Storage Ideas for Small Offices

Keep an organized small office free of clutter or you can run into a problem. Whether in a home or commercial building, limited space makes it difficult to maintain a tidy work area that is attractive and free of distractions. An office area should be clearly defined visually in a house to minimize disruptions. Keep supplies handy to keep your day running smoothly in any office environment.

Instant office space

A wall shelf creates an effect of visually separating your desktop from the rest of the room. Fixing two self-supporting shelves to the wall above your desk can complete the design and provide an additional storage area. Open shelves offer ample storage space for books, manuals and publications in attractive holders. Store stationery and business cards in baskets and on shelves for easy access.

Convertible Rooms

Furniture that meets dual function lets you convert a room (or corner of a room) from home office to a living space. The dining table can provide ample workspace during working hours and returns to its home use as soon as you take away your work items. TV trays or shelves can hold an inexpensive printer or act as additional workspace, turning any room into a temporary office.

Office on wheels

Use mobile furniture to instantly turn a room into office space to living space. Add wheels to carts for easy hiding after finishing the work. Use a stylish table to store office supplies at night; Wheeled shelfing can slide under a desk when not in use. An ottoman on wheels provides unseen storage and a place to raise the foot while taking business calls or reading. Rolling office furniture also makes it easier to share resources in a small office area.

Partitions

A partition that provides shelving and is free standing creates a sense of privacy when you put desks into a small environment. In a home office, this type of shelving separates the workspace from the living space. The self-supporting rack may be moved if necessary. For a more permanent solution, use shelving that goes from floor to ceiling. In a non-residential office, use a cart for microwaves to create a break or lounge area. Use closed closet space to store infrequently used items and supplies.

How Do Freezing Temperatures Damage My Chimney?

You may have heard about how very cold air temperatures can cause damage to the masonry of a chimney.  Actually, it’s not the temperature as much as the way water from rain and melting snow reacts in freezing weather.  Here’s what we mean.

The freeze-thaw cycle

Bricks are porous and absorb water.  Water also can seep into small cracks in a chimney’s mortar that were caused by the normal settling of the house, weather events or plain old age.  When this water freezes, it expands and puts pressure against anything surrounding it.  Repeated freeze-thaw cycles will begin to cause deterioration in a chimney’s bricks and mortar.

Early signs of chimney damage include:

  • Crumbling in sections of the chimney’s masonry
  • Cracks in the chimney crown or mortar joints
  • Loose or missing bricks

If initial damage isn’t addressed and fixed, deterioration can allow water to infiltrate the chimney system.  Signals that this is happening include:

  • Foul odors coming from the fireplace due to excess dampness in the flue
  • Broken flue tile pieces in the firebox
  • Staining on the home’s interior walls or ceiling area near the fireplace
  • Efflorescence (white powdery substance) on the chimney’s exterior
  • Water in the firebox
  • Addressing chimney water damage

If you know or believe that your chimney is damaged, call a professional.  If the damage is in early stages, a waterproof sealant often can prevent further damage by keeping water out.

If sections of brick and mortar are crumbling, a process called tuck-pointing may be used to fill in open areas with new mortar and restore strength to the chimney structure.

In cases of severe damage – such as when large areas of the masonry are crumbling or the chimney has begun to lean to one side – a full or partial rebuild may be required.

Annual chimney inspections

It’s a smart move to schedule annual chimney inspections with a certified chimney service company whose technicians have the equipment and hands-on experience to deal with all types and levels of chimney damage.  A professional can spot initial damage before it turns into an expensive or dangerous problem and they set about performing the necessary repairs.

Remember – it’s not just masonry issues that can lead to water damage.  A faulty or missing chimney cap and warped or corroded flashing around the base of the chimney where it meets the roof will allow water to get into the chimney or run down the outside of it into the house.  Chimney service techs will inspect every area of your chimney to ensure everything is in proper working order.

For homes with wood-burning fireplaces, an annual inspection should include a thorough cleaning to remove flammable creosote from the chimney flue.  Creosote buildup can cause drafting problems and lead to a chimney fire.

