Home Reviews

Outdoor Kitchen Mistakes Homeowners Must Avoid


Homeowners avoid these outdoor kitchen mistakes
Outdoor kitchen mistakes to avoid

Last year a new client came to HPS to enroll a gorgeous new contemporary home into our Stewardship program. During our start-up inspection we were startled to find a BBQ island on the back patio that had caught fire and burned.  When asked about the fire our client reported that during his first cookout, the island had simply burst into flames. The expensive stainless BBQ was ruined, and its supporting base cabinet was a total loss too.

The original developer/contractor had disappeared, so our client asked us to fix it.  During the repair we uncovered a number of construction mistakes that ultimately led to the fire. I’ve shared these mistakes below to help future outdoor kitchen installers avoid similar results. Homeowners can add more value and enjoyment to their home by following these tips:

    1. The installation did not include an insulated BBQ liner/jacket

      Every built-in BBQ, especially if the counter boxes are built with a combustible material, should be installed with an insulated metal grill liner. This is a kind of protective metal jacket for your grill. Many outdoor kitchens have gone down in flames solely because an insulated grill jacket was not installed with the grill.

      Insulated grill jackets surround the BBQ and prevent heat from transferring into the cabinet structure. These devices will prevent any melting, burning, warping or fires. The jackets also provide the additional benefit of supporting and protecting your grills undercarriage from premature weathering and corrosion.

      outdoor kitchen mistakes to avoid
      Insulated BBQ jacket

      Many designers leave these protective liners out of the plans either because they don’t know about them, or they dislike their appearance. Cumbersome looking or not, they are an absolute necessity when building your outdoor kitchen with or without any combustible materials.

      Installing an insulated grill jacket will ensure your outdoor kitchen will last for many years of cookouts. NOTE: Not all BBQ brands offer these protective liners for their appliances. Make sure you purchase your grill from a brand that does, or plan to have one custom made for your application.

    2. The BBQ cabinet box was not fitted with vent panels.

      Outdoor kitchen mistakes to avoid
      BBQ cabinet vent panels

      When using a natural gas or propane BBQ, the enclosure cabinet must be properly vented to prevent an accidental explosion. During construction, the proper placement of the vents is critical. Install vent panels every four feet along the length of the structure to prevent any possible leaking gases from building up.

      The type of gas you are using will dictate where each vent panel is installed on the cabinet. If using natural gas (NG), make sure to install each vent panel as high as possible on the body of the island because natural gas rises. When using propane (LP), make sure to install the vents as low as possible on the cabinet since propane is a heavier gas that sinks. 

      Always use a licensed contractor who knows the codes for natural gas and propane installations. You might save a few bucks by attempting to do this yourself, or leaving out the proper vents entirely. But you could also end up having to replace your entire outdoor kitchen, or home, or possibly seriously injuring someone.

    3. Cabinet drawers blocked access to the plumbing

      Eight BBQ mistakes to avoid
      Outdoor BBQ cabinet drawers

      Having drawers in your outdoor kitchen cabinets can be very useful, but always consider the placement layout beforehand. Many outdoor kitchen owners  purchase drawers units for the cabinets, then realize they need to have access for plumbing. This is also a common issue with grills because the gas or propane plumbing requires access.

      When planning your outdoor kitchen, think carefully about the placement of your doors and drawers, and whether or not you can install appliances in the given space. Instead you may just want to use access doors that open into the existing void space of the island structure.

    4. Make sure the cabinet and appliances are outdoor rated.

      When equipping your outdoor kitchen, buy only appliances that are rated for exterior use by the manufacturer. Outdoor units are “hardened” to insure safety and durability when exposed to harsh weather. Indoor appliances are just not up to an environment that may subject it to humidity, heat, cold, blowing sand, rain, rodents and sunshine. In very short order, using indoor appliances outdoors will lead to problems. The appliances finish will become discolored or the unit may fail completely. You can be assured that your warranty will be nullified. It is also a good idea to order a custom cover for the entire countertop. This will protect it from the elements when not in use or during the off-season.

