Benefits of a Baby Gate

The Baby Gate is a great tool to keep children away from the hazards of a home. Often times a baby gate is used to keep children away from stairs or other objects that could cause injury. Another use for the baby gate would be to keep the child or children in one room or part of the house to ensure they are always kept in sight of the adult.

There are many harmful chemicals and obstacles in the typical home. By using a baby gate to keep children away from or out of rooms with such hazards, makes it easier for the adult to safely care for the children.

Using a baby gate at the top of or bottom of a staircase is an excellent idea. Children who are learning to crawl love to crawl up the stairs and do not know that they could fall down when trying to crawl up the stairs. In addition to keeping crawling infants from crawling up the stairs, an even bigger danger is for the crawler to fall down the stairs. Children as young as 8 months do not know that stairs are dangerous. They see the stairs as a new area to explore, not a hazard. The baby gate is a necessity for crawlers.

Another use for the baby gate is to keep children in one specific area or room. With multiple children in one home it is even harder to keep track of the children if they are let loose in the entire house. By keeping them in one room or part of the house they are more easily looked after.

Some baby gates can be hooked together. When this is done it forms what is known as a play den, super yard, or play yard. This can be used inside a large room or the more common use, outside. Often these play yards are used for small pets inside. When the homeowner does not want the small animal all over the house or does not what children in direct contact with the animal a play yard is used. A play den is great to use when playing in an outside area with no fence. The play den can be used for children too young to understand to stay in one area. The play den is also great for the crawling infant. A blanket can be placed inside the play yard for a soft crawling surface.

Five of the Most Haunted Hotels in Devon

Ever fancied a spooky weekend looking for ghosts in a real haunted hotel?  These hotels in Devon have all had supernatural sightings reported.

1) Chambercombe Manor, Ilfracombe

One of Britain’s most famous haunted houses, Chambercombe Manor was featured in the Living TV series ‘Most Haunted’.  It has long been reported to be haunted by the ghost of Lady Jane Grey. 

Spookier still, in 1865, a tenant noticed a window outline that did not correspond to a room inside the building.  When they investigated they found a small sealed room containing a bedstead with a skeleton in it.  The skeleton is believed to have been a titled lady visiting relatives at Chambercombe who was shipwrecked in a storm on the rocks at Hele. When she later died in the room, the occupants of the Manor took her jewellery and sealed her in.   A section of the partition has now been removed so that visitors can see into the chamber.

Chambercombe Manor hosts guided tours, paranormal events, overnight paranormal nights and murder mysteries.  Holiday accommodation is available in luxury cottages.

2) The Devil’s Stone Inn, Shebbear

The Devil’s Stone Inn has a certificate in the bar to prove it has been officially inspected and recognised as one of the eight most haunted pubs in the UK.

The bedrooms and bathrooms are said to be haunted by the ghost of a little girl aged around seven years old.  Sometimes seen with a gray bearded man thought to be her father, she is said to be a friendly ghost, and has ‘appeared’ on request in the bar, by moving coats and closing doors.  She is also blamed for pictures falling off the walls.

The pub itself is a former farmhouse which was converted into a coaching inn in the 17th century.  It is named after the Devil’s Stone, a large glacial rock on the village green, which is said to imprison the Devil underneath it.  Following local tradition, the village bellringers turn the stone over every year at 8pm on Guy Fawkes Night (5th November) to protect the village from disaster.  Once the stone has been turned, the celebrations begin in the Devil’s Stone Inn.

Local legend claims there is also a hidden tunnel connecting the Devil’s Stone Inn to the church. 

3) The Royal Castle Hotel, Dartmouth Quay

The Royal Castle Hotel has played host to Queen Victoria, Edward VII, Sir Francis Drake and Cary Grant, as well as providing a home for several of King Charles II’s mistresses.

At 2 am on autumn mornings, a ghostly coach and horses can be heard arriving, taking on a passenger and driving away.  This phantom coach is said to date from the time of King William and Queen Mary’s arrival from the Netherlands in 1688.  The Queen arrived first and stayed at the Royal Castle Hotel, which was then two pairs of houses with a narrow courtyard in between.  The King was forced by a storm to land in Torbay instead of Dartmouth, and a coach was sent to fetch Queen Mary, arriving at the Royal Castle Hotel shortly before 2 am. 

Ever since then, staff and guests at the hotel in the autumn have reported hearing horses’ hooves crossing cobblestones, a carriage door opening and closing, followed by the crack of a whip, the chimes of a long-gone clock, and the horses whinnying as they speed the coach away.

4)  The Lord Haldon Hotel, Dunchideock, near Exeter

A large country hotel which has hosted many aristocratic guests, the Lord Haldon Hotel has had many reports of ghosts. 

The most tragic story is that of an eighteenth century servant girl who appears to be distressed and dripping with water.  Locals believe she became pregnant by a man of higher social standing, and was murdered in the lake to avoid a scandal.

A more mysterious ghost, seen several times, is a large man with rolled up sleeves.  He  appears by the frosted windows in the back of the old lounge, next to what used to be the stables, and when his outline is seen through the windows, his height matches the previous floor level.

Another unexplained ghost is a young girl who knocks on guests’ doors and calls out their first names in the early hours, between 1 and 3 in the morning.  Guests and staff have also heard sounds of footsteps when nobody is there.

5) The Royal Clarence Hotel, Exeter Cathedral Yard

Built on the site of the explorer Sir Walter Raleigh’s fathers’ house, the Royal Clarence Hotel is the beginning and end point of Exeter’s Red Coat guided Ghosts and Legends Tours.  It is claimed to be home to three friendly ghosts, one of which may be Sir Walter Raleigh himself.  Famous visitors to the Royal Clarence Hotel have included Lord Nelson, Nicholas I, Czar of Russia, the author Thomas Hardy, and Hollywood actors Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

Queen Victoria’s father, the Duke of Kent, travelled to Exeter to receive the freedom of the city, but died while staying in Sidmouth on 23rd January 1820.  His body was transported to the Royal Clarence and embalmed there before transportation to his funeral in Windsor.

Haunting manifestations include coughing sounds on the top floor, which some have claimed to be the ghost of Sir Walter Raleigh.  A gray lady ghost has also been seen looking out of a window.

Another part of the Royal Clarence Hotel is the Well House Tavern, which has a crypt in the basement with a skeleton, believed to have been a victim of the plague.

While visiting Exeter Cathedral Green, you might also keep an eye out for a monk, a nun, a three headed man and a tall glowing figure, who are all reported to haunt that area:  it’s not surprising people say that Exeter is one of the most haunted cities in Britain!

Stucco and Cold Weather

Well old man winter arrived early and looks like he is here to stay! Our temperatures in PA went from 50 and 60 degrees right down into the 20’s and 30′ around Thanksgiving. Any stucco remediation contractor trying to button up or finish a project was caught completely off guard by the early arrival of colder temperatures. The problem with stucco is that you can’t apply stucco in temperatures below 40 degrees! Every winter, I hear of more and more people who want to add anti-freeze or accelerators to their stucco mix – not a good idea and I have addressed this in previous articles and blog posts.

