Use The Best Water Heaters In Your Home

Water Heaters

The cost of heating water consumes almost 20 percent of your household budget, second only to what you spend on heating and cooling your home. Despite this expense, water heaters are typically ignored until they break, leaving you with no hot water and, possibly, a flooded basement.

If your water heater is nearing the end of its useful life and you’re thinking of replacing it before disaster strikes, you’ll be happy to know that you have better choices, thanks to recent federal regulations that require water heaters to be more energy-efficient. New storage tank water heaters are required to operate more efficiently, and tankless (on-demand) water heaters are even more efficient than that.

Typically, homeowners replace their old water heater with one of the same type that runs on the same fuel—natural gas or electricity. Switching from a tank water heater to a tankless unit can be expensive because it requires you to retrofit your plumbing and possibly your electrical system. But if you’re building a new home or adding to an existing one, installing a tankless water heater may make economic sense.

Consumer Reports recently tested several electric and gas whole-house tankless water heaters from brands such as Bosch, Navien, Noritz, Rheem, Rinnai, Tempra, and Trutankless. We compared the results with those of conventional tanked heaters from Rheem, one gas and one electric, as well as with a Rheem electric heat pump water heater, which is a variation on a tanked water heater.

 

Why Buy An Energy Efficient Water Heater?

About Water Heater Efficiency

A water heater’s efficiency is measured by its energy factor (EF). EF is based on recovery efficiency, standby losses, and cycling losses. The higher the EF, the more efficient the water heater. Electric resistance water heaters have an EF ranging from 0.7 and 0.95; gas water heaters from 0.5 to 0.6, with a few high-efficiency models ranging around 0.8; oil water heaters from 0.7 and 0.85; and heat pump water heaters from 1.5 to 2.0.

Tips for Buying a New Water Heater

  • Choose a water heater with an appropriate first-hour rating (FHR) by estimating your family’s peak-hour demand for hot water.
  • Determine the appropriate fuel type for your water heater. If you are considering electricity, check with your local utility company for off-peak electricity rates for water heating. If available, this may be an attractive option to choose electric water heaters. Natural gas, oil and propane water heaters are less expensive to operate than electric models.
  • If you are in a moderate climate (i.e., with relatively low heating loads), consider a Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH), which is more efficient than a conventional electric water heater. Though a HPWH may have a high initial cost, it can save up to 50% of your water heating bill.
  • For safety as well as energy-efficiency reasons, when buying gas- and oil-fired water heaters, look for units with sealed combustion or power venting to avoid back-drafting of combustion gases into the home.
  • Everything else being equal, select a water heater with the highest energy factor (EF). However, you should note that the EF of one type of heater is not comparable to another type. For example, an electric water heater with an EF of 0.9 may cost more to operate than a gas water heater with an EF of 0.7.
  • Whenever possible, do not install the water heater in an unheated basement. Also try to minimize the length of piping runs to your bathroom and kitchen.

 

How To: Choose a Water Heater

While we often take a hot shower or bath for granted, it’s important to note that up to 20% of a household’s annual energy expenditures come from heating hot water. That makes it the second largest utility expense in the home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, averaging around $400 to $600 per year.  If you are looking to install a new hot water heater—or replace an existing one—the type, size and efficiency of the unit you choose will have a big impact on its performance and long-term savings.

There are a number of different types of water heaters to consider from heat pumps to solar-powered units, but the most common are tank and tankless. Traditional, tank-style water heaters are large metal cylinders that keep hot water stored and on reserve for when it may be needed. Since they typically range in capacity from 40 to 60 gallons and are generally about 60″ tall by 24″ wide, they are often installed in a basement or laundry room.

Tankless units, also known as “on demand” water heaters, turn on only when hot water is required. With no holding tank, the system is not only more compact—typically 20″ wide by 28″ long by 10″ deep—but more efficient since it is not storing a reserve of hot water (or compensating for its subsequent heat loss). Tank-style water heaters are usually less expensive than tankless units, but tankless models generally last longer: a traditional water heater usually lasts 10 to 13 years, while tankless water heaters can last up to 20 years.

Regardless of whether the unit is tank or tankless, water heaters generally fall into two categories: direct-fired or indirect-fired. Direct-fired means that the water in the tank is heated directly by the heat of a flame; these units are generally used in homes with warm air furnaces. In direct-fired heaters, fuel is burned in a combustion chamber under the water storage tank, then hot flue gases heat water in the tank.

 

Best Water Heaters Review and Buying Tips

How to find the best water heaters when there is a variety of gas and electric storage tank and tankless water heaters and numerous models? We have compared Rheem, AO Smith, Bradford White, Rinnai, Noritz, Takagi, and other top-ranked manufacturers and brands, and here is the list of the best and most popular models.

To get the best water heating unit for your home, it is essential to know that between 20 and 25% of home energy consumption goes toward water heating, making it the second-largest energy consumer in the North American home. And what is even more important is to know how to get the device that can save.

And this is the reason for these articles… to help you find the best electric and gas models, including top-rated tankless and a storage tank type.

After reviewing many water heaters, it became evident that it is not easy to find one particular brand or a model, which truly stands out from a wide range of available heaters on the market today.

The quality and versatility of models they offer are great, and their heating products have similar material quality, available features, longevity, efficiency, and warranty.

All of them are making quality products, but before you buy the best gas water heater or the top-rated electric model, be sure to know what you are looking for.

 

Water Heater Tips | Save Money & Energy

CONSIDER PURCHASING A NEW WATER HEATER

It’s a good idea to replace your water heater if it is more than 10 years old. An old water heater is not only inefficient but could also cause irreparable damage if it leaks or bursts.

REPLACE OLD APPLIANCES

If your dishwasher or washing machine is more than 10 years old, you might consider replacing it with a new, more energy-efficient model. There are many new designs on the market (including ENERGY STAR® models) that use less water and are much more efficient than what was on the market even a decade ago.

INSULATE PIPES

In addition to insulating the tank itself, consider adding insulation to the first 6 feet of both the hot and cold water pipes connected to the unit. This will prevent fire hazards and help conserve heat so that your system doesn’t have to work so hard to reheat it.

INSTALL A TIMER

A traditional water heater tank is always running, which is a waste of electricity. Installing a timer to turn off your heater at night is a great way to help conserve energy – and could add years to the life of the unit. Call your local plumber for more information on water heater timers.

DRAIN THE TANK

It’s a good practice to drain your water heater every year or so. Draining the tank helps to remove sediment that can impede heat transfer and ultimately lower the efficiency of the unit. While this is a relatively easy procedure, always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions. If in doubt, call a professional to help with water heater maintenance.

Tips To Fix Tile Roof

Tile Roof Cleaning

Roofs are our first line of defense against the elements including rain, snow, sun, and heat. Thus, roofs should always be in prime condition. Concrete, synthetic, and metal tile roofs are intended to last for at about 50 years, while clay tiles can last for as much as 100 years. However, normal wear and tear due to exposure can shorten the longevity of these roofs.

Regular cleaning is one way of ensuring the good condition of your roof. Other benefits from regular roof cleaning include:

  • Aesthetic Value – Moss, stains, and mildew accumulate over time, upsetting the overall good appearance of the house. Regular cleaning will keep your roof looking clean, new, and attractive.
  • Discover Damage Early – Minor damages to the roof can lead to more serious problems like leaks, draft, and mildew and mold spores. These problems cost money to repair. Regular cleaning can uncover minute damages early on, and before further damage is done.
  • Extends Roof Longevity – You also have the chance and the option to re-seal, prime, and repaint the tiles after cleaning. This will prevent dirt and moss from seeping into the tiles.

 

 

Roof Cleaning

Roof cleaning has become an accepted part of home exterior maintenance. All roofing contractors agree that cleaning and maintaining your roof can extend its life. Keeping your roof free of debris, routine gutter cleaning at least once a year, and repairing any loose or missing shingles will go a long way to extend the life of your roof. However, remember that most roofing professionals will recommend that you leave the cleaning and maintenance of your roof to the professionals. These people have the expertise and equipment to navigate your roof safely. Moss, fungi and moisture can make your roof slippery and dangerous to work on.

