Finding the Right Cat Health Insurance Plan

Pet owners love their pets, and cat owners are no exception. In fact, ensuring the health of your beloved cat should be the number one priority for cat owners. Unfortunately, rising veterinary healthcare costs are making it more difficult to get the treatments necessary to both prevent and cure common cat health problems.

To help insure your and your family can afford to care for your cat should a major medical condition arise, cat health insurance has become more common. There are several major, established health insurance companies specializing in feline healthcare. Before choosing a healthcare provider for your cat, there are a few things you should take into consideration.

The level of Healthcare coverage available for your cat can vary dramatically between different providers and their various health plans. Some things, such as urinalysis and vaccinations may not be covered under basic plans; whereas everything from x-rays, heartworm, flea control, cancer, prescriptions and even dental work may be available with the premium healthcare plans.

Another thing to consider is what’s not going to be covered. Usually pre-existing conditions and hereditary disorders common to certain breeds of cats won’t be covered. Even typical cat issues such as behavioral problems and parasites might not be covered depending on the type of cat health insurance plan you’re considering.

It’s also difficult to find a cat health insurance plan that covers routine physical examinations, spay or neutering, vaccines and teeth cleaning – although with the right healthcare plan you may find these treatments available with or without a deductible.

It’s important to sit down with your pet insurance advisor and explain all the potential conditions you want to ensure your cat is covered for, and ask him or her to explain all the conditions your cat may not be covered for. Pet health insurance providers are much more educated in this aspect, so don’t expect to outsmart them. Instead, rely on your provider to educate you so that you may purchase the best plan for your money while ensuring your cat will live a long, healthy, happy and protected life.

The DIY Challenges of Building an Interior Hand Railing

The concept of building an interior wood hand railing is almost always misinterpreted by the do-it-yourself homeowners out there. The idea and concept is great, the challenges are sizable and often times misjudged and the room for mistakes is significant, and expensive. Are you thinking of building a hand railing? A good understanding of the concept is the first and foremost part of the project.

The first challenge is understanding all the wood parts that make up a handrail. Doing research and just looking at other handrails can give you an idea although there is nothing like a how to manual that explains all the parts of a handrail and how it is built to understand the full process to be successful.

Your unique and particular situation of where you are building this handrail may or may not include all of these parts. You may even elect not to have some of these more elaborate parts depending on your budget or just the appearance you are looking for.

After you have figured out all the parts of the hand railing required for your particular project, the next thing is working out the amounts or quantities of each certain part. An example would be figuring the distance between newel posts or walls to calculate the number of balusters or spindles needed to fill this space legally per OSHA codes.

Getting accurate measurements for the length of the rails and newel posts is also crucial because of the OSHA codes and the cost of these materials. Knowing and following these OSHA codes is critical for your own protection as well as others. Here is where investing in a manual for building handrails will help out tremendously and possibly save some serious money due to miss cuts and mistakes while in the process of building.

Once you determine what parts you need for your particular hand railing then you can decide on how stylish or simple it will be. Some of these choices will include the style you prefer and a few different sizes, as well as wood species, which these handrails come in. The variety of styles will include each particular part. An example would be choosing between a square or a turned newel post and square or turned balusters.

The next challenge is having all the right tools for the project. Having the right tools is a huge factor for quality. Poor tools can some times produce poor quality. Poor tools can fuel aggravation. So be sure to buy, borrow or rent the best tools you can. Knowing how to use these tools safely and effectively is also a must. Practice a while with these tools on some scrap wood to familiarize yourself with them.

Another challenge is figuring out the proper steps to take as you go. If this would be the first hand railing you are building research is critical. This trim wood that makes up a hand railing is expensive and one easily made wrong cut could be disastrous. Then off to the store you go to buy this particular handrail part again. Again, an inexpensive manual on building a handrail is invaluable for saving time and instruction on where and how to start and these expenses can be easily avoided.

The last challenge that is equally important is your attitude and mood. I have built hundreds of these hand railings and I know for a fact that your mood, attitude and general mind frame directly affects the quality and performance of your work. You need to be at the top of your game for optimal performance to achieve a professional and quality built hand railing. For a good understanding of getting the right mind set for a project like this I wrote a short article which can help out tremendously before you begin your project. This article is titled "Getting the Mind Set for Finish Carpentry."

These are just a few of the challenges you will be up against while doing your project. There will undoubtedly be others as there are so many different scenario's and different situations of where handrails are built. Every single hand railing I have ever built posed its own unique little challenge. Building a hand railing is like building your own personal master piece. Finishing the project successfully will bring you quite an intense feeling of satisfaction and gratification. Even after building hundreds of these I still enjoy those great feelings.

Types and Styles in Balustrades

Stairs have very significant role in our lives. The concept of stairs is very old, and the first stairs were manufactured by wooden logs. With the passage of time, people introduced new ideas to make the stairs safe and attractive. The concept of balustrades was introduced for this purpose. Balustrades are one of the important features of a house and are very significant because of providing safety as well as improving the beauty and look of a building or a house. They are made up of different materials including metals, stones, woods, glass or polyurethane etc. Plastic is never used for making balustrades.

