Sunday, May 31, 2009

Soundproofing On A Budget

Soundproofing your home does not have to cost a fortune. If you are under new construction we all know that money it tight. There are many common hardware store items that can be used for soundproofing that won't break the bank. Most people don't think of sand as a soundproofing material, but it actually a very good for soundproofing. If your walls are re-enforced, you can use sand in the stud cavities as a soundproofing material. You must be sure that your walls can withstand the weight of the sand. Always use refined or purified sand, not common beach sand that could cause mold or have other bacterial in it that will cause you problems down the line.

Let's say you are in the middle of new construction on your new home and you know that one of the rooms is going to be your new home theater. You want that room soundproofed but you budget is already stretched to its limits. Did you know that you can use common rolled roofing material from Home Depot or Lowe's? Rolled roofing is what is generally used on buildings like chicken coops and other roofs where aesthetics is not an issue but stopping leaks is. Rolled roofing generally comes in 30' long rolls and is 3' wide. I hear the little wheels in your brain spinning at a hundred miles and hour. What am I going to do with all this rolled roofing material? Well, I'm glad you asked. One of the best soundproofing agents on the market today is mass loaded vinyl, (MLV for short) Mass loaded vinyl is a high grade vinyl material that is impregnated with barium salts and silica to give it the same soundproofing properties as lead sheeting without the hazards associated with lead. Now MLV can cost from $1.25 to $2.00 per sq ft and when you are building your new dream home that just might be beyond your budget. So now enters the rolled roofing material. I am suggesting that you stretch the rolled roofing material across the studs or the joists if you are soundproofing your ceiling. You will staple or nail the rolled roofing directly to the stud structure like a membrane across the face of the studs. The next section of rolled roofing should overlap the first piece by at least 1". It is essential to caulk the over lap with an acoustical caulk (hey you have to buy something from the soundproofing guy for giving you all this free advice, right?). The acoustical caulk can be purchased from any reputable soundproofing company like Acoustical Solutions, Sound Isolation Company, or Soundproofing America. Any of these companies will carry a good quality acoustical caulk and can ship it to you. Now back to our soundproofed walls. Once you have the rolled roofing in place and you have caulked the 1" over lap, you will also need to caulk around the entire perimeter of the newly installed rolled roofing membrane. There is a little saying we have in the soundproofing industry, "Caulk is cheap". I think you get the pun. The point is, use as much caulk as you need to seal every seam gap or crack in your soundproof membrane. You want this roofing material to be as sealed and air tight as possible. Now seeing as the rolled roofing does not have the same soundproofing horsepower as MLV, I would strongly suggest a second layer of the rolled roofing be applied to each wall and to the ceiling area that you that you are soundproofing. Stagger the seams wherever possible This is a small investment to have a soundproof room for your home theater or simply a quiet place to study.

Once you have your 2 layers of rolled roofing installed on your walls and ceiling and everything is caulked liberally, it is time for the finished layer of drywall. I would suggest installing a layer of 5/8" fire code drywall to finish off your soundproofing project. Don't forget to tape mud and paint the finished drywall.

Now finally I would like to say a little bit about the acoustical caulk. Acoustical caulk is a cheap commodity when compared to the cost of other soundproofing agents, but it is one of the most essential parts of any soundproofing endeavor. Buy a good acoustical caulk and not some cheap silicone caulk. We are already being frugal with the soundproofing material; lets not skimp on the caulk. A good acoustical caulk is OSI-175 SC caulk or Tremco Smoke and Sound caulk. Both of these caulking compounds possess superb acoustical properties. If you have questions about acoustical caulk call one of the online soundproofing companies, they will be glad to help you.

Once the drywall is up and the rolled roofing is completely covered, you will discover that you have a well-soundproofed room and you did it a half the cost of using the professional soundproofing agents. That being said, today's modern soundproofing products are extremely effective and I feel very reasonably priced compared to other specialized building materials. In this article I just wanted to show that there are other ways to soundproof a wall or ceiling with out using the more costly professional soundproofing agents. I hope this narrative has been informative; it was a pleasure writing it, as there is so little information out on the net about soundproofing. Once again, this is Dr. Bob...Out!

