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Anuncio de los artículos posteados en: Octubre 2016

21 Oct 2016 

Thaw Frozen Pipes the Easy Way, with How-To Video



Ol' Man Winter is blowing his frosty breath again, and that often means frozen pipes and emergency plumbing situations. If the frozen pipes burst, hundreds of gallons of water could be released into your home, causing all kinds of damage to walls, furniture, floors, carpets, and other belongings. If this happens, you'll most likely have to call a plumber or plumbing services, which won't be cheap. Add the cost of hiring a plumber to the expense of replacing or repairing everything damaged when the frozen pipes burst, and you can be looking at a substantial amount of money, especially if the rupture occurs after hours or on the weekend, when the plumber will likely charge extra for emergency plumbing. If you're alert to frozen pipes, however, you can usually prevent them from bursting. You can do this type of plumbing repair yourself, too. You don't have to hire a plumber or plumbing services.



Before you can begin to address your emergency plumbing - the frozen pipe - you'll have to identify which pipe is frozen. If you turn on the faucet and no water comes out, or if only a few drops come out, the pipe is probably frozen. Follow the pipe from the non-working faucet. Look closely at the pipes, and use a flashlight if you need to. The frozen section of a pipe is often covered with a light frost or ice crystals. If you don't observe any frost or exterior ice, feel the pipe. The frozen section will be much colder. Because water in the pipes expands as it freezes, the affected pipe might also have a bulge in it. The bulge might be slight, so toilet repair, drain repair, leaky toilet you need to look very closely. If you don't see any damage, feel for cracks. If you find any, the pipe will have to be repaired. Start looking for the frozen section of the pipe in the most likely places first - cold spots like outside walls and unheated areas.

If the frozen pipe is located in an outside wall, you can often thaw it without having to tear out the sheetrock or paneling. Simply turn the heat in your home to a higher setting and wait. Leave the faucet in the "on" position so that you'll know when the water begins flowing again. To speed up the process, aim a heat lamp, a space heater, or an infrared heat lamp at the section of wall that's housing the frozen pipe.

If the frozen pipe is located outside your home, or if it's otherwise exposed, don't turn off the water supply to your home before you begin thawing the frozen pipe. Also, you need to start the thawing process from the tap back to the frozen section. If you begin thawing behind the ice, the water that's released will have nowhere to go because it will still be blocked by ice in the frozen pipe.

Heat the pipe with a heat lamp, an infrared lamp, a heater, a blow dryer, or heated wet cloths. If the exposed pipe is located near a wall or other surface, you can use aluminum foil or a highly reflective cookie sheet to direct more heat to the pipe. On metal pipes, many homeowners use a torch to melt the ice, although this method isn't recommended. If you choose to use a torch, however, use a flame diffuser, and keep the torch moving. Be very careful, too, about setting your house on fire! No matter which method you use for thawing pipes, do it slowly. If you thaw too quickly, you can damage the pipes.

A neat gadget that you might want to consider purchasing is heat tape or pipe heating cable. This is a wrap that contains electrical wires. When plugged into an outlet, the wires heat up and subsequently warm the frozen pipe. If frozen pipes are a recurring problem at your house, heating cable would be a wise investment. If you know a hard freeze is in the weather forecast, you can also use the heating cable as a preventive measure.

Don't let your frozen pipes turn into an emergency plumbing event. Preventing a rupture is a lot less expensive and messy than a burst pipe that will require professional plumbing repair. If you can get by without calling a plumber or plumbing services, you'll be way ahead of the game!

http://hubpages.com/living/Emergency-Plumbing-Repair-Thaw-Frozen-Pipes-the-Easy-Way
21 Oct 2016 

Choosing An Emergency Plumbing Professional

Many people don't think about the quality of a plumbing professional, until their kitchen sink backs up or the shower pipe bursts. When an emergency situation arises, any plumber is a good plumber, but when you're looking to hire one on short notice, there are several questions you should ask him.

The first plumbing service thing you need to know about the candidate is whether or not he has a license and insurance, and if he's been state certified. If he says he is, call your Leesburg Virginia plumber local licensing board to make sure that everything is current. Also, check with both the licensing board and your local Better Business Bureau to find out if there are or have been any recent complaints filed against him. Ask for a copy of his insurance policy, and find out if he also carries both workman's compensation and liability insurance as well.



