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Health and Medical

Sports the Whole Family Can Enjoy

A family that plays together stays together. This may sound cliché, but family sports have multiple advantages. Men bond better by doing activities together, so joint sports will help the men in your family bond with each other, and as a sister daughter, or mother, playing with them will help you get closer.
At the physical level, it burns out the energy of little ones, making them less of a struggle to put to bed. For teens, it channels their potentially aggressive strength in a positive manner, and it can teach them discipline too. Plus, sports improve health, mood, and well-being all round, so it’s advocated by doctors and medical professionals. Let’s look at a few sporting activities your spouse, parents, kids, and siblings can get involved in.
 

Swimming

Australia is surrounded by ocean on all sides, and we also have a vast network of rivers, lakes, and swimming pools. We are known for producing champion swimmers and for pioneering swimming pool technology, so swimming seems like a natural choice.
Whether it’s an affordable above-ground pool, a man-made salt-water lagoon, or a public water park, it can be fun for everyone. Kids can play in waterslides or splash in the baby pool while more serious swimmers can dive and do laps.
Parents could choose to bask in the sun and wiggle their feet in shallow water as they watch their little ones. You could also play water games like polo, volleyball, or diving for treasure, where shiny coins and trinkets are tossed into the pool and retrieved.
Boxing

Boxing

At its most basic, boxing is a good way to defend yourself, so any dad or brother would want his daughter or sister to get good at it. For teenagers, it can redirect the angst that often gets them into fights, cordoning it with scheduled training and discipline.
Boxing offers a full body workout, so it’s a good form of cardio, especially if you incorporate strength training and aerobic work that many boxes do as part of their regime. It encourages healthy competition through tournaments, so it can be a good way to build up self-esteem.
Little kids as young as 4 can start to learn correct form in boxing, and even grandparents can benefit from strengthening their core and improving their posture. They may not have as much power in their punch, but the overall toning will be good for their bones.
 

Rock-climbing

Outdoor rock-climbing is a bit of an adrenal sport and involves scaling cliffs and abseiling. This requires an intense fitness level and a daredevil spirit, so it’s not exactly PG-rated. However, indoor rock-climbing can be a good family activity.
Climbing walls have varying levels of complexity. It could be anything from a few feet high on an outdoor modular play set, or several stories in a commercial complex. Climbers have guides and assistants to help them along, and wear a safety harness at all times.
In some cases, there is a safety net at the bottom of the wall. It’s suitable for all ages, and the fun, friendly atmosphere is inviting. Seeing other kids and elders on the wall encourages your family to try it out, and the ambience is warm and welcoming, even if it’s sweaty.
 

Football

Whether you’re thinking about soccer, standard rugger, or Aussie rules, football is a good option for the family. Depending on how sporty your family is, you could play a serious game that follows the rules, or you could just run around kicking and tossing the ball into the opponent’s goal. Family football can be a light way to get everyone working up a sweat.
Smaller kids probably won’t be concerned with regulations. They just want to move around and have some kind of contact with the ball. Teens might be interested if it’s in good fun, but a regulated game could be awkward if they have begun to sprout body image issues. The same could apply to mums who aren’t as fit and trim as they’d like.
For this reason, family football games should have as few restrictions as possible. Divide into teams, assign goals, pick opposing goalies, and play. If some family members would rather be the cheering squad or prepare refreshments, than that’s cool too.
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Automotive

National Roller Brake Testing Procedure

Braking problems are among the most common and most dangerous risk for heavy vehicles. Ordinarily, brake failure can cause lethal or even fatal accidents, from skidding and hitting pedestrians to flying off the road and ramming barriers. However, in heavy vehicles, the damage can be far worse because of the required braking distance and the weight of the truck or bus. Even if the brakes are fully functional, the mass of the vehicle can still drag the wheels and chassis, causing further roadside harm.
This is why thorough brake testing is a crucial part of road safety and compliance. The NHVR (National Heavy Vehicle Regulator) issued new regulations for brake testing in the second half of 2017. These new inspection rules were laid out in the NHVIM (National Heavy Vehicle Inspection Manual). The purpose of the manual is to streamline inspection procedures so that no matter where you truck or bus is tested, safety requirements are standardised, ensuring uniform safety practices all over the nation.
 