About The Author
Robert W. Orther
Dr. Bob O.
Soundproofing America, Inc.
Senior Technical Director
Soundproofing Expert to The New York Times, The San Francisco Herald Examiner,
The San Diego Union Tribune, and the Charlotte Observer
Ph (877) 530-0139 Toll free Fax (347) 721-9079

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

‘Tis The Season To Save $$$!

Just one of the many Benefits of Tankless Water Heaters

Would you like to save up to 50% on your next water heating bill and have an endless supply of hot water?


With tankless water heaters you can enjoy an endless supply of instantaneous, on-demand hot water 24 hours a day. Water is instantly heated as it flows through the tankless water heater but only for the time you are using it. When the hot water tap is turned off it closes immediately. Conventional tank water heaters operate differently in that they will heat water temperatures in the tank to a preferred temperature setting despite if you are using the water or not. The temperature is typically much higher in a tank than anyone could tolerate because cold water is added to the hot water, resulting in standby losses.


Another benefit of tankless water heaters is you will no longer need an extra room to house your bulky conventional tank heater. Tankless water heaters are about the size of a phone book and can be hung on the wall or installed under sinks or placed in closets.


Unlike tankless water heaters where the water temperature is controlled with a dial, conventional tank water heaters are typically set between 120? - 140? F or 50? - 60? C. While this is much too hot for people to use, it is necessary to overheat the water in order to have a sufficient supply of hot water. Cold water is added to the overheated water in order for it to be comfortable. Standby losses are eliminated with tankless water heaters because they provide hot water when needed, without storage.


The life expectancy of tankless water heaters is typically much longer than conventional tank water heaters because they are less subject to corrosion. Tankless water heaters generally last 25-30 years whereas traditional heaters have a life expectancy of only about 10 years. Unfortunately, most tanks, once they have reached the end of this short service life, are destined for the landfill – not exactly an environmentally-friendly or long-term cost-effective solution.


Every year in North America there are about 4,000 injuries related to incidences where people have been scalded by overheated water in conventional tank water heaters. Keep you and your family safe using tankless water heaters.

Legionnaire's bacteria are found in virtually every buildings water supply. Legionnaire's disease is a type of pneumonia that affects the lungs and affects thousands in the U.S. alone every year. The bacteria only become potentially lethal when water sits for extended periods of time at higher temperatures. Unfortunately conventional tank water heaters have the conditions necessary for this disease to flourish. By switching to tankless water heaters it will eliminate the conditions that breed this disease are eliminated because the water is only heated at the moment of use. In tankless water heaters the water in the pipes cools down when water is not being used eliminating any potential for Legionnaire's disease. This is yet another benefit of tankless water heaters.

Tankless water heaters are the next big thing for today's household!

There are many benefits of Tankless Water heaters. Please visit us at to learn more about our best in class tankless water heaters.

Disclaimer: The information on the system, product or material presented herein is provided for informational purposes only. Please ensure that you consult a qualified technician prior to installing a tankless water heater or any suggestions put forward by e-Smart Living. E-Smart Living is not responsible in any manner whatsoever for any injury sustained either directly or indirectly from information put forward in this article. There are no warranties, either expressed or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of this information.

About The Author
Shelley Moore has spent over 15 years in the health and wellness industry. With a Bachelor of Commerce, she has traveled extensively, studying alternative forms of medicine. More recently she moved to Costa Rica with her boyfriend, a chemical engineer, to pursue business opportunities. Sharing a passion for health, their website provides healthy, safe home products that help people lead a life full of energy and vitality. They have seen tremendous savings using a tankless water heater and want to share the technology with others so they too benefit.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Harvest Wreath

I took a hike with my son a few days ago. Little did I know that within a few hours time (the bulk of the time was the actual hike), we would have a gorgeous, homemade harvest wreath that truly rivaled anything I have seen in the trendy stores and catalogs. The two best things about this unintentional project were the fun we had making the wreath, and the fact that it was absolutely free!

It was a sunny, crisp October afternoon. My family enjoys hiking, so my son and I decided to indulge in one of our favorite pastimes. Living in the northeast, the colors and sights of fall were pretty much at their peak. It was a feast for the senses as well as a nice way to spend some quality time together.

