Fall Home Improvement 2019

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Fall Home Improvement 2019

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Megan Knowles

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Fall Home Improvement

Fall time of year for chimney cleanings, inspections BY MEGAN KNOWLES


While cool autumn and winter evenings might bring to mind a crackling fire, making sure the fireplace and chimney are in tip top shape should come first. Chimneys should be inspected annually to ensure they are operating safely, according to the National Fire Protection Association. During an inspection a chimney professional will look for cracks, loose brick or mortar and a working cap for brick chimneys and rust, working seals and water damage for factory built chimneys, among other issues, Chimney 1 owner Cindi Hull said. “We’re just kind of looking over everything to see if anything needs addressing, cracks or maintenance or things like that,” she said. Chimneys should also be inspected after a chimney or furnace fire, whenever the fireplace type is changed, when purchasing a home with a chimney or whenever storm damage is expected, according to a publication from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). Sometimes, homeowners can spot signs of chimney issues, Hull said, adding her company has received calls from homeowners reporting brick chips, loose mortar, missing bricks or tilted caps. “(Step) outside once in a while and taking a look (at the chimney),” she said. “See if you can see anything that might look out of the ordinary.” However, interior issues, such as the buildup of creosote, cannot be easily seen by homeowners, Hull said. “If you’re not using properly seasoned firewood, it puts a lot of moisture out into the fireplace and chimney,” she said. Creosote occurs when condensed wood smoke builds up in the chimney, according to the CSIA publication. “Creosote is highly flammable, so the

Chimney fires Though some chimney fires will leave no indicators, an average chimney fire can have the following signs, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America: • Loud roaring noise, often described as a train or jet going through the home • Column of flame seen coming out of the top of the chimney • Pieces of creosote seen flying out of the top of the chimney • Popping or cracking sounds as bricks, mortar and flue liners are damaged • Dense black smoke coming from the chimney In cases of a chimney fire, do the following, according to the CSIA: PHOTO PROVIDED BY CHIMNEY 1

Not using a fireplace correctly, not using seasoned wood and not having a fireplace and chimney serviced regularly can lead to creosote buildup, which can be dangerous as creosote is highly flammable.

next time you use the fireplace, it just takes one little spark from your fire to set that creosote on fire and that leads to chimney fires,” Hull said. Most people don’t realize there is buildup in their chimneys, which is why annual inspections are so important, she added. Often, Chimney 1 will do cleanings and inspections at the same time, Hull said. A chimney cleaning involves using specialized vacuums and brushes to clear chimneys of buildup and creosote. When having any work done on a chimney, those doing the work should be certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of

America, Hull said. Among other requirements, certified companies and individuals “have to go every three years to get recertified to make sure they’re up on the latest codes and clearances,” she said. “We take that very seriously because when you’re talking about fire we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can properly.” Certified companies can be found on the Institute’s website, https://web.csia.org/ search. The main website, csia.org, also provides consumer information tips, including proper drying and storage of wood and how to build a safe fire.

• Call the fire department • Notify everyone in the house and be prepared to evacuate if necessary • If the fireplace has glass doors, close the doors and the vents. If it is a woodstove, close the doors and air inlets. • Do not close the damper of either a fireplace or woodstove • If flames are visible at the top of the chimney, hose down the roof but not the chimney (doing so could damage it because of the heat) • Get the chimney inspected before using it again

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Casting a light on outdoor illumination BY MEGAN KNOWLES


A simple way to update the aesthetics, safety and security of an outdoor space is with exterior lighting. In fact, these are the three main reasons people hire 1B Speciality Lighting, owner and designer Tom Blee said. Lighting up stairs, pathways and any outdoor obstacles can make getting around easier when the days get shorter. Customers of Noble County REMC and LaGrange County REMC can participate in an outdoor area lighting program, where for $9.20 per light per month the energy cooperatives will install and maintain a 40W energy-efficient LED outdoor light for the customer, Communications Specialist Kelly Lynch said. The utilities are currently switching out previously installed bulbs with LED ones, Lynch said, adding almost half have been converted already. “We’ve also heard from our members that these lights, alongside being more efficient, give a better quality of lighting than the previous bulbs,” Lynch said. Lighting for most purposes is transitioning

