Saturday, January 26, 2008

AirFlow Breeze Vent Video Review

By Mark J. Donovan

Mark Donovan of reviews AirFlow Technology's AirFlow Breeze Vent in this video.

The AirFlow Breeze vent is a great, energy efficient, low cost device for increasing the warmth, or coolness in a problem room within your home.

The AirFlow Breeze Home Heating/Cooling System (Almond) (Fits 4"W x 10"L opening) and can be purchased on line at

Readmore »»

Simple Caulking Technique

By Mark J. Donovan

A simple way to get an excellent caulk line every time is to apply masking tape on either side of the gap you want to caulk. You can determine how big of a caulk line you want to leave by how large of a gap you leave between the two strips of masking tape.

After applying the masking tape, run a bead of caulk the length of the gap into the joint.

Once you have applied the caulk use a putty knife to smooth the caulk / joint.

Finally, as soon as you have smoothed out the caulk, immediately remove the masking tape. If done right you will have a beautiful caulk seam, with very fine edges.

Give it a shot. Readmore »»

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Choosing between a Room Addition and a Second Floor Addition

By Mark J. Donovan

When contemplating building a home addition onto a single story house, frequently the question comes up on what makes more financial and practical sense? Is it better to build out with a room addition, or build up with a second floor addition?

The short answer is, if you have the land it is probably better to build out than to build up.

Building any home addition is a major undertaking. However, building a second story addition has significant more risk and interruptions associated with it.

First, local codes need to be checked to see if adding a second story addition is even feasible.

Second, the existing foundation needs to be inspected by the local building inspector, architect, or foundation contractor to see if the foundation can support a second floor. Concrete footings and foundation requirements usually vary on the type of home being built. A second story home creates significantly more load on the concrete footings and foundation walls. Consequently the footings and foundation walls are typically built more ruggedly for two story homes.

Third, the roof has to be torn off the home. This leaves the home vulnerable to the weather such as rain, snow and wind. Also, removing a roof in a controlled manner also takes significant time and labor which adds to the cost of the project.

Forth, frequently the homeowners need to find temporary housing elsewhere, as it is nearly impossible to live in the home while the roof is removed and replaced with another level.

Fifth, although every attempt is made to maintain the integrity of the first floor of the home, inherently there are risks of damage to the first floor ceilings and walls. Ceilings frequently are cracked while the second floor is being constructed.

Building a second floor addition is not an impossible endeavor. However, it does require more up front work and presents more risk to the existing home structure while being constructed. If you have limited land, then it may be your only alternative to create more space in your home. Again, however, if you do have the land it is probably a better bet to build out with a room addition. Readmore »»

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

AirFlow Breeze Vent

AirFlow Breeze VentBy Mark J. Donovan

If your home is heated and cooled with a central air heating and cooling system chances are you have a room that is never quite warm or cool enough. As warm or cool air works its way down the main plenum from the heating/cooling power-plant its velocity slows down. Rooms furthest away from the heating/cooling power-plant consequently, never adequately heat up or cool down to a comfortable level. Sometimes you can adjust the duct work in other rooms to help to maintain the air flow into the problem room; however it is nearly impossible to find a good compromise.

Fortunately, I recently found a solution to this problem that enables me to eliminate the cold room in my house. The product is a rather simple, but ingenious solution that helps to draw warm air out of the heating system that would not otherwise ever make it to the problem room. The “AirFlow Breeze vent” is a product developed by AirFlowTM Technology. It is effectively a motorized vent which replaces the static vent that delivers heat to the problem room. The AirFlow Breeze vent utilizes two low voltage fans that automatically turn on or off via a temperature sensing electronic controller. The AirFlow Breeze vent works by drawing larger volumes of warm air from the heating plenum to the problem room. The built in programmable thermostat on the AirFlow Breeze vent unit allows you to adjust the temperature setting to the level that provides a comfortable room temperature.

The AirFlow Breeze vent is also designed for cooling and central air conditioning applications. Similar to programming the unit for heating a room, the thermostat on the vent can be adjusted to cool the room to a comfortable level when an air conditioning system is operated.

Besides the built in programmable thermostat, the AirFlow Breeze vent has a switch to select between three different airflow rates. The unit can provide airflow rates of 100, 70 and 40 cubic feet per minute (CFM). The adjustable flow rate feature is helpful in accelerating the heating or cooling of a room and for minimizing drafts.

The AirFlow Breeze vent is powered by a small, low voltage, AC/DC converter unit that plugs into any wall outlet. The system is extremely quiet and is as inconspicuous as any other heating/cooling vent in the home.

The AirFlow Breeze vent is also very simple to install. For floor mount, simply remove the old vent and replace it with the AirFlow Breeze vent. The AirFlow Breeze vent can also be wall mounted. There are a couple of drill guides that can be drilled out to enable the AirFlow Breeze vent to be screwed to a wall. The only installation requirement is that a wall outlet needs to be nearby.

The AirFlow Breeze vent comes in a standard 4”x10” size, but also includes adapters to fit 4”x12”, 6”x10” and 6”x12” vent openings. It comes in two colors, Brown and Almond.

So if your home is hot air heated or has central air conditioning, and you have a problem room that needs a little extra heat or cooling, you too may want to consider an AirFlow Breeze vent. To learn more about an AirFlow Breeze vent visit AirFlow Technology. Readmore »»

Monday, January 21, 2008

Stair Tread Pads Video

By Mark J. Donovan

In this video, Mark Donovan of shows how to install Stair Tread Pads. The installation of stair tread pads can help to prevent injuries from falling down stairs, as well as add a level of protection to the stair case.