Water Damage to Attic Insulation

Insulation often shares space with water pipes. If a pipe breaks, the insulation gets water damage. Attic insulation runs the risk of damage when a leak is formed in the ceiling. When the insulation gets wet, it is very important to act quickly. Not only does wet insulation become less effective, but it also feeds mold and mildew, which wreak havoc on your roof joists and, overtime, can start causing health problems to yourself and others in your household.

Instructions

  1. Feel the insulation by hand. If your insulation feels damp to the touch, it needs to be replaced. It is almost impossible to completely dry insulation quickly enough to prevent mold growth.
  2. Pull the wet insulation out between the attic beams. Call your locality to find the right way to dispose of it in your community. Many places allow you to put it in normal garbage collection.
  3. Allow the attic to completely dry. If possible, run a fan for it to dry faster. If you see mold, mix 1 cup of sodium borate with 1 gallon of water. Pour part of the mixture into an atomizer and spray it on to the mold. Rub the mold with a brush and allow the solution to dry. Do not rinse.
  4. Measure the length of the roof beam that needs to be filled. Transfer this measurement to an insulation piece. Rest the insulation from a piece of plywood and hold a 24-inch long 2-by-4 where you need to cut. Use a knife to cut through the insulation.
  5. Lay the insulation in the space between the ceiling beams. If your insulation has a vapor barrier paper liner, put it towards the hot side. This means, if you heat your home more than cool it, lower the vapor barrier and if you chill your home more than warm, raise the vapor barrier.
  6. Continue to measure and cut insulation to fit inside all spaces between ceiling joists. If you use more than one piece per space, make sure the two pieces are secure end to end. Keep insulation at least 4 inches from any fireplaces or non-rated IC’s can illuminate artifacts.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear gloves and a face mask when handling insulation.
  • Install 10 to 14 inches of insulation R38 in your attic.

Can Table Salt Clean a Clogged Drain?

A clogged drain is an uncomfortable problem that should be treated as soon as possible. If there are no store bought cleaners around the house, you don’t necessarily need to run out to the store; Try a homemade method instead. Table salt, a product found in almost all kitchens, is one of several common household products that help clear clogged drains as it works as an abrasive.

Benefits

Using at home solutions, such as table salt, has a number of benefits, including the fact that it is almost always on hand in the pantry. In addition, many find the harmful gases and costs of drain cleaners purchased unpleasant. Using table salt and other household items, such as vinegar and baking soda, is not only better for the environment but also safer to touch or inhale.

How to use

Mix a 1/2 cup of table salt in 4 L of water, boil and pour down the drain. This method works best when only a light drain cleaning is necessary. Another method of breaking clogs is to pour a 1/2 cup of table salt down the clogged drain. Leave the salt in the drain for 30 minutes and pour hot water into the drain to rinse the salt particles and loosened debris away. Repeat if necessary.

Salt combination

Baking soda and table salt also make a good pairing when trying to clear a clogged drain. First pour a cup of baking soda into the clogged drain followed by a cup of table salt. You will want to leave the combination in the drain for a few hours, no more than 4 hours, which allows the mixture to work. Pour two cups of boiling water to rinse it. Baking soda helps break down waste.

Warnings and preventive measure

After cleaning the clogged drain, you will want to avoid future ones. Placing a strainer over each drain will stop larger pieces of dirt and hair from making its way down the drain. Always handle boiling water with proper care so as not to burn yourself and limit the amount of boiling water if you have plastic pipes that can melt.

Determining the Weight Capacity of Floating Shelves

Putting too much weight on your floating shelves can cause the shelves and its contents to collapse. Not only that, but floating shelves that are built into the wall can scrape the wall and cause a big hole in the process. In an attempt to keep your possessions safe from falling off shelves, find out the maximum weight of the shelves before starting to put things on top of them.

