Information to Consider When Buying a Pool Cover

For most of the country, other than the lucky ones in South Florida and Southern California, use of the swimming pool is seasonal. Every fall triggers the end of the pool season, which means people across the country must begin the task of closing down their pools.

Winterizing the pool, as some refer to it, includes preparing the water and pool equipment for the winter as well as covering the pool. Ensuring debris stays out of the pool during the off-season will reduce cleaning time during the task of opening the pool for the next season. Selecting a pool cover to protect the pool from the harsh winter is an important part of closing down the pool.

There are two main types of winter pool covers: 1) A solid vinyl cover and 2) A mesh cover. Solid vinyl covers come in varying qualities with different thickness and warranty coverages available. Mesh covers typically come in one standard quality.

Solid vinyl covers tend to be heavy, depending on the thickness and size, and usually require two persons to install and remove. However, they work well to keep out debris, sunlight, and water. Keeping out sunlight is critical in that it prevents the growth of algae in the pool. Keeping out water is good in that it keeps out dirty water that has mixed with the debris on top of the cover. These covers do create water pooling on top of the cover which will require draining. An equalizer air pillow and submersible pump are the usual accessories to go along with a solid vinyl cover. The pillow will make it easier to remove pooling water and debris. When your pool water freezes, it will also compress to relieve the pressure on your pool walls from the ice expansion as well as prevent the vinyl pool cover from freezing by lifting it off of the water. A submersible pump is typically used to remove pooling water off of the pool cover.

Pricing of solid vinyl covers tends to go hand in hand with durability and longevity. A wide range of solid vinyl pool cover options are available varying by price, thickness, and warranty for any given size. The standard thickness options are 8 mm, 12 mm, and 16 mm. Warranty coverage on these pool covers vary based on thickness with the minimum typically a 8 year limited/1 year full warranty and a maximum of 20 year limited/3 year full.

Mesh covers are lightweight, which allows them to be installed and removed typically by a single person. Additionally, they allow water to slowly flow through them thus preventing water pooling on top of the cover. This is one of the main benefits of a mesh cover because it eliminates the need for a submersible pump to remove the pooling water. An equalizer pillow is a recommended accessory for mesh pool covers in places where the water will freeze. A downside to a mesh cover is that when it allows water to pass through to the pool, it allows dirty water to pass through to the pool that has been mixing with the debris on top of the cover. This may result in the pool water needing serious attention and cleaning when it is time to open the pool.

Purchasing Your Copper Sink – Helpful Tips & Information

Selecting a kitchen or bathroom sink use to be easy. There were just a few large companies selling ceramic, enameled steel, cast iron and stainless steel sinks. In the past decade, there has been an explosion of new products in the sink category and a growing demand for hand crafted and custom work. There have been several “new” sink mediums gaining recent acceptance – glass, various stones, brass, copper, and even wood. This article will focus on copper sinks and what to look for before making your purchase.

Copper is man’s oldest metal, dating back more than 10,000 years. Its use in the home in modern times ranges from copper tubing in your plumbing system to some of the finest cookware available. Restaurateurs, hoteliers and interior decorators look to copper and brass as naturally inviting metals that make a statement of quality, comfort and beauty. It is no wonder that copper has also become a popular material for sinks in the kitchen, bath and bar.

Copper artisans abound throughout the world, however the artisans that have gained a reputation for making sinks has been primarily centered in India, Mexico and the US. Most of the shops making “hand crafted” copper sinks are small and the methods used to construct sinks goes back centuries. The term “hand hammered” has recently become synonymous with Mexican sinks. This term refers to the original ancient techniques that artisans have been using for centuries in this area. Copper sheets are literally hammered into shape and hand finished.

The results are somewhat rustic, but truly unique and one of a kind. Copper sinks in the US are made with similar techniques but are more often “smooth” rather than “hammered”. US copper craftsmen are dominated by shops doing custom work primarily for commercial projects such as restaurants. You can see examples of all these sinks at Sinks Gallery. They specialize in artisan crafted sinks and have one of the largest selections of copper sinks available, as well as sinks from all different mediums including glass, ceramic, various stones and even wood.

There are three primary differentiators determining quality – construction technique, copper thickness and the company you are buying from. Construction quality is made up of several factors – how corners are constructed, welding technique and proper dimensions for ease of installation. Quality can vary even when considering sinks made in the same town such as many of the sinks from Mexico. The buyer should make sure they are buying from a legitimate company that knows the product and is not selling “seconds”. In the world of hand crafted products, not all sinks are created equal and oftentimes there are two or more quality levels sold by the same shop (i.e. “firsts” and “seconds”).

Copper starts out in sheets of various thicknesses or “gauge”. The thickness of the metal can also be referred to by the weight per square foot. The thicker the gauge copper, the lower the number. Most bath sinks are made from 20 gauge (the thinnest) to 16 gauge (the thickest) and most kitchen sinks range from 18 gauge to 14 gauge. When shopping for copper sinks, always ask about the gauge and be aware that a thicker gauge sink will cost more – and in many cases is worth it! A lightweight gauge metal can result in a “tinny” sound when running the faucet.

