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Dana’s Construction Manual

What Classic Sewer Cleaning Techniques Could Help With Your Clogged Drains?

Posted by on Oct 4, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What Classic Sewer Cleaning Techniques Could Help With Your Clogged Drains?

If you’re like many Americans, dealing with the occasional clogged toilet or slow-draining sink is an inevitable part of homeownership. In many cases, the use of a plunger and a bit of muscle or the application of a chemical drain cleaner is enough to restore your plumbing to working order. However, some slower-growing sewer clogs or other drainage issues can take years to reach the point of no return, saddling you with expensive repair bills or a destroyed lawn as a sewage pipe reaches the bursting point. Fortunately, a number of tried-and-true techniques from the earliest days of public sewer systems may be able to help your drainage issues. Read on to learn more about some classic sewer cleaning techniques that are making a comeback (or have never gone away) to decide on the best cleaning choices for your sewer or drain. Parisian iron balls During the advent of public sewers in Europe, and continuing to this day in Paris, France, sewers were most commonly uncorked of clogs with an enormous iron ball. Many of these larger balls resembled wrecking balls in size and shape, spanning ten to fifteen feet wide, and had the heft to power through even the most stubborn clogs when dragged by a chain. Smaller wooden balls, referred to as “pills,” were often placed in the sewers to encourage raw sewage to flow downstream without adhering to the sides of the pipe.  Today’s sewer-cleaning balls are generally much smaller than their ancestors but are still effective in eliminating tough clogs or scraping oil or fat buildup from the sides of your sewer pipes. Many are attached to chains and mechanically pulled through your pipes over and over until they come out clean (or as clean as possible under the circumstances). Some even have brush-like attachments that can more thoroughly clean pipes of debris. You might want to perform a preventive scraping of your sewage pipes every few years to minimize the buildup of debris, particularly if you have a garbage disposal or if younger family members tend to pour grease down the sink. Fatty deposits love to adhere to solid surfaces, and the inside of a sewer pipe can provide them with the perfect landing place. Over time, this greasy, sticky buildup can catch debris as it flows down the pipe, leading to larger clogs — much like a high-fat and high-cholesterol diet can clog one’s blood vessels. Mechanical rooters  These rooters usually include several spinning blades designed to chop or shred through clogs and a brush attachment for cleaning the sides of the sewer pipe. Although historic rooters were much lower-tech than today’s options, often consisting of just a long stick with a sharp point for scraping through blockages, modern rooters can include brushes, mechanical blades, and even live-streaming video cameras that can provide both you and the plumber with an up-close look at the inside of your home’s plumbing.  Having your sewer pipes cleaned by a rooter can be a good option whenever you find yourself dealing with a clog that doesn’t seem to respond well to commercial drain cleaners or other surface cleaning methods. Often, a deep-set clog can only be reached and broken by a rooter, and choosing one with a video camera attached can also allow you to get an...

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5 Strange Spa And Hot Tub Noises

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Strange Spa And Hot Tub Noises

Like most other appliances, spas and hot tubs are designed to operate as silently as possible. Nevertheless, there are plenty of situations where your spa or hot tub can’t help but make itself heard. If you’ve been hearing strange noises from your hot tub, then you’ll want to find out what they are and how to take care of them once and for all. Vibration Noises Noises caused by a vibrating hot tub are perhaps among the most commonly heard by users. Sometimes the vibration can be loud enough to bother neighbors and passersby. In some cases, the noise can be caused by the spa or hot tub vibrating against your wood deck. You can make this noise go away by refitting the hot tub on top of the rubber paver tiles to help isolate the vibrating hot tub from the wood structure. Another option involves cutting out the wood deck to accommodate the hot tub and sitting the hot tub directly on a reinforced concrete slab. Vibration noises can also be caused by loose jet pumps or circulation pumps. It’s a good idea to check the mounting hardware for these pumps and make sure they’re properly tightened. Humming Noises Intermittent or constant humming noises can be caused by a damaged or seized pump motor. The pump motor can be damaged by foreign objects and debris or by the bearings inside of the pump wearing down. In addition to the humming noise, you might also have trouble keeping your hot tub warm. The best way to tackle this issue is to replace the pump motor with a brand-new or quality remanufactured one. Some humming noises can also be a variation of the vibrating caused by a loose jet pump or circulation pump. Again, you should make sure the pumps are properly tightened to their base. Clicking Noises Occasionally, your hot tub or spa will make clicking noises as the various relays and contactors turn on and off during normal operation. Low voltage problems or contact issues caused by dirt or insect infestation can cause the contactors to constantly click on and off, resulting in a “chattering contactor” problem. Although it’s possible to diagnose and troubleshoot this issue on your own, it should be left up to your hot tub professional for the best results. Squealing Noises Loud squeals can be caused by a pump suffering from bearing failure. As the motor bearings wear out, the damaged bearings can make a squealing sound that becomes progressively louder until the motor itself fails due to the friction and heat. A hot tub professional may diagnose this problem by removing the pump motor from the wet end and running the motor outside of the pump for a few seconds. If the motor continues to make squealing noises, your technician will recommend a replacement. Softer squealing noises can come from spa ozone generators during normal operation. Open air intake jets can also make a soft squealing noise. Buzzing Noises Buzzing noises can be caused by a number of issues. For instance, the circulating pump or blower motor could be having problems with starting. This is usually caused by a capacitor that’s gone bad. A faulty capacitor may make a buzzing noise just before it trips the circuit breaker. Replacing the old capacitor with...

