A Stair Lift Guide

There are three ways of providing access between floors for the handicapped or disabled; residential elevators, stair lifts and platform lifts. By far the most popular method of residential lift is the home chair stair lift.

The reasons why they are preferred by the majority is because of ease of installation and price. Residential elevators and platform lifts start at around 10k to 16k. The price of a home stair lift will depend on its type. A straight type will range in price from 2.5k – 4k, whereas a curved model is custom made and will cost anything between 5k to 20k. The complexity of the installation ultimately dictates the cost of installing a curved lift. The cost is impossible to know before the supplier carries out an onsite inspection.

Drive Type

There are four types of drive types. However, the vast majority of new stair lifts use the rack and pinion system.

Most cable drive systems use a strong steel cable – aircraft cable is the norm. The main disadvantage of this type of drive system is that the ride can be less than perfectly smooth. However, technology has moved on and those companies that still use this drive system say that the ride is as smooth as any other type. Summit and Ameriglide stair lifts both use this drive type.

Chain drive systems are used only for heavy duty models. They are loud and not really used in residential stair lifts.

The screw drive uses a lifting mechanism with a screw driven actuator. This is powered by a rechargeable battery. Again, this type is not used in home models.

The rack and pinion drive system is by far the most popular type for residential stair lifts. Rack and pinion systems – meaning gear and teeth – used to have to require regular cleaning and replacement of gear oil. However today’s home units have sealed drive systems that require no maintenance at all.

The Track or Rail

This is the base along which the carriage travels. The track is always fitted to the stairs and never to the wall. This means that a track can be fitted to either side of the stairs. Tracks used in straight stair lifts are made of extruded aluminum whereas curved ones usually use a mixture of both steel and aluminum.

Power

With early designs the power source was AC mains. But today, most stair chair lifts are powered by DC 12 volt rechargeable batteries. Batteries are preferred because a trailing cable is used with AC mains powered stairlifts. The cable is reeled out and reeled back in each and every time the chair travels up and down the stairway, which causes wear and tear. Also, battery powered units can still be used during power outages. Some states prohibit the installation of any appliance unless it is installed by a qualified technician.

Swivel Seats

All makes of stair chair lifts offer this option. There are two types; 90 degree and 180 degree swivel seats. A 90 degree swivel seat is mounted on the upstairs side of the chassis and fold in one direction. A 180 degree swivel seat folds in both directions. One manufacturer, Stannah, makes a motorized swivel seat.

Self Diagnosing

Many brands like the Acorn Superglide and the Stannah stair lift have integrated circuit boards that can help diagnose problems with your lift and decrease maintenance costs.

Accessories

All manufacturers offer a mixture of accessories either as standard or optional. What you choose will affect the cost of the stair lift.

Perch stair lifts allow the passenger to remain standing. This is excellent for those who have problems bending at the knee. The Acorn Superglide Perch is one such example.

Just about all home units come with safety belts. Some brands come with retractable lap inertia belts, while others offer 3-point fixed shoulder belts.

Installation

Installation of today’s straight models is quite easy. Many manufacturers and dealers encourage customers to self-install. However, a customer should never self install and the Accessibility Equipment Manufacturer’s Association strongly advises against it.

The installation of a residential lift really can allow someone to regain their home and independence. The chair stair lift that is best for a customer will depend on their requirements and budget.

Beyond the "Elevator Pitch"

We hear a lot in business literature about how it's important to have an "elevator pitch" – a prepared speech about our business that's so concise we could deliver it to someone on a brief elevator ride. We're often told to memorize our elevator pitch and practice it in the mirror, making sure we look and sound appealing and confident.

This may sound great in theory, but in my experience, when someone delivers an elevator pitch to me, it's pretty obvious and painful.

Often, I'll be at a party or event, having an otherwise pleasant conversation with someone. But then we'll get into talking about their business, and they'll suddenly undergo an unnerving transformation – their posture will get rigidly straight, they'll slap on a forced grin, and they may even start speaking in rhyme ( "I turn your reads into leads "), as they recite their rehearsed speech.

When someone starts talking this way, it does not exactly inspire me to buy what they're selling – instead, whatever pleasure I was getting from our conversation quickly evaporates, and I want to excuse myself for more hors d'oeuvres.

"Elevator Pitching" To Yourself

I do not mean to say elevator pitches are never useful. I've found, both in observing myself and working with clients, that delivering a sales pitch out loud is most helpful, not when we're talking with another person, but when we're alone.

The exercise I'm suggesting – which is similar to an exercise I have people do in pairs in my workshop – involves simply finding a place to be alone, and speaking, out loud, a brief description of what you have to offer. As you do this, notice how you find yourself feeling and reacting.

Some questions you might ask yourself include: where is my body tensing up as I'm talking? Is this a really intense or anxiety-provoking experience? Is there some reason why doing this does not feel okay – maybe, for instance, there's a sense that I'm being pushy, greedy, or deceptive, or that I'm wasting someone else's time?

In my experience, the more awareness we develop around why it's hard to talk about our business, the more we become able to put into perspective the difficult thoughts and feelings that come up when we self-promote.

