2 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 3
Ready your home for the winter months In the fall is when you want to get ready for the winter cold. The worst thing in the world is trying to put your storm windows in when its 20 degrees outside. Or worse, not having your sprinkler system purged before the freezing weather comes. Here is a checklist of things to do for the various systems of your home. From plumbing to roof, and hit the major things to make sure you do, before winter so you can enjoy the snow and not worry about your home. To start with; the basics of making sure you have heat when you need it. The time to check that is in the Fall, no later than the end of October. Give your system a test run through and make sure all systems are "GO".
Often neglected is one of the most important components of a cooling system. That is the condensing unit outside churning away in the heat of summer. Well this guy needs a little loving too as winter approaches: Clean Condensing Unit of Debris: Take a hose with the spray head set to "jet" or the highest pressure you have and clean the fan blades and condensing coils clear of debris and dirt. Cover Condensing Unit: Left unprotected the condensing unit can be damaged by wet leaves and debris that contribute to rusting and freezing of internal components. Although these units are designed for outdoor use, covering them with a breathable water
See WINTERIZE, page 6
Heating System Checklist Test Run: Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 80 degrees just for testing. You should hear the furnace turn on and warm air should blow within a few minutes. If it's running OK, turn the thermostat back to its normal setting. If the system does not run correctly you may need a qualified service technician. Seasonal Maintenance: Either have the furnace checked by a service technician or do it yourself Replace the Air Filter: Put in a new clean air filter. Fuel: If you have a propane or oil furnace, make sure to have your fuel storage tank topped off and ready to go. Heating Vents: Clear obstacles to heating vents so air can freely flow. Check for Carbon Monoxide Leaks: This silent killer can easily be detected with either an inexpensive test badge or battery operated alarm. Whichever way you decide, just please decide to protect your family with one of these units.
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4 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 5
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6 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
SYSTEM It’s got to be
From page 3
For the best energy cost savings, choose the hybrid heating system®, System 2000! REAL EFFICIENCIES (THE BNL FINDINGS):2
Under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, Brookhaven National Labs confirms: U.S. energy guide (AFUE) ratings miss significant areas of energy loss. System 2000 has the best real efficiency of all boilers tested!
proof cover made for that purpose goes a long way to extending the life and efficient performance of the unit. And for window air conditioners, remove them and store for winter. If they can't be removed, then close the vents and make sure to get a air conditioning cover. Although not thought about much in warm weather, the wood burning fireplace and chimney can be a major source of cold air leaks and other issues in winter. So the chimney and fireplace need a little going over before winter sets in. Chimney and Fireplace Check that the chimney is clear of any nests from birds, squirrels or other animals. Check flue damper operation. Make sure it opens and closes fully, and that it is able to be locked in the open or closed position. Check chimney draft. Make sure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly. Test this by taking several sheets of newspaper and rolling them up. Then with the fireplace damper in the open position, light the newspaper in the fireplace. The smoke should rise up the chimney. If it doesn't, you have an obstruction and need to call a professional in to clean the chimney of creosote and ash and possible debris. If it has been several years (or never!) since you had your fireplace chimney cleaned, you should have it done by a professional chimney sweep. Definitely not a fun DIY project. Inspect the fire brick in the fireplace. If you see any open mortar joints have them repaired immediately! A fire can spread into the stud wall behind the masonry fire brick through open mortar joints. Plumbing is especially susceptible to cold weather and
See WINTERIZE, page 8
5 Olmstedville Road, Pottersville At the triangle
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 7
8 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Winterize From page 6 freezing. Burst pipes from freezing can cause some of the most expensive repairs in the home. Insulate Exposed Piping If you have any exposed water or drain piping at all in uninsulated spaces such as in a crawlspace, attic, outside walls, etc., make sure to insulate them with foam insulation at a minimum. Ideally you should wrap them with electrical heating tape first, then insulate them. Exterior Faucets Known as hose bibbs or sill-cocks, the exterior faucet needs to have its water supply turned off inside the house, and you also need to drain water from it by opening up the exterior faucet. You may also want to consider an insulated cover for the hose bibb. And remember to disconnect your garden hoses from the sill cocks or outside faucets and drain them if you store them outside. Seasonal Shut Down If you are shutting down a property for several months you should always shut off the water supply and drain the plumbing system. If a leak were to occur without occupancy, the damage could be catastrophic. Insulating Tips Insulate your hot water tank with an insulating blanket you can buy at the hardware store. Insulate exterior outlets and switch plates with inexpensive foam sealing gasket. If you don't use your fireplace often and it leaks air, you can cut a piece of fiberglass insulation and stuff it into the fireplace behind your glass doors to block the cold air coming down the chimney. Of course you remove this when you make a fire... Infiltration of cold air from air leaks around doors and windows is as significant a contributor to your heating bill as is poor insulation in the walls and ceiling. An easy way to reduce your heating bill is to reduce these drafts with simple weather stripping.