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How To Fix A Sagging, Binding Or Popping Steel Garage Door By Installing Struts

Posted by on Jul 11, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Fix A Sagging, Binding Or Popping Steel Garage Door By Installing Struts

If your steel garage door is making a popping or banging sound during opening or closing, then it may be due to several causes, including sagging door panels. However, instead of replacing the door panels, you should consider adding reinforcement in the form of door struts. Below is more information about the problem of sagging panels and how to install struts as a do-it-yourself project: Causes of sagging garage door panels When new, steel garage door panels are capable of resisting the forces placed upon them by the opener and the overall weight of the door. However, as door panels age and undergo countless openings and closings, the steel begins to fatigue and lose its ability to hold up under the forces placed upon it. In addition, door hardware, such as hinges and rollers, begins to loosen and fatigue and drilled holes in the sheet metal strip out when under repeated stress. All of these factors lead to dysfunctional operation, which in turn can cause sagging, binding and catching between panels. Fortunately, older garage door panels can be salvaged and restored to smooth functioning with the addition of horizontal door struts. These support pieces stiffen the sheet metal and distribute opener forces across the width of the panels. Below is a list of materials and tools needed as well as step-by-step instructions for fitting the struts: What you will need Electric drill with 3/16-inch drill bit Two-inch wide galvanized steel garage door struts in lengths equal to door width ¼-inch self-tapping sheet metal screws with hex heads Ratchet with ¼-inch socket Box level Pencil Step-by-step installation procedure 1. Purchase your materials – For steel garage doors that are designed for two-car openings, you will need to purchase two struts that are each the length of the garage door. If you have a door designed for a single-car opening, then one strut will be sufficient to brace the door.  Be sure to buy struts that are one piece; joining pieces end-to-end will not provide the strength needed to support the panels. Garage door struts are commonly available in two-inch and three-inch widths, but most residential steel doors will be sufficiently strengthened by two-inch struts. 2. Mark the locations for your center holes – Once you have assembled your materials and tools, the next step is to mark the locations for drilling the center support holes in the garage door. Center the first strut along the inside top of the garage door, flush with the top edge. Be sure the strut is centered and not hanging over either the left or right side of the door. Once you have the strut centered, push a pencil through one of the center holes in the strut and mark the door. For a two-car garage door, place the second strut along the bottom panel of the door as close as possible to the bottom edge. As before, center the strut and mark the location of one of the holes with the pencil. 3. Drill the holes and level the struts – With an electric drill and a 3/16-inch drill bit, drill holes in the marked locations, but be careful not to over-penetrate and drill through the opposite side of the door. Next, with the help of an assistant, hold the first strut up to...

