Think Outside the Wall

For my Zircon in the Real World blog, I constantly challenge myself to offer helpful hints for DIYers and Zircon customers to enable them to be successful with their projects. You’re working on the wall, and you’re thinking outside the “wall” (get it?!) of how to best get the project done, easily yet efficiently.

With the many types and methods of interior residential construction, it’s normal for a homeowner or DIYer to not understand all the ins and outs of home construction. A professional contractor in the construction and remodeling business, on the other hand, works on various buildings and has industry experience that guides his decisions. However, a DIYer who sets out to redesign a closet, or hang a large flat screen TV above a fireplace in his home, often starts the planning, design, and remodeling process from scratch.

TV Wall MountWith that said, let’s consider the project of hanging a flat screen TV. A homeowner determines that the wall space above the fireplace is the perfect place for the new TV. What should he/she do first?

 

Quiz:  How to Hang Your Flat Screen Properly – How Well Will You Do?

1. Grab your Zircon stud finder and carefully review the instructions in its entirety before scanning to locate studs behind the wall.

2. Call Zircon customer support if you receive false positive indications (stud indications where there are no studs) or don’t understand the tool’s readings. Erratic readings are usually due to the tool not having been calibrated before the scan begins. Also, the flue located in this area above the fireplace is often the most challenging area to find studs because the wallboard is potentially made of double drywall (special thick insulation installed for fire safety), so there is a possibility that no stud actually exists in the area.

3. Secure the mounting bracket to the studs in the wall (if they are present) to support
the TV.

The key take-aways in this, and any project, are 1) Never assume a tool (any tool) is going to work as easily as you think it should and 2) ask for help, especially if the resources are there. Whether you’re putting up shelving on your living room wall, hanging a flat screen TV, or installing a grab bar in a shower area in the bathroom, these are projects that may require additional research and expertise to get the job done right and safely.

Want to know more about your walls? Please visit my blog, “A Wall is a Wall is a Wall”.

Even DIYers deserve a helping hand and Zircon is here to help. Utilize our service resources – that’s what we’re here for. Please visit http://www.zircon.com to learn more or call us at 1-800-245-9265 Mon – Fri, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. PST. Personal one-on-one communication still can’t be beat.

Join me the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at 11 am PST for Zircon’s #diytrends Twitter  chat. Engage, learn and share!

For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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The DIY Days of Summer

picnic-with-dogSummer is here. The weather is great. Time for home DIY projects, both indoors and out. In addition to the projects you’ve already thought about, or have been asked to do, home retailers and manufacturers recommend desirable improvements that add to your DIY list. Suddenly, the twelve weeks of summer already seem too short. However, research, education and practice really help shorten the home improvement process and provide the best opportunity at success……the first time round.

DIY Tip icon (2)On the inside of your home, you may be looking at a full remodel, or just some simple upgrade improvements. This usually involves the surfaces or walls in your home. If it does, you need to learn a little about the construction of your home. Find out when it was built. If it’s an older home, are the walls made of plaster construction or are they backed by standard drywall? In the bathrooms, determine if the walls are constructed with moisture barrier (hardy backer/ board) in front of the drywall or behind tiled surfaces.  In attached garages, the separating wall is most likely a fire wall. Closets and other tight spaces present their own special challenges.

This knowledge will help you determine the right tools you will need to mount a flat screen TV, install a grab bar in the shower, put in new racks or hangers in your closets, or hang cabinets in the kitchen.

At Zircon, we provide a complete line of StudSensorTM stud finders, MultiScanner® wall scanners, and MetalliScanner® metal locators to help you accomplish all these home improvement. We also provide you with detailed instructions, a 24/7 online support center, and easy-to-follow tip minute videos on popular home improvement projects. Check us out on YouTube by searching for our channel: “ZirconTV”.

Your success this summer is our success. Don’t forget the sunscreen and happy DIYing.

