Category: DIY tips

Kitchen Countertops – An Overview

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Learn about the many different materials you can have your kitchen countertops made out of and the pro’s can con’s of each before you make your final design decision. Some countertop materials discussed are laminate, ceramic tile, granite, stone, solid surface, lavastone, butcher block, soapstone, and stainless steel.

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Countertops can influence the total design of your kitchen. One of the most common reasons home owners remodel their kitchen is due to lack of usable counter space.

When you are remodeling your kitchen a new countertop gives the whole room a facelift. There are several types of kitchen countertops you can choose from.

1. Laminate Countertops – Some good things about laminate countertops are you can install them yourself, they are inexpensive, they are low maintenance, and you can find them in all kinds of colors.

On the other hand, you need to be careful with knives and hot pans because once a laminate countertop is damaged it is almost impossible to repair.

2. Ceramic Tile Countertops – These countertops can also be easily installed and they come in lots of colors and patterns, they are heat resistant, and easy to clean.

But ceramic tile countertops can be a tough surface to chop on and they can crack or chip.

3. Stone Countertops – These countertops are very durable, look great, and the granite ones also clean up quite easily.

On the down side you must regularly seal and polish them so they look good, and if your stone countertop is made of marble you need to be extra careful because of staining.

4. Stainless Steel Countertops – Stains are not a problem and the counter can take high temperatures without damage.

But you have to take some care when installing stainless steel because if they are not extremely well supported they can dent. They also are prone to showing scratches and nicks.

5. Butcher Block Countertops – They give your kitchen that warm feeling that only wood can give, your knives won’t dull, and you can smooth out any scratches with sandpaper.

On the other hand you must use vegetable oil regularly to treat the wood and keep it looking good. Also too much water exposure can stain and rot the counter.

6. Solid Surface Countertops – Lots of plus’s here, you can find a ton of patterns and colors and some styles look like granite or other stone choices, it is very durable, easy to clean, and with this type of countertop you can easily install custom integrated sinks.

But you will need a licensed contractor to install this type of countertop or you will void the warranty and you must be careful with your hot pots and pans.

7. Soapstone Countertops – These are very beautiful and they don’t stain. Hot pans are also not a problem.

You do need to seal them with mineral oil quite often, and they are more likely to be scratched than granite.

8. Lavastone Countertops – Awesome countertops, they can resist water damage, scratches, and hot pans superbly.

But lavastone counters can be hard to find and they are very expensive.

So now that you know a little more about the materials kitchen countertops can be made of it should be easier to narrow down your choices when installing your new kitchen counters.

Kitchen Counter Weight: Respect the hardest working surface in your house

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It’s a place to put your red hot pots and pans. It’s where gallons of messy foods and discoloring liquids are spilled each year, where the sink overflows and where you cut the vegetables when you can’t find a cutting board. The kitchen counter is where cans land when they fall out of the cupboard. It’s where you stand to get things off the high shelf. It has to be tough.

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It’s a place to put your red hot pots and pans. It’s where gallons of messy foods and discoloring liquids are spilled each year, where the sink overflows and where you cut the vegetables when you can’t find a cutting board. The kitchen counter is where cans land when they fall out of the cupboard. It’s where you stand to get things off the high shelf. It has to be tough.

The counter is the main surface in the most visited room in the home. It’s where the guests always end up. It’s a place to put your drink during the kitchen party. It’s where the food gets laid out for the buffet. It’s where your new friend stirs sugar into their coffee. It has to look good.

The kitchen counter is also the place where you sweat the most. It’s where you’re dealing with hunger, dishes and groceries all at the same time. Food’s coming in and food’s going out while the garbage piles up. You’re home from work to feed the family and hoping you can spend some time together before you all drop off to sleep. It has to be easy.

Fortunately there are a number of countertops that are tough, good-looking and easy. None of them are perfect but some will suit you better than others, so before you agree to the first thing that catches your eye, shop around a little. Your kitchen counter is the hardest working surface in the house and it deserves respect.

