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An advertising supplement to: Marengo Pioneer-Republican Williamsburg Journal Tribune Poweshiek County CR Star Press Union

These materials are the sole and exclusive property of the Des Moines Register & Tribune Co., and are not to be used without its written permission. Š 2014 Des Moines Register & Tribune Co.

Page 2 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

No job is too big or too small for Knaack Lawn Care in Van Horne. Don Knaack has been working yards in the Van Horne and Vinton area for over 30 years.

Taking care of yards and the people in Van Horne By JIM MAGDEFRAU Star Press Union editor It started as a favor. Don Knaack, Van Horne, used to

come into town to work on his mother’s lawn. “Then her neighbors wanted something done. It just kept going from there – this neighbor and that neigh-

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bor. A lot of them were getting older in Van Horne. It was kind of a retirement situation. So we mowed their lawns.” It turned into a business of working

Continued on page 3

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

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Knaack and lawns Continued from page 2

mulching and dethatching – whatever it calls for. Knaack Lawn Care is also an independent contractor for the school, taking care of the athletic fields, doing plugging and seeding at the school. As for tips on mowing, Knaack said they like to keep the grass between 3 and 3 1/2 inches long. “The shorter you mow it, the more the weeds are going to grow,” he advised. This spring they are doing mulching instead dethatching. “The mulch, according to the gardeners in Cedar Rapids, makes good fertilizer. They

want you to keep your clippings on instead of taking them off.” This means no bagging. They have a mulching kit on the mower that grinds it up. “It’s a new theory.” He advised not mowing under three inches. “It seems like you mow less. It gets rid of your brown spots, which is a disease from short grass,” Knaack added in an interview in Van Horne. He recalled the driest year was two to three years ago. “We didn’t mow from June to October. Last year was dry, too. We didn’t after July last year,” he said. The grass just died, he said. “It grows dormant, then it comes

back. People get nervous that the grass is not going to grow again. It’s a miracle weed as far as I’m concerned.” The area has a lot of bluegrass, vetch, red and rye. Most of it is bluegrass. They like to get rolling by the end of March or early April, but it looks like they won’t get started until later April. In the mean time, they “broom” the rocks and other materials in the lawns. “We do just about anything,” Knaack grinned. He often works in conjunction with his son, Jason, at O’Grady Chemical on seeding. Rye and bluegrass are a good mix

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for seeding, starting out mostly with rye towards the fall. By the next spring the bluegrass will come. Red fescue also works in the area, while rye is a basic cover crop. He enjoys working with the people in Van Horne, saying, “After I retired from farming, it gave me something to do.” He helps his community grow, staying active in the local Legion, Lutheran Church, is a former president of the local businessmen’s club and helped to lead the drive for a new community center, city hall and library in Van Horne.

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Page 4 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

Benton County Master Gardener Spring Extravaganza is in Atkins Come grow your gardens with new plants from the 10th annual Benton County ISU Extension Master Gardeners “Garden Extravaganza” Saturday, May 10, at Benton Community’s Atkins Center, Atkins. The school is located at 217 4th Avenue. Signs will be posted. Public admission is free from 8 to 9 a.m. to the always popular plant and garden-art sale. Come early for best selections of plants that come from Master Gardeners’ personal gardens and winter greenhouse projects. Heirloom plants will also be available. “Garden Extravaganza” registration

also takes place from 8 to 9 a.m. Everyone who registers will be eligible to win valuable prizes donated by area vendors and Benton County Master Gardeners. Posters with information and registration forms can be found at area libraries or by contacting: Greg Walston Benton County Program Director Iowa State University Extension Phone 319-472-4739 Scheduled features 9 a.m. - “Natural Prairie Plants” by

Benton County Roadside Manager Ben Bonar. He will discuss the history of prairie in Iowa which once covered 80 percent of land area, plus the benefits of gardening with seed choices from 300 native plant species. He will also explain prairie management and Iowa’s Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management program. 10 a.m. - Author of “Gardening the Amana Way,” Larry Rettig’s Cottagein-the-Meadow garden is listed with the Smithsonian Institute. He will share many historical features of the garden as well as information on his preservation of heirloom vegetable

seeds from Germany. 11 a.m. - “Vertical Succulent Garden Box.” Join ISU Master Gardener Steve Geiken and Benton County Master Gardeners in this hands-on workshop combining two new trends, vertical gardening and succulents. Registrants will add drought loving plants into a preassembled structure to take home with instructions for care. Recertification hours available for Master Gardeners.

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Addressing such damage is typically an easy do-it-yourself project, one that begins with gathering the right materials, including: * new screening, either synthetic or aluminum * a rubber spline * a screen rolling tool * a razor knife or sharp scissor * measuring tape * masking tape * a screwdriver or an awl Once those materials have been gathered, the process of replacing or repairing damaged screens is rather simple.

1. Measure the area of the window to determine how much replacement screening you will need. Remember to leave extra room in your measurements so you have slack to make the new screen fit taut. The measurement will also help you determine how much spline you will need. 2. Remove the screen from the window frame. Some windows do not have removable screen frames, and you will have to work on the screen in its upright position. 3. Use the screwdriver or awl to pry the edge of the existing spline that holds the screening material in the frame. Pull out the old spline and remove the damaged screening. 4. Measure the new screening from a replacement roll. Lay the screening down on the frame, ensuring there is overhang on all sides. If necessary, use masking tape to temporarily secure the screening to the frame while freeing up your hands. This also works if you must replace screening vertically 319-664-3022 • 800-452-4591 and cannot remove the

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

Replacing screens Continued from page 4

window frame and make repairs on a flat surface. 5. Take a new piece of rubber spline and push it into the edge of the screen frame, securing a corner of the new screening to the frame. Continue to press the spline around the perimeter of the screen frame firmly into the groove with the screen rolling tool, which looks like a small pizza cutter. This effectively secures the screen into the frame. 6. Continue around the edge of the frame, pulling the new screening taut as you go. This helps to keep it free of wrinkles. 7. Once you have inserted the spline all the way around, cut it off from the spline spool and push in the edge. 8. Use a razor knife or sharp scissor

to cut off the excess screening, being careful not to dislodge it from behind the spline when cutting. 9. Replace the screen in the window. In the case of small tears in a screen, a complete replacement may not be necessary. Home improvement stores sell screen patch kits. Some work by cutting out a piece of patch that is attached to an adhesive backing and sticking it over the hole. Other patches are small, woven wires that can be threaded through the hole in the screen. A really small hole can be mended with a drop of clear-drying glue. The same method of screen replacement can be used to replace screens on screened-in porches, aluminum doors or sliding patio doors. Just be sure to purchase replacement screening that will fit the dimensions.

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Page 6 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

Family ties

Remodel of 1950 farm home addresses present and future needs

Dwight and Denise Heitman remodeled their home on their Century Farm at 1878 200th St., Marengo, to provide more room for family gatherings and with an eye to single level living in the future.

