Operating Safely with COVID-19: Home Service Business Toolkit

Operating Safely with COVID-19: Home Service Business Toolkit

As provincial governments implement economic re-launch strategies throughout the country, businesses are starting to reopen and restart their services. For some home service businesses, they have operated throughout the pandemic as an essential service. For others, they are just starting operations again after this long period of lockdown.

Jurisdictions have set out restrictions and public health guidelines for operating during the pandemic. These guidelines are put in place to help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. In addition to these government restrictions, your home services business needs to develop and implement your policies and procedures. Because you work in and near customer’s homes, you need to ensure you and your employees are being as precautious as possible.

RenovationFind developed this toolkit to help you create those policies and procedures. Public health and safety should be a top priority. Finding a new way to operate your business safely is essential as we navigate these unprecedented times.

1. Create a pandemic safety plan

The first place to start is to create a plan for safe operations. This plan needs to include how you will bring back workers and in what timeframe. Identify what parts of your service can be done remotely or virtually to reduce contact with employees and customers. For example, you can offer virtual consultations on your home renovations.

Create a policy for the worksite, including best practices for hand hygiene, cleaning and sanitation, social distancing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) if necessary. Consider doing regular screening for your employees, and have a policy on what to do if an employee or customer experiences COVID-19 symptoms or become infected with the disease.

Keeping the worksite safe

Your COVID-19 policies and procedures need to focus on keeping the worksite safe and preventing the spread of the virus. If your renovation company works in or near customers’ homes, you need to implement specific safety procedures to reduce transmission. This policy should include:

(i)  Hand hygiene and sanitation

Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content on site. Workers should sanitize their hands before and after entering a customer’s home or property. They should also sanitize before and after breaks and after handling shared tools and equipment. You should check Health Canada’s list of approved hand sanitizers as Health Canada has recently recalled a handful of hand sanitzers.

If possible, provide a hand washing station on site  along with an illustration on ‘how to handwash’ using WHO technique . Workers should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Hand washing should occur when workers have visibly dirty hands, after using the washroom, and after running any off-site errands. If washing hands isn’t possible, use the alcohol-based hand sanitizer in these instances. Clean and sanitize hands before and after using gloves.

(ii) Practice proper respiratory etiquette and wear a mask

Non-medical masks and face coverings: About

Instruct employees on practicing proper respiratory etiquette. Always cough or sneeze into a tissue or bent elbow. Throw used tissues into a lined garbage bin and wash and sanitize hands afterward.

For employees working in a team or entering a customer’s home, they should wear a mask. Masks are essential when social distancing is challenging or not possible. Non-medical face masks are shown to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 from the person wearing the mask. Because some people with the virus can be asymptomatic, wearing a mask is a good idea and shows the customer you are taking precautions to keep them safe. Remember that masks must only be taken on and off with clean hands and disposed of properly in a lined garbage bin. Non-medical masks are for single use only.

(iii) Provide an onsite bathroom for workers

In the past, homeowners might have let home service contractors and workers use their bathrooms. For some companies, visits to the homeowner’s property might be short enough that using the bathroom is not necessary. For longer jobs, consider renting a portable washroom to have onsite for your employees.  Instruct employees on proper hygiene and sanitation for shared bathroom facilities. Wipe down the porta-potty with a disinfectant before and after each use. High-touch surfaces like toilet seats, door handles, hand sanitizer dispensers, and faucets need sanitizing before and after every use.

Post signage in your construction bathroom, providing instructions for safe use and sanitation to help your employees stay on top of it. Make sure adequate soap, paper towels, and hand sanitizer is provided.

(iv) Practice physical distancing

On the jobsite

Distancing between workers: Social distancing must be practiced between employees, other tradespeople, and between employees and the customer. A minimum distance of 2 metres (6 feet) must always be kept between individuals. You might have to limit the number of workers on the site at one time to help maintain social distancing. Its also advised that only one tradesperson or contractor is permitted on the work site at a time.

Distancing from customers: If possible, organize a dedicated entrance to the work site for your employees that is separate from the homeowners. Communicate with the homeowner, so they know when and where a worker will be present, so they know not to enter that area until the work is complete, and cleaning and sanitizing has occured. If necessary, install a physical barrier like a plastic tarp to block off the work area.

In the office or showroom

Distanced workspaces: For your office staff, make sure there is enough space between workstations. You should implement policies and provide instructions for safe washroom use, including regular cleaning and sanitation of the washrooms. Your washrooms should also have posted instructions on proper hand hygiene for employees and customers. If you have a shared kitchen, post signage about social distancing, hand washing, and sanitizing shared surfaces in the kitchen.

Floor markers or ‘by-appointment’ visits from customers: If you have customers come into the office or showroom, put placement of reference markers on the floor. Floor markers will help people keep the 2-metre distance. Another option is to only allow customers in your office or showroom on a by-appointment basis. Having one customer at a time will ensure social distancing measures are taken and will provide you with a better opportunity to focus on that customer and better serve them. This effort will show that their safety is important to you and that you are focused on meeting their needs.

Curbside pickup and delivery: If you sell products, implement online purchasing, delivery, or curbside pickup. If you do not have the resources to offer products online, let customers know you can take orders over the phone, and you will accept payment via e-transfer. Then provide curbside pickup or delivery to reduce interaction in your place of business.

Virtual meetings with employees and customers: To practice social distancing in the office, do not hold in-person team meetings. Instead, have them virtually using video conferencing software like Google Hangouts or Zoom. You can also use video conferencing and other technology for providing estimates, client consultations, and safety briefs. Utilize the technology we have available to us to minimize face-to-face encounters with both employees and customers.

(v) Cleaning and disinfecting the worksite

Clean AND disinfect:  Cleaning and disinfecting are not the same so it is important to understand the difference to ensure your worksite is safe. The worksite and office should be cleaned and disinfected regularly. Cleaning refers to removing visible dirt and grime with soap and water. It doesn’t kill germs, but without cleaning first, disinfecting will not be effective. The “wipe-twice” method works best for cleaning and disinfecting. Wipe once with a regular cleaner to remove visible soil, then wipe again with an approved disinfectant to ensure the surface is free of germs.

Areas to clean and disinfect:  High traffic and high touched areas must be disinfected often. It is important to have a policy surrounding the frequency and solutions used to clean and disinfect your worksite. Disinfect areas like work surfaces, doors and handles, washrooms, office kitchens, light switches, faucets and taps, railings, elevator buttons, counters, and desks. Its also essential to clean and disinfect tools and equipment, especially if they are shared. That includes all equipment handles, materials, hand tools, control panels on machinery, frequently touched surfaces of shared work vehicles.

Cleaning products to use: Disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19 will have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) and will claim to be effective against viruses. If you can’t find a proper disinfectant, you can do a DIY solution by combining 4 teaspoons of unscented household bleach solution to 4 cups of water. It is important to note that when using bleach, the surface needs to stay wet for a few minutes before rinsed and wiped away. Make sure you and your employees read and follow instructions for the specific disinfectant you are using. Use disposable towels and wipes for cleaning and disinfecting, then dispose of them properly in a lined garbage bin. You can view a list of approved hard-surface disinfectants with evidence against COVID-19 approved by Health Canada.  

(vi) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

If required by your local jurisdiction and industry, use and provide full PPE for your employees. As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to assess any existing and potential hazards related to exposure and transmission of COVID-19. PPE is required when you cannot isolate the risk of transmission from a pathogen or sick person through physical distancing, changing policies and procedures for employees, and providing means for hand hygiene, cleaning, and sanitization.

For example, if your plumbing company is providing emergency services to a long-term care facility that is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak, PPE might be required. Check your local jurisdiction’s rules and guidelines around PPE on a case-to-case basis. If full PPE is not required, health officials still recommend wearing non-medical masks when working closely with others and customers.

2. Monitoring employees’ health

Fast response to potential COVID-19 symptoms and positive cases are critical for preventing the spread of the disease. You need to have a plan of action for if a worker develops symptoms, is exposed to someone confirmed to be infected by COVID-19, or test positive for the disease.

