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The Basics Of Building A Pole Barn On Your Property

Posted by on Aug 2, 2016 in Uncategorized |

When you are fortunate enough to live on a large parcel of land, you can build auxiliary structures on your property to house vehicles, lawn equipment, work tools, livestock feed and even farm animals. You do not need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to obtain a sturdy structure. A simple pole barn constructed over the course of a few days can be a more economical and long-lasting alternative to a full-sized barn or other type of standalone facility. If a pole barn seems like a practical solution for your storage needs, the following guide provides you with an outline of what you need to know in order to construct a structure that fits your exact needs. Permit and Site Selection Pole barns are simpler than full-sized barns. Support poles and beams are the main support structures for pole barns. Typically the structures are open-air and include a garage area for vehicles. If you live in a rural area, you may think that you do not need to obtain a permit to build a pole barn. However, some counties mandate that property owners obtain a permit for agricultural-type buildings. If your local government requires you to apply for and purchase a building permit, you may need to submit your plans for the pole barn before you break ground as well as complete tasks like performing a soil test and taking a survey of your property. You should also check with your property insurance agent to find out about protecting the structure and how it may affect your insurance costs. The site you select for your pole barn should be level, stable ground. It should also have well-drained soil that does not hold water for long. Materials and Features The design possibilities for a pole barn are endless. However, there are some basic things you need to know about the type of materials used to build the structures and typical features if you want to make sure that contractors build a pole barn that satisfies your needs. When you talk to a builder, you should discuss your options for the following features of pole barns. Trusses Gables Lumber Post materials Roofing Siding Doors and Gates A concrete foundation is an optional structural feature of pole barns. Whether or not you opt for one depends on your climate, soil type and how it affects the total cost. Insulation If you plan on using your pole barn as a work area with enclosed rooms or a place to house horses or other animals, you will need to have the structure insulated. While insulation adds to the overall costs of the pole barn, the investment will be worth it in the long run because you will not have to use as much fuel or electricity to heat the barn’s interior during the colder months. Insulation can also protect the pole barn from moisture. Aesthetic Features A simple and plain pole barn will serve its purpose. However, you may want to have a structure that is aesthetically pleasing and blends well with the landscape and your home’s architecture. You can have your contractor install decorative siding and paint that matches your house. In addition, you can add attractive extras such as weather vanes, skylights, cupolas, decorative wrought iron on gates and custom windows....

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Six Tips For Using Fall Protection Equipment Safely In The Hot Sun

Posted by on Jun 28, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Fall protection equipment protects you from falling, but to ensure it works as intended, you need to keep a few safety tips in mind. If you are working in the hot sun, there are a few extra points you should keep in mind, as well. Here are some tips to help protect you and your team while using fall protection equipment in the heat: 1. Do not store fall protection equipment in direct sunlight. If you have a few harnesses, ropes or lanyards your crew is not using, make sure that equipment is not set on the ground in direct sunlight. Ultraviolet rays can break down the webbing on your harness or cause your ropes to age prematurely. Make sure that these items are in the shade. If you have to leave the fall protection equipment at the site overnight, make sure that you have a box or other sun-resistant place to store it. 2. Check equipment closely for fraying or other issues before using. Even if you take care to keep unused equipment in the shade, your fall protection equipment may get sun exposure while your crew is using it. Intense sun can take its toll on your equipment. To ensure your equipment is as safe as possible, always do a visual check before using it. Look your equipment over for fraying, rips or other signs of damage. Some material such as nylon ropes may even appear brownish and brittle if they have been heat damaged. 3. Use cable positioning lanyards. Cable positioning lanyards clip onto your fall protection equipment and provide extra stability while working at heights. They are particularly useful in very hot environments, and ideally, in intense heat, you should use them instead of rope or web lanyards. Cable positioning lanyards feature metal, which tends to be more heat resistant than rope and nylon webbing. 4. Wear gloves. Gloves may not be a required part of fall protection equipment, but if you are working in the heat, you should wear work gloves. The metal on lanyards, cables and harness clips can become hot to the touch in the hot sun, and if you want to protect your hands from discomfort, you should wear leather or canvas work gloves. 5. Remember other sun safety tips. In addition to ensuring you have the right protective equipment in place, you should also think about heat safety tips in general. Excessive heat can lead to heat exhaustion or sunstroke, which can cause you to become dizzy and potentially increase the chance of falling. To avoid heat exhaustion, stay hydrated and take breaks as needed. Also, review the symptoms of heat exhaustion and educate the rest of your team about the risks. That way, you can monitor yourself and your crew for the symptoms and stop working at heights if you feel the effects taking hold. If possible, try to set up temporary shade above your work area. For example, if you are on scaffolding, erect a temporary awning or canopy over it. 6. Keep your shirt tucked in or wear an undershirt. If the harness rubs against your skin when the weather is not, your skin may become broken or irritated. To prevent these effects, make sure that you keep your shirt tucked in so that your skin is...