Thank you Dwight & Denise for choosing Brian Miller Excavating

Story and photos by MELINDA WICHMANN Family was the reason Dwight and Denise Heitman chose to remodel their rural Marengo home. Dwight’s parents, Milton and LaVonne Heitman, built the house in 1950 in Sumner Township southwest of Marengo, where they farmed and raised eight children. LaVonne died in March 2010 and Milton passed away in July 2013. Dwight and Denise moved into the home after they married 35 years ago. They continued to farm and their three children grew up there. The family raised corn, beans and sheep. Leaving the home and the Century Farm to build new somewhere else was out of the question. “We’ve been here too long to be moving now,” Dwight joked. In the fall of 2012, the couple began a project that updated the kitchen as

well as added a dining room, turned an existing patio into an entry/mud room and re-purposed several existing ground-floor rooms. The Heitmans wanted to have space to host family get-togethers, especially at Christmas, when about 25 family members come to visit. The couple have three adult children, Heather, Andy and Megan, and one granddaughter, Tenley. They also wanted to have all their living space on one level for the future and this meant adding a full bath on the home’s first floor. In the process, the south side of the house was torn off to accommodate the new dining room and entry room. Scott Oaks, Dwight’s best friend, framed in the new rooms and Thys Construction, Victor, did the rest. The new addition increased the home’s size Continued on page 7











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Windows with a southern exposure provide natural light for the Heitmans’ new dining room and updated kitchen.

Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

Cherry cabinets and quartz counter tops highlight the Heitmans’ remodeled kitchen. An adjoining dining room was added as well.


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Built-in shelves provide convenient storage for cookbooks in the Heitmans’ kitchen.

Continued from page 6

“We wanted to be able to live here with no steps,” Denise explained. by about 350 square feet. Denise cleans houses for people “We lived here the whole time,” De- and had gathered a lot of ideas for her nise recalls. “It was like camping.” new kitchen. Browsing Pinterest also Central air conditioning was added helped. during the project. The former first “I picked stuff out for the kitchen so floor half-bath was changed into a you can’t tell if it’s dirty or not,” she laundry room and a new full bathlaughed. room was installed in what was forSouthern exposure windows to almerly Dwight’s farm office. Dwight’s low natural light to flood the new dinnew office, also on the first floor, could ing room was another item on their easily transition to a bedroom if the wish list. couple need to have their living space Even with a list of priorities and all on one level at some point in the clear ideas of what they wanted from future. the project, there were a lot of decisions to make. “I knew I wanted Thank you for choosing cherry cabinets,” Denise said, “but I didn’t know there were 17 different shades of cherry.” 909 William Ave., Marengo IA 52301 Quartz counter tops and cork flooring complete the kitchen’s new look. Professionals at work, quality guaranteed

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Page 8 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

Family ties Continued from page 7

“I love my kitchen,” Denise said. “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and can’t believe it’s mine.” A former patio area on the home’s southwest corner was enclosed and now serves as a mud room and entry into the home. A maintenance free deck was added on the home’s southeast corner. This wasn’t the couple’s first adventure in remodeling. In 2001 they increased the size of their living room. “We’re done now,” Denise said. “We’re not doing any more.” CONTRACTORS Contractors and individuals providing services and supplies for the Heitmans’

project are as follows. From Marengo: Larry Fiser, foundation; Miller Excavating, dirt work; Ken Lacina, drywall; Jesse Belz, exterior stonework, and S&S Plumbing, all plumbing, heating and central air. From Williamsburg: Widmer Electric, all electrical work. From Conroy: Ed’s TV/ Dick Martens. From Victor: Thys Construction, general contractor; Healey Painting, stained woodwork; Victor Appliance, all kitchen appliances. From Coralville: Randy’s Carpet, floor coverings; Green Valley Cabinets, kitchen cabinets. From West Branch: Presidential Builders, shingles.

Bits of antique hardware framed by an old window provide wall art in Dwight and Denise Heitman’s new entry room.

Built atop the former patio on the south side of the house, this new room provides an entryway to the Heitmans’ home. It is a combination of mud room and back porch.

Antique weather vanes collected by Dwight over the years highlight the wall in the Heitmans’ new kitchen and dining room.

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

How to create a rainwater harvesting system

Rainwater collection is a way to conserve water that can be adopted by both private homeowners and businesses. Harvesting water during peak times of precipitation ensures water will be on hand during drought or when water restrictions are implemented. Making use of rainwater reduces reliance on underground wells or municipal water systems. Harvesting rainwater also can help prevent flooding and soil erosion. The average homeowner can collect thousands of gallons of rainwater each year. To learn just how much water can be harvested, as well as how many natural resources can be produced from that rain, visit, where men and women can calculate their rain collection potential by geographic location and average rainfall. Afterward, homeowners may be inclined to establish their own rainwater harvesting systems. Here is how to get started. * Determine your roofing material. Potable water can be harvested from homes with sheet metal or slate roofing. Clay or adobe tiles also may be acceptable. Asphalt, wood shingles and tar roofs may leach toxic chemicals into the water, making it unsafe for drinking. This rainwater may only be collected to use for irrigation methods or washing cars and outdoor items. * Check gutter materials. Some gutters are made with lead soldering components. A commercial lead swab test

can help you determine if there is lead present in your gutters. At a later time you can choose to replace the gutters if you desire a potable supply of water. * Invest in a collection tank or barrel. A number of manufacturers offer prefabricated rain collection systems complete with collection barrels. Otherwise, you can use your own barrel or tank to house the collected water. Ensure it is large enough to handle the volume of water collected. * Purchase and install leaf guards. If your home is surrounded by many trees, you probably accumulate leaf and tree debris in your home gutters and downspouts. Leaf guards will help keep the gutters clear and increase water flow through the water collection system. * Create a water collection area. A portion of the gutter system should be removed so that it connects to the collection barrel or tank. As the rain falls, it will run down the roof and into the gutters before it streams into the downspouts. The downspout connected to the tank will deposit the water directly inside. Filters can be installed to help block the flow of debris. * Outfit the tank for overflow and water usage. A spigot and hose connection makes it easy to use the collected water for outdoor purposes. Many rainwater collection systems are designed with an overflow safeguard that will prevent the water from backing up through the system. It will


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divert the rainwater back out of the downspout when the barrel or tank is full. A rainwater collection system harnesses a natural source of water to be used for gardens Rather than have rainwater flow out of downspouts to the ground, and other homeowners can collect that rainwater in barrels to use it as a sustainoutdoor able source of water. purposes. This water doesn’t conpermit is necessary to install a rainwatain chlorine or other additives, makter collection system and then begin ing it relatively clean and safe to use. gathering water for various uses. Homeowners should check to see if a

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Page 10 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

We have a garden, but does it work?

Some do's and don'ts for an existing garden By DANN HAYES My wife and I live on an acreage just south of Malcom in Poweshiek County. If you’re like us, every year we research, discuss, debate, argue and then plant flowers, trees and a vegetable garden – we want the place to look nice. Sometimes what we do works and we have a nice looking yard. Other times what we plant doesn’t take for some reason. This year I’m going to the experts. I asked Mary Shutts, Grinnell, a Master Gardener, to come out and take a look at the place. A Grinnell resident born and raised, Mary moved to the country near Grinnell with her husband, Doug, in 1975.

