Stair Lifts Vs Home Elevators

Stair lifts are generally associated with places where there are aged and infirm inhabitants. Home elevators on the other hand are accompanied by an enclosed cab that is designed to serve a variety of purposes. Earlier, home elevators used to be exclusive features of luxurious residences but with decreasing costs and increasing and pressing needs, they have gone on to become a bare necessity from being an indulgence. This article deals with a comparison between the merits and demerits of stair lifts and home elevators.

To begin with, installing a stair lift is a far cheaper option than installing a full-fledged elevator. If the stair case is straight and the installation is hassle free, the total cost of buying and installing a stair lift is around $3000 to $4000. However, if the stair case is curved or meandering, costs could increase to nearly double the aforesaid amount because quite a few major modifications then have to be made to the original model. Focusing on the other side reveals that the simplest residential elevator with a bare minimum of features starts at $10,000. The improved varieties can be much more expensive depending on the design, variety and model that have been selected. A very high end elaborate elevator can cost as much as $100,000 though most people can find a model to suit their requirements for much less money than that.

When it comes to space required for installation, it is to be remembered that a stair lift causes a major visible modification to a staircase while a residential elevator is neatly concealed inside a shaft. Also when it comes to aesthetic beauty, residential elevators are the hands on winner. However, these days, stair lifts can also be considerably modified in order to make them blend seamlessly with the interiors of a home. For the information of those who are constructing homes for the first time, it is prudent to mention that both stair lifts and elevators take up a considerable amount of space and also add nearly 10% to the resale value of a property.

Besides cost, function and features is most likely to influence a buyer’s influence decision the most. The weight to be carried, the jobs to be performed with the help of the elevator, etc must all be taken into consideration before making a final decision regarding the model of elevator or stair lift to be invested in. also, it is in the best interests of families with aged and infirm members to opt for elevators and stair lifts that are accessible by wheel chairs in order to ensure the comforts and conveniences of their relatives.

Safety is another primary concern to be clarified before buying a lift or elevator. Stair lifts are particularly problematic since they are not enclosed and most often are not fitted with hand rails or other support mechanisms. Whatever be the model opted for, boarding and operation must be simple and hassle free. Also there should be proper alarm systems in case of an emergency.

Diet Sheet For Diverticulitis – An Overview

The mere mention of the word diet may bring on several different connotations, however when you have Diverticulitis that one simple word can bring relief to the pain you have been experiencing. When you have an infection that needs attention, your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic for you. Yet when your diverticulitis flares up, you become your own doctor and control your flares with the foods you eat and following a diet sheet for diverticulitis is one of the best ways to heal thyself.

While every body is different there seems to be several foods that cause trouble for those with diverticulitis: Stress – no this is not consumable, but daily troubles can consume you and increase the discomfort of a flare up, therefore you must avoid it. Easier said then done, you’re right, but you must find ways to relax to avoid the pain you feel.

Nuts, sesame seeds, corn as well as corn based products, and chile peppers specifically, but any spicy foods really, can add to the pain associated with diverticulitis. These foods should be avoided. You know your body best and how it reacts to certain foods, so eliminating them from your diet would be a wise course of action. Or at the very least, consuming them on rare occasions would be prudent.

As always a diet high in fiber is a prime mover for keeping your system clean, however, when you are in a flare, limiting your fiber intake will aid in the healing process. Keep in mind though, when your flare is under control, introduce high fiber foods slowly back into your diet to keep things moving.

Other foods that seem to ease the pain associated with diverticulitis are chicken, fish, skinless potatoes, carrots, and bananas. Listen to what your body is telling you, the same foods that help one person may not be the same foods that help you. These foods are just a guideline or at the very least, a basis from which you can start.

Decorating Around Your Spiral Staircase

Spiral staircases are interesting, but unlike regular staircases, they’re not easy to decorate. Most spiral staircases, especially if they’re in a location that’s easily seen, attract enough attention and decorating around them would just make the space seem cumbersome. Although what if the spiral staircase is there because you are trying to save space and you would still want to decorate, or at the very least place some of your stuff around the staircase. What do you do?

While traditional staircases are usually located in areas where one side of it is on a wall and it’s pretty easy to hang art or framed pictures on that wall, staircases aren’t always configured that way. Spiral staircases usually hang from the ceiling, sometimes even at the center of the room.