       

      Outdoor cabinets and enclosures also need to be constructed ideally of steel or concrete in order to remove the possibility of dry rot, fire or rodent access. You can order pre-fabricated outdoor kitchen cabinets from Amazon here.  Or here.

      Outdoor kitchen mistakes to avoid
      Make sure you have one of these
    5. Never install your cooking and cooling appliances next to each other.

      When designing an outdoor kitchen always separate the cooking appliances from the cooling appliances. Never install a refrigerator directly underneath or adjacent to your grill. Excessive heat means the refer will have to work much harder than it should. Overheating the internal parts can easily become a cause for them to fail sooner. If space is tight, install your refer at least one foot from your grill or side burner. Make sure a solid barrier is placed between the two appliances inside the island structure. A good layout will help your appliances operate at a reasonable temperature and as a result, last longer. 

      For safety purposes, design to prevent people from using the refrigerator with close exposure to the hot grill, either directly, next to, or above them.

    6. Know your appliances dimensions before making cut-outs.

      It is frustrating and expensive to have your cabinet spaces or countertops pre-cut for your appliances, only to find out they do not fit when it’s time to install them. Double and triple check the exact dimensions for the built-in pieces before making any cuts. If possible, it is always best to have the actual products on-hand to measure them for accuracy and a good fit. If you are using a stone slab countertop make sure the top fabricator templates the area just like they would for the kitchen. The rule of “measure twice and cut once” is especially important when working with stone.

      Outdoor kitchen mistakes to avoid
      Countertop cut too large for the BBQ-this allows debris to fall in creating fire risk
    7. Don’t forget to leave some extra counter space.

      Like most homeowners, you likely want to deck out your new outdoor kitchen with all sorts of appliances, for all kinds of cooking drink mixing and entertaining. However, not many appliances actually are rated for outdoor use. Mixers, coffee makers, microwaves etc. can all be ruined by a surprise rain, an errant sprinkler or even a heavy dew.  So don’t leave these non-rated appliances outside.

      Also, in all the excitement don’t forget the importance of empty counter space. It is best to leave plenty of empty counter space for things like food preparation, serving, eating and staging. When designing your outdoor kitchen, make sure you leave plenty of work space on the countertop for easy and convenient use.

    8. Do your research and choose reliable appliances

      There are tons of outdoor appliances on the market and it can be hard to choose the perfect products for you. Everyone wants great looking and functional appliances, but the important characteristic is durability. For that reason, its most important to do your homework before buying. An outdoor kitchen is something you want to last for many years, so it is crucial to select the perfect appliances when building.

Summary

Avoid the mistakes discussed above when designing your outdoor BBQ kitchen.  Take time creating a good appliance layout.  Read over any available customer and expert reviews. Research how well the appliance performs and only select products that are made for the outdoors. By doing your research beforehand, you will be much happier with your choices in the years to come. See How to Buy a BBQ. Contact me at info.homepreservation.com if you would like more information about planning and and constructing a quality outdoor kitchen area.

Preventive maintenance can make homeowners money


preventive maintenance makes money
Maintaining a light fixture

Study shows preventive maintenance efforts return high yields.

Is maintenance really worth the effort? Does preventive maintenance make money? No matter how obvious some things appear, often these same things remain very difficult to prove. Consider the simple act of taking care of your stuff. At a gut level we all understand that if you take care of an object, it will last longer. But how much longer will it last? If it lasts longer, what is the value of that? How much extra does it cost to take care of an object versus not?

Until now the economic value of preventive maintenance has been elusive to prove because it has been difficult to both study and calculate. Now a long-awaited study published by Jones Lang Lasalle has finally quantified the facts some of us have suspected all along. Preventive Maintenance is a killer investment. Yes!! Preventive maintenance is not only a nicer way to own and care for a home…it makes money.

