Basic Things You Need To Know About Engine Rebuilding

Is It Worth Putting a Used Engine in A Car?

On the off chance that you locate the correct used engine, it will be fundamentally less expensive than purchasing another motor and it will perform in any case. The cash spared alone is reason enough for buying a pre-owned motor. At the point when a vehicle proprietor gets the news that their motor is down and out for good, it can put an immense measure of weight on his shoulders simply envisioning the weighty measure of cash he should dispense to get the motor supplanted. Some vehicle proprietors may even believe, “What’s the point? Why not simply search for another vehicle?” However, most vehicle proprietors don’t think about the idea of buying a used motor. But the truth is a used engine not only helps in saving your money but also works for several years. So if you ask whether a used engine is worth it , yes it is completely worth it !

There is another advantage as well. Normally people dont have an idea that a used engine also saves environment. Used engines help nature since we are reusing entirely acceptable motors by using them for to the extent that this would be possible before they should be discarded.

Wrapping It Up

The motor is the most fundamental part of any vehicle. Without its ideal working, everything else passes by the wayside. The motor you introduce as a substitution for a wrecked one ought to be dependable, regardless of whether it’s utilized. There are a lot of solid, utilized motors that should be reused and are completely fine given an intensive assessment. On the off chance that you need another motor introduced in your vehicle, first make certain to go to a technician that knows how to examine an engine.

A portion of the things that auto authorities search for in used motors are low mileage and signs of past major issues. They discover what issues may come up, assuming any, and how to fix them before introducing them into another vehicle. Some of the time used engines even accompany warrantees. This can be another approach to guarantee that your acquisition of a pre-owned motor stays ensured for an all-inclusive timeframe.

 

Benefits of replacing your engine instead of buying a new car

No one wants to be put in a situation where they have to decide between replacing their car engine or just buying a new car. This reality happens often, though, so you have to weigh your options. Unfortunately, neither option is cheap, but most of the time it makes sense to replace your engine for many reasons. Here are some of the main benefits of replacing your vehicle’s engine instead of buying a new car.

INSURANCE PREMIUMS WILL NOT RISE

Consider replacing your engine rather than buying a new car.When you buy a new car, chances are your insurance premiums are going to rise. But when you replace the engine of your car, you’ll continue with the same insurance coverage and the vehicle is still considered to be the same age. And you don’t have to add full coverage insurance if you don’t want to.

REGISTRATION FEES WILL REMAIN THE SAME

Newer vehicles in New Jersey often come with higher registration fees, so this is another thing to consider if you’re looking into buying a new vehicle. The increase in these fees many not seem significant, but they can add up over time. Your registration fees will remain the same if you simply replace your car’s engine.

DON’T WORRY ABOUT A CAR PAYMENT

Car payments can be burdensome. While you may just want to wipe your hands clean of your old car and get behind the wheel of a new car, it may make more sense financially to just replace the engine. Once the replacement engine is paid off, you’ll be free of car payments, and this feat will be accomplished much earlier than if you bought a new car.

WARRANTY BENEFITS OF A NEW ENGINE

The warranty for a replacement engine is three years or 100,000 miles. Once it’s installed, you won’t have to worry about it for at least that duration when you get your engine replaced at DeBoer’s Auto.

IT TAKES LESS ENERGY TO REPLACE AN ENGINE

From an environmental perspective, less energy is used to rebuild and replace a car engine compared to building a new car from scratch. So another side benefit of having your engine replaced is to be friendlier to the environment.

 

Things to Consider Before Swapping an Engine:

Wiring

Wiring is always a constant problem for people, no matter what size project they are taking on, but especially in modern engine swaps. Wiring can be very complex and it requires a lot of understanding about amperage, wire gauge, relays, and overall circuits. A perfect example is the electric fan circuit. A lot of people run two wires (power and ground), but the circuit needs to be tied into the cooling system, air conditioning system and the system needs one or two relays.

Cooling Systems

Cooling systems aren’t tricky, but many people just underestimate the volume of work that goes into it. Mechanical fans will work OK with older engines, but today’s engines run hotter and require a lot more cooling. Most people just don’t think about specific functionality of the modern engine they are installing and reinstall the mechanical fan or they hook-up a cheap electric fan that doesn’t have enough flow.

Headers

Most people know or have a good idea that the exhaust manifolds are going to need to be modified. However, it isn’t until the engine is sitting in the engine compartment that they realize how complex the issue can be and people can quickly get in over their heads. Steering linkage, spark plugs and wires can really cause some headache when fabricating a header. By the time most people have a good mental image of how the headers need to lay out, they come to the realization that the tubing is going to hit the frame or body, and have to start from scratch again—a common and costly mistake.

Oil Pans and Pick-Up Tubes

Since most chassis and cross-members are in different locations, oil pan clearances are often a problem. Luckily, with the wide variety of aftermarket oil pans out there, people usually don’t have to build custom pans and pick-up tubes. It takes a little more effort to find exactly the right fit.

Steering

Steering linkage can get tricky when trying to figure out how to navigate past the headers and around everything. In addition to that, many people upgrade their suspension and steering systems at the same time as the engine. With the wide variety of aftermarket components available, sometimes the combination of parts used can require an odd combination of steering linkage.

Air Conditioning

Late-model engines usually have mounting brackets or bosses for air conditioning compressors. While this can make it convenient, the compressors are usually mounted on the lower sections of the engine. This can create problems when trying to get an engine between the frame rails. So, mounting the compressor in a different location is often necessary. In addition to the compressor, a lot of people have problems laying out the system and figuring out where the accumulator/dryer or fixed orifices go.

 

Fluid Reservoirs

One commonly overlooked modification is that in general all of the reservoirs need to be changed. The cooling system isn’t a big deal, but the power steering reservoir can be tricky. Packaging gets really tight and sometimes a remote mount reservoir is needed.

Driveshaft

While a driveshaft doesn’t seem like a big deal, people will sometimes run into problems either measuring the driveshaft or selecting the right yoke or flange. Once in a while, we run into a problem where people don’t tell the drive shaft shop that they put a blower on the car and it has 800 hp. So, they will bend the driveshaft or kick it out the side of the car when they hammer it.

Fuel Systems

Most people know they need larger and higher-quality fuel lines and better filtration. Where they run into problems is selecting the right fuel pump. We usually recommend people try and use a factory-style in-tank pump for their daily driver,” says Meyers. “Frame-mounted high-volume pumps vibrate, run hot and usually aren’t designed for extended driving cycles. So, failure, and cabin noise can be a problem.

 

Dangers of Engine Swapping- What You Need to Know

What happens when you put a more powerful engine into a different set of chassis or smaller car? Sometimes magic happens and you’ve Frankenstein’d your way to a real muscle or supercar. An engine swap is the process of removing a car’s original engine and replacing it with another. This is usually done either because of failure, or to install a different engine, usually one that is bigger and better to make your car more powerful and or economical. Sometimes older engines may have a shortage of spare parts and so a modern replacement may be more easily and cheaply maintained.

Swapping to a diesel engine for improved fuel economy is a long established practice, with modern high efficiency and torque diesel engines this does not necessarily mean a reduction in performance associated with older diesel engine swaps. For the particular application of off-road vehicles the high torque at low speed of turbo diesels combined with good fuel economy makes these conversions particularly effective. Here on shoptalk we wouldn’t promote swapping you engine since it is an easy way to void your coverage but if you are a hobbyist extending the life of your car beyond 10+ years we have compiled a guide to 10 of the top 10 things people commonly forget or underestimate when doing a late-model engine swap.

Steps In Handling Home Remodeling Projects

How to Take Care of Your Neighbors When Remodeling

When planning a remodel, there’s already a ton on your plate — like managing the budget, making seemingly endless design decisions and accepting that a whole team of workers will be traipsing across your property. But it’s also important to think about how the work is going to affect your neighbors. After all, remodeling projects are disruptive even under the best of circumstances. And at worst? Well, you’ve probably heard some horror stories.

It’s worth taking a few extra steps to stay in the good graces of the folks who share fence lines, street parking, smiles and waves from the front porch, and possibly even corn on the cob with you at summer block parties. Consider this guide your blueprint for framing those necessary neighborly conversations so that you can get the remodel you want without stepping on too many toes.

Do Your Homework

Certain projects (like tear downs and additions) may require that you notify neighbors in advance. Your remodeling pro ought to be able to fill you in on the details if that’s the case. Even if it’s not legally necessary, it’s still a good practice to keep neighbors informed if you want to maintain positive relationships in the long term. When you’re getting ready to approach your neighbors with news of your upcoming remodel, the more knowledgeable and prepared you are, the more comfortable they will feel with the project.

Know the answers to these questions before you approach your neighbors:

When will construction start?

How long do you expect construction to last?

What types of equipment will be used on the site?

Will there be extra vehicles, port-a-potties or road closures to consider?

Are your plans in keeping with the character of the neighborhood?

Reach Out in Advance

When you let your neighbors know about your remodeling plans, be prepared for a range of reactions. Some folks might be excited and curious (“We’re thinking of remodeling too! Who are you using?”), while others may be indifferent or even hostile. All these reactions are OK. Just focus on listening attentively and with empathy: Often that’s all it takes to bring the temperature back down. Along with your in-person chat, give your neighbors something in writing that includes the key details discussed and contact information they can use to get in touch with you during the day.