Utilising RBT machines
The most effective way to test heavy vehicle braking is through a roller brake testing machine (RBT). These machines can be found at government testing centres or authorised third party centres. The mechanism of the test equipment inspects and evaluates brake efficiency by simulating road conditions while the vehicle is stationary.
The main part of the tester is a mechanical floor equipped with motors, safety sensors, brake transducers, and rollers for measuring brake performance. Computer read-outs show the force, distance, speed, and effectiveness of braking mechanisms. Of course brake testing isn’t as simple as it sounds. The results from the test have to be translated for real-world applications. Several field tests were run in August last year and they helped design the national testing procedure.
 
Transition in phases
As we’ve mentioned, RBT machines have two components: hardware and software. The hardware comprises the physical equipment that heavy vehicles are attached to, while the software is the computer programming that interprets the results. In order to facilitate smooth development of a nationwide procedure, the roll-out has been divided into two phases. Stage 1 involves hardware upgrades, while Stage 2 focuses on software updates.
Stage 1 was scheduled to take three months, from 1st February 2018 to 30th April 2018. During this period, all physical equipment would be brought to speed, both in government facilities and third-party testing spaces. Tests are carried out by Authorised Officers (AOs) using pre-set guidelines and steps. Stage 2 is still under development.
 
Earlier hiccups in roller brake testing
RBT machines were first introduced last year, after experimenting with three different testing devices. These were the Levanta, Nepea, and Maha. Initial tests were run at the heavy vehicle testing site in Marulan. Testing occurred for three days, from 14th to 17th August, and results were satisfactory. Once NHVR and its accompanying organisations were happy that safety had been fully dealt with, they announced that trucks and buses should begin applying the test to their fleets.
It turned out the decision was made before comprehensive consultations with truck industry stakeholders. While these key industry players were willing to abide by set standards and have their vehicles tested, they felt the compliance period was punitive and rushed. Through their representatives at the ATA (Australian Trucking Association), the truckers approached NHVR and requested a fairer compliance period. As a result, the period for testing and approval was extended to 31st January 2018.
 
Importance of written guidelines
However, it has now come to light that a patterned guideline of testing procedures is equally necessary. Without this universal structure, truckers and bus fleet owners may run their vehicles through different test centres and end up with varying levels of brake safety. The real danger here is compliant vehicles may have received less stringent testing, and as a result, experience preventable mishaps on the road.
This is why the relevant authorities – NHVR, HVIA (Heavy Vehicle Industry Australia) and RMS (Roads & Maritime Services) are taking a step by step approach to ensuring a comprehensive written guideline for roller brake testing, no matter which part of Australia the testing takes place in. Once the written template is developed, it can be applied in both government facilities and sanctioned third party centres, ensuring better road safety for heavy vehicle operators and other road users, especially as relates to braking systems.
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Home and Garden

