Tips for mounting that greatest of holiday gifts: a flat screen TV

  Flat screen TVs are sure to be a popular holiday gift this year, as they’ve been for the past several holiday seasons.  Last year, flat screen prices tumbled before the holiday shopping season, and retailers are likely to offer deals again this year.

If a flat screen is on your wish list, or you’ll be giving one as a gift, you should keep in mind that how you mount a flat screen is almost as important as the quality of the unit itself. A properly mounted flat screen can offer many hours of safe, quality entertainment. Mounting your TV in the wrong location or at the wrong height could mean a poor viewing experience.

Fortunately, your mounting options are nearly as varied – and definitely as high quality – as your choices in TVs. So after the wrapping paper is tossed, and you’re ready to set up your flat screen, keep these mounting tips in mind:

* Don’t wing it. You may be tempted to try perching an ultra-slim flat screen on the mantle above your fireplace, or place a more compact model on top of your bedroom bureau. But even the lightest flat screen can pose a safety hazard if it’s not properly secured. Whether you’re wall mounting the TV or want to put it on top of a piece of furniture, stick with products that are made to accommodate a flat screen.

* Wall mounting is a great way to show off a flat screen, and one of the safest ways to reduce the risk of the TV falling on someone. For situations where you’ll be watching the TV from right in front of it, a stationery mount works well. If you need to expand your range of possible viewing angles, look for a full-motion mount that locks securely to the wall, like the Sanus VisionMount series, which are rated by Underwriters Laboratories.

* Consider the size of the TV and the size of the room where it will be used. You may fall in love with that 52-inch beauty, but is it really going to be that enjoyable crammed into a 10-by-12 bedroom? Keep scale in mind because the larger the TV, the more viewing distance you’ll need to have an optimum experience. You’ll need to consider this when choosing where and how to mount your TV.

* Avoid component chaos. Of course, you’ll want to connect your home theater system, Blu-ray player and game system to your new flat screen and that can lead to a mishmash of cables and components. Consider a specially designed storage unit for components and opt for cables, like the Sanus Elements ELM4308 Super Slim HDMI cable, that are specially designed to work in tight spaces while preserving a neat appearance.

For more ideas on how to mount your flat screen TV, visit

Ease your winter heating bill with a call to your plumbing and heating contractor

Louisville Heating and Air conditioning

Winter will soon bring plenty of cold and snowy weather. Families will turn up the thermostat, add an extra blanket to the beds, and hit the local home improvement store for needed supplies to seal windows and doors.

Unfortunately most won’t call their local plumbing and heating contractor. While homeowners annually dread seeing those winter utility bills roll in, they don’t give their heating system much thought until it needs to be repaired or replaced.

Annual preventative maintenance is always better than dealing with the alternative. One “no heat” call can cost you $300 or more, just to diagnose a problem and if your boiler or furnace has out-lived its warranty, you’ll be responsible for the full cost of parts and labor.

“When we do annual maintenance, we clean and inspect the boiler and perform a combustion test to ensure the boiler is operating properly and safely,” says Chris Bodek of Bodek Incorporated, Plumbing Heating and Air Conditioning of Johnson City, N.Y.

If your contractor determines that your boiler or furnace needs to be replaced, they will do a heat loss and sizing calculation to determine the size (BTU’s) required to heat your home. Your contractor should be able to provide a good, better and best equipment choice to suit your budget and desired efficiency level. Be sure to use a reputable contractor and ask for references.

When you weigh costs, understand that your investment goes well beyond the initial cost of the system. Your old low efficiency heating system could have an annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) of 70 percent. That means 70 percent of the energy in the fuel becomes heat for the home and the other 30 percent escapes up the chimney and elsewhere. With the old inefficient heating equipment you have, you could be throwing away up to 30 percent of the money you spend on fuel each year.

If you’re in a replacement or new build situation, the Dunkirk Helix VLT Stainless Steel Condensing boiler is rated with a 96 percent AFUE. Homeowners may be interested in the fact that this boiler is lightweight and wall-mounted, which can help prevent it from becoming damaged in case of flooding in the basement like so many East Coast homeowners experienced during Tropical Storm Irene in August. Also, if children or pets play in the basement or utility room, a wall mount boiler frees up valuable floor space and eases ground level safety concerns.

High efficiency condensing boilers entered the U.S. home heating market in the last 15 years and have steadily gained in popularity. The heart of any boiler is the heat exchanger, much like a motor is to a car, and it is what provides a boiler’s efficiency. Unlike every other manufacturer, Dunkirk has designed and built boilers and heat exchangers here in the U.S. Dunkirk’s newest high efficiency boiler, the Helix VLT, is the result of American ingenuity in the form of an innovative vertical laser tube stainless steel heat exchanger design which maximizes heat transfer from the heat exchanger to the boiler water.

Condensing boilers are sealed combustion boilers, which means they rely on air from the outdoors for combustion versus taking air from inside the home which can cause drafts and waste energy.

A built-in outdoor reset is another fuel economizing feature. An outdoor temperature reset is a sensor that modulates the temperature of the boiler water based on seasonal conditions. In doing so, the boiler uses less fuel to heat the home during mild weather.