 

Things to Ask Your Contractor Before You Start Your Project

Remodeling or building a new home is a big financial and emotional investment. It can also be a big investment of your time if you want to be closely involved in the decision-making. Knowing what to expect before the project gets started will help you better prepare for the process

What Is Our Schedule?

A schedule is more than just a start and end date. Having a schedule that outlines tasks and timing will give you a big-picture view of sequencing and deadlines for things such as tile and countertops. It will also give you a benchmark so that you know if things are slipping by a day or two.

Who Will Be Here Every Day?

Depending on the size and structure of the company you hire, the answer could vary widely. Many remodelers use a lead carpenter system, where a staff member (sometimes called a superintendent) is responsible for day-to-day work on-site, and often swings a hammer as well. Ask your contractor direct questions about who will be responsible for opening and locking up, who will supervise subcontractors on-site and whom to call on a daily basis with any questions.

How Will You Protect My Property?

This is a conversation best had before demolition, not after you come home and find dust all over the house. There are a number of dust-containment measures that can be taken, and talking about it ahead of time will provide you with a clear idea of how the construction area will be cordoned off from the rest of your home and how you’ll be able to move through your house.

There’s also the issue of stuff — all the books, furniture, drapes, delicate vases and paintings on the wall. It’s helpful to remove them all from the construction zone. This includes anything hung on walls or sitting on shelves in adjacent rooms, since they can shake loose from persistent hammering. If you leave them as-is, it will cost to have them moved and moved again to keep them out of the way, and you risk damage in the process. It’s better to move it all at once and know it’s safe and sound

 

How to Donate or Recycle Home Remodeling Materials

Visit any remodeling project during its demolition phase, and you might think that those piles of broken concrete, asphalt, wood, drywall, brick, metal, glass and more are just junk heaps destined for a landfill. Not so fast.

Many construction and demolition materials can be reused and recycled. And doing so reduces greenhouse gas emissions by decreasing the need to produce and manufacture new materials. Recycling home remodeling materials eases strain on local landfills. Who wants those to get any bigger than they have to?

The following is a short guide to donating and finding construction and demolition materials. Every city has different organizations and methods for disposing of and recycling waste, so consider this a jumping-off point.

If you’re working with a general contractor or other remodeling professional, ask him or her about how your old building materials could be reused, recycled, donated or disposed of in an environmentally conscious way. And inquire about how you can reduce excess material waste during construction. If you’re doing the work yourself, there are still plenty of options for getting rid of your construction waste besides putting them in a landfill.

What Building Materials Can Be Reused and Recycled?

First off, it’s good to know what can be reused and salvaged, and what can be recycled. This list is from the U.S. Green Building Council, which recommends trying to reuse or salvage first. Once those options are exhausted, turn to recycling.

 

How to Care for Pets and Children During a Remodel

Living through a remodel is a challenge, as anyone who’s been there can attest — but add kids or pets (or both!) to the mix and things get a whole lot trickier. How do you keep curious, active kids from getting hurt when there’s construction going on at home? What are you supposed to do with an anxious dog who won’t stop barking at the workers? Take a few deep breaths and then read this guide: We’ll tackle those questions and more.

Assign Separate Entrances for Workers and Family

This will help keep construction dust and dirt out of the areas you’re using, but also (and perhaps more important) it will help prevent workers from accidentally leaving tools and supplies sitting around in non-work areas. Choose an entrance for the workers closest to the construction zone to minimize foot traffic through the house, even if this means they use the front door and your family switches to the back, side or garage entrance.

If Hazardous Materials Are Present, Stay Somewhere Else

Any remodel is bound to include some potential hazards — but what we’re talking about here are serious hazards like lead paint, asbestos and mold. If one of these is present in your home, staying elsewhere while that portion of the work is being done is a good idea. If you or one of your children have health concerns like asthma or allergies, you may also wish to stay at the home of a friend or relative, or in a rental, to avoid construction dust.

Designate a Safe Place to Play

There are a lot of places you’ll be telling your kids it’s not OK to play, which makes it all the more important that you find a place where play is allowed. If you’re living within a smaller area of your home during the remodel, this might mean letting the kids “take over” a room usually used for another purpose — like the dining room or den.

Always Keep an Eye on Kids During Construction

As a parent, you know how quickly an active kid can decide to do something unexpected. Even if you usually feel confident leaving the kiddos playing happily for a few minutes while you wash the dishes or answer a call, it’s essential to never leave kids unattended during construction. Since it’s rare that construction workers will be on-site from sunup to sundown every day, try to plan your solo tasks for the hours before and after work is happening. And remember, even when work isn’t going on, your home is effectively still a work site, so it’s a good idea to be extra vigilant about safety.

 

Questions to Ask Before Committing to an Open Floor Plan

Open floor plans are great — they can make a home feel larger and airier, create multifunctional spaces and make it possible to live in a smaller space. But the truth is, they aren’t for everyone. Designers have been reporting that some clients have a hard time with this setup, whether it’s because of TV noise, a desire to hide kitchen messes from view or a need for a quiet place to read or work. Before committing to an open floor plan for the first time, answer the following questions to see if it’s for you.

Do I Want to See All the Public Spaces in My Home All the Time?

Looking at a beautiful and tidy space like this makes it hard to imagine wanting to put up walls. If your home is one where you like to spread out papers for work or projects, where you prefer to let the kitchen cleanup wait until after you’ve enjoyed the meal, or where kids leave lots of toys strewn about, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if looking at that stuff will make you feel compelled to constantly neaten up, an open layout may not be for you.

Is a ‘Not-So-Kitchen-y’ Kitchen for Me?

Within an open floor plan, the kitchen is usually in full view of the dining and living areas. One of the comments I hear most often from designers working within an open plan is that they have designed the kitchen to look “not-so-kitchen-y.” This can mean it has features like open shelving or windows instead of upper cabinets; an island with a waterfall countertop to provide visual separation; storage concentrated on one wall; or appliances camouflaged by panel fronts.

Do you like to keep your herbs, spices, cooking utensils, small appliances and other items out on the countertops? Do you prefer a traditional kitchen look over a sleek camouflaged one? Do you like to leave your kitchen cleanup until after the party is over or gather for meals at the kitchen table in a cozy space? Then consider other layout options in addition to an open floor plan, and imagine your lifestyle in each. Open plans may be popular, but a closed-off kitchen certainly is not a bad thing — you can close the door on the mess and enjoy your time with your family and guests without feeling as if you should be washing pots and pans and putting everything away.

Rug Pads For Hardwood Flooring

How do you remove residue from hardwood floors?

Cleaning can be an essential part of self-care for some people. The feeling of getting something done and the smell of a clean space could send anyone to bliss town. After a long day of cleaning, though, there’s nothing worse than seeing a layer of residue on your supposedly pristine hardwood floors. Your floor may be clean, but you need to take extra steps if you have to remove cleaner residue from wood floors.

Floor Cleaner Residue

Take a mental inventory on every time you’ve cleaned your wood floors. If they’re always sticky or have a layer of residue, technically, you’re not doing anything wrong. It’s the product that you’re using to clean your wood floors. Floor cleaners do make floors clean, but you have to look at what they’re formulated with before you use them. A lot of cleaners contain three main ingredients: water, solvents and surfactant.

The solvents will cut through dirt while the surfactants make it easier to wipe up the dirt. Unfortunately, it’s the surfactants that cause the residue on wood floors. That’s why it’s important not to mix cleaners. Also, you should stick to one cleaner per wash. If you’re noticing that your floor is always sticky, then you may need to dilute your cleaner because of the number of surfactants in the bottle.

Removing Floor Cleaner Residue

If you’re the type of person that likes to make do-it-yourself solutions to clean their house, you may be upset to learn that vinegar is not the best ingredient to use when cleaning wood floors. It can leave marks, as well as eat away at certain types of wood. So, although you could use vinegar to clean your wood floors, you should try to limit the amount you’re using, and how often.

When you’re cleaning hardwood floors, many people think that they’re cleaning the actual wood. You’re actually cleaning the protective layer on the hardwood floor. Vinegar is slightly acidic, so over time, it can break down the finish of your floor. This will leave your floor looking dull over time.

Windex on Wood

If your floors are always getting sticky, try using an ammonia-free glass cleaner on wood like Windex. Ammonia cleans up sticky stains and scuff marks. A lot of people stay away from ammonia because it has a strong chemical smell, so if you hate that smell, try diluting it.

Always make sure that you rinse the Windex on wood, or it will damage your floor over time. When cleaning with Windex on hardwood floors, all you have to do is spray sections and let it sit for two minutes. After it sits, wipe up the dirt. Then, go over the floor one more time with a clean damp cloth to remove the Windex.

Other Residue Removal Hacks

Before you clean your hardwood floors, always sweep or dust mop to get rid of dirt or debris. Don’t soak your floors with a lot of liquid; instead, spray a light mist. You can use a mop, but they leave a lot of water on hardwood floors, so use a microfiber mop instead.

Cloudy Wood Floors

In order to not get cloudy wood floors, prevention is always key. You should always keep maintenance up with the wood floor, as well as stay away from oil soap, wax or wood cleaners that will damage your floor. Also, if you like to use ammonia on your floor, don’t use it often. If you use ammonia every day, it can strip off the finish, as well as warp the wood floors.

 

Why are My Hardwood Floors Hazy?

