Author Archives: mimin

What sort of underlay do you need for your wood floor?

Wood floors are one of the most attractive forms of flooring available. They enhance any home and can be used to bring a touch of style and elegance that will be admired by residents and visitors alike.

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There are many considerations you have to take into account when putting down wooden floors. One of the main factors is whether or not you need underlay, and if so, which type you should use.

Do I need underlay?

Generally speaking, if you are installing solid wood flooring in your home, you will not need to use an underlay. This is because solid wood must be fixed to the floor using glue or another method, and there is no need to install anything underneath it.

Underlays will usually be required if you are installing engineered wooden flooring, which is more often installed using the floating floor method, which means it is not permanently fixed to the ground.

What types are there?

Several types of underlay are available depending on the type of wood you are using. Most of them come on a roll, which is usually about 3mm thick, providing minimum movement for the wood on top but giving a certain amount of insulation and noise-absorbing properties.

The roll underlays come in silver and white. Although they are made from different materials, both do the same job and are available with or without built-in vapour barriers.

Vapour barriers are damp-proof membranes that help prevent your wooden floor from succumbing to moisture and becoming damp.

The white underlay is a cheaper, more economical version that is generally thinner and is made of a lightweight foam.

A more expensive underlay is called block board. This type of underlay is usually thicker (around 5mm to 7mm thick) but needs a separate vapour barrier.

Listed buildings

If you’re lucky enough to live in a listed building, you will have to follow certain rules about wooden floors.

According to Historic England, if an existing floor is being replaced or repaired, it can be an opportunity to improve its thermal performance. If you’re asking, can I use solid wood flooring in listed buildings?, there is plenty of good advice.

Whether you live in a palace or an ordinary house, one thing is certain: wooden floors will help you achieve the stylish, timeless look you want.

Top 4 Tips on How To Improve Air Quality In Homes And Offices

vSo you’re searching for information on how to improve air quality in homes. I guess the reason for your search due to the fact that you might have encountered any of the following signs in your homes:

  • Development of mold or fungi in places like bathrooms, under your kitchen cabinet close to the sink or any other places very inviting for their growth.
  • An unpleasant smell from the air condition ducts.
  • Constant accumulation of dust over your furniture no matter how frequent you get them clean
  • The smell of any toxic colorless gas
  • Or you or any member of your household is or has developed cold, stuffy or runny nose, itchy throat or with constant sneezing.

If any of the above listed falls within your reason for inquiring about how to improve air quality indoors, then you are at the right place for the information you need.

There are several ways that you can improve upon the quality of air in your homes. Some of the most common and efficient methods are:

    1. Cross ventilation process: Cross ventilation is the wind-driven process by which air is drawn in a building from the high pressure windward side and is drawn out of the building on the low pressure leeward side. By so doing, air flows naturally through your dwelling, eventually taking with its course, any available airborne contaminant or pollutants; leaving you with a pure clean air to breathe. This can be done by ensuring that all windows and doors are kept open; obviously ensuring that openings have fixed fly screen nets.

 

    1. Handle with absolute precaution while removing the source of a contaminant: In the process of trying to remove the source of your pollutants or contaminants in your homes or offices, it is strictly recommended to seek the advice of an expert. This is because for pollutants like mold and asbestos for example, it is very easy to cause more havoc to your health if the handling process is not done diligently, hence, causing their spread and harm as quick as possible.

 

    1. Air purifying plants: If you are someone who loves plants, avoid the habit of keeping pollen-prone plants indoors. Instead, take to planting air purifying plants like aloe era, bamboo palm, snake plants and spider plants as they help remove ammonia, benzene and formaldehyde from your indoor air. Besides their popularity and low-cost, they can easily be planted outside without a hustle.

 

  1. Frequent cleaning of floor and carpet: Indulge in the habit of frequently cleaning and mopping the floors in your dwellings because they are the first places of contact for anyone that comes into your house. If you happen to have a carpet, ensure that, they are vacuumed frequently as it serves as a good hiding place for allergens. This type of cleaning can be done at least between three to four-times a week.

Building a Greenhouse In Your Backyard Can Be a Rewarding Experience

21Have you ever thought of building a greenhouse in your backyard? This can be a rewarding experience. Actually building the structure and seeing the project to its fruition is only one of the rewards. The practical aspects of having a greenhouse in your backyard will be of benefit.