A few weeks ago, we were lucky and the temperature stayed above freezing for a very short two day period. We were able to apply our scratch coat at our residential project so that it will be left protected throughout the winter. As we know, stucco needs to be installed in 3 coats for a total thickness of 7/8″. The scratch (first) coat should be applied at 3/8″, the brown (second) coat at 3/8″ and the finish coat at 1/8″. There must be 48 hours of curing time without letting it freeze between the scratch and brown coats.

When the temperatures drop and you are forced to apply stucco, you subsequently are forced to tent and heat your project in order to have a successful stucco cladding system. This consists of draping tarps over your scaffolding, securing your structure and running propane heaters to keep the stucco mix from freezing and not curing properly. Stucco remediation is very expensive when performed in this fashion and most likely an expense your homeowner would not want to consider. You will go through 7 pounds of propane each hour and you will have to have your staff there 24/7 for fire watch. Applying stucco in this fashion can add $3,000 to $4,000 per elevation for an average residential stucco project.

Floor Cleaning Made Easy With Floor Scrubbers

Today’s floor scrubbers are the most leading floor cleaning machines distributed all-over the market. These floor machines such as Duplex 340, Duplex 420 and Duplex 620 are the only floor scrubber and carpet cleaner that is able to operate on any flooring surface in just one single pass.

Floor scrubbers are highly portable and easy to use floor cleaning machines ideal for wall-to-wall cleaning and suitable for a wide range of hard and soft floor coverings.

How it works?

Floor scrubber is a powerful carpet cleaner especially for high traffic areas and restores carpets like new again. Fill the two solution tanks with plain water, plug it in and select floor setting. On starting the floor machine, the dual large capacity clean solution tanks will dispense liquid evenly along the full-length of both agitator brushes at the speed of 650RPM. This will remove the dirt in both directions of the fiber and collects it in the central waste tank that can be emptied easily.

Benefits and Advantages of Floor Scrubbers:

* Fast and effective; replaces mops, buckets, scrubbers, polishers and carpet extractors with a single compact unit.

* Has four brushes that can be changed to suit different floor cleaning task.

* Compact and highly maneuverable machine that will clean large carpeted or hard floor areas in no time.

* Under-mat surface is not wet during cleaning thus reduce the drying time.

* Easy to use, no heavy pushing, pulling or lifting.

* Saves time and money

Floor cleaning machines are also an outstanding floor scrubber. It is an ultimate solution that deeply cleans all the small pores of uneven ceramics and stones. It cleans tiles as well as the grout. Unlike traditional floor cleaners and mops, Duplex floor scrubber does not recycle dirty water.

Ideal for:

* Small & medium size supermarkets and department stores

* Healthcare cleaning, veterinary cleaning; community and fitness centres cleaning

* Maintaining high levels of hygiene for hotels, kitchens and restaurants

* Airport cleaning, school cleaning; homes, offices, and commercial complexes cleaning

* Industrial areas and anywhere that needs a clean & spotless surface

A multi-purpose floor cleaning machine is versatile enough that can be used efficiently on almost any floor surfaces including vinyl, timber,safety floors,profiled rubber and ceramic, natural stone, flotex and carpets. In this time, floor cleaning has never been so easy with floor scrubbers.

Roof Cleaning Products – What Should I Use to Clean My Roof and Why?

Roof cleaning products to remove black algae, moss, or fungus from your roof shingles are usually made with one of two active ingredients. In this article we will review the two different types of products most widely used by homeowners and contractors and the pros and cons of each.

The first roof cleaning product we will discuss is Chlorine Bleach (sodium hypochlorite) or lye (sodium hydroxide). This type of roof cleaning product is primarily used by professional roof cleaners due to the caustic nature of the active ingredient (sodium hypochlorite) as well as being the most economical chemical available. Industrial strength Chlorine Bleach is also a readily available product that can found at pool supply retailers which make it easy for contractors to purchase as needed.

PROS: Cheapest chemical available to use. Normally, no pressure needed when rinsing. Chlorine Bleach is readily available to purchase as needed from pool supply retailers.

CONS: This is a very harsh, dangerous chemical, and if used incorrectly could potentially stain, dry out or damage your shingles, remove the finish on aluminum gutters, stain painted surfaces, damage plants and grass, or create health hazards for your pets and children. Just a little bit of over spray while roof cleaning could be disastrous in so many ways. Chlorine bleach is not biodegradable and once it enters the ground it will always be there

Can chlorine bleach or chlorine bleach roof cleaning products be used without this kind of damage occurring? Yes, they can if you are extremely careful. The question you need to ask is when was the last time you did a home improvement project that worked out just the way you thought it would? No matter how careful you are, the chances that you may have over spray get on something else other than your shingles is pretty good. Just a little bit of wind can cause over spray to reach your yard or your neighbor’s yard. Most homeowners are not willing to take that chance so they either hire a professional roof cleaner or use an alternative biodegradable and safe product that we will discuss next.

The second type of roof cleaning products are hydrogen peroxide based and use the active ingredient Sodium Percarbonate, the biodegradable and safe alternative to Chlorine Bleach. Used by both homeowners and professional roof cleaners who want a safe alternative to Chlorine Bleach that is effective in cleaning black algae stains, moss, or fungus from roof shingles.

PROS: This type of roof cleaning product takes the worry out of over spray and will not harm the finish on aluminum gutters, stain painted surfaces, damage plants and grass, or create health hazards for your pets and children. It allows for a biodegradable and safe way of accomplishing the same result. You can approach the cleaning process in two different ways with this type of roof cleaning product. You can spray it on and then use a pressure washer on a low pressure setting (as much as a hard rain) for instant results, or you can spray it on and let the rain rinse away the stains naturally over approximately 90 days. This type of flexibility in the application and rinse process is another reason why homeowners and contractors choose to use this type of biodegradable roof cleaning product.

CONS: Slightly more expensive than Chlorine Bleach. Green products normally cost more than caustic chemicals. In severe cases when using the natural rinse method you may need to reapply after 90 days to achieve your desired result.

Now that you have the facts about the type of roof cleaning products available you can make an informed decision in regards to what is best for you, your family, pets, and home.

Top 10 Interesting Electric Guitar Facts

Without a doubt the electric guitar is one of the most interesting instruments to date and does contain some very interesting electric guitar facts and knowledge that people are not aware of especially considering those that play the instrument. This lovely instrument has been around for decades and has improved along the way. The first large guitar brands that came in were Gibson Les Paul and also Fender. The guitars provided by these two different brands sounded quite different. The Gibson guitars sounds are quite heavy due to its heavier picks compared to the Fender guitars sounding bluesy with a rounded tone. But both brands have created a history of legendary guitar players along the way hence making their signature tone. There are now numerous different guitar brands with different prices.One can easily be easily picked up from a local music store. This instrument takes a lot of time to be able master.

So here are the top 10 electric guitar facts.