Screening employees

You should have a daily check-in with your employees, screening for symptoms related to COVID-19, including fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose, or shortness of breath. If they have any of these symptoms, no matter how mild, they must not come to work.

(i) What to do if someone gets sick?

Team members must monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. Employees experiencing symptoms must stay home from work and self-isolate for 14-days from the onset of symptoms or until they go away – whichever is longer. Symptoms include runny nose, sore throat, fever, difficulty breathing, and coughing. If the worker comes down with symptoms while they are at work, they need to leave the premises immediately. The premises, including any tools or equipment that worker may have used, need to be cleaned and disinfected right away.

As an employer, you need to record the names of all people who may have come into contact with the sick worker on the job, and with anyone they may have been in contact with 48 hours before feeling symptoms. If that employee tests positive for COVID-19, those people will be contacted by your health services agency. During their isolation, sick employees should be tested for COVID-19, and receive a negative test result, before returning to work.

(ii) What if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

If you or an employee has tested positive with COVID-19, they must isolate for ten days from the start of symptoms, or until the symptoms go away, whichever takes longer. You must record everyone the infected person has been in contact with, as the government health services agency will likely be in touch with your business to let you know what the next steps are for tracing the virus within your organization. They might need to know the names of other workers and customers that may have been exposed, up to 2 weeks before the individual coming down with the virus.

If a worker has someone in their household who is infected with COVID-19, or they believe they have come in contact with an infected individual, they must not come to work and self-isolate for 14-days.

Review your sick-leave policy

You will have to review your sick-leave policy and ensure it’s compliant with current public health guidance. Any worker who is sick should not feel pressure to come to work, in any circumstance. Employees who are isolating because of COVID-19 do not require a medical note to stay home. Sick leave should also be permitted if they must stay home to care for a dependent who is isolating.

3. Communicate your COVID-19 safety plan

Once your plan is in place, you must ensure everyone it impacts receives communication and instructions on it. That will include your employees, other businesses, and services you work with, relevant associations, and your customers.

Everyone should know the safety precautions you are taking

(i) Communicate with customers

Your customers need to know what steps you are taking to prevent the risk of spreading COVID-19. You should have your COVID-19 response posted directly on the homepage of your website, so customers can quickly access your new policies and procedures. Customers will feel more comfortable hiring a home service company that has prepared a response and implemented a health and safety plan.

As time goes on, any changes you’ve made to your operating procedures due to COVID-19 should be posted on your website. You should also post it on your Google My Business profile, social media profiles, and any other online platform a customer might be inquiring about your business and services. As things change, update all of these platforms, and send an email notification to your customer list informing them of the latest changes.

(ii) Communicate with your workers and sub-trades

All of your employees need to be aware of public health requirements and your company’s new policies and procedures while operating during the public health emergency. If you hire sub-contractors, you need to inform them of your policies and procedures.

Everything within your COVID-19 response plan needs to be adequately communicated to them, including rules for hand hygiene, social distancing, remote working, cleaning, and disinfecting. As things change, make sure everyone on your team is informed of those changes.

4. Stay up-to-date with the latest pandemic developments

Public health requirements are continually changing, and are expected to change continuously, as we navigate through the pandemic. Stay updated with the latest developments, and encourage your employees to do the same. As things change, communicate with your workers on things they can do on the job and outside of work to mitigate the risk of transmitting the virus. Make them aware of physical health, mental health, and financial resources they can access through these challenging times.

Click here to visit the World Health Organization Website

Click here to visit the Government of Canada Website

RenovationFind is here to support you

RenovationFind works exclusively with home service companies, trades, and contractors. We have reviewed many COVID-19 response plans for operating safely during the pandemic. If you need assistance in developing your plan for safe operations, let us know. We are happy to help or connect you with another business that can provide advice. We can also assist you with your digital marketing strategy, and help you gain exposure and increase your business during these challenging times. Contact us.

Another Helpful Article is >>> HOMESHOW ROI FOR HOME IMPROVEMENT COMPANIES IN THE “NEW NORMAL”

This post first appeared on https://blog.renovationfind.com

Asphalt roofing: all you need to know

There are many factors involved when you decide to update your roof. As the first defense for your roof, you want shingles that are both strong and that will last for many years. Other factors include the cost of the roof, how much maintenance it requires and possibly the appearance.

For these reasons, many homeowners choose asphalt roofing as the preferred choice when it comes to the right balance between cost and benefits.

Active Roofing Ltd.  is a full-service roofing company, including doing asphalt roofing installation. They share more of the information and benefits that asphalt roofing offers:

Types of asphalt shingles 

Asphalt shingles come in two different types of base materials: organic and fiberglass. Organic shingles use a base mat made up of recycled paper, wood fiber or other types of organic materials. The benefit of organic asphalt shingles is that they are incredibly durable and less prone to tearing, as well as less brittle than fiberglass shingles. However, with an organic base, they have a higher risk of fire damage.

Fiberglass, on the other hand, uses a base mat of glass fiber, making it less at risk of fire damage. Thanks to the glass base as well, it is much lighter, meaning it is easier to install. Fiberglass shingles also contain less asphalt than organic, making them a more environmentally friendly option. The downside, however, is that fiberglass is less ideal for extremely cold climates, as it can become brittle and break.

Design and appearance 

Asphalt shingles in general also come in a wide range of colours and textures, which can be chosen to customize your home. The design of the shingles though comes in two different options: architectural or 3-tab shingles. The latter is laid out in a strip of three evenly spaced tabs, creating a flat and uniform pattern. These are the most commonly used, as they are both lighter and cost less than architectural.

Architectural shingles can vary in shape and are both thicker and stronger than 3-tab shingles. These shingles are multi-layered and as such create a 3-dimensional appearance when installed. Because of their 3-D design, architectural shingles are better able to replicate the look of wood shingles.

Maintenance and benefits

When it comes to maintenance, asphalt roofing is one that requires very little. The care it does need is similar to the basic care of any other roofing. Clearing debris from the roof and gutters, as well as routine inspections,  will help prevent or catch problems early on. It is also important to replace any shingles that are damaged to prevent roof leaks or structural water damage.

In addition to the benefits of its low installation cost and maintenance, asphalt shingles are also very energy-efficient. They easily reflect sunlight, which helps keep your home cooler and keeps monthly bills down. Plus, with the availability of colours and designs, asphalt shingles can also easily enhance the visual appeal of your home. Read more about choosing the right asphalt shingle colour to compliment your home.

Roofers in Vancouver 

Active Roofing Ltd. offers only the best service and expertise when it comes to installing the right roof for your home. Whether it is upgrading an old roof, installing a new roof or just a basic repair, Active Roofing is the professionals to call.

Contact Active Roofing Ltd. today for any questions or to book an installation!

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Click to Find >>>> Roofers in Vancouver

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Solar Panel Cost in Canada  

Thanks to the advancements in technology and the push to go green, more home and business owners are making the switch to sustainable, clean energy. A solar system harnesses the energy from the sun to power our homes. Over the years, solar panel cost has steadily dropped, making it more available and easier to install.

That said, the cost of solar panels is a significant investment that requires the right commitment and a period of waiting to see a return on that investment. While the benefits and value that solar offers often outweigh the cost, it’s important to understand the breakdown. Depending on where in Canada you live, the price of a solar power system will vary. What won’t vary, however, are the benefits offered by going solar.

Why solar power?  

Switching to solar power is a long-term investment that should be considered if you are planning to stay in your home for many more years. You want to be there to reap the benefits of your investment. The payback of solar is extremely worthwhile and it more than pays itself off over the long-term. Solar power offers both personal benefits and environmental ones.

Reduce and eliminate energy costs

For starters, those monthly energy bill payments will drop significantly. Given the right-sized system and enough time, it’s even possible to reduce electricity bills to $0. The average lifespan of a solar panel is guaranteed for 25 years but can easily last 30 years or more. Plus, throughout that lifespan, solar panels will only see a 0.5% efficiency reduction per year. So, even years down the road, a solar system will continue to produce a steady supply of energy. For prospective buyers, as well, the appeal of buying a home outfitted with solar panels is ever-increasing, meaning that if you do decide to sell in a few years, that solar investment will add value to your home.

