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Over the last few years, composite building materials such as roofing, siding, and decking have evolved as popular alternatives for people wanting to reduce or eliminate maintenance problems associated with traditional wood building materials.
Bonus point: Composite building materials are a "green" alternative because they are composed of recycled materials.
Among all the composite building-material categories, decking has surely led the pack with a plethora of styles, patterns and colors from a host of manufacturers.
The reasons for composite decking's growing popularity are not hard to understand. While it looks and installs like real wood, it is really a revolutionary product that doesn't rot, warp or splinter. That means you don't have to replace rotting, uneven or insect-damaged boards.
It is also easy to install and it never needs painting, staining, sealing or resealing (that burdensome yearly project associated with traditional wood decks).
Keep in mind that composite decking, and other composite materials for that matter, are not the end-all when it comes to maintenance.
Though most composite decking resists sun and water damage and maintains its color and beauty for years, composite decking will still age and oxidize with prolonged sun exposure. This happens with some types more than others, depending on the raw materials used.
Moreover, as with natural wood decks, composite decking needs to be washed periodically with a non-corrosive, high-quality composite-deck cleaning product. This is especially important in warm, humid climates where some brands of composite decking material are proving to be breeding grounds for mold and mildew.
Bottom line: It has all the beauty of wood, yet stays looking like new, year after year, with very little maintenance. So, what's not to love and what could be better?
Well, there's always good, better, best.
Some composite-decking manufacturers have taken a further step and have developed the equivalent for fencing.
With experience honed from composite-decking and railing installations around the world, manufacturers are applying their expertise to pioneer composite fencing.
The result? One of today's best new solutions for new or replacement fencing.
As with composite decking, composite fencing captures all the beauty of wood and stays looking like new, year after year, with very little maintenance. But that's just for starters.
One leading manufacturer has engineered a make-sense way to prevent sagging, a common problem with other composite-fencing offerings that are simply made of recycled plastics mixed with wood fibers. This produces extruded material that is both heavy and unsupported.
The answer? The development of a process for infusing microscopic air bubbles into the blend of composite material which, in turn, produces much lighter components.
The result: a fence board that is about 40 percent lighter than a traditional solid composite board. This ultimately helps eliminate sagging by greatly reducing overall weight throughout the system.
This superior material technology is further enhanced with a steel-reinforced rail. A honeycomb of galvanized steel is imbedded full-length in fence rails, for three reasons: (1) added strength; (2) to prevent sagging due to long-term load bearing; and (3) to help prevent expansion or creep resulting from temperature fluctuation.
This combination of industry-first, patent-pending technology gives homeowners a new fencing system with unparalleled strength and beauty.
Most composite fencing is initially being offered in rich, warm colors, with the look, grain and texture of real wood. It comes in two board configurations, in 6-foot and 8-foot lengths, with steel-reinforced rails, 4-by-4 post covers, decorative flattop post caps and multiple fastening options.
The beauty of composite fencing, whether new or as replacement fencing, will not only make your neighbors happy, it will enhance the entire neighborhood.
And beyond the added curb appeal for your home lies the low-maintenance factor for you and the extra time you'll have to relax and socialize with friends and neighbors, instead of repairing and replacing boards, repainting, re-staining and/or continually resealing.
Eternal Hybrid Water Heater Designed for Energy Efficiency and Water Savings
“Eternal overcomes the limitations commonly found in today’s standard tank and tankless water heating systems such as sudden drops in water pressure, cold shock and waiting for the hot water to arrive,” says Tim Merritt, director of marketing for Grand Hall USA. “Environmentally-speaking, Eternal is one of the cleanest burning appliances available today, with near zero Nitrogen Oxide emissions, a hazardous greenhouse gas.”
Each Eternal hybrid can reduce home water consumption by more than 18,000 gallons of water per year when paired with a recirculation pump. In drought-stricken regions in the U.S., such as the Southeast and California, Eternal presents a significant water savings that is not only eco-friendly, but also cost-effective. In addition to its water conserving properties, Eternal hybrid also saves on energy. The product has sealed combustion unlike traditional tank water heaters, thereby minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.