1. The first electrically amplified guitar was invented by George Beauchamp in 1931.

2. Gibson Les Paul is names after early guitar experimenter and musician Les Paul.

3. No electric crosses or interferes with the instrument itself.

4. An electric guitar utilizes electromagnetic to convert vibrations of its metal strings into electric signals.

5. No other musical instrument has encountered as much impact on how music has evolved since the beginning of the twentieth century than the electric guitar.

6. This instrument is capable of producing numerous styles of music such as jazz, rock, blues, Funk, soul, metal all from just 6 six strings.

7. The main material is solid wood.

8. There are many versions of the electric guitar, such as 7, 8 and 9 and 12 stringed guitars, double necked guitars, and even a five-necked guitar.

9. These instruments also use tremolo arms which can be fixed and removed easily which is used to change the pitch of the strings.

10. Jimi Hendrix is the most famous guitarist as he experimented with its sound in many different ways. He made it talk through its sound and methods of played it to its potential. Jimi Hendrix played a Fender Stratocaster.

11. They capture their sound through three main pickups called single coil and humbucker pickups.

12. Left-handed guitars are made differently to right-handed guitars although a right-handed instrument can be played by left-handed players but stringed differently.

How to Prevent Paint Sags

Sagging is a term used in painting. It is when gravity will cause an overloaded area of paint to droop or sag in a horizontal line. It occurs with all paint applications; brush, roller and spraying. It also occurs when painting over-head and in this circumstance will appear as a drip. Strictly speaking, on application it occurs when too much paint is applied. Paint application thickness is measured in mm. Also referred to is spread rate, which details the square footage area of how much paint can be applied to a surface at the recommended mm thickness. Of course when a sag occurs it is when the specific area has exceeded the application thickness.

A sag occurs most commonly with spray applications. When you are using an airless sprayer a high volume of paint is being applied to the surface you’re painting. You have to take special precautions that you are not over applying the paint, especially around corners or crevices where paint can accumulate very quickly. A basic entry level airless spray machine will spray half a gallon of paint a minute, a gallon can generally come close to painting an average sized room. It is common practice when spraying walls to back roll with a roller. This is to apply the paint more securely to the surface and also to remedy any sags that may have occurred. Sags can be observed most commonly on commercial applications, often in these circumstances the contractor is under strict deadlines and the quality of the job is not the top priority. When trying to achieve one coat with a sprayer you can end up with a sag if not careful. When using a sprayer it is best to have a sponge and 9″ roller with you in case a paint sag occurs.

When rolling its generally the same reason; over-accumulation of paint on the wall, but a whole different cause. While rolling, the paint sags start before the roller even touches the wall. The perpetrator here is getting the paint off the roller. The only way to do that is back roll in your pan. Those grooves in the pan are there for this reason. What they do is give you just the right amount of paint to roll a section by spreading the paint on your roller evenly. When training an employee generally this will be one of there first mistake on rolling. The sag can always be traced back to the way in which the roller was used. For example; a sporadic or non-uniform painting motion will more than likely leave an area with to much paint, or at the top of the roll there may be some accumulation of paint that when gets on the wall will produce a sag. A back roll always comes in handy to prevent this type of paint sag from happening. The most adequate way to prevent paint sags from rolling is to back roll in your pan and roll the paint on in a fluent “I” or “V” shaped pattern. With rolling you just have to be aware, the goal is to catch the sag before it happens and ensure that the paint has been spread evenly without being over rolled.

Brush work is similar to rolling. It is similar in the sense that you are going through the same procedures. When applying paint on your brush you have to the right amount appropriate for the job. You need enough paint to obviously get paint on the wall, but not too much that the paint is going to drip from your brush land on the floor. On the other hand, someone wants the job done so please do not dry brush. There are a few schools of thought on how to get your paint off your brush. One method is to shake their brush inside the paint container to remove excess paint. Another method is to pat or tap your brush against the instead ‘walls’ of the paint container. While I generally scrape one side and then execute the cut with a underside bead! However all methods share the same goal of producing a feasible amount of paint on your brush. Just like rolling, brushing is the same in that you have to back brush. Anywhere along the stroke of the brush you can achieve a sag, your only defense is a back brush to spread the paint evenly and smoothly.

Another reason for a sag is the condition of the environment. Generally it will not be this reason however in extreme cases, and understanding the properties of paint we can know why this might happen. When paint dries there are two parts to the paint, liquid and solids, while the liquid will evaporate the solids become the finished paint. Rarely, extreme cases of moisture and temperatures may be the cause of a paint sag. With too much moisture in the air the liquid will not evaporate, causing the weight of the paint to produce a paint sag. A uniform coat can be applied and a sag can still take place providing that these symptoms are present. Careless painting over a glossy surface can also produce paint sags. Glossy surfaces are also slippery, so paint will then slip on the surface and cause a sag. To remedy this situation a quick scuff sanding is recommended. This will reduce the glossy affect of the surface and create a condition referred to as “tooth” allowing the paint to “bite” and adhere to the surface more ideally.

My last interaction with a sag was on a commercial job. I was using my airless sprayer to coat twelve shelves in a low light condition. After applying the first coat I was reviewing my work with a 500-watt work light and found a paint sag. Immediately, I back rolled the area with a mini sponge roller then re-sprayed a light coat to product a consistent finish. If a sag is caught in time you can back roll or brush it. If it dries you have to sand it with 60 to 100 grit sandpaper depending on the severity of the sag. If hand sanding will not produce a smooth finish on the surface you will need to plaster the area or even get out a belt-sander. After the surface prep is complete then you will prime and or top coat.

LEGO 7905

LEGO 7905 comes with excellent reviews which include statements like In my opinion, this is one of the best town sets LEGO has created in a very long time, probably since the early 90’s from Gary D Sabol and I am a big LEGO fan and I think this is one of their better sets. from R Ferguson.

It comes with a huge 721 LEGO pieces so will certainly keep them occupied for a while. I am expanding our own LEGO City range – I think I am as addicted as my boys. The attention to detail is just amazing.

LEGO City started out as a different name, in the beginning it was called LEGO Town. It has changed names many times along the way. After LEGO Town it was called LEGO Land and then World City and now it is called City. LEGO City is a range that has had more items produced every year since 2005. There has always been a demand for LEGO City and this is probably due to the fact that LEGO move with the times and change the design of their boxes accordingly.

The LEGO 7905 crane is being searched for a lot on Google at the moment which is not surprising if you look at all the detailed features that come with it. It comes with a rotating bottom, a part of the crane extends to run the length of the boom, lower and raise the two containers with the winch and many more features make the LEGO 7905 a realistic addition to LEGO City.

How to Deal With a Wet Basement

Every day, we find ourselves in situations where we say “oh if I could only have done that differently”. Well this could be your opportunity! .When you start to research a basement problem, you will find many companies claiming to offer the latest and greatest in basement waterproofing or claiming to have all the answers and the best systems. Often, they will throw every slick line at you that they can think of to convince you they’re the best! However upon closer inspection, once you get to the heart of the matter, you will find that they use the same out-of-date damproofing methods and interior drain systems everyone else does. What’s worse they employ slick sales techniques that you would find on any used car lot! It’s all a bunch of double-speak, flat out lies, and misdirection, which is designed to con even an Eskimo into buying ice cubes!

