The articles on this page are courtesy of Aracontent.com and are not written by The Almanack
Prepare Your Auto for Winter -- From Cleaning to Safety
(ARA) - For those of us who live in seasonal climates, it's time once again to get our vehicles ready for winter driving conditions. Whether the setting doles out heavy rain or white-out blizzards, preparing the car for changes in temperatures can help avoid possibly life-threatening situations. "Having all points checked by your mechanic is a good habit to get into each fall season," says Peter May of Lund International. "Basic car maintenance that vehicle owners can do themselves is also important for safety on the roads." Have your mechanic tackle these winter preparation tasks:
* Make sure all oil, gas and air filters are in good condition.
* Replace or charge the battery. In the case of a sudden drop in temperature or lights being left on, a strong battery will still hold its charge. If your car doesn't have running lights, it's important to turn lights on whether it's dark or not. Improving your visibility to other drivers helps in every situation.
* Check antifreeze levels and temperatures. Replace with fresh coolant if necessary. If you do this yourself, make sure to clean up any spilled fluid to protect children or pets from poisoning.
* Check the tires' tread depth and air pressure. Consider all-season radials or even snow tires if the situation calls for them.
Once the mechanic's check is done, there are several steps you can do on your own to ensure you're set for winter:
* Check that all lights, heater and defrosters are working properly.
* Make sure your windshield washer fluid is filled with fluid that can handle freezing temperatures. Carry extra fluid with you, in case of extra-slushy roads.
* Regularly wash and wax your car, making sure to get the undercarriage where build up of road slush and salts can cause rust.
* Vacuum and shampoo interior carpet and upholstery regularly. Consider putting down extra floor mats to protect the car's original carpet from salt and grime. The Catch All product line from Lund International's Nifty brand provides protection for trucks, SUVs and even car interiors. Styles vary from lush OE nylon carpeting to the Nifty Extreme Catch-All which is made of Xynet, a custom molded thermoplastic material. The Extreme Catch-All resists water, snow, mud, grease and chemicals. Easy to install, the mat fits over the truck's factory-installed carpeting and comes with a lifetime guarantee against cracking, splitting or breaking.
* You never know when you'll need to pull over due to poor driving conditions. Prepare a safety kit to be kept in the trunk during winter months. Include water (remove upon leaving vehicle so it doesn't freeze), healthy snacks, a warm blanket, heavy jacket and boots, hat and gloves, flares, jumper cables, a radio with fresh batteries, and a deck of cards. If you are in your vehicle for a long time, only run the engine periodically to heat the vehicle and save gas. Remember to crack the windows for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
* Consider storage for your stowage area. Whenever possible, place items inside a sturdy box or bag before placing them inside your vehicle to prevent spillage. Cargo Logic Cargo Area Protectors cover up the carpet to keep salt, dirt and wetness from spoiling your gear and keep the interior nice. Cargo Loks help to keep items from tipping and rolling around.
To learn more about products to protect your vehicle's interior this winter and to find a location near you, log on to www.lundinternational.com, click on "Find a Dealer" and select the Nifty brand.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Considering air duct cleaning? Know what lies beyond the big hose
(ARA) - News that the air inside your home can actually harbor more pollutants and irritants than outside air may have you thinking about taking steps to improve your indoor air quality -- such as having your home's heating, air conditioning and ventilation system (HVAC) cleaned. With cool weather approaching, you know your family will spend more time indoors and you want the air they breathe to be as healthful as possible.
Duct cleaning is a good way to remove irritants from the air inside your home and can help your HVAC system function better for longer. But if you've ever had your ducts cleaned and wondered just what you paid for, you may be hesitant to go through the process again.
"Unfortunately, it's easy to find bait-and-switch offers by individuals or groups purporting to be experienced duct cleaners," says Aaron Marshbanks, board member of the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). "If someone comes to your home, sticks a big vacuum hose in a duct, turns it on for a few minutes, and then hands you a hefty bill, you didn't get a proper duct cleaning. A proper cleaning involves not just the ductwork but all the components of your home's HVAC system as well."
It's not always easy to know when you're getting your money's worth out of a professional service, especially when it involves an area of the home that you don't normally see -- or know that much about. NADCA offers some advice to help you evaluate whether a duct cleaner is doing the job right, or sucking money from your wallet for a shoddy job.
First, know the "why" behind the service
HVAC systems not only provide warm air in winter and cool air in summer, they are also supposed to keep air moving and fresh throughout your home. Dust, debris and allergens naturally build up in the system as it carries air through the ducts and filters out irritants.
To determine if your system needs cleaning, use a screwdriver to remove a floor or wall register. Use a small mirror and a flashlight to look inside the duct. Or, use a digital camera, held inside the duct, to take a picture of the interior. If you can actually see any dust, dirt or debris, it's time to have the system cleaned.
Next, know the "what"
"It's actually a misnomer to call what NADCA certified professionals do simply 'air duct cleaning,'" says Marshbanks. "Actually, the entire HVAC system should be cleaned, including the air ducts, coils, drain pan, registers, grills, air plenum, blower motor and assembly, heat exchanger, air filter and air cleaner."
Not cleaning all components of the system can lead to recontamination of the entire system, thereby minimizing the benefits of any cleaning. "Just as you wouldn't only clean half your living room floor, you would also not want to clean only part of your HVAC system," Marshbanks says.
A proper cleaning should not only involve the big hose stuck in the ductwork, but actual cleaning of the HVAC components as well. NADCA suggests homeowners run down a checklist with the duct cleaner of just what he or she will be doing as part of their service. You can find a checklist on the association's website, www.nadca.com.
Find a qualified professional
As with any contractor you hire, make sure you check an air duct cleaner's credentials and references before you give him the job. One way to find qualified HVAC technicians near you is to log on to NADCA's home page, where a search function allows you to find a NADCA-certified professional by ZIP code. Members of the nonprofit organization must meet stringent educational and performance standards.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Smart, simple and wallet-friendly weatherization tips
(ARA) - Getting ready for the coldest months of the year means a lot of things. You need to get warm clothes out of storage, decorate for the holidays and, of course, make sure your house keeps out drafts that can make you shiver and drive up utility bills. While it might seem like a lot to take on, prepping your home for winter doesn't need to take a lot of time or cost a small fortune.