These are required for stairs, terraces, floor openings or pools. Apart from these places, some external balustrades are also fitted in the areas of car parking, shopping centre, school, colleges and universities etc.

On the basis of their structure or construction material, balustrades can be categorized as steel balustrades, wooden balustrades, concrete balustrades, glass balustrades, stone balustrades, urethane and polyurethane balustrades, wrought iron types, aluminum balustrades, lace balustrades and wrought aluminum balustrades.

Iron is an abundant metal found on earth. It is used for many purposes owing to its low cost and high strength. Iron balustrades are also very common and liked all over the world, because they are less suspected of being damaged.

These are important for providing safety, so their construction should be carried out very carefully. They must be resistant to ultraviolet rays of the sun as well as moisture or humidity. This is the reason why balustrades made up of wood need special care and maintenance. All of those who are in a process of constructing homes must be aware of the general rules and regulations that must be followed in order to make the home a beautiful as well as a safe place. The height of the balustrades varies but there is a standard that must be followed by all the manufacturers of balustrades. For internal balustrades, the height must be 0.9m, and for external types, the height should be minimum 1.1m.

More variety can be seen in stone balustrades. These are found in straight, rounded or vase like shapes. The wooden balustrades are also designed beautifully. Wide variety of colours is also available, which makes it easier for the clients to choose from, according to their own choice or the one which suits the building.

The designers are trying to present new designs in order to satisfy the aesthetic sense of the clients. In some buildings, spiral stairs are constructed that have beautiful spiral types. Some of these are made in such a way that they become narrow with more upwards movement.

Plenty of information related to balustrades is available online on different websites. By availing the services of internet, people can access different online shops that offer a variety of designs and innovative ideas for stylish balustrades. It can help them in taking right decisions for the selection of balustrades. People can give suggestions to manufacturers as well.

Pros and Cons of the Elegant Glass Balustrade

Whether people want to fence in the pool or the balcony, a glass balustrade will be a great and beautiful option to do so. This decorative structure is basically a surrounding barrier that is made entirely out of glass or a glass in a frame made of some other material. Using this kind of balustrade can be a very attractive way to decorate any home or vacation house. These things can give any house the feeling of an upscale, elegant, and beautiful resort. It exudes an aura of luxury. However, this type of balustrade is not for all people.

It is very important for people to consider their lifestyle to determine if this kind of balustrade is perfect for them. If proper consideration is not done, a wrong choice might be made and construction investments that cost a lot would be wasted. Depending on the area that the glass balustrade covers, anybody could potentially end up spending huge amounts of money. Although very attractive, these glass constructs have their own negative points too and prospective buyers should be aware of them.

Because of the material, these things can be very hard to clean. If time does not permit the owner to clean a lot of glass, then he or she might reconsider buying them. There would be better choices out there. Maintenance would be very difficult after all. For one thing, dirt on glass is easily spotted. The material can also get chipped or damaged when they are not cared for properly.

Why Use Oak For Your Staircase?

If you are thinking of updating your wooden stairs by replacing the banisters, it's worth spending some time considering which timber to use. After all, stairs are a prominent architectural feature which can make a big difference to the overall look and feel of your hallway.

Oak staircases, in particular, are becoming increasingly popular with home owners looking for a premium, durable product that will not easily go out of fashion.

Oak sources

Strongly associated with quality and luxury, oak is grown mainly in Europe and North America. The trees are carefully nurtured in large forests and can take up to 120 years to mature, with only the biggest and best specimens considered suitable for the construction of high-end products such as furniture, flooring, doors and staircases. The amount of time and effort spent on cultivation ensures that oak will always remain a premium option.

White oak versus red oak

There are two main groups of oak wood: red and white. Both types are extremely hard and durable, but white oak is generally considered the most desirable because it matures more slowly. This produces a straighter, denser grain, making the timber almost water-tight and highly resistant to rot. For this reason white oak is a sought-after material for use in boat-building and outdoor structures.

Red oak, being faster growing and more abundant, is a little cheaper to produce and has a more open grain which is prone to swirls and wavy lines. It should only be used for indoor items such as furniture and cabinets.

Many home owners choose white oak rather than red not only for its good looks, but also because it has fewer variations in colour and grain pattern. This makes it easier to match new staircase parts with existing white oak fittings such as doors, floors and skirting boards to complement the rest of the decor.

American white oak is particularly popular, with a lighter colouring and lower production costs than the European equivalent. Shades range from pale yellow-brown to a light tan colour. The straight, knot-free grain is ideal for creating attractive and hard-wearing stair parts such as handrails, newels, base rails and balusters. It also accepts wood treatments very readily, so can be easily stained, varnished, waxed or painted.

Tips on fitting oak stair parts

Firstly, white oak is acidic, so is liable to corrode any metals that contain iron. To avoid the resulting bluish discolouration you should only use non-ferrous fixings such as stainless or zinc-coated (galvanised) screws and brackets when assembling your stair balustrade.

