The Ins and Outs of Foundation Repair

Rural living is challenging in its own right, but invigorating, too. After all, you have to build up a support system around your property to ensure that, should something go wrong, you have all the supplies you need to get you through.

What are you supposed to do, though, if the foundation of your home starts to leak?

The good news is that no matter where you are, professional foundation repair contractors will be able to help you restore your home. Where, though, do you start?

What Causes a Foundation Leak?

It often feels like your foundation starts to leak for no reason at all. This, however, is not the case. Most foundation leaks form after weeks or months of exposure to extreme stress. Hydrostatic pressure, specifically, is a kind of pressure that builds up outside of your home when you’ve taken on heavy rain. This pressure erodes the materials making up your foundation while also causing those materials to rapidly change in temperature. To try and compensate for the changes in temperature, your foundation will expand and contract. If this happens too many times, cracks will start to form.

That said, large trees can also have a negative impact on your foundation’s stability. If you’ve planted trees with invasive root systems near your home, those roots may start to break through your foundation in their search for groundwater.

Signs to Look Out For

Foundation leaks and basement leaks are going to look similar to the untrained eye. However, foundation leaks tend to have the biggest impact on the structural supports inside of your home. With that in mind, you’re going to want to keep an eye on your internal supports for signs of damage. The most common signs of a foundation leak that you’ll find inside of your home include:

● Bowing walls

● Shifting floors

● Gaps at the joints of your foundation

● Sticking doors

● Foggy windows

● Water-damaged belongings or furniture

● Mold

Some homeowners want to believe that if they let a leak go, it’ll eventually disappear. While the symptoms of a leak may leave you alone for a little while, especially if the rain dries up, the crack in your foundation is going to remain. If you let a foundation leak go for too long, you may find yourself dealing with:

● Vertical cracks in your walls

● A cracked chimney

● Cracks running horizontally across your foundation

● Home sinking

Fixing a Foundation Leak

Once you’ve determined whether or not your foundation is leaking, it’s time to fix it up. Some of the most common foundation repair solutions include:

● Piering

● Underpinning

● Leveling and slabjacking

● Sealing

● Subfloor drainage

Reaching Out for Professional Guidance

If you’re concerned about saving money, or if you’re looking to save time, you may consider trying to fix up your foundation yourself. While this is a good idea in theory, you may actually end up causing more harm than good. It requires a specific education and experience to successfully fix a leaking foundation. Without those credentials, you could not only make your leak worse but rack up a higher bill with the professional you do eventually have to call.

When in doubt, ask for guidance. The foundation repair professionals working in your area will be able to provide you with a free inspection and quote, after which you’ll be able to select the foundation repair solution that suits your home best.

Above all else, don’t wait. Take back your home ASAP with a personalized foundation repair solution.

Can Algae Be the Fuel of the Future?

Sustainable energy is gaining more and more interest among consumers and the media. As the traditional sources of energy are limited and detrimental to the environment, researchers are trying to find other ways to cater to the needs of future generations. Among others, renewable fuel based on algae is one of the most promising sources of energy.

Algal fuels hold a tremendous potential as an effective replacement for fossil fuels. However, a smooth transition from petroleum to such new generation alternative fuels involves a variety of challenges, from technical to commercial aspects.

Algae for a Healthier Environment

Various environmentally-aware organizations get excited with algal fuels especially because they’re carbon neutral, which means that the amount of carbon dioxide released by the fuel exhaust is the same as the algae required to synthesize it. This might not reverse the damage already caused but it can prevent further deterioration of the environment.

Algae is abundant in supply which makes it a viable source of energy. It isn’t extremely demanding to grow and its treatment can deliver useful hydrocarbons as by-products.

Long-Term Benefits

As prices of petroleum and fossil fuels on the international markets are skyrocketing, we can see a boost in the study of eco-friendly biofuels. Next to the algae-based oils, other renewable resources like solar and wind energy can accommodate the need for energy to some extent but they require a massive infrastructure development.

While the automotive and other industries that rely on fuel grow rapidly, algae-based biofuel can come as a solution to prevent power shortage. Its similar chemical composition allows to power the same engines instead of requiring an especially designed vehicle for its consumption. This is an advantage which can help consumers shift their preferences to biofuels with little effort and in a cost-effective manner.

For entrepreneurs and industrialists, algal biofuels are commercially valuable as they can provide multiple opportunities from a single product. Additionally, in many cases algae can be cultivated on barren waste lands that are unsuitable for agriculture.

Major Market Challenges

While there are many benefits, algal biofuels have also received negative reviews because they uphold the demands that were promised in terms of their biosynthesis.

Mainstream media claimed that the algal biofuel industry would manufacture 1 billion gallons by 2014, and that its prices would be competitive with the prices of fossil fuels. However, the goal turned out to be too difficult to meet. The pressure of achieving the desired amount with minimum expenses affected the advancement of this biofuel, which led to severe doubts among stakeholders whether it can realistically become available. These financial and commercial constraints hindered the growth of algal biofuels. Some companies, which have already invested a lot in it, shifted their business and started using algal biomass to produce other items such as fertilizers, cleaning products, etc.

Despite this severe backlash, scientists are still working on technical solutions to make algal biofuels more efficient for vehicles. If they can achieve the desired purification and make the algal oil run smoothly through engines, it will pave a whole new way for the transportation industry and may even extend to the aerospace industry in the future.

Algae farming is another challenge which should be addressed. Algae isn’t extracted from the underground land or sea reserves, complaints have surfaced. Many algae cultivators claim that to grow the type of algae that will best serve as fuel, the adequate amounts of sunlight, water, and high quantity of fertilizers rich in phosphorus are needed. That may consume the resources required by the agricultural lands and livestock.

