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By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Did you also wake up and suddenly realize the holiday season was almost upon us? If you’re worried about guests traipsing in and out of your home and want to update it quickly, here are our tips on how to get started with your bathroom:

Lighting

Brighten up your bathroom by adding additional light fixtures, or switching out existing fixtures with newer options. A brighter bathroom will help you relax. If you’re in the mood for a bigger change, you can be a little fancier and install a chandelier or upscale light fixtures on the walls.

Functionality

The most important thing about your bathroom is its functionality. If it’s feeling cluttered, invest in new storage solutions to keep the space comfortable and clean. If your bathroom is too cluttered, consider expanding it or taking out something, such as an extra cabinet or a tub you never use.

Design

Simple steps like painting a smaller bathroom a lighter color and creating a cohesive color scheme can quickly make your bathroom feel better, as can adding plants or updated artwork that plays off the color scheme or size of the space. There are also larger projects to modernize a bathroom, ranging from simple amenity updates to involved options like spa tubs or total transformation projects.

Contact us for more information and for all of your home renovation needs.

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Everyone’s familiar with the common ceiling fan. But did you know that you need to change its settings when the seasons go from hot to cold? These fans come with a small switch that changes the rotation direction of the blades, changing whether air is being pulled up or pushed down toward the floor.

Similarly, maintenance to larger attic fans can guarantee their effectiveness to keep air moving throughout your home. Though the changes may seem minor, they can have a significant impact on your ability to widely heat or cool your home.

Here’s what you should know about your home fans:

Ceiling fans:

Ceiling fans can radically alter the temperature of your house during both the cold and hot seasons. Each fan comes with a small switch on the side that changes the direction the blades spin; because the blades are at a small tilt, the direction they rotate changes whether the air is being pulled up toward the ceiling or pushed down toward the floor.

In the summer, make sure the switch is flipped so that the blades spin counterclockwise. This helps push cooler air down and creates a breeze. In the winter, flipping the switch so the blades rotate clockwise helps pull cool air up. The fan should be set at a low speed to prevent a breeze, but pulling the cool air up to the ceiling displaces the warm air that collects near the ceiling and pushes it back down toward the inhabitant.

Attic fans:

Attic fans require less attention than ceiling fans because their purpose is to maintain air circulation rather than help regulate temperature according to the seasons. The performance of both types is improved if the blades are occasionally dusted or washed, and the shutter vents in your attic should also be brushed free of debris every few years. Whole-house attic fans only need their oil ports lubricated whenever brushed free from debris, and attic exhaust fans run without specific maintenance.

Maintaining your home’s various fans systems is more about knowledge than it is about effort. Just knowing how the direction of your fans’ rotation affects its function and flipping their switches when the seasons change can help you save on energy bills.

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Though it’s nearly time for Halloween, summer’s heat is far from finished across the South, which means by now your air conditioning unit has (hopefully) been working hard for a long time. And while you might have been diligently clearing ivy or long grass away from your outdoor unit,  over the course of a year or two, much less visible dirt and debris can start to clog it up.

Here’s how to clean the outdoor unit as part of your annual maintenance routine.

  1. Turn off the power. Like with any major appliance or electrical part, you want to power the device down before beginning any repairs or cleaning. Not only does this prevent the machine from malfunctioning as you potentially move around internal parts, it keeps you safe.
  2. Clear away debris on the outside of the unit. Not only should bushes and grass be at least two feet away from the unit, the outside should be clear of dust and dirt. The easiest way to do this is with a brush extension on a vacuum hose so you can gently clear away even stubborn dirt stuck to the vent.
  3. Remove the fan and carefully clear away leaves and dirt inside the unit. While the outside grill prevents a lot of the debris from getting inside the condenser, it won’t stop everything. Remove the top grille and fan (without detaching or stretching the wires) so you can pull out leaves, twigs, and grass. Then wipe down the accessible surfaces with a cloth.
  4. Finish cleaning the fins and vents with a hose. The condenser fins are the small metal blades that you wiped down while cleaning the outside of the unit. You can finish cleaning them thoroughly by pointing a hose from inside the unit towards the outside to clear the remainder of dust and dirt that couldn’t just be wiped away.

