Some Facts Worth Knowing About Cleaning A Household Air Duct

Your HVAC system is the primary feature in your home that maintains the desirable level of temperature in your household. It also plays an important role in the cleanliness, healthiness, and safety of the air circulating in your home.

Making sure that your ducts are free from damage and contaminants will improve the air quality and the overall efficiency of your HVAC system. In addition, catching small issues before they become larger problems will save you money in repair work and keep professional inspections to a minimum in the long run. As such, HVAC experts recommend that your air ducts be inspected at least once a year.

If you think you can or you simply want to do the inspection yourself, open the vents. They are usually found in most rooms of a home, either directly on the floor or on the upper half of a wall. Unscrew the vent and using a flashlight, investigate the inside of the ducts. If you can’t see very far into the ducts, use a digital camera with a flash to capture greater depth.

During inspection, you have to be on the lookout for signs that your air ducts need to be cleaned. These signs include the following:

• Visible or excessive growth of molds inside ducts or other HVAC components.

• Excessive amounts of dust or dirt.

• The presence of insects or pests or their feces or droppings in the ducts.

In general, DIY duct cleaning isn’t feasible for the average homeowner. This is because this task isn’t as simple as it sounds; you can’t just use a vacuum or brush to clean the duct.

Providers of air duct cleaning services will have the right tools, equipment, and supplies to properly clean the ducts. They are also knowledgeable and trained to use the right methods of air duct cleanings – approaches that are deemed safe and effective.

The most common methods professional cleaners will employ to properly clean air ducts are:

1. Air sweep cleaning. This method makes use of a larger vacuum and compressed air. The compressed air separates the dirt, dust, and debris from the walls of the ductwork and the vacuum collects these airborne particles. This method is thorough but also time-consuming.

2. Mechanical brush cleaning. This method utilizes a vacuum and rotary brush. The rotary brush scrapes and loosens dust, dirt, and debris from the walls of ductwork while the vacuum collects these airborne particles. Many consider this method the most effective but it can be time-consuming.

3. Contact cleaning. Lastly, a conventional vacuum is used to clean dirt, dust, and debris from inside the ductwork. The drawback with this method is that the vacuum won’t be able to reach everywhere within ductwork; as such, the area cleaned is limited by the length of the hose. Areas too far away won’t be cleaned since they are inaccessible.

How Many Light Bulbs Are In The Average American Household?

Many homeowners in today’s America, are aware of steps that can be taken to reduce the normal household expenses. Everyday things like sealing windows and doors, to insulating attic spaces properly can yield high returns for ones investment dollar. However one of the most over-looked ways to save money is by changing light bulbs.

Sure, we have all heard for years about switching to compact fluorescent lamps, and how changing one bulb can save up to $67.00 in energy. Further, many of us have gone to a store, purchased a few and started to save energy. We have prided ourselves on getting rid of the old incandescent light bulbs as part of our own person efforts to save the planet, but have we done all we can do? Chances are you have not even touched the tip of the energy-saving ladder.

Recently we conducted a home survey of over 500 homes in the southern Florida. Our intent was to find out what the average home usage of Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFL’s) is. Our results were staggering and to say the least surprising. In our survey of mid size homes we found that only one in four (1:4) homes was currently using CFL’s. Further we found that not a single homeowner had changed all of their incandescent bulbs to CFL light bulbs.

In this study, home owners were asked an introductory question. How many light bulbs are in your home? Upon tallying and averaging the results to the question, the average American home owner guess was twenty-one incandescents per household. As part of our survey for the American home, each home owner was walked room by room, and around the outside of the home, counting each light. Not one person was able to guess or identify the true average number for their home. The average number of light bulbs per household was a whopping forty-seven, energy wasting lamps.

By our estimates, over 90% of residential consumers of electricity are not reaching their potential savings. If we calculate the energy savings obtainable by switching or replacing traditional incandescent or halogen’s in a home at a rate of $67.00 each, then the total achievable savings per home would be $3149.00.

Each home may vary in size, layout and number of fixtures or portable lamps, but here are the most commonly missed areas found in our survey and why you should chose to use them:

Outdoors: Porch lights and motion activated security lights can give great energy savings when changed to an energy saving lamp. Make sure the product you purchase is rated for use with switching devices.