Sprucing up your home with seasonal decor is great for creating a cozy feeling, but you need to pay just as much attention to what you can't see. To make your home a warm and inviting haven, think about what's behind the walls and in the attic - and how you can save energy. After all, what you can't see can often ends up costing you a lot of money.
To get started on weatherizing your home for fall and winter, follow these energy-efficient tips:
* Find hidden energy leaks in your home. A thermal leak detector that senses changes in temperature can help you find where your home's weak spots are.
* Insulate. The Department of Energy recommends that you have approximately 19 inches of insulation in your attic. According to the EPA, adding insulation to your home can save your family up to $200 a year on utility bills. For the average attic that has existing insulation, you will need to add R-30 unfaced insulation. The greater the material's R-value, the better it performs as an insulator. For more information about how to insulate your home, visit lowes.com/insulation.
* Caulk and seal. Gaps, cracks and holes let the warm air out and the cold air in, making your home drafty and sending your energy bills sky high. Air leaks from windows and doors are easy to find because they are easy to feel. Install weather strip or caulk to seal the frame. Air leaks in your attic or basement are harder to find, but cost you a lot in warmth and money. Take time to search your attic and basement so that you can find hidden energy leaks, especially along ducts and vents. A quick fix for these trouble spots is insulating foam sealant.
* Give your windows a check-up. If you're handy and your windows have seen better days, installing new windows is a good project to take on. Replace single-paned windows that waste energy and require a lot of maintenance with maintenance-free vinyl windows that have many energy-efficient features. For additional savings, make sure the replacement windows you use are Energy Star-qualified models, like Pella's ThermaStar windows. They can help you save up to $500 a year in energy bills, according to the EPA. With all windows, it's important they're installed properly. If you're not sure of your abilities, call in a pro.
If you're not sure of where to start with weatherization, there are plenty of resources. In addition to consulting the experts at your local home improvement store, you can find kits like "Weatherizing for Dummies" that will get you started with key items like weather strip, outlet sealers and caulk. With a few simple steps, your home will be more efficient - protecting you from high energy bills, as well as the cold of winter. For more ideas about increasing your home's efficiency, go to www.lowes.com/31Ways.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Brighten winter's dark days with simple home safety, security steps
(ARA) - The arrival of winter and daylight saving time means more of us will be getting up - and coming home - in the dark. The short, dark days of cool weather are a smart time to think about home safety and security.
A home break-in occurs every 14.6 seconds, according to the FBI. The good news is that simple, inexpensive do-it-yourself projects can help to better protect your home and loved ones. From improving lighting to installing a wireless home security system, many safety-focused projects are easy and cost effective to accomplish.
To brighten your outlook - and sense of security - during winter's dark days, here are a few safety projects to consider:
Install a home security system
Long gone are the days when you had to rely on a professional security company to install a security system in your home. Now, products like the GE Choice Alert Wireless Home Security System make it simple for homeowners to install a system on their own. The system includes a control center, window/door sensor kit, garage door sensor, indoor/outdoor motion sensor, security sign with yard stake and matching window stickers. Because you monitor the system yourself, there's no monthly fee for a security service, and you can add additional sensors and features as your security needs change overtime.
If you're a bit more DIY-savvy, you could opt for the Schlage LiNK system, available at Lowe's, which allows you to monitor and control door locks, lights and a camera all from a computer or cell phone. The system will send you e-mail updates so you know who is home. You can lock or unlock doors remotely, and monitor the camera from your cell phone to see what's going on inside your house.
If you decide to install a security system, check with your insurance agent or company; the system may qualify you for a discount on your homeowner's insurance.
Light up the darkness
More hours of darkness could mean more opportunities for burglars, and more risk for you or a loved one to suffer an injury in dark areas around your home. If you arrive home after dark every night, use outdoor light timers to turn lights on both inside and outside your home. A screw-in dusk-to-dawn control allows you to convert a traditional light or lamp post into a light that turns on at dusk and off at dawn.
Exterior lights should illuminate all entry points of your home; a dark doorway could be an invitation indoors. Every entrance of your home should be lit with at least one type of security light.
Consider placing motion-activated lights, which only come on when they detect motion, at the side, front and back entries of your home, on a detached garage, storage building, gate or garage door. For a little extra light, make sure you have plenty of light inside your house as well.
With more hours of darkness, you'll need to use more electricity, so consider saving money by replacing incandescent light bulbs with energy-sipping compact fluorescent light bulbs CFLs. Energy Star-rated CFLs use 75 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer than standard bulbs. Placing CFLs in just five of your home's more commonly used light fixtures could save you up to $70 a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
Safety for all ages
Winter often sees plenty of guests, delivery people and repairmen coming to your home. Consider ways to make your house safer for all ages that enter it.
If you'll be having very young guests, a childproofing kit can help ensure grandchildren, nieces and nephews, or even your own kids, won't be able to open doors, cabinets or drawers that might get them in trouble. Prevent small hands from opening hot oven doors with heat-resistant oven locks. Hide wires and cables with a cord channel so that children won't be tempted to play, and adults won't trip. Consider updating your electrical outlets with tamper-resistant ones that help keep out foreign objects by requiring equal pressure on each side of the electrical cord in order to operate.
Don't overlook the role good health plays in security. Consider improving your indoor air quality with a purifier in guest rooms. Add grab bars in bathrooms, and make sure your home's smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are all in good working order; replace them if they're not.
With a few simple home improvements, you can save money, feel more secure and brighten the dark days of winter for your whole family.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Winter Prep for Your Outdoor Living Space
(ARA) - Soon it will be time to leave outdoor living spaces and ride out winter's cold indoors. But before you batten down the barbecue and stow the patio cushions, don't forget to take care of wooden structures - like decks, pergolas and play sets - that must remain out in the elements.
Routine maintenance of these structures - often made from Western red cedar - can ensure they weather the winter well and are ready for you to enjoy come spring. Plus, beautiful, well-kept outdoor structures enhance curb appeal and your home's resale value.
