Monday, September 23, 2013

Prepare Your Electric Fireplace to Become Efficient and Safe this Winter

As part of winter preparedness regimen, you will need to ready up your heating equipments at home such as fireplaces, heater stoves, and patio heaters. Having them checked, conditioned, and polished will ensure you
can get heat beautifully and safely.

Electric fireplaces today are getting more widely used at home and even for businesses. They are easy to use and may also look so simple. But they are a bit complex or technical inside. If you don’t know how, don’t bother looking inside its circuitry. As long as they still work, all you have to do is do some maintenance and checking externally.

Cleaning an electric fireplace is really easy because they do not produce soot or ash unlike the traditional fireplaces and stoves. Only foreign matters can get accumulated even inside the equipment. With a piece of dry cloth, just wipe out dust and dirt from the inside and out.

As a reminder, please do not skip this step. Cleaning is also important to remove any particles that can cause damage or hazard to it. Also read from the manual on how you can open the parts and for safety.

Electric fireplaces are beautiful pieces that are a good centerpiece. They can be used to create an interesting focal to a room design. They usually display intricate woodwork and metalwork. However, they somehow lose some of the charm when looks becomes dull and faded. To bring back the looks, we need to polish them.

After cleaning thoroughly, you then apply some polishing. You can buy polishing paste or liquid for wood, metal, and glass from a hardware store.

Check the Parts and Components
An electric fireplace uses air to warm a room. It takes air in and out. Check the air vents and make sure they are not clogged or blocked. Check the wires if it is not worn or torn. Check the plug if it is in good working condition and make sure no loose parts or screws.

Before you finally put the unit in its place, put it to the test first. Adjust the volumes from minimum to its maximum. Watch out for any irregularities. Check the vents again, the air intake and exhaust. You should observe it for several minutes. If you found problems or something strange, better consult an expert.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Methods on Protecting Plants Over Winter

Winter is coming! It is time to prepare you patio or deck, close down your sun shades, outdoor umbrella, and secure your patio furniture. But don’t forget your garden and plants.

During winter season, plants have to go through frost, cold temperature, and very wet soil. Without proper protection, your plants will suffer from frostbite and root decay. You need to exert extra effort to help the plants survive in this harsh outdoor condition. Depending on the type of plant, how you plant them, and where they are planted, there are useful methods on protecting them over winter.

To be very effective, you need to identify your plants if they are able to survive the winter and how much warm, water, and light needed for them to thrive.

Greenhouse and Temporary Shelter
Greenhouse can keep plants safe from the freezing temperature. You can build a small one in your backyard for your plants. And If moving your plants cannot be done, then build a temporary shelter right in their place.

Building a greenhouse or temporary shelter is easy using common materials found in home improvement and hardware stores, and even scrap materials around your house. You can use either solid plastic tubes, metal tubes or rods, or wood for the frame. Then you can wrap it using plastic sheeting or with some unused clear glass panel.

A mulch has lots of uses such as stabilizing soil temperature, preventing weed growth, and keep soil moisture longer. These uses are also vital for plant survival during winter.

Materials for mulch can be organic or inorganic but the effect is pretty much the same. It can insulate the soil from the freezing winter temperature.

Putting cover on is the easiest, quickest, and a practical method. But you should take off the cover when the sky is clear so that the plants can get light and air.

You can use a thick plastic, a piece of cloth, or a tarp. Put it on the plant and tie it down securely.

Bring It Indoors
If you have ample space indoors or in your garage or shed you may also bring your plants in. This is easy for potted plants and if you can you may also want to transfer your plants in a container. It would be better to place them near the windows or in any spot that they can get some light.

Some of your plants may not be suitable in an indoor environment. However, they’ll have a good chance of surviving until spring inside a shelter than left in their freezing habitat.

You may not be able to save all of your plants, but  with these methods, you will be able to bring back your patio, deck, and garden to bloom soon as winter ends.

Monday, September 9, 2013

How to Prepare Your Patio or Deck for Winter

A patio or deck, specifically the wooden portions, is potentially prone to deterioration during and after winter. Therefore, to avoid greater adversity, preparing your patio or deck is necessary. Taking some good preparatory steps should prevent damages and lessen the problems caused by snow and moisture.
Preparing your patio or deck for winter is easy. The steps are fairly similar to maintaining your patio that you do every year or season by season. It includes cleaning, refinishing, and sealing. You’ll also need to do some repairs even if it is just a little crack or chipping.