Reduce your carbon footprint

From an environmental perspective, solar power is just as beneficial and appealing. Naturally, as a source of green energy, solar helps combat climate change and pollution. Likewise, solar energy is an entirely renewable source. As long as the sun exists, solar energy will never run out. Non-renewable sources, such as fossil fuels, will eventually run out and burning fossil fuels is contributing to climate change.

According to the Canada Energy Regulator, 2040 is expected to see solar power make up 3% of the total generated electricity in Canada. With that in mind, investing in solar power now is a great head start on guaranteed future benefits. It’s important to understand the cost of investing in solar, by breaking down the expenses.  

Infographic - Solar Panel Cost in Canada

Cost breakdown 

First, breaking down the final cost of a solar system means looking at the various parts and involved stages. The cost is split between the system itself and how much power costs in each province. Solar systems are calculated in dollars per installed watt ($/W), where a low cost, high wattage, is ideal. The prices for this vary between provinces. Alberta, for example, costs between $2.51-$2.77 per installed watt. Newfoundland & Labrador, however, costs between $3.53-$4.31 per installed watt.  

One thing you never want to skimp on to save expenses is the professional installation of your solar panels. You always want someone with lots of experience, skill, and who is certified in solar installations. Solar panels prices are a major upfront investment, so you want to invest properly at every step. Plus, the installation will need to be signed off by a professional electrician or solar installer to be approved during an inspection from your local municipality.

Installation and parts

Different parts of the solar energy system can also affect the final cost. The solar panels are easily recognized as they are what sit on your roof and collect the sunlight to convert to electricity. The panels’ size depends on the amount of energy each one produces and ranges from 250 to 400 Watts. The number of panels needed depends on how much power each one provides. More power, for example, will mean fewer panels are necessary for your home.

Inverters

Inverters are the second part of the system and convert “direct current” (DC) into “alternating current” (AC). AC is the energy used by homes, so it must be converted before being used. Then there is the energy storage device, which is key for storing excess energy and saving it for later. This stored energy can be re-accessed during cloudy days, nights, or in the winter when there is less sunlight.

The other option is  “Net Metering,” which uses the grid to store energy. Excess energy goes back to the grid and gets applied as a credit to your utility bills. Similar to a battery, when you need more power, you just use the credit to access that stored energy again. This method is currently very popular in Canada and is used by most solar system owners.

Racking

The final part of a solar system and is what holds each panel in place. Roof-mounted racking is typically how solar panels are installed on houses. Different styles can are available for angled or flat roofs, as well as metal or shingled roofs. Ground-mounted racking is another option if your roof can’t support solar panels. This method is more expensive up front, however, since it requires extra materials to secure. Steel and aluminum are the most common materials, but wood may be an option if a homeowner DIY’s the racking. DIY is typically not recommended, as wood won’t last for the duration of the solar panel’s lifespan. If you choose ground racking, then hire a professional to help.

Cost of the system 

Depending on the number of solar panels, what type of inverters you choose, and what method of racking, the final solar panel cost will vary. Other factors, such as climate and daily amount of sunlight, will also affect the efficiency of the system. Nova Scotia and Alberta, for example, get lots of sunlight, making them ideal for solar, which lowers the cost. 

Calculating the cost of solar panels is also a two-part breakdown between what size you need and the cost to install.  

Calculating the size

The size of the system refers to how much energy you need your new solar panel system to produce. This amount will vary depending on much energy your home uses throughout the year and what type of energy. To do so, add up each month then divide the total by the annual average of sunlight hours in your province. Depending on whether your home currently uses gas or electricity, the numbers will vary.

Calculation: System size (kW) = yearly home energy use (kWh) / annual average of solar hours (h)

Energyhub.org breaks down the annual average amount of full sunlight for each province as such: 

Saskatchewan: 1330 kWh/yr

Alberta: 1276 kWh/yr

Manitoba: 1272 kWh/yr

Québec: 1183 kWh/yr

Ontario: 1166 kWh/yr

New Brunswick: 1142 kWh/yr

Prince Edward Island: 1104 kWh/yr

Nunavut: 1092 kWh/yr

Nova Scotia: 1090 kWh/yr

Northwest Territories: 1064 kWh/yr

British Columbia: 1004 kWh/yr

Yukon Territory: 965 kWh/yr

Newfoundland & Labrador: 949 kWh/yr

Once you know the size needed for your home, you can calculate the cost to install it. Keep in mind that the upfront cost for solar energy is much more expensive. However, the long-term payback and benefits are what make the outlay worthwhile.

Calculating the cost

To calculate the solar panel cost, you simply need to multiply the size of your system by the cost per installed watt ($/W).

Calculation: system cost = size of system x cost per installed watt.

Energyhub.org breaks down the cost for each province per installed watt as such:

Alberta: $2.51-$2.77

British Columbia: $2.54-$2.69

Manitoba: $2.63-$2.90

New Brunswick: $2.65-$3.24

Newfoundland & Labrador: $3.53-$4.31

Northwest Territories: $2.43-$2.68

Nova Scotia: $2.74-$3.35

Nunavut $4.00+

Ontario: $2.34-$2.59

Prince Edward Island: $2.73-$3.33

Québec: $2.56-$2.83

Saskatchewan: $2.64-$3.22

Yukon Territory: $2.77-$3.38 

Pricing example

Imagine you live in a gas-heated home in Alberta and use 15,000 kWh annually. The size of your required system would be:  

(15,000kWh / 1276h = 11.76kW)

Then, use that number to calculate the total cost for your system: 

11,760 Watts x $2.51-$2.77 = $29,518 – $32,575

A system that needs 11.76 kW would cost between $29,518 – $32,575 to install in Alberta.  

Keep in mind that this is just an average estimate. Other factors, such as how much energy your household uses each month or what size you need, as a result, will affect the final solar panel cost. Even where you live in Canada will cause prices to vary, as the price for electricity and hours of sunlight is different.  

Clean energy incentives and rebates

In order to help offset the cost of solar panel installation, most provinces have introduced incentives and rebates. These rebates encourage more people to go solar, as well as help those who already have, to offset the cost. Rebates return a portion of the cost, to help more homeowners handle the cost of going solar. In addition to solar rebates, some provinces offer other clean energy incentives to help make your whole home a green, energy-efficient space.

The rebates

Alberta: No longer offers provincial solar incentives; there are incentives for Canmore, Edmonton, and Medicine Hat.

British Columbia: Offers a multitude of various rebates, including a Renewable Energy Rebate for solar energy installation.

Manitoba: Manitoba Hydro Solar Rebate Program ended in 2018. However, the Green Energy Equipment Tax Credit offers a 10% refund on solar panels prices.

New Brunswick: The Total Home Energy Savings Program rebates from $0.20/Watt to $0.30/Watt on solar power. Higher savings are rewarded based on the amount of energy-saving upgrades your home has.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Currently do not have solar rebates in place.

Northwest Territories: Offers a 50% rebate on solar energy through the Alternative Energy Technologies Program.

Nova Scotia: Solar Homes offers a rebate of $0.60/Watt and covers approximately 25% of the solar system’s cost.

Nunavut: Does not offer solar rebates or incentive programs.

Ontario: Provincial energy efficiency programs and clean energy incentives have both been cancelled in Ontario.  

Prince Edward Island: The Solar Electric Rebate Program helps provide support and incentive for solar panel installations. The requirement for residential homes is $1,000/kilowatt installed, not exceeding 40% of the total cost.

Québec: Currently does not have a solar rebate in place, though there was a temporary incentive from 2016-2019.

Saskatchewan: No longer offers solar rebates or incentives. The old SaskPower Solar Rebate was slashed and then revamped for Nov. 1, 2019. This no longer offers rebates, but you can credit excess energy at 7.5 cents/kWh, which is down from the original 14 cents/kWh.