With the passing of her husband on May 22, 2012, Mary decided to move back into town. Both she and Doug loved gardening and the outdoors – they both earned the Iowa Master Gardener title through the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Program. So her knowledge of gardens and how to grow things is something I decided I needed to have. When she agreed to come to the house for a short tour of the small acreage and to make suggestions as to what we could do, I knew I had hit a gold mine in information. The house is more than 100 years old. The former owners – Ed and Linda Eichhorn – had developed gardens and flower beds that were more than immaculate. You’ll notice some before and after

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photos with this article. My wife and I, particularly my wife, are usually busy on the garden and flower beds during the entire growing season. “We wanted it to look good,” Linda said of the home. “The idea was that when you look out your windows, what do you want to see?” Linda and Ed bought the house on March 13, 1971 and moved out in

2002. “The first year we were there we didn’t cut anything down – we wanted to see what came up,” she said. Then they got to work, keeping in mind that “we wanted something that didn’t require a lot of care,” she said. When their gardens were developed they mulched a lot. “It took Ed several hours to mow on

Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

BEFORE – Side flower garden looking southeast from driveway. Grass goes to edge of garden, bushes and trees are much smaller.

a rider,” she said, so they had a lot of grass to use for mulch. But my wife and I know there are things we need to do this season, so when Mary came out she and I got down to the basics. “Anything that needs full sunshine, needs to be planted in full sunshine,” Mary said.

Page 11

AFTER – Side flower garden looking northeast towards house. Battle with weeds has taken its toll on grass, which is no longer to edge of garden. Large dry/dead spaces can be found where grass used to grow.

It was an obvious answer. We had planted a vegetable garden for years – kept up with fertilizer and such to make sure the soil is in good shape. We till it ourselves. But a line of trees north of the house had grown, as had an oak tree to the Continued on page 12

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Page 12 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

We have a garden, but does it work? Continued from page 11

east. There’s more shade than there used to be. About two years ago we planted acorn squash and got a good harvest. Last year we tried it again, and nothing grew. But our tomatoes, planted in the same area, did well. Mary suspected it might have been the shade. “You never know what you’re going to get,” she said, adding that you want full sun for tomatoes, squash and

pumpkins. “And you want to mulch it,” Mary said, agreeing with Linda. “You can use shredded paper, including newspaper, and leaves are good. Be sure to keep it moist.” We haven’t mulched as much, so this is something we’re going to change – especially since both Mary and Linda have stressed how important it is. Mary added that mulching also helps keep the weeds down.

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The original garden area? She said we need to plant things like broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, carrots and most anything that doesn’t need full sun. “You don’t want to put your garden anyplace that is going to retain water – form a puddle,” Mary warned. She also said don’t plant the garden near black walnut trees – there are certain plant species whose growth is hindered by this tree. Awareness of black walnut toxicity dates back at least to Roman times. Many plants have been classified as either sensitive or tolerant to black walnuts – the causal agent is a chemical called “juglone.” Plants sensitive to juglone include cabbage, eggplant, pepper, potato and tomato. This was news to me. Also, don’t limit your vegetable garden to just vegetables. Even if the goal of your garden is to grow your own food, you need flowers to attract pol-

linators and other beneficial insects to your garden. This makes sense. Mary and I wandered over to the flower gardens – on the way she pointed out areas that don’t have flowers, but could use them, she said. She even pointed out an area not really in use that gets direct sunlight all day – perfect for acorn squash, tomatoes and such. With metal fencing along the edge, tomatoes can be tied or anchored to the fencing while vine plants like acorn squash or green beans can be placed in the fencing to get them to grow up. “If they stay on the ground, they can rot,” Mary said. What about our soil? Doing some research with the Iowa State University Extension, I learned that most soils in Iowa are well suited for vegetables, flowers and turf. You have to be careful about some

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

This little area to the north of the house was overgrown with young trees, weeds and even some "ditch weed" before we fought back and developed this garden area with grasses. We plan on doing more with flowers this year.

soil that is too wet and doesn’t drain properly while others have a high clay content. But for the most part, where we have our garden we believe is a good location. After all, we have treated the soil – introduced organic matter to improve the soil quality. Basically, we keep the garden where

BEFORE – Several garden plots were developed in the back yard. Currently, only the first two are in use as grass overgrew the others before we moved into the house.

it’s at and introduce vegetables that don’t need a lot of sun. Then we move those that need sun to the areas Mary mentioned. Continued on page 14

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The back fence looking east. Notice the dry spot between the fence and the grass. Tall prairie grasses did not take in the area and it has been left plain. Mary Shutts suggested planting tomatoes and squash along the fence to get the full taste of the sun.

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Yard of the Month in BP

Continued from page 13

Flower Beds Mary gave the same advice for flowers -- read the labels when you buy them, they tell you if they need sun or shade. “Hostas are great,” she said. “They are drought resistant and shade tolerant.” She added that there are probably about 50 different species to choose from. Daisies, Mary said, need full sun. Linda liked planting perennials. My plan with this article is to follow up throughout the growing season describing how it goes while adding pictures. Keep watching for the updates and if you have any questions or thoughts, let me know at dhayes1@ I hope this helps as you get set for the garden season.

Again this year the Belle Plaine Partners for Beautification will honor a “Yard of the Month.” Anyone living in the city limits of Belle Plaine is eligible for this honor. Yards may be nominated for consideration by anyone, including the owner. The winning yard will be recognized with a sign in the yard, a photo in the Star

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Press Union, and $25 Belle Plaine Bucks. Nominating papers will be available at the Belle Plaine Community Library and at City Hall. Please return your completed nomination form to the library or city hall. It is the BPPB’s wish to encourage all local residents to make Belle Plaine a more beauti-

ful place to live! Please take time to nominate a deserving yard before May 15 to be considered for the June award. The winning yard will be announced at the beginning of each month. Nominations will be accepted until Sept. 15 for the October award.

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

Building the right patio deck takes the right materials By J.O. PARKER

With nice weather arriving, maybe it’s time to be thinking about replacing that old worn-out deck or building that dream deck you’ve always wanted. With various deck products on the market, the first step is finding the right material for the job. Josh Ham, sales associate at Malcom Lumber in Montezuma, said the main three deck materials are wood, composite and PVC. The most popular wood products, which have been used to build decks for years, are redwood, cedar and treated lumber. “Redwood is beautiful and doesn’t deteriorate over time,” Ham said. He said cedar is similar in nature to redwood. “It gives a more rustic look,” Ham said of cedar. “It is a little more aromatic (than redwood).” Treated lumber is the least expensive of the three lumber types and is a very common deck material. Ham said all wood products need to be conditioned every one to two years with a wood preservative like Thompsons WaterSeal or Cabots. Composite deck products have been on the market for about 20 years. Composite is a man-made product using different organic and resin materials. The advantage of a composite deck material over wood is lower maintenance and no need for wood preservatives. Composite also comes in a variety of colors and grades. “Some are just composite material while others have composite mate-

Josh Ham, sales associate at Malcom Lumber in Montezuma, holds a section of composite decking at left and a section of PVC decking material at right. Ham said the PVC decking material is a stronger product and he recommends it over composite.

