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Pros and Cons of Direct-to-Consumer DNA Testing

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DNA testing is a helpful tool for identification, medical purposes, and ancestry that is almost 100% accurate.

It helps in criminal investigation to identify victims and establish suspects. It is used to test for genetic conditions or potential congenital disabilities. With recent improvements in technology, it is used to discover an individual’s ancestry.

Genetic testing, or DNA testing, as it is more commonly known, involves obtaining DNA from a cell sample to identify specific chromosomes, genes, or proteins, including mutations or faulty genes, and is available as a consumer product. The test will:

  • Identify genetic lineage
  • Confirm or rule out an inherited genetic condition
  • Assess the risk of developing or passing on a genetic disorder
  • Determine medications that may be most effective based on your genetic profile

There are several hundred genetic tests available, and the development of more is ongoing. The tests can be performed on:

  • Blood
  • Body tissues
  • Bone
  • Hair
  • Saliva
  • Urine

How At-Home DNA Testing Works

At-home DNA test kits use a saliva or cheek swab sample for testing, keeping the process simple. Using the cotton swab provided in the kit, swab the inside of your cheek or use the saliva collection tube. Seal the sample and send it back to the company for testing.

What You Can Find Out From An At-Home DNA Test?

Many things can be discovered through consumer product DNA tests.

Family History

Do you wonder who your ancestors are? Deep within every cell of your body are clues to their identity. They have survived plagues, droughts, fires, and floods. Your existence is because of them, but you have never had a chance to know them – until now.

Ancestry tests allow you to trace your family history much farther back than traditional genealogy records. Some even provide more in-depth detail about your family. The DNA test can tell you where you and your family came from. With more advanced tests, you can determine when your family arrived in certain locations.

A lineage-based approach is used by the lab for DNA testing. It analyzes the mitochondrial DNA, which passes through the maternal line, or analyzes the Y chromosomes DNA, which passes from fathers to sons.

During the testing, the DNA is analyzed, then run through a database comparing genetic markers with that from other individuals’ DNA on their file. As DNA is passed from generation to generation, slight mutations occur. These mutations eventually become the genetic markers that are traced back to people throughout history until today.

With an at-home DNA consumer product testing kit, your DNA is added to the company’s database. It is then compared to other samples from people who have submitted their DNA. You can look at your results online and see how many people have been found that are related to you and how close the relation is.

Because DNA ancestry tests can trace your DNA to find familial matches from the past, you can use the matches to trace how your family migrated over time from one location to another.

Health Information

While most people are interested in their ancestry, DNA testing is used to reveal important health information. The best DNA tests enable you to learn about traits you inherited from your parents, optimize your vitamin routine, or allow you to embark on a weight loss treatment plan.

Types of Genetic Testing

Genetic tests have a wide range of applications both in medical and non-medical settings.

  • Carrier testing is done prior to or during pregnancy to determine if you or your partner carry a gene that could cause a congenital disability.
  • Diagnostic testing will confirm or rule out a genetic disorder.
  • Newborn screening routinely screens for inheritable disorders as mandated by law.
  • Pharmacogenetics testing determines whether your genetics may influence your reaction to drug therapies, such as genetic resistance to viruses such as HIV.
  • Predictive diagnosis estimates your predisposition or risk of developing a genetically influenced disease later in life, such as breast cancer.
  • Preimplantation testing screens embryos for abnormalities, which is part of the in vitro fertilization process.
  • Prenatal diagnosis can detect abnormalities in the fetus’s genes prior to birth to identify birth defects or congenital abnormalities.

Non-medical uses for genetic testing consist of paternity testing to identify inherited patterns between individuals or forensic testing to identify individuals for legal purposes.

Accuracy of DNA Testing

On average, consumer product DNA testing results for medical conditions and paternity tests are 99.99% accurate. However, you can see conflicting results if you have multiple DNA tests completed by different companies. This is due to each DNA testing company having its own set of traits they test for.

This means that one at-home kit may tell you that you have the gene needed for blond hair, while another test may not mention that. That is because one company looked for that specifically, while the other one did not. It depends on the information in their database on similar ancestry data.

For thousands of years, people have moved around the world, mating with individuals of different descent and different DNA. This has made it increasingly difficult to determine a person’s region because their ancestors did not stay in one place. At-home DNA testing kit companies use the same kind of science to determine your origin.

Results from different companies may not be exactly the same, but they will be similar. The results will tell you what continent you came from, but not the specific country. There is a lot of interpretation involved in genetic genealogy. Scientists can use your DNA to calculate the likelihood of relations based on genetic markers, patterns, and variations. Genetic genealogy cannot prove them entirely, only suggest them.

Genetic genealogy helps people learn about their family history and where they came from. The DNA variations found in DNA testing provide clues about people’s predecessors and where they came from. People of particular backgrounds often share genetic variation patterns. Shared or similar variation patterns are present the closer two people are related.

What Else Can You Learn?

