Electric Throw Biddeford Blankets

Do you have Biddeford Blankets or Throws in Your Home?

You’ve probably heard about Biddeford Blankets, but what you really might need is a good electric throw. Do you have a room in your house that just feels cold all the time? From November to April, my Den feels this way. If you’ve tried Space Heaters, EdenPure Heaters, and

Biddeford Blankets and Velux Blankets
Velux Blanket vs. Biddeford

Amish Heaters, but you’re still wearing a sweater to keep warm, you need to look into a throw blanket. After a lot of tedious work and tending to the logs, the den fireplace gets the room piping hot as it sucks heat from the rest of the rooms of your house. And who feels like starting a fire all the time? With the shorter days of fall and winter there is less natural light to keep these kinds of rooms warm. The answer is heated blankets. Unlike the electric blankets used to heat your bed covers, a Throw Blanket is a heated blanket you can take anywhere. There are three reasons I’ve hesitated to consider Throw Blankets in the past and now I know them to be old myths:

 

  1. Electric Throw Blankets are uncomfortable due to the stiff, wool fabric
  2. Electric Throw Blankets pose a fire and/or safety danger.
  3. Electric Throw Blankets use energy and waste money

After doing some research, I have an entirely new appreciation for the comfort, safety and cost efficiency of today’s electric blankets, particularly the electric throw blanket..

Blanket Fabric

Electric Throw Blankets don’t have to feel like that stiff and clumsy wool, turtleneck sweater your aunt gave you for Christmas when you were 17 years old. The new heated electric throws are often made from plush, micro fiber which feels as soft as any non-heated blanket you ever tried. Thanks to smaller, more efficient heating coils, electric throw blankets can be made smaller, softer and more durable. Take a look at the Biddeford Blankets which use ultra thin wires to give them that comfortable feel of a plush, Vellux Blanket. .

Electric Blanket Safety

We’ve all heard stories about electric blankets catching the house on fire. This is simply no longer a concern. Today’s heated blankets are digitally controlled for safety with auto-shut-off features. Not only is the danger of forgetting to shut them off minimized, but today’s electric blankets are UL Approved and much better made, if you can get by a few of the disconcerting reports below. Thanks to digital technology, if anything ever gets too hot or a problem is sensed, the blanket immediately shuts off – or so they say. Today’s electric throws are also somewhat flame retardant. It would probably be more difficult to start a fire with your electric blanket than it would with your electric stove. Is there an auto-shut off feature for your stove?

Electric Blankets Energy Efficiency

It costs far less money to heat up your body than an entire room. One of the advertising claims of Biddeford Blankets is you will save energy by using an electric throw. Is that ultra warm Vellux Blanket on your bed available as a throw blanket?

Electric Blanket Reviews

Of all the different brands of electric throws, none of them have a great deal of user reviews. Here are a few ratings on various electric throw blankets:

Biddeford Blankets

Biddeford Blankets scored a rating of 3.5 out of 5 stars by 10 different users. While everyone agreed they were comfortable, there were a few concerns. A few users complained their legs melted after falling asleep to the television. Thanks to the flame retardant blanket, only their legs burned, while the blanket remained completely undamaged.. Okay, I’m exaggerating. Truthfully, though – a couple of users did complain their controllers melted, though their legs remained full intact. So much for the safety reassurance mentioned above. Another reported problem was that the controlled heat setting didn’t lock into place, causing it to move with your body. Finally, there were complaints that the Biddeford blanket stopped working entirely after a short period of use! On the other hand, the majority of users rated the electric throw Biddeford a 5 out of 5. Despite the few problems reported from users with melted controllers, I have to believe that I would be comfortable enough using this product on my recliner while I watch television. It is a very comfortable electric blanket. Just don’t use it while you’re in a coma. The best part about Biddeford Blankets is the price. You can find them for under $30.00 at your favorite discount or bath store.

Sunbeam Microplus Throw Camelot Blanket

Sunbeam Electric Camelot Throws rated 4.5 stars out of 5 from 12 users and there were NO reported issues with melted controllers. Most users rated the Sunbeam Electric throw 5-stars. One user ranked it only 1 star because it broke after 1 month of use. The price is rather steep at $41.00, but you can find them for as cheap as Biddeford Blankets below.

Sunbeam Fleece Electric Throw Blanket

For comfort, price and reliabity, the Fleece Electric Throw by Sunbeam tops them all. This comfy, plaid electric throw received a 4.5 star rating out of 15 Amazon Users.
There were no reports of failures, melting controllers or other mechanical problems. Users of this Electric Throw were very satisfied with the warmth it provides.

Vellux Blanket

If you don’t want to mess around with electric or heated blankets at all, find yourself a comfortable Vellux Blanket to keep in the cold rooms of the house with you. I’ve stayed in very cold mountain cabins that are fitted with Vellux blankets and they do an excellent job of keeping you warm. There is no fire danger with a vellux blanket unless you keep them to close to a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Obviously, they are extremely energy efficient and you won’t ever have to worry about them breaking. The worst thing that can happen to your Vellux Blanket is that you could lose it. They sell below for under $20.00.

