Garden Features That Will Make Your Outdoor Space Idyllic And Functional

Garden Features

The terms ‘idyllic’ and ‘functionable’ don’t tend to be seen in the same sentence as each other all that often. While the first is all about aesthetic, visual appeal and the feel of something? The second is it’s far more sensible long-lost cousin, who is all about usability!

However, when it comes to a home’s garden or outdoor space, these two words can totally be seen together? Why? Because there are a whole range of garden features that can make your outdoor space both feel and look idyllic and functional. Let’s take a look at what three of these are!

BBQ Area

A garden feature so that you can eat outside

We Australians love our BBQs, so why wouldn’t we want to be able to have one right outside our house? A BBQ area can be designed in such a way to make it the main feature of the garden, and an attractive one at that! Even just surrounding yours with an attractive table and chairs set can make a difference. The BBQ will look after your food, but what about your drink? A portable fridge can keep cans and alcohol cool, but get your water from a water tank. Have a compact, poly one delivered from the likes of The Water Tank Factory. Or, go for a bigger one that can also double as freshwater for other tasks in the garden.

Different Levels

A garden feature to add a hint of intrigue

Do you think that your garden is a little boring at the moment? Maybe you’ve got tired of what is already there. Maybe you think it’s time for a fresh look and something new? Well, here is a garden feature that often gets overlooked in favour or more glamorous additions. Swimming pools and jacuzzis, we’re looking at you! Simply adding some levels to your garden can add a hint of intrigue. In fact, it can completely change the look of a garden! Even just splitting your garden into two levels can make a big impact on the look. You can use the top one for a seating area that looks down onto the bottom one!

A Patio And Retractable Awning

A garden feature so that you can relax outside

We have some of the best weather in the world, for sure. But we also know that in many areas, the weather can be more than a little miserable in the winter! However, even when this happens, you still want to be able to use your garden. After all, what is the point in working hard on it all year, only for it to be deserted in the winter? This is why installing a patio is such a good idea. The harder surface means that you can sit out in your garden even if the grass is damp or wet. At the same time, have a retractable awning installed overhead. Retractable ones give you the best of both worlds. They provide cover when it’s raining or windy, and shade when it’s very hot. But they can also be put right out of the way when summer rolls around again next year!

6 Compelling Reasons for Chimney Cleaning and Inspection before Winter

6 Compelling Reasons for Chimney Cleaning and Inspection before Winter

One of the most delightful things about winter is huddling up next to a warm fire at the end of a tiring and chilly day over a glass of red wine or hot coffee. However, before you decide to warm yourself in front of a cozy fire, you have to make sure that the chimney is thoroughly inspected and cleaned.

Why is it necessary to inspect and clean your chimney before the winter? There are plenty of reasons, but we have gathered here the six most essential ones for your knowledge. Let’s see what these are.

1. Protect Your Family from Fire Hazard

You may have noticed a tar-like dark substance (it sometimes shines like glass) on the walls of your chimney. This substance called as creosote, which gets deposited on your chimney’s inner walls, especially if you are using solid fuel such as wood. Unseasoned wood and softwoods are known to produce the highest amount of creosote.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the creosote buildup is the leading factor contributing to around 30% of the home heating fires. In other words, a dirty chimney is the most-likely culprit in almost one-third of home fires. Creosote is a highly flammable chemical compound. So, it can catch fire easily. All it takes is high temperature or a stray spark to light up the creosote layer. The creosote buildup also causes grave damage to the chimney structure in the long run.

The best possible way to reduce the fire hazard associated with the creosote buildup is to clean your chimney. However, you can’t remove this hazardous chemical without professional cleaning equipment, protective gear, training, and cleansers. Just make sure to hire the best and the most experienced professional, whether you are looking for chimney sweep in Portland .

2. Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

One of the primary functions of a fireplace chimney is to provide a safe outlet for the smoke and the carbon monoxide. So, blocked chimneys not only lead to house fires, but can also result in carbon monoxide poisoning without you knowing it.