Some companies such as 23andMe provide recommendations for healthy changes for people with your genetic makeup. While healthy changes such as getting enough sleep and eating enough vegetables are good for everyone, this can reduce risks in some more than others, depending on your DNA.

Are you unable to handle drinks with a lot of caffeine, or do you think cilantro tastes like soap? These preferences can actually be linked to your genetic makeup. Your fear of heights, muscle composition, or whether or not you move around in your sleep can be guessed at by looking at your DNA profile.

Cons of an At-Home DNA Test

DNA Tests and Ethnicity

It is a common belief that ancestry DNA tests can tell your ethnicity or race.

An ancestry test will show some of it, but not all. DNA is tested through your mother’s mother and her mother. Or through the paternal line. These tests only analyze a small fraction of your DNA.

If you have DNA testing done and discover family members going back ten generations, you obtain information for one out of a thousand of your actual ancestors. Basically, it can give you a general idea, but not the entire picture of your race or ethnicity.

Accreditation

Another disadvantage of a consumer product at-home DNA testing service is that the test itself may not be accredited with the appropriate agencies. Medical tests have to attain laboratory accreditation through the federal program, Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA). Not all companies selling at-home tests have this accreditation.

Interpretation and Counseling

The results of the at-home consumer product DNA test may be challenging to interpret without the help of your primary care physician or other medical care professional.

When a physician administers DNA tests, they provide genetic counselors who help patients read the results. Without this help, the results could be misinterpreted.

Privacy Issues

The theft of online data is a continuing problem. The testing organizations do their best to keep DNA results private on their systems, but the hacking threat is impossible to eliminate. Consumers who take an at-home DNA test should be aware of this threat and determine what steps the company has taken to reduce the risk.

Psychological Implications

Test results are very personal. The individual’s family history could stir up unwanted drama or be upsetting. If you never knew you are at risk for a particular disease or opioid addiction, for example, the revealing of this fact could be difficult to hear. These companies do not have related counseling to help in dealing with this information.

A study showed that persons who were told they had a predisposition toward depression actually had worsening symptoms.

Cost

At-home consumer product DNA tests can vary in cost from $60 to $200. Consider your options before deciding the test you purchase is worth the investment financially.

Cannot Be Used for Medical Purposes

It is essential to understand that a DNA test administered by a physician is treated differently from a DNA test administered by an at-home consumer product test.

The results of the at-home tests have not been cleared for clinical use. You should not take action to treat any condition without first obtaining healthcare solutions from your doctor. If your test results show you may be at risk for a disease or condition, see your health care services provider.

Selecting a DNA Test

The information you wish to acquire determines which at-home consumer product DNA test you should purchase.

Ancestry

  • Trace your ancestors throughout time
  • Ethnicity and region estimates
  • Identify relatives that have taken this test
  • Build a family tree
  • Cheek swab collection
  • Results in 6-8 weeks

Living DNA

  • Test covers 15 generations of maternal and paternal ancestry
  • Connect with relatives up to 13 degrees removed
  • Covers migration history
  • Cheek swab collection
  • Results in 6-8 weeks

MyHeritageDNA

  • Over 100 million users with 9.6 billion historical records available
  • Uncover ethnic and geographical origins of your ancestors
  • Find long-lost relative
  • Build a family tree
  • Available in 40 languages
  • Results in 3-4 weeks

There are other at-home consumer product DNA tests that can be purchased, such as 23andMe, 24 Genetics, FindMyPast, Family Tree DNA, Nebula Genomics, TeloYears, and Vitagene.

Science Behind DNA Testing

Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a self-replicating material present in all living organisms. It carries genetic data and a genetic code for everyone. It determines a person’s characteristics, such as hair color and personality. Every cell in the body has a complete set of DNA.

All DNA testing from two people will be 99.9% the same. There is only 0.1% of the DNA code sequence that is different from one person to the next.

This 0.1% is what makes people unique. The differences are called genetic markers and are part of the code forensic scientists use when testing DNA. When people are closely related, some of the genetic markers will be the same. Knowing where to look for these similarities and differences in the genetic code is the key to DNA testing.

DNA testing looks for a likeness in genetic markers between two or more samples. The samples can be taken from anywhere on the body because each cell in the body contains the same DNA. Hair, blood, skin, and other bodily fluids can be used for DNA testing. The more DNA available for testing, the easier it is to analyze genetic code and variations.

The DNA is divided at specific locations and points. These pieces are analyzed, and a DNA “fingerprint” is the result. By comparing two fingerprints from two different samples, they see if there is a match.

It is a fantastic technology that helps all people uncover secrets of their past. Knowing where we came from, possible medical implications, and how it helps law enforcement are benefits we all can appreciate.

03 Mar 2021

Home Charity Jewelry Shopping

Have you ever been to a thrift shop? The chances are that most people have gone thrift shopping. What are the benefits of thrift shopping? Here are the reasons why thrift shopping is worth trying:

  1. Reduces waste- Did you know that manufacturing, production, packaging, and distributing new clothes wastes a lot of energy and water? If not, now, you know. Shopping in the local thrift is one of the easy and simple ways of going green. Disposing of unwanted clothing affects the environment as the materials take a long time to breakdown into landfills.