Best Shower Cleaner

Why do you need the best shower cleaner? Well, if you’re like me, every minute of the day seems precious and irreplaceable to you. I sometimes dread taking the time to even take a shower, let alone wipe down the shower tiles and glass afterwards. Now, I’m not going to tell you that it is not important to wipe down the shower regularly, but is it really necessary to do this chore every single day? I keep an OXO brand squeegee in the shower and try to use it at least 2-3 times per week. In between using the squeegee, I use a shower spray to save time and to keep my shower glass and tiles clean. Doing this regularly (4-5 times weekly) really does keep the soap scum and grime from building up on the glass and walls, but what is the best shower cleaner for the job? I decided to do some research on what Daily Shower Cleaners are rated the highest by consumers and rank them by their overall performance and value ratio. Here is what I found:

Method Daily Shower Spray

Method Daily Shower Spray comes in a 28oz bottle for $4 – $6. This is the best shower cleaner I’ve ever used. I base my rating on three factors: One, it is made from 100% organic ingredients. While I don’t consider myself an environmentalist, I don’t like the idea of spraying harsh chemicals into my bathroom shower every day. Two, because it is made from natural ingredients, Method Daily Shower Spray has a pleasant scent that is not irritating to the nostrils and allergies. Three, Method Daily Shower Spray really does seem to work better at keebest shower cleanerping the appearance of your shower tiles and glass from from grime and soap-scum and provides a clean, shiny appearance after a couple days of use.

  • Cost: ***
  • Performance: ****
  • Scent: ***
  • User Rating: ****

Tilex Daily Shower Spray

Tilex is one of the first and most popular brands of shower cleaner. Priced at $4.00 – $5.00 per 32oz bottle, Tilex is neither cheap nor unusually expensive. It does a reasonable job of keeping your shower tiles and glass free from soap-scum, but it doesn’t give my glass that glossy, shiny look that the Method Daily Shower Spray does. Also, Tilex has a rather strong, glass-cleaner type aroma. I don’t like using Tilex before bed at night because it aggravates the nose and allergies.

  • Cost: ***
  • Performance: ***
  • Scent: ***
  • AVG User Rating: ***

Arm & Hammer Daily Shower Spray

My impression is that the Arm & Hammer doesn’t keep the glass looking as transparent as the other two products. Like, Tilex, the aroma is too strong. I’ve noticed the tiles seem to stay pretty clean and shiny while using Arm & Hammer, but it seems to leave soap streaks on the glass.

  • Cost: ***
  • Performance: **
  • Scent: **
  • AVG User Rating: ***

Bottom Line: Method Daily Shower Spray will keep your shower the cleanest, smelling the best and due to it’s organic ingredients, won’t make you feel bad for using it every day. You can actually acquire Method Daily Shower Spray for $4.75 a bottle by buying it in the 8-Pack Cartons for $38.00.

Oxygenics Shower Head


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Pebble Epoxy Flooring

pebble epoxy flooring
Everstone Pebble Flooring

Everstone is basically a brand name of a surface known as Pebble Epoxy Flooring, an Epoxy-Mixed Resin of decorative stones which is used for surfacing patios, porches, driveways or any other type of floors in, or outside of a home or office.  While I was in the market for having my cement driveway re-surfaced I came upon a pebble epoxy driveway while taking a walk. It looked good and it seemed durable. I looked it up and made a call to a local Everstone dealer and installer. He recommended against using this surface for a driveway as he said the turning of car tires would eventually wear grooves in the surface. He did say however, that Everstone would be great for my porch and recommended the Elite Crete (reviewed here) for the driveway. I appreciated his honesty and ended up hiring him for both the Elite Crete driveway and the pebble epoxy porch by Everstone. Everstone is a very durable surface which is resistant to freezing, ice and extreme weather. It seemed perfect for my north-facing front porch which is extremely hard to keep dry and safe to walk-on during the winter months. Also, you can use salt and magnesium chloride on the pebble surface without worrying about damaging it.

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Everstone Surface Properties

Because the epoxy-resin mixture of pebbles is approximately 3/4″ thick, it is elastic and unlikely to develop cracks and other structural problems. It is also cheaper than flagstone, tile and other decorative flooring. Everstone comes in a variety of pebble colors. The one I chose (pictured left) best matched the brick on my home.

In less than a day and for about $1,200, the Everstone Installer had completed my pebble epoxy Porch. The surface takes a good 24-hours to dry, cure and solidify. Because my porch face north and it was fairly cold, the surface still seemed rather soft after 12 hours. I was careful and waited 2-days before walking on it or allowing my pets near it.  The staining gives the pebbles a an attractive shiny surface. The surface literally looks wet under the porch lights at night. When I looked out my door the first evening after it was finished, I was certain that it had rained. They recommend having outdoor Everstone Pebble Flooring re-stained every 2-3 years. This will definitely be something I do as I don’t want to mess with crumbling, peeling surfaces on my Driveway and Porch ever again. Epoxy Flooring satisfied two purposes:

  • Fixed my crumbled, messy looking cement porch
  • Upgraded the appearance of the front view of my home

Other Uses for Epoxy

Everstone also makes an attractive, slip-resistant deck for swimming pools and backyard patios. The pebbles are offered in a variety of colors, so you can really spiff up a dull, drab beige or cement colored patio or pool deck, using the Everstone Product. Looks great, right? Well before you decide on an Epoxy surface, you might want to read a little bit more.

