Author Archives: homeleisure.com

[Video] Soak Away Troubles In 20 Minutes – Hot Tubs Sterling Heights

If elevated stress, chronic pain or a sour mood finds you under the weather, a hot tub can help. Here’s how to soak away troubles in just twenty minutes.

To encourage local residents to check out the benefits of using a hot tub to help improve their overall health and well-being, Allstate Home Leisure is providing free test soaks at all their showrooms.

We do recommend however that people wanting to schedule their free 30-minute soak call us ahead of time to reserve their spot.

To learn more about the benefits of owning a hot tub, pick up a copy of this free hot tub buyer’s guide “How to Select the Best Hot Tub Dealer” Just give us a call or visit our website at: http://HomeLeisure.com

44605 Schoenherr Rd., Sterling Heights, MI 48313 586.932.5100

Hot Tubs Sterling Heights

Reduce Your Hot Tub Energy Bill

Why spend more than you have to while running your hot tub, pool, or spa?

1. Turn It Off When Not In Use

If it’s freezing weather and you’re worried that the water in your hot tub or spa will get really cold in between uses, keep the temperature low. Otherwise turn it off.

2. Cover It Up

Don’t scrimp on a hot tub cover, get the best you can buy. A quality hot tub cover seals in the heat and will save on energy.

3. Keep An Eye On The Thermostat

Most hot tubs and spas are set to 104 degrees by default but you can save energy by tweaking that down to 101 or 102 and probably not tell the difference at all. In addition, hotter water takes more energy to heat, so going from 104 to 108 is less efficient than 101 to 105.

4. Replace Your Filter Annually

Yes, your hot tub filter should be replaced every year. Make a note on your online calendar to remind you to replace it on a specific date or replace it when you break it out for hot tub season. Which reminds us …

5. Frequently Clean Your Filter

Every two to four months (depending on usage) clean your filters using a commercial cleaning product. Make sure to follow

6. Work With Your Electric Company

Some electric companies will offer special reduced rates for off-peak hours. Call and ask. And if they do have off-peak rates, heat the spa/tub then and turn it down or off when the rates are higher (weekends for example).

Families are Staying at Home and Playing More

Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said “There’s no such thing as fun for the whole family.”

Well, maybe that’s true, but more and more families are trying to find out as they spend an increasing amount of time together in the home.

According to a survey conducted by the University of Arizona, since 2011 family units are spending more time together doing fun things in the home than previously. Two of three heads of households are now saying that “staying at home with family” is the preferred way for them to spend a Saturday evening, up 8% from a prior survey.

What are families doing in their homes? Are they banding together or retreating to corners of the house to do something alone? There’s good news: we’re seeing a trend, according to the survey, in families doing activities as a unit. Some families are utilizing technology to play interactive video games, and of course many people are consuming entertainment together, like movies and TV shows.

But many are also turning to more “traditional” family entertainment like playing board games, card games, or playing billiards or darts for example. In order to accommodate these activities, families are investing in their homes to make them more suitable for group fun. In houses all over the country we’re seeing the “return of the family room.”

“Families are converting home offices, extra bedrooms and basement spaces into family rooms,” says Allstate Home Leisure owner Roy Farmer, who has three shops in Michigan in Ann Arbor, Livonia, and Novi. He plans a fourth location in Sterling Heights early in 2015.

One of the reasons for the return to more family-centric activity in the home may be one of logistics. As more children stay home with their parents while they attend college and older family members move into the homes of their children for financial reasons, the extended family is in close proximity. As a result, these folks are congregating to play.

Game rooms with vintage video games from the 1980s and pinball machines are popular, as are pool tables and shuffleboard tables and dartboards. Many younger people are being introduced to card games that were popular in 40 or 50 years ago like Hearts and Euchre, which has been a popular game for college students in the Midwest for many years. Families are also filling game rooms and family rooms with big screen TV’s and music players as well as interactive devices that enable interaction like a Wii-Fit.

As families return to the family room to spend time together, traditional entertainment and comforts like a fireplace rest side-by-side with new technology. The result is a comfortable place for families to do all sorts of fun things, but the most important thing they can do is simply be together.

For information on how Allstate Home Leisure can help you put together a great family room in your home, contact us.

Benefits of a Gas Fireplace Insert

Why should you get a gas fireplace insert?

First, let’s discuss what a gas fireplace insert is. Here’s one:

Now let us count the ways a unit like this makes a lot of sense.

Affordable
Because a gas fireplace insert is installed directly into your existing fireplace, rather than spend to renovate your existing fireplace unit and tear apart your home, a gas fireplace insert is an affordable alternative that won’t cripple your saving account. In addition, obviously a gas fireplace insert uses gas to heat your home, providing a steady, reliable and affordable form of heat.