rial with a PVC cap,” Ham said of the product. The downfall, Ham said, is the color can fade and composite is susceptible to moisture and mildew (if scratched). “However, it is going to more durable (than wood),” he said. Composite comes in two types – square edge and grooved edge. Grooved edge uses a clip system for securing the deck boards, while the square edge is attached using screws. Composite decking is available in various lengths to make any deck project a breeze. Trex brand composite products are a popular brand sold at Malcom Lumber. The newest deck product on the market is PVC decking material. Ham said PVC decking has been on the market for around 10 years. “We are into second generation PVC,” he said. “Many of the early flaws in the product have been improved.” One major benefit to PVC is that it is not susceptible to moisture and mildew

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like composite. “There is nowhere for moisture to enter it,” he said. The product does not fade, stain, mold, crack, warp, sag or require fasteners. PVC decking comes in varied lengths starting at 12-foot up to 24-foot in 4-foot increments. “This will allow you to build a deck and eliminate any butt joints,” Ham

Page 15

said. It is also available in a variety of colors and features a non-slip surface. “We recommend PVC decking,” Ham said. “It’s kind of a good, better, best scenario.” Malcom Lumber recommends and sells Genovations PVC decking products. When asked, Ham said a deck is like snowflakes, none of them are the same. It all depends on what the homeowner is looking for in a deck. He recommends the homeowner bring in a drawing with their ideas and let the experts at Malcom Lumber help with the design and choosing of the right decking material. “It is really in terms of adding resale value to your home,” Ham said. Malcom Lumber has three locations to serve the customer – Grinnell, 815 West St., 641-236-8645; Montezuma, 540 N Front St., 641-623-2131; and Oskaloosa, 1701 A Avenue West, 641-6729500.

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Page 18 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

Shown are two of the wooden mills that will be sold at the Montezuma FFA Greenhouse. The one at right is complete, while the one at left awaits the windmill blades.

Montezuma I tech student, Blake Simpson, receives guidance from Iowa State University student teacher, Molly Heintz, in gluing a section of his windmill together during a recent class.

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

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Windmill project gives Monte students hands-on experience By J.O. PARKER With winter loosening its grip and spring taking hold, nothing would give your garden or flowerbed a touch of beauty more than a wooden windmill, wooden wishing well or planter box from the Montezuma High School FFA Greenhouse. Students in the industrial technology (I tech) class at Montezuma built the windmills, wishing wells and planters during the last school year. The class is under the direction Rick Swenson. Iowa State University student teacher, Molly Heintz, has been working with the class during the last

semester. The wooden wishing wells were built during the first semester, while the planters were constructed during the early part of the second semester. As part of her student teaching experience, Heintz came up with the windmill idea. “I had to come up with a project that the students could make that we could sell through the greenhouse,” Heintz said. “I decided on a windmill and I found a pattern.” Swenson and Heintz built a prototype for the students to use as a gauge. Using a variety of tools, the students cut, glued and pieced together their windmills over a six-week period. Each

student was allowed to work alone or in groups to accomplish the task. Work on the windmills was completed last week, just in time for the spring opening of the greenhouse. “It has been a really good project,” Heintz said. “There have been a lot of different techniques they (the students) have learned and different tools used to complete the project.” “I liked the challenge the class has given me,” said Grant Johnson, a freshman. “My favorite was assembling all the parts after cutting and chiseling the pieces.” The planter boxes are made of barn board or treated lumber, and cost $30, $35 and $45 each, depending on the

Montezuma teacher, Rick Swenson, left, gives Paedon Maschmann a helping hand as he glues and tacks the blades on his windmill during a recent class while Skylar Johnson looks on.

size. “The planter boxes come fully planted,” Heintz said. “We can also create custom arrangements.” The wishing wells and windmills sell for $75 each. There are a limited number of the items available. The FFA greenhouse, which is located at the high school, opened Thursday, April 17. Hours are: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday – Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. “The money will be used to cover the cost of materials and serve as a start up fund for next year’s ag technology (I tech) class,” Heintz said. Shown are some of the different planter boxes built in the I tech class. The boxes come in three different sizes and are sold with potted flowers. Customers can purchase as is or have them custom planted.


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Page 20 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

How to inspect for roof damage Many homeowners do not think twice about their roofs. But when leaks develop, roof repairs and the subsequent costs of such work shed light on how important it is for homeowners to pay closer attention to the roofs over their heads. Though certain roof issues, like shingles lost to inclement weather, are unforeseeable, many problems can be avoided with routine roof inspection. Checking roof conditions twice a year can help homeowners avoid potentially costly repair work or even more expensive roof replacement projects. Spring is a good time to inspect roofs, which are often at the mercy of harsh conditions throughout the winter. Heavy snow, ice and biting winds can do significant damage, making spring the perfect time to assess if any such damage occurred and address any issues. * Start the inspection in the interior of the home. Before breaking out the

ladder and climbing up to the roof, inspect the home’s interior, pinpointing potential problems that may indicate roof damage. Check for stains on the ceiling which may indicate leaks that need to be addressed. Homeowners with attics should enter their attics and look for signs of water damage, making note of any damp or wet insulation. This will let you know if water has been entering the attic all winter. Pay attention to the location of any wet spots or stains so you can match them up to the exterior of the roof later on. Musty smells also may be indicative of moisture problems, even if there are no visible leaks. * Inspect the roof outside. Grab a set of binoculars and inspect the exterior of the roof. Look at the roof flashing, including around the chimney and other areas of protruding pipes and vents. If the flashing is warped or damaged, moisture might be settling underneath. Sealant around dormers

or skylights can also degrade, resulting in leaks. Check for spalling on masonry, such as the mortar of chimneys. Porous areas will allow water to infiltrate. * Go directly on the roof and check. Work with a partner and carefully climb on the roof while someone holds the ladder below. Walk on the perimeter of the roof, looking for peeling or warped shingles, missing shingles, holes, or scrapes. If the roof is compromised in any way, it will need to be repaired. The problem will only grow more significant and repairs more expensive if damage is ignored. Sometimes a repair can be as simple as patching a leak with a new shingle and roofing cement. Popped nails can be pounded down and any curled shingles can be nailed or cemented back into place. * Consult a roofing expert. If you are unsure if your roof has made it through the winter unscathed and

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

Sump Pump 101 By BRIAN RATHJEN Pioneer Republican Editor

It’s flood season and time to plan for buying a machine to help with the possibility of flooding in the basement. But what pump to buy, and how should it be connected? Those are the questions many have when purchasing sump pumps to deal with water getting into their homes. Area hardware stores sell sump pumps, including Brown’s True Value Hardware in Marengo. Store owner Mark Swift stated that there’s two types: • Submersible, which is placed in a pit in the basement. The water covers up the pump and when it trips a switch the machine turns on and pumps the water out. • Pedestal, which stands about 3 feet tall, stays above water and has a long shaft. It is also placed in the pit. When water comes up high enough on the pedestal, it trips a switch to begin pumping. Swift says that the pump engines for household pumps range from onethird to three-quarter horsepower, and all are about how much water they will pump. “The bigger the motor, the more water they’ll pump,” he said, recommending at least a one-half horsepower model. But it’s not about how much the pump costs.