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3 Things You Didn’t Know About Siding

Posted by on May 17, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Are you considering replacing your old siding, or adding new siding to a house that did not previously have it? Siding can change the whole look of your house, and can even improve its stability and storm resistance. It can even make the exterior of your house easier to clean. Adding or replacing siding is a big investment, but an important one. You should know as much as you can about the different types of siding and what they will do for your house before you select one. These are three things you didn’t know about siding, but should consider before putting it on your house. 1. The Color of Your Siding Makes a Big Difference When choosing a color for your siding, you need to consider more than just the color you like best. According to NearSay.com, certain siding colors may not always be in style as neighborhoods change. What was once acceptable for a neighborhood may now be considered an eyesore by neighbors, despite what you think about it. If your siding doesn’t match the neighborhood, it can cause you to get complaints, and even reduce the value of your home if you decide to sell it. If your home’s siding is obviously out of sync with the rest of the neighborhood, you are on the right path with your decision to replace it. Just consider the current look of the neighborhood when you do. You don’t have to make your house look exactly like everyone else’s, but at least make it match the color schemes and character of the houses around yours. 2. You Can Use Siding on a Green Home and Still Feel Good About It Many people who design their homes to be environmentally friendly believe vinyl siding is incompatible with that vision. In fact, vinyl siding can be an environmentally sound choice. Some aspects of vinyl siding that make it a greener choice than you think include: It arrives already colored and/or finished, so there is no need for painting or stains The color or stain is permanent, so you won’t need to touch it up in the future The lack of need for paint or stain makes vinyl siding fall in line with green building guidelines for the National Association of Home Builders Vinyl siding is made with salt and natural gas, which are two natural, green materials You can buy vinyl siding made from recycled vinyl 3. You Don’t Always Have to Look at the Outside of the House to Know Your Siding Needs to Be Replaced You may be able to tell your siding needs to be replaced long before obvious signs show up on the exterior of your home. Some telltale signs begin inside. Paying attention to them lets you replace the siding before your walls are damaged and require repairs. Some things you should look for inside include: Peeling paint Sagging wallpaper Water stains on drywall These signs indicate your exterior siding may be allowing moisture from outside to seep inside the home. Moisture can come in the form of rain, humidity, and snow. If moisture is getting so far past your siding it is affecting your interior walls, it is time to replace your siding. The longer the moisture is allowed to get in, the greater chance...

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Learn about the Different Screens You Can Use with Construction Fencing

