Chimney Repair: Hot Tips for Your Smoke Shute

On a cold winter’s night, people love a warm and cozy fire. But, they don’t like to think about chimney maintenance and repair as well as the cost and tasks involved. Now there are several types of chimneys; but for this discussion, let’s concentrate on brick or stone chimneys and fireplaces. Many people don’t realize there is maintenance involved in order to maintain a safe chimney system. For example, there may be structural repairs, such as brick and mortar (masonry) repair known as tuck pointing which repairs missing and damaged mortar. Repairing the mortar can improve heat and air loss and prevents moisture from entering the chimney system.

Or, there may be maintenance and repairs that involve chimney cleaning and replacement of a chimney flue or vent. Improperly constructed chimneys can lead to drafty inefficient systems. Fireplaces should not have downdrafts. If the chimney does have a downdraft, it should be inspected both inside and outside. Burning wood causes creosote buildup. Tar and creosote buildup is flammable and the leading cause of most chimney fires with heavy smoke. Maintenance and repair may include replacing a poor damper which leads to heat loss which translates to added cost and wasted dollars going up the chimney in smoke. A good chimney cleaning should include sweeping the fireplace and chimney of creosote, soot, and tar buildup as well as cleaning smoke ducts, flue pipes, and vents. A chimney fire can ignite at 451 degrees Fahrenheit with only 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch creosote buildup.

Annual chimney inspections are helpful to determine if the chimney requires a thorough cleaning. A skilled chimney inspector, or a chimney sweep, can perform this important maintenance job. An annual inspection should include a review of the chimney and fireplace structure for brick, mortar, and tile damage and cracked tiles or missing mortar. As well, the inspection should include a review of the chimney cap and vents. The cost of the inspection and cleaning varies; however, on average it can cost as much as $100 to $150.

Proper maintenance and repair reduces fire risk and improves the lifespan of the chimney system. Dangerous carbon monoxide occurs with improperly maintained chimney and fireplace systems. For added protection, install carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home. Be safe while enjoying a cozy fire in the evening.

Fireplace use tips: Burn seasoned wood and keep the wood properly stacked and stored in a dry place out of the rain. Burning wet or green wood impedes air flow. Closed fireplace doors or a partially closed damper also increases creosote buildup. In a masonry chimney, soot buildup decreases airflow as much as 20 percent. A properly installed chimney cap keeps objects and rain out of the chimney and reduces downdrafts. Creosote Sweeping Logs (CSL) use minerals that remove the dangerous tar and creosote from the chimney flue. Replacing a chimney cap keeps bats, rodents, and birds from entering the chimney. The chimney cap prevents rain, leaves, mold and water damage as well as reducing downdrafts.

Step it Up! Concrete Stairs and Walkways

Concrete walkways or sidewalks add safety, value, and curb appeal. A beautifully designed lighted walkway and sidewalk system makes a statement and graciously welcomes visitors. Smooth concrete walkways provide safe walking surfaces without dirt or gravel. While the standard plain gray sidewalk is commonly chosen for safety and budget reasons, adding pattern and color affords a pleasing entrance to any home. During recent decades, concrete creativity has surpassed boring and forged ahead with exciting options. Afforded by changes in concrete usage and style, landscape and concrete designers have eagerly taken on new challenges designing aesthetically pleasing entrances which increase home sale prices and property values.

Most concrete walkways or sidewalks are approximately four inches thick with cost varying from $6 to $12 per square foot.  Larger elaborately designed walkway systems are attractive, convenient, increase property value and will cost more than a simple basic sidewalk. Plan accordingly for budget and schedule changes. Spend some time researching ideas and options. For ultimate ROI and curb appeal, secure a reputable concrete contractor and hire a skilled landscape and concrete designer. Prior to the project start, check for references, licenses, certifications, and proper insurance coverage.

Concrete steps or stairs, have surpassed previous standards, style and quality options. Whether the choice is to use precast steps or poured concrete steps, both have advantages and disadvantages. Modern precast step systems include solar lighting options and improved pre-cured surfaces. Precast steps are convenient and suitable for most residential applications. Though precast steps are environmentally friendly because they arrive onsite already formed and cured negating onsite cement mixers and cement dust pollution, they are expensive and require specific measurements. Precast step systems do not fit nor suit every residence. In addition, precast steps are heavy and they require lifting equipment to avoid work injuries suffered by concrete workers. Poured concrete steps may use wood or metal frames and can be designed to custom fit specific residential needs. Poured concrete steps require solid planning and accurate measurements. But, the advantage of a quality custom fitted step system outweighs the messy mixing, pouring, drying and curing process.

Some homeowners have physical handicap needs which require design specifications that may not be served by using preformed concrete steps. Poured concrete steps use common materials and tools such as, safety glasses, gloves, wood or lumber, a saw, framing square, tape measure, hammer, shovels, a level, concrete mix, a water sprinkler, edger, wheelbarrow, line level, tamper, plumb bob, broom and other tools. Weather-permitting, allow five days for planning, layout, and curing time. DIY pros should consider hiring a licensed contractor skilled at working with poured concrete and precast step systems. Prior to purchasing materials, consult local building codes and homeowner association guidelines. In order to pass a certified building inspection, reinforced (rebar) concrete steps should conform to local building codes.