Although you can smell and see the smoke, carbon monoxide gas is odorless and colorless. So, you wouldn’t know about potential risk until your family starts showing the carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms. So, you should get it cleaned from a professional before you start using the chimney again.

3. Find out and Repair Hidden Damages Beforehand

Chimneys often get exposed to harsh weather including rain, extreme temperatures, wind, and corrosive chemical elements present in the smoke. However, not many people are keen on having preventive maintenance for their chimneys. As a result, these problems go unnoticed until they become potentially life-threatening and expensive.

In most inspections, you will usually come across cracked chimney crowns, damaged flue liners, and warped dampers. Fortunately, you can get these damages repaired easily. When you get your chimney inspected and cleaned before the winter, the professional cleaners can bring such problems to your notice and do the necessary repairs. They will check every essential component of your chimney including the mortar, bricks, damper system, flue, and crown to make sure it is in perfect working condition.

4. Getting Rid of Debris and Pest

When not in use, chimneys tend to get clogged with debris such as sticks and dried leaves (probably from your lawn) and pests. Birds, squirrels, rats, and owls often find shelter in chimneys. Bird nests, especially made by chimney swifts are perhaps the most common pest control issue when it comes to house chimneys. They use sticks and build a nest in the flue of your chimney.

Lighting up a chimney infested with pests and debris can spark a fire, leading to accidents or also cause carbon monoxide poisoning due to clogging. So, instead of smoking out pests and birds or burning away debris, you should hire a professional chimney cleaner to sweep it down.

However, removing an active bird nest or migratory birds is illegal in some countries such as the UK. So, you need to check on the law in your region before taking the necessary step. Professionals are usually aware of such local and state laws.

5. Enjoy Increased Efficiency

Perhaps the most significant advantage of a chimney sweep is the increased efficiency. The cleaning process removes debris that may interfere with the oxygen supply, resulting in higher efficiency.

As the performance improves, you can enjoy higher fuel economy, which in turn, saves heating costs in the long run. But most importantly, an efficient chimney produces less smoke and generates more heat, making it the healthiest way to keep you warm during winter. You can also help save the environment by improving efficiency as less fuel is consumed. It’s a win-win for everyone.

6. Helps with Homeowner’s Insurance

Most homeowners’ insurance policies require you to inspect and clean your chimneys annually. The proof of having regular preventive chimney maintenance plays a critical role in claiming insurance. If the cause of a house fire is found to be the fireplace or anything chimney-related, the insurance company may not cover the damage unless you furnish proof of a professional chimney sweep in last 12 months. Check with your insurance provider to make sure you are doing everything to follow the rules in this regard.

Parting Words

When was the last time you had your chimney inspected or cleaned? As you can see, scheduling a professional chimney sweep before the burning season begins comes with several advantages. Apart from having all the right tools, professionals also have the necessary experience to handle any unexpected issues. They can help turn a cold and harsh winter into a safe and warm season, at least inside your house. So, when are you getting your chimney cleaned? Soon, we hope!

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The New Trend in Roof Repair Jacksonville FL

Roof Repair Jacksonville FL

Roof Repair Jacksonville FL
You’ve seen steel roofs on barns, but how often have you seen them on roof repair Jacksonville FL property? It’s very likely you’ll be seeing them a whole lot more around the country. With wildfires, hurricanes, hail and other extreme conditions damaging houses, an increasing number of homeowners are taking advantage of the benefits of metal roofing.


Steel roof installations have more than doubled in the last five years and will continue to grow 15 percent per year, according to the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA). There is no material more capable of protecting a home from destructive weather conditions.


Benefits of Metal Roofing




A metal roof will last at least two to three times longer than an asphalt roof, or 40 to 60 years. In the warm, humid Southern states, metal is virtually immune to the unsightly mildew stains that often form on asphalt shingles. Properly installed, a metal roof won’t leak or rust and can withstand wind gusts up to 140 miles per hour.


