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How to improve your house’s water pressure


or those who have turned on a faucet to find a trickle or bathed under something more like a drip sprinkler than a shower, water pressure might be the culprit. Inadequate water pressure can be a nuisance. Remedying it could take a quick fix or a major overhaul. There are many reasons for low water pressure. Diagnosing the problem is the key to fixing it. Here are some causes to consider. • Rural areas that rely on well water may have less pounds of water pressure than in suburban or city areas. • Water softeners or filters in homes can reduce water pressure. • Multi-level homes could experience a drop in water pressure in upstairs bathrooms. That's because, for every 2.31 feet of vertical climb in a water line, a homeowner will lose a pound of water pressure. Water that originates in the basement and must travel upstairs could decrease by 12 pounds of pressure by the time it arrives at a third-floor bathroom. • Clogged pipes or fixtures can reduce water pressure. Pipes that are also too small in diameter to meet the house water needs could also be to blame. • Water restrictors in showerheads and other fixtures can reduce water flow in an effort to conserve the natural resource. Homeowners can insert a gauge at the

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main water supply of the house to determine the pressure of the water at the source. This will help determine if the problem lies outside of the home or inside. Some water pressure issues have easy fixes. Simply cleaning the screen on faucets or showerheads can remove debris and improve water flow. Purchasing fixtures that do not additionally restrict water flow can also alleviate the problem. Individuals who live in rural areas or at the end of city water systems may want to consider the addition of a water pressure tank that will provide extra water supply in high-demand situations. While it won't improve water pressure, it will alleviate water volume problems when in need. A booster pump installed on a system will actually increase water pressure by several pounds. Homeowners may have to contend with fluctuating water pressure, but it may be a small price to pay for extra water pressure. Some homes have various valves installed in the plumbing system so that a leak or problem can be isolated and turned off. However, the wrong types of valves can impede water pressure. It can be well worth the expense to have a professional plumber to investigate home water pressure issues and recommend solutions. It may be simpler than one thinks.

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Furniture can be key to home improvements


hen making home improvements, many may think of hanging new shingles, a fresh coat of paint in the den or installing new windows. However, Dawn M. Becker, owner of Dawn’s Furniture Gallery and The Mattress Store in Plattsburgh, said there’s one improvement many overlook, but it’s one that can mean a world of difference. “I really believe the biggest improvement you can make in your home is your bed,” said Becker. “Getting a good night’s sleep is paramount with our hectic lives today.” Having just the right bed can help do just that, she said. The expertise of Becker and her friendly, knowledgeable sales associates paired with the store’s vast selection can make that decision very easy. “Most stores around carry one manufacturer and only one manufacturer, but all manufacturers make their beds differently,” explained Becker. “There are different types of coils, different coil counts, different thicknesses of wire, different types of padding. We have choices at The Mattress Store and we can help you find the mat-

tress you want based off your likes, dislikes and by comparing our beds to what you’re sleeping on now.” The store’s full line of Simmons, Sealy, and Tempur-Pedic mattresses gives customers the options they deserve when making that important purchase, said Becker. The Mattress Store, which is now located in the same building as Dawn’s Furniture Gallery at 748 State Route 3,

even offers adjustable beds, soft-side water beds, air beds and organic beds. Organic beds, in which allnatural materials are used, have become increasingly popular lately, said Becker. The result is a mattress that’s especially favorable to newborns and those with sensitive allergies and skin. “It’s a very pure, very clean product,” said Becker. “It’s about as pure a product as you can get.” The store also carries a full line of organic mattress pads, sheets, blankets, comforters and pillows for those interested in taking their bedroom green all the way, she added. Home improvements don’t have to stop with a new bed, said Becker. Her other business, Dawn’s Furniture Gallery, offers an array of bedroom, dining room, and living room furniture, including the gallery’s largest seller, England brand furniture. “The greatest thing we now offer our customers is one place to do all your shopping,” Becker said. “If you need a bedroom set you can find that and get the bed to go with it, all in one location.”