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A Wall is A Wall is (Not) a Wall

This is a follow-up blog to the popular blog entitled: “A Wall is a Wall is a Wall”. I received a bunch of positive feedback from it, and folks have found the article to be very useful.  With that said, here is more information about the often unsung and misunderstood… wall. Zircon image on wall

You can reasonably expect a typical wall in your home to have certain common properties and specs. Most interior home construction after the early 1950’s switched to the use of drywall wallboard (as opposed to plaster construction that had been employed for years prior to that). Drywall was, and is, much easier to deal with and more consistent. Most interior drywall is 1/2” thick. Some might be 5/8” (just a bit thicker). Certain walls in your home may be considered a “fire wall” which is a wall designed to slow a fire from spreading throughout the home. The fire wall’s drywall is doubled, so it’s at least 1” thick. These walls are built typically between an attached garage and the home, but they can be in other areas of the home as well.

Wall studs (the 2 X 4 wood planks that frame your walls), are spaced on 16” centers. This spec can vary throughout the home, especially in bathrooms, closets, kitchens and tight corners. So, while 16” is the normal rule, especially when there’s adequate space, don’t count on it all the time. And this is precisely why you need a Zircon stud finder.

Other issues to consider are various construction materials that may be contained within your walls. Insulation is most common, but depending on the room type (bathroom, kitchen, utility, and living area, for example) there can be other considerations. Moisture or sound barrier materials are fairly common. These extra materials create a “varying density” condition. In other words, that wall you thought was just 1/2” thick drywall is actually much thicker and it contains more than one density. Zircon stud finders operate by distinguishing the change in density.

This Zircon Tip Minute helps you locate double and triple wall studs.

It’s highly probable that not all the walls in your home are basic hollow ½”drywall construction. That’s why it’s so important that you map out where the studs in your walls are when you are completing your DIY projects. If you have questions or problems locating your wall studs, contact us at Zircon before you drill or nail into a wall. Zircon engineers a variety of different StudSensor models to address these various wall conditions. We help DIYers and professional contractors with these issues everyday and maintain a large knowledge base of information online too. You can be “master of the wall”, but first you must “know the wall”.  Please, let us hear from you, and help you use our products successfully.

For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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DIYers, Feel the Force

DIY, or “do it yourself”, is a common term we’ve heard to typically describe home improvement enthusiasts who want to work on a project on their own. It sounds great on the surface, but it can occasionally lead you into tasks that are complex and (at least a bit) beyond your experience or ability. You know that the job might take a little longer, and it might cost you a few bucks, but you also know the satisfaction you’ll feel at the end will be worth the effort.

Often when tackling a major job or task around the house, you’ll need to research the purchase of a new tool or material that you are not that familiar with. The pivotal decision is, ‘Do I pay someone to do this, or can I do it myself?’

As a customer service advocate at Zircon Corporation, makers of electronic DIY tools, I help customers with their DIY projects on a daily basis. Success is within your reach. If you have the will, determination, and guidance you can do it. And it’s so much easier to accomplish your DIY goal when information, such as instructions, is so readily available on the internet. And they’re not just one dimensional instruction sheets nowadays, but step-by-step visual YouTube videos – complete with sounds, close-up views, and angles that let you see exactly how projects are done firsthand.

Zircon’s YouTube Tip Minutes, for example, house an extensive library of videos that are simple to follow so you can learn the ins and outs of how to use your Zircon StudSensor to find a stud behind the wall to put up a shelf or secure your flat screen tv.

Just about everything and anything you want to learn or get instructions for is on the web – and the best part -a majority for free!  You can learn to play a musical instrument, how to fly an airplane, put up wallpaper, or build a shed, all in the comfort of your own living room. Just watch the video or download the information.

I realize this is not ground-breaking news for most of you reading this blog. You’re on the internet now afterall! But it might surprise many of you to know how many people are still unaware of the availability of widespread DIY helpful hints, data, and how-to’s just a mouse-click away…

It’s the greatest learning resource of the electronic age we live in. Although this has only been developed in the last few years, many of us take it for granted now. It’s the “force” of self-empowerment that has never been easier to tap into. Feel the force! Use the force DIYers! There has never been a better time.

And, by all means, use the information you already know. That is the theme of the Zircon Pro Expert blog, “Knock, Knock, Who’s There?”

For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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A Wall is a Wall is a Wall

Most of us only consider the walls in our homes when we decide what color we’d like them to be. Otherwise, they’re just there. It’s nice to have paintings or some decorations on the walls to adorn and define our living space, but the walls sort of exist just to hold up the house and separate rooms. We’re happy to have walls, but we seldom pay much attention to them.