Efficient
Every type of heating system suffers some heat loss. An open fireplace experiences a lot of heat loss – as much as 95%! With a gas insert you’ll have a more efficient unit in your home and with the closed-door-system you’ll only lose about 35%, a marked improvement that will keep your home warmer and more efficient.

Environmentally Responsible
A gas fireplace insert reduces your environmental footprint to practically zero, compared with a wood fireplace or wood stove which requires the clearing of trees.

Predictable
By using gas to heat your fireplace you’ll have a predictable expense each winter. No more bargaining with a wood service on the best price for burnable goods, no more budgeting for a large expense of wood each fall and winter. Most gas companies will even allow you to spread a gas bill out throughout the full year to reduce the stress of a larger bill on colder months.

Clean
A gas fireplace burns so cleanly that you’ll never have to clean your chimney again and you want need to clean around the unit either. Just turn it on and enjoy. You will want to install a carbon monoxide detector to ensure you don’t have a leak in any of the lines, and also inspect those lines regularly for any signs of damage. Otherwise, a gas fireplace insert is extremely easy to use.

Easier
Stop buying, clearing, chopping, stacking, and carrying wood! How about just flipping a switch and getting heat in your home? That’s easy enough, isn’t it?

Safe
A gas fireplace insert is safer than a traditional fireplace. There’s no wood to burn or carry, no wood to store, etc. In addition, inserts have a closed-door system that keeps the heat in and away from danger in your home.

Hire a Professional
Make sure you only have a certified professional install your gas fireplace insert. The experts at Allstate Home Leisure can help you if you’re looking to enhance your home with a gas fireplace insert.

The Ultimate Pool and Billiards Glossary

What does it mean to “ride the cheese?”

What’s a “railbird?”

What sport would you be playing if you employ a “mud ball?”

And what exactly is “one-ball hell?”

Even the most seasoned billiards player may not recognize all of these terms that come from one of the oldest and popular leisure games in the world.

That’s why we’ve teamed with one of the most knowledgeable billiards experts in the country to bring you the ultimate pool and billiards guide. Dr. Dave Alciatore is the man behind hundreds of video tutorials on billiard playing and techniques. He’s agreed to let us bring his marvelous glossary of pool terms to a wide audience through our website and social media. We’ll be sharing these billiards and pool terms here on our blog and on our Facebook page and through Twitter over the coming weeks and months.

Here’s a sample and if you can’t wait you can also visit Dr. Dave’s web page for a PDF version of the glossary.

The Ultimate Pool and Billiards Glossary

 

 

 

 

  – – – – – – – – –

Ride the Cheese: try to pocket the money ball early in a game or with a desperate shot.

Railbird:  a person that watches or gambles on a game without playing.

Mud Ball: heavy cue ball used in an old “bar box.”

One-Ball Hell: situation in 8-ball where you only have one ball remaining and your opponent has many, making it very easy for your opponent to run out and/or play easy safeties against you until he or she is able to run out.

– – – – – – – – –

We sell pool tables and pool table accessories, visit our online showroom for details >

Stacking a wood pile

How to Build the Perfect Wood Pile

Stacking a wood pile

This wood pile is the proper height: not too high to be unstable or dangerous.

Someone once said that there are three things every man thinks they can do better than every other man: manage a baseball team, kiss a woman, and build a fire.

Want to gather a crowd? Simply place a few pieces of wood together and strike a match, people will come running and they’ll all have opinions on how best to build the “perfect blaze.”

Similarly, there’s no shortage of opinions on how to build a wood pile. Constructing a pile and stacking the wood can be a challenge if you don’t know what you’re doing. If you listen to all of the conflicting advice out there you’re certain to be confused. Here’s a guide that will help you build a wood pile that will be the envy of every neighbor within miles.

Choose a convenient and safe location

Wait! Before you order your wood delivery or dump your wood out of the back of your own truck, determine where you will be stacking it. You don’t want to be moving the wood all over your yard or property. Choose a spot that’s convenient to your home, about 30 feet from the door where you’ll be coming out of your home. Don’t keep the woodpile any closer to your home or you’re inviting insects and rodents to live with you.

Give it some air

Building a perfect wood pile

A neat, orderly wood pile with air between the stacks of wood.

Your stacked wood needs airflow to make it ready for burning and to keep it dry. Don’t stack the wood in tight stacks, instead leave room both for air and for you to get at the wood when needed. Never stack your wood snug against a fence, shed, or garage: you could get insect damage to or from those other structures.