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Here’s a lesson in ‘Furniture Arranging 101’


hen presented with an empty room in a new home or apartment, most people are a bit apprehensive about where to start. It can be difficult to picture where to place a sofa or how to arrange a chaise lounge. Although interior decorators may seem to have the knack for knowing where to place furniture, arranging items that are already owned or new furniture is something just about anyone can master. Before furniture can be placed, certain questions should be answered and room layouts examined. Consider the following: • Is the room used to travel through to another room? If so, a pathway will need to be left so that walking unhindered is possible. • Where are the doors and windows located? Furniture should not be placed where it can interfere with a door being opened fully or block too much light. • How is the room used? For example, furniture shouldn't be placed in a family room so that individuals constantly have to walk past the television and block watchers' views. If a room is used as a sitting space, furniture should be geared around bookshelves or a fireplace. • What space is available? Too much furniture in a room can create the appearance of clutter. It can also make maneuvering around the room difficult. Keep furniture scale and quantity in mind when decorating. It may be wise to remove some pieces if the room is overrun with items. Once the general idea of where furniture will be placed is decided, it helps to take measurements to ensure everything will fit. There's little point hefting around heavy furniture only to move it back to its starting

very well be in the next room. • The average adult requires 20 inches of breathing room for dining room chairs. Allow an additional 16 inches of room for pushing the chairs out to get up from the seat. • Make sure the edge of a bed is at least 24 inches away from a wall so that sleepers can enter and exit the bed comfortably. There are some other tips to keep in mind when arranging furniture. • Consider the safety of young children. Choose furniture that doesn't have sharp edges or temporarily cover these edges. • Figure out the focal point of the room (a fireplace or picture window) and arrange furniture to complement, not block, this feature. • Protect floors and walls when moving furniture. • Enlist the help of strong individuals to move furniture. Don't risk injury by doing it alone.

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position if something doesn't fit correctly. Making a reduced-scale model of the room and moving paper cut-outs of the furniture is much easier on the back than moving the furniture itself. There also is software that can be installed on the computer that enables homeowners to see how furniture will look once arranged. Now that the time has come to place the furniture, follow these guidelines. • Coffee tables or ottomans should be set 14 to 18 inches away from the couch. Adjust accordingly to meet the needs of homeowners. • Televisions should be placed at a distance three-times the size of the screen. However, some of the verylarge televisions will simply have to be placed closer. Otherwise they could

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Hardwood cabinets enhance universal design


species to choose from, major cabinet makers are embracing these ideas with special lines and features that blend the concepts to add function, comfort and beauty. Healthy Materials Hardwood floors are commonly found in universal design plans. Providing easy maneuverability for wheelchairs and mobile storage units, simple regular maintenance such as dust mopping, sweeping and vacuuming keep wood floors looking great. American hardwoods are also non-toxic and do not trap allergens such as mold spores and dust, and are often recommended by doctors for individuals with allergies or asthma.

niversal design makes homes practical and user-friendly, and whether remodeling or buying. According to the American Hardwood Information Center, and Gil Thurm, executive vice president of the Hardwood Manufacturers Association, “when it comes to universal design, American hardwoods are the all-natural choice for sturdy, attractive and healthy design materials. The wide range of species -- oak, cherry, maple, and more — provide a spectrum of colors and grain patterns to satisfy any decorating scheme.”

Kitchens and Bath Modern kitchens are much more than a place for food preparation. Now family gathering places, even centers to entertain guests, kitchens need to be comfortable, convenient and safe for everyone. Key to making a home barrier-free is the use of adjustable-height work areas and unique cabinetry. Wall-mounted cabinets, for example, leave floor spaces clear and easy to clean. Add an all-natural material like American hardwoods, and you have a healthy, beautiful kitchen as well.