Until that fateful day… when we decide we want to hang or mount something very expensive and heavy on one of those walls, but how do we do it? Where do we begin?

We may opt to do it ourselves, and it’s probably because a professional handyman, although a great idea, may be too costly. With all the home remodeling information available, through some research and effort, we can do it. But first we have to consider… the wall!

Before hanging your pictures, mirrors, shelves, or television, make sure to use a stud finder, like this Zircon StudSensor e50.

Before hanging your pictures, mirrors, shelves, or TV, make sure to use a stud finder, like this Zircon StudSensor e50.

If your home was built in the last fifty years, it’s likely your walls are built with 2 X 4 wood framing with drywall (or sheetrock as it’s sometimes called) covering the frame. Your task when installing those shelves or hanging that sleek new flat screen TV is to find out where the vertical 2 X 4 framing wood pieces, known as studs, are located directly behind the drywall (i.e. the big flat part of the wall you stare at everyday). The drywall alone will not support anything over a pound-or-so in weight with just a nail. Drywall is typically only about a half inch thick and not rock solid by any means. If you’ve ever tried to hang a heavy framed painting with just a nail into bare sheetrock, you probably know what I’m talking about. But when you find the 2 X 4 studs to nail into, you’re in business.

Here’s a tip: Get a Zircon StudSensor™ stud finder. Learn how to use it. Start by “mapping” the studs behind your wall (see Tip Minute video below) and you can hang objects with more confidence.


The next tip is to be sure you nail or screw your fasteners into the center of each of those studs. It’s really not all that difficult with a trusty StudSensor and a little stud finding knowledge. At the Zircon support desk, we help people confidently find the center of their wall studs everyday so they can securely hang their precious new pictures, flat screen TVs, or wall decorations. Get the StudSensor, get the knowledge, ask questions, and get to know your walls. You’ll never think of your walls the same way again.

Need to make the most of your walls in a small living space? Make sure to check out our marketing blog, “Living Large in a Small Space“.

For more information, make sure to follow us on Twitter @zircontools or @zircontoolpro.

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How is Your Battery?

Many of the devices and tools we purchase and use today are powered by batteries — from cell phones to computer tablets, cameras and remote controls to even most car keys. You name it, if it’s a small electronic device, it’s most likely powered by some type of battery. Some of these devices draw very little current (or power) from a battery while others draw considerably more. For example, it’s very common for a battery to work in a smoke detector or garage door remote for years. On the other hand, many hardware tools wear out batteries relatively quickly.

At Zircon’s customer service desk, most of the support calls we receive are StudSensor stud finder operational issues due to low batteries. Many StudSensor owners leave the battery in their tool when they’re stored away. Unfortunately, most nine volt alkaline batteries (as well as other types) do not hold their charge well when stored for long periods of time, even when stored in the original packaging.

The StudSensor™ e50 uses one 9-Volt battery. It quickly and easily locates the edges of wood and metal studs and joists behind walls, floors, and ceilings.

The StudSensor™ e50 uses one 9-Volt battery. It quickly and easily locates the edges of wood and metal studs and joists behind walls, floors, and ceilings.

Since a Zircon stud finder draws a good deal of current from the battery power source, a robust fully charged nine volt battery (alkaline type) is essential for the tool’s operation. For example, when a battery is too weak to operate in a StudSensor, the tool will usually begin to flash and beep intermittently shortly after it’s powered on. Sometimes, the tool will look like it has calibrated (powered up) normally, but will not react to any density changes (find studs). On models with a LCD display screen, the screen may go blank after a few seconds. Many users think that these symptoms indicate a hardware failure, but that’s usually not the case.

That’s why using a brand new recently purchased battery with an extended expiration date is best. No matter what type of battery you need, remember to buy it from a large hardware, drug or grocery store. These big stores sell through large quantities of batteries. They don’t sit on the shelves for long, so you have a better chance of buying a strong fresh battery.

