Patio Awnings For Your Business – The Advantages Explained

The Finishing Touch to a Business Location

Patio Awnings provide a finishing touch to any business location. However, they also offer respite from bright sunlight that can fade business furnishings and become a distraction to regular workflow. But, there is also a subtlety to patio awnings for a business. They create a professional look, curb appeal and impulse buying. A business facade adorned with patio awnings is another way of saying, “Welcome”. Potential customers notice businesses with awnings because the premises facade appears stylishly “dressed” by comparison to plain facades that blend one into the others.

Choosing Awnings For a Business Facade

When selecting a style of awning for a facade, the color and design should be compatible with the nature of the business as well as complimentary to the locality’s community. When choosing awning colors, it’s a good idea to carry out the business logo colors for better identification as well as customer recognition. It certainly doesn’t hurt a company to lay claim to being identified by their logo’s colors.

Certain logo colors stay in mind longer than others. This is something to consider before selecting  colors. The other issue to determine is what type of material the awnings will be manufactured from. Awnings can be made from aluminum, canvas, wood or vinyl. The type of  material chosen should enhance the business facade and not obscure it in any way. It’s a good idea to check with the local municipality for any restrictions to installation as well as building permits that may be required to install.

Awnings that Promote Business

Business owners who finish their  location with awnings invariably find a subtle way of promoting their business name. Some awnings are finished with the business name emblazoned on the awning as well as the building street number. Avoid too much clutter on business awnings. A quick glance should point out the most significant information that’s needed:  name and building street number. Understated elegance always wins out when it comes to a professional look.

Awnings Are A Good Value

Considering the value awnings add to any business facade and the professional look they project, awnings are a cost-effective addition that are durable, attractive and easy to install. Most  installations take less than a half day, depending on the number of awnings are available in a variety of sizes.

How To Solder Copper Piping

The world of plumbing continues to change and evolve just as technology seemingly alters everything in our lives. Due to its resistance of rusting, water supply lines inside the home were galvanized pipe and the sewer system was cast iron pipes.

Today PVC, CPVC and varied roll tubing constitutes the majority of newly installed water supply lines, with PVC & CPVC used for the sewer system. These new products are much easier and faster to install, which saves the builder construction time and ultimately the consumer money.

This is all great, but what about the current million(s) homes which currently have water supply lines made of copper. What happens when a water line freezes and breaks, replace the entire water supply line? Of course not, that would be cost prohibitive, you repair the copper line at the break.

I’m going to guide you through a simple repair of a ½” copper water line which supplies the kitchen sink with cold water, by showing you how to solder in a repair coupling permanently sealing the leak.

Naturally, the first thing you do is shut the water supply off to the pipe which is broken to stop anymore damage from occurring. A wet or cluttered work area only complicates matters, so clean and dry the area before starting the repair work.

You’ll have to analyze the size and length of the split pipe in order to decide how much of the pipe you’re going to cut out. If there’s only a pin hole leak, you can get away with cutting the pin hole out and replacing it with 1 repair coupling. If the split is ¼” or bigger, you’ll have to cut out more piping and use two repair couplings.

I suggest if the pipe has frozen and split, always use 2 repair couplings and new pipe. The reason being, copper pipe can actually swell, becoming thicker walled, before actually splitting. If you cut the pin hole out, there’s a possibility the repair coupling will not fit over the copper pipe because it had swelled at that point.

Let’s assume we cut 3″ out of the copper piping, which we’ll now have to replace before the water can be hooked back up. Here’s a list of materials and tools required to perform this repair.

* Copper Pipe ½”, it comes in 10′ lengths, but most home repair stores such as Home Depot and Lowes sell shorter lengths, although it may not be much more expensive to buy the entire stick and have remaining pipe for another job. If you can’t transport a 10′ piece they will cut in halve.

* Solder, Flux, sandpaper (fine), a propane torch and Inside pipe cleaner brush. You can sandpaper the inside, but the brush is better and cheap.

* 2 – ½” repair couplings. It’s important to get repair couplings and not regular couplings. Regular couplings have indentations on the inside of the fitting which only allows the pipe to be inserted half way into it, in order to provide an ample amount of soldering area. The repair couplings do not have this making it to where you can slide the fitting up and down the pipe.

This is essential to be able to install the repair section into an situation where there is no play (movement) of either of the stationary pipes being repaired.

* A rag, for wiping excess solder off the fitting and a glass or pan of water handy in case you catch something on fire you didn’t mean to.

The repair procedure is as follows.

* Measure the gap of the cut out section and cut a piece of pipe slightly shorter. There are exact formulas for figuring the length, but in your case, close is plenty good enough. So for a 3″ opening, cut a 2 ¾” piece of pipe allowing you an 1/8″ clearance on either side.

** A rule. Copper pipe and fittings must be 100% clean. Clean to a bright shiny gloss at least 2″ down the pipe. After cleaning do not touch the cleaned end with your fingers, as the oil from your skin can compromise the joint and create a leak. Always use plenty of flux.

* Take a piece of sandpaper and clean both ends of the existing pipe. Polish to a very bright shine. * Use the brush included in the flux container and smear the flux completely around the pipes.

* Wire brush the inside of the two couplings, apply flux and slide one on each pipe end. Sand and apply flux to the 2 ¾” pipe and insert into the gap, moving the repair coupling(s) as needed to insert the piece. Make sure the couplings are positioned to cover both ends of the pipe evenly. Your work is now perfectly aligned, cleaned, fluxed and ready to solder into a solid pipe.