In cases like this, the best way to decorate or to utilize the space around the stairs to place your things is to clear spaces where you put furniture like your chairs and move them near or around the staircase, facing away. This way, some spaces will be relieved of the bigger furniture and you can use these spaces to put bookshelves or hang art. The chairs, if arranged strategically on one side of the staircase’s perimeter, can create an interesting conversation piece and a stunning arrangement.

The danger of this, though, is that some furniture may provide hindrances or obstacles when getting to the spiral staircase. To avoid this, you must place the furniture away from the foot of the staircase. And group the furniture, basically the chairs and perhaps coffee table, like you would normally do.

In cases wherein the staircase hangs from a corner, you can decorate like you would with a regular staircase just be careful not to over-decorate and remain in tune with the theme of the staircase. If its lines are clean and simple, try to keep the lines of the décor minimal, or instead of using elaborate décors, use ones with clean lines in bold colors.

Lastly, one fun thing about having a staircase is that they look good and especially festive when you decorate them for occasions like the Holidays. With delicate taste and powerful restraint, you may even be able to turn it into a non-tacky Christmas Tree-like holiday décor.

Using Access Towers and Work Platforms – Alternatives to Scaffolding

While ladders are an incredibly practical and easy-to-use piece of equipment, they are not always the best method of working at height. When working with heavy materials, cumbersome tools, or requiring more hands than one man has, a more semi-permanent solution is required.

Commonly, scaffolding is employed for these jobs. It is far more practical than an extension ladder when hefty pieces of equipment I needed. Platforms can be created where more than one person can work on and tools and material can be kept on.

The only downside with scaffolding is that it is semi-permanent. Once up, it has to be stripped down and rebuilt if you need it moved. It can also be unsightly, especially of the work takes some time and the entire building ends up surrounded by the steel piping of the scaffold.

There is, however, another solution that is not only just as practical as scaffolding it doesn’t require technicians to erect it and it can be moved at will to where needed – the work platform.

Work platforms and access towers are like ready erected scaffolding. They are often on castors, which can be securely braked, or used to move the platform around.

Many work platforms can be folded or collapsed too so they can be easily stored and taken out just when needed. This means there doesn’t need to be unsightly scaffolding left around the building, and when doing jobs around an entire building, the access tower or work platform can simply be moved.

Useful for all sorts of jobs, both indoors and out, work platforms are a very safe method of working at height too as most accidents usually involve ladders which are easier to use incorrectly and can easily slip and topple.

Small work platforms can even be used around the home. As collapsible as a step-ladder they can be stored away and far safer and more comfortable to use for all those DIY jobs around the house.

How Thick Your Laminate Flooring Should Be

Many homeowners choose laminate flooring to give the illusion of wooden flooring without the expensive price tag. This type of flooring looks much like wood, but is much more durable and manageable for everyday use. Laminate looks great in almost every room of your home and is most effective for areas that are prone to moisture. These areas include bathrooms and basements where it is not recommended having solid wood flooring. A great benefit of this flooring option is that maintenance and upkeep are easy with all the new dusting sweepers available. The only factor that should be considered before you purchase such flooring is your desired thickness.

This type of flooring is normally measured in millimeters, which is a very small-scale measurement. Most brands of laminate flooring have the thickness measurement labeled on the packages or in the description next to their packaging. This measurement is of the entire plank thickness including attached pads. This means that the plank measurement given by the manufacturer does not involve just the core of the plank. The thicker the plank, the more resistant the flooring becomes to fracture from a dropped object and because plank is thicker, sound does not travel as well. Take note that if laminate is thicker, it does not necessarily mean that it is better, a thicker laminate could also be manufactured with lower quality materials.

Durability of laminate flooring is not always associated with thickness. However, thickness is an important variable to consider when looking for durable flooring options. If you purchase thicker laminate, you will be assured that falling objects will be less likely to cause fracture to your flooring planks. For this reason, a laminate floor of thickness is often recommended. Its thickness will also be able to withstand high levels of foot traffic without sustaining abrasions and markings. In most cases, 12 millimeter floor planks are considered thick enough to endure most types of stresses that are common for laminate floors.

However, thickness is only relevant if the floor planks are made of good quality. Thick planks that are made with low quality materials will not yield the desired results. If you have the high quality 10 millimeter floor planks, this would be better than 12 millimeter floor planks made from materials that are not as durable. Good quality thick laminate floor planks will be easier to install and last much longer than other flooring options. Therefore, the benefits to having thick laminate floors are much greater than other floor options of other thickness measurements.