Throughout the Home Built-ins and wall-mounted cabinets provide

open floor space to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. Media room cabinets house and hide electrical components. Larger bedrooms often feature a breakfast bar containing cabinets for storage, a small refrigerator and countertop space for brewing coffee. Walk-in closets with built-in drawers, pull-out trays and multiheight hang bars help keep everything organized and easily accessible. To add style to the mix, solid hardwood cabinets complement existing furniture and room decor and add a level of quality unmatched by other construction materials. With a host of

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The scoop on safe snow shoveling


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eart attacks, strain on the back, muscle spasms, and additional conditions can all be side effects of shoveling snow. A required task in many regions of the country each winter, shoveling snow could turn into a medical emergency. Typical winter conditions, such as temperatures below 20 F, a few inches of snow and the physical activity of shoveling, can cause death rates from heart attacks to triple among men 35 to 49 years old, say medical experts. While shoveling may seem like child’s play, it’s really the equivalent of playing an active game of tennis or doing speed walking. That’s a big demand on the body, primarily for individuals who are not accustomed to such physical exertion. Also, people underestimate just how many pounds of snow are being moved. On average, a shovel loaded with snow can weigh approximately 15 pounds. Repeatedly removing snow over the course of even a few minutes can add up to thousands of pounds. Shoveling snow safely requires a few precautions. • If you are prone to heart trouble, ask your doctor if it is safe to shovel snow. If not, hire a professional or a neighborhood kid to do the shoveling. • Don’t smoke or drink caffeine before starting to shovel. These substances can constrict blood vessels

and compound problems of blood flow to and from the heart. • Stretch your back, legs and arms before shoveling to reduce the chance for strain or more serious injury. Warm up muscles by walking or marching in place. Swing your arms and rotate your neck as well. • Choose a smallbladed shovel. This will prevent you from overloading the shovel with snow. • Always bend with the knees and lift with your legs. Step in the direction you’ll be throwing the snow so you’re not pivoting at your back and waist, potentially causing injury. • Do a lot of pushing of snow and a little lifting whenever possible. • Shovel in sections, especially when there is a heavy accumulation of snow. • Dress in layers so you can remove them to feel comfortable. You don’t want to sweat and risk hypothermia. Also, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. • Pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you feel pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, or any other adverse symptoms, stop shoveling and get rest or medical attention.

The American Heart Association warns that the risk of a heart attack during snow shoveling may increase for some, stating that the combination of colder temperatures and physical exertion increases the workload on the heart. People who are outdoors in cold weather should avoid sudden exertion, like lifting a heavy shovel full of snow. Even walking through heavy, wet snow or snow drifts can strain a person’s heart.

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Many factors can help reduce insurance costs


or homeowners, the cost of home ownership can feel overwhelming at times. That’s particularly the case for first-time homeowners, who often find the initial few months of home ownership to be financially stressful. Coming to grips with all the costs of home ownership might be difficult, but it’s something all successful homeowners eventually do. Still, there are things prospective homeowners can do to prepare themselves for that initial sticker shock, and even make the cost of home ownership less than it might otherwise be. Perhaps one of the best ways to lower that cost is to reduce insurance costs. Many prospective home buyers might be surprised to learn that home insurance costs often depend on the individual, and aren’t set in stone based on the property value, geography or many other factors beyond the control of the homeowner. For those thinking of buying a home, the following tips might help reduce the cost of home insurance, helping make for a smoother transition to home ownership in the process. • Maintain a strong credit rating. Whether applying for homeowners insurance, automobile insurance or renter ’s insurance, applicants should know the role of their personal history in determining their insurance premiums. Insurance companies look at applicants as risk, with some proving more risky to insure than others. Those considered less risky are often those who have avoided financial pitfalls in the past and proved capable of maintaing a strong credit rating. There are a host of ways to maintain a strong credit rating, from paying

bills on time to never missing payments to exhibiting an ability to consistently pay bills, be it a phone bill, car note or energy bill. Any prior declarations of bankruptcies will likely raise a red flag with prospective insurers. • Shop around. Before buying a home, prospective home buyers can shop around for the best rates. Part of doing that is determining the deductible. The lower the deductible the higher the monthly payment will be. However, by raising the deductible, which will incur higher initial out of pocket costs in the case of an accident, homeowners can lower their monthly payments by as much as 20 percent, and possibly even more. When shopping for coverage, inquire as to the potential savings of a higher deductible. Oftentimes, it can lead to substantial monthly savings. As homeowners grow more comfortable and financially stable, it’s easy to simply lower the deductible if need be. • Consider geography. While many home buyers might have an ideal ZIP code or locale (i.e., oceanfront) in mind when shopping for a home, it’s important to consider the insurance risks of certain regions. Coastal areas are routinely listed as the most costly places to own a home, as insurers are wary of insuring homes in areas that might be open to routine damage, be it from floods or other harsh weather associated with oceans, such as hurricanes. When shopping for a home, the geography might be ideal, but the additional costs might make it difficult to enjoy the home. Prospective buyers with their eyes on an oceanfront home might want to consider something further inland, where they can save money on the price of the home and reduce their insurance costs as well.