Shane Scott, a real-estate entrepreneur from LaGrange, Georgia, renovates and resells older homes. He installed a metal roof for his own home in 2000 and was so pleased with it he’s purchased metal roofs for all the homes he’s refurbished since then.


“When buyers are considering a home, they’re always concerned about the condition of the roof,” notes Scott. “With metal, they know they won’t need to do anything to it for at least 50 years. With an asphalt roof, they’ll need to replace it within 15 to 20 years.”




Most metal roof systems have passed UL 2218 Impact Resistance testing at its most severe level, Class IV. As a result, homeowners in hail-prone states who choose metal roofing may be eligible for discounts on their insurance premiums.


Ed Parker, a retired homeowner from Sharpsburg, Georgia agrees. “We’ve gone through two or three asphalt roofs on our home over the years and they discolor and rip off during wind storms, or leak due to hail storms,” Parker said. “Metal is much more durable.”


Environmentally Friendly roof repair Jacksonville FL


The National Association of Homebuilders Research Center estimates that 20 billion pounds of asphalt roofing is taken to landfills every year. Metal’s longevity removes the need for frequent roof replacements. Better still, it can be laid over the current roof, eliminating the costs of shingle removal and land-fill fees. If a metal roof is ever removed, it can be recycled.

Steel is the best choice for “green” buildings, where the goal is to reduce or eliminate chemical substances, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). Unlike wooden shakes or some other traditional materials, steel is not vulnerable to insects, mold or rot. Therefore, it does not require the application of insecticides or other hazardous chemicals.


Energy Efficient roof repair Jacksonville FL


Time-tested metal roofs save energy and reduce your cooling costs by as much as 40 percent, depending on location, says the MRA. The advent of new reflective paints with energy-saving properties has revolutionized the residential roofing industry.


While asphalt and cedar shingles absorb heat, the new cool pigment technology can reflect up to 85 percent of the sun’s radiant energy. Now, even dark colors achieve the “cool” attributes. An Energy Star roof can stay up to 100 degrees cooler on its surface than other roofs, so less heat is transferred into the building.


Wilmer Dykes, a homeowner from Cochran, Georgia, noticed a decrease in his energy bill of at least 25 percent after installing his metal roof. Dykes believes keeping his old roof on his home helped save energy. “By building the new metal roof over it, we created an air pocket between the two roofs, giving us an added layer of insulation,” he said.


A metal roof won’t crack, curl, split, rot or lose impact resistance with age. The only maintenance recommended for a metal roof is an annual inspection, clearing the roof of accumulated leaves or other debris and checking roof top ancillaries and air conditioners to ensure that they are properly drained and supported.


Tax and Insurance Savings


The U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 allows for a tax credit for homeowners who install qualified energy-efficient improvements to an existing home, including metal roofs that meet the Energy Star program requirements.




For some, a stigma still remains from the old, ugly metal barn roofs. However, a host of new colors, finishes and profiles has drastically improved the look over the last 10 years.


Don Smith, another homeowner from Cochran, said that aesthetics was one of the most important factors in his decision to purchase a metal roof. “I had seen steel roofs in the high-end subdivisions and really liked the look,” he said. “Now, strangers stop in my driveway and ask me questions about my roof because they like the look of it too.


Casey Paulk, owner of Paulk Landscaping serving central Georgia, agrees. “In my business, I see a ton of homes, so I’m always comparing, contrasting and making mental notes,” he said. “When I built my new home, I did a lot of research. I decided to go with a metal roof primarily for the aesthetics – I love the way metal looks.”


Be Wary of Your Warranty


Finding a warranty that offers complete protection is harder than most consumers realize, says Clay Smith, owner of Mid-GA Steel and Supply, headquartered in Grantville, Georgia. “There is no way to tell if two metals lying side by side have any difference in quality,” he said. “Unscrupulous manufacturers can make 25-year warranty claims for cheap metal that actually has just a five year life before fading.”