The Bane of Fake Russian Lacquered Boxes

Of late, Russian lacquered boxes that have hit the streets and shops are produced by untrained artists. There’s plenty of money to be made, as people unwittingly end up paying hundreds of dollars for fake boxes that are passed off as genuine. This in turn translates into depletion of revenue for the original artists.

There is yet another category of Russian lacquered art called reproductions. These generally come marked as ‘reproduction’, or are produced in such a way as to seem different and not to be mistaken for the original. The artist might add a personal element or something that was not part of the original painting to produce a copy that doesn’t resemble the original art although it was inspired by the original. Furthermore, not all who graduate from the art schools go to work in the factories where the salary is a lot lower than what an artist can earn independently.

What makes things uncontrollable is that there are no copyrights for the use of names of the four schools of art. Even non-professional and fake artists can use them. In original Russian lacquer boxes, the writing on the bottom of the box is the title of the scene that is being depicted, the name of the person who painted the box and the name of the town it was made in, which is synonymous with the style.

One way to find if the lacquer box is a fake is to determine whether it is made of papier-mâché or a cheap substitute. Russian papier-mâché lacquered boxes take anywhere from 6 to 10 moths for completion. Lately, trained as well as untrained artists are switching to boxes made from non-traditional materials such as wood, acrylic, or Argillite, which hastens up the production process by many months.

The traditional process of curing the papier-mâché boxes before the process of painting begins is thus cut short by substandard substitutes. To find out if a box is original or not, open the cover till it is half open and shut the box. Papier-mâché produces a soft and muffled sound on closing. If the lid of the box closes with a sharp, woody click then it is likely not to be made of papier-mâché, but some cheap cardboard based substitute.

Another give-away of a fake Russian lacquer art box can stem from the untrained artists’ lack of knowledge of the painting technique. Multi-layering of a box, creates greater depth in the original work and almost creates the impression of a 3D image. Every layer of painting is coated with more layers of lacquer and this technique is so sophisticated that it can take years to learn and many more to master.

An artist often pays attention to minute details. The gold leaf ornamentation in the Russian lacquer boxes for example, are very geometrical and boast of superior sense of construction which would not be the case with the fakes and imitations.

The Sledgehammer Effect – Words to Live by Or Not

In my line of work, I often rely on quotes to get my point across. Why? They get audiences to step outside of their tunnel vision. It’s a way of giving participants the knock upside the head they need to see things differently. When it comes to talking about careers and the workplace, there are plenty of quotes that can deliver the sledgehammer effect. Here are some of my favorites…

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.

I’m not sure who came up with it, but the first time I heard it, something clicked in my head. The idea that we can change a situation by changing our behavior made me realize how much power I have over how my life. The takeaway: it’s up to us to get the results we want. And this realization actually ties to the next one:

Everything in life is a choice.

This was first said to me by my seventh grade music teacher. I honestly don’t remember how we got on the subject, but the conversation was intense. A room full of students all shouted out examples of situations where we didn’t feel we had a choice, ie. do our homework or get in trouble, etc. She pointed out that it was still our choice, it was just that we didn’t like the consequences if we chose not to do the homework. We didn’t do a note of singing that day, but that teacher’s quote sang to me.

Speaking of teachers, here’s a quote I actually created as a teacher myself. I do a lot of work helping college students and young professionals make the transition into the workforce. I open my career strategy course with this:

You are not special, but you are unique. Career success comes to those who brand their uniqueness into something special.

I have great compassion for younger workers. They’ve been told that a college education is their ticket to career success. Sadly, they enter the workforce and find out that they haven’t been properly prepared. School doesn’t teach you how to be a professional. The result is a young person with their confidence rocked to the core, and a case of on-set career crisis. The solution is to help them connect-the-dots and gain back a sense of control over their future. That quote explains how.

And finally, there’s my personal favorite, which comes from my dear old dad, who told me early in life:

How far you go in your career will depend on how much stuff you are willing to put up with.

This is so true! You can look at work as a personal sacrifice or an endless opportunity to experience, learn and grow. When you do the latter, success seems to materialize. It’s the attitude that makes the difference in the outcome.

Now please know, there are also quotes I can’t stand. Here’s one that drives me nuts:

You can be anything you want to be.

I get the point of this quote, but people often fail to think of the ramifications of telling people today they can be anything. How do you choose from anything? What happens if you make a wrong choice? It’s like being told to pick a flavor of ice cream in ten seconds from a list of a thousand – what is supposed to be a treat turns out to be stressful. The idea of determining what you want to be when you grow up is outdated. Americans have as many as 9 careers in their lifetimes with an average of 3 jobs in each one. So, putting all your stock in the idea that you are only going to be one thing is misguided. I think the phrase should be reworked to something like this:

You can be anything you’re willing to put the mental and physical effort into becoming.