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 9 Windows On a day when it's windy outside, close your windows and feel for air leaks. You can use an incense stick for this too if you don't mind the smell. Watch the smoke trail and if it becomes anything other than vertical, you have an air leak. Typically air leaks will be at the edges where the window is hinged, slides or meets another unit, such as between the two panels of a double hung window. Although you can tape plastic over the windows to seal them, this can be expensive and look bad. It can also reduce much needed light in the winter unless you use the shrink-wrap type of plastic seal. So a better and easier solution is to use inexpensive rope caulk. Press the rope caulk into all the joints where air is leaking. Doors The easiest fix here is to check for weather stripping on the side and bottoms of the doors. Install weather stripping on any leaking doors. Moving to the outside of the home, you should do a quick check of the roof. Either hire someone to inspect the roof if you are not comfortable safely doing this yourself, or inspect it yourself wearing solidly fastened shoes having non-skid soles. Roof Check roof for missing or damaged shingles and have them replaced. Check flashing around chimneys and other roof projections which are often the source of leaks. Make sure gutters and down spout are clean, having no leaves. Wet leaves remaining in the gutters over winter add significant weight and volume to the gutter when frozen and increase the risk of damage. The sprinkler system should no be overlooked in preparing your home for winter. Sprinkler Winterizing Have your sprinkler system winterized no later than the end of October.
Winterizing should include turning off the water supply and blowing compressed air through the sprinkler lines to purge them of water and prevent them from freezing and bursting. Lastly, you'll want to prepare your yard for winter too. Let's take a look at what can be done for the grass, deck and outdoor amenities around the home. Outdoor Landscape Cover patio furniture. If your deck needs it, consider giving it a fresh coat of sealer before winter. Drain the gas from your lawn mower or just let the mower run until it is out of gas. Drain any water fountains, unplug the pumps and prepare for winter.
for more information Located at the Industrial Park just North of Floyd Bennet Airport â€˘ www.adirondackgranite.com 39856
10 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
21 environmentally friendly home improvement ideas Making home improvements not only beautifies your house but also adds to it's value. However as homeowners become more enviornmentally conscious they look for ways to improve their homes and make them as "green" as possible. Here is a list of 21 home improvement tips for your home. 1. Consider installing solar panels. Although solar heating has been used to warm homes for thousands of years, solar panels are totally modern and very green. They have no moving parts; you sit them out in the sun, perhaps on your rooftop, hook up the wires and collect power without adding any fuel or replacing worn-out parts. If you decide to buy some, consider used ones as they are quite a bargain and even after as long as twenty years have been known to produce a good percentage of the power that was gen-
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erated when they were brand new. 2. Replace all the standard light bulbs in your home with compact fluorescent ones. These energy-smart bulbs use 70-75% less energy than the incandescent kind and last up to ten times longer! For example, by using a 26-watt, compact fluorescent light bulb (equivalent to 100 watt incandescent), consumers can save up to $59 dollars on energy costs over the life of the bulb, which can be anywhere from five to seven years. 3. Roof improvements. Believe it or not, research indicates that roof color and the type of material used can help to lower attic temperatures. 4. Install a motion detector outside home to replace your outdoor lighting. Outdoor lights left on all night waste energy and disturb wildlife. Light fixtures activated by motion sensors or a timer will keep area well lit and save energy and money to boot. 5. Don't waste water. Check your home carefully for leaky faucets and get them repaired as quickly as possible. Use cold water when laundering clothes. Make saving water a family affair. Set a good example by teaching your children how to turn off the water while they brush their teeth or take a quick shower. 6. Install low flow showerheads. They are a worthwhile investment (especially if you live in a rented space because you can take them with you). They cut down on water usage and save energy costs. 7. Create a compost pile in your backyard. Find a private spot in your yard to make a compost pile. Mix food wastes with dirt and use a shovel to turn the pile over every week or so to give it some air. Turn throwaways like eggshells, coffee grounds and spoiled vegetables into soil and garbage into something useful.
