Doorbell Repair For Ding Dongs

How to fix that shy doorbell button or doorbell itself if people are coming to your door and instead of the familiar ding dong or chimes, the only sound you hear is that of knuckles rapping or the door knocker knocking.

There are three parts to a doorbell: The doorbell button, the doorbell itself which most of the time includes the transformer and the wiring.

The Doorbell Button.

In my experience, this is not only the easiest to repair, but it is the most common reason doorbells refuse to obey your finger. Obviously, if the button itself is pushed in and does not pop back out, say the return spring is broken or the button has lodged itself in and won’t show its face, the best thing to do is replace it.

Doorbells usually run on low voltage direct current as contrasted to your household electricity which is generally higher voltage and is alternating current. This means that although it is safer to work on the doorbell than the regular household electrical system, I always advise DIY’s to turn off the power to the system they want to work on.

I want you to run one test before turning off the power. Pry, unscrew, or pull the reticent doorbell button away from the wall, depending on how it is attached. (TIP: If you buy a replacement doorbell button, you can “reverse engineer” the installation to see how to get access to the wiring.) Carefully tighten the terminal post screws. Then push the doorbell button. If it works, zip it up by pushing back or screwing back the doorbell button. If it does not work, bridge the terminals of the doorbell button with a flat bladed screw driver. Ding dong. Eureka. If it is still mute, put the doorbell button back into place and turn off the electricity to this system at the panel box.

The Doorbell

The doorbell itself, which includes the transformer, is the next easiest thing to replace. Once the power is turned off, open up the doorbell by taking off its cover, unscrewing it from the wall, disconnecting the wires and reversing the process with a new doorbell.

The Wiring

Checking the wiring for continuity is also pretty easy using a continuity tester. However, fixing faulty wiring by trying to replace it can be a gigantic waste of time, not to mention very frustrating. If it is the wiring, you have got a bit of a problem because you cannot realistically fix it by repairing the wiring. Fishing new wiring through your walls using the old wire to pull it works a lot better in theory than it does in my world. I have tried it many times. If I really have to do this, I now solder the new wire to the old and hope that the electrician who installed it in the first place did not staple or tack it in place. I have spent too much time and energy twisting wires together, attaching them together with tape, etc., and having them pull apart inside of the wall to do it without solder.

The Wireless Solution

However, the wonders of modern technology have provided a solution: there are now wireless doorbells that save a lot of wear and tear on both you and the plaster. In fact, unless the problem is a loose connection at the doorbell button (possible) or at the doorbell itself (unlikely), replacing the whole thing with a wireless system is the way to go.

© 2007 Complete Books Publishing, Inc.

Solar Power Accessories – DIY LED Light

LED (Light Emitting diode) lights are becoming more available on the market and are becoming more popular. There are some differing opinions around on their efficiency as compared to fluorescent lights. Some claim they are more efficient than fluorescent lights, while others refute them. The technology will no doubt improve.

One neat thing about LED lights is they are great to experiment with. It is not hard if you can handle a   soldering   iron  and don’t mind tinkering to connect some LED’s together and have some fun. This is a guide to help prevent your light emitting diodes becoming smoke emitting diodes.

In order to start designing a LED light. It is handy to know the characteristics of the LED’s you are using. If possible check when buying the LEDs and get a copy of the specifications.

If you don’t know what the characteristics are, unless they are the 1W or 3V super bright Luxeon LEDs or clones, LEDs usually have a voltage requirement of 2.5 to 3 volt. The current requirements for full brightness is usually about 30 milliamps. The exact characteristics can be determined in later steps if not known.

The next step is to calculate how many LED’s in series you can put in one string. You must also work out the value of current limiting resistance. These both depend on the input voltage and the characteristics of the LED’s you are using. The is to approaches to doing this. You can use the theoretical method, or the more hands on experimental method.

Using the theoretical method, start with the forward voltage and the current requirements for full LED brightness. For example for a 12 volt nominal input you can use 3 volt LEDs. The current limiting resistor value is equal to (12 – 9) volts / 0.03 Amps = 100 ohms. The resistance of a resistor is colour coded. The colour codes are standard and lookup tables are very easily obtained.

With the experimental method, start by assuming approximately 3 volt forward voltage requirement and 30 milliamps for each LED. If the voltage can be divisible exactly be 3, you must use 1 less for example for 12 volt you can use in a single series string 3, for 24 volt you can use 7 in a single string.

Connect the number in series and a resistance substitution wheel. Start the wheel at a high value, say 1 kilo-ohm. Connect the power and then slower decrease the value. Find the value that gives you just the brightest. If the resistance is too low the LED’s will be driven too hard and have a higher likelihood of over-heating and failing. You can then read get a resistor similar to the value selected or even better measure the current selected resistor in the substitution wheel with an ohm-meter.