The question of how often you should clean your roof has many answers. The condition of your roof has everything to do with its lifespan, so paying attention to your roof will save you money in the long term. Also, the type of roof you have will determine the kind of cleaning needed. Other factors include the amount and kind of trees surrounding your home, the type of weather in your area, the age of your roof, and whether or not your roof has sustained any type of damage from severe weather.

 

Killing Moss With Bleach

Bleach will also kill it. The dead moss will be easier to scrape off. Or, scrape it off while it’s still green with a dull scraper, and hose down any earth that remains. Tile Roof Wash How To Kill Moss With Bleach Metal Roof Cleaner It found that a clean white roof that reflects 80%

Although concrete tiles are among the most durable and water-resistant of roof … Clean out the Garage Now is the perfect …

How to Clean Your Tile Roof Step on the lower portion of the tiles. Distribute your weight. Stay on dry areas. Stand on flat areas. Protect your plants. Section the roof. Buff the tiles.

 

 

Why Do Tile Roofs Need Cleaning?

Tile roofing needs to be cleaned for a number of reasons. Chief among those reasons is to make the roofing last as long as possible, keep it looking great, and even to help catch damage early.  In addition, cleaning helps preserve the underlayment and helps ensure water runs off easily, and quickly.

Makes Roofing Last Longer

Roofing of any type has the job of keeping the water out of your home. The tile on your roof works with the underlayment to achieve this goal.  For the tile and underlayment to last as long as possible cleaning will help prevent algae, mildew, or moss to grow on your tile. The spores associated with those biological growths can literally eat through underlayment if left unattended. If this happens you will be looking at replacing the underlayment on your tile roof.

Helps Roofing Stay Looking Great

It goes without saying that homes which are cared for and receive regular cleanings and upkeep simply look better. Stains from mildew, moss, or algae ruin the look of tile roofing. When your tile is cleaned on a regular basis it makes them last longer and stay looking great! When your roof looks new and attractive your home just looks better and maintains its value better.

Great Chance To Catch Damage Early

Cleaning gives homeowners an opportunity to examine the roof carefully during cleaning. This can help avoid more serious issues with tile roofing such as mold, mildew, leaks, and drafts. When these problems are caught early it costs less to repair them. When the roof is cleaned on a regular basis minor issues will be caught and repaired at significant savings.

 

3 Roof-Cleaning Methods for Ugly Stains

Homeowners often find confusing and conflicting information when researching roof cleaning services. To assist homeowners with making informed decisions when deciding on which roof cleaning contractor to hire, this article describes the differences between the three main roof cleaning methods.

  1. The eco-friendly, non-bleach, low pressure roof cleaning method

Roof cleaning companies that use this method use high-grade eco-friendly products that do not contain toxic chemicals such as chlorine-bleach, phosphates or other chemicals that can kill vegetation and pollute waterways. This method also uses a low-pressure rinsing system, avoiding the use of damaging high pressure scrubbing or brushing.

Pros: Typically, the results with this method are instant and complete. Algae, lichens, and moss are completely gone before the contractor leaves the property. Technicians use eco-friendly roof cleaning products such as roof shampoo and equipment designed precisely for safe, gentle roof cleaning. Contractors who use this method clean the roof while preserving the integrity of the shingles and without damaging the landscaping.

Cons: This method may cost a bit more due to the cost of high quality eco-friendly products vs. inexpensive chlorine bleach mixtures.

Tip: When hiring a contractor who uses this roof cleaning method, pick one who guarantees that the algae, lichens and/or moss will be completely gone before they leave your house. Also, look for a contractor who offers an annual roof stain prevention program.

  1. The chlorine-bleach roof cleaning method

Roof cleaning contractors who use sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) mix it in high concentrations with other chemicals such as trisodium phosphate, also known as TSP.

They spray it on the roof and wait for it to dry and then re-apply it several times as needed. Stains and moss or lichens that don’t come off on the day of treatment may eventually come off with rain in the months to come.

Pros: The bleach method can be less expensive than other methods because the chemicals are inexpensive and the technicians generally don’t get on the roof to rinse or inspect after the application.

Cons: Strong chemical odor and results that may not be instant, particularly when moss and lichen colonies are involved. There is also a possibility of posing harm to people and pets if exposed to the fumes or fluids. The effects of bleach on landscaping can cause permanent damage to plants, trees, grass and shrubs. Contaminating bleach and phosphates can leak into waterways in watershed areas.

Tip: Roof cleaning contractors who use chlorine-bleach typically don’t advertise or divulge that they use bleach. If they need to wet down plants before, during, or after treatment or use a runoff recovery system or cover plants during the roof cleaning process, these are indicators that a harsh chemical such as chlorine bleach is being used.

  1. The high-pressure power washing method

Some roof cleaning contractors use high pressure power washing methods to attempt to remove roof stains.

Pros: Can’t think of any.

Cons: Not only is this method damaging to shingles, but it’s also not an effective way to remove organisms that cause roof stains. The high-pressure power washing method leaves root systems behind, so the algae will often return rather quickly.

Tip: If you’re not sure if the contractor will be using damaging high pressure, ask him to hold his hand under the spray. If he can’t do that, then the pressure is too high and can damage your shingles.

Knowing the pros and cons of the three main types of roof cleaning services means homeowners will be well prepared to ask the right questions to make informed decisions. Not only will removing ugly roof stains greatly improve a home’s curb appeal, but the roof will be restored to its natural and healthy energy efficient state. A clean roof is a healthy roof that should last for years to come.

The Good Reason To Do Mold Inspection

How to Choose a Certified Mold Inspector and What You Should Pay

All told, mold inspection costs by a reputable company range from $150 to $250. There are other mold costs as well, known as mold sampling. Mold testing is necessary for several reasons: mold identification, mold concentration, and indoor air quality. The going rate for mold sampling is $100 per sample. The inspection company pays an accredited laboratory to analyze the mold samples helpful in determining the extent of a mold problem and establishing a scope of work for mold repair. The total number of samples varies for each job as the mold inspector makes sampling recommendations based on the factors associated with the building and its occupants.

How Much Should You Pay?

Once you know the difference between mold “test only” and mold test and repair, you have a better appreciation for the cost of mold testing. As stated in the mold test and repair paragraph, it costs $50-$100 just to show up. There is also the time factor associated with performing the mold inspection and providing a mold report.

Mold Test and Repair

For the purpose of being the first responder, several test and repair companies backload the cost of mold testing by offering low-cost or free mold inspections. Conventional wisdom holds that first responders will usually get the job. So, how do you think mold removal companies cover the mold inspection cost?  Naturally, they will find a mold “problem”.

Mold “Test Only”

In my opinion, mold inspection companies should only perform mold testing and not perform mold repair. It is considered a conflict of interest to do both because the test and repair company may exaggerate the problem in order to overcharge for a solution. Mold inspection costs for “test only” companies are paid at the time of the inspection.

Inspection Equipment

Every mold inspector should have the basics: a moisture meter, an air sampling pump, and a respirator. Several other tools should be at the inspector’s disposal including sampling media (swabs, air cassettes), flash light, gloves, knee pads, and a mirror. There are various types of each of these tools. Ideally, the mold inspector will have the latest technology available. There are other tools that are high tech such as a thermal imaging camera which is a tool designed to detect temperature variations typically associated with moisture.

 

Best Mold Inspectors Near You

Mold Testing Companies In Your Area

Mold inspections and testing are important when you suspect there may be toxic mold growing in your home. Mold can cause a variety of health issues, so it is crucial to understand if it is present and if it is of a harmful variety (not all mold is bad). A certified inspector will look for evidence of past or current growth inside walls and other areas. This includes areas where growth could be causing structural issues – like in crawlspaces. A mold test, however, will not include remediation. In fact, many inspection services will refer you elsewhere for mold removal.

Reasons you may need mold testing include:

  • If you have an allergic reaction when in a certain room. Reactions include a runny nose, sneezing, or itchy eyes.
  • To see if a known water or mold problem has been fixed.
  • To understand if there is a problem with a home you plan to buy.

If you are looking for mold inspectors near you, HomeAdvisor can help. Enter your zip code to be connected to mold testing companies in your area who are ready to inspect your property.

 

Tips for Hiring a Mold Remediation Contractor/Consultant

Tips on hiring

Many consultants and contractors providing mold inspections and remediation services are honest, reliable and skilled. Below are suggestions on how to find good consultants and contractors.  (This list is based on guidelines provided by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.)