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    Choosing to purchase second-hand clothes will therefore reduce waste and help the earth generally.

  2. Creates uniqueness- most people desire to dress according to the latest trends in fashion. Thrift shopping helps you make a one-of-a-kind wardrobe; the vintage and unique clothes.
  3. Offers high-quality products for affordable prices- thrift stores have a wide range of fantastic deals. By shopping at a thrift store, you get the chance to save on furniture, shoes, clothes, books, games, accessories, and home decor.

    It’s a great feeling to get more quality items at a low price.

  4. Unlike other retail chains, which means f supporting the community- thrift stores are put in place to serve others. The stores are not meant to generate a profit for stockholders but to impact community members.

As seen in the video “Thrift Haul 2020! Thrifted Fashion & Home Charity Shopping #SecondHandSeptemeber / Lara Joanna Jarvis’ thrift stores have a wide range of unique items to buy. Did you know that you can get a unique wedding band for your partner in a thrift store? Visit a thrift store in your local area and get to see the beauty of shopping in one. Ranging from clothing that makes you look exceptionally good to items you have never seen before for reasonable prices.

There are things to look out for when visiting a thrift store for second-hand clothes. Not all clothing is created equally; hence look out for the following:

  • Durable zippers- save yourself low-quality zippers: go for more durable metal zippers. Plastic zippers are more difficult to zipping and quickly get off the track hence less stable.
  • Natural fibres- avoid plastic fibres as they are prone to pilling and are easily damaged by heat from ironing and the sun. Go for linen, wool, and cotton for clothing that holds up wash after wash.

  • Ensure the seams are durable- ensure the clothing does not contain wardrobe malfunctions due to faulty seams. A seam is where pieces of fabric join and are held together by stitches.

Be part of the support, shop at your local thrift shops, and impact different people’s lives in your community.

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04 Jan 2021

Jewelry For Charity

Giving back to the community is the best thing one would choose to do. As little as it may seem to you, it may have a significant effect on someone’s life. There are people in this world who can hardly afford or access basic needs. Thoughts and acts towards such people come with a lot of appreciation.

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It positively touches the lives of people.

Many people make a community but can coexist. Among members of one community or the local area, it is easy to identify a pressing issue that may be in your ability to help out. You might be wondering how or where to start or even how to go about it. Don’t worry, and it can be as easy as giving what you do an extra effort to have more for charity.

What do I mean? The current situation you are in may not allow you to undertake a big project to help the needy: you are not always ready for charity. However, you might be running a business or engaging in activities or production of items that may earn money or be used directly towards charity. Did you know that you can offer such things instead of cash? It just takes the will and desire to engage in charity.

For instance, the video ‘ Jewelry That Gives Back: The Domino Effect” shows a lady who designs jewelry aimed at supporting charity organizations, donation of jewelry ranging from necklaces, bracelets, custom engagement ring can go a long way in helping charity organization.

Like this lady, it does not matter what business you engage in: you can still make someone smile’. The community may be facing a homelessness crisis.

You sell building materials: you may have significantly impacted a home building project for charity in helping the homeless by donating construction materials towards the project. Participating in charity financially or through materials are more or less the same.

Try to make the world a better place for everyone you can. What is the state of your home area? How can you make an impact? Where do you start? Identifying the needs of the society you live In is the first tip of finding out what role you can play in the charity involving your home area. With this, you are better positioned to layout a good plan on what to do and how to go about it.

Start with what is achievable for a successful project. Charity work never ends. People will still need help and more help. To experience growth when engaging in charity, you will need to start with the achievable moving towards bigger projects. With this you are guaranteed of seeing progress in your charity work.

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28 Dec 2020

Common Roofing Myths That You Should Avoid

When it comes to home improvement tips, there is plenty of useful information out there, and also some stunning myths.

Roofing is no exception, and sometimes homeowners fall prey to the roofing myths that can float around like a nasty flu bug. You don’t have to fall victim to those myths, but you won’t know which ones to avoid if you don’t know what they are. So, we’re here to help you out.

Here are the roofing myths that have to be debunked and the right way to take care of your roof.

MYTH: You Can Repair Your Roof

While some will think they can fix their roof on their own, this is a huge roofing myth and is highly not recommended.

Going “DIY-Style” in your roof could easily lead to a botched job that will lead to roof failures, which will cost you even more money out of your pocketbook. That’s why it’s best that, if you have any sort of trouble with your roof, you should call a roofing company to come out and fix your roof.

MYTH: The Darker The Shingles, The Higher The Electric Bill

For most roofing professionals, this is a common myth that gets spread around like mayo on a ham and cheese sandwich.

Many may attribute this myth to the fact that dark colors absorb heat, which will warm your house, which will, in turn, lead to your air conditioner working overtime, raising your electricity bill. While it is true that dark colors absorb heat, it doesn’t mean that your utility bill will be rising.