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Make sure to take care of your septic system


nless you are a homeowner who is building a house close to city limits, you may want to consider making a well and septic system part of your building plans. Over time, these items can prove more cost effective than tapping into town or city water and sewage utilities. Much like a well, septic systems are primarily installed where it would be more costly and involved to connect into a public sewage system. Typically, a homeowner should have one acre or more of property to properly install a septic tank and the drainage field, common elements of septic systems. A septic system usually works by having wastewater from the kitchen, bathroom and laundry flow into a septic tank, which is installed outdoors below ground. The solids remain in the tank and the liquid waste, also known as effluent, drains out into a drainfield, also known as a leachfield. The leachfield is a system of gravelfilled channels and piping that spreads the effluent under the soil. The soil naturally filters germs and bacteria from the effluent before it eventually reaches the groundwa-

The friendly and knowledgeable staff at Morrisonville Septic Service reminds you to have your septic system checked regularly. Picture, from left, are Don Rabideau, Diana Gordon, Greg Ransom, Michael Coon, Bruce LaBarge and Brian Clausen.

ter supply. Maintenance of a septic system involves routine pumping of solids from the septic tank. Over time, and if not pumped, solids can clog up the system or overflow into the leachfield, causing backup and pooling effluent. Morrisonville Septic Service in Cadyville works with customers to provide them better education on their septic systems, in an effort to

save them some money in a day and age where consumers are watching every dollar they spend. “We try to teach our customers that they need to pump their systems as often as every three to four years under normal use,” said owner Don Rabideau. “We find that customers that don’t pump on that three- to four-year basis have tanks where their solids build up and end up in their leaching systems, which,

in the long run, causes their leaching systems to fail and costs them more money.” Morrisonville Septic Service also promotes the use of septic treatment solutions like Cape Cod Liquid Solution, which the business also offers for sale. Treatments like CCLS help breakdown septic system waste, restoring the natural balance of a properly-functioning septic system. “We’ve found, in our experience, we can tell the tanks that are using it versus the ones that don’t,” said Rabideau. Homeowners can also take care to limit water use and not flush any septic-unfriendly materials down the toilet, such as facial tissues, cigarette butts, or hygiene products. It’s also advisable not to pour cooking grease down kitchen sinks and limit the use of garbage disposals. For more about caring for your septic system, contact the experts at Morrisonville Septic Service, 123 Rabideau St., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m, at 293-6680 or 1-800-458-1610. They may also be reached by e-mail at

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Keeping your home warm and cozy this winter


hough the fall can be captivating, homeowners need to prepare their homes for winter before the temperatures dip. Readying a home for winter can be done with a few simple chores. Here are a few: • Replace the furnace filters. Forced air heating systems can be especially taxing on filters. Come the following winter, if those old filters haven't been replaced, homeowners can expect heating costs to rise dramatically. But homeowners who purchase new filters before winter arrives can save money on the cost of filters, and the results of those new filters will show up on the bills once the colder weather arrives. • Seal the windows. Inspect the windows throughout a house before winter arrives. This can be done easier in fall than in the end of summer because the colder air of fall will make drafts from leaky windows much more noticeable. Kits for sealing windows are inexpensive, and sealing windows before winter arrives can save substantial amounts of money on the monthly heating bill. When sealing the windows or inspecting them for leaks, it's also a good idea to remove screens and replace them with storm windows. This can ensure cold air stays out and the home stays warm. • Have the chimney thoroughly inspected. Homeowners with wood

burning fireplaces should have their chimneys inspected by a professional chimney sweeper near the end of fall and before winter begins. Creosote, a dark brown oil used as a wood preservative, can build up in a chimney and possibly lead to fires that can spread to the house. Chimney inspections can be free or relatively inexpensive and, if a home fire is avoided, are well worth the minimal cost. • Bring in the plants. Some plants can thrive throughout the winter if watered properly, so be sure to bring those in when doing a pre-winter property inspection. This would also be a good time to bring in any patio furniture or childrens' toys. Also be sure to bring in the grill before the winter season starts. For homeowners who still grill well into winter, consider a thick cover that can protect it from harsh winter storms. • Fix any cracks in the porch or sidewalk. Cracks in the front steps or sidewalk leading into the house can potentially prove hazardous once winter weather arrives. The season's first snowfall can cover up those cracks, but that doesn't mean they're not still there. Such cracks can result in trips or falls that, when coupled with winter ice, can potentially result in serious injury.