How This Has Helped Me

This exercise has been very helpful to me personally. In the past, when someone asked me "what do you do?", I'd find answering difficult for some reason. I'd get an uncomfortable, heavy feeling in my stomach, and to avoid that feeling I'd often find myself downplaying what I did or changing the subject.

Worse still, all the usual techniques for crafting a compelling elevator pitch did not seem to help. No matter how much I practiced my speech, and worked to deliver it with convincing intonation and body language, that pesky sensation remained.

I finally started getting more comfortable talking about my business when I shifted my focus from trying to "look and sound good," to getting intimate with that weird feeling that came up when I promoted myself. My new practice was to make my speech, while holding my attention on my stomach and any queasiness that arose there.

What I found was that, the more I just allowed that unsettled feeling to be there, without running away from it or criticizing myself for having it, the more familiar and tolerable it became. Once the feeling became easier to be with, talking about my business began to feel more natural, and even fun now and then.

Aluminium Checker Plate

Aluminium checker plate is a common material in commercial and industrial settings. Although it has a distinct pattern, the plate is generally not considered to be an aesthetic marvel. However, the plate type is widely used because of its versatility, non-slip capabilities, and easiness to clean.

It may also be known as diamond plate, floor plate, or tread plate in some industries. Although the name varies, the design is always similar. It consists of a solid plate of aluminium with a raised design on its exterior. The design is usually small line segments about an inch in length, but some industries may use dots, straight lines across the plate’s width, or shapes.

Ambulances use checker plate on their interiors to keep gear from sliding around on the floor, for easy cleaning after a patient has been transported, and because it has significant durability. The raised ridges allow emergency personnel to move around without slipping even if the floor is covered with fluids.

Industrial rooms in factories or plants may quickly become bloody, dirty, or dusty. Checker plate allows employees to safely walk among workstations, but the floor can also be cleaned up without expensive solvents or tools. If an employee drops a small item or product, it can be easily distinguished from the checker plate floor. Carpet or tile may hide small items because of the coloring or cracks between each floor section.

Cargo aircraft and animal transport vehicles often use tread plates for their floors. Because animals may defecate, sweat, or spread feed around the vehicle, tread plate floors allow owners to easily wash out the vehicle. Tread plate also prevents the floor from being damaged by heavy animals’ footfalls.

A college, school, or university may install it as flooring in a parking ramp or classroom. Checker plate is durable enough to withstand repeated abuse in woodworking courses or similar technical classes. If a student drops a power tool onto the floor, it won’t be severely damaged and need a replacement. The raised ridges prevent students from slipping when trying to carry or hold heavy pieces of wood or other materials.

Businesses may want to consider aluminium checker plate for jobs and projects including:

– aircraft floors

– building doors

– building floors

– vehicle interiors

– vehicle walls

Although it is slightly more expensive than simple flooring or a flat metal panel, floor plates offer improved functionality over the lifespan of the room or vehicle.

Historical Advancements In Wood Burning Stove Industry

The wood burning stove is not an invention of modern days; its origin goes back to the 17th century when it was first introduced to replace the traditional fireplace. Of course, the design and features have been changed over the time but the main purpose and working is more or less the same as it was during that period.

Wood burning stoves quickly became popular because of their effectiveness in comparison with fireplaces. Initially they were placed against the opening of the fireplace so that the chimney could be used for the fumes to escape. At that time they were made of a metal box and they had the power to heat the room thoroughly. However, after some time they were modified into a model with its own chimney and flue. This enabled customers to place it anywhere in the house without relying upon the position of the fireplace.

Let’s skip through the leaves of history and see how they evolved into the perfect and stylish wood burning stove of today:

Primary Designs

The first wood burning stove was made in Massachusetts, USA in the year 1642. However, Benjamin Franklin was the first person who invented an improved model made of cast iron in 1744. He then launched it commercially and branded it ‘The Franklin Stove’. The stove was open fronted and similar in looks to a brick fireplace, but it produced more heat and less smoke. The best part was its economical fuel consumption and the ability to make the air circulate in the whole room. The flue which was initially present on the floor of the stove was installed next to the chimney in ‘The Franklin Stove’.

The stoves we see today are merely a more stylish and efficient form of the Franklin stove and therefore Franklin should be given the major credit for inventing and marketing the existing wood stoves.

After Franklin, the Rumford fireplace was constructed by Count Rumford in 1796. He further enhanced the angle of the hearth and choke of chimney to draw more smoke into the chimney.

Structure

Generally this appliance is made of solid metal like cast iron or steel, a closed fire chamber, a fire brick base and adjustable grates to control the amount of air in circulation and therefore, control burning. It is joined with ventilating stove pipes to a suitable chimney or flue which will be filled with hot combustion gases once the fuel is ignited. It is designed in a way that the chimney or flue gases are hotter than the outside temperature to ensure combustion gases are drawn out of the fire chamber and go up the chimney. Many have an additional feature of multi fuel option with the addition of a grate.

Advancement

The main advancement in the manufacturing industry of wood burning stoves took place when metal drawers and ovens were added to them. This modification had converted a simple heating stove into a whole new cooking range. From the early 20th century, its appearance also changed; it became a freestanding stove with four legs from a metal standing stove. They were soft but smart in their working, as they were portable and used for cooking purposes as well.