This type of project my seem overwhelming at first if you lack experience in the designing and assembling of such a structure. You will need to know what type of greenhouse will best suit the layout of your backyard and the environment you live in. Having answers to these questions will help make the construction process more satisfying. It is suggested you have access to proven greenhouse plans to help you with these questions.

There are a number greenhouse designs to choose from. Choosing the correct design will ultimately help make your construction experience more rewarding. Some of the more common designs include the dome greenhouse and victorian style greenhouse. Other types include the hoop, a-frame and lean-to greenhouses. Some of the structures are relatively easy to assemble, while others, such as the victorian greenhouse will require greater expertise. This expertise may involve the assistance of an experienced journeyman.

Another reward of building a greenhouse in your backyard will be due to esthetics. A properly designed and constructed greenhouse will enhance the beauty of your property. Choosing the style which compliments the house you live and the surrounding garden will likely involve the use of proven greenhouse plans to make the proper choice. You may have limited space in your backyard, so choosing a lean-to style greenhouse may best suit your needs from a practical stand point. If you have a larger backyard, with an established garden, a victorian style design might be the best choice. For those with even larger backyards the dome greenhouse might best suit your needs.

Another reward to having a greenhouse on your property is a practical one. This type of structure allows to grow vegetables before and after the standard growing season in your area. In some cases your greenhouse may extend the growing season by up to three months. Of course growing your own vegetables will help reduce your grocery bill if properly done.

The rewards are many if you decide build a greenhouse on your property. Having access to proven plans with regards to its design, construction and ultimately how to successfully grow vegetables in the structure is recommended.

Water Saving Tips For Both Indoors & Outdoors

3tWater remains to be one of the most important every day commodities that you really can’t do without. The supply is however limited compared to the demand and you therefore should use the water available to you as efficiently as possible. Cutting on your usage can go a long way in saving your water bills at the end of the month. Just like energy, you should find out the best ways to make a positive change. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to preserve water on both outdoors and indoors.

Indoor Water Tips

Try as much as possible to do full laundry and dish loads compared to washing small loads more often. This does not only save water, but also the energy used when running the dishwasher or washing machine.

Have any household leaks fixed as soon as you notice them. Leaks can be very costly and can graduate to more serious problems when left unresolved. Find a plumber as soon as possible.

Shorten your showering time to save water and energy at the same time. Five minutes in the shower are enough.

Don’t leave the tap running when brushing your teeth and instead turn it on and off as needed to save water.

When getting your devices such as washing machines and toilets, ensure that you select those that are water efficient.

Talk with every member of your family on how to preserve water. Children are fast learners and they can easily help you in preserving water and saving energy at the same time.

Outdoor Water Tips

Water the lawn at least twice every week instead of doing it every day. This is a very simple type of saving you hundreds of gallons of water every week.

Do regular check-ups on your sprinkler system so that you can identify any leaks, breakages and overspray. Have the necessary repairs done immediately to improve water and energy efficiency of the system.

Install a sprinkler controller that is smart in that it can adjust the watering to match the weather conditions, shade, soil type and even plant type. This can ensure that only the right amount of water is used in every aspect.

To reduce evaporation and water inefficiency as a result of windy conditions, try and water the plants very early in the morning or late in the evening. Most people make the mistake of watering plants during the day when it is hot and humid when too much water goes to waste through evaporation. Make these simple changes and enjoy more water efficiency and healthier plants for that matter.

When cleaning the driveway and your sidewalks, try and use a broom in place of a hose. Hoses can be very convenient, but they can waste a lot of water. Brooms on the other hand use up very little water even though they call for a little more effort from your side. If you have time, enjoy the broom cleaning over the use of a hose to save water and at the same time to keep active.

3 Things to Do With Your Grass Clippings

cWondering what to do with all the grass clippings that lays scattered all over your grass after mowing? If you want to avoid grass being tracked in the house after your grass is freshly mowed, here are a few suggestions:

1. Mulch

Many people prefer to have their grass clippings mulched. Mulch is a coat of material that is placed on top of the soil surface. It can bring many benefits such as: improving the health of the soil, decreasing the amount of weed growth, increasing the visual aesthetics of the mulched area, or conserving moisture.

Mulching mowers make it quite easy to complete this task. These mowers have special blades that allow them to cut clippings smaller and spread them across your grass, which makes this option very appealing. This simple process is an easy way to enhance the health and beauty of your yard.

2. Bag Them

Bagging grass clippings is an option if you don’t want to leave them on your lawn. After bagging your clippings or leaves you can dispose of them in your waste container with your other garbage. You can also easily add them to your composter.