Once you have verified that the individual is properly qualified and insured, find out how long she has been in business. If she was not referred to you by someone you feel comfortable with, ask for the names of three to five people she has done work for in the past. Find out what type of job she performed for the previous customer. Was the work done on time? Did she keep the project within the customer's budget? Was she on time, courteous and thorough? When the work was completed, did she leave a mess behind, or take the time to clean up afterwards? If the plumbing professional is hired through a company, check the track record of the business: how many complaints were filed against them, for what and what actions were taken against the establishment.

Finally, ask about the plumbing professional's rates, the types of materials he uses and any guarantee he provides. You can get a fair idea of hourly rates by calling around to different companies, but find out how his rates are calculated. Ideally, you should request a free home inspection beforehand, but in an emergency situation, this is not always possible. Review the written estimate carefully. Does he automatically try to save money by using low-quality materials? If he provides brand names of some products, check to see if they allow the homeowner to benefit from the protection of a manufacturer's warranty. You should find out in advance what will happen in the event there is a problem after the work is completed. If the project requires a permit, find out who is responsible for obtaining it, to avoid later complications.

http://working.ezinemark.com/choosing-an-emergency-plumbing-professional-319619d4dfa.html

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20 Oct 2016 

Contractor Done You Wrong? Get Cash Back

One of the silver linings of the recession is that many contractors are willing to work for less right now because construction work has dried up and they need income. So if you are fortunate enough to have a stable job and available funds, it could be a great time to remodel your house or tackle smaller projects you've been itching to do.

Of course, you should make sure you hire a licensed contractor. (If you live in a state that does not require contractors to be licensed, I feel for you. That makes it much harder to assure you are hiring knowledgeable professionals.) I've preached early and often about how dangerous unlicensed contractors can be. But here's one much more enticing reason to hire a licensed one: the possibility of getting your money back if things go wrong.

Many states stockpile funds to compensate people who've been wronged by licensed contractors. States call their contractor kitties different things -- construction recovery fund, contractor guaranty fund, construction industries fund -- to name a few. I call it a coup for consumers. The only bad thing about these funds is that not enough people know about them.



Click Here to Ask Elisabeth Your Consumer Questions About This Topic or Any Other Consumer Issue

I once interviewed a woman who wanted to build an apartment onto her son's house, so that as she got older she could be near family, but still be independent. She and her children scraped together a $13,000 down payment and hired a contractor. The contractor had some plans drawn up and cleared some trees, but then months passed and he never returned.

Beatrice didn't want to sue the contractor, because she figured that would cost more money than she had lost in the first emergency plumber place. I told her about her state's contractor guaranty fund and the state paid her back because she had had the foresight to hire a licensed contractor.

Here's how it works. Every time a contractor renews his license he has to contribute to the fund. That pool of money covers shoddy, incomplete and abandoned work. In some states, you can apply directly to the fund for compensation. In other states, you have to file and win a lawsuit first. Typically, the state investigates and tries to mediate with the contractor first. If the contractor won't pay up, then you get a hearing. You can usually represent yourself at the hearing. You don't need a lawyer -- but be thorough. If you prove your case, the state gives you the cash.

Click Here for the Latest Business Stories From ABC News

Different states have different caps on the amount of money they will give you. I know of one state that limits each homeowner to $10,000 and another that awards up to $50,000. Some states require you to demonstrate that you've tried everything to get the contractor himself to pay you back -- like suing him and taking out liens against his personal property. Other states specify that their funds are only meant for situations where the work was not done up to code. Statutes of limitations for making a claim also vary.



In this economy, losing money is particularly galling. So spread the word about the money many states have available to compensate people for crummy or crooked contractors.

Do Your Homework

If your state or county requires contractors to be licensed, make sure you hire a company licensed to perform work in your jurisdiction. A license from another state or county is not valid.

Have that contractor give you a detailed written estimate. Some states won't let you tap into the compensation fund without it.

Refuse to pay too much money up front. Don't let the money get ahead of the work performed. That way, if your state's compensation fund is capped at, say, $10,000, you will be covered.

If you have problems with your contractor, immediately research your options, so you can file a claim within the statute of limitations.

Whether you have to go to court or to a state hearing, be organized. Bring at least two copies of all your paperwork, so you can hand one copy over and refer to the other. Document problem spots with photographs or videos.