Now I know at this point that you are going to ask me how it is that you can trust me, well the reason is simple I am not trying to sell you anything!.  I promise, if you listen to all that I have to say, and finish reading this letter,  you will end up with more knowledge than you had before, and you will be ready for those “slick” salesmen that will come in the future! I want you to be better informed, better prepared, and better equipped than you are right now; and I also want to let you in on a few TRADE SECRETS that other companies don’t want you to know. Before we go into all of the systems, I’d like to introduce myself, and a little bit about my background that makes me uniquely qualified to help you understand how to solve your basement water or your mold problem!

I started building basements over twenty years ago when I was still in high school. I got a job working for what has become the single largest basement company in Ohio. I worked on both the footer and the wall crew so I became well versed early on, in all phases of new home foundation construction and basement waterproofing. Shortly after high school I was hired by a company that performed environmental services, specifically we removed asbestos from schools and public buildings (this was in the mid eighties when the government passed the legislation to require the asbestos be removed from all government building). I learned all there was to know about negative air flow containments air scrubbers manometers and the basics of ENVIRONMENTAL CLEAN UP. I finally quit when I had saved enough money for college. I swore I would never wear a tyvec suit or a respirator again (those are the HOT non-breathable suits that we wear in mold and asbestos clean ups, its funny the way Murphy will get you when you swear not to do something). During these years I began actively pursuing one of my many hobbies and I became an amateur mycologist. I built a lab in my basement… and built myself a glove box and began to perform sterile culture techniques for the growing of all sorts of fungi and mold and mushrooms. I used Petri dishes Autoclaves and learned many of the processes used at modern laboratories today. I did spore streaking and culture analysis. I believe I gave myself the equivalent of an associates degree in mycology. When I got to college I needed a job, and I found one working for the third largest basement waterproofing company in Ohio. I was hired to service their basement waterproofing jobs that were already installed but STILL LEAKED.

I quickly began to learn that there was something drastically WRONG with virtually EVERY single basement waterproofing company in Ohio…

They all install systems with fatal flaws. They have SERVICE DEPARTMENTS to handle the “problem” jobs. I became adept at solving these problem basements “issues”. I then began waterproofing basements on my own. I realized from the very beginning that if I didn’t want to service my basement customers and charge every year for their warranty I wood have to “fix” the systems themselves used to treat basements. I read every single book there was available on the subject. I did a TONS of experimentation in those first couple of years and began to “fix” each and every one of the problems that I had discovered associated with all the various available waterproofing systems.

Over the years I have continued to refine and improve the systems so they remain “CUTTING EDGE” . About ten years ago I began to study “black mold ” and the various health effects related to it.  We actually developed the first completely NON-TOXIC (to humans) approach to treating mold problems.

The first thing that you have to understand is that there are ONLY three basic solutions to ANY basements water leakage problems.

Most companies install only one of the three systems but will claim to offer all three, in reality it isn’t true. Most companies offer one basic system either the inside system or the outside system.

The systems: Most companies rely on an interior drain system and a sump pump to control the water. They may call it something different, but a pump placed under the floor is a sump pump, and drains placed under the floor are interior drains. This is just flat out not a good idea, unless it is the only option. I recommend that you do not rely on electricity in any situation where it can be avoided. Some companies in order to confuse the customer and gain a competitive advantage claim that only by combining the interior system with something else, usually some sort of outside work (often digging down only 12 inches) is it possible to truly solve a problem (like the Big Chuck and Little John guys). The outside work generally benefits the customer very little, and allows the company to DRIVE UP THEIR PRICE and appear different from the rest of the inside system competition. Some companies, in order to eliminate the competition, actually price different methods as if they do them (even though they don’t). They will price exterior waterproofing ridiculously high, the interior drain method extremely low, and their system somewhere in the middle. If you ask for one of the two methods they don’t offer, you will be told they won’t install that for you because it just won’t work for you. Other inside system companies have come up with different interior methods, on top the footer or above the floor products. Although marketed extremely well, these systems fail in comparison to traditional under slab or exterior drainage systems. The reason is simple they completely fail to drain water under the slab either from the water table or from the exterior of the wall.

In order to help you wade through this mess, below, you will find a brief description of the basic systems offered nationally and what is WRONG with them.

The first solution is to actually excavate the foundation, meaning the foundation is dug up; this is generally referred to as waterproofing ( but I can assure you that in most contractors’ cases, IT ISN’T). Most of the guys that do this are small 1-4 men outfits. They learned to do what they do from someone who learned it from someone etc. What these “so-called waterproofers” do is actually to re-apply the EXACT SAME SEALANTS and utilize the exact same techniques that already FAILED in the first place! This usually means re-parging the wall and smearing some tar on it like a monkey!

Have you ever known anyone that had an asphalt driveway? How often did they Have-To Re- Seal it?

I can tell you I have. When I was a kid growing up two of my neighbors had an ongoing debate about their driveways. The first swore you needed to seal it every single year, and he did. The second one swore every two years was enough. I can still hear them arguing now in my mind’s eye… LOL. The sad truth is that according to the US Bureau of Standards asphalt sealants begin to break down in only 18 months, YIKES! You see the sad truth is; they were both right! And these so called waterproofers charge an average of ten to fifteen grand just to dig up the basement and seal it again using what FAILED already.

…You See Tar Has Never Been Rated as Waterproof

Did you know that in the building codes there are actually two separate definitions for damp-proofing (tar) and waterproofing. Damp proofing by definition means “something that helps to slow the penetration of water into the substrate”. HHMMM “helps to slow” sounds quite different than the definition of waterproofing “something that prevents the penetration of water” and further must pass a bending test where the membrane must be able to be bent around a cylinder.

Water proof sealants are almost all exclusively used and installed COMMERCIALLY…(that’s because they are more expensive).

The extra costs are what stop the average contractor from offering you , the homeowner, a product that is effective and will last and “stand the test of time”. We have developed and recommend if you plan to re-seal your basement; that you use a  MULTI-STEP EXTERIOR WATERPROOFING SYSTEM which, uses a cement-based fiber re-enforced wall resurfacing system and NO LESS than two waterproof rated sealants. This is by no means the cheapest of methods, however, and it may or may not be the BEST system to put into place. Which system you should use depends entirely on the specific nature of YOUR problem. There are NO miracle systems than can solve ALL basement problems. The thing I can guarantee is if you use a multistep outside waterproof system it will actively drain water away from the foundation, and the water leak will be a thing of the past, not only that, but the sealants will outlast the wood on your house GUARANTEED!