While you may want to hire a professional to lubricate any ports so you don’t risk damaging the unit, and a professional is certainly needed to check and replace the coolant, regular air conditioning maintenance is something you can do on your own to improve your unit’s energy efficiency and to save money for when you do have to call a maintenance professional.

Want to learn about other annual maintenance projects and home maintenance tips? Contact us.

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Did you know that most foundation repairs are not covered by home insurance? In fact, unless the foundation damage was caused as part of a covered repair, you face responsibility for the entire  bill.

Luckily, there are several easy home maintenance steps you can take to keep your foundation from cracking or separating.

How to maintain your home’s exterior foundation

If you live in a drought-heavy area, the land around your foundation can dry out and the underlying dirt will start to shift. This means your foundation could be resting on unevenly compacted dirt, which strains the concrete slabs that carry the weight of your home.

One of the best preventative steps is to have a soaker hose line the perimeter of your house and turn on the water in the late evening or early morning. This hose lets water seep into the surrounding soil so it stays moist and doesn’t shift; doing it during the cooler part of the day also helps stop the water from evaporating and keeps you compliant with local water regulation ordinances.

If you notice the sides of your yard start to pull away from the foundation slab or deep cracks in the soil, consider watering the perimeter overnight . These are signs that the soil is overly parched.

Adding hedges and shady vegetation around your home’s perimeter can also help reduce the risk of your foundation shifting . The plant’s roots grow deep into the soil and help hold the dirt in place. They also provide shade and can dramatically reduce the temperature around the foundation to prevent evaporation.

Whether you are considering re-landscaping your lawn and are redoing the border around your house or you start to notice your soil get parched and dry, taking steps to protect your foundation is one of the best home restoration projects you can undertake. And, adding just a few steps to your daily and seasonal routines can help keep your home stable.

If you want more tips about how to landscape your yard and other DIY projects, contact us to see if we can help.

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

It’s not winter yet, but cold weather is just around the corner and that means rapid temperature shifts. But even if you don’t live where freezing storms are typical weather, one of the most important steps you can take is to know where your water shut-off valves are. After all, a variety of other emergency home situations can require that knowledge and being prepared can make all the difference.

Why is it important to know where your shut-off valves are?

In the middle of an emergency like a leaking water heater or a busted pipe, you need the water shut down fast. If you don’t already know where to go, you can spend a few minutes frantically searching as water continues to seep into your floors and walls. Knowing how to turn off your water is also the first step to many major and minor home renovations. So if you can do it yourself or are familiar with the process, you’ll feel a lot more comfortable doing your own projects or following along as a professional does it.

What and where are your shut-off valves?

The most important valve is the main water shut-off valve, which controls water flow into your entire house. Depending on how old your house is (or even if you have a basement), your main shut-off valve could be located in a couple of different places.

Usually, it will be either:

  • Along the perimeter of your house on the side closest to the street. Your city or county needs easy access to monitor you and your neighbors’ water, so your personal access point will be close to it.
  • In a green lidded box or under a heavy, metal disk near your street. This spot has two valves, both your access point to the water and the city’s, so make sure you only turn the valve that is closer to your house.

Some major fixtures in your house, like your sinks and your water heater, have their own shut-off valves. Inspect these fixtures to locate the individual valves, but also keep the main valve in mind if you need to shut off water in a hurry. Contact us if you’re thinking about home renovation work, or visit our blog if you’re looking for further DIY maintenance tips and other general homeowner information.

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Your windows don’t have to be old or cracked in order to be letting air escape in the summer or, even worse, bring cold air and moisture inside in the winter.

Everything from the weatherstripping to loose panes can contribute to extra energy costs, so before fall and winter come, be sure to spend some time checking your windows for drafts, leaks, and areas that need repair.

What should you look for when inspecting your windows?