Want to dispose of your clippings in an environment-friendly way? Some cities allow you to pay a monthly fee for a green waste container that you can add your clippings, leaves, and small branches to. Then the city will pick up your green waste and dispose of it at a green waste composting facility. Check with your city to see if this is an option they provide.

If you are adding your clippings to your green waste container do not leave your clippings bagged. However, if you are adding them to your regular waste container you should leave them in a disposable bag.

There is more than one way to bag your grass clippings:

    • Many lawn mowers come with a bag that will collect clippings so you can easily dump them into your composter or add them to your green waste container.

 

    • Use a vacuum such as the STIHL SH 56 C-E Shredder Vacuum Blower or STIHL SH 86 C-E Shredder Vacuum Blower to easily suck up your clippings. Then dump the contents of the bag into your green waste container or into a bag for regular waste disposal.

 

  • Get your kids involved. Have them rake up the clippings and scoop them into a bag for disposal or dump the clippings into an easy to lift bucket and add them to your green waste, garbage, or composter.

3. Leave Them

Don’t have a mulching mower? Too busy to bag your clippings? Don’t worry about it – just leave your clippings on your grass. If you are regularly mowing your lawn so that you only need to clip an inch or less off the top of your grass, you may choose to leave your clippings alone. This is an easy way to mulch your clippings to enrich the soil and reduce weed growth.

A Simple Tip to Clean Your Walk Ways

Edging and mowing often leave grass along walk ways and drive ways. To easily clean up sidewalks, driveways, patios, and other areas grass clippings may land during mowing, simply blow or sweep them back onto the grass. You can also use a vacuum blower to suck up and back the clippings so they don’t fly back to the walk ways.

No matter how much time and energy you have to devote to cleaning up after mowing, these tips can make it less of a burden when dealing with grass clippings.

Importance of Phenolic Air Duct Panels

2Over the past few decades, global warming has had a very disastrous effect on houses and commercial buildings. Because of this, it has become of crucial importance to reinforce buildings especially with respect to insulation. Unfortunately, this process comes with additional costs for the building owners. However, the additional cost is worthwhile. The insulation of buildings helps to regulate temperatures by ensuring that a house retains warm air during the winter of cold seasons and retains cold air during the summer or during warm months.

Traditionally, sheet metals (such as aluminum and galvanized steel) and fiberglass duct panels have been used to insulate buildings. Unfortunately, the challenges of economic development have led to an unprecedented rise in the price of these insulating materials to a point that they have become no longer cost effective. In addition, the transportation of these materials can be very costly making the use of sheet metals and fiberglass duct panels an inconvenience to the homeowners or contractors.

Because of this, engineers have come up with new cost effective means of insulating buildings in the form of insulating foams. The phenolic air duct panel and polyurethane foam duct panels are some of the foam insulating products currently in the market. The phenolic air duct panels are cheaper when compared to aluminum, steel, or fiberglass thus making them a better alternative to the traditional insulating materials. In addition, they are much lighter when compared to sheet metals making their transportation and installation much easier.

These air duct panels can be used as wall, ceiling, floor, and air duct linings. Depending on the type of the building or the reasons the building will be used for they can be made to be either flexible or rigid. Phenolic foam is a type of plastic composed of phenol and aldehyde. Most phenolic duct panels are coated with a thin layer of aluminum on both sides in order to improve their insulative properties. This coat varies depending on whether the duct panel will be used for interior or exterior insulation. For interior use, the aluminum coat is usually 25 micrometers while for exterior insulation the coat is usually 200 micrometers.

Foam insulating products have some additional benefits when compared to sheet metals. For instance, they are able to resist fires and moisture spread better than sheet metals. Second, in case they are burnt, they produce negligible amounts of non-toxic smoke. This means that they are better alternatives to sheet metals with regard to the protection of human lives and the environment at large.

How To Test Indoor Air Quality In Dwellings and Offices

wqAre you looking for information on how to test indoor air quality for your dwelling or office? I guess your search for this information is because you may have encountered with one or more pathogens or pollutants inside of your dwelling or office. These could be any of the following signs:

  1. You may have smelled the presence of strange gas scent like ammonia, carbon monoxide or methane just to mention a few.
  2. You or any of household members may have colds and other allergy symptoms like itchy skin, sore throat, red-watery eyes and consistent sneezing.
  3. You may have observed the presence of mold or fungi, pollen and other allergens

If any of the above is the cause for your search on how to check air quality indoors, then you are at the right place. This article serves to provide exactly these answers for testing indoor air quality.

