Jewelry Reviews – What Are the Grades of Silver?

Have you ever wondered if the silver jewelry you are paying for is too much? What constitutes a valuable piece of expensive silver jewelry? There are actually different grades of silver which, in large part, is used to determine its worth. Although there are variants, the main grades of silver are pure, sterling, and parts.

Pure silver is 99.5% silver or above; or 995-1000 parts out of 1000 of silver. It is typically only the component of fine silver jewelry. Although more valuable, it is not a very pragmatic choice as it is very soft in its pure form. This means that it is more prone to being bent, scratched, and misshapen.

Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver and 7.5% alloy; 925 parts are silver and 75 are of another metal out of a total 1,000 parts. The alloy component adds the benefit of strengthening the silver making it more practical. Although the most common alloy in Sterling Silver is copper, others are also used. Other variants are often used to capitalize on the strengths of other metal properties, such as less likelihood of tarnishing, reduction of casting porosity, elimination of firescale, etc.

Sterling Silver is often the sought after choice for women who suffer a silver sensitivity. Silver sensitivity is a term used to describe an allergic reaction, most commonly contact dermatitis that results from skin contact to an element that someone has developed an allergy to. It results in itchy, red, scaly, and sometimes blistery skin surrounding the area in which the substance came into contact with. Most commonly that substance is nickel. What consumers should be aware of, is that if you suffer a nickel allergy, although less common in non-sterling silver pieces, it is still a possibility if the silver was alloyed with nickel. The key to being a savvy shopper is to simply ask and determine the composition of the alloy used in the jewelry.

The third main grade of silver is parts. This refers to any composition of silver 800 parts (or 80% silver) and below. Pure and Sterling Silver can be diluted when soldered. Thus, the more intricate soldering that was done making your jewelry can play a role in determining the final silver composition of the piece. A point worth considering when purchasing jewelry.

Silver jewelry is beautiful no matter what the composition. Savvy shoppers should simply be aware of the compositions which inherently make it more expensive, the jewelry making steps that can dilute the quality of the silver, causes of silver sensitivity, and how to care for your jewelry. Well cared for silver pieces are not only beautiful, but can last a lifetime if well-crafted.

The Importance of Ratchet Wrenches

We are all familiar of the tools that are found in our homes. There are a lot of tools that we use and need for fixing something that is broken. These tools are very handy when it comes to tightening or loosening something like nuts or bolts. One of those very important tools is the ratchet wrenches. They are specially designed tools that help technicians for loosening and tightening nuts or bolts that a common wrench or pliers cannot reach or work on.

The advantage of having these is that, it has several important parts which include an extender arm, adopters, removable joints, and of course, removable socket of different sizes that fit into nuts or bolts of corresponding sizes. Aside from that, this kind of wrench makes it easy to tighten or loosen any nut through reverse movements without removing the wrench from the nut because it consists of the ratcheting mechanism.

Another feature that this ratchet wrenches have is it has a square fitting that could be attached with the ratchet that fits on the required nut or bolt needed. To make sure that it would hold tight on the socket, it has a mechanism spring-loaded ball. But the most important features of these are the universal and the adopters. These two play a very important role. Universal joints have the feature of two joints that are capable of bending almost 90 degrees so that the wrench could actually reach any corner and move into any direction. Adopters are very important since it’s the one used to fit sockets and the one who link one drive size to another drive size.

Aside from ratchet wrenches, there are also a lot of different other wrenches used for different purposes. Here are the common, most used and important wrenches; ratchet open-ed geared wrench, impact ratchet wrench, inline ratchet wrench, air ratchet wrench, flex ratchet and several others. These are all important wrenches which are used to tighten and loosen nuts and bolts of different sizes having different mechanisms to do the job.

The good thing about ratchet wrenches is that it usually is used in some tight corner or narrow space where other common wrenches cannot reach because it is impossible to move a wrench to tighten and loosen nuts or bolts. That’s why you need these kinds of wrenches for this purpose. There are no other wrenches that could do this for you.

What Happens To Your Speech When You’re Done Talking?

Creating a speech is hard work. You take the time to understand who you will be talking to, what they want you to talk about, and how long you’ll have to talk. You then craft a fantastic opening line, outline a speech that will allow you to make whatever point you want to make, and then you start to practice it. You practice, practice, practice. Finally, the big day comes and you give your speech. Hopefully it went well because we all know about the importance of public speaking. Now just what the heck are you going to do with this speech that you’ve spent so much time creating?

File It

You do realize that you know more about this speech right now than you will ever know about it in the future, right? What this means is that if you don’t take steps to record how you delivered this speech, then this information is going to be lost forever.

If you are like me, then you probably didn’t write your speech out. Instead, you may have written out the important parts (the opening and the closing), and then you pretty much worked off of an outline for the rest of what you wanted to say. That outline that served you so well now is going to be your downfall going forward – you won’t be able to remember how you filled in the gaps later on.

Now is the time for you to sit down and, gasp!, write out your speech. The reason that you’re doing this is not so that you can read it to someone in the future, but rather so that you can remember what you said. By writing out each word in your speech you can now file it away and if you ever want to give it again in the future you can just get it out, read what you’ve written, and then you’ll be able to remember exactly what you wanted to say.

Deliver It Again

Once again, you are currently the best person in the world to give this speech. What this means is that now is the time for you to deliver it as many times as you possibly can. Just think about it – you really won’t have to practice!

In order to do this correctly, you are going to have to take a long hard look at what the topic of your speech was. The next audience that you’ll be giving it to will be different from your first audience. What this means is that you are going to have to be willing to make changes to your speech. Your goal needs to be to find an audience that is as similar to your original audience as possible in order to minimize the number of changes that you have to make.

Once again depending on the content of your speech, you may be able to change it so that it can work with a completely different audience. For example you might want to try to see if it would be an appropriate speech to give to at a storytelling event. Even business speeches can be transformed and turned into interesting stores with a moral that can keep a storytelling audience transfixed.

Make Yourself An Expert

You spent the time learning everything that you needed to know. What this means is that for a brief, glorious moment in time, you are probably the one person on this plant who knows the most about what you are talking about. Since you’ve gone to all of the effort to achieve this lofty goal, perhaps you should make the most of it?

A lot of us speakers get tapped on the shoulder every once in a while when someone that knows us needs someone to step in and give a speech. Since we generally know these people, more often than not we end up saying yes to them. It’s only after we say yes that we realize just how much effort creating a speech for their event is going to take – or how little time there is to get ready!

Now that you’ve mastered the speech that you just gave, perhaps it’s time for it to become your “back pocket speech”. This is the speech that you know so well that you can just whip it out and deliver it any time that someone needs you to give a speech? Do a bit of documentation and find some opportunities to practice it some more and you’ll be good to go.

Go Online

Welcome to the 21st Century! The day and age that we find ourselves living in presents us with new opportunities that were not available to us even just a few years ago. Once of these opportunities is, of course, the Internet. If you use this resource correctly, your speech can live forever.

What this means is that you’re going to have to do a bit of preplanning. You’ll need to make arrangements to have your speech taped when you give it. After that is done, some post processing will probably be required in order to get it ready for the world to see.

