Dealing With Conflict in the Workplace

Introduction

Conflict is a major concern in both your personal and working life. If not dealt with quickly, tactfully and efficiently conflict could lead to serious confrontation and/or a complete breakdown of relationships. It could even lead to violent and dangerous situations.

A conflict could stem from a minor complaint that was not resolved and left to fester. This could then gradually grow into an insurmountable problem. A conflict can be as innocent as sibling rivalry – arguing over a toy – to a dispute with a customer or colleague over a product, service or procedure to a war between countries in extreme cases.

There will be times during the course of a working life where you will have to deal with complaints and conflicts. Your successful handling of these situations will have a direct bearing on you and your organisation’s reputation for customer service and its continued success.

What causes conflict.

Conflicts normally occur when people have different ideas and believe they have the superior view point. This is particularly true of conflict in the workplace – between colleagues and/or management. The issue becomes one of power, of gaining control or of ‘being proved right’. To resolve this type of conflict it is necessary to move from the power clash, to one of service and responsibility – to work for the good of the group rather than individuals within it. In resolving a conflict it should be more important to make sure that both parties needs are met rather than winning the argument.

Conflict can also be caused by a lack of communication or by a failure to recognise the needs of another person. Whatever the scenario, the main component in conflict is misunderstanding. These misunderstandings can occur due to differences in age, culture, race or religion. Conflict situations can include customer related issues, misunderstandings or communication barriers or Conflict among work colleagues.

Conflicts due to customer related issues.

A complaint, no matter how trivial it might sound to you, is legitimate in the eyes of the customer and must be taken seriously. Customers come into your organisation to do business. They have a need and they believe (or hope) that you will be able to fulfil that need. They are willing to pay you for your time, effort and service and they expect your full and undivided attention. If they do not receive this attention or a satisfactory product or service, then they are not receiving value for their money and then have every right to complain.

Conflicts arising out of customer related issues could include;

  • problems or faults with services or products. The customer has not received the quality of service or product that they expected and are unhappy enough about it to complain. A complaint of this nature can be fairly easily resolved if the parties involved are prepared to communicate and compromise.
  • delays or poor timing of product or service supply. The customer has been kept waiting longer than expected or advised for their product or service and, as in the point above, become upset at the delay. Delays can cause a great deal of inconvenience for customers, particularly if they have made time to be on hand and are then disappointed.
  • difficult or demanding customers. Some customers are hard to please and are, by nature, very demanding and aggressive. If they are not handled carefully they could, potentially, become threatening.
  • drug or alcohol related issues. These could include being refused entry or ejection from premises due to their condition and the risk they represent to other customers or staff.

Conflicts due to misunderstandings or communication barriers.

No two people are exactly alike – not even twins. People have different points of view brought about by the many influences on their lives.

These influences include;

genetics – the things that we inherit from our parents and over which we have no control. These things might involve the colour of our eyes and hair to our health.

upbringing – which involves the way in which our parents raised us and the values they instilled in us.

culture and religion – this influences the things that we believe to be true and the customs and traditions we follow

economics – our view on life can be strongly influenced by our economic situation, whether we are financially comfortable or struggling to make ends meet.

education – our level of education will also have a large impact on what we think and how we view the world.

the environment – this means the environment in which we operate: our neighbourhoods, housing situation, and the people we are surrounded by.

life experience – involves all the experiences we have had in our lives, the successes and failures, the lessons we have learned from these experiences and the many roles that we have played to date.

All of these things and more go in to making us the individuals we are and our thoughts and feelings about almost everything we come into contact with will be shaped by these influences. So we have our own opinions and points of view on a whole range of things and these sometimes clash with other peoples. These clashes can take the form of a lively but friendly debate but they could just as easily become heated and aggravated and degenerate into shouting matches. The beginnings of conflict.

We can avoid these situations by reaching an understanding between the parties. This can be done by communicating openly and honestly, being willing to listen to the other person’s point of view – remembering that the influences that have shaped their beliefs and view points could be very different to yours – but no less valid.

Misunderstandings and communication barriers could occur because;

  • people do not listen to each other with an eye to reaching an understanding
  • people are not prepared to compromise in order to resolve the situation
  • people do not understand cultural differences and are not prepared to make allowances for them.

To resolve a conflict situation steps need to be taken to bring the two points of view closer – to reach a compromise that both parties can accept. Part of good conflict resolution skills is the art of communication and recognising the barriers to a good two way communications flow. These barriers can include;

  • Not paying attention. Customers or colleagues who are trying to communicate with you will feel ignored and frustrated if you allow yourself to become distracted. Not paying attention to them is rude and unprofessional and stops the communication flow. The result of this could be the loss of a customer, a complaint about you to your manager or a loss of respect. Do not allow yourself to be distracted – focus your attention on what is being said and really listen to your customer or colleague. If you must interrupt the conversation to answer the phone, or speak with another staff member, excuse yourself.
  • Not looking at a person. Maintaining reasonable eye contact with the person you are communicating with is very important. It shows you are paying attention and that you are interested. By not looking at the person who is talking to you, you are indicating not only disinterest, but are also making them feel uncomfortable. They may think you are not being honest or trustworthy – you may be trying to hide something from them.
  • Interrupting. Interrupting someone when they are talking is a major barrier to open, two way communication and could easily cause conflict. Once again, you are indicating that you are not interested in what they have to say. Breaking into what they are saying to make your own thoughts known, or worse, to finish their sentences for them is no way to gain a proper understanding of the other persons needs and expectations. Allow them to finish what they are saying and pay attention. If, for some reason, the conversation needs to be wound up, then take control by asking leading or closing questions – that allow for short answers only.
  • Tone of voice. The tone of voice used during a conversation could also start a conflict. Arrogance, demand, anger, whining, disinterest etc all add a tone to the voice that can cause people to react negatively. When dealing with customers or colleagues you should keep your tone friendly, calm and pleasant. At the very least, if you do feel annoyed you should try and keep the tone of your voice neutral.
  • Sarcasm. Sarcasm has no place in any conversation between two people and is an open invitation for conflict. There are times, in everyone’s working life, when you think “If I get asked one more stupid question, I’ll go mad!”, but sarcasm in the face of a silly question or remark does nothing but hurt the other person and, possibly, dent their self esteem. We often forget that not everyone knows everything we do about our industry – in fact most customers know very little about the tourism and hospitality industries. We can forgive our customers or junior colleagues, therefore, for asking questions that may have obvious answers – obvious only to someone who knows. Show patience and understanding – it’s just as easy and much more pleasant than giving a sarcastic or snide answer.
  • Rudeness. There is never any excuse for rudeness. A respectful and courteous attitude on your part should avoid or defuse any antagonism a person brings with them into your office. Should you find yourself never the less, dealing with a person with whom you simply cannot get along – rudeness is not the solution. Speak to your supervisor or manager and ask for their advice.
  • Cultural differences. Cultural differences can be the source of a great many conflicts. When dealing with people from other countries, other beliefs and so on, it is easy to misunderstand words, gestures and customs. If you want to excel at your profession it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with some of the more prevalent customs of other cultures. On the whole, however, people from all over the world, from all walks of life and from all creeds respond well to respectful and courteous behaviour. Do not make fun of customs you don’t understand. Treat everyone you deal with, both customers and colleagues, with respect and you should do very well.

Any one of these points could provoke a customer or a colleague into complaining – which could then, potentially, turn into a conflict. It is a good idea therefore, to remain courteous and polite when dealing with other people.

Signs of potential conflict

A conflict does not happen suddenly. People do not go from calm and cool one moment to angry and aggressive the next.

Conflict builds. It may take hours, weeks or even years. However long the process takes, there are always signs that a conflict is building. If these signs are recognised early then steps can be taken to quickly and efficiently resolve the situation before it becomes a major issue.

Early signs of conflict can include (but are not limited to):

  • aggressive body language: Narrowed eyes – trying to intimidate you Flared nostrils – a sure sign of building anger as the person takes a deep breath, either to control themselves or to go on the attack Stretched muscles in the face and jaw line – tightened in building anger and aggression Tapping fingers or feet – shows impatience
  • malicious or negative gossip among colleagues
  • difficulty in discussing an issue calmly and rationally
  • tone of voice – indicating boredom, sarcasm, irritation

These are all signs of irritation, dissatisfaction or impatience. If you recognise any of these signs when dealing with a complaint or a conflict you should endeavour to find out the reasons why the other person is starting to feel impatient or irritated. You can do this by asking relevant questions and listening carefully to their answers. In this way you can reach an understanding of the issue at hand and perhaps avoid escalating the situation.

If not recognised and acted upon these signs could then be followed by;

  • Raised voice – speaking rapidly in a loud, high pitched voice – or even shouting
  • Body leaning forward in an effort to intimidate
  • Hand gestures – finger poking and pointing in an aggressive manner.
  • Refusal to cooperate
  • Storming out of a room, slamming doors, drawers or implements

At this point you may already have a conflict and it will take careful handling to bring the situation back under control

Crisis situations

Complaints can escalate into conflict and conflict, if not resolved effectively, could potentially escalate into a crisis.

People wish to be taken seriously. If they are not, or are repeatedly ignored, can become aggressive and a threat to safety and security of the organisation and the people in it. Equally, people who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and are not in control of themselves, can present a danger to those around them if they are not handled carefully.