Major Complications Associated With the Wood Burning Stoves

During the 1970s, a major breakthrough happened in the stove industry when the world suffered the oil crisis. People went back to substitute energy sources and suddenly everybody was looking for a wood burning stove. This eventually led to a boom in the industry but eventually a few major drawbacks of this product were also discovered. Three major disadvantages were:

  • The excessive use of wood, which is also a scarce resource and more and more people were showing concerns over forest cutting raids.
  • The second side effect was the air pollution that was produced by these stoves. The gases produced polluted the air at a very fast rate.
  • The third effect was quite dangerous in nature. These stoves were a major fire hazard to households if not handled properly. Householders reduced the air intake of the wood burner once the fire was burning well, so that the stove would burn for longer periods and produce a more even heat distribution. This leaves the problem of unburned resins escaping up the flue which form creosote inside the stove-pipe on cooling. This could cause a hot fire throughout the stove-pipe as the creosote would ignite once a certain temperature was reached.

The Present Day

Thanks to the modern technology, today’s wood burning stoves have addressed all the above concerns. Modern wood burning stoves have a fire brick lining, are constructed of steel and aluminum and are airtight. The gas that is produced is just carbon dioxide which is good for growing trees. Nowadays many people find this wood stove a very trendy and useful product to have at home. A wide variety of stoves are available in different colors and styles.

Discover The Secrets of Using a Slow Cooker

No human can resist the sensuous delights of a stew, barbecue or leg of lamb slow-cooked until it it is meltingly tender. No matter what the latest trends are in cooking, slow cooking is just as popular as ever. A slow cooker does a terrific job preparing hearty, fulfilling foods: thick stews with vegetables, bubbling soups, pot roasts, sauces and meats.

The slow cooker is one of the most versatile appliances one can have in their kitchen. It is great for preparing vegetarian foods, as well as meat and poultry, everyday meals or big family dinners. One can make great foods for the whole family without any cooking expertize. Only the ingredients have to be added, and the meal is ready in a couple of hours. A slow cooker is basically nothing more than an electric pot with a stoneware insert that can cook food at a consistently low and even temperature for 10 or 12 hours.

One of the biggest advantages of the slow cooker is the flavor: after the long hours of cooking, the result is a deeply flavored meal. Slow cookers are also popular because they can save a lot of time, and they are very practical: with a five quarts cooker, you will surely have leftovers.

However, to make a delicious dinner, you will have to do some planning. The slow cooker is perfect for meat that needs long, gentle cooking to become tender. Dairy products and fish do not fare as well: these will break down during the cooking. Cooking chicken can give unexpected results, so it is important to pay strict attention to the cook times given by chicken recipes.

It is good to put the vegetables first in the pot. This is because vegetables take longer to cook than meat does, so the normal procedure is to start with vegetables, then meat, seasonings and some liquid. You can add fresh dairy products, pasta or rice during the last 30 minutes of cooking time. The slow coking is an extremely safe and healthy process: the bacteria is destroyed by the direct heat from the pot, and the steam within the tightly covered container.

You can ensure a safe dinner if you handle the food carefully. It is important to cut the food in one-inch chunks or even smaller pieces: this way you can ensure thorough cooking. It is not a good idea to use the slow cooker to cook an entire chicken, because the temperature inside the chicken may not reach a safe temperature quickly enough to prevent bacteria growth.

5 Steps to Building a 12V Solar Panel

It is easy to build a 12V solar panel if you know how – there are only 5 major steps involved. The sequence of these steps is especially important. If you follow it, you will have fewer problems constructing your solar panel and it will get easier as you build it.

The information here is specific to 12V solar panels or similar small voltage photovoltaic panels, not for large solar power generators that can power your home. If this is what you're looking for, read on …

Step 1 – Source for solar cells

You can purchase new solar cells, salvage used or broken ones or you can even make them at home.

If you intend to use your solar panels for a considerable length of time, you'll be better off buying new solar cells. This is the most expensive option. Yet new solar cells are more effective and have a longer lifespan. In the long run, buying new cells can likely be cheaper than the other options.

Used or broken photovoltaic cells can be used. But you may have to replace them after a few years because they'll be worn out. But if you intend to make a solar panel just for fun, used or broken cells will do fine. They will definitely not be the most professional looking solar energy panels around, but who cares, you're just having fun!

You can even make your own solar cell by heating up copper plates to form cuprous oxide, which is a form of semiconductor. But these homemade solar cells are inefficient at best and only produce microwatts of power per cell.

Step 2 – Soldering the solar cells

Soldering twenty-four photovoltaic cells in series gives us a 12V solar energy supply. This assumes each solar cell produces 0.5V. However there are some solar cells that are not rated at 0.5V, so it'll be good for you to check the specifications before purchasing.

Having a 12V supply is only part of the equation. You also have to consider the output current. Only with the correct voltage and sufficient current can we have enough power to drive the application of your choice.

Step 3 – Pasting solar cells onto a substrate

After you join the solar cells electrically, you'll have to paste them onto a substrate. Many hobbyists prefer to use silicone caulk. But if you're a beginner, you'll need to learn the correct technique to do so. Otherwise the cells may be strained after only a short period of use.

