Monday, December 30, 2013

Portable Air Purifier

When I was younger, my parents liked to pack all of us kids up and go on family vacations.  It was something that I enjoyed a lot and so I wanted to do the same with my kids when I grew up.  My wife and I try to manage our money in a way that we can at least do one vacation every year with our children.  It builds strong bonds and creates great memories-just like when I was younger, I just have so many fond memories of time spent together on family vacations.  Sure, we didn’t always get along sitting in the car while we were traveling and we had little disputes with each other, but those aren’t the things that stick out in my mind.

            Sometimes there can be set backs on trips such as car trouble or bad weather, but one of the things that I have found to be the worst is when one of us or our children becomes sick.  It seemed like one of our kids in particular would almost always have a runny nose and complain that his eyes were itching.  We determined that he had allergies and so we got some over the counter medicine to see if it would help out.  It did for a little bit, but he still had a runny nose.  We decided to take him to our family doctor to see if there was a prescription medicine we could give him or if there was anything else we could do to help him out.  In addition to giving our son a prescription, the doctor recommended that we get some sort of air purifying system for our home or just even a room unit for our son’s room.

            After discussing it, we decided to get a whole house air purifier and it helped him out a lot.  We didn’t think about it at the time since we were at home, but we soon found out that we would need to do something for him while we were on our vacations.  His medication worked during the day, but in the mornings he would wake up with puffy eyes and dried up snot caked on his face.  We did some searching and we were able to find a portable air purifier that we could take with us on our vacations!  I am so glad that we did!  The next time that we went on vacation, we were able to take the unit with us and set it up in the hotel room that we stayed in without any problem.

            When we got up the next day our son’s eyes looked normal and there was hardly any snot on his face.  He also told us that he felt like he slept better and that it was easier to breathe.  In the past he would sometimes wake up due to the difficulty he experienced trying to breathe but the purifier seemed to make a huge difference.  It is also nice for him to have when he goes to visit my wife’s parents who live a few hours away from us.  I highly recommend a portable unit for anyone who has allergies and likes to travel!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Taking Care of Weeds

            I spent many Saturdays in the spring and summer, along with my family, pulling weeds so that our yard wouldn’t look like a wild jungle.  But even though we spent hours getting rid of these weeds, it seemed like they were all coming back within a couple of weeks.  One area in particular got so bad that some of the weeds were killing the plants that we wanted to have in our yard.  Something had to change!
            I had heard of weed fabric before, but when we moved into our home, there wasn’t any that was installed.  I went to work finding out how much fabric we would need for the different places that had many weeds.  We did what we could to save the plants that were still alive so that we could replant them once our project was done.

            Once we had the fabric and other materials purchased, we got to work clearing the areas where we wanted to prevent weeds.  We laid down the fabric and to ensure that it wouldn’t come up, we secured it down with fabric “staples”. 
We cut out a few holes so we could put our plants back in the ground.  Once they were all planted, we covered the remaining area with wood chips-which added some character to the area and also helps to keep the fabric in place.  We worked on other areas in the yard, using different decorative “toppers”  like wood chips and rocks in other places.
            For the most part, we are weed free!  Nothing can completely stop weeds, but the fabric has done a great job since we have had it!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Heating Your Home: Boilers

            Every week seems to be getting cooler than the previous weeks that we have had.  Last month there was a cold spell that had me writing about fireplaces, but as I have gone to different buildings and been in other homes, I have been noticing different types of heating used in these places.  There are many heating systems that run off of some type of boiler.  In many action movies, boiler rooms seem to be the place of choice for chase scenes and other action packed activities.
            Boilers systems can run a number of different ways to warm a building or a home.  One way that it disperses heat to the home is through the use of some sort of radiator.  In one type, the hot water radiator, the heated water comes from the boiler into the radiator unit.  As it passes through the metal, it heats it up which in turn heats up the rest of the room.  Once the water is cooled, it leaves the radiator through  a pipe to be disposed of properly.
            In more advanced systems, a series of pipes a run through the floor and/or in the walls so that the heat can be dispersed evenly.  This is great if you are looking for a nice even heat in your home and like to walk around bare-foot during the winter.  One of the drawbacks to this method, however, is that it takes a little while longer for it to heat up the home (as compared to central heating system, for example).