Here’s a quick run down of the main players in today’s wide world of countertops. All of them have proven themselves to be durable but sadly, nothing lasts forever. Chips, cracks and stains will happen, so weigh your lifestyle needs against your budget and personal style to find the one that will fit your kitchen.

1. Granite – This is the new darling of the kitchen reno. Granite is a natural solid stone countertop that can be had in a selection of colors. Extremely durable and nice to look at, granite is also heat and waterproof. Cons: It resists stains and scratches but not entirely. Seams are visible. Granite can be high maintenance and has to be resealed every year. Imported and expensive.

2. Quartz – Beautiful quartz countertops offer many of the same benefits as granite, but come in a wider range of colors. These counters never need resealing or polishing. They resist scratches, heat and stains. Cons: Seams are visible and installation is expensive.

3. Polished concrete – Customizable counters can be had in any shape or size you want and will take on any color you care to tint them. These seamless counters are heat and scratch resistant and they look good. Cons: They also stain easily and are very expensive. Can be hard to find skilled tradespeople.

4. Solid surface – Usually acrylic, these counters are solid all the way through and give you a durable surface without seams. Waterproof. Small scratches can be sanded away. Wide range of colors and designs. Cons: Though these counters can look solid, they can be scratched easily and become damaged by heat and knives.

5. Recycled glass – Looks great. This alternative to natural stone combines colored recycled glass with concrete to make an attractive countertop that’s good for the environment. Cons: Properties are similar to granite so while it resists heat and scratches, it stains easily and needs to be resealed regularly. Expensive.

6. Laminate – The old standby, laminate is cheap and versatile. Made of plastic layers bonded to paper or particle board, it comes in an endless variety of colors and patterns. Somewhat durable. Cons: Can be permanently damaged by heat and knives and shows scratches easily. Once ruined, it can’t be fixed.

7. Tile – Why don’t we tile our kitchen counters more often? Tiles make a durable, easy-to-clean counter that is inexpensive and can be done yourself. Ceramic is heat and scratch resistant. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns. Cons: It also chips and cracks easily, and makes a poor cutting surface. Though tiles come clean, grout becomes stained.

8. Wood – Comes in a range of colors and finishes with maple and oak being the most popular. Makes a fairly easy-to-clean surface and gives a nice warm effect to the room. Can be damaged by heat and water but can also be sanded and resealed. Makes a good cutting surface. Cons: High maintenance countertop that needs regular oiling.

9. Stainless steel – Great looking modern countertop. Heat resistant and durable. Seamless. Easy-to-clean. Cons: Also expensive and noisy. These counters dent easily and dull knives.

Expect time to add character to the countertop you choose just like anything else in your home. No matter what material you decide on, make sure it’s one you love and you can’t go wrong.

Kitchen Clocks: The Evolution Of

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Kitchen clocks have been used throughout history as a means of keeping accurate time for meal preparation, baking, and simple as a charming addition to the busiest room in the house.

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Kitchen clocks have been used throughout history as a means of keeping accurate time for meal preparation, baking, and simple as a charming addition to the busiest room in the house. Over time kitchen clocks evolved from more than just a necessary means to keep track of time and are now stylish additions to kitchens around the world.There have been literally thousands of versions of the kitchen clock, some featuring cartoon characters, celebrities, and any number of inventive, unique designs. As the times change, so do the available patterns and styles of kitchen clocks. You can purchase a basic kitchen clock for very little expense or you could opt for a more upscale, sophisticated model depending on your needs and your budget.

You can easily purchase a cheap kitchen clock from your local discount or grocery store, but why not take a little time and shop for the perfect kitchen clock that expresses your special personality and style? A few minutes browsing the available options will open a new world of kitchen clocks that you probably never realized existed. There are sleek, modern styles, you will still find your favorite cartoon characters and celebrities, but you will also notice many unique styles that make a statement about your kitchen and your life.

Your purchase of a kitchen clock will be a great addition to your kitchen and will help to enhance that inviting, relaxing atmosphere that you have worked so hard to create. Make your kitchen the best-decorated room in your home with a new kitchen clock that expresses your family’s lifestyle. You may also want to consider shopping for a vintage kitchen clock from the 1940s, 1950s, and beyond. You’ll find an outstanding selection and prices that will fit any budget.