“It’s what you lose when the pump goes bad and the basement fills with water. The big focus is not the pump, it’s the freezer you lose because (water covers it), or the furnace you might have to replace,” he said. “Most people want to buy the cheapest, but you want to try to get a pump so that it can handle the water. When you’ve got water running in you’ve got to be able to pump it out.” It is important to check the switch periodically to make sure it turns on and off and that the machine works properly, particularly in dry weather

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periods where no water has gotten into the basement. Having a battery backup is important, noted Swift. He said that the switches for battery backup are typically higher than the electrically driven switch, but will still work in the case of a power outage. He reminds residents to not hook the pumps into the sewer system, as that is illegal. CHECK REGULATIONS Regulations for connecting pumps vary by city. For instance, if you live in Marengo, the pump can’t be hooked into the sanitary sewer, notes city administrator Brent Nelson. “If you have a sump pump in your basement, you can’t have it run directly into your floor drain because that’s attached directly to your sanitary sewer,” he said. “If you have a sump pump and you

Page 21

have a floor drain in your basement, the sump pump can’t discharge directly into the floor drain,” he continued. “That’s because it’s going directly to the sanitary sewer. That is one of the issues, when we’re addressing the inflow and infiltration part, it has to do with the illegal connections into the sanitary sewer line. Sump pumps would be one of them.” Anyone who wants to make sure the connection is within city regulations may call their city hall or public works director. Nelson said that his staff will check out connections for Marengo residents. “We’ll be doing (checks) in conjunction with our (sanitary sewer) project,” he said. “We’ll have a company come in and do inspections for each sewer connection.”

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The completely overhauled attic included a guest bedroom the Schaefers said was “for (their) kids to come and stay.” It is the main attraction to the remodel and includes a carpeted living space.

The Schaefers built a home office which they use to complete work at home and store personal records.

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

Page 23

Schaefers’ home: A work in progress By BENJAMIN EVANS Journal Tribune editor Any wandering resident of Williamsburg knows the house. Its combined charm and character are an unmistakable statue on Long Street, just near the high school and across the street from this correspondent’s once-rented dwelling space. The house at 300 Long St, the residence of Gene and Carla Schaefer, is always beautiful and easily adored from the sidewalk or out a window; it radiates a promise that however starkly eyecatching or admirable the exterior structure is, the inside is a rabbit hole to a wonderland of poise and class. And the interior holds the promise. The Schaefers contend the entire house is “a work in progress,” but no one would know from the level of detail and obvious taste in minute detail throughout the abode. Just take a quick look upstairs (not the second floor but the newly-refinished attic) to appreciate the home’s sublet, but distinct character. The tan-white carpet followed the curved staircase to an open room with a crib nestled near a window and a

bedroom complete with bathroom and shower. “It is a nursery and guest bedroom area,” Mrs. Schaefer said. “Sort of a bribe for the kids to come home and stay.” It’s difficult to use the word “remodel” when looking at the attic; more of a complete overhaul of what was previously a wood-planked attic with open beams on the ceiling and no sign of carpet or useable toilet facilities. The other remodel (if the word will be permitted) is a second floor office for both Schaefers to work The Schaefers also added a nursery to the third floor. The nursery is just off the guest room. and a second floor bathroom. space.” said. Miller – painting The Schaefers use the office But the home, as stated The contractors are listed Oakland Cabinet Concepts for file keeping and all other before, is a work in progress. below. – Rodney Steckly business-related utilities for Talk of a new master bathBurg Builder – Dave Ulhmann’s Home Furnishwhich one would expect a room (or perhaps remodeled Huedepohl ingss – Bed, nightstands home office to be used –rekitchen) circulated in the air. Meade Electric – Joe Meade Williamsburg Lumber Store cords and the like. “You cannot find a home Donohoe Drywall, Inc. – – Doors, materials, windows “I’m up (in the office) two, with this kind of square footPat Donohoe three times a week,” Mr. age that you can do so many Dan Folkmann – plumbing Schaefer said. “Really useful things with,” Mr. Schaefer Dedicated Painting, Darren

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The basics of cleaning windows After a long winter of snow and ice, many people are ready for the warmth and sunshine synonymous with spring. But dirty windows can block that sunshine from finding its way into a home. Washing windows can be quite an undertaking, particularly in those homes with many windows on multiple levels. However, there are several time-saving tips available that can cut the work considerably. * Save window washing for a cloudy day. Otherwise, the warmth and sunlight may dry the cleaning solution too quickly and you will be left with streaks on your windows. * Vacuum windowsills and tracks first to remove a good deal of dust and debris. This will reduce the amount of dirt you smear onto the windows while cleaning them. * Use a combination of a sponge soaked in cleaning solution and a squeegee to get really clean windows.

The squeegee helps to prevent streaks and cut down on the time it takes the windows to dry, all the while helping the windows to sparkle. * Window screens may be the culprit behind dingy windows. Hose down the screens with water to clean them, using a mild cleaning solution if water is ineffective. * Working with a partner can make the task go much more quickly. One person can clean the exteriors of the windows while the other does the interiors. * A mild dishwashing liquid diluted in water can cut through dirt and grime. For stubborn dirt, wash windows with diluted ammonia or vinegar. * Use a glass-cleaning tool to clean hard-to-reach windows. A telescoping cleaning tool and pad can make it safer to reach windows that are high up.

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

Page 25

Planting Calendar for Iowa April • The first week or so of the month, plant directly in the ground easy, fast-growing annuals that like cool weather, including bachelor’s buttons, larkspur and California poppy. • Plant bareroot trees, shrubs and roses. • Plant container-grown trees, shrubs and roses. • Plant seedlings of cool-season flowers, such as pansies and snapdragons. • Plant seedlings of cool-season vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage. • Plant seeds of cool-season vegetables, such as lettuces, spinach, greens, radishes and more. • Plant those herbs that like cool weather, including parsley and cilantro. You can also plant seedlings of perennial herbs, such as oregano, sage and thyme, outdoors now. • Plant peas from seed when lilac leaves are as big as a mouse’s ear, according to folk wisdom. • Plant potatoes on Good Friday, also according to folk wisdom. • Plant grass seed and lay sod. • Plant seedlings of perennial flowers.

• Plant starts of perennial edibles, such as strawberries, rhubarb, raspberries, and asparagus. • Divide perennial flowers that bloom in late spring, summer or fall. • The last week or so of the month, start seeds indoors of fast-growing annual flowers, if you want to give them a head start. (Otherwise, start them outdoors later directly in the ground). These include sunflowers, cosmos, nasturtiums, zinnias and hollyhocks. May • Plant container-grown trees, shrubs and roses. • Plant and divide perennial flowers. • Plant grass seed and lay sod. • Divide perennials that bloom in late summer or fall. After last average frost date (May 10 in southern Iowa, May 15 in northern Iowa): • Plant seedlings of warm-season annual flowers, such as marigolds, impatiens, petunias. • Plant seeds directly in the ground of easy, fast-growing annuals that like warmer weather, such as sunflowers,

cosmos, nasturtiums, zinnias and hollyhocks. • Plant seedlings of warm-season annual vegetables, such as tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. • You can also plant seedlings of squashes, cucumbers and melons now. (Plant seeds of these a little later, if you choose to go that route. They need warm soil to germinate but are okay to plant as seedlings now since they need less warmth once already started.) • Plant seedlings of warm-season herbs, such as basil. • Plant summer-flowering tropicaltype bulbs and tubers, such as cannas, elephant’s ear, gladiolus and tuberous begonias. • In southern Iowa, the last week of May, plant seeds that need warmer soil, including corn, squash, cucumbers, green beans and melons. June • In northern Iowa, the first week of June, plant seeds that need warmer soil, including corn, squash, cucumbers, green beans and melons. • If necessary, plant grass seed.