It is possible to put a number of strings of LEDs in parallel providing each string of LED’s has its own resistor that is set up for that string. This means you can have strings with different numbers of LED’s, still providing that you have the appropriate LED for each string.

Things to consider

In a solar power system, the voltage range can be considerable. In a 12 volt system, when the batteries are being equalized the voltage can be just over 15 volts. It is true though that when lights are operating that the voltage is never going to be that unless other sources other than the solar panels are going to be charging.

One way to compensate for that is to calculate using a nominal value like 13 volts or 25 volts (for a 24 volt) system instead of 12 or 24. If you pick a slightly higher voltage to calculate the current limiting resistor, when the voltage is lower, the worst thing that could occur is the LED’s might dim a little. However if you use to small a voltage drop resistor so that at the higher voltage the LED’s are driven too hard and get hot, you may burn the LED’s out.

Commercially, LED drivers are employed to fix this problem. These LED drivers are simply fancy voltage regulators designed to provide a constant voltage to the LED array from a large range of input voltages. Obviously when designing are unit for the masses, the designers will have no control over the input voltage and hence need to employ such drivers.

These last notes though shouldn’t deter you from playing around and seeing what you come up with. I hope this guide will give you a kick start.

How to Upgrade Ram Memory in a Power Mac G5

Old hot rodders had a saying: “The only substitute for cubic inches is more cubic inches.” That may be true for hot rods, but in the computer world…the only substitute for ram memory is more ram memory.

Make no mistake, the most important thing you can do to improve the performance of your Power Mac G5 is add more ram. Unless the ram slots of your G5 are already maxed out, no other add-on will provide as much performance improvement as a ram increase.

Don’t assume just any memory will work, however. Different versions of the G5 utilize different ram chips, and even chips that meet the published specifications have been known to cause problems. To avoid frustration, only ram designed to meet Apple’s strict guidelines should be used. That doesn’t mean you have to buy ram from Apple — OEM ram chips are generally more expensive than third-party modules. Just make sure you buy from a vendor who guarantees that their ram chips will work correctly in a Power Mac G5.

You could pay a technician to install new memory, but the task of adding DIMM (Dual In-line Memory Module) chips to a G5 is quite simple. Generally, it only takes a few minutes, even if you take your time.

The original Power Mac G5 units shipped with a meager 512MB ram, barely enough to run OS X, let alone get some work done. Time to fix that with a ram upgrade.

Make sure you are well grounded

Start by turning off the machine and disconnecting all cables except the power cord. Before you disconnect the power cable, touch the PCI access covers on the back of the case to dissipate any static electricity.

Some vendors include a grounding strap with new memory orders. If you don’t have access to a ground strap, you have to be very cautious about static electricity. A static charge can do bad things to your new memory chips, as well as internal computer components. You should be safe by following the recommendation to touch the metal chassis with the power off and the computer plugged in.

Opening the Power Mac G5 case

Unplug the power cord before proceeding. Open the case by lifting the lever on the back of the machine. This allows you to lift off the aluminum side panel from the computer enclosure.

Once you remove the side panel, you can remove the clear plastic air deflector. NOTE: the deflector is necessary to properly cool the G5, so don’t misplace it.

The beauty of the G5 case is that no tools are required to access most of the components. The ram   sockets  are located behind the processor fan assembly. To gain access the  sockets , simply grasp the handle on the fan assembly and slide it toward you until it comes free.

With the fans removed, you have full access to the motherboard mounted  sockets . Some G5 models feature 8  sockets , while others have only 4. The basic G5 512MB ram configuration shipped with two 256MB chips installed.

The late 2005 Power Mac G5 towers can recognize ram chips as large as 2GB and feature 8  sockets , providing a maximum of 16GB memory. All other models of the G5 towers only recognize memory modules of 1GB, 512MB or 246MB. If you own an early model with 8 slots, this means you can install a maximum of 8GB of memory, while the 4  socket  models will restrict you to 4GB.

Memory must be installed in pairs

On all versions of the Power Mac G5, you must install memory in pairs. There is a top bank of  sockets  and a lower bank. When you install a ram module in the top bank, you must install the exact same size memory chip in the corresponding  socket  of the lower bank.

If there are empty slots on the mother board, you can populate these with your new ram chips. In cases where all the  sockets  are filled with smaller capacity chips, these will need to be removed in order to install larger modules. With the current low price of memory, it makes little sense to install anything but the largest capacity chips: 2GB modules for the late 2005 models, 1GB modules for all others.

If you are removing smaller chips, unclip the locking tabs and press downward on the tabs. This will force the old DIMMs out of the  socket . To install new chips, line up the notches with the corresponding pins in the  socket  and push the chip straight down. The DIMM modules are engineered to fit into the memory slots in only one direction.

Lock your new ram chips in place

If the chip is inserted correctly, pushing the chip down will force the locking tabs to swing up and secure the module in place. It is good practice to manually push on the tabs to make sure they are in the fully locked position.

