Hosting Hell: 10 Things That Will Go Wrong - And How to Prevent Them »
If you want to avoid entering the hosting hell dimension, here are 10 potential entertaining glitches, and how to avoid them.
If you want to avoid entering the hosting hell dimension, here are 10 potential entertaining glitches, and how to avoid them.
There are a few easy ways to determine what size and type of HVAC you require.
If you're a guest at the season's events, make sure that you're part of the celebration, not part of the problem
After purchasing an older home in the Montebello neighborhood of Charlotte, my wife and I met with several landscape architectural firms in the area to assist us in designing a $200,000 complete remodel of the pool and patio area including the addition of an outdoor fireplace, kitchen and raised cabana off the back of the pool area. We asked each firm to draw a conception that introduced new, modern features but also blended in with the 30+ year old stone work on the front of the home as well as the signature 20’ high x 8’ wide fireplace in the great room. Metro GreenScape’s design work far surpassed the other bidders and showed that they truly understood our vision and were the right “partner” for this project. Throughout the project, Darin and his team at Metro GreenScape were extremely helpful in discussing options along the way that we hadn’t initially thought of on the project. Ideas including adding a high stone backsplash to the outdoor kitchen to hide view of the only home visible from the pool deck, as well as adding a high wall water feature to the pool coping that doubles as seating in front of the fireplace and includes a water feature viewable from the master bedroom. We were extremely impressed with the professionalism and ideas from the entire staff, from the job foreman to the guys doing the mortaring who came up with the idea to whittle the wood on the cabana and fencing to give it an aged, cabin look that fit in perfectly with the rest of the cedar home. I would highly recommend anyone who is considering an outdoor living space project, big or small, to contact Metro Greenscape and see if they are the right partner for you.
After nearly 40 years of home ownership and home improvement projects, I have never experienced the level of commitment, communication, professionalism, craftsmanship and customer service that we recently enjoyed with Metro GreenScape. When my initial on-line inquiry was responded to by the owner of the Company himself, I felt that there would be a genuine commitment to earning my business. I also scheduled appointments with 4 other landscape companies. It so happens that Metro GreenScape was our first appointment. After that meeting, all other appointments were cancelled. We knew then that we would be working with the best in the business in this area. At every turn, our decision was confirmed. From communication, design, on time performance and flawless execution while always mindful of our budget, our every expectation was exceeded. Our project included a massive hardscape and softscape as well. The level of craftsmanship is extraordinary. Metro GreenScape has transformed our property into the talk of the neighborhood and has literally stopped traffic as people inquire as to which company completed this work. No amount of marketing speaks louder or with more integrity than a satisfied customer. Landscape design and installation services are plentiful in the Charlotte metro area but if you are interested in working with only the finest on every level, look no further than Metro GreenScape.
After living in a row house in NYC, I was eager to move into a house with a nice yard with real grass! However, as I began trying to maintain the lawn - I discovered in a hurry that it was not the same task here in NC as it was in upstate NY where I grew up. I was quickly ready to get a landscaper to help me out. I had picked up Metro's card while at a southern living convention. I would say that every single one of the people who I have worked with in regards to my lawn has treated me like a best friend. From the time you walk in the door of the offices, to the time that someone does labor at the house - they are all so professional and really work to make me happy. They are just plain great people. And their work speaks for itself. I live on the lake. If you were to drive around our part of the lake, you'd notice our yard because it's the one that stands out! It's the lawn I have always dreamed of. They took this nasty old clay that I could not get anything to grow in and made it into a lush paradise. The previous owner visited and said, "Whoever does the yard is great, I never saw it look like that!" Honestly, I can't imagine why anyone would go anywhere else. These guys are just plain amazing. I love Metro!
I have used this company for over 10 years. They have replaced both systems in my home and even been out for a service call at my son's home. The whole experience with them is great from start to finish. Their customer service representatives are polite and helpful and always book an appointment that is convenient for me. They are always willing to come to my home after I get off work after 6pm at night and I have never paid extra. They even call 30 minutes before they arrive to let me know they are on the way. I have had several technicians from this company in my home. They are always clean and professional looking and I love how they put shoe protectors on their feet before they even step foot into my home. They were all very courteous and very knowledgeable; not to mention they all had a positive attitude. Dennis is now my preferred technician but they have all been wonderful to work with. They always arrive when they say they will. They pulled permits and our new unit passed inspection on the first time. We have used other companies where that has not been the case. I have been pleased with their service time and time again. I highly recommend their services to anyone with heating and air problems.