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people working in the green industry, home owners and concerned public. Topics to be discussed include identification of emerald ash borer, signs of tree infestation, regulatory information and treatment options. Speakers will be Mark Shour, Iowa State University Extension & Outreach Entomologist, Mike Kintner, EAB Outreach and Regulatory Coordinator with Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, and David Bridges with the Department of Natural Resources. The meeting is free Specializing in: and no preregistraFinish Carpentry tion is required. For Custom Trim & Moldings more information and Cabinetry & Case Work questions please call Richlin Window the ISU Extension and Outreach Jones County Dealer Office at: 319-465-3224, (319) 664-3999 or email Kim Miller, 11664 295th Avenue South English, IA 52335 or Joe Yedlik,

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

Page 27

Improve your home and diet with a vegetable garden Planting a garden can add aesthetic appeal and functionality to a property. Vegetable gardens can transform landscapes while putting healthy and homegrown food on the table. By growing their own fruits and vegetables, homeowners have total control over what foods can be harvested, and they can ensure sustainable, safe practices are used to care for the plants. Vegetable gardens can be compact or expansive, depending on how much space is available to cultivate. However, first-time gardeners may want to begin small so they can hone their skills and experiment to see which plants are most likely to thrive in their gardens. Expansion is always a possibility down the road. Choose a location Spend some time examining your landscape. Vegetables generally need ample warmth and sunlight to thrive,

so find an area of the yard that gets several hours of direct sunlight per day. A sunny spot is good, but you also want a location with adequate drainage so your garden does not succumb to flooding or fungus during and after heavy downpours. Don’t place the garden too close to rain gutters or near a pool, where splash-out may occur. Select a location that is isolated from pets so the plants are not trampled and cats and dogs do not relieve themselves nearby.

crop and then expire. Plan accordingly when you purchase plants or seeds, as you want enough food but not so much that it will go to waste. Choose three to four different vegetables and plant them in the garden. Select varieties that require similar soil conditions, so that you can adjust the pH and mix of the soil accordingly. This will serve as good practice, particularly the first year of your garden. After you have mastered the basics, you can branch out into other produce.

Decide what to plant When deciding what to plant, consider what you eat and how much produce the household consumes, then choose vegetables that fit with your diet. Some vegetables, like peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and squash, produce throughout the season. Others, such as carrots and corn, produce one

Know when to plant Many of the foods grown in vegetable gardens, including tomatoes and peppers, are summer vegetables, which means they reach peak ripeness after the height of the summer season. Pumpkins, brussel sprouts and peas are planted to be harvested later on. These plants may be put in the ground

a little later than others. It is less expensive to start seedlings indoors and then transplant them to a garden when the time comes. Seeds can be started three to four weeks before they would be put outdoors. Many vegetables are planted outside in April or May, but definitely after frost conditions have waned. Read seed packets to know exactly when to plant or consult with the nursery where you purchased established seedlings. You also can visit The Garden Helper at vegtips to find out when to plant, seed depth and how long it takes plants to reach maturity. Vegetable gardens can become central components of outdoor home landscapes. Not only do gardens add aesthetic appeal, but also they produce fresh fruits and vegetables to enjoy throughout the season.

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Page 28 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

Practice garage and workshop smarts Completing home improvement projects on your own can be both rewarding and financially responsible. A growing number of homeowners are dabbling in do-it-yourself projects, recognizing both the personal and financial rewards of such undertakings. As more and more homeowners perform their own renovations and other improvement projects, many are outfitting their homes with state-ofthe-art workshops and transforming garages into a do-it-yourselfer’s paradise. Safety is vital in any workshop. During a typical home renovation, homeowners will use all sorts of dangerous tools and chemicals, and even the simplest mishap can result in a serious injury. Following safety rules can reduce the risk of injury. Know your tools Before novice do-it-yourselfers begin working with power tools, they should familiarize themselves with their own-

ers’ manuals and the operating instructions. Some home-improvement retailers offer classes in various home renovation projects and may be able to teach tool usage. Do-it-yourselfers should consult professionals with regard to proper tool use and safety. Do not use tools for purposes other than what the tool was intended to do. If machine guards are provided, they should be used and never removed. Wear safety gear Eye, ear and breathing protection are key in any workshop environment. Dust and chemical gases may be present when working with certain products, and debris can be kicked up and enter the eyes, causing irritation or even blindness. Loud power tools can damage sensitive ears, especially when used in a contained room. Always wear goggles, sound-muffling earphones and dust masks when working.


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Assess physical well-being Do-it-yourselfers should never work with machinery if they are feeling sick or fatigued or while taking medication that can affect concentration or alertness. All it takes is a moment of distraction to cause an injury. Never surprise anyone who is working with power tools and keep unnecessary people out of the workshop, where they might chat and distract others from the tasks at hand. Factor in ergonomics Failure to work in comfortable conditions can result in repetition injuries or muscle strain. Make the workshop as comfortable as possible. Ensure the work table is at the right height. Use a rubber mat on the floor to reduce standing fatigue. Have a stool or chair available for taking breaks. Keep a clean shop Power cords strewn around the workshop present a tripping hazard. They also make it possible to drag sharp or heavy tools off of tables and workbenches if the cords are pulled or tripped over. A neat workshop is a safer workshop. Pay attention to where tools are kept and keep cords manageable. Dress appropriately Loose clothing and hair can become tangled or lodged in equipment. Do not wear jewelry. Dress comfortably

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but appropriately for the workshop, being sure to wear sturdy shoes. Lock it up Children and pets are curious and may wander into a workshop to explore. They can become seriously ill or injured by the bevy of chemicals and tools used for common projects. Some items are flammable and sharp and should always be out of reach. Locking cabinets and drawers can keep tools inaccessible. Also warn youngsters against entering the workshop unattended. As more people engage in do-ityourself projects, homeowners should reacquaint themselves with safety procedures. Make a plan for garage organization Spring cleaning plans are on the minds of many once the weather warms up. Many homeowners feel a sense of renewal in the spring, when the desire to clean house and get organized becomes a priority. Garages are often targets for homeowners hoping to target clutter. Once a space reserved for cars, garages are no longer strictly for vehicles, used instead to store items that simply do not fit inside the home or a backyard shed. Organizing the garage is typically a weekend or several-day project. Here’s how to turn a garage from a cluttered mess into a space suited for storing items of all shapes and sizes.