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Chain link construction fencing can serve many purposes when placed around a construction site. The primary purpose is to keep unauthorized people from entering your construction site. This can prevent injuries and theft. However, the benefits and purposes of a construction fence can be increased by placing fence screens over it. If you have never heard of  these screens, learning about them can help you decide if they are ideal to use with your fencing. Here are a few of the different screen types you can use with construction fencing and their benefits. Dirt Control Screens Dirt control screens, also referred to as windscreens, are designed to be placed around the exterior of a chain link fence. While a dirt control screen does offer some level of privacy, that is not its primary purpose. This type of screen is primarily used around construction sites where large amounts of dirt and dust may shift if the wind blows. When construction crews are working in populated areas, building regulations may require your construction company to take action to prevent dirt and dust from blowing. Watering the dirt and using dirt control screens are two ways this can be done. The reasons this is required are that dirt and dust can be harmful to people walking by as it circulates in the air and that it can settle atop cars and homes in the area, making a mess for residents. If you are worried about dirt and dust on your construction site, dirt control screens may be ideal. Privacy Screen Another type of screen that can be used with chain link construction fencing is a privacy screen. When spread out over the exterior of the fence, the screen helps to disguise the ugly chain link fence while preventing peeping eyes from glancing at the construction site. Some construction companies want to keep their projects under wraps. This screen can help accomplish that. Other construction companies want to minimize employees from becoming distracted by talking to people on the other side of the fence. Taking away the ability for your construction crew to interact face to face with those on the other side of the fence can increase productivity. Last, some counties or cities may deem a construction site an eyesore. Using a privacy screen helps keep city leaders happy while ensuring your company is doing its part to beautify the city. Custom Printed Screen The last type of screen that you can use in conjunction with your construction fencing is a custom printed screen. Both dirt control screens and privacy screens can be custom printed. Custom printed screens offer one additional benefit that other screens don’t offer: they can be used as a billboard of sorts, allowing you to advertise on them. You can advertise the name of your construction site, advertise the name of the business you’re constructing, or display a picture of what the completed construction site will look like. Either way, a chain link fence around a construction site takes up a lot of room and often catches the eyes of people walking or driving by. Using this space to advertise can be profitable and wise. If you are putting up a construction fence around your job site, you may want to think about using a screen in conjunction...

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Tips To Keep Your Family Electricity-Safe In Your Home

Posted by on Mar 24, 2016 in Uncategorized |

With all the electronics and appliances your family uses every day, it is important to teach your family how to be safe with electricity, especially when you have young children. Besides keeping your home free of electrical hazards, you should make sure everyone knows the rules they need to follow to use electricity smartly. Here are some tips to keep everyone in your home safe around electricity. Outlet and Extension Cord Safety Teach your children never to play with plugs or outlets in your home, and make sure you use plug protectors on any unused outlets. This can prevent your child from playing with a plug or an outlet and possibly becoming electrocuted. Your body is made up of 70 percent water, so it is an excellent conductor of electricity. Your child can be electrocuted if they stick their finger or something metal into an open outlet. The current in an outlet is enough to seriously injure kill them. Approximately 4000 people end up in the emergency room each year from electrocution injuries, and one-third to one-half of these are children. It is important to take the steps to make your home a safe place around electricity. Store electrical cords out of the way of your children. Long appliance cords should be wrapped up and tied into a bundle so they don’t tempt your child to pull on them. Pulling electrical cords out of the wall at any angle can cause the plug to spark. And don’t lay extension cords across walkways in your home, even if it is placed under a rug. The cord can get yanked out of the wall if someone trips on it, causing sparks. You should only remove a plug from an outlet by pulling the plug, not on the cord. If you notice an outlet feels hot or has sparking inside when it is in use, shut off power to the outlet with your home electrical box and have the outlet repaired as soon as possible by a licensed electrician. This type of sparking can occur because the wiring behind the outlet is wired wrong or bad and can cause electrocution or cause a fire in your home. Electrical Appliance Safety First, make sure any appliances and electronics you bring into your home are approved and inspected by a reputable consumer laboratory, such as the Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which performs safety tests on electrical components you can use in your home. Make sure you maintain and periodically check the electronics you have in your home. Look for any cords that are cut, frayed, or damaged because they can cause a fire. Don’t ever try to repair any damaged or broken electronics yourself. Always hire a professional to do the repairs or discard the item. Be sure to leave several inches of space around any appliances and electronics that get hot while they are plugged in. This can include television receiver boxes, microwaves, computer monitors, and televisions. It is not a good idea to drape or place any toys, blankets, or other items on top of these appliances because they need air circulation around them so they don’t get too hot and start a fire. If you store any electronics inside a cabinet, make sure the cabinet has adequate ventilation to allow the heat to...