Everstone Pebble Porch
everstone-pebble-porch

Epoxy Flooring Then and Now

Then

As you can see by the photo to the left, the pebble stone surface was quite smooth, even and shiny immediately after installation. It definitely added a unique, classy look to the front of our home. Pebble epoxy flooring requires a stain treatment every couple of years or so to keep the surface looking brilliant and shiny. Most of us would have no problem doing this type of work ourselves and my Everstone installer even offered to train me on what stain to use and how to do it. This seems like a reasonable maintenance expense to keep the front porch looking nice so I was completely onboard with the idea of having to do this. However, before proceeding with this installation there were a couple of other issues I wish I had considered. The Now photos below will describe this better than I can in words.

Now

My Everstone Pebble Epoxy Flooring installer insists that this type of surface is more forgiving when it comes to cracks and settling of the foundation underneath than traditional surfaces such as concrete. These pictures might suggest otherwise. My pebble stone surface has split and cracked. Unlike a concrete driveway, the cosmetic appearance looks extremely conspicuous and this is not something I could easily fix with my own Concrete Crack Repair product.

The first photo above, left is how my front porch looked just days after it was installed. As you can see everything is just great. The photos to the right, below, 4 years later, show just how unsightly pebble epoxy flooring after four years of surface movement. The diagonal crack in the first picture continues to widen over time. Isn’t it scary just how quickly your surface can move.  There were not any cracks nearly this big when I had cement there. The second picture shows how deep the movement is as you can see how the surface has sunk a good two inches from the first step. Obviously, not all surface areas are prone to the same amount of movement as my front porch. It is very likely that some homeowners will have no problems with this at all. However, as you can see by the photos, comments and responses to this article, pebble epoxy flooring can be a gamble. In fairness to my Everstone installer, he has done everything that was asked of him and said that this surface can be repaired. Either I will have to pay him to repair it for me, or I will be looking up some good articles on how to repair Pebble Epoxy Flooring.

Cracked Epoxy Flooring sunken pebble epoxy flooring

Before you pay Good Money on Pebble Epoxy Flooring Repairs


Elite Crete Concrete

Elite Crete Driveway Surface
Elite Crete Driveway Surface up Close

I told you guys that it would some day come to this: I’ve finally broken down and had my driveway professionally refinished with elite crete concrete resurfacing and cement stain. As you’ve seen from my experience, results and articles on  Ready-Mixed Concrete Patch, Concrete Crack Repair, Cement Painting, Behr Stain, Driveway Refinishing, Paint Stripper, etc, etc…I needed help and I finally got it. I interviewed a few different people that did various types of concrete stamping , complete driveway replacement, concrete resurfacing. stone surfacing, tar and other driveway surface repair and refinishing. I ended up with a product called, Elite Crete. Let me explain how I came to this decision and then, I will talk about the results and what I did with my cement porch.

I talked to three different traditional cement driveway refinishing companies. My estimates ranged from $4600 to $8000 for a completely new driveway, including ripping out and hauling off the old cement, pouring the new, refinishing and curing it. The costs for just refinishing the driveway, without replacing the entire concrete was $2,600 to $4,000. My hesitation for replacing it with a traditional cement driveway was based on the fact that cement will not endure salt and other things used to keep the driveway safe to walk on in the winter time. My north-facing driveway rarely gets any sun during the long, cold winter months and I just couldn’t see spending $2,600 – $8,000 to get something that didn’t work before. The next thing I looked into was a driveway stamping company that would refinish my existing driveway and porch with an acrylic based product that was resistant to salt. I was quoted about $7,800 for both my 150 Square foot porch and 1000 square foot driveway. This sounded expensive to me, but doable. The warranty would last for 10 years, as long I agreed to let the company come back every two years to re-stain it at cost of about $1.00 per square foot. That’s about $550 per year to keep my warranty intact. Yikes.