  • Get more than one estimate. Make sure all parties are bidding on exactly the same work. Make sure the contractor comes to the job site rather than giving a telephone estimate. Be leery of an extremely low estimate. Be cautious of a contractor or consultant that uses SCARE tactics to make you do more than you really need to have done.
  • Ask for the names of recent customers and call to see if they are satisfied. Would they hire the contractor again?
  • Get a written inspection report.  Did it include a summary of all the areas inspected, the cause of the mold growth, how to take care of the problem and any sampling results? Did the contractor show up on time, clean up afterward, perform follow-up service on warranties?
  • A building cannot be made mold free. Avoid a contractor who claims to remove all mold from your building.
  • Find out if complaints have been filed against the contractor or consultant by checking with the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, Bureau of Consumer Protection, 800-422-7128, and the Better Business Bureau, 800-273-1002.
  • The firm that conducts the inspection or air sampling should not be financially related to a firm that conducts the mold remediation due to a potential conflict of interest. Consulting firms that have a financial tie to a contractor should disclose that relationship prior to any contractual agreement.  Ultimately, it is the property owner’s responsibility to ask about such a relationship.
  • Select a laboratory that is accredited by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA) or by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

 

How To: Test for Mold

START HERE: HIDDEN SPOTS FOR MOLD

In order to grow, mold requires moisture, so mold is naturally found in areas that are damp and humid. Plumbing leaks, for example, often trigger mold growth and should be repaired as soon as one is noticed. Visible mold anywhere in the home should be removed promptly by following safe mold removal methods. But, what about that mold growth that you can’t see? In instances of a musty smell unaccompanied by visible signs of mold (black, white, or brownish coating), it’s likely that you’ve got mold growing in a hidden spot.

HOW TO USE A MOLD TEST KIT

Mold test kits are widely available from home improvement stores and from online retailers, but not all test kits are the same. Some are designed to only determine whether mold is present on surfaces. To test for mold spores in the air you’re breathing, you’ll need to purchase a viable mold test kit, which costs $20 to $45. The entire testing process will take a few days, and if the test you perform determines that mold spores are present in the air, you can send the testing materials to a lab that will perform another test to determine what type of mold is present. Lab analysis can run an additional $40 to $70.

 

How Much Does A Mold Inspection Cost?

Professional Mold Inspector Cost

Professional mold inspectors, also known as certified Industrial Hygienists (IH), will charge an average of $300 to $500 to test an average-sized property and home for toxins. They’re licensed to take a close look at your property and find both symptoms and sources of moisture damage.

Some businesses offer a free walk-through. These pros may require you to work with them on removal if they find any growth. Others charge a more comprehensive inspection that includes sample testing. Your range can go as high as $700 for a large property with many difficult-to-access spaces. That price does not include remediation.

Locating the Mold

Depending on its location, mold can be very easy or difficult to spot. If it’s difficult to access, the inspection can take longer and can cost up to $700. Common growth spots include.

Trick To Be Profesional Plastic Surgery

Insider Tips for Finding a Plastic Surgeon You Can Trust

Listen to your gut and take your time.
If you feel uncomfortable, even if you can’t seem to pinpoint exactly why, don’t follow through with that office, that doctor or, perhaps, that procedure.

Make sure the office is spotless and the staff is friendly.
You want to feel comfortable where you’ll be having the procedure. “A patient does not want to end up in a situation where they feel neglected, taken advantage of, or ignored,” adds Shafer. Whether it’s a small center or a giant hospital, you shouldn’t feel tense or anxious as a result of the smell, look of the place, or the personality of the staff.

Keep in mind you want a surgeon who is polite and helpful as well as skilled with the knife.
While you’re asking questions, be wary of red flags. An obvious, but important, one is a surgeon’s bedside manner. “If a surgeon seems routinely rushed, pressures you to undergo a particular operation, balks at you seeking additional opinions or delegates most of the care after the procedure to others, beware,” warns Grant.

Come to each consultation prepared and ready to ask questions.
Just like you would for a job interview, it’s important to come prepared with a list of questions to ask your surgeon while you’re face-to-face. “Take this very seriously in the same way you would seek out care for a significant medical condition and you will be successful,” says Fred Fedok, M.D., F.A.C.S., facial plastic surgeon and president of the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “At the end of the process, you want to make sure you and your surgeon are on the same page and have communicated your wants and wishes.”

Ask if your plastic surgeon is affiliated with a hospital.
Whether or not the doctors you’re considering have hospital privileges is another qualification box you’ll want to check off. “If the cosmetic surgeon only does surgery at his or her office and doesn’t have hospital privileges to perform the surgery you are considering, that is a huge red flag,” says Anthony Youn, M.D., F.A.C.S., holistic facial plastic surgeon and owner of Youn Plastic Surgery, PLLC, in Troy, Michigan.

 

How to Find the Right Cosmetic Surgeon for You

Customer service matters too!
You want to be sure you are being served and treated well. Much of this will be obvious a few minutes after you walk in the door of cosmetic surgeon’s office.

Find out about the operating facility
Your safety during surgery depends in large part on the anesthetist and the operating facility. Accredited operating rooms include key life support systems just in case something goes wrong.

Pay attention to how the surgeon and staff make you feel
Surgery is a big deal, and there can be curves in the path to your new look. You need to feel 100% comfortable with your cosmetic surgeon and their support team. Choose a cosmetic surgeon whom you like and trust completely with your safety and results.

Choose a surgeon whose aesthetic sense appeals to you
We all know that what one person finds beautiful may be unattractive to another. For this reason, you can’t just trust a friend’s recommendation or solely depend on the cosmetic surgeon’s experience. You need to look carefully at the results for each surgeon you interview.

Confirm the surgeon’s experience in the specific procedures you want
Each area of cosmetic surgery requires different skills: you can imagine how operating on a nose with bone, cartilage, and breathing passages would be quite different from operating on a breast, which is primarily comprised of soft tissue. Given this, cosmetic surgeons can have subspecialties within the field. Choose a surgeon who is board certified in cosmetic surgery and has substantial experience in the procedure you are considering.

 

How to find a plastic surgeon

Finding the right fit
Finding a qualified plastic surgeon can be made much easier with the help of a solid set of minimum criteria, professional standards and personal preferences. Patients can feel much more confident about pursuing the plastic surgery procedure of their dreams and reaching their aesthetic goals when they can find a great plastic surgeon to help shepherd them on their journey.

A personal rapport with patients
It’s not always necessary to connect with your plastic surgeon on a personal level, but it can make the entire experience and journey much more open and comfortable.

Custom, tailored treatments
Once a surgeon and patient meet and discuss very openly and honestly that patient’s goals and unique situation, the plastic surgeon crafts a tailored and appropriate treatment plan, unique to that patient. Finding a surgeon who will customize your treatment can give you a better chance of reaching your aesthetic goals.

Thorough patient consultations
Plastic surgeons should always offer a consultation that is comprehensive in nature. The consult should factor in a patient’s aesthetic goals, unique anatomy, medical history and lifestyle. Patients will want a surgeon who takes the time to truly understand his or her treatment needs and who can speak honestly to realistic expectations and can help anticipate (and plan for) the recovery experience.

Access to accredited and/or state-licensed surgical facilities
Surgeons who perform plastic surgery in accredited or state-licensed facilities ensure they meet the highest standards of patient safety. These facilities are regularly inspected to ensure they are exceptionally maintained for surgical procedures.

 

Tips for Choosing a Plastic Surgeon

Know What Your Insurance Covers
Your insurance coverage is a practical matter. To receive the most insurance benefits and pay the least out-of-pocket for your care, you may need to choose a plastic surgeon who participates in your plan. Some elective procedures may be reimbursed by your workplace Flexible Spending Plan. Regardless how you pay for your surgery, you should still consider credentials, experience, outcomes, and hospital quality as you select a plastic surgeon from your plan.

Review Patient Satisfaction Surveys
You’ll want to have total confidence in your decision to undergo plastic surgery. Reading what other people have to say about a doctor can provide insight into how a doctor practices medicine, as well as how his or her medical practice is operated. Patient satisfaction surveys typically ask people about their experience with scheduling appointments, wait times, office environment, and office staff friendliness. You can learn about how well patients trust the doctor, how much time he or she spends with their patients, and how well he or she answers questions.