            Buying an actual boiler can cost a lot of money, but boiler systems are very efficient and lower heat costs.  In the long run, the initial cost will be worth it, as utility bills decrease and the system is running efficiently.  It is important, in this case, to consult a professional as there are a number of things to consider when installing a boiler system.  They can figure out what the “Heat Load Calculation” is for your home.  This takes into consideration what the coldest day of the year may be and also the size of the home or other building in which the boiler will be installed.
            Boilers also come in different styles.  Some sit directly on the ground of the room that they are installed in, while other models that are available can be mounted on the wall instead of sitting on the ground.  Some are fueled by natural gas and others use propane as the source by which water is heated.  Many are made from cast iron and others with aluminum, ensuring that the unit is sturdy and will last throughout the years.
            Many brands are available, but one brand that I see a lot of is Dunkirk.  There are a number of Dunkirk boiler parts available to fix the problems that one may encounter with their boiler system.  Specification sheets and other parts lists can be found online, making it quick and easy to identify what part is needed for any job.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Electric Water Heaters

            It is nice to have hot water in your home.  It is good for cleaning dishes, clothes, and us (people)!  It is also something that we don’t think much about unless it runs out some day.  There is nothing more frustrating than being in the middle of a shower or washing dishes and all your water has gone cold!  This is where water heaters come in.  There are many different types of water heaters, among them are electric, natural gas, and propane (lp) water heaters.  Today I want to focus on the electric category.

            The most basic and fairly common water heater in the US is the upright model.  The residential models usually come in 40 and 50 gallon capacities, tall and short models.  They heat water by filling up the tank, and once there is water inside the tank there are two heating elements that warm the water until they reach the set temperature on the thermostats. 

Among this type of model is also the direct vent electric water heater.  They are used in places where there isn’t much combustion air and have a vent kit to redirect the air.  They are used inside mobile homes, for example.  The difference between them and a regular unit is that they have a vent on top of them and need additional parts to vent it to the outside air.

When you have limited space available you may consider getting what is called a low boy water heater.  They can range anywhere from around 19 gallons in capacity up to 47 gallons.  They are designed to fit in tight spaces, so they are shorter than a regular tank.  There are also utility models that have smaller ranges of capacity so that they can be used only for appliances such as dishwashers and washers.  The gallon capacity goes as low as 6 gallons and as high as 30 gallons.

More recent on the market is the tankless water heater.  It is much smaller than other units because it is just as the name says: there is no tank (tankless). This means that the water is heated as it is turned on, instead of being stored in a tank and heated throughout the day.  These models are good when you want to be energy efficient; they are the “green” model.  The difference is that if you are trying to run your dishwasher and/or clothes washer while taking a shower at the same time, it may not be able to heat all the water that you need.  If this is a major problem, you can install a separate unit that is specifically for your appliances.

Whatever application you need hot water for, there are many options and styles available.  Electric water heaters are nice in the fact that you don’t have to worry about gas leaks and the pilot light going out, causing the water to not be heated.  Your electric bill will be a little higher, but it is a small price to pay when it comes to the safety of your home.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fireplaces Compared

            With the fall and winter seasons approaching, I have been thinking about ways that we stay warm.  Many people have central heat and do not have to worry about electrical wall units, space heaters, and other sources of heat.  On the other hand, there are many people who rely on other heat sources such as fireplaces.  Whether you already have a fireplace or are looking to get one, here are some differences and comparisons of the common fireplaces.
            Wood.  For centuries, wood burning fireplaces have been around and keeping people warm.  Many say that wood burning stoves put off the most heat and warm their homes efficiently.  It is usually pretty easy to obtain firewood to fuel the warmth needed to keep a family warm during the cold months.   However, to be able to get through these chilly seasons, it may be necessary to have a lot of firewood available.  If there isn’t a covered area to store the wood, it can become soaked and hard to use for the fireplace.  Then there is the maintenance of the fireplace; removing the ashes from the unit and having to worry about the chimney being clean and clear of debris.