Situations where personal safety of customers or colleagues may be threatened and assistance required may involve:

  • drug or alcohol affected persons
  • people with guns or other weapons
  • situations where someone has been or may be hurt
  • people who appear to be violent or threatening
  • situations where customers refuse to leave or to be pacified.

In these cases it is extremely important to:

  • remain calm yourself and to try and calm the other person.
  • move them, discreetly, out of the main area of your office or shop
  • take note of details of the problem for future reference
  • DO NOT argue with a person who is visibly upset or aggressive as this will only compound the situation.
  • bring in the assistance of relevant management, security and/or authorities such as police as soon as possible.

Organisational requirements

You cannot simply make a conflict go away by giving the complaining party whatever they want. Resolving a conflict is a delicate balance between reaching an agreement between parties while at the same time staying within the constraints of your organisations requirements and policies.

These constraints may include:

Costs issues. Often, a conflict with a customer will be centred around dissatisfaction with a product or service. If the product or service was actually found to be faulty then the simplest solution to the problem is a straight forward replacement. Sometimes, however, the situation is not as simple and the customer will demand further compensation. In these cases a replacement may not be enough and something extra may need to be done. When determining the extent of compensation, if any, to be offered to the client, there are a few issues to consider. These could include;

  • Customer good will & repeat business. If your organisation is dependent on customers coming back again then this is an important consideration.
  • Organisations reputation. A dissatisfied customer will tell many people that they received bad service from an organisation who did not meet their needs and this can lead to a loss of business.
  • Direct cost. Compensation to a client can be in the form of cash, additional products or services, or an upgrade to the product or service they have purchased. If compensation is to be of a monetary nature then the cost to the organisation must be considered.

Organisation policy on refunds or exchange. Most organisations will have policies on giving refunds. Some companies will give money back, others will give credit for products or services they provide. In the tourism industry you must also consider the refund policies of the principals you deal with. For example some advance purchase airline tickets do not allow refunds at all within a given period prior to departure and if the customer does not use the ticket, they have lost their money.

So before agreeing to provide a solution to the customer, you must first determine if it is financially viable to do so and to take the organisations policies and procedures into account.

Resolving conflict situations

When a person has purchased a product or service from your organisation and it is not what they expected it to be, or does not perform properly they will feel dissatisfied and disappointed. As a consequence when this person complains they generally believe that they have a legitimate reason for doing so and they may do so long and heatedly to the first person they come across in your organisation. This might be you – even though you had nothing to do with the original sale and have never met the customer. The worst thing you can do is tell them its not your problem.

Take ownership of the issue, regardless of whether you were involved in the problem or not. “Passing the buck” at this point is not going to help matters. The customer approached YOU, so deal with the issue and don’t pass them off saying “It’s not my problem” or “The lady who handled this is not here now….”. At that particular moment in time the customer does not see you, the individual, they see you, the representative of the company, so it is you, the representative of the company, they expect to help them.

If you were not part of the original transaction where the problem occurred get as much information as you can from the customer to help you determine what to do. For example, you could ask;

  • exactly what the problem is
  • when & where it occurred
  • how long ago the problem occurred
  • what they paid for the product or service
  • how they see the situation being resolved – this will give you an idea of the person’s expectations and how they impact on the organisation’s policies and procedures.

If the person who was involved in the original transaction is available you should ask them to join the discussion in order to get both sides of the picture. It is very important, however, to keep to the issue at hand and not to let emotions or ego get in the way of finding a solution to the problem; stay calm, listen to all points of view with an open mind and try to keep the communications process flowing in a positive manner.

Finding a solution to a conflict involves a certain set of skills and techniques. It takes a step by step approach to ensure a positive outcome for all parties concerned.

Steps in resolving conflict

Finding a solution to a conflict will often become a matter of “give and take” where one party makes a suggestion that may not be entirely acceptable to the other. When this happens you will need to define the issues as seen by all parties and negotiate a mutually acceptable outcome. This would normally happen in a logical sequence:

  1. Define the problem
  2. Work out what you want out of the conflict
  3. Brainstorm for options
  4. Evaluate solutions
  5. Decide on solutions

Define the problem

Everyone involved in the conflict needs to agree on a definition of the problem before it can be solved. This could mean describing the problem in terms of each persons needs and understanding of the issue at hand. Questions to consider might include:

  • What is the problem? Is it only my problem? Who else is involved?
  • Can I solve it? Is it worth solving?
  • Is this the real problem or merely a symptom of a larger one?
  • Does it need an immediate solution or can it wait? Is it likely to go away by itself? Can I risk ignoring it?
  • Does the problem have ethical dimensions?
  • What conditions must the solution satisfy?
  • Will the solution affect something that must remain unchanged?
  • Will I need help?

Asking these types of questions will outline what all the issues are from various perspectives giving you a firm foundation for exploring options. Depending on the nature of the problem and what it will take to resolve it, it might in extreme cases even be worth letting the matter go. It is important to keep a customer satisfied, but not at all costs. If a customer is being completely unreasonable and demanding then sometimes it is the better option to lose that customer.

Work out what you want out of the conflict

You also need to develop a clear understanding of the expected outcome. This could be; an agreement on acceptable compensation for faulty products or service a better relationship with the other party a mutually acceptable solution to an ongoing work issue the other person to respect your opinion With firm expectations of what would be an acceptable outcome in mind, you can then begin to negotiate with the other party until an agreement has been reached.

Brainstorm for options – When all parties concerned have had the opportunity to explain their feelings on the matter, then all of the issues should be out in the open. At this point you can look at the various options available. There might be a number of solutions to the problem which could work for everyone involved. Don’t get stuck on one solution just because it’s the first one you find. Be creative about the possibilities available to you, and look for common ground. You can decide from the options later.

Evaluate solutions – In deciding the best result from the options available you should weigh up the pros and cons of each one based on the organisations policies and procedures, cost or budgetary constraints, legal ramifications and mutual benefit. When discussing and evaluating options it is often the case that each party will prefer an option that most closely gives them what they want regardless of its impact on the other party. In these cases you need to negotiate and compromise so that an agreement that both parties are satisfied with can be reached.

The Art of Compromise – Compromise does not mean giving in or losing. It means looking for ways to meet each others needs by making concessions to the other party involved. Compromise involves negotiating what you are, or are not, prepared to do in order to get what you want.

You should be open to good arguments rather than pressure or manipulation from the other party. Be open to reason but closed to threats. In difficult conflicts it might be necessary to bring in another person to mediate. This person might need to be skilled, mutually respected, and not have a personal interest in the outcome.

Decide on a mutually acceptable solution – When all available options have been tabled and considered then you can decide on the best one – the one that keeps both parties happy! Make sure each person takes responsibility for agreeing with the decision. This may take the form of a written agreement or contract, or a letter outlining what was agreed to.

Separate your feelings from the problem. When your emotions get tangled up in the pros and cons of an argument you can’t reach the best conclusion. If you take a strong position because of the way you feel, you can’t work out the best solution to the problem because your perception of it is controlled by things which are likely to have nothing to do with the problem. It’s not about who is right or wrong. Arguing over whose fault it is or placing blame will do nothing but increase tension and get in the way of resolving the situation. You should not let your feelings get in the way. Points that can help here include:

  • Act and speak calmly. Arguing with a customer or colleague could result in a full blown confrontation. Pause before making a response to them. This will give you time to collect yourself, to calm any irritation you might feel and also gives you a chance to work out how to phrase your response in the most appropriate way.
  • Try to put yourself in the other person’s place; empathise with them. Use expressions such as “I can understand why you would feel that way” and encourage them to share their point of view.
  • Listen carefully and completely to what they are saying. Hear them out without interrupting them. Show you are interested through a positive listening attitude and ask clarifying questions to make sure you have understood them correctly.
  • Be patient and understanding. Don’t interrupt them. Once they have had their say, they will generally be a lot calmer and easier to reason with. The problem can then often be resolved in a civilised manner.
  • At the appropriate time, acknowledge their point of view and ask them to give you the courtesy of now listening to your (organisation’s) position. For example; “I understand what you are saying, may I now explain our position to you, and then we can see how we could solve the problem together?”

Documentation

Recording accurate information about complaints, conflicts and their outcomes is a very important part of any business. This type of information will show (among other things);

  • areas of the business that are not working properly
  • processes and procedures that need to be changed.
  • things that customer like / or don’t like about your products or services
  • gaps in the supply and demand of your products or services

With this information in hand, an organisation can then use it to continually improve its products, services, image and reputation.

Information can be recorded by way of (but not limited to):

  • Letters (or emails)of complaint. These should always be taken seriously. A written complaint should be answered immediately – even if it is simply to advise the customer what will happen next. An investigation of the complaint should follow and the customer should then be advised of the outcome. A report of the complaint and the outcome should then be sent to the relevant supervisor or manager for any further action needed.
  • Notes taken during a phone call or after a face to face meeting. Once again, it is good business practice to record the details of complaints or discussions about conflicts. These notes can be used for the organisation’s continuous improvement programme but they can also be used as reminders of the conversation should a dispute arise.
  • Formal documentation. These could be; Refund forms Credit notes Contracts or agreement forms

Evaluating conflict situations

It is good business practice to continually look for ways in which an organisation can improve its practices and procedures. One of the main ways an organisation can do this is by seeking feedback – comments from customers, staff and other visitors to the organisation. Reasons for seeking feedback can include;

  • to ensure customer satisfaction and repeat business
  • to maintain its reputation
  • to learn from errors or mistakes
  • to make improvements to the service or product delivery or quality to improve productivity and efficiency
  • follow up to see if customer is satisfied in the case of a complaint or conflict

In a matter as important as a complaint or a conflict, feedback can also be sought by way of a phone call, letter or perhaps even a personal visit the person concerned to ensure that any issue that existed between the conflicting parties has been successfully resolved.