Study results are stunning

The study showed that the money spent on preventive maintenance produced a whopping 545% ROI.  The returns came solely from energy savings and extending the useful life of the equipment and infrastructure. Any homeowner knows that those are not even attributes where the REAL value resides.

Bigger returns await you

The biggest values to most homeowners are in 1) disaster avoidance and 2) making the home more beautiful or fun to live in. What is the value in money saved if your water heater never floods your home?

The 545% return would actually have been much higher still if it had been able to account for the very real value of the breakdowns, disasters and emergencies avoided.

Cleaning a metal roof
Maintaining a metal roof

If you are a homeowner what are you waiting for? Start spending some money on maintenance and get rich… in comfort!

Read the Study

You can read the full study here:http://www.sitemason.com/files/b2tJra/Preventive Maintenance.pdf

Enjoy!

Help me to help you

Congratulations on taking time to use this free website. I hope you find the information here fun and useful? Please send me your comments and feedback. Writing and maintaining this site is a lot of hard work. By sharing these pages with your friends, you help me to continue the effort.  You can easily share these pages to all your favorite social media sites via the shortcut buttons on the sidebar. You can also simply email the page link to your friends. Please share often.

The very best way to help me occurs when you use the embedded links to buy things. Using a link is easy and free, yet it provides a great source of support for this site. The vendors I’ve chosen to link to have proven to be the very best resources available so that is why I recommend them personally.

This is the place to visit if you want information on your home: How to improve air quality; ways to improve the value of your home; what are the best cleaning services; do you really need handyman services; how to plan and execute home renovation and home improvement projects; ways to hire a handyman; what to do during spring cleaning; ways to go about tidying up a messy house; and generally how to be a better homeowner.

If you have questions or just want to say hi, please send me a note.

Thanks again!

 

Metal Roofing Update

Metal makes for stylish lifetime durability

These panels were used by the jillions to roof barns and other shelters are still in use today. Recycled examples with a nice layer of rust and patina are actually in high demand.

I admire homeowners who choose metal roofs for value and durability. Be concerned though if your installer only offers a one-year guarantee on workmanship. A weak workmanship warranty is a red flag about the installer so check them out.  A weak warranty is also at odds with metal roofing’s exceptional material warranties and durability. 

The industry’s Metal Roofing Alliance offers courses for metal roofing installers and contractors to make sure their work stands up to the durability of the metal material, and the test of time. By using proper installation practices your contractor should be offering workmanship guarantees that are more commensurate with a lifetime roofing material.

Use compatible accessories

An expensive metal roof can be ruined by using cheap or incompatible trim, fasteners, and accessories. Using galvanized materials or fasteners on a galvalume roof, for example, can cause irreparable corrosion and oxidation, compromising the quality of the panels and shortening a metal roof’s life.

The cause is poor training, planning or laziness because it only costs a small amount more for the proper trim, fasteners, and accessories that are compatible with the metal roofing material. The long-term assurance of reduced call-backs… and even better, satisfied customers is well worth the trouble.

Install with water runoff in mind

Use roof flashings and curbs made from aluminum or stainless steel that are most compatible for metal roofs. Galvanized flashing is inferior, won’t last as long and can actually cause corrosion damage. If using galvalume flashing, minimize and check seam welding as this can melt the material’s protective coating.

Use well thought-out flashings and under/over curbs. Make sure you plan for proper clearance in order to give water some room to run off and avoid pooling (a good rule of thumb is a minimum of 12 inches between panel ends and the diverter on the upslope end, and 6 inches between the curb’s sides and panel seams). For big curbs with a heavyweight load, be sure you have proper structural support underneath. Demand use of curbs around chimneys, caulking alone will not hold over time to prevent leaks.