Mark shows how you can install your own simple stair tread pads in 30 minutes for just a few dollars.

Readmore »»

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Self Leveling Compounds and Ceramic Floor Tile

By Mark J. Donovan

If you are planning to install a ceramic tile floor it is imperative that the floor first be smooth and level. Ceramic floor tiles will crack and/or become loose over time if the subfloor is not perfectly smooth and void of bumps and valleys.

Self leveling compounds are ideal for smoothing out uneven wooden floors and concrete floors. Older wooden floors can have humps and dips associated with them due to sagging or twisting floor joists. Likewise, concrete floors typically have valleys and humps associated with them.

Self leveling compounds are ideal for feathering out the dips in a wood subfloor or concrete floor.

Preparing Wood Subfloors and Concrete Floors

In order to properly apply a self leveling compound to a subfloor it is extremely important that the subfloor is rigid. It is important to understand that self leveling compounds will not add stability to a subfloor. If the wood subfloor flexes when you walk on it, the self leveling compound will most probably break up. This will lead to ceramic floor tiles cracking and becoming loose over time. As a result, it is important that you have a solid subfloor surface before you apply a self leveling compound.

Subfloors also need to be free from dirt, dust and grime before applying a self leveling compound. Else, the self leveling compound will not bond well to the subfloor. Use a vacuum cleaner to first pick up all the loose particles on the subfloor. Secondly, use a mop, sponge or damp squeegee to lightly wash the subfloor.

Applying Primer to the Subfloor

In order for self leveling compounds to bond well to subfloors, it is critical that you roll or brush on a latex primer first. It is important that the primer fill every square inch of the subfloor to ensure a solid bond of the self leveling compound.

Once the latex primer has been applied allow it to thoroughly dry before applying the self leveling compound.

Identify Low Areas of Subfloor

Use a level, straight 2x4 or framing square and slide it over the subfloor looking for low spots. Use a pencil to circle these low areas. These areas will represent where you want to apply the self leveling compound.

Mixing Self Leveling Compound

First, it is extremely important to note that self leveling compounds set up extremely fast. You will have only about 10-20 minutes of total time to mix, pour and feather out the self leveling compound, once you mix the product with water. As a result, make sure you have all of the tools and materials handy for mixing, pouring and spreading the self leveling compound.
To mix the self leveling compound read all of the manufacturer directions first. Make sure you follow any safety procedures while working with the product, as it is usually unsafe to breath in the self leveling compound dust. A dust mask should be used to avoid breathing in the dust associated with the leveling compound.

It is best to mix the material using a power drill with a mixing hook as this will speed up the mixing effort. Make sure to mix the self leveling compound with water in a clean bucket. It is best to use cold or even ice water, when mixing in the self leveling compound, as this will help to extend the working time of the self leveling compound.

The mixture should have a loose soupy consistency. If it is too thick, it will harden very fast and will be unusable. Also, make sure to scrape around the edges of the bucket when mixing the self leveling compound. You should limit the mixing time to just 2 to 3 minutes to ensure you have sufficient time to pour and spread it.

Apply Self Leveling Compound

Once you have completing mixing pour some of the mixture into the low areas that you circled with your pencil. Allow the mixture to spread out a little before using a trowel or squeegee to smooth it out. Note: drywall tools work great for spreading out the self leveling compound.

Remember that you will only have about10 minutes to work with the mixture, so work quickly
Do not add additional water to the mixture to try to loosen it up. This will cause the self leveling compound to cure improperly and will lead to it breaking up. Instead work quickly with the spreading of the material.

After 30 minutes, the self leveling compound will be fairly set up. Usually within 2-4 hours it can handle foot traffic. The ceramic floor tile can typically be applied within 12-24 hours after the self leveling compound has been applied.

Clean Up

After feathering out the self leveling compound quickly wash out the bucket and tools with water. If you do not, the self leveling compound will become a permanent fixture to your bucket and tools. Readmore »»

Friday, January 18, 2008

How to Find a Unfinished Home to Buy

By Mark J. Donovan

Question: I am trying to do some research on how to go about purchasing an unfinished home. I am a potential first time home buyer and would like to save some money. I guess the purpose of my question is to ask how does a person go about finding an unfinished home for sale?

I would think that a general contractor might be put off by just going to the site and asking. However is this how to go about doing it? Also would real estate agents have this information? Its hard to find any information about this and any tips you could offer would be appreciated.

Answer: Talk to a builder who is building either a development or custom homes. I bought two homes this way. In one case I had the custom home built specifically requesting the upstairs be unfinished. In the second case the builder was only planning to finish the downstairs.

Typically unfinished homes are considered "starter homes" so look for the builders who are building "affordable housing" vs the McMansions.

Also keep in mind that in order to build an unfinished home you, or your builder, will have to meet miniumum code requirements. So, for example, the downstairs will need a bedroom with a door and a closet even though this room may eventually be used as a dining room or den, which may not normally have a closet in it. Also, you will typically need to have a full bathroom on the first floor, along with the kitchen.

During housing booms, most builders want to finish the whole house to maximize their ROI on the land purchase, however during housing busts, you are more likely to find builders that are willing to work with you.

You can also contact a real estate agents. They will know the builders in your local area that are flexible with buyers and/or that may be in the process of building a housing development.

Don't be shy with talking with building contractors. You are their potential customer, and in a down housing market they should be more than happy to have a potential buyer contacting them. Readmore »»