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 11 8. Install an aluminum-clad storm door. This type of door is energy-efficient and will help to insulate the entryway of your home. 9. Some considerations when heating and cooling our homes: Invest in a high-efficiency HVAC system that is Energy Star certified and install it in your home. This will greatly reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses emitted. Look for a product with a higher SEER rating (Seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio). This means that the product in question meets strict government criteria necessary to be deemed "energy efficient." The standard is 13 SEER, but many heating and air conditioning products have a rating as high as 18 SEER. 10. Clean out your air conditioner filters or replace them regularly. A dirty filter will hamper the airflow, costing you more to run your system. When not at home, adjust the thermostat to accommodate the changing temperatures outside.
See GREEN TIPS, page 12
Home Winterizing Available
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(518) 796-8846 • Anthony Lashway
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Choose On-Demand Hot Water for fuel efficiency and comfort
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12 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Green tips From page 11 11. Consider investing in and installing an automated thermostat. High tech thermostats are well worth the cost, and what you spend, you will get back over time in lower energy bills. It is estimated that you can save about 3% of your heating costs for every degree you lower your thermostat during the winter and up to 6% for every degree you raise it during the summers. 12. Install glass doors for your fireplace. Glass doors are safer than fireplace screens. They also reduce the amount of heat that escapes through the chimney from your home. Use your fireplace for special occasions only as it sends precious heated air right up the chimney 13. Use power strips for your home computers. Even after you turn off your computer, power continues to flow to peripherals like printers and scanners. Power strips prevent the energy from being wasted and only cost about thirty dollars.
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 13 14. Install more fans in your home. Exhaust fans serve a very specific purpose. They can pull unwanted heat and humidity from bathroom and kitchen spaces during the summer months. Ceiling fans can help reduce your family’s dependence on air conditioning during the summer and they are also helpful in the winter as they can push heat down from the ceiling. 15. Do an "energy audit" in your home and make a list of what needs to be done to get things up to "green par." Take that list to your local hardware store and enlist their help in buying needed supplies. Plan the project as a family affair. 16. Insulate your home. Doors and windows are two of the most obvious areas of concern when it comes to home energy conservation. Use weather-stripping. Once air leaks have been detected, doors and windows are usually the first areas that need attention. 17. Seal off unexpected trouble spots. Sometimes the less obvious spots in your home can be a source of energy loss and you will need to be thorough in order to seek out and destroy them! Check out the areas around light switches and electrical outlets. 18. Live by the code of the 3 Rs; Refuse, Reuse and Recycle. Keep these three things in mind whenever you buy, use or discard anything. 19. Stop a leak. Organize a "stop a leak day" on which everyone in your family tightens, insulates, replaces, caulks or does whatever else is necessary to make your home as "watertight" as possible. 20. Add insulation to your hot water heater. Don't forget that the standard water heater found in most homes is on all the time. Adding some extra insulation will save more energy than you would think and knock up to 15% off the costs of heating water. 21. Consider window tinting to reduce the glare of the sun. This has several beneficial and energy-saving effects. First of all, it will reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer. Tinting will also eliminate up to 99% of damaging ultraviolet rays and reduce the fading of your fine fabrics and furnishings.
Hudson River Sawyers, LLC Thin-kers Sawmill, Now Cutting Hardwood (all types)
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Please call ahead for us to receive your logs.
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14 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Kick off to Autumn
FALL SAVINGS STORE WIDE SAVINGS...
...On Bedroom Furniture, Living Room Furnture, Dining Room Furniture, Recliners & More!
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 15
Tips for decorating with antiques Adding antiques and collectibles to your decor offers a stylish, interesting, and often practical way to liven up a room. Group Like Objects Together: Whether you’ve amassed a striking collection of Roseville pottery or an eclectic mix of antique teddy bears, grouping like objects together on a shelf, table or mantle can often make more of an impact than scattering them about a room. Vary the size and shape of objects in your collectible groupings to make them more interesting. This works well with holiday collectibles, too.
See ANTIQUES, page 16
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16 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
rials to preserve precious paper goods and display them away from sunlight to avoid fading.
