Ask the Home Experts
Q&A with our Advertisers
Q: Have you ever wondered how a portable UV light purification system cleans all the air in the home?
A: Well actually, it doesn’t. Only a UV light system that is placed in your ductwork can properly purify the air in your entire house. Recent technology upgrades have made whole home UV light systems not only more efficient, but safer to use. Today, studies show that your indoor air quality can actually be worse than the air outside. Mold, mildew, viruses and bacteria can now be controlled in your home using a wide variety of UV purification systems. These systems should be chosen based off of symptoms and a thorough analysis by a certified technician. 2nd Wind offers a number of UV purification systems to help you and your family breathe easier. Call us today at 786-7433 or visit us at 2ndwindhvac.com.
Jeff Hall, 2nd Wind Heating and Air
Q: What kind of sod should I use?
A: This is a question homeowners commonly ask when considering the renovation of an old lawn or starting fresh with a new one. Selecting the proper grass is the most important step in establishing a lawn, and certain considerations should be made in the decision making process, including whether the grass will be watered manually or with an automatic irrigation system, environmental limitations of the site, drainage, pH, soil type, the amount of sun or shade and how the lawn will be used.
The most commonly used turf grasses in the South are St. Augustine, Centipede and Zoysia varieties, each of which have their pros and cons, as well as very different textures and characteristics.
Of course, one of the most important but often overlooked things to do before installing new sod is a soil test. The best lawns and gardens seem to have one thing in common – great soil. Testing the soil in your lawn is an easy and relatively inexpensive task, and it can be done with do-it-yourself kits, through your local extension service or by a professional landscaping company.
Trent Hutchinson, Blue Moon Landscaping
Q: I’d like to open up a room in my home by removing a wall, but I think it may be a load-bearing wall. Is thereanything that can be done?
A: In most cases a beam can be installed in the area where the wall is removed to support the load. Depending on what is above the beam, it can be hidden or exposed. A hidden beam would be recessed into the ceiling or attic space, and the ceiling framing members that were previously resting on the wall would be attached to the beam. This is a common part of our renovations; however, due to the danger of ceiling collapse, it is not a do-it-yourself job.
Byron Lawson, Byron Lawson Builders
Q: Why is Sunbrella fabric better than other outdoor fabrics? Are all outdoor fabrics Sunbrella?
A: The availability of outdoor fabrics and related products has grown tremendously over the past few years. The name Sunbrella has become well known (a good thing) but is often confused with other outdoor fabrics that do not have the same qualities and characteristics (a bad thing). The magic of Sunbrella fabric is that it is solution dyed, which means that the color is throughout the fabric, not just on top. Imagine a carrot (solution dyed fabric) that is the same color inside and out versus a radish (non-solution dyed fabrics) which has the color only on the outside. Hours of sunlight, or use of strong detergents, will eventually remove the color from those fabrics that are not solution dyed. Patio umbrellas, cushions and throw pillows will last much longer in the sun’s rays and withstand cleaning if made with solution dyed fabrics.
Dottie Reynolds, Casual Living
Q: How can I use my irrigation system to conserve water?
A: Irrigation systems with smart controllers are the newest technology for water conservation in the landscaping industry. Irrigation equipment manufacturers have been working hard the last several years to help homeowners and business owners save water and money. You input your zip code, soil type, plant type and turf type, and the system does the rest. The smart controller saves an average of 50 percent in water consumption. The system self adjusts based on climate conditions and your landscape’s changing water needs. Your system can also be accessed via your computer. If you want to save water and money, call us for an irrigation system consultation.
Holcombe Smith, Exceed Landscape Solutions
Q: What are top design recommendations for people with pets?
A: Most of you live with your very own master(s) of the house, just like we do. Here are our top recommendations on how to make your home both pet friendly and still fashionable.
1. Don’t use loosely woven fabrics on upholstery pieces that Fifi’s nails might cling to. As beautiful as it may be, it won’t look nearly as wonderful when it is all picked and torn.
2. Think practical when it comes to draperies. Panels that puddle around windows look beautiful, but are very tempting to Fido. Opt instead for panels that just hit the floor, a decorative valance or Roman shade.
3. Opt for stain resistant fabrics on upholstery. A variety of fabrics are pet-friendly, as well as owner-friendly, and they aren’t just plain old solids, either.
4. Don’t use flat paints. Your walls will show every nose smudge, paw print or drool stain. Instead choose satin or eggshell finishes that are as easy to clean as glossy finishes but have less shine and don’t draw your eye to wall imperfections.
Katie O’Connor, Katherine J. Anderson Interiors
Q: I have my plans and I have a builder. How much will it cost? How long will it take? What else do I need to do?
A: Whether you are thinking of a large custom home or a remodel, the relationship between builder and owner is much like a marriage. To be successful, all parties must vow to participate in the process, communicate often and respectfully, and work daily to stay on the same page.
