Archive

Category Archives for "News and Reviews"

Basic Guidelines On Painting The Aluminum Siding

Basic Guidelines On Painting The Aluminum Siding

While aluminum siding have been very popular in the market, and being advertised as a maintenance-free product, the reality hits homeowners when they see their house from the outside with the siding already having a faded finish and chalking.

The solution is not to take it out and install a new siding for your house; all the more it is not a solution to just let it be, and hoping it would look better the next time you look at your house siding. Have you considered painting the aluminum siding of your house?

Painting the aluminum siding, or repainting for that matter is the way to go. Not only will this be a less hassle on your part, it will also help you save more money than having to put new siding in place. In this way, you also get to choose from among the wide choices of colors, that appeals to your liking and that fits the style of your house.

The keys to a successful paint job lie in the proper surface preparation, the painting process, and the quality of paint used for the job.

First and foremost, as with any painting job, it is advised to have the surface clean and dry. Cleaning the aluminum siding would mean making use of a detergent solution or a high quality soap, whichever you have, as long as you get the residue out during rinsing. The use of a heavy sponge and scrub brush will also be necessary along with a hose or a pressure washer. Be careful with the use of the pressure washer though, and set it only at the appropriate setting to give you just enough force fit for your washing needs.

After washing, and after making sure that the aluminum siding of the house is thoroughly dry, then you can now apply the thinned metal primer, making sure it is tinted to half the strength of the original color of your finish. Though priming is not usually required for painting the aluminum siding with a high quality 100% acrylic latex paint, a good rule of thumb is to prime when in doubt. It is also a good idea to mix in a bonding agent for the priming process.

Application of the final coating should be done within 48 hours after the application of the primer, and the paint should be a top quality 100% acrylic latex paint. Using such in painting the aluminum siding will give the best performance needed for aluminum siding. This paint is durable and offers a fade-resistant finish that can last for years.

The paint may be applied by brush, but a better alternative would be the use of a spray. Painting the aluminum siding requires one to know what he is doing, thus you have to learn more about this by reading reference materials, or better yet – let a professional do it for you.

History of the Stove-top Espresso Maker

History of the Stove-top Espresso Maker

The story of the stove-top espresso maker begins in 1918, when Alfonso Bialetti returned to his native Italy from France, where he had worked in the aluminium industry, to start a small workshop manufacturing metal household goods.
The actual idea for the stove-top espresso maker came from a simple washing machine. During the 1920s Alfonso Bialetti observed the local women of Crusinallo washing their clothes in a sealed boiler with a small central pipe. This pipe would draw up the soapy water from the bottom of the boiler and redistribute it over the laundry. Alfonso Bialetti hit upon the idea that he could adapt this washing machine and scale it down to make a simple coffee maker that would allow Italians to enjoy real ‘espresso type’ coffee in their private homes.
Alfonso Bialetti began tinkering away, building various prototypes. His prototype stove-top espresso makers were manufactured out of aluminium. This was due to there being an embargo imposed by Mussolini’s government on stainless steel. As Italy had a rich source of bauxite (aluminium ore), aluminium became the ‘National Metal’ of Italy.
It was not until 1933, after solving many technical problems, that Alfonso Bialetti invented the world’s first stove-top espresso maker, the Moka Express. The distinctive design and octagonal shape of the Moka Express was based on a silver coffee service, popular at the time in wealthy Italian homes. Alfonso Bialetti claimed of his Moka Express that “without requiring any ability whatsoever” one could enjoy “in casa un espresso come al bar” – ‘an espresso in the home just like in a bar’ (coffeehouse).
Alfonso Bialetti began selling his Moka Express at local, and later regional markets, managing to make and sell around 10,000 units per year. It was not until after WWII, when Alfonso’s son Renato Bialetti joined the family business that sales of the Moka Express really took off. Renato Bialetti realised the potential of the Moka Express and launched a major national advertising campaign. This risk was greatly rewarded, with increased sales; production levels had to be raised to a rate of around 1,000 units per day. The Bialetti Moka Express soon became the market leader in Italy, surpassing sales of the traditional ‘Neapolitan’ percolator style coffeemaker, in which brewing occurs without pressure. Not only did the Moka Express produce ‘espresso type’ coffee, which Italians adored, it also brewed coffee much quicker then its rivals.
Many companies saw the success the Moka Express was enjoying and copied the design to manufacture their own version of the stove-top espresso maker. This is why, in 1953, Renato Bialetti came up with the idea of adding a company mascot to every Moka Express to help promote the brand identity that is Bialetti. He used a caricature of his father Alfonso Bialetti to invent the “Omino Con I Baffi” – ‘Little Man with a Moustache’. This mascot proved popular as it created an image of an Italian father or fond elder relative who had lived his life in the coffeehouse.
The design of the Moka Express has hardly changed in over 70 years of manufacturing. Aluminium is still used to this day, as it is claimed that the residue of coffee from the previous brews that taints the sides of a Moka pot adds flavour and depth to future brews. This is why it is recommended that you do not clean your Moka Express too thoroughly.
Bialetti, now the world leader in the manufacture of domestic coffee makers, still strives to offer “in casa un espresso come al bar”. With the improvement in espresso machines in coffeehouses, Bialetti has sought to develop new technologies, creating new stove-top espresso maker models. They now produce: stainless steel models, such as the Venus; an electric model, the Moka Easy; a new pressure system, the Brikka – which produces a ‘crema’ top on your coffee; and now a stove-top cappuccino maker, the Mukka Express.