From page 15 Use Common Items Uncommonly: Have you ever considered using vintage aprons for kitchen window toppers? How about old pull-down schoolhouse maps as window shades in a study or boys bedroom? The field is wide open when it comes to finding a way to use common items in uncommon ways. Learning to look at thrift store bargains and flea market finds in a new light can save you lots of money as well. Frame Your Ephemera: Most collectors pick up a few antique postcards, hand fans or pieces of vintage sheet music that speak to them here and there over time. Ephemera, or paper collectibles, like these can easily be framed for wall or easel display. Just remember to ask your framer for acid free mate-
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Recreate an Era: Recreating an era through decorating can be visually stimulating as well as an interesting challenge for your inner shopper. Consider how an art deco bathroom, Victorian guest room or mid-century modern living area might cleverly accent your home. Look at old home and garden magazines or decorating books for authentic ideas before setting out on a quest to fill that space with stylish collectibles reflecting your favorite decade. Mix Old with New: Adding interesting antiques and collectibles to modern decor provides an opportunity to embellish a room with a conversation piece that stands out. Architectural antiques and oversized advertising pieces are great options for this purpose, but anything old and unusual will do. Favorite family heirlooms can work well in this instance too. Embrace Monotones in Glass: Imagine a shelf filled with artfully arranged milk glass. Against a pastel wall its a fantastic look. Or perhaps you prefer the mirror finish of Mercury glass, which fits in well with crisp white furnishings. From vivid Blenko glass to Depression era hues, the spectrum of glass colors available offers a beautiful way to accent any decorating scheme. Rotate Your Collectibles: While they’re tons of fun, this idea goes beyond the usual holiday collectibles we all know and love. Perhaps you have a collection of Shawnee Pottery and a collection of Hall China, but you don’t have room to display both at the same time. Rotating them out a couple of times a year offers an opportunity to enjoy your collections while sprucing up your living space.
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Route 4, Hudson Falls, NY 12839
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Joseph W. McPhillips 55 Saratoga Ave. • P.O. Box 1391 South Glens Falls, NY 12803 (518) 798-9531 Web: www.jmcplaw.com
Washington County Tourism Association Call toll-free 888.203.8622 www.washingtoncounty.org
Attorney at Law
Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 17
Outdoor equipment needs winter attention too Getting your hard surfaces and outdoor equipment ready for winter is not terribly difficult or time-consuming, if you prepare a list and spend your time efficiently.
Checklist for Fall • Check lawn or gardening equipment for repairs, cleaning, oiling, and draining. Cover or store in a safe indoor area such as a detached shed, garage, or carport. A tarp with grommets can be secured with heavy-duty bungee cords. Make sure electrical cords are wound and stored indoors. • Clean the barbecue, and if it's portable, bring it inside until spring; if it is a fixed appliance, cover it securely. • Check under decks and porches for wood rot and animal nests. Turn over any containers or pots to prevent collected water from freezing and cracking the container. • Sweep, rake and brush leaves and twigs from patio and sidewalk surfaces; use a leaf blower if the driveway also needs clearing. Mow the last leaves with a mulching attachment on the grass areas and leave for feeding lawn and around rose bushes. • If one's deck or porch is built of wood like cedar or pressuretreated lumber, it should stand up to the elements; applying a clear sealant or heavy-duty epoxy paint will further protect the wood. Be careful to protect your eyes, hands and clothing from these toxic products.
See OUTDOOR EQUIPMENT, page 18
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18 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Outdoor Equipment From page 17 • Seal cracks in asphalt or concrete driveways, and fill smaller potholes or sinkholes with fine gravel; note where you will need to repair these in the spring. These depressions in surfaces will fill with water, ice over, and expand or chip with each pass-over of your automobile through the winter. It's just like the city's streets – and it's harder to repair them in the middle of winter. • Put away or cover patio or deck furniture. Plastic and folding furniture can be easily stored in overhead rafters or hung on pegs in the garage, or stored in basements. Make sure these are clean and dry before storing. Metal furniture may rust if put away damp. • For heavier furniture that's not easily moved, furniture covers are the preferred solution. Make sure to check the hardware (bolts, screws) for rust, and clean wood surfaces with mild soap
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and water before covering with heavy-duty canvas or plastic. Also be sure there are no cobwebs or insect remains in the underside cavities. These are favorite mouse habitats, so secure the bottom edges of covers as well. Take care that legs and feet of furniture are not left exposed; moisture will destroy wood furniture from the ground up. • Test an emergency generator and have enough fuel on hand for those big storms that are no doubt ahead of you! If you have outdoor spas, hot tubs or pools, follow the installer's or manufacturer's instructions for proper winter care and maintenance. If your hot tub is indoors, be sure to winterize the location, particularly making sure that ventilation is adequate, heaters are safe, and passageways are not near outside entrances.