Elite Crete Driveway
Elite Crete Driveway Finished Product

Finally, I contacted a company called, Everstone which refinishes driveways, patios and pool decks with a beautiful, glossy-looking stone surface. The company owner wisely recommended against the stone for my driveway, telling me that the repeated movement of turning car tires would wear grooves in the surface. He did, however, sell me on the idea that the stone would be an attractive and inexpensive upgrade for my small sidewalk and porch area adjacent to the driveway. Furthermore, he recommended a product and company he had just partnered with for the driveway. Elite Crete makes a polymer based concrete product that is resistant to  salt and other ice removers. He showed me some samples in various shades of gray and tan. The Elite Crete surface has a rather rough, yet attractive-looking appearance and texture. His estimate came to about $5,000 for the entire driveway, and about $1,600 to do the porch and sidewalk using his Everstone product. I was sold. The color I chose for my driveway was beige with chocolate highlights which matched the bricks on my house. The surface has an interesting, look to it, almost like a tweed carpet with a bit of a rough texture. The color and style is not so significantly different-looking from a cement driveway that the neighborhood HOA would be concerned. It’s pretty close to looking like a normal driveway, but definitely with a slight upgrade in appearance. I will talk about the stone sidewalk and porch in an upcoming post. Now, back to the driveway.

There was some, small concern by the contractor whether or not the driveway concrete underneath was in good enough shape to get the job done.  You need a good flat surface underneath that can be made smooth enough in order to apply the Elite Crete surfacing mixture. As it turned out, my driveway did present some difficulties.  Two days of concrete grinding were required in order to prepare the concrete for the Elite Crete.  Between the surface preparation and actual coatings of Elite Crete, it took about 10 days to finally get the job done.  Normally, this would take them about 2-3 days, but the weather would not cooperate. There was never a stretch or two of days without wind, rain and/or snow. Can’t have it freezing or wet while they are applying the coats. After the first coat was applied I became a little nervous about the color looking a little more yellow than I had imagined.  This was only because the final coats, two-tone chocolate color and 3-coats of stain had not been applied. Finally, after a long 12-hour day, they finished the job! Overall, I am extremely happy with the results. The Elite Crete has a little bit rougher surface and appearance which will make it much safer to walk and drive on in the icy winter months.  If I need to, I can use salt and other ice melt chemicals to clear a path to my door without having to worry about ruining the surface.  I was only slightly disappointed that there are still some small areas where the grooves from the grinder are showing. The Elite Crete representative assured me this would not affect the integrity and durability of the surface. For a driveway that was in such bad shape, a little of grooves won’t bother me. As you can see by the photos, the hours and money I spent with Dap Ready-Mixed Concrete Patch, Concrete Crack Repair, Behr Stain and concrete stain stripper are no comparison to the final appearance of the Elite Crete application. There is a reason why sometimes you have to pay good money to do something right.

Obviously, the appearance of the complete job is only part of the Elite Crete review. My driveway will be under warranty for 10 years as long as I agree to re-stain it every 2 years. I will keep you up to date on the durability of the Elite Crete Product, how well it cleans up, and it does in the snow. Thanks to my failed concrete projects, there is more information on this blog about cement stain, driveways and concrete refinishing than all other topics combined. Hopefully, the information will save some people some time and money, not to mention the aggravation of a peeling or cracked driveway.


Eljer Toilets

Eljer Toilets
Eljer One Piece Toilet

Can we talk about toilets? There is simply not enough talk about toilets these days. What is it about toilets? We all use them; we all need them, we all rely on them, but nobody wants to talk about them. Seriously, there is a reason I am about to discuss Eljer Toilets and it has nothing to with my father owning the company. For one thing, my Dad is retired and has never had anything to do with the company. In fact, I am not sure he has ever even used  Eljer toilets, let alone sold one. Secondly, if he did work for Eljer, I’d probably be busy making and selling toilets instead of writing about them. Actually, my real motivation is the same as it is with all of the review articles.  It begins with my own needs and personal interest in the topic. Recently, I wanted to look up some reviews on toilets and regrettably found the online web of information to be woefully lacking.  I ended up at a place called, Eljer. Well, it’s time I either –$$ or get off the pot, so let me explain how I got the news about them.

Most Popular Selling Toilets

I moved into an 18-year old house about 3 years ago. In the four bathrooms of this house, there are four toilets. No surprise there, but allow me to elaborate: Two of them are very old fashioned toilets which flush loudly as the water swirls around in the bowl, sometimes failing to get everything flushed on the first try. No big deal, this is standard fare for the vast majority of toilets most of us probably use in our homes. On the other hand, the other two toilets in my home are a thing of beauty; not so much for their looks but for their performance.  There is no question which is the Best Toilet in our household. Made by Toto, these are very nicely shaped pieces of bathroom furniture with the flush handles on the sides. They flush quietly, quickly and efficiently in just one try. These first-class toilets are a brand called, Toto. Obviously, these are upgraded home fixtures that did not originally come with my home when it was built 18 years before I bought it. Unfortunately, I became a bit spoiled when I realized how badly they put my other two toilets to shame. Once you’ve flushed a Toto Toilet, you never want to use anything else …- (unless you have to go really bad.) Well, okay, maybe I’m exaggerating, but wouldn’t it be nice to have toilets like these in all of our home’s bathrooms? I assumed a Toto Toilet would cost me a small fortune, but  surprisingly they’re not that bad. The question is, can we do better? What else is out there?