Having gotten all of this taken care of, you can now look for places to share it one the web. The obvious choice will be YouTube. However, once you’ve gotten that taken care of, you might want to do some more looking around. Based on the topic of your speech I’m sure that there are many other sites that would be interested in having new video to show their visitors.

What All Of This Means For You

Nobody ever told you that creating a speech was going to be something that was easy to do. However, this is something that we all know how to go about doing and so we do it. Once we’ve done all of the required work and we’ve delivered our speech, what can we do with the speech now to maximize the benefits of public speaking?

It turns out that the answer to that question is quite a lot. The first thing that we need to do is to take steps to record just exactly what we said for future reference. Next, we can deliver it in other settings and we can take the time to become an expert and create our very own back pocket speech. Finally, we can harness the power of the Internet and post a video of us giving our speech.

If you were to think of your next speech as being a sort of a living thing, then you can consider the actual delivery of the speech as being the birthing process. Once a speech is born, now you have to find different ways to raise it. The possibilities that we’ve discussed here are just the tip of the iceberg. You created the speech, now set it free!

Relocating (Transplanting) Cycads

The process of cycad relocation has taken place since early botanists and cycad enthusiasts first realized that cycad pups and parent plants could be successfully removed from habitat and reestablished in a different location. This process continues today for a variety of reasons, which involve both commercial and conservation purposes.

As a general rule when I relocate cultivated cycads from the field, I start by removing 10-50% of the older (lower) leaves. This will take some of the burden off of the plant when the root system is compromised by the transplanting process. Then I tag a remaining leaf that indicates its directional orientation, e.g. leaf pointing east. After that I dig a circular channel as viewed from overhead around the caudex (trunk or bulb) to the diameter equal to approximately 3-4 times the diameter of the caudex. For example, a caudex with a 10 inch diameter would begin with a channel hole being dug at about 30-40 inches in diameter, with the 10 inch caudex in the center. I continue to dig down to approximately 3-4 times the diameter of the caudex, gradually undercutting the root ball.

As this process continues, and the root ball becomes more defined, I try to selectively trowel off or hose off additional soil around the root ball, while trying to preserve as much root mass as possible. The goal is to eliminate as much of the weight of unneeded soil in the root ball as is feasible. Cutting some of the root system is necessary. As the root ball is carefully reduced in size, you must determine your capability to extricate the root ball relatively intact with your available manpower or mechanical assistance. This crucial step will be left to the ingenuity of the perpetrators. I have seen many techniques work successfully. After the cycad has been removed, I examine the root ball and cut cleanly any ragged roots, which are visible on the outside of the root ball, and treat them with fungicide and/or rooting hormone. A dolly, rolling cart, or other mechanical device can be used to transport the plant to its new location or for potting or boxing up. If transplanting in the ground, I try to select a location that has a slope or a mound type of terrain feature. Cycads prefer good drainage, so a well-draining sandy loam or decomposed granite in combination with a mounded or sloped location will accommodate those needs.

When the location has been determined, I dig my hole to about 1½ times the diameter of the root ball. Then I carefully lower the plant and root ball into the center of the hole, taking care to orient the plant according to the tag that was attached to one of the leaves prior to moving. Reorienting the plant to its original direction can eliminate one of the minor elements of stress that the plant endures during the relocation process.

When the plant is centered and properly oriented, then I begin to backfill the indigenous soil around the root ball, carefully tamping it as the hole is being filled. It is important to maintain the same soil level on the caudex as it had at its original location. In order to concentrate food and water around the newly developing root system, I recommend creating an earthen basin surrounding the caudex that will extend slightly beyond its root perimeter. Then I water the plant thoroughly to wet out all of the soil of the root ball and its new surrounding soil.

After all the soil has been drenched, I like to finish by filling the entire basin with a 5 gallon bucket of water with liquid rooting hormone added in and letting it soak in. Then I recommend letting the rooting hormone do its job for about 2 to 3 weeks before watering again. It would not hurt to follow up with the liquid hormone on 2 or3 of the successive watering periods.

Although this process can be done successfully almost any time of the year, I feel that the optimal time is in the early to late spring. This gives the plant the best time of the growing season to regenerate roots and eventually produce a new flush of leaves. Don’t be surprised if your plant produces a cone or leaves that are smaller and/or fewer in number than usual. This is a normal response to a plant that has gone through the shock or relocating or transplanting. Within a season or two, as the root system reestablishes, the plant will eventually produce leaves and cone(s) that are normal for its caudex size. If your transplanting has taken place in early to late spring, I recommend that you hold off feeding for 2 to 3 months to allow the root system to start to recover. Then water and feed as you would normally.

Grow and prosper,

Keith

Mattel Loopz Game – What You Must Know Before Buying One

For people who would like to have a great time but totally dislike board games, Mattel’s Loopz game could be the ideal gift. This toy brings together memory, movements as well as music in a single game. Even though suggested age is 5 and over, it’s reasonable to state that it’s targeted at slightly older children.

The game looks somewhat like 2 sets of handcuffs glued with each other. Most people have enjoyed the classic game “Simon Says” and they will understand the idea driving the game. The semi-circular rings illuminate separately once the music is played after which you need to reproduce the actual sequence. You have 3 chances to get the sequence right or else you lose. The longer you play the quicker it moves and level of difficulty also goes higher. You cannot cheat because the movement sensors make certain that you are finishing each movement accurately. Wondering how to win the game? The toy has a counter that calculates your pace, degree & ranks your general performance. A few of the games honor the winners with a silver, gold or platinum medal.

Loopz may be played by anybody. There is a mode called freestyle that is especially appropriate for younger kids as it is slightly simpler to enjoy. You may use it to produce your personal audio sounds if you prefer not to play a specific game.

To select your game you wave both hands through the top loops till you get the game you would like to play. Verify the choice simply by waving through the lower loops. After this you specify the number of players. The only game permits as many as 4 participants and that’s the Reflex Master. The mode that allows up to 2 players is the Versus Mode while the other games are for one player. However the reduced cost of every product you can get one for each kid.

Is Loopz a great gift? Indeed, since it gets individuals moving and utilizing their minds. It will assist in improving memory and reflexes so it’s far better for the loved ones than sitting around watching a movie or playing a video game.

Can it be costly? The price of the basic model is $29.99 but you’ll find it at a lower price online. Ensure that the batteries are included even and also get a second set of 4AA batteries as a backup. Parents will like the fact that you can lower the volume and even download the rules and instructions from the website just in case you lose the ones in the box.

If you get Loopz and discover it isn’t reacting to your hand gestures go into a space with less light. Sometimes direct sunlight or fluorescent lights may mess with the sensors. When the music seems odd it is a signal to change batteries. It is easy to figure out why this brilliant game has been a bestseller since its release.

LED Combine Lights: Solid Reasons To Use LED Lighting On Farm Machinery

So you’re looking for information on LED combine lights? Great. You’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we identify the benefits of using LED lighting on farm machinery, with a special focus on LED combine lights.

Combine harvesters take care of three operations in one machine. They do three things: they reap (harvesting the crop), they thresh (separating the grain) and they winnow (removing the chaff). These powerful work horses will set the farmer back 6 figures for a usable second hand model, all the way up half a million dollars and beyond for newer units. So it’s important to get the best value possible from these capital investments, which is where LEDs come in.

So let’s look at how LED lighting is a financially savvy choice for the modern farm business.