Finally consider the store you are buying from. If a copper sink seems “cheap” in price, there is usually a reason. I have seen many of the copper sinks sold on the most famous “auction site”. All I can say is “buyer beware”, or more to the point “you get what you pay for”…. If something goes wrong with your sink or there is a problem when it arrives, you want to make sure the company you purchased from will stand behind their product. Think carefully about buying internationally. Too often, a sink that is received isn’t as represented. A reputable dealer should identify their shipping location, clearly state their warranty and return policy and be available for consultation.

I am a fan of copper sinks. I think they are rugged yet elegant – especially as they age. The rich highlights and undertones of the patina process are constantly evolving. A copper finish is a “living finish” and never really stops changing in color. That being said, the evolution of a copper finish is gradual, and as it ages it becomes even more handsome. You can greatly reduce this change with the use of wax or even a lacquer product, but personally I like to let the copper evolve. Most often this process results in a mellow brownish weathered copper patina. I like to refer to it as the basins soul.

Copper sinks often come in various finishes from a bright copper finish (like a new penny) to a dark patina (we call ours “Dark Smoke”) and everything in between. The copper finish you choose is a matter of personal taste, but oftentimes our clients prefer the more “weathered” patinas to avoid the upkeep or uncertainty associated with shiny copper. If you want to slow down the patina process, try applying a wax like “Renaissance Wax”. Applied every few months, the wax will provide a barrier between the copper and the environment.

Copper sinks for the kitchen come in two basic forms: Under Counter Mount or Farmhouse style. The rustic nature of copper sinks lends itself well to the farm sink style. Sometimes referred to as “apron front” sinks, these sinks come in a variety of sizes, shapes and with different configurations – i.e. single bowl, double bowl and even triple bowl. Bath sinks are generally available in three styles: vessel (above counter mount), “drop-in” or under counter mount. Usually the lip style determines whether the bath sink is a drop in or undermount. Be sure to order the proper lip style to accommodate your project. A recent trend in bathroom design is matching a copper mirror frame to the sink in the same patina. This can help create consistency in the look and feel of the décor.

If you have any other questions before you purchase any sink, feel free to give us a call at Sinks Gallery or Copper Sinks Online – 1-877-320-0800. We would be happy to answer any other questions you might have.

Land Buying Tips and Information

As a Realtor and a Registered Forester I have some qualifications to write about buying and selling rural real estate primarily land. I have sold thousands of acres as a Realtor and managed hundreds of thousands as a Forester since 1973.

If you are considering buying rural land this article may help you with some good tips and information. The points below will give you some basic information and insight into what you need to look for as well as look out for in a land purchase.

Kind of Land. Do you want a farm, timberland, development potential, home site, hunting, agricultural use? One tract of land can rarely be all of these. Think what you plan and seek from there. Of course most tracts will have multiple uses but sometimes there are local use restrictions to consider.

Access. Hopefully you will have highway frontage for access. Some tracts may have only an easement. If so, look at the deeded easement layout and the width of it. A 20 'wide easement to a property that you later want to develop is a major negative if the county requires for instance a 50' wide access easement for a street.

Utilities. Water of course is critical but for drinking and livestock. Is there an accessible waterline? If not what are the costs of a drilled well in the area and is there water quality problems in the ground water? Will there be water in a drought? Is there a creek for livestock and does it flow year around? Does anyone have the water rights? Is electric power available? Internet, cable, cell phone or land phone? Easy to check now, hard or impossible to get later.

Income from the property. As a forester I know the value of timber. When looking at rural land look closely at the timber and if there is a significant amount have a local consulting forester appraise it for you. I have seen timber be worth as much as 3/4 of the value of an asking property price even in recent years. Make sure your purchase contract states that existing timber goes with the sale. It may have already been sold! Look at other income potential like hunting leases which can easily pay the property taxes and minor management costs. There are also agricultural leases. Always make sure the tract deed includes all mineral rights.

Making an Offer. Research what local sales have been on similar and nearby land. If you are not using a buyer representation Realtor you might want to consider one. Usually their fee is paid from the seller's funds but not always so verify this. Check to see if land values ​​are going up on down in the area. Allow yourself an inspection time and right to go on to the property by yourself or others you may hire to make inspections. Give yourself a way out of the contract if inspections fail. Make sure timber and minerals are included. Don't make a low ball trying to steal it offer, you will just make the seller mad. Make a fair workable offer and go from there.

Closing. Use a real estate attorney to check title and close. They will know what to look for in deeds, easements and liens on the property. Ask the seller any questions you may have come up with and if they have any reports, old plats and maps that you can have. Ask about the history of the land before its lost as you may never see the seller again if they are moving away.