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Hot Water Heaters 101 for Homes

Water Heater Types for US Homes

The type of water heater that you use in your home affects how the hot water is distributed across the house and how it consumes water and energy. Whether you are replacing an old water heater or installing a new one in a new place, it’s good to know the differences between several types of water heaters.

Storage Tank Water Heaters

You will find storage tank water heaters in most homes. They are the most common type of heater and they operate pretty simply. As the name suggests, water is stored in a tank where it will be heated and distributed once the hot water faucet or shower is turned on.

Gas water heaters usually consume less energy and the operating costs are lower than more modern types. However, they would have a higher cost initially to install.

Tankless On-Demand Water Heaters

With on-demand water heaters, instead of storing the hot water in a tank, the water is heated through the heating coils as it passes. It only heats the water as needed hence, the name.

These types of heaters are more energy-efficient but the water flow they provide can be limited. That means if several people in your household use the hot water at the same time, some of them may not get the hot water. This is best for families who don’t usually use the hot water simultaneously.

Heat Pump Hybrid Water Heaters

This type of water heater captures heat from the air and distributes it to the water in the tank. The advantage of a pump is that it uses 60% less energy than electric heaters. They would cost more initially but you would save on energy costs in the long run.

A disadvantage of pump water heaters is that they don’t do very well in very cold places. You would also need about 7 feet clearance from floor to ceiling.

Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters absorb the sun’s heat using a solar cell mounted on your roof. The heat is then transferred to a fluid in a system that runs to the tank. This is great for areas that are typically warm and sunny.

Condensing Water Heaters

Condensing heaters are best for places that need large amounts of hot water to be used simultaneously. They have a capacity of more than 55 gallons. They capture exhaust gases and blow them through a coil where the water will absorb the heat.

Starter Homes In Demand

U.S. Home Prices Jump as Supply Pinch Plays Out – WSJ

Home prices are back to near-record highs across the U.S. amid rising demand and supply constraints, a sign that the lopsided housing-market recovery of the past five years is gaining some strength.

The S&P/Case-Shiller national home-price index, released Tuesday, has clawed its way back to within 4% of its 2006 peak, a steep rise from the…

High Rents May Force Buyers Into the Market –

Rents have been on the rise for several months now as demand for rental housing has increased due to a short supply of homes for sale, particularly among starter homes, and high down payments. A recent survey showed that the pendulum may be swinging in the other direction, however.

The change is attributable to first-time buyers. In the most recent survey, more than fifty percent said high rent led them to the market, compared to only 25 percent of first-timers in August.

Read more…

Entry-level homeowners face ‘buyer’s gridlock’ when upgrading in Toronto, Vancouver, TD says – Business – CBC News

Home buyers trying to move up from their entry-level dwellings face a form of gridlock in the red hot markets of Toronto and Vancouver that risk confining them to condos, TD Bank says.

In a commentary released Friday, Beata Caranci said buyer’s gridlock refers to existing homeowners who are trying to move up from their entry-level home to the “trade up” segment but face a tight supply of options they can afford.


A distinctly different attitude exists in Orange County, but then too, the price points there are different than in many parts of the country.

Are days numbered for the starter home? – The Orange County Register

Is the shortage of modestly priced homes – and we’re talking Orange County values, by the way – the reason home sales remain historically sluggish, deep into an economic recovery?

A new poll of prospective house shoppers from Bank of America raises some intriguing questions about the reluctance of local homebuyers to dive into the market. Orange County homes have sold in the past year near the fastest pace seen since the Great Recession, CoreLogic stats show. Six years after the recession ended, though, the market is still 20 percent slower than historical homebuying from 1988 through 2006.

BofA pollsters found only 25 percent of potential first-time buyers in the five-county Southern California region want a starter home, the lowest level of among 10 major U.S. markets studied. And these local first-timers have a plan: 72 percent of those polled “are waiting to save more money and move into a nicer home in the future,” BofA said.

Where Have All the Starter Homes Gone? | U.S. News & World Report

Small houses

The current state of housing markets across the country may have first-time homebuyers wondering if the concept of a starter home is the stuff of legends, or if someone, somewhere is getting a great deal on their first house.

With low housing inventory and new construction focused on luxury condominium and apartment buildings, homes that would have once been considered entry level – those on the lower end of price range, typically most affordable for buyers entering the market for the first time – may now exceed starter home prices.

While high demand is driving home prices out of budget for many first-time homebuyers, it’s not the only factor leading to an apparent lack of entry-level housing. In many cases there are homes available, but they are maybe a little too “starter” than most homebuyers today are willing to accept.