to LED, Kendallville Do It Center owner Joel Bolinger said. This is because of its ability to save energy and last a long time, Blee said. Another way outdoor lighting can improve safety is by making unwanted guests easier to see. “People don’t usually mess around a house that’s lit up,” Blee said. Common options for these types of lights include dusk-to-dawn lights or motion-sensing models, Bolinger said. Some lights can also be set on timers so the home is illuminated whether residents are home or not. Outdoor lighting is also commonly used to highlight architectural features of homes as well as landscaping. Highlighting natural features can add drama because “the plants (and) the trees actually change through the seasons so in the winter it looks different (and) in fall you get the fall colors,” Blee said. When using outdoor lighting for aesthetics, it is important to consider the “temperature,” or color, of the lighting being used, Blee said. SEE LIGHTING, PAGE 11


Lighting landscaping can make a dramatic statement as the seasons change.

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Fall Home Improvement


Fall’s the time to get your furnace ready for winter You don’t want to be left out in the cold BY MIKE MARTURELLO


ANGOLA — Fall may be a few weeks away and you might still be running your air conditioner, but you want to make sure your furnace and its winter operation is on your radar. Changing filters is something you do most of the year, if you have an air conditioner, and it is a key component to keep fresh all year long. But there are many other checks a contractor will perform to get your furnace ready for the cold weather months ahead. “The most important thing I would have to say is to make sure the filters are clean,” said Trevor Hinman of Himnan Heating & Plumbing, Angola. Fall maintenance is the best way to avoid making one of those an emergency “I

have no heat” service calls over the winter. “You don’t want to delay to the point that you have to wait for service because everybody’s busy,” Hinman said. “It’s definitely the time to make sure everything is operational.” It is also a great way to catch minor issues that could affect the performance of your system. Better performance can mean savings on your utility bills each month. If you have a furnace in your home, your contractor will: • Clean components like the burner and heat exchanger (if necessary). • Look over your venting system and make sure that it is operating correctly. • Check the equipment for rust, soot, leaks, corroded electrical contacts and frayed wires. If you have a heat pump that you use during the winter, your contractor will: • Clean the indoor evaporator coil if necessary. • Check the refrigerant level.



Trevor Hinman of Hinman Heating & Plumbing, Angola, works on a furnace at a Snow Lake home. Hinman says fall is the time to make sure your furnace is running properly for the winter months ahead.

Help Keep Yard Waste and Kitchen Scraps out of Landfills and Waterways Enrich flower and vegetable gardens Improve the soil around trees and shrubs Enhance the soil in house plants and planter boxes with Compost!

What is compost?

Much of the yard waste and kitchen scraps that we collect and drag to the curb every week can be put to better use as compost. Compost is a rich dark humus, an end product of the natural decomposition of plant and plant products under controlled conditions. Composting is a practical and convenient way to reuse your lawn, garden, and kitchen wastes. Leaves, grass clippings, fruit and vegetable scraps, crushed eggshells, tea bags, coffee grounds, and even coffee filters are all items that can be used to make compost, while reducing waste in landfills. Compost can be used to enrich flower and vegetable gardens, improve the soil around trees and shrubs, and enhance the soil in houseplants and planter boxes. Composting is a complex feeding pattern involving hundreds of different organisms, including bacteria, fungi, worms and insects. What remains after these organisms break down organic refuse is the rich compost that nourishes lawns and gardens.

The benefits of using compost

Homeowners often have difficulty disposing of leaves, grass clippings and other garden refuse. In many states, it is illegal to dump lawn waste in landfills, and disposing of it in storm drains, lakes, rivers and streams clogs drains and pollutes water. Instead of filling landfills and polluting local waterways with this waste, citizens can benefit from it. Backyard composting of organic waste creates natural soil additives for use on lawns and gardens, and used as potting soil for house plants. These are some other benefits of using compost: • Improved soil texture • Increased soil aeration • Suppressed weed growth • Improved water absorption

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Build your compost pile on soft soil or a pile of tree limbs to improve drainage. Boards, chicken wire or other materials can be used to make side frames to help hold the pile together if space is limited. Build successive layers of leaves, grass clippings, vegetable scraps, and other green matter. For more rapid decomposition, chop and mix components together. Cover layers with 1-2 inches of soil or manure. During dry weather, keep the pile moist. In cold winter months, cover the pile with black plastic to insulate and shed excess water. Aerate the pile by inserting a vertical pipe. Mix compost with a pitchfork after six weeks. This helps aerate the pile, and keeps the bacterial processes from overheating.