Instructions

  1. Read the package that comes with shelves. It is likely that the manufacturer includes the maximum weight capacity, or the recommended load for the product on the label. The information may be provided in pounds or ounces.
  2. Look for ways to increase the maximum weight safely by adding reinforcements. Wall brackets, for example, can ensure floating shelves that are built into the wall, so they can hold more weight effectively. You can also add posts shelves between shelf levels to support more weight to the shelf and reduce sagging.
  3. Understand how the weight capacity of the shelves is determined. Different materials have different methods for determining the weight. For example, glass shelves have a weight capacity based on the density and thickness of the glass. Even within the glass materials, however, certain types of glass can carry more weight than others. For instance, according to Nova Displays, tempered glass is four times stronger than annealed glass. In addition, wooden, plastic, glass and metal shelves all have their own weight capacities.
  4. Research product reviews from other consumers. Consumers provide their own personal experiences with shelves and you will know if the maximum capacity of a particular product is more or less than what the package says.

Will Homeowners Insurance Cover Water Damage?

Does your home owner insurance policy cover water damage services if you end up with extra water in your home you didn’t count on?

This is a very common question and many times you have to be careful when purchasing home insurance.

Water damage may or may not be covered by your basic insurance and usually depends on the cause of your water damage. To be sure about what is covered, you should talk to your insurance company. Here are three situations which reflect insurance coverage and when the policy might or might not pay for your damages.

What if my pipes burst?

If your pipes burst getting insurance money depends usually if you are at fault, or if other causes like ‘mother nature’ are at fault. If you’ve been warned about your pipes and refuse to change them then insurance may deny your claim, however, if pipes were recently replaced and burst then you might get compensation for the damage.

You have to be careful because many times the insurance company is looking for work done on your home and how old the piping was before considering a payout. Keep good records of all home repair or replacement work done to help gain favor for your claim. Never doubt the importance of maintaining your property and how it can affect your payout.

What If Appliance Causes The Leak?

Here’s a good situation where the insurance adjuster will ask for paperwork on your appliance. If it’s an old machine and should have been replaced then you might not receive any compensation for the water damage. If it’s normal wear and tear than you won’t be covered because it was your responsibility to maintain the appliance and replace it if necessary.

Some insurance companies will consider this an accident, but will not cover the total damage so it’s important to know the limitations.

What Happens if a Flood Causes Water Damage?

Did you know floods may or may not be covered by your standard policy? This is considered environmental and in some states you’ll have to purchase additional flood insurance.

However, it’s important to note not all standard insurance policies cover floods so definitely check when buying a policy and consider adding it to your current policy if you don’t already have it.

Flood damage is extensive and insurance companies are protecting themselves. Here something to do going forward…

  • Ask your insurance provider about floods.
  • Finding out the average floods due to storms, etc. in your region.
  • Shop around as you might get a better deal from the government.
  • Read the fine line to make sure what’s covered even with flood insurance.

Bottom line is, as water damage specialists, we will work with you and your insurance company to make sure every penny possible is paid to you to keep your out-of-pocket expenses as low as possible.

Five Tips to Avoid Plumbing Problems

Who has not washed dishes with scraps of food in the kitchen sink and let the remains go down the drain? Generally, without paying attention, we do behaviors like this and believe that the pipes of our home will never be affected.

Here are five tips to keep the plumbing in good condition, and if possible, avoid calling the plumber.

TRASH GOES TO THE DUMPSTER

We have the mistaken belief that everything we throw into the toilet will go down the drain. That’s why we throw away remains of cotton, toilet paper and all kinds of disposable items. The truth is that sometimes these do not go and obstruct the passage of water.

The ideal is to have a trash can in the bathroom, to throw the corresponding waste there.

THE SAME APPLIES TO THE KITCHEN SINK

You have to be especially careful when washing dishes, or cutting vegetables, that garbage does not go down the drain. Food debris tends to accumulate and clog the pipes, causing an unpleasant odor. For this reason it is advisable to make sure to clean the dishes of food remains so that they do not seep through the drain. Another possible solution is to install a strainer, so that larger pieces do not cause problems.

THE PROBLEM OF FAT

Under no circumstances should you throw fat down the drain. Fat sticks to the walls of the drain and small bits of food that pass when we wash the dishes stick together. It is recommended that once a week we throw a pot of boiling water down the drain to facilitate the dissolution of the fat.