“Buyers today, as much as they say, ‘I want a starter home,’ they want the second one up,” says Gina Giampietro, a Realtor for Re/Max Select Realty in the Pittsburgh area.

And to finish up with curation today we return to the WSJ…

Affordable Starter Homes Prove Increasingly Elusive – WSJ

At Paradise at Ironwood Crossing, a 2,100-home master-planned community southeast of Phoenix, new houses starting as low as $170,000 are snapped up within weeks of hitting the market.

The starter homes in this suburban enclave are among the most affordable in the metro area, said Dennis Webb, vice president of operations at builder Fulton Homes,…


The 411 on Cement Sidewalks

The 411 on Cement Sidewalks

Did you know that when it comes to cement sidewalks, you have a ton of options available to you when it comes to decorative features? If cost is an issue to you — and isn’t it to most of us? — then you will find that stamped cement is a very appealing option for you when it comes to beautifying your cement sidewalks. If you fear compromising the naturalness or authenticity of your cement sidewalks, this is where stamped cement comes in. What is important here is that you are certain about the proper blending in of your stamped cement of choice with the other cemented elements available wherever the cement sidewalks are currently installed. Otherwise, the result will be a very unpleasant aesthetic dissonance that nobody will be happy with.


Take note that cement elements like acid staining or exposed aggregate go very well with stamped cement. Your options include running bond brick, stone, worn rocks, or hexagonal tiles.


Now let us take a look at some examples of patterned stamped cement which is one very popular form of decorative cement walkways. If your goal is to create a resemblance to brick, cobblestone, slate or flagstone with your choice of patterned stamped cement, you are exactly on the right path. Not only will you be saving a significant amount of money by opting to go for patterned stamped cement, you will also be saving so much time and effort on your end when it comes to upkeep. Your driveway, patio and courtyard are all excellent locations for pattern stamped cement applications.


The first type of patterned stamped cement is cobblestone – random interlocking. The edges have an irregularity to them while the corners of the cement are rounded. One can also opt for the sorrento pattern for the cobblestone. Some other options that you can consider for cement walkways include English Yorkstone, limestone, sandstone, natural stones, pine interlocking plank, ashlar stone, river stone, fractured slate, fractured earth, and more. At the end of the day, it really all depends on your set budget, and what type of look you hope to achieve when it comes to your cement walkways.

Another aspect of cement walkways that you will have to make a decision on is color. Technological advancements have truly widened one’s options: we have steersman buff, la crescenta, venetian pink, platinum gray, dark red, slate gray, arizona tan, and walnut. It’s wise to ask for a professional opinion.

Stamped Concrete Adds Beauty to Function

Stamped Concrete Adds Beauty as Well As Functional Strength to “Curb Appeal.”


Everybody is talking about “curb appeal” these days.  In the real estate industry, it spells a big difference in being able to clinch a sale quickly.  A house with a driveway and patio that generate interest is a big factor in cultivating serious interest in your property.

If you are not planning to sell your house, it remains a good decision to see to it that it has great curb appeal. It shows flair and sense of style.  It reflects warmth and appeal, making your home look attractive and welcoming.

Beautifying your outdoor space does not require a huge budget.  You can definitely enhance your driveway, patio, or walkway without breaking the bank. One of the more popular ways to do this is by using stamped concrete.

Providing this particular finish is a durable, visually-appealing, and cost-effective way to increase curb appeal.  It is a popular solution because your driveway, walkway, or patio may look like it is made of the more expensive stone pavers, bricks, or other similar material at a fraction of the cost. Looking just as appealing, and certainly much easier to maintain, stamped concrete is way more budget-friendly than other surface material, making it a more popular and practical choice for homeowners.

Stamped concrete is an excellent choice – an affordable one that gives your home a charm that lasts.

Stamped concrete is known for its strength, durability, and toughness. It is sturdy and long-lasting. It is inexpensive and is not at all labor intensive to install. You get your money’s worth because it is very durable, holding up better than other surface material to traffic and wear and tear.

Many homeowners swear that stamped concrete stacks up much better in terms of cost-effectiveness, durability, and ease of installation and maintenance compared to pre-cast pavers, natural stone, or asphalt. Installer say that it is much easier and more economical to install;  pouring concrete and applying patterns to it seems easier to do than hauling and placing individual paving stones or bricks by hand.