SAFETY

Although it’s not often thought about by city dwellers, the work schedule on many farms continues well into the night. Expensive agricultural equipment needs to be used well after sunset, and that is where powerful lighting is a valuable adjunct.

Operator of tractors, combines and other big machines need to be able to see well ahead of where they are, for safety reasons (and for productivity purposes). The driver needs to be able to see rocks, tree stumps and any other hazard that may be ahead, in time to avoid costly and time-consuming impacts.

INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY

On the farm, the work day doesn’t always end when the sun goes down. Planting and harvesting have to be done when the weather is right. Farm work is not by the clock and it’s not done just when the sun is shining. Mobile flood lighting means the work can go on all through the night, when that’s needed.

It’s also critical to amortize the huge cost of these farm mega-machines over the largest possible number of working hours. High performance agricultural lighting means the farm owner can achieve that.

FARM EQUIPMENT IS WIDER THESE DAYS – AND FASTER

As agribusiness becomes more sophisticated, farm machinery is getting wider and wider. Harvesters, planters, tillers, chemical applicators, etc are not the narrow width they used to be.

Machine operators need to be able to see beyond the outer edge of their wider equipment, especially considering they are also moving along faster than they did in years gone by. With advances in farm machinery, there is a clear need for improved forward visibility after dark.

BENEFITS OF LED LIGHTING TECHNOLOGY

Lighting technology has been revolutionized since the invention of the incandescent lamp. More recently we’ve seen halogen, then HID, and now LED which stands for light emitting diode. It’s a highly energy-efficient technology which means you don’t overload the electrical circuit when you add LED lighting to an older machine.

And LEDs also turn on instantly, with no warm-up period.

LED lamps use 80% of the current they draw to generate light. Contrast that with halogen and incandescent lights which use 90% or more of their current to generate heat (not light). It’s a massive efficiency boost in favor of LED.

Additionally LEDs work better in cold temperatures.

GREATER LIGHT OUTPUT

As the replacement for a conventional sealed beam light, an LED tractor light or LED combine light will deliver twice the output of light, compared to the older sealed beam lights that were factory-installed on many machines. With a lifespan of more than 50,000 hours and no warm-up, your LED combine lights will deliver a massive amount of instant light on your work area from the moment you switch them on.

NATURAL LIGHT IS EASIER ON THE EYES

Compared to other forms of artificial light, LED is more like sunlight. More natural. That means farmers and farm workers will experience less eye strain and can therefore work longer hours, which can translate into greater farm productivity.

LOWER POWER CONSUMPTION

The lower power consumption of LED lighting means there is less wear and tear on batteries and alternators.

THEY LAST LONGER

The figures are surprising the first time you read them but LED lights can be expected to last more than 50,000 hours. That’s 50x longer than halogen lights. This is because have no bulbs, no filaments and no ballasts. With heavy duty assemblies they will give years of trouble free service. After that, replacing them is as simple as plugging in the new unit.

EASY TO RETROFIT

LED lighting units can be designed to easily retrofit to all major brands including Chalmers, Case, David Broom, Ford, Gleaner, International, John Deere, and Massey Ferguson. It’s the way they are designed, of course. And that is true whether we’re talking about tractors, swathers and windrowers, skid steers, combines, cotton pickers, industrials, forage harvesters, garden tractors, sprayers, skid loaders, or other farm machinery.

Communication Barriers: Simplifying the Communication Process

The communication process can be much more difficult than a person thinks. Unfortunately, many times a presenter does not realize that their message is being lost until it is too late and they have gone through an entire meeting/lecture talking away about something that their colleagues/audience thinks is absolutely meaningless. Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself before attempting to relay a message to a large audience.

Communication barriers may be categorized as follows: Assumptions about yourself — Do I really have something to offer? Is it safe for me to offer suggestions? Do I really want to share the information? Will others really understand? How will the communication affect my self-esteem? Attitudes about the message itself — Is the information valuable? Do I see the information correctly or understand it well enough to describe it to others? Is it organized? Am I comfortable with what I am saying? Can I maintain eye contact? Sensing the receiver’s reaction — Do I become aware of whether or not the receiver is actually understanding? Or, in other words, can I “sense” from certain cues or reactions by the receiver, whether or not we are communicating? Am I aware of the receiver’s needs? interests?

Communication can easily be simplified. All you have to do is know the major causes of communication failures and detect them as they occur. Typically, people involved in communication breakdowns are either (a) utterly unaware that the communication has failed and that misunderstanding has resulted; or (b) painfully aware of a communication blockage — or complete breakdown — and frustrated by not knowing the reasons why. In either case, people are powerless to handle or remedy the problem. Remember, the expert communicator not only learns to detect communication barriers but also to anticipate them and use an appropriate remedy to overcome them.

Wooden Dowels – An Invisible Piece of History

What is a wood dowel you ask? It might look like a simple wooden peg, and to be quite honest – it is. But, like many other tools that appear to be altogether insignificant on the surface, dowel rods have undeniably changed history.

Today, they are used to hold everything from boats to bookshelves together, but they also lay claim to a much deeper historical significance. The wooden dowel has been used for centuries to hold our things together, and for better or for worse – it’s the things we’re surrounded with that have carried us as a people throughout history. Read on to learn more about the wooden dowel and how an altogether invisible and seemingly innocuous tool is more significance than we think.

A Piece of Wood, a Piece of History

The word dowel comes from the Middle English equivalent of doule, meaning “part of a wheel” which also seems to have its origin in the Middle Low German for dovel, for “plug.” Despite being an arguably mundane tool, wood dowels have been used in a variety of ways throughout history – earning them a place in the metaphorical “hall of fame” when it comes to tools and technologies that have continued to remain useful throughout the centuries.

690 AD: A traveler visits a famous shrine in at Ise in Japan and recounts the tradition of building shrines every 20 years according to specific ancient beliefs calling for use of dowel pegs and interlocking joints instead of nails.

1000: Leif Ericson rowed and sailed across the North Atlantic, from Norway to Newfoundland in a Viking ship that was sturdily constructed with overlapping planks held together with wooden dowels and iron nails.

1394: Master mason Henry Yevele rebuilds Westminster Hall, including a 660 Ton hammerbeam roof. This roof was unsupported from below, and was held aloft solely through the industrious use of wooden dowels.

1509: Reports reach the west about ships from Southeast Asia that are constructed of tropical wood and wood dowels with the capability of sailing as far as the eastern tip of Africa – enabling the trade of the “Ming Dynasty” vases and glassware we hear about today.

1641: When a Dutch fleet was sunk in the Sargasso Sea, the survivors created lifeboats using wooden dowels, and recounted how their capsized ships failed when the wooden nails and spikes holding them together disintegrated. After this, the Dutch King built a ship that was made entirely out of wood, fully incorporating hardwood dowels.

1954: A ship was discovered in Egypt held together entirely by dowel rods – indicating the use of dowels throughout history.

As you can see, dowels have been used throughout history to hold our world together. Take a look around. How do you take advantage of this piece of history every day?

Glamour Interior Design Style

Glamour style in interior design is very tempting to implement in a home: it’s luxurious, rich and beautiful. An entire interior design plan can be made around this style or only small glamour pieces can be added to an existing interior to set the tone and make an interior seem more expensive. Whichever you choose, these are the basics of glamour interior style.