Yukon Territory: The Renewable Energy Systems Rebate offers as much as $800/kW for residential homes using off-grid power. The rebate offers up to a maximum of $5,000 per system per year.  

Considerations of solar power

With the benefits and costs of solar power in mind, it’s also important to consider other elements of solar. A roof that can support solar panels, for example, will play a major role in the deciding factor. Solar installers will help optimize the panels’ location, but your roof must get enough sunlight first. It’s also worthwhile to cover any reroofing needs or repairs now before you install any panels. Once the panels are installed, maintenance is another thing to consider. Unless the panels are clear, your home won’t be benefiting from full solar capacity. Clearing away dust, debris, and snow in the winter needs regular upkeep.  

Then there is the matter of sunlight. Depending on your energy needs, being able to maximize the amount of sunlight you get will play a significant role. Alberta and Manitoba, for example, get 1,276 and 1,272 respective hours annually. These make them prime areas for solar energy, while Yukon only gets 965 hours. In addition to savings, the total hours of sunlight will factor into how long your payback period is.

The payback period

This period refers to the amount of time it will take for your solar panels to produce the initial investment cost. In Canada, this timeline varies from 8 to 16 years and again depends on your current province. You can, however, calculate the timeline yourself and see how long it takes before you start turning a profit.

First, calculate the system’s gross cost by adding up everything you paid and subtracting any rebates. From there, calculate the amount of savings that you will make each year with your system. This final number will tell what your payback period will be. You should also consider the environmental payback, and by eliminating the use of fossil fuels, the positive impact you’re making no the environment.

Remember, going solar is never a decision homeowners regret. So, once you’ve made the decision, look for a certified solar company to help!

Find a RenovationFind certified solar company now!

RenovationFind Certified is a symbol of integrity held by only the most trustworthy companies in home improvement, service, maintenance. 

This post first appeared on https://blog.renovationfind.com

USB wall outlets vs. standard outlets 

Electronic devices aren’t just changing the way we live or communicate. They are changing the way we charge. Wall outlets with adaptors have been common for years, but a demand for more convenience and faster charging is now taking over. When USB wall outlets first started appearing, it was in airports or cafes. Now, USB outlets are making their way into homes where people can access easy charging for their devices at any time.

Based on how much we depend on our smartphones, tablets and other devices, it seems that USB outlets are here to stay. As the technology for devices advances, efficient and quality USB charging is quickly becoming the new norm. Updating your electrical to include USB outlets is more than just a temporary convenience; it’s a long-term investment with great benefits.

Standard outlets

If you take a look around your home right now, you’ll find that most walls have standard outlets. These outlets have three slots in them, with two on the side and one rounded one on the bottom. The two vertical slots are hot and neutral, respectively, while the bottom slot is a ground slot. The grounded slot acts as an added safety measure against any short-circuiting by redirecting the charge into the ground. Any connected devices stay safe this way, and there is no risk of being dangerously shocked.

Design

The design of a standard outlet is simple enough, but there are different styles with special features. A GFCI outlet, or ground fault circuit interrupter, has two small “reset” and “test” buttons between the slots. This type of outlet is typical in bathrooms, kitchens, or any areas where water is involved. The GFCI monitors all electricity and will trip itself and turn off if there is a dangerous surge of power.

Other types include AFCI outlets, or arc-fault receptacle, which protects homes against electrical fires. Tamper-resistant receptacle outlets are ideal for protecting children against electrical harm. The outlets have shutters built in that only open for electrical plugs and otherwise, stay sealed when not in use. For outlets placed outside of the house, there are weather-resistant ones with built-in weather hoods. These can resist rain, snow, and even moisture, and won’t corrode while outdoors.

Benefits

The main advantage of standard outlets is their wide range of designs and uses. Each room in your home can have a different outlet that will suit the space’s needs. That may mean a GFCI outlet in the bathrooms or near kitchen sinks or a weather-resistant outlet to add to your outdoor seating. All standard outlets also have three-prongs instead of two-prongs, which provide an added level of protection. Without the grounded bottom slot, two-prong outlets are at higher risk of fires, electrical surges, and costly resulting damage.

Older homes may still have two-prong outlets, which aside from being a safety risk, aren’t up to code anymore. If you have old outlets, it’s a worthwhile investment to call a professional electrician to update them. Depending on your electrical needs as well, it may be the perfect time to switch to outlets that offer a USB port as well.

Infographic USB Wall Out lets VS Standard Outlets

USB wall outlets

USB outlets combine the design of a standard outlet, but with the added benefit of USB slots, which effectively double its function. As homes are filling more and more with various electronic devices, these outlets are becoming increasingly popular. You can have outlets installed that have both the three-pronged outlet as well as the USB ports, so you can accommodate a range of electronics. You can also have straight USB outlets installed if you wanted a designated charging station in your home.

Design

Despite not having as many diverse options for GFCI or AFCI designs, there are still various styles of USB outlets. Depending on personal needs or wants, USB outlets can easily be customized to suit those demands. The typical USB wall outlet model has two outlet slots and two USB slots in between. Other models can have two USB slots but only one outlet or have four slots of USBs only.

Kitchens, for example, typically benefit from having a four USB slot outlet as a dedicated charging station. Likewise, a home office, where various devices need to power, would benefit from an additional USB only outlet. USB wall outlets can also come with tamper-resistant designs, to help keep them safe around children.

Benefits

One of the main advantages of owning an electrical outlet with USB is the lack of bulk or need for adaptors to charge your devices. Instead, cables are plugged straight into the USB port, saving both space and visual clutter. Not only that, but USB outlets charge faster than through an adaptor, as much as 40 percent faster. The reason being is that most USB outlets have a smart detector that optimizes the amount of power needed to charge the device. Similar to the variety of designs with standard outlets, the various number of USB outlets can be customized. Each room can have a different style to better suit each need, no matter where you are in your home.

USB outlets will also vary based on their USB ports, which depending on the model, will affect what cables will fit. For USB wall outlet connections, there is either USB-A or USB-C. Depending on the style of your USB outlet, it may come with just type A or have both type A and C. Before you buy a new outlet, it’s necessary to understand the differences so you can buy the right style.

Difference between USB-A and USB-C

In addition to type A and type C, there is also USB-B. However, type B is for connecting printers, computers, or external hard drives. The design itself is also recognizable by its squared appearance, compared to the smaller and slimmer design of type A or C. Because type B is used for connecting and not charging, USB outlets don’t use type B.

USB-A

Type A is the most common type of USB and is easy to recognize on most USB ports on laptops and computers. The design is identifiable by its small, rectangular shape and grids on one side inside the head. These grids make it notoriously one-sided, meaning it has to be put in the right side up before the USB plugs in. Most laptops still have a type-A slot, but as charging sizes have changed, especially for phones, two new styles of type A were developed: micro and mini.

Mini USB-A: Mini USBs were first introduced back in 2005 and are much smaller than the traditional type A. Despite having slightly less power, the smaller size means more compatibility for more devices. Everything from cell phones, cameras, and mp3 players can be charged with the mini. Additionally, they have a much longer lifespan and can be connected and disconnected upwards of 5,000 times before showing wear.

Micro USB-A: The micro USB was released in 2007 and is essentially a newer and more efficient version of the mini USB. It is the smallest of the three but is quickly becoming the universal design for USB ports and cables. Micro USBs are also much more robust and long-lasting with a connect and disconnect lifespan of upwards of 10,000 times. It can also transport data in addition to working as a charging cable. Mini USBs are still around, but they are steadily becoming obsolete in favour of the micro.

Most USB outlets come with at least one of the two USB slots being a type A, which allows older phones or laptops to still charge at the outlet. However, the type-A slot isn’t split between micro or mini support. Instead, the secondary slot is compatible with type C, which acts as the all-in-one updated version of a type-A USB.

