Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Curbside Christmas Tree Recylcing - Arborscape Services

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRLog (Press Release)Dec 23, 2010 – Tis the season for celebrations and festivities as we close down 2010 and look forward to 2011.  In addition to all the joy and happiness you’re spreading this holiday season, we’d like to toss you a friendly reminder to bring joy and happiness to our local environment by Recycling Your Christmas Tree this year.

Christmas Tree Recycling has many advantages for the community as well as the landscape.  If you use your local waste disposal company for tree removal, you may only be adding your Christmas tree to the already overcrowded landfills in our state since many of these companies do not recycle trees or wreaths.  If you choose to recycle your Christmas tree this year, your recycled tree will end up as mulch or other useful gardening supplies that help reinvest in our beautiful community next year and beyond.

To sign up for the Arborscape Tree Recycling Program visit our webpage at

http://www.arborscapeservices.com/services/Christmas_Tre ...

or give us a call at 303-795-2381 and we’ll get you on the calendar for a date of pickup.  On that specified morning, simply leave your tree at the curb by 8am and we’ll pick up your tree and take it to the recycling center.  It’s that easy!  And the cost this year is only $15!

So this season, help Arborscape help Colorado sustain its beautiful landscape and Recycle Your Christmas Tree!

ArborScape is a family business owned by David Merriman. David started learning the arborist trade at the age of 10, working alongside his father in and around Greeley, Colo. He has studied horticulture at the University of Wyoming, Tarrant County Junior College, and Front Range Community College. Based in Denver, CO, ArborScape was founded in 1996 and has grown from a one truck operation. In 2009, we completed over 2000 tree care and landscape projects.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Care for Trees


This article was written by David Merriman an ISA arborist and owner of ArborScape Tree Service and Ask an Arborist

 Most homeowners realize the need for watering trees during the growing season. However, you may not realize the need to water in the winter months, defined as October thru March in the arboricultural community.  In fact, it may be more vital to water trees during the winter.

Water Management

Winter tree care begins and ends with adding water and helping trees retain water.  You should winter water your deciduous and evergreen trees up to two times a month between October and March. The reason is, during the fall and winter months, root development still occurs. Tree root systems can spread 2-3 times wider than the height of the tree. Most of the tree's absorbing roots are in the top 12 inches of the soil. Winter watering keeps this layer moist.

It’s also important to help trees, particularly evergreens, retain water. Because evergreens are still growing throughout the winter, an anti-transpiration treatment will slow water movement through the needles, helping it retain water. 

Maintaining consistent moisture in the winter months prevents drought stress. Drought stressed trees are more vulnerable to disease and insect infestations.  Keep a watchful eye for anything that looks out of the ordinary. Symptoms from lack of water can appear immediately and include browning and drying of needles.
Even though deciduous trees are dormant during the winter, their root systems need moisture to remain alive. Damage from lack of winter watering won’t show up until the following spring and could include branch dieback, or tree mortality.

How to Winter Water
Here is how winter watering works. Water should be applied within the dripline of a tree. The dripline is where the tree branches end all around the tree.

Water deeply and slowly, applying water in a triangular pattern within the dripline. You can use a soaker hose, by hand, or use a deep root feeder. If using a deep root feeder, insert the feeder needle into the soil from 2-8 inches deep and water slowly.

As a general rule, apply ten gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree. For example, a two-inch diameter tree will need twenty gallons per watering.  

Think of it like a Christmas tree in your house. Without water, it soon dries up and dies. The same thing can happen to the trees in your yard. Water your trees in winter and give it a headstart for the summer.

This article was written by David Merriman an ISA arborist and owner of ArborScape Tree Service and Ask an Arborist

Monday, December 6, 2010

IRS Guidance on Imported Drywall

This blog posting is a summary of an article written in the November 2010 issue of the ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors) Reporter.  The original source of the information is:  Randall Pence, Capitol Hill Advocates, Inc., ASHI's federal lobbyist.

Please review my other postings on the Chinese Drywall issue in the blog. 