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 19
A simple home project for fall This simple fall craft project is for making an owl out of a pine cone. This is a very good craft project to do with the kids. The kids can help you find the pine cones, and also can help with certain aspects of making the pine cone owl. These little owls make very attractive decorations for your home during the fall. Be sure to select mature pine cones which have spread their scales outward. Also, make sure that the pine cones are in good condition, and aren't too discolored or sticky. Pine Cone Owl Craft Materials: Pine cone Orange chenille stem Large google eyes Medium pom poms Felt Hot glue or craft glue Prepare the Pine Cones Before you get started making the pine cone owl craft, you'll need to either wash or bake the pine cones. To wash them, simply fill a small basin with warm, soapy water. Go over the pine cones with an old toothbrush, then rinse them and allow them to dry. To bake them, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat the oven to 200 de-
grees. Bake the pine cones for about 20 minutes, then allow them to cool. Make the Pine Cone Owl's Feet Bend the chenille stem about 1/2 inch away from the middle. Bend the stem again about 1 inch away from this. You should now have a chenille stem with a 1 inch bend in the center. Bend the left side of the stem in the middle. Bend the stem back again to create the owl's toe. Bend it again to create two more toes. Create three more pine cone owl toes on the right side of the chenille stem. View this image for step by step pictures of how to make the owl's feet. Make the Pine Cone Owl's Body Turn the pine cone large side up. Cut a small beak out of yellow felt. Get two brown or black pom poms. Use hot glue to attach the beak to the bottom of the pine cone. If working with children under the age of ten, use craft glue or do all the hot gluing yourself. Attach the two pom poms just above the beak. Apply a small drop of glue to the front of the pom poms, then attach the large google eyes. Turn the pine cone over, then secure the owl's legs between the scales of the pine cone.
Cut tail feathers from brown felt, or use real feathers, then attach this on the back of the pine cone on the small end. Display your pine cone owl as a decoration on a mantlepiece, a shelf or place him in the center of your Thanksgiving table along with other pine cone ornaments. He will make a lovely decoration all fall and winter long. Consider giving him a place of honor during your Christmas celebrations, as well. Store the pine cone owl in a box so that you can use him again in for years to come.
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20 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 21
22 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Commercial & Residential
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 23
Ready your home with a generator In times of emergency, it seems that hind-sight is twenty-twenty. Suddenly, you become quite aware of exactly what it is that you actually need and what is extraneous in your current circumstances. Luckily, it's easy to think ahead because choosing an electric generator is much more effective if you don't need it just yet. Besides emergency uses, there's also plenty of every day reasons to keep a home generator on hand. When you are considering what generator is right for your needs, there are several things to consider. First, you will need to know exactly how you plan on using it. The size and power you need will depend on the load requirement. For example, if you normally plan on using the portable generator in your motor home, a smaller 1000 watt model may suffice and still give you enough power to run home lights and basic electricity in an emergency. If you want to provide back up for a larger appliance, consider choosing an electric generator in a larger 2000 watt model. A fully functional back-up for your home or business will probably require a 5000 watt or 6500 watt generator. Of course, more power equals higher prices, so you may want to look into used or reconditioned models to save money. After determining exactly what your power needs are, let's look at the features of the generator. Most come equipped with 120 volt outlets. If you need to operate many tools at a time, you will want to have numerous outlets and switches available. A generator that will operate large appliances like a dryer will need to be equipped with a 240 volt plug. Also, when choosing an electric generator, be aware of the cost of fueling it. This will effect your bottom line and make a difference in the overall cost of running the appliance. Common fuels
include diesel, gasoline and even a propane generator. There's pros and cons to each. Gasoline generators are often cheaper to run. However, if you are storing for a possible emergency situation, keep in mind that propane is more stable over the long term. As with all purchases, it's always helpful to check product reviews before making the final purchase. Also, when choosing an electric generator, remember that they can be large appliances. Make sure that you have the room to store them when not in use. It might be helpful to keep an extension cord with the appliance as well, to make sure that you can run it at a convenient distance. Having a generator on hand can be not only a godsend in an emergency situation, but also convenient for recreation and work outside the home.
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24 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Growing your own indoor herb garden Tips on containers, location, herbs and transplanting will help you make your indoor herb garden come alive!