I just want to clarify that I have been using this comapny for close to 20 years. The reviews that are on here are so not true. This company is great. They have great customer service both over phone, in person, or when the gentlemen come out and service my heat and air or put in my units.They stand good for their word. They are a very dependable company. I was so shocked when I came upon the two reviews. Anytime I need anything done to my heat or air all I have to do is pick up that phone and they are there ASAP. This is a wonderful company I recommend that anyone that is just looking for a service, quote, or new system use this company. I have never had one problem. As for the review about a gentleman named Brad. The one that is being spoken about here. I know for a fact that he is no longer with Horne's for that reason that was stated. Don't blame the company. There is always one bad apple some where in a bunch. And they have taken care of that problem so it should not be held against the company. I know for a fact! At this moment he is working for a company named Bradham Brothers so this review should actually be deleted.
As a new customer of Metro GreenScape I have been pleasantly surprised at every stage of our relationship. Darin Brockelbank and his people are absolute pros, caring about all the details and making me feel like a special customer in the process. Several times during the beginning of my relationship with them my expectations were exceeded by their practice of communicating, double checking and asking for my feedback. To call out just one of the people who have interfaced with me, Seth is a one-man model for great customer service: pro-active, great communication skills, pleasant and professional. But just about everyone I've encountered at Metro GreenScape seems to be in this mold. They seem to love what they do and I look forward to continuing my relationship with them into the future. If you're looking to expanding your living area and better utilizing your property, I would recommend calling them and letting them have a look at your project. I have no doubt you will be as pleased as I have been.
We worked directly with Darin Brocklebank and Shawn Kelly to help us design and envision a space for our city facing patio. Both Darin and Shawn were excellent to work with immediately identifying our tastes, style and aesthetic to come up with a design that divided our space into a series of outdoor rooms like we requested. They were immediately available to assist us in the evenings per our work schedule and weekends when needed. Since the project was on the 2nd floor of the building many contractors shied away feeling uncomfortable with the parameters of the project; but not Darin! Darin was on top of things staying in touch with the HOA getting the design approved as well as understanding how to manage the construction from all levels. As with many projects, budget was a concern and Darin was there to offer his guidance on money best spent. I trust Darin immensely when it comes to his experience and providing suggestions on best bang for you buck!
Darin (the owner) came out to our house for a consultation of our back yard that we have done NO work to yet. He spent almost two hours with us, going through every question we had about every little thing. Our goal is to do most of the work ourselves (sweat equity, yey!) so the conversation was centered around that. They will be doing a design for us, and step by step guides on how to implement and build the items we decided on, and they will even help us pick out plants/flowers that fit our needs and style. I really loved the fact that Darin still stuck around to methodically answer all of our questions, even after knowing we were going to do the work ourselves, and that our budget was very small. He is a Charlottean, and started his business from the ground up at 18. He's very knowledgeable and great at what he does. We're so excited to partner with them to make our back yard beautiful!
The owner Keisha puts careful thought into what makes a good hair salon. She might not have a fancy shop on a fancy street, but she understands what to pay attention to so her customers are comfortable. Mind you, everywhere you look you see Keisha's attention to small details. Fresh coffee, snacks and sweets, little touches of decor, from the front door all the way to the restrooms. And it is clean and open. Prices are reasonable, which I am very thankful for. Oh, and the haircuts and color are very well done! I have been quite pleased with my experiences at the Hair Lounge, and the way my hair looks both cut and color. I have seen both Keisha, and also Mia who does a terrific job every time. Everything is professional here and worth the trip!