Your attic is insulated and vented, which reduces the amount of heat that comes into your home from the roof. So the next time anyone says that you will have a higher utility bill because of the color of your shingles, don’t listen to it.

MYTH: A New Roof Doesn’t Need Maintenance

Oh God, this roofing myth should be thrown out the door and ran over by a tractor-trailer.

While your new roof will work better for you, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have it maintained for any length of time. Even with a new roof, several things can go wrong with your roof. Oh, and you have to take into account storms, which can seriously do damage to your roof.

Whether you have a new roof that’s two months old or one that’s 12 years old, it is always imperative that you get your roof inspected and maintained. Getting your new roof checked out will help keep the integrity of your roof for a long period than leaving it alone and taking your chances.

MYTH: Go Ahead, And Put New Shingles Over Your Old Ones, It’s Fine

Have shingles that are damaged and should be replaced? Most people will tell you that it’s perfectly fine to install new shingles over old ones, which will save you some money in the long run.

This is yet another one of those roofing myths that you shouldn’t pay attention to.

Sure, you will save a bit of coin by not having to pluck out your old shingles, but according to Perry Roofing, those short-term savings don’t add up in the long run and will even wind up costing you even more money in the future. That’s because a roof can only take so many shingles pilling on top of each other. It is called pounds per square inch (PSI), and the heavy amount of weight your roof will have from multiple layers of shingles could cause substantial structural damage to your roof.

So it may be wiser to spend the extra money and take the old, damaged shingles off and replaced them with new ones. You will save more money in the end.

MYTH: All Shingles Are The Same

Uh, no, this is another one of those roofing myths that should be ignored.

Yes, asphalt shingles are made from similar materials, but that doesn’t mean that they’re the same. You can look at a store-brand box of corn flakes and the name-brand kind and think they’re the same, but they’re not. The same goes for asphalt shingles.

What separates the shingles are the quality. The shingles come in a variety of colors and textures and don’t get us started on the different brands of asphalt shingles, all of which can be made differently. That is why you should contact commercial roofers and ask them about the different types of asphalt shingles if you ever need them replaced.

Never think that all shingles are the same. You may wind up regretting your choice in the long run.

MYTH: Don’t Contract A Roofing Contractor For Light Repairs

In some ways, this ties into the “DIY-style” or roofing that is strongly not advised.

Homeowners want to save some money while fixing their homes, and roofs are no different. If they see that it’s a minor issue, then some people may caution homeowners against calling commercial roofing contractors to come in a fix minor issues with your roof, citing that the cost is “too high.”

As we mentioned before, if there are any issues with your roof, you should call roofers to come in a do the job, even if it’s a minor issue. Please, do not attempt to fix your roof on your own, which could very well lead to further damage to your roof.

MYTH: No Leaky Roof? No Problem!

It is no secret that water is an enemy of a roof, and a leaky roof is often a sign of problems that are to come.

However, a leaky roof is just one of the numerous issues that your roof can have. Just because you don’t see leaks doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get your roof checked out. Your roof can have extensive damage to it, and not a drop of water will come from it.

While a leaky roof is a good barometer as to how much damage your roof has, it is still best to get your roof inspected by a contractor who can spot deficiencies within your roof.

MYTH: Metal Roofs Kill Your Home’s Resale Value

There is a litany of things that can murder your home’s resale value, but a metal roof is not one of them.

In reality, a metal roof increases the value of a home, not decrease it. The reason behind this is the longevity and sustainability a metal roof has over an asphalt shingles roof. According to Yahoo News, a metal roof will bring back almost half of the initial installation cost.

So maybe it will pay off, in the long run, to get metal roofing installed on your home to increase its value.

MYTH: Your Metal Roof Will Make Your Home Warmer

Your roof plays a role in keeping your house warm in the winter.

Most people will gravitate to a metal roof with the belief that it will keep their roof even warmer in the winter. The truth of the matter is, it’s not your roof that determines how warm and comfy your house becomes, but the insulation within your home. A properly insulated home will keep your house nice and toasty. Not only that, but it could preserve your roof for up to 20 years. However, a metal roof can be better at keeping the warm air in your home from seeping outside.

There are many positives to buying a metal roof, from its longevity to its sustainability. However, as much as many want to believe that a metal roof will keep their homes warmer in the winter, that is simply not the case and is a huge roofing myth.

MYTH: Repairing A Roof Is Expensive

This is a roofing myth that many homeowners should dismiss.

Yes, it will cost you a bit of money to repair damages to your roof, but it doesn’t have to cost you an arm-and-a-leg to make the needed repairs. There is plenty of residential roof installation contractors in your town that can do a great job fixing your roof for an affordable price.

Believing in this myth can have dire consequences for your home. It can keep you from doing the needed repairs to the roof, which will become even more problematic and sustain damage that could very well lead to you having to have your roof replaced entirely.

Don’t buy into the myth that it’s expensive to repair your roof. Some contractors are expensive, but most are not, and you should always engage in price shopping before settling on a contractor to repair your roof.

