Of all the modern conveniences we enjoy today, perhaps one of the greatest is modern plumbing. Without a thought, we turn on a faucet anticipating water at a specified temperature. We flush a toilet with certain expectations. We think nothing of the excess water we run, knowing it will flow down the drain and out of the house. But there was a time when none of these luxuries were available. Modern plumbing is the result of a long and rather less than glorious history.
The earliest settlers used nature as a restroom and streets as garbage cans. It wasn’t until the mid 19th century that America began to make any real strides in water or sewage systems. It was then that the infamous water closet was born. A much cruder version of our modern day port-a-potties, the outhouse, or water closet, was an odiferous mark on the landscape.
1845 brought an early attempt at sanitary sewage disposal giving plumbing a major leap forward. However, a functioning (and endurable) indoor water closet was still just beyond reach. The venting for this system was a stack that went up through the roof, but no one knew the proper dimensions for this device. As a result, poor plumbing and the terrible smell made residences with these new devices uninhabitable.
Thinking of remodeling your basement this year? Adding a bathroom, wet bar and living space? If you have an older home, you may face something you’ve never anticipated – asbestos.
Asbestos is a mineral fiber that was used in the past in various forms of construction. Some common uses for asbestos were insulation, door gaskets, steam pipes, joint compounds, and roofing materials, just to name a few. Asbestos has been linked to various health problems, including mesothelioma and lung cancer. If you inhale asbestos fibers into your lungs, the chances of you developing a health problem from it increase dramatically.
If you are doing some remodeling and come across an area that you believe may contain asbestos, such as an old patch in the wall or the insulation behind the wall, stop immediately. Asbestos is a harmful substance and if you disturb it, you will probably inhale the fibers into your lungs. Your first plan of action should be to evaluate the area and see if it is in good shape or not. If it is good shape, then leave it alone. The fibers are only harmful if inhaled. Leaving it alone will keep the fibers intact.
As loved ones age, one room they may find more difficult to navigate is the bathroom. This room poses a definite risk for slips, falls and similar difficulties. So, if you are considering a bathroom remodeling for a senior you know, here are a few ideas to keep in mind for a more senior friendly bathroom.
1. Install a walk in tub - A traditional tub, with its high broad ledge can be very difficult for a senior to maneuver. One of the most important steps in remodeling a bathroom for a senior is to replace their current tub or shower. You’ll want to get a walk in tub or shower with a built in seat and non-slip flooring.
2. Get a taller toilet - Seniors can sometimes have difficulty getting up from a sitting position. To help counter this difficulty, install a new toilet with an elevated seat for easier access.
3. Install handrails - Sometimes seniors need a little help getting up. Install handrails near the toilet and shower areas for that bit of leverage to help them stand up.
Frozen pipes are an inconvenience at best. At their worst, they can be a damaging, time consuming, and a costly problem. The good thing is, this difficulty can be circumvented with a few advance preparations and a little attention.
1. Locate the likely freezers – As you winterize your home, take a good look at your plumbing. You need to figure out which pipes are most likely to freeze in cold weather. For instance, your main water pipe is the greatest freeze risk. Similarly, pipes that are close to outer walls, especially non-insulated walls, are likely to freeze.
Eventually, every homeowner feels the responsibilities of ownership. Whether it’s a leaky faucet or a loose doorknob, every home needs repairs and improvements at some point. As you consider your current list of home improvement projects, how do you prioritize them? Here are a few things to keep in mind as you plan your home improvements this year.
1. Time of year - Especially for larger projects, weather can play a large role in planning home improvement projects. Warm, dry weather can do much to simplify a large project that requires materials or furniture be left outdoors for long periods of time. With Colorado spring snowfalls, the best choice for anything entailing outdoor work would be summer and early fall. From remodeling a bathroom, to adding an outdoor room complete with grill and firepit, the key factor is to start a project and have enough time to finish it before the snow sets in.
2. Timing - Aside from time of year, you will also want to consider the timing involved in completing your project. Do you have several weeks to do a remodel on your own? Or do you need it completed in a shorter period of time? Don’t start projects that will be delayed because something else comes up. Dedicate the time to get things finished.
3. Skill - Start with projects you would be more familiar with, and therefore more comfortable with. It is also a wise idea to begin with the simpler projects. If a home improvement project can get more complicated than it should be, it probably will. Save yourself some discouragement and a few headaches and start with projects that are well within your comfort range. Leave the rest to the professionals or work into them as your skills progress.
With a New Year upon us, many people are facing a renewed desire to fix up their castle. So, armed with a drive, a to do list, and a few supplies, you are going to change your world. Whether you are looking to fix that leaky sink in the kitchen, or completely remodel the bathroom, be sure to keep a few fix up do’s and don’ts in mind.
1. Do start with a plan and a budget - One of the first steps for any successful home repair jobs is making a plan. To maintain control of your time and money make a plan for what you want to accomplish and how much it will cost.
2. Do start small – Especially if you plan to do the repairs yourself, start small. For instance, if you plan on completely remodeling your bathroom, choose one fixture to begin with. If you tear out the sink and discover you don’t have the skill to adjust the pipes for your new sink, at least the rest of your bathroom is still intact.
Is one of your new year’s resolutions replacing old fixtures, and becoming more water efficient? If you live in Denver, you may want to do it sooner rather than later.
Residents of Denver can qualify for rebates by replacing inefficient fixtures and appliances, and replacing them with more efficient qualifying models. Residential rebates include:
- Clothes washers
- High efficiency toilets
- Wireless rain sensors
- Rotary nozzles
- Weather based smart controllers
However Denver Water will change its residential rebates for high efficiency toilets and clothes washers beginning March 16, 2011. The rebate amount offered will be reduced by $50 each, and will be $75 for qualifying toilets and $100 for qualifying clothes washers.
If you own and operate a commercial location within the Denver Water area, you can qualify for a variety of rebates. They include:
- High efficiency toilets
- Flushometer bowls and valve combinations
- High efficiency urinals
- Commercial meters and meter reading system
- Coin or card operated laundry equipment
Like the residential program, high efficiency toilet rebates will be reduced by $50 on March 16th, 2011.
For your commercial outdoor needs, Denver Water is offering rebates to help you control your outside water usage. Rebates include:
- Weather based smart controllers
- Irrigation rotary nozzles
- Wireless rainfall sensors
For more information, check the Denver Water rebate section.
Despite a small decline during 2010, the green building industry is looking forward to a strong and profitable year in 2011. As we approach this exciting New Year for green building, let’s look at some of the anticipated green building trends for 2011.
1. Air quality – One area that has gained quite a bit of attention recently is air quality. Builders have two venues available to them to help improve air quality in building projects. The first is the installation of high efficiency ventilation systems and air filters. The second option is using materials that don’t emit harmful toxins. By combining the two together, you can quickly see a difference in the air you breathe.