How’s that? Better?

Loading A Roof

When laying a new roof, it is important that you get the material to the actual roof in a safe and secure manner. Many people over look this area of the job but it can be one of the most critical to protect the materials as well as the worker’s safety. Many times, the roofing materials can be delivered and placed on the roof, but there is also a chance that you might have to accomplish this task yourself. If so, try to rent a conveyor that allows for ease of movement to distribute shingle loads around the roof. If the conveyor equipment is not up to standards or is unavailable, the next best option is to obtain a willing friend to help you haul upwards of 60 loads of shingles up the roof. This is done by placing two ladders next to each other and loading the shingle packs in a sling attached to each man on the ladder. This is a long and strenuous process but it is much easier and safer than attempting the feet alone.

It is important to distribute the shingles around the roof so that they only need to be moved the initial time. This is also important because if the entire roof’s worth of shingles are placed in one area, the weight can be over bearing and cause flat spots or even a possible cave in. When placing the shingles down, the safest place to set them is on the ridge of the roof. This is because the ridge is the least possible area where the materials can slide off, and its also easier to slide them down to an area that needs covered rather than pulling them up. Although it might not seem too difficult to stack bundles, there is a sort of science to it. Stack one bundle lengthwise on each side of the ridge, then stack three remaining bundles across the ridge on top of the two lengthwise bundles. Repeat this process for one more layer. Once this is finished, move about 8-10 feet down the ridge and make another bundle. This way you can create large square areas where a load is evenly distributed and bundles can also be easily removed.

Although composite shingles were made to be in the elements, they were not made to be in their packaging for too long. If possible, have the shingles delivered to the work area as close to the job build as possible. This is very important because if the shingles are exposed to direct sunlight or intense heat for a prolonged period of time, the adhesive backing can become active and they can glue themselves together. If they must be left on the roof, it is important to cover them with a light colored tarp that will deflect sunlight.

Is Khaki a Color Or Is Khaki a Fabric?

If you have ever been shopping for a pair of khaki pants for women then you will know how confusing it is to find what you are looking for. Perhaps that’s because we don’t really know what we are looking for or, we don’t know how to describe khaki pants to the clerk!

You can go in one store and ask for them and you will be brought to an aisle where everything is that traditional dust/beige color khaki, but made out of some synthetic fabric. Then you ask in the next shop and you are brought to an aisle with all cotton twill pants in a variety of colors from purple to black and told that this is the assortment of khakis.

So, what is this style exactly? Is it a color or is it a fabric? Actually, khaki is either/or or both! In the beginning, khaki was a color originating in the Middle East, most probably Persia where the name came from, and British soldiers adopted it as the official color of a uniform. This was the advent of khaki as a color.

However, those uniforms were made out of close woven cotton or linen twill fabric, which means that khaki is also a fabric! Today you can find khaki pants that are khaki colored or khaki pants for women that are in any color imaginable. Khaki is a color and khaki is a fabric, so don’t be confused when shopping. Should you do an internet search for khaki pants for women and a screen should pop up with dark green or purple slacks, check out the fabric they are made from. Chances are it’s cotton or linen twill.

Fashion is a very important thing. Whether you are trying to land a job or just trying to impress someone. Always dress well and you’ll be surprised what comes around for you!

Concrete Paint – Which One Do I Choose?

Ok, you finally decided to paint that nasty looking old concrete. But, which one do you choose? The answer is there are many answers, the answer to which type of Concrete Paint you need to choose all depends on what type of concrete you plan on painting. Stairs?, Sidewalks?, Pavers? Are you getting my point? So lets take a look at the “Concrete Project Guide” provided by and the recommended usage for each product.

** IMPORTANT always prep and clean your concrete according to manufacturer specifications to ensure quality application of the product. (usually with oil stain remover or some type of concrete cleaner) This article is for reference only. Please double check your specific needs.

* Garage Floors:

If you are looking to clean up that garage floor a little bit with some concrete paint you are going to want to look for a good “Epoxy Style Garage Floor Coating” Epoxy is usually more durable than most of the other types of concrete paint and will hold up to high traffic area’s, You can usually get Epoxy style concrete paint in a variety of colors including clear which makes it pretty convenient. If you look around they also have Etching Stain, High Gloss Sealers, etc. Just try to make sure you get a reputable product because garages will accumulate a lot of traffic on the concrete paint.