MYTH: No Serious Snow Storm Means My Roof Will Be Fine

OK, so you lucked out on not having a bad winter storm, which is great. However, it doesn’t mean that you will be out of the woods when it comes to your roof, and by no means should you use that as a barometer as to if you need repairs to your roof.

If you find a problem, it’s best to solve it at that moment because the problem can grow and fester into something much bigger. That goes for your roof as well. During your fall home inspection (which you should do before the onslaught of winter comes), you should always have your roof checked to see if there are any problems or defects.

If so, get it fixed so that it won’t be a problem in the winter. Never take a chance with your roof, as those problems can lead to structural damage throughout the house, and that is an entire can of worms that you don’t want to deal with.

Do not let roofing problems fester, which could cost you even more money in the end. If you spot a problem with your roof, get it fixed. This is one of those roofing myths that you should never leave it up to chance.

MYTH: A Metal Roof Can Stop Ice Dams

As much as we all want to believe this, it is simply not true and is one of those roofing myths that you should avoid.

Having a metal roof is just as susceptible to winter weather as an asphalt shingle roof, which also means that ice dams can form on your metal roof as well. The best way to have control over this situation is to make sure that your attic has the proper ventilation and insulation needed to prevent these dams, which, when melted, can cause your roof to leak.

MYTH: A Flat Roof Has More Leakage

Look, if you have a roof over your head, there is a possibility that it can suffer leaks.

Having flat roofing doesn’t mean that your roof will leak more than a sloped roof. It can leak more if the roof isn’t installed properly, which is why you should choose the best contractor. A plus side to flat roofs is that these types of roofs have preventive leak protection and can be waterproof. Is it enough to keep leaks from invading your flat roof? Not really, because as we stated earlier, all roofs can suffer from leaks. However, if it’s been installed properly then a flat roof can minimize the risk of leakage.

As a famous rapper said back in the day, don’t believe the hype, and we’ll add to it by saying don’t believe those roofing myths.

In the end, all of these roofing myths have something in common with one another. That common feature is that it comes from people who don’t know or understand the facts surrounding roofing and roof replacement.

When you have people who don’t understand the facts, roofing myths can pop up and spread like wildfire, especially in the age of social media, where misinformation can spread with ease. The best way to separate the facts from the noise is to call a professional and ask them about all of your roofing needs.

Ask them about asphalt paving or damages that you may not be able to detect. If you have issues with installing solar panels on your roof, consult solar contractors for information. Don’t turn to just anybody for advice, especially ones who only get their information from hearsay.

Ignoring roofing myths will go a long way to ensuring that your roof is working the way it should. It sucks to having roofing issues, but if you block out the noise and trust professionals, you, your roof, and your home should be OK in the long run.

Don’t believe the roofing myths. If you have issues with your roof, always call a professional. Most will not steer you wrong.

 

12 Nov 2020

Home Improvement Scams and How to Avoid Them

Remodeling and fixing the home can be expensive, but do you know what’s even more costly?

Falling for home improvement scams!

These scams target new homeowners and can cost you several thousands of dollars. Don’t fall for the scams. Become an expert in avoiding these tricks. Continue reading to learn what the top home improvement scams are and how to avoid them.

What is a home improvement scam?

A home improvement scam can vary. Scam artist can target homeowners in multiple ways. These strategies can include:

  • Using high pressure tactics
  • Tacking on repairs the homeowner does not need
  • Charging unfair and inflated prices
  • Delivering terrible work
  • Not delivering work at all
  • Posing as an inspector to demand repairs to the home

Typically older adults fall victim to these scams. Their trust is exploited as these scam artists go door to door to find new people to essentially rob.

Older adults are typically targets because they likely own their homes. Older adults are less likely to report the scam since many can feel ashamed afterward.

Avoid those door to door sales and scams

This is possibly one of the largest home improvement scams. If a salesperson approaches your property, you should be cautious. Of course, not every salesperson that travels door-to-door is a scammer. But it’s best to be cautious if someone appears uninvited. They tend to appear after tragedy strikes. For example, many scammers will approach you after a storm .

Ensure you ask for a physical address if you decide to try their services. This way, you can find them if something happens to go wrong with the project.

Take your time to choose a contractor

It’s important that you take enough time out of your day to select a qualified contractor. Select someone who won’t participate in home improvement scams. Work with a contractor who has an established and physical address. This applies to plumbing companies or AC repair companies too.

You should also receive rates from multiple contractors in the area. This can help you settle on a contractor, as you don’t want to work with someone whose services are too cheap or too expensive. When someone charges you too little, this shows they lack experience and confidence with their abilities. However, if they charge you too much, they may be running their own home improvement scam.

Additionally, get your final bid in writing. This ensures your rate will stay the same. If your contractor is a scammer, they can easily go back on their word. They could charge you more than your agreed upon rate! They may even get rid of some of the original and agreed upon services.