We were walking around a lake in a lightly wooded area. Vibrant red leaves on the vines entwined around mature trees were truly breathtaking. The twisting and braiding around the tree trunks in such intricate and fascinating ways had an almost surreal quality to them. If you've ever seen how those climbing vines, you know what I mean!

There were similar trees and vines scattered about that were obviously dead. My little guy asked if those vines were the same ones they sell at the craft stores (the ones arranged in circles, ovals, hearts, etc). I honestly didn't know and still don't, but they did look similar. Then my son asked, "Can we make a wreath with a dead vine?"

Wow! Out of the mouths of babes, as the saying goes!! He gave me a fresh idea for an awesome home interior decorating idea for fall (thanks, Honey!): a harvest wreath. I couldn't wait to share this idea with you.

We carefully unwound one of the dead vines until we had about ten feet (this is just an estimate; we didn't have a tape measure or anything like that with us). After removing a few crunchy dead leaves, we wound the vine around itself to make a circle. It wasn't perfect by any means, and I think that added to its charm.

As we continued out hike, we collected wildflowers in bright purple, white, and yellow.

Once we were back at home, we plucked some orange mums from the back garden. Using the stems, we threaded the flowers and weeds onto our dark brown vine. We did this quite whimsically, not putting any thought into color placement or anything too complicated; if it looked good and the stem held it on the vine, we added the flower or weed.

This project literally took less than an hour from start to finish and my son did the bulk of the creation. I hung our harvest wreath on the front door, and received many compliments from my neighbors. One even asked where we bought it because she wanted one for her door, too! I could not believe how simple it was to make and yet how beautiful it came out!

It's a few days later now and the flowers have faded, but the wreath is still lovely. I have since collected small bunches of flowers, weeds, and herbs and am drying them upside down. Once dry, I will attach them to the vine with floral wire. I also intend to add nuts and seed pods with my hot glue gun. A homemade bow from old ribbon will be the finishing touch.

I hope this inspires you to make your own harvest wreath. It is a simple, lovely, and easy way to add to your autumn décor.

About The Author
Lisa Herbik is a happy homemaker who loves to do her own home interior decorating. For more fun and free tips for decorating your home, check out her website,

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do You Really Need a New Refrigerator?



Before we Begin:

1-Is the receptacle hot and is the plug plugged in well. Either a meter or a lamp plugged into the same receptacle will determine if it is hot. Pull the plug from the receptacle
and check it for scorch, brown burn marks, or rough arc on the connecting prongs.

2-Check the inside of the freezer and cooling compartment and determine if the food is not permitting air flow through the vents for the evaporator fan. This has embarrassed many homeowners. An intake vent at the bottom of the freezing compartment and a vent into the cooling compartment must be free to allow air circulation.

3-Pull the toe plate (front bottom at floor level) and check the condenser coil for lint and foreign matter stopping the air flow under the refrigerator. Air must circulate.

4-Do the door seals really seal or are they broken or cracked.

5-Is the back panel of the inside of the refrigerator or freezing compartment iced. There may be frost on this back panel indicating a frozen evaporator coil.

Now we Begin:

The evaporator coil and fan (in a two compartment refrigerator) will be located in the rear of the freezer compartment. Remove all food from the freezer. Remove the racks and the ice maker if applicable. The ice maker is held in place by three tie points. Normally one is under the tray and two above. Either a Phillips #2 screw or ¼ or 5/16 nut driver will be needed.

The evaporator compartment is hidden by a back panel inside the refrigerator. This can be opened by removing the screws securing it. Is the evaporator coil frozen solid? Is the small circulating fan running? Often the circulating fan will be frozen in place with ice on the coil. If so free it and check that the fan operates. This fan can be unplugged and a continuity check made through the two motor leads to determine the condition of the fan motor. An inexpensive meter for $10 or more is all that is needed. Air over the coil keeps the evaporator coil free of ice and circulates the cold air into the cooling compartment. If the fan is bad, replace it, defrost the coil and resume the operation of the unit. This is normally all that is necessary.

Refrigerators (as with air conditioners) have two coils involved in the refrigeration process. Air must circulate over both of these coils for the unit to operate and cool. One

In these tests remember that air must pass over both coils to create a lower temperature.

Listen for the compressor. When the thermostat is lowered below the temperature present in the refrigerator the compressor should start and run until the temperature of the thermostat is satisfied. Often the sound you will hear is the fan that blows air across the condenser coil under the refrigerator.