USB-C

Type C ports are much newer models that are more and more becoming the new standard for cell phones, controllers, and even laptops. Unlike type A as well, USB-C can work for both charging and data transfer, much like the micro USB. Another attractive key feature is its slimmer design and lack of interior grids, meaning there is no right or wrong side. Whichever way it’s plugged in, it will work. As an updated model, the USB-C offers a much faster charging speed than the USB-A. It is also universal across most products, from Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, so no device is excluded from use.

Because USB-C is still relatively new to the technological scene, USB outlets still offer both type A and C slots. Depending on the types of devices in your home, you may need to use both types of slots. As the popularity of USB-C is still growing, it’s a safe bet to buy an outlet with both.

Signs you should upgrade your outlets

Most of the time, outlets are used without much thought, at least until something goes wrong. Discoloration has appeared on the walls, for example, the plug falls out right away, or there’s smoke from the outlet in severe cases. In situations like these, calling in an electrician for help is the safest and obvious course of action. But just because your outlets aren’t in trouble and work, doesn’t mean they are still meeting your needs. Broken outlets are a great excuse to update them, but don’t let that be the only reason. As technology advances and new needs arise, consider some other signs that it’s time for an update:

1. Time to declutter

Is the area around your wall outlets turning into a cluttered mess? If so, it’s time to update the outlet with something more efficient. By installing USB electrical outlets, you’ll free up a ton of counter space by not needing all those adaptors and cables. You can also choose where to add your new USB outlet so that appliances and devices aren’t competing for use or space.

2. You want more convenience

Instead of constantly having to unplug other cables before you can charge your phone, a USB outlet saves that trouble. If you have a home office, you can plug in your computer, printer, and phone without a second thought. Not only that, but every device will charge just as fast, even with simultaneous charges. Install multiple USB outlets throughout your home, so you never find yourself without a convenient place to charge.

3. The power just isn’t enough

Charging your device through a wall adaptor may be faster than through a laptop, but it still takes time. With a USB electrical outlet not only will it charge faster, but you can charge more. USB outlets are optimized to feed enough power to a device to charge it quickly. Instead of relying on power cords or extension cords, a USB outlet will cover it all. It’s also safer to use than extension cords, which can eventually deteriorate and result in safety issues.

What to look for in a USB outlet

Once you’ve settled on upgrading to USB electrical outlets, it’s time to know what to look for. Everything from the electrical rating or number of USB slots must be taken into consideration first.

Choose higher amperage

Don’t worry about overloading your device by choosing a high amperage USB outlet. The USB port itself will recognize how much power a device needs and will only deliver the safest amount. By selecting the highest amperage, you can ensure the fastest possible charging speed for your device. Each USB port will split the total charge between the two, so a higher overall number means an even split. Amperage can range from 1.0a/2.0a up to a 4.8a power charge. Depending on what and how many devices you plan to charge, you may want more power.

Decide on the number of USB slots 

Depending on where in your house your plan to install a USB outlet, it’ll affect how many slots you need. For a home office, you want an even split between USB and three-prong sockets. A kitchen, though, may benefit from a dedicated charging station with just USB slots. Plan which rooms will benefit the most from a USB electrical outlet, then settle on the number. Also, take a look at what type of USB slots are offered, whether its two type A or one type A and one type C. Depending on what devices you own, you may only need type A USB slots. If your household has a blend, buy a USB outlet that offers both types of slots.

What safety features do you want

USB outlets don’t have as many varieties as standard outlets, but there are still some safety features to consider. A surge protector USB, for example, will offer an added layer of protection for your device against power surges. If you have small or visiting children, then a USB outlet with tamper resistance is ideal. For double the protection, buy a USB outlet that offers both surge and tamper protection.

Don’t skip out on cost either by choosing the cheapest option or an uncertified one. With electronics, it’s always safer to choose a slightly more expensive option, as an investment that isn’t low-quality and risky. Certifications such as UL and NEC code outlets will guarantee that your outlets are up to standard and so safe for your home and devices.

Safety first: leave it to the pros

It may be true that installing new outlets is an easy matter, but that doesn’t mean you should DIY it. Without the right safety experience and electrical knowledge, there is a bigger risk of installing the outlet wrong and inviting unnecessary danger. Not only that, but it can affect

the value of your home if the outlets aren’t up to electrical safety codes. Instead, call a professional electrician to handle the installation for you. Their experience and skill will ensure everything is properly installed so that your home and family stay safe.

Find a RenovationFind certified electrician in your area!

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This post first appeared on https://blog.renovationfind.com

Leveling your concrete floor

Undergoing a basement renovation or looking to install new flooring? Before anything can be done, it’s important to level the floor. It may be difficult to proceed on a project with a slanted concrete foundation. Installing a flooring textile will be difficult with cracks or slants. Pieces could bend and pop out of place, or not even go in at all. With the help of Edmonton Concrete and Asphalt, leveling your floor can be a project made easy.

Step 1: Fill any cracks

The first step before leveling is to fill in any cracks in the concrete. These cracks can cause problems in the future for your foundation. The cracks may also increase in size, causing the floor to bend or slant. Concrete contractors will check the space for cracks in the surface, filling them accordingly.

Step 2: Latex bonding

Once the floor is dry and the cracks are filled, latex bonding is applied. This layer will act as an adherence for the concrete materials and an extra layer of protection for your flooring. Brushes or mops are used in order to effectively spread the material.

Step 3: Mix the concrete

Mixing concrete is a relatively easy step. All it requires is mixing the bagged compound with water, according to the instructions of the bag. For larger jobs, the concrete will be mixed in a commercial concrete mixer. The compound must be completely mixed for the concrete to have the best performance.

Step 4: Pour and spread

It’s important to pour the substance quickly, as it’s a fast-drying substance. Once poured, the contractor will have to work quickly to spread it around, making sure that the material reaches every part of the floor in the space.

Step 5: Dry time

The last thing to do is… well, wait. This step doesn’t require the assistance of a contractor or construction worker, but your patience. Let the floor dry for several days before walking or working on it. You don’t want any footprints under your flooring.

Step 6: Continue on your renovations

Once your flooring in the basement is level, you can move on with your basement plans. The workers at Edmonton Concrete and Asphalt have the experience to ensure that everything is done properly, and any future projects you may have will go on smoothly. Now, you can truly make the space your own with a proper, level floor.

Concrete Contractors in Edmonton

Edmonton Concrete and Asphalt is a licensed, multi-faceted group of contractors. They provide a comprehensive scope of services throughout Alberta and its regions. They encompass the industrial, commercial, and residential areas for all of your Edmonton concrete, asphalt and paving, parking lot maintenance, excavation, demolition, and epoxy surface needs.

Looking for help? Contact Edmonton Concrete and Asphalt today!

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5 Benefits of Professional Kitchen Cabinet Painting

Your cabinets are more than worse for wear. The paint is peeling and fading in some places, and the handles could use a little tune-up as well. It’s time to grab a bucket of paint and get started. Except, maybe you should let professional kitchen cabinet painters in Oakville handle it instead.

They will be equipped with all the knowledge and tools necessary to make sure that your cabinets look like something out of a catalog. If you’re not sure what direction you want to go in for your cabinets, they can give you some helpful design advice as well.

Are you ready to get started? Keep reading to learn all the reasons why it’s best to leave your kitchen to the professionals.

1. They Can Give You Helpful Advice

You’ve been browsing through catalog after catalog of paints and kitchen cabinet colors. There have been a few that catch your eye, but for the most part, you don’t see anything that will match your decor.

A professional cabinet painter will be able to look around your kitchen and give you a little advice concerning style choices and colors.

2. Prep Work

There is quite a bit of prep work that goes into painting your cabinets. You can’t just slap a coat of paint on it and call it a day.

You’ve got to take off the doors, sand it, and prime it before you can begin painting. Someone who professionally paints cabinets will have all this prep work in mind before doing the job and will take measures to do it right.

3. They Have Skills and Tools

Professional cabinet painters have gone through training so that they have the technical skills needed to tackle any job.

Not only do they have skills and experience, but they have the right tools for the job as well. Tools that a normal person may not have access to or that would be expensive to gather.