HANGING HEAVY THINGS FROM THE SHOWER

If you have a hanging rack in the shower where you put the creams and soaps, it is better that you think about removing it. The weight of these contributes to the showerhead loosening, causing leaks.

Clean the plugs regularly

Once a week, remove all the plugs from the drains you have and clean them deeply. It is the main place where loose hair accumulates with bits of soap and clogs drains.

Creating Wood Grain Finish on White Paint

Projects that create faux finishes are usually fun, but sometimes can become a challenge. The key to achieving quality work is to be bold enough to try to create it yourself. When it comes to reproducing wood grain, it is best to apply all the colors in a single layer. In this way, the colors are mixed effectively, creating the sensation of the layers that make up real wood. To achieve the desired effect, begin working with a sample of authentic wood as a guide. Surely you can find excellent examples of various types of grain in samples you would get to pick out wood stain. If you want to reproduce the wood grain on a layer of white paint, choose a bleached oak or pine sample.

Instructions

  1. Prepare a test piece by applying a layer of the same color of the surface and a translucent white paint using a piece of material similar to what you will cover with the finish. You can use a wooden board 12 inches (30 cm) long and at least six inches (15 cm) wide. Apply the paint with a brush using long, straight strokes along the grain. Let dry completely.
  2. Pour a small amount of white paint, light gray and black on a tray. Preferably use semi-gloss latex paints for interiors. Such formulas better adhere to most surfaces and are easy to work and clean, plus they do not emit toxic gases.
  3. Dip the end of a ½ inch diameter “sash” type soft-bristled brush tip in a bucket or pail of water. Drag the bristles through the edge of the container to squeeze the water until it stops dripping. Load the brush to about one inch (2.5 cm) from the tip end with white paint. Submerge only the end in the gray paint and only the tip of the brush in the black color.
  4. Work in long, straight movements when applying paint to the surface, pressing the brush slightly to make the stroke of the three colors. Drag the brush back along the same path, so you paint back and forth. Applying paint in sections, one at a time, more or less the size of your test piece.
  5. Retrace the section, adding the colors that are not as pronounced. Gray and black should be seen as blurred streaks or lines. Check your wood sample to see if you combine and experiment more with the mixture to obtain a design that you’re happy with.
  6. Use a fine artist brush to paint the lines of the grain with gray and some black. Mimic the lines in the wood sample you have chosen and add some curves. Create areas where the vein becomes darker and add a thin white line along the edge to highlight it. This will help you create an effect of depth and shading.
  7. Go over the dry surface from front to back, with a clean brush. You can rinse the brush tip and use it in this step or work with a wider one. This improves the effect of the grain. The aim is to give the impression of natural wood without knowing it’s actually is a paint job.
  8. Continue to improve the grain, giving reflections on the surface, always trying to work in the right direction. If you’re going to paint a piece of furniture or a detail like molding, make sure the lines are alternated in the same way as they would on a piece of real wood. For example, if the lines of the grain in an authentic piece or your sample have an angle of 90 degrees in a corner, try to paint the piece perpendicular to piece painted earlier.

A Guide to Maintaining Your Chimney

There’s definite appeal to having a traditional, wood-burning fireplace in your living room. It can especially enhance the classy feel of your home if it already has an array of visually pleasing features. However, you can’t have a fireplace without a chimney, which will call for a very particular and stringent maintenance regime. Don’t let your chimney go up in smoke!

Keep it clean – the chimney, that is

Both your fireplace and chimney should be regularly cleaned to ensure that problems – including life-threatening ones – don’t arise. You should, for example, clear the fireplace of ashes – as advised by DIY Network – and use soapy water and a stiff wire brush to remove soot and stains from the firebox.

A very good reason to keep chimneys clean is that soot, creosote and organic matter that gathers in the chimney flue could lead to a chimney fire. Once a fire of that kind starts, the flames can speedily spread to elsewhere in the building.

It would be possible for you to personally clean your own chimney; however, there are some warnings to observe before you go ahead. Firstly, you would need particular tools and materials. You should also follow other precautions detailed by Fix. All the while, keep in mind that self-sweeping should only augment, not replace, a regular cleaning available from a certified technician.