Evaluate Communication Style
Choose a plastic surgeon with whom you are comfortable talking and who supports your information needs. When you first meet the plastic surgeon, ask a question and notice how he or she responds. Does he or she welcome your questions and answer them in ways that you can understand? Does the plastic surgeon offer you options personalized for your needs? Are before and after photo books of the doctor’s actual work available for you to review? Find a plastic surgeon who shows an interest in getting to know you, who will consider your treatment preferences, and who will respect your decision-making process.

Research Hospital Quality
Your doctor’s hospital is your hospital. For this reason, consider the quality of care at the hospital where the plastic surgeon can treat patients. Hospital quality matters to you because patients at top-rated hospitals have fewer complications and better survival rates. Additionally, consider whether the hospital’s location is important to you. Should you need to go the hospital for tests or treatment, you want the location to encourage, rather than discourage timely care.

Consider Gender
It’s important to feel comfortable with your plastic surgeon’s gender because you will need to openly discuss personal information. When it comes to plastic surgery, your own gender is also an important consideration. Cosmetic plastic surgery has traditionally focused on female patients. However, men also seek the benefits of plastic surgery and their needs are often different. Ask the plastic surgeon about his or her recent training and experience specifically related to your condition and your gender.

 

How to Choose the Best Plastic Surgeon

There’s nothing inherently illegal about practicing outside your area of specialty, although Maman notes he would likely be held liable for malpractice if the procedure went wrong. “As a board-certified plastic surgeon, I can decide that I’m going to remove a brain tumor if I want. There’s no state law that prohibits you from doing that. Once you have a medical degree, you can do whatever you want. The problem is, I don’t know how to do that and the patient’s not going to do well.”

Choose Wisely Your Car Accident Lawyer

THINGS TO LOOK FOR WHEN CHOOSING A CAR ACCIDENT LAWYER

Clear Communication

A good lawyer will make it easy for you to understand what they will do to help you with your case. They will provide you with clear information about their process, fees, values, and more. If you have any questions, they should be direct and to the point. You should not leave their office with more questions than answers. If they are unable to provide clear insight into their practice during your initial conversation, there’s a good chance you’ll have issues with communication further along the line if you hire them.

An engaged conversation

A good lawyer should be interested in your case. A lawyer that’s not engaged will only put in the minimum amount of required effort. You can end up getting a smaller settlement than you could have gotten because of this. How can you tell if a lawyer is engaged? They should ask you many detailed questions about your case and what your legal goals are.

Willingness to provide references

Always ask a lawyer for a list of references you can contact and speak to. These references should speak to the reputation of the lawyer. Even if you don’t contact their references, you can have confidence in the fact that they provided them to you. A lawyer that doesn’t have references or won’t provide you with any should be avoided.

An organized office space

The more organized their office looks, the more organized they probably are. Keep an eye on how their staff does their work and how tidy the lawyer’s desk is. If they have to shuffle through piles of paper in order to find what they’re looking for while their staff struggles to handle incoming calls, they’re probably not very organized, which doesn’t reflect well on their ability to handle your case.

Experience

Ask the lawyer about their experience. Make sure they have specific experience handling car accident cases. You will also want to be sure they have experience arguing cases in court and have a winning track record.

 

TIPS FOR CHOOSING A CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY

Experience– Choosing a car accident attorney with years of experience under his or her belt is essential. After all, this means your attorney will have a great deal of knowledge of personal injury law, as well as a good amount of expertise in handling cases just like yours in court. This can give you the edge you need to receive the settlement you deserve!

Reputation– In the age of online reviews, it’s easy to find out what others are saying about a car accident attorney you are considering hiring. Highly reputable car accident attorneys are certain to have many good reviews about their level of expertise and care from former or existing clients. Additionally, you can always ask your friends and neighbors if they have any trusted recommendations for a car accident attorney they like- an attorney’s reputation speaks volumes about his or her practice.

Professionalism– When you visit a prospective car accident attorney for your initial consultation, make sure you feel as though you are in a highly professional environment. If the attorney says or does anything that puts you off or makes you feel like he or she may not be qualified to effectively represent you, go with your gut and look elsewhere. A trustworthy car accident attorney should conduct his or her practice in a professional manner at all times.

Personality– One of the most important factors of your relationship with your car accident attorney is whether his or her personality is a good fit for yours. While you and your attorney don’t necessarily have to be best friends, it is crucial that you feel comfortable enough with him or her to let down your guard and give all the important details of your accident. If your personality doesn’t mesh with that of a prospective car accident attorney, keep looking.

Reliability– You are trusting your car accident attorney to handle your case, and the care with which he or she handles it can make or break the settlement agreement you receive. Because of this it is vital that your car accident attorney is 100 percent reliable and trustworthy. This means you can trust him or her to handle all evidence properly, return your calls within a reasonable amount of time, and file paperwork and other necessary court documents ahead of the deadline. An unreliable car accident attorney can make your entire case can fall apart- it’s important to find one you can count on!

 

TIPS TO SELECT THE BEST CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEY FOR YOUR CASE

Asking Questions Will Help Secure the Right Representation

Ideally, to secure a strong injury claim, you should contact an attorney within a day or two of your accident. This way, you can get started on the case right away while it is fresh in your mind. Furthermore, you must remember that you need time to focus on your recovery while still gathering evidence of liability, police reports, contact information from any witnesses, and photos of property damage and any visible injuries. However, once you secure your attorney, he can gather the necessary evidence while working to ensure that all of your current and future financial, emotional, and physical losses are being thoughtfully considered. That leaves you with only one task: getting better from your ordeal.

  • What kind of experience does he have with car accidents?
  • Has he ever had a case similar to yours?
  • When was the last vehicle accident case he handled?
  • Will he personally handle your case?
  • What is his retainer and fee policy?
  • Will he be available for questions during the day, if needed?
  • Does he have past client testimonials that you can read?

 

TIPS FOR CHOOSING THE BEST PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER

Personality.Often the most overlooked factor in hiring an attorney is personality. When you’ve been injured the last thing you need is an attorney who is not going to be there for you to ask questions, give you a status on your case, or return your calls in a reasonable time. Be sure you are comfortable with your lawyer’s ethics and experience.

Objectivity.Make sure your injury attorney is objective and isn’t looking to settle your case too quickly in order to move on to the next client.

Reputation. A lawyers reputation provides that added value as it will precede them- not only from a plaintiff’s perspective, but from the defendant’s perspective and the court’s perspective for handling cases and doing things the right way. It puts a client in the best situation to recover as much as they deserve as a result of their injuries.

Focus. A personal injury lawyer has unique skills when it comes to determining issues of liability such as negligence and causation and is probably better equipped when it comes to accurately valuing the compensation for damages. Approximately 95% of personal injury lawsuits settle before trial, so knowing how to negotiate a fair settlement is important as many factors are involved. Hiring a criminal lawyer or corporate lawyer will not prove as beneficial.

Experience. Never underestimate the value of an attorney’s experience when it comes to assessing and investigating a claim. Hire a personal injury lawyer who knows what to look for and understands what it means to your case. So, before hiring an attorney, ask them about similar cases they’ve handled, their success rates, and whether they are prepared to take the case to trial if needed.

 

Tips for Choosing the Right Car Accident Lawyer

Pick an Attorney You Personally Like and Connect With

Often, you will be deciding between several competent attorneys. While many bad attorneys do exist, a large number of really good attorneys also exist. If you are struggling to pick between winners, choose the attorney that you have the best rapport with.

Ask the Right Questions During Your Consultation

How an attorney responds to questions is a good way to gauge whether they are a right fit for your case.

These are some of the questions that you might consider asking.

Research the Reputation of the Attorneys You Are Considering

An attorney’s reputation is a good indicator of the quality of their work. After all, an attorney will not have a good reputation if they are not known for performing good work. Asking people who you know personally in the legal community for references are a good starting point.

Tips To Make Office Movers For New Office

Mistakes Companies Make When Choosing an Office Mover

When you’re planning to move an office, you may get a lot of mixed advice. Some people may recommend handling the move on your own, while others will suggest hiring a professional office mover. As the advice flows in, however, you may not hear about the costly moving mistakes you will want to avoid. While relocating an office is rarely easy, there are things you can do to minimize the hassle, downtime, and extra costs. If you want to simplify your office move, familiarize yourself with the following common moving mistakes.