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Containers can be terra cotta, plastic, or metal, and must have adequate drainage at the bottom. The shapes range from round to rectangular, so use whatever will work for your space. Starting out, you may want to stick with three or four selected herbs, so the container must be able to hold the herbs at maturity, and provide enough space for the roots to “breathe”. Decide how many herbs you want to grow, select an area of your home that will provide the plants with some sunlight, and use these factors to determine what size container you will need. A 13-15” container will hold up to four herbs and allow ample room for growth and survival. You may choose to start your seedlings in smaller, separate containers and then transplant as they grow. There are several small containers available for less than a dollar, and even herb starter kits on the market. If you’ve never grown a plant before, you might like to use this method on your first attempt. Starter kits provide the seeds, containers and even potting soil disks that expand when water is added, making it easy for even the least-experienced gardener. Now that you’ve decided on containers, it’s time to choose your favorite herbs. Several easy to grow, low maintenance herbs are available, so personal preference is the deciding factor. Try some
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 25 roundings. This is a process which requires a gentle touch, as transplanting is very strenuous to herbs. Prepare the new container, by filling with soil, and creating a hole that will accommodate the transplant. In the old container, take a dull knife and gently run it around the outside of the dirt to loosen it, grasp the plant at soil level and turn the pot upside down, pulling very gently to release the plant from that container. If the roots are congested, loosen them a bit with your fingers, and then set the plant down into the hole in the new container. Press firmly into the new soil and cover with surrounding dirt. After all the plants have been moved, water the new container until soil is moist but not completely saturated. Keep in a warm area with ample sunlight, to help the plants adjust to their new home. Allow the plants to grow, keeping them in good light, and water as necessary, when soil is dry to the touch. Once they’ve reached maturity, you can harvest leaves as needed for all your kitchen creations.
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simpler plants such as chives, basil, cilantro and parsley, or perhaps some oregano and rosemary. Growing periods can range from weeks to months, so patience is a necessity as you embark on your gardening adventure. Now that you have your seeds, all you need is the potting soil, water and sunlight. There are myriad potting soils available on the market, ranging from simple dirt to the most complex recipes, complete with fertilizers and added nutrients. For storage purposes, it’s best to start out with a smaller bag, unless you’re going to be planting several pots full of herbs. Choose a simple blend that requires no mixing to keep stress at a minimum, and place enough soil in the pots to provide room for the roots to dig in, leaving a 3/4” to 1” space at the top of the container, for growth and watering room. If you’re going to start your seedlings in smaller containers, you can plant up to three in one container, however, you will need to transplant sooner, as the roots grow quickly and will become cramped and not have adequate breathing room. One of the easiest ways to plant the seed is to use a drinking straw. Push it into the soil, about 1/2”, remove the dirt and then send the seed right down the straw, and cover it up. Leave a 1 1/2 to 2” space between each seed, add some water, and set the container in an area with some direct sunlight. You might even choose to create a mini-greenhouse effect for your new plants. Insert a long straw or long match in the middle of the container. Measure enough clear plastic wrap to surround the circumference of the pot, wrap it around and secure it to the top of the straw with a small rubber band or some tape. This is useful in speeding up growth time, and will provide a bit of warmth, if the plants will be kept in the window sill, especially in winter months. Once the seeds have grown to 1-2” tall, and get their second set of leaves, or true leaves, it’s time to transplant them to larger sur-
26 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
The Ins and Outs of Insulation People may not see insulation, but they sure can feel it. With everyone wanting to be more energy efficient these days, customers are demanding quality insulated homes. Heating and cooling costs take more than 50 percent of the energy consumed in a single-family home. Having the recommended levels of insulation will save energy, cut down on utility costs and
greatly improve comfort level. Do you ever find yourself standing at the hardware store looking at fluffy bags of pink, blue, white and beige boards asking yourself which one is right for you? Insulation does not come in “one size fits all”. The right amount depends on many things, climate, type and efficiency of heating and cooling systems,
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where you are planning to add it and how much cavity space do you need to fill. To find the right insulation for you, the first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the four different types of insulation and their R Values. Batt & blanket insulation You are probably most familiar with this type of insulation. It is easy to work with and it is cheap. Only problem is that it does not air seal as well as the others and it must be carefully installed in order for it to work effectively. Loose-fill insulation Loose fibers of rock wool, fiberglass or cellulose can be blown into small cavities or attics using special equipment. This does cost more than batts, but it can reduce air leakage in wall cavities and can reduce sound. It is suited for hard to reach areas and areas that are blocked off. Rigid board insulation This is made from fiberglass,
polystyrene and polyurethane and is used for reroofing on flat roofs, on basement walls, concrete slab edges and in cathedral ceilings. For fire safety purposes, this application must be covered with 1/2 inch gypsum board or other building-code approved materials. Spray foam This type of insulation is a twopart liquid that contains a polymer and a foaming agent. It is sprayed into wall, ceiling and flooring cavities. It expands into a solid plastic covering every nook and cranny. It should only be applied by a professional and this does cost more than a traditional batting. Spray foam is both an insulation and an air-barrier, it eliminates any additional steps such as caulking, apply house wrap and taping joints. So remember, picking the right insulation will not only provide you with more comfort, but also money in your pocket.