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Tips for Combating Snow and Ice Damage on Commercial Buildings

Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tips for Combating Snow and Ice Damage on Commercial Buildings

Winter weather brings hazards for commercial roofing, and many new business owners find themselves caught somewhat unaware when that first winter season arrives. As the fall chill starts to push out summer’s warmth, it’s time to think about what you’ll need to do to get your business through to spring without suffering roofing damage. Here are some of the things you should know about the threats that your roof faces this winter and tips to combat them. What Can Snow Do to Your Roof? Snow retains a significant amount of moisture, which makes it very heavy. That added weight on top of your roof can be destructive in several ways. Accumulated snow can cause roofing leaks. The heat that radiates from your building up through the roof will start to melt the lower level of snow at the same time that the sun’s rays start melting the top. When this occurs, all of that water runoff may struggle to drain away before it soaks into some of the smaller cracks in the roof. This water can seep into the building, potentially damaging the insulation, wiring, and other components. In addition, water settled into cracks can freeze when the evening temperatures drop, causing those cracks to expand. This worsens your roofing damage. Ice can accumulate along your roof edges. Although most people think of ice dams as a problem solely for residential roofing, it can also be a problem for commercial properties. Ice buildup along the edges of the roof can block the drainage that’s necessary for melting snow and ice to run off the roof. That causes backups that will allow the water to seep into the building. The weight of the snow can lead to collapse. If you don’t keep up with clearing snow on your business’s roof, you’ll risk the potential of weakening the structural integrity of the roof under the excess weight. This can lead to a complete roof collapse. While this isn’t likely to happen after one light snowfall or a series of blowing, light snowstorms, it is a very real risk if you have several storms with heavy, wet snow. What Can You Do to Protect Your Roof? While you can’t keep snow from falling on your roof, you can do some things to mitigate the damage that it causes. Here are a couple of things that you should do to help protect your building through the upcoming winter. Clear the snow with a rake. After every snowfall, clear your roof with a long snow rake. These tools pull snow off the roof easily, allowing you to keep up with accumulation and protect your roof from the weight as well as snow melt after the storm. Opt for a snow rake that’s made from thick aluminum so that it is durable and holds up to even heavy snow. Invest in one with an adjustable handle so you can reach further, too. Set up a ladder on a non-skid platform and have someone on the ground to spot you, too. Start in one corner and work your way all the way around the building so that you clear the snow consistently and in small amounts. The smaller amounts are particularly important when you’re dealing with heavy snow.  You can also improve ventilation and insulation to...

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5 Tips For Painting After A Plaster Repair

Posted by on Apr 20, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Tips For Painting After A Plaster Repair

If you are paying a professional plasterer to resurface your plaster, fill in cracks, or otherwise repair plaster in your home, you can save money by painting the finished plaster on your own. However, before you pull out the paintbrush and bucket, make sure you know how to properly paint over plaster by reading these tips on repairing and paining plaster.  Repair All Sections of Plaster that Require Repair  If you have one section of your wall or ceiling that obviously requires repair due to water damage or age, it is possible that you have other sections of the wall or ceiling that also require slight repairs. When you hire a plasterer, you should have them examine the entire room or building and make repairs on small cracks that are just beginning to form or places where the plaster is detaching from the keying as well as major problem areas. This way, you will only have to paint the area once. If you wait for these small problems to become bigger, you will have to repaint the area a second time when you need more plaster repair.  Ask Your Plasterer to Match Your Previous Texture  Although it is possible to create faux plaster finishes with finishing supplies and paint, it is important that your plasterer matches the finish of your current plaster. This is because texture added in plaster and then painted over is often richer and deeper than faux plaster texturing techniques. In order to get a good match, the texture of the plaster should be consistent and the application method for the paint should also be consistent.  Make Sure the Plaster Cures Fully  One of the biggest mistakes that homeowners make when they are painting over plaster is not waiting long enough for the plaster to cure fully. Plaster needs to be fully cured before you prime or paint the surface. This is because the chemical bond between the plaster and paint only forms when the plaster is dry. If the plaster is still wet, the paint will likely crack and peel.  To make sure your plaster is fully cured, you can simply ask your plasterer what the curing time will be. If the weather is damp or cold, you may need to wait longer than the recommended curing time. If that is the case, you can tape a piece of clear plastic over a section of the plaster. If water droplets appear on between the plaster and the plastic, the plaster is not fully cured.  Use Primer On Plaster Plaster surfaces need to be sealed with a primer or a mist coat before you apply your final coats of paint. This will help your paint adhere to the surface and give you an even application. If you are painting just a small section, your primer should extend beyond the repaired area over your old paint. This will create a smooth transition between the two areas.  Decide Whether You Should Paint the Repaired Areas or If You need to Paint the Entire Wall or Room If the paint in your room is old or if you are unable to match the color exactly, you may want to repaint the entire room as opposed to only painting over the areas where you had your plaster repaired. Also, if...

