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How to Refinishing Hardwood Floors


The greater part of refinishing hardwood floors involves preparation. But even before you start preparing, it is essential that you find out the extent of the scratches on the floor. If you are lucky, the scratches are just on the top and this will be a much easier task. On the other hand, if the scratches have gone deep into the wood, then you need to prepare to do a lot of sanding. 

For scratches that are just on the surface, a simple reapplication of polyurethane coating on the old finishing will do the trick. But if the scratches run deep into the wood, then you need to sand it right to the bare wood and for this, I would recommend you find a good belt sander so that you do not take too much time and the sanding is done evenly.

Types of finishing

There are 3 main finishes you can choose from and these are

Polyurethane: This is preferred by many because it lasts longer and is best for high traffic areas. You can choose between oil based or water based poly finishing. It has a plastic look about it and you can choose between different degrees of luster.  I have noticed that the newer ranges of Polyurethane finishing do not darken wood so much. One thing you should know though is that poly finishing is not easy to spot repair.

Varnish: if you want to be able to make spot repairs, choosing varnish is a good idea. It comes in different varieties of luster and the more glossy variety is durable. It tends to darken with time, but you can always do a quick repair when that starts to happen. 

Penetrating sealer: if you would like to maintain a more natural wood look, this is what you can use. You, however, need to know that it is not as durable as the other 2 but it is much easier to repair. It is also a cheaper option. 

Step by Step Guide 

Step 1
Remove the old finishing and then sand the wood to remove all the scratches. It is important that before you start this, you have the necessary protection. This will include eye protection as well as a dust mask. Ensure that the surface is smooth and even. 

Step 2
Clean the surface, ensure that all the dust is removed from not just the floor but also the walls because you do not want particles falling onto the finishing as it dries because this will create rough patches. You can then use a vacuum to remove any more dust that may have settled after the initial cleaning. You then can use a tack cloth to pick up further residue from the surface. I would advise you have a number of tack clothes to prevent you from exceeding a single cloth’s capacity. 

Step 3
Apply the sealer. I prefer to apply sealer immediately after getting rid of all the dust, it prevents any other particles from settling so it is a good idea to plan your time so that at least on the same day you do the sanding, you are able to do the sealer application. The sealer needs to be applied evenly and generously but it should not be too much since the wood will not absorb excess sealer and it will dry and look terrible. Now let the sealer dry.

Step 4
When the sealer has dried, it is time to buff the floor. You can do this with a number 2 fine steel wool. Go over each area once or twice, starting from the wall and moving backwards in a left to right swing movement. It is important that you do not over do it and end up cutting through the finishing. 

Step 5
Once again, get out your vacuum and tack cloth and clean the surface just to be sure there are no particles that have settled again as you prepare to add a layer of coating. A smooth surface is important for a great look and feel.

Step 6
Hoping you have already made a choice of finishing coating, you are now ready to apply the first layer. They usually come with directions on how to apply and especially how long to wait for it to dry before you can apply the next layer.

Step 7
Apply the second coat of finishing and then let it dry for at least 24 hours before you can return the furniture or allow people to walk over the surface. 

To ensure you do this job perfectly, I would recommend you try it out first on a small patch of the floor just to ensure you have understood the entire procedure and if it looks good, then you can proceed to do the rest of the floor. Also make sure you have all the tools and protection you will need before you get started, from experience, I have learned that having to run to the hardware store midway through the task can ruin your progress and you may have to start over again.

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Tips to Prevent Plumbing Problems in Your House


Did you know that you can completely safeguard your house and save money on repairs by making a few upgrades and small changes? Some parts of your home can cause a rather significant damage if you let a small problem turn into a big one, and that’s precisely the case with plumbing.

Plumbing related issues can result in blocked drains, low or high water pressure and even house flooding, and you should do your best to avoid all of them. Because of that, stop fixing the problem when it occurs and instead start working on the prevention of all potential plumbing problems in your home.