4. It Saves Time

Painting cabinets isn’t a quick job that you can get done in a few hours. As we stated before, there’s a ton of prep work that goes into it. It’s not something you can do during the weekend while you’re off work.

A professional painting company will bring in a crew to get the job done in half the time it would usually take, and they’ll even handle the cleanup after.

5. You Shouldn’t Attempt It by Yourself

Painting your cabinets is not a DIY project. Once you mess up, that’s it. You can’t go back.

Instead of taking the risk and ruining your kitchen cabinets, it’s better to hire someone who knows what they’re doing.

Reasons to Seek Out Professional Kitchen Cabinet Painting

If your cabinets are starting to show their age, the best way to bring them back to their former glory is by adding a fresh coat of paint. You could make an attempt yourself, but unless you have the experience, it’s better to leave it to a professional kitchen cabinet painting company like us.

We have all the tools necessary to get the painting job done. Go here to get a free quote today.

This post first appeared on https://blog.renovationfind.com

Why Hardwood Refinishing Is Best Left to Professionals

If you have hardwood floors in your home it’s safe to assume you’ve thought about sprucing them up. However, hardwood refinishing will require the use of tools that you may not have readily available at your disposal. 

Hardwood refinishing involves the operation of a drum sander in addition to stain and lacquer. Are these tools ones that you are familiar with or comfortable using? If not, here are some of the best reasons to leave the job to the professionals.

Reasons for Professionals to Assist with Hardwood Refinishing

While buffing out some scratches on your floor and applying a top coat may not seem like a large overhaul, refinishing your hardwood floors may be a little more complex than you thought.

Sure, you might own a drum sander and may have stained some wood before, but now we are talking about a large surface area that — if not done correctly — could cause unforeseen damage and may end up costing more than you initially thought had you have left the job to a professional. Here are some things professional services may offer that you cannot do.

Major or Minor Repairs

No matter how large or small your hardwood refinishing project is a professional is well equipped to take it on. If during what you thought was just some simple sanding, staining, and applying a finish you find there was some accidental or unknown damage, are you handy enough to fix the issue? If you discover some planks actually need to be repaired or removed a professional can do so. 

Attention to Detail

After the floors are prepped and ready for the next stages, matching the stain and pattern is something an expert will have a much easier time with than if you try to do it yourself. Having the sanding patterns and color matching done correctly is something that can make or break the overall finish of your floor. Is this something you know how to do already? If not, you might want to leave this one to a skilled craftsman who only uses the best tools available.

Full Suite of Services 

When you work with professionals, such as the craftsmen at Handyman Connection, the end result will be beautifully refinished hardwood floors. Refinishing hardwood can be a laborious task and a messy one at that. If you’ve never refinished floors before, you may be unaware of how much dust and debris can fly around in the process — resulting in those working and in the vicinity to wear masks. Not to mention, a professional service will have all the tools needed to do the job to the utmost satisfaction, whereas if you run into a problem, you may need to call an expert in, resulting in a higher cost than what could’ve been accomplished from the start.

Contact Handyman Connection With Your Hardwood Refinishing Needs

Handyman Connection is your go-to professional service for all of your hardwood refinishing needs. Call or text us today to ask any questions and to receive a free estimate

The post Why Hardwood Refinishing Is Best Left to Professionals appeared first on Handyman Connection.

10 Signs That You Need New Windows  

Do you need to replace your windows? If your windows are old, drafty, or noticeably damaged you might be thinking about a replacement. However, most of the time, unless there is a notable problem, windows are left alone. But not all issues are immediately visible, and often it’s the subtle warning signs that need to be paid attention to.

Good quality, energy-efficient, and well-designed windows play hand-in-hand with protecting your home and boosting its value. When your home’s windows reach the end of their lifespan or are outdated, it’s important to recognize the signs that they need replacing. That way, you’ll avoid costly repairs or unexpected replacements and instead enjoy an efficient and high-valued home.

Here are 10 signs you need new windows:

1. Your windows are already old

Unless you built your home yourself, it’s more than likely your windows have been there for a while. And, as much as homeowners would love, windows don’t last forever. A well-maintained window might last slightly longer, but age will eventually catch up. A well-designed and high-quality window, though, can last upwards of 15-20 years. If you have older single-pane windows or aluminum sliders, they are definitely dated and need to be replaced to boost energy efficiency.

If you’re not sure how old your windows are, it’s worthwhile to bring in a professional to check. As window technology has advanced, you may find that your windows are simply outdated. You’re likely missing out on significant efficiency, safety benefits, and visual appeal. There is an investment required for new windows, but the long-term benefits give a good return.

2. Your energy bills are going up

According to Natural Resources Canada, low-efficiency windows can account for up to 35% of energy loss. That means that during the summer and winter, those energy bills are only going to increase. If your AC or furnace is working double-time to cool or warm your home, it will wear out faster. If that happens, you may find yourself with twice the expenses, from needing both new windows and new HVAC replacements.

Check if your windows are energy-efficient models or ENERGY STAR certified before those bills get too high. ENERGY STAR windows are upwards of 89% more efficient, which will help save a lot of money. Another option to look for is low-emissivity glass, which balances the heat in your home during the winter and summer. With these changes, you’ll quickly notice the improvements for your home and bills.

3. There’s fog or condensation between the panes

Depending on the weather, some condensation buildup on your windows is normal. Very hot, humid days or very cold days will likely cause some moisture buildup on the outside. That only becomes a problem if the issue is isolated to a few windows or if it’s because of a leak. If there is fog or condensation between the window panes, though, the problem becomes more serious.

Most windows have two or three panels which are full of insulating argon gas. When fog or condensation appears between these panels, it means that there is a leak and the gas has escaped. In this case, the window isn’t insulating properly anymore. That leads to a very costly amount of energy lost and the added risk of moisture damage. Condensation invites mould growth and decay of the frame, which will further spike those repair costs. If you ever notice buildup between your panels, don’t wait to call in a professional for help with new windows.

4. Your furniture is fading

Have you noticed your furniture is starting to look faded? Or that there is uneven colouring on your floors where the light shines in? The culprit of this is from UV light pouring in through the windows and fading your interior. Check to see if you own single-pane windows, especially if you live in an older home. These windows, paired without a low-E coating, will only reflect 25% of that UV light. If you do add a low-E coating, it will still only help block 75% of any UV light. As window technology has advanced, newer models are better equipped to block UV light. Despite the appeal of single-pane windows costing less upfront, they don’t have a lot of long-term benefits.

The best option is to invest in double or even triple-pane windows with a low-E coating. That way, year-round, you won’t have to worry about furniture fading or damaging UV radiation. Window films can also be added to your double-pane windows to block 99% of any UV light getting into your home. Not only will your furniture stay safe, but your home will stay noticeably cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

5. You feel drafts 

There’s nothing pleasant about sitting at your desk or by a window and feeling a drafty chill. Beyond being uncomfortable, drafty windows means outside air is getting in where it shouldn’t. The more energy you use to keep your home warm, the more money is lost as if it goes out the window instead. There are other signs of drafty windows such as rattling, flickering candles near the window, or, in severe cases, water seeping in.  

Drafts are fixable temporarily, but the best long-term solution is to replace your windows. Repairing caulking or applying weather-stripping will help keep drafts at bay for a while. That is a great solution if the issue is during the winter since you don’t want to be replacing windows then. Come spring, though, it’s best to call in the professionals to replace those windows.

6. You’re spending more money on repairs

There’s nothing wrong with investing some money to repair your windows, especially if the damage is small. Installing a new sash, adding some fresh paint, or repairing spots of damage is all fine. This is small yet cost-effective maintenance that will help keep your windows in top shape. That said, it stops being cost-effective when the repairs keep happening. Instead, set aside the money for repairs and save it for new windows. You’ll find you save much more money in the long run, thanks to those newer, efficient windows.  

Window replacements can help save between 7-12% by replacing those windows with ENERGY STAR certified ones. According to Remodel Magazine’s cost vs value 2020 report as well, depending on the material of your new window, you can recoup between 69% and 73% of the cost. So, even upgrading the material will be a well worthwhile investment.

