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Tips About Drain Cleaning
Near the town of Kusadasi, Turkey, lie the ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus. Its history dates back to 2000 B.C. Marble roads and solid granite columns abound. An elegant mosaic-covered sidewalk remains in tact. The shop of a spice vendor can be viewed just as it was when it was open for business 20 centuries before Christ walked the earth.
Even the "user-friendly" portion of a public bathroom remains fully in tact. Open trenches remain beneath solid stone benches (with strategically placed holes in them). Unlike folks today, Ephesians didn't have to worry about toilet paper clogging up their sewer system.
Now, 4,000 years later, when a sewer backs up, it still can cause problems. However, unlike the Ephesians, we have the "sewer auger," a snakelike tool made of ultramodern coiled spring steel that is designed to travel within a sewer pipe, in line and around corners, to dislodge obstructions.
The snake is inserted into the sewer line in one of two ways:
Backed-up sewage can exist beyond (uphill from) the point you intend to access for cleaning. Before opening a cleanout, be sure to prepare for a flood of sewage. You'll need towels, buckets and maybe even some plastic sheeting. As for you, be careful not to be in harm's way when the cleanout cap is removed. Be uphill and to one side. If you can't be uphill, be on the other side of a trench or mote (dig one if you need to) that will help to keep you dry should there be a sufficient amount of sewage to flood your surroundings. And, you might want to wear a breathing mask. If the clog is on a second story, chances are good that a massive flood will occur if an attempt is made to access a lower level cleanout. Always try to dislodge a clog on an upper-floor from that level. After the clog has been dislodged, you can travel to a lower level to attempt a more complete removal of the debris causing it.
The teeth at the tip of the auger can tell you a story about what's causing the problem. For example: small shreds of roots can indicate that a tree root has found its way into your waste system. No matter what you do to eliminate this problem, you are destined for a replacement of the affected pipe. It's either that or having to deal with constant clogs and backups. Once a tree roots itself in your sewer, it's over.
Just as bad news is when the tip comes back covered with mud. This means your pipe probably has been crushed and there is a 95 percent chance that it will need replacement.
If a small auger doesn't do the job, a large power auger can be rented. However, take heed. A power auger in the hands of a novice can end up becoming a pipe-shredder. Be sure that you are relatively competent before undertaking this task.
Extreme weather, in all its forms, hurts your home energy bill
It really doesn't make any difference what part of the country you live in, extreme weather of any kind -- hot or cold, rain or not -- will have a negative impact on your energy bill and your level of comfort as well.
Here are a few suggestions on how to remain as comfortable as possible, no matter where you live and no matter what the weather is like.
We regularly tout the importance of having and using a setback thermostat -- and how that can help lower energy costs year round. Now we can add some good news to that advice: Good quality setback thermostats have come way down in price. One can now be purchased for under $25. This is true -- across the board -- with pretty much all brands.
And they are simpler to use than ever before. It isn't very often that we suggest making a purchase at the low end of the cost spectrum, but here we make an exception. Usually, more cost has something to do with more value. With a setback thermostat, as the cost goes up so does its complexity (how extensively it can be programmed). This is good if you are a computer programmer. However, we find that most consumers don't want to have to become rocket scientists to be comfortable in their home.
Simplicity first is the keyword here. We've found that most of the very inexpensive setback thermostats that we tested are very easy to program and they work great. We paid $10 for the one we installed at our office. And for the first time everyone there knows how to use it properly. So, if you want an easy-to-use thermostat, look for an inexpensive one with no options.
When we talk about filters for furnaces and air conditioners, most of us think about how they are used to control dirt and pollen. But, when it comes to energy costs, a clogged or dirty filter can be disastrous. A dirty filter will clog the system, causing the blower motor to work harder to circulate the air.
The math is simple. The motor uses more energy (higher energy bill) and the cooling or heating delivered by the system is less because it's clogged. Thus, greater cost and reduced energy efficiency.
When it comes to furnace or air conditioner filters, cheap can often be the best. Cheap filters don't filter very well and don't hold back the flow of air as much as good filters. Therefore, cheap porous filters are less costly to purchase and more energy-efficient as they relate to system operating costs.
So, when should you use a very cheap filter? Simple, as long as you can use the cheap filter without allowing a thick layer of dust to enter your home through the heating system and as long as you and your family don't have any allergies to what normally lurks in the air around your home. Finer, more expensive filters do a good job of reducing pollens and dust, but they cause the system to be somewhat less energy-efficient. If you don't have dust or pollen problems using cheap filters in your system, then go for it -- the cheaper the better!
Finally, make a visual check of your compressor. That's the thing outside in the backyard that looks like a radiator and that makes a gigantic racket when you run your air conditioner.
Essentially, it is a radiator for the coolant in your air conditioning system. It makes the coolant cold.