Until Eternal, choices for water heating systems were limited. Traditional tank water heaters offer a limited supply of hot water and are largely inefficient. Eternal remains 86 percent efficient shower-after-shower since it is self-cleaning; a claim that other water heater manufacturers cannot make. Furthermore, energy savings are abundant because Eternal has a small six gallon tank, and is not heating and reheating 50-75 gallons of water all day everyday. Some customers have reported 30-50 percent savings on their energy bills. When using more than one shower or appliance at a time, tankless system performance is compromised with loss of pressure and drops in temperature. By housing a small reservoir, Eternal hybrid is able to overcome these limitations.
For more information about water heating systems and Eternal hybrid visit, www.eternalwaterheater.com or call 1-877-934-7455.
KAREL’S KORNER: Exercise the brain!
One form of training however, has been shown superior in maintaining and improving brain health. Physical exercise done in certain sequences and challenging your Vestibular (inner ear), somatic (touch), and vision improves “executive function”. Executive function is the set of abilities that allows you to select behavior that’s appropriate to the situation, and inhibit inappropriate behavior and it allows you to focus on the job at hand, despite distractions. It also includes functions like processing speed and response speed and working memory.
These functions start to decline after the age of 70 but people who have been active have much better executive function than those folks that have been sedentary. Even such small things as going for a 30 minute walk helps. Exercise is also strongly associated with a reduced risk of dementia late in life, and active Boomers are one-third less likely to get Alzheimer’s. So it’s not too late even people who started an exercise program in their 60’s have their risk reduced by 1/2.
Live with purpose.
For more fitness tips and to order a copy of my ‘Living Proof’ DVD, go to www.overthehillfitness.com.
Whirlpool Baths: Bigger isn't always better
We recently surveyed our radio program audience regarding their whirlpool tubs, and we made an interesting discovery that we think will surprise you as much as it did us.
The question was, "How often do you use your whirlpool bathtub?"
The answer across the board was, "It depends on whether it is a standard size tub or an oversized one." Folks who own larger tubs simply don't use them as much as they thought they would when they made their purchase. The reason: "Large tubs take too long to fill and are difficult to clean."
This is exactly the opposite of the answer we got from folks who have standard-size whirlpool-bathtubs. "We love our tubs," they said. "They fill quickly, provide a warm, refreshing massage and they empty quickly and are easy to clean."
We couldn't believe our ears.
It was our impression that most Americans thought that bigger was better. Well, some that took part in our survey did think that way at one time - but not any more.
Bottom line: If you want the best bang for your whirlpool-bathtub-buck make sure to carefully study the standard-size market. Ten out of 10 owners of standard-size tubs surveyed said they use their units almost daily.
Also, while you're shopping you might want to look into the latest in bathing comfort technology: "air baths."
An air bath differs from a whirlpool in that it is gentler. A whirlpool bath uses pumped water and often the assistance of air pressure to produce vigorous water circulation and an invigorating massage. There are many folks who don't like it quite so rough, but who prefer their massage quiet and gentle. If your preference is the latter, the air bath is for you. With an air bath there is a line of small holes located at the base of the tub where the floor meets the walls. During use, air is gently pumped through the holes creating a quiet, gentle message.
Some whirlpool tub manufacturers have added a feature that automatically cleans the jets and hidden whirlpool pipes. The new technology prevents bacteria buildup (a problem associated with older models when they are not properly cleaned).
Also, don't forget that it is important to look into a unit with an in-line heater. There is nothing worse than a cold whirlpool bath. In-line heaters work extremely well and make each experience a memorable one by automatically keeping the water at the temperature you want.
Keep in mind that the more power required by the in-line heater - 220v as opposed to 110v - the faster and better it will work. The salesperson will tell you whatever you want to hear. That's the salesperson's job. If you want to hear that the price for the heater is inexpensive then the salesperson will tell you that the less expensive 110v heater works just as well as the 220v. That's like saying a 200-horsepower car engine works as well as a 400-horsepower engine. Truth is it does - at 25 mph on a flat, straight road.
When it comes to keeping your tub water hot, more electrical power means the attached heater will work quicker and better - period.
Finally, when looking at whirlpool tubs be careful about what style can mean when it comes to using the tub. For safety, it is suggested that you sit on the edge of the tub and swing your legs over one at a time, then gently let yourself down into the tub.
But with some high-style tubs the faucet may be placed in a position that makes that kind of entry and exit difficult. For example: some tubs have pre-drilled faucet holes in the center of one of the long sides. Try swinging your legs over the edge of a tub, and you'll see what we mean.