A case of “prevention is better than cure”

It’s worth emphasizing that many chimney maintenance jobs should be carried out strictly by professionals. However, there are still some ways in which you can personally check your chimney. Those include verifying that the chimney cap remains in good condition.

Another problem with a chimney cap is that leaves and other debris can gather inside; however, a wire screen can prevent this from occurring. It would also stop animals from entering the chimney, in which birds might build nests should the chimney not be in frequent use.

You might still be unsure how you could check the chimney stack yourself without putting yourself in danger. However, a professional chimney company will take the appropriate health and safety procedures applicable for assessing a chimney’s condition.

What if the chimney is already damaged?

It’s not out of the question that your chimney might have incurred damage for which repairs would be recommended. For example, roofing materials and flashing close to your chimney may have become warped or distended. The flashing should have a watertight seal. There might also be damage to the stack brickwork, such as cracking or flaking in the mortar between the bricks.

Preparing an Emergency Food Supply

Setting aside a stash of food is a great way to be prepared for emergencies. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends storing enough food and drink for three days, but survival experts often recommend that you set aside enough provisions to last a week so you’re prepared for the worst possible situation. Focus on food that provides a balance of nutrients that can last a long time and occupies as little space as possible.

Instructions

Planning

  1. Find a cool, dry, dark area for your emergency pantry. Basements are great choices as well as large closets and garages.
  2. Measure and record the exact size of your storage space. Before you can decide what to store, you must be realistic and determine exactly how much space you have to devote to food storage.
  3. Arrange the space for easy access. Plan where the water bottles will go and boxes or bins will be put. Install shelves if necessary.

Selection

  1. Water is the thing only necessary drink you need.
  2. Store the water first. The human body can survive for weeks without food, but only a few days without water. FEMA recommends aside one gallon per person per day. This is a lot of space to keep in mind if you are going to create a long-term reserve. Also set aside purification tablets, a gallon of bleach or a portable water purifier, like those used by backpackers.
  3. Stored carbohydrates. At the time of a crisis, you will recover most of your calories through carbohydrates such as grains, pasta and rice. Store carbohydrates in large quantities as they should make up 50 to 60% of the foods you keep in your warehouse.
  4. Store canned meat and beans because they are excellent sources of protein with lasting flavor. Protein bars are also a useful source of protein and other dietary needs. Proteins should assume about 25% of the stored food.
  5. Supplement with dehydrated milk, powdered eggs, dried fruit and vegetables, prepared foods or dehydrated food. All are ideal long items to save space. Include dried beans to the extent permitted by the space, occupying less than canned, but the downside is you have to use water for cooking.
  6. Set aside salt, pepper, garlic powder and sugar or sweetener as a replacement for it. Add your favorite spices. Tasteless food can be demoralizing. Also include olive oil or sunflower oil to add flavor.
  7. Put in a box tools and basic utensils to prepare food, and store them with emergency food supplies. Make sure you have a can opener, eating utensils and a cup. Also stores a gel fuel stove or butane fuel reinforcements.

Storing

  1. Put water in a large plastic barrel with a pump, 5 gallon jugs, one-gallon jugs or individual bottles, whichever best suits the space you have available.
  2. Add the bags of rice, dried beans or packages of dried or vacuum-sealed food containers. Keep them safe from bugs and insects by putting them in metal containers with sealable lids.
  3. Organize cans and jars on shelves, lined by type and with labels facing forward for easy rotation.
  4. Switch out items regularly every time you buy more. This will prevent spoilage.

Tips & Warnings

  • Fully pre-cooked meals are available online and in supermarkets. They are more expensive than store staples but are simple, tasty and an “all-in-one” solution. They come canned, vacuum-packed and usually have an expiration date of more than a decade.
  • The food will not do much if you have the crucial medication for chronic conditions. Store small supplies of essential medicines next to your food supply for the long term, rotating them with new ones when you renew your prescriptions.
  • Do not store cans with large dents or deep near the opening. Dents may compromise the seal of the can, allowing the food to spoil.