Step 4 – Putting them into a protective box

After the photovoltaic cells are fixed onto the substrate, you'll have to make a box to hold the substrate. This can be made of wood, plastic or metal – each has its unique advantages and disadvantages.

I personally prefer to construct the protective box last. This is because we can be flexible to change our solar panel design halfway if we need to, without the limitation of the already-prepared box. For larger solar panels, you'll be better off making the box first.

After the box is completed, you can hold the substrate in the box using blobs of silicone caulk.

Step 5 – Cover the solar panel box

The final step consists of covering your protective box with a transparent plastic or glass. This keeps precipitation and dew from damaging your solar cells. This is the only part of the solar panel that needs maintenance – wiping the outer surface with a soft, damp cloth.

After completing these 5 steps, your 12V solar panel is ready to produce electricity for you.

Custom Wood Plank Doors

Plank doors are very unique because they are designed with narrow, vertical planks that join together to fill the panel space of the door. These doors are both functional and attractive, and they can instantly turn a "blah" room into something with a lot more character.

Whether you're building a new home and deciding on what kind of doors to install, or just replacing older, existing doors, plank doors are a great choice, and this style of door comes with a lot of options. You can opt for solid wood doors that can be stained to a color of your liking, or you could go for a wood and glass combination door, which is especially nice for exterior doorways. You also have a lot of choices in terms of the layout of the planks. Some doors have planks that run the length of the door, while others are broken up and separated by horizontal sections. You can even get custom-made plank doors that will reflect your individual style and can perfectly match your other décor.

After you've chosen the style of the plank door, you need to think about installing it. You have two options here: you can pay a professional to come do it for you, or you can do it yourself. If you decide to have a pro do the installation, you can expect to pay a couple hundred dollars for the work, but you can rest assured that the door will be hung properly and efficiently. You also do not have to hassle with it yourself. If you decide to install the door yourself, you'll save money, but you'll need to devote at least a couple hours' time and effort. Installing a door is not necessarily difficult, but you need to have the right tools and the know-how to do it properly. If the door is not level or trimmed appropriately, then you may run into problems that could require extra work.

Plank doors are a beautiful addition to any home for both interior and exterior entryways. Plank doors are very unique because they are designed with narrow, vertical planks that join together to fill the panel space of the door. There are many styles to choose from, and you can even have them custom-made to your liking. These doors are both functional and attractive, and they can instantly change a room into something with a lot more character.

Business Plan Writing Plan

A well structured business plan can provide in-depth understanding of your existing or proposed business. A wide vision will be provided, showing your own goals, objectives and information regarding your available finances and additional funds you will require. When drafting your own business plan, there are four key areas that require specific attention:

– The nature of your business /niche market

– Management of the business and entrepreneurs involved

– Market conditions in which the business operates

– Financial management, planning; risks and rewards associated with the total investment in the business

A professional business plan should incorporate a cover page which will include an executive summary and a business overview which identifies the business’ profile and the product or service associated with the company. This is then followed with a management section which presents any entrepreneurs involved and the management structure, after which comes the Market section made up as follows:-

– Industrial and marketing analysis

– Sales and marketing strategy

– Financial Statements and Projections

– The Legal and Regulatory environment

– “SWOT” analysis and risk/reward assessment

– Appendices with documentation in support thereof

An Executive Summary is arguably the vital part of any business plan. It is the media by which your strategy will be sold to the investor and is an overview of the entire business plan which should highlight the main objectives and provide summaries of each section associated with it. Therefore, even though it is set at the beginning of the document, it is presented at the end to rehash the essentials of the plan.

The business overview will require a business profile with thorough information on the background and history of your business, i.e: how was it formed and whether it is a new business or not. A mission statement must be also presented, as well as the long and short term objectives relating to the business’ growth. Development and possible exit strategies, such as going public or buying out investors are listed among these options. The second part of the overview will describe in detail, the product or service marketed by the business and any innovative features offered that give an advantage over the competition. Include the key technologies being employed, together with any current and future research and developments. The location and premises particulars are important factors and if applicable, any production facilities. These should be fully presented, with any relative and associated information.

All aspects related or associated directly or indirectly, are to be listed and an organizational chart should be included. Payment, incentives, share options, and conditions of employment relating to key management and directors, together with any management deficiencies, should form part of the presentation. A further highlighted aspect for inclusion, relates to the situation concerning current levels of employment, labor relations and union membership. All other pertinent facts involved with the operation of the business should be revealed and explained comprehensively.

The Market presentation should summarize the industry in which your company operates. Most of the facts you will present, may be researched from government statistics and trade organizations. Your summary should describe current trends and developments within the industry, including the major influencers and any industrial problems. You should also review influencing events, nationally and globally, together with the effects of legislation on the industry generally. The Market analysis and Sales Strategy will be given a full and in-depth presentation. Show future growth potential, with a complete analysis as to the overall trends and expectations. Your existing customer base must be listed and any orders or letters of intent must be shown in support. A comparison should be presented with your competitors, as to pricing structures, product quality, their service delivery and expectations regarding their reaction to your business activity in the marketplace. Adding to this is your strategy to increase and develop the present customer base, advertising and targets.