Penetrations

For metal roof plumbing penetrations, do not use standard residential pipe jacks or those made for membrane roofs. Use a pipe boots made to last, from galvalume or aluminum. Move the penetrations to miss panel seams and avoid blocking the flow of water. If other trades need to make penetrations in the roof (like HVAC), be sure they are supervised by the roofer and coordinate the location and method so that only proper techniques and materials designed for metal are used.

Summary

Contractors with the proper training should be confident enough in their product to offer workmanship guarantees that make sense. The value of a fine metal roof deserves that.

Halting Stainless Steel Corrosion

Yes stainless steel can rust?

It may come as a surprise, but stainless steel is not really stainless. In fact, stainless steel can to some degree both rust and corrode. To help you understand better, this post is all about the care required for halting stainless steel corrosion.

What is stainless steel

Stainless steel is a very precise alloy (blend) of iron, nickel, chromium and carbon. What makes this alloy of steel so corrosion resistant is a chromium content of at least 10.5% with a small amount of molybdenum. The corrosion and pitting resistance increases with higher amounts of chromium and molybdenum. Unfortunately, increasing those amounts too much can also affect the strength and brittleness of the metal. The result is numerous special grades of stainless steel all with varying chromium and molybdenum ratios for the diverse environments that must be endured.  Choosing the right grade of stainless steel for the job is important.

Grades of stainless steel

Over the years more than 250 grades of stainless steel have been developed. Of those, there are only five basic types.  Ferritic, Austenitic, Martensitic, Duplex and Precipitation. There is a sixth type called Superalloys. Superalloys are much stronger and more durable than the other steels. They are also rare and come with extremely high prices. Made for submarines and other exotic uses, I’m sure our military loves Superalloys. Homeowners could care less about most of these.

Here are the grades that homeowners need to know about:

304 Most common grade, magnetic, appliances, BBQs

316 Marine grade, food and surgical stainless steel, jewelry grade (except Rolex), marine exposed appliances and BBQ’s

409 Low cost, stainless auto exhausts

420 Low cost, mass market cutlery grade

430 Auto trim, decorative material

440 High grade, cutlery steel, razor blades

904L Rolex Stainless Steel Daytona watches

Passivation

preventing rust on stainless steel
Passivating stainless steel

When a stainless steel part is machined and fabricated various contaminants and abrasive particles can permeate the surface of the metal. Debris, dirt residue such as free iron, grease and machining oils all can become embedded in the surface. These can be microscopic and often go unseen to the human eye. These contaminants weaken the metals resistance to corrosion and make it more susceptible to degradation. It is this contamination that allows stainless steel to corrode.

The passivation process (sometimes called pickling) can return the stainless steel surface back to its original specifications. It does this by aggressively removing the contaminants from the surface, neutralizing the electrical charge and then submerging the part into a protective bath. The process essentially improves, purifies and protects the surface of the part. The restored surface allows the metal to perform as designed to protect itself.

It is important to note that passivation does not change the original outward appearance of the base metal.  I have developed a low cost formula if you are interested in optimally protecting your stainless steel. Register with this site and send an email request. We will forward it to you. 

Summary

The passivation of stainless steel material is a process performed to make a surface passive or less reactive. A surface film is created that causes it to lose its chemical reactivity. Stainless steel is already known as being corrosion-resistant, however the passivation process strengthens its’ natural coating by improving the exterior surface of the material. Stainless steel passivation purges the stainless steel of the oxygen absorbed by the metal surface, creating a monomolecular oxide film. Passivation results in a highly desired, low corrosion surface on the metal.

Advantages of Passivation

    • Improved Corrosion Resistance
    • Uniform, Smooth Appearance & Finish
    • Deburring (Polished Surface)
    • Cleanliness
    • Improved & Extended Life of Product

Help me to help you

Congratulations on taking time to use this free website. I hope you find the information here fun and useful? Please send me your comments and feedback. Writing and maintaining this site is a lot of hard work. By sharing these pages with your friends, you help me to continue the effort.  You can easily share these pages to all your favorite social media sites via the shortcut buttons on the sidebar. You can also simply email the page link to your friends. Please share often.