Secondly, as oak is a natural material it is likely to shrink and expand according to the temperature and moisture content of the surrounding air. For this reason you should always leave new oak stair parts to acclimatize in the room where they are going to be fitted (or somewhere close by with similar humidity) for at least 48 hours before installation.

Finally, if you are planning to varnish, wax or stain the banister rail, try out a small amount of the treatment beforehand on a stair component that will not be visible afterwards – the base of a spindle, for example – to make sure you still like the colour after it has dried.

Christmas Decorating Tips

It's Christmas again, and you're looking at the stacks of decorations you put away last January. It can seem like quite a challenge, especially if you do not think you're very good when it comes to decorating. But Christmas decor is something that will definitely get you in the Christmas spirit. With the tips below, you'll be feeling Christmas cheer in no time.

First, take a good look around your house or apartment. There are a lot of places where a spot of Christmas decor will work wonders. There are the obvious places, like your fireplace mantal, and putting lights along your rooftop, but do not forget about your stairs, your bathroom and yes, even the kitchen!

When you're thinking about decorating your stairs, the first thought that probably comes to mind is winding a garland or a length of greenery around the bannister. To add a bit of flare, find a battery operated string of Christmas lights, and twine that in around your garland or greens. Another nice touch is to place small pots of poinsettias along the edge of alternating steps. (If you have animals, however, be wary about poinsettias, as they have poisonous parts.)

Putting a Christmas wreath on your front door is an easy festive touch, but do not forget that wreaths look good inside your home, too. Mistletoe is lovely in doorways, and makes for great laughs when you're holding your annual Christmas party. You can tie bows anywhere – the backs of chairs, on doorknobs, the corners of your tablecloth – and indoor Christmas lights do not belong just on your tree or around your windows.

You probably put up your Christmas tree in your living room or family room. This season, keep your eye out while shopping for small Christmas trees, and consider putting these smaller trees in other rooms in your house. For example, if your front foyer is large enough, a small decorated tree there makes a perfect Christmas greeting for visitors. A small potted live Christmas tree in your downstairs bathroom will really brighten things up.

One wonderful thing about using smaller trees in other rooms in the house is that it allows you to play around with different color schemes suitable for different rooms – colors that you might not want to use on your main Christmas tree. Have you always pined for a tree decorated with blue and white ornaments only, but know that your kids would be very upset with that kind of "adult" look to the tree? Indulge yourself by buying a smaller tree for the den or the front room, and decorate it exactly the way you've always wanted!

It's fun to decorate a house for Christmas. Keep this in mind and do not try to make things too perfect. Enjoy the ritual of putting up your decorations, and when you're done, turn off the living room lights, turn on the Christmas tree lights, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate or floral tea, and sink into your couch with your loved ones .

How to Switch To a Salt Water Pool

With so much talk and publicity about salt water pool systems, more and more people are making the perhaps rash decision to switch their chlorine pools to saltwater sanitization systems. Although many people make this decision quickly and may not have done the research on the salt water technology, there are some consumers who took the time to find out the benefits and downfalls of this type of system and these people had the advantage of step back and think twice about their decision. A saltwater pool system is most definitely not for everyone and even with all its popularity, is not the best pool treatment method on the market today.

With or without this type of knowledge, many people are switching over to salt water systems as all it takes is a simple installation of the salt water generator or chlorine generator to change your system over to saltwater. This is an incredibly expensive switch and one that many people think is only the initial cost but there are many pitfalls along the way which can cost you more and more money. You have the option to install your salt water system yourself, or you can hire a professional if you don’t feel you are handy enough to complete the installation yourself. Either way, the cost is near the same, as the unit itself is the expensive part, not the installation which only adds maybe $100-$200 more to the bill.

The switch and installation is simple when you already have the pool plumbing setup it will only take a few minutes to setup your salt water pool generator and this will created the combination of salt and chlorine to keep your pool clean 100% of the time. There are several different types of salt water pool generators on the market, some are self cleaning and others require the manual maintenance to make sure the calcium build up is at a minimum. Many people find that the self cleaning units have more scaling and calcium build up than those who have to complete the manual maintenance and although these units cost more for convenience they can continue costing you in the long run with problems and plaster scaling.

Switching your pool to a salt water system is something that cannot be taken lightly. Pool maintenance in general is very important for pool owners of all types to be aware of and saltwater maintenance is no different. You may hear there is little to no work involved but it only takes a day or two of calcium build up to disable your entire sanitization system before you know it and this can be far more expensive than any chlorine system. Choosing to switch to saltwater is something many pool owners do simply because everyone else is doing it and this does not necessarily make it the right decision.

Take the time to consider your decision and you may see that switching to a salt water system may not be worth your investment or your time.

Frontotemporal Dementia

There are many different causes of dementia, the most common one being Alzheimer's disease. Another dementia is called frontotemporal dementia.