* Propane torch instruction. Light the torch with a striker or a match. Adjust the flame to where the light blue flame inside the main flame ends in a sharp point, that’s your hottest flame. When applying the heat to the pipe, do not engulf the pipe in the flame, just the end of the flame is required.

* Solder instruction. Solder comes in a roll which you hold in your hand. Unroll a 8″ to a foot of solder, bend a ½” of the end of the solder at a right angle. The foot of solder is to extend your reach to the solder joints, but only ½” of solder is required for a ½” pipe joint. A little more is ok, but not too excessive as too much does nothing but run down the pipe or drop onto the floor.

* You will solder one coupling at a time. The first coupling will take a little longer than the first because you’ll need to warm the pipe, the heat transfer will warm the second joint.

* Move the torch flame back and forth across the coupling joints evenly heating it. You’ll hear the flux begin to sizzle and it will solidify. Touch the solder to the joint, if the pipe is not hot enough the solder will do nothing, but if the pipe is hot enough the solder will melt and quickly seal the joint. There is no need to move the solder around the pipe, the solder will automatically encircle the pipe closing the seam.

* Repeat for the other coupling, but it will probably melt the solder immediately.

* Wipe any excess solder from the joints with a rag, do this before it cools.

Allow the repair a minute or so to completely set up, then slowly turn the water back on, checking for leaks.

You’ve repaired a broken copper water line, costing about $30 to $40 bucks versus calling a plumber and paying $400.

The Safest Way To Change An Electrical Plug Socket

You would be amazed at exactly how many people nowadays don’t understand how to change a plug socket. Evidently, the better approach to get it done correctly is to hire an electrician who can perform the work for you! But, for those who don’t plan to pay one, or anybody else for that matter, you may actually change an electrical plug socket yourself. In the grand scheme of things, it is a minor chore. But which minor task can become a significant fiasco if it’s not handled properly because playing around with electricity can be dreadfully dangerous. Here is a guide that you may follow to carefully replace an electrical plug socket.

Remember that safety is an important concern here. Before you begin anything whatsoever, make certain you switch off the power for the socket which you are going to change. Go to your main circuit breaker box and trip off the breaker which gives power to that actual socket. You can only do that and choose the appropriate breaker if your main breaker box is properly marked, otherwise if you do not want to test each breaker until you locate the right one, you will have to turn off all the breakers to make sure. Now go to the socket in question and test for power. Just plug an electrical appliance for example a vacuum cleaner to check whether the supply remains to be on or use a multi-tester if you have one. Multi-testers are supplied with operational manuals so anyone can use one.

Proceed only when you’re totally sure that there is no power to the socket that you’re going to work with. Now, use a screwdriver to remove the screws holding the face plate after which you can remove the face plate. Take out screws holding the socket to your receptacle box. Drag the socket as far out as it will move out of your receptacle box, taking care not to touch any wires.

Now, make a note of precisely where the wires are connected to the socket because you’ll want to reconnect them later on in the fresh socket in the same way. You should see two or three wires attached to the socket they are usually colour coded. The brown being the live wire, the other 2 are for neutral and ground. When you wire them up exactly the same way, you do not need to worry about the colours. That is very crucial. A multi-tester will be invaluable here should you get stuck.

Undo the wires from the old socket. Check your notes and reconnect the wires in to the new socket’s terminals. Tighten every one of the screws and make sure that no wires with another colour are touching each other. When all the wires are properly fastened into place, push the socket back into the receptacle box and secure it using the screws you had taken out earlier. Then replace the faceplate. Turn on all of the breakers inside your main breaker box and plug an electrical piece of equipment into your new socket and check if it is operational.

Congratulations. You have just learned the way to effectively change an electric plug socket.

Get the Audience’s Attention: Your Opening "Hook"

Let’s face it… regardless of the type of business; we’ve all sat through some pretty bad presentations. When delivering your presentation, you have to establish the audience’s attention and buy-in within the first 30 seconds. If you don’t have their attention from the beginning AND be able to maintain interest throughout the presentation, your message is lost. To make sure you have the audience in the palm of your hand at the start of the presentation, you have to deliver an “opening hook”. What is a “hook” you ask? Well, that’s the “attention getting” device a good presenter uses to establish audience attention and cause them to immediately respond with some type of reaction. Opening “hooks” can be a variety of different devices. The following is a listing of some of the most popular “hooks” used by presenters and why they’re effective. Remember, whatever “hook” you plan to use, make sure it relates to the message you’re delivering.

  • An anecdote (or short story) from your personal history that has a connection with the message you’re delivering.
  • Use humor. Not necessarily tell a joke (unless you’re a comedian)… but put a humorous spin to the introduction of your message.
  • A statement that creates doubt or disbelief. The statement doesn’t necessarily have to be true… just a statement that will peak the audience’s interest and attention.
  • A little known / interesting fact. Use something that would create interest, but make sure that it’s not common knowledge.
  • A controversial opinion. Nothing gets the “juices” moving faster than a statement that people disagree with on an important subject. Your audience will want to stay around to see what you’re going to say next.
  • An interesting statistic. This statistic could be a surprising revelation to members of the audience.
  • A current event. Everybody hears the news at some point, even if it’s 5 minutes of cable news during the day or glancing at a newspaper headline while in the convenience store.
  • A “Theatrical” performance. Being an actor, I have a tendency to use “hooks” that involve an element of stage performance. Now the audience wonders what I’m going to do next.
  • A quote. It doesn’t have to be from someone famous. It just has to be appropriate and timely.