A boiler with an efficiency of 96 percent, which includes sealed combustion and outdoor temperature reset, can save the homeowner up to 40 percent in annual heating costs.

Whatever your home heating situation, do your homework and turn to a professional plumbing and heating contractor for information. Your home heating system can be uniquely tailored to meet the needs of your home, your lifestyle and your budget.

A blanket for your house: energy-efficient, insulated siding

Louisville Roofing Contractor

With a growing emphasis on eco-conscious living, homeowners recognize the importance and value of having an energy-efficient home. One essential factor for saving energy and maintaining indoor air comfort is sealing the exterior of the home. Insulation and energy-efficient windows play important roles in preventing air leaks where obvious holes are present, however, one hidden area susceptible to energy leaks is the home’s framing.

“Homeowners are looking for ways to improve their home’s energy performance,” says Jery Y. Huntley, president and CEO of the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI), the trade association for manufacturers of vinyl and other polymeric siding and suppliers to the industry. “A common problem with homes today is the thermal bridging effect, which can rob a home of heat and waste energy and money.”

In thermal bridging, the studs act as a passageway for heat to escape. Most insulation helps seal wall cavities, but the wall studs on either side of the cavities are often left exposed, reducing the insulating value of the entire wall.
“Continuous wall insulation is crucial to fully seal the exterior and protect against heat loss,” says Jerry Blais, vice president of marketing for “www.mastic.com”></a>. Options such as Napco by Ply Gem American Essence or Variform by Ply Gem CSL 600 also offer classic styling in numerous colors.

If you are considering insulated siding for your next home improvement project, ask your contractor to download a free copy of Insulated Siding as Home Insulation: Guide for Users and Energy Raters, published by the VSI. Available at””></a>, this guide offers information on how insulated siding contributes to building energy performance, as well as proper installation techniques.


Roof Maintenance 101

Louisville Roofer

Most homeowners do not think about their roof on a daily basis. They assume that it is performing its duty unless something happens that tells them otherwise, such as a leak. Realistically, there were probably signs of roof trouble well in advance. Luckily, there are some easy tasks that can be done to help you keep an eye on the condition of your roof so your home and investment are properly protected.

Do-it-yourself visual inspection
With all types of home maintenance, safety is paramount. The following five actions can be done safely and help determine the condition of the roof.

Look around
Look around the neighborhood for other roofs being replaced, especially if the homes were built about the same time as yours. Chances are if your neighbors’ roofs are showing signs of wear and tear or are being replaced, it may only be a matter of time before it’s your turn.
Also when doing yard work, look along the ground around gutter downspouts to see if there are abnormal amounts of granules washing off the roof. &nbsp;Granules not only give your shingles a distinct appearance, they also protect the asphalt against premature aging. Finding a small sprinkling of granules is normal, but large piles may mean that your roof is losing its ability to protect against UV rays.

Look up
Another easy action that can be done while on the ground is to look up at the edges of the roof for shingle curling. When the corners of the shingle start curling, your roof can be more exposed to the elements, and if a proper roofing underlayment is missing, the interior of the home is also at risk of damage.

Look out
While on the second floor of your house, look out a window that overlooks part of the roof and look for shingle wear and tear or missing shingles. If you are already on the ladder cleaning out your gutters, you can conduct many of the same inspections. Cracks or missing granules showing patches of black asphalt could mean it’s time for a new roof.

Look down
If you are not already in the practice of cleaning your gutters, you probably do not realize this is another element of protecting the life of your roof. By making sure gutters are clear of debris, you not only ensure proper drainage, but decrease the chance of ice damming in the winter. Ice dams can cause melting snow and ice to push under shingles and down through your roof deck into your attic or living space. There are special “ice and water” underlayment to help combat this issue. Owens Corning Roofing has several types called WeatherLock. Unfortunately, ice and water underlayment cannot be added to an existing roof, but is a great product to include if a new roofing system is needed.

Watch your roof’s back
An additional area that is often overlooked in visual inspection is what is behind the shingles. Whenever you are in the attic, take a few minutes to look for problems such as water stains on the back of the wood decking or holes in the insulation. Also, make sure your attic ventilation system has free air flow. A balanced system of air intake and exhaust is preferred. Often times, the air flow can get blocked off at the soffit, which affects the performance of the system and can result in poor ventilation throughout the home.

Leave the hard work to the professionals
If you conduct these inspections and you notice that there are problems, it may be time to call a professional contractor to conduct a thorough inspection and make a recommendation on the actions to restore or replace the roof.

A complete <a href=”website”>website</a>, including information about locating and selecting the right  href=”DesignEyeQ”>”>DesignEyeQ Visualization Experience Tool which allows you to upload a picture of your roof and “try on” different shingles and color combinations.

A healthy roofing system is important for providing shelter to your family and for protecting your valuables and financial investment. Being proactive in watching the condition of your roof before being surprised by a leak could cost you less in the end. These few easy tips can help you properly maintain your roof, which can result in long-lasting comfort, beauty and overall energy efficiency.”