Glamour interior design is the opposite of minimalism. It is richness and abundance of accessories. It draws from many sources and eras, such as art deco, baroque, gothic style, eclectic style, and many more. It can be traditional or modern.

The simple question of how to paint walls is not so simple anymore when you have decided on glamour style. Consider wallpaper with ornamental or shiny pattern on at least one wall in the room. Damask patterns work great on the walls.

The furniture needs to have rather complex lines and curves. The sofas or armchairs can be modern and simple but then more accessorizing is needed, therefore more traditional furniture will look better. The dressers, tables, bookcases and other furniture should have lacquered, mirror-like surfaces. The shape can be geometrical or abstract, depending on the direction you would like to go with your interior. Materials used can be glass or dark wood (glamour interiors are generally dark).

Glamour decor uses a lot of metallic elements: gold, silver, copper. Transparent home decor accessories can also work, such as transparent desk lamps, for example. Abstract art pieces made of metallic silver or gold will compose well with the surroundings. Even wall art can have some metallics in it. It’s all about excess.

Textiles are another important element in glamour interior style. The interior needs to be stuffed with pillow covers. They can be metallic, but also furry, leathery, patterned, silky. Rugs can be fluffy or rather normal with damask or animal patterns.

Lighting is essential to the glamorous space we are designing. First and foremost, ceiling lamps are supposed to be chandeliers or modern variations on chandeliers. You also should incorporate sconces and desk lamps into the interior. After all, a lot of light is needed to reflect in lacquered furniture, metallic pieces of art and mirrors. Second of all, place candles in every room. The long ones are very elegant when put in a beautiful metallic candlestick.

In addition to ordinary furniture, such as sofas, armchairs and tables, it is excellent to have ottomans, benches, chaise lounges or poufs. They also have to be ornamental and curvy. Ideally they would be quilted, and upholstered with faux fur, velvet or plush.

Needless to say, personal things need to be put aside in drawers and other places. Glamour interior does like to have excess decorations but nothing more; otherwise it will become cluttered. Such interiors are not supposed to be cozy.

Good luck with planning the design and decorating!

Which Tile to Choose – Marble Or Travertine

Natural stone is lifetime beauty. As it has become more affordable, many people consider using natural stone tiles for their properties.

There are plenty of types of natural stone including travertine, marble, limestone and slate which make the selection difficult for consumers. In this article, we will evaluate marble and travertine which are the most popular ones of all natural stone tiles.

Travertine is a sedimentary rock from limestone. It is often pushed out to the surface by rivers, natural springs or from geysers. Limestone, travertine and marble tiles are all from the same family. When limestone is pressurised, travertine is formed. Marble is formed when travertine is pressurised. Therefore, one could suggest that travertine and marble have nearly the same characteristics except marble is harder and more expensive (after processing).

So you would like to buy natural stone flooring but are not sure which one to go for. If you cannot decide between marble and travertine, please see a detailed comparison below for these two materials:

1) Travertine has become very cheap and more common whereas marble is still more expensive.

2) Marble is harder and more durable. It can be used in commercial properties. Travertine is not recommended for commercial use.

3) Travertine is full of holes therefore it is more susceptible to external factors (dirt, liquids etc). Installation and sealing must be done properly.

4) Marble is harder and more fragile at the same time. This means that processing marble blocks are more expensive and there is higher chance of production losses. Also in order to prevent breakages, epoxy treatment is used at the back of the tile. All these factors result in higher consumer price.

5) As travertine is softer, processing the stone is easier and this results in different types of travertine tiles (honed, filled, polished, tumbled, pillowed, chiselled edges etc). Most of the time marble tiles come in honed or polished finish. (Tumbled finish is only limited to smaller sizes)

6) Marble is easier to maintain in the long run and recommended if you have pets or children.

Overall, marble seems to have more advantages however, the price tag is much more expensive than travertine. Travertine tiles also have much more colour and finish choices just because they have fewer headaches in processing. Therefore the choice is between budget and application. As a conclusion, if you cannot afford marble tiles, go for travertine without hesitation. When travertine tiles are installed and maintained properly, we guarantee they will last lifetime and they will also transform the dullest place into a beauty.

Exciting New Middle Grounds Ledge or a New Wreck?

In June of 1998 Captain Bob joined friends on their boat for a trip to the Florida Middle Grounds. As many of you know this is an area approximately 100 miles from the west coast of Florida. It is, arguably, one of the most prolific marine habitats near Florida. The 37′ Trojan was provisioned and loaded for a 3 day dive trip. We had a crew of five: John, the boat’s Captain; Sally, his wife; Ben, Trudy and myself.

We shoved off at about 1800 and our bearing was 240° from John’s Pass. The big orange ball disappearing in front of us was stunning. Out about 5 miles we set the autopilot, established our watch shifts and settled in to life on board.

We arrived at our first dive site at 0900. We anchored and broke out the breakfast. We were all eager to get wet and quickly established dive teams the dive order. I was in the last team. I had forgotten how spectacular the Middle Grounds are. The size of the fish, the number of fish and the height of the ledge was overwhelming. I new this dive was for acclimation. I would knock ’em dead the next dive.

On ascending from my second dive I had a decompression obligation of 2 minutes. During the stop I thought about modifying my techniques to ensure more fish on the next dive. When I got to the dive platform I noticed my friends moving around the salon and aft deck. As soon as I surfaced Sally began yelling at me: “Get on the boat, we’re sinking.” Now why would I want to board a sinking boat? I heeded her orders and stripped dive gear. I moved to help bail. I didn’t believe this was happening. There was water up to the stern deck plates and still rising.

We removed all the deck plates for access to try to determine the source of the leak all to no avail. By this time another private boat had arrived and was standing by to assist. John had contacted a charter fishing boat who, in turn, radioed the Coast Guard. Remember VHF transmission and reception is line of sight. The Coast Guard was en-route. Meanwhile, the charter boat moved in closer to pass over a hand pump. Ben, Trudy and I pumped and bailed (5 gallon buckets) barely staying even with the flow. Sally and John readied an abandon ship bag and pumped up the life raft on the fore deck. A crew member from the charter boat even swam over to help find the leak. Thank God for calm seas! After what seemed like an eternity, I heard the thumping sound of a helicopter. I now have a deep appreciation for that sound.

The Coast Guard radioed instructions on their procedures for dropping gas powered pumps. They emphasized that the prop wash would blow over anything not stowed or tied down. John, Ben and the charter crew member were on the aft deck, Sally was in the life raft holding it down and Trudy was in the salon. I moved forward to stay out of the way of the pumps. As the helicopter moved closer, I heard Sally screaming for help. I got forward and found that she was pinned to the bow rail by the life raft. The first pump was set-up and the second pump was on its way. I took about 15 minutes for both pumps to drain the water.

We found the source of the leak. The generator had been removed prior to the trip and overboard port plug had dislodged. To compound this, the forward bilge pump was jammed with a piece of wire tie and the aft pump had shorted out. Mechanically, water seeped into the transmission and block. With hole plugged and the water pumped out and no propulsion, we arranged for a tow from a commercial fisherman. It would be three hours until he arrived.

