The Risks of DIY Electrical Work

There are a lot of great reasons to take on your own home improvement projects.

Typically, DIY repair projects and upgrades are cheaper than working with a professional, and there’s no need to research the contractors in your area, comply with someone else’s schedule or deal with pesky service windows.

However, some repairs and home improvement projects are ill-suited for DIY, and electrical work is definitely one of them.

When it comes to electrical work, it’s almost never a good idea to handle it on your own. Keep reading to learn about just a few of the many reasons why.

6 reasons you should never attempt your own electrical work

#1. YouTube can only take you so far

As a new homeowner, I can’t tell you enough how thankful I am for good old YouTube tutorials. With just a quick search, I can learn anything, from how to properly unclog a drain to tips on preventative dishwasher maintenance. However, not every home repair project can or should be attempted on your own, even with the might of YouTube behind you.

Electrical work is one of those things you shouldn’t try to learn from a YouTube video. For one, most people don’t have basic electrical knowledge to fall back on to fill in any gaps in understanding left behind from the tutorial. Furthermore, most electrical projects are more complicated than your average DIY project.

#2. You could get shocked or electrocuted

Compared to many other home improvement projects, DIY electrical work is a lot more dangerous. When you’re painting your own walls, for example, the biggest risk is falling off your stepping stool, or ending up with an unattractive paint job. But, with electrical work, electrical shock is always a real risk.

Voltage levels in your average home range from around 110 volts for power outlets and lights to around 240 for larger appliances. At the low end, the shock could give you a jolt, but at the high end, the shock could be deadly.

All it takes is forgetting to turn off the power at your circuit breaker for a terrible accident to occur, and it happens all too often. It’s not worth the risk.

#3. You could violate building codes

The most common mistake homeowners make when taking on DIY home repairs is skipping necessary building permits and neglecting to comply with applicable codes. This is especially common where DIY electrical work is concerned, because many electrical projects require building permits.

If you skip a building permit, you won’t have access to a licensed inspector who can make sure that your electrical work complies with safety codes and regulations. It also means potentially risking the safety of your family and/or neighbors.

If caught, you could be penalized for failing to comply with codes or acquire the right building permits in a number of ways, including fines and possibly even imprisonment.

#4. You could start an electrical fire

Next to electrical shock, an electrical fire is probably the biggest, most dangerous risk of attempting your own electrical work. And, all it takes is one simple mistake, many of which are incredibly common.

A few common causes of electrical fires:

  • Faulty wiring – Age, improper installation and pest damage can all lead to wiring problems that can cause electrical fires.
  • Electric system overloads – Overloading your electrical system by plugging too many things into an outlet can lead to electrical fires.
  • Extension cord problems – If extension cords become old or damaged, if they’re improperly placed or relied on too heavily, they can cause electrical fires.
  • Incorrect lightbulb wattage – Installing a light bulb that has too-high-wattage for the fixture can lead to an electrical fire.

#5. You may need a professional anyway

Even if you equip yourself with the best YouTube tutorial and manage to avoid hurting yourself, someone else or your property, there’s always the risk of failure. It’s easy to do electrical work wrong, and you may end up having to hire a professional anyway.

Most people don’t have all of the tools they need on hand to do their own electrical work, which means that a DIY electrical project may require a trip to your local hardware store. Then, there’s the investment of time to consider.

A lot of people decide to do their own electrical work in order to avoid spending the money to hire someone, but it’s important to realize that DIY isn’t necessarily free. And, if you end up needing to hire a professional electrician anyway, you’ll end paying even more in the end.

#6. You could lose insurance coverage

If there’s one thing that insurance companies aren’t thrilled about, it’s risk. Insurance companies would rather not have to shell out the cash to fix things, and they certainly won’t cover a homeowner who is taking on more risk than necessary.

As I mentioned, there’s always the chance that your DIY fix won’t work, that you’ll cause further damage or that it won’t be compliant with building codes. And, unfortunately, the likelihood that your insurance company will cover you in these circumstances is slim to none, leaving you to foot the bill.

Gain peace of mind by finding the right electrician near you

There are a myriad of reasons as to why it’s not a good idea to do your own electrical work, which means that if you’re in need of electrical services, you’ll need to find the right local electrician for your needs.

Start your search for an electrician near you with Top Rated Local. You can learn about the best electricians in your area, read electrician reviews from across the web, compare electricians side by side and more — all from one place.

Not all electricians are made equal, but with Top Rated Local on your side, you’ll have everything you need to find the right one for your needs.

Find an electrician near you today!

Why it’s Never Too Late for Braces

When most people think of braces, they think of children. But, the truth is that It’s never too late to get the smile you’ve always wanted.

You may feel that you’ve outgrown braces or missed your opportunity to wear them, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, there are so many reasons to get braces as an adult, and it can enhance your life in a number of ways.

Seven benefits of adult braces

#1. Look and feel your best

Teeth play a huge role in appearance and, in turn, self-confidence. Unfortunately, some people are so self-conscious about their teeth that they refuse to smile with their mouths open or even talk in front of others.

Insecurity because of misaligned teeth can diminish your quality of life in so many ways. But, the good news is that modern orthodontics can give you the smile you’ve always wanted.

The self-confidence you can get from adult braces can impact every area of your life, from your career to your social life.

#2. Eliminate discomfort

When many people think of braces, they often think of achieving a more beautiful smile, but the problems with misaligned teeth go far beyond looks. For some people, misaligned teeth can cause real pain and discomfort, particularly when chewing.