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement * Enlist a helper. Organizing a garage is a significant undertaking that is best tackled with two or more people. Enlist a helper to make the project less intimidating. * Decide what is important to keep. Start the organization process by clearing out the garage and taking inventory of what you have. Items that have not been used for several years can likely be tossed. Make a pile of what will be kept and then put the rest at the curb or donate useful items to charity. * Give thought to where you want to store particular items. Tools and items that are used more often should be stored within reach or where easily visible, while items that are not used as frequently can be stored higher up. Think about how you operate in the garage. Recycling bins can be stored closer to the door into the home, while bicycles and skates can be nearer to the garage door for easy access. * Group like items together. Categorize items that will be kept. Garden tools, camping gear, sporting equipment, and automotive supplies should be categorized and stored in their own areas of the garage, determining if certain items can be stored inside the home to free up garage space. Grouping items together will make them easier to locate in the garage. * Move boxed items into clear storage containers. It’s much easier to see what you have when it is stored in clear containers. Some containers are interlocking or stackable, making it much more convenient to store items vertically and free up

An organized garage.



Continued on page 30

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Page 30 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

Workshop smarts Continued on page 30

more floor space. * Invest in vertical storage systems. Moving items from the floor and putting them on shelving or behind cabinets can make the garage more organized. Hooks and bins also can be used. Employ a peg board full of hooks for oft-used tools or other items you need at the ready. * Leave space for hobby and work areas. Garages are where many improvement projects begin or where hobbies, such as woodworking or crafting, take place. Leave space for these tasks and hobbies. * Give the space a fresh coat of paint. Some garages are dingy and dark. Bright paint on the walls and floor can open up the space and, when combined with more lighting, can make it lighter and brighter. Garage organization is a common spring cleaning project. But it shouldn’t be reserved for this season alone. Periodic checks of the garage and straightening up can keep a garage clean and organized throughout the entire year and make yearly spring cleaning much more manageable.

Home projects perfect for spring

The rejuvenating spirit of spring makes this beloved season an ideal time for homeowners to take stock of their homes and properties and address any issues that arose during the winter. While some homes make it through winter unscathed, the harsh weather of the year’s coldest season can add several tasks to homeowners’ springtime to-do lists. While some projects are best left to the professionals, others can be tackled even by those homeowners with little or no DIY experience. The following are a handful of projects tailor-made for spring.

Inspect the gutters Gutters tend to bear the brunt of harsh winter weather, and come spring gutters are in need of inspection if not repair. Winter winds, snow and heavy rainfall can compromise the effectiveness of gutters,

which can easily accumulate debris and detach from homes during winter storms. In addition, gutters sometimes develop leaks over the winter months. As a result, homeowners should conduct a careful inspection of their gutters come the spring, being sure to look for leaks while clearing the gutters of debris and reattaching gutters that might have become detached from the home on windy winter days and nights. When reattaching loose gutters, make sure the downspouts are draining away from the foundation, as gutters that are not draining properly can cause damage to that foundation and possibly lead to flooding.

be lost to harsh winter winds and storms, so homeowners should examine the roof to determine if any shingles were lost (lost shingles might even be lying around the property) or suffered damage that’s considerable enough to require replacement. Summer can be especially brutal on shingles, especially those that suffered significant damage during the winter. If left unchecked or unaddressed, problems with damaged shingles can quickly escalate into larger issues when spring rains and summer sun inevitably arrive, so homeowners should prioritize fixing or replacing damaged shingles as quickly as possible.

Take stock of roof shingles Much like its gutters and downspouts, a home’s roof can suffer significant damage over the course of a typical winter. Shingles may

Check for freeze damage Freezing temperatures can be hard on humans and homes alike, Continued on page 31

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

Projects Continued from page 30

but unlike humans who can stay inside when temperatures dip below freezing, homes are forced to withstand the elements throughout the winter. External hose faucets are often susceptible to freeze damage. To inspect such faucets, turn the water on and then place a thumb or finger over the opening of the faucet. If your thumb or finger can completely stop the flow of water, the pipe where the water is coming from is likely damaged and will need to be replaced. Examine the lawn for low spots Once a lawn has thawed out, homeowners can patrol their properties looking for low spots in the yard or even low spots within spitting distance of the home’s foundation. Such spots increase the likelihood of flooding. Flooding near a home’s foundation increases the risk of potentially costly damage, while low spots on the lawn that go ignored can make great breeding grounds for insects, including mosquitoes, when the weather warms up. When low spots are detected, fill them in with compacted soil. Compacted soil can prevent spring rains from flooding a yard or damaging a home’s foundation. Assessing potential property damage is a rite of passage for homeowners in the spring. Though some damage is significant, oftentimes even novice DIYers can work their homes and properties back into shape in time to enjoy spring and summer.

Page 31

Guidelines to follow

Sealing a driveway can extend its life Installing an asphalt or a concrete driveway can be an expensive undertaking. To preserve the fresh, new look of the driveway, have the driveway sealed and then routinely seal it to keep it looking pristine. A good sealant can keep a driveway looking new longer and also can rejuvenate the appearance of an older driveway. Sealant can be compared to car wax. It provides an outer coating that will repel stains, stop UV rays from fading the driveway and help to protect against cracks and driveway degradation. Over time, asphalt driveways will begin to fade in color and the stone and rocks used in the asphalt mix will appear more prominent. By sealing the driveway, a homeowner can maintain its original dark color. Another reason to seal a driveway is to reduce the chance of freeze-thaw damage. This type of damage results when water penetrates the surface of the driveway and then expands as it freezes. The expansion can cause cracks and fissures, as well as compromise the soil underneath the driveway, making it sink or become unstable. Sealed driveways help to keep water beading on the surface of the driveway, rather than being absorbed into the driveway material. When water no longer

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beads on the driveway, this is often an indicator that the driveway needs to be resealed. There are some guidelines to follow when sealing driveways. When starting, sealant should not be applied immediately after the driveway is poured. Concrete needs to cure for a period of up to one month before sealant should be applied. Fresh asphalt contains oils that eventually evaporate. The oils are what makes fresh asphalt pliable and soft. Once these oils evaporate, the asphalt gets harder and more durable. Sealers can prevent evaporation and may make the asphalt permanently soft. After the initial base application of sealant, the driveway should only be sealed every two to three years, depending on its condition. Sealants are just coatings, and adding too

many layers can cause the sealant coatings to crack and peel away. Sealing a driveway is a laborintensive process that’s best left to professionals. These professionals have the knowledge of technique and the right tools to get an even, thin coating of sealant. Remember, a driveway should not be walked or driven on for a minimum of 24 hours after sealant is applied. Weather conditions also can influence the amount of time it takes for the driveway to cure. Having the driveway sealed prolongs its durability and appearance. It also can make the driveway less prone to staining and cracking, making this project a sound investment.

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Page 32 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

Home improvement glossary Understanding the terminology used in the home improvement and construction industries can help homeowners be better informed and involved in projects around their homes. The following are some common industry terms. Aggregate: Crushed rock used in many asphalt applications. Ampacity: The amount of current a wire can safely carry. Asbestos: A fibrous material that was once used widely in building materials but is linked to cancers of the lung and lung cavity. Backfill: Soil or gravel used to fill in against a foundation. Beam: Horizontal framing member designed to carry a load from joists or a roof. Butt joint: Lumber pieces joined at the ends. Casement window: A window with hinges on one of the vertical sides making it swing open like a door. Caulking: Flexible material used to seal a gap between two surfaces. Code: Rules set forth by a government institution to determine fair and safe trade practices. Curing: A process that brings paint or masonry materials to their final, durable form.