            Electric.  Some people may prefer having electric fireplaces.  They are easy to turn on (just flip a switch) and are low maintenance; there is nothing that needs to be cleaned up after it has been used.  On the other hand, electric fireplaces consume a lot of energy and do not seem to put out enough heat for the cost.  In this sense, they are usually used in conjunction with other heat sources, such as a central heating system.  They can give value to your home and create a “cozy” feel to the home, but when it comes to warmth, they just fall a little short.

            Gas.  One of the most common types of fireplaces are those that are powered by natural gas.  These fireplaces seem to have all the benefits of both of the wood and electric fireplaces rolled into one unit.   There is little maintenance-other than occasionally replacing some parts (the best part of the electric fireplace).  And depending on the type and model, they can put out enough heat to warm a large area (the best of the wood fireplace).  Instead of using up wood or electricity, it is simply added on to the gas bill each month.  They come in many different styles and give the added value to the home.  One of the drawbacks is that of any gas powered appliance-it has the possibility of leaking gas.  This can be fixed easily by installing a gas detecting alarm.

            Pellet.  Fairly new on the market, these fireplaces use compressed wood pellets that are continuously loaded into the fireplace, creating heat that is long and steady.  They do not require much maintenance and are very efficient.  One of the disadvantages is that in order for the fireplace to work, you do need to buy pellets every once in a while.
            No matter what you decide, you can count on and trust Vermont Castings for a wide variety of efficient, high-quality products and parts.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Where to Buy Pumps and Pump Parts

            When it comes to plumbing, heating/cooling, and irrigation, there are many different types of pumps that can be used for each category of the industry.  With so many options available, it can be confusing and overwhelming to find a pump that fits your specific wants or needs.  This is why when I want to buy a pump or pump replacement parts, I go to Plumber’s Stock.
            On the website, I can search all sorts of pumps and find replacement parts when they are needed.  Not only do they have a large selection of pumps and parts, there are different areas and ways to make my search easier for me.
            For example, the other day I was looking for a transfer pump to help my neighbor install a sprinkler system in his yard.  I got on the website and at the top was a drop down menu that I put my mouse pointer over and then a list popped up.  I was able to go right down to pumps and click on it for easy access to the different options that were offered on the site.
            Once this page came up, I was able to click on “Transfer Pumps” which brought every transfer pump that is available through the site.  Also on this page there was a description of what the pump is, the different uses for it, other things to consider when buying the pump, and a section to contact the company if I had any other questions.
            Each product that was displayed could be clicked on to bring up a description of each pump and the cost for each one.  Many of each individual page have resources that are in pdf format such as instruction/installation manuals, specification sheets, and users manuals.  On the side bar, the results can be filtered even further by brand, use, type of product, and electrical voltage.

            This can be done for each and every type of pump that is on their website which include condensate, recirculation, jet/well, pond/garden, transfer, sump, sewage, ejector and gas powered pumps.
            When my wife and I decided to put a pond/fountain in our backyard, we went to the site and we were able to find everything that we needed under the “pond & garden’ section.  Things like the pump, pond liner, pond netting, filters, and fountain nozzles were all readily available.  We were even able to find decorative lights (that could go underwater) that came with different colors of lenses to make our pond look even more fancy!  I especially like the look that the red lens gives to our fountain at night.
            Anytime the subject of different pumps come up, I always try to tell my friends about Plumber’s Stock and the user-friendly navigation of the site.  I even offer to help them to get to the site and show them the in-depth descriptions and other helpful information that can be found on there.  Many of them have used it to get the pumps they need and told me how great they found it to be!