thus, making it a hot favorite for doing up bathroom countertops.

Choose it for an economical bathroom that is easy to maintain.

Long-lasting Concrete

Concrete is durable, long-lasting, and can be molded into any shape and size, thus, allowing you to have a custom-built countertop of your own. You can even experiment with different dyes to match the décor and style of your home. Once installed, it can withstand heat, and if sealed properly, it limits the amount of stains and bacterial growth.

Choose it for a modern, clean, understated look in your bathroom.

Unique Glass

Recycled glass countertops are nothing but pieces of glass held together with a cement binder that make them durable and strong. They are non-porous, making them easier to maintain; besides, each slab of recycled glass countertop is a unique creation.

Unique Glass

Choose it to make a green choice, and lend color to an otherwise drab bathroom.

Unprecedented Wood

Redeemed or reclaimed wood countertops are known to lend character and warmth to the room décor. Redeemed wood, although an expensive alternative, is durable and can sustain well even at high temperature. However, it requires regular sealing to keep it from bacteria and the wood from rotting.

Unprecedented Wood

Choose it for an eco-friendly option that makes your bathroom naturally appealing.

Get Samples

Before you head to the store and make your purchase, do not forget to order samples of all the available countertops. By doing so, you will be able to decide on the look that you want to achieve in your bathroom.
Do ensure to check the quality and the subsequent price for each of these countertops before making a purchase. You won’t be changing your bathroom countertop on a regular basis, which is why you need to proceed with utmost caution.

Ways to Install a Vapor Barrier

The building envelope comprises the following physical structures – foundation, roof, doors and windows. These physical structures protect the building from external physical dangers, but they are permeable enough to transfer water vapor from the air into the insides of the building or vice versa. Water vapor can harm the insulation of the building, apart from causing physical damage to the walls, windows, and other physical structures. Thus arises the need of a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier refers to any physical structure made up of plastic or metal foil, which prevents the diffusion of moisture from external surroundings to the internals of a building. it can be used to protect the floor, ceilings and walls of a building from moisture intrusion. It is sometimes referred as a vapor retarder, as it retards or stops the flow of moisture into the interiors. But these barriers are often excluded from the construction plan or are just installed incorrectly.

Purpose of a Vapor Barrier
As was mentioned earlier, a vapor barrier helps prevent the diffusion of moisture and water into the interiors of a building. The moisture can cause lots of harm, as it can affect the insulation system of the building. Due to changes in the atmospheric pressure, especially in the winter season, water vapor travels from the interiors of a building to the outside surface, which is comparatively much cooler. As the temperature of the vapor reaches dew point, the water vapor condenses. Condensation harms all the building envelope components, no matter what they are made of. It causes the wooden structures to rot and also rusts the steel. Installing a vapor barrier prevents this condensation problem and thus also prevents the insulation system from damage. Note that water vapor can permeate the building from anywhere, be it the basement (through the soil), walls (surrounding air), or even the roof.

Installing One

  • Aluminum foil
  • Polythene plastic sheet
  • Glass sheets
  • Metal sheets
  • Vapor retarder paints
  • Paper backed aluminum
  • Asphalt-coated kraft paper
  • Extruded polystyrene
  • Metalized film

Vapor barriers are preferred by home owners who want to prevent their house structures from water damage. They are literally a requirement in chilly weather conditions, and should be installed on the insides of the building envelope. It should preferably be installed on the warmer side of the insulation. This is because, water vapor condensation (which is to be prevented) occurs when the water vapor moves from the warm side of the wall to the cold side. Barriers should preferably be installed on the inside of the rooms, and installing them on both the sides of the insulation should be avoided, as it taps harmful amounts of moisture. The installation is very easy and can be done by anyone.
Step 1: The surface on which the barrier is to be installed should be dry and free from any kinds of debris. Fill all the gaps, like on the window sides or on the doors with caulk. This would make the surface consistent and plain.
Step 2: Choose a proper material for the vapor barrier. The most commonly used material for vapor bags is polythene. They are available in different sizes (from 8 feet to 20 feet) and also thickness. Just make sure that the material you choose is of good quality. Now spread this material on the surface neatly. When installing it on the wall, make sure that the material is enough and some part of it falls below the base level. This will prevent the water from seeping in again into the walls.
Step 3: To fix the barrier, you just need to nail or staple it. Nailing or stapling the barrier is just enough to keep it fixed.
Step 4: Seal the creases using a waterproof tape. There are specially designed tapes available for this very purpose.
Step 5: To prevent damage to the newly installed barrier, apply finish to the wall within 1 month. You are done.
Hope the article will help you install a vapor barrier. This will help you prevent the corrosion of the walls due to moisture, and safeguard the walls and other house structures for a long time.