If the fragile fins on the unit are bent, air will not pass through the radiator and the coolant will not get properly cooled. If the fins are bent, you can use a pocket knife or a putty knife or even a kitchen knife to straighten them out.
If you'd rather have a professional do the job, you will probably find the cost to be relatively inexpensive. Heating contractors have a tool called a "comb" that can be adjusted to the fin width of your compressor and is capable of straightening many rows of fins at a time.
In any event, make sure that there is a free flow of air all around your compressor. This includes pruning back trees, shrubs and other plantings as well. Also, if you have pets, be sure to build an enclosure around your compressor to prevent them from doing damage with their friendly little paws.
And, that's all there is to it.
LESSONS FROM THE 2005 HURRICANE SEASON
Your garage door is your first line of defense.
Windload-rated doors, such as the Wayne-Dalton windload series, are engineered to protect homes in hurricane, northern storm and tornado-prone areas. Wayne-Dalton overbuilds all reinforcing component systems to achieve a 50% safety margin.
If you're buying a door, it should meet the Florida Building Code, ICC (International Code Council), TDI (Texas Department of Insurance) and Dade County (FL) PSF requirements and, of course, comply with all local building codes.
Strength with style.
You don't have to give up great design to get a windload rated door. Many Wayne-Dalton door models, styles and colors are available to deliver the strength of windload rating without compromising style. The only time anyone will know it's a windload-rated door is when the wind blows.
For more information about windload rated garage doors, visit www.wayne-dalton.com or your local Wayne-Dalton Dealer.
When buying a Christmas tree, be certain that it is fresh. A fresh, moist tree is more difficult to ignite. That makes it safer. Freshness can be tested in three ways - color, touch and smell. The tree should be dark green. As the tree dries out the needles turn brown and become hard and brittle. Be sure the needles are soft and pliable and that they remain on the tree when it is shaken. Needles don't begin to fall off easily until the tree begins to dry out. The tree should have a full, fresh aroma of chlorophyll. Let your nostrils be the judge. Nothing smells as good as a fresh Christmas tree. To keep a tree fresh keep it in water. Use a tree stand that features a water bowl or trough that keeps the base of the tree submerged at all times. When first placed in a stand, a fresh tree can soak up more than a couple of quarts of water in hours. Slice an inch or two off the bottom of the trunk just before placing the tree in the stand. An old cut fills with pitch and becomes waterproof. Check the tree daily to make sure that the water level remains above its base.
Place the tree away from combustible sources such as the furnace, a fireplace and other things that generate sparks and flames. Make sure that it doesn't block hallways, stairs or exits. Remember, a tree that takes up one-third of the hallway today could take up all of it when in flames.
Be sure to secure your Christmas tree at the top. Toddlers, small children and exuberant pets don't understand the physics of a toppling Christmas tree. Folks in earthquake country should be especially careful to use nylon line or fine metal wire to secure the top of the tree to adjacent walls.
Finally, when possible, try to use decorations that are noncombustible.
Christmas-tree lights: A major reason for keeping your tree fresh and moist is to prevent it from being ignited by tree lights. The direct result of electricity moving in wire is heat. Heat and a dry Christmas tree can cause a fire to occur. Be sure that the lights you use are UL-approved and that the wiring is not cracked or frayed. Make absolutely certain to turn lights off before bed or when the tree will be left unattended. And be sure to avoid "octopus" connections that can overload a circuit.
Portable heaters: A portable heater should always be at least 3-feet away from a combustible surface _ wallpaper, bedding, clothing, yes, and your Christmas tree, too. And don't forget you and your pet also are combustible. Imagine what might happen if you were to fall asleep next to a heater capable of setting you afire. Heaters are made for keeping you warm, not for drying clothes. Also, don't leave a heater on and unattended. As with Christmas tree lights, a heater can be deadly when frayed, split or cracked wires are supplying power to it.
Portable LP gas heaters with self-contained fuel supplies (cabinet heaters) are prohibited from home use by the National Fire Protection Association's safety standards. Before purchasing a kerosene heater, check with your local fire marshal to make it is approved for use in your area. And no matter what type of fuel your particular heater uses DON'T EVER USE A SUBSTITUTE FUEL.
Finally, keep fuel stored in clearly marked approved containers and always let your heater cool down completely before adding fuel.
Fireplaces: To prevent a chimney fire, never burn Christmas wrap (or any large amount of loose paper) and never, never use the fireplace to burn your dry old Christmas tree. Further, it is terribly dangerous to use flammable liquids in a fireplace. Doing so can cause the fireplace to superheat and crack. There is even the chance of an explosion. Keep combustible materials away from the firebox opening and use a screen to prevent exploding embers from ruining your holidays. Most important: Have your fireplace checked by a chimney sweep annually or after burning one chord of wood - whichever comes first.