There are different methods of testing for each individual pollutant. Pollutants like carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) that are released into the atmosphere as a result of combustion is easily produced form our cooking stoves in our dwellings. The unique and efficient way to test for carbon monoxide which can neither be seen nor smelled is to install CO alarms in rooms and also in fuel-burning appliances like stoves etc. to issue a signal at the release of these gases.

Volatile organic compounds (V.O.Cs) found mostly in consumer products like paints, indoor furniture, glue, bathroom curtains just to mention a few, also cause a lot harm to our health. Their respective harm varies with each consumer product. One way to prevent V,O,,s from accumulating their fumes indoors is through ventilation with fans or ensuring that there is cross-ventilation in the rooms where these consumer products are kept. The Environmental Protection Agency advocates mitigation once indoor levels of V.O.Cs is beyond 1×10^-7.

Another silent killer, radon, an extract of decaying uranium causes cancer of the lungs. This gas can accumulate in basements and low-level floors for a very long time before it dissolves harmlessly into the air. It is odorless and colorless. The only way to detect its presence is by acquiring Radon Test Kits. These presently can be purchased online and at other departmental stores.

Another irritating indoor polluter is mold, which is mostly found in our bathrooms and basements because of the higher humidity in these areas. These guys spread so quickly once the area where they are located is very humid. The only way to eradicate them is to keep indoor humidity as low as between 50 to 60 percent using de-humidifier or other means to dry out the air in this vicinity. Once that is done, patches of these mold colonies can be removed from surfaces by scrubbing with bleach or soap and water.

6 Surefire Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

rtAre you contemplating on improving the poor air quality in your dwelling? Do you or any member of your home have any of the following allergy symptoms like colds, itchy skin, sore throat, red-watery eyes and consistent sneezing?

If so, then it’s about time you sought a remedy to reverse this trend. Despite EPA’s consistent advocacy on environment risks to the major industries and other greenhouse gas emitters to cut down on emission, these activities have recently been on the ascendant.

The only remedy forward to reverse this trend in our homes or offices is to find ways to improve on the quality of air indoors. This might sound very challenging and a daunting the first time you hear about this but do not worry because you will be well-informed by the time you finish reading this article.

One way to improve indoor air quality is to prevent the growth of molds and mildew in your homes. These build up as a result of cold air or steam on tightly closed glass windows or doors. As this process continues, they reproduce and become airborne eventually getting into you through your breathing.

Moreover, to improve the quality of indoor air, you must try to avoid growing pollen-blooming plants indoors or within close proximity to your dwellings as these will eventually ignite your allergy symptoms to give you hay fevers and/or allergic rhinitis.

Furthermore, you realize more time is spent indoors during winter with pets and this eventually gives way to the propagation of dust mites and pet dander indoors. These are allergens that give hard time to eradicate so, acquiring a hepa-filtered air purifier for use indoors is great way to improve air quality. By-so-doing, you will prevent harmful allergies.

Another most effective way to achieve a clean quality air is increasing ventilation indoors by opening doors and windows when possible. Doing so will permit cross-flow ventilation where new air replaces the old one; hence blowing away any airborne pollutants indoors should there be any.

Frequent cleaning and dusting regularly, with particular emphasis on vacuuming is an ideal way to improve air quality as allergens and other airborne pollutants get to be eliminated easily and frequently and therefore not having the full incubation period to multiply.

One most important fact is to ensure that newly constructed houses have a vapor barrier on the floors beneath a this will prevent the seepage from the disturbed grounds of toxic underground gases like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and even radon. So, frequent testing as a measure of quality control inside the house from time to time will also go an extra mile in ensuring an improved air quality.

4 Natural Products To Use In Your Home

naIndoor plumbing, aside from electricity, is possibly one of the greatest advances in technology resulting in convenience and comfort. While most people would be lost without this convenience, there is a definite downside to a room that is used more than any other room in the home.

While no one likes to think about the germs that will inevitably be in and on the fixtures, everyone knows that the bathroom needs regular cleanings to kill germs, remove scum, and keep the plumbing working properly. However, many people mistakenly believe that only harsh, store-bought chemicals can provide the germ-killing and deep-cleaning solution you desire. Fortunately, there are many natural products that can do the dirty work without damaging the fixtures, your health, or the environment.

Here are 4 products to try.