Tips to Home Repairs

According to inspector Jeff Del Guercio, owner of An Objective Inspection in Throop, Pa., and President of the local chapter of the National Association of Home Inspectors, “Water is probably the single most destructive force to a house. And a leak can go on for a long time without being noticed.”
Owning a house can be a great feeling, but its maintenance should not take a backseat. There are some home repairs which should not be delayed because, later on, it might require 5 times more money to fix it. A delay in repair may even cause accidents and other health concerns. So, let us take a look at some home repairs which one should never ignore.

Repair or Replace the Roof Shingles or Tiles

Inspect for missing or broken roof tiles or shingles which may cause the roof to leak when it rains. Repair the broken tiles, or get them replaced if they are in a bad condition. If you live in an area where it snows, check for the siding, as the ice can enter in through broken tiles, and may even start damming there. Carelessness in handling the roof of the house may result in lot of other problems like moisture, fungal growth, low efficiency of the heating or cooling system, etc.

Water Leakage

Water-related problems are among the most common problems observed throughout the year. If water leakage due to an open faucet or leaking shower is an issue, then you can fix it yourself, but if problem is fairly major, then call a plumber immediately. Turn off your inbound water line system if you suspect any water leakage. If the leakage is somewhere inside the pipelines in the wall, then it might lead to growth of mold due to moisture, which may further lead to health concerns.

Moisture on Walls

Moisture can be due to water leakage or seepage in the wall. This may result in mold and fungus growth on the wall, which may lead to appearance of colored patches on the wall. Prolonged moisture may rot the wood, and may harm the foundation. These problems need to be addressed immediately in order to protect the house from the harmful effects of mold and fungus. To avoid collection of moisture on the wall, find out the cause behind it, and then get it fixed. Then let the wall dry completely, and paint it again.

Broken Switches and Open Wires

It is very important to keep an eye on broken switches and electric boards of the entire house. If you find any broken switches or loose electric wires in the house, switch off the appliances, and call an electrician immediately. Do not try to repair it in your own, as it can be hazardous. Replace the cords which are in a bad condition. Take special care if you have small kids at home. Try to position the switch boards at a height that remains out of reach for kids and toddlers.

Peeling Paint

Paint is not only used to enhance the beauty of the house, but also to protect the house walls against moisture, the climate, rodents, and pests. Exterior paints are specially made to protect the house from the harsh weather conditions. But if it starts peeling off, it means you need to take immediate action, as moisture may enter the wood or the wall, and may harm it.

Foundation Cracks

If you observe hairline cracks on the walls then it might not be so alarming. But if a No. 2 pencil goes into the crack till its painted part, then it is a sign not to be ignored. You can also measure the crack, if the crack is wider than 3/16th of an inch, then it is a matter of concern. Consult a structural engineer, and rectify the problem before it gets worse.

Mold and Fungal Growth

Water seepage may result in the formation of molds on the walls, floor, carpets, etc. Once there is growth of mold in your house, the whole house gives off a musty odor. If you observe mold growth in a small area, then you can clean it yourself with the help of a solution of 1 cup chlorine bleach per gallon of water. It will result in pH imbalance which will further kill the mold. But if it is a big patch, then you might need help from an expert.

Smoky Chimney

It is very important to maintain the chimney. During the wet season, do not forget to close it properly so that water does not enter it and harm the chimney liner. Clean the chimney, as it can catch fire if not cleaned properly. Never burn trash like cardboard, wrapping paper, etc., as it may harm the chimney. Burn seasoned wood, and light small fires rather than big, smoky ones.