"Western red cedar is a popular material for outdoor structures because of its natural durability and beauty," says Paul Mackie, or "Mr. Cedar" as he's known in the Western Red Cedar Lumber Association (WRCLA). "Preparing your outdoor living structure for winter is an important step to help maintain that beauty."
Mackie and the wood experts of the WRCLA offer the following tips for winterizing your wooden outdoor structures:
* Clean leaves, dirt and pine needles from between the boards of your deck. This will increase airflow around the boards and reduce the opportunity for mold and mildew to grow. Even though Western red cedar contains natural chemicals that resist insects and decay, excessive dirt, debris and moisture can still harm the wood.
* Remove planters and flower pots - even those that are just ornamental - from the deck. Moisture can collect under planters or pots and leave stains on your deck. If it's not possible to remove a planter from the deck, or you just have nowhere else to store flower pots, be sure to elevate them off the wood. Built-in planter boxes can be an attractive, permanent alternative than portable planters or pots.
* Clean wooden structures with a broom, a garden sprayer, a little bleach and a water hose. Kill any existing mold or mildew with a solution of three parts water and one part oxygen bleach applied with your garden sprayer. While the bleach in the solution is very dilute, be sure to avoid excessive spraying of the solution and keep it away from children, animals and plants. Rinse the treated areas with clean water once the mold and mildew are gone.
* Don't pressure wash Western red cedar. "You can make it look like your grandfather's corduroy pants," Mackie says. Pressure washing can also disrupt the wood's natural moisture resistance by forcing water into the wood. If you absolutely must pressure wash, keep the washer set below 800 pounds per square inch.
* Water, pollen and mold tend to collect and sit on horizontal surfaces throughout the summer. Left over the winter, they become a harmful ****tail that can speed deterioration of otherwise healthy lumber.
Winterizing outdoor structures is simple and quick - and ensures your outdoor living space will be in great shape, and ready for you to enjoy, once warm weather returns.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Expert Tips to Provide Birds with Basic Needs to Weather Winter
(BPT) - Winter is prime time for attracting birds. Beckoning birds to your backyard in winter can be easier than in any other season if you provide what they need to weather and survive the coldest months. Scarcity of natural available food, cold temperatures and severe storms push bird mortality high all winter long. You can help birds meet their nutritional needs during wintertime, and will surely be rewarded with a diverse, frequent flock of feathered friends.
There's lots of birdfeed to choose from, and much of it is produced as a sideline business and can contain low quality fill that birds just won't eat. Some birdfeed has even been identified as containing toxins known to be harmful to wildlife. Responsible research on your bird feed choices will provide birds with the food they require and protect them from toxic chemicals.
Cole's wild bird feed offers a wide variety of seed, suet and specialty products specifically formulated to attract birds. Their entire line of products is all natural; seed is top of the crop pulls with absolutely no fillers, preservatives, mineral oils, or pesticides, so you can be sure you're giving your backyard birds the best in high quality, safe food choices they'll love. Birding expert Elaine Cole offers some timely tips to ensure birds in your backyard this winter season.
Food - Feeding birds is by far the simplest way to attract them. Adding the best winter bird food choices to your feeders when the temperatures drop, will give birds the extra energy they need to survive even the worst weather. Foods high in oil and fat are the most popular winter picks.
* Black oil sunflower seeds -Seeds have slightly thinner shells and a higher oil content than other types of sunflower seeds, making them a more efficient and nutritious food. Offer them in platform, tube or hopper feeders to attract a wide range of hungry birds. You can eliminate discarded shells (that lie under snow and damage new grass in spring) by serving Cole's Sunflower Meats, with shells already removed.
* Suet - For maximum calories, suet is an optimum winter food choice. Cole's offers no-melt suet cakes as well as suet specialty feed blends adding nuts, seed and other enticing elements into the suet.
* Peanuts - From jays and titmice to nuthatches and chickadees, many backyard birds love this high-calorie, fat-rich nut. Because peanuts don't freeze, they're perfect for winter feeding.
* Niger - Also known as thistle seed is a favorite food for winter finches such as pine siskins, redpolls, and goldfinches. Another oily seed that offers lots of calories, niger helps birds store fat they need to keep warm.
* Fruit - Many songbirds that favor fruit migrate in winter, but many other birds that stay in snowy areas year-round will also enjoy the treat. Offer chopped apples, orange wedges, or banana slices, on platform feeders, spikes or nailed to trees. Chopped or dried fruit can also be added to suet mixtures. Cole's Nutberry Suet combines fruits, nuts and seed, making it a perfect choice.
* Seed mixes - For convenient and economical winter feeding; nothing beats a good-quality birdseed mix. While birds can probably tell a good mix just by looking at it, humans cannot. Choose a mix that features large proportions of sunflower seeds and millet, but avoid mixes with large proportions of unappetizing fillers such as wheat, milo and corn. Birds will pick out the yummy stuff and leave the filler - and a big mess - behind. Learn about seed mixes at www.coleswildbird.com
Water - Fresh, liquid, moving water using birdbath spritzers or fountains will readily attract many backyard birds in winter. Add a heater to your water supply and you'll be surprised at the number of birds that use it.
Shelter - A cozy place to roost will keep your backyard birds secure and comfortable even in the worst weather. Bird roost boxes and other shelters are essential to protect small birds from frigid, dropping temperatures. Offer birds a source of winter nesting material to use as insulation.
Serve safely - Just as backyard birds may be more desperate during the lean times of winter, so are predators such as cats and hawks. Position bird feeders in a safe place to protect them and pay attention to prints in the snow to learn what predators may be threatening your feeders. Start now preparing your yard for winter so birds will learn it's a safe place long before they're in desperate need. By providing for birds' basic needs as cold weather approaches, it can be easy to attract birds to your yard in winter. You'll enjoy their company even when the weather is at its wo
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Gas Heating Appliances: Keep Your Money from Going up the Chimney
(ARA) - What you don’t know about your chimney can hurt you, especially if you have a gas-heating appliance that uses your masonry chimney as a venting system. Every day, without any visible signs, acid produced by your gas appliance may be eating away at the inside of your chimney. The resulting damage can compromise the safety of your family and the value of your home. An annual inspection of your chimney, as recommended by the National Fire Protection Association and the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), can alert you to potential problems before they become costly or dangerous.