Fence Installation: The Process

Fence Repair and Installation is not a simple task. It does take some research and planning to achieve optimal results. Installation, or repair, projects involve time, labor, materials, and money. A skilled DIY homeowner might tackle the project. For best results, consider hiring skilled fence installation experts. Little obstacles can turn into big problems when lack of knowledge and preparation stand in the path to success. Hiring skilled labor will add to the overall project budget. The ROI is well worth the money spent. To find a local licensed fence company, ask for references or research online. Ask local hardware stores or trusted friends and neighbors. Don’t waste money and time on disreputable companies and end up with an unfinished fence. In the long run, poor planning will increase the schedule and budget, aka, more $$ spent.


Ensure that the chosen fence company is licensed, insured, and knowledgeable about digging where there are buried cables, pipes, or gas lines. Check local building codes and be aware of property lines. Most municipalities, electric, gas, telephone, TV cable companies have a “call before you dig” phone number. Use an old-fashioned method, look in a phone book for fence contractors and call the local building code office. When it comes to any type of project that involves digging underground, “it is better to be safe than sorry”. Don’t dig where there are buried cable or gas lines.


The most common fences are made of wood. For fence repair, whatever the fence material involved, there will be some preliminary tasks to accomplish. Before investing money, check the entire fence for broken posts and boards. Check availability of all materials involved in the project. Plan everything in advance of the project’s start date. To avoid rainy days and lightning storms, check the weather forecast. It is easier to dig holes when the ground is soft but not muddy. If the fence project is large, consider renting power tools. Small fence repair projects can use manual tools. A reputable fence company, however, will have all the necessary tools.


Most big box retail stores, or small hardware stores, will carry hammers, nails, levels, chalk line, tile shovels, post hole diggers, aka, clam-shell diggers, ready-mix cement, buckets, and wheelbarrows which are common fence repair tools. When digging multiple fence post holes, it is hard work, don’t get overheated and avoid sunstroke. Don’t forget to wear insect repellent and be sure to stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Wear a hat and rest in the shade of a tree or indoors. Fence material may consist of wood, most common, or metal, aluminum, plastic, wrought iron, or other material.

Labor cost may run from $7 to $12 per linear foot. Fence material will cost $10 to $30 per linear foot. Most city and county codes allow for fence heights to be from three to eight feet. Most fences post holes are dug to 2 ft. 4 inches deep and posts are approximately six to eight feet apart. Before beginning a fence project, check local municipal codes.

Things to Consider Before Buying Hosting for your Site

Things to Consider Before Buying Hosting for your Site

Web-hosting services are essential to connect your website with the world through a World Wide Web protocol. A hosting service provider owns a server from which he leases you some space to help you in running your website all across the world. If you are all set up on buying a cost-effective and feature-rich web-hosting service, you are subject to a lot of confusion as posed by a plethora of different choices. Finding a good website hosting service can get much more complicated if you are new to it. Here are a few tips which you shall bear in mind in order to get access to the most cost-effective and feature-rich web hosting service for your website:

Consider your website nature:

The choice of web hosting services highly depends on the nature of your website. For instance, if your website has social media nature then things link front-end deliveries, performance, the freedom of performing background tasks and the network latency are the factors which need to be considered during the selection of web-hosting service. Although the basic requirements of almost all websites are mutual, the priorities of different web-hosting features shift depending upon the website’s nature.

Evaluate the costs:

Typically there are two types of costs which are associated with any web-hosting service. One cost is the cost for installation and setting up of a web-hosting whereas; the second cost encompasses the renewal payments which are done on a periodical basis. Although a number of web-hosting service providers will be willing to offer you cheaper setting up costs, their renewal costs may be high and vice versa. Always read the terms and conditions before you select a web-hosting service.

Distinguish between different hosting types:

There are two most common hosting types used. One is the shared hosting services and the second is dedicated hosting. The former one may be cheap but it offers poor performance because of the crowded, shared servers. The later one may be a bit costly but there is no compromise made on its performance. Consider your preferences before selecting the type of web-hosting services.

Check reviews:

Web hosting online surveys are scheduled periodically and show the latest statistics and reviews regarding the suitability or validity of web-hosting service providers. In order to save the pain of frauds and scams, read the reviews to evaluate the reputation of a web-hosting service provider.

Opt for add-on domain services:

Addon domains are another amazing feature of web-hosting services. This feature enables you to add a considerable range of domains within a single web-server.  The range of domains falls between 1 and 50. Consider your website needs before selecting an addon domain website hosting service.

The speed of service:

The last thing you want to have for your business is a slow and clunky website. Slow and clunky websites are a major turn-off and can cost you a lot. Make sure that the web-hosting service provides a good website speed. It shall also be able to offer you user-friendly features so that your customers can easily access the things of their interest.