Author Archives: Kayla Kopke

Range Hoods and Make-Up Air: The Case for Clean Air

In the kitchen and bathroom, it is widely known that proper ventilation is needed for the safety and health of your family and your home.  In the bathroom, vent fans, and in the kitchen, range hoods, are included in nearly all present-day remodels.  When bathrooms don’t have ventilation, steam builds up and not only does it make for annoying foggy mirrors, it can also lead to mold which can be both harmful and unsightly.  When kitchens don’t have proper ventilation, specifically a range hood above the stove, steam and grease blanket your kitchen and the moisture and oils can settle on the cabinets causing them to warp and/or wreck.  It has always seemed like an easy enough fix to just add a ventilation fan to suck the unwanted elements out of the home, but something you may never have thought of is: how is that air being replaced?  That is what we call make-up air, the air that replaces the “bad” air that has gotten sucked out by a fan or range hood.

In the old days, homeowners were instructed to “open a window” when cooking, which allowed for fresh air to come in and fill the void.  Also, homes were much less “air-tight”, or “energy-efficient”.  Picture older homes that have air passing under the doorways, sometimes enough room to slide a thin package under. Also the windows were drafty, and you could hear a slight whoosh if you got near.  In newer homes, doors have weather-stripping that seal out any airflow underneath, and windows are so tight you wonder how they were even able to fit them in the opening.  These things are great for saving money on your energy bill, but did you know a tightly-sealed home can actually be dangerous?

When a range-hood is employed while cooking, it sucks air at variable rates, depending on the size and model of your unit.  The rate that the air is sucked is measured in terms of CFM (cubic feet per minute).  Think about it, that is quite a lot of air!  Currently in Michigan, there is a code stating that if your range hood has a rating of 400 or more CFM, you must have a system in place to provide fresh make-up air.  Without it, the air will try to replace itself, and if no fresh air is available (no window open), it will sometimes draw in exhaust from furnaces and water heaters (backdrafting).

A make-up air damper is what is recommended.  This is a flap that lets fresh air in the home.  Imagine a duct that goes from your kitchen to any exterior wall of the home. When the range hood turns on, it sends a signal to the damper, which opens up and lets in fresh air.  When the range hood turns off, the damper flap closes.  This is a way to ensure that there is no negative air pressure created when you use your exhaust fans.

This is a relatively new code, and so it is very likely that you either have no exhaust system at all, or you do have a range hood but no make-up air system. If you fall into the former category, you may want to consider installing such a system in your kitchen.  This is what the National Kitchen and Bath Association has to say:

“The EPA has labeled the kitchen as the number one source of contaminants in the home and the majority of those contaminants relate to the cooking activity. And because cooking generates periodic large quantities of contaminants, it is more efficient to have a specialized ventilation device (range hood) capable of handling the localized need to prevent the infiltration into the rest of the home. Many older homes have wall fans rather than range hoods and while this does provide ventilation it does not adequately prevent the spread of cooking contaminants in the house. The reason is that the particles from cooking are hundreds of time smaller than the human hair…it is vapor. If these vapors are not captured within the cooking area they are very likely to stay air borne for up to 72 hours and spread throughout the home. A wall fan is not powerful enough to prevent this spread…it can help but it is not a good replacement for a hood.”  (Source: NKBA)

If you fall into the category of having a range hood but no make-up air system, you want to make sure that you have a window open while employing the fan.  In Bathrooms, make-up air is not as big of an issue, because no bathroom fans that I know of run at 400 CFM, but you still may want to open a window if possible when running your fan.

When you are ready to remodel your kitchen or add a ventilation system, give us a call at (586) 777-6633!

5 Reasons Why Winter is the Perfect Time for Home Remodeling Projects

Michigan is lucky enough to encounter all four seasons. But, Michigan winters can be long and harsh. Winter is actually a really good time focus on your home projects. You may be thinking the complete opposite. Some homeowners have found they actually prefer doing home make over projects in the winter. Here are five reasons why winter may be the best time to do your remodeling project.

1. Convenient Project Scheduling/Contractor Availability

It is usually easier for contractors to schedule work in the winter months. A lot of people don’t want to start a project in winter. Allowing contractors’ to have much more availability and time to work with you on planning and designing your project. This process may take longer as the work picks up in the spring with outdoor projects.

2. Avoid Manufacturer Spring Prices Increases

Winter is the best time to look for reduced pricing. When remodeling your home, you can find close-out prices on appliances and be able to purchase materials before manufacturers increase prices. We typically experience price increases for lumber products, windows, and cabinet lines in the spring. During the winter, manufacturers may feature specials to reduce inventory.

3. Permit Approvals

Government agencies are usually less busy in winter season, which makes it easier and quicker to obtain necessary permits.

4. Clean-up

While you might be thinking of holding off on your project until spring because of concerns about dust and fumes. With current technologies and clean-up methods do control these concerns. Such as sealing off heat ducts with a filter will contain the dust.

5. Vacation Time

If you plan on taking a vacation this winter, it may be a perfect time to have work done in your home to avoid disruption of your daily activities.

Before you say no to winter remodeling, keep these five reasons in mind. The winter season might be the perfect time for you to start your next remodeling project.

Top Benefits of Energy Efficient Windows

Since most high quality windows are built to last for ten or more years, replacing your windows is a project you should only expect to face a few times in your life. If your windows are allowing air or moisture to leak in or out of your home, or if they have become difficult to operate, it is probably time buy new windows before the overall energy efficiency of your home suffers any further.

Replacement of all of the windows in your home is no small expense, with each replacement window costing anywhere from $450 to $1000 dollars, depending on the materials used to manufacture the windows. Window replacements, though costly, are well worth the cost once your existing windows are beyond repair.