Repeat this process for the lower bank and the basic installation is complete. Reinstall the fan assembly, the air deflector and the aluminum side plate. Reinstall the cables and power cord.

When you press the power button, if everything is installed correctly, you should hear the familiar Macintosh start up chime. Wait for the machine to finish the start up process and then click on the “About this Mac” under the Apple Logo in the menu bar. The Memory field should reflect the newly installed memory.

Grand Opening Party Ideas Part 3

As we have covered before, onsite, outdoor advertisements are a great investment because they communicate a lot of information to potential customers in a very short message exchanged over a very short amount of time. Another excellent source of advertising is word of mouth. Gossip spreads and people love to talk, and in this case, that can translate into free advertising for your business. The final leg of advertising your grand  opening  party is through the idea of “divide and conquer”. We have covered some pretty big grand  opening  ideas and means of promoting your new business. These final ideas are so you can add all the little extra advertising help possible for your new venture.

  • Use your grand  opening  party to start off on a nice, friendly note with your business neighbors. Invite businesses close to yours to set up a booth for their own company outside, as a part of your own celebration. This will lay the foundations for a great partnership in the coming years and provide more access to services for your new customers.
  • Extend the same invitation to your vendors and manufactures, offering space for them set up banners and booths in appreciation for their services to your business.
  • Be sure to budget for and set aside some petty cash. Your big first day (and especially the week leading up to it) will bring some surprises and you will be glad to have the means to save some time and make whatever unexpected that comes be a little easier to handle.
  • Since your Grand  Opening  Party is so important, and you want as many people to attend for as long as possible, be prepared for, and excited to see guests stay longer than normal business hours. If future customers are sticking around, that’s a very good sign. They should not be turned away or asked to leave.
  • People are expecting all the “little” promotionals such as pens, magnets, and business cards. Take advantage of that and try to find a way for everyone who stops by your festivities to go home with one of each. These will filter and spider out to portions of your local neighborhood that did not make it to your grand  opening , expanding the circle of those who have seen your advertising.
  • Another way to spread the word near and far of your new business and the services it will provide its customers and the surrounding community, is to hand out fliers. This is a great job for a couple of groups of high school students to work together at some local hotspots.
  • In all the focus on outdoor advertisements and ideas for planning for your grand  opening  party, don’t forget to utilize the internet, particularly Facebook and Twitter. Facebook especially, often has groups based on geographical location. Use your new business’ account for each of those types of online networking and have free advertising on the world wide web.

Besides Facebook and Twitter, don’t forget to post a few ads on different sections of Craigslist in the days leading up to your grand  opening , describing your new business and the party you will be throwing for its first day.

10 Simple Home Security Tips

It’s a good idea to think about home security, even if you are a renter or live in a condominium with a guard or in a gated community. Anyone can be a victim of theft, and if you are home when a burglar intrudes, the crime can escalate into something even more dangerous.

For the safety of you and your family, you may want to consider having a home security system installed, but there are also a lot of common-sense things you can do that don’t involve spending a lot of money on fancy alarms or security cameras. Let’s take a look at some basic tips:

1. Secure garage doors and windows

While most people have solid doors and locks for front and back home entrances, they sometimes forget that garage doors should be of good quality as well. This includes walk-through doors and the doors for cars. Older automatic garage door openers were relatively easy to hack, so if your model is more than 15 or 20 years old, you may want to upgrade to a newer system that employs rolling codes.

Most garages have windows, and because this area tends to be father away from your living area than other parts of the house, a broken window is less likely to be heard. You may want to consider upgrading your windows to use security glass or shutters, but at least make sure locks are secure. Also watch out for entry doors with windows in or next to them, as these can be broken to allow a thief to stick an arm through and unlock the door from within.

2. Lock detached garages and storage sheds

Even if you don’t keep anything particularly valuable in your garden shed, realize that thieves can walk in and grab tools such as hoes, axes, and shovels which can be used in breaking windows to allow entry into your house. Also, unsecured ladders should be locked up somewhere inside, as they can allow burglars access to second story windows, which many homeowners forget to close and lock.

3. Keep windows and doors locked

Speaking of windows, it’s a good idea to keep them closed and locked when you’re not at home (and if you live in a high-crime neighborhood, you may want to keep them locked when you’re there as well). Also keep doors locked, even when you are home. In addition to regular knob locks, consider adding deadbolts for extra security against having a door kicked down.

4. Don’t tempt burglars

Got a big plasma tv? A fancy car? Jewelry? That’s fine, but don’t tempt people into crimes of opportunity by allowing these items to be easily seen by anyone passing by your home. If you have valuable cars in your garage, consider curtains for the windows so people can’t see in. Likewise, don’t place expensive (and portable) items right in front of bedroom or living room windows.