We can’t go anywhere; we’re still anchored to a great ledge. Let’s do another dive!!!

You can find this site in the most GPS coordinates. I’m sure there are still fish there.

Weight Loss For Women – Resistance Training Will Rev Up Fat Burning

If you really want to lose weight, burn fat and develop a lean healthy body, then in addition to proper nutrition, you really need to include resistance training as part of your weight loss program. Not only is exercise an important part of any fat burning program, the RIGHT type of exercise is also critical.

For you cardio junkies out there I’ve got some bad news. The treadmill, stair stepper, elliptical machine or that morning jog are NOT the most effective way to exercise if you want to burn fat and lose weight. I’m not saying cardio is bad, it does help and should be part of your exercise routine. But you’re really missing the boat if you exclude resistance training.

What is resistance training?

Well, it’s pretty much what is says. You do exercises using various forms of resistance. That resistance could come in the form of dumbbells, barbells, weight machines, kettle balls, resistance bands, or even water bottles or soup cans. You can even do resistance training using only your own body weight by doing pull ups, squats, lunges, push ups and so forth. You don’t need to join a gym or buy expensive weight training equipment.

What are the benefits of resistance training?

When you do these types of exercises, it increases the amount of lean muscle mass in your body. And increased lean muscle accelerates your metabolism, which in turn accelerates the rate at which your body burns fat. These muscles essentially become fat burning machines! And the great thing is this fat burning continues long after your workout is over!

When you do cardio exercises, your metabolism isn’t increased nearly as much as it is with resistance training, and with cardio your fat burning slows down shortly after you’re done working out.

In addition to the fat burning and weight loss aspect, resistance training will give your body a much leaner and fitter appearance. You will look toned and because muscle is more compact than fat, you will appear smaller, even compared to someone who is the same height and weight who has a higher body fat.

Many women have avoided strength or resistance training because they don’t want to look like a body builder. Not to fear, because anyone who has done strength training and does appear bulky and muscle bound, got that way because they’ve done very intense muscle building exercises or in some cases may have taken performance enhancing drugs. Normal resistance training will make you appear more toned and fit, but it will not make you bulky.

So, how do you go about doing this resistance training?

There are many different schools of thought when it comes to strength/resistance training. I’m going to share with you some general tips that will get you started in the right direction.

First of all, don’t do too much too fast. Ease into it and get your body used to that type of exercise. Especially if you haven’t done it before.

I recommend you do the resistance training part of your overall exercise program 3 days a week. Your muscles need time to recover and you should never work the same muscle group two days in a row.

You should start light in the beginning but once you get going don’t lift too light. You want to challenge your body so gradually work up to a weight that gives you a good workout but isn’t too strenuous. And don’t lift too heavy. That could cause an injury.

When doing the exercise, use steady gradual movements. Don’t do your reps too fast. That is only using the momentum of the weight instead of working your muscles. That’s cheating and will only defeat your efforts.

Vary your routine every few weeks. It keeps you more mentally stimulated and your muscles will also stay stimulated. If you keep the same routine with the same number of repetitions week after week, your muscles will adjust to it and your progress will slow way down. You need to keep those muscles on their toes! You’ll see continued improvement that way.

Of course, if you really want to see that fat and weight melt away, it’s important to combine your fat burning exercise program with some cardio worked in there for variety and a proper nutritional program is essential.

Losing weight and getting fit is not easy. But if you do it the proper way, you will begin to see immediate results, which of course will help motivate you to continue with your program.

Ataxia – Any Puppy or Dog Can Have or Get It

The word ataxia comes from the Greek. It means lack of order. It can show up in a puppy or dog, from the age of 3-4 weeks old to its senior years. It is a neurological disorder; producing a steady degeneration of a animal’s motor skills and mobility. In essence, it affects their coordination and balance.

Three Types of Ataxia

The three forms of ataxia are interconnected. They include:

Cerebellar Ataxia is the degeneration of the cerebellum’s cortex. It can and usually does affect other motor skills, most often starting with the head and neck then progresses to the limbs. The puppy or dog may position themselves at a wide stance to keep their balance, goose step their front legs (high step), appears to be stepping over things that are not there, they will in all probability have head and body tremors, and torso sways.

Sensory Ataxia occurs when the spinal cord is slowly and progressively compressed. It affects the dog’s ability to sense precisely where their limbs are and how to coordinate them; causing them to be unable to stand and/or walk with a wobbly, uncoordinated gait.

Vestibular Ataxia begins with the central and/or peripheral nervous system. It occurs when messages from the inner ear to the brain are scrambled. Usually the dog has a misleading sense of movement and/or hearing impairment. To compensate they often tilt their head, lean on people or objects to steady themselves, tip over, fall or roll over. The earliest signs is often noticed when the animal changes in how they move their head and neck.

When it affects the animal’s trunk, they may appear to walk just great, in a straight line, but stumble, stagger or even fall on quick, unexpected turns.

Signs and Symptoms to Watch For

A telltale sign there is a problem, is often exaggerated movements and changes in behavior. Other things to note include: head tilts to one side, tripping, falling, unable to get up, unsteady, wobbling (appears drugged or drunk), legs buckle, confusion, lack of coordination, hearing loss, excessive drowsiness to stupor like behavior, seizures, involuntary eye movements, usually up and down, drooling, facial paralysis, exaggerated steps with front legs, depression, when walking, (high-stepping or goose steps), crossing of limbs while walking, vertigo, avoids stairs and dark corners, unable to focus on task, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting (due to motion sickness), and coma.

Most often, when the dog is at rest, or when they can focus visually on something on the horizon, the symptoms are not displayed or are not as pronounced.

Sources and Causes

The root sources of a puppy or dog’s ataxia are believed to be from: a genetic disorder (both parents carry the recessive gene), toxins, trauma, virus, seizures, ear infections, medications such as anti-seizure medications containing potassium bromide and phenobarbital. A growing number of veterinarians believe there may be a connection with dogs that have vestibular ataxia, to those that have received the antibiotics streptomycin, aminoglycoside and gentamicin.

Who Can Get Ataxia?

Puppies can be born with it, particularly should both parents be carriers of the recessive gene that causes it. Symptoms may be obvious in as early as 3-4 weeks of age. Others may develop it a bit later in life, and there are those who get it as late as their senior years, where it is referred to as Old Dog Vestibular Syndrome.

No breed is immune to ataxia. However, it most commonly it appears in: Airedale, American Pit Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Australian Kelpie, Border Collie, Brittany Spaniel, Chinese Crested, Coton de Tulear, English Pointer, Kerry Blue Terrier, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, hounds (all types), Jack Russell Terrier, Labrador Retriever, Miniature Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, Old English Sheepdog, Parson Terrier, Rough Coat Collie.

Diagnosis

Currently there is no cure for ataxia. There are measures you can take to maintain the quality of your pet’s life, for as long as possible. Depending on how severe your individual case is or how quickly the disease progresses. Interestingly, older dogs seem to respond quite well from their particular version of the disorder. They may not act like puppies again, but they can often regain some of their former self.

Following a physical examination, concentrating on your dog’s medical history, known history of their parentage, the dog’s age, time of onset, how quickly the disorder has progressed, and blood work, your veterinarian will refer you to a neurologist should they believe your dog may have ataxia. The neurologist will most likely do a CT scan, MRI and draw spinal fluid, before offering you their diagnosis and recommendations for further plans of action or that final difficult decision.