This particular type of dementia was at first given the name "picks disease" by the psychiatrist Alois Alzheimer. Alois named the condition after a German physician called Arnold Pick, who helped him study this work about the different forms of dementia. Today this term is still sometimes used, but mostly it is now given the name frontotemporal dementia.

This dementia affects both men and women alike. The dementia is mainly found in people in their fifties and sixties, but it has been known for people in their forties to be diagnosed with this terrible dementia. There is also a risk factor of you developing frontotemporal disease if there is already a family history of it.

The signs and symptoms of this disease are mainly found in changes in behavior and character, which include apathy, lack of awareness, increasingly inappropriate actions, decline in personal hygiene, lack of judgment, compulsive behavior and euphoria.

In some cases people will experience signs of being obstinate, selfish, irritable, inconsiderate, difficulty in walking, rigidity, tremors or muscle weakness.

The way to diagnose this type of dementia is to have a catscan (computed tomograhy) or MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging) done. The scans are carried out to see if there is any degeneration of the corpus striatum, thalamus and any other subcortical structures that may occur. The doctor will be able to tell if the nerve cells are damaged in the front part of the brain, causing a reduction in activity.

Although the symptoms of frontotemporal dementia are similar to those of Alzheimer's disease, the medication which is given to Alzheimer's sufferers, such as exelon, aricept and reminyl could actually make symptoms worse with increased aggression for a person who has been diagnosed with having frontoptemporal dementia.

As of yet there is no known cure for frontotemporal dementia. Your doctor will check all of the medication which you are currently prescribed, this is to make sure that none of the medication is having an effect on the frontotemporal dementia.

Your doctor will discuss with you the different types of medication for frontotemporal dementia. Hopefully the medication will improve daily functioning and a better quality of life. Your doctor might decide to put you on anti-depressants as these have been known to improve some of the symptoms the patient is going through.

If you find yourself either thinking have you got frontotemporal dementia or somebody you know and love is suffering with with it, seek medical advice immediately. You will need to learn and understand how frontotemporal dementia is going to affect you and the rest of your family. You will need to understand how best to take care of the patient and their needs.

Could a Corner Aquarium Be Your Answer to a Space Shortage?

Corner fish tanks can be the ideal shape when you have a bare corner in your living area and no other piece of furniture will function well in that particular space. Nowadays you can even have complementary aquarium stands and hoods with all the lighting and filtration systems built in that will streamline the whole appearance of the aquarium setup.

For a lot of keen aquarists, and more so those who are living in a small flat perhaps, if living space is a scarcity the corner fish tank makes the perfect space saver. The keeping of pet fish has always been a popular hobby for a huge number of folk around the globe and nowadays with corner tanks being obtainable gives the opportunity to many more folk to keep pet fish.

The traditional rectangle shaped tank which we are all used to, and which is generally placed along a wall, but could well deprive the dweller of space needed for a more essential piece of furnishing. Not just in a house, but also in office situations and eating places where a lack of space is a problem, corner aquariums can be the answer to the proprietors requirements. They will still do the job of relaxing and entertaining the occupants without taking up valuable space that could reduce their profits.

There is no need to sacrifice style with these types of aquariums as there is a good array to choose from. There are tanks with a bowed frontage, some with a straight frontage and further versions again with straight frontage but having two shorter panes of glass on each end, creating a pentagon shape. A corner fish tank aquarium can even be custom made to fit any space and to suit most situations. You could even fill up an otherwise useless space with an attractive aquarium that will give you lots of gratification and atmosphere.

Twined tanks can be put in adjacent corners of a room to give a great effect and brighten up otherwise dingy corners. This also gives the fish keeper the opportunity to vary the types of aquariums he wants. For instance you might go for a fresh water aquarium in one area and a saltwater aquarium in the other.

When a corner aquarium is set up and more so with a matching hood and cabinet it can really be a sight to behold. They will equally provide lots of enjoyment and relaxed atmosphere to clients in eating places, office settings or to any pet fish devotee.

Why Your Business Architecture and Facade Maters

They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and there is a lot to be said for that indeed, however when it comes to your company's exterior those Golden Arches, Architecture, or Exterior Design bring in customers. You see, consumers feel comfortable with familiarity, consistency, and knowing what to expect. The logos, branding, building design matter, they matter very much.

Consider if you will what you see when you walk into a Grocery Store, Book Store, Large Retailer, or franchise operation – you see about what you suspect. Anything new, different, sales racks catch your eye and may entice you to buy, but you are there in the first place because you trust the company, their food, services, or products right? The other day I went to Weinerschnitzel and got to thinking how unique the building is, the signage, as well as the logo, colors, and ambiance.

From the parking lot looking forward or driving by, it's a one of a kind – brilliant branding – as good or better than those old golden archers of Mickey D's in fact. I bet Ray Kroc would agree, that although McDonalds far and away surpasses Weinerschnitzel in sales and locations, they did it right. This is definitely something to consider in your company. Even in a mobile service business you should be thinking here, with vehicles which are unique, different, and unmistakable. The Truly Nolan bug mobiles for instance, or a UPS van.