What can you compost?

To achieve the healthiest compost, you will need the right mix of ingredients. Here are some ideas for ingredients to include and those to avoid: Stuff to include Stuff to avoid • Grass clippings and leaves • Diseased plants • Fruit and vegetable scraps • Human and pet waste • Tea bags and coffee grounds • Chemically treated wood products • Fireplace ashes • Barbecue grill ash • Vacuum cleaner lint • Meat and fish scraps and bones • Straw/hat • Oils and other fatty food products • Wood chips and sawdust • Milk products • Shredded newspaper • Pernicious weeds


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August 24, 2019

Getting to the root of winter tree care Planting



Those looking to plant a tree this fall can follow some simple tips to help their new plant get off to a strong start.

Selecting a tree

A tree’s leaves can say a lot, said DeKalb County Purdue University Extension Director Elysia Rodgers. “The leaves are kind of a good indicator of the tree health. If the leaves look poor, the tree’s probably not in the best health,” she said. Because of the wet spring, some oaks and maples may have anthracnose, which can cause them to lose their leaves early, Rodgers said. However, anthracnose does not typically cause permanent damage to trees, according to a column by Rodgers. “It doesn’t mean the tree is not healthy, it’s just a fungus that attacked those leaves,” she said. Other warning signs to look for are large cracks or damage to a tree’s trunk, she said.

“In a normal year…planting a tree in the first couple weeks of September will give that tree time enough to get its roots established before winter comes,” especially if the tree has been in a container or was wrapped in burlap, Rodgers said. When planting a tree, dig a hole to the same depth as the container or burlap sack and twice as wide as the tree’s root mass. Place the tree in the hole, making sure to leave the root flare — “where the trunk extends out to where the root system will spread out,” Rodgers explained — above the soil. “If it gets below that it can lead to rot issues” that might not be seen for a couple of years, she said. Start filling the soil back in, making sure to break up big chunks of dirt and not to pack the soil too tightly so the roots can easily spread. Do not fertilize the new tree now, Rodgers said emphatically. “You want those young trees to go through that dormant phase,” she said.

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“You want those small trees to lose their leaves, to not really focus on intaking too many nutrients and holding on to them because that gets the tree focused on growing more when it should be shutting itself down and preparing for winter.” Established trees that are more than 5 years old can be fertilized in early fall and late March to April with about one to two pounds of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet, Rodgers said.


When applying mulch to the base of a tree avoid the temptation to “volcano mulch” and mound a lot of mulch up the base of the trunk, Rodgers said. “Mulch is meant to retain moisture in that soil. So basically by keeping all that moisture there close to the trunk, you’re just inviting rot and things like that in there,” she said. “Ideally, you want to leave about a three-inch circle around the base of that tree and then do about a twoto three-inch layer of mulch out to what they refer to as the drip line” or edge of the outer branches. This is mostly for younger trees so

they’re not being run over frequently, Rodgers said. Older trees shouldn’t have exposed roots covered because of the potential for rot.


Late fall and early winter are acceptable times for “limited, functional pruning” for most trees, according to the “Winterize Your Trees” publication from the Purdue Extension. Pruning can be done to remove dying, diseased or dead branches or to improve the branching structure, according to the publication. However, pruning on healthy, living branches should be limited so the tree doesn’t have to spend its energy healing the pruning wounds. More information is available in the Purdue Extension publication “Trees Need a Proper Start: Prune Them Right.”

Winter care

If fall rainfall is low, additional watering might be needed on young trees, according to the Extension publication.