Kitchen Cabinets Cleaning Tips

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The kitchen cabinets are located in one of the most dirt prone areas of the home, the kitchen. Grease, food spills and splattered food result from cooking. In addition, dirty or sticky hands from both children and adults can be disastrous for your cabinetry.

Choosing Cleaning Products

Regular cleaning can help reduce the build up on cabinets and makes it easier to remove. The cleaning method you will use depends on the materials in your kitchen doors. Painted surfaces, …

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The kitchen cabinets are located in one of the most dirt prone areas of the home, the kitchen. Grease, food spills and splattered food result from cooking. In addition, dirty or sticky hands from both children and adults can be disastrous for your cabinetry.

Choosing Cleaning Products

Regular cleaning can help reduce the build up on cabinets and makes it easier to remove. The cleaning method you will use depends on the materials in your kitchen doors. Painted surfaces, vinyl or metal can be cleaned with detergent and warm water. Be sure to rinse well with plain water and dry with a lint free cloth.

All purpose cleaners can generally be used on these surfaces. Read the label carefully before using any product on your cabinetry. Information is included for consumers regarding surfaces where a cleaner is safe and those it can damage. To be sure, always test the cleaner on an inconspicuous area before using on the entire cabinet. Rinse and dry to remove any residue.

Sensitivity to chemicals and concern for the environment has some people concerned about using household chemicals. There are environmentally friendly alternatives right in your own kitchen. White vinegar or lemon juice can be mixed with water to clean grease from cabinets. Baking soda or club soda can be used to remove staining. Rinse with water and dry with a lint free cloth after cleaning.

Cleaning Wood Kitchen Cabinets

Spray cleaners that are made for wood furniture can be used on cabinets. Check to be sure the product you purchase is safe for your finish. Follow the directions carefully when using any cleaning product. It’s always a good idea to test a spot before using the cleaner, even if the can states that it’s good for your finish.

Some wood cleaners are flammable. This information will be included on the warning label. Don’t smoke cigarettes when using these products. Keep them away from flame or other heat sources. Pay special attention to this warning if you have a gas stove or other appliance with a pilot light. A spark could be ignited, causing a fire in the kitchen.

Cleaning wood cabinets can sometimes dull the finish. If this happens, you can restore the shine with furniture polish. Furniture wax can also be used to fix a dull finish. Some of these products will require buffing. It’s a good idea to polish wood cabinets regularly to preserve the wood and keep the shine.

Cleaning Hardware on Kitchen Cabinets

The hardware on your cabinets can get the same build up of grease and grime from foods. Remove the hardware before cleaning the cabinets. Clean the cabinets and then clean the hardware. When both have been cleaned, replace the handles on the cabinets and drawers. This will give your whole kitchen a lift.

The cleaner you should use for your hardware depends on the material. Cleaners and polishes are commercially available for every type of metal. Be sure the one you choose is suitable for your hardware. Using the wrong cleaner could damage the handles and cost you money in replacing them. Follow the directions on the label for cleaning.

Kitchen Cabinets Choices

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Kitchen cabinets are a big expense, but make the most difference in the look of your home. There are a wide variety of styles, designs and materials available in new cabinets and cabinet doors. Visit home improvement stores for ideas. Many offer computerized images of your kitchen with the new cabinets.

Before shopping, it’s important to take accurate measurements. This saves time and helps with planning. Be sure to measure the appliance areas to get a more accurate pictur…

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Kitchen cabinets are a big expense, but make the most difference in the look of your home. There are a wide variety of styles, designs and materials available in new cabinets and cabinet doors. Visit home improvement stores for ideas. Many offer computerized images of your kitchen with the new cabinets.

Before shopping, it’s important to take accurate measurements. This saves time and helps with planning. Be sure to measure the appliance areas to get a more accurate picture of the cost and how your kitchen will look.