Your architecture is just as important, and it needs to tie into your logo, and perhaps your industry too. Do not take this reality lightly. I highly recommend that you do some thinking here, read some articles about business architecture, colors, logos, branding, interior business design, decorating, and inexpensive facades which make a statement. Consider some of the great companies and corporations which have it all-together and how you might incorporate such strategies into your company.

Why not grab some photo-shop software, take a digital picture of your building and start playing around with it, see if you can get the right look with the right feel. It will definitely be worthy of your time, and if you take those renderings or concept drawings and digital renditions to a local architect they too might have ideas and innovations.

Perhaps, even solutions to get you to exactly where you need to be to make a statement, take a stand, and harness the power of branding in business architecture. Indeed, it is my hope that you'll get started right now to make this happen and cement in your business' success!

Tools and Items Needed For Soldering Using a Toaster Oven

Before you start to solder using a toaster oven, you will need several tools and items. This article describes what is needed for the process, including a modification to the oven, various tools, and a description of how to make a low cost vacuum pickup tool.

The first item is the toaster oven. You can use any kind of toaster oven, but generally I would not recommend the very small ones. The medium sized ones seem to work best. Whichever one you get, it must have a glass door on the front so that you can see what is happening inside the oven without opening the door.

You will also need a digital thermometer and a thermocouple. You can buy these from your local electronics store.

The thermocouple looks like a long wire with a connector on the end. The connector end plugs into the digital thermometer outside the oven, and the other end goes around the edge of the oven door and into the oven cavity.

It is also important to have a stopwatch, so that you can monitor the time as the temperature changes inside the oven.

You will need to make the following modification to your toaster oven so that your boards do not get toasted by direct infra red radiation from the heating elements.

The objective is for the heater elements to simply heat the air inside the oven, so a direct line of infra red heat straight from the elements to the circuit board must be avoided.

The way to achieve this is to get some thin sheet aluminium and make a cut-out shape that just covers up the elements. You can use a disposable baking tray from the supermarket to make this aluminium shield.

The aluminium sheet can be attached by weaving it through one oven the oven rack slides. This will hold it in place.

Make one of these aluminium shields for both the top and bottom heating elements inside your oven.

The next item is a solder paste gun. This is the easiest way to apply little dots of solder paste to the surface mount pads for the chip components.

I use AIM solder cream, but any kind of lead based solder paste is suitable for this process. You can purchase a solder gun and solder paste from your local specialist soldering equipment supplier. I purchased these items from Okay electronic solutions here in Australia.

Now we will discuss how to make a vacuum pickup tool from a small fish tank air pump, which you can get for about ten dollars from your local aquarium shop or pet shop. I will describe the way that I made the modifications.

I removed the case of the air pump so that I could access the air inlet hole of the pump. Then I simply fitted a small plastic nozzle that I got from a syringe dispenser. Attached to that is a short length of 3mm vinyl air hose, which I got from the aquarium shop. Then another nozzle made from metal, which came from another syringe dispenser.

You can get these nozzles from your local specialist soldering equipment supplier. The nozzles generally come with some syringe dispensing kits but you may also be able to purchase them separately.

To use this low cost but effective vacuum pickup tool, simply turn on the pump and bring the nozzle down onto the top of the chip component. The component will be sucked and held onto the end of the nozzle. Then bring the chip component over to the circuit board pads which have been dotted with solderpaste. Place the component down. The solderpaste is sticky enough to grab the component and hold it in place. No vacuum release is necessary.

That covers all the items that you will need to solder using a toaster oven, including a modification to the oven, various tools, and a description of how to make a low cost vacuum pickup tool.

How to Properly Care For Your Soldering Iron Tip

Your soldering iron can be an indispensable tool for a number of different projects, ranging from home improvement and electronics repair to metalwork and even arts and crafts! But since this tool is a very delicate, highly specialized instrument, it's important to take good care of it – and that's especially true of the tip, the iron's most fragile (and essential) part. In order to properly care for the tip of your iron, keep the following pointers in mind:

  • Do not file, grind or otherwise attempt to reshape the tip because it can permanently damage it. Instead, buy a different size or shape that is better suited to your needs. Most manufacturers offer a wide range of soldering iron tip sizes for precisely this purpose.
  • Always use fresh solder on a the tip to clean it before you start to use it. This process is called tinning, and works because the fresh solder will help dissipate any residual oxide covering.
  • When soldering at particularly high temperatures (anything above 665 degrees Fahrenheit), or when you pause your soldering work for longer than an hour, always clean and tin the tip in order to avoid oxidizing the solder.
  • Clean your tip with a synthetic wet sponge only; do not use cloths, rags or other fabrics. The sponge should be wet with distilled water, since the minerals present in tap water can contaminate your tip.
  • Do not rub the tip of your soldering iron on the metals you're attempting to join.
  • Do not add solder directly to the tip itself when connecting wires. Rather, heat the connecting wires so when the solder is applied it melts into place.
  • Use the lowest temperature possible for the project in question. This will help prolong the life of your soldering iron tip.
  • When finished with your iron, do not remove the excess solder from the tip prior to turning it off. This solder will actually help prevent oxidation and protect the delicate tip.
  • Finally, always allow the tip of your soldering iron to cool completely before putting it away in a specially designated storage case or holder.