Fixing painful misalignments can alleviate discomfort and improve your quality of life. Pain can greatly diminish your quality of life, and braces can go a long way toward helping you break free of it.

#3. Protect your dental health

Did you know that dental misalignments can often put you at a higher risk for dental problems, including decay? A misaligned bite or crooked teeth can be much more difficult to clean, which means that bacteria and plaque are more likely to build up and lead to dental problems.

Straightening your teeth can enhance your life in so many ways. It’s easier to thoroughly clean every surface of straight teeth, as well as floss in between them.

When it’s easy to clean your teeth, it’s easy to keep them healthy. Simple, regular, at-home dental care is the best and cheapest way to protect your dental health.

#4. Protect your overall health

It’s easy to understand how a misaligned bite or crooked teeth could negatively impact your dental health, but did you know that it can also have an impact on your health overall?

Dental alignment issues can make it difficult to chew your food thoroughly. When you don’t chew properly, it can cause indigestion and other digestive problems. It also increases your risk of choking.

Headaches are another common problem that can arise with crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, which puts additional pressure and strain on the jaw muscles. Furthermore, harmful bacteria from your mouth can actually get into the bloodstream, increasing the risk for heart problems.

#5. Save more money

If you ask most adults what the number one hurdle is to getting braces, many will cite the costs associated with orthodontic care. However, there are a lot more affordable options than there used to be, and the long-term financial benefits of braces often outweigh the costs.

As already mentioned, straighter, better-aligned teeth are easier to take care of and can help to protect your dental and overall health. Crooked teeth break down faster and require a lot more ongoing dental care than straight teeth, and that can really add up.

Plus, there are a lot of options out there to help make the cost of adult braces more affordable. You could look into dental assistance programs in your area, pay for braces with a flexible spending account through your employer and some orthodontics practices even offer payment plans or accept Care credit.

#6. Treatment is shorter than you think

People often think that if they get braces, they’ll have to wear them for years. And, when you’re a kid who has braces, it certainly feels like you’ll have them forever.

But, the truth is that treatment typically lasts from 18 to 26 months. That means that in a little over two years at the most, you could have the smile you’ve always wanted. Plus, you’ll enjoy many of the benefits of adult braces long before treatment is officially complete.

The length of your treatment will depend on a number of factors. These include the degree of the misalignment and the type of braces you choose, as well as many other factors.

#7. There are plenty of options

When most people think of braces, they think of old-fashioned wire braces that children often wear. But, the truth is that wire braces are just one of many options you have available to you.

Want to get braces that no one else can see? Invisalign is just one of the many options for clear braces these days. You can also minimize the appearance of wire braces by choosing a white or frost color. You could always consider lingual braces as well, which are hidden behind the teeth.

Of course, not all braces are ideal for every misalignment issue — or budget. You’ll want to work with an orthodontist you can trust to find the appropriate option for your needs.

Getting the smile of your dreams starts with finding the right orthodontist

The outcome of your treatment — as well as the treatment itself — is dependent on the orthodontist you work with. That’s why it pays to take some time to do your research while finding an orthodontist near you.

A great place to start your search is with Top Rated Local®. You can easily compare orthodontists in your area side by side with the Rating Score™ system, which rates orthodontists based on their reputation across the web. You can also read orthodontist reviews from beyond Top Rated Local, including Google, Yelp and Yellow Pages.

Top Rated Local is the fastest option when you want the full scoop on orthodontists in your area. It has everything you need to find the right orthodontist for you, so that you can get the smile you’ve always wanted.

Find the right orthodontist near you today!

How to Pest-Proof Your Home This Fall

It’s finally autumn again. The days are cool and crisp; the leaves are starting to change; there’s been a major resurgence of plaid shirts and cozy sweaters.

But, the fall isn’t all pretty leaves and Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. It’s also the time of the year for outdoor pests to start making their way into our homes, looking for a little warmth and shelter.

Rodents, ants, bed bugs, cockroaches and spiders are just a few of the many pests that people commonly start finding in their homes during the fall.

No one wants to deal with pests. Not only do they leave nasty droppings in our homes, but some can do real damage to property, and some carry diseases that can be transferred to people.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to prevent pests from getting into your home and ruining your fall this year.

Tips to pest-proof your home this fall

#1. Seal doors and windows

Pests are ingenious when it comes to finding ways into our homes, but the most basic way pests get in is through windows and doors.

When you keep your doors and windows open, it’s like an open invitation to mice and other pests that are looking for a warm place to nest. If you don’t already have screen doors, consider installing them wherever it makes sense. That way, you can enjoy the fall breeze without letting pests in.

You should also ensure that all of your windows have screens that are intact and in good shape. Replace or repair any screens that require it.

#2. Keep pet food off of the floor

Pet food that is kept on the floor can be incredibly enticing to mice and other rodents that will bite holes in pet food bags. And, when your pet eats and drops crumbs next to their bowl, those bits of food on the ground can attract ants and other pests.

Store pet food more securely in a large, airtight container made of thick plastic or another material that will keep the food fresh and safe from pests. And, when you feed your furry friend, do so on a rubber mat that can be easily cleaned up after mealtimes.

#3. Clean up your yard

Colorful, falling leaves are one of the earmarks of fall. But, no matter how beautiful those orange, red and yellow leaves may be, you should avoid letting them sit around in your yard for too long.

Leaf piles are the perfect hiding place for pests of all sorts, and raking and cleaning up fallen leaves and pine needles on a regular basis is an important part of keeping pests away from your home.

For effective pest prevention, it’s also important to keep firewood piles away from your home, pick up pet droppings on a regular basis and store trash cans away from your home with properly sealed lids.