7. You want to change the style

Windows aren’t just about function; they also play a significant role in your home’s overall curb appeal. If your windows are outdated, in poor condition, or just lacking overall appeal, it’s a good sign for when to replace windows. Paint can go a long way in transforming appearances, but sometimes it’s not enough. Once you’ve invested in newer, better energy-efficient windows, it’s time to customize the appearance.

Start with the style, which on its own, can already improve your home. Ideally, you should pair windows to your home’s architecture, but if you live in a modern home, go for preference. Double-hung windows are very popular among homeowners and are easy to open, while casement is perfect for ventilation.

Frames are another great place to customize and can double as energy-efficient upgrades. Don’t forget a little colour as the final touch to give your windows that final boost. Either choose a complementary colour or go for a standout feature colour. A good rule of thumb is to work with your home’s architecture or even draw ideas from your neighbours.

8. There’s too much maintenance to do 

Aesthetically, wood frames are one of the best choices for your home. It enhances the value of your home, adds a traditional look, and, with the right care, will last for many, many years. Still, wood requires a lot of maintenance. It must be treated to avoid becoming aged or warped and can become swollen with moisture if not carefully protected. It can be taxing having such high maintenance windows, which is why upgrading to something that needs less is ideal.

The best choice for a low maintenance window is to upgrade to vinyl or fibreglass windows. These are resistant to rot, warping, fading, and can easily last for decades. Aside from a once-a-year cleaning, you won’t have to worry about your new windows. Not only that, but these materials are high up on the energy-efficient ratings.

9. They don’t provide security

Upgrading your windows is about more than just getting the latest technology. It’s about keeping your home safe. New windows use stronger materials and have better safety features that are there to keep burglars out. Added features such as locks or grids can be added to your windows as well, but the first step should be to invest in new windows.

For that, casement windows are one of the best choices for home security. The crank mechanism to open the window can’t be used from outside, so there’s no way to get in. A lock can be added for double safety, but it’s not necessary for this style.

Sliding windows readily come with a cam action lock that stops the window from sliding open or closed. Burglar bars can also be added to stop any movement between the frame and sash completely. Double-hung windows are among the most popular styles and come with the right safety features. Like siding windows, they also come with a cam action lock to stop the window from sliding open. An added security feature can be easily added to the top of the window to secure the top sash from opening.

10. You can hear everything from outside loud and clear

From loud traffic, early morning birdsong, or mowing in the summer, there are many noises that go on outside. If you’re inside your home with the windows closed, though, those sounds should stay out. If your windows are providing little to no noise reduction, it’s a good indication for when to replace windows, especially old ones. Single-pane windows, for example, are not only bad for energy efficiency, but they do little to soundproof your home. Just choosing double glazed windows alone won’t help with noise, so it’s necessary to look for the right features.

Thicker glass, for a start, will help dampen the amount of noise that travels through. Adding more space between each pane as well, will further help. For this reason, many manufacturers recommend triple-pane windows for noise reduction. A third factor is to choose laminated glass over tampered. Laminate is specially designed for noise reduction as it has an extra layer of plastic that acts as an added barrier against sound.

Keep in mind, though, that all noise won’t be 100% eliminated. Soundproof windows will help with 70% – 90% of the noise, depending on how many features you choose.

Leave the installation to the pros

When you’re ready to install those new windows, don’t be tempted to DIY to save some costs. Windows may be a costly upfront investment, but when installed right, they offer great ROI. The best way to ensure that happens is to leave the installations to the professionals. They have the right skills and tools, and they’ll ensure that your windows are energy efficient. Installing windows incorrectly can result in more energy lost than gained by choosing new windows. Also, when you work with professionals, they will help determine the right style, design, and colours to complement your home perfectly.

Professionals are also backed by warranties that not only protect against damages during installation but are long-term. If a window breaks during the installation, you won’t have to worry about covering the replacement costs. Once the window is installed, you can get a limited or lifetime warranty to protect your windows against unexpected future damage or wear. When you DIY, you risk losing out on any warranty protection.

Remember that your windows are an overall home investment. They’ll help benefit and improve your home’s appearance, efficiency, and boost value. It’s always worthwhile to ensure that your windows last for many years to come with benefits like that.  

Find a RenovationFind certified window company today!

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This post first appeared on https://blog.renovationfind.com

Hiring Commercial Cleaning and Janitorial Services 

For business owners and property managers, a clean and healthy workplace is a top priority. If you are juggling keeping your commercial or institutional space clean with a long list of other priorities, hiring a reliable commercial cleaning company can help.

Having a clean workplace is healthier for employees and customers, and good for business. Here is more information on the benefits of hiring commercial cleaning and janitorial services:

A clean workplace is essential for health and safety

Now more than ever, providing a clean space for your employees and customers is essential. People are concerned about germs and bacteria that can make them sick. Regular, thorough cleaning and disinfecting can help make sure your employees, customers, and visitors are safe every time they enter the workplace. For those who suffer from allergies and asthma, cleaning will eliminate dust and allergens from carpets, fixtures, blinds, and other surfaces. This will improve indoor air quality. Calgary Trusted Cleaners also offers electrostatic disinfecting services, which can eliminate disease-causing germs and bacteria from the workplace.

Commercial cleaning services will give staff peace of mind, which is better for productivity and business. It will also mean fewer sick days among your staff and show that you are an employer or property manager that cares about their well-being.

Janitorial services have the right equipment and supplies for the job

Whether it’s office cleaning, cleaning your retail store, or cleaning an elementary school, professional janitorial services will have everything they need to get the job done right. Calgary Trusted Cleaners invests in high-end equipment and professional-grade, eco-friendly cleaning products. Combine that with proper training, knowledge, and experience, and you can trust your space will be cleaned thoroughly and properly. Do not waste time and money purchasing cleaning equipment and supplies, leave the job to commercial cleaning professionals.

A clean office or store makes a better impression on customers

Investing in retail and office cleaning services will help your business make it’s best first impression on customers and visitors. A dirty office or retail store is a major turn off, especially in an era when people are more concerned about cleanliness. Having a spotless commercial space shows clients that you are committed to property maintenance and providing a healthier environment. Commercial cleaning and office cleaning good for business and will be appreciated by everyone who walks in the door.

If you need commercial cleaning services, connect with Calgary Trusted Cleaners!

This post first appeared on https://blog.renovationfind.com

Air Conditioner Maintenance Checklist

As the days get longer and the weather warms up, homeowners will start turning on their air conditioners to help maintain comfortable indoor air temperature. Your air conditioner should be serviced regularly, especially as you fire it up each spring.

Why is regular air conditioner maintenance so important?

Committing to regular air conditioner maintenance and service will ensure you’re keeping cool and comfortable in the summer heat. If you live in a humid climate, this is especially vital to home comfort. However, feeling uncomfortable in your home isn’t the only thing you should worry about. Air conditioning maintenance is essential for preventing major breakdowns, diminished energy efficiency, and an untimely AC replacement. Here are some reasons why servicing your air conditioner regularly is so important:

Prevent breakdowns

Just like anything mechanical, your air conditioner needs to be inspected and serviced regularly to make sure it’s in good shape and to prevent a breakdown. An HVAC technician will notice if a certain part is worn and needs replacing. Making those small, inexpensive replacements and repairs will help prevent more significant repairs in the future. Preventing damage will extend the life of your air conditioner.

Reduce strain on the system

If your air conditioner is struggling to do its job, it will be straining parts of the system. Clogged ducts, dirty air filters, and other dirty parts make it difficult for the AC to maintain proper air output. The increased strain will but stress on cooling units and the motor, typically resulting in a breakdown or the need for a replacement. Many air conditioner replacements could have been avoided if regular, preventative maintenance had taken place.