Annual HVAC (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning) Inspection

It is very important to check the heating system, air conditioning, and ventilation on a regular basis. It is necessary to clean these appliances before use, and should be properly maintained. This will not only increase the life of the appliance, but will also increase their efficiency. If the appliance is not heating or cooling properly, then call a technician, and get the problem fixed before it further harms other parts of the appliance. Also, check for air leakage and insulation.

Soaring Energy Bills

If your energy consumption shoots up suddenly, then it could indicate a problem with your HVAC. Inspect for insulation and efficiency of the appliances. If there is any decrease in the efficiency, then contact an expert or technician to fix the problem.

Other Unavoidable Issues

  • Check fire and smoke alarms on a regular basis, and replace if required.
  • Check for problems in the water heater, fridge, TV, washing machine, and other appliances.
  • Unblock all the sewage and gutter pipes in the house. A constantly wet foundation may indicate leakage or damage in the system.
  • Replace flickering light bulbs.
  • Inspect cooking gas connectors and pipes regularly.

Make sure the maintenance work of the house is done in time. By this, you can maintain your safety, and can also save a lot of money. Ignoring vital things about home maintenance is not acceptable even by housing insurance companies.

Tips on Choosing Window Covers

Window wells are openings that are dug around the basement window to allow more ambient light to fill up the basement. Apart from providing easy access to the basement opening, it also serves as a escape route during fires and storms. A window well is bolted to the outer side of the basement wall, and it keeps mud and debris away from the window.

If proper care is not taken to seal off the opening, it can result in many accidental hazards, mostly involving small kids, pets, and unwary animals. Installing a safety cover over the opening will thwart the possibilities of such accidents as well as provide good insulation for your home. A good cover will also help keep debris, dirt, water, and leaves from entering the vent, thus hampering your view from the basement.

The tips provided below will help you choose window well covers that suit your basement needs.
Measured to Fit
Before hitting the stores and selecting a well cover, you ought to measure the window well and the window you want to cover. While doing so, ensure you measure from the face of the window to the edge of the well. If the window extends above the ground, you might have to take that into consideration while choosing a cover. In short, you need to measure the projection of the window along with the width and height of the cover before making the purchase.
Material Concerns
Clear plastic, thermoplastic, metal, or colored plastics are some of the materials used to make well covers. While the thermoplastic and clear plastic covers will allow light to penetrate into the basement, covers made from solid plastic and finer metal grates will end up blocking light, but give your room some privacy. When choosing the material for the well cover, do give a thought to the safety and privacy requirements of your family. It makes sense to choose a cover that caters to the light and ventilation requirements of the basement.
High-profile vs. Low-profile Covers
Window well covers can be classified into two main types based on their appearance. While high-profile covers are meant for windows that extend above the ground level, low-profile are perfect for windows that lie within the well. High-profile covers generally have a sloping surface or dome-shaped surface to cater to windows that rise above the level of the well. On the contrary, low-profile covers lie flat against the edges of the well making them almost parallel to the ground.
Style Matters
Consider the overall look of your home when it comes to purchasing a well cover. You can choose between bubble, flat, mesh, grates, and dome style covers to adorn the basement vents. While grates and mesh style covers provide excellent means to prevent a fall, they do little when it comes to stopping water, debris, and dirt from accumulating in the well. Dome-shaped and bubble covers made from heavy-duty plastic, on the other hand, are good at keeping excess water out of the well, despite their bulky appearance. However, they can restrict airflow into the basement window. Whatever style you decide upon, make sure it complements the exterior of your home.
Durability
The main purpose of installing a well cover over the basement window is to cater to safety and light requirements. From safety grates made of aluminum to poly-carbonate plastic covers, you are sure to find a huge variety in the market. Remember, the cover is going to be exposed to the external elements, which doubles the need to have a cover that is durable and sturdy. It is also important that the material used to make the cover is rust-free and easy to maintain.
Installation Matters
Whether custom-made or store purchased, ensure the window well covers are easy to install. Do not forget to read the instruction manual that comes along with the cover to make the process of installation easy.
Do not forget to consider the egress requirements in your local building code. As a precautionary measure, do check with your local building permit office before you invest in a well cover.