5. Keep your yard well lit

Burglars prefer to work in dark and shadows, since they’re less likely to be seen that way, so make sure your yard doesn’t provide thieves a place to hide. Install outdoor lights with motion- or heat-detecting sensors, so they will turn on at night when someone approaches the house. The backyard, front yard, and side yards should all have security lighting. (For energy efficiency, get lights with motion/heat sensors rather than units that simply stay on all night.)

6. Cancel deliveries when out of town

Nothing invites a theft so much as a house with no one home. If you are going out of town, don’t make it obvious to passing thieves. Have the paper and mail put on hold (in most areas, the post office will hold mail for up to 30 days, and you can simply go to the post office to pick it up when you get back) or have a sitter pick them up for you. Automatic lights that come on at night will also help fool burglars into thinking someone is home.

7. Change locks when moving into a new home

Even if you’re a renter, it’s a good idea to have the door locks changed when you move into a new house or apartment. Unless you are moving into new construction, you have no idea of knowing how many keys have been made over the years that fit your door.

8. Don’t put your name and address on your keys

Keys get lost all the time, and you may think it’s a good idea to have your name and address on your key ring (to help speed recovery), but all that really does is let the finder know where your house is, and now they have the keys that open the front door. They could call you and tell you they’ve found your keys and to meet them at such-and-such a place and even as you’re heading off to meet them, they are back at your house, letting themselves in to steal your valuables.

9. Don’t leave keys outside the house

To this day, a lot of people still leave spare sets of house keys under doormats, above door frames, under pots, rocks, etc. No matter how tricky you think you are being in choosing a concealing spot, a burglar can find it. Thievery is what they do for a living so of course they know all the tricks. If you’re worried about losing your keys and not being able to get into your house, consider installing biometric door locks (these open your door with a thumbprint) or locks that open when PIN codes are entered.

10. Install a safety spy hole or “peep hole” at your front door

Even as a child, you were probably told never to open the door for strangers. This is prudent advice even for adults. In order to see who is at the door, consider installing a safety spy hole or peep hole. This makes it easy to see who’s outside without them seeing in, and it’s a relatively inexpensive home security upgrade.

As you can see from this list, there are a lot of home security precautions you can take that will make your house less of a target for thieves. In addition, they cost little or no money to implement, so what are you waiting for? Make your home safe!

For Excellent Task Lighting Consider A Z-Bar LED Desk Lamp

A z-bar LED desk lamp is ideal for task lighting in many situations. It is efficient in many ways and will provide more than adequate   illumination  for just about any work you may do at the office or at home. It also comes in a variety of colors, such as silver, black, red, white or yellow, for use in a home office or a child’s room. Products are found in many online stores as well as through a few retailers.

The light bar is about the length of an average arm, so it can illuminate a large work surface. It uses about 65 small bulbs through the entire length of the arm. and is completely movable, with a 360 degree pivoting ball and socket. The weighted base allows it to rest with stability on any work surface.

There is also a non-lighted section that connects the base to the arm, which is also completely movable. This allows the user to illuminate a work surface or change the position for putting away files in a cabinet with ease.

The z-bar LED desk lamp has many advantages. It provides a more uniform  illumination  that is much easier on the eyes than a single incandescent or halogen bulb. Because it is much softer and covers a larger area, there is less eye strain that can lead to headaches and burning eyes. The new model comes in warm, daylight and bright light options. It also has a built in dimming feature.

The product is more energy efficient than other types of bulbs, so it can be used for an extended period without worrying about energy consumption. There is no need to rely on overhead lights for many tasks, such as writing or computer word processing. This light is also stylish. The sleek steel base and arm will look good in the office, no matter how it is adjusted or turned. Because the arm is no wider than the thumb, it takes up little space and allows for more room to get tasks done.

Prices for this item can vary, from around $135 to $170, depending on where it is purchased and the size. There is a mini version that includes an arm of the same length, with a shorter extension from the base. Either product will work for a variety of purposes. A z-bar LED desk lamp is a great lighting solution for someone who wants to work at night but does not want to keep others awake. Its bulbs concentrate on the work surface, rather than the surrounding walls and furniture.

Decorating With Accent Lighting

Accent  lighting  is considered to be a very popular way to embellish various architectural designs or art pieces in one’s home. What an accent light does is transform an ordinary painting, vase, sculpture, or artwork into something spectacular. Instead of having your favorite painting blend in with its surroundings, its unique details can be enhanced by an accent light, making it a focal point of the room. However, choosing the correct kind of  lighting  is important in order to achieve the look you have in mind, and avoid being disappointed.

Where to Begin

Selecting a room and an art piece that you want to emphasize is typically the first step. Certain areas in the house, such as laundry rooms, workshops, and closets, are not the ideal place for an accent light because, needless to say, these spaces do not require a particular style or ambiance. However, areas such as the living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and even the exterior of the house are perfect places for an accent light. After the room is chosen, look for a dimly lit area in the room, where there is a limited amount of ambient light – corners are usually good choices. In order to obtain maximum effect, the accent light should be roughly four to five times the level of the ambient light in the area. When you find a suitable spot for an accent light, the next thing to do is choose which art piece will be in the limelight. After that is done, the tougher decisions begin.