* Interior Concrete Floors:

For interior concrete floors the currently most durable application type is an “Epoxy type Multi Surface Coating” Textured or not is completely up to you and your specific application needs. There is also Stains, Anti-Skid Coatings, Clear Coats, Sealers and more for this type of application. You should be able to find just about anything based on your design and application needs. (or matching requirements)

* Driveways and Sidewalks:

For a driveway and sidewalks your going to need a simple “Multi-Surface type Concrete Sealer” you just want something to protect against the natural elements including the sun, rain, salt, etc. And a few of the un natural ones. A good concrete paint for driveways and sidewalks should not only water proof and protect against UV rays. A common feature, the concrete paint usually carries is protection from gas, oil, & other house hold chemicals. Again if the product doesn’t already have a “Texture” you may want to check into a texture additive so you are not looking at slick surfaces where you walk.

* Stairs and Pools:

The stairs are another high traffic area, with the added slippage danger involved. For the stairs you are definitely want to get some type of “Anti-Skid Textured Coating” type concrete paint. The stairs are a dangerous place and wouldn’t do well with the smooth surface normal concrete paint would offer. This coating is also available in a variety of colors and finishes including granite and various dies. There is also various stains and sealers that can be used in combination with a “Anti-Skid Floor Texture Type Additive” that is a much cheaper solution to painting the concrete on the stairs but you get what you pay for.

* Pavers:

Now pavers usually have some sort of edges or texture already in them, not always the case, but usually. But when this is the case You don’t necessarily need a texture, some sort of “Concrete Sealer” type application to protect the from the elements and normal wear and tear. You can get just about any color, style, shade, paint, or clear coat. Personally I like to use a “High Gloss” type concrete paint just because at night every little bit helps. I forgot my porch light a few times Let me tell ya, I was so glad to have a shiny sidewalk to help me get into the house.

* Patios:

Patios are your choice really, it all depends on how you intend on using it. If you are on the patio a lot and it’s possible it could get wet you may want to look into a texture style concrete paint. But there are so many different applications and different types of concrete paint available, It would take a whole book to explain them to you. I am gonna have to leave this one to you and your common sense. Or better yet call a concrete paint professional. Most contractors offer free estimates and can tell you exactly what you need by looking at what you have up close and in person.

* Interior Concrete Walls:

If this is a new or untreated wall seal it with a concrete sealer before painting. If this is new or untreated: Staining and Sealing is also an option instead of concrete paint For interior concrete walls you can use just about any latex paint. Unless the wall sweats, then you will need to identify the problem before proceeding.

* Exterior Concrete Walls:

If this is a new or untreated wall seal it with a concrete sealer before painting. If this is new or untreated: Staining and Sealing is also an option instead of concrete paint For exterior concrete walls look for a “Masonry Water Proofer” type concrete paint. This will always be exposed to the elements so protecting your walls from the sun and rain will only help protect your investment. A good exterior concrete paint usually has the ability help protect against mold and mildew too. Mold is not supposed to be able to grow on the paints texture. I have added my two cents in, please before you jump into anything do your research. Don’t just take my word for it.

Crane Insurance

“Manhattan has no choice but the skyward extrusion of the Grid itself; only the skyscraper offers business the wide-open spaces of a man-made Wild West, a frontier in the sky.”

– Rem Koolhaas, famous Dutch architect

Cranes form the cornerstone on which modern construction stands. With space limited and urban populations increasing, cities are experiencing vertical growth like never before. Multistoried skyscrapers no longer excite comment but have become part of normal American life. This makes cranes an invaluable asset for construction firms.

Most construction companies that operate cranes do not actually own them but obtain them on lease. These leases can extend from a few days to few months depending on the work involved. The operator may also be provided by the crane company or can be a qualified employee from the construction firm itself. Training is obtained either in vocational schools, on the job or in the military.

Before any crane contractor can start work, he must obtain a operating permit from the state. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) of the US Department of Labor only recognizes the National Commission of Certification for Crane Operators (NCCCO) for official licensing. In order to apply to the NCCCO the operator have at least 1,000 hours of on the job training and be in prime physical health.

Insurance companies offering crane insurance provide coverage of the following:

1. General Liability – Covers any fault by the construction company during operation of the crane. It protects the insured from the risks of liabilities imposed by lawsuits and similar claims by any third party.

2. Property and Equipment – Protects against physical and mechanical damage to the crane and covers cost of replacement. The coverage includes boom overload, over-the-road liability, loss of income and extra expense, loss of rents, custody and control and attachments coverage.