It is easy to clean.  It also does not require much effort to maintain its lovely patterned look. Other surface material like pavers can sometimes become loose, or can settle, sometimes causing people to trip.  Stamped concrete does not do this thus requiring minimal replacing or resetting over time.

Aside from being practical and functional, this surface material adds a desirable decorative touch and transforms driveways or pathways into aesthetically appealing features in your home.

You will not lack for options where choosing styles for your landscape is concerned. There is a wide variety of textures, patterns, and colors to consider.  Concrete can be made to look like stone, marble, or weathered lumber, adding character to your residence. You can have it customized to fit the distinctive style of the rest of your home.

You can easily tie together outdoor features like your backyard terrace, driveway, and other pathways so you get a beautiful well put-together architectural style, reflecting your discerning personal style and flair.

In the Minneapolis area, a good stamped concrete contractor to call is Morris Concrete.

Check out this episode of Rock Solid TV

Cement Sidewalks 101

Cement sidewalks or cement walkways are truly a wonderful and purposeful creation but did you know that they can also be customized in some fashion in regards to their design? However, while this is a possibility, it is important to engage in the endeavor in a proper way in order to avoid encountering any potential problems from arising in the future. With this in mind, let us dive deeper into the world of cement sidewalks.

Before anything else, what exactly are they for? Well, cement walkways were conceptualized on the basic premise of making it easier for people to get to wherever they need to go and to do so in a safe and sturdy fashion. In addition to this, cement sidewalks also undoubtedly bust the curb appeal of a physical space — whether it is a residence or a commercial space. And in this day and age, many spaces have begun to use cement sidewalks as an avenue of artistic expression.

Of course, these changes in recent years have not diminished the popularity of white plain gray cement. It is still the top choice when it comes to cement walkway installation. One reason could be as it is very professional and pristine-looking. Another is that perhaps some people are simply not aware of the fact that they have options available to them when it comes to dressing up their cement walkways.

If at present, you already have white plain gray cement installed for your cement walkways, do not fret as this does not mean that you are stuck with them forever. The truth is that there are a manifold decorative products that are available on the market that you can use to spruce up your existing walkways and bring some life into them.

One of your options for cement walkways is utilizing stamped cement. Stamped cement is also known as textured cement or imprinted cement. The purpose of this specific type of decorative cement is to mimic the appearance of slate, wood, brick, tile or flagstone. Without a doubt, any space such as a pool deck, patio, driveway, entry or courtyard would instantly be brought to life with the usage of stamped cement. Stamped cement comes in a slew of patterns and colors. Perhaps this is another reason why it is so popular amongst many customers. If budget is an issue for you, then stamped cement is an option that you may wish to consider.

Landscaping Adds Value as well as Enjoyment

Landscaping Adds Value as well as Enjoyment To Investment Property.

Should you pay attention to landscaping on your investment real estate?  Or is it just a waste of time, money, and effort?

Research indicates that improving the outdoor terrain of your property adds not only enjoyment and beauty to your property, it adds real value.  Whether your property is residential or commercial, if you take the time to have it landscaped, you can later sell the property at a much higher price.Landcaping adds to commercial real estate value

Beautifying your property is an artistic and creative endeavor.  Landscaping that is carried out to provide beauty as well as function adds great pleasure and comfort, giving you more reason to enjoy your home.

There are several ways to add outdoor aesthetic appeal. You can use natural stone or luxury bricks to build a splendid entrance driveway.  You can put up walls that are delightful and charming.  You can add a captivating patio to expand your living space, blending the comfort of your interiors with the natural beauty of your garden.  There are several outdoor beautification projects you can choose from – some small, others grand in scale. Regardless of its extent, landscaping your property is certain to add to its curb appeal, bring up its value should you decide to sell it, and provide you with great pleasure.  It allows you to enjoy your home more fully – because of the artistry and charm that it adds, as well as for its increased functionality.

A professional landscape artist can help in redesigning your grounds should you opt for a large-scale outdoor re-working of your entire property.  He can also help you should you simply want an upgrade – get new plants for a fuller, more luxuriant lawn, construct a new natural stone driveway,  add small and charming features like bird baths, barbecue pit, clipped topiaries, or expand your living space with a beautiful and functional private patio or terrace.  You can add unique outdoor lighting to enhance the landscape, add charming garden paths or walls, or eke out delightful fishponds.

Such projects open up fresh dimensions to your family’s outdoor living and entertaining style. Residential landscape gives you personal pride and aesthetic pleasure.  It enhances your lifestyle and allows you to take pleasure even in the ordinary things you do every day.  It increases your home’s curb appeal and, as a result, its resale value.