A good rule of thumb is: Always use a fresh new battery in your electronic tools. If you’re not going to use it for awhile, always store the tool without the battery installed. With a fully charged new battery installed in your Zircon StudSensor, or any other electronic tool, you’ll get peak performance and your best chance for a successful outcome to your project.

For additional insights, visit our sister blog sites, such as Zircon’s MarketingToolBox. Our blog, Green is the New Black provides useful tips of how manufacturers are producing products for a new tomorrow. Please also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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Does it Have X-Ray Vision?

I’m often asked by customers, “Exactly how do your StudSensor tools work? Is it some low level radar? Is it an X-ray device?” In reality, it shouldn’t matter functionally as long as the tool works, but people are naturally curious, so they ask. And the answer, well, it’s actually none of the above…

It’s really a simple theory, but not so simple in its algorithm. Zircon StudSensor™ stud finders detect studs behind walls by sensing increases and changes in density. The StudSensor calibrates, or “learns”, the density of the drywall when you place it on the surface and power it on. Then when you move the tool and it comes across an area with higher density, it gives you an indication that what’s behind the wall is likely a stud.

The area of the wall pressed up against a stud definitely seems harder and has higher density than an area of the wall where there isn’t a stud, but it’s important to understand that stud finders in general can’t definitively distinguish if the change in density is actually a stud, as opposed to a pipe (up against the back of the wall board), duct work, or something else. Every house and structure is built a little, or a lot, differently. And while it’s likely that what you find is a stud, there are some very important steps you should take to better determine that what you find is actually a stud and not something else. These other items are what we refer to as “false positives.” But that’s a subject for another blog or you can learn more about that in our Zircon Tip Minute 5: Avoiding False Positives with Your Stud Finder:

StudSensor e50

The StudSensor e50 locates the edges of wood or metal studs up to 1 1/2-inches deep in DeepScan mode.

So, this all begs the question: What type of surfaces can a Zircon StudSensor scan through? Since stud finders learn and sense increases in density through surfaces, the answer is most materials that have a consistent density of level. This is the reason why basic stud finders typically cannot scan through lath and plaster’s inconsistent construction method. There are some other very dense rock and slate materials stud finders cannot “see” through, but most surfaces in your home where you need to find studs can be scanned through.

Zircon stud finders can scan for studs up to ¾ inch deep through ½ inch or 5/8 inch drywall. Zircon stud finders with DeepScan® mode can scan up to 1 ½ inches deep and is ideal for double drywall or firewall construction.

Get additional insights by visiting Zircon’s popular blog, “The Secret to Finding Wood Studs in Lath and Plaster“.  Please also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

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Brand Recognition in the Everyday World

It goes without saying that it’s good to be recognized in our work, from our colleagues, and from our customers.  And on top of that, if we’re challenged and enjoy our work life, it fulfills us. If the company we work for has widespread brand recognition, we feel like we’re part of something bigger than ourselves; it creates a sense of loyalty. If you invest the time and truly give your talent and effort to something, you naturally will feel loyalty for that endeavor or that enterprise.

I’m lucky. A big part of my job at Zircon is connecting with people. I get to communicate directly with our customers. They reward me by investing in our products. They challenge and inspire me. They give me the opportunity to make them successful with Zircon’s stud finders and wall scanners and have a positive influence on their day. It is important to me.

With that said, I’m still constantly surprised by the number of people I come into contact with that actually know the company I work for when I’m out and about. I seldom assume that the random person I’m talking with on a golf course, or in line with at the grocery store, would recognize the name Zircon, but many do.

Zircon has been making StudSensor stud finders and other scanners and detectors for over thirty five years. The StudSensor is a tool most people own or at least have used. Zircon is recognized for that and it’s a nice thing. In addition to product innovation and high quality, tool users recognize exceptional customer service, whether in an expected office environment or out and about in the town.

For example, I recently chatted with a guy in his mid-thirties who I met on the golf course. When I mentioned that I work at Zircon, he exclaimed, “Wow, you guys have incredible tools and I am sure thankful!”  He continued to explain that his MultiScanner i520 has been working steadily for some time, but then started to function a little erratically.

The MultiScanner i520 features two stud scan modes, metal scan, and a dedicated AC scan mode.

The MultiScanner i520 features two stud scan modes, metal scan, and a dedicated AC scan mode.