Before you can actually thoroughly clean your patio, we will need some clearing operation. It means taking away items that can cause damage and items that can be ruined during winter.

Remove items that cover your deck or patio flooring. Usually we use floor mats, carpets or rugs to cover our floor and as additional outdoor decoration. These will catch and hold moisture. The materials can be a good ground for mold and other organisms that aid in their deterioration and the materials where it is on.

Things like some patio furniture items especially those made of wood or real wicker patio furniture sets are vulnerable to rot. You can store them inside your house or garage. They can be left outdoors but be sure they are properly sealed and provided with cover.

The same goes to patio umbrellas. You can store them away but make it sure they are properly cleaned and dried to avoid mold and rust. Some umbrellas such as fiberglass and aluminum patio umbrellas can be left outside. Just provide them a protective umbrella cover and securely tie them down.

Here is a useful article on how to clean your patio and on how to remove mold. In addition, here is how you can clean a wooden deck.

A dishwasher soap would suffice in regular deck cleaning. A mixture of about ¼ cup of the soap and a bucket of water is enough. Wet your deck, brush or scrub the mixture, then rinse.

For hard stain, a good pressure washer is best for the job.

Refinishing and Sealing
Sealing your deck or patio adds a protective coating to prevent finish and surface deterioration. In preparation for winter, you should choose a waterproofing wood sealer.

You should remove old or unwanted finish and apply a new one before you seal your deck or patio. You would not want an old and dull looking but newly sealed deck right?

There are many products on removing wood stain or finish and deck sealers. Ask your nearest home improvement and hardware stores for the right type and combination.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Best Ways to Clean a Patio

Have you ever wonder what is the best way to clean a patio? There are many ways. However, there is one that gives a better result for a specific type of material your patio is made of. Another factor to consider in finding a better way is the kind of stuff that you need to get rid. Stuff like weed, molds, oil and other stains require some tough job or strong solutions. Most of the time you would need special tools and chemical formulations.

Before going over to the best ways, let us consider the basic patio cleaning first.

First, you need to remove all your outdoor furniture items and fixtures out from the patio and place it in a safe spot. You do not need to move them far away, a large plastic cover will be good to protect them while you are working. This will clear your patio for easy cleaning, plus, it allows you to see all the surface including those little spots that are supposed to be covered by the patio seats, tables, and outdoor umbrellas.

Then simply sweep and wash away the dirt and debris.

The good thing about doing the basic cleaning is that you will able to see clearly the type of stain or dirt that cannot be removed easily. It makes it easy to determine which cleaning way that you need to apply.

A patio can be made of many different types of materials. But generally, they are made of concrete and stones. These two have different texture and so requires different approach.

Concrete Patio Cleaning
The best approach to cleaning a concrete patio is by using a power washer or pressure cleaning. With a good power washer you can transform a dirty and dull concrete patio to look like new.

Alternatively and in addition to pressure washing, you can use bleach to remove tough stains and mold. Dilute a cup of chlorine bleach into a bucket of water. Apply it using a brush. It is important to apply the bleach into the entire surface area and not just some spot because it may result into an uneven color shade afterwards. Allow it to sit for about 10 minutes to react with the stain and mold, then rinse.

If the concrete is stained with grease, a degreaser which is available in stores is all you need. Same simple steps, apply it to the area stained with grease, scrub it off, then rinse.

Stone Patio Cleaning
Pressure washing is also the best way to clean a patio that is made of stone. However, it has some limitations and precautions. Some stones cannot withstand high pressure from power washer. Water pressure can chip off stone pieces. Some stone patio paver are decoratively laid with gravel and sand between the gaps and these can ricochet and hit something or someone. Wear some eye protection and thick clothes when you do this.

If you found out that pressure washing is not applicable, then, here are some alternatives.

You can simply use soap mixed in water. Pour it directly to the stone and leave it for at least a couple of minutes. Then scrub the stones with a stiff brush. If you found it hard to remove stains and mold, you can also use chlorine bleach diluted in water.

In conclusion, it seems like pressure washing alone can do best. Yes it does and not only that. Pressure washing helps you clean your patio without using chemicals that pollute the soil and are directly harmful to the plants.

Additional tips!
Declutter your patio. Do not place back in unnecessary items. It will make your patio design to look neat and organized.

Clean your patio furniture and outdoor patio umbrella as well to make them look new on your patio.