The most common causes of a hazy or cloudy film on hardwood floors after cleaning are a buildup of floor cleaner, wax buildup, trapped moisture, and bad floor cleaners. All these can make wood floors appear to have a milky, white substance on top of the surface even after cleaning.

Identifying and understanding causes of white haze will help in taking an appropriate removal and restoration method to get it off the wood floor.

I have explained how these distort the shine of your wood floor and how to restore the look below.

Hardwood floors are supposed to have a beauty and luster that bring out the best in your living space. When floors get dull or cloudy, they can be difficult to fix. It’s possible, but without proper knowledge, your efforts to restore the look of your hardwood floors can make matters worse.

Identifying the root causes of cloudy or milky-looking hardwood floors can help get you to a proper solution without hours and hours of trial and error:

  • Use of improper cleaners: With a market full of all kinds of wood cleaning products, picking the wrong cleaner gets easier and easier. The types of cleaners that were effective years ago might not have a good effect on modern wood floors. Products like oil soaps, paste wax and furniture polish should be avoided since they are notorious for leaving a hazy, sticky buildup on your floor.
  • Frequently change or rinse cleaning pad: Rinse out microfiber cleaning pad thoroughly or change the pad completely between rooms to avoid dragging a dirty pad throughout the house instead of removing the grime off the floor.
  • Clean kitchen floors last: Usually kitchen floors have the most dirt and grime buildup, so clean them last to avoid carrying that dirt to other floors in the home.
  • Wax buildup: Floors that have a polyurethane finish do not need to be waxed. If waxing a floor that doesn’t need it, the wax will react negatively with the finish and create a cloudy look.
  • Cleaner buildup: When cleaning hardwood floors, less is more. A small application of cleaner on a microfiber mop is all that’s needed to clean your floors. Hazy floors can occur when too much cleaner is used.
  • issues: Water and hardwood floors don’t mix. While water can be used as part of the cleaning process, too much water on a hardwood floor can damage floors and alter its look. Avoid using a string or sponge mop to clean since they don’t do a good job of absorbing water once they’re fully soaked.
  • Improper application of finish: If the finish is applied over a layer of stain, or previous coats of finish aren’t fully dried, the solvent vapors trapped beneath the finish can create this look.

 

How to Remove a Cloudy Haze on Hardwood Floors

Using the appropriate cleaner for your hardwood floors will prevent the buildup of cloudy or milky substances after cleaning. However, if you ready have the white stuff forming, you might want to explore some ways to fix the problem.

Here’s how to remove a cloudy buildup from your hardwood floors:

  • Remove the carpet or the furniture or any item on the cloudy area
  • Fill a bucket with luke-warm water
  • Dip a microfiber cloth in the luke-warm water and wring to leave it just damp.
  • Gently rub and wipe the area with the cloudy film with the damp cloth until it is gone.
  • Pat the area dry with a clean cloth or Re-washable Microfiber Mop Pads.
  • Allow some time to air dry before you return your area rug and furniture in place

 

Use of Mayonnaise

Use olive oil in mayonnaise to leach out water in cases where the cloudy haze is a result of blushing out.

Here is the procedure for using olive oil in mayonnaise.

  • Take the mayonnaise and spread it on the cloudy deposits.
  • Leave it overnight to seep in and replace the water in the cloudy area.
  • Wipe off the mayonnaise in the morning with a dry cloth.

Use of Steam Cleaner

Steam cleaning remains one of the best of removing stain and stubborn dirt and grime on the hardwood floors when uses appropriately. Steam cleaning is capable of getting rid of white haze out of the hardwood floor. It has an added advantage of sanitizing the floor by killing 99% of household germs an even get rid of bug menace on your floor.

Always pick the best steam mop for hardwood floors to avoid floor damage as well as get effective results. Another main benefit is steam uses water but not harsh chemicals thus leaves your floor safe for pets and kids.

However, only use a steam cleaner machine on sealed floors. Take precautions to avoid over steaming one area, failure to which it will damage and leave white spots on your hardwood floor.

 

Tips & Tricks to Polish Hardwood Floors

When it comes to polishing hardwood floors, it’s best to approach the job with a gentle hand. There’s no need to aggressively work the polish into your floors. Let the polish do all the work when applying.

  • Get your floor ready. Remove furniture, dry mop and clean with Bona PowerPlus Hardwood Floor Cleaner.
  • Measure your room and know your square footage. One 32oz bottle of Polish covers 500 sq. ft. You will use one full bottle of Polish for every 500 sq ft.
  • Do not shake the bottle of polish—gently rock it back and forth for 30 seconds to 1 minute to assure a consistent sheen level.
  • Spread a nice even layer of polish across the floor so it can self-level.
  • Let the applicator pad do the work—just guide the puddle of polish back and forth with the wood grain… only fingertip pressure on your mop.
  • Work in small sections on the floor, making sure you don’t trap yourself in a corner!
  • Only Polish floors every 2-4 months, or longer depending on the traffic in your home.

Efficient Interior Painting

What should I look for in painting?

What Is Paint?

Paint is a mixture of four basic ingredients: pigments, resins, solvents, and additives. Pigment is the color, and resin is the binder, or glue. Solvent is the carrier that makes it all liquid and evaporates as the paint dries. Additives provide specific performance characteristics, such as stain-blocking or mold-killing properties.

Cheap paints have a higher percentage of solvents per volume than better pains. As a result, there can be up to 50 percent less pigment and resin in a gallon of cheap paint. This means that most of what you are applying with cheap paint is solvent (water or mineral spirits), which just evaporates, leaving little pigment behind. This is why you have to recoat and recoat up to four times with low-quality paint before enough pigment is left behind to cover the color underneath.

So learn from the pros, who value their time: buy the best paint you can afford and avoid having to paint more than twice. Look for manufacturers with a good reputation, and check the label looking for products containing about 45 percent pigment and resins per volume.

 

Water-Based vs. Oil-Based Types of Paint

All paints basically fall into two solvent categories that define their type: water-based or oil-based. Water-based paint actually has water as a solvent, but just to confuse everyone this paint is most commonly called “latex” even though it does not contain latex. Many water-based paints are made with acrylic and may be called “acrylic latex.” The label “oil-based paint” is equally confusing, because it isn’t actually made with oil; it has a solvent of mineral spirits (also known as paint thinner) or alkyd resin. Alkyd can be thinned with mineral spirits, and latex paint is thinned with water. At the paint store, you’ll be understood if you use the terms latex paint or alkyd or oil-based paint.

 

Expert Advice on How to Look at Paintings

No knowledge needed

Being able to understand paintings is not a skill you either have or you don’t – it’s something anyone can learn. You don’t need detailed knowledge of art history to enjoy an artwork or develop your own taste. You just have to know how to look at art. With a few tips you can get started and become an art enthusiast yourself.

When we look at something, whether this is a work of art or something different, our human brains read it and generate meaning. Different clues make up our understanding of images, often even unconsciously. So when learning to look at art, you basically only have to slow down this process that is already happening in your mind. It only takes three simple yet very effective steps to become conscious about this process.

Step 1: Take a look

This step may sound very obvious, but it actually isn’t. People often don’t take enough time to look at artworks. In museums, visitors spent only an average of 15 seconds in front of a painting. So let’s start with taking some time to notice what you are looking at. Try to pay attention to the size, colours and material of the artwork. What kind of shapes and lines are shown? What is the composition of the painting like? What textures are visible? All these different visual elements were decided deliberately by the artist, and will therefore determine the overall feel and meaning of the work.

Step 2: See what is there

Seeing is not the same thing as looking. Whereas looking is about describing what is in front of you, seeing requires applying meaning to a picture. This is called iconography in art history terms. We see symbols in paintings which we can interpret.

Step 3: Think

The last step is to think about what you have observed. This step is about connecting the first two steps and thinking about possible interpretations. Giving meaning is something relative; it’s not about facts.

The broader context of a painting will help make reading the artwork easier. This context can be found through labels and descriptions. They can help you to place the work in a certain time period and relate it to an artist or movement. Maybe you even already have some knowledge about the subject. With all this information you will be able to put the pieces together in your mind and come up with your own interpretation.

 

Common Characteristics of Good Paintings

Good painters don’t merely recreate what is in front of them. An experienced artist knows how to create a successful painting, no matter what situation or model he or she is presented with or the materials being worked with.

Of course, this often comes after years of practice and experimentation — as well as the development of a unique artistic voice. But there are some basic characteristics that all good paintings have in common. As you are thinking about just how to paint your next composition, keep the following three tips in mind.

  1. A Strong Focal Point

A focal point is not like the big, bold “X” that marks the spot on a treasure map. It can take on any shape and size. It can be bold but it can also be subtle. A dappling of light, a pop of color, an expression or emphatic gesture — any of these can become a focal point in a composition.

Regardless of how it is created, its purpose should be to engage the viewer or act as the culmination of the momentum built in the work.

  1. Layers of Color

When it comes to painting characteristics, color is key to keep in mind. Color makes a painting tranquil or vibrant, dramatic or stark. And, this comes about not only in your color choices but also how you build passages of color over one another or side by side.

Warm and cool colors in a sky create a sense of atmosphere and space more than any one swath of color — no matter how perfectly matched it is to the sky above.

  1. Changes in Direction

In many great paintings, the image is realistically rendered, but brushstrokes are clearly visible. You are aware of how the painting is painted. Think about how the paint application of Jan van Eyck versus Vincent van Gogh perfectly reflects or resonates with what the artists painted.