Torchiere Lamps: Consider replacing double ended halogen fixtures with lamps that use a traditional screw base.

Closets: Using CFL bulbs in closets can aid in matching clothing colors because they provide higher color rendering and make sorting of blacks and dark blues easier.

Garage: Because CFL’s have higher color temperatures such as daylight, this makes it easier to perform tasks in traditionally poorly lit areas. Don’t forget the bulb inside the garage door opener.

Laundry Room: Using fluorescent or compacts in this area makes better use of task lighting for pre-treating clothing and sorting of stained items.

Refrigerator: Though this light doesn’t stay on long, LED bulbs may save up to $30.00 and keep food fresher.

Hallways: Though many people do not use them often, replacing bulbs in this area comes in handy when you need them.

Bathrooms: newer compact fluorescent lamps do not have long warm up times as older lamps. Using them in this area can drastically reduce electricity while providing better quality of light for tasks such as makeup and grooming.

How Do Your Household Chemicals Affect the Environment?

Household chemicals are used every day by millions of people to keep things clean, fresh, and pest-free. Unfortunately, we don’t realize what harm we are doing to the environment in the process. If we take a look at the ingredients of these chemicals and how they are detrimental to the environment, it may be enough to make us change our ways and create eco-friendly homes for our own benefit and the benefit of the ecosystems.

The Risks

Included under the category of household chemicals are cleaning products (some of which contain bleach, chlorine, and ammonia), pesticides, fertilizers, paints, automobile fluids, candles, fragrant sprays, and many other domestic items that can be dangerous for the environment. Household cleaners, detergents, batteries, and garden pesticides have effects on the environment when they contaminate soil or water. Even continuous exposure to small amounts of the many harmful substances in homes can pose long term health risks to humans and animals.

Many laundry detergents contain phosphates, which can greatly pollute oceans. Phosphates in smaller bodies of water can encourage excessive growth of algae, which depletes the supply of oxygen in the water and creates harmful living conditions for animals. Households with septic tanks are discharged directly into the environment and can possibly reach water bodies without being treated.

Household chemicals are made of ingredients that can be harmful or life threatening upon skin contact or ingestion. Bleach and ammonia in various cleaning products can pose respiratory health problems with excessive exposure. Some toxic household substances can cause birth defects, brain damage, coma, or death. Common household chemicals are also linked to many common health problems such as headaches, joint pain, loss of sleep, asthma, allergies, and depression. Housewives are at greater risk of getting cancer from their greater exposure to the harmful chemicals they use in their homes every day.

The Effects

Not only are there risks, but there are also proven negative effects of these household chemicals on both the environment and our health. The overuse of antimicrobial cleaning products is proven to result in the growth of antibiotic-resistant germs, which can only be eliminated with more harmful chemicals. Pesticides damage the environment with harsh chemicals that are intended to only harm certain pests. The propellants in sprays contain chlorofluorocarbons, which have been recognized as damaging to the earth’s ozone. We sacrifice a small part of the rich environment each time we use pesticides at home. The negative effects continue as we look at all that we damage in the environment that also affects our own lives.

Cleaning agents, detergents, pesticides, and weed killers frequently find their way into the soil and then into water bodies. These chemicals as well as runoff can be either harmful or deadly to the animals and plants of the seas. Chemical residues of household chemicals can seep into soils and contaminate groundwater supplies after being disposed of improperly. Everyday household drugs, cosmetics, and chemicals are harmful to the reproductive and immune systems of fish and turtles that become exposed to the harmful ingredients. Weed killers and non-biodegradable chemicals in soaps and shampoos are also harmful to aquatic life when they reach waters. Contaminated waters affect diversity and growth of sea life and continue to jeopardize water bodies for the use of drinking or recreation. Waste water is also emptied into water bodies frequently, which results in human exposure to these harmful chemicals.

