Friday, August 30, 2013

Kaile's Korner - Taking out the A/C unit

Well, regrettably, we are coming up on that time of year when we begin to remove window air conditioners. Throughout my career, I have installed and removed hundreds of window air conditioners. Yet, I can only recall a handful of times when a homeowner has asked me to inspect the window and surrounding area for any collateral damage that may have been caused by the usage of the window air conditioner. 

While window air conditioners provide us with comfort and seem to be relatively maintenance free, the reality is that you need to check for wear and tear of the unit and surrounding area of your house with each removal.
As for the air conditioner, you want to check the filter and insure it is clean. Also check to make sure there is no built up water in the unit. If you have built up water, check the braces to insure the air condition is angled the proper way. Water should not back up in your unit or window if the unit is pitched properly. Clean the entire exterior of your unit before storing away, as this will help prevent discoloration and rusting. Also, check the power cord for any cracks or breaks in the outside wrapping. Check the sliding accordion sides for cracks and tears.

Once the unit has been inspected and repaired, it is time to inspect the window and surrounding area for wear and substantial damage.
Check window sill and trim for wetness and/or cracking and peeling of paint. Use an awl to probe for soft areas if you notice a severely wet area in the wood. If you have an older home, check the cords attached to the window weights for dry rot. 

Inspect your wall directly under the window where air conditioner has been used. Often times when water runs back towards the wind, it finds its way down into your walls. You will also want to check exterior wall for wetness too. Finally, check directly under window to make sure your air conditioner has not been dripping all summer onto something below that can be damaged by water constantly running over it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Check prices - By Kaile Warren

I write this column to help make you a better informed do-it-yourselfer, and/or, a more informed purchaser of home improvement products or services.

The fact that home improvement knowledge throughout our population has drastically declined in America, may be behind the seemingly changing patterns in product pricing.

Historically, volume purchasing meant that pricing was more favorable with increased volume. However, as you may recall, I recently informed you of paint pricing that showed just the opposite was happening.
Now, I am going to provide you with another example of a pricing practice that may surprise you.

I was recently in need of wood strapping (1” x 3”) so I decided to price shop between 8- and 12-foot lengths. Here is what I found. 8-foot long pieces cost $1.52 each while 12-foot long pieces cost $3.17 each. That’s right. There is a 100 percent plus cost increase when you are only purchasing 50 percent more volume. On its face, this pricing seems very disproportionate. You can make your own call.

While the change in home improvement retail may be subtle, the point is that today’s pricing practices are drafting in the wrong direction for you, the consumer.

I wish mainstream media, and all of their “consumer reporters”, would be more diligent in covering this trend. If the pricing practices vary from retailer to retailer, it is important for you to find the best retailer to support. If the trend is industry wide, then it is very bad news for you, the consumer.

Shop ‘till you drop. The loss of home improvement knowledge in this country is one thing. The loss of what had been traditional pricing practices leaves the consumer in a tough spot.

Where is this country heading?  Will there one day be a company designed to be a personal “home-improvement purchasing agent” for homeowners? The theory may seem unlikely today, but of late, I have started to think that we may soon have a new industry.

For you the consumer, I urge you to shop aggressively and to leave no pricing unchallenged. And of course, contact us here at the “Windham Eagle” if you have questions.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Company Slogan By Kaile Warren

Choosing the right company name is very important. However, choosing a slogan is equally important. Unfortunately, many small businesses do not have a slogan. I often wonder why many small businesses do not develop one.

People tell me they do not have a company slogan because they do not feel as though they have the marketing skills to develop one. This is unfortunate, as a slogan is the message behind the brand. When people see your brand, they need to categorize it in their minds. If your brand is not easily recalled and categorized by people, it will not have the power that a well-defined brand has.

I believe that once you see through the notion that a great and/or effective slogan can only come from expensive marketing experts, you can develop a quality slogan on your own. One way to hit the trifecta with a slogan is to make it simple, sexy and self-explanatory. When you look at those three requirements, you can see that developing a slogan is not rocket science.

Let me use my company, Rent-A-Husband, as an example of how a slogan should work. Rent-A-Husband’s goes like this, “For those jobs that never get done.”  So the brand name and slogan is “Rent-A-Husband- For those jobs that never get done.” You will notice that there is nothing complicated about the wording. Thus creating a good slogan can be a very do-it-yourself friendly task.

Folks, the primary reason I write this column is to enlighten and encourage every reader to reach his or hers full potential in business. A person has to remove the barriers that hold them back from reaching their full potential. There is something to be said for breaking tasks down to their lowest common denominators, and then just doing it.

If you need or want to improve a slogan, think about the advice you just read, and then put it into practice. I believe you will be amazed at what you can do. No complicated words were used in the composition of this column.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Driveway time By Kaile Warren

One of the best values you can obtain with home maintenance is to fill cracks and seal your asphalt driveway. And yes, it is a surprisingly do-it-yourself friendly project.

 While the aesthetic improvements of a freshly sealed driveway are undeniable, the real value comes in the protection of your asphalt driveway. Repaving a driveway can carry the type of expense that can require a home equity line of credit or a dive into retirement monies. Thus, you want to avoid said expense for as long as possible if not for as long as you own that particular home.

 Here are some easy steps to follow to insure your driveway project is a do-it-yourself success!
The first thing you want to do is to trim the sod around the perimeter of your driveway back one or two inches. This will create a small v-shaped channel that will allow for proper water run-off. As I often advise, controlling water, wherever it is in play, is key to a successful process.

The next step is to repair any cracks your driveway may have. To do this you will want to use a 5-in-1 tool. I have found it is great for getting into cracks and cleaning them out. Once the cracks have been prepared, sweep up and remove any debris that was removed from cracks.

Once you have trimmed the perimeter of your drive, and prepared the cracks you will want to pressure wash your driveway. Once you pressure wash your driveway, allow ample time for it to completely dry before applying crack filler and/or sealers.

There are various grades of driveway coatings. Thus expect various price points. I have found that spending a little extra with this purchase is a good thing to do.

When purchasing your driveway coating, you will also want to purchase a brush/broom (maybe 3-knot) to apply coating around the perimeter of your driveway. If you are unsure of your “cutting in” skills you may want to tape any foundation walls, etc. You will also want to purchase an application tool made for applying driveway coatings