The way a brush moves paint around makes a statement that should be taken advantage of. You can start by being mindful of your brush’s changes in the direction, literally working on a painting with different strokes and from various angles.

 

Things You Should Give Up to Be a Successful Artist

Give up on the “not enough” mind frame

Successful artists don’t frame things around “not enough.” There is never enough time, not enough money, not enough confidence, not enough of whatever it is at that moment to make or do what you need to do to be a successful artist.

Give up comparisons

Here’s the thing about comparisons: you are always going to be better at some things than other people, and worse at other things. Dwelling on either isn’t going to get you anywhere. It can stifle your creativity as an emerging artist to compare yourself to someone who is twenty years into their career, and it can stunt your growth to compare your work to someone who is just starting out. Instead of focusing on how you stack up next to someone else, invest that energy into comparing your recent work with the work you made six months ago, a year ago and five years ago. Have you grown? And where do you want to see yourself six months, a year, and five years in the future? Only compare yourself to yourself.

Give up on making excuses

If you want to be a successful artist, you have to show up. You have to do the work. If you are like any other artist in the world, you probably have said to yourself at one time something along the lines of, “I can’t go to the studio today because I’m too busy/ too heartbroken/ my family needs me too much/ [insert any excuse here.]” And you know what? It feels good to do that. It feels justified and reasonable and like you are doing the right thing for yourself.

How Should I Choose Wedding Photographer

THINGS THIS WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER LEARNED AS A BRIDE

As I come down from cloud nine from this amazing weekend, I thought I’d share a more personal blog post that I felt was kind of necessary. This weekend, I married my best friend and had the wedding of my dreams!!  Out of all the weddings I have shot over the years, it was so crazy to finally be the bride.  I’m still reliving the day over and over again, smiling to myself that this really happened.

In other news, it was really eye opening to be on the other side of things for once.  I learned a LOT about what it feels like to be the client, and what it feels like to the bride.  I really wanted to share some of the big things wedding planning taught me and some tips I can offer to current brides to help their day run smoothly.

Communication with your vendors is very important

The one thing that we did have some bumps in the road with, is a couple of mishaps with a couple of our vendors. One thing one that was helpful for us is to arrange a phone call with all of our hired vendors to make sure everyone was on the same page.  This is something that as a client that you shouldn’t feel bad about, as we are working for YOU.  It also did a lot in settling our nerves, knowing that all of our vendors were on the same page.

Do as much as you can as early in advance as you can!

We booked as many vendors as we could within the first couple of months of engagement.  When all the big stuff was taken care of, we took a seat for a bit as we both focused on other things for a few months.  A month before wedding, we realized we needed a lot of little things:  A card box, memory table frames, gifts for our parents, gifts for each other, gifts for our bridal party, escort cards.. the list goes on.  We had thought we had a leg up in the game, but when we realized we had so many little things left to do so close to the wedding, panic mode set in!

Spurge on the things that matter most to you, and budget on the others

Our priority vendor-wise was a couple of things:  An amazing photographer (duh), and our guests having a great time.  With that, we splurged and got a pretty great band which got our friends and family up and dancing, and our photographers were just incredible all day – we felt very comfortable with them and confident that they had everything captured for the day.  Flowers and center pieces?  We tried to go a little cheaper with.  We would rather spend more money on the things that are really important to us, rather than the things that we will never remember and our guests probably won’t notice.

 

Wedding Photography Client Gifts

There are a lot of things that I had to do to take my business from a side gig to full time – there’s no doubt that building a business is hard work, and the hardest part is getting people who actually want to pay for what you do. If I could tell you to focus on one thing and one thing only, I would say focus on the client experience

I like to think of it this way – if you loved the food at a certain restaurant, but the waiters were rude every time you went, and you had a bad experience, how likely are you to come back?

CLIENTS ARE WILLING TO PAY MORE FOR AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE.

Most people would rather go somewhere else, even if the food was more expensive – and that’s how it is with all things! People are willing to pay more for the experience, as long as it’s a good one. And especially if it’s one they won’t get just anywhere. Photos are no different. If you take beautiful photos, but your clients feel awkward and uncomfortable during the shoot, they’ll probably just remember that feeling when they look at the photos

MAKE YOUR CLIENT EXPERIENCE UNIQUE.

The client experience looks different for everybody – some people hang out with their clients or take them on a coffee date occasionally, which is awesome! I don’t personally do this (most of the time), just because I’m often traveling and it’s a little harder for me to maintain those in person connections. I am also more of an introvert, so it doesn’t feel super natural for me to become best friends with everybody. I’ve tried, and I kind of think people can tell when you’re trying too hard, haha. In general, being yourself just works out better.

How I do my wedding photography client gifts.

Back to wedding photography client gifts: I love giving them (it’s definitely my love language), and almost everyone I know loves receiving them. It’s just a cute little way to let your clients know you’re thinking about them, and when they get their gifts they often post them on Instagram stories or rave to their friends.

 

THINGS YOUR WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER WANTS YOU TO KNOW

What your wedding photographer wants you to know. It seems simple, right? As wedding photographers, we’re supposed to show up on the date you’ve picked out and photograph it. Easy. Well, that’s not really all there is to it. I like to think of wedding photographers as the glue that holds a wedding day together.

Disclaimer here: I don’t want to discount wedding planners. If you have hired a wedding planner, first off — thank you, and secondly, they would be handling all of the logistics, last minute plans, etc.

Wedding Planners are Wonderful

I mentioned this above, but hiring a wedding planner really does make wedding planning so much easier. You won’t have to keep up with a million different vendor email threads, nor will you have to coordinate every single tiny detail (think about napkins, how they’re placed, what color, etc). There are so many things you don’t think you’ll need to do until you are in the thick of it. If I could go back (my personal advice from being a bride), I would undoubtedly hire a wedding planner

We Can’t Work Magic

Scenario: You’ve been scouring blogs like Style Me Pretty and Magnolia Rouge. You’ve stared at countless outdoor ceremony photos with floral arches underneath large moss-covered trees. You’ve fallen in love with a certain photographer and you HAVE to hire them for your wedding. Your big day rolls around, you have your indoor formal church ceremony in front of the altar, and all is well. A few months pass and you receive your wedding photos. You think: these do NOT look like the work I saw of “said photographer” on the blogs.

Indoor ceremonies and outdoor ceremonies have totally different vibes because they have totally different light. Can indoor ceremonies still be gorgeous and ethereal? Absolutely! Your wedding photographer wants you to know that different light will yield different results. Lack of light will not render beautiful skin or light and airiness like being outside will.

 

The Top Wedding Photographers in the World

You’ve secured an ideal venue and are collaborating with a planner who anticipates your every need—and if they’re worth their salt, they’ll likely refer a photographer from this list. Your decor, dress, flowers, and cake can all look perfect on the day of, but it’s the skillful shooting, expert lighting, thoughtful composition, and fly-on-the-wall discretion that will shape your memories as you look back on your wedding photographs in the years to come.

These are the photographers we recommend when asked and those who we trust to capture the portraits, moments, and details of life’s most sentimental events. Some of them have shot the most exclusive celebrity weddings; others are the go-tos for the It-girl and fashion set. Many of these talents have captured events all over the world—some approaching their work with a documentarian’s eye, while others are all about sheer romance. As for the best of the best, they’re all of the above.

We asked our photographer shortlist to share their points of view, process, expert advice, and more about their signature styles in their own words

The Look: Having shot mostly in film for almost 20 years, I’ve been able to master the soft, organic, and timeless look that classic film provides.

The Approach: It’s not just about taking the best photos—it’s also about how I make the clients feel. This is an experience from the first initial connection to the final deliverables; it all must be consistent and flawless.

 

Must-Have Wedding Day Photography Gear

Those who follow Portrait Session know that I consider myself to be an idiot when it comes to photography gear.  I’m unlike my fellow Improve Photography guys in that I don’t lust over the newest lenses, I don’t nerd out about the latest camera models, and I certainly have no idea what great new treats are soon to be released.  I do, however, have a certain passion for the things that every good wedding photographer should have in their bag, which is why I want to share with you what I believe is the must have wedding day photography gear.  The gear that will allow you to improve the quality of your photographs, and in turn take your business to the next level.

Now, I’m not here to say that you can’t be a wedding photographer if you don’t have all of these things in your bag.  I know that there are successful wedding photographers out there who shoot with old bodies or only 2 lenses.  I’m also not here to say that the gear I have is the best and you should run out and buy everything I own.  I am simply here to share the things that I think are crucial in order to be fully prepared for all of the environments and situations that weddings throw at you.  With these pieces of gear in your bag, I promise you’ll be ready to conquer a wedding day like a pro!

A good bag

There are approximately 72 million camera bags in the world today.  Some are cross body, others are backpacks, and others are roller bags.  Some hold a few lenses and a body, while others hold roughly 84 lenses and 17 bodies.  While much of what I’m saying here is exaggeration, one thing I will not exaggerate about is that every wedding photographer must have a bag that is big enough, strong enough, and safe enough for all of the gear necessary to be a GREAT wedding photographer.

A camera that performs well in low light

It’s inevitable that you’ll encounter extremely crappy light at some point on a wedding day.  Most churches have dull lights that cast a yellow hue on everything in site.  The majority of reception venues are dimly lit spaces with sometimes not even enough ambient light to be able to lock focus (that’s the WORST).  Because of this, it’s absolutely crucial for all wedding photographers to have a camera that will produce beautiful images even in dark situations.