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certain tools, there may be no need to purchase new ones for specific projects. Many tools can be rented, such as floor sanders, carpet cleaners, saws and others. Find out if items can be borrowed from friends or family members — and whether they might want to help with certain tasks. Before any project is started, homeowners should take inventory of what they have and what they will need to complete a project. Taking shortcuts can lead to frustration and more money spent fixing mistakes. Make a list and have all of the gear available and ready for use. Here are some common projects and the tools that will be needed. • Gutter cleaning: Cooler weather means leaves and debris will collect in gutters and downspouts. A sturdy ladder, gloves, garden hose, small shovel, and bucket will be needed to clear out the debris. Be sure the ladder is placed so that it is on level ground. • Cleaning siding: A rented power washer can make quick work of cleaning grimy siding and hard-toreach windows. • Landscape clean-up: Now may be the time to pull out whithered

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plants and put away lawn furniture. Many homeowners like to prune shrubs and trees before the cold weather sets in. A hedge trimmer can quickly shape shrubbery. An auger can help dig up dead annuals and clean out planting beds. Rent a wood chipper to make mulch out of felled tree branches. • Painting: When cooler weather arrives, homeowners tend to look inside for projects. Painting is a popular way to spruce up rooms with little financial investment. Rollers, brushes, paint trays, masking tape, edgers, and drop cloths will be needed for the task. • Flooring: Perhaps installing a new floor is on the to-do list. Many laminate and vinyl products make it easy for homeowners to do the work themselves. A more extensive project, such as installation of tile or hardwood, can be done by a contractor. Flooring needs may require a power saw or razor for cutting the flooring — depending on the material. Other tools include adhesive, spacers, measuring tape, knee pads, eye protection, and clean-up materials.



sk any homeowner and he or she is bound to have a to-do list of little chores around the house that need to get done. These tasks are made much easier with the right tools. Depending on individual skill level, many homeowners already have basic tools on hand, such as hammers and screwdrivers. Others may have a more extensive collection of tools available for projects, such as saws, sanders and electric drills. For homeowners who don’t have




Comparing modular to stick-built homes


oday, people have many choices when looking into building a home. They can choose stick-built, factory-built modulars or manufactured, mobile homes. Mr. Modular Inc. in Saranac finds there is no comparison. “From the time we order the [modular] house from the factory, nothing changes in price, unlike when you go stick-built,” said Mr. Modular owner Thomas Maggy. “[For stick-built] the process is much longer.” Maggy said a factory-built home such as a modular can take a week to build once all the information is supplied to the factory. A stick-built can take up to a year to complete, or more. Another point to consider is the insulation of a home. Maggy explained he just completed a home in the area with so much insulation in the ceiling, “you’re going to be able to heat [the home] with a candle and cool it with an ice cube.” Information provided by Maggy from the Web site, says a modular home is built with 20-30 percent more materials than a stick-built to withstand the transportation from

the factory to the site. Because of the added material, the homes are also found to be more energy efficient and able to withstand natural disasters better than a stick-built. Due to the majority of the modular homes being completed in factories, this also saves on weather damage and vandalism that can be

seen from building a home on site, as a stick-built is. Maggy also wants people to understand the modular homes he puts together come with a thirdparty inspection. “Unlike your stick-built house that you have, you’re depending on the local code officer to verify everything and protect you ... Very

rarely can they be there for every phase of the house because they’re so busy,” said Maggy. With the third-party inspection Maggy added, “They’re there constantly checking the house and the different phases of where it’s going through for the installation ... Then they sign off and stamp the print. It makes it pretty simple.”


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