Most home improvement stores will send a representative to your home to double check your measurements before your new kitchen is ordered. This will ensure accurate measurements and you will be sure your new cabinets will fit perfectly.

Kitchen Cabinet Options

Stock cabinets come in standard sizes. A few styles and color options are available, but are more limited than either semi custom or custom cabinetry. Most consist of basic cabinet and drawer styles. Stock cabinets are often used in new construction and are the least expensive alternative.

Semi custom cabinets come in standard sizes, but you have more options in terms of style, designs and storage choices. There are more color and wood varieties available. These are more expensive than stock cabinets, but are generally higher quality.

There are many different storage options available in semi custom cabinets. Take some time to look at these before making a decision. A lazy Susan, wine rack, pull out garbage cans, vertical dividers for storing trays and pull out shelves make storing and organizing the kitchen much easier. Consider your lifestyle and the storage issues that are most pressing when making a choice.

Custom cabinets are the most expensive alternative. These are made just for your kitchen. You can have any style, size or design you want in a custom job. But you will pay for it. The quality of the wood and fit is often better than with either stock or semi custom. A designer will come to your home, take measurements and work with you to find the right design for your home.

Setting a Budget for Kitchen Cabinets

Before you buy, you will need to set a budget. Decide how much you can afford and what you are willing to spend on new cabinets. Prices among stock, semi custom and custom cabinets vary widely. The rule of thumb is that new cabinetry will make up about half the budget of your new kitchen.

Consider how long you will stay in your home when deciding on a budget. If you plan on moving in the next year or two, you may want to spend less. If you plan to stay for many years to come, you may want to go all out for the custom kitchen.

Don’t sacrifice quality in an effort to save money. You still want decent quality cabinets in your home. Try the cabinets in the showroom. Open the doors and drawers to be sure they operate smoothly. There should be no squeaks or rough movements. Look for solid construction that will last for years.

Kitchen Cabinets – Reface Or Replace?

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Homeowners sometimes ask themselves if they really need to replace the cabinets. Why not just “reface” them ? To decide if your kitchen remodel warrants replacing cabinets or you should consider refacing instead, take this brief quiz:

1. What is the MAIN reason you are considering remodeling?

A. Just want a fresh new look
B. Need more counterotop work space.
C. Need more storage or to add an ‘eat in space’
D. Need new appliances, sink of floor covering
E. Cabinet d…

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Homeowners sometimes ask themselves if they really need to replace the cabinets. Why not just “reface” them ? To decide if your kitchen remodel warrants replacing cabinets or you should consider refacing instead, take this brief quiz:

1. What is the MAIN reason you are considering remodeling?

A. Just want a fresh new look
B. Need more counterotop work space.
C. Need more storage or to add an ‘eat in space’
D. Need new appliances, sink of floor covering
E. Cabinet drawers stick or otherwise don’t work or other cabinet problems

2. Is the value of your home rising?

A. No
B. Yes

3. Have others in your neighborhood remodeled the kitchen in the past 5 years?

4. How long do you plan to stay in your home?

A. One year or less before we sell
B. Plan to stay 3-5 years before we sell
C. Plan to stay in this home indefinitely

If your answer to more than one of these questions is “A”, refacing might be the right choice. “Refacing” is a general term for a process of replacing doors and drawer fronts and includes placement of a veneer to match the new wood species and finish on the cabinet frames. (Some refacers also offer optional replacement of the entire drawer and drawer glide system and adding other interior functional features.)