A zoom lens

Going back to that church scenario mentioned above, it is also inevitable that you’ll encounter a church that restricts photographers.  I’d say that in at least half of the church weddings I photograph, I am restricted in some way.  Most often, this restriction is in the form of where I can move during the ceremony.  Some restrictions are more harsh than others, but I have been in some churches where I wasn’t even allowed to move out of the back row!  If I had not had my 70-200 lens, the couple would’ve looked like ants in every single photo!!

Home Renovation Based Business Opportunities

Things You Need To Know: A Home Renovation Checklist

Be an Informed Renovator

We love giving homeowners the insider information needed to master the art of a renovation! We created the Renovation Roadmap as an online tool that helps you navigate the remodeling process when working with a general contractor.

Ready, get set…wait!

A home renovation is a big undertaking. Sure, we might have tons of inspiration from HGTV and Pinterest boards, but most of also have budget and time constraints to consider. Before you start Demolition Day: Chip Gaines style, check out this renovation checklist first to ensure that all of your ducks are in a row.

Know Your Budget

Everything costs money and knowing your budget is one of the most — if not the most — important steps in the home renovation process. Being aware of your financial standing will help you prioritize what’s truly relevant for your home renovation. Yes, you may want a hot tub grotto, but is that more important than new marble countertops, a fresh set of cabinets, and hardwood floors? Also, keep in mind that surprises do happen, and you will more than likely end up spending more than you anticipated, so make allotments for that from the onset.

Focus on small sections of the house at a time

Unless you are planning on moving out during the house remodeling process, it is easier (and more economical) to focus on updating certain sections of your house a little at a time. If the bedroom, kitchen, and dining room are in shambles, your mental state is bound to be a wreck, too. If, though, you work on and complete certain smaller portions at a time, you’ll be able to have some reprieve from the renovation chaos

Gather inspiration

A well put together renovation checklist will include tons of remodeling ideas. Whether you create boards on Pinterest, take screenshots of Google pictures, or put together a vision board using magazine clippings, it’s important to know what you want before you go out looking for and interviewing contractors. That’s where the Renovation Roadmap comes in. Not only will your inspiration and planning help out the contractors — some might not be comfortable doing the type of work you’re seeking — but you will be able to keep a consistent visual flow going throughout your house.

 

How to Renovate Your House on a Budget These Days

House renovation can be costly as you move to make your house a luxury place with comfort and style. Staying on a limited budget during the remodeling process thus requires more than general concepts on how to renovate a house. You have to take into consideration a number of factors to avoid spending too much beyond the limits of your budget. This is where creativity and resourcefulness come in handy. Let’s have a look at some of the tips to make the renovation process easy.

Clean up

This is the first step before you introduce any changes in your house. Put every item away from the house and have it cleaned well. You will notice the house looks better right away. Cleaning will also give you the chances to visualize how household items are arranged. This will give you more ideas on how to choose different places to store your belongings or how to rearrange the furniture well. Doing so will make the renovation more effective and appealing to see. Get rid of any unnecessary items in the house. This will add more space to the house and make every room look much bigger than before. Crammed clutter makes the house look so messy. Moving furniture to different rooms will help add more space making your house more useful without spending a single cent.

Create natural light without putting windows

It is a noble idea to go for affordable and less invasive ways of bringing light into your house. This should be done before you rearrange the framing and make a large hole in the walls of your house. To come up with a windowless way with natural light, install a light tube for instance which taps light from the roof rafter to the living room.

Improve efficiency, not size

Equipping and rearranging the kitchen for maximum usefulness will help you avoid demolishing some of the walls of the house to gain more space. The shelves which consume a lot of space should be replaced with cabinets drawers. The preferred height of the pullout drawers should be 8 inches. This will create additional space where you can store canned good and other household items.

Demolish by yourself

Demolishing the house may not be as expensive as renovation, however, you can still save a few coins by doing the process by yourself. However, you need to take good care of yourself to avoid unnecessary injuries. Doing a demo is mostly preferred on a deck but when it comes to the interior, it is advisable to seek the services of a contractor. Start from the front door now that you have had your house properly cleaned, the next step involves renovating. But where should you start from to make the process more effective? Of course, the front door is the first focal point.

 

TIPS FOR SURVIVING A LIVE-IN KITCHEN RENO

As you know, we’re smack dab in the middle of renovating our kitchen. You guys have given me SO many good tips and suggestions for surviving my kitchen renovation, I thought I’d share a bunch of my favorites here on the blog. If anyone is in the same boat… living amongst a mess and renovation- this post is a must-read! This may not be the prettiest post, but trust me when I say- there are so many amazing hacks to help you keep your sanity if you’re also planning to survive a reno.

Living in a reno is a difficult task in itself, but living through a KITCHEN renovation is a totally different ballgame. I’m not going to lie- it’s miserable. Imagine going two or three months without a sink, oven, cooktop, or in some circumstances, a fridge. Over the past couple months I’ve picked up some invaluable tricks that are helping Emmett and I survive the day-to-day without a kitchen.

Give Up Some Control

This might seem counterintuitive, but trust me- it’s better to let some things be. Depending on the scale of your reno, the house will get messy. That’s just a fact. It’s impossible and tiring to clean every single day for months on end. The end will come soon enough and there will be a day where things are neat, tidy, perfectly organized and clean once again (at least I hope so). However, until that day comes… I’ve found it’s not worth it to obsess. I had to limit my cleaning to 2-3 times per week because it was stressing me out and taking so much valuable time. There is NO way to keep up with the dust, so eventually embrace what is out of your control.

Section Off the House

Obviously there are some things you can do to keep the dust and dirt from spreading to other sections of your home. Here’s a list of things we’ve tried that I’ve found to work:

Plastic and Tape (tape off doorways)

Flat Sheets (wet the sheet and hang in the door way, in front of the plastic, when sanding- it helps to attract and catch drywall dust)

2 Pairs of House Slippers (one for the clean areas and one for the workspace… the easier to slide on and off, the better)

Shop Vac (if you don’t want to ruin your regular vacuum cleaner)

Moving Blankets (so much better than contractor paper to protect your floors- especially in the winter or rainy seasons)

Dusting Mit (this is my favorite because it doesn’t require cleaner… super quick and easy for keeping surfaces in other rooms drywall dust free)

F O O D

During most full fledged kitchen renos, there will be a point where it’s out with the old appliances and in with the new. We’ve been without appliances for almost two months now and it’s about as fun as you’d expect.

 

Want to renovate your home but don’t know where to start? A step-by-step guide to renovating

Don’t wait until you are halfway through your renovation to discover that you should have painted the walls before laying the solid timber floors or that the wiring should have been finished before the new ceiling went in. Follow a checklist in your renovation project for less stress and mess.

Design and planning

“Keep it simple and be as final about your decisions as you can be before you start. Changes to designs and materials during the process add delays and costs that can really destroy your budget,” says

Decide if you are going to do it yourself or hire a project manager or builder

“Employ a project manager/builder as this will keep the work flowing and they will employ licensed trades that will turn up and do a good job. You will also receive a seven-year warranty for the work completed,” says

Get council approval

You will need to check with your council to clarify the local regulations before you start renovations, says

“Are you doing additions? Are you changing the use of any rooms? (for example changing a bedroom to a bathroom.) Are you making structural changes? Are you planning a deck larger than 20 square metres and higher than one metre? Some areas require council approval for changes to the external appearance of the property, even changing paint colours,” she says.

 

Home Improvement: Keeping Your Things Safe While Renovating

Renovating your home is an exciting time.

Goodbye, pale green porcelain bathroom. Goodbye, carpet where the original colour is as unknown as Grannys real age. Goodbye, terrible water pressure and cramped necks from washing your hair over the bath.

With finishings and swatches, colour palettes and fixtures, installations and furnishings all occupying your mind, you might not have stopped to think about how you will keep your home and belongings secure during the renovation.

Hire The Best Contractor in the Business

This has got to be on the top of your agenda. There’s nothing quite as important in terms of safety and securing your home and possessions than checking out the credentials of your contractor before handing over the keys to your home

Find a Good Removal Company

One way to make things much less stressful is to hire a good removal company to make moving your possessions as safe and secure as possible.

Keep Things out of Sight

If you are going to keep some of your possessions in a separate part of the house or in the garage, you’ve got to make sure they are tidied well out of view of any passers by.

The Importance Of Inheritance Tax Planning

How can I reduce my taxable income?

One of the excuses I had for not contributing more to my retirement was the thought that I couldn’t afford it. In fact, 47% of Americans feel the same way I felt. In all honesty, I just didn’t want to reduce the amount of my direct deposited check. I was comfortable seeing a certain amount and I didn’t want to lower it. I had bills to pay, money to spend and money to save.

Yup, I thought that the money I was saving in my savings account earning a measly 1% in interest was better saved there! Oh to be young and naive.

I just didn’t know any better.  I didn’t understand that the money I contributed to my retirement plan was not only being invested but I was also saving money. How you may ask? I would have been saving money by not paying taxes on that money AND as a result, my taxable income would have lower. Let’s get into this!

What is taxable income?

