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Things to know when shopping for a generator

Consumers want and need reliable power. When the electricity goes out, gen­erators keep your home or business humming with light and power.

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Increasingly, consumers are turning to generators for power in emergency situations, because the world is unpredictable. Year-round weather challenges are now the norm with snow, ice, wind, tornadoes, hurricanes and record-breaking rain and flooding occurring throughout the year and no longer just confined to a season.

“Consumers want and need reliable power. When the electricity goes out, gen­erators keep your home or business humming with light and power,” said Kris Kiser, President and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI). 

Kiser added: “Today’s generators offer a variety of features, and there is a product for every need. While shopping for your generator, consider other equipment that could be useful in cleaning up after challenging weather such as a water pump, chain saw or pole pruner. And don’t forget outdoor-rated extension cords and fuel cans.”

Tips from OPEI for safe generator use:

  • Consider what you need. When purchasing a generator, determine how many kilowatts are needed for essential items (charging family cell phones, a refrigerator, etc.) during an emergency.
  • Research generators online before you buy. Talk with the staff at the store or ask questions online. Discuss safety features and ask about manufacturer fueling and care instructions. Generators offer a variety of features. Circuit-breaker-protected outlets will guard against generator overload. A larger fuel tank will provide extra running time. Integrated fuel gauges will help keep tabs on fuel levels and prevent power interruptions. Low tone mufflers make for quieter operation. Fold-down handles and wheels can make it easier to move your generator.
  • Keep an outdoor-rated extension cord on hand. Be sure it is long enough to place the generator a safe distance from your home, and is certified to carry the generator’s power load.
  • Identify where you will put the generator. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors, and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Never put a generator in your home, garage, porch or breezeway. Give portable generators plenty of room for ventilation. Determine now how you will secure the generator.
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector. Add this safety device to your home and be sure to keep extra batteries on hand for it.
  • Keep generators dry. Before a storm hits, identify how to cover and vent the generator. Buy model-specific tents or generator covers online, at home centers or a hardware store.
  • Have the right fuel on hand before a storm hits. Use an appropriate container designed to hold fuel that seals well.
  • Store fuel in a safe place away from heat sources and out of the reach of children. Label the can with the date of purchase and the ethanol content. Check filled cans regularly and replenish them if needed. Remember fuel more than 30 days old should not be used in any outdoor power equipment and can phase separate.
  • Use the type of fuel recommended by the generator manufacturer. It is illegal to use any fuel with more than 10% ethanol in outdoor power equipment.

For safety information and to find out which manufacturers make various outdoor power equipment products, go to www.opei.org.

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Home Care

Base Bahay builds better homes… with bamboo

The organization is also a pioneer in bamboo construction, and particularly advocates for the use of Cement-Bamboo Frame technology, a combination of bamboo housing and conventional technology, which makes for a permanent and durable structure. According to Jorillo, this kind of technology is also more affordable, which makes it more accessible to low-income families in the country.

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As the Philippines’ infrastructure industry continues to turn to sustainable solutions, one humble building material remains underutilized: bamboo. And with September as World Bamboo Month, a pioneer in bamboo construction renews its call for architects, engineers, and developers to reconsider this highly resilient and locally available raw material to create “a better future today.” 

“By using local resources customized to local needs, we can improve local economies, aid in the pursuit of a cleaner environment, and make good quality housing available to everyone regardless of social status,” says Pablo Jorillo, general manager of Base Bahay Foundation, a socially oriented non-profit established in 2014 as an initiative of the Hilti Foundation. Base utilizes local, renewable raw materials to create sustainable and resilient housing solutions, providing training, planning, supervision, and quality control across the value chain.

Alternative building technology that enables partner network builds

The organization is also a pioneer in bamboo construction, and particularly advocates for the use of Cement-Bamboo Frame technology, a combination of bamboo housing and conventional technology, which makes for a permanent and durable structure. According to Jorillo, this kind of technology is also more affordable, which makes it more accessible to low-income families in the country. 

The Cement-Bamboo frame technology merges Philippine tradition and innovation with Latin American and European engineering and is accredited by the Accreditation of Innovative Technologies for Housing (AITECH). The abundance of bamboo in the country is what makes it an ideal housing material–specifically, the species called Bambusa Blumeana, or more commonly known locally as Kawayang Tinik, and Dentrocalamus Asper or Giant Bamboo.

“The bamboo pole, as a structural component, is selected according to specific requirements such as age, diameter of pole, thickness of skin, and must be free of cracks and insect infestation. The bamboo is treated in an environmentally safe and effective method to provide long-term resistance against insects and mold,” says Jorillo, describing Base’s method. “Aside from bamboo, we use cement, hollow blocks, and metal rods and clamps to build a Base Bahay house. The homes are built complete with plumbing and electrical connections”

Base Bahay houses go to communities being supported by their partner organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity, which built over 300 houses for families who belong to the urban poor. So far, Base has been able to build 800 permanent homes using bamboo–the most any organization has been able to accomplish–and, together with a coalition led by the Hilti Foundation and Habitat for Humanity, plans to put up 200 more by the end of the year, and 10,000 by 2025.