3. Auto Liability and Physical Damage – Cranes can be either driven or transported via a tractor trailer. Cranes that can be driven are considered mobile equipment and are covered under auto liability insurance.

4. Workers Compensation – Covers health and well-being of workers at the construction site where crane is being used. If due to the cranes operation a worker is injured, the insurance provider will cover cost of treatment. In the event of death or disability, the insurer will pay out compensation as well.

5. Excess/Umbrella Liability – This provides additional cover than what is specified above. Also, it protects the insurer against events like earthquakes and floods that may not be covered by the aforementioned policies.

Before providing coverage, crane insurance companies consider the following potential areas of loss:

1. Injuries caused by falling debris lifted by the insured crane

2. Injuries caused by the cranes swinging boom (a boom is the extended arm of the crane).

3. Injuries caused by slips, trips or falls in the premises where the insured crane is being operated.

4. Injuries caused to outsiders, especially children who may find a crane an attractive plaything.

The Oxidation Ditch Design And Its Use In Wastewater Treatment

The oxidation ditch offers certain advantages over several other methods used for the treatment of wastewater. In the following paragraphs I show the advantages of the oxidation ditch design along with a brief about its construction and working.

The oxidation ditch design is a modified form of the extended aeration wastewater treatment method. Though the solids retention time and the hydraulic retention time are the same as the extended aeration method, the ditch has a closed loop process compared to extended aeration. The loops under the oxidation ditch system are designed and built to be oval in shape. This facilitates the aeration of wastewater. The aerators are horizontally mounted and are either disc aerators, cage aerators or brush aerators. Such a design allows the ditch to handle wastewater volumes more than 10,000 gpd or 0.4 L/s. Since this design is a modified extended aeration process, the advantages and disadvantages of this process are also the same as the extended aeration system. In the oxidation ditch system, the aerators are the most maintenance intensive machinery because they are involved in aerating large volumes of wastewater.

There is another version of this ditch design known as the triple channel. This design has three channels or ditches constructed serially one after another. In this design the two outer ditches are used for sedimentation of wastewater and discharging the treated influent. This process happens alternately. Hence the advantage of using the triple channel system is that there is no need to construct a separate sedimentation tank. This also reduces the cost of construction and operation of the wastewater treatment process.

What Is The Best Potting Mix for Container Growing?

The foundation of a successful and crop-filled container gardening experience is a good potting mix. Every thriving plant needs good soil to live on, and using badly mixed, low quality soil won’t produce healthy plants. Expert gardeners and farmers all have their signature or preferred mix, but not every beginner knows the best kind of potting mix for container growing.

Before figuring out or mixing the right kinds of soil, it is important to have a good container. It should be wide and big enough to carry all organic matter and has a hole that can drain out water and excess material. It should be lightweight and should not conduct extra amounts of heat that can happen in thick clay pots.

A big mistake that beginner growers stumble upon is the use of ordinary garden soil. It is not recommended as a main ingredient in potting mixes because it can contain harmful elements such as seeds, weeds, pests and diseases. They could prevent the seeds from germinating or produce wilting crop.

It may seem daunting work for a newbie, but some beginners prefer mixing their own potting soil to get that rich and healthy living ground for their plants. Aside from the feeling of certainty, it is also good to know the exact contents of the soil in which the plants will grow on. Here’s a classic soil-based mix that will work well by providing structure and drainage:

  • 1 part peat moss or mature compost
  • 1 part perlite or clean builder’s sand
  • 1 part garden soil or loam

For organic growers, here is a mix developed by Cornell University for commercial farming, and can also be used for home growing:

  • ½ cubic yard perlite
  • ½ cubic yard coconut coir or peat moss
  • 10 pounds bone meal
  • 5 pounds blood meal
  • 5 pounds ground limestone

It is fine to use commercial potting mixes, but be sure to only use high-grade ones. Avoid cheap packs that solely say “topsoil” or “compost” on the label. These unidentified low quality commercial mixes could include tired and over-used soil that could be very well exposed to chemicals, or even made from biosolids (or toxic waste). Look for the label “certified organic” and the specific ingredients. The mixes mentioned above are sure to give the right amount of health any plant will need. Knowing the best kind of potting mix is not enough; it also takes a huge amount of determination and attention from growers in order to yield beautifully.