Tips for selecting the right natural stone for your renovation

Renovations are always tedious especially when you are spoilt for choice. From fittings to floor finishing a renovation process can mean an overhaul of your entire house. The process of renovating requires a lot of skilled manpower. You might need to call in a plumber, a mason, a carpenter and an interior designer to handle your house renovations. Before they pick up their tools and turn your living space into a dream home, your input is crucial. Your taste and personality need to be reflected in your house. The team might help you pick out some furniture, wall paints and other fittings. When it comes to choosing the right natural stone for your renovation, here are a few tips.
Choose a stone that is popular in the construction industry. Limestone tiles have been in the construction market for years. In Australia, limestone tiles have become a household name. Their polished surfaces and consistent quality give them the popularity and versatility that is unparalleled. Limestone tiles come in an attractive neutral cream colour with fossil fragment specks all over. They are fit for a variety of indoor spaces including showers, bathrooms and kitchens. The finishing of limestone varies greatly. Only your taste and personality will tell which finish makes it into your house.
Not only can limestone be used in indoor spaces but also in outdoor living spaces. In the outdoors your colour selection is limited. It’s prudent to go for low maintenance shades. Moreover, the surface has to give the tiles enough grip to prevent any accidents over wet floors. Limestone tiles are perfect for a contemporary interior. When coupled with a rustic finish you can pull off traditional outdoor designs. Polished limestone tiles are reflective and appear sleek. Such designs are good for countertops. This adds to the aesthetics of any kitchen space and brightens up any indoor space. It’s therefore not happenstance that limestone is used in countertops.
natural stone tiles
Durability is another factor to consider when it comes to choosing the right natural stone for your renovation. If you haven’t tried granite, please do. Granite is an igneous rock formed from volcanic activity. It holds its place as a popular flooring choice because of its durability. Granite can withstand the outdoor weather, food, drinks and fancy barbeque. Despite all these, granite does not lose its shine, discolour or etch. It’s suited for prestigious entrances and areas that require a sophisticated ambience. Most bank entrances and lobbies use granite and this is precisely because of its durability. So if you are looking into doing your renovations without the worry of future repairs, go for granite. You will get durability and beauty all in one stone.
The perfect stone for renovations does not stain. Soapstone is a good alternative for both flooring and countertops in kitchens. Soapstone is metamorphic rock popular for its resistance to staining. It has a soft and soapy nature only unique to it hence the name soapstone. Soapstone comes in in many different shades and colours, ranging from dark grey to greenish grey with dramatic veining. The stone is resistant to heat and staining. Unfortunately, it can be injured rather easily. However, scratches can be sanded out with ease.
One downside of soapstone is that when left unsealed, fingerprints, oils and liquids darken the stone’s surface. Although they ultimately wash off, the spots can be bothersome. If you want to give your soapstone a dark glossy look just apply some mineral oil on it. However, to sustain the look, the application has to be frequent. Soapstone is certain to get hotter than other light-coloured materials because of its dark colour. This makes it problematic to use on hot, sunny days. In conclusion, soapstone is a durable and comparatively trouble-free surface.  With little room for staining it is ideal for both indoor spaces and outdoor use.
Looks can be deceiving but when it comes to marble tiles, what you see is what you get. This beautiful stylish stone bears the most important element to consider when it comes to choosing a natural stone for your renovation, looks. Marble is one of the most popular rocks in the market and marble tiles have earned their title as one of the most stylish flooring options for indoor spaces. Marble can instantly revamp the appearance of a living space giving it an aesthetic value that is unparalleled. Marble tiles are available in a wide range of colours and giving an endless variety of decorative schemes. The tiles can be cut into different shapes and sizes to create a complex mosaic piece installation. The sight of light bouncing off a marble floor is one of nature’s grand gifts. Although every stone is unique, you must choose the right stone for your renovation.
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Automotive

Not All Car Polishes Were Designed Equal

There are all sorts of things people do to take care of their cars. Chief among them, and definitely the most notable, has got to be polishing and waxing. Proper car polishing is a two-step process that starts with polishing to remove the dirt from the body, before finishing off with a waxing. The waxing process is what makes your car look as good as new. To understand this process better, you will need to understand the various differences between the two.
Car polish is used to remove grease, dirt and grime. It is also used to cover over scratches and small dents that cannot be cleared by simply washing the car. It is therefore typically used to prepare a car for waxing and detailing. It comes in different forms such as creams, liquids and sprays. Polishes contain certain solvents that work to remove impurities and let your paint job pop.
Waxes on the other hand are used after the car has been washed and polished. They add a protective layer that not only adds a shine to your car, but is also protective of your paint. It can therefore be classified as a sort of paint sealant, since it protects your car from the harmful elements from the sun, pollution, dust, and other damaging substances. It also reduces the amount of water that seeps through to your car’s body, which in turn lessens the chances of corrosion and rust.
 

What are the differences?