Easy Water Saving During Water Shortage

Easy Water Saving During Water Shortage

Global warming and rising sea levels, yet a water shortage.

As the earth heats up and the ice caps melt, the sea levels start to rise – and what do we have – hose-pipe bans and a situation of “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink”!

After every long winter, the warm and sunny weather finally arrives – together with hose-pipe bans for many of us. I am lucky to live in an area that has not banned the use of hose-pipes, but because I have a water meter, I am very conscious of how much water I use. I would like to be able to say that my concern is only for the environment, and that does matter to me, but the amount of my bills is a factor that is rather more important at the moment. I already have three water-butts and 2 plastic dustbins for storing rain water, but they do not last very long when you are watering thirsty runner beans. So I have started to save my shower water! Any recycled water is known as “grey water” and can be bath or shower water, washing up water or water from your washing machine. You can use this water in your garden for plants and shrubs, but it is not a good idea to water your fruit and vegetables with this water saving method because of the chemicals used in the various soap products. Also, if you want to save the water from your washing machine, then you need to change to non-bio washing powder or liquid. Washing up water needs to be filtered first – but this can be done by pouring the saved water into a watering can or bucket through an old pair of tights (is there no end to the use of old tights?)

So, my shower water is now collected & saved instead of going straight down the drain. My next door neighbour has been very helpful and put an extension piece onto the pipe that is connected to the outlet from my bath so it now empties into a large container. But he has done it in a way that means I can re-divert back to the drains during the winter. I should add that I live in a bungalow, so this has not been too big a job. The container was given to me and my neighbour had a piece of plumbing pipe in his garage, so there has been no cost involved in saving this water. I am managing to save about 50 litres of water per shower, which is enough to water my shrubs and plants that are not established and whose roots have not yet grown down far enough to obtain enough moisture by themselves. I have never thought it worth watering the lawn, although I realise some people want their grass to be green, not patchy and brown like mine.

If your drains are situated in a place that means you cannot put a container nearby, and you don’t want to carry watering cans through your home, there is a gadget now available from many gardening stores and on the internet. It is called a “drought buster” and is, basically, a length of hose-pipe with a “bulb” near one end and uses atmospheric pressure to draw the water up from the bath and through the hose pipe. A few squeezes of the bulb will start the water flowing and, if the pipe is long enough, you can put the other end out through a window into a container. The hose can be lengthened by using standard hose pipe connectors.

I know you can also purify water with certain plants, so after I’ve watered the garden with the saved water i think I’ll look up my books to see which reeds will clean up the water from my washing machine – then I’ll be able to top up the pond!

10 Tips For Getting Your Car Ready For Warm Weather Driving

10 Tips For Getting Your Car Ready For Warm Weather Driving

The first warm weekend of the season traditionally triggers a symphony of cleaning products, vacuums and garden hoses. But while you might be in a hurry to put a shine on your vehicle, it’s equally important to make sure it’s ready for the warm weather on the inside as well as the outside.