When looking for how effective the solution to a conflict was, some of the questions that should be asked could include:

Why did this situation happen in the first place? A close examination of the circumstances surrounding the matter of conflict from both the customers and the organisations perspective can show up problems in procedure, policy or product or service delivery. Issues to look at could include;

  • Was there a breakdown in communication?
  • Is the service delivery as good as it could be?
  • Are the organisation’s policies and procedures as effective as they could be?
  • Was the service/product faulty in some way?

Did we resolve it effectively? This is a very important question from the customers and the organisations point of view.

  • For the customer, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they are satisfied, that they have received value for their money and most importantly that they will probably continue to do business with you.
  • For the organisation, resolving the problem effectively could mean that they have retained a customer and kept within organisational guidelines and budgets

When looking at how the problem was resolved:

  • Ask critical questions about the outcome – was it the best possible option for every one concerned? Did it cost your organisation money? Too much money? Was the outcome worth the cost?
  • Evaluate the customer’s reaction to your proposal – were they happy with it? Were they prepared to be reasonable? Will they continue to do business with you?
  • Compare the situation to any previous incidents of this nature. How was it handled last time? Is there a pattern emerging that should be addressed?
  • What can we do to prevent it happening in the future? By looking at how the problem occurred in the first place and how effectively you resolved it you can then take any necessary steps to prevent the same thing happening again. This might mean; A change in policy or procedure A change in a product or service Training staff in customer service skills Training staff in conflict and complaint handling

By asking these, and other relevant questions, you can make improvements to the organisation. This could lead to greater customer and staff satisfaction which will have a positive impact on the organisations continued success and prosperity.

For more information go to: www.lptraining.com.au

A Brief Introduction To Track Control Arms

Track control arms are a popular performance upgrade in automobiles which are built specifically for rallying. They are installed in other performance vehicles and for a variety of applications but their core purpose remains the same.

Also referred to, as pan-hard bars and are placed on the rear suspension. In most vehicles these are not adjustable whereas, in NASCAR vehicles, adjustable arms are used. This is done in order to ensure that the rear wheels act according to the motion of the front wheels.

Benefits

The control arms are typically used to add stability to the vehicle's steering column. This is done by stabilizing the wheels and more specifically, by reducing vibrations and / or uncontrolled movements. Easy and swift adjustments of the camber angle help in improving steering and therefore, the handling of the vehicle.

They help in preventing under-steer and over-steer which is extremely important for a performance automobile. It contains the movements of the vehicle by giving it enhanced and improved traction and handling.

It is important for these parts to be reliable and durable because they are required for application on different terrains. In rallying for example, they should be able to sustain the harsh impacts of the track while in NASCAR vehicles; They have to withstand extreme pressures.

Why Are Track Controls Arms So Popular?

Track control arms have become increasingly popular as performance upgrades because of the fact that they help in improving the performance of the vehicle. The handling and steering of the vehicle is very critical in performance settings which is why track control arms are installed in all vehicles designed for extreme performance purposes.

Automotive enthusiasts all over the world have realized the importance of using track arms in their upgraded vehicles. It also said that track control arms help in improving the safety of the vehicle while driving. This is another major reason for their popularity.

By using track control arms, drivers are better able to control their vehicles at higher speeds and they drastically reduce the risk of accidents.

Ford Escort Arms

The Ford Escort is one of the most popular cars to ever being introduced in the European market. It was manufactured from 1968-2002 and still remains a popular model among performance enthusiasts. This is because the Ford Escort was considered to be one of the best cars to modify and upgrade.

There are track arms which have been specifically designed for the Ford Escort, available in the market. The Ford Escorts that were built for rallying and track racing are equipped with these track control arms to improve handling and trafficking.

Because these cars are still popular along performance enthusiasts, custom components designed for them are also readily available. A number of these cars are being restored, modified and upgraded all over the world which is why there is high demand for such parts as track control arms .

Bathroom Remodeling – Choosing the Right Flooring For Your Bathroom

While many homeowners believe that flooring is more for aesthetics than anything else, your flooring services multiple purposes in the bathroom. When you’re getting ready to do bathroom remodeling you need to put careful consideration in the type of flooring that you’ll install. Very specific factors come in to play with the bathroom, from water retention and absorbency, stain resistance, safety when wet, overall durability, cost, how it fits with the design. Here’s a look into the different flooring options to consider while you prep for bathroom remodeling in your home.

Carpeting: While it might not seem like the best idea in an environment that is perpetually exposed to moisture, carpet is actually a great option for the bathroom – you just have to make the right purchase decision and do your homework on the carpet you want. You need to install carpet that is stain-resistant as well as milder-resistance. The backing of the carpet also needs to hold the water back so it won’t be absorbed by the padding. If this is in line then you have no worries about carpet installation in the bathroom.

Ceramic Tile: Ceramic tile for bathroom flooring is designed a little differently than the ceramic tile you would use on a countertop or backsplash. While those surfaces are smooth, ceramic flooring tiles are made with a textured surface to prevent slipping. It’s a favored option for floors because of the custom designs, shapes and more that are available – lending an opportunity to create a truly unique floor in your bathroom.

Laminate: Laminate is made of layers of material that have been bonded together for strength and durability, including resin and wood fibers. The final pieces are formed together into compressed planks with an image that’s imprinted on the surface. This allows a custom design in various material styles and colors, most commonly wood. It’s durable and easy to clean, making it an affordable and great option for many bathroom remodeling projects.

Hardwood: It’s an added expense, but it’s difficult to replicate the beauty and character that comes from a hardwood floor. It lends a great deal of warmth and comfort to the bathroom environment, which is beneficial if you’re the type to rely on your bathroom for relaxation after a long day. Even older wood floors can be easily refreshed and to ensure safety you can apply a no-slip finish in the bathroom.

Natural Stone: Natural stone is often cut into large tiles that are placed in various patterns across the floor in the bathroom. It’s common for tiles to be cut in 12″ squares but they can also come larger. Being natural stone it’s highly durable and easy to care for. When properly sealed the floor won’t absorb water and the surface is naturally slip-resistant making it a safe option for your bathroom flooring. The only downside here is that natural stone tends to get a little cold on the feet.

Vinyl: This has long been one of the most popular options for bathroom flooring, coming in sheets or tiles that can be easily placed and bonded to the subfloor. It comes in a variety of shapes and patterns to fit most designs and personal styles. While easy to clean, vinyl tiles have a lot of seams which creates potential for mold. The bonding glue can also give after time, causing your vinyl to release from the flooring.

Ultimately you’ll need to choose the flooring that best suits your personal preferences, your budget and the overall look of your room. If you’re not certain which type of flooring suits your bathroom, take the time to consult with a general contractor. They can help you make an informed decision on what material is best for your bathroom remodeling project.

The Regular Upkeep Of a Carpet Cleaning Machine

For your carpet cleaning, we suggest that you use a well-maintained machine since poor equipment will yield poor result. Your carpet cleaner will fail in a few days due to a lot of stress. Therefore, we suggest that you check your machine from time to time and get the broken or worn components replaced as soon as possible to avoid the high cost of damaged parts. Given below are 5 reasons why it is important to maintain your machine.

Vacuum Motors

Professional machines come with more than one motors. Under load, they can get really hot. Over time, they lose power and the gradual loss is not easily noticeable. If the motors suck up water, they can fail quickly. Therefore, make sure you change the motors after 500 hours or so. The counter on the machine can tell you the number of hours it has worked for. Once it reaches the 500 count, you should be ready to replace the motors.

Pumps

The pumps of the carpet cleaning machines take a lot of stress just like the motors. The pumps of your machine may feature carbon brushes. You may have to change their parts, such as rings and valves on a regular basis. Aside from these parts, you may also need to replace the bearing. The pump-head is driven by the bearing. If the bearing is not replaced in a timely fashion, you may have to get the pump-head replaced, which will cost you hundreds of dollars.

Hoses & Cuffs

Hoses are available in various sizes. Usually, they come in 25 feet and 50 feet. Aside from this, their diameter is between 1.5 inches to 2 inches. The hoses are connected with cuffs and connectors.

Hoses are robust and they can take a lot of wear and tear. The upkeep of hoses won’t cost you a lot of money, but they should be inspected for worn connectors, cuffs and leaks.

As a matter of fact, in carpet cleaning, hoses play a great role. They remove the soil and dirty water. Blockages don’t happen very often. If you want to keep them clean, make sure you do the suction of water on a daily basis.

Solution Hose

The solution hose of a carpet cleaning machine requires regular maintenance. Each end of the hose has a male and female connector. Each connector joins the wand and the machine. One of their great qualities is that they can take a lot of high pressure. Make sure you check the solution hose for leaks and the connectors for wear and tear. You can use oil to lubricate the connectors on a weekly basis.

Replaced the Machine

If your machine is severely damaged or is very old, we suggest that you don’t spend money on replacement parts. Instead, what you need to do is get the machine replaced. In other words, you should sell your old machine and buy a new one. At times, spending on the repair work can cost more than buying new equipment. So, make sure you consider buying a new one.