There are others…

The “hook” forces the audience to make choices. Do they agree or disagree with what has been said? Are they or are they not engaged by the performance factor of the “hook”? Do they laugh or try to keep a stoic face? Regardless… the opening hook sets the tone for the remainder of the presentation. Now that you’ve got their attention, how do you keep it? That involves introducing “timely grabs” throughout your presentation to maintain interest and a topic for another article. Until next time.

Big Bad Buicks – Are You a 3 Or 4 Holer?

It all started in 1949, postwar creativity gave birth to the Buick fender portholes or ventiports. The combination of “fighter plane exhaust stacks”, along with a “bombsight” hood ornament (rocket through ring) introduced in 1946, simulated a driver’s very own fighter plane. A true tribute to the men and women of the armed forces.

Chief Buick stylist Ned Nickles, took it a step further…he installed a flashing light within each hole, each synchronized with a specific spark plug simulating the flames from the exhaust stack of a fighter plane. You can imagine the affect as his Buick, a 4 Holer, “took flight”.

Interesting note here; a 1955 issue of Hot Rod Magazine included a JC Whitney ad for Buick porthole aftermarket lights. I have a remnant of one of the lenses in a 4 Holer panel.

Although the light feature did not make Buick production, the 3 and 4 Holers, or Ventiports, became synonymous with Buick in 1949. They were non functional as vents but became very important in a different way…Lower cost models were equipped with three portholes, while higher cost models came with four. Often, people would denote their cars as “Four-Holers” or “Three-Holers” to assert the car’s class. When the number of portholes was standardized across the entire model line, buyers of the higher cost models complained bitterly that they felt shortchanged. Is that just like us or what?! Probably lead to some “heated” exchanges.

Talking “heat”, do you remember the “Highway Patrol” TV series introduced in 1955? Broderick Crawford was Dan Matthews, the California Lawman that growled “10-4” from that now famous 1955 Buick Century (it was a 4 Holer by the way!) His car was one of 270 Buicks especially designed for the California Highway Patrol, powered by a 322 CID beast pounding 236 HP (Big deal then) down the highway in search of the bad guys. And get this, it won top speed that year at a dyno’ed 108 mph before tearing the tread of the new state-of-the-art tubeless tires.

All that history said, Buick has reintroduced the “Ventiports” on the 2011 LaCrosse and Enclave models, along the inner hood ridges. The 2011 Lucerne keeps them on the fender and…they’re 4 Holers!!!

So, R U a 3 or 4 Holer? Which ever it is, enjoy the ride!

Commercial Lighting Tips

Installing a proper lighting system for your business is almost a science so it is important to consult with a professional for the best commercial lighting tips available. Typically a business requires more lighting and special considerations than a home in a residential area. Not only do you have to deal with indoor lighting for both employee and customer needs, but also outdoor lighting as well.

Lighting needs for businesses are likely to be similar whether you work in a mid-sized city or a larger one. Electricians with proper certification and training will help you navigate your journey through choosing the proper type of lights for both indoor and outdoor situations as well as the best installation locations. They will also be able to take into account current ambient lighting, the right lamp technology, choosing the right controls such as motion sensor or timers, fixture configurations, proper visibility and more.

Inside Lighting Considerations

One of the most important commercial lighting tips to consider is emergency exit lighting. What happens when your business loses power due to an outage or an emergency like a fire? You and your employees need to be able to see to safely exit the building. Exit signs and lights with battery back-ups are ideal in this situation.

Licensed, professional electrical contractors can help you choose the appropriate lighting scheme for your business indoors, whether you have a small shop which requires illuminated front window displays or a warehouse type of facility with larger, brighter lighting needs. For instance, for large, open spaces, you might be presented with options like high intensity discharge (HID) lights or fluorescent high bay fixtures.

Outdoor Options for Commercial Applications

As a business owner, you have to be cognizant of how your outdoor lighting affects your commercial neighbors, surrounding traffic areas and even nearby suburban neighborhoods. An improperly installed floodlight may inadvertently blind drivers at night, shine brightly into nearby homes or create shadowed areas around an illuminated area. Wallpack lights installed on the side of buildings may present similar problems.

A professional electrician from your area will likely understand and take into account city codes and laws which govern construction and commercial lighting. Tips may include installing wallbox lighting or shielded fixtures that aim illumination downward instead of upward and outward, which is basically useless. Downlighting signage and using internally lighted signs are additional outdoor options.

If you are looking at eco-friendly and energy efficient lighting for your business, an electrician can present options to you for review. For instance, you can install programmed lighting which shuts off at a certain time every day or motion-activated lighting which turns on only when a person enters a room. The same principle applies for parking lot and business entrance lighting after-hours.

The bottom line is that an electrical contractor can help you with a number of commercial lighting tips and even steer you in the right direction should you need to apply for permits. With professional lighting help, you will not only be able to comply with the law but save money and energy in the long run.

Home Lighting – How Much Is Enough?

A poorly lit room is a lot like a picnic in the rain! A thoughtful combination of well-distributed lighting from ceiling to mid-wall height brings your design to life. Recessed lighting or track lighting, chandeliers or pedant lighting (upper middle plane) floor and table lamps; accent or task lighting and wall sconces create adjustable wash and accent lighting where your you need it.

The output of light is measured in Lumens per watts (LPW). The recommendation for lighting per square foot varies by task, and guidelines vary by state. But let’s over-simplify and go with an average of between 15 – 35 Lumens of per square foot, depending on the home “zone” you’re lighting. It stands to reason that you need brighter task oriented lighting in work zones (kitchen, living, office) with more restful lighting levels in bedrooms.