“The most critical areas to check after the harsh winter months are engine fluids, radiator hoses, belts, tires and brakes,” says Pat Goss, host of PBS’ “MotorWeek” and Washington Post automotive columnist. “Adequately preparing these key areas of the car before the weather warms up will not only keep you safe while driving, they’ll help prevent costly repairs.”

After battling months of snow, sleet and icy roads, your vehicle is undoubtedly in need of some serious care. To make your spring trouble-free, follow this 10-point checklist for safety, dependability and fuel economy.

1. Remove your winter tires and rotate all-season radials-If you have winter tires, it’s time to store them away. If you don’t have winter tires, it’s equally important to have all-season tires rotated or switched out for new ones.

2. Brake check-After a blistering winter, be sure to check your brakes. Warning signs include excessive grinding, squealing, screeching or chatter.

3. Wiper blades check-Wipers work hard over the winter months, wiping away dirt and debris on your windshield. Replace them in the spring before a shower makes it difficult to see.

4. Clean the underbody-In addition to washing the exterior, be sure to spray the underbody of your vehicle and underneath the rear and front bumpers to rinse away any salt build-up, which can lead to erosion and rusting. Use a high-pressure sprayer or garden hose for best results.

5. Apply a protectant-Any vinyl surface, such as the seats and the steering wheel, is susceptible to cracking, sun damage, and fading-so be sure to apply a protectant at the beginning of the season and touch-up regularly.

6. Change your oil-Give some thought to the kind of motor oil you have in your engine. Fully synthetic oils, such as Mobil 1, are specifically designed to protect your engine in hot weather, while optimizing your engine’s efficiency and reducing oil consumption. (For more information about Mobil 1, go to www.mobiloil.com.)

7. Check all fluids-In the winter months, fluids are easily depleted as your engine works harder in the colder weather. Make sure to check, top off or replace all fluids, including brake, transmission, coolant, power steering and windshield washer fluid.

8. Pressure test-Assess the pressure of the cooling system, and examine belts and hoses for wear or deterioration.

9. Interior clean-up-Vacuum and be sure to throw away any unwanted garbage that has hibernated under your seats over the winter. Now is also the time to store your winter car mats in the garage.

10. Wash your car-All vehicles regardless of the finish (clear coat, acrylic, enamel, etc.) require regular washing throughout the year. To preserve your car’s shine and protect the surface, wax your vehicle once it has dried completely.

“The warm weather is here-so be sure to follow these simple tips to ensure vehicle dependability in the warm months ahead,” says Goss. “By taking care of your vehicle, it will more likely take care of you. And it will do it for a lot less money.”

High Pressure Shower Head

High Pressure Shower Head

You may not realize that you have one until you have to do without it. It may seem like a simple thing, but you will find that you can’t do without it once you get used to have it. Showering is part of the grooming rituals most of us do every single day, and getting clean is something that we all take seriously. When it comes to taking a shower, you have to have a high pressure shower head if you want to feel your cleanest. If you don’t, you may end up with flat hair and skin that feels funky because the soap may have not been washed off.

Many places are replacing their high pressure shower head showers with lower pressure models. This is not good. You may find this in apartment buildings, college dorms, or in the hotels you stay in when you travel. If you can get by with low pressure and feel refreshed when you step out of the shower, you don’t have anything to worry about. For me, however, this is a huge problem. I have thick, naturally curly hair, and if I don’t have a high pressure shower head, I can never get all of the cleaning product out of my hair.

I also find that my skin seems to have film on it if I don’t have a high pressure shower head when I take my daily shower. It just seems that without the pressure, the soap just won’t come off my skin like it should. It’s almost like feeling unclean after a shower, and it always makes me feel like I need to take another one. If I find myself faced with anything other than a high pressure shower head, I skip washing my hair for that day because I know I am better off.