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How To Insulate Your Basement Walls To Prevent Moisture And Temperature Problems From Arising

Posted by on Mar 7, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Basements can be notoriously damp and chilly, even in the summer months, if the walls aren’t properly insulated. The easiest time to insulate a basement is before the studs are installed, so if your basement is still unfinished, you have a great opportunity to do the job right. Below is more information for homeowners or other do-it-yourselfers who want to insulate their basements the right way: Tools and materials you will need ¾-inch thick rigid foam insulation sheet (four-foot by eight-foot in size) Mineral wool insulation (16-inch wide rolls) Vapor barrier roll Vapor barrier tape 2-inch fluted masonry nails ⅛-inch inside diameter fender washers Claw hammer Utility knife Straight edge Scissors Serrated knife Measuring tape Installing the insulation 1. Measure and cut the rigid foam insulation – The first step is to attach the rigid foam insulation directly to the concrete walls. Though the foam board has a limited R-value, the measure of its insulating characteristics, it is important to place it before any studs are built. The reason is that studs directly adjacent to the concrete wall will transfer heat from your basement into the cooler walls, then into the surrounding earth. Thermal transfer can make keeping your basement comfortable more difficult and expensive. When installing the rigid foam insulation, first measure the area of the wall you wish to cover, then trim the pieces of foam to size with a utility knife and straight edge. Be sure to make the cuts as clean, straight and accurate as possible; you don’t want any gaps to remain between sections, as these can allow warmth to bleed away. 2. Install the rigid foam insulation sections – Once you have cut the pieces of rigid foam insulation to size, ask a helper to hold them in place where you wish to have them located. Next, locate the approximate middle of the section, then drive a 2-inch fluted masonry nail through a fender washer, through the foam insulation, and into the wall. Don’t drive the nail too deeply, or you may crush the foam and lessens its insulating ability. Continue to nail the foam insulation to the wall using masonry nails and washers; space each nail/washer combination approximately 18 inches apart. Finish by driving a nail and washer into each intersection whenever four pieces of foam insulation meet, as this will help hold down the corners and keep the cold from penetrating. 3. Install mineral wool insulation – After the studs have been built, the next step is to line the gaps between studs with mineral wool insulation. Mineral wool, sometimes called stone wool or rock wool, consists of molten stone that is spun into thin, wispy strands, then compacted to form rolls. It is fire-resistant, and it also has excellent insulating characteristics. To install the mineral wool, begin by unrolling the bundles and cut them using a serrated knife. Then, stuff each strip of mineral wool into the gaps between the studs. Be sure to push the mineral wool all the way into place to prevent it from falling out, and watch out for gaps between ends of strips. 4. Install a vapor barrier – The last insulating step is to install a vapor barrier to prevent moisture transfer between the damp, cold earth and your basement. The vapor barrier is...

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Thieves Entering Homes Through Garages: Tips for Keeping Your Home and Family Safe