The second solution is an Interior solution which I call the sub-floor water re-directional system. This involves trenching around the interior of the basement wall and installing a drainage system around the perimeter of the inside of the basement. Many companies never explain that the system only works by completely draining the walls and any water under the slab during periods of extended rain or no melt when the water table rises. This system will allow water to be “drained” from the inside of the walls by drilling weep holes into every core of every single block then drained under the floor into a drain pipe and generally to a sump pump to then be pumped out. Other companies will often “explain” that the pipe under the floor takes all the ground water and the outside trench will take away surface water. This outside trench is shallow and worthless. They never even MENTION the drainage holes drilled into the core face of the bottom row of block in the basement, under the level of the floor slab. And folks, this is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. It is also the step most often “screwed up” by other contractors. You see there are two variables that must be dealt with in ensuring the effectiveness of the “weep holes”. First is that when the mason was laying the blocks different masons “slough off” different amounts of mortar into the bottom course which affects the level of the “bottom” inside the blocks themselves. This means it is important to make sure that you are above the mortar bed and yet remain in the lowest part of the block.

Secondly it is ESSENTIAL to make sure that your men are educated as to the history of the development of concrete blocks, as well as all of the different core patterns that have been incorporated into them over time. You see this work is done by YOUNG men. In their short lifetime concrete blocks have only been made with Two cores. If they drill into the block where they imagine the core is today, in one of the many variations in block design that have occurred over the years, it is entirely possible , no probable that they are drilling into the web rather than the core or pocket of the block. Only by drilling into every single core of every single block does it become possible to drain the entire wall and make the system work effectively. It is entirely possible to install the drain tiles perfectly and… still leave ALL of the water dammed up inside the walls, wasting all that money and still leaving the problem UNSOLVED. In fact many times I get called after the homeowners have spent thousands of dollars to “waterproof ” their basement and even THOUSANDS MOREto turn it into finished space. Only to find mold growing on newly installed drywall. This happened to one of my customers named Bonnie Rembowski. She had hired a big local company and they installed an inside system. She then hired a contractor to remodel her basement. They hung new dry wall and framed new walls. She had new carpeting installed and everything seemed perfect until… Bonnie kept getting sick.

She was treated for recurring bronchitis many times over a period of about six months. Finally one day Bonnie’s doctor suggested to her that she have her house checked for mold. Bonnie called me. I began inspecting the basement and I immediately began to notice mold growing along the bottom several feet on all the newly dry-walled walls that had just been “waterproofed”. I began inspecting the inside system and I discovered that even though a permit was pulled … Even though the drainage pipes were inspected and installed properly… even though there was no puddling or physical seepage the system was NOT WORKING . The reason why became apparent after we broke open the floor and inspected the weep holes- JUST AS I SUSPECTED. The walls were not draining do to improper weep hole placement. Poor Bonnie.

WE HAD TO COMPLETELY GUT THE BRAND NEW BASEMENT …and disinfect everything to stop the mold and help her STOP GETTING SICK. She contacted the waterproofing company who did the job WRONG. They told her there was nothing they could do under the warranty since technically the basement hadn’t leaked (it was just DONE WRONG in the first place). Poor Bonnie then had to hire us to fix the basement problem TOO! Unfortunately this is not the first time this has happened to me and sadly I’m afraid it WON’T be the last.

This inside system however is ideal for situations where water is coming up from under the slab itself; in fact it is the only solution for under-slab water issues. No matter which contractor you call the same basic system is used. There are however many problems with this system as is employed by  “competition” nationwide. The GOOD NEWS however is that we have modified the system to eliminate all of the potential problems and WE EDUCATE OUR WORKERS as to the history of concrete blocks. This education guarantees that this kind of a problem won’t happen to you. We also INSIST on installing CLEAN OUTS which are access points set in the floor. These clean outs means that down the road you can maintain your system and “flush it out” every few years with a garden hose. It also means, heaven forbid, you have a problem with the drainage pipes clogging, that you WONT have to JACKHAMMER your floor you can have them snaked or jetted clean! Contrary to what you might have been told PROPERLY INSTALLED inside drainage systems can be the BEST solution when figuring all factors especially the Return On Investment. A PROPERLY INSTALLED inside system is also the preferred method for keeping concrete block walls from disintegrating, due to the fact that it allows for water drainage and keeps soil acid buildup to a minimum.

The last two systems are what we call “beaver” or dam systems that are installed either on top of the floor or just under the floor but on top of the footer that channels water from the walls to either a sump pump or to a floor drain. These systems are marketed to installers usually under the Basement Systems(TM) , Beaver Technology and Squid gee Dri labels, and in my opinion, offer the least protection to your basement.

The Baseboard systems that sit on top of the slab or on top of the footer have several basic flaws.

FLAW ONE: the slab is poured several inches up the bottom block, this means that when the installer drills the weep holes above the floor level the system allows water to keep sitting in the block up several inches which makes humidity which leads to mold and keeps disintegrating the bottom block from the inside out. The bottom block hold the entire weight of the entire house! The LAST thing that you want is that block to crumble -DISASTER!

FLAW TWO: when the cement finisher was troweling your cement floor X number of years ago the last thing on his mind was sloping the perimeter around the basement so 50 years later some guy could glue a gutter around the edge of the basement! What that means is since the gutter is basically level it allows for pooling along the bottom of the walls and is usually just glued into place without any type of pitch added. When the water lays in it in the low sections over time it will DISINTEGRATE or break down the bond between the floor slab and the wall. Eventually LEAKING again into the living space.

FLAW THREE: This system is still prone to the same weep hole placement errors as described above due to variations in the number of cores used in blocks over time.

FLAW FOUR: This system does nothing to drain water from underneath the slab or hydrostatic water from the exterior forced under the footing- it only partially drains the walls which is not good enough to stop MOLD from developing. The second hybrid system is the system offered by distributors of the Basement Systems(TM) called Water Guard this system is installed by breaking out approximately 6 inches of the basement perimeter concrete but digging no trench alongside the footing. The system has a flat drainage pipe that sits absolutely level on the TOP of the footing. The level drain tile will always allow water to sit in it and can contribute to the overall humidity in the room, creating the conditions that let MOLD thrive. This means that the lowest part of the pipe is the TOP of the footer completely failing to drain or eliminate ANY under-slab water whether from the water table or from the exterior of the wall being forced under the slab. In other words it only drains the wall and NOTHING ELSE! This system is used because it drastically limits the amount of labor used by the contractor saving him tons of money! In fact in many cases these contractors make more from this system than any other which is the reason so many of them will offer you a basically WORTHLESS system! It has been proven that the most effective inside de-watering system is one that is installed below the floor slab, and has been given an artificial pitch. It is just as important that when using one of these true under slab systems to correct the items commonly mistaken in the industry that are mentioned above, it is best to have a thorough knowledge of all of the systems at ones disposal!!!

Good luck!

How To Take Off Tattoos – What To Do If You Suffer A Blowout

One of the reasons some people look to take off tattoos is the fact they may have encountered blow outs which is where it looks like the ink has spread out from its designated areas. Sometimes this isn’t really noticeable however sometimes it is obvious and can cause people major annoyance and therefore will make them look for an option to get rid of it and to make it look neater. There are many different ways that you can go onto tackling this option if you do encounter it and they are all easy and relatively cheap to go through as well.

How It’s Caused

Blowouts are caused simply by the ink somehow making its way too deep into the skin and having the fat layers soak it up therefore giving the image that the ink is spreading around where it shouldn’t be.