In simple terms, taxable income is the amount of your income on which you pay taxes also know as your post-tax income. I was surprised when I received my first paycheck at 14 to see that my back of the napkin math didn’t add up to my paycheck. I quickly learned that there were things like social security, Medicare and taxes. All of which was deducted from my earnings long before I got my paycheck. (Learn more about pre-tax vs. post-tax income and how much you really make).

Does my story sound familiar? It may feel like every dollar you earn is taxed, but due to our complicated and something called our “graduated tax” system (also known as progressive tax), not all income is taxed. Examples of income not taxed include child support payments, the money you contribute to certain types of retirement accounts and money that you put aside for childcare or medical expenses. This also includes money you put in an employer-sponsored account like a Health Savings Account or Flexible Spending Account.

 

Top Off Your Retirement Savings Plan

Money contributed to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a traditional 401(k), isn’t included in your taxable income. In 2016, you can contribute up to $18,000 or $24,000 if you’re 50 or older, by the end of the year. If you haven’t maxed out, ask your employer if you can make an additional contribution before December 31.

If you have self-employment income from a side job, you can sock away even more. You can contribute up to 20% of your net self-employment income to a Simplified Employee Pension, up to a total contribution limit of $53,000 for 2016. (Unlike 401(k) contributions, there’s no December 31 deadline for SEP deposits. You can make 2016 deposits anytime before the due date of your tax return.)

Give to Charity

If you itemize, making charitable contributions before December 31 will reduce your taxable income. For cash contributions, hang on to your canceled check or credit-card statement as proof of your donation. If you contribute $250 or more, you’ll also need an acknowledgment from the charity. Donations made by credit card before December 31 are deductible on your 2016 tax return, even if you pay the credit-card bill in January.

Donating appreciated securities can also reduce your taxable income. When you donate appreciated securities you have owned more than one year to charity, you can deduct the full value of the securities on the date of the gift. You won’t have to pay taxes on capital gains, and the charity won’t have to pay them, either. Not all charities can accept donations of appreciated securities. If your favorite cause falls into that category, consider opening a donor-advised fund. The fund administrator will sell the securities for you and add the proceeds to your account. You can deduct the value of the securities on your 2016 tax return and decide later where you want to donate the money.

 

Take advantage of tax loss harvesting

If you have losing investments, selling them allows you to harvest your losses to offset taxes on investment gains or to reduce your taxable income by up to $3,000.

This strategy can be especially beneficial if your income is going to be higher than normal and you want to avoid being pushed into a higher tax bracket, or if you’re going to be selling investments that you’ll need to pay short-term capital gains on.

Keep track of your medical costs

If you incur substantial medical expenses, you may be able to take a deduction for the funds you spent.

In 2019, you can deduct unreimbursed allowable medical expenses only if they exceed 10% of your income — up from 7.5% in 2017 and 2018. You’ll need to itemize to claim this deduction — which doesn’t make sense for many tax payers due to the large standard deduction.

Still, you should keep the bills you incur throughout the year. If your costs are high enough to hit the threshold for deductibility, you want to be able to take advantage of the tax savings to offset some of your big care expenses.

 

Get organized.

First up, be organized. Don’t just deal with your taxes once a year, in April. Instead, dedicate a folder or box to tax-related documents, and fill it all year long — with receipts for deductible expenses, 1099 forms and other IRS forms that arrive in the mail, trade confirmations and end-of-year statements from bank and investment accounts that you may need to refer to, and so on. That way, when it’s time to start preparing your tax return — or to hand off needed information to a paid preparer — everything will already be in one place.

Keep your tax-related records for a while, too. It’s smart to keep copies of your returns, at least for a minimum of three years and, to be more conservative, up to seven. You’ll likely be free from any chance of a tax audit by then.

Claim all the deductions you can.

As you know, a tax deduction shrinks your tax bill by shrinking your taxable income. If, for example, you earn $70,000 and take a $5,000 deduction, your taxable income will shrink by $5,000, letting you avoid being taxed on that $5,000. If you’re in a 24% tax bracket, that could save you $1,200.

It’s a little more complicated than that, though. You can choose to itemize and claim all your various deductions, or you can just take the “standard deduction” available to all taxpayers. That deduction has been roughly doubled in recent years, making it the smart (and easy!) move for most taxpayers.

Get the timing right

From a tax perspective, there’s a huge difference between doing something on Dec. 31 and doing it a day later. If you know an upcoming expense is going to be tax-deductible, think about whether you can pay for it this year rather than next year. Making January’s mortgage payment in December, for example, could give you an extra month’s worth of mortgage interest to deduct this year. Similarly, if you know you’re near the threshold for the medical-expenses deduction, moving that root canal up might make the pain more bearable if the cost suddenly becomes deductible, too.

 

Tweak your W-4

The W-4 is a form you give to your employer, instructing it on how much tax to withhold from each paycheck. If you got a huge tax bill this year and don’t want another surprise next year, raise your withholding so you owe less when it’s time to file your tax return. If you got a huge refund, do the opposite and reduce your withholding — otherwise, you could be needlessly living on less of your paycheck all year.

You can change your W-4 any time.

Stash money in your 401(k)

Less taxable income means less tax, and 401(k)s are a popular way to reduce tax bills. The IRS doesn’t tax what you divert directly from your paycheck into a 401(k). For 2020, you can funnel up to $19,500 per year into an account. If you’re 50 or older, you can contribute an extra $6,500 in 2020. These retirement accounts are usually sponsored by employers, although self-employed people can open their own 401(k)s. And if your employer matches some or all of your contribution, you’ll get free money to boot.

Contribute to an IRA

There are two major types of individual retirement accounts: Roth IRAsand traditional IRAs.

You may be able to deduct contributions to a traditional IRA, though how much you can deduct depends on whether you or your spouse is covered by a retirement plan at work and how much you make.

For the 2019 tax year, you may not be able to deduct your contributions if you’re covered by a retirement plan at work, you’re married and filing jointly, and your modified adjusted gross income was $123,000 or more. In 2020, that number rises to $124,000.

There are limits to how much you can put in an IRA, too:

For 2019 and 2020, the limits are $6,000 per year, or $7,000 for people 50 or older.

You have until the tax-filing deadline to fund your IRA for the previous tax year, which gives you extra time to take advantage of this strategy

Tips On Choosing The Right Auto Repair Dealer

Should You Use an Auto Repair Shop Recommended by Your Insurance Company?

When your car has been damaged in an accident, one of the most important things you can do is find a quality auto repair shop that will make it truly roadworthy. Your insurance company may offer to relieve you of the burden of finding a reputable repair shop by giving you a list of its own preferred providers. This is a tempting offer when you’re in a hurry to get back on the highway and not eager to check out repair shops on your own.

Insurers typically tell policyholders that they have carefully checked out these businesses to make sure they do quality work at reasonable prices. Your carrier may offer to guarantee any work that is performed by shops on its preferred list.

“What you want to do is find the repair shop that does the best job,” she says. “That isn’t necessarily the one they would recommend because they’re into cutting costs. In general, it’s a good idea to pick your own place. Do your own shopping. Look at reviews and decide on your own where you want your car to go.”

attorney and founder of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog organization, says many consumers don’t realize that state insurance regulations around the country typically allow them to choose their own repair shops following accidents.

Because insurance-affiliated repair shops depend on insurance carriers for their business, in some cases they may more concerned with how much they’re costing your insurer than how well they’re repairing your vehicle, Rosenfeld says. “You’re at a disadvantage when you’re dealing with a car repair facility whose principle allegiance is to the insurance company,” he says.

 

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND WHEN FINDING AN AUTO REPAIR SHOP

Don’t Wait Till You Need It: Try to find an auto repair shop that you trust before you’re stuck on the side of the road. Having someone who knows you and your car when you call can save both you and the shop time and get you out on the road quicker.

Take Your Car In For A Trial Run: If you are unsure an auto repair shop is right for you, try taking your vehicle in for a small thing and see how they do. This way you can make a good assessment of how you’re treated as a customer without spending too much money.

Does The Shop Have Certified Auto Mechanics: Making sure that the people working on your car are certified by the ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) to work on the specific make of your car is always a good idea? Luckily our mechanics go through the ASE training and certification process.

How Long Has the Shop Been in Business: The longevity of a business is a good indicator of what kind of service you will receive. Keep in mind that if customers were unsatisfied the business would probably have folded a long time ago.

How Involved Are They in The Community: Auto repair shops are in the business of keeping return customers happy and spreading the word. A good way to do this is through positive outreach so try to see if the shop has any sort of community involvement they are participating in.

Make Sure The Shop Can Handle Your Car: It seems as though every year brings new updates to the automotive world. Sometimes it can be hard for auto shops to keep up with the ever-changing needs of the automotive world. It’s always a good idea to call ahead of time to make sure the shop can work on your car. Chances are if the place you call cannot work on your car they will refer you to someone who can.

Ask Questions: Make sure that you have questions ready when going to a mechanic or auto repair shop for the first time. It’s always good to know more about the vehicle you’re driving but this will also show them that you are taking the situation seriously.

Location & Transportation: How far away is the car repair facility from where you are? Do they offer any sort of transportation assistance while your car is in the shop? These are two great questions to ask as the shop will probably have your car for at least a day.

Only Pay For What You Authorize: Some shops will do work on your car without notifying you and then try to charge you afterward with no warning. You may owe the initial quoted cost but no shop can work on your car without your permission and they cannot hold your car as collateral.