#4. Invest in a bird feeder

Bird feeders are a great addition to any yard. Not only are birds fun to watch and pleasant to listen to, but birds are also a powerful weapon when it comes to pest control.

Birds eat all kinds of insects that might be making their way into your home, including ants, beetles, moths, flies and more, as well as spiders.

Investing in a bird feeder is a better way to get birds to your home than a birdbath, which has standing water that can actually attract pests. Just make sure that your bird feeder is squirrel-proof.

#5. Keep your kitchen clean

Crumbs and tiny bits of food attract a whole host of different pests into your home, many of which have a strong sense of smell. That’s why keeping your kitchen clean is a key part of pest prevention.

For many of us, cleaning the kitchen becomes doing the dishes and not much else. But, when it comes to pest prevention, you’ll need to be a bit more thorough.

Clean crumbs off of counters and the floor, clean up coffee grounds or sugar near the coffee maker, regularly sweep out the pantry and cabinets and keep stored food off of the floor.

#6. Seal openings

Pests are clever at finding innovative ways to get into our homes. And, if there’s an opening, you can assume that a pest will find it and use it.

Take some time to thoroughly inspect your home for any openings that a pest could use to get in. Be sure to check around the dryer vent, exterior outlets and utility meters.

Seal any openings you find with screens or caulk to keep the pests out. Consider installing wire mesh over any vents in the attic or roof.

#7. Keep gutters clean and working properly

Leaves not only fall on the ground, they fall on your roof and eventually end up in your gutters.

When your gutters are clogged with leaves, twigs and other debris, it gives pests a good place to hide on your roof. It also hinders rain and melted snow from leaving your roof, which can lead to roof leaks.

A leaking roof can lead to all kinds of damage to your home, but did you know that leaks and excess moisture can actually attract pests, as well?

Make sure that you are regularly inspecting and cleaning your gutters to ensure they are working properly, especially during the fall.

#8. Be careful about what you bring inside

Pests are sneaky, and you’d be surprised at how often people unknowingly bring them into their homes of their own volition.

Carefully inspect things you bring into your home, particularly boxes of holiday decorations you’ve been storing and package deliveries. Take special care to shake and inspect anything that has been stored outdoors.

Find a pest control company near you

There are a lot of things you can do on your own to keep the pests at bay this fall, but sometimes, you need a professional on your side.

Start your search for a pest control company near you with Top Rated Local®. You can read pest control reviews from across the web, compare pest control companies side by side and so much more.

Find the right pest control company near you today.

How to Save More Energy This Summer

Staying cool during the summer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Keep reading to learn how to stay cool while saving more energy this summer.

7 Tips for a More Energy Efficient Summer

#1. Alter your menu.

Nothing will warm up your home more than turning on the oven or cooking over a stove, which can make your air conditioning work harder to catch up. But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a home-cooked meal this summer.

Luckily, there are a lot of ways to prepare delicious, healthy food at home without warming up the kitchen:

  • Fire up the grill – Summer is the perfect time of the year to start cooking more on the grill.
  • Eat fresh – Not every meal needs to be cooked. When it’s hot out, a fresh salad can really hit the spot. Smoothies full of fresh fruit and vegetables are also a great summertime option, as are cold sandwiches.
  • Cook for leftovers – Cook a big meal that you can eat leftovers from for a few days, like chili or spaghetti. Reheating food in the microwave won’t warm up your home like cooking a new meal every night will, and you can cook in bulk in the morning or at night when it’s cool.

#2. Keep the blinds closed.

If you want your home to stay cool during the day while saving as much energy as possible, consider keeping your blinds closed and/or shades drawn during the day. This is especially helpful if you have energy-efficient blinds or shades.

Natural sunlight is nice, but unfortunately, it can warm up your home. By keeping the blinds closed, you’ll keep your home cooler. This will also prevent your carpet, paint, photographs and artwork from fading in the sunlight.

If you’re like me, and you can’t bear to keep the blinds closed while it’s sunny and beautiful out, consider contacting your local window treatment specialist. New window treatments can protect your home from UV rays and increase efficiency.

#3. Get your HVAC system maintained.

When your HVAC system is working properly and running smoothly, it’s also working as efficiently as possible. That’s why keeping your system in great shape with regular HVAC maintenance is an essential part of keeping your energy bills as affordable as possible.

There are, of course, many things you can do on your own to keep your energy system in good shape. This includes replacing your filters on a monthly basis, cleaning dust and debris off of your system, and clearing any leaves building up around outdoor systems.

Having a local HVAC contractor come out to have a look at your system will make it last longer. It will also help you catch minor issues before they can lead to expensive repairs or even replacement.

#4. Wash with cold water.

Did you know that when you run the washing machine, the part that takes up the most energy is actually warming the water up? Even if the cold water cycle takes longer, you’ll end up saving a lot more energy if you wash in cold water than warm, and luckily, cold water works just as well for cleaning clothes.

It all comes down to detergent. Back in the day, when hand-washing was the norm, detergents required hot water to work most efficiently. Hot water also cut down on the time people had to spend scrubbing their clothes. Modern detergents are formulated to work efficiently regardless of water temperature.

Not only does washing your laundry with cold water help you save energy; it’s also better for your clothes in most cases. Warm water is much harder on the fibers in your clothes, and washing in cold water could actually make your clothes last longer.

The benefits of washing with cold water go beyond laundry. Cold water is also better for your skin and hair. If you can handle it, turn down or off the warm water while you shower.