Types of Accent Lights

There is a wide variety of accent lights available on the market. It is important to choose the one that suits your purpose and satisfies your goal. A typical accent light is usually a bright, white light that is not supposed to illuminate the entire room, but is designed to be directional and aimed at the specific art piece in order to highlight its unique details and particular attributes. Accent  lighting  comes in the form of floor lamps, table lamps, track  lighting , recessed cans, mono points, low voltage linear systems, in-wall or in-ceiling fixtures, and more.

When it comes to  lighting  an object such as a piece of art, the MR-11 and MR-16 spotlights are very good choices for directing a narrow and powerful beam on the target. However, nothing gets the job done like low voltage halogen bulbs. They are known to be very accurate and their beam of light is unmatched when compared to other methods of accent  lighting . The bulb is also important. Test a variety of them and choose the one that produces the desired effect. The fixture you select should work well with the bulb, and can either blend in with the rest of the room, or it can be unique and complement the art piece. There are many possibilities to choose from, but the important thing is to choose a fixture that suits your taste and pleases you. Check this site for more information on the numerous different fixtures on the market.

When a room has simple ambient  lighting , it is more or less the same as every other room in the house. It tends to be drab and boring. Art pieces do not get the proper attention they deserve, and their fabulous details go unnoticed in the ambient light. If you are unhappy because your favorite art piece is not receiving the admiration it deserves, an accent light is just the thing for you. Give that painting, vase or sculpture that extra kick by highlighting it with an accent light – reveal its true beauty and fill its viewers with awe.

Installing Radiant Barrier

Radiant barriers are a great source of energy savings and improving the comfort levels of your home. Although the cost of installation varies depending on the manufacturer, you will notice significant savings in your electricity bills. The installation cost is well worth the investment during typical heating or cooling season.

Radiant barriers are installed with the reflective side facing up the vented air space. In the basic application, attic floor installation is performed. The radiant barrier sheets are placed over existing insulation in the attic. These sheets overlap each other. This allows access to wiring that might require work. Care must be taken during installation to ensure that the reflective side is facing up, and that the radiant barrier does not actually touch the insulation. The radiant barrier will transfer heat to the insulation if aluminum sheets are touching the insulation. As a result, heat will enter home during the summer and escape in winter.

Radiant barrier can be installed by attaching the foil sheets nearer to the roof. If your home is under construction, you can drape the foil sheets over rafters before the roof decking is installed. You can also attach them to the bottom of the roof deck. In this method, foil sheets are attached to the undersides of the rafters. At least 3/4 inch dead air space should be left.

Another type of radiant barrier installation is to place the barrier in the walls of the home. This works best for newly built homes or during a full retrofit of an existing home. To accomplish this, the installer sets furring strips around the wall perimeter. This separates the outer wall from the external wall structure, and “sandwiches” the radiant barrier between the outer and inner wall. There is a system of vents at the top and bottom of the interior wall. It directs heated air upwards into the attic. The heated air is finally dissipated through the attic venting system.

Water vapors can condense and freeze in colder climates. They accumulate beneath the radiant barrier and lead to disastrous results in ceilings. Therefore, a major consideration is to ensure that the attic of the home is properly ventilated. This will expel water vapors out of the attic. Many new constructions ensure proper airflow in the attic by using a system of vented roof-peaks and vented soffits.

Fireproof File Cabinet – A Must For Any Business

It is normal to feel a little scared inside to think that a fire could potentially destroy all your important information. You need to feel secure that whatever happens, those documents will be safe. It does not matter if your important documents are at home or at the office, having a  fireproof  file cabinet really makes you feel more secure about the welfare of your files, especially when you are not there.

Luckily, these file cabinets do exist and you can purchase them online or at a store specializing in office equipment like Staples.

So let me discuss some of the  fireproof  file cabinet offers with you starting with the Trident Series 5000. It is a top of the range vertical letter  fireproof  file cabinet. You pay top dollar for this at around $2000, but it is worth it if you were to be faced with a fire. It is of course fire resistant, but also impact resistant and water resistant. It sounds to me like it is pretty indestructible. It has been tested in all the fields and uniquely made to be practical, with fire resistance to up over 1700 degrees, water resistant seals and can survive an impact of up to 30 feet. This is a very secure place to keep your files, and if you put a hole for you in it, then maybe in the process of an earthquake you could even jump in it for safekeeping (just kidding!). Another great feature I love is the recessed handles to avoid knee bumps, I have been there and it hurts a lot.

Unfortunately a  fireproof  file cabinet is very expensive, due to the quality of the seals and the materials it has to be made with. If I were you, I would buy one that you know will save your documents, not the cheap one that would not promise much.