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 27
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28 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Fall garden wrap-up checklist 1. Bring in houseplants that have summered outdoors. Bring them in when night temperatures consistently fall into the lower 50's. Try to avoid abrupt changes in light and temperature. Check for insects prior to bringing them inside; washing the plant with plain water will remove many pests. Re-pot if plant has outgrown its container. Some plants that have grown vigorously outside may need some pruning. 2. Clean up vegetable gardens and annual flowerbeds. Harvest all usable vegetables and annual flowers before frost. Leftover debris can be tilled into soil or placed into compost pile. Clean up weeds as they can harbor diseases and insects. Add compost and other organic material to enrich the
soil. Mulch beds to prevent erosion during winter. 3. Clean up perennial flowerbeds. Remove weeds. After we have a couple of frosts, mulch the perennial bed. Tops of plants can be cut back now or in early spring. New perennials can be planted in fall; established perennials can be divided; these activities should be done in early fall (mid-September to mid-October) to allow time for plants to root before the soil cools. 4. Tree and shrub maintenance Prune trees after they go dormant (lose their leaves) or in early spring. Prune late summer and fall flowering shrubs after they go dormant. DO NOT prune evergreens
or spring-flowering shrubs in fall. Trees and shrubs can be fertilized after they go dormant or in spring. Continue regular watering as long as ground is not frozen. 5. Miscellaneous Plant spring flowering bulbs in early fall (mid-September to
mid-October). Clean garden tools so they will be ready for next season. See to proper storage of seeds, fertilizer and garden chemicals. Drain and store garden hoses. Consider composting as a method to deal with garden debris and autumn leaves.
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 29
SAVE ENERGY SAVE MONEY
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30 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 31
Inspect your home’s electric system, for electrical fire prevention Inspect the cords and plugs on all electrical equipment and appliances. Replace anything that is frayed, tattered, and worn out. Faulty wiring is one of the major causes of home electrical fires. Never overburden electrical sockets. Plugging in too many things may result in overheating. The simplest guideline to using electrical sockets is to check how many spaces it has for plugs. If an electrical socket only has 2 plug outlets, then it is only capable of handling that many appliances plugged in at the same time.
See ELECTRIC, page 32
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32 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Electric From page 31 Extension cords are alright to use, but not extensively. Under no circumstances should extension cords be used as permanent electrical sockets. Extension cords are not designed to handle powerful electricity continuously and they can cause electrical fires if overloaded. Maintain and inspect all electrical tools, equipment, and appliances regularly. Use them only as instructed on their manual. Never attempt to use any tool or equipment for purposes other than what they are designed to do. Some electrical appliances have 2-pronged plugs while others have 3 prongs. Never force a 2-pronged plug into a 3-pronged electrical outlet and vice versa. Appliances are given plugs according to their electricity flow needs and these must be strictly met. Oth-
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erwise, they can easily become a source of electrical fires. Use safety covers on electrical sockets. These will protect children and prevent accidents from happening. Keep curtains, drapes, clothes, and other flammable materials away from radiators and heaters. Throw away electric blankets that have exposed cords and loose wirings. These are a major hazard as it can cause electrical fires and burn injuries to the user. As much as possible, use electric blankets that have temperature controls. These usually come with safety devices that automatically switch off the blanket if it gets too hot. Do not place carpets or rugs over electrical cords and cables. Exposed electrical cords can easily ignite the carpet over it and cause a major fire. Keep electrical cords and cables where you can see them. Only buy electronics and appliances that have passed all safety standards. Consumers must be extra careful nowadays because a lot of sub-par electronics and appliances have made their way into the market. Watch out for fuses, bulbs, plugs, and sockets that frequently short-circuit. These are signs of faulty wiring and an overloaded electrical system. Contact an electrician to remedy this problem right away. Install smoke detectors in strategic places throughout the house. Keeping them clean and maintaining them regularly can greatly prevent electrical fires from damaging a home.
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 33
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Directions to 8 Pine Lane, Hague from Lake George, NY: Take Route 9N north to town of Hague. Will see Arcady Bay Estates on the right side of 9N. Split Rock Rd. is the next left hand turn. 1/2 mile up Split Rock Rd. look for Log Cabin mailbox on left. Turn left onto Pine Lane. Take first driveway to right.