What We Can Do About It

Now that you know all about the effects we have on the environment while in our homes, see what difference you can make. Purchase all-natural cleaners that are without the harmful chemicals, or buy all-in-one cleaning products to cover the majority of your cleaning needs. Use baking soda, alcohol, or vinegar as an alternative to the harmful chemicals. Dispose of your chemical-based cleaners and other hazardous home items properly to prevent affecting the ecosystems and your own health. Take the time to help the environment in which you live and those far away that are affected by your actions. Before you make a purchase, make sure you are doing the right thing for your health and the environment.

Household Removals and Insurance – Frequently Asked Questions

Moving home may, even for a short time in transit, significantly change your risk profile.

That means you need to be thinking about your insurance cover when you first start talking to furniture removals companies. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions on this subject.

Will my household goods be insured in transit?

There are two potential sources of insurance cover for your items when you’re moving home:

• Your existing household contents policy

• The cover provided by your household removals company.

Some household contents cover will continue to offer protection for your goods if they’re in transit between old and new addressees. Some might not though – so there’s no alternative but to ask your insurance provider to confirm.

Your removals company will have certain types of insurance in place as part of ‘the price’ but check with them to find out what that covers and how much protection it provides.

So, I should be covered then?

Well, no, not necessarily!

It depends upon what you consider to be the ‘risks’ involved.

For example, let’s assume your removals vehicle arrives at your new address only to find the road is closed due to flooding or a landslide. The vehicle then has to depart and come back another day, having stored your items in the interim. That’s going to incur a lot of cost for you and a typical household policy won’t cover that sort of thing.

So, you may wish to consider specific removals insurance.

What happens if my removals company drops something of mine and breaks it?

Typically you will be able to claim against them and their insurance.

Note that they may limit their liability to certain specified amounts and there may be the traditional new-for-old or market valuation replacement debates. Ask them in advance just what their cover includes.

Would that apply if I drop and break something?

It’s unlikely your removals company will accept liability for your accidents!

However, your own removals insurance (if you have it) or possibly your household contents cover MAY have accident protection included. Once again, you’ll need to check.

Will my valuables be covered in storage?

A lot will depend upon what they are and just how valuable they are as part of that.

For example, some insurance may exclude altogether certain types of goods from their cover if in storage. Things that come to mind might be jewellery, highly valuable antiques, very valuable collections (e.g. medals) and so on.

In other cases your policy might apply a maximum limit to a claim for any one item being stolen, lost or damaged of say $1,000.

Yet again, the only way to be sure is to check the specifics of your policy.

A special note here is that some policies may not offer cover for goods in storage unless the facility concerned meets certain minimum standards for things such as security and environment protection. Just depositing your goods in an open warehouse might cause your insurance provider some serious concerns and that could leave you financially exposed without insurance cover.

The Evolution of Private Household Staff

Positions associated with private household staff have certainly evolved over the past century, with the television drama Downton Abbey highlighting the differences between the old and the new. Technology and the way in which the middle and upper class socialise has had an impact on who they employ as household staff and how they recruit them, but also paves the way for a stronger fleet of individuals being recruited in the private household sector.

The 1920s and 30s

The lower class children and teenagers were sent into grand houses of the wealthy to work as hall boys and scullery or kitchen maids, whilst their parents would work on the farms or show their support during the war, either as soldiers or land women.

The downstairs staff consisted of the housekeeper, cook, footman, gardener and errand boy, whilst the upstairs staff consisted of the valet, Lady’s maid and upstairs maid. These individuals were addressed by their surname, whereas those working at the lower end of the chain were referred to by their first name.

Nannies, tutors and governesses weren’t considered to be part of the household staff at this time, but had a place at the dinner table with the rest of the family and were referred to as Mr. or Miss.

21st century and today

Private household staff in the 21st century aren’t just restricted to the four walls of a grand house. With household staff agencies presenting opportunities all over the world, on yachts, summer family retreats and private jets, there is something for everyone if they are interested in working in the industry.

Butlers are still highly regarded in hotels and houses across the globe to make the clients’ experience that little more luxurious than the last. With this, they are encouraged to undertake more qualifications and experience in all aspects of their job description. Michelin-starred hotels have made a significant effort to employ potential rising stars in the private staff sector, such as chefs, bartenders and waiters. They have also nurtured and employed an elite skill-set needed for these individuals to continue to succeed in the working world, especially in the private household staff industry.