Sometimes this is done due to the fact that the artist that you are using is heavy handed and then there are other times when they skin changes e.g. side of the foot to the top of the foot (going from the top to the side would mean a change of skin depth).

This can normally be avoided by plenty of artists but when it happens due to a mistake there are some things that you can do to make it less noticeable.

Cover Ups

One thing that you can do is get it covered up or add some more shading to the area. This won’t be hard to do and you’re artist might be willing to do it for cheaper if it is noticeable.

Shading is normally easier as it means that you don’t have to go through getting something completely new over it, just some added colour around the sides to cover the leaked ink.

Removal Cream

You can also go for the option of fading the surrounding area (which may affect your tattoo) to make it less noticeable if it’s that bad. You can use things such as removal creams for this to go into the skin and break down the unwanted ink pigment in the body.

If the piece is still pretty fresh you can also alternatively use aloe vera and due to the water based solution it will pick at the loose particles in the skin and fade it out as well.


If it is getting to the point where the ink is so annoying that you just want the whole piece gone then maybe looking into laser removal could be an option. This can help target the small area that has blowout or if you aren’t really enjoying the new piece then you can get rid of the thing altogether as well.

If you have got the blowout from an artist that you always use don’t go and ditch them for someone else as it was probably an accident that you’re having to take off tattoo blowouts but if they are someone new who has done it regularly then it might be time to take your options elsewhere.

How To Get A Cell Phone Contract When Blacklisted

More people today are struggling with financial problems that at any time in the last decade. Although the national economy may appear stronger than a few years ago, a large number of families and individuals are having difficulty making ends meet. If you would like to take out a new cell phone contract but have been blacklisted due to a poor credit standing, you should not despair.

Cell phones are changing rapidly. The most popular handsets a few years ago now seem redundant and archaic. To have access to the latest technology and apps it is important to be able to upgrade your phone on a regular basis.

It is not that difficult to know whether due to your past handling of loans and other forms of credit you have been blacklisted. There are official checks you can make to explore your status in the eyes of creditors and lenders, though most people would already be aware if they have a black mark associated with their name. Taking out a new cell phone contract is in some way no different than obtaining a loan, your credit report would be first analyzed before approval is given.

A regular dealership is not going to be willing to offer you a contract and a new handset if they believe that you are at risk of defaulting on your payments. When you consider the cost of most new phones today, a retailer would stand to lose a lot of money should you not be able to meet your obligations on time each month. It is for this reason that people who are blacklisted find it difficult gaining approval for a cell phone contract.

The good news is that there are a few ways to get around this predicament. There are companies that specifically cater to people wanting phones and who have bad credit. As a large percentage of the population have debt related problems, and as cell phones have become an almost essential item, there are solutions that can be explored.

When blacklisted, it is now possible to obtain a cell phone contract by offering to put down a deposit. This acts as a form of a guarantee that if you default on a payment would be used to cover outstanding debts. Another option would be to sign up for a prepaid deal. Though the call, text, and data usage costs would be higher with a pre-paid arrangement, it would be impossible to get into debt.

Proper Storage Advice For Deionized Water

The need for pure water is compelling. But before it can arrive to its very pure state, it undergoes several steps of purification process. Because of this complicated process of purification, it must be stored appropriately so that it retains its pure state. This is basic. No matter how clean and purified the water is if it is stored in unsuitable containers, it will become contaminated.

Deionized water does not have ions. Therefore, it is an aggressive solvent. It readily captures ions from the surroundings. When this happens, the water itself gets re-ionized and all the purification procedure is useless. This is why proper storage of DI water is imperative.

Containers with tin-plating withstand the corrosive properties of ion-free pure water. Hence, tin-plated ceramic or metallic container can be used as containers. When tin undergoes auto-oxidation it forms a surface that resists ion leaching.

Other manufacturers of pure water recommend the use of glass to serve as container for ultra pure water. Glass has negligible solubility index and it is extremely unlikely that molecules in glass would contaminate it at any rate.

A lot of pure water manufacturers use plastics as containers because these are basically cheaper than any other material. However, unlike other types of materials, chlorine may leach into the water from the plastic. Thus, after a long storage time, it may contain some levels of chlorine.

Storage is a crucial stage because all the efforts to purify water become forfeited without appropriate storage procedures. Even the purest, most sterile water can get unsuitable for hygienic and biological applications when the storage vessel is contaminated. Storage compartment may contain bacteria or viruses. Therefore, it is imperative that containers are sterilized before they can be appropriate for use as storage containers. This is possible through a process called ozonation, which kills microorganisms on surfaces of containers.

Storage of water is a necessary stage because immediately after production of pure water, contaminants from the air, such as dust, gases like carbon dioxide, and particulates, can get into the liquid. Note that water devoid of solutes and impurities readily acts as an aggressive solvent, acting as a sponge to take as many impurities as it can. Impurities can easily alter the chemical nature of the liquid solvent. For instance, upon exposure to open air, water gains some acidity due to the dissolution of carbon dioxide, which reacts with water to form carbonic acid.

The quality of deionized water depends as much on storage as on purification process. The term deionized says much about the quality of the water. After all, when it loses its purity, it can no longer be branded deionized or DI water. Meaning, DI water stays that way for as long as it is secured to stay that way. Note that upon introduction to a contaminated container, ultra pure water suddenly loses its ultra pure quality, defeating all the complex processes it has gone through.

Because of the intricate process of deionization, it is only proper that demineralized water is stored and handled appropriately. The pure and deionized quality of DI water makes it an important aspect in the manufacture of many goods and products ranging from cosmetics to pharmaceuticals. It is also widely used in many industries. In laboratories, the unadulterated state of DI water makes it extremely suitable for experiments requiring precision in measurement. It is also extremely necessary in the cleansing and rinsing of laboratory glasswares due to its deionized nature. However, this cleansing property is also exploited in many cleaning operations such as car washing and window cleaning because it leaves surfaces stain-free and spot-free. Nonetheless, DI water is just one of the many types of pure water ever produced by water companies. Pure water can come by many names like EP water, laboratory water, analysis water, autoclave water, and even distilled water.

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.

Auto Air Conditioning Repair 101

When your car or truck A/C is not blowing “cold air”, the first thought is to panic. $$$$ signs are going through your mind. Your A/C is broken and the repair is going to be expensive. This article takes the mystery out of automotive air conditioning and serves as a primer so that you can make common repairs yourself and save MONEY on professional repairs.

A/C Principles

There are books and publications that contain volumes of information on the subject of air conditioning repair. This information is often too technical for the you to learn how-to fix your auto air conditioning system.

In the nutshell, here is all that you need to know about the fundamentals of refrigeration so that you can fix your auto air conditioning system yourself.

Air conditioning is the process in which air inside the passenger compartment is cooled, dried, and circulated. Heat is removed from inside the vehicle and transferred to the outside air.