Another popular brand is Fire King. They are known for all things fire related; they are the professionals at keeping things away from the heat. They offer the whole range of vertical file cabinets of all sizes, lateral file cabinets of all sizes, and even specialty  fireproof  cabinet products. The vertical and lateral  fireproof  file cabinet does look just like a regular, stereotypical file cabinet, but obviously it can withstand a lot more temperature for a long time.

For $2200 you can buy a big file cabinet specifically made to protect important documents such as oversized legal documents, medical records, binders, and other important files. As well as that, you can buy their lateral file cabinet at 44 inch, 38 inch or 31 inch widths for $2000 to $6000. Steep price you might think, and I would agree, but it would take a lot longer to make a lateral  fireproof  file cabinet, just think how tight the seals must be to withstand that much heat for 1 to 2 hours!

So these may come at a steep price, but how much are you willing to pay for the safety of your important files? That is the real question. As well as being  fireproof  these are very secure. They offer good locking systems so that no one can steal them. See their item descriptions online for more details of their  fireproof  file cabinet product line.

Children’s Wallpaper – Whimsical Designs

In my typical home in Chicago I have two pretty typical children. Like the majority of parents we fight and wrestle and bribe to get our kids to straighten up and keep their rooms clean. Most of the time, what usually happens in my home is, I break down and wind up taking care of it myself. This happens a lot, until I got them involved in decorating their rooms. Our first project involved the walls.

Surveys show that what drives parents crazy are kids that neglect their rooms. Psychologists suggest that if children help design their surroundings they will respect them more and tend to take great care of them.

Many parents and kids are looking for that perfect back drop. More and more companies see this niche market and are keying in and creating more lines just for children’s rooms.

The origin in children’s wallpaper began around 1870 and continues today. Since their inception, the wallpaper designs have been strongly influenced by literature and pop culture. The earliest works had strong religious and moral overtones. Later in the 19th century you saw more wallpaper designs stressing the importance of good behavior. In the 20th century the wallpaper has become lighter in tone and feature more engaging content. Papers have been manufactured to illustrate favorite literature, nursery rhymes, comic strip characters and works of fiction. Some examples of these are Mother Goose, Alice in Wonderland, and Cinderella.

There are many well known artists and designers that have helped shape the wallpaper designs. Some of these famous people are Walter Crane, Beatrix Potter, Cecil Aldin and William Wegman.

Today’s wallpaper is designed to educate, stimulate and amuse. Most children’s wallpaper uses a sophisticated color palette, but possess a childlike whimsy. Most combine graphic patterns, prints, stripes, solids that are playful and friendly. They create a storybook world with happy endings. They provide a safe and inspirational dream world for kids to escape to. It culminates into a positive room concept.

When my son was just a toddler I choose a wallpaper border. This was easily changed and removed as he grew. What I did was place it at his eye level and as he grew I kept replacing it and moving it higher up on the wall.

Another one of our choices was called frames. This wallpaper allowed my son to interact with the wallpaper. It consisted of freely drawn picture frames on a plain white background. My son created his own unique designs by coloring in the frames. Who knows maybe he will become the next Michelangelo!

One of my son’s friends had Lego wallpaper in his room. This was a big hit and a must see. You could actually place and arrange the easily detachable wall covering on any surface you desire. How creative is that?

You should always choose your paper for what type of surface is being covered. Ask yourself, is the wall smooth or rough? Also some papers stain easily and can get dirty quickly. This may not be the right choice for a Child’s room. Make certain you choose wallpaper that is easy to clean and maintain.

Some papers that are available are vinyl coated paper, paper backed vinyl, fabric backed vinyl, silk, grass cloth, flocked and foils. The average price for a single roll is about sixteen dollars. But you can find them for less or more expensive.

There are thousands of themes and just to name a few there are animals, floral, sports, nursery characters, sesame street characters and lovable critters. Remember the main objective is to fit your Child’s personality and interests. This will inspire your Child’s imagination and instill the respect in he or she that the parents desire.

After choosing the wallpapers, please take special attention in preparing the walls. There is nothing more important. Wallpapers and borders do best with a primer and a smooth finish on the walls. This helps the installation and makes it easier to remove at a later date.

Take a moment and relive the time when the world was an abundance of curious adventures that awaited you. You have the power and incentive to turn your child’s room into a creation of magic. Start your search today so you can find the peace that you are after.

Fireplace Mantels Can Make or Break the Interior Design of a Room

Fireplace mantels can make or break the interior design of a room whether you use your fireplace or not. Because a fireplace takes up a large section of a wall or dominate a corner, they naturally draw the eye when you first walk into a room. Go for the “cool” factor by incorporating a great design or material in your mantel.