Your financial statements and projections should be summarized within the body of the business plan. A detailed analysis as an appendix should also be attached. This should show a historical finance performance with at least three sets of audited annual statements in support. It would be advisable in this respect, to consult your accountant or auditor. Legal and Regulatory Environment should display all legal documents, including licenses, copyrights and certificates associated with your business. “SWOT” Analysis and Risk/Reward Assessment, will provide definite information on possible strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Review the strategies carried out in respect of the risk factors and end your Business Plan document with Appendices and Support.

In order to get your business off the ground and see it reach its full potential, a professionally drafted and presented business plan is a must. In a society where competition within business is fierce, it is important that we do all we can in order to get our business off the ground and thriving as soon as possible.

Stainless Steel Balustrades and What They Provide to Homes and Commercial Areas

When we think of balustrades, more often than not, we think of stainless steel balustrades. This equipment is very useful and is probably an integral part of a carefully structured staircase. Usage for the balustrade and its handrail is not limited to stairs alone as it is also useful in other aspects.

As decorative pieces that enhance a home’s design

Stainless steel balustrades especially in modern homes are sometimes considered decorative artworks in itself. These provide a homeowner needed support for his or her staircase while giving the home a stylish appearance. Stainless steel balustrades matched with modern day glass is very attractive to look at. Since many of the steel-based balustrades have a clean finish, this complements glass windows’ clear lines. Together, these two add appeal to a home and may function as conversation pieces when guests come over and visit.

Some steel balustrades may not even need to match anything as some can hold its own as a functional décor. With technology available today, these may now be styled according to an owner’s wishes. Getting designs or carving designs on its surface is possible so those who are thinking of placing their initials or having an elaborate picture might just get this placed on the balustrades itself or on the handrails. Doing so may be pricey but it can also add more elegance and style in the structure. It may also help you personalize your home according to your needs.

Those who wish to have slender-looking or stocky-looking balustrades are also in for a treat since both are now possible. With the right supplier, you can have almost ultra-thin balusters or get a possibly wider-designed baluster too. Machines for crafting handrails and balustrades are now more versatile and can now create thin and thicker designs according to client wishes.

As equipment for support and safety

With more vehicle crash injuries reported nationwide, there are more rehabilitative clinics that will need equipment to help their patients. Stainless steel balustrades and its durable handrails will be helpful for such institutions given that these will assist those who may have to undergo therapy. Patients who had used a wheelchair or crutch for some time will need support provided by the handrail and its accompanying balustrade to learn how to walk again.

The balustrade and handrail may also come in handy in other areas such as parking spaces and access ramps leading to restaurants and shops to help disabled people. The rails usually double as safety devices to ensure that an injured or disabled person will have something to hold on to in case he or she falls or slips. Delivery personnel also find it useful since the posts prevent more items from falling over from these ramped walkways.

While stainless steel balustrades are practical, certain building requirements may apply if you want to have it in your home or apartment. Having one for commercial purposes will also have its own construction rules. If you are renting in an apartment complex or condominium, ask the building administrator about exact requirements they may need. For those living in a gated community, inquire about construction and zoning requirements before buying the balustrades.

Express Yourself Through Stair Design

What most homeowners fail to see and oftentimes overlook is the stair design. Many think that a stair's design will not affect the whole theme of the house, but what they did not see is that the stairs can also be decorated and styled according to your own personal touch. Expressing yourself through your very own design for your stairs will somehow give you a sense of individuality and not to mention uniqueness to your home.

If you are a fan of the natural look and love the great outdoors, then wooden stairs will definitely fit your taste and your personality. Aside from the fact that it costs relatively cheaper as compared to the other materials used for making stairs, it lends simple and casual look to any home. You can chose from a variety of wood available, like oak, cherry, and maple. Hardwood definitely looks best in large stairs, especially when paired with iron balusters. The understated elegance exuded by a hardwood staircase makes it a favorite among homeowners.

If you are all for the modern edged look, then iron should be one of the choices of material for you to use in your staircase. Most modern homes incorporate iron stair parts into their stair design. Other mix and match iron with glass stair parts to come up with a very edgy and futuristic look. Usually dark colors are used in modern stairs. A rising fad in modern homes is the floating stairs, wherein you can see only the stair tread protruding through the wall. This type of stairs is very technical and requires the expertise of an engineer or an architect. Although it has a very high aesthetic appeal, safety is also an issue, so the floating stairs is not recommended for homes with children living in it. Another favorite are the spiral stairs which is best to use for areas with limited space. This type of stairs is usually factory made and just arrives at your doorstep ready for installation.

Another ingenious way to really customize the stairs is to paint it. This is especially true for homes with an eccentric appeal. Choose paint that is non-slip and one that will not fade or chip easily. You can choose a color that will compliment the design of your home. Or for an added twist, you can paint it in a bright color such as red or blue, to help liven up a dull and boring room. Painting, as opposed to varnishing, is different. Painting is when you put color. While varnishing is just enhancing the current color and grain of the wood.

Making your very own stair design can be a very enjoyable experience. Aside from the anticipation of the finished product, along the way, you will be able to learn something about stairs and its parts. Your design will somehow show your visitors your unique style. Start now and design your own stairs, and see your masterpiece slowly take shape.

