Wednesday, April 29, 2015

10 Ways to Make Your Garage More Energy Efficient

If you have an attached garage, it's important to make sure it's energy-efficient. Most people think of their garage as an outdoor structure, even when it's attached to the house. However, unless it's an energy-efficient space, it could be draining out a lot of warm air in the winter and cool air in the summer from your home. Take a look at 10 ways you can make your garage more energy-efficient and cut down your yearly energy costs.

1. Insulate the Garage Walls
In most homes, both old and new construction, the garage walls are not insulated. Typically, there's only exterior wood or siding, radiant sheathing, and a layer of particle board between the elements and the garage. By adding a layer of proper R-value insulation between the joists, or using blown-in insulation through the drywall, you can create a more energy-efficient garage.
2. Caulk Between the Garage Wall and Floor
Over time, the joint between the garage walls and concrete floor usually swells or shrinks as your house settles, creating air flow from outside. By applying a simple bead of latex, silicone or foam sealant between the garage walls and concrete floor, you can prevent loss of warm and cool air.
3. Seal Floor Cracks
Most garage floors are poured concrete which doesn't provide much insulation. However, if the concrete floor has developed cracks from settling or the weight of your cars, outside air can pass through these cracks. Sealing the cracks with a good concrete sealant will prevent air flow.
4. Insulate Your Garage Door
If your garage door isn't properly insulated, it's easy for cold or hot outside air to enter your garage., especially if the door is made of thin aluminum. There are two ways to fix this: buy an insulation kit for your existing door, or buy a new energy-efficient garage door to protect your garage.
5. Seal the Door from the Garage to the House
If you have a door that leads into your house from your garage, air leaks can develop around the door and threshold. To prevent this, install weather-stripping around the door frame, and a new threshold or a draft stopper. Caulk the trim around the inside and outside of the door to create a proper seal.
6. Change Your Garage Lighting
If you're using conventional incandescent light bulbs in your garage, change them to either CFL or LED lights for better energy-efficiency. A LED light bulb uses 12 watts of electricity and a CFL bulb uses 15 watts to create the same amount of light output (lumens) as a conventional 60 watt bulb.
7. Insulate Light Switches and Electrical Outlets
Insulate light switches and outlets with foam gaskets. Even the smallest cracks can allow cold and hot air into your house. They can also allow dangerous carbon monoxide fumes that build up from your car's exhaust system to enter your home.
8. Install Energy-Efficient Windows
If you have old windows in your garage, switch them out for new energy-efficient windows that will prevent air leaks and save money on yearly energy costs. Older-style windows can cost you hundreds of dollars more each year in your heating and cooling bills.
9. Install Solar Heating
If you spend time or have a workshop in your garage, installing solar panels for heating and cooling will make your garage and workspace more comfortable and energy-efficient year-round.
10. Organize Your Garage
A cluttered garage can prevent proper air flow and creating uneven temperatures. By simply organizing your garage space, you can generate more energy-efficiency. If you need more storage space, consider an outdoor shed.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to Align the Lasers on Your Garage

Aligning the photo eye sensors on your garage door is absolutely essential to reaping the most benefit from your investment. Let's get into how your garage door sensors work, how they can go wrong and what can be done about it. 

How Photo Eye Sensors Work 

The two photo eye sensors of your garage door actually ping-pong a continuous signal back and forth to determine whether there's an obstruction blocking the door from opening and closing. To the frustration of many homeowners, a broken signal obviously disables your door from remotely opening and closing properly. 

The signal from one garage photo eye sensor to another is said to be aligned with the signal goes through unimpeded ("correct") and "broken" when the signal is either obstructed by an object or your sensors aren't aligned with one another.

Although all of this can be irritating to deal with and troubleshoot, the purpose of your garage's photo eye sensors is really to ensure your family's safety and convenience. Luckily, though, you can take steps to ensure that your garage's laser sensors remain aligned and functioning properly. 

Diagnostic Signs to Look For 

We'll get into the strict how-to troubleshooting of fixing the problem in a moment, but here's what you need to know when it comes to initial diagnostics. 

Remember that the photo eye sensors can be either "correct" or "broken." Bearing this in mind, when your garage's sensors are "correct" this means that the LEDs wiring and alignment are in tune with each other. A green LED light on the receiving sensor indicates that your garage door sensor is working as it should. 

If you're reading this article then there's a good chance that you're not seeing all green, so to speak. Granted there's no physical impediment (bike, etc.) blocking the sensors from communicating with each other, a sporadic or dim green LED signal from your garage door sensors indicates that alignment is probably needed. 

Also note that some homeowners, understandably, misinterpret the amber LED light on one of their garage sensors for a problem or misalignment indicator.

Although you could have a misalignment, the amber LED on your sending garage door indicator simply indicates that the sensor is functioning; in other words, this amber LED shines no matter whether the sensors are chatting, broken or there's some obstruction blocking the communication. 

Getting in Tune: Aligning Your Garage's Sensors 

On most systems the sending LED shines a constant green when it's working properly and flickers when you wave your hand in front of it or an object is obstructing communication. 
If you know you have a problem, then simply pop the solid green (receiving) LED from the bracket. You can do this by unscrewing the wing nut. 

From there, shine the sending sensor's LED in a different direction from the receiving one so that the LED light on the sending sensor turns totally off. Wait thirty seconds or more. Finally, turn the sensor until you see the light returning and replace the sending LED sensor in the bracket and tighten the wing nut. 

You can now test your photo eye sensors' alignment and the garage door's functionality by pushing the control button located along the wall.
If you're still having problems, check to make sure that your photo eye bracket hasn't been warped or bent in any way.  For more sophisticated troubleshooting tips, contact your garage door manufacturer directly. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Fun Ways to Spruce Up Your Garage

Many of us use our garage as storage space. It is where we keep our gardening and lawn care tools and where we stick the odds and ends that we have no place else to store. As the place where random items are stashed, it can easily become cluttered over time. Whether you want to clean out your garage for spring, because you plan on showing it to potential buyers or just because you are tired of the clutter, here are some fun ways to freshen up the space and to make it a more enjoyable part of your home:

Organize Its Contents
Not only will this make your garage look better, it will make items easier to find as well. Consider grouping the items by type, so that there is one area for your sports equipment and another for your gardening tools and so on. Also, consider installing shelves and cabinets for better organization.

Set Up Separate Workspaces
Do you share the garage with your spouse or another family member? Separate workspaces may be the way to go to keep the garage uncluttered and to preserve your relationship. Consider demarcating separate areas so that there is no conflict over what is yours and what is theirs. There are even shelves and cabinets that can be used to create walls for this purpose.

Get A New Garage Door
Your garage door is one of the most visible components of your home's fa├žade. If you are planning to sell your home, getting one that is secure and aesthetically pleasing is a must. Its visibility means that it greatly affects curb appeal and will influence the potential buyer's first impression. The right garage door will not only make your home look better, it will make it more secure as well. Your options include garage doors that are insulated for greater energy savings and ones that are safer to operate.

Invest In Garage Technology
Modern technology offers you a lot of options for sprucing up your garage. The technology includes smartphone apps that can control your garage door opener. These apps allow you to close and open your garage door from anywhere that you can find a usable cell or Wi-Fi signal. This means that you can operate your garage door opener from around the world. Motion detector lights are another useful form of garage technology. Having these installed keeps you from having to remember to hit the light switch on the way out.

Garages are magnets for clutter, but it doesn't have to be this way. It is possible to resolve the chaos by following these few simple steps.