  1. Check for air leaks along windows. Shut all the entrances to each room, including the vents, turn off the fans, and wait for the air circulation to die down. Then run a burning incense stick near each individual piece of the window to find a draft that wafts the smoke.
  2. Visually inspect the glazing, or putty, that holds the panes in place. If you see cracks, missing bits, or signs of water damage, you or a professional will need to reseal the window’s glass.
  3. Look for water damaged wood. If you press the flat end of a flathead screwdriver easily into the interior of your window’s wooden frame, then water may have gotten in and is still damaging the wood. Call an inspector to diagnose the problem before the water damage spreads inside your walls.
  4. Shake the windows lightly, especially if you have single-pane windows. If the glass is rattling in its frame, that means there’s extra space for water and air to get through. Add caulk around each of the panes and check the window again after it’s had time to dry.

Knowing that your windows are leaking is the first step to solving the problem. Not only can these steps save you on your energy bill, they can catch potential structural problems before they start. 

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Nobody wants to cover nice-looking wooden steps with carpet, especially if they have a nice stain and match the style of your home. But have slick steps because of rain or wearing just socks is dangerous, and nobody wants that, either. Solve both problems by installing a DIY Stair Runner that matches your home in just a few hours.

How can you make and install your own stair runner?

  1. Find runners or a textured rug that you like. Most staircases are longer than narrow hallway rugs so you will need to buy two or three to cover the length of your staircase.
  2. Center the rug’s spot with painter’s tape. Because your runner will be permanent, you’ll want it to be centered. So halve the difference between your staircase’s width and the runner’s width, and place bits of painter’s tape that far in from the out edges of your steps. For example, if your stairs are 36 inches wide and your runner is 30 inches wide, you’ll want to mark each step three inches in from both the left and the right side. This will form a pattern so you can double-check that your runner is straightened as you adhere it.
  3. Add felt padding around the nose edge of each step. Cut out rectangles of felt or other padding material that is slightly less wide than your runner. Then let each rectangle hang over the step so you cover the sharp nose edge of the stair. Not only will this make bumps and missteps softer, the sharp edge of the stair won’t wear through the runner.
  4. Staple down the runner. Using the painter’s tape and the padding as a guide to make sure your edges are straight, secure the runner one stair at a time from the top of your staircase. Make sure you staple down both the flat edges along each step but the vertical surface, too.

Adding a runner to your slick stairs makes your home safer. But it also adds personal style to your home and protects the wood from wear. And even though it’s still summer, it’s never too early to think about how cold the floor can be on bare feet. 

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Are you looking for tips for making your home more secure? Voice activated, smart home assistants (like the Amazon Echo or Google Home) are becoming an increasingly popular solution. While many may see Amazon Echo or Google Home as little more than an internet search device, they can also be used as the centerpiece of a home automation and security system.

It all started with selecting which device. With Amazon, you are not limited with only the Echo. The core of the device is Alexa, the actual smart assistant. She was originally only available with the Echo device, but now has been integrated into the Echo Dot, Amazon Tap, Amazon Fire TV, Echo Look, and others including some third-party devices. You can select one device, or create a network of devices throughout your home.

Of course, Amazon Echo or Google Home cannot protect your home on their own. You will need to connect the devices to other systems, and there are a growing number of options. There are actual security systems that will integrate with Amazon Echo or Google Home, empowering you to issue voice commands. However, there is also a long list of smart home devices like video monitoring, garage door openers, smart door locks, smart lights, and more. You can even automate functions, such as having Amazon Echo or Google Home tell your garage door to close when it gets dark outside or starts raining. Here is a list of the possibilities.

Home Security System Integration

  • Smart Lights & Plugs
  • Smart Home Systems
  • Smart Thermostats
  • Home Security Systems
  • Smart Locks
  • Security Cameras
  • Cars and Car Accessories
  • …and more.

Thus article introduced you to making your home more secure with Amazon Echo or Google Home. That said, smart home technology is still in its early stages. Regardless, Amazon and Google are taking it mainstream. If you would like to talk more about making your home more secure with Amazon Echo or Google Home, or a related topic, contact us .