Corner Eljer Toilet
Corner Eljer Toilet

Some quick research on Toto Toilets reveals that they can range in price from $300 to $3,000. The ones in my home appear to be in the $500-$600 range. They are elongated and rated at 1.6GPF / 6.0LPF which seems to be the standard in premium toilet brands.  Mine are two-piece fixtures, where-as some of the other models are all in one piece as is the Eljer model pictured to the left. Eljer is the one other highly rated brand, but unlike Toto I have no experience with them.  Eljer seems to be priced about the same. I’ve seen two-piece, elongated 1.6GPF/6.0LPF elongated toilets which appear to be identical to my Toto, for about $350 – $400 and they come in 4 different colors: White, Bone, Biscuit and Onyx. I was also impressed with the creative, elegant designs of the Eljer. See to the left a diagonal shaped fixture which is perfect for the corner of a bathroom, saving you lots of valuable space. Ahhh, such a tough decision. I already know that the Toto is an excellent product, so why gamble on the Eljer unless I can be sure it is every bit as good for a lesser price?  The summaries and reviews I’ve read between Toto give no clear winner, nor any clear price advantage.  I should also mention that both Toto and Eljer seem to have a good selection of accessories to match. If you need a new toilet seat, they have them! I will have to tell you the story someday about a friend who lost his American Standard Toilet Seat, but that story is for another day or perhaps a dedicated review on American Standard Toilet Seats. What I can tell you that I’ve learned about toilets is that the elongated bowls give you a more comfortable seat and a larger water surface area which results in a more powerful flushing system. The one-piece designs are easier to clean, and offer lower, easier access for those with disabilities. They come in an elongated shape too. If looks, comfort and cleanliness are attractive benefits, the one piece design is the way to go if it’s in your price range. The corner shaped Eljer Toilets are awesome. Their main benefit, obviously, is for saving space, provided that your bathroom and plumbing will accommodate one.  Eljer is the brand to look at, if you’re interested in a corner toilet. The one thing I haven’t decided upon is the difference in quality between the Toto and Eljer Toilets.  That’s where you experienced toilet users can help.

I plan on investing in two new toilets by the end of this summer. I am looking for comments from experienced Toto and Eljer users. I’m leaning towards eljer toilets. Eljer Toilets are a great looking home appliance.  Please leave us your comments and feedback below. Meanwhile, I will provide updated details and facts on these two brands as I gain more information from trusted resources; mainly those who have used them. Your comments and experience with Eljer would be greatly appreciated.


Old Republic Home Warranty

Old Republic Home Warranty
a Review

Old Republic Home Warranty
Home Warranty

Should I get a Home Warranty?

Are Home Warranty Plans worth the money?  This is much like Extended Car Warranties. There are literally dozens of companies that sell home warranty protection plans to cover the cost of repairs and maintenance of household things that tend to break such as appliances, heaters, air conditioners, washers, dryers, garage door openers, plumbing, pipes, swimming pool equipment and more.  Old Republic is the most often heard name in the business because they have a large network of service.  Product Review Ratings attempts to break the more common ones down. You name it and you can buy a warranty for it, regardless of its age or condition, though the price and cost will vary. There are a number of companies that provide these home warranty plans and though the pricing between them all is pretty much equal, the quality of service is obviously not. When I decided to look into a home warranty protection plan, a co-worker of my recommended his own service plan with Colorado-based Blue Ribbon Home Warranty. It is always nice to have a referral from someone you know, but how would they compare to the nationwide companies like Old Republic Home Warranty or First American Home Warranty? These were the two names that kept coming up in my search results for Home Warranty plans on Google.  Old Republic has been around since 1974 and their name and extensive coverage in the United States is well documented. I quickly learned, that there are numerous other home warranty companies to compare, but a bigger question kept nagging at me:

Is Popular Better?

If so, take a look at Old Republic Home Warranty

Assuming the Old Republic is one of the better warranty companies on the market, would it be worth the investment and fixed monthly or yearly cost to obtain one of their Home Protection plans? How much peace of mind am I buying and how reliable is the service? A little bit of my own recent history is in order:

Size up Your Home Appliances

Before I bought my last house I had never even heard of Old Republic Home Warranty. We bought and moved into a bigger, 17-year old home about 3 years ago. With the home came a few rather pricey, high-tech appliances. At the time we bought this home we were really excited about the fancy Bosch Dishwasher, Jenn-Air Range and extremely unique and expensive Kitchen Aid Refrigerator included in the sale. We thought these nice appliances really added to the value of our purchase. Boy, were we wrong. The home also came with a swimming pool which I was somewhat leery about, but had no genuine idea of what I was really getting into. To make a long story short, in a little less than 3 years, we have spent over $3,500 in maintenance and repair for the home’s appliances – and that doesn’t even include the swimming pool! High tech appliances with digital circuitry break and when they do they are not easy or cheap to fix. I recently had to replace the garage door springs on one of the two doors of my three-car garage; and while I was at it, I had the opener replaced on the larger, out-dated, adjacent larger larger door. In the last three years, the swimming pool required three major repairs: A $700 heat exchanger replacement and a $450 pump replacement. Then, there was the usual things: Hot Water heater required major repairs for a faulty installation and the Air Conditioner required a service call. We also had a pipe burst in our den, which required another $135.00. Our total maintenance and repairs add up to a little less than $5,000 in just three years. So, would a Home Warranty have paid for itself in our case? The answer is a most positive, absolute, ‘YES’.
After discovering the Old Republic Home Warranty and First American Home Warranty, I decided to see what else is available and how they compare.  Old Republic Home Warranty claims to solve all these problems, but there are over a dozen Home Warranty Protection Plans and they are priced very close to each other. Which one? Your basic Home Warranty ranges from about $275.00 to $350.00 a year. In addition to the yearly or monthly premiums, they charge you a $75.00 deposit and $50-$55 deductible for each service call. The basic fee in most cases doesn’t cover your Air Conditioner, Garage Door openers, washer, dryer, gas fireplace and numerous other, less common appliances you may have inside or outside your home. Those can be added at additional costs. Blue Ribbon Warranty, whom covers only the state of  Colorado, charges $150 a year for swimming pools. I can expect to pay about $400-$600 a year to get my home warranted the way I want. (With the Swimming Pool, probably closer to $600)  Even with the $75.00 deposit and $55.00 service call deductibles, I would have saved over $2,000.

Benefits of Home Warranties

Reading over the user reviews online, there is one other huge benefit to a Home Warranty that I did not even consider. You only have one place to call. Whether it’s plumbing, heater, AC or a broken refrigerator or stove, there is only one phone number you need to know. That is indeed a very nice and reassuring benefit, assuming of course, the company is responsive to each and every incident. So, which Home Warranty Company Should I choose? Nationwide Old Republic Home Warranty? First American Home Warranty? Or my local Blue Ribbon Home Warranty of Colorado? When it comes to service, service is everything, so I decided to look at some reviews and user comments of the dozen or so Home Warranty companies that service Colorado and the nation. Here’s what I found:

Best Home Warranty?

Like any Insurance Policy, what good is a Home Warranty if you don’t have 100% confidence that they can deliver the service that you need when you need it? The convenience of having a one-stop shop to call can also be your biggest risk factor. If I have a repair incident and cannot get a quick response from the warranty company, I have no place else to call or go. If I am paying for a service that is not giving me as good or better results than I would get without a warranty company at all then my money is being wasted. I also need to have the confidence and assurance that they are going to fix and pay for my problem. There is really no other way to measure the reliability of a Home Warranty company than to talk to others who have used them. Having done some research and talking to other home owners, there is only one company that would give me this level of confidence. Fortunately, there is a website completely dedicated to reviews and user opinions on Home Warranties: Home Warranty Reviews. Some quick research on reviews and user opinions convinced me that neither Old Republic nor First American Home Warranty would make me confident that my premiums were well spent. Too many buyers complained that the service was either not rendered in a satisfactory amount of time or that they refused to cover a defective appliance or service issue. Out of 170 User Reviews, Old Republic Warranty received an average user rating of just under 3 stars. First American Home Warranty had 152 user reviews and received an average rating of just 2 stars. I realize that user reviews can be negatively biased because people are much more likely to comment when something goes wrong than when something goes right. On the other hand, the high number of negative reviews and comments were simply too much for me to ignore. An insurance plan has to provide 10)% assurance to me that my money in the form of regular premiums is not going to waste.

Blue Ribbon Home Warranty

Fortunately, I was able to find a company with mostly positive reviews and a 4.5 star average rating: Blue Ribbon Home Warranty – the one recommended by my co-worker. I think I will give these guys a call and setup a time for an inspection. There is a $75.00 deposit which is required, but compared to the $5,000 I’ve already spent in the last three years, this seems like a small drop in the bucket. I am inclined to give Blue Ribbon Home Warranty a try this year. If you don’t happen to be fortunate enough to live in Colorado, but are still considering a home warranty plan, I have discovered another one that has very favorable reviews:  Sensible Home Warranty.  Sensible Home Warranty has a four star average rating from over 157 satisfied users. If I bought my home new, I might not even consider it, but for a home that is 10 years or older, a home warranty with the right company is probably worth some strong consideration. So, let’s look at Old Republic Home Warranty and how it compares to the rest:

Before you go with the most popular Home Warranty Protection, make sure you know what people are saying in your neighborhood about Old Republic Home Warranty.

How do you rate Old Republic Home Warranty?

