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All Systems Cold: A Checklist for Your Air Conditioning System

Posted on June 06, 2017 by Suzanne Carroll

“I thought you don’t need air conditioning in San Francisco,” we’ve all heard someone say (usually an out-of-towner). But anyone who lives beyond the city limits knows the truth: that cool and foggy peninsula is surrounded by areas that stay hot and dry well into October. The key to staying comfortable and sane during the summer is a properly functioning air conditioning system. Before you flip the thermostat from “heat” to “cool,” take some simple steps to make sure your system is ready to go. With the Bay Area’s changeable spring weather, be sure to check your system early—you don’t want to be one of dozens of desperate customers contacting HVAC technicians when the first heatwave of the season hits. Read more

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Posted in: Consumers, Home Improvement
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Diamond Certified Experts: Swimming Pool Basics

Posted on April 11, 2017 by James Florence

When it comes to surviving the summer heat, there’s nothing quite like cooling off in a pool—especially when it’s in your own backyard. Whether you’re thinking about installing a swimming pool or you’re interested in improving your current swimming experience, you can benefit by gaining knowledge about pool building and maintenance. In the following article, we’ll dive into some of the basics with four Diamond Certified Expert Contributors as our guides. Read more

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Posted in: Swimming Pool & Spa, Diamond Certified Experts
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Tip Sheet: Five Guidelines for Gardening

Posted on March 02, 2017 by James Florence

Following the heavy (and much needed) rainfall of the past winter, gardening enthusiasts in the Bay Area can look forward to a bounty of opportunities come spring. In addition to the finer points involved in planting flowers and crops, here are some basic guidelines to consider for optimizing your gardening experience.

Plan for all seasons. While many assume gardening is only for the spring and summer, if you plan correctly, you can keep yours looking beautiful through the fall and winter seasons as well.

Remember, plants grow. A common mistake gardeners make is installing plants that don’t fit within the schemes of their gardens. Don’t be a victim of “cute in a gallon can” syndrome—just because a particular plant looks good at the nursery, Read more

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Posted in: Landscaping Tips
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All About Outdoor Kitchens

Posted on August 09, 2016 by James Florence

With the beautiful weather in the Bay Area, it’s no wonder that one of the biggest local home improvement trends is to extend one’s living space to the outside with add-ons like decks and covered patios. However, even though these exterior additions are great, you can take your alfresco experience to a whole new level by building an outdoor kitchen, which will allow you to prepare meals and dine under the sun or stars. To learn about the process of outdoor kitchen construction, we’re joined by North Bay Area landscaping contractor Alain Joske.

Plan way in advance. An outdoor kitchen isn’t built overnight—it’s a lengthy process, and the actual construction is often the shortest part. Read more

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Posted in: Decks and Patios, Consumers, Home Tips, Home Improvement, Landscaping Tips
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On the Road Again: Preparing Your Vehicle for Summer Travels

Posted on May 24, 2016 by James Florence

It’s summer once again—the season for recreational favorites like swimming, barbequing, camping and beach-going. However, let’s not forget perhaps the most iconic summertime activity of all: the great American road trip. With school out and the weather right, summer presents an ideal opportunity for domestic travelers to quench their wanderlust by hitting the open road. However, while you may be ready and raring for your next asphalt adventure, if your vehicle isn’t, your trip could wind up being a lot shorter than anticipated. Read more

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Posted in: Auto Tips
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Summer Fungus: Preventing Mold in the Off-Season

Posted on April 26, 2016 by James Florence

Mold is a common household problem during the winter, when the moist, rainy weather creates ideal conditions for fungi to flourish. While the arrival of summer tends to reverse these conditions, in some residences, mold is nonetheless a year-round problem. For example, if your home is poorly ventilated or situated in a humid or heavily shaded location (i.e. coastal or dense forest), the warm summer climate may do little to mitigate mold, which means you’ll need to take proactive measures to combat it. Read more

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Posted in: Home Tips
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Swim ‘n’ Save: How to Splash the Cost of Running Your Pool

Posted on April 12, 2016 by James Florence

While children anxiously await the coming of summer, there are others who are less enthusiastic about it—and no, we’re not just talking about their parents. Motorists, for example, know all too well the “pain at the pump” that sets in as gas prices make their seasonal ascent. Likewise, if you’re a swimming pool owner, you experience a similar summertime phenomenon—only, instead of the fuel pump, your pool pump is the source of pain. Let’s face it: swimming pools are enjoyable, but they aren’t cheap to maintain. In fact, it’s been estimated that homes with swimming pools use almost 50 percent more electricity than those without. Read more

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Posted in: Swimming Pool & Spa, Consumers
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