All air conditioners whether, it is an auto A/C, household refrigerator or home HVAC, work on the same principles. Namely, a liquid refrigerant is changed to a gas and then back to a liquid. If a change-of-state of the refrigerant is to take place, heat transfer must take place. The two (2) rules that apply to refrigerant are:

1. Refrigerant in a gaseous state collects, absorbs, and holds heat.

2. Refrigerant in a liquid state releases that heat.

A/C Operation and Components

For your auto A/C to blow “cold air”, R-134A refrigerant must pass through and change state in three (3) components, one (1) receiver-dryer, and one (1) expansion valve that makes up the closed auto air conditioning system. The components of the system are:

1. Compressor – A device that pressurizes the heated refrigerant..

2. Condenser – A radiator for refrigerant that transfers the heat that was absorbed in the passenger compartment to the cooler air.

3. Evaporator – Is a small radiator located under dash in the passenger compartment. Liquid refrigerant entering the evaporator creates a pressure loss. The liquid refrigerant absorbs heat from the air blowing across the evaporator. It then boils and changes state to vapor before it enters the suction port of the compressor.

4. Receiver-Dryer – Is a canister that stores the liquid refrigerant when the compressor is not running. It contains a desiccant that removes moisture from the system.

5. Expansion Valve – Is a metering device that controls the amount of refrigerant to the evaporator.

A/C Quick Check

A check that can easily be made to check the health of the A/C system is the “feel check”. With engine running, turn the auto A/C control to “ON” and the blower on “high”. Take a test drive to warm the engine until the A/C system pressures stabilize. Raise the hood. With the A/C “On”, locate the large tubing connected and routed from the compressor (low side) to the expansion valve (inlet side) of the evaporator. Next, locate the small tubing that is connected to the discharge-side of the compressor and routed to the outlet side of the evaporator. When you feel these two (2) lines, you should observe these results:

1. The low-side line should feel “cool” to the touch.

2. The high-side line should feel “warm” to the touch.

If the high-side tubing is not warm and the low-side is not cool, further tests will have to be made as the system is not doing any work. There is an internal problem; such as, a defective component or a leak in your A/C system.

Testing A/C System

Before system temperature tests can be made, a checklist should be followed (below) to setup for testing the A/C system:

1. Set the A/C “ON-OFF” switch to “ON”.

2. Set the temperature control to “maximum cooling”.

3. Set the blower on “high” or the highest number on the control switch.

4. Temperature inside passenger compartment should be stable and getting cooler.

5. Engine speed must be a minimum of 1500 rpm’s.

6. All windows should be be in the “UP” position.

Check Temperature

Your compact car or truck has a small capacity A/C system and a loss of “cooling” would be more noticeable than a larger capacity auto A/C system. If a noticeable loss of “cooling” capacity is noticed, a temperature check at the vent registers should be made. This check can be made with an instant read or digital temperature thermometer.. The discharge air from the vents in the passenger compartment should range from 38 to 42 degrees F.

A/C System Diagnosis

Assuming that the discharge air test measured at the vent registers is out-of-range, a system pressure test will have to be made. Professional A/C technicians connect a tool known as the manifold gauge set to the “low” and “high” side service valves of the system. For you to diagnose and look inside the A/C, it will be necessary to become proficient in the use of the manifold gauge set.

A manifold gauge set that is suitable for the needs can be purchased at most auto supply stores and Internet A/C tool and supply store fronts for less than $50.00. TIP: Look for a gauge set that has a built-in sight glass.

Locate the “low” and “high” side service valves.. Connect the hoses (they are a snap connector fit) to the service valves in the following manner:.

1. Connect the blue hose of the gauge set to the “low-side” service valve of the compressor.

2. Connect the red hose of the gauge set to the “high-side service valve of the compressor.

3. The yellow hose of the gauge set is connected to a vacuum pump or a refrigerant can to add refrigerant to the system. The yellow hose is not connected to the system at this time.

Static Test

If you find an out-of-range temperature reading, the manifold gauge set should be installed on the “low” and “high-side” service valves. With the engine “OFF” and the compressor and clutch not engaged, the blue “low-side” and red “high-side” gauges should show equal readings of approximately 80 to 120psi. These readings would indicate that there is a refrigerant charge in your A/C system. If the readings were 50psi on each gauge, this would indicate that there is refrigerant in the system but a LOW CHARGE. If the readings were 10 to 20psi on each gauge would indicate that there is little or no refrigerant in your A/C system.

Engine Running Test

Start the engine,.turn the A/C switch”ON” with the blower on “high” and run for a minimum of fifteen (15) minutes. Observe the reading on the manifold gauge set. TIP: A manifold gauge set with a built-in sight glass (mentioned above) will save you diagnostic time as most A/C systems do not have a sight glass built-in the receiver-dryer on the high side of the system.

With this feature, you look for bubbling refrigerant oil and refrigerant in the sight glass on the manifold. Oil moving through the glass would indicate that the compressor and clutch are engaged. Refrigerant is being moved from the low-side throughout the A/C system in the refrigeration cycle.

Low Charge

With the engine running, A/C switch “ON”, and the manifold gauge set installed, a “low-side” pressure reading of 20psi over 150psi would indicate that your A/C system has a LOW CHARGE. The low reading of 150psi on the “high-side” gauge would be the tell tale that the system is doing very little work. A LOW CHARGE usually is an indicator that there is a refrigerant leak from a component on the “low” or “high-side” of the A/C system. A refrigerant leak in the system would have to be repaired for the A/C system to blow “cold air”. TIP: REFRIGERANT DOES NOT WEAR OUT, IT LEAKS OUT. Some symptoms to look for a LOW CHARGE condition are:

1. Compressor clutch short cycling.

2. Clutch will not engage.

3. Little or no cooling.

4. Oily residue on hoses and components.

Leak Checking

For your A/C system to blow “cold air”, refrigerant leaks will have to be found and repaired. Usually, leaks in an A/C system are minor and can be fixed with a screwdriver or hand tools. Most A/C systems use schrader valves for easy connection of the manifold gauge set. That said, these are no more than overgrown bicycle valves that use a valve core. When you are checking a system, the valves are the first place check for a leak. Other targets; such as, oil residue on hoses connected to the compressor is the second place that should be checked. TIP: When tightening the bolts to the suction and discharge ports of the compressor with hand tools, do not over tighten. Rubber 0-rings are placed on the suction and discharge ports of the compressor for sealing. The seals will create a leak when over tightened. Only tighten snug.

When your A/C system has a LOW CHARGE, a refrigerant charge will have to added to check for the leak. Refrigerant that contains a dye for leak checking a system is used for this purpose. The manifold gauge set, refrigerant, and a can tap valve will be needed to add refrigerant to check for a leak in the system.

Connect the manifold gauge set as discussed above. Connect the yellow hose to the can tap valve and front seat (turn clockwise) the valve. Close the blue gauge on the manifold gauge set. Open the valve on the can tap valve. Slowly open the valve on the blue or “low-side” gauge and let the refrigerant flow from the refrigerant can into the system until you see a reading of 60psi on the “low-side” gauge. TIP: Placing the refrigerant can in a pan of hot water will allow the vapor refrigerant to enter the A/C system quicker. WARNING: Do not invert the refrigerant can. Doing so will allow liquid refrigerant to enter the system resulting in a ruined compressor.