I have purchased all of my furniture for the past 15+ years from Value City. I have also purchased the warranties because I was told by the sales people that it covered EVERYTHING for 7 years. Luckily I have never had to use the warranty. However... After moving from an apartment to a home this month (2 years into my 7 year warranty) and noticing that the back of one side of my sofa was slouching and possibly has some frame damage - I called to set up an appointment to repair and was informed that the warranty - that covers EVERYTHING for 7 years - does NOT cover damage from a move. I am not happy about this. I am in need of additional furniture and if I decide to go back to Value City to make my purchase - I certainly will NOT waste my money on a warranty.
In order to work as an HVAC technician, a person must graduate with an associate degree in the field or enter into an apprenticeship program.
Some contractors may also learn their craft while on the job. After they receive their education, whether it's through a school or training, the graduates must then complete an exam to receive a certification if they intend to work with refrigerators or air conditioners.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires this certification since appliances that use refrigerants can harm the ecosystem if they're not properly installed or maintained. While the EPA mandates this area of HVAC work, requiring a technician to get a license is up to the state to decide. With that said, not all states demand contractors to obtain one.
Your heating and air units are some of the most complex systems in your property, so complete your research before selecting a professional to do the work. Here's a checklist of questions to ask yourself and things to consider when making your choice:
What Kind of Work is Needed?
Do you need someone to install a completely new HVAC unit? Does your current system need repairs? Do you only require routine maintenance? Once you make a list of the necessary work, you can shop around to collect bids from heating and air companies in your community.
Can Your Family or Friends Recommend a Service?
Your loved ones will most likely give you the best advice regarding technicians that worked for them and which ones to avoid. Ask around when beginning your search. Friends and family could lead you to a reputable contractor. Even if you don't need HVAC help at the moment, you can save the recommended company's contact information for when you do.
Is the HVAC Contractor Licensed in Your State?
Considering the work that may need to be done on your unit, it's best to look for a licensed professional. Do a search or contact your state's heating, air conditioning and refrigeration contractors board to ensure a technician is licensed.
Also, make sure the contractor is registered with your state or city to do the kind or work you require.
Is the Company Insured?
You want the professional you hire to carry insurance. If they don't, you run the risk of paying out of pocket for any damage they might do to your home or commercial building. An HVAC technician not only needs liability coverage for work-related damage, but also coverage to handle any bodily injuries they sustain on the job.
Is the Technician Bonded?
Not all service providers may be bonded, but finding one that is can be crucial for property owners. Ensure the bond is large enough to cover any costs if the technician doesn't complete the project or walks off the job. You don't want to be left with a bill and unfinished work.
One service an HVAC contractor can provide is a diagnostic test of your heating and central air unit. A reputable technician will examine your unit and ask you questions about various aspects of the system. He or she will check your furnace as well as ductwork and discuss options with you. Beware of a contractor that takes a quick look through your home or place of business and immediately tells you replacing your HVAC system is necessary.
Expect the average air conditioning unit to last between eight and 12 years. If it's more than 12 years old, it could be expensive to repair if the system breaks down often. Also, parts for older air conditioners are harder to find since some manufacturers discontinue them.
Restoring or replacing an aging unit can get expensive. It could be time to invest in a new model if your utility bills are rising and you notice uneven air flow and temperatures throughout your property. If one room is cooler than another, consider a total replacement.
If your system makes a lot of noise when it powers on or if it turns off suddenly, it's time to replace it with a new, more energy-efficient model.
On the other hand, if the air conditioner is relatively new and still within its age range, it's more cost-effective to get a contractor to repair it.
The time it takes to install an AC unit and the associated cost depends on the square footage of your home. Many homeowners spend between $3,677 to $7,151 for a contractor to put in a new central air system.
A family with a 2,000-square-foot house that already has a forced-air heating unit can expect to pay $3,500 to $4,000 for a cooling system. If technicians don't need to make any changes to the ductwork, then the project should take them an average of two to three days.
If you're having trouble with your air conditioning, there are some problems you can address yourself. However, you should leave the big issues to a professional. Let's take a look at some common dilemmas and what you should do if they arise.
The Air Conditioner Won't Turn On
If your unit isn't turning on, check on it outside to make sure the condenser is still running. Ensure it's fully plugged in and that your thermostat is set. Lower the thermostat by a few more degrees than your typical setting. You should hear it power on after doing so. If that doesn't take care of the problem, check your fuse box. You could have a blown fuse or a tripped circuit that's causing the air conditioner to not turn on.