Most homeowners are aware of the need for chimney sweeping and inspection if they own a woodburning stove or regularly use their fireplace. But many don’t realize that gas heating appliances, whether it is a furnace, boiler or even a hot water heater; rely on the chimney for proper venting of the exhaust. Appliances fueled by natural gas or propane may not produce as much visible soot as appliances burning other fuels do, but they can deposit corrosive substances in your chimney. In many cases, these acids may cause damage to your chimney without producing any external symptoms until the problem has become dangerous or expensive to repair.
The Best Safeguard: Annual Inspections
Gas heating appliances are currently one of the most popular choices for home heating in many areas of the country. The convenience factor of a high efficiency appliance is becoming more expensive. As natural gas prices continue to increase, proper maintenance of high efficiency appliances can help keep your fuel consumption down.
In order to work as safely and efficiently as possible, gas appliances must meet specific venting requirements. One of the best ways to ensure that your gas heating appliance will operate correctly is to have a CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep evaluate the chimney at the time the appliance is installed. This will ensure the gas appliance has the properly sized connector pipe and chimney flue. This is essential for proper operation.
It will also give you and the chimney professional a point of reference to determine any changes in the chimney at subsequent yearly evaluations.
If the chimney was not inspected at the time the appliance was installed, it is important to have the chimney-heating appliance relationship checked out. Inspections are especially important when older chimneys are paired with higher-efficiency appliances and boilers (generally, those with efficiency ranges above 80 percent) but are also important with new chimneys and older heating appliances. (Appliances with efficiency ranges of 90 percent do not require vertical vents and are vented horizontally through an outside wall).
When gas burns in vented heating systems, the dangerous fumes that are the by-products of combustion, including carbon monoxide, are released into the chimney through a connector pipe. Funneling these fumes out of the living area is the primary purpose of a chimney. In addition to carrying off toxic gases, chimneys also create the draft that provides the proper air and fuel mixture for efficient operation of the heating appliance. Unfortunately, many chimneys in daily use in homes throughout the country either are improperly sized or have conditions that make them unable to perform their intended function.
Natural gas is a clean-burning fuel, but today’s high-efficiency gas furnaces pose special problems. The fumes they produce are cooler and contain high levels of water vapor, which can cause more chimney condensation than older models. Since these vapors can also contain chlorides picked up from house-supplied combustion air, the flues are subjected to more corrosive conditions than before and can quickly deteriorate or plug up completely.
A gas heating appliance and a gas hot water heater commonly share a chimney flue. If the heating appliance is changed out to a direct vent appliance the flue may then be too large for just a hot water heater. The too-large flue can cause the water heater to vent its products of combustion into the living space. A CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep can help you avoid this hazardous situation by checking for correct flue size.
In the United States, numerous agencies and organizations now recognize the importance of annual heating system inspection and maintenance in preventing carbon monoxide poisoning. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the National Fire Protection Association and the American Lung Association are some of the organizations that now encourage the regular maintenance of home heating systems and their chimneys in order to keep carbon monoxide intrusion at bay.
A well-tuned furnace, connected to a venting system or flue that is correctly sized, structurally sound, clean and free of blockages, will operate efficiently and produce a warm and comfortable home. Carbon monoxide alarms are now readily available and no home should be without at least two, one near the furnace and one near the sleeping area of the home. Detectors are not a substitute for routine maintenance, but can be a lifesaver should problems occur.
Considering the risks involved when gas systems are neglected, and the benefits that accrue when they are properly maintained, we suggest you have your furnace and chimney serviced annually by a qualified technician and cleaned or repaired as needed.
CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps have earned the chimney and venting industry's most respected credential by passing an intensive examination based on fire codes, clearances and standards for the construction and maintenance of chimney and venting systems. They are also well versed in the characteristics of fuels available for home heating such as wood, gas and oil. This knowledge allows them to expertly diagnose and solve chimney and venting problems.
For more information about preventing chimney hazards visit the CSIA web site at www.csia.org. The CSIA also provides a list of CSIA Certified Chimney Sweeps online and by mail.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Are You Prepared for a Weather-related Emergency at Home and on the Road?
(ARA) - Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, strong electrical storms and blizzards. People living almost anywhere can be impacted by these forces of Mother Nature.
Families should stock their homes and cars with key supplies that may be needed during a disaster and the power outages that can result. And these weather-related events can pop up with little warning, and be very dangerous for a family that is unprepared. A family that talks over their emergency plans can calmly put that plan into action when an emergency hits.
Emergency preparedness experts suggest the following items be included as part of your home emergency supply kit:
* Several clean containers of water, large enough for a three to five day supply of water, or about five gallons per person.
* A three to five day supply of non-perishable food.
* A first-aid kit and manual.
* Flashlights. Experts recommend the new magnetic force flashlights, such as the NightStar, that never need batteries or bulbs. Place one flashlight near your breaker box and keep another with your supplies.
* A battery-powered radio and extra batteries.
* Sleeping bags or extra blankets.
* Water-purifying supplies, such as chlorine or iodine tablets of unscented, ordinary household chlorine bleach.
* Prescription medicines and special medical needs.
* Waterproof matches.
* Special items for babies, such as baby food, formula and diapers.
* Disposable cleaning cloths, such as baby wipes, for the whole family in case bathing facilities become unavailable.
* Personal hygiene supplies such as soap, toothpaste, sanitary napkins, etc.
“One of our strongest testimonials is from a woman whose husband had just undergone major heart surgery,” says Steve Vetorino, inventor of the NightStar flashlights manufactured by Applied Innovative Technologies. “Shortly after coming home from the hospital, they were hit by Hurricane Isabel, which left them without power for a week. Unlike their battery flashlight that failed when they needed it, NightStar always worked and helped get them through a difficult time.”
The advantages of having a magnetic force flashlight in your storm preparedness kit are that they never need batteries or bulbs, and are always ready when you need them. By briefly shaking the NightStar flashlight, it provides 20 minutes of light on a single charge. When shaken, a high-strength magnet passes back and forth through a wire coil. The electrical energy generated is stored in a capacitor that be recharged repeatedly, will work in extreme temperatures and will never corrode -- even in humid or salty environments. NightStar flashlights now have state-of-the-art LED technology that puts the flashlights’ beam on par with conventional bulb flashlights.