Most people perceive fireplace mantels as those shelves that extend out beyond the firebox. However, a mantel can encompass not only an ornamental framing around the firebox, but also the facing which makes up the outside of the fireplace “wall.” If your fireplace has a mantel shelf, the panel or area above it can also be construed as part of the mantel as well.

Many fireplace mantels are made from non-flammable materials for safety and can be incorporated into the design until it butts into the opening of the firebox. No facing is needed. However, if you decide to use other materials like plaster, drywall, fiberboard or wood, you will have to use a   noncombustible  material to create a facing that frames the firebox. Consult with your local building safety inspectors to determine the measurements of this facing to avoid creating a fire hazard.

Because fireplace mantels are a highly visible element in any room, take your time and shop around for a few options. Fireplace stores will have a variety of options on their showroom floors. Even home improvement centers can offer up some ideas. Do a little research on the internet for inspiration. When you have narrowed down your designs, do a little budget exercise to see how much you are willing to spend on creating a new mantel. If you are not an adept handyman, enter the cost of a contractor into the budgetary equation.

There are a number of prefabricated kits on the market that are geared toward the home do-it-yourselfer. These can be found in a number of styles and materials like solid wood, metal or items with a wood veneer finish. You can also purchase pre-made mantel pieces that are a natural wood or fiber board. With this option, it is less expensive and you can either paint or stain it to your specifications so that it matches your room’s décor.

Starting fireplace mantels from scratch is the optimal choice, but most people buy a home with an existing fireplace. When the mantel does not reflect the new homeowner’s taste, they can either purchase the prefabricated kits as mentioned above or have a mantel custom made-to-order.

This is especially attractive option if the mantel area is an odd shape.

However, expect custom jobs to be pricey.

Do-it-yourselfers can also give existing fireplace mantels a cosmetic facelift. This could be anything from simply painting the brick or resurfacing it with a thin stone veneer. Plastering or drywalling over an existing mantel are other options. Theoretically, you are only limited by your imagination and of course, your wallet! Just think things through before setting the wheels in motion for your mantel re-do.

Haute Couture Interior Design

Fashion has influenced interior design since the turn of the century. Coco Chanel is first and foremost an icon of fashion, her bold and forward thinking designs have and continue to inspire and influence the world of interior design. With the lines blurring between fashion and design, fashion designers and globally established labels are naturally turning to couture interior and product design. Many labels have been doing this for years such as Christian Dior, Oscar De La Renta, and Armani. “Home Has Become Fashion”, Rosita Missoni.

My love for fashion and interior design inspires me everyday! To foresee what trends are coming to our interiors, take a look at what is hot on the runways. We may not see these trends until the following year but that is quickly changing with the speed of manufacturers and the global reach of the manufacturing agencies. We are now seeing these trends appear in our home designs quite quickly. Fashion trends usually change much faster than we want to change our interior design so pick your trends wisely. Focus on timeless instead of trendy for the over all scheme, and accent with the trends. Fun and trendy accessories and paint colors are not a huge investment and easy to change out when you tire of them or want to try the new “it” design.

I have some clients that just don’t know what style they like or what colors they really want to incorporate, so an easy way to find out what they like is by taking a look in their closet. You can easily tell what colors people are drawn to and what they feel comfortable in. You want to be just as comfortable in your home as you do in your clothes. So take a look in your own closet and see if there is a color you love that you would like to incorporate into your home. Take a pair of fabulous shoes or an incredible bag, and work an entire room around them. To me a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes are a work of art, these are simply to provide pleasure in their gorgeousness, so make them center stage.

So take that dress that you love and drool over or the shoes that are just too beautiful to wear and incorporate them into your home! “Fashion fades, only style remains the same” Coco Chanel.

Hardwood Flooring and Your Home Decor

The floor you use inside your house could be a reflection of what are inside, people and things. As such when you choose to install hardwood flooring, be sure to know at least the basics of it or consult a professional to help you choose the best kind of hardwood flooring for your house.

There are certain types of hardwood flooring that are suitable for certain locations in the house. It is in this case important to understand where such kind is to be installed. Installing it in the right place enables you to conserve your time, money, and effort for the years to come. If you do such, you need not reinstall another in the next 10 years but only need maintain it and refinish in time.

Hardwood flooring is one of the best investments you can have for your house. If you want wood, you may not want to go with cheap woods like plywood, instead, choose to install a nice hardwood to really increase the value and aesthetics of your home.

One of the considerations in installing hardwood is its wear layers. The thickness of this layer varies; though, the thicker the better. Thick wear layers can be refinished more times than thin ones. Hardwoods may be worn out as it used over time. There may be scratches, small cracks on the floor but with this thick wear layers, you can reconstruct it to look as good as new. However, thin wear layers are sold in lesser cost. With thin wear layers, it could still be durable but not as much as those with thick ones.