Positive Results You May Obtain by Refacing Your Cabinets

* Costs less than cabinet replacement
* Fresh, new look for your cabinets
* More pleasant or up-to-date environment
* Possibly interior functional features for extra cost
* More appealing to potential home buyers

Refacing Cautions

* Same old traffic, workspace and storage problems have not been improved upon.
* Future decision to do the complete job and make floor plan improvements would mean replacing the countertop and sink a second time. The same for floor coverings and wallpaper.
* No opportunity to enhance the kitchen with specialty cabinets like dish or wine rack, etc.
* Interior of cabinet remains the same; so does interior maintenance
* Warranty is for new products only. Basic cabinets are not covered

Positive Results You Can Expect by Replacing Your Cabinets

* The opportunity to improve the traffic, work patterns and storage space in your floorplan
* One time sink and countertop replacement. (If a few years after refacing you decide to tackle the entire kitchen and make general improvements, countertops and sink cannot be re-installed on new cabinets
* Stronger, more durable cabinets throughout
* Solid wood face frames, not veneer applied to the surface
* The possibility of enhancing the beauty of the kitchen by adding specialty cabinets such as a wine rack or display cabinet
* Light, attractive easy to clean interiors
* Warranty on the entire cabinet, not just the doors and drawers

Best Advice

The price difference between refacing and replacing may be minimal when the overall value is considered. Replacing cabinets does dictate the replacement of countertops, sink, built-in appliances and probably floor covering. The additional cost for completely new cabinets compared to refaced old cabinets may be quite small. In some instances, the difference is as little as 10%. Be a wise shopper!

Keeping Your Shower Stalls Clean and Tidy

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Guidelines to maintain your showerstalls

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Your shower should be a nice, calming place to unwind, an oasis of comfort where you can wash away the day’s troubles along with the day’s dirt. Your morning or evening shower should relax you and make you feel clean and healthy. But, if the shower stall is always dirty, not only is it unattractive and unhealthy, it’s terribly distracting to your shower experience.

There are few places in your house that are harder to keep clean than your shower stalls and glass shower doors. The water spots them, and the constant damp atmosphere causes mold and mildew to run rampant. It’s one of those household cleaning jobs that seem to be never ending, but it is important to keep those shower stalls clean to maintain household cleanliness and health.

When you disinfect your shower stalls and glass shower doors, you not only make the house look and smell better, but you kill germs that can potentially be unhealthy to your family. There are many viruses, such as athlete’s foot and the virus that causes plantar’s warts that can be spread from the shower floor. In addition, bacterial microbes can be trapped and grow in soap scum, so ridding your shower of this annoying menace is important, as well. Ensuring that your shower is in tip top shape keeps your family healthy, as well as keeping your house looking good. For optimum household cleanliness and health, clean and disinfect your shower stalls and glass shower doors at least once a week.

Before you begin cleaning, it’s wise to take stock of the items you keep in your shower, as they may be part of the problem. If you are housing half used bottles of shampoo and shaving cream, or storing your cleaning sponges in the shower, throw them out. They will harbor the same bacteria that are lurking in your shower, and will make cleaning more of a chore because you’ll have so many things to move out of the shower stall before you even start. Store a minimum of items in your shower to make cleaning it easier.

Luckily, cleaning your bathroom today is not as difficult as it was for our grandmothers. There are lots of products on the market today that, with regular use, will make those weekly cleaning jobs easier. Shower stall cleaners that can be sprayed on after your shower are a big help. These products are very efficient, as you just spray them on at the end of your shower and leave. No wiping is required, yet they prevent soap scum buildup on your shower and glass shower doors, making your next cleaning a breeze. There are also sprays that can keep your mirrors and glass doors free of fog, making it easier to see, as well as making your glass shower doors look better.

These convenient, daily sprays will help keep your shower cleaner, but periodically your shower stall and glass shower doors still need a good scrubbing. In the interest of household cleanliness and health, you should use a cleaning product that disinfects and kills mold and mildew on the shower stall itself, along with a good scrub brush. There are scrub brushes on the market now with long handles that are made especially for cleaning the tub and shower. These are a great help, as they reduce the bending and stretching usually required to reach all those areas of the tub and shower.

Glass shower doors are one of the most difficult bathroom surfaces to clean. You will be more successful at removing the soap scum and water stains if you use a product especially made for glass. A soft bristled brush can be helpful, too, as many hard water stains are difficult to scrub off with a sponge or rag, regardless of the type of cleaning product you use.

Cleaning the bathroom will never be a favorite task. But, it’s an extremely important one for maintaining household cleanliness and health, as well as keeping your home looking and feeling clean. Today’s products have made the task much easier that they used to be, though, so that you can spend less time in there cleaning and more time in there washing your cares away.