If you want a high pressure shower head, you can still find them almost anywhere you buy home improvement items. Though they may not be as popular because people want to conserve water, there are many people like me who won’t use anything else. I don’t feel bad, as I know the water in my community is plentiful. My view may change if we are put under drought conditions. I’m not that selfish! I’m practical. I know that if I don’t have the pressure, I am going to stay in the shower longer trying to get the shampoo and conditioner to rinse out of my hair properly, and in the end, I won’t have saved any water anyway.

Car Detailing Tips: How to Wash-Dry your Car

Car Detailing Tips: How to Wash-Dry your Car

It’s a weekend! How good it is to wash your car and detailing it at the same time. Through washing, you can remove certain residues that came in contact with your car. You would be amazed how much dirt is stacking up on your car’s interior and exterior. Washing is like bathing, however, you can do car bathing for just once or twice a month and that would be sufficient enough. All car detailing processes starts with washing your car then all others will follow. You can’t put on new clothes and perfumes without bathing yourself now, can you? Well for some people it is, but it’s not really the way to go.

How do you go about with the proper washing techniques of your car? Read on…

1. Rinse.
Rinsing will be done at the start and at the end of you bathing the car. You have to thoroughly rinse your car in order to wash away some removable dirt and those that have stacked up will be softened. Use a hose with overflowing water but be sure that the stream is not that harsh enough to hurt your car or gentle enough that it will not reach your aim. Harsh streams of water can also be the cause of car scratch that is why excessive pressure of water is not advised. Detailers would prefer the water to flow freely from above the car or out of the hose with having to use a nozzle.

2. Detergent use.
When “soaping” your car, make sure that you use the kind of detergent that is specially meant for your car and not just what you use in your kitchen or in your bathroom. Don’t use dishwashing soap or liquid because these things are all too strong which will contribute to your car’s scratches and will strip off its wax.

3. Mix it.
In a simpler context, that is all there is to it. After preparing your equipments and tools, you can now mix your detergent according to the instructions of the manufacturer. Dip your mitt or sponge into the bucket of water that holds the mixed solution. Before doing anything else, you have to follow these guidelines in order to promote safety of your car.

• Be generous on your water and detergent. You can use an average of 3 or 4 buckets of water for a small car and 5 to 6 buckets for a medium-sized car.

• Washing should be done in sections. Start on top. This will enable rinsing to be relatively easier. After doing the roof, you can proceed to the door, fender and other car sections. Be sure that you do thorough rinsing in between parts. After applying soap, you should rinse so that film will not develop. The suds will cause the soap to dry and make an ugly stain.

• Right after washing the sections, you have to wash or rinse the entire body of the car. Use generous amounts of water so that all the soap will be washed away thoroughly. Do not leave crannies, crevices, and nooks where soap can seep and hide.

• If you’re not satisfied with the first wash, then do it the second time around. It is better to see acceptable results than settle for what is done. It is not bad to wash the second time because in detailing the first washing is just your way of introducing cleaning.

First washing has taken care of the majority of the dirt that is seen and the second will do the rest of the dirt. That is what good car detailing is all about.

Every Home Owner Should Know About Pipes 3

Every Home Owner Should Know About Pipes

Your plumbing system, like you and your family, is an important part of your home. Just like you, it needs to be be taken care of. You need to research all kinds of techniques and equipment and find what works for your plumbing job. These tips below can help you with that.

If you install a new water heater, and you start to have a leak from the pressure relief valve, you may need an expansion tank installed. The pressure increases when the functioning of the water heater is being performed properly. Therefore, with your new water heater, it may be necessary to have an expansion tank as well.

It is important to clean your faucet’s aerator from time to time. Not cleaning it can cause lime buildup, which in turn, could cause water leaks or low water pressure. To clean a aerator, you can unscrew it from the faucet, dip a brush into vinegar, and use the brush to clean it.

Keep an eye on the hoses for your dishwasher and washing machine. These hoses can leak and bulge, which can be a problem. Check them for signs of wear and tear and replace any hoses more than 10 years old. You’ll find that these hoses age well, but you have got to make sure they are doing the job they should.

It is important to know how to properly anchor your pipes when it comes to plumbing. This is extremely important to know because not having your pipes well anchored could result in loud noises, leaks, or pressure problems. Call a professional if you are unsure how to take care of it yourself.