#5. Make sure your home is properly insulated.

Proper insulation plays a big role in how energy efficient your home is. The better your home is insulated, the more effective it will be at keeping the cool air inside your home and the warm air out. This will make your air conditioner’s job easier, saving you more energy.

According to NAIMA (the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association), 90 percent of homes in the United States aren’t properly insulated. That means that most American households are paying more for their energy bills than they could be, and many don’t even realize it.

If you’re not sure whether or not your home could use additional insulation, contact an insulation contractor near you to find out. Proper insulation will not only help you save more energy, but it can also keep your home quieter and more comfortable.

#6. Be strategic with your landscaping.

Many people realize that landscaping is an important part of curb appeal. The right landscape can make your home look like the best on the block. But, did you know that it could help you save more energy?

Shade can be a very powerful thing for keeping your space cool. A few well-placed trees or bushes could provide your home with a lot more shade, while also adding to your home’s curb appeal.

Work with your local landscaping company to develop a landscaping strategy to keep your home cooler while adding to the aesthetics of your home.

#7. Upgrade your thermostat.

Upgrading to a programmable thermostat is an excellent way to save more energy in your home, especially if you learn how to use your thermostat strategically.

Modern thermostats can be programmed to make adjustments automatically based on your schedule. This way, you won’t be paying to keep your air conditioner running when you don’t need it to, for example, when you’re at work or asleep.

They can also be controlled remotely, so you can turn your thermostat down or off when you’re away from home.

Need help making your home as comfortable and efficient as possible? Find the best home contractors and other local businesses near you with Top Rated Local. With our one-of-a-kind local directory, you can read home contractor reviews from across the web and compare local businesses side by side.

Get started today.

Common Myths About Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is one of those things that a lot of people think they know about but that there’s actually a lot of misconceptions about.

A lot of what many people think they know about chiropractors and chiropractic care is just myth, which is unfortunate because some of those myths prevent people from getting the effective, non-invasive care they need.

Don’t let fake news about chiropractic care get you down and prevent you from seeking the help of a great, local chiropractor in your area. Keep reading to learn the truth about some of the most common chiropractic myths around.

7 Common Chiropractic Myths

Myth #1. Chiropractors aren’t really doctors.

Many people mistakenly believe that, in order to become a chiropractor, one only has to obtain a certificate from an online course or a two-year degree, or that anyone can become one when it strikes their fancy.

But, the truth is that chiropractors are doctors who not only have to complete a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited school, but also have to obtain their doctorate and pass the exam given by the National Board of Chiropractic Examiners.

Myth #2. Chiropractic adjustments are painful or dangerous.

A lot of people are afraid of getting their neck or back adjusted by a chiropractor. They imagine loud cracks and sharp pain. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that chiropractors are doctors, not “bone crushers,” and rather than causing pain, chiropractic adjustments help to alleviate it.

Chiropractic care also isn’t dangerous, despite what some may say. It actually is a noninvasive treatment that can help to prevent the need for much more dangerous alternatives, like surgery or pain management through opioids.

Myth #3. Chiropractic care is only beneficial for treating back or neck pain.

Chiropractic adjustments are all about the spine, which is why so many people are under the misconception that they are only beneficial in treating spinal issues, like neck or back pain.

However, the spinal cord is a part of the central nervous system, which has an impact on every other part of your body.

In addition to helping to ease back and neck pain, chiropractic care can be used to treat a wide variety of health issues, from migraines and gastrointestinal infections to chronic pain.

Myth #4. You have to see a chiropractor regularly.

Many people are wary of going to see a chiropractor because they believe that going once will mean that they will have to start going all the time. And, not everyone is prepared for that kind of commitment or expense.

If you’ve been putting off going to a chiropractor because you don’t want to be roped into a long-term commitment, you’ll be glad to know that even one adjustment can help to relieve pain.

Some people with chronic issues choose to visit their chiropractor regularly, and some use chiropractic care as a preventative measure. However, this doesn’t work for all patients and the right chiropractor can help you find a treatment option you’re comfortable with.

Your chiropractor may not be able to help you reach your goal in just one visit, but that doesn’t mean that visiting a chiropractor means a lifelong commitment.

Myth #5. Chiropractic care is an expensive luxury.

Depending on your health insurance, you may or may not be able to get coverage for chiropractic care. It’s considered a specialty by many insurance providers, which is why it has a reputation as being overly expensive.

A lot of people equate chiropractic care with boutique yoga classes and doing the weekly shopping at a certain organic grocery store people have nicknamed “Whole Dollar.” In other words, many people consider chiropractic care to be an expensive luxury.

However, since chiropractic care can sometimes be alternative to expensive medications and surgeries, it’s often cheaper for patients to see a chiropractor.

Chiropractic care can also boost the immune system, making it a preventive measure. Staying healthy is a great way to save more money.

Myth #6. Only adults can benefit from chiropractic care.

Because so many people see chiropractic adjustments as harsh, painful treatments, they often think that chiropractic care is only acceptable for adults and is dangerous for children.

People of all ages can actually benefit from chiropractic care. Some chiropractors even specialize in treating infants and toddlers.

In fact, studies have shown that chiropractic care can be effective in treating colic.

Myth #7. Science does not support chiropractic care.

Just as many people equate chiropractic care with an expensive luxury, many more believe that it’s pop science and that chiropractic patients are being sold an expensive placebo.

Lots of people see chiropractic care as a flashy expense without much of any real health benefit, like pricey dietary supplements or trendy smoothies.