So how much lighting is the right for your room?

To calculateLPW (below) use this basic guide:

Lumens ———————————————- (Lumens/Watts)

15 – Watt Incandescent————————————8

125 – 3 watt CFL——————————————-41

185 – 15 watt Krypton————————————–12

210 – 25 watt Incandescent———————————8

Ambient Lighting – 3-4 feet from Ceiling down

400 – 9 watt CFL—————————————— 44

460 – 40 watt incandescent——————————– 12

500 – 10 watt CFL—————————————– 50

General Room Lighting – Middle Height 3′-6′

890 – 60 watt Incandescent——————————–15

900 – 15 CFL———————————————–60

1180 – 75 watt Incandescent—————————— 16

1200 – 20 watt CFL—————————————-60

1380 – 23 watt CFL—————————————-60

Suitable For Tasks – directed at task; up to 30″

1750 100 watt Incandescent——————————-17

1750 29 watt CFL——————————————60

2780 39 watt CFL——————————————71

2780 watt Incandescent————————————19

General Lighting for this restful Bedroom retreat, we’ll calculate 15 Lumens per square foot. General Lighting (see chart) lights the middle 3′ of an average room with 9′ ceilings.

* 18′ x 17′ = 306 sf

* We’re recommending 15 Lumens per square foot for a more restful area.

* 306 square feet x 15 Lumens per sf is 4590 Lumen

* Divide 4590 by 1690 (1 average Incandescent Bulb)

* You need 2.92 Bulbs rounded up = 3 / 1690 Lumen (100 watt) incandescent bulbs

This being said, many light sources tend to “spill” light, meeting that a 100 watt incandescent bulb efficiently lights about 75% of our 15 – 35 lumens per square foot.

So the correct formula is:

Number of lumens – divided by the wattage x.25 (to compensate for Light spill) = NUMBER OF BULBS NEEDED.

To achieve Ambient Lighting (see the chart) let’s add dimmable recessed lighting or track lighting. A typical 4-inch fixture is spaced 4 feet apart (6″ fixtures about 6 feet apart). For the sake of discussion let’s use a 40 watt incandescent bulb from the chart.

* 306′ divided by 4′ (4″ recessed cans spaced 4′ apart)= 76.5 s.f.

* 76.5 s.f. divided by 40 (watts) = 5.1 bulbs (5 bulbs)

Now, If 5 bulbs efficiently light 75% of each square foot (due to light spill)

75% of 5 (use 5 fixtures x.25; it’s correct and easy) = 1.25, so you need 1 extra fixture:

Our Master needs: 6 40 watt recessed cans to get 15 LPW per square foot.

Now it’s time to decorate! This 306 sf Master Bedroom needs:

* 6 recessed dimmable recessed cans or 4 track lights

* 3 lamps with 3 100 watt bulbs, or 2 side 60 watt side table lamps and a 3 pendant light pendant chandelier with 40 watt bulbs will do, as it is mid-height.

Step back and have a look at your room now!

Bypassing Communications Barriers in Project Management

Got a Communication Googly in the latest performance review?

If you have been wondering what I mean by a Communication Googly, it, in the simplest of the terms would be a negative ranking in the area of communication. Your manager might simply put it as ‘Bad Communication Skills’. In this article, we will discuss about how to break the communication barrier in a corporate environment for any project you are a part of. Let’s call it the Project Communication Plan.

Corporate environments are comprised of a number of human and non-human resources. The bigger the organization is, the easier it is to get lost in the crowd. Very often individuals ignore the basic norms of survival in a corporate environment – Communication, Communication and Communication. Here are some basics to remember when you are on a task:

– Every task is a project

– Every project needs an execution plan

– Every project has a requirement to be analyzed and implemented

– Every requirement needs resources to fulfill

– Every requirement needs to be documented

– Every document needs to be approved and communicated

When your manager puts up a requirement, remember that what he expects from you might be actually on a different track from your understanding of the same. So remember, each time you go have a requirement, the first thing you should ideally do would be, make a document for yourself and your manager mentioning the requirement, and your understanding of the same. A discussion document should ideally contain the following:

– Your Understanding of the requirement

– Objectives of the requirement

– The key persons and non-human resources that would influence the requirement

– Identify the tools required for the requirement

– Estimate the time required to meet the expectation

This is the beginning point of your communication plan, and effective implementation of the first step itself is a barrier overcome. Send the document to your manager and wait for a go-ahead for the document. This saves a lot of time when the requirement is being worked on without a document and ultimately leads to understanding the fact that the requirement was indeed different from what was understood to be the requirement. Hence it is important to dare to ask questions, clarify the doubts and get on a requirement. This helps the management understand what you have been up to and at the same time, it would help you understand what the management actually expects from you. Wait. This is not where it ends.

Once you have the requirement set right, it’s time to identify the resources that are needed to make this an effective project.

Now that you have your tips, go back to that project and compare your current standing on the project. Have you got your path right? Never mind. It’s never too late to get organized. Get on to implement this project and see how your communication skills get a Thumbs Up in your organization. And don’t forget, one day you will be a manager and people would learn from you, so this is the right time to reorganize and set an example to your peers and subordinates.

You Do Not Have to Deal With Fire – Ways to Fireproof Your Home

We know of several instances wherein fire could have been avoided. Fire usually results from carelessness and irresponsibility. This means that you can do several things to prevent it. You do not have to deal with it if you apply the necessary safety precautions.