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First Construction Job In The City? Everything You Need To Know About NYC Construction Fence Requirements

Posted by on Mar 14, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on First Construction Job In The City? Everything You Need To Know About NYC Construction Fence Requirements

Has your small New York-based construction company just landed its first job in the big city? If so, one of the first things you’ll need to do upon arriving is erect a construction fence to protect pedestrians from the dangers of the project you’ll be working on. You should know, though, that New York City has stricter guidelines for construction fencing than the state as a whole, so here are some important facts to keep in mind when putting one up. You’ll Probably Need More Permits Than You’re Used To Needing Some towns in New York have no zoning laws and no permits are required for new construction. In other towns, a single building permit is required for all aspects of a construction project, from putting up a construction fence to putting a roof on the finished project. In New York City, though, you can count on needing a permit for nearly every aspect of the project you work on. In fact, you could need various permits for the construction fence you’ll be using alone. You’ll need a permit to erect the construction fence (any temporary or permanent structure over six feet tall requires a permit). If your construction fence extends more than three feet past the property line, you’ll need a partial sidewalk closing permit. If the fence extends five feet or more past the property line, you’ll need a full sidewalk closing permit from the city. Chain Link Fencing Is A No-Go Because of the high concentration of pedestrians in New York City, temporary chain link fencing may not be used as construction fencing. Instead, the entire length of any construction fence must be solid so no debris can slip through it. Construction fencing must also be a minimum of eight feet high and hunter green in color in order to comply with New York City ordinance. Viewing Panels Are A Must As of 2013, any construction fence erected within the borders of New York City must be equipped with viewing panels. Viewing panels should be 12 inches by 12 inches in size, and they should be constructed of a clear, shatter-proof material, such as synthetic glass. One viewing panel is required at every 25 feet along the fence’s perimeter. The purpose of these panels is to allow pedestrians a clear view of your construction project without requiring them to risk their safety to get that view. There Are Strict Signage Regulations In most New York towns where you need a building permit, you obtain that permit and post a copy of it on-premises, and then you’re free to start work. In New York City, however, things work a little differently. Instead of a just posting a building permit at your work site, you’ll need to post an information panel directly on your construction fence. This panel should contain a description of the construction project along with an image of what the exterior of the final project should look like. The panel also must include the expected date of the project’s completion, as well as your contact information. Any construction site that implements a construction fence must post an information panel on the fence, with one exception — if the construction project you’re working on houses or will house 3 families or fewer, you do not need to...

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3 Pallet Rack Options For Smaller Warehouses

Posted by on Feb 17, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Pallet Rack Options For Smaller Warehouses

Owning a small warehouse can help you save money on property costs and other expenses, but it also means you’ll be squeezing in a lot of inventory and looking for space solutions. Instead of using standard pallet racks, there are a number of alternative industrial pallet racks that can fit the needs of a small warehouse. By determining your ideal pallet area, you can select the pallet rack that best suits your needs and can fit into a confined space. Browse through the following three racks and see how their features can help fit inside a small warehouse. If your warehouse ever expands, the same racks can adapt to larger sizes so you can continue to use them. Push Back Pallet Racks Instead of filling the whole warehouse with pallet racks, you can have a pallet rack system installed that goes up against the walls of your warehouse. This leaves middle sections open for packaging, loading, and logistics. With access at the front of these pallet racks, you have room to push back pallets and fill up a lot of extra space without using up too much square footage of your warehouse. The push back pallet uses a simple catch and release type of system. Small pulleys and levers automatically click into place when a pallet is placed on the rack. When a second pallet is placed down, the first one is automatically pushed back and locked into position. A single row can typically hold three to four pallets. When a pallet is removed from the rack, the ones behind it automatically move up to the next position. This makes it easy for forklifts to grab a pallet and successfully remove it from the rack. Pallet Flow Rack A similar design to the push back pallet rack is the pallet flow rack. Instead of only getting access from one side, the pallet flow rack creates a smooth flow from each side of the rack. In a small warehouse, this makes it easier for multiple forklift operates to access specific areas and complete tasks without delay. The process of a pallet flow rack is simple. The left side of the rack is the entry point for pallets. The right side is the exit point. Once a pallet is inserted into the left side, a gravity flow system carefully rolls it down and locks it into place on the right side. When a pallet is removed from the right side, the remaining pallets in the row will roll down and lock into place. A pallet flow rack is great for a “first-in, first-out” system. Instead of maneuvering pallets to reach the first one that you put in, it is ready for removal on the opposite side. This can help save a lot of time and space for pallets. In a small warehouse, you only need one pallet flow rack fit to your size needs towards the center of the warehouse. Drive-In Pallet Racks Creating space for forklift lanes and racks can be a hassle with a small warehouse. Mix two into one by having a drive-in pallet rack installed. The rack makes it easy to access pallets and eliminates the extra space needed for multiple forklifts. A drive in system features a row wide enough to fit a pallet and a...