What You Can Do To Help Your Dog

If your dog is suffering from ataxia, try to keep them from slippery flooring such as tile and hardwood. Even something as small as a scatter rug or mat, will help them get a grip while trying to stand. In the winter, try to avoid icy areas.

Keeping their muscles toned up is imperative. Make lengths of walks and types of exercise reasonable. Stop often, to give your dog a chance to rest. Swimming is a wonderful way to exercise and tone up your pet, without stressing the limbs. Be sure you’re in the pool to support and encourage them.

If possible, avoid stairs or carry them up and down.

Leave a small light on at night or in darker areas of the house, to help them navigate their way around.

Crate them, if they are to be left unsupervised for any great length of time. It will reduce the odds of them getting injured.

Basically, just be there for them, to assist whenever they need you.

Bottom line: The rate of progression and its severity will be the determining factor on how you treat this disease. Talk to your veterinarian and neurologist. Ask the hard questions.

Whenever possible, find out if a DNA test has been performed for ataxia, on both parents of a prospective puppy. Remember, it is a recessive gene; if both parents have it; odds are eventually you will be faced with this problem.

Neuter or spay a carrier. Do not breed a dog that you know is the carrier of that gene. It will only perpetuate the disorder.

Make life as comfortable as possible, for as long as you can for your dog. It may take a bit more effort and sacrifice on your part, however your pet will appreciate it.

How To Protect and Extend the Life Of Your Screened In Sunroom Or Porch

We all love the outdoors and screened in porches are a very popular feature of cottages and summer homes. Unfortunately, unless these rooms are protected, they may suffer from wood rot or termites within 7 years of installation. Here are some simple and inexpensive ways to take preventative measures so you can enjoy your investment for many years to come.

Within five to seven years after installation, wood rot will occur if wood surfaces are subjected to water exposure. I am sure when you added that screen porch you had visions of it lasting much longer than 5-7 years! Unless you take proper steps to stop it, your wood floors and timbers will slowly begin to deteriorate.

Wood rot is accelerated even faster if mold and mildew are present on the surface of the wooden sections of your porch or screened room. Painting is never enough to prevent or slow the rotting process. Surfaces that are repeatedly exposed to the weather will, without a doubt, rot if you allow them to be exposed to the elements.

Not only do you have wood rot to worry about, but when moisture continually finds its way into the components of any wood surface, the area will eventually attract termites into your home. Termites thrive in the presence of both wood and moisture, and are often hard to detect until it is too late and your home has become structurally unsound.

One of the easiest ways to prevent this is to attach removable clear vinyl curtains to your screened in porch. During rainy days and winter months, you can fasten the curtains in place to keep the interior of your porch nice and dry. No snow will filter in in the winter time and the rains will stay outside.

Not only will this keep your wood nice and dry to prevent wood rot and termites, you will also prevent mold from growing in your screened room. Mold can be very unhealthy and long-term exposure can pose health risks for many people. It will also keep your furniture in the room fresher smelling. Nothing is worse than sitting in a smelly, mildewy sofa! Once this happens, you will find you no longer spend time in the room. What a shame, since it was an expensive and long awaited addition to the house or cottage.

Outdoor curtains and vinyl panels can keep your outdoor space looking like new for many years to come. You will be able to enjoy the space rain or shine and you will not have to worry about wood rot or mold and mildew.

Common Causes For Residential Building Failures

A/Overview

This document has been written to give clients of Property Protect an understanding of the most common types of building defects that can be found in buildings whilst doing an AS 4349.1 inspection. This list gives the reader a basic outline of the more common defects and the reader should be aware that there are literally thousands of forms of building defects. The items which we have listed are the more common ones only.

B/Abstract

The report lists some of the more common residential building failures including the causes based on the case studies carried out by the writer as a licensed Builder. The writer has also included some of the causes of the failures.

Purpose

The purpose of this report is to give the reader a summary of the types of residential building failures and the suggested remedies to these defects.

Method

This report is presented as a case study based on the experience and personal records of the author over the last 15 years as a licensed Builder.

Findings

A large proportion of structural building failures listed in this report have in my opinion been caused by the mismanagement of stormwater around houses leading to movement in the homes. The remainder of the failures are caused by poor building practices and or poor maintenance.

C/Introduction

The most common forms of Building failure noted during AS 4349.1 house inspections by the writer in Adelaide are as follows.

Slab Edge wetting

This is the horizontal ingress of moisture and salts in solution from the soil which enter into footing edges through the capillary action (Suction caused by the concrete) of the concrete. It is caused by a number of factors including, Concretors pushing down the Fortecon membrane with edge forms prior to pouring a floor slab, relatively poor cement concrete in the footing (Many engineers have called for 32 MPA concrete to resist the ingress of salts in lieu of 20 to 25 MPA currently used), Concrete over pours caused when concretors edge forms are not placed low enough to stop a horizontal over pour which can lead to water ponding on the top face of the over pour creating a pool of water. The final cause is the lack of a plastic membrane to be placed between the paving and the footing edge.

The damage that can be caused though this problem includes, mould and rotting to the underside of floor coverings internally and the fretting of the concrete through the salt attacking the cement matrix through a hydraulic action both internally and externally. (Salt crystals expand inside the concrete matrix thereby causing it to fret and crack).

Rising Damp in walls

This is a similar problem to Salt damp detailed below. The main difference is that Salt damp is generally a 90 to 100% break down of the Damp Course in the wall whilst rising dampness is a partial failure of the Damp Course and the partial failure generally means that the damage to the masonry wall is not as bad as Salt damp. There is a good chance that rising dampness may be found in most pre 1950 homes and the Rising dampness could be limited to erosion of the mortar joints by as little as 1 to 2 mm from its original face. The treatment is the same is Salt damp.

The client should be aware however that in most cases the rising dampness is not treated as the erosion of the masonry is very slow and it may have taken 50 years for the mortar to erode 4mm deep from the face of the brickwork. I would advise clients to monitor this if the damage is not major.

Salt Damp in Walls

This is caused through the vertical ingress of moisture and salts into a wall which can lead to the wall fretting and not being able to take structural loads. The damage caused to the masonry is from the salt crystals inside the masonry expanding leading to the bricks and or mortar fretting. In some cases the salt damp can render the masonry unstable.

It is caused by a number of factors including the full breakdown of the damp course (Pre 1910 homes had pitch or bitumen between the footing and bricks and this becomes brittle with age), paving and or render bridging the damp course also causes this.

Breacher piece failures in showers This is where the breacher piece fails through metal fatigue via thousands of heat cycles inside the wall (This is where the hot and cold water meet inside the wall in the shower). Water then flows into the walls. Generally a breacher piece will fail in a shower every 25 to 30 years or so and it is quite common. A tell tale sign of a breacher which has been replaced is two off different tiles to the walls of the shower.

During inspections carried out by Property Protect the company carries out a survey of the wet area walls in its premium report using an electronic moisture meter to identify this defect. High moisture levels to the walls next to the shower generally indicate that it is leaking.

Brick Growth

Cracks in walls Older homes can have brick growth cracks which usually occur at the end of a wall in a vertical plane. Clay bricks will actually expand as they are porous. If a house does not have control joints in the wall the bricks can exert a compression load on one another leading to cracking.