Avoid the scams and ask for references

When seeking a contractor, it’s important to ask for references too.

Especially if you want to weed out the home improvement scams.

Consider asking them for a list of past clients upfront. If the contractor or garage door repair person has a website, then you can likely look at past reviews online and from the comfort of your couch.

Read your contracts thoroughly

Before signing the contract, you want to ensure you read it all the way through. Don’t just glaze through the words. If you don’t understand something, or you find that something is unclear, work this out with your contractor or lawyer. Repair work should always be performed under a contract. Legitimate businesses do this to protect themselves. If they don’t insist on drafting up a contract, then you should reconsider working with them. This is for your protection. You don’t want to fall for another one of those home improvement scams!

Do not sign a contract that has any blank areas. They will get filled in later with false information at your expense.

If the contractor is rushing you to sign the contract, respectfully tell them that you wish to read the terms and agreement over at your own pace. This should raise red flags too. If something is written incorrectly in the contract, do not sign it and clearly let the contractor know why you’re unsatisfied with the draft.

If they are running a reputable business, they will likely make the correction for you and make a new copy that you will feel more comfortable signing.

Keep plenty of copies once it has been signed.

Brush up on the contactor liens clause

Here’s another way you can ensure you don’t encounter harmful home improvement scams!

When reading through your contract, ensure that there is a warning about the legal ownership rights of your home. If the work is not completed and meets all the conditions outlined in the contract, you may lose your home. When you sign a contract for home improvements, the lead contractor can place a lien on the homestead. This means that if you sign a contract containing that warning above, and you fail to make your required payments, the company can take your home.

It’s crucial that you understand your own obligations under the contract. You need to be certain that you can meet these requirements as well. If you’re feeling uncertain about signing the contract, contact your attorney to work through the details. If there will be a lien on the home, ensure a notary is present before signing.

Paying for your work legitimately

If you want to avoid these home improvement scams, ensure you’re also paying for the work properly.

Usually, a contractor will ask you for a partial payment to secure the work. If you have read through the contract properly, this shouldn’t be a problem. You should be prepared to hand over this set amount of money towards the total cost. Most scammers will ask you to pay all the money upfront. This is how you can weed the scammers out. You should never pay the full amount until some of the work has been completed. You should be happy with the work your garage door contractors are doing!

If you are asked to sign a certificate of completion in order for the team to receive payment, do not make this official unless you are completely satisfied with their work! Inspect it and make sure it meets all of the standards outlined in the contract.

Types of scams

There are various types of home improvement scams that you need to keep a close eye out for!

Mold

Mold is a common issue in most households. It can also be frustrating to get rid of. Namely, because it’s so dangerous. If you have breathing issues like asthma, the tiny spores can aggravate your lungs. Therefore, it’s essential that you get rid of the source immediately. Unfortunately, there are many home improvement scams that claim they can get rid of mold but will leave your home exactly the same!

Contractors will typically have a cap on the coverage and will not cover the remediation of the mold.

Other signs you’re being scammed

There are a few other signs that you have been scammed. For instance, avoid contractors who claim that if you sign now, you will get a discount. This is a tactic meant to pressure you into signing. With these home improvement scams, the contractor will probably never get back to you after signing the agreement.

Avoid contracts with limited details

You also want to avoid signing a contract with limited details. If you asked for a power washing service, and it’s not mentioned in the contact, you may be getting scammed!

Your team members do not have permits

Obtaining a permit is required when conduction heavy duty work like well drilling. If your team does not have the proper permits, they may be working illegally. Also, if you’re asked to pull the permits, this is another red flag!

Shifty contractors will tell you that pulling the contracts will save you money. However, the truth is that most contractors will request this if their license has been revoked!

Additionally, if you pull the permits, they won’t be responsible for inspection failures. You will be!

The contractor uses another contractor’s license

The contractor may also be using another contractor’s license if their own has gotten suspended. Sure, it may fool someone initially. But using someone else’s license is no excuse! It can land the homeowner in hot water if you’re not careful.

The contractor asks for money continuously

It’s a non-stop game. Once it seems like the contractor is about to wrap up the job, something goes wrong and they have to ask for more money. Then it happens again and again! Before you know it, your wallet is empty and the original job has not been completed! Ensure that you’re paying close attention if the contractor happens to ask for more money with no proof of completion. Once you enter the rabbit hole of excuses, your contractor will milk more money out of you!

What to do if you have been scammed

Despite the precautions, these scams can happen to anyone.

If you have been scammed, there are a few steps you should take. First, try to resolve the issue through the contractor. Clear the air. Perhaps your scuffle was a misunderstanding and can be handled through a simple conversation. If you’re able to get a hold of the contractor, ensure you keep a calm tone. You don’t want to give the contractor a reason to fight back or to get snippy.

Bring a copy of your contract to review too.

If they have an office, schedule a meeting there to discuss your issues in person.

This is also the best course of action to take if you wish to contact an attorney.

After meeting with them in person, follow up your conversation with a letter and a request for a refund in the mail. They should get back to you in a few days. However, if you receive no response, contact an attorney and consider pursuing legal action.