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Fall Home Improvement


Dryer vents need cleaning too BY MEGAN KNOWLES


Having dryer vents cleaned is an oft-neglected but important item on homeowners’ annual maintenance checklist. “You really should have that done as a maintenance issue,” Hagerman’s Appliance owner Mary Hagerman said. However, “people usually don’t do it until they have trouble with their dryer,” she added. Common signs a dryer vent is getting clogged include increased drying time and the appliance getting hot, Chimney 1 owner Cindy Hull said. The company cleans dryer vents in addition to doing chimney cleaning and repair. A clogged dryer vent can cause serious issues, from damaging the heating elements to causing dryer fires. “People don’t realize how many dryer fires happen every…year,” Hull said. There are about 2,900 residential dryer fires annually, resulting in an estimated five deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in property loss, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

Failure to clean the dryer is the leading cause of these fires, according to the USFA, which happen most in the fall and winter months and peak in January. Dryer fires occur when hair and lint gets lodged in the vents, with lint being highly flammable, Hull said. Homeowners can help by cleaning their lint filters between every load, Hagerman said, but the vents will still need cleaned eventually. When that time comes, Hagerman said homeowners “need to call (a professional), because someone usually has to go on the roof (or) at the bottom and have the equipment to do it with.” Hagerman’s Appliance offers this service, she added. While this may seem like an added cost, it is cheaper than replacing parts on a dryer, Hull said. “It’s more cost effective to clean the vent,” she said. “The longer you go, it puts so much stress and strain on the dryer to keep pushing that air through. A lot of times, if you don’t clean that vent out, you’re looking at the cost of putting a new heating element in the dryer or something like that.”


Over time, a lot of lint and other materials can build up in dryer vents, causing a fire hazard.

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Metal offers another roofing option BY LISA ESQUIVEL LONG

Home Advisor lists the average cost in Fort Wayne of metal roof installation as $13,442. According to Roofing Calculator, Getting a new roof for a home can the cost can be $7-$10 per square foot be a major financial stress, but many installed for a metal shingle roof and homeowners are choosing the often more $9-$12 per square foot installed for a expensive option of metal because of its standing seam metal roof. That’s because durability. it takes more precision and about two to Dave and Faith Van Gilder of Hunterthree times as long town in Allen to install a metal County were among roof, according to them. The mettle of metal roofs the website. Living in a Metal roofs usually cost more than “It is the maintewooded area, the one with asphalt shingles, but: nance-free option,” asphalt shingles had • They come in a variety of colors, said Farbod moss growing on from neutrals to red and purple. Salman, marketing them, and the roof • They have greater durability than director for Shield is constantly pelted asphalt shingles. Exteriors. by twigs. • Some companies provide a Shield does more “We had seen lifetime warranty that’s transferthan 60 installaa lot of metal rable. tions a month. The roofs on churches, cost of the job, of schools and barns,” course, varies by Faith Van Gilder the size of the structure. said. “We say it’s two times as much” as Passing by a billboard on the way to asphalt roofing, Salman said. her job in Fort Wayne that advertised What customers get is Shield’s lifetime Shield Exteriors of Garrett, the couple decided to call the company. After hearing warranty, which includes “acts of God” such as tornados. about the product, they decided to get “We’re No. 1 in our category,” Salman their ranch-style home and detached said. “We have the only true lifetime two-car garage done for a few reasons. warranty. ... You never have to go through “It’s more environmentally friendly,” the insurance company.” Faith Van Gilder said. “Asphalt is The warranty is transferrable up to 15 petroleum-based. Second, it’s a lifetime years to the next owner, he said. warranty against fading and damage.” Its color options have expanded and They went with a green roof that include black, frost, purple, red and blue. would blend into the surrounding woods Shield, which has been in business and felt good about “shopping local,” for four years, does strictly residential because the company mentioned it uses jobs, but will include structures, such as steel made at Fort Wayne-based SDI’s garages, if the house is done. Its two-hour Butler plant. Shield also did their gutters service radius of Fort Wayne is just shy with a form of protection against debris of Indianapolis and reaches Toledo, Ohio, clogging them. and South Bend. “As we get older, that’s a safety Another company, Masterpiece Metals concern,” she said of climbing a ladder to of LaGrange, has increased its warranty clean the gutters. to lifetime, said owner Larry Schlabach. No more worries about the leaves and The warranty is transferrable to other twigs collecting on the roof. “The wind will just blow them off like owners of the home up to 40 years from installation, he said. nothing,” she said. Schlabach estimates his 14 workers The one question most people ask: Is do 175 roofs a year in a 50-mile radius the rain loud on the roof? No, she said, because the company has from Lake Michigan homes to area air space built in. While she know it’s too townhouses. About 99% of their work is soon to see any expected savings on their residential. Masterpiece Metals, founded in 2010 heating and cooling bills, she notices that it definitely feels cooler in the uninsulated after Schlabach left a career in the RV industry, uses steel from both SDI and garage. U.S. Steel that workers form on the job The job took about two weeks in June site. The company has 15 colors, but the to complete. Van Gilder wouldn’t say most popular for his clients are black, what the couple spent, only that it was bronze and slate. 50% more than the estimates they got on While Schlabach estimates the cost of regular roofing. llong@kpcmedia.com