Professional A/C technicians use an electronic leak detector to find leaks in an system. Use a battery-powered UV leak detector kit and special UV glasses. This kit can be purchased at auto supply stores and Internet A/C supply store fronts.

The UV glasses should be worn when checking for leaks. Simply place the tip of the detector on a fitting or connection to each component to be checked in the A/C system. When a leak is found, a light greenish color will be seen through the UV glasses.

Air Flow

An often overlooked cause of your A/C system not blowing “cold air” is debris that clogs the condenser. Bugs, plastic bags, and leaves from city and highway driving will prevent air from passing through the fins of the condenser. The condenser should be cleaned with a cleaning solvent. Bent fins on the condenser should be straightened with a fin comb.


A restriction is a condition that is a blockage. Usually, it is traced to the outlet side of the condenser. Some form of debris has formed causing a restriction of refrigerant flow through the condenser tubes.. The passages in the tubes of most condensers that are used in compact cars and trucks are very small. An effective way to diagnose a restriction in your A/C system is the manifold gauge set. The “high-side” (red) gauge would move into the DANGER zone, over 300psi.

System Repairs

When a system has been opened, and a component removed, moisture has entered the system. For your A/C to blow “cold air”, that moisture will have to be removed with the aid of a vacuum pump.

At this stage of the repair, you have two (2) choices to finish the repair of your A/C system. The first choice is take the car or truck to an A/C professional. At their shop, they will evacuate the system, check your work, and recharge the A/C system for a fee.

The second choice is to repair your A/C system yourself. You will need to borrow or buy a vacuum pump to finish the repair. A small 2-stage vacuum pump that is designed for automobile refrigeration systems is available for less than $100.00.

After replacing a component, moisture has entered the system during the repair. For the A/C system to blow “cold air” the moisture will have to be removed. Install the manifold gauge set to your car or truck service valves as described above. After repairs, your A/C system is evacuated and recharged by applying the below steps:

1. Blue hose to the “low-side” service valve.

2. Red hose to the “high-side service valve.

3. Yellow hose to the suction port of the vacuum pump.

4. Close the hand valve to the vacuum pump.

5. Back seat (open) the hand valves on the blue and red gauges of the manifold gauge set.

6. Connect the electrical power to the vacuum pump.

7. Open the hand valve on the vacuum pump.

8. Run the vacuum pump for three (3) minutes.

9. The needle on the “low-side” gauge (blue) show should be in a vacuum at 28.3hg.

10. A system with no leaks will pull a vacuum of 28.3hg in three (3) minutes.

11. If the needle of the blue gauge did not fall to 28.3hg, the evacuation will have to be aborted as there is a leak in your car or truck A/C system.

12. The leak will have to be found in the A/C system using the UV detector and UV glasses.

13. Once the leak has been found and repaired, continue the evacuation steps as described above for 25 minutes.

14. Front seat (close) the hand valves on the blue and red gauges and observe the needle on the blue gauge.

15. The needle should hold steady at 29hg, indicating a tight system with no leaks.

16. Any needle movement toward “0” on the blue “low-side” gauge would indicate a leak in the system and the evacuation would have to be aborted and conduct a search for the leak.

16.Look in the owners manual or service manual for the factory recommended refrigerant charge. It is usually from 16 to 28 ounces.

17.Attach the can tap valve to a can of refrigerant Make sure that the tap valve hand valve is front seated (closed).

18. Turn the A/C control switch to the “ON” position and blower switch to “high”.

19. Start the engine and run at 1500rpm’s.

20. Place the refrigerant can in a pan of hot water. Warning: Do not invert the can for this process as liquid would enter the system and ruin the reed valves of the compressor.

21. Continue this process until the factory charge (approximately 2 1/2 cans) has entered the system.

22. Shutoff your car or truck engine and let the A/C system stabilize. When the readings on the red and blue gauges are equal, remove the blue “low-side” hose from the service valve.

23. Restart the engine and remove the red “high-side” hose from the service valve.

24. Close the hood and take your car or truck for a three (3) mile test drive.

25. Place an instant read or digital thermometer in the vent register in the passenger compartment.

26. The temperature should range from 38 to 42 degrees F on a 90-degree day.

Tools and Materials

1. Manifold gauge set

2. Vacuum pump

3. Hand tools

4. Battery powered UV leak detector

5. Can tap valve

6. 134A refrigerant dye

7. 134A refrigerant

8. Instant read temperature thermometer

9. Digital temperature thermometer

How to Tell If There’s a Mouse in Your House

You’ve just settled down in bed and are twenty minutes into Letterman when you hear it: a light scratching overhead, accompanied by a squeak here and a squeal there. You assume that it’s the wind making strange noises (after all, it is windy tonight!), or perhaps the house is just settling (you do live in an older home, so it would make sense…). Maybe the sounds are just the result of an overactive imagination. You hope!

Of course, you just can’t get around the obvious conclusion – you have company. Whether it’s a bird, a bat, a squirrel, or an entire family of mice, there’s something up there. Given that you’ve had recurrent rodent problems, the latter option is probably the safest bet.

However, how can you be sure what type of animal you’re dealing with – assuming that you even have unwelcome visitors at all? Before you can evict them, you need to know who “they” are.

Above all else, your first step is to inspect your home for signs of mice. Different problems call for different solutions; if your visitors are actually squirrels instead of mice, you’ll need to develop a different strategy.

When canvassing your home, keep an eye out for these seven telltale signs:

1. Droppings and urine

Mouse droppings resemble a grain of rice; they are approximately the same size, but are black in color. Mice will not generally travel across open spaces, so you’re more likely to find droppings along walls, pipes, and beams, as well as in storage areas and next to objects. “Urine pillars” are less common; they consist of mounds of grease, urine, and dirt. You can also use a blacklight to find individual urine droppings.

2. Chew marks

Look for tooth marks and wood shavings (similar in consistency to sawdust) around doors, baseboards, and cabinets. Marks on food containers can also be a clue that you have company.

3. Grease marks

When traveling alongside pipes, beams, and walls, mice may leave greasy smear marks, as dirt and oil from their fur rubs off onto the surfaces.

4. Tracks

Footprints and tail marks on dirty, dusty, or muddy surfaces can indicate activity. If you suspect that mice have taken up residence in an otherwise impeccably clean area of your house, lay down a sprinkling of talc to catch them in the act.

5. Nests

Mice construct nests of shredded paper and similar debris; check attics, basements, garages, storage areas, closets, and other dark, enclosed places for nests or “stolen” materials.

6. Sounds

You’re more likely to hear squeaks and squawks at night, when the house is quiet and your guests are active.

7. Sightings

It’s not uncommon to see mice during the day; although they are largely nocturnal, they do move about in daylight.

Now that you’re certain that you’re dealing with mice, it’s time to start strategizing. Your plan of attack will actually come in three phases: first you need to clean up the messes you found; next, you must trap and release your unwelcome visitors; and finally, you’ll mouse-proof your house so they can’t get back in (and wouldn’t want to, even if they could!). Good luck!