Even if you are at home when disaster strikes and your home is well-stocked, you may still need the storm emergency supplies in your car. If your home becomes unsafe to enter, such as after an earthquake, your car may be one of your most important resources after a disaster.
Think of your car’s trunk as a big steel supply cabinet. Keep your storm emergency supplies in the trunk along with tools, jumper cables and a spare tire.
Always keep your gas tank full -- fill it when it reaches a half-tank. You’ll be grateful for the full tank if you are stuck in a traffic jam during bad weather. Keep your car mechanically sound and ready to use.
For more information about storm preparedness tips, NightStar flashlights and other accessories, please visit www.appliedinnotech.com, or call (303) 857-1405.
Courtesy of ARA Content
How To Stop Drafts and Save On Energy Bills
(ARA) - Imagine leaving a window open all winter long -- the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding pull-down attic stair, a whole house fan, a fireplace or clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day. Drafts from these often overlooked holes waste energy and cost you big in the form of higher energy bills.
Drafts are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Drafts occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits that caulk and weather-stripping provide to minimize energy loss and drafts. But what can you do about drafts from the four largest "holes" in your home -- the folding attic stair, the whole house fan, the fireplace and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes.
When attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood. Your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood. Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the attic door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door -- do you see any light coming through? If you do, heated and air-conditioned air is leaking out of these large gaps in your home 24-hours a day. This is like leaving a window or skylight open all year 'round.
An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an insulated attic stair cover. An attic stair cover seals the stairs, stopping drafts and energy loss. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling.
Whole House Fans and Air Conditioning Vents
Much like attic stairs above, when whole house fans are installed, a large hole (up to 16 square feet or larger) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only the drafty ceiling shutter between you and the outdoors.
An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan shutter seal. Made from white textured flexible insulation, the shutter seal is installed over the ceiling shutter, secured with Velcro, and trimmed to fit. The shutter seal can also be used to seal and insulate air conditioning vents, and is easily removed when desired.
Sixty-five percent, or over 100 million homes, in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home, especially during the winter heating season. Fireplaces are energy losers. Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through a fireplace, and the results are amazing. One research study showed that an open damper on an unused fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent. A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the drafts and wasted energy caused by fireplaces.
Why does a home with a fireplace have higher energy bills? Your chimney is an opening that leads directly outdoors -- just like an open window. Even if the damper is shut, it is not air-tight. Glass doors don't stop the drafts either. The fireplace is like a giant straw sucking your expensive heated or air-conditioned air right out of your house!
An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a Fireplace Plug to your fireplace. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, the Fireplace Plug is an inflatable pillow that seals the fireplace damper, eliminating drafts, odors, and noise. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after.
Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts
In many homes, the room with the clothes dryer is the coldest room in the house. Your clothes dryer is connected to an exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold drafts in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house. Dryer vents use a sheet-metal flapper to try to reduce these drafts. This is very primitive technology that does not provide a positive seal to stop the drafts. Compounding the problem is that over time, lint clogs the flapper valve causing it to stay open.
An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted drafts, and also keeps out pests, bees and rodents. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape.
For more information on Battic Door's energy conservation solutions and products for your home, visit www.batticdoor.com or, to request a free catalog, send a self-addressed stamped envelope to P.O. Box 15, Mansfield, MA 02048.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Rodent Proof Your Home Before the Cold Weather Settles In
(BPT) - It is that time of year again: time to wage war against the pests seeking entry into your home. So check for small openings around the outside of your house, trim bushes and vegetation, and do any other small repairs, because when temperatures drop, pests start looking for ways inside.
"As the weather cools, rodents and other pests move inside," says Kim Kelley-Tunis, technical services director at Orkin. "Rats, mice and insect pests, such as cluster flies, Asian ladybugs and boxelder bugs, along with a few other regional pests like stink bugs and kudzu bugs, migrate toward homes, looking for warmth."
Mice can fit through an opening the size of a dime, so it is important to fix any cracks in and under siding, doors and windows. Inside your home, these animals can go unnoticed, set up a nest and begin reproducing. A single female can have up to eight pups per litter and four to five litters per year.
Cluster flies, Asian ladybugs, boxelder bugs and regional insect pests can be found inside wall voids and attics. They are more frequently found congregating on sun-facing areas like south- or southeast-facing walls.
"It is extremely important to be proactive in protecting your home now for the upcoming winter and spring months," says Kelley-Tunis. "As the temperatures warm in the early spring, many of these insects and rodents will emerge from their hiding spaces in search of a way out of your house, often congregating around windows and lights within the home."
As you prepare your home for winter by covering the air conditioner, winterizing hoses and checking your roof for leaks, the experts at Orkin recommend you also do the following:
* Make sure all holes in mesh screens are repaired.
* Replace door sweeps and ensure that doors and windows close tightly, without any small openings.
* Trim excess bushes and vegetation around the home.
* Make sure attics and wall voids are insulated.
* Clean out gutters and install gutter guards to help prevent leaves and debris from accumulating.
For more tips on how to help protect your home from rodents and other fall pests, visit orkin.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Tips on winterizing your pantry
(ARA) - Summer is gone, and it's time to prepare for the annual battle against the inconveniences of winter. While modern technology has minimized or eliminated many of winter's challenges, some preparations are best left to a more traditional solution.
The practice of keeping a pantry - that is, a cool, dry storage area for food - goes back to ancient civilization. Before the advent of refrigeration and freezers, frozen food and food preservatives, families faced a much more difficult challenge in maintaining their food supply through the harsh winter. Crops and gardens were harvested in the summer months, and curing, pickling, salting, or stockpiling in dry cellars or "pantries" helped preserve food throughout the winter.
Maintaining a well-stocked pantry was once a "life and death" issue, notes Chef Bridget Charters, of The International Culinary School at The Art Institute of Seattle. Chef Charters, like many Americans, remembers her family pantry organized like a food library - neatly stacked and labeled cans and jars of meat, fruit and vegetables, stockpiled to provide sustenance throughout the winter months, and rotated for freshness and to minimize waste. Today, modern conveniences have made "out-of-season" a thing of the past, and it's possible to avoid the effort of maintaining a pantry altogether.