Benefits of Lean Management Muda

The lean management muda is a tool that is used to categorize the goals and approaches of the business in order for the company to bloom in the way that the entrepreneur wants it to. In order for them to understand the basics, they should complement these significantly in the way that they want it done. They can just include these into the products that are complementary with the lean thinking muda that they have in mind.

It is very important to study the approach that is quite manufactured in the environment that will set the system apart to what they have in mind. As long as these are connected to the effects that the company is looking for, then they can pretty much be happy with the overall performance and quality that are the results of the lean management muda.

They can also check with the lean production muda. This is because the lean management muda and the lean production muda go hand in hand especially when there is the acquisition of the costs and the other manufacturing liabilities that are considered to be the properties of the company. When the produce is more than what are expected to be distributed, these might cost some kind of a problem for everything else.

When the people involved in the actual produce realize that the item is manufactured in the way that they want it manufactured, then they can allow the flow and then let it work to their favor. The important thing to remember about it all is that they can also find the appropriate materials that they need because these will just be included in the very approach that they have. The lean management muda can also depict the essence that they want and they can just include these into the needs that they are after.

The excessive and the leads that are included in the high storage costs may just be incorporated into what they want and they can just improve the machine that they need. They can also look into the set up and the capability off the lean management muda that they need to wait for what they are after. They can also go for the processed waiting occurrence so that they can just include these into the traditional batch and queue manufacturing that they are after.

When they transport these into the products that can be processed, they can just include these into the incursion that they need so they can just master the importance of the whole element. There won’t be any additional value that they can just include in the lean management muda that they can just incorporate and then pertain these to the very needs of the company. Once this is done, then the whole process can just include into the very benefits of the over-all goal.

Just be mindful of the processing. Companies are strongly advised to incorporate the elements that they believe are quite crucial to the whole understanding of the organizations and the other sufficiency that will just result to the poor plant layout and the other subsequent operations that one needs to just set everything to their favor and that is looking apart.

The Main Features Of A Personal Bridging Loan

Suddenly, you have got an offer of buying a new property. You are planning that you will sell your present property and buy that property. But it will take time. Then what else? You do not want to drop your plan, as it is really a lucrative offer for you. So, how would you get cash? Simply apply for a personal bridging loan. With this loan, you can make your property transaction easier.

A personal bridging loan works as a monetary bridge to cover up the financial gap during property transaction. This loan is considered as a secured loan. Therefore, you have to pledge some thing in order to get the loan. Typically, borrowers use their new purchasing property as security. Beside, you can use some other properties like, housing or auction properties, commercial properties, retailing shops, overseas property etc.

Generally, while offering a personal bridging loan, lenders prioritize on the value of the property, not the purchasing price. This loan allows borrowers to borrow the amount, ranging from £ 25,000 to £ 500,000. If you want to borrow more, then the equity of your property will be checked. However, as a personal bridging loan, you can get 75% of your property value.

Personal bridging loans are of two types: open bridging loans and closed bridging loans. This loan is basically a short term loan. The repayment period of this loan varies from few weeks to six months and can be extended up to 2 years. If you opt for this loan, you will only have to pay the interest rate during the loan period. The principal amount can be paid off after the present property is sold. You will get the unearned interest in case you can sell your property within the limited term period. And if a personal bridging loan is matured before selling the property, then the loan will be changed into general loan, and be sure for this you need not pay any penalty.

A personal bridging loan is approved fast. Within 24-48 hours you will get the amount.

The Jonas Brothers – Mama's Boys Or Gentlemen?

When the Jonas Brothers' movie came out, it seemed everyone was focused on the young men's relationship to their mother and potential girlfriends with the term "mama's boys" getting thrown around. As an expert on mama's boys and daddy's girls, I have an answer as to whether or not the Jonas Brothers are mama's boys. The answer may surprise you.

There are a number of reasons why people speculate about whether or not Kevin, Joe, and Nick are mama's boys but the number one reason that attracts attention is their purity rings, signifying their promise to practice celibacy until marriage. While many of their fans have only learned about purity rings because of the Jonas Brothers, purity rings have been around for at least fifteen years among Evangelical Christians.

The brothers' parents are Evangelical Christians with their dad, Kevin, Sr. Being a former Assembly of God pastor. Kevin, Sr. And his wife, Denise, have taken an active role in their sons' careers in an effort to protect their children from the ravages of fame. The young men are receptive to their parents' leadership and are respectful, following in the religious belief system of their parents. Somehow, this has earned them the moniker, "mama's boys!"

For some reason, when a son wears a purity ring and takes that pledge, instead of people seeing it as part of his relationship with God, they assume it says more about his relationship to his mother. Maybe that is because they think such a pledge must make the mother breathe a huge sigh of relief! Similarly, many look at daughters who take the purity pledge and draw assumptions about their relationships with their fathers rather than looking at the girls' relationship with God.

The purity rings and pledge are viewed as an extension of the parents' control over their teenagers rather than as part of a teen's maturation process and ability to have his or her own relationship with God that includes responsibility and boundaries. Granted, many parents must appreciate the advantageous nature of the purity pledge and even use it to manipulate their teenagers. All they are really doing is manipulating their own selves into a comfort zone where they can feel their children are safe! Whether or not a teen takes that pledge in the first place or lives up to in the second place is absolutely a decision the teen or young adult makes.

That said, I do not make a connection between Kevin, Joe, and Nick taking the purity pledge and their potential being mama's boys. That pledge is born of their religion, family tradition, and loyalty.

Another thing that makes people think the Jonas Brothers are mama's boys is the amount to which their parents are in their lives and careers and on the road with them. However, both parents are present, not just mom. Nick has reportedly said, "We're just normal guys. We're not perfect. We're just living every day as it comes, trying to make our mom proud." It brings to mind the thing everyone, man or woman, is inclined to do the first time a movie camera is turned on him or her and that is to smile at the camera and say, "Hi, Mom!" Between childbirth and all the ways that mothers extend themselves and sacrifice for their children, mom tends to come first in all our hearts.

So, this is not a case of a stage mother hovering and overseeing. Both Jonas parents are involved in protecting their sons. In an interview with Rachel Ray last May, Denise said, "What has been so fabulous for us is we've remained a family unit and been able to be in tact as a family. And I've been able to be mom and Their life and their dad is there … "Denise says that she and Kevin, Sr. Practice gratitude, teaching their children to do so as well. What that means is that whenever anything good happens to them as individuals or a family, they take the time to thank God for it.

Denise's enthusiasm for being able to be in her sons' lives even as they pursue their rock and roll careers is not the joy of an overbearing, overprotective mother. It is, rather, the pleasure of a responsible mom and dad who have spent more than two decades training their sons to be responsible as well.

Mama's boys are created when the father is not able to extend the invitation to his sons to leave the sphere of influence of their mother and enter his sphere of influence where they can learn to become men, centered in the assurance of their own masculinity. That invitation is not given when the father is absent either physically, emotionally, or mentally. Also, usually, a father who himself is a mama's boy can not extend the invitation because he remains in his mother's sphere of influence.

Sons that are issued this invitation from the father, answer it over a period of years from ten years old into their teens. After they have spent time in their father's sphere of influence, being challenged by rites of passage and the competitive edge of keeping up with dad in conversation and intellect, sons are free to incorporate both parents' sphere of influence, creating balanced, grounded young men Who have more options for love and success in life.

In families where fathers extend the invitation to their sons to inter the father's sphere of influence, five things must occur.

1. The father (or significant male role model) must be physically available.
2. The father (or male role model) must be emotionally available.
3. The father (or male role model) must be able to "see" the son as a man.
4. The mother must honor and respect the father and masculinity in general.
5. The mother must release the son to the father.

Briefly and for the sake of parents of daughters, it is a similar situation where young women who are grounded in their femininity have been issued an invitation from the mother to leave the father's sphere of influence for a time and reenter the sphere of influence of the Mother. So, for that to happen, five things must occur.

1. The mother (or significant female role model) must be physically available.
2. The mother (or female role model) must be emotionally available.
3. The mother (or female female role model) must be able to "see" the daughter as a woman.
4. The father must honor and respect the mother and femininity in general.
5. The father must release the daughter to the mother.

From all outward appearances, the Jonas Brothers' parents are busy accomplishing all five of these requirements for raising sons who are grounded in their masculinity yet respectful of women. They are, in essence, old fashioned young gentlemen!

Ventless Gas Log Fireplaces For Backyard Design

More and more frequently I have clients who want me to custom build outdoor fireplaces in their backyards. Especially in this economy as homeowners maximize their property investment by taking "staycations" the backyard is becoming an oasis of outdoor enjoyment. Fireplaces have traditionally been thought of as wood burning but more and more homeowners are using gas logs as a beautiful and simple alternative to the wood burning fireplace.

Wood burning fireplaces can become complex even when we are building outside. The atmosphere created around a wood burning fireplace is comforting, calming. The crackling and popping of the wood and the smell that permeates the entire yard adds enjoyment to the functional heater. However, building a custom fireplace can become expensive and complicated. In addition to the firebox and the mantle that we devise as the custom plan, a flue and chimney must be built up through the roof and terminated above the roof line. For many homeowners we have worked with, the expense of cutting through a roof, plus the associated laws and inspections attached to resealing a roof and the expense of building a chimney places the project outside an acceptable budget.