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Uncategorized |

While you may take great care to ensure that your home windows and other doors are as secure as possible, many Americans should put more time and effort into making their garages more secure. In recent years, a startling 50-percent of all home invasions of metropolitan homes were through the garage. While some may have welcomed themselves into garage doors left open by their owners, many likely manipulated electronic door openers and locks or simply used force to open them. What can you do to make your garage secure from these invaders? Read on to find out how to deter both electronically savvy criminals and those who gain entry into garages in other ways so you can keep your valuables and your family safer.  Deterring Digital Intruders Garage door opener thefts are on the rise, and thieves are not stealing these openers because they are valuable electronics themselves, but instead, because they can be used to get into your home and access the items inside of it that are much more valuable. Thankfully, you don’t have to stop using this convenient device that helps keep you from having to get out of your car during the cold winter or summer heat to open your garage, but you should instead take steps to make sure your opener is secure at all times.  Ideally, you should never leave your opener remote in your car. Most thieves are stealing them from people’s vehicles, and they typically target vehicles parked in front of a home so they know what garage door the remote operates. Instead, store it in your purse, or even better, secure it to your key chain. If you do ever notice it missing, disarm your garage door opener and lock the door manually until you find it.  Also, if you have a garage door opener that was made before 2003, thieves don’t even need your remote to open it. Instead, they can hack into using the radio signal it produces. The only way to prevent this is to upgrade to a newer model that uses today’s newer technology that cannot be hacked into the way the older models can.  Fighting Forceful Entry Even if you keep your remote safe or don’t have an automatic garage door opener at all, there are still determined thieves that will attempt to break into your garage using other types of manipulation. To fight forceful entry, you have to think of how a criminal can gain entry to your garage, then block their ability to use the technique. Common ways thieves enter garages include: Breaking or using windows. If you work in your garage, then you may like windows that let you enjoy a little outdoor scenery while you work. However, windows can be broken, and a thief can then place their arm or a gadget through the broken window to open the lock from inside. Even the toughest windows made still help thieves break into your garage. Why? Windows allow thieves to see how your garage door opener hardware is set up and helps them get a better idea of exactly what type of door lock you have. They then know exactly what tactics will work to pick the lock or manipulate the hardware and gain entry. Windows also let thieves know whether your vehicle is in...

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Starting A Laser Tag Business? Do It Cheaper With A Pre-Engineered Metal Building

Posted by on Jan 25, 2016 in Uncategorized |

Are you in the beginning phases of starting your own laser tag business? If so, one of the first things you’ll need to do is secure a location for your new business venture. You could lease commercial space to house your laser tag system, or you could make things a whole lot easier on yourself and opt for a pre-engineered metal building. Here’s why. Cost Of Leasing Space Vs. Buying A Steel Building Leasing Retail Space. The cost of leasing a retail space varies widely depending on what city you’re in, where in the city the space is located, and how popular the surrounding commercial spaces are. According to the national average, you can expect to pay about $38.77 per square foot, per year to lease a spot in the mall to use for your laser tag facility. If you find a suitable space in a strip mall, the cost drops down to $16.54 per square foot, per year. You should allot at least 166 square feet of space for each player your laser tag system is capable of supporting. For example, if you plan on buying a 16-gun (supports 2 teams of 8 players each) laser tag system, your establishment should have a minimum of 2,656 square feet of space. Based on the national average, it would cost you $102,973 a year to lease this amount of mall space or $43,930 per year to rent an equal size space in a strip mall. Buying A Pre-Engineered Metal Building. The high-end price range for a pre-engineered commercial steel building is $20 to $40 per square foot, which would put the cost of one capable of housing a 16-gun laser tag system in the ballpark of $53,120 to $106,240. Of course, you’ll still need a plot of land to put your building on. How much does land cost? It varies widely, but according to a recent study, one acre of developed land is valued at roughly $106,000. Still, though, the cost of a high-end steel building large enough to house your new business — plus the land to put it on — is only slightly more expensive than leasing the average mall space for 2 years and slightly less expensive than leasing a spot in a strip mall for 5 years. Perhaps the best part, however, is that you get to keep your facility and resell it if your business venture doesn’t work out. Some Added Bonuses What if your new laser tag business really takes off? If you’re leasing a retail space, you’ll need to wait for your lease to run out, look for a bigger facility, and then move all of your equipment there. You’ll also have to do what you can to recover any flyers or announcements you’ve distributed that have your old address on them, and distribute new ones that detail the location of your new, bigger facility. When you buy your own land and steel building, you’ll worry about none of these things when it comes time to expand. Pre-engineered metal buildings are built to be assembled quickly, and since you never signed a lease agreement, you won’t have to worry about waiting for it to expire before you can add on to your existing facility. All you’ll have to do is call the metal building contractors...

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Expanding Your Facility’s Operations? How Can You Reduce Downtime Due To Plumbing Mishaps?

