The way the ground slopes around your home can have an impact on the humidity in your basement. Too much slope and you can even experience water intrusion, this was the case with a home I used to live in. The basement was often musty and the dehumidifier just couldn't keep up, the fix: adding a french drain to the section of the yard that sloped toward the house.
This was the easiest and cheapest option, and if you have confidence in yourself it can be an easy weekend DIY, dig a trench, install drain pipe (often called drain tile), cover with crushed stone and landscape fabric and that's really all it takes.
We also sealed the foundation on the inside with a thick layer of masonry paint. This was helpful with reducing the humidity but wouldn't have done anything at all, had we not installed the French drain first.
Swales are often dug around homes to help manage the water flow, they're the most effective solution but might be challenging to implement after the house is already built, swales are often dug long before the house or even whole subdivision is finished.
It's important to note the way the land slopes around your home before considering buying; don't let it stop you from putting in an offer as it can be managed with a simple French drain after the fact.
The way we build is changing every day, installation practices of yesteryear become obsolete and replaced with more innovative strategies. This week I thought I'd talk about uncoupling membranes and how they've changed how we look at tile floors.
uncoupling membranes have one simple job, to allow expansion and contraction to take place between two materials that expand and contract at different rates. It accomplishes this by allowing small movements to happen within the membrane. The membrane itself is comprised of a polyethylene layer, with a felt backing underneath. The polyethylene surface is waterproof as well, protecting your subfloor from suffering water damage leading to loosening or cracking of the tiles. The felt offers a great bonding surface to be "glued" in place with your setting compound, but enough give to allow micromovements to happen.
To add more value to your floor, you can also install an uncoupling membrane that accepts heating wires. Its a bit more tricky to measure how long of a heating wire to buy, you'll want to follow manufacturer specs on how to space the wire when installing in between the grooves. Make sure the heat sensor isn't under a shower pan or too close to a heat register. I cant stress enough to follow manufacturers instructions.
Everything expands and contracts, even when installing tile over concrete, you should strongly consider using an uncoupling membrane. You might not see the value in the extra money spent right away, but in the long run floors with uncoupling membranes are much more durable and resistant to cracking and popping, saving you from having to repair or replace your floors in the future.
Most people don’t know how easy it is to make their homes run on less energy, and here at InterNACHI, we want to change that.
Drastic reductions in heating, cooling and electricity costs can be accomplished through very simple changes, most of which homeowners can do themselves. Of course, for homeowners who want to take advantage of the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy efficiency, InterNACHI energy auditors can perform in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home.
Why make your home more energy efficient? Here are a few good reasons:
As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling. The following are a few ways that energy bills can be reduced through adjustments to the heating and cooling systems:
2. Install a tankless water heater.
Demand-type water heaters (tankless or instantaneous) provide hot water only as it is needed. They don't produce the standby energy losses associated with traditional storage water heaters, which will save on energy costs. Tankless water heaters heat water directly without the use of a storage tank. When a hot water tap is turned on, cold water travels through a pipe into the unit. A gas burner or an electric element heats the water. As a result, demand water heaters deliver a constant supply of hot water. You don't need to wait for a storage tank to fill up with enough hot water.
3. Replace incandescent lights.
The average household dedicates 11% of its energy budget to lighting. Traditional incandescent lights convert approximately only 10% of the energy they consume into light, while the rest becomes heat. The use of new lighting technologies, such as light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), can reduce the energy use required by lighting by 50% to 75%. Advances in lighting controls offer further energy savings by reducing the amount of time that lights are on but not being used. Here are some facts about CFLs and LEDs:
Sealing and insulating your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to make a home more comfortable and energy-efficient, and you can do it yourself. A tightly sealed home can improve comfort and indoor air quality while reducing utility bills. An InterNACHI energy auditor can assess leakage in the building envelope and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings.
The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
The following systems can be installed to conserve water usage in homes:
Appliances and electronics account for about 20% of household energy bills in a typical U.S. home. The following are tips that will reduce the required energy of electronics and appliances:
Daylighting is the practice of using natural light to illuminate the home's interior. It can be achieved using the following approaches:
About one-third of the home's total heat loss usually occurs through windows and doors. The following are ways to reduce energy lost through windows and doors:
An enormous amount of energy is wasted while cooking. The following recommendations and statistics illustrate less wasteful ways of cooking:
This article was written by InterNACHI, read this article and others like it at:
Aren't they amazing? Load it up and away you go... until you're cleaning a nasty spill up and calling a repairman to bail you out. I love my portable dishwasher, it does the job and rolls away when we don't need it, and it also serves as a worktop in our small kitchen.
Anything with moving parts needs the occasional maintenance, and dishwashers are no exception. My own dishwasher recently started making a crazy loud buzzing noise due to differed maintenance, but a little know-how goes a long way! Turns out it was the impeller (spinning thing at the mouth of the drain) was jammed with a broken chopstick, a pretty common issue with dishwashers. It was just a matter of taking apart the filter inside the unit and clearing the debris, and poof good as new.
Honestly, I'd rather spend my time doing other things rather than maintenance (I know, shocker!), but if I were more diligent maybe I would've caught the problem before it became an issue. Properly working appliances start with regular cleaning. Be sure to wipe away dirt and grime from the filter(s) and clean the door seals to ensure the unit doesnt leak, and more importantly keeping the dishes hygenic. Dirty dishes can indicate you NEED to clean your dishwasher. Dont wait for scum to build up, you should be clearing the filter of bits of food after each use, and deep clean at least once a month. if you use your dishwasher on a daily basis, consider a deep clean twice a month.
Make sure the drain hose has a "high loop" in it that's higher than the drain in your sink. This not only prevents cross contamination (something you really want to avoid) but also keeps the pump and motor from having to work extra, a missing "high loop" is a defect that will kill your dishwasher after time.
Dishwashers don't need a whole lot of maintenance, in fact they practically clean themselves, just be aware of your unit and how it works and pay a little bit of attention to it from time to time and you'll have a reliable appliance that'll serve you and your family for years.
Brent Whelan has been in the construction industry for over a decade and has worked for one of Halifax's top renovation companies and Canadas largest restoration firm. He's a Certified Professional Inspector and holds a Red Seal Endorsement in carpentry.