If the contractor has broken the contract, you are entitled to compensation. If the contractor is performing work without a license, they can also be sent to jail, or have to pay a hefty fine. Many states require a contractor to work with a license. The exceptions are:

  • Colorado
  • Oklahoma
  • Vermont
  • Wyoming
  • Ohio
  • New Hampshire
  • Maine
  • Kansas
  • Indiana
  • Kentucky
  • Missouri
  • South Dakota
  • Delaware

If you’re working with a contractor in a state that requires the proper documentation, they need to prove to you that they are credited to start and finish the job. If not, they can face severe consequences.

Conclusion

There are various home improvement scams out there. Ensure you don’t fall for them by taking the proper precautions. Falling for these scams can cost you thousands of dollars! Do the hard work upfront and ensure you’re working with a legitimate contractor or roof installation company before you take the plunge. Read over your contract religiously and always ask questions if something seems unclear!

29 Sep 2020

9 Common Plumbing Myths That Are Either Useless Or Harmful

It’s never fun to deal with plumbing issues within your home. Whether you’re plunging your toilet or cleaning your shower drain, you’re not going to have fun while working on some malfunctioning part of your bathroom. Of course, a home’s plumbing system relates to every part of the house that deals with running water in some way. Your garden hose and kitchen sink are also connected to the plumbing system, which in a lot of ways is somewhat of an unsung hero of the home. After all, we don’t want to think much about plumbing and piping systems. But when they aren’t working properly, we certainly notice rather quickly. While it can be something of a pain to pay for emergency repairs, it’s worth it in the long term to pay for the assistance of a professional plumber, as opposed to dealing with it on your own. There is a big difference between the aforementioned toilet plunging and seriously involved plumbing repairs. Plumbing repairs are a necessary part of maintaining a home over an extended period of time, but the unfortunate fact is that there are a lot of people don’t understand when to call a professional plumber and when to handle an issue on their own.

This is in part because there are a lot of plumbing myths that many of us have been raised on before owning our own homes. For example, a lot of people over-use bleach when cleaning their sink, toilets, and bathtubs, thinking that if it’s left to linger it will properly clean the area, where in fact if it’s left too long it may cause more harm than good. If using bleach to clean a toilet, for example, it must be removed within 10 minutes to ensure that there isn’t any corrosion. The more you know about these myths, the easier it will be for you to take care of your plumbing system. With that being said, let’s look into some of the most common plumbing myths that people often become confused about, and compare them to reality.

1. Water Heaters Can Be Left Alone

Many people have the perception that water heaters can be left unattended; even if they have initial anxiety about them, this is often brushed away. After all, it’s not as if water heaters can explode, can they? Unfortunately, it’s quite possible for this to happen, if water heaters are not maintained as they should be. The fact is that water heaters are built on creating pressure. This pressure builds up over time, which can cause a water heater to burst. The way that they prevent this from happening is through a relief valve. The pressure relief valve should work automatically, but it can potentially fail.

This can be prevented, rather simply, through proper maintenance. Ideally, water heater maintenance should be done on a yearly basis, during which the tank will be flushed. Furthermore, if any water heater repairs need to be done, the issue will be caught at this time. A lot of plumbing myths lie in the fact that people are unaware of necessary maintenance, but it’s an important part of keeping up with your home in general. A lot of common plumbing services are actually not based on repairs, but based on maintenance. Ultimately, it’s more cost effective to invest in regular maintenance than to pay for extensive repairs following damage.

2. You Can Snake A Drain With A Wire Hanger

Clogs are not uncommon in any home. While toilets can easily become clogged over time, shower or sink drains can also become clogged in a way that cannot be managed through drain cleaning solutions. This can be related to regular hair loss in the shower or tub, or perhaps excess food in the kitchen sink. With that being said, clogs are often cleared through the process of “snaking”. Snaking involves using a thin tool that slips through the pipes and breaks up the clog. One of the most common plumbing myths is that a wire hanger can be straightened and used as a makeshift drain snake. Theoretically, this makes sense. But in reality, snaking a drain is much more complicated than it looks.

A wire hanger is actually made of the wrong material, and therefore will scratch interior surfaces and potentially cause permanent damage. This damage can actually make it easier for buildup to occur, therefore making clogs worse in the long term. While you can potentially wrap a cloth around the end of the wire hanger and secure it with a rubber band, it’s smarter to either buy a proper drain snake, which is also more flexible, through a home improvement store; or to simply call professional plumbers to help.

3. Pipes Don’t Need To Be Replaced

Understandably, a lot of older homes have older piping systems as well. While their issues may not be immediately apparent, it’s not true that older piping systems don’t need to be replaced. In fact, a lot of the problems that occur with old pipes are not immediately noticeable. Furthermore, many old pipes are made of lead, which can obviously lead to issues if that lead filters into the water you drink or bathe with. All lead piping systems should really be replaced as a safety precaution, and if your home is older, making the pipes 70 years or older, the entire system should be replaced either way.