Base’s efforts have impacted the lives of over 4,000 individuals in the past seven years, says Jorillo. They have partnered with local governments and non-government organizations to build communities in Iloilo, Quezon City, Samar, Tacloban, Sorsogon, Bacolod, Eastern Samar, Negros Occidental, and Batangas; last year, the organization even went international by building a community with Habitat for Humanity in Nepal.

Driving a sustainable industry model

Aside from providing sustainable housing structures, they are also working on creating a sustainable industry, by, first and foremost, involving homeowners from the very start of the construction process wherein the hours they spend building their houses count as payment.

To help the rest of the country’s housing ecosystem understand the benefits of bamboo, Base is offering this year a Continuing Professional Education (CPD) program for Engineers and Architects on bamboo construction. They are also working with the ASEP for the Philippines to have its own National Structural Code for Bamboo, using the International Organization on Standardization (ISO) new standard on structural design with bamboo poles as the jump off point of national design code.

On the supply chain side, Base has established a network of supply facilities for structural grade bamboo in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

Early this year, they also launched the BASE Innovation Center, a testing and research facility for constructing with bamboo and other alternative building materials, opening a whole new world of possibilities for the use of this species of grass.

“Our vision is to be a catalyst for the creation of more sustainable and disaster-resilient communities through our affordable housing technology solutions,” says Jorillo. “We believe that by providing the technology free of charge, NGOs and other professional entities can build these communities, and contribute to a future that is more sustainable for all.”

For more information on Base Bahay Foundation and ongoing projects, visit http://www.base-builds.com.

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Home Care

Top 3 ways to check for hidden leaks

Uncommon and hidden leaks are the ones that tend to sneak up on homeowners and wreak a lot of havoc.

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Photo by Dan Smedley from Unsplash.com

Four Seasons Plumbing, a family-owned and -operated plumbing company serving the Asheville and Hendersonville areas, understands the toll that slow leaks and difficult-to-spot plumbing issues can take on a home. This summer, the company is offering homeowners tips to identify leaks early and take action before they result in costly damage.

“Uncommon and hidden leaks are the ones that tend to sneak up on homeowners and wreak a lot of havoc,” said Max Rose, owner of Four Seasons Plumbing. “It often takes noticing a water bill that’s higher than usual or finding a visible puddle on the floor to begin asking questions, and there could already be a lot of damage by that point.”

Max and the team at Four Seasons offer these tricks to help identify potential water leaks:

  • Check your water meter: Start by turning off all appliances in the house dependent on water, such as faucets, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. After waiting for an hour, monitor any changes to the meter. If the meter continues to change, you may have a leak in your system that could require the attention of a licensed, insured professional.
  • Add food coloring to your toilet tank: Toilets account for a considerable amount of water usage in the home. By adding food coloring to your toilet tank, you can monitor the bowl to see if there is any seepage from the tank in-between flushes. A leaking toilet can run unnoticed, and it can significantly impact a water bill with time.
  • Look for discoloration on ceilings and walls: By keeping an eye out for any browning or discoloration on ceilings and walls, you can be proactive in identifying leaks before they become detrimental.

By intentionally setting aside some time to practice these few simple steps, homeowners can save themselves thousands of dollars in repairs in the long run. Leaks can go unnoticed for weeks, months, or even years, resulting in costly damage to a home’s structure.

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Home Care

Add storage and seating to your patio

According to landscape designer, Doug Scott, storage is something a lot of people forget about when designing an outdoor living space.

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Photo by Sonnie Hiles from Unsplash.com

Whether you’re grilling, gardening or simply lounging in the backyard, it’s important to have the tools, supplies and equipment you need close at hand. Unfortunately, finding a convenient place to store everything is a challenge many homeowners face.

According to landscape designer, Doug Scott, storage is something a lot of people forget about when designing an outdoor living space.

“Whether it’s gardening tools and supplies, outdoor furniture cushions, or a random collection of toys, almost everything we do outdoors comes with stuff,” Scott said. “And it’s not always convenient to go back inside and get those things.”

Scott has partnered with Exmark on a new Done-In-A-Weekend Projects video that shows homeowners how to build a dual-purpose outdoor storage bench that offers convenient on-patio storage. It also provides comfortable outdoor seating for family and guests.

“It’s really the best for both form and function,” Scott said.

While it’s possible to build the exterior of the outdoor storage bench from several wood options, Scott said untreated cedar is a good choice, for several reasons. It’s attractive and is naturally rot-resistant, so staining or painting the storage bench is an option, not a requirement.

The interior of the storage box is built from a combination of plywood, pine boards and decking board, secured with a combination of wood screws, wood glue and exterior construction adhesive.

Scott said the outdoor storage bench is a project that most folks can complete in one to two days, but he recommends enlisting the help of a friend or family member, which can cut the project time in half.

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