Why Stair Railings are Not Just Functional

If you look upon the stair railings in your home as simply something to hold on to as you go from one level to another, you are missing a lot. Stair railings can add a lot to the look of a home and reflect your personal taste in decorating. Stair railings made of wood, metal or other materials are available that are easy to install and will add a great deal of value to your home. Don’t forget that the stair railing is the first thing people see when they enter your home. If you are going to install a new stair railing in your home, seek the advice of a professional who can advise you as to the best choices in materials, design and types of construction.

For a choice that will always be in style, wood stair railings are usually the way to go. Wood stair railings are classic and have been used for many years and are still popular today, even with the choice of other materials that are available. There are unique designs available in wood and wood is one of the easiest materials to work with. Oak railings, for example, have a lovely reddish tinge and visible knots that add to the character of the railing. A beautiful oak wood balustrade overlooking a room will truly be memorable. Matching the color of the railing to the floor will lend a smooth, unbroken line to the area, but sometimes that may not be easy to do, Trying to match the all of the wood aspects of a room, such as the flooring, stairs, handrails, trim and balustrade is not an easy task. The most visible and noticeable part of a railing is the handrail, and it is also the part with the most important function: to steady people and to hold up the balustrade. These are important elements to consider in the design of the stair railing. The soft glow of wood railings offer charm and grace to a home and add a finishing touch to the beauty of the home while, of course, adding to the value. Strong, durable wood is a material for stair railings that will never go out of style. Traditional buildings, such as libraries, office buildings or houses and commercial edifices built in the traditional style usually have oak wood railings. It is preferred because it adds elegance and warmth to whatever area it is in.

Today, many people opt for metal railings, and this style goes well with certain decorating, especially since there are so many styles with decorative options to choose from. You will find metal railings in many luxury residences because of the elegance they can add to a home. They are especially prevalent in commercial spaces since they offer the same design and safety features as wood, but can be much more functional. The almost limitless design features available in metal railings make them right for almost any environment. Metal railings, of course, have to be installed by a specialist in that material. Make sure you hire a craftman who works in metal, because this in not an easy material to work with.

An expert will be necessary for any stair railings you want, because of the important steps that have to be considered in building a rail; the safety of a railing is paramount. The height of the stairway, the proper number of steps and the height of the rise are all very critical to both the safety and beauty of the stair. With the proper guidance of an expert, you can use your imagination and creativity in designing a beautiful staircase, especially since you have today’s modern assortment of designs to choose from. Just let your inner artist guide the way.

Guide to Stamp Collecting

20 million Americans collect postage stamps as one of their hobbies. Some have a few small boxes where they squirrel away any old, pretty stamps they find, while others have fancy albums with rare, expensive stamps filling each page. Either way, collecting stamps is a fun hobby and a creative way to document different time periods of US and world history.

There are many things to consider when setting up your first collection. Do you want to only collect stamps that have been used and postmarked or you want to collect mint stamps, too? Many people keep the whole envelope the postmark is a sign of the stamp's age or the distance it has travelled. Maybe you want to collect old stamps, or start a collection from the year you were born, or with people on them. Do you want to collect American stamps only? Or maybe you are more interested in starting an international collection? Whatever it is you choose to focus on, the decision should be based on what interests you most. If you are beginning a collection then it means you have an interest in philately. Find out exactly what facet of philately and which stamps intrigue you the most and let that guide you as you begin collecting.

Once you have decided which stamps you want to collect, you need to start thinking about how you are going to store, catalog and display them. There are many different styles of albums for sale. Some have rows of clear plastic pockets for stamps to fit inside of. Others have blank pages, often with a decorative border, for stamps to be attached to in whatever manner the collector desires. Still others include details on specific stamps and leaves space open for the collector to append that particular stamp once they've acquired it.

Philately is partly popular because it is so easy to do: all you really need is a steady stream of correspondence and someplace to store your stamps. Most collectors do use a few tools to help them, but most of these tools are found around the home. For instance, it's useful to have a pair of tweezers on hand for removing stamps from envelopes and handling them in general. You might also want to buy a magnifying glass so you can take a closer look at your collections.

Once you've got yourself all set up, all you need to do is get the stamps! Depending on what you are aiming to acquire, your techniques for may vary. If you are looking for rare stamps, stamp catalogs and online sites dedicated to selling and trading will be useful to you. If you are looking for international stamps and you know someone who lives overseas, write to them and ask them to write back with a pretty stamp on their envelope. Or, you could find pen pals in other countries and get international stamps that way. However you end up finding your stamps, make sure you take good care of them so they stay in good condition.

Why Use a Retractable Baby Gate?

Retractable baby gates are probably the least commonly purchased and used gates which is surprising considering the huge benefits of using them.

Not only do they provide the safety aspect to your child or children that all parents look for when buying baby safety gates, but there are some really great benefits to them too.