In numerous instances, homeowners with certain imported drywall have reported corrosion of copper wiring and components as well as the presence of sulfur gas odors.  In Nov 2009, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CSPC -  http://www.cpsc.gov/ ) that an indoor air study of a sample of 51 homes found a strong association between the problem drywall, levels of hydrogen sulfide in those homes and corrosion of metals in those homes.

On September 10, 2010, the Internal Revenue Service issued guidance providing relief to homeowners who have suffered property losses due to the health effects of certain imported drywall installed in homes between 2001 and 2009.

Revenue Procedure 2010-36 (www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-2010-36.pdf) enables affected taxpayers to treat damages from corrosive drywall as a casualty loss and provides a formula for determining the amount of the loss.

This procedure provides the following:
  1. Homeowners who pay to repair the damages may treat the amount paid as a casualty loss in the year of payment.
  2. Taxpayers who have already filed generally have 3 years to file an amended return.
  3. The amount of loss that can be claimed is dependent on whether or not the taxpayer has a pending claim for reimbursement through insurance, litigation or otherwise.
Links to additional information:
http://homeinfosource.blogspot.com/2010/05/update-on-chinese-drywall.html

Monday, November 29, 2010

How to caulk tubs, showers, sinks and more.

Knowing how to caulk well is one of the most important home maintenance tasks every homeowner should learn.  When it comes to keeping water away from areas where it can do a lot of damage a well caulked joint is essential.
Caulking is not difficult but it does take some practice.  One of the most important things to remember when applying caulk is, MORE is NOT better.
You will need:  Caulk gun, tube of appropriate caulk (see below), scraper, small container of water (latex caulk) or mineral spirits (silicone caulk), rag for clean up
  1. Buy a decent caulk gun, you will be glad you spent a few extra dollars.  Here is one that I like. It is relatively inexpensive and readily available at your local Ace Hardware. (Caulk Gun) Integral to the tool is a cutter for snipping the tip of the caulk tube and a metal rod to pierce through the seal on the caulk tube through the tip.
  2. Buy the correct type of caulk.  Look for bathroom and kitchen caulk which contains some silicone.  You want caulk that can stand up to water.  Most caulk containing silicon is un-paintable so be aware of this if you are caulking in areas you would like to paint.  There are some bathroom/kitchen caulks that can be painted, just look at the label.
  3. Remove all old caulk and be sure the area is clean and dry.  You can use a putty knife, a utility knife or scraper to remove ALL of the old caulk.  Caulk will not stick to caulk so be sure you do a thorough job.
  4. Cut the tip off of the caulk tube at a 45 degree angle.  Be sure to cut off  just a little bit of the tip, you want to start with the hole as small as possible and if you want a bigger bead of caulk you can make it bigger later.   With caulking more is NOT better, you want to just fill the joint not over-fill it.
  5. Put the metal rod into the tip of the tube to pierce the internal seal and install the caulk tube into the gun.
  6. Have a small container of water or mineral spirits nearby. If you are using 100% silicone you will need mineral spirits.  You can use water if you are using latex caulk or kitchen/bath caulk that says it can be cleaned up with water.
  7. Start at one end and slowly and steadily apply a bead of caulk along the joint/gap, don't worry if you have any breaks in the bead, when you spread it out later you can fill those in.
  8. Using the tip of your finger (you can wear latex gloves if you'd like), smooth and spread the caulk, if necessary apply some more caulk to your fingertip to fill in any gaps that are still left.  Remember the goal is to simply seal the joint or gap, don't over do it.
  9. Clean up with water (latex caulk) or mineral spirits (silicone caulk) on a rag.