Run your washing machine when it has a full load of clothes so that you can maximize the efficiency of the water that you use. You do not want to waste water, as this will lead to a higher water bill and can cause wear and tear to your machines internal components.

To avoid clogs, pay attention to what you flush. Sanitary napkins, thick toilet paper and baby wipes should never be flushed. These items can expand and cause a clog, or get caught on a pipe. Instead, dispose of them in a sanitary way that does not involve flushing them down the toilet.

A plumbing snake is an essential tool in any homeowner’s tool box. Snakes can be used to unclog kitchen and bathrooms drains and toilets when clogged with hardened debris. They are useful as well for grabbing hold of items dropped down sink drains. Snakes come in a variety of sizes for home use and heavier-duty models can often be rented for bigger jobs.

If you are trying to decide on the material to use for your hose, stick with stainless steel. Stainless steel has a very solid construction and stays durable for many years, eliminating the need for replacement. Also, this material is less prone to bursting, which can yield severe plumbing issues.

Doing your own plumbing ensures that if anything happens to it, you can fix it. Similar to taking care of your family, it is really important that you take care of your plumbing system. So, do yourself a favor and do your research and apply the above tips to your plumbing jobs.

Mr. Handyman

Mr. Handyman

First thing Saturday morning I decided to fix the washing machine. This decision had not been reached lightly. The cold water pressure was weak so I had checked with two experts at work (i.e., they had both owned washing machines at one time or another) and determined that it was a sticky solenoid. I grabbed my toolbox and told my wife what I was planning.

“It’ll be fixed in ten minutes,” I explain as I head down to the basement. Meanwhile, she is looking up the number of a ‘24 hour emergency plumbing service’ and entering it into the speed-dialing function of the telephone.

“Shouldn’t I call the plumber?” she asks, making it obvious that she doesn’t understand men. Of course, she has her reasons – I’ve had some bad experiences. In fact, I’ve yet to tackle a home improvement project that has actually improved the home.

But today I was feeling confident. I carefully removed every screw from the back of the washing machine only to discover that it still wouldn’t come off. So, using the largest screwdriver I could find as leverage, I applied gentle pressure until suddenly there was a god-awful screech followed by two loud snaps and the back of the washing machine flies off like a cork out of a champagne bottle and smashes against the concrete wall with a thud that shakes the house.

I hear the basement door open above me. “Should I call the plumber?”

“We don’t need a plumber, everything is going according to plan,” I assure her.

Of course, I’m not exactly sure what the plan is. The back of the washing machine is filled with enough wires and hoses to launch the space shuttle and I have absolutely no idea where to begin. So I slowly begin removing parts, looking for anything which might remotely resemble a solenoid, which is a cylindrical object which can be magnetized (I looked it up in the dictionary).

Every hour or so the basement door opens. “Should I call the plumber?”

Finally, with head held low, I humbly tell her, “It’s time to call a plumber.”

Personally, I believe I was on the verge of figuring the whole thing out, but I could tell that she was starting to get nervous. A short time later Mr. Smarty-pants Plumber arrives and views the carnage.

“What the hell happened here?” he asks in disbelief.

I tell him the only thing that pops into my head. “Vandals. We’ve been having some problems in the neighborhood.”

“Must have been a whole gang of them to have caused this much damage,” he suggests and I can only nod my head in agreement.

He continues to review the scene of destruction, occasionally muttering “Hmmm” under his breath. Somehow, I intuitively know that every “hmmm” is costing me an additional fifty dollars.

Finally, Mr. Overpriced Plumber starts putting everything back together again until, like magic, the washing machine is back in one piece and pushed against the wall.

“Exactly what were you trying to do?” Mr. Couldn’t-make-it-as-an-electrician asks as he’s calculating a bill larger than a small country’s gross national product.

I seize the opportunity to show him he’s not dealing with just any goober who walked in off the street. “The cold water pressure was weak,” I explain. “Sticky solenoid.”

“Uh huh,” he responds and reaches behind the machine and twists off a hose. He taps the nozzle against the palm of his hand until a black, gooey glob of sludge oozes out. Then, with a final twist, he reattaches the hose.

“Your filter was clogged.”

1 8 9 10