Terracotta roof tiles

Fired clay roof tiles will fret when exposed to moisture for long periods of time and this generally occurs at the laps of the tiles. The tiles can also fret in seaside environments due to salt attacking the tiles. It is not uncommon to see these roof tiles fretting to the laps on the underside of the roof tiles. As these tiles age they can also become very brittle and are easily cracked.

In most instances when the tiles are fretting they will need replacing within the short term. Concrete cancer in footings and precast concrete lintels. This occurs when the steel bars inside the concrete rust due to moisture/salt/Carbonation ingress into the concrete. As the bars rust they expand causing the concrete to crack. This can cause cracking in the surrounding concrete elements. The client should be aware that it is very expensive to repair this defect.

Tree damage

Although some tree roots can cause hydraulic damage from the roots physically moving the building element, most Building failures are caused by the tree withdrawing moisture from the soil. This then leads to the soil contracting which can cause Building elements to drop or move.

In a large number of inspections over the years the writer has observed walls and footings dropping or moving due to soil contraction when a tree is too close to the base of a wall. In most instances the writer would advise clients to keep large trees well away from the house. If this is not possible an impermeable root fabric can be used to stop the tree roots growing under a house.

Stormwater damage and Soil movement

This is caused when gutters, stormwater pipes and downpipes overflow/leak causing the soil around and under the footing to be saturated. Once the soil becomes saturated it then loses its ability to take load and the soil can collapse leading to the Building element dropping or moving. In some instances reactive soils can expand also leading to cracking. This then places uplifting loads on a house which can lead to significant cracking and movement as well.

In Adelaide reactive (fine soils such as clays) can be found at the base of the foothills where fine silts run off the hills. The fine reactive soils can generally be found in Rostrevor, Athelstone and Campbelltown.

Lack of Paving around the external perimeter. This can cause expansion and contraction in the soil around the footing leading to movement in the Building. ie Expansion in soil after heavy rains and contraction in the soil in the summer. In some instances the contraction of the soil under the footing (on the external portion) can lead to the footing rotating on the external side as it drops. The author has seen many instances of this occurring and this leads to the whole wall leaning out or in. (Bows out at the base and then leans in at the top). In these instances the wall generally needs to be pulled down and rebuilt.

In many of the Property Protect reports you may see a note detailing seal gaps at the footing paving junction. Many houses inspected by this company have gaps at this junction and this can allow moisture to enter both under the house and also under the paving. Where the water enters under both elements it can erode the soil away and or cause the soil to either expand or contract. In this instance the gap should be sealed off with a flexible sealant.

Older style wiring.

The author has seen electrical failures from the following during inspections over the years., -Canvas coated and vulcanised rubber power cables. In the first instance the canvas can be eaten by rodents or just physically ages leading to the cables being exposed which can result in fires. The same can happen with older rubber cables which can split.

-Power cables not in conduit in contact with steel frames. I.e. If the cables are damaged the frame becomes live. A number of houses over the years have been inspected by Property Protect and found to have new wiring in all areas of the house but not inside the existing hard plaster. During the premium house inspections this company uses a high powered torch to identify wall patches and chases to the walls. An existing house without wall chases above the light switches and power points would generally indicate that the original wiring has not been removed. In this instance Property Protect would advise the client to engage an electrician to carry out a survey of the house to confirm if the wiring is original to these areas. Hard plaster cannot be removed during a house inspection as the vendor would not generally approve this.

Leaking pipes in wet areas This is generally caused through corrosion of lead or galvanised steel waste pipes under or in floor slabs. As the pipes corrode this leads to a leak which can wash away sub fill in a floor leading to the floor and or footing dropping.

This is very expensive to repair as generally the pipes are cast into the floor slabs in the wet areas and they need to be jack hammered up. This is a common defect as a large number of houses in pre 1970 properties have galvanised steel pipes cast into the floor slabs. For these steel pipes it is not a matter of if but when the pipes need to be replaced . Having stated this steel pipes although not draining as well as they should do can function for many years until funds can be found to replace them.

If you have steel waste and or water supply pipes in a pre 1970 house and you are contemplating a wet area renovation with new tiles etc we would strongly advise you to remove the steel pipes prior to the renovation.ie If you renovate the wet areas without removing the steel pipes a failure of the pipes could result in you having to re renovate the wet area at great cost again!

Cracks/Movement in walls

Movement in any home is hard to control. In most instances cracks are caused by changes in soil moisture levels around the footing although trees can also cause significant movement. Horizontal cracks can occur in walls if a window lintel sags or if a footing/wall drops.

Diagonal cracks radiating away from window and or door heads are the most common form of cracks. Lateral movement cracks can occur with a shear load if a footing rotates (Drops) on one side. Due to Adelaide’s dry climate soil shrinkage related cracking in homes is causing many problems. This leads to footing settlement (Dropping of the footing) and cracks in all building elements.

Roof frame failures

The first type of failure is for an older style roof which does not have under purlins and or struts. In this instance the failure is generally from the frame not being able to take the dead loads from the weight of roof tiles. It is common to see the frame sag heavily and split and this instance repairs may need to be carried out. If a roof frame is sagging from the weight of the roof tiles and the timber frame is not splitting or showing any signs of stress our advice to you is to closely monitor the roof frame.

In the second instance the writer has seen heavy splitting to timber around defective gang nail trusses manufactured in the 1970’s. In some instances the trusses could not take roof loads and sagged.

White ant attack

Property Protect does not carry out a survey for white ants in our inspections and we would advise that you engage a pest controller to do this. White ant attack is a very common problem in Buildings with the ants literally eating any form of timber in a home. As the timber wall frame is load bearing in a brick veneer home this can led to structural failures. The ants will normally enter a home where voids are close to the ground. One example of an entry point is where the paving bridges the Damp Course allowing ants to enter a wall cavity through weep holes (i.e. the paving is poured above the Damp Course in the wall).

A second example is where garden beds are placed up against walls without any paving and in this instance we would advise on removing the garden bed and then installing paving all around the house.

Poor Workmanship

The following defects are caused by poor workmanship which does not comply with the Building Code. -Render in brick wall weep holes This stops condensation from draining out of a cavity. The writer has seen fretting render caused by blocked weep holes. -Bricks overhanging the footing. BCA allows a tolerance but in many instances concreters’ set out the slab incorrectly. As the wall is not supported the bricks can bow out.

-Render bridging wall Damp Courses In many instances plasterers do not strike a horizontal line through render which can result in ground moisture and salts rising up into the wall by passing the Damp Course. This can cause Salt damp in a wall.

-Concrete slabs poured up against brickwork. In some instances around porch slabs builders sometimes place the Damp Course one brick course above the footing and pour the porch slab up against the first course of clay bricks. In this situation clay bricks are not designed to be exposed to ground moisture and salts for extended periods of time and this leads to fretting of the bricks.

This is sometimes seen in older houses and it is hard to fix this if the fretting of the walls is heavy. Subject to a site visit sometimes the best option in this instance is to jackhammer up the floor slab and then repour the concrete below the Damp Course. At the end of the day this is an expensive problem to rectify. The writer has seen this in many garages in pre 1980 houses.