Posted by on Dec 28, 2015 in Uncategorized |

If you’re planning to expand your business’s current manufacturing or production operations into a larger facility — whether by relocating to a vacant building or expanding on your existing real estate — you may be anxious to break ground and hasten the arrival of your new space. However, hurrying this process along without taking time to fully evaluate the impact of your business on your new space could lead to expensive and disruptive plumbing issues. Read on to learn more about some of the plumbing adjustments you may need to make to ensure you don’t lose valuable production time due to backed-up sewer pipes or low water pressure.  What should you do to your plumbing if you’re expanding your current building?  Depending upon the scale of your proposed expansion, you may need to retrofit or even replace your building’s current plumbing before resuming operations. Even if your manufacturing process itself doesn’t utilize much water or produce much sewage, the plumbing demands of a significantly larger crew could strain your existing system, particularly if you’re rotating through two or three shifts of workers per day. In addition, a large industrial building that isn’t plumbed to handle manufacturing process that do produce a moderate amount of wastewater may flounder on the market when the time comes to sell your business (or just your building). Ensuring that your building’s infrastructure is able to handle a variety of different industrial applications will help make the most of the funds invested in this expansion. Fortunately, expanding the diameter of centrally-located waste pipes and installing a waste filtration system designed to prevent clogs from forming in non-modified pipes should be enough to update your existing plumbing system and ensure you have enough capacity for whatever waste your crew (and machinery) can generate. Should you revamp the plumbing of a vacant building you purchase?  In some cases, moving your existing operations to a new building rather than expanding may be the most cost-effective option. However, if you’re purchasing a building that hasn’t been updated in the last few decades (or has been vacant for some time), you may need to have the plumbing inspected and cleaned before moving your operations. Even if your new building’s pipes are sufficiently large to accommodate your business’s ballast, decay or deferred maintenance that isn’t addressed before these pipes are put into use can lead to expensive issues down the road. During an inspection, the plumber will use a flexible camera attached to a snake to get a 3D video view of your pipes. This can identify clogs, tree roots, rusted or damaged sections of pipe, and other potential problems. It’s generally less expensive to delay your business’s move for a few weeks (or months) while a repair is performed than having to cease your existing operations after moving to allow a plumbing crew to work on your clogged pipes. If your new building’s pipes are ample in size for your purposes but in a state of disrepair that may require them to be replaced, you should be able to avoid expensive excavation and repair work through a process called trenchless sewer repair or CIPP (cured in place pipe). This renovation is ideal for large pipes that are beginning to develop holes, rust spots, or other potential weak areas but are located beneath concrete...

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A Brief History Of Pavement Traffic Markings