As in a marriage, all parties in the home-building process have responsibilities. The builder commits to providing quality materials and workers, and the owners commit to timely decisions and daily participation. All parties must keep the communication lines open and play by the rules.
Builders must have expertise and provide quality while being flexible and accommodating of custom changes. A good set of plans tells a builder the scope of the job and the time of completion, but they may not tell the builder what unique preferences, selections and desires the owner may have in mind. As in a marriage, it is good to know these things up front in order to avoid the inevitable curve ball or change order. But in the middle, selections may change or the owner may be unavailable. Regardless, the builder must keep the home-building process alive and assess the effect of these changes on the budget.
As in a marriage, some building projects are more complicated than others, but the issues, rules and expectations are the same. To make it work, all parties must decide what they want, be honest, respectful and always keep the communication lines open.
The successful marriage of a builder and a homeowner protects the builder’s standing while providing the owner with a quality home. In most cases this home building partnership results in a lasting friendship.
Bob LaMotte, LaMotte Builders
Q: What should everyone know about their plumbing?
A: First, and the most important, is that you need to know where and how to cut off the main water supply to your home. Also, this needs to be checked annually to make sure it works in case of an emergency. Second, you need make sure your toilets are not wasting water caused by a leaking flapper. This is an inexpensive simple repair that can save hundreds on a water bill. And third, you need to check your water pressure to make sure its does not exceed 80 psi. If the pressure is too high, then you should have a pressure-reducing valve installed to protect your plumbing and water using appliances. Following these three tips can help save you money and untimely plumbing problems.
Kevin Meetze, Meetze Plumbing
Q: How do I make my room more interesting?
A: There are lots of ways to add interest to a room: color, texture, fabric, art and accessories are just a few. What can make a room lackluster is having too much of the same thing. Furniture pieces that are all from the same collection, identically patterned fabrics on multiple surfaces and nothing but matching accessories create a monotonous look. When you enter a room and everything repeats itself, it can become dull or boring. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. You can combine stained and painted furniture pieces with one another, or mix and match new items with antiques. Utilize coordinating, not matching, fabrics and don’t be afraid to combine different textures and patterns. Add interest by introducing a variety of accessories made from different types of materials. A bowl made of wood, a beautifully shaped vase made of glass and a wall hanging comprised of metal would create flair and interest.
Mandy Summers, M. Gallery Interiors
Q: What is a low cost way to update my kitchen and to also make a big impact?
A: One way to update your kitchen and to stay within a reasonable budget is to reface your kitchen cabinets. The first step is to decide on your new cabinet door design and new hardware. Then remove all your old cabinet doors and measure for your new cabinet doors. Next, paint the cabinets and your new cabinet doors. Finally, hang your new cabinet doors and install the new hardware. This inexpensive update will make a huge impact on the look and the feel of your kitchen.
Brandon Mooring, Mooring Home Builders
Q: We’re moving in a few weeks. How can we cut as much cost as possible without sacrificing professional service?
A: Like most things, clear communication is so important in moving, as the devil is in the details. Ask questions and be clear about what responsibilities you’re willing to tackle. The best way to cut costs initially is handling as much packing as possible. It’s difficult and tedious, but it’s a great cost cutter. If you’ve had enough of the paper cuts and monotony, your transfer associates will be happy to help. Large, delicate items such as lamps and artwork can be difficult to pack; handling the transfer of these items will cut significant costs. Accessibility is the key to an efficient relocation. Make sure pathways are clear of clutter and all your furniture surfaces are bare. Everyone deserves exceptional service when it comes to the transfer of family possessions.
Tyler Fairey, Palmetto Specialty Transfer
Q: What is a green home?
A: There are several programs a builder can follow to build a green home, but don’t let them confuse you. A green home is more energy efficient, is constructed with less resources, consumes less water, has improved indoor air quality, has less of an impact on its surroundings and, most importantly, is inspected by a third party to insure that the home is properly constructed. It takes a combination of past experience as well as the ability to utilize all of the new products on the market to achieve the next evolution in home building.
Homes are built on a sliding scale of green – from the very economical basic green home to the off-the-grid, self sustained home. Contrary to common belief, a green home does not have to cost more than a traditional one. It is very important to use a builder who is educated in these building techniques because a home is a living system, and simply installing a few green features in a home without considering the entire system can decrease the performance of the home.
Stan O’Brien, Paradime Construction
Q: I have had my home on the sales market for more than three months and can’t wait any longer for a sale. Can I rent it?
A: Certainly! There are a number of reasons renting is a good option. First, you will receive income while having the security of knowing someone is in your home taking care of it and paying your utilities. Second, you can wait out the market while you are receiving income. Sell the home later, after the tenant moves. Third, due to stringent lending regulations, the market is full of first time renters.
Using a property management company ensures that state landlord/tenant laws are followed and the prospective tenant’s credit and references are scrutinized. A property management company will also perform maintenance and inspections and collect rent in a timely manner.