Not only do new piping systems simply work more reliably; they also can actually save you money in the long term. This is because they are overall more water efficient, which means that you don’t have to spend as much money on your water bills. While that initial upgrade may be somewhat expensive, as with many plumbing costs, you should think about the long-term investment.

4. You Can Flush Cat Litter

Among the most regularly flaunted plumbing myths is the idea that all cat little is safe to flush down the toilet. While there are specific types of cat litter that are made to be safe to flush, a lot of different types are not only unsafe, but entirely harmful when flushed due to the fact that they contain materials that are not water soluble. In actuality, however, you should think twice about flushing it either way.

This is because the waste that is found in the litter box is the real problem. Cat waste can actually contain harmful parasites that may not be completely cleared once the toilet is flushed. Therefore, those parasites may linger around the bathroom or toilet, and can be harmful to those that use these spaces. These parasites are particularly harmful to pregnant women, making it better practice to simply toss all cat litter and waste out in the trash.

5. You Can Flush Wipes Down The Toilet

When it comes to items that we think we can flush down the toilet, there are actually a lot of different misconceptions and plumbing myths. Another common myth is the idea that seemingly-flushable wipes can be flushed at all. There are two issues with the idea of flushable wipes.

Wipes are often called flushable simply because they can make it down the drain. This doesn’t mean that they won’t get caught in the pipes further down, potentially causing a need for an emergency plumbing repair down the road. It’s almost worse to flush something like this that does make it down the drain, as this means that a simple plunging won’t fix the problem. For that matter, these wipes don’t break down, which means that they can have a negative environmental impact. Wipes are much thicker than toilet paper and are less water soluble even than paper towels. Ultimately, anything of this type of material really shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet. If it can’t be broken down through water, don’t flush it; take that as a general rule when it comes to dispelling plumbing myths.

6. Grease Can Make It Down The Drain With Boiling Water

A lot of people feel like it’s just fine to push grease down the drain, providing that this grease is pushed down with boiling hot water. In theory, the boiling water may make it easier for the grease to make it down the drain at first, it won’t do anything in the long term. Grease won’t be broken up by boiling water, and it can easily get caught up and clogged within your piping system.

For that matter, in the long term a grease buildup can cause a serious clog or even a breakdown within your pipes. The last thing anyone would want is a new plumbing installation due to a grease buildup. But if you make combining grease with boiling water a regular habit, this may be something you’re faced with down the road. Nothing will effectively break up that grease, and therefore it belongs in the trash rather than the drain.

7. Putting A Brick In The Toilet Saves You Water

This may be one of the more old-fashioned plumbing myths, but it’s certainly not completely out of the ordinary for people to use it today. Nobody knows exactly where the myth began, and professional plumbers consider it completely ridiculous. Yet a lot of people, based on advice from their parents, place a brick in their water tank in order to conserve water and save money. Not only does this do absolutely nothing practical to aid in the toilet’s water conservation; it could actually have negative consequences.

Your water flow can actually be disrupted, as the brick will be in the way of the flow. This means that the toilet’s flush will actually be weaker in the long term. A weaker break can also break apart, therefore causing long-term damage to the toilet. The toilet could end up leaking due to this damage, resulting in water damage that you aren’t even aware of. There are a lot of fixes that can actually amend the same issue you may have been trying to solve with the brick. This will include water-saving flushers and faucets, as well as water-efficient shower heads. Ultimately, if you’re looking to cut down on your water usage, you would be much better off seeking advice from a professional versus following old wive’s tales.

8. You Can Ignore A Leaky Faucet

Perhaps one of the most problematic plumbing myths, which actually has to do with the myth mentioned above, is that a leaky faucet can actually be mended. A leaky faucet can actually cause you to lose a lot of water over time, even if it seems to be merely a minor, slow-moving drip. Of course, lost water in turn will result in a great deal of lost money. On average, the leakage rate per faucet stands at around 10,000 liters on a global level.

Simply by calling a plumber and having your faucet fixed, you can save at least 10% of your water bill. This will save you money, of course, but is also environmentally friendly.

9. Ice Cubes Sharpen Your Garbage Disposal Blades

While this isn’t one of the more immediately harmful myths, it’s remarkably common. Even some maintenance professionals advise people to put ice down their garbage disposal in order to sharpen the blades. This actually doesn’t work at all. While there are grooves within the disposal that are cleaned through ice, the ice doesn’t actually sharpen the blades in any way. The ice doesn’t cause any harm, but if you need the blades to be sharpened, you should talk to a professional plumber.

If you feel as if your garbage disposal does need a good cleaning, toss the ice in there. However, you can also use eggshells. Either way, have no fear!

Clearly, a lot of plumbing myths are either completely useless, or cause actual harm to your plumbing system. Therefore, you should treat your system with care and ultimately be unafraid to simply talk to your plumber about any issues within your system. They’re happy to help, and they know what they’re doing!

 

24 Jul 2020