Archive March 2019

Concrete Driveways: How to Hire the Right Contractor

If you want to make a dramatic improvement to your home, consider installing a new concrete driveway and sidewalk system. Or, maybe you are thinking about a new patio or installing a pool. All remain as popular residential concrete projects. But to do the job right, hire a professional concrete contractor or concrete company. Today, concrete has many options like texture, pattern, color,staining, and much more. There are a lot of options to consider when installing concrete. To hire a concrete contractor, ask detailed questions. To make an informed choice, talk with several concrete companies and obtain a few written estimates. Before making a final choice, perform thorough research. The prospective candidates should provide a written estimate that includes a reasonable timeframe to complete the entire job. To allow the newly installed concrete driveway to reach maximum strength, wait a few weeks before parking on a new concrete driveway. Most professionals will recommend a waiting period of two to four weeks.

The prospective concrete contractor should have thorough knowledge about installing concrete. They should know what causes concrete to crack and how to prevent it. The contractor should know about water and also about weather and how both affect concrete. The correct ratio of water in the concrete mix should be used to prevent the concrete from shrinking and cracking. They should be aware that joints also aid in preventing cracking of the concrete. Depending upon the depth of the poured concrete, i.e., five inches, the joints should be placed every 10 to 15 feet. The joints allow the concrete material to be flexible without cracking and breaking. Without proper installation and proper placement of joints, a long unbroken stretch of concrete will crack during the first winter, if not before, after a concrete driveway is installed. The contractor should know about the importance of site preparation and the use of the proper materials and tools to install the concrete. As well, they should know that weather plays an important part of installing concrete. Choose a dry day, an acceptable temperature, and it should not be raining nor extremely cold. Nor should the ground be frozen. They should be aware of the weight of the vehicles that will be driven upon or parked on the concrete driveway. Vehicles weighing over one ton or more will likely cause a concrete driveway to crack.

Ask for written estimates, references, check for licenses and certifications. Check with the Better Business Bureau. Read the fine print in the contract, ask about warrantees or guarantees, product quality, and get all of the contract details in writing. Installing concrete takes knowledge and skill. Ensure that the cost or price is fixed. Never pay the full price upfront. Use a credit card which can help with a guarantee and that you will not be stuck with a poor job. You want the best return on investment and hiring a skilled concrete contractor is crucial to receiving the best product. If you want a properly installed concrete driveway, patio, or sidewalk system, hiring a skilled professional is the best way to go.

Tips for Lowering Your Utility Bill

During the cold winter months, everyone likes to stay toasty warm. But, that warmth costs and adds up to high heating bills. There are ways to cut the cost of a high heating bill.
Lower the thermostat. Turning up the thermostat adds to your bill. Dial down a few degrees during the day and at night when you are sleeping to save money on costly energy bills.
Invest in a few extra blankets or warmer sleepwear can save money on the heating bills. Cleaning and changing your filters once a month can help save on energy costs.
Performing routine monthly maintenance on your furnace or AC system will also save a few dollars on high heating or AC bills. Check the vents and have them cleaned to clear out blockages.

If you feel drafts, seal up cracks and crevices that have air leaks. Update your weather stripping and replace old cracked caulking. Use door sweeps, foam strips, and other products that help to prevent air leaks around doors and windows. In unused rooms, close off the air vents and dial down the thermostat in seldom used rooms. Try using zone heating in your apartment or home. If you have ceiling fans, use them during the winter months, change the rotation to turn clockwise which forces rising heat back down into the room. During the summer months, turn them counter clockwise to cool the room.

Columbia HVAC Company

If you have a fireplace, ensure the damper is closed when it’s not in use. Chimneys are drafty. Check for air leaks. Do cleaning and maintenance on the chimney system and fix major cracks in the chimney.
Check electrical outlets for air leaks and check for leaks in ductwork, and exterior cracks should be sealed. Use transparent window and door sealing products to prevent heat loss. For south-facing windows, during the daytime, open curtains and blinds to take advantage of the natural heat from the sun and close them after the sun sets. During the winter, layer clothing to stay warm. After baking in the kitchen, leave the oven door open to warm up the room. Of course, safety first, be careful when young children are present. Another tip to cut heating bills is to use an energy-efficient space heater. Before leaving the room, turn off the space heater. Insulate the attic and update the insulation in your home. Prevent drafts and seal around the opening to the attic. Update seals around pipes and plug up cracks and holes in your basement foundation. Air leaks can be found all around, inside and outside, of your home. If you have the funds, consider replacing old windows with new ones. If new windows are not an option, work with what you have, and seal up the leaks and add clear plastic window coverings to keep out the cold air. Check the water heater temperature and turn it down a few degrees to 120 to 122 degrees. This temperature can effectively kill germs and save a few dollars on your bill. Seal cracks around pipes and faucets.