Susan Crosby, Property Consultants
Q: When choosing an ornamental fence, how do I choose between aluminum and steel?
A: If you are looking for a fence that provides the beauty of wrought iron at a reasonable price, most people find that aluminum is the perfect fit for their specific needs. Aluminum provides the detail and elegance that people desire and is virtually maintenance free. Steel provides this same desirable look at virtually the same cost, but is much more durable. We have found that steel is the best selection for yards with large dogs and/or children (who might climb).
Ryan Brewer Enterprises always takes the upmost pride in providing high quality fencing and installation. When choosing a fence for your house you have many options to choose from, and we can guide and assist you in making the right decision for your yard. Taking into consideration your landscape, needs and budget, we can help you find the perfect fencing solution for your property.
Ryan Brewer, Ryan Brewer Enterprises
Q: My travertine shower is dull, with caked-on soap scum and etch marks on the floor and wall. What can I do?
A: The good news is your travertine can be restored to a like-new condition. It is possible to remove all soap scum and replace the grout, then hone, polish and sanitize the tile. Instead of investing a large sum of money replacing damaged tile, check with an expert about restoring any of your natural stone surfaces –– marble, granite, travertine, limestone, onyx, terrazzo, ceramic or porcelain. Imagine the thrill of having your natural stone surfaces looking brand new without a burdensome expense and without the mess. And once an expert has completed the grinding, honing, polishing and cleaning, be sure to have the surfaced sealed for long-lasting protection.
John Sandifer, Sandifer’s Tile and Grout
Q: Can I really save money by using a natural gas tankless water heater?
A: Yes! In fact, you can save up to $6,400 in energy costs over the expected 20 year life of a natural gas tankless water heater. That’s over $300 annually and a seemingly endless supply of hot water, too. No more running out of hot water during a shower or scheduling the dishwasher against bath times. Plus, natural gas tankless water heaters are up to 25 percent more energy efficient than a standard electric water heater. They also last longer and require little maintenance, meaning fewer busted water heaters going to the landfill. Their compact design allows for flexible installation locations without giving up valuable floor space in your home or garage. Check with SCE&G on rebates and incentives of up to $650 for customers who convert from electric or propane models to a natural gas tankless water heater. You’ll be glad you did. www.sceg.com/value
Q: Why should I buy a custom entry?
A: We all have a personal style. When we shop, we look for things that reflect that style and you should do the same when thinking about a new entry for your home. After all, an entry is the focal point of your home, welcoming your guests and introducing them to your personal style. It is a design detail that makes a statement for all to see.
As well as being aesthetically pleasing, a custom entry should be of quality construction and energy efficient. A custom door professional will work with you to achieve all of this, and the result will be a product that will last for years to come.
A custom entry does not mean your budget will skyrocket out of control. A custom door professional will listen to your design ideas to assist you in finding the right design style at the right price for you.
Bill Barrett, Southern Custom Doors and Hardware
Q: Why would I hire a decorative artist to work in my home?
A: No matter your style or budget, there’s something in your home a faux painter can transform. Refinishing kitchen cabinets is an efficient upgrade that can make them seem brand new. Plasters create extremely luxurious spaces and cover any surface including walls, ceilings (the fifth wall), fireplace surrounds, mantels and columns. Old or new furniture can be embellished using any material, paint, stain, glaze, plaster or paper, and specialty finishes can turn furniture into a one-of-a-kind treasure. Cabinets, walls, furniture – all can be remade in any style, any color, any look. The possibilities are endless.
An experienced, educated and trained faux artist is a valuable resource for homeowners seeking an exciting change for their familiar spaces.
Georgia Lake, Surface
Q: Why should I have my chimney swept now? I’ve always waited until the fall when I am ready to use it!
A: The spring and summer are the perfect times to provide care and maintenance to this valuable asset in your home. The soot and creosote build up from the fall and winter burning seasons are full of odors and acids that lead to unpleasant smells and a more rapid deterioration of your flue, smoke chamber, firebox and damper assembly. Having your fireplace system swept and inspected by a certified chimney sweep will give you the opportunity to schedule an appointment at your convenience, rather than trying to find someone who can see you immediately when the forecast calls for cold weather. By then, the answer to your request will most probably be that you can be given an appointment in about three weeks.
Certified chimney sweeps can be found through the Chimney Safety Institute of America at www.csia.org. The chimney professionals will provide a minimum Level I visual inspection based on the National Fire Protection Association Standards which will evaluate your fireplace system based on the International Residential Code Standards and NFPA211 standards of how chimneys and fireplaces should be built.
This is also a great time to consider installing a chimney top to keep birds, squirrels and rain out of the flue and smoke chamber and prevent costly repairs. Now is the perfect time to have your fireplace and chimney system serviced.
Ron Rust, Top Hat Sweepers