The main difference between the two is the working and application. With polish, you will remove dirt from the car but there is no protection to your bodywork from the elements. You have to be careful however not to overdo the polishing, since you are likely to take off some paint and expose the primer. Wax on the other hand adds a layer of protection for your car. Unlike polish which is applied in large quantities, wax is applied in a thin layer, since too much of it is harmful to your paint. It is important to know that not all polishes and waxes are the same. They differ in quality and materials for instance, with some being natural while others are made from synthetic materials.

Natural vs Synthetic

When it comes to car wax for instance, you have the option of either using natural wax made from canuba. Canuba is a substance that is made from the leaves of a certain palm tree that is native to Brazil. It is then prepared by mixing it with turpentine or beeswax, making it useful to the market. The beauty of canuba based wax is that it offers great water beading and high quality protection. It is recommended for black or dark coloured paints. The major drawback is that it lasts only up to about 4 months before you need to rewax your car.
Synthetic wax on the other hand is made from certain polymers that can bond with the paint. Although it offers protection and a certain quality of shine for your car, it cannot be compared to the quality offered by natural wax. Its main selling point is that it lasts almost 3 times as long in comparison. This means for one polish and wax using synthetic products, you will have to go for three times on the natural one.
 

Different types of wax

Both types of wax come in various different forms, and understanding the different types is key, for you to know what the best type to choose from is. Here a small introduction to the kinds of wax:

  1. Paste wax:This is known as the father of car wax due to being the oldest form. It is a very hard textured which makes working with it quite challenging. You might have to keep your engine running to create the warmth needed for a successful application. Natural Canuba wax is the best for that all natural shine for your car, due to the natural oils, which interact best with your cars paint.
  2. Spray Wax: These are best suited for quick waxing polish and wax jobs. They are typically used when your previous waxing is wearing thin and might need a boost. They however cannot be used as a substitute for spay either spray wax or liquid wax, since it tends to ear off rather quickly.
  3. Coloured Wax: This type of wax has certain pigmentations added to it to match different paint jobs. The general idea is that it will fill in certain defects in the paint job such as scratches and scrapes.
  4. Liquid Wax: This type of wax is mostly used as an alternative to paste wax, due to its smooth texture. This also makes it less time consuming to apply, while compared to other wax alternatives. The main thing to note bout liquid wax is that even when it is made from Natural Canuba wax, it is still mixed with polymers to enhance its longevity.

 
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Home and Garden

Frequently asked questions about caring for leather

In shoes, leather is pretty much taken for granted, because it’s such a common thing. In many parts of the world, school children wear leather shoes as part of their uniform. They care for their shoes by polishing them three or four times a week, shining them every day, and scuffing them with their handkerchiefs (or the soles of their socks) during school inspections. Getting these shoes soaked in the rain or puddles generally ruins them though.
Adults are a lot more careful with their leather oxfords and brogues. They can be professionally cleaned by a shoe-shiner, but they still shouldn’t come into contact with large amounts of water. If the shoes have mud or tough stains, they can be wiped with a damp cloth, but they don’t need soap and shouldn’t be submerged.
 

How do I clean leather bags, belts, and jackets?

These require a slightly different routine from shoes. They come into contact with human skin a lot more often, so they can absorb biological materials. Like shoes, leather garments should be kept dry as much as possible. If you get stuck in a drizzle or downpour, wipe your garment with soft, clean cotton rug to get rid of as much moisture as you can, then air dry it.
To clean your belt or jacket, wipe it with a dry, soft cloth, preferably cotton or microfibre. You can dampen the cloth a little to remove tougher stains. If food or other products spill on your garment, wipe it off as soon as you notice it, or cover it with ground chalk. You can use a special leather cleaner called ‘soft soap’. Rub it onto the leather using circular movements.
Wipe off the ‘soap’ with a damp cloth, making sure it all comes off, otherwise you’ll blog the leather pores and prevent your garment from breathing. This ‘washing’ doesn’t need to be done frequently. Two or three times a year is enough. To keep your bag or jacket moist and supple, moisturise it with a special leather conditioner. Just like shoes, your bag should be stuffed when you’re not using it. This helps the bag retain its shape.
 