Not Hiring a Professional Office Moving Company

Having friends or employees move your office may be the more inexpensive option, but hiring unprofessional movers often costs you more in the end. A professional office mover has the expertise, right equipment, and trained staff to make sure your office is moved according to plan. As with most things in business, if you want it done right, hire a professional.

 

Overestimating the Value of Your Moving Resources

Aside from your comprehensive plan, there are two critical components to a move: movers and insurance.

Just like your plan, your moving services must be comprehensive. That means hiring a service that specializes in SMBs and business continuity.

Another common pitfall is choosing the wrong insurance. With every great initiative, you will encounter accidents. Some of those might be costly–even tragic, in the case of physical injury.

A project of this size should not be managed alone. You need a moving partner with a strong safety record. You need their advice on selecting the right insurance as well.

Strategic partners free you from the logistical nightmares of planning your move. With the right partner, you can focus on optimization and business continuity instead.

 

Don’t wait to finalize your moving plans

When you’re planning a move for your office you have more than just employees to worry about. Whether you’re moving internally or to a new building, you’ll want to have all of the details planned out ahead of time to minimize stress and room for error. Commercial moves require different types of people with specific attention to detail, and the building you’re relocating to might have special requirements from the crew you’ll be working with.

It’s no surprise that procrastination is moving’s worst enemy, so don’t add to your workload by doing so.

 

Forgetting about heavy and expensive equipment when planning

Most people know they must move desks and chairs and other furniture but don’t consider expensive and heavy printers, copiers, file cabinets, fax machines, servers and other expensive and crucial IT equipment. This can lead to extra expense and list time. If computer equipment isn’t disconnected and reconnected properly, by the right people, you can be out of business for days.

Not checking references and the Better Business Bureau

If you don’t leave enough time to check references and the BBB you might end up with a company doing your move poorly, which could have been easily avoided. All movers make occasional mistakes and sometimes items do get damaged, but it’s how the mover takes care of you when things don’t go perfectly that can make all the difference. The BBB can give you valuable information on previous complaints and whether they were resolved or not.

 

Selecting a moving company which is ‘too busy’

Some companies are often too busy. This means that their work force can sometimes be committed elsewhere offering similar services thus delaying your services. You should never make this mistake since this will always affect the rate at which you will be offering these services. You should always make sure that you do your research in the market and choose those companies that will offer you the services whenever you need them without any kind of delay since this will always help you make the best choice in the market.

Selecting a moving company with no insurance

When moving anything is very risky activity and this means that you need to take precautions whenever you are using their services. You need to make sure that you only select those companies that will give you all the insurance whenever they are moving your items. This will always give you a peace of mind since you will get compensations whenever anything happens during the moving.

Inadequate Research

Before you chose a moving company from the market you need to know everything about their services as well as profile in the market. This mean that you must always do your research in the market to get all the information that will help you make that good decision when using their services. You should never hire a company that you do not more about their services.

In conclusion, the above information should always help you make the best choice if you are thinking about getting some of the best services in the market as you make your selecting decision.

The Best Way To Make Residential Electrical Remodel

Residential Electrical Concerns

Electrical problems can be dangerous for you, your house and your electrical equipment. The first step to troubleshooting one, whether it’s an outage, flickering lights or power surge, is to ask the neighbors if they are having the same problem.

Some Silent Signs Your Home Has Major Electrical Problems

These warning signs aren’t loud, but they are serious. Here are quiet clues that your home may have a major electrical problem.

Hot Outlets

Many electrical appliances generate heat during operation. However, the outlet itself should never get hot. If you notice heat at an outlet, immediately unplug any cords and do not use the outlet until you can troubleshoot the issue.

Burning Smell

It’s probably no surprise that the smell of something burning should be an immediate warning sign! If the wiring in your electrical system is heating up enough to melt its plastic sheathing, you’re facing an imminent risk of fire and you need to take immediate action.

Improperly Grounded Flexible Gas Lines

Corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) or “flex line” is a popular choice to supply gas throughout your home. But it’s important that it is properly grounded to avoid disastrous blowouts. An electrical surge, most often in a lightning strike on or near your property, can potentially rupture the corrugated tubing, leading to a gas leak or explosion.

Ungrounded = Shocks

While we’re talking about grounding electrical systems, it’s worth noting that you may have grounding issues on a wider scale than just your gas line. If you touch a metal object connected to your home’s mechanical system and receive a shock, it’s a strong sign that your electrical system is not properly grounded.

 

Common Electrical Problems in Your House: Harmless or Hazardous?

Harmless

Loose Outlet Plug
Turn off the breaker. Double check for voltage to the outlet (use a volt meter or plug something in). Unscrew the cover plate and add outlet shims until the outlet is flush with the wall.

Broken Light Switch
Turn off the circuit breaker (the light will go out when you choose the right one). Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the faceplate and a Phillips head to remove the light switch. Test the two wires connected to the screw for electricity. If it’s safe, disconnect and reassemble the light switch.

Simple Short Circuit
Some electrical appliances, such as hairdryers, can frequently trip or short circuits. Reset the breaker. Repeated occurrences with the same appliance indicate it’s the appliance – not the electrical system. Without the appliance? A short in the wiring or receptacle needs to be addressed by a pro.

Cut or Damaged Extension Cord
Unplug both ends. Cut off the old plug. Gently score and peel back the insulation jacket. Strip each wire with a wire stripper, twisting each wire tightly at the end. Screw them into the back of the plug: black to gold; white to the silver screw; green to the green screw. Then close the plug and secure the wires. Cut in the middle? Purchase extra ends and turn the damaged cord into two new ones.

 

Hazardous

Flickering or Dimming Lights
This could be a sign of a poor connection and can lead to eventual arcing – loose/corroded connections making intermittent contact that could result in sparking, overheating, and fire.

Light Bulbs Burn Out Frequently
If you’re experience frequent bulb blowouts, it could be more serious than overuse. You may have a loose connection in the socket or circuit. Recessed lights that frequently fail? Nearby insulation could be causing overheating and these fixtures are designed to shut off to prevent fire.

Dead Outlets
Dead outlets can result from a tripped poor connection (and possible arcing), or a tripped breaker due to excessive heat buildup resulting in melted wires or outlets.

Warm Outlets or Switches
Unless it is a dimming switch, warm outlets are as a serious safety concern and should be addressed by a pro immediately.

Frequently Tripping Breakers
Usually a sign the circuit is overloaded and using too much electricity. You should add a circuit or consider upgrading your electrical service.

 

Most Common Electrical Problems and Solutions

  • Transients [Surges]

Transients, which are commonly known as surges, are the lighting-fast striking of light. These are caused by high-voltage disruptions in the flow of electricity. They occur for a split second. Transients can damage any electronic devices that are connected at the moment.

If the transients continue happening, it is probably time to get your electrical connections checked. Otherwise, these transients are nothing to worry about if they have stopped.

Solution

Check if there is anything wrong with your wires and consult with an electrician if the transients keep going on.

  • Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

If your circuit breaker keeps on tripping, chances are they have detected some issues in the current circuit.

That is where they get the name ‘circuit breakers’ because they break up circuits when they sense that there is something wrong with the flow of current.

Solution

What you need to do is find the main electrical panel in your home (because that’s where all the main control switches are). You will see a switch panel that has its switch turned off (for old switches) and partly off (for modern switches). You only need to flip the switch back on and voila!

  • Frequent Bulb Burnouts

Are you tired of changing your bulb every now and then? It seems like the bulbs you’ve been buying are not as good as they were. But don’t blame the bulb. It can actually be another electrical problem at your house.

There are a lot of reasons why bulb lights burn out much frequently. It can be due to high voltage, tightly fixed bulb, improper air circulation, and so on.

Solution 

What you can do is check if the holder is either loose or it’s depleted. But if everything is fine and one bulb after another keeps going to waste, we suggest you consult with an electrician right now to save more bulbs from burning out!

 

Some Wiring Problems Solved

Remember: Anytime you work with wiring, be sure to turn off the circuit at the main breaker panel.