The very best way to help me occurs when you use the embedded links to buy things. Using a link is easy and free, yet it provides a great source of support for this site. The vendors I’ve chosen to link to have proven to be the very best resources available so that is why I recommend them personally.

This is the place to visit if you want information on: How to improve air quality; ways to improve the value of your home; what are the best cleaning services; do you really need handyman services; how to plan and execute home renovation and home improvement projects; ways to hire a handyman; what to do during spring cleaning; ways to go about tidying up a messy house; and generally how to be a better homeowner.

If you have questions or just want to say hi, please send me a note. If you are looking for help performing the work described and you are in the San Francisco area, go toHPS Palo Alto Inc.and request a free evaluation.

Thanks again!

Avoid Chemical Drain Cleaners

They are deadly to pipes, septic systems and pocketbooks

And away goes trouble down the drain!

Advertisements for liquid chemical drain cleaners are convincing. After all, backed up drains are a nightmare and not something anyone is well prepared for. Liquid drain cleaners make the prospect of clearing away any plumbing problems seem so neat and easy. Almost convenient. Just grab a can and pour it down the sink.

dangers of chemical drain cleaners
Chemical drain cleaner ad

But don’t believe it. Chemical drain cleaners are poisonous and dangerous to have laying around waiting for use. Once used, they end up in the sewer treatment plant and will eventually seep into the water system. They are also devastating to your plumbing and your septic tank if you have one. Here is a kitchen drain fitting that was destroyed by a liquid rooter chemical.

Dangers of chemical drain cleaners
Damage drain from chemical cleaners gone wrong!

Bad chemicals in the water supply

Do you know what chemicals are in that can of drain cleaner? And what happens when they get flushed into our water supply?

There are two basic types of drain cleaners, alkaline and acidic. Alkaline cleaners contain either sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide (lye). Acidic cleaners contain sulfuric acid in fairly strong concentrations.  Both of these can dissolve cellulose and proteins like hair, grease and fats.If you have a septic system, they will alsokill the good enzymes and bacteria in your septic tankthat help to break down the waste, so these cleaners should never be used if you are on a septic tank.

 

Lye, even in diluted amounts causes irritation of eyes with tearing, redness and swelling. Greater exposure causes severe burns and possible blindness if in the eyes. Chronic exposure and prolonged contact with diluted solutions or dust has a destructive effect on human tissue.

It is interesting that there is very little information available on the dangers of these chemical drain cleaners once they leach into the sewer system and water supply. Since drain cleaners are habitually washed down our drains, you would think the municipal systems would have a comment on it? Perhaps some reader will have some information and help me update this post.

Figure Out What’s Really Causing The Clog?

Think before you pour. Liquid drain cleaners only work on a few organic blockages. Yet, plumbing drains can run slow for many other reasons. Mechanical obstructions, improper slope and lack of plumbing vents can all cause problems with drainage.  

Instead of defaulting to the use of caustic chemicals, it is better to try to understand what might be causing the problem in the first place. Could something like a bottle cap have gotten into the drain? Perhaps there is a systemic problem with the plumbing itself? Is the plumbing in a difficult place that may have affected the slope of the piping. Maybe there is a lack of, or improper location of vents?

In the case of the photo below, the slow drain (that initiated the use of the chemical drain cleaner) was caused by inadequate slope to the plumbing and NOT by organic debris clogging the line. Not only was the liquid ineffective, since there was no slope, the chemical just sat in the line and eventually dissolved the pipe. Once the pipe was breached, the water leaked down into the ceiling and walls below causing water damage, mold and a repair bill in excess of $100K.

Image showing hole in drain pipe caused by chemical drain cleaner
Chemical drain cleaner damage to drain with no slope

Alternatives

Before using any chemical drain cleaner, try running a small plumbers snake or even a straightened coat hanger wire down the drain to see if that helps.