How to Complain

To complain about a contractor and get information about your state's compensation fund, contact the state agency that licenses contractors. Depending on the state, it may be called the Board of Contractors, the Home Improvement Commission, the Department of Licensing and Regulation or other names.

http://abcnews.go.com/Business/Economy/story?id=7422461&page=1
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19 Oct 2016 

"Do It Yourself" Steel Paneled Residential Roofing



Hammers, screwdrivers and power tools with battery packs are a good idea. It is good to have plenty of tape measures, a few good box knives and a square, a straight edge, a triangle and other measuring devises. A chalk line and a ball of string are handy to make your ridge runs straight. Installation requirements call for accurate installation of ridge hardware that snaps together. The material must be installed to specific measurements in order for the parts to snap together properly.

Aviation shears are a must for close trimming. Large cuts can be done with a jig saw, power nibblers or power shears. Have plenty of replacement blades available for all tools being used.

It is a must to have ladders and, a scaffolding really comes in handy if one can be borrowed from a friend.



Work In Sections

Since you do not have to remove the main layer of old shingles you can work in sections just enough to keep the job going. That means putting down the foam, nailing down the flashing and anchor rails known as J-Trim and Reverse J-Trim by this manufacturer. These all go on top of the foam.

It is recommended to wear good leather gloves to avoid cuts from the sharp steel edges. I would also recommend sunscreen.

Most houses will not measure TRUE or SQUARE and minor adjustments have to be made as you work. The best thing is to work slow and calculating and take plenty of time before making final cuts. Following the diagram will help in deciding which length of panels to use for which cuts.

The panels will be delivered in lengths sufficient to cut all the angles needed with relative ease. Once a few pieces are cut and installed the job becomes mostly routine and repetitive. Be prepared to do a lot of nailing and driving various kinds of screws.

All of the ridges have to be run on top of the foam sheeting. This is best done in sections rather than putting the foam sheeting across the entire roof first. The foam sheeting is somewhat slippery and HOT. Foil faced sheeting that helps reflect heat is like working on a hot grill. The surface is cooler to touch than the asphalt by many degrees but the reflection is hard on your eyes as well as your skin being sunburned.

http://hubpages.com/living/Do-It-Yourself-Steel-Paneled-Residential-Roofing
18 Oct 2016 

It’s not about good guys versus bad guys

By Randi Weingarten

The opinions expressed are her own.

Reuters invited leading educators to reply to Steven Brill's op-ed on the school reform deniers. Below is Weingarten's reply. Here are responses from Diane Ravitch, Joel Klein and Deborah Meier among many others.

It's not clear to me how Steven Brill, in his book Class Warfare, gets to his own particular Nixon-to-China moment--that teachers and their unions must be full partners if our nation is going to achieve meaningful, sustainable, systemic education reform--but it's good he did.

Brill is correct: There are serious issues confronting America's education system. Where we part ways is not so much in identifying these problems (although Brill completely ignores the devastating effects of the 2008 recession and its continuing aftershocks on schools and families). Rather, the difference between us is that the AFT seeks to follow the evidence of what works in our schools and in nations with higher-performing schools, while Brill chooses to see education as a story about good guys and bad guys.

In this scenario, the new good guys in education are card-carrying members of the Democrats for Education Reform (DFERs). They are funded largely by millionaire and billionaire hedge fund managers who will donate to anyone, anywhere, who will buy their prescription. The DFERs and their funders believe with a true missionary zeal that they know what it takes to turn around schools.

Brill's bad guys are those of us who have spent our working lives actually helping kids. Brill attributes to us all the historic failures of public education and none of the gains. Any reforms my fellow career educators and I have tried are either ignored or, worse, marginalized as too little, too late. Brill's approach doesn't recognize the evidence of these reforms' successes or even acknowledge our willingness to engage in reforms. This bias skews his description of the United Federation of Teachers' Brooklyn Charter school, the experiment Mayor Bloomberg and the UFT tried in creating school-based performance incentives, and other union-led reforms.

Educating all children to ensure they are prepared for the world they face is hard, complex work. It requires us to focus both on where the evidence and our experience lead us, and on how to scale up and sustain our successes. But it also requires us to pay attention to equity issues, especially poverty, and to be innovative and responsive to a changing world. Brill acknowledges this, but he still opts to craft a titanic struggle between good and evil rather than write about the complex reality.