But many Americans wonder, at what cost? Childhood obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases associated with diet are at an all-time high in America. The luxury of having access to out-of-season fruits and vegetables is increasingly offset by concerns over where those products come from, and how they got to your grocery store or table. In addition, factors like transportation, chemical preservation and the wages and conditions of worldwide agricultural workers make it difficult to determine the actual cost and consequence of the food consumed.
Maintaining a well-stocked pantry is an excellent way to manage your family's diet; and by following a few simple guidelines, you can ensure you've made a responsible choice for your family and for your community.
Chef Charters recommends setting aside a dry, unlit area in your kitchen or basement storage area that is easily accessible, but out of the way of daily family traffic. She recommends blanching your vegetables before freezing, freezing hearty soups in small containers, or "bullet freezing" chunks of rhubarb or even whole tomatoes to add to your pantry. "Place your tomatoes on a tray and freeze them whole," advises Chef Charters. "When you're ready to use them, drop them in a vat of warm water, and the skins will peel right off. Then use them just like fresh tomatoes!"
Chef Charters also recommends:
* Blanching greens and freezing in bags for soups.
* Making basic vegetable soups and freezing, adding meat or pasta later.
* Bullet freezing berries whole.
* Making pesto and other sauces for freezing
* Making freezer jams
* Grating excess zucchini and freezing on sheet pans
"By harvesting your own garden and stocking a pantry for the winter you not only save money at the supermarket, but you're reducing your carbon footprint, and making a healthier choice for your family," says Chef Charters.
Of course, not every home maintains a garden - but, creative shopping, like visiting your local farmers market, is an excellent way to discover what's in season, connect with your community and ensure your family is eating healthy throughout the year.
To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit www.artinstitutes.edu/nz.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Teach Children Proper Handwashing this Cold and Flu Season
(ARA) - With the cold and flu season here, one of the most vulnerable populations are young children attending schools and daycare. To keep kids healthy, handwashing continues to be one of the most simple, yet effective ways to fight disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The main way that illnesses like colds and flu are spread is from person-to-person in respiratory droplets of coughs or sneezes, called “droplet spread.” This can happen when droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air and come in contact with the mouth or nose of people nearby, or when germs land on shared items such as toys, desks and doorknobs. If a person fails to wash their hands after touching these surfaces, they can become vulnerable if they touch their eyes, mouth or nose.
To help kids protect themselves, kids and their parents can now benefit by getting help from The Scrub Club, an animated Web site (www.scrubclub.org) developed by the not-for-profit NSF International. The new Web site teaches kids and their parents the importance of washing hands in the fight against infections and food borne diseases through interactive games, activities, a handwashing song and even an animated webisode.
“The Scrub Club was created to raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing,” says William Fisher, vice president at NSF International, a public health and safety organization that independently certifies products and writes standards. “By offering children, parents and teachers a fun and educational Web site, our goal is to reduce the number of school sick days and ultimately improve the overall hygiene of children and adults.”
Six Steps to Proper Handwashing
The Scrub Club Web site features seven “soaper-hero” kids -- “Hot Shot,” “Chill,” “Squeaks,” “Taki,” “Scruff,” “Tank” and “P.T.” -- that transform to represent each of the six steps to proper handwashing.
Step 1: Wash with warm water. “Hot Shot” and “Chill” turn into hot and cold faucets and then combine to make the warm water essential for proper handwashing.
Step 2: Apply soap -- bar or pump are both fine. “Squeaks” can transform into various forms of soap, from bars of all sizes to pumps of all kinds.
Step 3: Wash for a full 20 seconds, rubbing hands together to lather soap. “Taki” becomes a clock that counts down the required 20 seconds for thorough handwashing.
Step 4: Clean around your fingernails, using a nail brush if you have one. “Scruff” reminds kids that hands aren’t clean until the nails are clean.
Step 5: Rinse away soap with warm water. “Tank” turns into a sink and serves as a reminder to rinse away germs.
Step 6: Dry with paper towels or warm air dryer. “P.T.” transforms herself into paper towels.
At www.scrubclub.org, kids see the six steps to proper handwashing in action through an interactive webisode and can also sing along to the Scrub Club theme song. The first webisode, “The Good, the BAC and the Ugly,” finds the Scrub Club battling the loathsome, but lovable character BAC (from the Partnership for Food Safety Education’s Fight BAC! food safety public education campaign), and one of his partners in “grime,” “Sal Monella,” in a Wild-West themed adventure.
Interactive games, including one that features the evil villain “Influenza Enzo” called “Stop Fluin’ Around,” teach children how illnesses and food borne diseases are spread and how to prevent them. Additionally, Scrub Club visitors can also download materials such as a Scrub Club membership card, posters, stickers, games and activities as well educational materials for teachers and information for parents that not only enhance the site but also make it fun for kids to return to the site time and time again. For additional information, visit www.scrubclub.org. Other helpful resources include www.cdc.gov/flu/school, www.fightbac.org and www.cleanhandscoalition.org.
Courtesy of ARA Content
Wood is looking good this winter
(ARA) - With winter rapidly on its way, the government is asking you to think about cost-effective and environmentally responsible ways to heat your home. In fact, it is encouraging eco- and cost-conscious families to consider efficient wood stoves or inserts by offering a 30 percent tax credit, up to $1,500, for the purchase of a 75 percent efficient biomass-burning stove in 2009 and 2010.
With the government behind this national movement from foreign oil to renewable and domestically produced fuel, it's time to consider the advantages both to the environment and to your wallet of owning a new, efficient wood-burning stove or insert.
"This tax credit comes at the perfect time - when people are trying to make their homes more energy efficient and less reliant on foreign oil, but are having difficulty making the transition due to the economy," says Bret Watson, president of leading cast iron wood-stove and insert maker, Jotul North America. "This credit essentially gives 30 percent off the purchase price of the stove or insert - up to $1,500 - making them much more approachable to everyone. Not only will taxpayers save money now through the tax credit, but they will save money on their heating bills in the years to come by buying an energy efficient wood stove or insert."