A Shield Exteriors Metal Roofing crew in June removes the asphalt shingles on Faith Van Gilder’s Huntertown home in preparation for a green metal roof.

a metal versus asphalt roof is roughly up to 30% more, it depends on who’s selling it.

“Yesterday, a guy gave a quote for asphalt, and we did metal at no difference,” he said.

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August 24, 2019

Fall Home Improvement


How to keep a pet-friendly home clean BY METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Sixty-eight percent of American households, or about 85 million families, own a pet, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association. Dogs, cats and other companion animals can be wonderful to have around, breathing energy into a family. Despite all of the advantages pets can bring, they tend to be a little messy. However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to have a pet and maintain a clean home. Homeowners just need to take a few extra steps to help things along. • Manage pet fur. One of the persistent issues pet parents face is fur. Grooming the pet regularly (preferably outdoors) will help tame some of its fur. Covering sofas and other places where pets like to lounge with an old sheet can contain some of the fur where it can be shaken off outdoors and laundered frequently. • Upgrade your vacuum. You’ll need a vacuum with strong suction to pick up fur, dirt, dander, feathers, birdseed and any of the other debris that can accumulate thanks to pets. A vacuum with a good brush action also can dig in deep to carpets and

upholstery to really clean thoroughly, say the experts at House Beautiful. • Pause for paws at the door. Keep a small container of water by the front door. When returning from walks, dip the dog’s paws into the water and dry before entering the house. This keeps dirt (and salt in the winter) from being a nuisance. • Get the right cleanser. Pet owners must contend with accidents. Look for an enzymatic cleanser that will treat stains and odors so that pets do not return to the soiled area again and again thinking this is an acceptable potty location, says Modern Dog magazine. Test an area of the carpet or floor being treated for colorfastness before applying. Address accidents promptly. • Choose the right upholstery. According to Martha Stewart Living, look for top-grain, semi-aniline leathers, as scratches are disguised on such pieces. In terms of fabric, microfiber or microsuede are better suited to pets because the fabric is tightly woven and may be more resistant to fur and soiling. • Launder pet items. Regularly wash bedding and other belongings that pets use. This will help tame indoor odors. • Keep nails neat. Clipping dog and cat

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Pet owners can keep their homes clean regardless of how much dirt their pets track into the house.

and other small animals’ nails may help avoid scratches on furniture and floors. If

you do not feel comfortable doing it, take the animal to a groomer.



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August 24, 2019

How to create a winter-friendly outdoor living space BY METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION For many homeowners, the arrival of fall and winter marks an end to time spent lounging and dining al fresco on the patio. But cold air does not necessarily mean patio furniture must be packed up until flowers bloom anew in spring. In its 2017 Home Design Trends Survey, the American Institute of Architects found that consumers continue to emphasize practical features that expand the functionality of their homes via heavy investment in outdoor living spaces. The survey found that the popularity of outdoor living spaces increased by 72% between 2012 and 2017, highlighting just how much homeowners enjoy spending time outdoors. By taking measures to make their outdoor living spaces winterproof, homeowners can enjoy these areas of their homes even more. • Cover your deck. A covered deck may appear to make the space less enjoyable during spring and summer. However, covered decks can protect residents from the sun on especially hot days while also making the space more functional in winter. An overhead shelter on a deck can be outfitted with heaters (and fans to provide a cooling effect in summer) and

allow residents to sit outside and watch snow fall without getting wet. • Plant the right trees. Coniferous trees provide a barrier against the wind, which can be especially harsh in winter. Homeowners who are unsure about which direction wind typically comes from can consult a landscape architect to determine where to plant the trees to ensure they’re most effective. • Fire up the patio. A firepit or fireplace can warm up an outdoor living area, making such a space warm and cozy even on a cold winter night. A patio with a built-in firepit can cost a pretty penny, but such an addition can withstand winter weather better than a standalone firepit, which might be vulnerable to being tipped over by winter winds. • Install lighting. The sun sets early in winter, so homeowners won’t be able to rely on natural light to illuminate their outdoor living spaces well into the evening like they do in summer. Heat lamps can be used to both warm and illuminate a space, serving dual, budget-friendly functions. With the right adjustments, outdoor living spaces can be enjoyed throughout winter.