How do I care for leather furniture?

Leather furniture is slightly different from leather shoes. The material is much larger in size, and is often a different grade from shoes and garments. Its care is similar though. Get rid of stains as soon as you spot them. Wipe the lounge with damp cotton cloth and avoid getting it wet. You can also use the soft brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner.
Leather Furniture
While it’s possible to clean leather lounges with a little soap and water, it can darken the leather. Sun exposure can do that to, so try to keep your leather seats out of direct sunlight. To clean stains and spots, use a special leather cleaner that you can rub on the stain and wipe off, just like a bag, belt, or jacket. Clean your leather once a week.
Two to three times a year, apply leather conditioner on all parts of your leather lounge. It keeps the leather nice and moist, extending its life span. Conditioning is easy. Just apply a small amount and rub it into the leather using rounded motions. If there’s any excess conditioner, wipe it off with dry rag to prevent smears.
 

How do I stop my chairs from cracking?

Genuine high quality leather doesn’t crack as much as synthetic or patent leather, but it does eventually. Remember that leather is made from animal skin, so just like our own skin, it will eventually age. While living skin will wrinkle, ‘dead skin’ like leather cracks instead. So while you can’t stop cracks forever, you can at least slow their progress, just like we do with our own skin. Conditioning twice a year definitely helps and dusting every week.
You can also position your leather lounges in a relatively sheltered area. Sunlight, live flames, and strong wind will dry out the leather’s natural moisture, making it more susceptible to cracking. You should handle the leather carefully. This can be hard to do when you have pets and toddlers, but avoid cutting or scratching the chairs, and try to keep the kids from using the chairs as a notebook, because ballpoint ink is a tough stain to remove.
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Home and Garden

The Importance of Aspect and Sunlight in Your Pool Planning

You approach to your swimming pool will largely determine the kind you end up with. Some owners are hands-on, doing as much research as possible and getting involved in every decision, and maybe even installing the pool on their own. Others prefer to leave it to the experts, letting them do everything from picking the location to cleaning the pool.
If you’re working with a pool builder, they might ask what you prefer, or take all the work off your hands. Most pool builders will ask you what type of pool you want in terms of size, shape, and chlorination. Modern pools can use chlorine, salt water, or you could order an environmentally friendly pool that uses minerals instead of chemicals.
The pool itself could be above-ground, in-ground, or somewhere in between. It could be constructed from concrete, fibreglass, or vinyl, and could be a long lap pool or a uniquely shaped leisure pool. You could surround it with landscaping, hardscaping, or an attractive mix of both. You could even design your own artificial lagoon with an infinity edge, or a tropical paradise complete with rock paths, fountains, and waterfalls.
Pool-Planning
North and South
When you think about the position of your pool, you’re probably focused on the size of your yard and your privacy considerations. You know you’d prefer it in the back yard, so that strangers on the street don’t spy on you. Still, it might be a good idea to get a compass and think about the aspect.
We’re in the southern hemisphere, which means we have winter while Europe and America have summer, and our aspect requirements are equally polar. This means we want our pools to face north, which is warmer because it’s closer to the equator and further from our closest polar ice cap. However, just like European and American pools, a pool that faces West is warmer than one that faces East, because of the sun’s movements.
Basically, the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, so a west-facing pool will be in the sun’s oncoming path all day. Also in general, a northern pool is warmer than a western pool. An interesting point is the direction the pool faces really depends on the shape of the pool. A flat-bottom pool will receive consistent solar heat, while a pool with a deep end needs maximal sunlight on the deeper side, because it takes longer to warm up.
 