Keeping Your New Hardwood Floor Beautiful

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How do you keep that new hardwood floor clean and shiny, now that its taken its place in your home or office? If its and engineered laminate floor, or true hardwood, snap together installation, the methods are about the same. Remember, large amounts of water can cause more damage than any other product you may use to keep your floors clean. The installation is a lifetime investment, so treat it as such.

Be sure to use runners and mats in high traffic areas. This will preve…

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How do you keep that new hardwood floor clean and shiny, now that its taken its place in your home or office? If its and engineered laminate floor, or true hardwood, snap together installation, the methods are about the same. Remember, large amounts of water can cause more damage than any other product you may use to keep your floors clean. The installation is a lifetime investment, so treat it as such.

Be sure to use runners and mats in high traffic areas. This will prevent scratches and ground in dirt from damaging your surfaces. Be sure to sweep and mop the areas around these runners and mats as well. Only use minimally damp mops and rags on your entire floor. You can use your vacuum cleaner on the floor too. Make sure it has plastic wheels that are clean before you roll it onto your new floor. It’s a fantastic way to get ALL the dirt and dust up from a floor before its damp mopped.

Do not use oil based cleaners on your new floor. They will only catch dirt and cause an oily film to appear on your floors. Remember that most hardwood floors are finished at the factory with polyurethane or some type of urethane. Many hardwood floor suppliers can suggest what types of cleaners to use for your particular brand of floor. Try to use a manufacturer recommended cleaner if possible. Even places like Home Depot, who sell engineered flooring themselves, can suggest and supply these types of cleaners. You can try your Supermarket as well.

And, last, but not least, of all the cleaners that are specifically available for your floor, a good old standby, that works every time, and is very cost effective is, a capful of vinegar in your pail of cleaning water. It is non-toxic, and does not leave streaks when dry and does a great job of cleaning as well.

Keeping Up With Trends In Home Efficiency

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Keeping up with seasonal trends in home comfort is often a time- and money-consuming challenge. There are a few trends that are here to stay, however, and some of those options can also help reduce your energy bills year after year.

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Keeping Up With Trends In Home Efficiency

Keeping up with seasonal trends in home comfort is often a time- and money-consuming challenge. There are a few trends that are here to stay, however, and some of those options can also help reduce your energy bills year after year.

The company that brings you Tempstar brand heating and cooling products has the following suggestions to help you save money now and for years to come.

* Heating and cooling: Today’s air conditioners and heat pumps can be up to 40 percent more energy efficient than older, less efficient units. The money homeowners can save in reduced energy bills by purchasing a new, high-efficiency system is often worth the investment. The Tempstar SmartComfort 2400 high-efficiency air conditioner operates at 14 SEER efficiency to help you save money while you keep your home comfortable.

* Electronic air cleaners: A good air cleaner can help trap many of the pollutants that may be traveling through the home. As part of the heating and cooling system, the new line of Tempstar electronic air cleaners filters indoor air to help improve indoor air quality. To ensure years of service, Tempstar indoor air quality products are backed by a five-year parts limited warranty.

* Humidifiers: Moisture levels in the home can affect your family’s comfort and the quality of your wood furniture and flooring. Humidifiers add moisture to the dry air in your home, which helps your body stay hydrated and comfortable. They can also help protect wood furniture and floors by maintaining the right levels of indoor humidity to prevent damage caused by dry indoor air. For information about Tempstar humidifiers, contact your local Tempstar installer.

* Programmable thermostats: A programmable thermostat can help you reduce your energy bill by cooling your home only when you need it. With a programmable thermostat, your cooling system can work at a more cost-efficient temperature while you’re away from home and lower the temperature to cool your home just before you return. To find a heating and cooling contractor near you, go to tempstar and click on the Dealer Locator button.

Evaluate your home today to find out if you can make some money-saving improvements that could be worth their cost in energy savings and improved comfort. Chances are, you can. – NU