Covering a deck or patio and/or adding a fire feature are two ways to make outdoor living spaces more winter friendly.

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Fall Home Improvement


Prevent growth of mold, mildew in colder months BY MEGAN KNOWLES

cleaning products. Diluted bleach solutions are highly effective at killing microscopic Mold and mildew are not only unsightly fungi, viruses and bacteria. • Reduce moisture and humidity by but also unhealthy. These fungi grow ensuring sufficient air circulation in rooms, readily in damp areas and are found in particularly bathrooms and kitchens. An the air both indoors and outside. If left unaddressed, mold and mildew can threaten exhaust fan will help remove moisture quickly. the health of a home’s inhabitants. • Fabrics covered in mildew that can be Mildew is a type of mold that remains relatively flush with the surface it grows on. laundered should be carefully removed and Other molds can grow puffy in appearance. washed in chlorine bleach and hot water. An oxygen bleach product also can be Molds serve the purpose of destroying effective. organic materials, but in high amounts, • Invest in a dehumidifier that can these microorganisms can cause respiratory reduce moisture in the home in problem problems, sinus congestion, throat irritaareas, such as damp basements or garages. tion, headaches and other issues, particu• Fix plumbing leaks as soon as larly when mold grows unchecked indoors, possible. says Better Homes and Gardens. As a • Remove damp leaves and snow from result, it is essential to address mold before areas around the foundation of the home. it becomes problematic. Ensure that gutters and downspouts are According to Polygon, a drying technology and temporary climate solutions clear of debris and can shuttle water away company, the wet season in winter is when from the house effectively. • Replace cracked or defective mortar in molds often grow and expand. Mold can break down the integrity and strength of the basements. • Make sure all seals on windows and surfaces where it grows. doors are not compromised and are in good Homeowners can employ the following strategies to prevent mold growth: working condition. • Keep all surfaces clean, using proper • Be sure an HVAC in-line humidifier mknowles@kpcmedia.com

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Mold and mildew are problematic, but with diligence they can be kept at bay.

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a home in other ways, hire a professional service to help clean and dry the home effectively. Mold and mildew are problematic, but with diligence they can be kept at bay.

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Outdoor lighting can be used to increase safety by illuminating walkways and potential obstacles.

LIGHTING: Matching temperature of lights key FROM PAGE 4

Many people want a warm white, which would be about 2,700 kelvin (the scale used to measure light temperature and color), he said. Though the earliest LEDs were usually bright white with a temperature of 5,000 to 7,000 kelvin, newer models are available in warmer colors. On the other hand, brighter white light,

around 3,000 to 3,500 kelvin, can help white houses or stonework really stand out, Blee said. Whatever temperature a homeowner decides, the most important thing is to keep it consistent, he added. “That’s probably the biggest mistake people make right now is they mix color temperatures…and it looks silly,” Blee said.


Fall Home Improvement

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TREE: Protect young trees FROM PAGE 6

The publication recommends five gallons of water plus five gallons for every diameter inch of tree trunk for young trees. For established trees, one inch of water per week is recommended. Watering can be continued through the fall until the ground is frozen, the publication states. Young smooth or thin-barked trees can benefit from tree wrapping from Thanksgiving to late March to prevent sun scald or frost cracking, Rodgers said. This occurs when water molecules in the bark warm up and expand during the day only to get cold and contract during the night, leading to cracking, she said. Rodgers recommended using white wrap to cover the tree either to the first branch or at least two-thirds of the way up the trunk. Young trees are also susceptible to hungry rodents, especially in particularly snowy winters, Rodgers said. To help guard trees against hungry animals, she recommended erecting a six-inch-tall barrier from ¼-inch hardware cloth two to three inches from the base of the tree.