When you landscape a commercial property, you also get a lot of advantages. The people that you do business with are bound to take notice of the area that surrounds your business.  They form their first impressions based on this façade.  If your grounds are well-designed and taken care of – always beautiful and clean-cut, the people who pay you a visit are likely to see them as a reflection of your personal style.

You do not have to handle landscaping projects yourself.  There are many experts willing to give you the benefit of their creative and artistic experience, commitment, and personal service so that your investment real estate is able to take on greater value and to give you superior enjoyment.

Do You Know A Good Residential Locksmith?

Lock Your Castle!

Lock your properties to keep them safe from harm, and eliminate pesky intruders!  In centuries past wealthy dukes, earls and kings built castles to protect their property and the people close to them.

Today we rely on locks on our doods. Usually a sufficient enough system, as moats with crocodiles have gone out of style.

Have you ever experienced being locked from the outside? or much worse, have an intruder barging inside your home without even breaking a sweat? Those are some instances which make you think: “Are we really safe?”

If you are investing in real estate for your own or for income purposes, it is a good idea to find a good residential locksmith.  I found a good one and keep his number handy, as issues come up from time to time. My guy earned the nickname Fast Eddy due to the speed with which he can open a locked car.  A Handy skill if you have locked your keys inside, as I have more than once in my life – I hate to admit.

A good locksmith can help you in ensuring the safety of those around you, as well as your tenants.  You want to find someone who will offer you top-quality, hassle-free, locksmith services.

At a minimum  you want Dead Bolt Locks, a type of locking mechanism that consists of an immovable bolt and  heavily relies on the usage of a key to unlock instead of the more common Spring Bolt Lock, which, on the other hand, opens by applying force on the bolt, meaning it is accessible without a key.

Lending spare keys for your home could mean danger in one way or another, there are A LOT of places that could duplicate keys as fast as a moment could pass, all without worries of confidentiality.

Professional locksmith can make keys that only he could sell and could never be found for sale inside Hardware stores. He produces copies of your keys, only if you have given full permission to do so, now how’s that for some good ‘ol privacy?

You need to change locks and the keys of your units before your new tenants move in, definitely slicing off chances of potential troubles in the future. What a great relief isn’t it?

There are already too many news reports regarding home invasion for us not to be aware of our own. Mass theft, and destruction of property, sometimes even serious physical injuries.  All are too dangerous for us to give zero attention to.

Having an elite locksmith, such as my Fast Eddy plays an critical role in reassuring the security of a household, a community, or a business. He could give you service as fast as possible, without you ever having a headache. Wherever you live or operate, I highly recommend that you find your own “Fast Eddy.”


The dangers of asbestos in fixer-upper purchases

The dangers of asbestos in fixer-upper purchases

There are plenty of considerations that need to be made prior to buying a fixer-upper. It requires a lot of background checking, maintenance work, and even renovations that could make the acquisition more costly in the long run.

But for some people, the rewards of taking an old property and restoring it to its old beauty and flair makes all the time, money, and effort worth the sacrifice and investment.

If you are really keen on acquiring a fixer-upper, you need to add one very important risk factor to your extensive list of considerations: the presence of asbestos in the property you are buying.

Here’s a short background on asbestos to help you shed some light on this dangerous health hazard.

From the mid-19th century up until 1999 when a total ban was imposed, asbestos had been commonly present in the industrialised world. It was widely used in residential property at the time, meaning over 50 percent of homes built before 1999 are highly likely to have asbestos-harbouring materials incorporated in them.

However, it is not the presence of asbestos you should immediately be concerned about; rather, it is its release into the air that makes it hazardous once inhaled. Some of the risks of asbestos exposure include various respiratory illnesses such as persistent coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, and even lung cancer (mesothelioma). Other health symptoms include chest pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, and fever – all of which could be symptoms of asbestosis or malignant mesothelioma.Asbestos is everywhere in older homes

Imagine the risks involved in renovating a property laden with asbestos. It could be released into the air, putting you as well as the workers around the property at serious health risk. Due to these serious health risks, it is important to first schedule the old property you have acquired for asbestos testing.

Everything from the property’s walls, floors, pipes, old furnaces, ceilings, and even the roof can have materials containing asbestos. But once again, asbestos fibres are only hazardous when they are airborne. That means you have the capability to prevent all sorts of asbestos-related disasters from happening as long as you sign the property up for testing first.