Build your stacks no higher than five feet otherwise they may become unstable and they can be dangerous (you don’t want wood falling on your head).

Construct your stacks so the bark side of the wood is facing outward and the interior of the log is faced inward when possible, this will keep less moisture from building up on the inside of the wood.

If possible, stack the wood on wood pallets to keep it off the ground. This will keep ground moisture and insects off the wood and also give you an even surface to stack your wood on.
The best season to stack wood is in the summer when the warmer temperatures will dry it out quicker.

Cover seasoned wood if you’ll get precipitation

Many people want to cover their woodpiles with tarps, but it’s really not necessary unless you expect a lot of precipitation. If you’re going to get a lot of snow and it’ll pile up on the wood, place a tarp loosely over the wood (you still want some air to get to the wood). It’s not necessary to cover wood until a few weeks before you plan to burn it, but if you do cover it, leave the bottom of the stacks uncovered (don’t extend the tarp all the way down) so air can circulate.

Let the wood sit before burning

For optimal efficiency, wood that is fresh-cut should sit for a full year before burning. When wood is first cut it has up to 50% water content. This means it won’t burn well at all in your wood stove or fireplace.

Saving Money with Factory Rebates

In this time of extreme couponers, rebates are enjoying a boost in popularity as well. They are a great way to save money on products, especially big ticket items like hot tubs, cars, swimming pools, motorcycles, and pool tables. A rebate is an amount that is paid to the consumer through refund, return, or reduction on the full or discounted price that has already been paid for the item. By taking advantage of them you can save money, even on top of coupons. Here are some tips for making the most of your rebates.

Do your Homework
Research rebates online before you shop. Look for manufacturer or factory rebates on items you are planning to purchase then read the terms carefully. Ensure that you know exactly what you need (receipts, special purchases, etc.) and what you need to do to ensure that your rebate is qualified.

Check the Expiration
This simple step is often overlooked, leading to disappointed rebaters. Don’t let it happen to you: make checking the expiration on your rebates a priority. Do it before you even read the fine print.

Organize
Organization is key to successful rebating. Develop a filing system so you can keep your rebate coupons, sales receipts, and other required documentation in one place. Before you send in your rebate and material, photocopy everything and keep good records including the mail date.

Don’t Wait
Don’t sit on your rebate. The longer you wait to send it in after you have met all the requirements, the more likely you are to miss the deadline. As soon as you have everything you need, do the paperwork, make the copies and get it in the mail.

Stack your Deals
You can optimize your savings by stacking your deals. Combine a coupon or a great sale price with your rebate. If you can combine all three of these, you can really make out like a bandit. There are many coupon sites online, and manufacturers will often offer coupons – so make sure you include finding coupons and sales as part of your homework.

Try Price Matching
Many retailers offer price matching. This means that a store will honor a competitor’s sales flyer if the sales price is cheaper. The items must be identical, the flyer must be current and you usually have to present the flyer at the time of purchase. Check with your favorite stores to see if they do price matching and you can stack it with rebates and even coupons.

Negotiate for a Better Deal
Did you know that the sales clerks you talk to at many retail establishments have the authority to give you a discount on most items? Even chain stores for clothing, home furnishing, pool supplies, home improvement and more authorize the people on their sales floor to “sweeten the deal” by extending discounts. Supervisors and managers are often authorized to offer larger discounts. So before you pay the sticker price on anything, ask about getting a better deal. Chances are, the answer will be yes. (And the worst that can happen is a “no.”)

Mail and Track
Once you have everything in order, make your rebate. For a few cents extra, you can include tracking to ensure that it reaches its destination. Adding tracking is a good extra measure to keep you organized and effectively tracks your rebate’s path.

Everyone is trying to save money these days. Fortunately, it is easier than ever to do so – if you know how to play the game. Add rebates to your couponing and deal seeking then watch your savings soar!

Safety Tips for Using Your Fire Pit

Fire pits should be constructed on a safe surface.

Fire pits should be constructed on a safe surface.

Many homeowners light up their fire pits in the fall as temperatures drop. A fire pit can be a wonderful way to entertain and enjoy company in the night air. But a fire pit is a responsibility and it should be managed safely. We spoke with a fire official to get these fire pit safety tips.

Make Sure it’s Legal
Always check with the local fire department, as some cities or towns don’t allow fire pits. Don’t assume that because you live in a rural setting with few close neighbors that it’s legal for you to have a fire pit.

Let Your Neighbors Know
It’s a good idea to tell your neighbors (especially if they are close by) that you have a fire pit. When they see smoke they will know the source and that will reduce the possibility of a complaint. It may not be the fear of a fire that makes neighbors queasy: they may not want the smell of smoke in their area or someone in their home may have a health condition that would be aggravated by the smoke.