Air Conditioner – A Useful Item in Hot Weather

Air conditioners have come to stay. Where ever you go, there is air conditioning on the hot summer days. Thanks to technology, even the weather you can control though a limited to small space. Some time back, an air cooling unit of this nature was a luxury for the people in developing countries as the prices of them were very high but with the improvements of peoples’ buying power and the simultaneous reduction of the prices made the them an affordable item for people in many countries.

There are many advantages in having these cooling units. Think of cars. When the car air conditioner is not used, all the dust from outside comes and settles inside. When you use the car for a few days without it in summer, the car has to be vacuum cleaned more often to remove the dust. This applies to houses too. Some houses gather dust quicker than others depending on the location. The best method to avoid this, is to have an air conditioner and sealing off the house.

There are many different types of these high tech instruments in the market. The window type, the wall type and the central air conditioning are the main types. The prices of them will depend on the type. For your house you can get a central air conditioner fixed. It has to be looked after by professionals but it is hassle free. Once you enter into a contract with a maintenance company, only you have got to make the payment. They will look after the rest of it.

If you decide to have a window type one they are cheaper but are noisier. Better go for a split type which is a better option. It is silent and also with split type prices are coming down now.

The Ways An Air Conditioner Compressor Can Fail, and What To Do About It

Air conditioner compressors usually fail due to one of two conditions: time and hours of operation (wear out), or abuse. There are some failures that can occur elsewhere in the system that will cause a compressor failure, but these are less common unless the system has been substantially abused.

Usually abuse is a result of extended running with improper freon charge, or as a consequence of improper service along the way. This improper service can include overcharging, undercharging, installing the wrong starter capacitor as a replacement, removing (rather than repairing/replacing) the thermal limiter, insufficient oil, mixing incompatible oil types, or wrong oil, installing the compressor on a system that had a major burnout without taking proper steps to remove the acid from the system, installing the wrong compressor (too small) for the system, or installing a new compressor on a system that had some other failure that was never diagnosed.

The compressor can fail in only a handful of different ways. It can fail open, fail shorted, experience a bearing failure, or a piston failure (throw a rod), or experience a valve failure. That is pretty much the entire list.

When a compressor fails open, a wire inside the compressor breaks. This is unserviceable and the symptom is that the compressor does not run, though it may hum. If the compressor fails open, and following the steps here does not fix it, then the system may be a good candidate for a new compressor. This failure causes no further failures and won’t damage the rest of the system; if the rest of the system is not decrepit then it would be cost effective to just put a new compressor in.

Testing for a failed open compressor is easy. Pop the electrical cover for the compressor off, and remove the wires and the thermal limiter. Using an ohmmeter, measure the impedance from one terminal to another across all three terminals of the compressor. Also measure the impedance to the case of the compressor for all three terminals.

You should read low impedance values for all terminal to terminal connections (a few hundred ohms or less) and you should have a high impedance (several kilo-ohms or greater) for all terminals to the case (which is ground). If any of the terminal to terminal connections is a very high impedance, you have a failed open compressor. In very rare cases, a failed open compressor may show a low impedance to ground from one terminal (which will be one of the terminals associated with the failed open). In this case, the broken wire has moved and is contacting the case. This condition – which is quite rare but not impossible – could cause a breaker to trip and could result in a misdiagnosis of failed short. Be careful here; do an acid test of the contents of the lines before deciding how to proceed with repair.

When a compressor fails short, what happens is that insulation on the wires has worn off or burned off or broken inside the compressor. This allows a wire on a motor winding to touch something it should not touch – most commonly itself a turn or two further along on the motor winding. This results in a “shorted winding” which will stop the compressor immediately and cause it to heat up and burn internally.

Bad bearings can cause a failed short. Either the rotor wobbles enough to contact the stator, resulting in insulation damage that shorts the rotor either to ground or to the stator, or end bearing wear can allow the stator to shift down over time until it begins to rub against the stator ends or the housing.

Usually when one of these shorts occur, it is not immediately a hard short – meaning that initially the contact is intermittent and comes and goes. Every time the short occurs, the compressor torque drops sharply, the compressor may shudder a bit visibly as a result, and this shudder shakes the winding enough to separate the short. While the short is in place, the current through the shorted winding shoots up and a lot of heat is produced. Also, usually the short will blow some sparks – which produces acid inside the air conditioner system by decomposing the freon into a mixture of hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acid.