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Concrete Crack Repair

Looking for Concrete Crack Repair Tips? A few cracks in a driveway or patio are nothing to worry about.  However, a cement driveway that begins to crumble from erosion is probably going to cause more problems than is worth the hassle of trying to repair yourself. I speak from experience. My own driveway concrete crack repair job failed for two reasons:

  1. The Driveway was improperly surfaced with a very thin layer of cement that was quickly destroyed by salt and shoveling in the winter
  2. I did not properly prepare the concrete before I stained it with Behr Concrete Paint

Using DAP Patch for Concrete Crack Repair

I was quite happy with the repair job I did two years ago with DAP concrete Patch, but only for a short while. The problem was that the color of the patch didn’t match the color of the cement and I ended up with a very spotted driveway. The Behr Cement Stain would have helped, but I failed to use a color that matched and I failed to properly prepare the surface as described by Behr.
Today, I am getting quotes on a new driveway resurfacing job. The fact that my driveway faces due north and suffers from the ice and snow of the brutal winters made me think twice about resurfacing with a conventional concrete surface. It is impossible to shovel the cold, bottom layer of ice from my driveway in the winter due to it’s northern exposure. Yet, if I don’t do something about the ice in the way of salt or heavy chipping with a shovel, someone is likely to injure themselves and sue me. One cement contractor thoughtfully pointed out to me, that even if you don’t use salt or magnesium chloride on your driveway, it is likely to find its way on to the surface from cars that are driving into the garage or parking there in the winter. The only solution is a surface that is resistant to salt and magnesium chloride. I’ve found a couple of contractors that provide an acrylic based or polymer surface which will allow you to use salt to keep your driveway and front porch clear of ice during the snowy winter days. They offer a warranty as long as you pay them a small fee once every two years to re-stain the surface to keep it protected. That seems like a fair deal to me and it makes sense when I consider the problems I had trying to stain my own driveway over a year ago. The cost is around $4.50 to $8.00 per square foot depending on whether or not you choose a basic concrete appearance or something more decorative in the way of a stamped surface. I think I will go for the standard-looking concrete driveway with something a little more decorative for the porch. A stoned surface is something I am considering for the porch, but was told that it is not the most durable way to do a driveway due to the way heavy car wheels turn and peel away at the stone surface.

Concrete Crack Repair Alternatives

The couple of things that I learned from the two estimates I’ve received so far is this: Surface damage can be avoided with proper, regular staining. Driveway cracks are unpredictable, and therefore usually not included in the warranty of any driveway repair job. I do have a couple of minor cracks in my driveway, but those are not a concern for me. Concrete Crack Repair with Dap Concrete Patch and using some proper Driveway Paint is not nearly as daunting of a task as repairing out-of-control chips and erosion. The other consideration for some people is a Tar Driveway, but I doubt that is allowed in a covenant neighborhood.

Genie Garage Door Openers

Genie Garage Door Openers have been around since … forever.

Genie Garage Door Openers
Genie Promax Garage Door Opener

Genie Garage Door Openers have been around since George Washington chopped down the cherry tree. Well, okay, that’s not quite true. Genie built their very first garage door opener in 1954. Formerly, known as the Alliance Manufacturing Company and founded in 1923, Genie garage door openers used to build military products while America was at war. Alliance Manufacturing Company built things like voltage regulators, canteen handles and generators. After building their first garage door opener in 1954, Genie quickly became one of the innovators in the garage door opening industry. I recently replaced a Genie garage door opener in my home. Not because it conked out, but because it lasted so long that it lacked some of the modern innovations of electric garage door openers that were 10-15 years old! This is one of the reasons I was sold on Genie. But, there’s a little more to the story…

Genie Garage Door Openers: Parts

I moved into my home three years ago, so I inherited the Genie Opener that came with the double-sided door of my three-car garage. I also inherited the newer, Stanley Garage Door Opener for my single-car garage door. Because the Stanley garage door opener is newer, it included the more modern, garage door sensors safety feature. My Genie opener had held up well, but it lacked the safety of the garage door sensors on the sides to prevent the dangerously heavy door from closing on objects, animals or people that might get in the way. My house was built in 1989, so I suspect this was the original Genie garage door opener that came with the house. So, when the Genie garage door openers torsion spring broke on the right side of my single-car, garage door, I decided to get a new Genie for my double door while I was getting the garage door spring replacement on the opposite side. Knowing this current Genie lasted 16-years, I’m a believer in the quality of Genie parts so Why not go with another Genie product – but this time – with the safety of those mandatory garage door sensors?

Genie Promax Electric Garage Door Opener

The Genie Promax is a rugged, chain driven Security, electric garage door opener. The Promax is a Genie intellicode garage door opener; meaning you don’t have to mess with those funky dip-switches to set your security code. Security is set using some simple button-pressing on the garage door opener transmitter. Both remotes have to be programmed at the same time or one will not work. The remote that is mounted inside the garage includes two separate buttons: one for opening and closing the garage door and the other for turning on the light. The light can be programmed to stay on for 2, 5 or 10 minutes before it automatically shuts off. The Genie Promax also comes with two remotes and a very thorough garage door opener manual. Don’t worry if you lose your manual; it can be downloaded from their website.

Genie Garage Door Opener Remote

genie garage door openers remote
genie garage door remote

All Genie Openers come with two or more remotes. It would be nice if the Promax opener remote came with a separate button for turning the light on and off. All too often, my wife will get home before me and leave the garage door open, meaning the light has turned off as I drive into a dark garage. The Genie Promax is Homelink compatibile. Many modern cars are equipped with programmable Homelink buttons on the rear view mirror, which can be used to open and close your genie garage door opener. Surprisingly, this Homelink feature worked, even with my old Genie garage door openers.