Posted by on Dec 14, 2015 in Uncategorized |

If you have a driver’s license and drive on public roads in the United States, you probably take pavement markings for granted. They direct traffic, alert you to changes in the road and even tell your where you can park. It may seem strange to you to think that nearly a 100 years ago they didn’t exist. While the first gas powered automobile in the United States went on sale in 1896 and sold a whopping 13 automobiles before the Duryea Motor Wagon Company closed it doors, it was another 15 years before the first pavement markings appeared. If you are interested in history, you may find the history of pavement markings and traffic signs intriguing. When did they begin marking pavement? The first pavement marking consisted of a white line down the center of the road in 1911. Edward Hines, the Road Commissioner for Wayne County in Michigan was reportedly inspired when he observed a trail of milk left in the road by a leaky milk wagon. He then ordered painting a white line down the middle of the road to keep traffic separated, reports the Detroit Free Press. When did standard pavement marking begin? By the early 1920s the need for standard pavement markings and traffic signs became obvious. A group of representatives from Indiana, Wisconsin and Minnesota set out to develop standard pavement markings and traffic signs. They toured several states to gather information. In 1932, they reported their findings to the Mississippi Valley Association of Highway Departments (MVASHD). This led to the design for the first traffic signs including the current stop sign used today. However, it should be noted that the original stop sign was yellow not red. Although regulations on uniform traffic signs were addressed in both the Association of State Highway Officials’ (AASHO) report in 1924 and its later publication in 1927, no official word pavement markings existed until 1935 when the first Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) was published outlining some common pavement markings. At that point pavement markings included: Center lines: Center lines were required at all hill crests when the view was less that 500 feet, sharp curves, on pavements wider than 40 feet and on all curves with restricted views. Center line Color: The color of center lines depended on the contrasting surface and could be white, yellow or black. Line Size: Pavement marking lines were restricted to between 4 and 8 inches wide. Stripes and Dashes: These must be uniform in length. Revisions to the MUTCD 1948: A revision in 1948 removed black from the options for pavement markings. Both yellow and white were still allowed. Black had declined in use due to black outs during the war that made them invisible. 1962: White was eliminated as an option for marking center lines. All center lines must be marked in yellow. White was still approved for other purposes. 1971: Red lines to mark roadways that could not be entered was introduced. 1978: Left edges of rural highways were required to be marked with a solid yellow line to improve vision and safety. 1988: This version consolidated all revisions to the 1978 version and clarified center line and edge markings. It contained 120 regulation changes. 1993: This version set the standards for minimum level of retro-reflectivity in pavement markings and updated wording from the 1988 version. Pavement markings on...

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Don’t Be A Turkey When It Comes To Your Drains This Thanksgiving

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Uncategorized |

Thanksgiving is a time for feasting with friends and family, so the last thing you’d expect to be doing is wrestling with a clogged drain. Unfortunately, there are plenty of ways you can absentmindedly clog up your drains while preparing for or cleaning up after the meal. The following offers a few helpful tips you can use to avoid a plumbing catastrophe this Thanksgiving. Beware of Turkey Drippings Draining those turkey drippings from your pots and plates seems harmless, but it can actually do a number on your plumbing. Although it initially goes down easily enough when hot, turkey fats and grease can congeal deep within your sink plumbing, resulting in blockages. Instead of sending fats and grease down the drain, temporarily store them in spare containers. Once the grease has solidified, you’ll be able to toss it out with your normal garbage. If you have large amounts of fat and grease to deal with, you can take it to your local landfill or recycling station after the holidays. Don’t forget that some oils can be safely reused. For instance, bacon fats and grease can be filtered and kept in the fridge for later reuse. Don’t Use Your Garbage Disposal as a Trash Can Sending all of your leftover stuffing, vegetables and other fixings down the garbage disposal could also give your plumbing the Thanksgiving blues. For example, rice and stuffing can easily become starchy and sticky when ground up and sent down the drain by your garbage disposal, resulting in some rather nasty clogs. Potato peelings and turkey skins can also cause the same issue. Like turkey drippings, you don’t want to dump the bulk of your table scraps in the garbage disposal. Instead, scrape as much of your scraps into the garbage can as possible. Only then should you use your disposal to get rid of the remaining bits and pieces, which should be few and far between. Don’t forget to turn the water on prior to starting the garbage disposal. If you’re concerned about accidentally dropping food into the garbage disposal, you can use a sink drain screen to keep large food bits out of your disposal. Pass on the Paper Towels Whenever you use paper towels for cleaning up various messes, make sure they go in the trash and not the toilet. Unlike toilet tissue, paper towels are not designed to break up and dissolve in water. This could cause problems as the paper towels end up jamming the plumbing, creating blockages that prove tough to deal with on your own. It’s also a good idea to keep your paper towels out of the bathroom (or at least out of easy reach) if you happen to have guests over for Thanksgiving dinner. Some people are tempted to reach for the paper towels if the toilet paper runs out. Play the Waiting Game If you plan to have guests over for Thanksgiving dinner, then you’ll definitely want to think about the impact that a few extra people can have on your plumbing. This is especially true if you have a few people staying over for the weekend. For many homes that are still on septic tanks, adding a few extra users for sinks, showers and toilets could easily overwhelm systems designed for fewer people. You may...

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