For instance, a homeowner decides to build a marble mantle seven feet wide and four feet high. The budget takes into account the marble tile to finish the design and the firebox, structural materials to build the fireplace and labor. Most people do not look at a chimney and think "Wow, that is a great looking chimney" so we do not always account for the ventilation when we design our perfect outdoor accent. The ventilation can not be skipped just because there is plenty of ventilation outdoors. The proper flue will "pull" the fumes and smoke up and away from the fireplace. Without the vent gas fumes will flow from the front of the fireplace and the area usually reserved for sitting in front of the fire will be hot and smelly. The homeowner contacts a contractor who explains the chimney, flue and roof termination will double the budget.

I have been in this situation many times and the answer is often gas logs. I have had clients with damage to their chimney flue inside a wall and believe they can put a gas log fireplace kit into their wood-burning fireplace instead of repairing the damaged flue. This is a mistake, and a dangerous mistake. Gas logs use liquid propane or natural gas instead of wood for fuel. When gas burns, oxygen is burned and carbon monoxide is created. If there is damage to the flue, a typical gas log fireplace is not the answer because the fresh air ventilation is still necessary to pull out carbon monoxide.

The answer is ventless gas logs. Vent free gas logs do not have to be vented. When a client wants to design a custom outdoor fireplace but they do not want to build a chimney and cut through their patio roof, a vented gas log kit is the perfect solution because no ventilation is necessary.

Ventless gas logs are designed to be used indoors and have several safety features that make them safe inside your home. Manufacturers of ventless gas logs have a limit to the amount of BTU's burned which limits the size of most unwanted gas log burners to 30. "The size of a firebox that would comfortably hold a 30" gas burner is 42 "to 48" which is Still a large fireplace. A standing pilot assembly holds lit and heat is tracked with a thermocouple. If the flames go out for any reason, the thermocouple cools and gas stops at the valve. Oxygen depletion sensors are also attached to the gas valve to ensure the flames do not burn up so much oxygen in the house that unsafe conditions are created.

Outdoors a ventless gas log can not deplete oxygen or fill your home with gas but a different set of issues ensues. Oxygen Sensors can get pollen and dust in them and wind can confuse the pilot assembly of ability to provide continuous heat to the thermocouple. The design of the fireplace and the placement of the logs should be discussed with a professional to minimize these possibilities. These issues do not risk the safety of your family but if the thermocouple thinks the pilot is out because the wind is directing the flame in another direction, your gas log burner will turn itself off. An experienced installer will manipulate the mounting bracket to work around wind issues and position the Oxygen Depletion Sensors so they do not get clogged with pollen and dust.

The benefit to a ventless gas log fireplace outdoors is convenience and cost. The process of building proper ventilation and a chimney can often double the expense of custom fireplaces indoors or outside. Convenience is the ability to create a perfect flame pattern as easily as turning on a barbeque grill. Many gas log fireplaces have complex valve options that allow variable remote controls that alter flame height, on / off remotes, wall switches and thermostatic controllers that turn the fireplace on and off based on the temperature read at the thermostat. I do not recommend any of those valves in your backyard. A manual safety pilot kit has a standing pilot light that stays on always. As long as the pilot is burning, the fireplace can be controlled with a simple control knob. A couple of decorative ceramic pinecones or wood chunks hide the controls. Remotes, wall switches, thermostatic controls and other valves use batteries. Even a gas log fireplace that is under an overhang will be affected by moisture in the air. Here in Florida where humidity is tremendous, a battery operated valve will corrode within a year in most backyards.

Proper placement and a good design will ensure a beautiful fireplace at an affordable price. Years ago ventless gas logs were only for indoor applications where it was impossible to place a vented fireplace. Innovations in log design and burners that burn so clean that very few fumes are created have made unvented gas logs a much more attractive option. Fire effects that do not use ceramic logs but burn crushed fire glass, ceramic fire shapes, river stones or nothing at all have evolved in to a modern design for contemporary homes that do not want a gas log fireplace to appear to be a wood burning fireplace . These fire effects are gaining popularity both indoors and out in the backyard.

Ethanol fireplaces are also a new interesting application. Ethanol burners are rectangular reservoirs with slits or ports in the top to allow flames to keep the alcohol burning. Many ethanol burners can burn for four to six hours before depleting their load and have a heat shield on top that can be used to turn the flames off. Ethanol is functional, beautiful and simple because it does not need ventilation, does not require gas lines running through the house and creates a strong tall flame pattern.

We build custom fireplaces for many home owners and there are always strengths and weaknesses to every option. In my experience, many clients are pleased with ventless gas log fireplaces outdoors in spite of the limitations involved in placing an indoor product in the backyard. Foregoing a chimney and ventilation system saves a lot of money and a lot of time. Vent free gas logs have become as attractive as wood burning and vented gas log fireplaces and they are safe indoors and out. If you are considering a custom fireplace in your backyard or if you are just considering doing something to make your home resort more fun, the ventless gas log fireplace is affordable, safe, simple and can completely change the space you use outside.

Basic Fixes For a Polaris 280 Pool Cleaner That Has Stopped Moving

The Polaris 280 Pool Cleaner is a one of the best in ground pool cleaners available on the market today. Even though it is an older model, it consistently outperforms the newer models of Polaris pool cleaners. It also requires less maintenance and is easier to troubleshoot and fix when problems do start happening. Like all pool cleaners, with age the cleaner will eventually start wearing down and working less efficiently. One common symptom that may show up is when the Polaris 280 simply stops moving and isn’t doing any of the cleaning it normally does so well. The following troubleshooting tips will help identify why the cleaner has stopped moving.

Obstructed Cleaner Wheels – first things first, turn off all the pool equipment and remove the cleaner from the pool. Inspect the wheels and make sure they turn freely and that there isn’t anything stopping the wheels from turning. It is real easy, and very common, for a pool toy, small branch, or other types of debris to get jammed in between the wheels stopping them from moving. When this happens, everything else could be working great, just the wheels can’t turn. Once the toy or debris is removed, the Polaris 280 will be back on track to keep the pool clean again..

Is There Enough Water Pressure? – next, make sure there is enough water pressure being delivered to the cleaner. Since the Polaris 280 is a pressure side pool cleaner, it needs a sufficient amount of water pressure to function properly, and without the necessary pressure it will not move. Turn on the pool equipment and visually confirm that the pool has good circulation. If there isn’t good water flow, following are the most common reasons.

1 – Main Pool Filter is Dirty – if the main pool filter has not been cleaned recently or the filter pressure gauge has a unusually high pressure reading, the main filter needs to be cleaned. After cleaning the filter, retest the pool cleaner to see if that solved the problem.

2 – Wall Filter Screen is Dirty – the Polaris 280 pool cleaner is equipped with a small filter located inside the wall fitting that can get clogged with debris. If this screen is clogged, there won’t be enough water pressure getting to the pool cleaner.

3 – Booster Pump Malfunctioning – turn on all the pool equipment including the Polaris 280 booster pump. If the pump doesn’t come on, obviously that is a problem. If it does come on, check the water pressure getting to the pool cleaner by slowly and carefully lifting the cleaner to the surface of the water and reaching in the water to feel the water pressure. Be sure to hold the cleaner under the water, and hold the tail so it doesn’t squirt water in your face. It is a good idea to wear glasses or goggles when doing this test.

Pool Cleaner Wheels Need Repair – if the cleaner wheels are not obstructed, all the filters are clean, and there is good water pressure reaching the pool cleaner, the wheels may need repair. Three components to the wheels commonly wear down and need replacement over time.

1 – Wheels – the wheels have grooves that engage the drive shaft. Any of the three wheels that have worn or broken grooves will need to be replaced. The wheels can easily be visually inspected for bad grooves.

2 – Wheel Bearings – each wheel has two wheel bearings that will wear out over time. Indicators that the bearings need replacement are excessive horizontal play and/or wheels that don’t turn freely. If it suspected that the bearings are bad, remove the wheels and it will be obvious.

3 – Tires – if the tires have excessive or uneven wear, or have stretched to where they don’t fit tightly on the wheels, they need to be replaced.

After going through the problem solving tips above, if the Polaris 280 is still not moving, it may have a more complicated internal mechanical problem. Call a pool service professional or the local pool store for help.

How to Increase the Firing Distance of a Catapult

So you decided that you wanted to build a catapult. Now it’s finished and ready to fire. Your excitement builds as you pull the release mechanism then, plop. Your ammo sails a few feet and drops to the ground with a disappointing thud. So much for your plans to hurl water balloons at your neighbor on the other side of the fence. You feel the sting of defeat. What went wrong? Why didn’t it work? Do not despair my friend, for I may have a solution to your problem. The next couple of paragraphs will explain a few things that you can do to increase the firing distance of your siege engine.

Check your construction. Make sure your catapult has been properly built. Improperly fitted parts or loose parts can affect the efficiency of your machine. One of the biggest areas of energy loss in a catapult is the pivot points. Anywhere something pivots there will be friction. Make sure the parts move freely, without binding. Depending on your construction lubrication may be needed. If your pivot point is a wooden axle through a hole drilled in another piece of wood make sure it’s not too tight. If the fit is too tight, lightly sand until a proper fit is achieved. If there is too much play replace the piece of wood with the hole in it with a new piece that has a smaller hole. Too much play can also cause energy loss.

More tension! Many catapults are built using springs, bungee cords, or surgical tubing as the source for tension to the firing arm. Beef them up! Replace your existing springs with stronger springs. The same applies to bungee cords rubber bands. Replace the existing ones with something a little stronger. You can also add more springs or cords to the existing ones (double them up). If you have an onager, try winding the cord that is attached to the throwing arm a little tighter. This will increase the tension and force of the throwing arm when it is released. One thing to keep in mind if you are going to increase your spring tension: make sure the framework and firing arm are sturdy enough to handle the increased tension. You don’t want your siege engine to blow apart when you fire it. You may need to reinforce the frame and throwing arm to accomplish this.