Asbestos is a Cancer & Lung Disease Hazard

Asbestos remediation may be necessary if test results point to the presence of asbestos in the property. Also known as asbestos abatement, the process includes having the asbestos removed. Note that this is something that should be left to the professionals, so do not attempt to do it yourself. EVER. Regardless of how many do-it-yourself asbestos-removal guides you find online, there is no need for you to put yourself at risk. There are plenty of asbestos inspectors and contractors with the proper licenses and training in handling asbestos safely, so you shouldn’t have any difficulties getting assistance with projects of this type.

Acquiring a fixer-upper, even one that contains asbestos, can be a headache-free process as long as you enlist the help of the right people to help you get the property ready, whether it is for moving in, or for reselling.

Get Bids on Concrete Work Upgrade

Get Bids on Concrete Work Upgrades

Are you looking around for a house to buy but feel constrained by a limited budget?  You do not have to settle for an unattractive property. There are many residential properties in the market today which sell for lower prices because of their age. However, with a little repair and some additional touches here and there, you can have a property that looks great.

Restoring, repairing, or redesigning a home should not take too much time or money.  You can simply upgrade the cement walkways and concrete steps stairs and footpaths and you can upgrade the curb appeal of your property.

This suggestion can also be very helpful if you are on the other side of the fence and want to sell your property.  By spending a little money to put in new cement walkways or to redesign and improve your present ones, you are more likely to get a better price for your property.

A good cement or concrete contractor can give you suggestions on how you can do this without going over the budget.   Adding charming decorative concrete and delightful brick paver accents to your walkways will transform your property in unexpected ways.  It will look more cozy and congenial, a pleasant and comfortable place to live in.

A good concrete/cement contractor can help you in more ways than one.  They can help you discover the many inexpensive ways you can do to remodel 4your outdoor living areas.  They can help you in the design and construction of your walkways by installing decorative accents to your outdoor flooring – brick paver accents, decorative rocks, or beautiful natural stones. Just getting an expert cement contractor to add accents or colourful hues to your walkways can go a long way to enhancing your home and add to its curb appeal. IMG_0467

A cement/concrete contractor can give you estimates so that you know exactly how much money you have to put aside for going on a project like this.  He can give you a wealth of ideas – options which are charming but not expensive.  If you decide to hire him to work on your walkways, you can rely on getting accomplished tradesmen to carry out the renovation or repair so that you get your house to look more fetching and fine-looking without having to spend for a major overhaul.

Cement walkways call attention to your garden or to your landscaped surroundings.  They make your home look more gorgeous and cared for.  They are an addition which make the entire property look much better – easily providing an appeal that makes your home look charming and more welcoming.

Here’s an example of a new way to make cement and concrete look spectacular…

HVAC Inspection

HVAC Inspection

Before buying your dream house, make sure you get a qualified HVAC contractor who can provide the best work for furnace inspection and AC service. An HVAC contractor can do a more precise job than a general home inspector in ensuring that the HVAC system is in optimum condition.

A furnace inspection can reveal if carbon monoxide is leaking from your heater. Carbon monoxide is a harmful gas that is difficult to detect because of its odorless and colorless nature. Furnace InspectionThe furnace inspection is not just for your safety but it is also to lengthen the life system of your heater.  The process will also include checking if the blower motor, wheel and housing are clean, if the flue system and the electrical system are free of corrosion or damage in connections, and if the burner combustion and heat exchanger are working properly. These are just some of the things that a professional HVAC contractor will do.

The AC service involves checking for a clean evaporator and condenser coils because dirty coils lessen the system’s cooling efficiency. The AC service also includes inspecting the AC’s refrigerant level. Too much or too little refrigerant also lessens the efficiency of the AC. An inefficient system entails higher energy costs. Cleaning the blower components also provides a greater comfort level for you in your new home.

Overall, the HVAC contractor’s inspection will involve tightening the electrical connections and lubricating the working parts. Faulty electrical connections make use of the HVAC dangerous to the potential homeowner, while lack of lubrication increases the amount of electricity that is used by the HVAC, thereby also increasing your energy consumption. Checking the condensate drain of the air conditioning system is also standard during the inspection. A blocked drain can affect the humidity level in the home or cause the house some water damage. Lastly, the controls of the system need to be checked for proper operation. This involves starting up the system, checking if it operates without hitch, and shutting it off.

If the furnace inspection and AC service uncover problems with your HVAC system, they should be fixed accordingly before making the final decision to buy that house. It is not advisable that the inspection be done after your house since a damaged HVAC can be hazardous to one’s health and hard on the pocket. A properly functioning HVAC system ensures great you will be comfortable.