Storage Units For Storage Of Household Goods

For storage of household goods, people generally prefer storage units. These are units with a garage like rolling shutter on one side. They are available in standard sizes. They have a built-in locking system or an external locking arrangement.

Storage units are generally climate controlled so as to keep your belongings protected against hot and cold weather conditions. They also provide a protection from humidity. These units also have the option of electrical access. Units are available with a flexibility of 24-hour access.

Need for storage of personal goods:

When you are shifting to a new home:
When moving to a new home, a temporary storage may be required if the new house is not ready. It may also be required when all the material to be shifted might require multiple trips.
When you are renovating your home:
When remodelling or renovating your home, you might need to move out your furniture. At such times a storage unit comes in handy.
When you are downsizing your home:
When you are moving into an apartment which is smaller than your old home, you might require storage space. This is because it might be difficult to dispose of all the extra items. You might also want to keep some valuable items.
When students have a summer break:
Students would be required to vacate their college/school accommodation. The options before them are either to carry all their belongings home or shift them to a storage unit. Most students opt for the latter.
For Home staging:
If you are planning to sell your home, your agent might suggest that you remove extra stuff. This is because an uncluttered home will have a better appeal to the prospective customers. In such cases, you will need space to store the extra items.
In case of emergencies:
When you are affected by a natural disaster or there is a death in the family, you will need storage space.

Storage units are available in a variety of sizes:

5’*5′ (25 sqft); 5’*10′ (50 sqft); 10’*10′(100 sqft); 10’*15′(150 sqft); 10’*20′(200 sqft); 10’*30′(300 sqft)

A few factors to be borne in your mind before renting a storage unit are:

Read the terms and conditions of your contract carefully.
Maintain an inventory of the items stored.
It is a good idea to insure your belongings.
Negotiate your storage rental.

A storage unit is required by almost every household at some stage. It is usually rented for a short-term. Its selection should be such that it accommodates all the material and is conveniently located.

How to Estimate the Weight of Your Household Goods For Moving

oving companies are often wrong when it comes to estimating the weight and value of your household goods shipment. Some estimators do a pretty good job, but there is such high turnover in the industry that you never know how experienced your estimator really is. If you make your contract decision based on price, you may be in for a big surprise when the driver hands you the final bill at your destination.

There are a few simple steps you can take to estimate the weight on your own. Following these steps will keep you in charge of the process and protect your rights in case you need to make a claim.

You want to start by sorting and inventorying your belongings. If this sounds like more work than you want to do, there are companies you can hire to inventory and value the contents of your home. No matter who does your inventory, you need to have an inventory done. Without it, you are at a disadvantage from the start. With it, you have a foundational document that can be used throughout your dealings with the moving companies.

Start by separating the valuable stuff from the ordinary stuff, the heavy stuff from the light stuff, and eliminate anything that the movers won’t be moving. As you go, simply list what you have. The list will help you determine the weight and value of your shipment. The best way to proceed is to start upstairs and work your way down, or start down then up if you prefer. Move around each room in a clockwise direction and write down everything you see. Write down items on the floor first, and then items on the wall, and then items in cabinets. Stay consistent from room to room so you don’t miss anything. Collections can be listed as collections, rather than individual pieces. When you are done with the house, inventory the shed and the garage in the same fashion.

You probably won’t take everything in your house. Items that won’t be moved fall into two categories: things you can’t take, and things you won’t want to take. The things you can’t take include anything that could explode, start a fire, rot, or give off toxic fumes. Such items cannot be transported or placed into storage. These are the items that are most troublesome to deal with. You can’t just throw them in the trash. Call your county department of the environment; they will tell you how to dispose of them. Have a plan for getting rid of these items. You don’t want to leave a bunch of hazardous waste in your house. Realtors frown on that. Makes the house harder to sell. Items you don’t want to take should be donated to charity, sold, or consigned to auction. Have the items picked up before you get your estimates. If it’s not in the house, it won’t contribute to an estimating mistake.