  • Overlamping

What it means: A light fixture has a bulb with a higher wattage than the fixture is designed for.

Danger level: High. The bulb’s intense heat can scorch or melt the socket and insulation on the fixture’s wires, which increases the risk of arcing — sparks that jump through the air from one wire to another — a chief cause of electrical fires. The damage to socket and wires remains even after the bulb has been removed.

Solution: Stay within the wattage limit listed on all light fixtures made since 1985. For older, unmarked fixtures, use only 60-watt bulbs or smaller.

  • Uncovered Junction Box

What it means: Because a junction box houses the splices where wires are connected to one another, a person could inadvertently damage the wires or get a shock

Danger level: Minimal, as long as wires aren’t within reach.

Solution: Spend a few cents to buy a new cover and install it with the screws provided.

  • Lights Flicker When It’s Windy

What it means: Frayed wiring in the weatherhead (the outdoor fitting where overhead cables from the power line come into the house) is causing a short whenever the cables move.

Danger level: High. Aside from the annoyance, the frayed wiring can arc and start a fire.

Solution: Contact the electric utility, which may replace the weatherhead at no charge.

  • Aluminum Wiring

What it means: You have a type of wiring, used in the 1960s and ’70s as a cheap substitute for copper, that is no longer considered safe.

Danger level: High. Aluminum corrodes when in contact with copper, so connections loosen, which can lead to arcing and fires.

Solution: Retrofit a dielectric wire nut approved for aluminum wire (a pair sells for less than $1) onto each copper/aluminum connection in light fixtures. These nuts have a special grease that stops corrosion while maintaining conductivity. Make sure any replacement switches and receptacles are labeled AL-compatible.

Tips To Choose The Best Window Cleaning

The Essentials of Window Cleaning

Cleaning residential windows is a fairly simple chore because these are usually easy to reach, and not numerous, such as the case with single storied homes. Unlike commercial buildings that are often multi-storied, windows are hard to reach and typically abundant. Even small offices may not have many windows, but these may be hard to reach and dangerous to clean on the outside, especially without the right safety gear, training, and cleaning equipment.

 

The 5 Essential Items for Cleaning Windows

Whether you are a professional window cleaner or a home owner looking to keep up on cleaning your windows yourself, there are many tools available to make that job easier.

Here we will touch on the five most important items.

  1. Bucket

The window cleaning bucket serves two purposes:

  1. Holding soap while you are cleaning windows.
  2. Storing your window cleaning tools when they are not in use.

Window cleaning buckets are usually rectangular, and this is to better fit the entire length of your washer so you can get soap on the entire length all at once.

Standard buckets are about 6 gallons and easily work with washers and squeegees up to 18 inches in length.  Smaller buckets are available, and may be more economical and space-saving if you are only working with smaller sized tools.

There are also round buckets and buckets on a belt.  Round buckets are the preferred style for some window cleaners, they are also more readily available if you are just looking for something around your house to use.  Buckets on a belt hang from a tool belt.  They are designed to hold soap and both a washer and a squeegee, making them a more mobile choice.

  1. Soap

This is the liquid used to clean the window, and is very important.

Whether you use a solution from around the house (dish soap actually works very well for cleaning windows with a washer and squeegee) or a store-bought window soap, make sure you pay attention to your soap-to-water ratio.

More is not always better!

Too little soap will be more likely to dry quickly on the window and will lower the cleaning power of your solution.  But too much soap can cause an over abundance of suds and leave streaks behind on the window.

A graduated dispenser that pre-measures can help with mixing your soap and keeping it consistent.

  1. Washer

A washer is composed of a fabric sleeve and a t-bar.  This is the tool that scrubs the dirt off the window, with the help of your soap solution.

Washers come in a wide variety of styles.  Some are regular fabric, some are microfiber.  Some have extra scrubbing ability.  Whichever type you use, it is important to wet and scrub the entire window, and keep it wet for the squeegee to remove.

The washer t-bars are available in solid handles or swivel handles, depending on your need and preference.

  1. Squeegee

The squeegee is the most important piece of the window cleaning arsenal.  With it, you remove all of the dirty water.  This leaves behind clean, dry, sparkling windows!

Technique is an important part of squeegeeing a window clean, and can take some practice.

Squeegees are made up of two parts – the squeegee channel and the squeegee handle – and they come in a wide variety too.

Channels come in a few different styles:

  • brass
  • stainless steel
  • aluminum
  • wide aluminum

Handles also come in a variety of different types:

  • solid
  • swivel
  • ergonomic
  • zero-degree

Choosing the right combination really comes down to preference and your needs.

  1. Towel

The towel is helpful to touch-up any wet spots left behind after squeegeeing, particularly around the edges and on the window sill.

Drip marks are the last thing you want after all of your hard work!

There are a great deal of different types of towels available, and these include:

  • terry cloth towels
  • microfiber towels
  • re-purposed surgical or Huck towels
  • scrim towels
  • chamois

 

Handy Hint

If you’re a rookie, it is very important that you read our article on how to safely use a scraper on glass. It’s easy to damage glass with bad scraper technique but with some simple steps you can avoid all that pain.

Cleaning glass is as easy as 1, 2, 3

  1. Solution

Make a window cleaning solution by adding a small amount of Squeegee Wash detergent concentrate to a window cleaning bucket half filled with water. The solution should just feel a little slippery to touch.

  1. Scrub

First dip the window washer into the window bucket solution then squeeze out the excess liquid so the washer won’t drip. Wash the window with a circular motion. Ensure you do not over wet the window. Try to keep the frames as dry as possible, this makes the whole job easier. Before you use a washer for the first time it’s best to machine wash it first.

  1. Squeegee

Start by creating a dry zone. You do this by cutting the edge. That means creating a thin dry border down the left frame and across the top frame. Place the dry squeegee on the dry cut edge then squeegee across with very little pressure keeping the angle of the squeegee consistent. Dry the squeegee before placing it again on the glass.

 

Cleaning Windows with Vinegar Without Streaks

Vinegar is a miracle from nature. Completely non-toxic and anti-bacterial, vinegar is actually beneficial to any surface it touches. It safely kills germs and is much more economical than chemical cleaning solutions. It’s not even harmful when accidentally inhaled or ingested. (If you’ve got kids, you’ll love that part).

The acidic composition of vinegar acts quickly to break down the kind of film that frequently accumulates on glass surfaces. When you wash a window using a solution that contains vinegar, the results will almost always be free from streaks and sparkling clean.

 

Additional Tips

  • When using water for cleaning glass, prefer to use distilled water instead of tap water, even for diluting the cleaning solution. The minerals present in regular water can leave behind streaks in spite of the use of the proper tools and all the elbow grease.
  • In case there are stubborn streaks or hard water stains on the glass, you may use pure white vinegar without diluting it.
  • While cleaning, make sure you wipe and dry the cleaner on the glass quickly to avoid streaks. Plus, it is recommended to dry the inside of the window in one direction and the outside in another. For instance, you can dry the inside with vertical strokes and the outside with horizontal strokes to make it easier for you to find the streaks.
  • Windows should be cleaned thoroughly from the inside as well as outside every few months or at least, twice a year.
  • For stained glass, the Stained Glass Association of America recommends minimal cleaning. It just needs light dusting on a regular basis. If there is a buildup of dirt and grime, then rub it with a cloth soaked in distilled water to avoid discoloration.

Use Tax Planning To Make Your Money Save

Tax Planning for Beginners: 6 Tax Strategy Concepts to Know

Tax planning is the analysis and arrangement of a person’s financial situation in order to maximize tax breaks and minimize tax liabilities in a legal and efficient manner.

Tax rules can be complicated, but taking some time to know and use them for your benefit can change how much you end up paying (or getting back) in April. Here are some key tax planning and tax strategy concepts to understand before you make your next money move.

Tax planning starts with understanding your tax bracket

You can’t really plan for the future if you don’t know where you are today. So the first tax planning tip is get a grip on what federal tax bracket you’re in.

The United States has a progressive tax system. That means people with higher taxable incomes are subject to higher tax rates. People with lower taxable incomes are subject to lower tax rates.

There are seven federal income tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%.

No matter which bracket you’re in, you probably won’t pay that rate on your entire income. There are two reasons:

You get to subtract tax deductions to determine your taxable income (that’s why your taxable income usually isn’t the same as your salary or total income).