August 24, 2019

AG urges caution for homeimprovement projects CONTRIBUTED The Office of the Attorney General has received multiple complaints this summer about home-improvement contractors. As Hoosiers consider tackling home-improvement projects during the remainder of the warm-weather months, they should follow these tips: • Always insist on a contract. This is the first step to ensuring you and any contractor are on the same page as to the scope of work and price for the project. • Take your time. Don’t let anyone rush your decision. • Never pay for the entire project before work begins. Any payments should be tied to the completion of specific items from the contract. • Do your research. Ask friends,

family and neighbors for any information on a contractor before you use them. Consider contacting the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division for complaint information on contractors you are considering. • Don’t assume a flyer or ad makes a contractor reliable. Individuals and companies engaging in outdoor home improvement frequently leave flyers and advertisements on consumers’ doors or mailboxes. • Keep all records related to your project. This includes any contracts, receipts, warranties and correspondence (including texts and emails). • If a contractor does not complete the work agreed upon, consider filing a complaint with the Attorney General. In addition to the above tips, the

Indiana Home Improvement Contracts Act requires home improvement contracts exceeding $150 to be in writing. The contract must also contain certain information, including: contact information for the home improvement supplier, a description of the work to be done, the approximate starting and completion dates for the work, a statement of contingencies that may change the completion date, and the contract price. As always, consumers who believe they are the victims of scam attempts are asked to report them to the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division by calling 1-800-382-5516 or going online at www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/ and clicking the “File a Complaint” box at the bottom of the page.

©KPC Media Group Inc. • kpcnews.com

August 24, 2019

Fall Home Improvement


How to protect wood floors from inclement weather BY METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Wood floors are a worthwhile investment that can improve the beauty and function of just about any room in a home. Even though wood floors are durable, and new protective treatments help seal out many of the things that may have damaged floors in the past, homeowners still need to prioritize protecting their hardwood floors. Certain seasons of the year can be more harsh on wood floors than others. For example, seasons characterized by moisture and precipitation, particularly the early spring, winter and fall, can be hard on wood floors. The experts at ServiceMaster Clean say that cold, snowy days can damage wood floors, and Lumber Liquidators agrees that winter weather can be harsh on flooring. Homeowners need not give up on hardwood if they live in an area that sees all four seasons. They just need to take a few steps to keep floors looking beautiful. • Clean up the salt. Salt that keeps sidewalks and streets clear of snow and ice inadvertently gets tracked inside a home. Hard chunks of salt can scratch wood floors, and, if left to sit, that salt can eventually cause white marks and other stains. Routinely vacuuming and

sweeping up salt is necessary to protect wood floors. • Invest in shoe storage. Wet or snowy boots can create puddles around the house. Have a special mat or tray by the front door where wet shoes can be kept. A nice bench in the entryway makes it easy for residents and guests to remove their shoes until it’s time to go back outside. • Use water-wicking mats. Homeowners will probably need a few extra mats around to tame errant drips and wipe shoes. Any entrance that might be used by people or pets should be protected. Try to avoid petroleum-based, rubber-backed mats, as they could discolor the wood floor. • Control humidity indoors. Cold, dry air in a home can be problematic because the moisture in the wood can eventually evaporate into the air. The heat will suck that moisture from the flooring, causing it to shrink, creak and splinter and become more brittle. Think about investing in an in-line humidifier for the home’s HVAC system that can keep a moderate amount of humidity in the home. Hardwood floorboards are installed to accommodate minor temperature and humidity fluctuations. This is typically a range of between 60 and 80 degrees F with a relative

FURNACE: Have ductwork inspected

How to store firewood the right way

BY METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION A fireplace is a cozy and warm spot • Make sure the compressor and around which a family can gather. outdoor fan motor are operating properly. The home and real estate resource • Inspect all electrical connections. HomeGuides.com indicates that 60 • Clean the furnace or air handler percent of new homes have a fireplace, blower assembly and check for proper which is up from 36 percent in the operation. 1970s. In addition, you should have someone Naturally, fueling a fireplace for the come out and inspect your ductwork. This season may require homeowners with way they can check for any obstructions, wood-burning units to keep an ample collapses, leaks, etc. A faulty air distrisupply of wood at the ready. How that bution system can affect comfort perforwood is stored is important, as properly mance. stored firewood can prevent waste and Hinman also suggests preparing for other issues around the house. the winter months with another important Wood that is freshly cut has a water safety device in the home: smoke alarms. content of 60 percent or more. Yet, for “Also, it’s a good time to check your best burning ability, wood should be batteries in your smoke detectors,” he said. near 20 percent in water content. Green Make sure you call your local heating wood is hard to ignite and will not burn contractor to schedule maintenance. Many nearly as well or efficiently as seasoned reputable contractors can be found in the wood. Another concern associated with Yellow Pages of your KPC Media Group green wood is that it can contribute phone book serving all four counties in more to creosote accumulation in northeast Indiana. the flue of a fireplace. Creosote is a FROM PAGE 5