It may be necessary to pull the unit from the wall and remove the black (normally cardboard or plastic) panel by removing the either ¼ or 5/16 hex screws. Feeling the compressor vibrate should enable one to determine if the compressor is running. One can normally hear the compressor and it will be warm to the touch. The smaller of the tubes leaving the compressor will be warm to hot.

If the condenser coil is under the refrigerator, there will be a small electric fan that pulls air across the coil when the compressor is running. It will be visible from the rear, inside the compartment exposed by removing the panel. This fan must run for the unit to operate. At this point check the coils for obstructions. Many times lint and other matter will block the air flow across the coils disallowing a good air flow. Air must circulate freely.

If this fan is not working, check the continuity of the wiring with an ohm meter and rotate the fan blade by hand to determine if a bad bearing in the motor has frozen. Disconnect refrigerator by unplugging the cord from the wall. The leads for the fan can be disconnected and continuity checked. No Continuity - bad motor. Frozen Bearing - bad motor. This motor is a sealed and self lubricated. A replacement will be available at any refrigeration supply house for $15 or so. I normally get supplies at First Choice.

Check out my website I carry many tools needed for appliance repair.


About The Author
Eddie Ellison - I am an electrician by trade,but have been involved in many types of construction and appliance maintance for most of my life. I am now retired, but have stayed involved in all of these activities on a part time basis.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Drip Drip Drip…That Darn Leaky Faucet!

Drip drip drip...that darn leaky faucet!

We've all been there, trying to fall asleep and the only thing we can focus on is that dreaded sound: drip, drip ,drip. So you get up and you think I just have to turn the handle tighter to make the drip stop, yea if it were only that easy!

But you don't need to call a plumber and spend money on a service call with a few easy steps you can become your own "master plumber"

The first thing you need to do is turn off the water supply to the sink, most of the time the valve is located right underneath, if not you need to follow the plumbing line to the nearest shut off valve. If the valve resists being turned, put a drop or two of oil right where the stem disappears into the large nut. Then use a wrench to loosen the nut one complete turn, and tighten it back up by hand. Wait for a couple of minutes and then you should be able to turn the valve off.

The second thing to do is remove the stem from the top of the fixture, then there will be nut that needs to be turned counterclockwise to be taken off. Grasp the handle and turn it counterclockwise, as if you were turning on the water. The whole thing will lift out in your hand. If you have a ball-type fixture, there will be a setscrew on the lower surface of the handle itself, remove the screw. There will be a plastic ring or cap just unscrew and remove then pull out the ball assembly.

Your almost finished, just need to replace the washer, which should still be attached the ball assembly you just pulled out, there's a screw holding it on so remove that, replace it with the new washer, tighten the screw back on, be sure not to go to tight where the washer starts to become damaged. Reinsert the stem assembly, and twist it firmly clockwise (don't over tighten it). Tighten the large nut back into place. Turn the water valve back on and that's it! If it still leaks it may mean you have to replace the valve seat or replace the entire fixture. You will need to purchase a repair kit that you can find at your local plumbing supply or hardware store.

Use the following steps to replace the ball type fixture: Using the end of the screwdriver, lift out the rubber seats and springs. Replace them with the new ones in the kit. Tug the spout off the base by turning it from side to side and lifting up. Then use the screwdriver to leverage the old O-rings off the base. If they need to be cut off, make sure that you clean off any remaining pieces. Roll the new O-rings over the base to replace them. Re-seat the faucet by turning it from side to side while pushing down. Place the ball assembly back in there, and screw the rounded, knurled cap back on. Before retightening the adjusting ring with the special tool, turn the water back on. Then tighten the ring until no water leaks, but don't over tighten it. Replace the handle, and tighten the setscrew. You should be all set! It's a good idea before starting this job to go to your local plumbing supply with the make of your faucet just to make sure that all the necessary parts are available.

About The Author
Kenneth Davis was born and raised in Bergen County New Jersey, where with his family owns a retail tool store called TOOLTOWN for more than 45 years. Ken started working with the family in his teens and now with his two brothers are running the business and continuing the family tradition of helping and building relationships with the community. You can stop by his store at and check out his products, services and other tips-techniques and do it yourself projects.

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