However, scientific evidence shows the efficacy of chiropractic care in a wide variety of treatments, including treatment for low back pain and other musculoskeletal issues.

The truth about chiropractic care is that it can be beneficial for treating many different things for many different people, but it’s not the right option for every patient. If you want to learn more about chiropractic care and find out if it’s the right option for you, start by finding a great local chiropractor with Top Rated Local®.

Top Rated Local makes it easy to find all of the best chiropractors near you, and with our one-of-a-kind Rating Score™ system, you can quickly and easily compare chiropractors based on their online reputation across every verified review site and local business directory.

Read chiropractic reviews and find the right chiropractor near you today with Top Rated Local!

Why You Should Visit Your Local Groomer

Keeping your dog well-groomed is an essential part of pet care. And, although, you can certainly bathe and brush your pooch yourself, there are many benefits to turning to a professional dog groomer near you.

8 Reasons to Get Your Dog Groomed

#1. Your dog will smell great!

The first thing people think of when they think of dogs is not usually a great smell. In fact, when most people think of smelling a dog, an unpleasant odor often comes to mind. Luckily, grooming can change all of that!

If you find yourself holding your nose around your pooch, it’s time to consider getting your dog groomed. A good shampoo can make a world of difference in how your dog smells, making it that much more pleasant to cuddle and hug your furry friend.

Grooming after your dog has gotten wet or dirty is important, but you can keep your dog smelling great by getting them groomed on a regular basis.

#2. Stay ahead of skin issues.

Dogs, like people, are prone to all kinds of skin issues, especially as they age. Dogs can get rashes, lumps, hot spots, lesions, scaly patches, and all kinds of other problems that you need to be aware of and potentially get treated.

The sooner you know a skin problem exists, the sooner you can get your dog the treatment they need. However, these skin issues are not always easy to spot because they are usually covered in fur! That’s where regular grooming comes in handy.

By visiting your groomer regularly, you’ll have an expert eye on your dog on a regular basis. The best groomers can help you keep your dog healthy by spotting skin issues early.

#3. Maintain healthy nails.

Trimming your dog’s nails on your own isn’t always easy. If your dog is anything like mine, it’s a chore to get them to sit still long enough just to clip one nail. And, even then, her nails are black, which makes it impossible to see the quick, which is inside of the nail and consists of a blood vessel and a nerve.

If you trim your dog’s nails too short, you may nick the quick, which will cause your dog’s nails to bleed and can be very painful and shocking for your dog.

But, letting your dog’s nails grow too long can also cause problems. Long nails will start to curl inward and are prone to breaking, which can also be incredibly painful for your dog.

Visiting a groomer can help to take the stress out of keeping your dog’s nails trim and healthy.

#4. Maintain healthy teeth.

A lot of people are under the misguided impression that periodontal disease is only something that affects people. But, the reality is that many, many dogs suffer from periodontal disease, which can put them at greater risk for developing serious conditions, like liver, kidney, or even heart disease.

Like nail trimming, teeth brushing is not something every dog owner is good about doing themselves. It can be difficult to get your dog to cooperate, which can make the process frustrating and challenging.

The right groomer can help to keep your dog’s teeth healthy and their mouth free of gum disease.

#5. Keep ear infections at bay.

Have you noticed a sour smell coming from your dog’s ear? Or has your dog been scratching their ear and shaking their head? These are signs that your dog has an ear infection, which can be very uncomfortable.

Chronic ear infections should not be ignored. They can lead to all kinds of issues down the road, including deafness!

Your dog groomer can help to keep your dogs ears clean and gunk-free, which will help to reduce the risk of infections. This is especially important if your dog has long or droopy ears.

#6. Say goodbye to painful mattes.

If your dog has a longer coat that’s prone to matting, I don’t need to tell you how important it is to brush them out regularly. Missing even just a few days of brushing can lead to mattes that not only look bad but can actually be painful for your dog because they pull on their skin.

Not only will your groomer know how to handle the mattes that your dog has now, but they’ll keep your dog’s coat smooth, which will help to prevent future mattes from forming.

#7. Watch out for parasites.

Summer is upon us, which means that many of us are taking our dogs on hikes, fishing trips, camping trips, and for all kinds of other outdoor activities. It’s also fun to get your pooch outside in nature, but if you’re not careful, it can leave them with ticks or fleas.

Fleas and ticks are tiny and hard to spot, which can mean that your pet is suffering from one of these nasty parasites without you ever knowing.

Grooming involves a careful examination of the skin and fur, which can alert you to any fleas or ticks that may be pestering your pet.

#8. A clean, healthy dog is a happy dog.

Grooming eliminates many things that can be painful or uncomfortable for your dog, and it keeps them looking and feeling their best.

This allows your dog to enjoy their life with you even more, and because they smell and look so good, you’ll love being around them (if possible) even more!

Not all pet groomers will take the time to fully take care of your dog, and it’s important that you find the right person to entrust your precious pup to. Luckily, Top Rated Local® is here to help.

Our local business directory makes it easy to find the best pet groomers near you, as well as to compare groomers side by side based on their overall online reputation. Find a local dog groomer for your furry friend today!

10 Benefits of Having a Backyard Swimming Pool

Thinking of installing a swimming pool in your backyard, but unsure of whether or not it’s worth the investment? There are so many reasons to consider installing a swimming pool in your backyard this summer!

Why You Should Consider Getting a Backyard Swimming Pool

#1. Have fun

With the coronavirus pandemic, quarantine, oh, and let’s not forget about the murder hornets, 2020 has been some kind of year. There’s a lot going on right now, and that has a lot of people’s stress levels at an all-time high. More than ever, many of us could use any fun we can get, and a pool is a great way to get it.