With proper care, hardwood flooring can survive rain, snow and cold weather.

humidity range of 35 to 55 percent, advises ServiceMaster. • Use the right cleaning products. Avoid excessive water to clean wood floors, and select soaps that are specially

combustible material that may lead to fires if left unchecked. According to BioAdvanced, a science-based lawn, garden and home improvement innovator, seasoning wood typically takes six months to a year. Homeowners may opt to purchase seasoned wood that already has sat and dried. Homeowners who have an abundance of firewood have to store it somewhere. Log Splitters Direct suggests choosing a dry, breezy area of the property that is about 20 feet from the nearest door to the house. This helps avoid hitchhiker pests from coming inside with the wood, such as termites, ants, spiders, and mice. Do not stack the wood flush against a structure. It should be at least a few inches away to allow airflow behind the stack. Stick to organized rows of wood no more than four feet high. Log racks and pallets and posts will keep the wood up and off of the ground where moisture

designed for wood flooring. Consult with the flooring manufacturer for a list of detergents that are safe to use. With proper care, hardwood flooring can survive rain, snow and cold weather.

and rotting can develop. Placing the logs in an unorganized pile will impede air flow and cause the wood to rot rather than continue to dry and season even more. Homeowners also should use a cover to protect seasoned firewood from the elements. Position a tarp or plastic sheeting so it blankets the top of the stack and extends a few inches down the sides. Keep the sides mostly exposed to air. Others prefer to stack it in a barn or shed or under an overhang. Green wood is less expensive than seasoned wood. Those who prefer this method should do so in the early spring and let it season over the next several months. Bankrate says that the cost of a cord of wood varies across the country, but in general one can expect to pay between $120 and $180 for a cord of hardwood that is split and seasoned. This price may be higher in mid-winter when demand increases.


Fall Home Improvement

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August 24, 2019

This retro design trend is coming back BY METRO CREATIVE CONNECTION Design trends come and go, but some have a funny way of resurfacing years after they first became popular. In fact, one of the more derided home decor trends of yesteryear has slowly crept back into style, albeit in moderation. Wood paneling is back and better than ever, advise many design professionals. It’s the formerly ugly duckling that filled homes starting in the 1950s, creating drab dens and faux-wood family rooms. Paneling had long been an element of choice because it is relatively easy to install and can camouflage problem walls in a home. Wood paneling reached the peak of its popularity in the 1970s, and since then homeowners have been tearing down these faux offenders for years or masking them in paint to brighten up spaces. However, the experts at Apartment Therapy report that wood paneling in shades of brown are making a comeback in cozy spots such as dens or studies. The warm tones of wood paneling elicit a retro vibe. But unlike their fake predecessors, today’s paneled walls are

being outfitted in real wood, making them more eco-friendly and stylish than ever before. Designers have flocked to reclaimed wood and veneer panelings to incorporate them into design elements. And while wood paneling used to be hung vertically, designers now experiment with hanging paneling horizontally as well. Many people no longer use paneling to cover an entire space. Paneling is used sparingly as an accent wall or another feature for character. Wood walls can be stained in a rich mahogany to look upscale or be weathered and rustic. Homeowners ready to re-embrace wood paneling can choose to enhance one wall in a room. Think about the space above a fireplace or a strip of wall behind a sitting chair and side table. Paneling also can serve as a headboard behind a bed in a master suite. Hung horizontally, paneling can add dimension and texture to walls, even in a bathroom. Wood paneling is slowly making a comeback, proving that no design trend every truly goes away.

Wood paneling can add a rustic feel to a bathroom.


©KPC Media Group Inc. • kpcnews.com

August 24, 2019


Fall Home Improvement



Fall Home Improvement

kpcnews.com • ŠKPC Media Group Inc.

August 24, 2019

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