Refinishing could be done once in every five years. With think wear layers or veneer, refinishing could be done at least two to three times depending on the worn out part. Flooring with thin wear layers may need necessary reinstallation when damages occur where there is no way to refinish it. If are keeping a lot of heavy furniture in your home that could cause your flooring to be damaged when they are dragged or rearranged, it is best to install it with thin veneers.

Wear layers of could measure from ¼ to 1/8 inches. Other wear layers have 9/16 or 3/8 inches measurements.

Another consideration when choosing to install this great investment in your home is the ply of the wood. Again, the thicker the ply is, the better. These products could vary from two to ten plies. Though those with more plies could last longer, they are more costly that their lesser plies counterpart. In any case, should you plan to stay in a house for five to ten or more years, choose those with thick wear layers and more plies for durability and longevity sake.

After those two considerations, you can now choose the size or style of your flooring. You can have something with different colors that matches your taste and could even look like its ceramic or marble counterpart.

You may choose to install planks that are made of wide pieces of wood or strips made of smaller pieces. Other preferences include single piece which can give a solid look and parquet that looks like a tile.

Hot Water Circulating Pump: How Does It Work

How Circulation Pumps Work

For the purposes of this article circulation pumps, otherwise known as circulators, are used in 2 different ways. One way the pump runs all the time. This strategy is used with a dedicated line.

The other way is to only run the pump when there is a demand for hot water. This strategy is used with either a dedicated line or to push cool water back to the heater through the cold line.

What is a dedicated hot water line?

The following terms are used to describe a dedicated line:

  • circulation loop
  • circulation line
  • recirc loop
  • recirc line
  • return line

All of these terms refer to a water line that runs from the heater out to all the fixtures in the house and then returns to the heater.

Pros:

  1. Hot water is virtually instant

Cons:

  1. The water loses heat as it travels through the house and must be heated up again
  2. Studies show that people only use hot water 5% of the time yet the line is hot all the time – high waste of energy
  3. Most leaks happen in the hot lines with circulation pumps

How can the cold line be used to move cool water back to the heater?

If a circulation pump is installed on or near a heater on the hot line out in to the house and a bridge valve, or crossover valve, is under the farthest fixture a continuous loop is established.

Hot and cold water are pressure balanced in a home. The pump helps the hot side overcome the cold side.

Once hot water reaches the bridge valve the valve closes so that no more water can be pushed into the cold line and the pump shuts off.

Summary

If a home has a dedicated hot water line they will get almost instant hot water with the circulation pump running all the time. Although this is convenient it is very wasteful. Water bill is low – energy bill is high!

Without a dedicated line water will be wasted down the drain unless there is a circulation pump installed. Without the pump water bills are high. With it water bills are much lower.

There are conversion kits on the market to convert a continuously running pump in to a true on-demand pump. And there are several systems for homes that do not have a dedicated line.

Timers are always a bad choice because they waste energy and put unneeded added pressure on your plumbing fixtures.

By adding a circulation pump to a plumbing system without a dedicated line a lot of water will be saved.

By adding a pump manager or controller to pumps in a dedicated line energy will be saved.

Multi-Generation Project Plan

What Is a Multi-Generation Project Plan?

– A vehicle to help focus the design team’s energies on a manageable project that can be completed relatively quickly.

– Since the future has been considered, the team will not make decisions that are incompatible with future generations.

– As the team’s work progresses, new ideas can be added to future generations of the process instead of increasing the development time for the first generation process.

– MGPP helps manage “scope creep.”

– The organization can be working on new technologies that are needed for future generations while the first generation process is being implemented and benefits realized.

The MGPP is usually not fully developed in the Lean Six Sigma Define phase step:

– In Define you should describe all the elements for the first generation product/service as fully as possible and fill in as much information as you have for future generations.

– You will add information to the MGPP throughout the DFSS process.

– At the end of the first generation, you will be able to describe the second and third generation products and services in much greater detail because of what you have learned from your research and testing of the first generation product.

The Multi-Generation Project Plan Will Help:

– Initially establish a reasonable project scope – one that drives values with a reasonable completion date

– Capture good ideas that are surfaced during the project

– Proactively identify project replication opportunities for other parts of the business

– Establish the “big picture” – How does this project fit into the overall improvement scheme for the organization

– E.g., the objective is to reduce billing errors for all of our customers. The first generation will address problems with our top 20% customers.

– E.g., this project will streamline the process and reduce the number of errors. The next phase will be to implement an automated information system.

– Communicate with stakeholders – “We’re focusing on this part of the process with this project, but recommend a follow-on project to address other parts of the process”.

MGPP Steps:

1. Start with the vision. Describe the vision for the new product/service 3 years from now. Then back up and describe product/service stages that lead up to the longer-term vision.

2. Describe the concept and technologies/platforms for Generation 1 in as much detail as possible.

3. Fill in as much information for Generation 2 and 3 concepts, platforms and technologies as you can. You will be adding more information about these elements as you learn more during Generation 1 development