By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Home Renovation can be a very scary word. Even if you are not completely happy with the way that your home looks, many bulk before they start renovating. They often think of dust and messes. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. By hiring the right person, you can have the home that you have always wanted, without the stress.

Here are some tips to choosing the right company to renovate your home.

Ask others who they used.See a remodeled home that you admire? Ask who they use. If you already like their work, you are more likely to love what they do to your home. If you know anyone who has had any remodeling done, feel free to ask who they used. If they are happy with them, you already know that they have satisfied customers.

Look at reviews online.Many people love to post reviews online, both good and bad so you can learn a lot by doing a simple search online. You must take some of these with a grain of salt because you don’t personally know these people. However, if one contractor has several glowing reviews, it looks favorable on them.

Meet the contractor and ask for an estimate.It is very important to meet the contractor in person so you can explain (and show them) exactly what you want done. They may even be able to give you tips to ensure that you will love the room when they are finished. Make sure that you meet several people and get estimates so that you can compare to find the right person for the job.

It can be really hard to find someone to remodel your home. By asking friends and family, you are more likely to find a reliable contractor. If you don’t know anyone, look online for reviews. Then, meet several and get estimates before you choose the right one for the job.

Contact us  to have the home that you have always dreamed of!

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Although there are many cleaning products on the market, not every brand and mixture is necessarily the best choice for our homes, particularly for families with small children and pets.  As a safer, natural alternative to traditional cleaning products, consider creating some home-made, non-toxic cleaning mixtures. These DIY recipes keep your home clean and sanitized at a fraction of the cost and risk.

All-Purpose Cleaner

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of water
  • 3 Tablespoons of liquid dish soap
  • About 20-30 drops of tea tree oil

Combine the ingredients and store in a secure spray bottle. This all-purpose, home-made disinfectant is great for keeping kitchens and bathroom germ-free without any harsh chemicals. Tea tree oil is well-known for its unique aromatic scent as well as its natural germicidal properties. This vital ingredient makes this mixture the perfect way to naturally freshen-up any room in the house.

Anti-Mold Treatments

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cups of warm water
  • 1/2 Cup of borax
  • 1/2 Cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 2 Teaspoons of tea tree or eucalyptus oil

Combine the borax and white vinegar in warm water and add the tea tree oil after the mixture is well-dissolved. Store in a spray bottle. To thoroughly eliminate any mold or mildew, spray the mixture and allow it to set for several minutes.  Scrub the surface with a strong brush and rinse well with warm water. Combined with the properties of tea tree oil, the vinegar and borax create a powerful mold-killer that prevents regrowth.

Tub and Shower Scrubs

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 Cup of Castile Soap
  • 1 Tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

Combine the ingredients and mix well. Your mixture should resemble a thick, glue-like mixture. Store your cleaner in a mason jar or a similar container. Be sure the lid closes tightly and there are no leaks; if the mixture is exposed to air for long periods, it will dry-out and harden. Leave about 2-3 inches free at the top of the jar.

This heavy-duty scrub works very similar to Soft Scrub. It cuts through tub grim and shower wall mildew very well. To use this product, spoon-out several large dollops and smear over the surface of your tub or shower walls.  Allow this to sit for several minutes before scrubbing and rinsing clean.

Although keeping our homes clean and well-maintained may feel like an endless struggle, investing in DIY cleaning products and maintenance tips is often the perfect way for staying organized and saving some money along the way.  For more information on home maintenance please contact us  today.

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By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Did you also wake up and suddenly realize the holiday season was almost upon us? If you’re worried about guests traipsing in and out of your home and want to update it quickly, here are our tips on how to get started with your bathroom:

Lighting

Brighten up your bathroom by adding additional light fixtures, or switching out existing fixtures with newer options. A brighter bathroom will help you relax. If you’re in the mood for a bigger change, you can be a little fancier and install a chandelier or upscale light fixtures on the walls.