 

Also, you can act to prevent debris from entering the drains in the first place. Reduce the dumping of loads of garbage down your kitchen disposer and use removable screens over bathroom sink, tub and shower drains to reduce exposure to hair.

 

Recommendation

In the end, if you still have a persistent and stubbornly slow drain, have your plumber snake and video the line to troubleshoot the problem for a permanent repair. It may not be a blockage after all. In any case, avoid the chemicals. If drain cleaners can do this kind of damage to pipes, can you imagine what other unseen damage they might be causing downstream to sewer systems and water?

On the radio today Edwin Starr was asking “what is it good for” in his famous song about war.  I was pondering the exact question about drain cleaners and coming up with the same answer: “absolutely nothin’.”

dangers of chemical drain cleaners
Avoid liquid drain cleaners

Help me to help you

Thank you for taking time to use this free website. I hope you find the junk-free information here fun and useful? Please send me your comments and feedback. Writing and maintaining this site is a lot of hard work. By sharing these pages with your friends, you help me to continue the effort.  You can easily share these pages to all your favorite social media sites via the shortcut buttons on the sidebar. You can also simply email the page link to your friends. Please share often.

The very best way to help me occurs when you use the embedded links to buy things. Using a link is easy and free, yet it provides a great source of support for this site. The vendors I’ve chosen to link to have proven to be the very best resources available so that is why I recommend them personally.

This is the place to visit if you want information on: How to improve air quality; ways to improve the value of your home; what are the best cleaning services; do you really need handyman services; how to plan and execute home renovation and home improvement projects; ways to hire a handyman; what to do during spring cleaning; ways to go about tidying up a messy house; and generally how to be a better homeowner.

Make sure you download your monthly maintenance checklistfor this month.

If you have questions or just want to say hi, please send me a note. If you are looking for help performing the work described and you are in the San Francisco area, go to HPS Palo Alto Inc. and request a free evaluation.

Thank you!

Copyright and permission to use information.

It is unlawful to make copies including cut and paste or especially in the form of making printouts for personal use. If you wish to make a print for personal use, I will happily grant you one-time permission if you will kindly send me a request in writing.

Thanks again!


Help me to help you

Thank you for taking time to use this free website. I hope you find the junk-free information here fun and useful? Please send me your comments and feedback.

Writing and maintaining the information in this manual is a lot of hard work. By sharing these pages with your friends, you help me to continue the effort.  You can easily share these pages to all your favorite social media sites via the shortcut buttons on the sidebar. You can also simply email the page link to your friends. Please share often.

The very best way to help me happens when you use the embedded links to buy things. Using a link is easy and free, yet it provides a great source of support for this site. The vendors I've chosen to link to have proven to be trustworthy and are the very best resources available. That is why I recommend them personally.

HomePreservationManual.com is the place to visit if you want information on

  • maintaining your home
  • how to improve air quality
  • ways to improve the real value of your home
  • what are the best housekeeping services
  • the problems with handymen services
  • how to plan and execute home renovation and home improvement projects
  • tips for spring cleaning; tidying up a messy house
  • and generally how to be a better homeowner.

Make sure you download your monthly maintenance checklist for this month.

Linking to this site

Do you want to link to anything on this site? Please do! Go right ahead. I appreciate it and am honored to be considered as a resource on your website. Always feel free to link to anything you find helpful. Of course, please never copy anything (everything is copyrighted and registered), but link away and thanks!

Thank you!

Copyright and permission to use information.

If you have questions or just want to say hi, please send me a note. If you are looking for help performing the work described and you are in the San Francisco area, go to HPS Palo Alto Inc.and request a free evaluation.

As a reminder, it is unlawful to make copies including cut and paste or especially in the form of making printouts for reuse. If you wish to make a print for personal use, I will happily grant you one-time permission if you will kindly send me a request in writing.

Thanks again!