Leaky faucets

Leaky faucets can be a main cause of water loss and they can also cause other serious plumbing issues. An unchecked leak can put a significant amount of stress on your plumbing, and it can even cause clogging and overflows.

If you live in an area with hard water, leaky faucets might even create a water stain in your sink, and sometimes cleaning that stain is almost impossible.

If you have the necessary tools you can fix the leaks yourself, just make sure not to damage the faucet in the process.

Main valve

The main valve is obviously the most important valve in your home since it regulates water flow.The maintenance of this valve doesn’t require much skill or even time. All you really need to do is check if it’s working as intended every now and then, and turn it off if you see that a problem has occurred.

If you’re not sure which valve is the main valve in your home, find it right now. You need to know which one is it in case you need to turn off the water because of any other water-related problems in your house. The surest way to avoid any problems while you’re not at home is to completely turn off the main valve until you come back.

Disposal

Most people make one seemingly small mistake – they treat a garbage disposal as a trash can. Throwing every possible material down the garbage disposal can severely damage it, whichwill lead to clogged drains. You can easily avoid this scenario by being picky about what you throw into the disposal. If you want to avoid problems, don’t throw these types of foods into it:

·         Rice
·         Potato peels
·         Onion skins
·         Nuts
·         Pasta
·         Grease
·         Bones

Toilet

Toilets are frequently used in every home, and because of that toilet leaks and clogs are two of the most common plumbing issues. Most people with leaky toilet tanks don’t even know that their toilet tanksare leaking, but as any experienced plumber in Sydney would tell you, this is surprisingly easy to detect. Pour food dye into the tank before you go to sleep. In the morning check if there’s dye in the bowl. If there is, you’ll know you have a leaky tank.

Clogged toilets are, unfortunately, a much bigger problem, and that’s exactly why you should be careful about what you flush. In general, you shouldn’t flush anything that’s not toilet paper if you want to avoid clogging the toilet.

Unclogging the toilet is easy, and you can do it yourself. Use a plunger to resolve the problem, but if you notice that it’s starting to overflow, shut off the main valve immediately and call the professionals to help you.

Emergencies

Unfortunately, some problems can occur seemingly overnight, but you can be prepared for that. What you will need is an emergency toolkit and a phone number of an emergency plumber in case the Aquaman decides not to lend a helping hand.

It’s always better being safe than sorry. You can avoid spending a huge amount of money on plumbing repairs by simply being careful and responsible.
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What to Know Before Adding Smart Technology to Your Home


Smart technology for the home is a growing trend in today's high tech environment. Home security equipment, HVAC systems, and even the refrigerator and slow cooker are now available in models that can be operated remotely from a smart phone or tablet. Incorporating smart technology in a home can help busy families save time, as well as enjoy their homes more – but it may also help them sell their home. 

An overview of smart home technology 

One of the most important benefits of smart technology in the home is its ability to provide more cost effective use of energy by lowering heating and cooling costs. In addition to using smart technology to continually optimize heating and cooling temps in the home, it can also control lighting, appliances, and even window coverings to help reduce the amount of energy the home uses.

Other popular forms of smart technology are capable of operating computer systems, security cameras, entertainment systems, including television, audio, and video systems, communications equipment, and appliances to offer increased comfort and convenience for the occupants of the home.

Smart Technology Protocols Assist DIY Homeowners 

Due to smart home technology's relatively young age, most existing homes are not yet equipped with it. However, it is possible for most of these older homes to be retrofitted to take advantage of this advancement. Even better, most homeowners may be able to handle these upgrades on their own as a DIY project.

Part of the relative ease of adding smart technology to a home is because the technology is designed by components which adhere to specific protocols. While all of the protocols are designed to work with smart phones, computers and tablets, and land line phone systems, choosing components that belong to the same protocol will ensure that they will be compatible. Examples of some smart home technology protocols include UPB, Z-Wave, and EnOcean.

Smart Technology Can Increase the Resale Value of the Home

As more and more options for smart home technology become available, it becomes increasingly apparent that adding at least some forms of it to an existing home or incorporating all of it into the design of a new home can be a smart thing for homeowners to consider.