Whether you’re laying on your favorite floaty, you’re playing a game of water volleyball with your family, or you’re having a cannonball contest, there’s no better way to spend your time than in your very own pool.

#2. Exercise

Local fitness centers in your area may or may not be open, but with a pool, you can get in a great workout regardless of whether they’re open or not. A few minutes of swimming each day is all you need.

Swimming is a wonderful way to exercise the whole body. Not only is it an effective cardiovascular workout that will torch calories, but it’s also a strength training workout for the whole body that tones muscles, builds endurance, and reduces stress.

#3. Get Outside

Getting outside in the middle of the day is not always pleasant in the summer. But, spending time in the great outdoors is wonderful for both your stress levels and your health as a whole, and it’s something we should all make a point of doing. Having a swimming pool makes it easy to log lots of time outdoors, even during the hottest part of the day.

With a swimming pool, getting outside is comfortable and fun, which means that you’ll have an easier time getting enough vitamin D every day.

#4. Reduce Stress

These are stressful times for many people. Even if you haven’t been personally affected by the coronavirus, we’ve all been affected by the lockdown, and it’s been a long time since things have felt normal. Suffice it to say, reducing stress is important at the moment for many people, and swimming is a great way to reduce that stress.

Swimming, like any form of exercise, releases endorphins, which help us to feel happier and more at ease. Swimming also helps to reduce levels of cortisol — the stress hormone — in the bloodstream.

#5. Stay Cool

The summer has been a hot one, and now that we’re into July, we’re looking at at least a couple more months of stifling heat in most of the country. That heat can make it difficult to want to leave the comfort of our air-conditioned homes, but who wants to spend the whole summer inside?

If you’re looking for an effective way to stay cool, taking a dip in your own backyard swimming pool is the way to go. To put it simply, there’s no better, or more effective, way to beat the heat.

#6. Teach Your Kids How to Swim

Swimming is something we all need to learn, even those of us who don’t plan on swimming much or ever. Learning to swim is an important safety precaution, and kids who grow up around swimming pools get plenty of practice where that’s concerned.

When you have a backyard swimming pool, you don’t have to pay for pricey swimming lessons. You’ll have the means to teach your children to swim yourself, which will give you a chance to bond with them in a new way.

#7. Stay Entertained

With rising numbers of new coronavirus cases in many states across the country and many states considering rolling back reopening measures, it seems likely that many of us are going to be hanging out mostly at home for at least another couple of months. Many of us are starving for some entertainment, which is yet another great reason to install a backyard swimming pool.

It may be difficult to find a show or movie everyone in your family can agree on, or a game everyone wants to play, but a swimming pool is a form of entertainment that everyone can enjoy.

#8. Save Money

There’s no doubt that backyard swimming pool installation can be pricey, and that monthly maintenance costs are also an expense you’ll want to weigh heavily before making the final decision. However, swimming pools can help you save money in other ways.

As I said, swimming is a great form of exercise. It’s a low-impact way to work your entire body, and if you swim often enough, you won’t need that expensive gym membership any longer. Furthermore, swimming pools provide hours of entertainment, making it possible to cut down on your entertainment budget without cutting down on your entertainment.

#9. Spend Quality Time With Your Family

When you have a swimming pool, you have a built-in excuse to spend lots of time with your family, especially during the summer. When it’s hot, everyone will want to be in the pool, and you’ll be able to create a host of new memories with the people you love.

In addition to spending time with your immediate family, a swimming pool can take extended family get-togethers to the next level.

#10. Add Value to Your Home

There are a lot of things you can do to spend more time with your family, stay entertained, cool off, relieve stress, and work out, but installing a swimming pool is the only way to get all of that while also adding value to your home.

Depending on where you live, installing a swimming pool is a great way to add value to your property and help your home sell quicker. Keep in mind that you likely won’t recoup your entire investment, so adding value alone isn’t a good reason to install a pool.

Enjoying your new swimming pool to the full extent is dependent on finding the right pool service and repair company near you. There are lots of options out there, and you want to know that you’ve found someone you can rely on. That’s where Top Rated Local® comes in.

With Top Rated Local, you can read pool service provider reviews from across the web and compare local companies side by side based on their online reputation. Find a pool service and repair company near you!

How to Keep Your Roof in Great Shape This Summer

The summer can be hard on your roof.

Every season presents new challenges for your roof, and summer is no exception. The good news, though, is that with proper maintenance, you can keep your roof in great shape all summer long.

4 Roof Maintenance Tips for Summer

#1. Maintain your gutters.

The gutters and downspouts are a critical part of your roofing system, because they move water safely off of your roof. If they’re not properly maintained or in ill-repair, it can cause all kinds of problems, including roof leaks.

Gutters put up with a lot over the summer. In addition to the typical clogs caused by leaves, twigs, and other debris, the summer subjects our gutters to harsh weather, which can loosen them and cause leaks.

Keep a close eye on your gutters, and watch out for any misaligned areas. Make sure to tighten any bolts that have become loose. Clean out your gutters and downspouts of any debris that may be building up in them.

Test your gutters and downspouts by feeding a hose into them. This is also a good way to look for any leaks. If you spot a leak, work with your local roofing contractor for gutter repair or replacement.

#2. Trim back overhanging branches.

There’s nothing better than sitting under the shade of a tree on a hot summer day, but when that tree starts growing over your roof, it could spell trouble.