The AFT, starting with Al Shanker and continuing through today, has sought to reshape our schools to better serve kids, with some efforts more successful than others. It's too bad that Brill chose not to include this piece of the narrative. Brill's generalizations about what teachers unions oppose or favor fly in the face of what the AFT, our affiliates and our members are doing in schools across the country. Despite the deep and devastating cuts to education, despite the atmosphere of attacks on educators and public workers, the AFT continues to push for a quality education agenda. (See here for details.)

While Brill focuses on delays in teacher firing, we have been leading efforts to find real ways to assess teacher performance. We are designing and implementing evaluation systems that don't simply sort teachers but support them and develop their skills at every stage of their careers. We are also leading efforts to revamp the teacher tenure process, which should be a fair process--not a fortress to protect teachers who don't belong in the profession, and not an excuse for school administrators to pass the buck.



In his exhaustive critique of public education, Brill calls out excessively prescriptive work rules in some collective bargaining agreements. Some are excessive, as are some of the managerial practices they were designed to mitigate. But Brill is aware, or should be, that the AFT--since Shanker--has worked to replace the industrial-model of collective bargaining with a craft model that treats teachers as professionals.

Much of what is collectively bargained into contracts is an attempt to codify behavior that, in a trusting relationship, would never need to be codified. This has to change. Trust can't be written into a contract or a law. It's the natural outgrowth of collaboration and communication. Labor and management have a mutual responsibility to ensure student and school success. And we must transform this mutual responsibility into mutual commitment. Calling such an approach "kumbaya," as Brill does, trivializes serious efforts to transform schools.

While calling for collective bargaining to focus more on student needs, Brill ignores many examples that do exactly that. For example, you won't find any mention of the early work the UFT did to establish the Chancellor's District in New York City to provide the flexibility, reforms and extended time needed to improve struggling schools. And on the highly regarded work of Sandra Feldman, my predecessor and mentor, to turn around low-performing schools, Brill is silent again.

In the same vein, Brill writes selectively about 2003 contract negotiations for New York City's schools, when I led the United Federation of Teachers. His coverage of the late stages of those negotiations is extensive, but he completely missed--or chose to ignore--our call, at the start of those negotiations, for a contract more closely aligned with student needs. The New York Times covered our proposal, and it's there for all with Lexis-Nexis to see ("Teachers Barter with Work Rules," Sept. 22, 2003). But Brill doesn't mention it.

I am glad Brill mentioned Hillsborough County, Fla., and Pittsburgh, two places where the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has invested heavily and AFT affiliate leaders have done innovative, collaborative work, but he writes about them as if their work is impossible to replicate. Many other union leaders also are entering into agreements to move the needle on student achievement. A simple search, or an open mind, would have led Brill to progressive contracts in New Haven, Conn.; Baltimore; the ABC Unified School District in Los Angeles County; and other districts highlighted at a groundbreaking labor-management conference hosted by the U.S. Department of Education last February. Conference attendees, teams of superintendents, school board members and union leaders from more than 150 districts came away with a new paradigm of collaborating to achieve student success. Yet, this doesn't get a mention from Brill.

It's especially surprising that the agreement in New Haven got no mention from Brill, who teaches journalism at Yale University. Yale President Richard C. Levin has praised the New Haven Federation of Teachers for the progressive contract and for its work in developing community partnerships. And there are other omissions. For example, Brill deplores lockstep salary increases, but ignores contracts like the one in Baltimore, which empowers teachers and aligns their pay with what we know works in schools.

Similarly, Brill is highly critical of what he sees as too few teacher firings in Toledo--a district known for its teachers' rigorous oversight of the quality of their profession. But you won't find a mention of that, or of the Toledo teachers' recent decision to take a pay cut to make sure students continued to have art, music and other necessary programs. Teachers around the country, through their unions, are acting to avert layoffs and preserve services and programs that kids need. But again, Brill makes no mention of this. Brill's one-sided union-as-bad-guy narrative simply has no room for innovative contracts or actions that unions and their members take to preserve services for kids in these tough economic times.

The selective use of facts continues in Brill's coverage of the so-called rubber rooms that once housed New York City teachers accused of wrongdoing. Nowhere in this book will you find the fact that the United Federation of Teachers repeatedly tried to shut down the rubber rooms. Then-Chancellor Joel Klein, an education hero in Brill's eyes, rejected the proposal I made in 2004 ("Failing Teachers Face a Faster Ax," New York Times, Jan. 15, 2004). We tried again in 2007, again to no avail. But we didn't give up, and thanks to Mayor Bloomberg and Mike Mulgrew, my successor at the UFT, the rubber rooms are now closed.