The System isn't Cooling the Air
Is the air conditioner on your thermostat set low, but you aren't feeling cool air? It could be that debris is blocking the condenser. Check on your system outside and remove any tree branches or leaves from around it. Debris can easily obstruct air flow, so make sure the area around your air conditioning unit is clean and trimmed back. Additionally, make sure your filter is clean. A buildup of dirt and dust can cause poor air circulation.
Refrigerant is Leaking
A refrigerant leak not only keeps your air conditioner from running efficiently, it's also harmful to the environment. There are many things that can cause your air conditioner to leak coolant, but the usual culprit is a problem with the evaporator coil or outdoor condenser coil. If you discover any freon coming out of your unit, contact a professional. It could be that you need to obtain a patch or a whole new part to resolve the problem.
The Air Conditioner is Making Noises
Is your unit running loud or making odd noises? To properly diagnose the problem, find out where the noises are coming from. A banging or clanking sound could be due to a loose part. If you hear a hissing sound, it's most likely because of a refrigerant leak and you should contact an HVAC technician as soon as possible.
There are Sensor or Drainage Issues
It's important to keep your air conditioning unit level, because if it's not, you could be faced with a host of problems. If you notice your system is acting inconsistently, the sensor is most likely out of place. Turn off the unit and reach behind its control panel while carefully bending the sensor back into place near the evaporative coil.
If you happen to live in a hot and humid area of the country, you're also bound to face drainage problems with your unit since moisture can trap itself inside the system. Routine maintenance can cut down on drainage issues by cleaning out any mold or algae from blocking the drain. If you notice moldy smells whenever you turn the thermostat down, it's best to check on your system.
To clean your air conditioner drain, first shut off the power to your unit at both the thermostat and the breaker. Then remove the drain pan. If the pan is full of water, soak up the liquid with a few towels or rags or use a wet vacuum. You can use a solution of water and distilled vinegar, or substitute peroxide for the vinegar, to clean out the drain pipe. Let the pipe sit for a while in the solution and then put all the parts back in place. Once you start using your air conditioner on a regular basis, check it periodically to ensure condensation isn't building up.
You can keep your air conditioner running efficiently with some preventative care measures. Here are various steps you can take that will prolong the life of your system and help you save on your energy bills each month. Remember to shut off the power to your AC before cleaning it or performing any of these tasks.
Clean Your Filter
It's always a good idea to clean the AC's filter at least twice a year. It gets dirty and clogged after a few months, it can increase your unit's energy consumption by as much as 15 percent.
Remove Leaves and Twigs
Since many air conditioners are located outside, they could get a lot of debris such as leaves, dirt or sticks in their cages or even in their interiors. After you turn off the power to the unit, use a screwdriver to detach the cage so you can clean the debris from the system.
Clean and Straighten the Fins
To get the best performance from your air system, clean the fins of the unit with either a garden hose or a special spray you can find at your local home improvement store. Use your hose to run a strong stream of water to remove any built-up dust or debris stuck in between the fins. Remember that air flows through these little fins, so if dirt gets caught in them or if a fin is bent, it will reduce the cooling efficiency. Use a butter knife or other knife with a dull end to carefully straighten out any smashed fins.
Keep Your Yard Clean
Not only is it good to rake up leaves to protect your lawn's grass, it's also beneficial for your air conditioner. Rake leaves, cut grass and trim back any tree branches around the unit as a preventative measure. All this yard debris could end up blocking the fins or other parts of the system and cause your AC to use more power to generate cool air in your home.
Cover it Up for Winter
Another precaution you can take to prolong the life of your central air unit is to cover it up during winter. Protect it from ice and snow by putting a sheet of plastic or wood on top of the unit. However, only cover the top and not the whole machine. You don't want to trap moisture that could cause it to rust and you don't want to provide a hiding spot for pests.
Make Sure it's Level
Ensure your system is on a level plane. Over the years, the soil and mat under the unit can shift. If it's not balanced, you run the risk of damaging the inner workings of the unit.