You don’t just multiply your tax bracket by your taxable income. Instead, the government divides your taxable income into chunks and then taxes each chunk at the corresponding rate.

For example, let’s say you’re a single filer with $32,000 in taxable income. That puts you in the 12% tax bracket for the 2019 tax year. But do you pay 12% on all $32,000? No. Actually, you pay 10% on the first $9,700; then you pay 12% on the rest.  If you had $50,000 of taxable income, you’d pay 10% on that first $9,700 and 12% on the chunk of income between $9,701 and $39,475. And then you’d pay 22% on the rest.

The difference between tax deductions and tax credits

Tax deductions and tax credits may be the best part of preparing your tax return. Both reduce your tax bill, but in very different ways. Knowing the difference can create some very effective tax strategies that reduce your tax bill.

Tax deductions are specific expenses you’ve incurred that you can subtract from your taxable income. They reduce how much of your income is subject to taxes.

Tax credits are even better — they give you a dollar-for-dollar reduction in your tax bill. A tax credit valued at $1,000, for instance, lowers your tax bill by $1,000.

Taking the standard deduction vs. itemizing

Deciding whether to itemize or take the standard deduction is a big part of tax planning, because the choice can make a huge difference in your tax bill.

What is the standard deduction?

Basically, it’s a flat-dollar, no-questions-asked tax deduction. Taking the standard deduction makes tax prep go a lot faster, which is probably a big reason why many taxpayers do it instead of itemizing.

Congress sets the amount of the standard deduction, and it’s typically adjusted every year for inflation. The standard deduction that you qualify for depends on your filing status, as the table below shows.

 

Tax planning tips to maximise your return

The end of the tax year will soon be upon us with 30 June just around the corner. Now’s a good time to take a look at both your expected taxable income (essentially your business’s assessable income, minus any allowable deductions) for the current financial year 2018-19; and your projected/expected taxable income for 2019-20, as they will help guide your tax planning strategy.

If you are expecting to have a higher income this financial year, compared to your projections/expectations for the next financial year, you can talk to your accountant to consider:

Prepaying some of your 2019-20 expenses (such as your rent, insurance or subscriptions to professional associations) in the 2018-19 financial year. Up to 12 months of the following year’s expenses can be deducted in the current tax year.

Taking advantage of the instant asset write-off, which enables you to immediately deduct assets you purchase for your business costing less than the associated threshold (whether the asset is purchased new or second-hand). This opportunity will be available until 30 June 2020. Thresholds have changed over the past few years so check the ATO website for full details.

Reviewing and postponing some of your invoicing for the current tax year, if appropriate.

Topping up your voluntary superannuation contributions.

Reviewing your debtors and writing off any unrecoverable debts.

If applicable, deducting any start-up expenses – such as obtaining legal or accounting advice on your business structure, and fees in relation to establishing the structure (eg. ASIC company registration fee).

 

Tax Tips That Could Save You Money This Year

Decide whether itemizing is still for you

The new law greatly increases the standard deduction to $24,400 for married couples filing jointly, $12,200 for single filers in 2019. It also places new limits on itemized deductions, including a $10,000 cap on property and state and local income tax deductions. Taking the standard deduction instead of itemizing may make tax preparation simpler, Navani says. At the same time, work closely with your tax specialist to make sure it’s the right choice, which will depend on factors ranging from your health expenses to charitable giving

Max out on your retirement plan

The new laws don’t change this advice: Think about increasing your contributions to your 401(k), IRA or other retirement plan to reach the maximum contribution amount.

Not only does this offer the possibility of increasing your retirement savings, but it will also potentially lower your taxable income. If you’ll be age 50 or older at any time during the calendar year, take advantage of “catch-up” contributions (an extra $6,000 for a 401(k) plan and an added $1,000 for an IRA1), Navani suggests. You generally have until December 31, 2019, to contribute to a 401(k) plan and until April 15, 2020, to contribute to an IRA for the 2019 tax year.

Consider converting your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA

Although there are income limits for contributing to a Roth IRA,2 anyone can convert all or a portion of their assets in a traditional IRA (or other eligible retirement plan) to a Roth IRA. Why might doing so make sense? Unlike with a traditional IRA, qualified distributions from a Roth IRA aren’t generally subject to federal income taxes, as long as the Roth IRA has been open at least five years and you have reached at least age 59½. However, you’ll be required to pay income taxes on the amount of your deductible contributions, as well as any associated earnings, when you convert from your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA—or, if you don’t convert, when you retire and take withdrawals from your traditional IRA.

Use stock losses to offset capital gains

Now may be a good time to consider selling certain underperforming investments in order to generate a capital loss before the end of the year—which could help offset the capital gains you realize when selling stocks that are performing well. In addition, you may generally deduct up to $3,000 ($1,500 if married and filing separately) of capital losses in excess of capital gains per year from your ordinary income. If your net capital losses exceed the yearly limit of $3,000 ($1,500 if married and filing a separate return), you can carry over the unused losses to the following year. Note that under the new law, investors will continue to pay long-term capital gains taxes at a rate of 0%, 15% or 20% (depending on their overall income) but with adjusted cutoffs. Married couples filing jointly and earning $78,750 or less ($39,375 for singles) will pay nothing. Married couples filing jointly earning between that and $488,850 (or that and $434,550 for singles) will pay 15%, while married couples filing jointly and earning more than $488,850 or more ($434,550 for singles) will pay 20%.3

 

best tips to prepare for tax-filing season

as the end of the year approaches, it’s a good idea to start thinking about how you’ll handle your federal tax return. Some taxpayers are still getting familiar with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which has been in effect for only one tax season.

The new tax law capped state and local tax deductions at $10,000, doubled estate tax exemptions, put new limits on the deductibility of home equity debt, and changed the tax brackets. It’s a lot to keep track of, so taxpayers shouldn’t wait until the April 15 filing deadline nears to plot their best course.

The IRS starts accepting 2019 returns on Jan. 28, 2020. Even if your financial situation is simple and straightforward, it pays to make sure you’re up-to-date and doing all you can to reduce your tax bill.

 

Quick tips to make effective last-minute tax planning

Equity Linked Savings Scheme (ELSS): ELSS is a diversified equity mutual fund which has a majority of the corpus invested in equities. Returns from an ELSS fund reflect returns from the equity markets. Investment can be made in lump sum. If you plan in advance, you can take the SIP route with a lock-in period of three years. It is considered one of the best investments as it has the potential to give returns of around 15% (based on past returns) along with tax deduction  ..

Public provident fund (PPF): It is a savings scheme introduced by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) with tax benefits. The scheme is fully guaranteed by the Central Government and provides a fixed rate of return of around 8 per cent, which is fixed every quarter.

Employee provident fund (EPF): EPF is a retirement benefit scheme that is available to all salaried employees. The employer deducts a minimum of 12 per cent of basic salary plus Dearness Allowances (DA) of employee and deposits in the EPF or other recognised provident fund. This amount can be higher than 12% as per employee discretion. The interest rate on the EPF is 8.55 per cent and the entire PF balance (including interest) is tax-free if withdrawn after continuous service of ..

Choose The Best Tile Flooring For Your Home

Laying a New Tile Floor

Prepare the Substrate

There are many types of floor tile, ranging from ceramics to clay to natural stone, and most can be successfully installed over various types of substrates, including existing tile, a mortar base, plywood subflooring or cement board.

If you lay new tile over old tile, the original tile and grout must be securely attached. Use a patching compound to fill in broken or missing tiles and any spaces in the old grout. Scuff the old tile surface with sandpaper to provide a better grip for the new adhesive or mortar. Before you begin tiling, wash the floor with a commercial detergent such as TSP (tri-sodium phosphate) to remove dirt, soap film and other contaminants that could prevent adhesion.

Lay Out the Pattern

Start by measuring the floor, then snap a chalk line down the middle of the floor’s longest dimension (Image 1). Mark a second line across the middle of the floor’s shortest dimension (Image 2). By dividing the room into quadrants, you can begin tiling from the center point using your lines as a guide.

Before you apply mastic and install the tiles, do a dry run to check your layout and make any necessary adjustments (Image 3). Lay out enough tiles along your lines to reach the walls in each direction. Use plastic spacers between the tiles. Your tile supplier can recommend the correct size spacers for your tiles.