Fireproof your home. Identify the different fire hazards at home and deal with them accordingly. Here are the first few steps to fireproof your home:

1. Install fire safety devices in all areas of the house. An alarm system will notify you immediately if there is an ongoing fire in one room of the house. See to it that these devices are working all the time.

You will also need fire extinguishers. You need this for fire protection purposes. You do not want to hear the alarm and do nothing about it. Since the alarm notifies you right away, you will be able to get to it before it spreads. This will give you the chance to prevent the fire from spreading.

2. Do not leave candles and heaters unattended. Lighted candles can fall unto your rag and start a fire. It can also get to your drapes or pillows. If you are using candles as home accessories, see to it that you blow them off when no one is in the room.

Heaters can cause fire as well. When tipped off, its flammable liquid can spread and start a fire immediately. To prevent this, check the safety feature of the heater before purchasing it. It has to be sturdy so that it will not easily tip off. It should have an auto shut off feature as well in case it falls. Most importantly, you have to position it in a secure area to prevent fire from taking place.

3. Check your power adapters for overloading. We often neglect to check how many devices are already on the adapter. This often leads to overloading. Before adding a new device on it, unplug an appliance, which is no longer in use.

4. Monitor your electrical appliances regularly. We seldom monitor our appliances at home. It is best to schedule a time to check them regularly. Check their cords for damages. Are there any broken internal parts? Monitor electrical wires for damages as well. In addition, do not let wires run under the rugs or carpets too.

5. Do not allow newspaper or magazines to pile up. Dispose them right away. As they pile up, these pieces of paper can ignite very easily and start a fire. To prevent it, remove it from your storage area.

Fire protection is very important because although you try your best to prevent fire, something wrong can still happen. In order to prevent fire, you have to be responsible. You have to attend to your electrical appliances. Your power adapter should not be overloaded. Most importantly, you have to see to it that your fire safety devices are working at all times. Regular monitoring of the alarms and proper maintenance of your fire extinguisher will save you and your property.

The History of Wallpaper

Wallpaper first became popular amongst the growing gentry class in Europe during the Renaissance. This was thanks to the introduction of the woodcut printmaking technique that made printed products more freely available during this period of religious, social and technological growth in Europe.

From Tapestries to Paper

Up until the creation of the first wallpapers in Europe upper class society used tapestries to adorn and decorate the walls of their stately homes. This tradition first started during the Middle Ages and these tapestries were used to add colour and insulation to large stone rooms. This however was extremely expensive and was only available to the most affluent families. With the introduction of new printing methods during the Renaissance less affluent members of the upper class turned to wallpaper to brighten up their households.

The first types of wallpapers printed featured scenes that were very similar to those depicted on the tapestries found in many older houses and sometimes were simply large sheets of printed paper that hung loosely on the walls. As time progresses paste was used to stick them to the wall and often several sheets of paper were used to create large scenes on walls. Many notable artists at this time made a good living out of designing prints for wallpapers, including Albrecht Dürer, who created both large picture prints and ornament prints that were used for wall-hanging.

Did you know? The largest wallpaper print was The Triumphal Arch that was commissioned by the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I. It was completed in 1515 and measured 3.57m by 2.95m and was made up of 192 hand coloured sheets.

Wallpaper Production and the Introduction of Wallpaper Tax

England and France became the largest manufacturers and users of wallpapers during the 1500’s. In England it became extremely popular under Henry VIII as he was excommunicated from the Catholic Church which resulted in a drop in the tapestry trade from France. Without a regular supply of expensive tapestries, the English gentry and aristocracy turned to wallpaper.

During the Protectorate in Britain that was established under Oliver Cromwell, the manufacture of wallpaper was halted. This was due to the fact that it was seen as a frivolous item by the Puritan Cromwellian government. However, with the death of Cromwell and the restoration of Charles II, wealthy people across England once again turned to wallpaper as a form of decoration and increased the demand again.

In 1712, due to the fact that wallpapers were now primarily used by the wealthy, Queen Anne introduced a wallpaper tax that was only abolished in 1836. This however did not deter the use of wallpaper as by the mid-eighteenth century Britain was the biggest wallpaper manufacturer in Europe.

The Decline and then Rise of the Wallpaper Industry in Britain

During the Napoleonic Wars fought by the greater European powers, trade between Europe and Britain all but dried up. This resulted in the end of the wallpaper market as it was and it was not until the introduction of steam-powered printing presses in 1813 that once again the demand for wallpaper grew. However, there was now a larger demand locally in the United Kingdom as cheap mass-produced wallpapers made it very affordable to working-class people.

By the early twentieth century, wallpaper in Europe and the America’s has become one of the most popular household items available. During the late 1980s however, wallpaper again started to decline in popularity and was slowly replaced by non toxic paints that are easier to remove and change.

Home Fireproof Safe Ratings – How to Determine If Your Safe is Fireproof

Want to Blow Up a Safe?

With these tests for your home fireproof safe, it could explode. This article tells you how to test a fireproof home safe to determine if it meets the standards for fire resistant ratings established by The Underwriters Laboratories. Please note that I use the term fireproof interchangeably with fire resistant, technically they are not interchangeable. I also recommend that you do not actually try this in your own home. It is far too expensive and dangerous.

Material Needed

1. You will need a minimum of two identical home fireproof safes. You will need a third fireproof home safe if you want to do the explosion test by itself.

2. Select some documents that you can use for a test. Make sure it is something that you can spare but don’t use blank paper otherwise you won’t know if is readable or not. I’ve contemplated using my BS degree in electrical engineering. I haven’t used it for years. If you are testing a media safe, then you may want some CDs that you got for Christmas and can’t stand. Try a flash drive and memory stick also.