Keeping Personnel Records: Regardless of whether or not you’re looking for a shop it is always a good idea to keep a record of when your car was last serviced and any repair it has had up until the point you bring it in. This information will help the shop assess what might be wrong and you can avoid having to pay for extra things you might not need.

 

How To Run A Successful Auto Repair & Mechanic Shop

Most people have become leery of using just any auto repair shop and prefer to stick with one they trust. Make sure you are one of those trusted auto repair shops.

Reduce Your Employee Turnover Rate

Establishing reliability and consistency is extremely important when running an auto repair shop. This is hard to accomplish when you have a high turn over rate of employees which can lead to inexperienced new workers who need to be guided into better mechanics which can take time. Reduce your employee turnover rate by treating your employees well, giving good benefits and paying them well. This will also make your customers more comfortable working with you when they see the same mechanics each time they come in for auto work. It’s hard to trust an auto shop when they have a different mechanic working on their vehicle every single time they come in.

Stand Behind Your Work With Guarantees

Make sure your customers know that you trust your own work by giving a guarantee on your repairs for certain amount of miles or time. If you repair someone’s brakes, for instance, this will show them your not doing a shoddy job, causing them to come back in a few months to have the work done again. Give them a reason to trust your work and make them more likely to come back to you in the future.

Create An Ethics Statement & Display It Prominently

Given the unease that many people have when working with an auto mechanic, create an ethics statement describing your stand on honest, trustworthy work. State that you provide reliable service and are not trying to scam anyone. Explain that you will only provide necessary repairs and service and will not try to charge them for services that they don’t need. Once you’ve created the ethics statement, display it in a prominent place in the guest waiting room where anyone can see it.

Always Reward Your Loyal Customers

Make your regulars feel appreciated by rewarding them for being loyal customers. Send them coupons for discounted work or give them a free oil change from time to time. There may be some upfront losses in revenue but will end up paying out in the long run as you start to build up a client base who will only come to you for auto repairs and refuse to go anywhere else. On top of that, those customers are also more likely to refer you to their friends and family.

 

Tips For Tackling Your First Big Car Repair

You’re a capable weekend car mechanic. You’ve got basic tools and skills. You’ve mastered oil changes and tire rotations. But when a big repair comes along, it’s decision time. Take it on yourself, or call in a pro?

That’s the choice I faced at the end of last summer, when my 1990 Mazda Miata suffered a crankshaft failure. Expecting a quick repair, I soon discovered the car needed a whole new engine—and I discovered this just after I’d disassembled it to the point that it couldn’t be put back together.

Instead of paying a mechanic to mend my Miata, I decided to try replacing the engine myself. I did it—eventually—though I made plenty of rookie mistakes on the way. Here’s what I learned.

Do Your Research

Aftermarket shop manuals are great for learning the tools and parts you’ll need, but they sometimes read like a general overview (step one: remove radiator, front bumper, and windshield washer reservoir). Internet forums can offer detailed instructions and tricks specific to your car, usually with step-by-step photos.

Set Up Your Workspace

I started my teardown in the corner of my parents’ two-car garage. I got all set to pull the engine when I discovered I had no room to maneuver my engine hoist. Even with two muscular brothers, moving a half-disassembled car was a masochist’s game of Tetris. So don’t make my mistake: Clear plenty of space before you start the job, and position your car for maximum elbow room. I found the best spot was right in the center of the garage, though not everyone in my family shared this view.

 

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AUTO MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR?

If you’re a car owner, it’s critical to know the difference between auto maintenance and auto repair. Both of these things are important to the overall performance, but they have different functions.

Maintenance is regular service that is required for your vehicle while auto repairs are performed when your vehicle is not functioning properly. Your owner’s manual will have a list of maintenance schedules with recommendations on what needs to be done and when. The most common regular maintenance, that everyone has heard of, is oil changes. Yet that’s not the only service that’s crucial for your car’s performance.

Here’s a list of common auto maintenance needed to keep your car in tip-top shape:

Oil Change

Battery

Brakes

Tires

Power-Steering Fluid

Fuel Filter

Coolant

Engine Belts & Timing Belts

Spark Plugs

That’s quite a list! It seems like a lot of things you need to manage, but many of these services are simple procedures that your auto repair facility can complete that day or with an appointment. Many customers delay maintenance for various reasons. They may think it’s unnecessary, they may be too busy to bring their vehicle in, they may want to delay paying for auto services, or they might not realize that doing maintenance now can save money in the long run by avoiding repairs. It’s OK if you don’t know the difference between a spark plug and an oil cap – as long as you bring your vehicle to a reputable shop for regular maintenance. In a nutshell: performing regular auto maintenance helps keep your ride running smoothly and can prevent costly repairs down the road.

Maintenance is regular service that will help prolong the life of your vehicle, while auto repair is when a part or fluid is not performing and needs to be fixed.

Water Testing Methods: Analysing Water Using ION Concentration Testers

What To Know About Mold Swabs and Air Quality Testing

Air Quality Testing

Air sampling tests the concentration of mold spores in your home’s air.  Samples are taken from the air and are later examined under a microscope.

Air tests can tell you if you have a mold problem even if you cannot find the mold growth. However the amount of mold spores in the air can change drastically in a small amount of time, giving varying results at different times.

Mold Swabs /Surface Samples

Surface testing takes samples from household surfaces to find the amount of mold growth and spores deposited around the home. Samples are collected by swabbing.  The sample is then examined in a laboratory.

Like with air testing the results can vary because mold growth and spores aren’t spread evenly across surfaces in the home and can change over time. Unlike air testing though, surface tests can’t identify the exact concentration of mold spores in the air.

Why You Should Test for Mold

The main reasons for having mold testing performed in your home are:

  • You notice signs of mold such as a mold smell or mold symptoms
  • To identify the species of mold in your home
  • To help you find where mold is growing-
  • To test indoor air quality by measuring the amount of spores in the air
  • To test if mold in your home has been fully removed

Identifying Mold Species

Another reason for mold testing is if you want to find out what kind of species of mold is in your home. This is important for toxic molds since extra caution needs to be taken to safely remove toxic mold from the home. Two well-known toxic molds are Stachybotrys (often called toxic black mold) and Aspergillus. If you see mold which looks like a toxic species or if you are suffering toxic symptoms then you should have it tested before you try to remove it. The only way to identify the species of a mold colony for certain is to have a mold professional look at a sample of it under the microscope.

 

What Happens in a Full Mold Inspection?

If you suspect you have a mold problem, you can also bring in professionals for a mold inspection. Mold inspectors can search for mold in hard-to-reach areas of your home. They can search:

  • Walls and Wall Cavities
  • Foundation Walls and Crawl Spaces
  • Air Conditioning Systems and Heating Vents
  • Attic Spaces and Chimneys

A visual mold inspection can give you incredibly thorough answers about any fungal infestation in your property. Some mold inspectors will even perform an air quality test to increase their understanding of your situation. Mold inspections are your most expensive option for mold testing, but they can provide you with the most comprehensive answers.

 

How to Test Air Quality in The Home

There are many factors that can affect the air quality in your home. For the health and safety of all, it’s necessary to have the air quality in your home tested. The rule of thumb is the higher the indoor air contaminant concentration, the higher the health risks. The air pollutants in your home can come from harmful gases in the air or from mold growths. Mold and mildew can grow anyplace — on furniture, building material, wet carpet, inside the heating and cooling systems, as well as a host of other places. These mold spores can be very harmful. Harmful gases can be even more dangerous. The two most prevalent gases in homes are radon and carbon monoxide [source: Colorado State University]. Here are some ways to test the air we breath.

  • Carbon Monoxide Carbon monoxide is a very dangerous, colorless and odorless gas that is generated from incomplete combustion of fuel in household devices, such as stoves, furnaces, water heaters and fireplaces. Carbon monoxide can get into your lungs and inhibit the transport of oxygen through the body. Prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can result in death. The only way to detect the presence of carbon monoxide is to purchase a carbon monoxide detector. This works like a smoke detector, sounding an alarm when the carbon monoxide level rises.
  • Radon Radon is also a colorless and odorless gas that rises naturally from the soil and enters the home through dirt floors, cracks in the basement floor and walls, and drainage systems. It is thought to be a major cause of lung cancer. The only way to test for radon is to purchase a radon detection kit.
  • Biological Pollutants Mold, mildew, viruses, bacteria and pollen are all considered biological pollutants. Mold and mildew grow in damp conditions resulting from high humidity, water-pipe leaks and constant condensation. Visual inspection and odor are the only ways to detect biological pollutants. When mold and mildew are found, you must clean the area thoroughly with ammonia, or some similar cleanser, to kill off the spores

 

How Easy Is It to Use a Home Testing Kit?

Most testing kits follow a similar process that is quick and easy to follow. In most cases, you will just need to take these steps:

  • After opening your testing kit, you will follow the directions for collecting air or surface samples from around your home. The kit will have all of the materials that you will need to collect your samples.
  • Take your samples and package them in your mailing envelope that comes included in your kit, and send them to the laboratory. The testing fees will be included in the price of the kit.
  • You will usually receive the results of your samples in 7 to 10 days after the testing is completed. This package will include a detailed report of the findings of the tests as well as specific suggestions on how you can improve these problems that they have detected. If you have further questions about the results, a contact number or email address is often included with the results.

As you can see, this combination of materials will give you all of the tools you will need in order to make your house a healthier place.