Genie Promax Operation and Conclusion

The operation of the chain-driven, Promax Genie garage door openers are much quieter than my old opener, which was screw-driven. I also had a chain-driven Stanley Garage Door Opener in my old home that was whisper quiet despite claims that screw-driven openers are supposedly quieter. I love the range of my garage door remotes. I am able to open the door from 200 feet away! I can honestly say that I am completely happy with the Genie Promax Electric Garage Door Opener.

How do you Rate your Genie Garage Door Opener?

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Ridgid Shop Vac

Ridgid Shop Vac Review

I am now on my 3rd Shop-Vac, which is really no surprise. I’ve got cheap in the past and cheap doesn’t last. I think the Rigid is a real winner. I have enjoyed 8 years of use with this model and I have no complaints. The Rigid Shop Vac is not the cheapest by any stretch, but it is a reasonably priced unit for under $100 that gets the job done and lasts as my experience has proven.

A Solid Performer

Ridgid Shop Vac
Ridgid Solid

The Ridgid Shop Vac is the charm. In the last 20 years I have owned three different shop-vacs. They’ve all been pretty good at cleaning up big messes, but the Ridgid beats them all. I bought the 12 Gallon WD12460 model, and after owning it a few months, I would never consider saving $30 on a smaller, cheaper model. The size, power and durability of the Ridgid Vac makes it well worth the extra cost.

Model WD12460 Basics

The Ridgid Model # WD12460 comes with a 12 or 16 Gallon Tank, extra large diameter hose and three different cleaning attachments. I paid $99.00 for this heavy duty shop-vac at Home Depot and it was worth every penny.  Unlike, other cheaply made motorized appliances,  The construction on the Ridgid Shop Vac is flawless. The hose connection is very strong and durable, yet snaps in place quite easily. The included hose and electric cord are both very long. I used to think having too large of a shop-vac would diminish some of the convenience and desire to use it, but boy was I wrong on that count. The Ridgid’s extra large body frame makes it sturdy and easy to roll. I would much rather get this unit out of my garage than the the previous 5-Gallon that I used to own. It won’t tip over and the long hose and cord, make it suitable for vacuuming out my cars and garage without having to unwind an extension cord. I have very little else to say about the 12-Gallon Model. It’s construction, ease of use, value, performance and quality are flawless in every way.

Gas Powered Pressure Washers

Good Performance but Cheaply Made

A month ago I reviewed the Task Force 2000 Electric Pressure Washer. I was so caught up with how useful and powerful an electric power washer can be, that I didn’t give much consideration to its build quality and durability. The Task Force Electric Pressure Washer is proving to be less than sturdy. In less than a month, the power washer now fails to dispense detergent.

Cheap Plastic

and has a broken cord reel.

My wife, who seems to have a knack for breaking things, grabbed the wand from me one day as I was washing wood-ties, to spray off the trax on our deck and tipped it over, snapping the brittle plastic reel. In just my second time after using detergent, the Pressure Washer’s dispenser became clogged. The instructions, which were completely useless, warned me the detergent dispenser can get clogged if soap is left in it overnight, but offered no solutions on how to fix it. I went online and contacted Task Force support. They emailed me a response and somewhat ambiguous instructions on how to solve the problem, which involved removing the high pressure hose from the front of the unit. I was unable to loosen the hose by hand, so took a pair of channel locks to it and learned how cheap and fragile the plastic hose connector. In just a couple of turns, the plastic grip ribs were completely stripped (see photo to the right).

Discouraged and afraid to do anymore damage, I tightened the hose back up and decided to power wash my car without soap. It was a bitter sweet experience, as I learned how nice of a job an electric pressure washer can do on your car, but left me wishing I could use car wash detergent to do the best job possible. With the right power setting, it gives you a very nice, wide, high-pressure stream of water. My wheels, which were very dirty and gummed up with break-dust, came 90% clean without any soap or scrubbing. The rest of the car was immaculate.

Gas Powered Pressure Washer, Maybe?

While, I highly recommend an electric pressure washer, I cannot endorse this specific product. I would try these other brands: A Husky Electric Pressure Washer, Excell Pressure Washers, or any Gas Powered Pressure Washers. I base this conclusion on the number of more favorable consumer reviews given to these brands and gas-powered pressure washers, which seem to be better made. I wish I would have done a little more research on Electric Pressure Washers, before I opened up the box of the Task Force. Having owned an electric pressure washer for a month now, I can tell you some of the pros and cons of an electric pressure washer vs. a gas powered pressure washer:

Pros and Cons of Electric Pressure Washer

Pros: Electric Pressure Washer

  • No gas needed and no fumes
    • Instant On / Off
    • Smaller size

Cons: Electric Pressure Washer

    • Winding and unwinding of cord is a nuisance.
    • Not as powerful as Gas Powered Pressure Washers
    • Not as sturdy (tips over)