3. You’ll need a furnace big enough to heat one safe at a time. If you’ve watched MacGyver or the A Team, I’m sure you can improvise. Otherwise check out a local pottery kiln.

4. Get some protective gear. Oven mitts will not do well opening a safe that has been heated to 2,000 degrees F.

5. Somehow, you will need to find some thermometers and recording devices that will let you know the internal temperature in the fireproof safe. I don’t think an Oregon Scientific weather station will work unless you are testing for the UL 125 rating. It will also need to measure humidity.

6. You will also need to measure the external temperature of the safe. Good luck finding a cheap thermometer that goes to 2,000 degrees.

7. Oh, I almost forgot. You will probably need a small crane to hoist your home fireproof safe 30 feet in the air while it is still hot. A quick release will also be needed for the drop test.

8. At the bottom of the drop test, you will need a pile of bricks on a cement slab.


Assuming you have been able to assemble all the material above, it might be good to find out what the different UL ratings mean and the criteria that will determine a successful test. Each of the ratings can be used for a fireproof safe but it is meaningless unless you specify how long the safe will meet the standard.

UL 350 – The safe must keep the interior temperature below 350 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s below the normal temperature for most paper products to burn, char or become useless.

UL 150 is the rating for tapes, cartridges, microfiche, and microfilm. In addition to keeping the interior at or below 150 degrees, the humidity must be below 85%.

UL 125 is the standard for diskettes. In this case, the temperature cannot exceed 125°F and 80% humidity. I have a feeling that this standard is a bit out of date because most people don’t store diskettes anymore.

Heat Test

The first test is to see if your fireproof home safe will protect the contents for the specified length of time. You need to start at normal room temperature and humidity. Load your safe with your test material and haul it over to your furnace.

Heat your furnace to the following temperatures (all Fahrenheit) for the test you want to run then put the safe in the furnace. Be careful, when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were tossed into a super heated furnace, the guys assigned to the task were killed from the heat.

o 1,550 for a ½ hour rated safe

o 1,700 for a 1 hour rated safe

o 1,850 for a 2 hour rated safe

o 1,920 for a 3 hour rated safe

o 2,000 for a 4 hour rated safe

Leave your home fireproof safe in the furnace for ½ to 4 hours. Here comes the kicker. Don’t remove the safe after the allotted time, simply turn off the heat and let it cool down inside the furnace. If you have a really good furnace, like the ones that the guys at UL have, that would take up to 68 hours.

You’ll need to record the interior temperature during the heat up and cool down phase. If it goes above the rating, your home fireproof safe flunked the test. When it gets cool enough to open, you will need to check your test contents to make sure they are still good.

Impact Test

I think the heat test was somewhat boring. The impact test is a lot more fun and doesn’t take as long. For this test, you need your second home fireproof safe. Start the same as before but the times and temperatures in the furnace will be less.

o 20 minutes at 1,460 degrees for a ½ hour rated safe

o 30 minutes at 1,550 degrees for a 1 hour rated safe

o 45 minutes at 1,640 for a 2 hour rated safe

o 60 minutes at 1,700 for a 3 and 4 hour rated safes

This part sounds like a TV game show. You now have 2 minutes to get the safe out of the furnace, lift it 30 feet in the air and drop it onto your pile of bricks. If you can see the insides through any cracks or the door, your fireproof safe flunked the second test. However, if it still looks OK you aren’t done yet.

Turn your safe upside down and reheat it again. This time you can remove it from the furnace and let it cool. Open the safe and examine the contents. If everything is OK, including no damage due to moisture, you are almost done.

Explosion Test

If you are a fan of Mythbusters on TV, then this has the potential of being the most fun. If you only bought two safes, then you will want to do this before you do the drop test.

Start with an empty fireproof home safe. Heat it to 2,000 degrees then open it and stuff the test documents, CDs or other material in really quick. Slam the door shut and keep the exterior at 2,000 degrees for another 30 minutes. If your safe hasn’t exploded you are almost done. Once it has cooled enough to make sure you can handle it, open your home fireproof safe and make sure your documents are still OK.

Congratulations, you have just proved that your home fireproof safe is indeed fire resistant.

Mythbusters Test

None of your safes are any good anymore so this is for those who like to see things blow up. Get a stick of dynamite and… No, I’m not going there. Someone might accuse me of endangering people.


It is a lot cheaper and safer to just look inside your safe and see if it has a UL sticker.

A Few of Our Favorite Things (That Can Lower Homeowners Insurance Rates)

We all want to get the most bang for our buck, no matter what we’re buying. Below you’ll find some factors that can affect how much you’ll pay for homeowners insurance. Pay attention and you just might save some money on your home insurance policy!

Factors that Affect Your Home Insurance Premium

Get the facts. Start by gathering as much information as you can. Find out what kind of building materials were used in your home. What is the age of the wiring, plumbing and other systems? All of this can effect your home insurance premium. In parts of the country that are susceptible to earthquakes, a masonry home could be a liability, but in areas that are more prone to fires, a masonry home could be an asset.

Geography. Where you live effects your home insurance premium. You will pay more for homeowners insurance if you live in an area prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the states paying the most insurance in recent years are Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

Your neighborhood can also affect your homeowners insurance policy. For example, being close to a fire department may lower your premium. Living in a high crime area will probably raise it.

Is Enough Enough? Many homeowners are under insured. They have not bought enough insurance to cover the replacement value of their home. Many are over insured because they calculated their insurance needs by including the value of the land. Make sure you’re adequately insured for the rates you pay.