One reason for this is the "Internet of Things", or (IoT). Basically defined as a network of devices, vehicles, structures, appliances, and other objects that have embedded sensors and software that make it possible for them to communicate with each other. The IoT network can connect over the internet to collect and exchange data which can then be used to further improve the overall smart technology experience.

According to recent statistics from CNET, a leading electronics media website, 81% of those who currently own some type of smart home device would favor buying a home already equipped with smart technology over one without it. In addition to smart technology making a home more saleable, it can also boost per-foot sales prices. In fact, according the same CNET survey, most homes selling in the top 25% of the market in the Miami metro area were equipped with smart home technology.

Millennial Buyers Favor High-Tech

Millennials grew up in a digital world, making them far more comfortable with all sorts of technology. As more of these tech-friendly millennials enter the housing market, the demand will continue to rise for smart home technology. This trend is illustrated by the data from the CNET survey noted above which shows that currently 28% of all adults in the USA use some form of smart home technology. But when only the millennial age group (adults 18-34 years of age) is considered, that number rises dramatically to 47%.

While most homes are likely to become more competitive with the addition of smart home technology, homeowners who are unsure of whether they should upgrade their home should look at both the costs involved and the expected return. A good plan for making the right choice begins with discussing the matter with a trusted real estate professional who successfully lists and sells homes in the area. Their expertise will help homeowners understand the potential gains, based on comparable sales in the area, as well as understand the potential costs involved with this type of upgrade. 
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A Buyers Guide to Kitchen Flooring

A Buyers Guide to Kitchen Flooring
The flooring that you choose for your kitchen is just as important as the design of every other element of your kitchen,  although however, it often gets overlooked. There are many different types of flooring available to suit all tastes but you need to consider these important points before you make a final decision.
If you want everything to match then opt for flooring with the same finish as the kitchen such as a glossy, mat or wood finish. However, you may prefer it if the flooring and the kitchen units contrast but remember that once you have made the decision you may have to stick with it for some time.
The types of flooring available:
Rubber flooring can be laid in a wide range of colours whilst being soft yet hard wearing where as linoleum flooring is similar to rubber but it consists of natural ingredients. It’s durable, comfortable and easy to clean. Vinyl flooring on the other hand has changed a lot over the years. Once again, this is hard wearing and can be designed to look like a number of finishes such as wood or tiled.
There are many different types of floor tiles to choose from and all can add an element of charm and personality to your kitchen.
Stone floor tiles can be found in many different styles and colours but they can wear rather easily, particularly those that are porous. To overcome this problem, sealants can help to keep the floors easy to maintain.
Porcelain tiles offer complete versatility because they can come in a number of different styles such as metallic effect, concrete effect and even wood effect.  They are easy to look after and are extremely durable.
Quartz composite tiles are made up of stone and tile and they can be found to match the work surface. These can look mightily impressive, especially in a range of styles and looks.
Ceramic tiles are created using clay and natural materials and can be purchased in a variety of colours and textures. They are often cheaper than porcelain but they require a bit more work to get a neater finish.
In contrast to floor tiles, many people are opting for industrial flooring due to its different look and style, as well as the fact that it is extremely hardwearing and durable.
Concrete flooring can look contemporary but it is definitely versatile and for those properties with an open plan extension, it can be used throughout.
For something more comfortable under foot, resin flooring is a great choice. It is flexible and clean, although over time, the shine will disappear so it will require maintenance to keep it looking like new.
For those who prefer a type of flooring that looks more natural, there are many options available.
Solid wood is always a great choice because it looks so good but it is prone to a few issues such as movement and chipping. To protect it, it will require a later of lacquer or linseed oil which will help to make it last for longer.
Engineered wood is often a lot cheaper than solid wood but they enable people to create a natural look for a fraction of the cost. However, laminate flooring makes the perfect choice for kitchens because of its durability. It can be purchased very cheaply which means you will have to compromise on quality but the more expensive options will last longer.
Things to think about before you make a decision
The kitchen is an important room in any home. Therefore, you need to think about the look of your kitchen which means choosing the correct flooring that complements your kitchen units. If you use your kitchen a lot, maintenance is key because you will need to consider how much maintenance the flooring needs. Will it need sealing? Can it be wiped easily? Can it take heavy traffic? All of these questions can help you to make an informed decision but getting it right will ensure that you kitchen looks spectacular.
Tara Neil are a bespoke kitchen specialists, with a wide range of contemporary kitchen designs available from their showroom in Woodley, Reading.