Can’t make it? Call for an appointment another day. Diane & Gary Martino • 518-543-6607 or email email@example.com 38971
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Refinance for a lower interest rate If you have a fixed-rate mortgage and mortgage rates are falling, it only makes sense to consider trying to refinance at a lower rate. But as with most things in finance, it isn’t always a simple answer. Refinancing can certainly make sense, but it also costs money to refinance a mortgage. Depending on your specific situation, a refinance may actually end up costing you more money instead of saving money. Adjustable Rate Mortgages If you have an adjustable rate mortgage and your rate has reset to a higher rate than the initial low rate, it is definitely worth looking into a refinance. The good news is that adjustable rate mortgages can change their interest rates over the term of the loan, and when rates are going down, that can be good. But the real prob-
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lem is that even so, you’re still likely to find that you’re paying more than you would be with a fixed-rate mortgage. Fixed-Rate Mortgages The old standard when it comes to home loans, a fixed-rate mortgage can be one of the best ways to finance the purchase of a home. This is because the interest rate doesn’t change over time, which means your payment remains the same. This payment stability is great, but there are times when it can be a drawback. If mortgage rates fall in the future, you may find yourself paying more interest than what you could get on a current mortgage. This could mean throwing money away towards interest that you could possibly avoid. But the reverse is also true. If you lock in a
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 35 fixed-rate that’s at a relatively low point, if rates go up in the future, you’re realizing significant savings over others who may be getting current loans at the higher rates. Consider Costs When considering whether or not to refinance your mortgage, you want to realistically look at how long you plan on being in the home. Since there are closing costs that may amount to thousands of dollars, you have a look at how long it would take to break even if you were to refinance. For instance, let’s say a 1% lower interest rate would decrease your monthly mortgage payment by $100. That’s nothing to sneeze at, but let’s also assume your closing costs on the refinance total $3,000. That means you’d need to stay in the house for 30 months just to break even on the refinance. If your plans were to possibly move in three years or less, you can see where a refinance may actually cost you. Amount of Equity Another thing to consider is how much equity you have in the home. Most banks will require 20% equity in order to refinance your mortgage. It may still be possible to refinance without that much equity, but you'll likely get the best deal if you have at least 20% equity. In addition, if you’ve been living in the house for a while and have built up a decent amount of equity, you can possibly save even more money since you may be able to refinance an amount lower than the original loan amount. This can reduce your monthly payments since you're now paying back a smaller loan. Don’t Forget About New Terms One thing many people forget is that refinancing will also extend the term of the loan again. If you’ve been making payments on your 30-year fixed mortgage for the past 10 years, you only had 20 to go. But if you refinance, if you choose another 30-year mortgage, you’re back to the beginning. But what some people do is ac-
tually refinance from a 30-year to a 15-year if they already have a number of years of payments under their belts. Final Considerations As you can see, there are a number of things to consider before rushing to the bank. Yes, lower mortgage rates are good, and they can save you money, but it isn’t quite that easy. You need to make sure you’ll actually live in the house long enough to benefit, and determine if possibly changing the loan terms is worth it. Not only that, but your credit history is even more important than ever. If your credit isn’t perfect or you have some negative marks on your report, you may find that you can’t even take advantage of the best rates. So, if lower rates have you interested in a refinance, it’s worth taking a look at. Just make sure that you’re not being drawn in by the rate alone and that you’re really going to reap the rewards of a refinance.
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36 - Fall Home Improvement 2009
Septic system maintenance checklist Proper septic system maintenance is essential in helping ensure that the system continues to properly teat wastewater. Protect the septic system from damage -Keep vehicle traffic and parking areas ( cars, trucks, large tractors, or snowmobiles) off the drain field -Don’t build any structure over the septic system -Don’t place concrete or asphalt over the drain field Perform regular maintenance -Have the septic tank pumped every 3-5 years. Do not allow the tank contents on the surface of the ground, the contents must be taken to a treatment plant for final treatment. -If you have a garbage disposal have the tank pumped at least
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Fall Home Improvement 2009 - 37 any product that will not readily break down If garbage disposal is necessary use it sparingly -Limit washing food scraps, coffee grounds, or similar materials down the drain Use cleaners in moderation -The overuse of cleansers such as bleaches, disinfectants, antibacterial soaps, drain cleaners, and toilet bowl cleaners can impact the number of bacteria in the system that are needed to treat the wastewater Do not pour grease down the drain -If grease reaches the absorption area it can clog the drain field Keep toxic or hazardous chemicals out of the system -Exclude anti-freeze, gasoline, paints, varnishes, paint thinners, pesticides, pharmaceuticals, and waste oils
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