Summer is notorious for thunderstorms, which is why you need working gutters and downspouts, and it’s also one of the reasons it’s necessary to trim back any overhanging branches. You never know when a bolt of lighting or strong gust of wind could cause that branch to fall on your roof, and if it does, it’s bound to do some damage.

Not only do falling tree limbs pose a threat, but overhanging limbs also make it easier for pests to get on your roof and potentially into your home, where they can cause a lot of damage of their own.

Trimming high tree limbs is incredibly dangerous and should not be attempted on your own. Not only could you do serious damage to your roof if the branch falls, but you could seriously injure yourself, as well. Always turn to a licensed tree care specialist or arborist near you for tree limb removal.

#3. Inspect your roof.

Between the thunderstorms that can bring wind and hail to the scorching heat, summer poses lots of threats to your roof. Luckily, if you catch damage early enough, you can repair it fast enough that it won’t lead to a lot of other damage. But, if you let your roof sit in disrepair, the damage will only get worse.

The only way to stay on top of any damage to your roof is to regularly inspect it. I don’t recommend getting on your roof unless you know how to do so safely. Even if you don’t injure yourself, you run the risk of damaging your roof with a single misplaced foot. That’s why you should get your roof inspected on an annual basis by a licensed roofing contractor.

Between professional inspections, though, it pays to keep an eye on your roof. Here’s what to look for when inspecting your roof from the ground:

  • Damaged Shingles – Look for curling, buckling, cracked, or missing shingles.
  • Moss or mold – If you live in a humid part of the country, watch out for dark spots on your roof, which could indicate mold or moss.
  • Flashing damage – Flashings seal the spots on your roof that are most prone to leaks, like around vents, the chimney, and a skylight.

#4. Make sure that your roof is properly ventilated.

Heat rises, which means that all of the heat in your home rises to the top-most room, which is your attic. If your attic isn’t properly ventilated and doesn’t push that heat outside, it builds up on the underside of your roof, where it can actually cause damage from the inside out.

Here are a few signs of poor roof ventilation:

  • Attic moisture – When the heat builds up in your attic, moisture often builds up with it. If there’s an excess amount of moisture in your attic, it’s a sign that it’s lacking ventilation.
  • Rusty attic fasteners – The metal fasteners in your attic, like components on your HVAC or electrical system, get rusty when the moisture starts building up too much in your attic.
  • Insulation damage – If you’ve got fiberglass insulation in your attic — as most homes do — it’s quickly damaged by the build-up of moisture.
  • Shingle damage – If the roof temperature is too high, it can cause the shingles to warp, crack, or buckle.

If you’re unsure whether or not your roof is properly ventilated, have it inspected by a professional roofer. Proper ventilation can make your roof last longer and prevent expensive damage, so it’s important not to overlook it.

Find the right roofing contractor near you with Top Rated Local®.

If your roof is in need of professional roof inspection, repair, maintenance, or replacement, contact a local roofing contractor to get the service you need. Having the right roofer on your side will give you peace of mind in knowing that your roof is in good hands, but not all roofers are made equal.

When you search for a local roofing contractor with Top Rated Local, you can read roofing reviews from across the web and quickly compare roofers side by side with the Rating Score™ system. It’s simply the best way to find local businesses you can trust.

Start your local roofer search with Top Rated Local today.

Why You Should Consider Updating Your Lighting

Thinking about upgrading the lighting in your home?

There are so many upgrades you could make to your home that can make a big difference, but updated lighting is one of the most effective.

7 Reasons to Update the Lighting in Your Home

#1. Make your home more beautiful.

When it comes to the atmosphere of your home, lighting goes a long way. Nothing sets the ambiance or mood of your space quite like lighting does, and it can make a dramatic difference in how your home looks and feels.

Do you want your home to feel warmer and more comfortable? Lighting with soft gold or brushed silver finish can help you achieve the look you’re going for. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a cleaner, more modern aesthetic, you can achieve that with industrial-style lighting.

Whatever look you want, lighting is a big part of achieving it.

#2. Save more energy.

Are you looking to save more energy in your home? If so, upgrading to LED lights is an easy way to do so. The best part is that it’s a relatively cheap upgrade that can make a big difference.

According to the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, ENERGY STAR-rated LEDs use at least 75 percent less energy and cast last up to 25 percent longer than incandescent bulbs.

Another great reason to use LEDs is how versatile they are. You can use LEDs for just about anything, from recessed downlights and under-cabinet lighting to holiday lights and industrial lighting.

#3. Take advantage of smart technology.

Our homes just keep getting smarter and smarter. Homeowners, in this day and age, can control everything from their speakers to their thermostats with their smartphones, and believe it or not, lighting has become one of the most popular trends in smart home technology.

Smart lights can be turned on remotely when you’re not home. This security precaution is more effective than leaving your lights on a timer, because when you’re home, you don’t necessarily turn your lights on and off at the exact same time every day. It’s also just convenient to be able to turn your lights on and off using your smartphone when you’re home.

You can also use smart technology to change the colors of your lighting and change the brightness level of your lights. This will help you set the perfect mood for whatever you’re doing.

#4. Add value to your home.

Your home isn’t just where you live; it’s an investment, and one of the many ways you can get more out of your investment is to upgrade the lighting of your home.

Lighting is a great way to add value to your home. It’s one of the most effective upgrades you can make in terms of aesthetics, and since it can have a big impact on the energy efficiency of the home, it can be a motivator for potential buyers.

Buyers will be more willing to spend on a home with upgraded lighting because it can make the whole home look more attractive and modern.

#5. See more clearly.