Improve energy efficiency

An air conditioner in rough shape can use an exceptional amount of energy to operate. Preventative maintenance, DIY combined with a professional inspection and tune-up each year, will ensure your air conditioner is operating at optimum capacity. Cleaning coils, blades, drain, clearing debris, changing filters, and making small repairs will help your air conditioner operate on less energy. You will appreciate that when your utility bill arrives.

Comfortable, healthy home

Dirty ductwork, clogged air filters, and dust and debris in the HVAC system can diminish indoor air quality. Those with allergies and asthma might see an increase in symptoms, and you might notice more dust around the home. Keep your air conditioner in good repair and you’ll feel cool and comfortable all summer while ensuring clean indoor air quality for you and your family.

Air conditioner maintenance check-list:

There are some air conditioner maintenance tasks that can be tackled DIY. Review this air-conditioner maintenance checklist and make sure your system is running as well as it can be. As a safety precaution, turn off the electrical power source to the unit before you attempt any cleaning or maintenance.

Clean away leaves and debris from the around the air conditioning unit

Your outdoor air conditioner unit should have at least two feet of space around it when it’s operational. You should give it a visual inspection every now and then, to ensure no leaves, sticks, toys, dirt, or other debris is around it. This cleared space allows for proper airflow.

Check the inside of the unit for debris

Dust, leaves, and other debris can get inside the unit over time. Before the hot season arrives, take the time to remove debris from the interior of the AC. First, remove the fan cage on the unit to inspect the interior. Use your hand to grab the larger debris, like sticks and leaves. You can vacuum the rest with a shop vacuum, including vacuuming the dust off the fins. Do not use a pressure washer or a garden hose to wash the inside of your air conditioner as it can damage it.

Make sure your air conditioner is perfectly level

Put a level on your outdoor AC unit to check if it’s level. It’s possible for the ground beneath the air conditioner’s pad to sink over time. The condenser unit must be level to function properly. If it’s uneven, use a shim, like a wood wedge to fill the gap make it level again.

Check and change the air filter

Changing the filter on your HVAC system is one of the easiest things you can do as part of air conditioner maintenance. It is also one of the most important. That simple air filter stops debris and dust from the intake vents from entering your HVAC system. If dust starts getting in there, it can cause your air conditioner to work harder than it needs to. This extra strain on the system can reduce performance, efficiency, and cause premature wear and tear.

You should check the manufacturer’s guidelines for how often the air filter needs to be changed. Otherwise, make sure to change it every 3-6 months minimum. Changing the filter when spring arrives, and then again in the fall when you’ve stopped using the AC as often, is a good schedule for your air filter change. You should also make sure the new filter has the same air-flow rating as the old one. Otherwise, reduced airflow can freeze the indoor coil.

Ensure the evaporator coil is clean

The evaporator coil is located in the blow unit of your HVAC system, inside of the house. Use a soft brush to remove dust from the coil. You can also find special coil cleaners at your local home and building supply store that does not require rinsing. Don’t worry about it foaming or dripping, as the cleaner will just drip into the drain pan.

Check the evaporator drain for clogs

Within the heating and cooling system, warm air is blown through the evaporator coil so it can absorb the heat from the air and release cool air. The warm air will create condensation on the evaporator coil. As the condensation builds, it will start to drip into the drain pan below it, and then from there, it will travel through a tube to the drain. The drain can be in a sink, the floor drain, or located back outside. Sometimes the drain can become clogged with debris or algae build-up and will need to be cleaned. If the condensation can’t drain, it will cause flooding and can damage your air conditioner.

The best way to clear the clog is to suck it out with a powerful shop vacuum. Just tape the vacuum end to the drain tube and let it run for a few minutes. If that doesn’t work, call an HVAC company for air-conditioner maintenance and repairs. To help prevent algae, mildew, and other clogs, some choose to pour a bleach solution of one-part bleach and one part water down the drain.

Clean out the drain pan

Now that you’ve cleaned out the drain itself, it’s time to clean the drain pan. You can so with hot water and soap. If you didn’t have to unclog or clean the drain before this step, now is a good time to use the bleach solution in the drain to help clear algae growth and mildew.

Fire up the air conditioner and test how it performs

After you’ve gone through the air-conditioner maintenance checklist, turn the electrical power back on to the AC and fire it up. Make sure your thermostat is on cooling mode. Then turn down your thermostat so the air conditioner has a chance to run consistently for an hour or more. If everything is running smoothly, you should program your thermostat so it’s keeping your home cool during the day, but turning off at night when AC isn’t necessary. This will help you save on your energy bills.

Schedule annual air-conditioner maintenance and tune-up from an HVAC company

If you notice something isn’t working properly or feel uncomfortable tackling this air-conditioner maintenance checklist yourself, contact an HVAC company. Even if you have done a good job ensuring all the above mentioned are clean and operational, a professional inspection and tune-up are still beneficial at least once a year. An experienced HVAC technician can assist with an inspection, repairs, and even a replacement if need be.

Not only will they check everything in our air-conditioner maintenance checklist, but they can also look at other components of your AC and HVAC system. A trained eye will be able to catch a small issue and remedy it before it becomes something major. Not only will this prevent expensive repairs, but it will also make sure your HVAC system is running safely, and that you aren’t paying more than you have to on energy bills.

In addition to the above, an air conditioner technician will check the refrigerant charge. They’ll also inspect and test contacts, relays, and controls. They will look for loose connections in the wiring, and fix them if found. An AC tune-up will also include lubricating motors and bearings, checking and adjusting belts and pulleys, and make sure the voltage and amperage of the fan, blower motor, and compressor are correct. As you can see, there is a lot more to air conditioner maintenance than a DIYer might be aware of.

When should I call for AC repairs or a replacement?

In a perfect world, your air conditioner will run smoothly without issue for the entire summer after you’ve run through the air-conditioner maintenance check-list. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Here are some tell-tell signs something is wrong with your air conditioner and you should call a professional air conditioner company for repairs or a replacement:

You’re getting warm air instead of cold

Obviously, if the air coming out of your vents is warm, it’s an indication something is wrong. First, check the thermostat. It could be that you haven’t switched it over to the cooling mode. Then set the temperature lower than the current temperature. If it’s still blowing warm air, there could be a number of things wrong included a compressor breakdown or restricted airflow. It might be time to call in a pro.

Reduced airflow

If you have insufficient air flow, it is a sign your air conditioner is struggling to work properly. There could be a blockage, clogged air filter, or even a broken motor. It could also mean that your air conditioner is old and no longer doing a good job cooling your home. Talk to an HVAC company to discuss your options.

The AC is kicking in too often

Generally, your HVAC system will run through a routine cycle when cooling or heating your home. It’s true that the AC will kick in more often when it’s a hot day, but it shouldn’t be cycling on and off constantly. If you notice it is cycling too often, it might be time for air-conditioner maintenance and repairs. In some cases, a tune-up can do the trick. In others, a replacement might be required.

Your home is more humid than usual

Summer’s can get humid, but if your air conditioner is doing its job, the inside of your home should not have high humidity. A properly working AC should regulate humidity and keep moisture at bay. If it’s not, it might need to be repaired. You can also consider a dehumidifier installed with your HVAC system as well.

You notice a strange smell

If there is an unpleasant odour is wafting around your home and you think it might be from the air conditioning, it probably means it’s in dire need of a cleaning. The biggest cause of odours is microbial growth, like algae and mildew, within the system. It can also be coming from the ducts. This is something an HVAC technician can investigate.

It’s making strange noises

All air conditioners will make a little noise as they start-up and shut down, but it shouldn’t be that noticeable. If you head a loud bang, rattle, buzzing, or other strange noises it could mean you have a big problem. Buzzing and rattling usually mean a part is loose. If you hear a whistling or grinding noise, it can be a variety of serious issues. Call an HVAC company immediately for air conditioner maintenance and repair.

Water is leaking

Condensation should be collected on the drip pan and directed towards the drain. However, this fluid and any refrigerant fluid should not be accumulating or leaking at any time. If you notice an active leak or if the water is pooling around your air conditioner, something is wrong. Water leaks can cause damage to your home, so this is not an issue you want to wait on fixing.

 

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