Over time (possibly a couple of weeks, usually less) the shuddering and the sparking and the heat and the acid cause insulation to fail rapidly on the winding. Ultimately, the winding loses enough insulation that the inside of the compressor is literally burning. This will only go on for a few minutes but in that time the compressor destroys itself and fills the system with acid. Then the compressor stops. It may at that time melt a wire loose and short to the housing (which can trip your house main breaker) or it may not. If the initial cause of the failure was bad bearings causing the rotor to rub, then usually when the thing finally dies it will be shorted to the housing.

If it shorts to the housing, it will blow fuses and/or breakers and your ohmmeter will show a very low impedance from one or more windings to ground. If it does not short to the housing, then it will just stop. You still establish the type of failure using an ohmmeter.

You cannot directly diagnose a failed short with an ohmmeter unless it shorts to the housing – a shorted winding won’t show up with an ohmmeter though it would with an inductance meter (but who has one of those?) Instead, you have to infer the failed short. You do this by establishing the the ohmmeter gives normal readings, the starter capacitor is good, power is arriving at the compressor, AND an acid test of the freon shows acid present.

With a failed short, just give up. Change everything, including the lines if possible. It is not worth fixing; it is full of acid and therefore is all junk. Further, a failed short could have been initially induced by some other failure in the system that caused a compressor overload; by replacing the whole system you also will get rid of that potential other problem.

Less commonly, a compressor will have a bearing failure, piston failure or a valve failure. These mechanical failures usually just signal wear out but could signal abuse (low lubricant levels, thermal limiter removed so compressor overheats, chronic low freon condition due to un-repaired leaks). More rarely, they can signal another failure in the system such as a reversing valve problem or an expansion valve problem that winds up letting liquid freon get into the suction side of the compressor.

If a bearing fails, usually you will know because the compressor will sound like a motor with a bad bearing, or it will lock up and refuse to run. In the worst case, the rotor will wobble, the windings will rub on the stator, and you will wind up with a failed short.

If the compressor locks up mechanically and fails to run, you will know because it will buzz very loudly for a few seconds and may shudder (just like any stalled motor) until the thermal limiter cuts it off. When you do your electrical checks, you will find no evidence of failed open or failed short. The acid test will show no acid. In this case, you might try a hard-start kit but if the compressor has failed mechanically the hard-start kit won’t get the compressor to start. In this case, replacing the compressor is a good plan so long as the rest of the system is not decrepit. After replacing the compressor, you must carefully analyze the performance of the entire system to determine whether the compressor problem was induced by something else.

Rarely, the compressor will experience a valve failure. In this case, it will either sit there and appear to run happily but will pump no fluid (valve won’t close), or it will lock up due to an inability to move the fluid out of the compression chamber (valve won’t open). If it is running happily, then once you have established that there is indeed plenty of freon in the system, but nothing is moving, then you have no choice but to change the compressor. Again, a system with a compressor that has had a valve failure is a good candidate for a new compressor.

Now, if the compressor is mechanically locked up it could be because of a couple of things. If the compressor is on a heat pump, make sure the reversing valve is not stuck half way. Also make sure the expansion valve is working; if it is blocked it can lock the compressor. Also make sure the filter is not clogged. I once saw a system that had a locked compressor due to liquid lock. Some idiot had “serviced” the system by adding freon, and adding freon, and adding freon until the thing was completely full of liquid. Trust me; that does not work.

Should diagnosis show a clogged filter, then this should be taken as positive evidence of some failure in the system OTHER than a compressor failure. Typically, it will be metal fragments out of the compressor that clogs the filter. This can only happen if something is causing the compressor to wear very rapidly, particularly in the pistons, the rings, the bores, and the bearings. Either the compressor has vastly insufficient lubrication OR (and more commonly) liquid freon is getting into the compressor on the suction line. This behavior must be stopped. Look at the expansion valve and at the reversing valve (for a heat pump).

Often an old system experiences enough mechanical wear internally that it is “worn in” and needs more torque to start against the system load than can be delivered. This system will sound just like one with a locked bearing; the compressor will buzz loudly for a few seconds then the thermal limiter will kill it. Occasionally, this system will start right up if you whack the compressor with a rubber mallet while it is buzzing. Such a system is a good candidate for a hard-start kit. This kit stores energy and, when the compressor is told to start, dumps extra current into the compressor for a second or so. This overloads the compressor, but gives some extra torque for a short time and is often enough to make that compressor run again. I have had hard-start kits give me an extra 8 or 9 years in some old units that otherwise I would have been replacing. Conversely, I have had them give only a few months. It is your call, but considering how cheap a hard-start kit is, it is worth trying when the symptoms are as described.

And this, in a nutshell, is what can happen to an air conditioner compressor and what you can do about it.