Shades and shadows
The amount of sunlight your pool gets is important, because it can lower your heating bills and make your swimming experience more pleasant. Even on a blazing day, water that is slightly warm offers a more pleasant swim. The water is cool enough to soothe your overheated body, but not so cold that it withers your fingers, chatters your teeth, activates the sniffles, or gives you goose bumps.
For this reason, position your pool for maximum solar exposure. If your house, walls, or fences cast a shadow, check the intended pool location at different times of day to see if or when the pool falls into the shadow of the house. Do this before you install the pool, since it’s unlikely you’ll move the pool afterwards. Technically, above-ground pools can be moved, but it’s a hassle you’ll probably procrastinate forever.
You should also consider tree shades and hedges. In addition to limiting sunlight, they will also shed leaves into the pool, and can give insects and pests easier access to the pool. If you’re installing a pergola or canopy, keep it away from the pool, and double-check where its shadow falls as the sun shifts throughout the day.
 
Soothing breezes
Keep in mind that a big part of the swimming experience is sunning yourself dry. If you have a deck for people to lie on, be sure that it’s in the direct path of the sun and out of the shadows. You can still have seating areas under a tent or ledge, where you can rest when it gets too hot or if you need some shelter from the rain.
While you can’t really control the wind, you can consider wind-breaks like fences, screens, or even your house. A cooling breeze can be nice on a hot day, but in a pool, it can increase evaporation, meaning you have to refill your pool faster. It will also lower the water temperature, and give swimmers an uncomfortable chill when they come up for air.
If your area is windy, you can put up a glass balustrade or privacy fence to slow the wind before it gets to the pool. You could also locate the pool in a space where your fence holds off the wind, keeping your water warmer and your swimmers free of the shivers.
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Home and Garden

All about Inbuilt Gas Heaters 

Benefits of Gas Heaters

Many people opt to use gas heaters due to a number of reasons. Here are some of the benefits of inbuilt gas heaters: 

  • It is very easy and convenient to turn on a gas heater. Just click a switch, turn a thermostat dial or press a remote control button, and you can get the fire started, adjust the flames, and turn it off. 
  • Gas heaters are more efficient than wood heaters.  It quickly heats up large spaces. 
  • There is minimal maintenance involved since there is no ash or soot that has to be cleaned up. 
  • Gas heating offers consistent and reliable warmth for homes. 
  • Gas heating costs less than the price of electric heating. Heating bills can be reduced by half. 
  • Most inbuilt gas heaters have child lock features which make it safe for the whole family. 
  • It has flexible installation options. 
  • It is soot-free and it is easier to control the flame. 

 

Things to Consider before installing a gas heater

  • Think about the type of heat output. Heaters transfer heat in three ways: by natural convection, fan-forced convection, or by radiation. 
  • Ask yourself why you are installing a gas heater. Is this the primary heating source in your home?   
  • You need a licensed gas fitter to install an inbuilt gas heater in your home. These licensed workers all have a gas fitter number which authorises them to carry out the gas fitting installation in a certain State. 
  • Australian states and territories need a licensed gas fitter for all types of home installations, both for LPG and natural gas. It is illegal to do unlicensed gas work. 

Installing Inbuilt Gas Heaters

  • Even if inbuilt gas heaters are relatively easy to install, you still need the help of a professional to ensure that all the safety requirements are complied with. 
  • Installing a gas heater should be in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions, local regulations for gas fitting, municipal building codes, and the Australian Standard for Gas Installations, otherwise known as AS/NZS 5601. 
  • During installation, ensure that all minimum clearances to combustible materials are followed. There should be sufficient space for the proper operation and servicing of the inbuilt gas heater. 
  • Inbuilt units are usually installed against a false wall enclosure. Adding a mantelpiece is optional. The professional gas fitter inserts a flue through the roof.  The flue is usually made of metal. Ensure that you also check the integrity of the flue operation. 
  • Inbuilt gas heaters must be installed on a flat level surface. Some of the materials used for flooring may be affected by the heat, so placing a mat in front of the heater is highly recommended.  

 

Common sources of fuel used for inbuilt gas heaters

  • LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) : This is a flammable mixture of various gases, typically consisting of propane or butane, both hydrocarbons. LPG can be transported and stored easily. LPG can be used for convection or radiant heating systems. 
  • Natural Gas : Natural Gas consists mainly of methane, which is the simplest hydrocarbon molecule. It is a type of fossil fuel and it is colourless. 