-Puddle flanges to wet areas not installed correctly. Puddle flanges are designed to drain any water caught between the waterproof membrane and the floor tiles. In some instances the flanges are laid proud of the floor and the trapped water cannot drain into the waste pipe. In a second floor building this ponding water can bypass the membrane leading to the timber floor swelling and door, wall and window frames jamming up from compression loads. If this has occurred it is very expensive to repair.

-Waterproof membranes to showers This is probably the largest of the observed failures mentioned in this article in my opinion. If a shower leaks this can cause heavy damage to the timber wall frame via wood rot and water damage. In masonry wall long term moisture leaks into the surrounding walls can lead to fretting of the masonry brick walls and render. In a metal wall frame heavy rusting can occur.

In a timber wall frame long term leaks into the shower walls can also cause swelling of the wall cladding and wall tiles debonding and cracking. In a masonry wall the high moisture levels can lead to the tiles cracking and or debonding off the walls.

The BCA (Building Code) requires silicone to the internal wall corners of a shower and many tilers still grout these areas which leads to cracking as the grout is rigid. The BCA also requires an angle to be installed at the wall floor junction in the shower and in many instances this is not installed.

Many waterproof membranes are not installed correctly or the wrong materials are used.ie Bitumen membranes to showers which leach into the grout, liquid membranes not reinforced with polypropylene gauze fabrics. Etc.

Asbestos

Most homes built before 1988 would have some cement asbestos based cladding in the house. Property Protect can carry out a survey to identify this based on our opinion only in our premium report. This can only be verified by analysing samples under a microscope in a laboratory so any survey is based on our opinion only and would need to be confirmed by the Lab. Our premium report does not analyse the samples in a Laboratory.

If this material is disturbed by grinding, drilling or cutting it can be fatal. Areas where it can be found in a house include.

-Backing sheet for the power board -Old floor coverings -Eaves cladding externally. -Wet area cladding Etc.

D/Discussion

In terms of the remedies to the failures identified above these are as follows.

Slab edge wetting

This can quite easily be solved by stopping the transfer of moisture horizontally into the slab by placing an impervious membrane between the paving and the footing or directly onto the full depth of the footing. Plastic, waterproof membranes (Liquid or sheet) are the best remedies.

Salt damp

This can be repaired by forming a new Damp Course by undersetting (removing bricks and inserting a new plastic membrane) or chemical injection (Silane siloxane injection) where the Damp Course has failed. Where the paving bridges the damp course the paving should be lowered. If render bridges the Damp Course the render can be removed.

Breacher piece failures

In this instance generally four off wall tiles, the affected render and the original fitting are removed. The reverse is then carried out with new materials.

Brick Growth cracks

This form of cracking can be stopped by forming control joints in the wall above the windows and doors to allow the bricks to expand from long term moisture absorption.

Terracotta roof tiles

Generally if these tiles are fretting at the laps they should be removed and then replaced with new concrete roof tiles or metal roof cladding.

Concrete Cancer

The only way that this can be repaired is by physically removing the affected concrete fully exposing 360 Degrees of the bar, placing saw cuts , grit blasting steel, prime steel with zinc cold galvanising, prime and then replace concrete with a polymer modified shrinkage compensated repair mortar. In order to stop contaminants (Chloride ions and carbon dioxide) entering the concrete, a coating (Acrylics) should be applied to stop water and contaminant ingress. This is applied after the repair is carried out.

Trees

Once minor damage to homes has been caused generally it is not viable from a financial perspective to carry out major repairs. In some instances this may happen but this is rare. If a wall has dropped from soil shrinkage the most common rectification is to under pin the footing. This involves excavating under the existing footing, propping, pouring a new footing and then grouting between the new and existing footings. Under pinning is very expensive.

If trees cannot be removed a trench approx 2m deep can be dug between the house and the tree and then lined with an impermeable root fabric to stop the tree roots growing under the house.

Stormwater damage

If the gutters and downpipes are leaking they should be repaired and or replaced. In most instances these elements do not drain out to the street. If this is the case the stormwater should be diverted out to the street via stormwater pipes.

Lack of Paving.

The essential elements to control cracking in older homes is to keep the soil around the footing in a stable moisture range. This can be achieved by installing paving .It is important however to water gardens consistently during summer for a fixed duration and intervals in areas adjacent to the paving. This keeps the soil moist adjacent to the paving (Best to use an electronic watering system).

Older style wiring In order to stop the chance of an electrical fire, older wiring should be removed and replaced with new PVC wiring together with the installation of earth leakage circuit breakers.

Leaking pipes

In order to check if existing pipes are corroding a plumber can pressure test the pipes or use a CCTV system. Generally any older steel or lead pipes should be removed and replaced with PVC however this can be expensive as concrete floors need to be jack hammered to access the pipes.

Cracks in walls

Generally the best way to control movement is to articulate a house. This allows it to move by installing wall control joints above windows and doors and slip joints between the hard plaster and the brickwork. To form a slip joint remove render, install mesh onto bricks and replaster with a lime rich mortar. A lime rich mortar is used to reduce the cement content and hence the rigidity of the render with a 1 cement, 10 sand and 2 parts lime mortar).

In relation to soil shrinkage cracks a number of soil engineers in Adelaide have instigated the direct injection of water into the soil around the footings to the external perimeter of homes (Mainly to Parkside). This keeps the soil in a stable moisture range via the computer controlled injection of water into the soil.

Roof Frame failures

In most instances roof frame failures are easy to rectify by propping the sagged or damaged area and either lapping the member either side with new timber or inserting additional props (The props generally run from the under purlin to the internal wall). In the case of gang nail failures lapped timber bolted either side of the affected timber can also solve this defect.

White ant failures.

Ants can be prevented from entering a house via chemical sprays , Ant caps (Stumped homes) or stainless steel mesh barriers (Termimesh). If existing homes are infested, the homes can be sprayed with chemicals or have bait stations inserted placed around the external perimeter of the home which are literally baited with poisoned timbers (Sentricon system).

Property Protect does not carry out a survey for white ants in our pre purchase inspections and we would advise that you engage a pest controller to do this.

Poor workmanship In each instance the work should be carried out as per the requirements in the BCA ie.

-Weep holes During rendering cut the render out of the weepholes

-Bricks Overhang footing Set out floor slab correctly.

-Render bridges damp Course Cut a horizontal line in the render over the DPC

-Concrete slab poured up against bricks Ensure that the i.e. porch slab is poured up against the edge of the main footing.

-Puddle flanges Ensure that the flange is flush with the top of the floor. The timber/concrete needs to be rebated down to allow the flange to sit flush with the floor.

-Membrane to showers Ensure that the membrane is installed in accordance with the BCA.

E/Conclusions

The bulk of the causes of Building failures as detailed in this cast study are due to changes in the moisture conditions in the soil around the footings due to seasonal change. The remedies discussed revolve around keeping the soil in a constant moisture state. The measures discussed include installing paving and electronic garden watering systems, diverting stormwater away from the house, ensuring plumbing does not leak, Keeping tree roots away from footings and articulating older homes to enable them to move.

Of the remaining failures many are due to poor maintenance and or construction techniques. Ie Damp Courses bridging paving (Non BCA compliant) can cause white ant infestations and or Salt damp.