Once you know what you are going to move, there are three approaches to estimating the weight of your shipment. The first way is to take an educated guess. Add up the individual weights of the items on your inventory. For reference, I have provided a downloadable table of household weights on my website. If you are moving an item that is not on my list, find an item of similar heft and use the weight of that item. Remember, you are looking for a god estimate, not an exact number. Add up all the individual items for your total weight.

The second way to estimate the weight of your shipment is to take a wild guess. I’m not kidding; this method actually works. I’m told that the average shipment of household goods will weigh about 40 pounds per item. Remember that some items will be boxes of small goods. Total the number of items on your inventory (including boxes) and multiply by 40. If you have 150 items on your inventory, your weight will be somewhere in the 6,000 pound range. Not impressed with this method? That’s why I call it a wild guess. Still, if your wild guess came in at 6,000 pounds and your estimator gave you an estimate of 3,000 pounds, wouldn’t you want to know why?

The third way is illegal, so use it at your own risk. There are household goods weight calculators online. Most of them are on government owned websites, military and G.S.A.. They are supposed to be for authorized users. If you decide to use one, be sure to read the warnings and use good judgment. I only include this information here because I know that some of you will look online for your weights.

Beware if your estimator wants to give you an estimate based on cubic feet; i.e., how much space your shipment will take up in the truck. This is a useless number for billing purposes, since interstate carriers have to charge you based on weight and distance. Figuring cubic feet is useful, however, in determining whether you will be sharing a truck with another shipper, get a whole truck to yourself, or need two trucks. The chart on my website also lists the sizes of household items in cubic feet.

With your inventory done and your weight figured, the next thing you need to know is how to determine the value of your shipment for insurance purposes. That consideration will be the subject of my next article.

Affordable Installations Make It Easier To Maintain A Secure Household

Property owners that are seeking to upgrade their surroundings by improving the overall look and exterior appearance of a home would to well to consider the many benefits that the right fence may provide. From enhanced safety to superior privacy, a quality fence can do wonders to improve household comfort and curb appeal. Dealing with the right materials supplier or installation service can be an issue of great importance.

A fence is often the first line of defense when it comes to protecting a property and ensuring the safety of all household occupants. A well-made fence serves as a visible deterrent, one that may prove very effective in discouraging opportunistic vandals, thieves or intruders. The right fence allows property owners to utilize an additional barrier to help deal with would be intruders.

Installations that provide a greater measure of privacy may also go a long way towards improving comfort levels. Interior rooms and exterior environments that are too exposed can create many issues. A privacy fence can make a welcome addition to any home, one that may improve comfort by ensuring that issues stemming from a lack of privacy are far less likely to become a problem.

Adding to or enhancing property value is an important concern, one that is shared by both homeowners and real estate investors who are seeking to optimize the profitability of a location. The addition of a fence can ensure that any exterior home renovations or upgrade projects are able to be as successful as possible. Fences can do wonders to improve the exterior appearance and overall look of a home.

Investing in installations made from poor quality or substandard materials can prove to be nothing short of a disaster. Attempting to keep a home or property secure by utilizing a poor quality fence is rarely the most effective approach to the situation. Materials that possess superior durability can allow an exterior fence to better withstand the elements and to last as long as possible.

Costs are often one of the most important concerns for property owners seeking to invest in a new installation or who may be planning to upgrade their exterior environment. Spending too much on a fence or installation can place considerable strain on household budgets and finances. Knowing where to find quality installations that can be had for less overall cost ensures that property owners will be able to enjoy a greater value.

Dealing with installation services that are unable to provide quality results is another misstep that homeowners would be wise to avoid. Contractors and service providers that may lack the skills, tools or experience needed to tackle the job may prove to be little more than a liability. Doing business with anything but the best could lead to no end of future problems and potential issues stemming from improper installation.

Installing security fencing can make quite a difference for homeowners who have concerns regarding the safety of their household and its occupants. Materials suppliers and installation services that may have more to offer would be worth seeking out. Finding assistance from the right professional or provider can make it far easier to upgrade an exterior environment or create a home that will remain safe and secure.