 
 
 

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Home and Garden

Freestanding Wood Fireplaces 

Wood fireplace designs are getting better every year. Now, homeowners have a great variety of innovative designs and materials to choose from. Despite the popularity of fireplaces fuelled by gas or electricity, there are still many homeowners who opt to use wood fireplaces.  
 

Why do people still opt to use wood fireplaces?

There is a myriad of reasons why people still opt to use wood fireplaces.  Here are some of them: 

  1. The ambience and atmosphere that a wood fireplace evokes are warm, cosy and inviting.  There is really nothing like a flickering, crackling fire with a woodsy aroma. 
  2. It is a sustainable and renewable energy source.  
  3. Gas –fuelled fireplaces have limited heating capabilities compared to wood fireplaces. 

Choosing the best wood fireplace for your home really depends on the design, size, and configuration of your indoor space. Some people choose inbuilt wood fireplaces probably because they already have an existing fireplace or because they have less space.  On the other hand, there are some who opt for freestanding wood fireplaces, which can be positioned at a safe distance away from a wall. 
 

Advantages of Freestanding Wood Fireplaces

  • A well-designed and expertly-built wood fireplace creates a dramatic focal point or a decorative accent in a room. 
  • They are more flexible because they can be positioned anywhere in the room.  
  • They are more efficient compared to inbuilt fireplaces because it radiates more heat into the room. 
  • If your family has young children and safety is of utmost concern, then a freestanding heating unit is a safer option. Most units are designed with a glass door so there is no risk of stray embers flying out. 

 

Important Points to Remember about Wood Fireplaces

  • The heat of a wood fireplace is rated in kilowatts.  There is a variety of heating power available on the market today, ranging from 4 KW to 16KW. Choosing how much heating power you need solely depends on your room size and room insulation. 
  • Freestanding low-combustion fireplaces have more heating power and longer burn times compares to inbuilt wood fireplaces. 
  • All wood fireplaces should be installed in compliance with the Australian standards. Make sure that the smoke from your flue does not enter your neighbours’ living spaces. 
  • Some freestanding models have a fan accessory which can only be used if allowed by the local authority.  
  • Remember that there should be at least a 25 mm gap between any combustible material and the flue shielding. 
  • A floor protector is necessary if the freestanding wood fireplace will not be placed on a fireproof floor. Australian regulations require that the minimum floor protection is a 6mm fibre cement board, which should be directly fastened to the floor. 

Freestanding wood fireplaces come in many innovative and great designs. Here are some standout features of the best products available on the market today: 

  • Some fireplaces have radiant cooktops 
  • There are fireplaces designed with ceramic firebrick lining for better heat distribution 
  • There are steel baffles for efficient burning. 
  • Most freestanding fireplaces have a special built-in wood storage unit. 
  • Some wood fireplaces feature controlled-combustion technology. 

 

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Home and Garden

Installing Inbuilt Wood Heaters 

Inbuilt wood heaters not only provide warmth but also make a great centrepiece for any indoor space.  Many people are opting to install inbuilt wood heaters in their homes. 

Installing an inbuilt wood heater has these advantages:  

  1. It maximizes your living space since it uses up less space compared to a freestanding heater. 
  2. It can seamlessly blend into a wall. 
  3. It is more economical to install and use compared to gas heaters. 
  4. Wood is an environmentally friendly fuel option because it is a more sustainable and renewable energy source.  
  5. It offers more versatility because it can accommodate various materials from brickwork to marble. 
  6. It saves money. The rising cost of gas and electricity make this heating method a very practical option. 