The lighting in your home has a huge impact on how clearly you see it, as well as how clearly you see things like books, magazines, recipes, the television, etc.

Upgrading your lighting will not only give you brighter, more vibrant lighting, but it will also provide a wide range of color spectrums. This can make colors appear more distinct, vivid, and accurate.

New lighting can be especially beneficial for people who have experienced a decline in their vision to age or illness.

#6. Be more productive.

When you see things more clearly, it can affect how productive you are. Seeing things more clearly makes it more enjoyable to do things like read books or even work on home improvement projects.

The tone of the lighting in your home can impact how energized you feel, which can also have an effect on how productive you are.

As many of us have had to make the difficult transition to working from home, anything you can do to be more productive can help.

#7. Reduce maintenance requirements.

When you upgrade your lighting system to an LED system, you’ll benefit from the fact that your lights will last longer. That means that your light bulbs need to be replaced less frequently.

LED lights also don’t burn quite as hot as other types of lights. Less heat helps to protect the various components of your lighting fixtures from damage and premature breakdown.

Getting the right lighting system starts with finding the right local lighting contractor.

There are so many reasons to upgrade the lighting of your home, and so many benefits that come with it. However, enjoying those benefits all comes down to hiring the right lighting contractor near you, and that’s where Top Rated Local® comes in.

With Top Rated Local, finding the right home contractors is easy, no matter what kind of project you’re taking on. Read contractor reviews from across every verified review site they’re listed on, and compare contractors side by side with the Rating Score™ system.

Find the right lighting contractor near you today!

Tips for Perfecting the DIY Manicure (& How to Stay Safe at Your Favorite Nail Salon)

You may not have the option to visit your favorite nail salon in person right now, but that doesn’t mean that your nails have to suffer. You can get a great manicure from home, you just need to know how.

How to Get the Perfect Manicure From Home

#1. Prepare your nails properly.

The quality of your manicure is greatly affected by how well you prepare your nails before you get started. Preparing your nails properly before painting them will make your manicure last longer and the paint go on smoother.

How to prepare your nails:

  • Clip – Unless you’re attached to your length, you’ll want to start by clipping your nails. Clip carefully, starting from the side of each nail. If you start in the middle, you run the risk of breakage.
  • File – File your nails to smooth out the edges and to get the shape that you want.
  • Buff – With a nail buffer (not an emery board) lightly buff the tops of your nails. This will smooth out the ridges and remove natural oils that can undermine your manicure.
  • Cuticles – Soften the cuticles and remove any dead skin with a cuticle remover. Cuticles help to protect your nails from bacteria, so don’t cut them, but you should gently push them down with a cuticle stick.

#2. Prepare your hands.

A manicure isn’t just about making your nails beautiful; it’s about making your hands beautiful, too. And, to do that, you need to take some time to pamper your hands.

Prepare your hands for your manicure by gently exfoliating them with a sugar scrub. This will help to remove any dead skin cells and excess oil on your hands and nails. Then, moisturize your hands thoroughly. For a little extra pampering, wear a pair of cotton gloves for a couple of hours after moisturizing.

Before you move on to painting your nails, go over each nail with nail polish remover to get rid of any remaining oil from the moisturizer, which could make the polish dry improperly.

#3. Use a base coat.

Before you start painting your nails with the color of your choice, make sure that you paint a thin layer of base coat on your nails.

Applying a base coat will help to protect your nails, keep them hydrated, and prevent chipping. It will also prevent the polish from staining your nails. Give your nails a few minutes to dry after you’ve applied the base coat.

#4. Paint two coats of color.

Now, for the fun part, actually painting your nails!

Pick the right color, and if it has started to separate, roll it, instead of shaking it, to combine it again. If you shake it, little bubbles can form in the polish that prevent it from going on smoothly.

Most DIYers will put too much paint on their nails, as well as use too many strokes to apply the paint.

Instead of painting the polish on in one big blob, you’ll want to paint two thinner layers of paint. With each layer, try to get just enough paint on the brush to paint the whole nail without redipping it, but not much more than that.

Try to paint each nail in three big strokes. Start with one stroke in the middle, and finish with single strokes on each side.

Repeat this process with a second coat, and finish by painting the tip of the nails, which will help to seal in the color.

#5. Seal the deal with a topcoat.

Give your polish a few minutes to dry, and then finish your manicure by applying a layer of topcoat polish. This will make your nails look shinier, protect them from chips, and make your manicure last longer.

Do you want your nails to look great for longer? Apply a new layer of topcoat to your polish every two to three days to keep it looking fresh and new.

Nail salons may, or may not be, open in your community, and even if they are open, you may not feel comfortable going into one. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have beautiful nails, nor does it mean that you can’t support the local businesses you love.

If you can’t, or don’t want to, visit your favorite nail salon in person right now, think about supporting them in other ways, like buying gift cards, taking advantage of any alternative services they’re offering — like online consultations or tutorials — shopping with them if they’re selling products, donating to their GoFundMe, writing reviews for them, etc.

If you do feel comfortable visiting a nail salon and they’re open near you, make sure to follow a few safety precautions while you’re there. These include wearing a mask, scheduling an appointment ahead of time, waiting in your vehicle until your appointment, and double-checking the salon’s safety precautions prior to scheduling an appointment.

Whether you want to leave a review for a nail salon you already know and love or you want to find a local nail salon to help you get the look you love, start with Top Rated Local®.

With Top Rated Local, you can read a nail salon’s reviews from across the web and quickly compare their overall online reputation to their competitors’ side by side — all from one place and in no time at all. Get started today.