Functionality

The most important thing about your bathroom is its functionality. If it’s feeling cluttered, invest in new storage solutions to keep the space comfortable and clean. If your bathroom is too cluttered, consider expanding it or taking out something, such as an extra cabinet or a tub you never use.

Design

Simple steps like painting a smaller bathroom a lighter color and creating a cohesive color scheme can quickly make your bathroom feel better, as can adding plants or updated artwork that plays off the color scheme or size of the space. There are also larger projects to modernize a bathroom, ranging from simple amenity updates to involved options like spa tubs or total transformation projects.

Contact us for more information and for all of your home renovation needs.

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Everyone’s familiar with the common ceiling fan. But did you know that you need to change its settings when the seasons go from hot to cold? These fans come with a small switch that changes the rotation direction of the blades, changing whether air is being pulled up or pushed down toward the floor.

Similarly, maintenance to larger attic fans can guarantee their effectiveness to keep air moving throughout your home. Though the changes may seem minor, they can have a significant impact on your ability to widely heat or cool your home.

Here’s what you should know about your home fans:

Ceiling fans:

Ceiling fans can radically alter the temperature of your house during both the cold and hot seasons. Each fan comes with a small switch on the side that changes the direction the blades spin; because the blades are at a small tilt, the direction they rotate changes whether the air is being pulled up toward the ceiling or pushed down toward the floor.

In the summer, make sure the switch is flipped so that the blades spin counterclockwise. This helps push cooler air down and creates a breeze. In the winter, flipping the switch so the blades rotate clockwise helps pull cool air up. The fan should be set at a low speed to prevent a breeze, but pulling the cool air up to the ceiling displaces the warm air that collects near the ceiling and pushes it back down toward the inhabitant.

Attic fans:

Attic fans require less attention than ceiling fans because their purpose is to maintain air circulation rather than help regulate temperature according to the seasons. The performance of both types is improved if the blades are occasionally dusted or washed, and the shutter vents in your attic should also be brushed free of debris every few years. Whole-house attic fans only need their oil ports lubricated whenever brushed free from debris, and attic exhaust fans run without specific maintenance.

Maintaining your home’s various fans systems is more about knowledge than it is about effort. Just knowing how the direction of your fans’ rotation affects its function and flipping their switches when the seasons change can help you save on energy bills.

By Embark Project Services 07 Dec, 2017

Though it’s nearly time for Halloween, summer’s heat is far from finished across the South, which means by now your air conditioning unit has (hopefully) been working hard for a long time. And while you might have been diligently clearing ivy or long grass away from your outdoor unit,  over the course of a year or two, much less visible dirt and debris can start to clog it up.

Here’s how to clean the outdoor unit as part of your annual maintenance routine.

  1. Turn off the power. Like with any major appliance or electrical part, you want to power the device down before beginning any repairs or cleaning. Not only does this prevent the machine from malfunctioning as you potentially move around internal parts, it keeps you safe.
  2. Clear away debris on the outside of the unit. Not only should bushes and grass be at least two feet away from the unit, the outside should be clear of dust and dirt. The easiest way to do this is with a brush extension on a vacuum hose so you can gently clear away even stubborn dirt stuck to the vent.
  3. Remove the fan and carefully clear away leaves and dirt inside the unit. While the outside grill prevents a lot of the debris from getting inside the condenser, it won’t stop everything. Remove the top grille and fan (without detaching or stretching the wires) so you can pull out leaves, twigs, and grass. Then wipe down the accessible surfaces with a cloth.
  4. Finish cleaning the fins and vents with a hose. The condenser fins are the small metal blades that you wiped down while cleaning the outside of the unit. You can finish cleaning them thoroughly by pointing a hose from inside the unit towards the outside to clear the remainder of dust and dirt that couldn’t just be wiped away.

While you may want to hire a professional to lubricate any ports so you don’t risk damaging the unit, and a professional is certainly needed to check and replace the coolant, regular air conditioning maintenance is something you can do on your own to improve your unit’s energy efficiency and to save money for when you do have to call a maintenance professional.

Want to learn about other annual maintenance projects and home maintenance tips? Contact us.

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