All hail the trebuchet! Ah, the mighty trebuchet. It is by far my favorite of all the siege engines. It is far more sophisticated in design than other types of catapults. When properly tuned the distance and accuracy are incredible. Getting to this point can be a real pain in the rear end if you’re not sure what to do. You can build a trebuchet that works, or build one that works really well. I have a small table top model that can hurl a small wooden cannonball about 20 feet across my basement. If I place a 9″ paper plate on the floor as my target I can land every shot in the plate. I achieved this accuracy by simply making adjustments to the sling (length is critical!). Read on to find out how to tune your trebuchet.

As I mentioned above, pivot points are areas of friction. Excess friction means energy loss. Make sure the pivot point of the throwing arm moves freely without binding. Adjust as necessary. If your trebuchet has a hinged counterweight make sure this pivot point moves freely as well. While we’re on the subject of counterweights, keep in mind that the further the distance the counterweight falls, the greater the energy is to the throwing arm. Raising the height of the main axle (pivot point for throwing arm) and lengthening the throwing arm will allow the counterweight to travel further when released. Increasing the weight of the counterweight will help as well. Note that changing the length and height of the throwing arm will require adjustments to the sling. Slings are a very critical piece of a well tuned trebuchet. Incorrect lengths can cause the sling to release at the wrong time. This can result in a high arc with very short distance or a low arc with a short distance. Experiment with the sling length for greatest distance. Make sure the pouch isn’t too large for the ammo. This can result in excess wind drag. Use as small a pouch as possible for the size ammo you are using.

I hope this information is helpful to those who may need it. As a final note I want to mention that while catapults are fun, they can be dangerous as well. When making modifications to your catapult make sure the overall structure can handle the changes. Reinforce as necessary. Always use proper safety measures when firing a catapult. Eyewear is always recommended. Maintain a safe distance from the machine when you are firing it. With safety in mind operating a catapult can be a fun experience for people of all ages. Happy Hurling!

Air Ozone Purifiers – Are They Good Or Bad?

Ozone is like the sun. Without ozone you would die. Yet too much can affect your health. So when air purifier companies try to sell you that ozone air purifiers are “death machines” or ‘healthy air miracles” the truth is somewhere in the middle.

How The Controversy Started

A year ago Consumer Reports claimed the Sharper Images Ionic Breeze air purifier emitted 150 to 300 parts per billion of ozone in samples taken 2 inches from the machine. This report led to the highly successful Ionic Breeze infomercials being pulled from TV. The Breeze image ionic Sharper Brand died, replaced by the Oreck air purifiers with overpriced infomercial units.

(Sharper Image’s Breeze Ionic Midi, breeze ionic plus professional, and breeze ionic quadra review models no longer have an Ozone problem.)

Let’s look at both the “good” and the ‘bad” about Ozone in Air Purifiers:

Ozone is Good…

o You would die if there was no ozone.

o Ozone is simply oxygen with an added molecule.

o It is nature’s own air cleaner.

o Ozone is produced by nature and cleans the air.

o At low levels, as found in nature, it does a superb job of cleaning the air.

o Some purifiers allow for on/off Ozone, allowing you to “treat” the room

o All electric motors, and computers, produce Ozone

…and Ozone is Bad

o The EPA standard for ozone exposure is 80 parts per billion over 8 hours.

o Ozone levels over 100 parts per billion can causes injury to the airways

o “High Ozone” warnings signal that the air is bad.

o High levels can irritate lung tissue

o Even air purifiers that claim “no ozone” produce ozone if they have a fan.

For Asthmatics: Many people with asthma or lung problems consider avoiding ozone. If you like ozone for occasional room treatment (as I do) find a unit with low levels, timed, and don’t sleep too close to it. You may also want to treat the room and leave the room empty for 3-6 hours. The ozone will fade in that time.

Conclusion: Do You Want It In Your Purifier?

My advice is to avoid ozone, and go with UV and Tio2 which is effective for mold and mildew.

LED Dance Floor to Illuminate Your Wedding

Illuminated tracks are always a success at every wedding, whatever the style of it. The game of lights and colors will make your guests sit in a disco and create a fun atmosphere that will surely make your guests do not stop dancing throughout the party.

There is a great variety of types of LED dance floors, and each one offers different advantages and characteristics. That is why it is important that you think which one fits your wedding style, place and your budget at best. To know what your chances are we will share all the information about the main types of illuminated tracks.

The size and shape. The size and shape of the LED dance floors can be any; you can choose between square, rectangular and sometimes even circular, it all depends on the taste of the bride and groom.

The cost. Most often it is covered by each panel that forms the track, depending on the style of panels and lighting you want for your wedding party.

· Acrylic head. It is the cheapest option in the market since it does not use LEDs, that’s why saving becomes the biggest advantage of this type of track. On the other hand, you have to be aware that having no lights you will not be able to play with colors and music as you would with a lighted track with LEDs. The Wedding DJs track is made of a base also made of wood with unique acrylics in white color that will be illuminated by the common focus of different colors that can be turned off and on during the dance.

· Wooden path. It is one of the best and most recommended options for Bollywood DJs with carpet or garden weddings, as this will not damage the grass or the carpet at the time of the dance. These tracks were the first ones that came on the market, and it is a wooden platform with illuminated panels.

· Glass track with LEDs. It is the most attractive option; it is a track that has individual glass panels and LEDs that will illuminate each panel. The LED lights turn on automatically or with a particular lighting control that will achieve a special effects game between the track and the music, turning on and off to the beat of the music, or doing magnificent scenes, for example, for your first dance. Surely your guests will never forget the light show that these types of Bollywood DJs can offer.

· Track of panels with LEDs. These are the most expensive tracks on the market due to the sophistication of their panels. Thanks to each panel are independent you can create figures, patterns and with a little imagination until you can write their names on the dance floor.

Installation. The Wedding DJs can be installed almost on any flat surface, and even on swimming pools, if your wedding will be in a garden with swimming pool you can gain space installing the dance floor over the swimming pool, sure to look fabulous.

SEO Tips for Lawyers – Five Crucial Keys to Organic Search Engine Optimization

Business referrals also play a huge role in building a practice for attorneys, but can only go so far. What happens when you want more business or would like to expand your firm? This is when many practices turn to marketing and advertising– yellowpage ads, radio, TV commercials, lawyer directories.

These are all good ways to promote your practice, but what if I told you there is a “free” source of leads that would facilitate potential seeking you out, right at the time he/she needed your services? Well there is and it’s called the modern day search engine.

Search engines, when used to the fullest extent, can act as pre-qualifying authoritative referral sources. Just as a consumer is more likely to get product or service recommendations form a friend or family member verses take what a commercial has to say at face value, search engines can be a strong lead source in your practice’s marketing mix because of the trust they are given for finding unbiased information.

Have you ever wondered why some attorney websites have top ten rankings on search engines, while others do not? You’re about to learn some of the secrets. Do not take this information lightly. As an attorney, what you are about to read could earn you thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars in new cases and legal fees.

Below are Five Basic Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Tips for Lawyers that have taken me years to understand. While paid listings or “sponsored links” do have a high ROI when managed properly, this article in particular is only speaking toward the natural or unpaid listings you see on popular search engines such as Google, Yahoo!, and MSN.

Some of these techniques may seem very easy to understand, even implement, but that is the beauty of it. With all the false information out there, it takes a long time to know what has value and what does not. As Mark Twain said, “I’m sorry this letter is so long, I didn’t have the time to write a short one.” It has taken me years to weed through the tricks, and fly by night gimmicks, and false information so enjoy and feel free to contact me with any questions. With that said, I present to you five crucial keys to organic search engine optimization.

SEO Tip One: Use Descriptive & Unique Meta Titles

Did you know one of the most important areas for your firm’s site in regard to search ranking is the “Meta Title” of your home page? This is the title that appears on the blue frame around your browser (i.e. Internet Explorer, Firefox). The title also appears in search listings. You can see your website’s title in its raw coding by choosing “View” and “View source code” from your browser.

Anatomy of the Meta Information

In epistemology, the prefix meta- is used to mean about (its own category). A website’s meta information is typically made up of three distinct areas: title, description, and keywords. According to many well-known SEO gurus, the “keywords” section is completely useless, but it can harm you if you use too many keywords.

Most major search engines have now filtered out the importance of the “keywords” section because of past abuse, “keyword stuffing,” as well as placing long lists of irrelevant highly searched terms. Do not put too many keywords in the keywords section, and do not rely on this section to help with search engine optimization (SEO). Some SEO experts still use it “just in case, ” but only place 10 – 15 keywords never repeating, and using a comma after each single term.

The title however, is still a hugely important area to naturally work in highest level key phrases, along with branding the firm, or your name if acting as an independent practice. However, do not repeat keywords, and do not use more than 12 words or around 65 characters. Otherwise, the full title will not been seen in search and having an overabundance of words will dilute its power anyway. Google also has a filter or penalty block for sites that repeat one word too often in titles.

What’s in a Name?

Check your meta title right now! Choose “View” and “View source code” from your browser. Does it only have the name of your firm? That is fine if you are doing other advertising and your firm has lots of name recognition, but you are leaving a lot of money on the table.