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Husky air source heat pump efficiency with different heating resources


Air source heat pump efficiency

Air source heat pumps have the efficiency rate that is conventionally named as COP. This rate varies from 1 to 4 and that means how many units of heat it delivers per 1 used unit of electricity taken to operate. 


Indicator 1 is when we talk about its lower COP that is at winter season at the temperature lower that -5 °C. Above that point, COP increases and it makes 2 in about +5 °C, while during +10 °C it makes from 2.5 to 3. Indicator 4 is when the temperature is higher than +20 °C, and it is the maximal rate that can be produced by an air pump. In other words, the higher the indicator is the lower your monthly electricity bill is. 


With indicator equal to 4, you drop up to 75% of this amount. With indicator 1, you have 0% dropdown, as in this case, your heat pump is the same effective as the air conditioner or air warmer fed by electricity, gas, or fossilized fuel. Although, in the case when they cost more than electricity, you win in the difference of such cost. 


But you have to be aware that air source heat pump energy efficiency () is usually lost when the outside air temperature drops down lower than -5 °C. It is true for the conventional systems with ammonia filling of their pipes. There are other systems working on carbon dioxide that lowers the allowable temperature to -30 °C. But you also have to know that they are less efficient than ones having ammonia in pipes during cooling and may require additional helper in the hot days to cool down the premise.



Modifications


Air source pump is usually used in several further modifications:

·         Air-to-air (when a pump takes heat from the outside air and delivers it to your premise through the air module that is installed on the wall, similar to air conditioner),

·         Air-to-water, that are further divided onto these:

o    Air-to-warm floor – it traverses the heat to the water system of pipes warming up your concrete or wooden floor,

o    Air-to-boiler – the heat goes to your boiler that delivers you the hot water to wash or to drink,

o    Air-to-heat sinks – the heat is delivered to your heat sinks on the walls.

Air-to-air source heat pump is most efficient one (see here https://www.huskyheatpumps.co.uk/products/air-heat-pumps ), and because of that, the cheapest in installation and maintenance, and it gives up to COP 4. Other kinds of it are less efficient due to energy loss in the transitions between air and water environments and are in between 2.2 and 3.3 in COP in the average temperatures.

Other heat pump systems’ indicators

If to compare air pump with others, it is not the most efficient, but the cheapest. The ground pump produces up to 7.2 COP indicator, while other pumps mostly used in industrial objects have the theoretical limits of COP up to 8.8 (Carnot cycle device) and 10.1 (Lorentzen cycle device), with +35 °C temperature when air pump gives out 3.8 indicator. Taking the temperature of +55 °C, air pumps produce 2.2, 3.7 for ground pumps, 6.0 for Carnot cycle devices, and 7.9 for Lorentzen cycle devices.

Some issues of seasonal efficiency of air source heat pumps

The lower the outside temperature is the smaller the COP indicator is either. In addition, working in winter, it needs to defrost time to time. Also, an air pump is the only of all types of pumps that emanates noise when working that can reach up to 55 dB, which is forbidden in some countries. Air source heat pump winter efficiency drops down to 1 if you temperature is below -5 °C (-30 °C for carbon dioxide models) and is around 3 with  +10 °C. The most high efficiency air source heat pump has in summer with mild weather, if it is filled with ammonia that is considered the best fluid for such purposes. 


To increase its efficiency at any time of year, you may combine it with solar panels on the roof deriving energy from the sun, and make the house more heat-efficient itself.



 


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