Make Carpet Cleaners Using Household Ingredients

Cleaning your carpet is not that hard but instead of buying expensive cleaners that could contain chemicals make your own carpet cleaners using what you have in the house. These are easy to make and contain no harsh chemicals to hurt children and pets. Even if you are taking the proper care of your carpet, you should still try to clean it at least once a month, more if you have little ones and pets in your house. If they are not cleaned they will start to look worn out and dingy. Using homemade cleaners can be just as effective at cleaning and deodorizing your carpet as the more expensive ones.

Vinegar and water

The vinegar that you should use is regular white vinegar. This carpet cleaner is made by mixing equal parts warm water, and vinegar. Mix them in a spray bottle and spray it on the carpet, let sit for at least ten minutes and then vacuum. If there are stains spray it with the cleaner and scrub it with a brush to get the stain out. For the tougher stains, you may have to do this several times. This carpet cleaning solution is great for cleaning and removing bad odors from the carpet. If you prefer to use a carpet cleaning machine, you can still add some vinegar to the cleaning solution or you can just use vinegar and water.

Vinegar, salt, and Borax

This carpet cleaner is good to use on stubborn stains. Mix equal parts of all three ingredients to make a thick paste and apply it to the stain, letting it dry. Once it is dry just use the vacuum to get it up. You can repeat this if necessary for stubborn stains and ones that have been there awhile.

Lemon juice and cream of tartar

This can be used for ink stains on your carpet. Make a paste of a few drops of lemon juice and cream of tartar and put it on the ink stain. Once the mixture has dried, you can use the vacuum to get the paste up. Repeat if the stain is not totally removed.

Baking soda and essential oils

To help eliminate bad odors from your carpet, especially if they are pet odors, use essential oils and baking soda. Mix enough essential oil with the baking soda to get the fragrance you want and then sprinkle it on the carpet. Leave it on the carpet for twenty-thirty minutes and then vacuum the carpet.

These are just some of the many different homemade carpet cleaners you can make to clean and deodorize your carpets. To avoid cleaning stubborn stains that may not totally come out of the carpet wipe up any spills immediately.

Make Carpet Cleaners Using Household Ingredients

Cleaning your carpet is not that hard but instead of buying expensive cleaners that could contain chemicals make your own carpet cleaners using what you have in the house. These are easy to make and contain no harsh chemicals to hurt children and pets. Even if you are taking the proper care of your carpet, you should still try to clean it at least once a month, more if you have little ones and pets in your house. If they are not cleaned they will start to look worn out and dingy. Using homemade cleaners can be just as effective at cleaning and deodorizing your carpet as the more expensive ones.

Vinegar and water

The vinegar that you should use is regular white vinegar. This carpet cleaner is made by mixing equal parts warm water, and vinegar. Mix them in a spray bottle and spray it on the carpet, let sit for at least ten minutes and then vacuum. If there are stains spray it with the cleaner and scrub it with a brush to get the stain out. For the tougher stains, you may have to do this several times. This carpet cleaning solution is great for cleaning and removing bad odors from the carpet. If you prefer to use a carpet cleaning machine, you can still add some vinegar to the cleaning solution or you can just use vinegar and water.

Vinegar, salt, and Borax

This carpet cleaner is good to use on stubborn stains. Mix equal parts of all three ingredients to make a thick paste and apply it to the stain, letting it dry. Once it is dry just use the vacuum to get it up. You can repeat this if necessary for stubborn stains and ones that have been there awhile.

Lemon juice and cream of tartar

This can be used for ink stains on your carpet. Make a paste of a few drops of lemon juice and cream of tartar and put it on the ink stain. Once the mixture has dried, you can use the vacuum to get the paste up. Repeat if the stain is not totally removed.

Baking soda and essential oils

To help eliminate bad odors from your carpet, especially if they are pet odors, use essential oils and baking soda. Mix enough essential oil with the baking soda to get the fragrance you want and then sprinkle it on the carpet. Leave it on the carpet for twenty-thirty minutes and then vacuum the carpet.

These are just some of the many different homemade carpet cleaners you can make to clean and deodorize your carpets. To avoid cleaning stubborn stains that may not totally come out of the carpet wipe up any spills immediately.