How Long Will Your Water Heater Last? Your Anode Rods Will Tell Us


An anode rod is a rod made of “sacrificial” metal. Like batteries, the anode produces an electrochemical reaction in the tank. The anode slowly wears away instead of the lining of the tank. As long as the anode is present and functional, almost all corrosion or rusting on the tank’s lining is prevented.


To all consumers who are shopping for a new water heater, an important aspect of the new appliance is the accessibility to its anode rod. On top of the water heater is a part called a hex head. It is either visible or not. If it is not visible, the hex head is either located underneath the sheet metal top or is connected underneath the hot water outlet. You shouldn’t have to settle for a hard to find anode rod. I recommend not purchasing this water heater. Look for a water heater with an easily found hex head.

In the case of commercial water heaters, the outer sheet metal top of the water heater must always be removed for access to the anode rod. The hex head is rarely found exposed, whether it is an electric or gas heaters. As you remove the top to the heater, mark the top of the heater itself so that assembling it together later will be easier. At this point the hex head for the anode rod can be found easily on any commercial electric heater. On gas heaters, the hex head will probably be easy to find if it has a single flue vent. If it has more than one flue vent, it may will be more difficult to locate.


An anode is made out of aluminum, zinc, or magnesium. It is formed around a wire running down the center of the rod. Hard water areas of the country often have water heaters with aluminum rods installed because aluminum is the best material for hard water conditions. If your anode rod has deteriorated down to the wire or is gone completely, this is usually a sign of hard water. Be careful of aluminum anode rods, however. Science believes that there is a link between aluminum in the diet and Alzheimer’s disease. Do not drink or cook with hot water from a tank which uses an anode rod made out of aluminum. To determine if you have an aluminum anode rod, remove it, then bend it. If it bends easily in your hands, it is probably made out of aluminum.

Combination Anode

Usually anodes are installed with 3/4 in. hex heads screwed in the top of the tank. However, a combination anode is attached to the hot water outlet pipe nipple, also screwed in at the top. All water heaters have a minimum of one anode rod. Some water heaters have longer warranties because they have two anode rods. If there are two anode rods, that is because one is attached to a hex head at the top and the other is a combination anode attached to the hot water outlet. Some residential heaters have two hex headed anode rods and no combination anodes though.

To find out if you have a combination anode rod, disconnect the hot water outlet at the top of the heater using a pipe wrench. Don’t forget to shut off the water first! Next poke a stiff wire down the hole where the hot water nipple was. If it stops about 3 to 6 inches directly down, then you have located the combination anode. If the wire meets nothing inside, the anode is somewhere else. The combination anode can be removed with a pipe wrench.

If you do not have a combination anode and you want to install one, then remove the hot water pipe nipple and replace it with a combination anode rod. The nipple on the anode rode will need to be longer than the thickness of the insulation on top of the heater, which is usually 2 to 6 inches.


Magnesium is used more often than the other metals for anodes. When the water in your area is not particularly hard, use of magnesium rods is probably best. Be careful with magnesium rods, however, when replacing them in an already corroded tank. The electrochemical reaction from the new magnesium anode can cause hydrogen gas to build up in the tank. This can lead to water leaks.


New water heaters rarely have a zinc rod already installed. Zinc rods are actually aluminum rods with a 1/10 portion of the rod being actual zinc. Zinc’s only purpose in an anode rod is to reduce the smell of sulfur in the water.

Consumption of Anodes

Softening hard water with salt is actually more damaging to anodes than the calcium carbonate–the cause of hard water. Salt can consume an anode up to three times faster than usual. Phosphates can have the same adverse affect on an anode. The anode should be inspected every two years or sooner if you use these water softening agents.

The anode is the reason the heater stays functional for years or even decades. Anodes corrode predictably. Most times it corrodes at the top or bottom and exposes the steel wire underneath.

Core Wire

The water heater will only be protected if the anode rod has enough metal hanging on it. The steel core wire keeps the sacrificial metal on the anode. Be sure to inspect the anode for an exposed core wire every two years at least.

When analyzing an anode rod for exposed core wire, the wire can be covered in calcium carbonate that brushes off easily. This calcium carbonate is not corroded metal from the anode rod, so do not worry about removing it.