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How To Repair A Wide Crack In Your Driveway Or Other Residential Asphalt Surface

Posted by on Jan 27, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Repair A Wide Crack In Your Driveway Or Other Residential Asphalt Surface

Asphalt is an ideal material for driveways and paths due to its low cost, attractive appearance and durability. However, even the most durable of asphalt surfaces can develop cracks due to erosion, summer heat or the freeze/thaw cycle in winter. Small cracks are readily-filled with asphalt from a caulk gun tube, but wide cracks need special attention. When cracks are larger than about a half-inch in size, there are a few additional steps that should be taken to make the repair successful and long-lasting. Here is what you need to know: Tools and materials needed Gallon-sized bottle of cold crack filler with spout V-shaped asphalt squeegee ½-inch diameter foam backer rod Flat-blade screwdriver Wet/dry vacuum Small wire brush Broom Scissors Tape measure Performing the repair – Step-by-Step 1. Ensure conditions are right for performing an asphalt repair – For best results, complete the repair on a warm, dry day. If the asphalt is cold or wet, the crack filler will not properly adhere to the surface. That’s why the air temperature and asphalt surface should both exceed 50 degrees Fahrenheit, and there should also be no forecast threat for rain in the day or two after the repair is performed. 2. Prepare the asphalt surface for repair – On the day of the repair, you will need to prepare the area inside and around the crack in the asphalt. Begin by sweeping up loose gravel, rocks and other bits of debris; don’t throw any gathered material away, though, since it will be used to disguise the repair. After you have swept up the surface, use a wet/dry vac with a crevice nozzle to suction smaller particles down inside the crack. If there are stubborn pieces of debris lodged inside the crack, use a flat-blade screwdriver or wire brush to remove the debris. 3. Insert the foam backer rod into the crack – To provide a solid foundation for the crack filler liquid, you will need to insert a long piece of foam backer rod into the bottom of the crack. Measure and cut the backer rod to length, then push it into the crack with your fingers. Next, use the tip of a flat-blade screwdriver to push the backer rod as far as you can into the crevice, so it will be “locked” in place. 4. Fill the crack with cold asphalt crack filler – After the foam backer rod has been inserted into the crack, you are ready to fill the remaining space on top of the crack with cold asphalt crack filler. Start at one end of the crack and gently pour the crack filler liquid into the crack and allow it to seep into the spaces around the backer rod. Move down the length of the crack with the bottle of cracker filler, pouring what is needed; be careful to avoid pouring too much to avoid waste and prevent making a mess. 5. Squeegee the crack filler material – Once the crack has been filled with crack filler, then the next step is to spread and evenly distribute the filler with a v-shaped asphalt squeegee. Start at one end of the crack and position the inside of the “V” at the end of the crack. Slowly pull the squeegee along the crack to scoop up excess...