Make the Cuts

Tiles can be cut with a manual snap cutter or with a power wet saw. A snap cutter is adequate for smaller jobs and thin tiles. It has a scoring wheel that is used to first etch a cut line and a lever press to snap-cut the tile along this line (Image 1). Because snap cutters leave a jagged edge along the break, a carborundum file or stone is used when the edges need to be smooth or dressed (Image 2). A wet saw (which may be rented) uses a water-cooled diamond blade to make perfectly smooth cuts in all types and sizes of tiles, including thick paving tiles, hard ceramic tiles, delicate glass or porcelain tiles, and natural stone tiles (Image 3).

Apply the Mastic

Use a notched trowel to spread the adhesive over the floor (Image 2). For mosaics and smaller tiles (less than 8 inches), use a trowel with 1/4-inch notches. Larger tiles require a 3/8- to 1/2-inch notch, depending on the size and thickness of the tile. Start at your layout lines and press the mastic against the floor for a good bond, then set the trowel on edge and rake the mastic to create ridges equal to the notch depth. Be sure your layout lines remain visible.

Lay the Tiles

Begin at the intersection of your layout lines and carefully set the tiles into the adhesive (Image 1). Work from the centerlines out toward the walls, and plan your installation so you will not have to step on or disturb any of the tiles as you proceed. It helps to have two people when tiling — one to concentrate on laying and bedding the tiles, while the other provides a constant supply of loose tiles and makes cuts or retrieves tools as needed.

 

How to Lay Tile: DIY Floor Tile Installation

Preparing to Install Floor Tile

First, make sure you have prepared the subfloor properly before you begin laying tile.

For more on prepping the floor, read Prep a Tile Floor.

Before beginning, remove tiles from the different boxes and randomly mix them to ensure that minor color differences don’t form an unwanted pattern in your new floor. Keep in mind that floor tiles should be laid with the first tile centered in the middle of the floor, working onward from that.

Before you start, remember that using the correct trowel and mortar is critical to a successful tile project. Floor or wall, indoors or out, and tile type and size are all factors. Find the right trowel and mortar here.

Smoothing Breaks in Tile

Jagged Edges: Use tile nippers or pliers to nibble off the uneven edge of a broken tile.

Rough Edges: Use a round file to smooth rough edges of areas that have been nibbled away.

Cut Edges: If a straight-cut edge shows, rub it against a sheet of 80-grit aluminum oxide sandpaper to round and smooth the edge.

 

Most Common Mistakes When Laying Floor Tiles (And How to Avoid Them)

Wrong Trowel Size

The larger the tile you are using, the deeper the thin set needs to be.

To create the deeper thin set you need a trowel with deep notches. The deeper notches allow for adjusting while laying tile.

Make sure the thin set you buy has phrasing like “large tile” or “large format” on it. This thin set is thicker and holds the larger tiles.

As a general rule, a half inch trowel works for tiles up to 16 inches. Tiles bigger than this need a 3/4 inch notch.

Remember that you will go through your thin set faster because you are using more. A 50-pound bag should cover a 40 to 50-foot square using a 1/2 inch notch. That same 50-pound bag should cover a 30 to 40 square foot using a 3/4 inch trowel.

Cracking the Tile

A diamond saw blade is abrasive and not toothed.

Before cutting, mark the tile with a pencil. You can use a regular lead or grease pencil for this.

Place the tile against the fence and line up the line with the blade. You will need to wait for the water to flow after turning the saw on.

Use a slow even pressure while making your cut. As you get to the end of your cut push the two halves together. Holding the tiles stops them from breaking.

If you hear the blade slow down as your cutting then you are pushing too fast. The harder the material you’re cutting is, the slower you need to go.

Wrong Underlayment

You need a flat, even, and strong surface. If you do not have this your tile will sag and crack in places.

If your underlayment is not suitable put down 1/4 to 1/2 inch cement board first. Then lay your tile on top of the board.

If you have old vinyl flooring that is suitable you can tile right over it. This is assuming that the floor is thick enough to support the tile.

Look at the subfloor and determine how far apart the floor framing is. If the framing is 16 inches apart you should add 1-1/8 in thick cement board. If the floor framing is 24 inches apart the added cement board should be at least 1-1/2 in thick.

Keep in mind that you are raising the height of the floor when adding cement board. You’ll need to raise the vanity and extend the toilet ring.

 

How to Tile a Floor

On a floor, these thin, fragile slices of ceramic require some special care and preparation. Otherwise, they won’t survive the parade of feet through an entry or the sudden spills in a bathroom or kitchen, where floors go from bone dry to sopping wet faster than you can say “puddle.”

“Anytime I approach a new job, I make sure the area about to be tiled is stiff enough so it won’t flex when someone walks on it and that it can stand up to wet-and-dry cycles,” says Ferrante. Installed the right way, using some basic tools and techniques, a tile floor should last forever, come hell or high water.

Tiling a Floor Overview

Strive for a layout that maximizes the number of whole tiles and the size of any cut tiles.

When awkwardly sized tiles can’t be avoided, place them where vanities will cover them later or out of the main sight lines from the doorway.

You shouldn’t step on any tiles until the thinset has cured for at least 24 hours.

Save until last all of the cuts requiring a wetsaw. Then rent the wetsaw for one day.

Dry layout

Find the midpoint of each wall and snap a chalk lines on the floor. The line crossing at the room’s center are the starting point of the tile.

Lay a row of tiles along a straightedge more than halfway across the room. For consistent joints, use tile spacers. This row determines the size of cut tiles along the walls.

At the room’s center, place a tile where the chalk lines cross with its edges touching the lines. Measure from one wall (call it A) to the nearest tile edge. Now, go to the tile row and, starting at a joint, measure along the row and mark the distance you just measured. The mark shows the width of the tile at the wall. If that measurement is less than 2 inches, go back to the center tile and move it away from wall A to create a wider cut tile.

Dry layout, Part II

From the center tile, measure to the opposite wall (call it B; mark this distance along the tile row. Adjust the center tile along the A-to-B line until measurements at walls A and B are the same.

After adjusting the A-to-B line, mark the center tile where it touches the chalk line between the other walls (call them C and D). Align these marks with the C-to-D chalk line. Repeat the measuring and adjusting process for walls C and D.

Lay a straightedge parallel to the C-to-D line and against one side of the center tile. Mark the straightedge where it meets a corner of the tile. This mark is your starting point for laying tile.

Trim door casings with a flush-cut saw so tile can slip underneath. Cut with saw held flat against a tile on top of a piece of cardboard (to represent the thickness of the thinset).

 

How to Install Ceramic Tile Floor in the Bathroom

Introduction

Give your old, worn out vinyl floor a new look with elegant tile. We’ll show you how to save hundreds of dollars by installing the floor yourself. Even if you don’t have any tile experience, you can tile your bathroom floor in a weekend and end up with a great looking, durable floor.

Cover up an old floor

Whether you’re replacing an old shabby bathroom flooring tile or installing a new one, you can’t beat ceramic or stone tile for durability and appearance. When laid properly, it’s virtually a forever floor tiling that requires almost no care and maintenance. And you can select materials from a vast array of colors and textures. We’ll cover how to install tile in a few steps.

What’s equally attractive is that you can lay a first-class tile floor yourself, often in one weekend, and save the $500 to $1,500 cost of hiring a pro.

The key to keeping the how to tile a floor job simple is to cover the old vinyl or other flooring with a new thin underlayment that gives you a fresh, clean start. No messy tear-out and repair. In this article, we’ll demonstrate how to install a thin “backer board” over the old floor tiling. Then we’ll cover tile-setting techniques, from layout and cutting to grout and cleanup.

Assess your floor

The success of any tile job depends on a solid base, that is, a floor that flexes very little as you walk across it. If you have a concrete subfloor, this isn’t an issue. You can lay tile directly over the existing vinyl as long as it’s well adhered.

If possible, avoid tearing out vinyl flooring. Leaving it in place saves time, of course, but it also reduces asbestos hazard concerns. Asbestos was used in sheet vinyl and vinyl tile until the mid-1980s. By leaving the vinyl undisturbed, you won’t risk sending asbestos fibers into the air.