 

Combustion air pollutants

Second-Hand Smoke

Secondhand smoke – From anything that burns tobacco, as well as what a smoker exhales. Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 compounds, and at least 40 of those are carcinogens. Besides the risk of lung cancer for anyone breathing it, secondhand smoke increases the risk of respiratory infections, especially in infants and children. For kids or anyone with asthma, it can be particularly harmful.

Detection is easy enough. Tobacco smoke is easily seen and smelled. It seeps into fabrics, hair, and furniture. The yellow residue can cling to windows and mirrors.

Prevention is fairly simple. Don’t smoke in your house or allow anyone else to smoke inside. If you live in an apartment complex or other situation where a neighbor’s smoke comes in your home, you’ll need to find ways to seal up air leaks. Investing in a good air purifier placed near the source of entry is another solution.

Carbon monoxide – This gas, in high concentrations, can cause unconsciousness or death. Low concentrations lead to headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, weakness, and confusion. It’s so dangerous because it’s colorless and odorless.

CO is emitted mostly by things that burn fossil fuels: stoves, fireplaces, kerosene heaters, gas-powered generators, cars, etc. Prevention lies in keeping flues and chimneys clear of blockages and never running gas-powered vehicles or machines indoors. However, some indoor gas appliances can malfunction and emit dangerous levels of CO.

The One Week Silverfish Control Method

Silverfish Information: Habits & Identification

Silverfish are small, silvery insects that thrive in humid environments. While they are capable of traveling long distances on foot, they tend to build colonies close to readily available food sources. This makes them particularly problematic in the Atlanta, Georgia region. Once they have found a source of food, they set up camp in dark, damp corners, usually in attics, old boxes, or kitchen cabinets. They are most active during the night when they will leave their nest area to feed, making it hard to manage silverfish control on your own. In addition, they can eat through wallpaper and thin wood cabinets, creating tiny visible holes. Unfortunately, the insects themselves are very fast-moving and difficult to see unless you stumble upon their nest. This makes silverfish control exceedingly difficult.

 

Silverfish & Firebrats

Homeowners usually see silverfish and firebrats when a cabinet door is opened, or a book or other object under which they were hiding is moved. Silverfish and firebrats are pests because they feed on a wide variety of materials, including glue, wallpaper paste, starch in clothing, book bindings, linen, rayon, paper and dried meats. Signs of their feeding are irregularly chewed patches.

Description

Three species of silverfish and one firebrat species are found in South Carolina.  Silverfish and firebrats are very similar in appearance. They have flat, wingless, elongated bodies, 1/2 to 3/4 inch long that taper from head to tail. At the head are two long antennae with three long antennae-like structures at the tail. Depending on the species, silver to gray scales cover their bodies.

Life Cycle

Adult silverfish may live two to eight years. In a lifetime, silverfish females lay about 100 eggs. They are laid singly or a few at a time and hatch in three to six weeks. They take on the adult color in four to six weeks.

Firebrats lay about 50 eggs at a time in batches. The eggs hatch in about two weeks under warm conditions. Young silverfish and firebrats look like the adults except for being smaller and white.  Depending on the species, silverfish and firebrats typically reach maturity in three to twenty-four months.

Habits

Silverfish and firebrats are active at night and hide during the day. In general, silverfish prefer damp, cool areas and can be found throughout the home. Firebrats prefer hot places, such as near ovens, fireplaces, furnaces and hot water pipes. Silverfish and firebrats are typically brought into a home in food, books, paper, starched clothing and furniture.  Their populations tend to increase slowly. If a large population is present in a house, it is usually an indication of longtime infestation.

 

Ways to Exterminate A Silverfish Infestation

Have you seen silverfish around your property?

Have you found holes in your favourite books, or clothes?

Having a silverfish infestation is a problem in many Australian homes. Although they seem harmless, these insects feed on starchy objects, especially books and paper products. And because of their small, flat bodies, they can squeeze through any space, making it difficult to exterminate them and prevent further damage. But what are your options for eliminating them once and for all?

Decrease food sources in your property

Silverfish hangs around your property for two things: food and shelter. When you eliminate their food source, they will most likely look for other places to nest in. Do this by regularly cleaning up the floors, washing the laundry as soon as you can, and avoiding storing books on the floor as they will be easy for the silverfish to access. You may also want to store old clothing in plastic bags, keeping food in sealed plastic containers, repainting walls or adding new wallpaper, and storing storage boxes in shelves rather than placing them on the floor, causing them to catch moisture and become a breeding ground for silverfish.

Fill up the cracks and crevices where they might pass through

Because silverfish can enter through cracks and crevices in the walls, ceilings, and floors, it’s a good idea to fill them in with some caulk. Doing so will prevent them from having entryways, quick exits, and a nest to lay their eggs. Prioritise putting caulk in damp rooms such as bathrooms and laundry rooms.

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth near where they crawl

Diatomaceous earth, a form of white powder created from algae, is highly-effective when used for silverfish. Sprinkle it on areas where silverfish might roam and you can eliminate them easily. When DE gets in contact with the silverfish, it sticks to their bodies and their waxy coating absorbs the moisture they have in their bodies, causing them to die.

Reduce your property’s humidity levels

Silverfish thrive in humid and moist areas of the property. Their favourite hiding spots are leaky pipes, wet bathrooms, and damp basements among many others. To make your home unappealing to these pests, seal out exterior cracks with caulk. You may also use a dehumidifier in your home which can reduce the overall humidity of specific areas. If you don’t have a dehumidifier, you may also keep the air conditioner on or keep the fans on for a given amount of time each day.

 

Silverfish Characteristics, Diet, Reproduction and Lifecycle

Silverfish are grayish-blue creatures with a teardrop-shaped body. They have three long bristles at their back and can grow up to 19mm in length. Although these insects do not pose serious harm, they are usually annoying to have around the house. They’ll eat your books, anything made of starch and sugar, your clothes, even dead skin cells, etc.

If there is a silverfish in your place and you fail to spot them early, you may have to face silverfish infestation in no time. This insect reproduces quickly, making it difficult to eradicate an infestation. Some species of female silverfish can lay up to 20 nymphs (eggs) a day, usually in crevices and cracks. The eggs are only about one mm in length so they are barely visible to our eyes. They are white and soft when first laid but become yellowish and hardens after a few hours. The eggs develop faster in a humid environment.

A silverfish can live up to three years. Just imagine the number of eggs it can lay throughout their lifetime!

When it comes to attitude, silverfish are known to be shy, reserved, and quite secretive. Because of their size and being secretive, it is difficult to spot silverfish.  But just because you cannot see a silverfish around does not mean that they do not exist. They may be lurking in the cracks of your home. If you see one, there may be more. Frequently, homeowners find them when it is too late or when the insect’s population already grow exponentially.

 

Ways to Prevent the Silverfish from Coming Back

Whether you have already experienced having these creatures around your house or not, it pays off to know what you should do to keep them away. As the adage goes, “Why spend all your time trying to solve a problem that you would like, just avoid having in the first place?”

  1. Keep Your Place Clean

Prevention is always better than cure. Silverfish thrives in damp, dark, and moist areas such as under sinks, basements, bathrooms, attics, and closets. They also love the taste of wet wood and paper so you can also find them around cereal boxes, magazines, books, behind wallpaper, and along with rotting window sills. In short, they take shelter in a dirty, cluttered, and unkempt house. If you wish silverfishes to stay away from your property and your life, keep everything in your place clean. It is basic. A vibrant, spotless, and fresh place does not attract unwanted beasties.

  1. Declutter and Vacuum Regularly

Silverfish usually hides in and often feasts upon old books, papers, and magazines. So if there is a pile of paper in your desk, there is a high chance that you’ll meet Silverfish again. Start getting rid of stuff you do not need or haven’t looked at in for a long time. The important papers, on the other hand, should be stored in airtight bins. Aside from decluttering, it is also essential to vacuum your place at least once a week. The vacuum can suck Silverfish eggs out of the baseboard and carpet. If needed, dry out the carpets through spraying baking soda in them. Leave the baking soda in the carpet for a few hours before vacuuming. The purpose of this is to dry out the eggs. Vacuuming can also help to remove food sources which may attract silverfish.

  1. Light Up Dark Areas of Your House

Silverfish are nocturnal creatures so they tend to squeeze their bodies into dark and tiny spaces and gaps in your home. They hate light. Therefore, giving them what they dislike is one of the ways to keep them away. Let lots of light into areas and rooms that are predominantly dingy and dark. If you have an unused room, try installing new lighting or simply draw back curtains if there are some. The goal is to get rid of silverfish dungeons and any substantial shadows.

  1. Use a Dehumidifier

An environment with a constantly humid atmosphere is an ideal place for silverfish. Keeping your place dry is important in preventing silverfish from coming back. This can be a big task especially for those living in areas with the winter season. Good thing, dehumidifiers are now available. Dehumidifiers can work wonder when it comes to casting out unwelcome silverfish.

  1. Seal and Caulk

All those cleaning and vacuuming efforts will come to naught if you leave a small hole or an opportunity for silverfish to enter your house. To get rid of uninvited roommates forever, seal all entry points such as cracks and holes in your house specifically in your attic, basement, or any other dark, tight, and cold areas. A simple sealant or waterproof caulking will do the job. Also, ensure that there no pipework or plumbing is leaking moisture or is exposed to the outside.