What about those prospects you are missing out on who are typing into the search engines more generic phrases without any firms or attorney names in mind? Example, a search engine user types in “Personal Injury Attorney Dallas.” If you do not have specific words that describe your practice in your meta title, your site is less likely to appear in the top then than an attorney who does.

Be Unique

Your meta title can make or break your search engine rankings for valuable placement. Use a different title for every page of your site, making sure it describes the page’s content and/or user function (such as an “About” page, use the word “About So and So Firm.”). With deeper pages further away from the homepage use varying logical keywords that not only describe the page, but are akin to the words a user might type in seeking out that specific information.

It may seem like if you repeat the same title over and over again on other pages your site will perform better for those keywords, but it will not, you will be cannibalizing your efforts. You can use your name or the name of your firm, but place it near the end of the title. Keep the most unique part toward the beginning. Proximity and density also play a role.

This one tip could warrant a whole article on best practices on its own, but for now start with recognizing your meta title’s importance. I will be publishing a more advanced “nuts and bolts” article covering how you should plan a reverse keyword pyramid for your site titles, as well as other titling recommendations.

SEO Tip Two: Acquire Relevant Backlinks

Links to your site are seen as votes in the major search engines’ eyes. Just so we are on the same page, these are links to your website from another website, not links from your website to another. In this analogy these popularity votes are similar to how voting existing before several human rights were established. Some were considered 3/5ths a person, and some not considered at all. Their votes were counted accordingly. In other words, not all backlinks are created equal. The quality of a link toward your site can be determined on multiple criterion.

a). Relevance – Does the subject matter of the page linking out reflect the subject matter of your site or is it about something completely off topic? Example would be another attorney links to your site from his/her blog unsolicited based on your site’s relevant content and merit verses a random site that sells knockoff Viagra wanting to trade links with you.

b). Link & Text Density – This speaks to the amount of other links on the page linking to yours on the other website. If the other site has a listing of 100s of links on all different topics, including yours, the link is most likely devalued in the search engines eyes, not only because of relevance, but because of perceived importance. These are commonly known as “link farms.” The opposite situation would be your link is the only one listed. The backlink could be considered even more valuable if the other site surrounds it with relevant copy before and after (for example in a blog or article). A less effective, but not completely worthless placement would be a listing on a “Links” page from another site where only a handful of other offsite links existed.

c). Second Generation Link Popularity- Your site is deemed more important in the search engines’ eyes not only by how many other sites link to you, but how many sites link to the sites that link to you. The link popularity is passed on using a formula that one search engine originated called PageRank(TM). In essence, you could have 100s of backlinks, but if no one is linking to the other sites linking to you, many of the links may be worthless from a ranking point of view (but could be valuable in other ways to be discussed in a later article). There are tools you can use to “pull up the curtain” and see just how people are linking to your site, as well as how many are linking to their’s.

This is a simplified explanation on how acquiring backlinks can help your SEO. As with titling, the topic of backlinks could also warrant its own full fledged article, or multiple articles. The important takeaway is: backlinks matter for SEO.

SEO Tip Three: Build a Legal Knowledgebase

The Internet was built on the foundation that people want authoritative, quality information fast. Instead of trying to remember the categories of the Dewy Decimal System and searching through different books’ table of contents, the search engine user uses keywords describing what he/she are looking for in order to find that information as fast as possible.

Not all Visitors are Qualified

First, as an attorney, you have to accept this fact that not all the visitors to your website are prospects. Many may be in the research mode of their buying cycle or may be looking for information for a friend or even a school report. The reality is the more original, helpful, and consistently you can put new information on your website, the more the search engines will show you preference. By high quality content I do not mean a sales pitch. You can use that type of language on your main pages, but you will appeal to a much wider audience if you use non-commercial, unbiased information presented as knowledgebase in your deeper pages.

By building a knowledgebase specific to your areas of practice, you accomplish at least two objectives, you are viewed as an expert becoming the authoritative source for that user’s legal question and you will likely pull prospects looking for those specific services right then and there. This is an indirect, but highly effective method of acquiring prospects.

One Page per Area of Practice

Example, if you practice copyright law and the prospect types in the search engine “copyright laws” you could have a page strictly devoted to explaining the different types, penalties for breaking the laws, defenses, highly popularized landmark cases, and other important information pertaining to copyright infringement. Create a page using at least 500 – 1500 words stratifying every area of your practice in fine detail, and your website will dominate the search engines, command lots of relevant traffic and, combined with other tools, bring a steady stream of leads. I will cover this in more depth giving more information on the best practices in future articles.

SEO Tip Four: Use specific Internal & External Anchor Text

Have you ever seen a link that says “Click here?” Oh course you have. That’s actually a waste of a link as far as SEO is concerned. Ok, maybe not a complete loss, but it does not use the link’s full potential. The words used in a link to another URL are called the anchor text and it can be vitally important to SEO.

There is a huge difference in how the search engines see a link with relevant text verses a non-descriptive or irrelevantly anchored link. This is even true for your site’s internal linking structure and calls to action. For example, instead of directing your website visitors to another internal page using the words “Click Here for information on copyright infringement,” make the words copyright infringement the actual link and avoid the cliché. You may have to change your verbiage schema to something similar to: “Learn more about the laws and penalties pertaining to copyright infringement,” which is better anyway.

Anchor Your Links or Site will walk the Plank

The more internal links on your site pointing to that page with those words, and even more importantly links from offsite with those words, the more likely the search engines will see your site, or that specific page, as being relevant for that term. Check your website right now.

Do you have any pointless “Click Here” links or something else just as useless? Right now, change the anchor text to words that describe the page in which they are linking. Or ask your webmaster to do it tomorrow morning. It’s worth it.

SEO Tip Five: Localize Your Content & Meta Descriptions

Are you an attorney who only operates in one city? Or can you work remotely because most of your work is out of the court room? If you operate in one city, or regional area, you need to make the search engines aware by using the most prominent DMA in your homepage title.

When prospects are using search engines, most are sophisticated enough to know, or have learned through search engine experience, to add the city onto whatever service in which he/she is searching. Example, a user types in “Dallas Commercial Real Estate Attorney.”

You may be a real estate attorney and your practice may be in Dallas, but the search engines will give another lawyer’s site preference if you do not spell it out for them. You may have your physical location in a normal 12 point text on the contact page, but that is not enough, since titles and meta descriptions hold more weight in the hierarchy.

Home Grown Meta Description

Some SEO gurus say descriptions are as defunct as the keywords section of your meta info. I say the meta description is the NEW keywords section of web 2.0, only the keywords must be used in a logical sentence form.

Secondly, you do not want to have to specify on a page describing individual areas of your practice or your knowledgebase that you are a “Dallas insert obscure and wordy law practice attorney” in the viable copy. While not terribly lethal, it’s a little awkward and contrived to the reader. You can use the description area of the meta for this SEO tactic.

Stay tuned for more Internet marketing tips for lawyers including more on SEO, pay-per-click advertising, and social media. Thanks for your time.

Competing With a Low Carb Diet Plan

The low carb diet plan continues to gain popularity among people aware of their weight. Its effectiveness is set at a record level, however this should not really be surprising at all.

There is another diet quickly get its fair share of notice. Its biggest attraction also lies in the high efficiency.

Known as the alkaline diet, this weight loss program has recently been collecting carbohydrate-free diet, when it comes to public acceptance. Surprisingly, its basic philosophy happens to be one that comes in direct contrast to that of its nearest competitor.

If you look at the basic premise of this food regimen, you will discover that it promotes a very low consumption of meat, cheese, and all other foods rich in fat and protein.

Conversely, a low carb diet allows you to eat as much pork and cheese as you want. But limit your intake of carbohydrate-rich foods, including rice, pasta, bread, sugar, beans and others.

By virtue of its very different approach to weight loss, it still comes as a great surprise that an alkaline diet should enjoy continued popularity at the same level as low carbs. Maybe that is a common factor linking these two weight loss plans together, one that accounts for their public susceptibility.

If you try to look at these two different diet plans further, you will discover that they have a few things in common. For example, both are encouraging their supporters to take in very little processed grains and sugar. These foods are not only rich in carbohydrates, they are also acidifying.

Another common denominator between a low carb diet plan and an alkaline diet is effective. Both encourage limited consumption of certain types of food in general valid reasons. Alkaline Dieters keep the reduced intake of rice, wheat, corn, cheese, and many others because of their acidifying component. Similarly, those who just make carb regimens avoid these food varieties, of course, because of their rich carbohydrate content. In both cases a certain degree of fitness achieved, even through contrasting methods.

Ultimately it does not matter what diet is more effective. The important thing is that the desired results are achieved. A low carb diet is more direct in its approach. In contrast, an alkaline diet programs holds a more scientific approach in dealing with weight loss issues. But these two have only one goal, and both just happen to be quite effective to achieve it.

Guidelines For Performing Infrared Inspections Of Motor Control Centers

The Motor Control Center

The MCC enclosure protects personnel from contact with current carrying devices, and it protects the components from various environmental conditions. It is important that the enclosure is mounted to assure accessibility so that qualified personnel (such as a trained thermographer) can open the panel under load. There are different classes and types of MCCs, but generally speaking, an MCC looks like a row of file cabinets with each cabinet representing an MCC section. The drawers of the file cabinet represent the plug-in units that contain the motor control components. Three phase power is distributed within the MCC by bus bars, large metal current carrying bars. The horizontal bus provides three-phase power distribution from the main power supply. Vertical bus in each section is connected from it to individual MCCs. Bracing and isolation barriers are provided to protect against fault conditions. The plug-in units of an MCC have power stabs on the back to allow it to be plugged into the vertical power bus bars of the structure.