Here are some of these great benefits:

  1. They will fit narrow to wider door openings – this is great since houses are all built so differently. Older houses tend to have narrower doorways and newer ones and staircases usually require a wider baby gate.
  2. Retractable baby gates work in hallways, doorways and stairs – this is a great feature as you only need to buy one brand and it will work all over the place.
  3. The actual gate that is pulled across the space is made from sturdy and durable mesh – this is what keeps the little one from getting where they want to go. Babies and toddlers can be very creative getting through spaces but this mesh is strong so it prevents being pulled on, picked at and chewed.
  4. One of the best features of retractable safety gates is that when they are not in use, they are tucked out of the way. Out of the way means it can’t be tripped on, fall down or stepped on, all issues with a regular pressure mounted baby safety gates when not in use.
  5. Space efficient – many of us are trying to decrease our housing footprint to be more eco- friendly. Downsizing means less space and the need for efficient uses of the space available. Since retractable baby gates can be tucked away when not needed this is a great use of very little area.
  6. No tripping hazard – a less efficient pressure mounted baby safety gate can be easily tripped over. Many adults will try to climb over the gate instead of releasing the pressure to remove the gate. It is usually because someone is in a rush and often, they fall flat on the floor. Ouch! The retractable baby gate can be opened and closed with one hand, preventing the possible injuries from trying to step over it.
  7. Can be used indoors and outdoors – wonderful in the summertime.
  8. Easily installed – retractable safety gates come with mounting templates and fittings as they are mounted on a wall or another sturdy place like a stair bannister or wall mounted bookcase. The wall mounting, while it takes time at the beginning to set up, makes for much better baby protection.
  9. Many gates will come with an extra set of mounting brackets so the gate can be moved easily. If the retractable gate you buy doesn’t come with an additional mounting bracket, you should spend the extra money and get one – it will make your life a bit easier.
  10. Some of the mesh gates have UV protection so when you are using the gate outside or in a sunny spot inside the house, the UV rays will not have a degenerative effect on the mesh. Before you buy your gate you can check for this feature.

Baby safety gates are a necessity when kids are around so no matter which type of gate you choose to buy to protect your children. Both retractable and pressure mounted baby gates will work to keep your precious little ones safe. Most falls are preventable and by having baby gates set up in hallways, doorways or stairs, you have done a lot to keep your kids protected from a nasty fall and give yourself some peace of mind. For more information on retractable baby gates try Shopbabysafetygates.com

Field-Effect Sensors Eliminate Pump Switch Failure: Residential Applications

Executive Summary

Field-Effect sensing has the unique ability to detect fluids and semi-solid materials without making direct contact. If the material being targeted is conductive in nature, and the barrier wall through which is being is non-conductive, then Field-Effect is the technology of choice. Field-Effect sensing technology is ideally suited for sump, lift station, underground vault, wet well and storm water fluid level management applications.

Since 1997, nearly 200 million Field-Effect sensors have been deployed in industries such as appliance, consumer, automotive, medical and fitness (e.g., liquid level sensing, or in touch activated machine controls). By 2005, Field-Effect sensors had become the de facto standard for fluid level detection in marine and recreational vehicle applications, such as holding tank level monitoring and bilge pump control systems.

Over the years, pump life has been limited to the durability of a single component, the mechanical contact switch. As switch technology progressed from non-integrated to integrated float and switch designs, improved manufacturing processes, advanced coatings, etc, pump durability continued to be governed by the limitations of the mechanical contact switch and associated moving parts.

Recent advancements in solid-state electronic design have enabled a generation of more reliable pump controls. Durability issues surrounding the mechanical contact switches were eliminated with the use of solid-state transistors to manage high current switching. Although this was a considerable improvement in itself, the remaining question was how to reliably detect changes in liquid level without the use of moving floats, or without making direct electrical contact with the fluid?

Non-contact sensing technology was considered to be the answer, and even though there were several technical solutions available in the marketplace (capacitive, ultrasonic, and optical), only capacitive has proven to be a practical and cost effective for residential sump pump applications. The limitation of capacitive is that it’s prone to false actuations and pump run-on attributed to the varying mineral content of the water being managed and the associated scum build up on the sensors themselves as the water level fluctuates. In addition, capacitive technology has required complex software algorithms to establish an environmental baseline for switching, which is a challenge in itself. The solution to these obstacles proved to be non-contact, s Field-Effect sensing technology coupled with solid-state switching components.

Engineers and plumbing professionals should consider Field-Effect a “best in class” solution when evaluating fluid level detection technologies. The benefit of a five (5) year warranty with solid state Field-Effect control makes it an economical choice for facilities management professionals. No longer is the pump switch the limiting factor in an organizations scheduled maintenance activities.

Economic Background for Residential Applications

With more than 10% of all residential structures that have full or partial basements reporting leakage from outside the structure through the basement (American Housing Survey for the United States: 2007, U.S. Department of Commerce, September 2008, Table 2-7, p. 62), the proper operation of the sump pump system for homeowners is imperative. The consequences of switch failure for residential sump pumps and their industrial equivalents extend far beyond the cost of repair.

Homeowners have always been faced with the potential cost and inconvenience of restoration of basements, but, in addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified mold as an environmental pollutant that diminishes indoor air quality (IAQ). The mitigation of molds caused by indoor moisture has become a public health issue that is now reflected in the home inspection process.

Homeowners and operators of public buildings now face risks in the longer term for reporting and/or filing claims for water damage. Faced with large increases in claims for water damage, the insurance industry has established a database, known as the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE), to facilitate the exchange of information among insurers to drop or deny coverage based on a home’s history of claims or damage reports. The proper functioning of pumps and their switches is paramount to maintaining public health and to preserving the value of residential and commercial structures for their owners.