Personal Articles Floater. You may need to add a personal articles floater to your standard homeowners insurance policy if you have valuable items that exceed your policy limits.

Protect Your Financial Assets. Increased liability coverage is especially important for pool owners. Other injurious items such as trampolines can drive your insurance up by 10% or more.

Consider Your Comfort Level. To some extent, you can determine your deductible level. A higher deductible can significantly lower your monthly premiums. However, you may feel more comfortable paying higher rates just in case disaster strikes. Your best bet is to choose the highest deductible you can afford. But remember, the downside to this is that smaller claims such as broken windows will have to be covered by you, the homeowner.

Embrace Preventive Maintenance. Making repeated claims for minor problems will raise your premium. Consider implementing a regular maintenance schedule for your home. Repairing small problems in a timely manner will help you avoid big losses down the road.

Review and Compare Policies Regularly. It’s a good idea to review your homeowners insurance policy regularly and compare it to other policies. As you review your existing policy, you should note any changes to the property that could lower your premium. For example, if you have paid off your mortgage or removed the trampoline and you can provide proof of these changes, your insurance company will lower your premium. Changes in your neighborhood can also reduce rates. For example, if a fire hall has been built next door to you, this will lower your premium.

Pay Off Your Mortgage. If you pay off your mortgage, you will likely see your home insurance premium drop because insurance companies figure that once you own a property outright you’ll take better care of it.

Allowable Discounts. When you start making calls to find the best home insurance coverage, you should know what kinds of discounts you are entitled to. Home security systems and dead bolts will also help you save on your insurance. Here’s a list of common discounts:

  • Impact-resistant roofs
  • Noncombustible roofs
  • Burglar, fire, and smoke alarm systems. These can lower your premiums by as much as 5%.
  • Installing smoke detectors in older homes can save you as much as 10% on your policy.
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Home security devices

  • Age of house (companies set their own standard)
  • Premises in good condition (companies set their own standards)
  • Home insured to full replacement cost
  • Good claims history for three years
  • Marking personal property with an identifying number (inspection required)
  • Other policies with same company
  • Senior citizens discount
  • Age and Condition of Home

The age and condition of your home will be considered. Companies cannot refuse to insure homes in poor conditions, but they can deny solely because of a home’s age or value.

Cost to Replace. Premiums are more expensive for homes with high replacement costs.

Construction Material. The materials a home is constructed of will effect your premium. For example, homes built primarily of brick are less expensive to insure than wood frame homes are.

Plan Ahead for Construction. If you are planning on adding to your home, consider that highly flammable materials such as wood, cost more to insure. If you choose cement or steel-frame construction, it will cost less to insure because it is less likely to be damaged by fire or adverse weather conditions.

Claims History. Companies will charge more if you have made claims in the past. Keep your deductible in mind. It may be less costly in the long run to make the repair yourself instead of filing a claim.

Your Credit Score. Companies may take into account your credit rating to determine your premium. However, a company cannot refuse you based solely on your credit rating.

Remove Potential Risks. Check your property for potential risks such as heavy tree limbs. Remove all potential risks.

Watch Out for Crime. Of course you cannot stop crime yourself, but you can make yourself less vulnerable. The following precautions can help lower your premium:

  • Have crime prevention officers inspect your home and give you advice on protection.
  • Start a Neighborhood Watch Program. The local police department can help.
  • Install a burglar alarm system.
  • Keep shrubs and trees trimmed around windows and entryways. Overgrown shrubbery is a good hiding place for vandals.
  • Keep the area around your home well-lit.
  • Permanently mark personal property with an identifying number to aid in identification if the item is stolen and then recovered. A good time to do this is while you are doing your home inventory.

Maintain Your Home and Yard. Companies want to avoid losses from injuries or accidents. A cluttered yard and a peeling house could imply an unsafe home. If your house is peeling, consider repainting. Remove anything from your property that could cause harm. Fix any obvious signs of damage such as rotting boards and sagging screens. Replace damaged roofs. Keep your yard trim and neat.

Multiple Policy Discounts. Many insurance companies will give you a 10% discount if you also buy other insurance from them, such as auto or life.

Get to know these factors that can lower your homeowners insurance premiums – and then put them to work saving money for you!

Laminate Flooring – A Simple Understanding

Laminate flooring is a photographed wood board designed to look very alike a wood. However you can easily tell the difference when you look close to it. Because of it’s eco-friendly properties and it being a less expensive option than having real wood to the home, it has popularity among many home owners.

Its floor board structure is made up of at least 4 layers that has its own individual function. The outer layer is made up of aluminum oxide which prevents the floorboard from scratches and abrasion. The photographed wood layer is the 2nd layer, which portray the outlook of the floor. The foundation or the skeleton of the floorboard is on the 3rd layer, which is usually the high density form (HDF) board that is durable and strong enough to make the floorboard stable. The “back” layer is made up of resin paper or plywood, which is used to prevent air trapped between the ground and the floorboard.

In today’s society, many end users have been using laminate flooring due to its eco friendliness and of course, it’s cost effective. You do not need to spend huge amount of money and you can still have a comfy wooden floor look at your homes.

Since 1977, its first floor board is created in a Swedish vinegar store, which today is know as Pergo. Years later, a glueless installation method, known as “snap and clip” has also been introduced and patented for its technology. Within a few years time, new industry players such as Tarkett and Parador, began to surpass its predecessors by manufacturing better quality and safer laminate flooring products.