Anode Evaluation

If the anode rod has more sacrificial metal than exposed steel rod, then it is still in good shape. However, if the entire surface becomes covered in calcium carbonate and this calcium carbonate becomes hard, this will prevent the anode from protecting the tank any longer. This is known as passivation. If the anode has passivated, it will not look so by sight alone. To test for passivation, you must bend the anode rod by hand. At the bend, observe for small amounts of flaking. The anode should be replaced if more areas of the rod are exposed wire than sacrificial metal. It should also be replaced if the top or bottom of the rod has deteriorated, exposing six or more inches of exposed wire. An anode should also be replaced if the anode is less than half of the rod’s 3/4 in. diameter size. If the anode has passivated, split through its length, or has become heavily pitted, it could also be time for replacement. When all the sacrificial metal has worn away, then the steel rod will begin to wear away. After the steel rod wears away, the only thing left will be the hex head or the hot water outlet nipple if it is a combination anode. At this point, the tank will begin to corrode. If the anode is found in the above stated conditions, damage to the tank may have already occurred.

Hidden Hex Head On Newer Models

Hex heads are threaded watertight plugs about 3/4 inches in diameter. They are attached to anode rods at the top of water heaters. Some are easily seen from the top of the water heater. Other times it will be under fiberglass or under a piece of plastic. To locate the hex head, drill a shallow 1/4 inch hole through the plastic top of the water heater. Do not drill deep into the tank itself. Use a long flat-head screwdriver to probe underneath the top of the water heater to find the hex head. On gas heaters, the hex head will be the same distance from the flue as the hot and cold lines are. On electrics, the anode will be off center so as not to drop on the heating elements. A few holes may need to be dug in order to locate the hex head. Once the hex head is found, it should be permanently exposed. Use a hole saw capable of cutting plastic or metal to carve a hole big enough to allow future access to the hex head. Use two people at this point to unscrew the hex head–one to steady the tank, the other to use a breaker bar and a socket that fits the head. Anywhere from 3/4 inch to 1-1/16 inch.

In the future, when buying a new water heater, purchase only those with already exposed hex heads.

Hidden Hex Head On Older Models

To find the hex head on older water heaters, simply unscrew the screws holding the top in place, mark the placement of the top and the water heater with a marker, then remove the top to find the hex head. Alas, many heaters found in today’s buildings have foamed-in tops and can’t be removed. Again, if the hex head is not exposed at the time of purchase, don’t purchase that particular tank. Look for a tank with an already exposed hex head.

Anode Inspection

Anodes should be inspected at least every two years where softened water is used but at least every four years under normal water conditions. On occasion, the location of the anode is actually written on the water heater instructions.

Anode Installation

To remove the old rod, pull it as far out as possible, bend it, then pull it the rest of the way out. To install the new one, bend the rod directly in the middle, insert it half way, straighten it against the opening, and install it the rest of the way. Screw in the anode rod at this time. If you are unable to screw it into place because it is too bent, pull it partially out and use the opening to straighten it further. If there is not sufficient ceiling room to install the new anode rod, consider a link-anode. These anodes have many small links hooked together and look similar to links of sausages. You can also try zinc anodes because they bend far easier than magnesium ones. Another way to install an anode is to drain the water heater and tip it over enough to allow easy access for the anode.


Anodes are typically 3 feet 8 inches. Anodes should be only a few inches shorter than the tank itself. Buy anodes that are a little too long instead of a little too short. This way you can cut the anode shorter if it is too tall.

Impressed-Current Rod

In relation to commercial water heaters, there are impressed current rods. These rods do not self-generate currents like sacrificial anodes. They derive power from an electrical power source. Many commercial heaters give the location of the impressed-current rod. They do not need to be replaced throughout their lifetime. They may need periodic cleaning. Simply wipe them off with a towel. If rust appears inside a water heater with an impressed-current rod, you should either call the manufacturer, call a plumber, or install sacrificial anodes.

5 Tips for a Successful Business Grand Opening

The obvious purpose of a grand opening is to introduce your new business or product to the buying public. Other benefits of a successful Grand Opening are to generate immediate sales and stir up in your staff the energy and excitement that will provide long standing motivation.

A successful grand opening requires planning, promotion and publicity. After all you only really have a chance to do it once. Do it right and it will pay dividends in the long term.

Here are a few tips to help you get started.

1. Chose the Right Date and Time

This probably seems obvious, but it is critical that you get this right. Choose a date and time that is not only most convenient to your customers but is also a good time to get media attention. Typically, the best time for a ceremony is during the week, a day between Tuesday and Friday starting at a time between 10:00 am and 12:00 pm. Then, depending on your business, run the Grand Opening Event all week long.

Do not worry about running your Grand Opening on the actual day you open the doors. It's more important that you give yourself the time necessary to get the word out and get everything you need in place.

2. Send Specific Invitations

Do not just sit back and hope people will come, send out invitations to specific people (influencers) in your community.

Such community influencers include:

  • Invite the officials and staff from your local Chambers of Commerce.
  • Invite your local government leaders such as the mayor, county commissions, council and etc.
  • Invite the people that had something to do with your new building including the building contractor, electrician, designers, realtor, and your banker.
  • Invite the staff and director of your local business association.
  • The newspaper, radio and television media.
  • Do not forget to invite other community business owners too. You can usually get mailing labels from the Chamber of Commerce.

Snail mail your written invitations, about three weeks ahead of the grand opening day but no later than two weeks before the date. Make sure that you followup on those invitations by personally calling them within 3 days of the grand opening.