This tax credit makes it very easy for people to purchase new, efficient woods stoves or inserts. In fact, www.smartmoney.com recently calculated that by using a wood stove to heat a home, a homeowner could recoup the cost of the stove within two to three years with the tax credit.
Once a new wood stove is installed, homeowners will reap the cost-benefits of heating with wood for years to come. To help compare the cost of various home heating fuels, free fuel cost calculators are available online for consumers. Visitors can see how much they would save by using wood instead of oil, gas, coal or electric.
Homeowners save money with new clean burning wood stoves or inserts because of the efficacy of the stoves to heat homes with the least amount of fuel. New wood stoves or inserts have been built to optimize the heat of the wood. Older stoves let gases go up the chimney unburned and leave large amounts of ash. Gases and unburned particles can represent 60 percent of the potential heat of the wood. To avoid this, new, efficient stoves have designs that bring secondary air to the combustion chamber to burn gases and particles that would normally go up the chimney unburned. This is normally called clean burning technology and will increase the efficiency by almost 40 percent.
Cast iron has long been the preferred wood stove material. All the cast iron used by Jotul is recycled. Cast iron is extremely durable and long lasting. Also it is excellent at heat radiating; heat is stored and distributed more evenly and for a considerably longer period than any other material.
Another way wood stoves help lower costs is by directing the heat where it is used most. According to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association, people regularly use less than 40 percent of their home. If a family uses a wood stove to warm the rooms used most, they can heat more efficiently by turning down their central thermostat, and save money -- potentially 20 to 40 percent of their fuel bill.
In addition to the cost savings of wood stoves or inserts, the new efficient models are also much better for the environment. The fuel is renewable and supports American businesses, and the stoves release far fewer greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than ever before.
Many wood stove and insert dealers, such as the more than 300 authorized Jotul dealers across the U.S., will make it easy for taxpayers to receive the 30 percent credit on their new efficient wood stoves. They will provide a certification statement at the time of sale. This statement is all that is needed to receive the tax credit at tax time.
With the government encouraging everyone to make the move, now is the time to consider warming your home and office with energy efficient wood stoves or inserts.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
A Veterinarian's Top 10 Tips for Keeping Pets Healthy in Winter
(ARA) - Jack Frost is nipping at your pet's nose. Winter is here again, and cold weather can be uncomfortable and dangerous to your pet.
"In colder regions of the country, pet owners should already know that they need to make accommodations for their pets, but winter can be hard on a pet even in warmer states, like Georgia, where I work," says Dr. Larry R. Corry, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). "While we don't get a lot of snow, it does get cold in the winter, and when it gets below freezing, our recommendation is that pet owners get their pets inside."
Here are the AVMA's top 10 winter tips for pet owners:
* Even if you own a sled dog, living outside during the depths of winter is very difficult. If you must keep your dog outside year round, remember that dogs must be allowed time to get acclimated to the cold with the change of the seasons. This builds up a winter coat they will need to survive. Corry recommends that dog owners with outside dogs double check to make sure their dog's housing is well insulated, including straw or padding to sleep on.
"If you want to heat a doghouse, be careful to ensure that the heat source is installed properly so that the animal cannot be hurt," he says. "If you can't or won't bring the animal into your home, consider bringing it inside a garage on bitter cold days."
* Corry also advises pet owners to refrain from taking their pets near frozen ponds. Many dogs and cats fall through or sometimes are cast adrift on an ice float.
* Keep your pet away from antifreeze with ethylene glycol. It's sweet and extremely lethal, even in small doses. The AVMA provides a brochure and video on this and other household hazards and poisons.
* Honk your horn or pound on the hood before starting your car on cold days. To a cat, a warm engine block can seem like a nice escape from cold winter winds.
* Carbon monoxide is just as lethal to pets as it is for people. Make sure your home has a carbon monoxide detector, and, if you bring your pet from the outdoors into a garage during the winter, make sure exhaust fumes from your car aren't allowed to build up inside.
* Cold air is dry air, so your pet can become dehydrated easily in the winter. Give him plenty of fresh water. If the bowl of water you put outside for your dog or cat freezes, it's of no use to the animal.
* Road salt and ice melting products are not only irritating to the pads on your pet's feet, but when your pet cleans itself by licking off these chemicals and ingesting them, they can cause gastrointestinal problems. Wash your pet's feet after she's been outdoors.
* Consider booties for your dog's feet. Booties help prevent ice balls between the toes that can be both painful and do damage to the toe pads.
* Be careful about candles, space heaters and fireplaces - pets can get burned and even set the house on fire.
* Pay close attention to your older pet in winter, especially if he suffers from arthritis. Arthritic pain is even worse in icy winds and cold temperatures. Seek the advice of your veterinarian to help your pet cope with arthritis.
For more information about animal health, visit www.avma.org
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Stay Safe in the Snow This Winter
(ARA) - When the forecast calls for snow, thoughts turn to skiing, ice skating and making snowmen. But first you have to get down the sidewalk and out of the driveway. When flakes turn into drifts, clearing snow by shoveling or with a snow thrower is a winter necessity, so it's important to be safe. Jason Cameron, home expert and TV personality, knows that life doesn't stop when it snows. As a carpenter and avid outdoorsman, he's got great tips to share about how to stay safe in the snow this winter.
Before you even get outside it's important to cover yourself (and your family members) in thin layers to stay dry and warm and to keep frostbite away. Avoid long scarves or baggy clothing that can get caught in outdoor power machines.
Scope the Snow
Once you're outdoors, assess the snow. Wet, slushy snow is heavier to remove and can cause severe back injuries. Hard or icy snow may be lighter, but the slickness makes it dangerous to travel through.
Snow Thrower Safety
Snow thrower injuries send about 5,000 people to the emergency room each year, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. "Snow throwers are a quick and powerful way to clear snow, but if you don't use them properly you can really get hurt," says Cameron.
Cameron has partnered with MTD -- a leader in safe, easy-to-use and durable outdoor power equipment -- and says when it comes to using snow throwers, it's important to be SMART:
* SAFETY is paramount. Before you get started, review your operator's manual. You can also visit SnowThrowerSafety.com for safety and maintenance information.