The resin layer inside a laminate floor board contains a certain amount of melamine and formaldehyde, which when reacts with the surrounding, can create a harmful oxide that is detrimental to the human health especially to children. This occurs typically in many mass produced low quality laminate flooring boards.

One major breakthrough in laminate flooring’s history is Parador’s Pro Air System. When the floor is in contact with surrounding, it creates a harmless organic protein, which is known as protectin. This will in turn purify dirty air as well as tobacco smoke.

As more and more people are living longer and also getting more health conscious, especially thinking for their children; getting a high quality laminate flooring with close to zero formaldehyde emission is a must have when selecting the right laminate floor for their homes or workplaces.

Preventive Maintenance for Hydraulic Pumps

Every mechanical part needs maintenance, so do the hydraulic pumps. Obviously, the proper maintenance can keep mechanical products under good conditions. Otherwise, the improper maintenance may lead to many problems which will then cause more serious problems. Therefore, you should do some preventive maintenance to avoid some unnecessary failures.

The preventive maintenance of the hydraulic pump involves many steps. It is warned that the maintenance or repair procedures should be done after disconnecting the pump from the power supply. The following are some things related with the preventive maintenance of the hydraulic pump.

First of all, you should check the hydraulic fluid level. Proper oil level is 1/2 from the top of the fill hole when all wrenches are retracted. You must check the oil level in the reservoir regularly. Then you should drain, flush, and refill the reservoir with high-grade hydraulic oil after a certain period of use.

Secondly, the cleaning maintenance is a crucial procedure for the preventive maintenance. Under this step, you should seal all unused couplers with thread protectors, and keep all hose connections free of dirt and grime and the pump’s outer surface as free from dirt as possible. Besides, the equipment connected to the pump must be kept clean.

Thirdly, you should drain and flush the reservoir. Before the pump interior is removed from the reservoir, you should clean the pump exterior. There are some things to follow.

1. Remove the ten screws fastening the motor and pump assembly to the reservoir. You should make sure that you do not damage the gasket or bump the filter or pressure regulating valves when lifting the pump and motor off the reservoir.

2. Clean the inside of the reservoir and fill with suitable flushing oil.

3. Place the pump and motor assembly back onto the reservoir, and secure with two machine screws assembled on opposite corners of the housing. After then, you should run the pump for several minutes. Then disconnect the motor and pump assembly, and drain and clean the inside of the reservoir. At last, you should fill the reservoir with hydraulic oil. Place the pump and motor assembly (with gasket) on the reservoir, and thread the ten screws.

In addition to the above mentioned steps, the oil should be added to the reservoir. Before doing this, wrench must be fully retracted and the power supply should be disconnected. You should clean the entire area around the filler plug before removing the filler plug, and use a clean funnel with filter when adding oil.

Lean Six Sigma

Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma are wildly popular continuous improvement methodologies, utilized by thousands of corporations today.

Some companies decide to implement lean manufacturing, while others believe six sigma is the necessary initiative to improve their business. There is now a growing list of companies combining both methods under the initiative called Lean Six Sigma. It is a fairly new approach, leaving many companies perplexed with the roadmap to implementation. It’s not surprising, since implementing either lean manufacturing or six sigma alone is a daunting task.

Lean manufacturing consists of about 25 major concepts, such as 5s, SMED, Error Proofing, Quality at the Source, Line Balancing, OEE, Kanban, Value Stream Mapping, Cellular Manufacturing, and Standard Operations. Some companies spend a few years implementing these terrific principles into their organization. Six sigma consists of a 5 phase methodology Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control (DMAIC), utilizing hundreds of tools throughout the phases.

Combine both methods and all of these tools, and it’s easy to understand why initiatives fail. Unless the organization has the expertise to handle the implementation and help focus the efforts, the program becomes a shotgun approach and is doomed to fail. Most organizations could not withstand the chaos and prolonged costs without substantial payback.

Both lean manufacturing and six sigma principles are proven to work. Many companies have increased business, reduced costs, increased throughput, and lowered cycle times using both approaches. It only makes sense to utilize every tool available to obtain the maximum improvement possible.

It is critical for companies to let the problem determine the tools that are needed, rather than determine the tool and try and force the use of it. Some projects are obviously a lean manufacturing initiative. For example, if a machine has a 40 minute setup time and it is the bottleneck, then a SMED project is necessary. It may be part of a kaizen blitz or a simple SMED (single minute exchange of die).

There are clearly other projects which will be primarily a six sigma project. For example, a batch process plant using 12 different ingredients with various processes at different temperatures, speeds, and viscosities, would require a six sigma project to determine the best combination of machines, speeds, and viscosities to obtain maximum results. Some of the six sigma tools used would be statistical analysis, hypothesis testing, design of experiments, and analysis of variance (ANOVA).

There are many other types of projects where both lean manufacturing and six sigma tools would best solve the challenge. For example, suppose a batch processing problem involved the various ingredients, speeds, and temperatures. The best method might be a certain mix of machines, but the best one has a 5 person crew with a 2 hour setup time. It is time for the lean tools to reduce the cost per man hour utilizing OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) tools as well as SMED, and possibly 5S.

A common use of lean tools in a six sigma project is during the Improve phase. The six sigma project Define, Measured, and Analyzed the problem, but a lean tool is necessary to solve it. Another six sigma tool will help Control it. If the company only used one of either six sigma or lean manufacturing tools, the problem may not get solved.

The beauty of six sigma is the methodical approach to opportunities. The advantage of lean manufacturing tools is the speed of implementation. When both tools are combined and used when necessary to solve business opportunities, the best result and greatest payback will be obtained.