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4 Reasons Your Pilot Light Keeps Going Out On Your Water Heater

Posted by on Jan 4, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 4 Reasons Your Pilot Light Keeps Going Out On Your Water Heater

With months of winter ahead, it’s important that you keep your house nice and warm, included your home’s water. One of the biggest problems that people have that is associated with not having hot water is that their pilot light keeps going out. There are several explanations as to why this is the case. Thermocouple A thermocouple is a device that essentially monitors the temperature of any given device. It is a device that consists of two different conductors that serve to monitor the heat index of an appliance. In this case, it is your water heater. There might be several reasons for this, but your thermocouple could be subject to a malfunction. When a thermocouple malfunctions on a hot water heater, your pilot light doesn’t actually go out. Rather, your water heater will “think” that the pilot light has went out, and will disable the ability to heat up water and ultimately warm your house. It is highly recommended that you call on the services of a professional if your thermocouple device is malfunctioning. Lack Of Ventilation A lack of ventilation can cause some serious issues surrounding your water heater, and can cause your pilot light to continuously blow out. When your water heater does not receive enough oxygen, this will cause an ecosystem wherein the pilot light can’t even be turned off. The first thing you should do is check the filter to your hot water heater. Either clean out the filter or replace it; the latter is usually quite a bit easier to do, and not to mention, it is also relatively inexpensive. Make sure that your hot water heater has a louvered door or a vent line that leads outside, and either one of these things are open. Over Ventilation Related to the issue of a lack of ventilation is the opposite end of the spectrum, over ventilation. If your hot water heater is being subjected to drafts or windy areas, your pilot light can continuously go out. Make sure that the shields are in place over your pilot light and that your HVAC system does not have any sort of ventilation blowing directly upon the water heater, especially if it is above your hot water heater. Make sure that your hot water heater is placed in an area that does not have an abundance of windows or that your hot water heater is placed sufficiently away from the windows in the room that it is placed in. Gas Control Valve For a number of reasons, your gas control valve might be acting a bit odd. Your gas control valve might be causing gas to not sufficiently flow to the hot water heater itself. Make sure that all of the gas is turned off to your heater before removing your gas control valve, then remove the valve itself. Make sure that you drain the water from the heater, also. Check to see if the gas control valve is still working properly. If it is not, it can easily be replaced. A solidly working gas valve will ensure that your pilot light will be continuously on. A water heater pilot light blowing out is a relatively common problem, that could have many causes, when it comes to hot water heaters. Hopefully, throughout the course of this brief article, you have...

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Three Ways Home Automation Can Save You Money

Posted by on Dec 16, 2015 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Three Ways Home Automation Can Save You Money

Sometimes you have to invest money to save money. This is particularly true when it comes to reducing energy costs in your home. Although home automation has been primarily touted as a way to make life easier for homeowners, it can also help you save money on energy costs. Here are three ways you can use home automation products to cut down on your energy usage and put more money in your bank account. Increased Light Control Although switching to compact fluorescent bulbs or other energy-saving light bulbs is an easy way to immediately reduce the amount of electricity used in your home, using smart bulbs connected to a home automation system can save you even more cash. First, the lights can be set to detect motion so they only come on when someone enters the room and turn off when the individual leaves. This significantly reduces the instances of lights being left on to burn when no one is in the area. Not only does this reduce the amount of energy used, it also extends the life of your bulbs. Second, lights can be set on timers and customized according to your lifestyle. For instance, the lights can be set to turn off automatically after 9 a.m. when no one is home. This minimizes the risk of someone accidentally leaving a light on in the rush to leave the house and leading to a full day of wasted electricity. Lastly, you can also control the brightness of the lighting using a home automation system, so you only use as much light as you need. You can turn down the brightness during dinner or increase it while the kids are doing their homework. Better Home Temperature Regulation Home automation systems can help you regulate the temperature in your home in unexpected ways. In addition to letting you customize the settings on your heating and air conditioning system to support your lifestyle, a home automation system can let you take advantage of your exterior environment via your curtains and shades. For instance, you can automatically adjust the amount of sunlight that enters your home by raising and lowering the shades at set times. During the winter time, you can set the system to raise the shades during the time of day when the sun is shining brightest and use the energy from the light to heat your home. You can then set the system to lower them again to prevent the captured heat from escaping. This reduces the amount of effort your HVAC unit has to put forth to keep the home at a comfortable temperature and, in turn, lower your energy bills. Manage Small Appliances A third issue that home automation can help you with that often escapes notice is the energy consumed by small appliances. Many small appliances still consume energy even when they are turned off or not in use. Although each individual appliance may only use a watt or two when they are in standby, the cumulative effect of having multiple appliances and electronics such as computers, televisions, and even coffeemakers drawing power can be significant. According to the Department of Energy, energy consumption from plugged in appliances account for about 5 to 10 percent of your bill. A home automation system can help you close...

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