Beginning Your MCC Infrared Inspection

Before opening the panel or door on a motor controller, prescan the enclosure to assure a safe opening condition. If excessive heat appears on the surface of the door, extra care should be taken when opening it. The thermographer or escort may decide to note the condition as unacceptable and not take a chance on opening it under load. Once the unit is open, begin with both an infrared and a visual inspection to assure no dangerous conditions exist. Be systematic while conducting the infrared inspection. Remember the system must be under load to conduct the inspection. Work from left to right or follow the circuit through carefully, inspecting all of the components. Look for abnormal thermal patterns caused by high-resistance connections, overloads, or load imbalances. In three-phase systems this can be accomplished by comparing phases. Adjust the level and span on the infrared system to optimize the image. Proper adjustment will identify primary and secondary anomalies. The bus stabs and the connections to the main are important inspection points that are often overlooked or misdiagnosed. The incoming connection to the main horizontal bus is usually located behind a cover or panel that is not hinged. These are typically bolted connections and may have parallel feeders. The bus stab connections on the back of the plug-in units are more difficult to inspect. The thermographer does not have direct view of the connection, and the first indication of a problem can be seen on the incoming conductors feeding the breaker or fused disconnect. Remember, even small temperature rises identified at this point could mean serious problems.

Motor Starters and Motor Controllers

The purpose of the motor starter is to protect the motor, personnel, and associated equipment. Over 90% of the motors used are AC induction motors, and motor starters are used to start and stop them. A more generic term would identify this piece of equipment as a motor controller. A controller may include several functions, such as starting, stopping, overcurrent protection, overload protection, reversing, and braking. The motor starter is selected to match the voltage and horsepower of the system. Other factors used to select the starter include: motor speed, torque, full load current (FLC), service factor (SF), and time rating (10 or 20 seconds).

Understanding the thermal patterns of this equipment is critical to a successful inspection. Also correctly identifying the source of the anomaly can make recommendations more valuable.

Motors may be damaged or their life significantly reduced if they operate continuously at a current above full load current. Motors are designed to handle in-rush or locked rotor currents without much temperature increase, providing there is a limited duration and a limited number of starts. Overcurrents up to locked rotor current are generally caused by mechanical overloading of the motor. The National Electric Code (NEC) describes overcurrent protection for this situation as “motor running overcurrent (overload) protection.” This can be shortened to overload protection. Overcurrents caused by short circuits or ground faults are dramatically higher than those caused by mechanical overloads or excessive starts. The NEC describes this type of overcurrent protection as “motor branch-circuit short-circuit and ground-fault protection.” This can be shortened to overcurrent protection. The four common varieties of motor starters are: across-the-line, the reversing starter, the multispeed starter, and the reduced voltage starter. Motor starters are generally comprised of the same types of components. These include a breaker or fused disconnect, contactor and overloads. There may also be additional components, including control circuitry and a transformer. Understanding the thermal patterns of this equipment is critical to a successful inspection. Also correctly identifying the source of the anomaly can make recommendations more valuable.

Overcurrent Protection

NEC requires overcurrent protection and a means to disconnect the motor and controller from line voltage. Fused disconnects or thermal magnetic circuit breakers are typically used for overcurrent protection and to provide a disconnect for the circuit. A circuit breaker is defined in NEMA standards as a device designed to open and close a circuit by non-automatic means and to open the circuit automatically on a predetermined overcurrent without injury to itself when properly applied within its rating. If we look at a cutaway of a breaker, we can identify potential connection problems. The line side and load side lugs are the most common source of abnormal heating, but many breakers have a second set of bolted connections on the back of the breaker. Heat from this connection can be misdiagnosed as the main lug. There are also internal contacts where current flow is interrupted by exercising the component. These contacts experience arcing each time the breaker is opened. An arc is a discharge of electric current jumping across an air gap between two contacts. Arcs are formed when the contacts of a circuit breaker are opened under a load. Arcing under normal loading is very small compared to an arc formed from a short circuit interruption. Arcing produces additional heat and can damage the contact surfaces. Damaged contacts can cause resistive heating. Thermal patterns from these poor connections appear as diffuse heating on the surface of the breaker. In addition, there are several types of breakers that have internal coils used for circuit protection. These coils have heat associated with them and can appear to be an internal heating problem, when in fact, it is a normal condition.

Fused Disconnects

Fused disconnects are used to provide over-current protection for motor in the same manner as a breaker. Instead of opening contacts, fuses fail opening the circuit. When overcurrent protection is provided by fuses, a disconnect switch is required for manual opening of the circuit. The disconnect switch and fuse block are typically one assembly. The hinge and blade connections on the switch are a typical source of overheating. High resistance from overuse or underuse is usually the cause. Fuse clips are also a weak connection point for some disconnect designs. Different types or manufacturers of fuses of the same amperage may produce different thermal signatures. While different size or amperage fuses will also have a different thermal pattern, fuse bodies may appear warmer than the rest of the circuit due to conductor size.

Contactors

Starters are made from two building blocks, contactors and overload protection. Contactors control the electric current flow to the motor. Their function is to repeatedly establish and interrupt an electrical power circuit. A contactor can stand on its own as a power control device, or as part of a starter. Contactors operate electromechanically and use a small control current to open and close the circuit. The electromechanical components do the work, not the human hand, as is the case with a knife blade switch or a manual controller. The sequence of operation of a contactor is as follows: first, a control current is applied to the coil; next, current flow into the coil creates a magnetic field which magnetizes the E-frame making it an electromagnet; finally, the electromagnet draws the armature towards it, closing the contacts. A contactor has a life expectancy. If the contactor contacts are frequently opened and closed, it will shorten the life of the unit. As the contacts are exercised, an electrical arc is created between the contacts. Arcs produce heat, which can damage the contacts. Contacts eventually become oxidized with a black deposit. This black deposit may actually improve the electrical connection between the contacts by improving the seat, but burn marks, pitting, and corrosion indicate it is time to replace the contacts. The following thermal patterns are associated with contactors. The coil of the contactor is usually the warmest part of the unit. High temperatures may indicate a breakdown of the coil. Line side and load side lug connections may show high resistance heating from poor connections. Heating from burned and pitted contacts may be thermally “visible” on the body of the contactor.

Overload Protection

The ideal motor overload protection is a unit with current sensing capabilities similar to the heating curve of the motor. It would open the motor circuit when full load current is exceeded. Operation of this device would allow the motor to operate with harmless temporary overloads, but open up when an overload lasts too long.

Typical thermal problems in overloads are found in the connections to the contactor, overload relay, or motor.

This protection can be provided by the use of an overload relay. The overload relay limits the amount of current drawn to protect the motor from overheating. It consists of a current sensing unit and a mechanism to open the circuit. An overload relay is renewable and can work for repeated trip and reset cycles. Overloads, however, do not provide short circuit protection. The melting alloy (or eutectic) overload relay consists of a heater coil, a eutectic alloy, and a mechanical mechanism to activate a tripping device when an overload occurs. The relay measures the temperature of the motor by monitoring the amount of current being drawn. This is done indirectly through a heater coil, which under overload conditions, melts a special solder allowing a ratchet wheel to spin free and open the contact. A bimetallic thermal overload uses a U-shaped bimetal strip. In an overload condition heat will cause the bimetal to deflect and open a contact. The solid state overload relay does not generate heat to cause a trip. Instead, it measures current or a change in resistance. The advantage of this method is that the overload relay doesn’t waste energy generating heat and doesn’t add to the cooling requirements of the panel. Normal heating for an overload may look like a thermal anomaly. Heat generated in the coil or bimetal may look like a connection problem. Typical thermal problems in overloads are found in the connections to the contactor, overload relay, or motor.

Starters

Starters are the combination of a controller, usually a contactor and an overload relay. The above descriptions of the individual components apply to the starter systems. Reduced voltage starters are used in applications that involve large horsepower motors. They are used to reduce the in-rush current and limit the torque, and thus the mechanical stress on the load. The components of this type of starter should be inspected as the motor steps up to speed. A separate low-voltage starter circuit is used to step the motor up to speed. Once at operating speed, these components are de-energized.

Completing Inspections

Remember that primary anomalies are the problems that readily stand out while secondary anomalies may require that primary anomalies be adjusted into saturation to allow for the identification of a secondary anomaly. For example, different fuse types and sizes will cause different thermal signatures as will overload relays that are sized differently within the same circuit. Anomalies like this should be identified and reported. Also note that when evaluating the severity of a problem, temperature is just one variable. All of the parameters involved with the severity of the anomaly should be considered. To improve temperature measurements, avoid low emissive surfaces. Look for cavity radiators or highly emissive insulation on conductors. Measure loads where component sizing, overloading, or load imbalances are observed. Beware of the effects of wind or convection on components. Note ambient temperatures, large thermal gradients, and the source of heating. Safety should be the top consideration.

Conclusion

Knowing the equipment under inspection allows for the correct identification of problems that could be misdiagnosed or overlooked. Analyzing unfamiliar thermal patterns on a component is easier when equipment design is reviewed. More precise repair recommendations can also be made. Locating temperature differences qualitatively or quantitatively is the real benefit of infrared thermography. Knowing where to look for these temperature differences comes from knowledge of the equipment, and knowledge of the equipment will make a better thermographer.