1. VINEGAR

If you’re familiar with do-it-yourself cleaners for any cleaning project, you’ve probably realized by now how popular vinegar has become. It is an excellent all-purpose cleaner, disinfectant, and deodorizer (once the vinegar smell dissipates, of course). Vinegar is excellent to use in the bathroom because it can eat away soap scum on plumbing fixtures without damaging the fixtures. In addition, hard water stains inside the toilet bowl can be removed. When cleaning the toilet bowl, allow the vinegar to sit for a while before you scrub in order to give the stains time to break up. If you use vinegar for a window or mirror cleaner, results will be best with a half-vinegar, half-water solution. It’s best to use diluted vinegar on tile as well, because the acidity of the vinegar can eventually wear away the grout.

2. BAKING SODA

Baking soda is another popular product for all-purpose cleaning. Not only is it great for deodorizing your refrigerator but it can help get rid of those ever-present bathroom smells as well. Baking soda can be used just for this purpose or as a scrubbing product as well. Many bathroom cleaners on the market, while effective, are also quite abrasive. Baking soda is gentle on porcelain and plumbing fixtures, and leaves them looking shiny and bright. It can be paired with vinegar (half as much vinegar as baking soda) and a small amount of dish detergent to create an effective liquid bathroom scrubber. In addition, a slow drain can be cleared out by pouring equal amounts of baking soda and vinegar down the drain, waiting a few minutes, and following up with boiling water.

3. LEMON JUICE

Lemon juice is another excellent natural product that can dissolve hard water and soap scum. It works well for the plumbing fixtures in your bathroom, but it can also be made into a scrubbing paste with baking soda. You can even use an actual lemon half to do the scrubbing, meaning you’ll have fewer dirty rags to launder later! Lemon juice works as a bleaching agent as well and can help bleach out those hard-to-remove rings in the tub. Plus, nothing makes a home feel cleaner than the fresh smell of lemons!

4. BORAX

Borax has long been used as a natural laundry boost. However, it’s also excellent for cleaning the rim under the seat of the toilet and other hard water stains. It won’t scratch these surfaces, even when sprinkled directly on the sink or tub. It can also be dissolved in a solution of lemon juice or vinegar as a window cleaner or all-purpose cleaner. While a shiny, clean bathroom is definitely important, it’s also comforting to know that these natural cleaning products are disinfecting your bathroom as well. Additionally, you will also know that you are doing your part to keep your family and the environment safe from harsh chemicals.

Most Effective DIY Ways To Save Water

44An average household of four family members wastes about 300 litres of reusable water per day. South African water systems will not be able to cope for much longer, at the rate things are going. Here are some simple, and effective ways that you can save it without changing your lifestyle.

Researchers say that in less than 20 years, the water demand in South Africa will exceed the available resources. With the growing global population and the increasing demand on available water, South Africans could be looking at permanent water restrictions and penalties in the near future, if measures aren’t taken.

Municipal water used for gardening is estimated at 30-50% of the total domestic water use in South Africa. Let’s be honest, will you allow your beautiful green garden to dry out, and suffer in this heat? That’s why more people are reusing their grey water for gardening.

What is Grey Water?

Grey water is reusable water made up of that from the hand basin, bath, shower and washing machine, that can be used in the garden.

Experts say that many diluted soap residues can provide useful sulphates and nitrates which is more beneficial to plants than clean tap water.

This way, you can save money on costs, ensure your garden has a constant water supply, and reduce impact on drinking water resources.

How to make your own grey water system:

The most cost-effective, easiest DIY method to do this, is to make an adjustment to the grey water pipe, in order to direct the water into the tank.

What you need: 1000L IBC Water Storage Tank, some PVC connectors and extension pipes

Estimated Cost: R300 – R500

USEFUL TIPS:

Use more biodegradable detergents with your washing.

Reuse water within 2-3 days to eliminate the growth of bacteria and water odours.

Don’t constantly focus on the same area, move the sprinkler around the garden.

Improve the quality of your grey water by using environmentally friendly haircare and body products and soaps.

Bacteria takes longer to grow in moving water. If you can’t use the water fast enough, try installing a grey water pump system or otherwise put in a bit of chlorine instead, but it’s not advisable to use on a regular basis.

Clean the tank on a regular basis to prevent bacteria from growing inside.

It’s advisable to have a grey water filter system to stop the lint and hair from going out. The most cost-effective way to make a filter is to use a sock or nylon stocking at on the end of your drainage pipe which can be discarded afterwards.