Ways to Build Equity

Home Equity
Also called real property value, it is the difference between the ‘market value’ of a property and all ‘outstanding payments’ towards it.
Whether you just bought a new house or you’ve been dreaming of selling your existing home for some time now, chances are, you have thought about what you would want to change about your home. Home improvement is huge nowadays, with the rising popularity of shows like Property Brothers, Income Property, and Love It or List It. Watching experts remodel properties ends up with all of us being bitten by the home improvement bug.

But, there is something related to this which is very important. What will give us the most bang for our buck when it comes to eventually selling the house? Follow these tips on how to build equity in your home, so as to get the best resale value on your property.
Kitchen and Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms are by far the most expensive remodels to undertake, and certainly not something you want to deal with if you’re not an expert. However, they are the first rooms buyers tend to look at when they are purchasing a new home. Most buyers don’t want to spend the money it would take to redo these rooms just after buying the house, so adding some great features to your kitchen and bathrooms will easily raise the price of the property. You could do a total remodel, adding a soaking tub and separate shower to your bathroom, or rearrange your kitchen so that it flows well with the rooms attached to it. You could also do simpler remodels by replacing or painting cabinets and counter tops, and updating the appliances that are being used.
Master Suite

Next to excellent kitchens and bathrooms, home buyers in the market are looking for a master suite in their home. No one wants to share a bathroom with their kids, and having a master suite is an easy way to ensure that never has to happen. If you are interested in doing a pretty time- and money-intensive remodel, consider adding a bathroom to your master bedroom, or updating an already existing bathroom to be part of the master suite. Do up the main bedroom so that it is of the level of a master bedroom. The interiors and furniture kept in this room should be as close to perfect as possible. Remember, this is the room where people want to relax and rejuvenate at the end of the day. Simply put, if the master suite is stunning, you can easily ask for more on the price of your home.
Flooring

Updating the flooring is a very easy and cost-effective way to add equity into your home. Home buyers are looking for hard flooring, because it lasts longer, is easier to clean, and looks much neater. If possible, go in for hardwood flooring and put it throughout the entire home, even in the bedrooms. If not, try hardwood in the living areas and carpets in the bedrooms. If you like the look of hardwood but can’t afford it or can’t have it because pets or small children might scuff it up, there are some great laminate flooring options out there, that are beautiful, more durable, and much cheaper. The thing is, do not ignore the flooring of your house, as this is something that will definitely catch the eye of the buyer.
Windows

If you can’t afford the huge remodels suggested here, or if you aren’t handy enough to do them yourself, try replacing all the windows in your home. Although windows aren’t the most showy items in a house, they are arguably the most important. Old windows are drafty and leaky, but new windows save thousands on energy costs, and can qualify you for a tax break. Also, you wouldn’t want your rooms looking great, until the neglected windows come into the picture. According the interiors, you can choose the type of windows, the colors, and accessories like rods and curtains. Make the windows a place where everyone wants to park themselves and enjoy the view the outdoors have to offer.
Outdoor Living Area

Having a yard is nice, but having a deck or a patio is even better. No matter which part of the country you live in, there’s nothing better than having a nice party or even just a meal for two outside on a nice summer evening. It is not a great idea to have a sparkling house, but a shabbily maintained garden or patio. These components definitely add a lot of value to homes, and is something that many people don’t give much thought to. If your home doesn’t have an outdoor living space, consider adding one. This is relatively easy to do, and will raise the value of your property considerably.
Equity is the amount of the home that you truly own. It is the difference between the selling price and the amount of loan that is outstanding. So, it is like, if you were to sell the house and pay off the remaining loan, the amount that you are left with is what equity is all about. As such, besides the home improvement methods that have been mentioned here, important things like regular loan payments and increasing the amount that is being paid off every month will only help push up the equity of your home.