Summing Up

Weighing the balance between the positives and negatives of algal biofuels, the question arises: what does the future hold? If scientists are able to tackle the technical and manufacturing issues soon then algal biofuels sound promising and might topple the current petroleum based industry.

Using Household Waste to Create Fuel

The modern world relies on energy; to run, to produce, to transport – the list is endless. Around the world, different organisations and countries are competing to find the most energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly and abundantly available sources of energy out there. One option which would tick all the boxes is energy created from waste (EfW); specifically, household waste. Things we throw out every day often end up in landfills or polluting the oceans. By putting waste to good use we can produce energy and save our planet simultaneously.

Though there are several organisations that take it upon themselves to collect household waste and convert it to energy in mass waste-to-energy plants but similar benefits can also be achieved on a domestic scale. Surprisingly, this can sometimes be more beneficial and below we will explore how and why.

Where does our waste go?

We stress on our children to not litter, and throw trash in the bin, but do we know where the contents of this bin end up? Even in developed countries, a major portion of waste is collected through garbage disposal and dumped in controlled landfills.

The reduce, reuse and recycle attempts may have lessened the impact by a fraction, but we can’t deny the problem of massive landfills. Around the world, a million plastic water bottles are bought every minute! Our global waste is expected to grow from 2 billion to an even horrifying 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050.

The collection process uses heavy garbage disposal trucks that produce a large amount of harmful emissions every day. This may seem normal and harmless but when you consider the number of miles these loaded trucks travel every single day, 365 days a year – it’s easy to see that they create a major portion of the air pollution. Waste-to-energy plants may also use transportation to gather waste but even this disadvantage can be avoided by recreating the process at a household level.

In addition to air pollution, the trash also causes land pollution. Firstly, a large amount of land is required to store all the trash. The trash then takes many years to break down in these sites. By using waste as an energy source, we can create a sustainable use for it.

Gasification of Food Waste

The gasification process happens when carbonaceous substances are converted into carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and a small amount of hydrogen at a high temperature in the presence of oxygen, which produces synthesis gas. Using this method, leftover food waste can be turned into gas, which can then be used for a number of purposes ranging from cooking to heating.

It’s even possible to produce your own biofuels using food waste at home. This method is better suited to warmer, tropical climates to aid the production of gas. These biofuels are much less toxic than fossil fuels and give off 75% less harmful emissions when used.

Used Oil as Car Fuel

Fuel prices have been on a steady soar upwards no matter what country you consider. This is because fossil fuels are a limited source, yet their demand just keeps growing. This has led to a number of cheaper and subsequently greener alternatives gaining popularity. These greener energy sources range from solar power, to wind energy to electric power.

One very simple alternative is to power your diesel cars with correctly treated leftover and used vegetable oil. Despite being a sustainable repurpose for oil that would’ve otherwise been discarded, it’s not really any better than diesel as far as the harmful emissions are concerned. Nonetheless, these vegetable based oils cancel out the carbon they emit due to it being absorbed by the plants as they’re growing.

Using household waste to produce energy has several advantages. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. By repurposing waste as a source of energy, you prevent your garbage from ending up in landfills, oceans, and incinerators which only worsen the pollution issues. These measures will not just be lighter on the environment, but your pocket as well and the best part: it can all be done right at home.

The use of plastic bags has fallen by 90% since introducing the 5p charge but there is still more to be done

It’s great news to hear that the sale of plastic carrier bags in England’s major supermarkets have dropped by 90% since the 5p charge was introduced. 

The plastic bag charge came into effect in England on 5 October 2015, with all supermarkets and large stores legally required to charge a minimum of 5p for single-use plastic bags in store. 

According to figures the average English shopper will now use just 10 bags a year, compared to 140 before the charge came in. 

However, it was also stated that England is still lagging behind Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. This is because in England the fee only applies to shops with more than 250 employees, rather than all retailers.   

What can be done to cut down on plastic use? 

Whilst it may seem a bit cliché to use the phrase “reduce, reuse, and recycle”, it really is as simple as that. 

Whilst retailers need to be offering alternative packaging options, it’s also down to us to change our habits so that less plastic is needed so that less is being produced. 

Take a look at some of the ways you can reduce your plastic use: 

Take your own containers to supermarkets 

Many big supermarkets will now allow you to take your own containers to fish and meat counters so that you can bypass packaging on the items on shelves. 

Other supermarkets, namely Morrisons, have changed their stores so that customers can take in tubs for other items such as cereals, nuts, fruit and veg, and many more. This is a huge step to reducing the amount of plastic that we are using in households. 

Swap to eco bags

Whilst reusable bags such as those made from jute and cotton still require a lot of energy to produce in factories, they have a much better lifespan than plastic options. 

They are also much more durable than plastic bags, making them perfect for shopping trips and transporting items from place to place. Paper bags are compostable which makes them an ideal choice for an eco bag option. 

Recycle products you can’t put in your home recycling bin

When recycling at home there are some things, such as crisp packets or chocolate bar wrappers, that local authorities won’t accept in their recycling boxes and which may end up in the waste bin instead. 

There are now ways that you can recycle these items. Take a look at websites such as TerraCycle, who will be able to point you in the direction of local recycling boxes for items you can’t put in the boxes provided by your local authority.  

Sleepy Regional Economic Powerhouses

Living a life that largely emphasises as much independence from the mass consumer market as possible teaches one how to sift through all of the elements presented as part of modern day life to focus on the essentials. As a result, off-the-grid champions of all sorts are often roped in to weigh-in on some economic issues that affect a large group of people. (more…)

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