Here are some important guidelines to remember in installing wood heaters: 

  • The location of the heater and the configuration of the room have to be taken into consideration. 
  • The materials of the walls and floors will have an effect on the way the heater is installed. 
  • Inbuilt wood heaters have to be fitted in a surround casing that is non-combustible. If its sits against any combustible surface, it must be heat-proofed. 
  • It is possible to install these heaters within an existing fireplace. This increases efficiency and maximizes heat output. 
  • Overloading the wood heater with firewood may result in over burning, which could damage it and may void the warranty. 
  • The firewood used should be dry and well-seasoned for a minimum of six months.  No treated lumber must be used as fuel, as this will affect air quality. 
  • Check if the heater complies with Australian standards.  This means that it is especially designed and built for Australian conditions and to work with Australian firewood. 
  • Check the Compliance Plate which should have the AS/NZS numbers.  The compliance plate also contains crucial information on thermal output and efficiency. 
  • Seek expert advice on the size of the heater you need, which will depend on the room size, house insulation, and other factors. 
  • Before installing an inbuilt wood heater, visit your local council to check local covenants, building regulations and required permits.   

Here are the types of inbuilt wood heaters based on how it distributes heat: 

Radiant Wood Heaters 

This disperses heat coming from the outer surface of the heater to other surfaces that are close by.  The infrared heat being radiated tends to stay in the lower part of the room, which makes a radiant heater perfect for homes that have large open plan spaces or non-insulated rooms. 

Convection Wood Heaters 

This type of heater draws cool air from the room, heats it up, and then it rises.  It constantly replaces cold air into warm air and lets it spread evenly throughout the house. This is ideal for homes with lower ceilings. It is also the most efficient way to heat an insulated home. 
With inbuilt wood heaters, you can have the ambience of a real wood fire in a safe and economical way. 

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Home and Garden

All About Gas Fireplaces 

Many Australian homes are opting to use gas fireplaces as a supplemental heat source. Gas fireplaces are more practical because they require minimal clean-up and are more convenient to use.  
Australian fireplace manufacturers are leading the way in manufacturing some of the best gas fireplaces in terms of innovation, aesthetic design, and useful features.  Here are some options that you can consider: 
 

The use of natural gas, LPG, or ULPG 

Homeowners have a choice on whether you will use natural gas, LPG, or UPLG on your fireplace. Natural Gas is basically made of methane (CH4). They are stored at high pressure and are supplied to homes through pipelines. 
LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) is mostly made of hydrocarbon gases that are flammable. The most common mixture of LPG is propane and butane. Its energy content is higher compared to natural gas. UPLG or Universal LPG is just a different proportion of Butane and Propane. 

Star Efficiency Rating 

You need to take time to look at the star efficiency rating of gas fireplaces. This energy star rating is a stamp of approval, telling customers that the fireplace has high energy efficiency. Energy efficiency matters because the less energy a fireplace uses, the less it will cost you. 

Driftwood, Pebbles, or Log and Coal options 

Driftwood, pebbles, or logs used in gas fireplaces are made from a certain ceramic that could withstand very high heat.  Vented gas logs can be installed in any type of gas fireplace where there is an exhaust so that harmful gases will be kept out of your living space. Ventless gas logs can be used in an enclosed firebox which does not need a chimney.  Ventless gas logs emit more heat, so they are more efficient. Other modern fireplaces use tempered glass chips or ceramic pebbles. 
Here are other great features available: 

  • Wi-Fi capability with app-enabling options 
  • Full remote control functions 
  • Variable flame height adjustment 
  • LED accent lighting 
  • Wall thermostat control 

Gas fireplaces can either be vented or ventless. Here are their major differences: 

  • Vented gas fireplaces send produced emission outdoors. Although not as energy-efficient as ventless fireplaces, they are preferred by most households because of there is less risk of being exposed to air pollutants.   

 

  • Ventless gas fireplaces direct smoke and odours into your living quarters. A ventless fireplace does not have a flue.  This means that it can be installed just about anywhere in the house. They are very efficient because almost all the heat that it emits stays in the room.  However, all the pollutants such as carbon monoxide and sulphur oxide also stay in the room.  

 
With gas fireplaces, homeowners do not have to split, stack, and store logs.  The fire does not need tending and will not die out. There is also minimal effort for cleaning up, as there are no ashes and no chimney to maintain. With just a remote control, you can start a fire, control its flame size and snuff it out. Gas fireplaces provide the ultimate convenience and comfort.