* MAINTENANCE should take place before you use your snow thrower for the first time this season. To ensure the longevity of your machine, always use fresh fuel, replace your spark plug before each season, check your belts for fraying or cracking and check all controls for proper operation.
* AUGERS and fingers don't mix. Never place hands or fingers near a moving auger or impeller and always shut off your engine before unclogging any debris or snow.
* REPLACE worn or damaged parts.
* TAKE the time to do it right. Follow all safety precautions and keep your machine properly maintained. Also make sure your tires are properly inflated. Never use an air compressor or you risk over-inflation and the tire could burst.
For those without a snow thrower, Cameron reminds people to take care when shoveling snow. Anyone with a history of heart problems should talk with their doctor before shoveling and everyone should make sure to lift heavy snow by bending at the knees, not with the back.
For more information on removing snow safely, visit SnowThrowerSafety.com.
Courtesy of ARAconten
Winter Tips for Staying Warm and Comfy at Home
(ARA) - Winter brings lower temperatures and higher energy bills, as well as hectic schedules and guests coming to your home for holiday gatherings. Luckily, there are easy ways you can eliminate some household stresses to make the season more comfortable and enjoyable. It can start with getting your home ready for winter so that you have more time to focus on your family. American Standard Heating & Air Conditioning offers the following family-friendly tips:
Schedule a winter check-up. Call your local heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) professional to perform a routine maintenance check of your heating system before winter - and holiday guests - arrive. This check-up ensures that all components are working properly and safely. To remind yourself, consider calling a contractor when the time changes in the fall.
Upgrade to variable speed heating. Variable speed heating increases your family's comfort and uses less energy. "Variable speed" refers to how a furnace's indoor blower motor runs. When the furnace operates at varying speeds, you can better control airflow in your home. Two-stage, variable heating allows furnaces to operate at an energy-saving lower speed and a higher speed, when needed, for more consistent air circulation. With this steadier, smarter system, your furnace doesn't have to turn on and off as frequently, and your home won't experience severe drops or increases in temperature.
Reprogram you thermostat. With a programmable thermostat, you can pre-set temperatures to match your family's comfort needs and hectic schedules. American Standard's 800 Family 7-day Digital Programmable Comfort Control, for example, lets you pre-set temperatures for every day of the week to match your activities - whether you're home or going away for the holidays, hosting a party with lots of guests, or spending a quiet evening in front of the fireplace. The thermostat's touchscreen controls are easy to use, and there are helpful side benefits: it tells you what the weather is like outside so you know how much you need to bundle up, and it reminds you when it's time to change your air filter.
Reduce heating costs naturally. Not only can you save energy costs by what you do inside your home, but also by what you can do outside your house. If you live in a region where winter temperatures are much more extreme than summer temperatures, you can consider planting trees and shrubs that protect your home from the wind, thus lowering the wind chill around your house. You'll need to find out what kinds of protective trees grow best in your climate, but a general rule of thumb is to plant evergreens and shrubs on the north and northwest side of your home for the best protection from winter winds. Avoid planting evergreens on the south side of your home, so that you can take full advantage of the sun's warmth in winter.
For more information on home comfort systems to keep your family cozy and stress-free this winter, or to find an American Standard independent dealer near you, visit www.americanstandardair.com.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
Tips to Protect Your Home from Severe Weather
(ARA) - When people think of winterizing their homes, most often their heating bills spring to mind -- along with insulation and weather stripping. But the winter months bring not only high energy bills but also an increased chance of certain kinds of damage to your home and its contents. A few precautions can help protect you from serious losses and disruptions this season.
While home fires make headlines, water damage is more common and often just as severe. The most frequent cause is faulty or broken pipes. In fact, Fireman's Fund Risk Management Advisors see a surge in water damage during the first three months of the year, when pipes are most likely to freeze and burst.
If you leave your home to spend time in warmer climes or even just a weekend on the ski slopes, always leave the heat on in your home set to at least 55 degrees. Don't let high fuel prices tempt you into going lower. The pipes that come in through your foundation or run through external walls can reach temperatures much lower than the setting on your thermostat.
A foolproof way to protect your home from broken or leaking pipes at any time of year is to install an automatic water shutoff system. Attached to your home's main incoming water line, the device senses increased water flow caused by a burst pipe and automatically shuts the system off. Fireman's Fund recommends the Leak Defense System from Sentinel Hydrosolutions. A five percent premium discount is available to policyholders who use this system, so let your agent know if you install one.
Chimney and Furnace Fires
While fire presents a year-round risk, certain causes of fire occur more frequently during the winter. Chimneys, boilers, and furnaces are particular risks. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, approximately 25,000 residential fires begin in a fireplace or chimney every year.
Why so many? Over time, a layer of unburned carbon-based residues (sometimes referred to as fireplace creosote) builds up along the inside walls of your chimney and can eventually catch fire. The solution is to have a trusted, professional chimneysweep clean and inspect your chimney annually.
An annual inspection is just as important for those with furnaces and boilers. And, remember, your furnace room should never be used for general storage. Wood scraps, old books, paint, solvents, and other flammable liquids are significant fire hazards and should be removed and stored elsewhere.
Ice Dams and Old Trees
Snow and ice storms can create a number of potential threats to your home. One of these is ice damming, which occurs in the days after a snowstorm.
Icicles hanging from your eaves, while they may be beautiful, usually indicate that a dangerous ice dam has formed. An ice dam is a build-up of ice that can form at the edge of your roof when snow melts but is blocked from draining. When more snow melts and is trapped behind this ice, the resulting water backup can soak through your roof and cause damage to ceilings, walls, and more. The most common causes of ice dams are clogged gutters and insufficient insulation, both of which are easy to remedy.
Mature trees on your property represent another potential hazard during storms. Strong winds or ice storms that cover old branches with a heavy coat of ice can lead to failure and collapse, a clear threat to your home or other nearby structures. Have a trusted horticultural expert take a look at your property's mature trees and prune or cut down unstable specimens.
Courtesy of ARAcontent
The articles on this page are courtesy of www.aracontent.com and are not written by The Almanack