Reduce Energy Consumption

In the United States, only 7 percent of our energy is derived from renewable sources such as wind or solar. The remaining 93 percent of the energy we use is created from non renewables, such as fossil fuels, that are limited in availability as well as damaging to our environment. Unless you are able to make the switch to solar power in your home, consuming energy obtained from nonrenewable sources is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t decrease how much of this energy you are using in your home.

Cutting back on energy use is a surefire way to reduce your carbon footprint for a more environmentally responsible life—something that we at Modernize are passionate about. Energy efficient windows will protect your home from the extreme cold or heat, which keeps your home comfortable with less effort from your heating and cooling system that needs energy to operate.

Cut Back on Heating and Cooling Bills

By investing in energy efficient windows, you can cut back on how much energy your heating and cooling system uses to keep your home comfortable. Highly insulative materials block excessive heat or cold from entering your home, making it easier to keep your home comfortable with less work from your HVAC unit. The less your unit runs, the less you spend on heating and cooling costs each month.

Add Light and a Beautiful View Without Adding Heat

Typically, energy efficient windows use glazing, multiple panes, and insulative materials to keep heat from passively entering your home. Because these factors are working hard to keep your home cool during the hot summer months, you can still enjoy the view and natural light your windows provide without feeling you have to close the blinds or draw the curtains to block out the heat. Keeping your home comfortable shouldn’t mean you have to give up on the aesthetic appeal windows are meant to provide.

This post is brought to you by Mary Sauer at Modernize.com

History of Curtains: How They Came into Existence

Curtains are still the main form of window covering for the majority of households. They are versatile, warm and perform a wide variety of functions. Yet, despite their importance they are often hung as an afterthought! In fact, a well hung curtain can make a huge difference to the décor and feel of any room. When you choose your curtains you must think about their purpose, the style of your room and even the form of the curtains. Understanding their history will help you to choose the right one for your room.

Warmth

Originally, curtains were used to help keep a property warm; there was no central heating! These curtain were usually long, heavy affairs, the more of the space they covered the better the heat insulation. In fact, it was common to hang tapestries and drapes on castle walls to help keep the warmth in. Choosing a curtain to maximize light in a room was an unheard of option in medieval times. The earliest known curtains were hung over doorways and windows; they were made of animal hide and did not hang well.

The Egyptians

To many, the Egyptians are the founder of the modern clothing material. They were experts at spinning linen and flax, later they moved onto wool, cotton and even silk. These materials were created as advancements in dyeing; weaving and mass production were becoming a part of industry. The result was a curtain made of a pleasing textile that not only looked good but flowed well; whilst keeping the warmth in.

Glass

In the 13th century the Italians perfected the making of glass and it became an option for windows. Until then, wooden shutters had been the only option and these not only let drafts in but blocked out all light. Keeping a large house or castle warm was nearly impossible, even with an open fire in every room. The smoke inside the building, combined with the darkness would have made for a very unpleasant living environment over the winter months. The more northern you were the colder it got and the more essential these heavy drape curtains became.

The Renaissance period

The period between the 14th and 17th centuries is known as the Renaissance; it was during this period that the average home started to resemble the modern homes we live in today. Glass became a standard feature and helped to reduce the drafts and coldness. Windows were even designed with obscure glass or stained glass; possibly negating the need for curtains altogether.

Most windows are plain glass and so the need for a curtain continued; if only to prevent noisy neighbors watching your every move. Even with the development of glass, curtains remained pieces of material draped across the openings.

The 18th and 19th Centuries

The textiles that had been used for so many years in the eastern parts of the world started to come to the west during this period. This inspired a new range of textile production in France, Italy, Holland and the UK; each product was adapted to include a western feel.

It was only in the first half of the 19th century that mass production started to take off and these gave the humble curtain a new market. Curtains were now a viable option for almost anyone, instead of being the preserve of the wealthiest. The middle classes chose to employ designers to ensure their curtains enhanced the look and feel of their homes. Many curtain styles from this period are very ornate.

War

The two world wars took their toll on curtain design. Limited materials and funds meant all curtains became simplistic sheets, designed simply to cover the window and even to stop light getting out. The post-war years saw many buildings becoming multiple dwellings and this led to curtains which fit with the architect of the building, although maybe not to the interior décor.

It has only been in the last twenty years that curtains have been seen as part of the interior design and more than just a functional item. They really can make a huge difference to the look of a room. The ideal height, model and material will transform your home into the most welcoming environment!

By: Edward Francis and VanessaArbuthnott.co.uk!

Garbage Disposals: Do You Need One?

If you live in Grosse Pointe Woods, you do.

We just failed a city inspection in GPW because the homeowners did not want a garbage disposal in their newly remodeled kitchen. Since 99% of people DO want a garbage disposal, we had never run into this issue before today.

My first thought was “who doesn’t want a garbage disposal?” But after some researching online, I found out that there are many reasons to go sans-disposal.

Sending your food scraps back into the waste water is costly to the system, and the grease from food causes plumbing problems in your home. But throwing away your food scraps and sending them to the landfill causes an increase in methane gas emittance which is harmful to the environment. The greenest way to dispose of food scraps is to compost them, and return the nutrient-rich results back into the soil.

After living for years without a dishwasher or a garbage disposal, I felt like a queen when I moved into my new house with both of these amenities. But I found myself overdoing it. I put such filthy dishes in the dishwasher that food scraps collected in the bottom and started to rot and smell. I shoved 12 jars full of homemade pickles (a failed experiment…I was trying to hide the evidence) down the garbage disposal at once, and broke it.

My advice would be to keep the garbage disposal, for convenience, for those times when you need it, but not to over-do it. In some cities, you have no choice. But if you don’t have one, don’t worry about it; you’re not missing out on much. Then, start a compost bin and turn your waste into nutritious food for the earth!