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Drywall: A wall finish made from gypsum plaster encased in a thin cardboard. Estimate: The anticipated cost of materials and labor for a project. Fixed price contract: A contract with a set price for the work. Flashing: Sheet metal or roll roofing pieces fit to the joint of any roof intersection or projection. Footing: Widened ground base of a foundation to support foundations or piers. Framing: The structural wooden elements of most homes. GFI: A ground fault current interrupter, which is an electrical device used to prevent injury from contact with electrical appliances. Jamb: The exposed upright part on each side of a window frame or door frame. Level: A tool to check for level or plumb surfaces. Permit: A legal authorization to begin a work project. Pitch: The slope of incline on a roof. Rebar: Steel rods that are imbedded in concrete for stability. Shim: A tapered piece of wood used to level and secure a structure. Stud: Vertical parts of framing placed 16 or 24 inches apart. Watt: A measure of the electrical requirement of an appliance.

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement

Pros and cons to air duct cleaning Many homeowners consider having the ductwork in their homes cleaned. Mailers often tout the benefits of this service and warn of the potential hazards that could be lurking inside uncleaned vents and ducts. But whether or not air ducts need to be cleaned remains open for debate. A quick review of air duct cleaning can help homeowners make a more informed decision. What is duct cleaning? Before looking into the advantages and disadvantages to duct cleaning, it is advantageous to examine the process involved when cleaning air ducts. There are two ways to have the ducts cleaned in a home: rotary vacuum brushing or high pressure air washing. Vacuum brushing utilizes a spinning brush to scrub dust and debris off the air vents and a vacuum to capture whatever is dislodged. High pressure air washing uses pressurized air blown through the air ducts. A truck-mounted industrial vacuum is attached to the furnace, and all of the air register vents in the home are covered. Once all the air ducts have been blown clear, another air wand is fed into the end of the hot and cold air supply lines. Dust and debris is then drawn backward into the vacuum. Pros One of the more obvious advantages of air duct cleaning is improved health and hygiene in the home. Those prone to allergies may find that routine cleaning helps ameliorate the problems of sneezing and watery eyes. Duct cleaning can remove allergens and dust. The Environmental

Protection Agency says air duct cleaning is handy if there is a noticeable accumulation of dust and debris in ducts or if particles are actually released into the home from supply registers. If ducts are infested with rodents or insects, cleaning will make indoor air much safer. Mold is another factor to consider when determining if ducts need to be cleaned. Mold spores floating in the air can lead to illness. Professional cleaning may be the only way to remove mold and mildew from the system. Homeowners who have fireplaces may find the air becomes dirtier faster. That’s because of the residue put into the air from burning wood and other fuel. This residue not only builds up inside of the chimney in the form of creosote, but also can form a sticky, sooty layer inside of ductwork. Cleaning the ducts can remove this soot. Cons The EPA advises that no research has definitively shown that duct cleaning prevents health problems. Neither

do studies conclusively demonstrate that particle (e.g., dust) levels in homes increase because of dirty air ducts. This is because much of the dirt in air ducts adheres to duct surfaces and does not necessarily enter the living space. What’s more, dirty air that enters the home from outdoors or indoor activities, such as smoking or cleaning, can actually cause greater exposure to contaminants than dirty air ducts. There also is no evidence that cleaning ducts and components of the heating/cooling system will make the furnace or air conditioner work any more efficiently. Air duct cleaning is an expensive undertaking. On average the cost of such a service can range from $400 to $1,000, depending on the extent of the cleaning and the size of the home. Cleaning the ducts also can be dirty and time-consuming. Cleaning may spread contaminants that were

Page 33

lodged inside of the vents throughout the air more readily. Some cleaning services will advise the use of chemical biocides to treat the interior of vents. These are designed to kill microbiological contaminants. The EPA warns chemical biocides have yet to be fully researched, and homeowners should be fully informed before deciding to permit the use of biocides or chemical treatments in air ducts. Homeowners should never attempt to clean air ducts themselves. If the decision is made to have the cleaning done, it should only be on an as-needed basis and completed by a reputable cleaning service.


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Page 34 Spring Home Improvement Week of April 21, 2014

Home improvement tips learned the hard way ‘Tis the season for home improvement projects, and weekend warriors will soon be visiting home supply retailers to buy everything from paint to plywood. There are many advantages to making home improvements on your own, including the opportunity to test your mettle at projects big and small. Many a novice DIYer has learned the ups and downs of home improvement through trial and error. But the following are a handful of lessons first-timers can heed before beginning their maiden voyages into the world of DIY home improvements. * Measure twice, cut once. Perhaps this is the best-known mantra of home improvement, yet many still ignore it. Whether you’re anxious to get started or simply because you still cannot convert metric to standard formula, you must take the time to measure twice before cutting. Learning that you’re a hair too short later will be prove frustrating and time-consuming and often necessitates a last-minute run to the store for more materials. Always measure multiple times before making cuts. * Enlist a helper. Having a partner

helping with the work is the most efficient way to tackle a project. This person can assist you with heavy lifting or moving things or by holding the ladder or simply passing tools your way. He or she also can manage work while you make another run to the home center for more supplies. Having a helper around also provides companionship during tedious projects. * Lighten the load. You run the risk of injury, both to yourself and your belongings, if you attempt to move heavy items on your own. When moving heavy items, take steps to lighten your load. For example, empty or remove drawers from desks and dressers before moving them. Rely on sliding pads when moving furniture so items can be slid into place instead of lifted. Always ask a buddy to help move especially heavy TITAN items. * Prime before painting. Painting can be a * time-consuming

task. In an effort to save time, some people will look for painting shortcuts, and these may include skipping the priming portion of painting. Priming helps to cover existing paint color and prevent bleed-through of stains or darker hues to the next coat of paint. Failure to use a primer could mean having to paint coat after coat, which can become costly and take up a significant amount of time. Always rely on a priming product, or look for a paint that blends a primer within to achieve better coverage. And while you are ensuring a proper paint job,

remember to use painter’s tape or an edging product to help keep paint off of moldings and trim. * Use the right tools. The right tools make work safer and easier. Think about how much faster you can cut

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Week of April 21, 2014 Spring Home Improvement through a tree trunk with a chainsaw rather than a handsaw. Improvising or using the wrong tools for the job can cost you time and increase your risk of injury. * Turn electricity off at the panel box. Be especially cautious when working with electricity, turning off the current. This means shutting down the power on the breaker box. A live wire can provide a minor shock or lead to serious injury. Take the extra time to ensure the power is off before working with any exposed wiring. * Expect the unexpected. Although many renovation projects go off without a hitch, you never know what you might uncover when you embark on repairs or remodels. Homeowners have come across all sorts of hidden problems when doing seemingly minor repairs. Removal of drywall may uncover insect damage in beams or indications of water infiltration. Some people take down old paneling, only to discover it was covering heavily damaged walls beneath. One repair

project can run into another when home improvements are being made. Always leave breathing room in your budget and schedule extra time for unforeseen tasks as well.

Page 35



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Home, Lawn & Garden - 2014  
Home, Lawn & Garden - 2014  

Home, lawn and garden tips and projects for spring in Benton, Iowa and Poweshiek Counties.