Through some on-the-spot troubleshooting, we both concluded that he probably just needed to put in fresh, new batteries. It was refreshing to be able to speak with a customer face to face. And I have to admit, his testimonial,  and recognition of our brand, felt very good, especially from such a satisfied Zircon tool user.

There’s a lot of motivation to live up to a good reputation. There are always problems to be solved. My team helps customers everyday who are often confused and frustrated with a product issue. It should be the goal of every company to become, in a sense, “Maytag repairmen”. It’s a great image created by a clever marketing person that has endured and remained as part of our pop culture. It means working to create a product that is so flawless, it never needs service. It’s a lofty goal, but a good one. So, we’ll keep our eyes on that goal and keep moving forward, keep innovating. And if we continue, in the humblest sense, to be recognized, well, that’d just be the cherry on top.

How do you build brand recognition and connect with your customers in a meaningful, reciprocal way? Please connect with us and let us know! Follow us @zircontools, like us on Facebook, or visit us at http://www.zircon.com. For additional insights, also visit our popular blog “The Real World of Customer Service“.

Let’s continue the conversation! Join us the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month for #diytrends at 11 am PST. Engage, learn and share.

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What is my StudSensor Telling Me?

A customer called our 800 service line recently and asked, “I’ve owned my StudSensor for a long time, but I only use it occasionally. When the StudSensor beeps, is it on the edge or the center of a stud?” Great question.  No matter how long a customer has owned his or her Zircon StudSensor, we’re here to help .

i520-product-500x1100-web

For years, Zircon StudSensors were only designed to find the edge of a stud. By locating both the left and right edges, you could find the stud center. Those particular stud finders are called edge finders. The edge finder model, owned by this customer, was no longer made and was a few years old.

I explained that Zircon now manufactures a new class of StudSensors called “center finders”. The center finding StudSensors will show you when you hit the stud edge and beep when you’re over the center.  Whether you’re mapping out a single stud or many studs in a room, this can be a big time saver.

The customer asked me if the new Zircon center finding StudSensors were better at finding studs than his edge finder. I advised that both types will do the job; however, the center finding tools have unique new features, and they also have the latest sensitivity and accuracy technologies.  You remember the old adage, “Build a better mouse trap”.  That applies to the new center finding scanners.  However, the Zircon edge finding scanners have also been updated with many of Zircon’s latest features and technological advances. Both the edge and center finding StudSensors work very well, but just in different ways.

The customer was very happy with his current StudSensor.  It has served him well and was one of his favorite tools. I urged him to put a fresh battery in the tool when he needed it and to store it without the battery installed.  When the customer is ready for a new Zircon StudSensor, he’ll have some new options to choose from, complete with added tech-friendly features.

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Which One?

When a manufacturer rolls out an upgrade to an existing product line, customers can get confused, thus hampering their ability to choose the right tool for their needs. Should the customer purchase an established product or the latest innovation? This depends on the project that the customer is working on.

At Zircon, we currently manufacture about fifteen different StudSensor™ stud finders. Zircon makes the best stud finders in the marketplace, and we take our brand reputation very seriously.  Customers often ask, “Which one should I buy? What’s the difference between each model?”

The fact is, each StudSensor has slightly different features that address specific job conditions in your home. As nice as it is to have the top of the line, not everyone needs a StudSensor with all the bells and whistles. But, some do.

Consider the task that you have in mind for the tool and this will point you to the features and benefits that you need. For example, you’ll need DeepScan® (high sensitivity) when you’re scanning for ceiling or floor joists. However, if you’re looking for studs on your standard depth dining room wall, you may not need this feature. You’ll need a “metal scan” mode/feature if you live in an older home where the walls are made of plaster construction, but if you’re scanning in a low light basement, it may be more useful to have a scanner with a backlit display screen.

So, depending on the job condition, you’ll need the tool to perform different tasks. Your product expectations differ because of the task or project you’re working on. Sometimes a basic model will have all of the necessary feature requirements and in other instances a model with more advanced technology will be best for the job.

You can go to the Zircon website and learn more about the different StudSensor stud finders. You can also speak directly to an expert at Zircon, ask questions, and get the knowledge you need to select the right tool for the job.

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