You should also take advantage of online methods of getting the word out. Send invitations to your email list, post on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Ask your friends, family and colleagues to share your message with their friends too. POWER TIP: Use these as an opportunity to build an email list of interested customers by providing a special offer to people that opt ‚Äč‚Äčinto your email list.

3. Planning your Grand Opening

Be sure to consider the following in your planning:

  • When and where will the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony take place?
  • Who will be the primary speaker or spokesperson? (Write out talking points but do not read from a script)
  • Refreshments
  • Determine and get your door prizes and prizes for the drawing? (Use these to get people on your email list)

Ideas for the Opening Day:

  • Be sure to serve refreshments that people crave such as coffee, doughnuts, soda, juice and cookies, unless of course you have a health food store.
  • Decorate your store facade with window graphics, vinyl banners and balloons. Be bold and have fun with it.
  • Display your prize and drawing registration in a window or on a decorated table. Have registration for prizes displayed in the window, or on a special table. Once again use this as an opportunity to build an email and snail mailing list.
  • Personally walk-in and invite all staff from your business neighbors. This is a great way to get to know your neighbors.

4. Get Some Major Attention

Make sure that everyone in your community will hear about your new business and its grand opening. Once again, be bold. The more attention you can get the more successful your grand opening will be.

Consider Outdoor Promotional Rentals:

  • Giant cold air balloons – These giant attention getters can be placed on your building's roof or in the parking lot.
  • Searchlights – If your store is open after dark, definitely consider a searchlight rental. New searchlight technology includes lights that use regular 110ac outlets and can be seen for miles.
  • Flags – Multiple flags waving in the wind will draw traffic. These can be custom printed with your message or you can use standard messaging.
  • And more.


  • Run a campaign that uses a number of small inexpensive ads to be teasers for the week ahead of the grand opening. Use larger ads for announcements the couple days before the grand opening ..
  • Handout flyers in front of your store since people in the area are logical choices for new customers.
  • Run radio ads in the three to four days prior to the grand opening event.


Effective publicity will more than double your advertising's effectiveness. Go ahead stop into your local newspaper to personally deliver your news release and introduce yourself. Include in your news release a way that people can find your business. For example "Look for the 30 foot Godzilla on the corner of Main and 2nd."

5. Have Fun

The fact is people like to have fun. So show your confidence in the value your business offers by being bold and having fun with your Grand Opening and it will be a success.

Florida Sinkholes – Insurance Coverage

With the recent media attention sinkholes have received over the past few months here in Florida and because of my experience with Florida Home Insurance, I thought I'd take a few moments to chat with you about how you might be affected.

First, let me ease any fear you, as a homeowner here in Florida, might have. Most consumers do not know that there are two types of sinkhole coverage. If you have a Homeowners Insurance policy (HO3), you are covered for a catastrophic sinkhole, such as the one seen on TV, in which the house was condemned. Every HO3 policy written by Florida Insurance Companies must have this coverage. The keyword is condemned. In order for this coverage to kick in, the home must be classified as such. The technical insurance term for this coverage is 'Catastrophic Ground Cover Collapse.'

The second type of sinkhole coverage Florida Home Insurance Companies may have discussed with you is 'Optional Sinkhole Coverage.' This is where the confusion often starts because of how the coverage is worded. This coverage is not required and can usually be purchased at an extra cost. This coverage pays for structural damage caused by damage in which the home is not condemned, such as cracking in the homes foundation. When you hear on the news that Florida Insurance Companies are no longer providing sinkhole coverage, this is the optional coverage they are talking about.

Over the past couple of years, Florida Homeowners may have received a notice from their Florida Insurance Company explaining that sinkhole coverage was being removed from their homeowners insurance policy. This has prompted many consumers to contact their agent with plenty of questions.

You may have been told that there are some Florida Insurance companies who will still offer a Florida Homeowner the Optional Sinkhole Coverage. While this is true, I want to make it clear that there are some requirements that may need to be met if you want this extra coverage. First, the insurance companies offering this coverage will most likely want you to obtain a Sinkhole Screening Property Inspection from SDII Global Corporation. The inspection is conducted by a trained SDII Inspector who gathers data and photos inside the dwelling, outside the dwelling, around the property, and in the surrounding neighborhood.

The inspection is not the problem. The fact that you, as the homeowner wanting the extra coverage, will have to pay approximately $ 140 from your pocket to have the inspection performed may be the problem. Secondly, it has been my experience color : as a Florida Insurance Company About enterprise | That most homes will not qualify for the extra coverage after the inspection is completed. The inspection company sends the inspection report to the insurance carrier for review. After review, many companies decline to add the coverage at the homeowners request. Once the underwriter for the insurance company reviews the report and notices any signs of cracking in the driveway or on the exterior wall, or nail pops in any of the rooms of the home, the underwriter will decline to offer this coverage. You may have wasted your time and money in the long run. These are all tips to consider when thinking about signing up for Optional Sinkhole Coverage.