Homeowners, installers, and other industry professionals can also take advantage of the added cost savings opportunity of purchasing a less expensive pump which does not include the switch function as part of the offering. These pumps are typically priced at the low end of the commercial spectrum, even though mechanically, they’re the same sump pump being offered in the high-end systems with integrated switch capability. This retail savings can range anywhere from $15.00 to $80.00 depending on the pump model and retail outlet selected.

Technical Overview

Field-Effect sensors are digital, solid-state electronic devices that can detect conductive materials or liquids such as water or the human touch. The sensor’s cell design uses an integrated circuit (IC) that switches its output state when the conductive target is sensed. A Field-Effect cell is comprised of three main elements, the IC, a unique sensing electrode geometry, and two resistors. Moreover, Field-Effect requires no moving parts, floats, software, or any other mechanism to make its sensing decision.

When 5 VDC is supplied to the sensor, a low power electric field is created. The field emanates directly through any protective dielectric barrier such as plastic or glass that may surround or cover the sensor. When a conductive object or material enters the field, the sensor detects the change and indicates an event has occurred with a corresponding output signal. The input stimulus to the field is typically water in most liquid level sensing applications, as is the case in TouchSensor’s™ LevelGuard Home Sump Pump Control product line.

The performance advantages of Field-Effect sensors in plumbing applications include:

  • Solid-state electronic designwith no moving parts or electrical contacts to wear out, bind, or become contaminated by fluids. All electronics are encased in rugged plastic and are completely isolated.
  • Fail-safe recognition from Underwriters Laboratories(UL File# – E187820)
  • Six (6) year replacement warrantywith an optional four (4) year extended warranty in fluid sensing applications. Field-Effect fluid detection sensors have been tested to over 1.5 million operational cycles without failure.
  • Operating temperature range of -40°C to 120°C. Accelerated life testing of Field-Effect sensors (cycling temperature between 0°C and 105°C and relative humidity between 40% and 85%) has confirmed an operational life of more than 20 years without failure.
  • Immunity to contaminants. The low impedance nature of the Field-Effect sensor design, combined with proprietary electrode geometry, make the Field-Effect sensor highly resistant to the effects of surface contaminants and mineral buildup.

Summary

The importance of reliability in fluid detection systems has increased over time. Under pressure to cost-reduce their products while improving system performance, manufacturers (and their vendors) have cautiously introduced innovations through their channels of distribution. Engineers and plumbing professionals now have the ability to specify a fluid level control system that meets and/or exceeds the performance needs of their system designs and client expectations.

The Positive Effects of Exercise on the Brain

Most of us are aware that aerobic exercise can help with depression, but further research suggests that exercise can also improve the cognitive functioning of people with depression. Improvements occur in the frontal and pre-frontal areas of the brain particularly in the executive functions of memory including planning, organisation and multi-tasking. It is thought that aerobic exercise could counteract cognitive degeneration associated with ageing as well as serving as a mood booster. This could be because exercise improves the hearts capacity to pump oxygen rich blood to the brain, so if you exercise your body you exercise your brain.

It is also important to recognise the difference between moderate and intensive exercise and its effects on the brain. Moderate physical activity undertaken in middle age or even later has been shown to reduce the risk of becoming mildly cognitively impaired which is a common problem of ageing. Mild cognitive impairment is defined as the interim period between normal thinking, learning and memory and dementia. Some degeneration in our brain power is normal as we age, but 10-15% of adults with mild cognitive impairment will dement whereas only 1-2% of the general population will. The good news is that a six month intensive exercise program could weaken the effects of cognitive impairment and even reverse this aspect of the ageing process.

Interestingly, when studied in the past, the effects of high-intensity aerobic exercise seemed to be more noticeable in women than in men despite similar levels of fitness. This was thought to be to do with how exercise effects metabolism particularly in relation to the production of insulin, glucose and the stress hormone, cortisol. However, a study at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine showed that both men and women benefited similarly to moderate exercise. The researchers found that almost any amount of moderate physical exercise in middle age or by older adults reduced the development of mild cognitive impairment by 30-40%. You are never too old to benefit both physically and mentally from exercising.

A study published in another medical Journal earlier this year highlighted the exciting news that you are also never too young to exercise in order to improve cognitive functioning. The Georgia Health Sciences University investigated the effects of 20 and 40 minutes of aerobic exercise on a group of children aged between 7 and 11. Students who exercised had higher scores in goal orientated tasks and those who undertook 40 minutes of exercise a day increased their IQ by 3.8 points in just 3 months.

Research such as this emphasises the importance of physical education in schools, but as parents we can encourage our children to exercise by being a positive role model when it comes to exercise. Why not consider finding an activity that you can do with them like going on bikes or swimming. You could also get older family members involved. Aerobic exercise is a cost effective way of preventing cognitive impairment and dementia as well as improving feelings of well-being and of course increasing levels of physical fitness. It comes to When exercise : many people do not know where to start so the services of a personal trainer Could help. They can design training programs that are appropriate for all ages and intensity levels so that people of various ages with differing levels of fitness can training together at the same time.