The district and union worked together to eliminate the backlog of unresolved cases and establish an expedited process for handling allegations of teacher misconduct. More than 70 percent of teachers whose cases were resolved returned to the classroom or other jobs they previously held. The closure of the rubber rooms and some of our earlier attempts to end them made front-page news in the Times, but these seem to have been lost on Brill.

That Brill glosses over these facts is less important than the visual he paints of teachers in general--in effect, that teachers can do it all and that their work can be measured completely and accurately by student test scores. When I think about these issues, I think about two of my own teachers--Mr. Cracovia and Mr. Dillon. They were my calculus and humanities teachers, respectively, in 12th grade. I recall doing poorly in calculus, and well in humanities.

Does that mean Mr. Cracovia was a bad teacher and Mr. Dillon was a good one? Or did the fact that I liked social studies better than math have anything to do with it? Did the fact that I rarely doodled in social studies and frequently in math have anything to do with it? For those who will judge too quickly and say, "No, the teacher should have figured this all out," would it change your view if you knew that Mr. Cracovia saw me struggling and found me a tutor? Frankly, they were both terrific teachers, but in this day and age it's too easy for people simply to convict a teacher without the full picture.

Some would say this is simply anecdotal, but it's no more so than the heartbreaking story Brill tells of Jessica Reid, a teacher who does terrific work under difficult circumstances--and works long, long hours. When she quits, the narrative he has built topples from its foundation. In telling that story, Brill has to choose between his world view and reality. He shows, in the book's conclusion, some dissonance, but I wonder if his viewpoint really changes.

Although Brill ultimately sees the need for unions, he seems to expect teachers to do it all, without a voice in their workplace, without the tools and conditions they need to succeed--that is, without all the things unions try to secure. Just recently, I raised these issues at this summer's AFT TEACH conference, a gathering of thousands of educators who came to Washington, D.C., to improve their craft and their understanding of the classroom practices and issues that affect their classrooms.

I focused on the need to build a high-quality education system by cultivating high-quality educators--from excellent teacher colleges, with ample clinical experience, focused induction, and ongoing professional support throughout a teacher's career, in an environment that fosters respect. As the Times' Sara Mosle points out in her recent review of Brill's book: "Until the country's recent economic collapse, New York's problem wasn't just getting rid of teachers; it was also retaining them. Roughly 20 percent quit after their first year alone, and 40 percent after just three years in the system."

The poor working conditions that drive teachers from the profession also make it difficult for those who remain to do what they love: teach. To improve teacher quality, we have to do so much more than what Brill believes necessary. We have to address all aspects of teacher quality, including valid and reliable measures of teacher and student performance. That's why I unveiled a framework for an evaluation system in 2010 that would incorporate measures of student performance, including test scores, as part of the evaluation. Brill covers the subject, but not accurately or completely. So, for example, he conflates the issues of teacher misconduct and performance to create a "gotcha" on the teachers union.



For the record, I was clear in that January 2010 speech that Ken Feinberg had been commissioned by the AFT to address allegations of teacher misconduct and not the issue of teacher competency. A year later, though, we did in fact apply part of Feinberg's proposal to teacher evaluations--by using it to strengthen and streamline due process.

Even with all the school budget cutbacks, hundreds of districts are now using our evaluation template, and the National Education Association passed a similar policy this year. The AFT, the NEA and the American Association of School Administrators are moving forward together with evaluations based on these principles. But, again, Brill doesn't mention any of this.

The education debate in our country has grown divisive and unproductive, and Brill's book certainly continues this unfortunate trend. But in order to bring about significant, wide-scale, enduring reform to help all students in this current environment, we have to buck the trend, find common ground and move forward with a common purpose.

Brill does get some things right, and I want to give him credit for that. He is right when he says our nation's schools need to improve, substantially and right away. And he is right when he says teachers and their unions need to be part of the education reform conversation. In identifying teacher unions as "the problem" with our schools, self-styled reformers look past many serious problems contributing to student struggles that we all must confront together. I look forward to productive conversations with Brill and others about how parents, teachers and community members can unite to improve outcomes for our students.

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2011/08/24/its-not-about-good-guys-versus-bad-guys/

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