“Inviting the neighbor over for a soda pop and a sit around the fire pit can go a long way,” said a fire official in Novi, Michigan. “We get many complaints about fire pits which are often misunderstandings that could be avoided with communication from the homeowner.”

Keep the Fire Pit Away from Combustibles
Do not place your fire pit next to your home – in fact, you should position it no less than 25 feet away from any buildings or structures (your home, garage, neighbors, hot tubs, outbuildings, sheds, etc.) Do not park vehicles closer than 25 feet away either.

Set it on a Non-Combustible Surface
Do not place your fire pit on an enclosed porch, on grass, or on a wood deck. The best surfaces are brick, stone, and cement. Read your manual carefully to find out how much heat your fire pit can put out. Says our fire official: “We recommend a brick surface and have the area underneath the fire pit covered with sand or gravel.”

Choose Wood Carefully
Make sure to select logs that are the proper size for safety: to minimize sparks do not place logs in the fire pit that are longer than ¾ of the pit’s diameter. The wood should be seasoned and dry. For best results, use wood that was cut at least six months prior.

Be Safe When Starting Your Fire
Though you may be tempted, DO NOT USE gasoline, kerosene, or lighter fluid to light your fire. “Use fire blocks – they don’t flare. You put the wood on top after the heat is established.”

Don’t Burn Waste
It’s never acceptable to burn waste or garbage in your fire pit. It’s dangerous, it’s against fire code, and it‘s a nuisance to nearby neighbors. Still, every year many people think they can burn trash in their fire pit and it frequently necessitates intervention from the fire department.

“People think that it’s acceptable to burn waste and the smoke can be very offensive to people nearby,” says a fire official in Michigan. As a result, the fire department responds to complaints from neighbors.

Teach Children the Rules
All children, regardless of age, need to be taught how to be safe near fire pits. Children should be told never to horse around or play near fire pits, even if they think the fire pits are not being used. The fire pit can be very hot. There should never be any running or activity of that nature near a fire pit. Children shouldn’t set fires in the pit nor should they approach the fire pit to cook food. In fact, our fire official explains that families should create a rule that kids are to stay so many feet away from the fire pit at all times. Choose a perimeter and enforce it.

Be Prepared
Have a bucket of sand and a hose handy. Also install a fire extinguisher at the closest entry to your home or garage or whichever building is closest to your fire pit. This is known as having “a means to extinguish” readily available, and in most areas the law will require this.

Tend the Fire from Start to Finish
As the owner of your fire pit, you are responsible for the fire you build from start to finish. Never take a fire for granted. When extinguishing a fire, ensure that all embers are out and never leave a hot fire unattended. It’s the most common reason a fire department is called to a home with a fire pit.

“Usually the fire pit is burning and left unattended and there’s a complaint,” our fire official explained. “As a result we have the right to extinguish.”

Why Buying a Used Wood Stove Can Be a Mistake

A new wood stove offers many benefits.

A new wood stove offers many benefits.

The cooler temperatures of autumn will be here soon, and before you know it winter will be on your doorstep. Or over your doorstep, or maybe drifting over your window.

How are you going to heat your home this year? If you’ve considered purchasing a wood stove you may wonder if you should buy used or new. While it may seem smarter pocket-wise to go the cheaper route, here are a few things to noodle before you take the plunge.

Is it actually cheaper to buy a used stove?

Some used wood stoves go for $800-1,000 — a hefty investment that shouldn’t be made lightly. When purchasing a used stove you also take on all the problems and maintenance issues that are inherent to that stove. Can we say baggage? A new unit might be comparable in cost or a little more but at least you’ll have the confidence of knowing you are starting with a new stove and you’ll have a warranty in most cases.

That used wood stove could be a pain to install

When buying a used wood stove you have to go to the current owner’s home, garage, cabin, barn, or backyard, wherever they happen to be storing the unit. It’s probably not in perfect working shape or it’s dirty, and you most likely do not have access to all of the parts and installation instructions that came with it. Even the savviest wood stove owners can be baffled by an old wood stove that’s difficult to install. This can be especially true if you’re installing a woodstove into a location that hasn’t previously had a unit.

Is the stove certified by the EPA?

In most cases the used wood stoves you’ll find will have little documentation or they may be so old that they are inefficient. If you’re using a used wood stove that has not been EPA-certified you’ll end up paying more for fuel and even worse — you’ll get less heat. Stick with an EPA-certified stove and save money.

Contact one of our specialists to help you find a wood stove.