If you live in the Denver Metro area and are interested in learning these skills in a workshop environment with hands-on practice please visit www.workshopforwomen.com  for a complete list of available classes along with a calendar of current days and times.  Calendar

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Clothes Dryer Fire Safety & Maintenance

A posting on Facebook prompted me to do some research about house fires that have been caused by problems with a clothes dryer. A young woman was concerned when she awoke to find her dryer hot to the touch although she had not done any laundry since the day before.  
 We often hear stories about clothes dryers’ catching on fire and it is a legitimate concern for home owners.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration:
  • Annually, 12,700 clothes dryer fires occur in residential buildings resulting in 15 deaths and 300 injuries.
  • Eighty percent of clothes dryer fires in structures occur in residential buildings.
  • “Failure to clean” is the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings.
  • The 2 leading items that are ‘first ignited’ in a dryer fire are clothes in the dryer and lint and dust.  These 2 items account for 56% of fires.
  • New home construction trends place clothes dryers and washing machines in more hazardous locations away from outside walls such as bedrooms, second-floor hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens.
Things homeowners should be doing to reduce the potential for fire:
  • Clean your lint filter after EVERY load of laundry.
  • Inspect your lint filter for rips each time you use it. If you see any rips, replace immediately.
  • Never put synthetic materials such as rubber, plastic, foam, or pieces of cloth that have been used to sponge up flammable liquids in the dryer, even if previously washed.
  • Clean the lint out of the exhaust pipe and the rear of the dryer regularly.
  • The exhaust pipe should be as short as possible and have limited bends to allow for adequate airflow.
  • Disconnect, clean, and inspect the dryer duct and venting every couple of years
  • Never let your clothes dryer run while you are out of the house or asleep.
  • Have gas-powered dryers inspected by a professional annually to ensure that the gas line and connection are intact.
  • Outside wall dampers should have a covering that will keep out rain, snow, and dirt. However, do not use wire screen or cloth of any kind to protect the exhaust opening.

For the complete report issued by the US Fire Administration go to this link:
http://www.usfa.dhs.gov/downloads/pdf/statistics/v7i1.pdf 

Friday, November 5, 2010

A simple way to unclog your drain


I noticed the other day that my tub was draining slowly and realized it was time to clean it out once again.  I have shoulder length hair so it clogs up the drain and I find a need to clean it every month or so.
If your tub drain seems to be running slowly it is most likely caused by a build up of hair in the drain and trap.  Once hair gets caught on the drain then shampoo, conditioner, soaps and lotions start to build up on the hair.  The cycle repeats itself until the water no longer flows freely down the drain.
There is a simple way to clean your drain and here are some quick steps.
    Step 1: You will want to buy this nifty tool.  I got mine at my local Ace Hardware it is called a "Zip It" and is easy to use.




    Step 2:  Next you'll need to unscrew your drain stopper to give you access to the drain.
    Step 3:  Insert the 'zip it' tool into the drain


     Step 4:  Pull out the clog
     Step 5:  Replace the stopper


    If you want to learn more about your plumbing consider signing up for Plumbing 101  through Workshop for Women 
    We'll cover basics of your home plumbing system focusing on toilets, faucets, tub, showers and drains. After the class you will be able to troubleshoot, repair or replace your toilet, faucets and drains and be able to troubleshoot problems with your tub and shower and water heater. You will also learn what maintenance tasks are required to keep your plumbing system working smoothly preventing water leaks from damaging your home.
     

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Lighting a water heater pilot light

    Click on the title above or on this link here Home Information Source Blog to be taken to a step by step process to re-light the pilot on your water heater.

    This is my other blog which contains information for all homeowners.

    Thanks,
    Judy Browne

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Lighting a water heater pilot light

    It was so windy last night that the pilot light on our boiler was blown out from the downdraft of wind through the flue.  It occurred to me that this still happens to many homeowners that have older systems, whether it’s a forced air furnace, a boiler for hot water heat or an older style water heater.

    It’s important to know how to re-light the pilot light on these appliances so that you don’t find yourself in a situation that might feel like an emergency but can easily be accomplished by the average homeowner.

    If you're interested in learning more about how to take care of your home and you live in the Metro Denver area, visit www.workshopforwomen.com .

    Tuesday, October 12, 2010

    5 things to do when it’s raining…

    It happens to be raining today in Denver, Colorado and it reminds me that this is the perfect time to do some quick visual checks of the outside of your home and make a list of some items you might need  to take care of once the rain stops.

    For several of these items you’ll need to get out the umbrella or put on a raincoat but it’s well worth it. So let’s start by taking a walk around the outside of the house to see where all that water is going.
    1.  Check your gutters.  Is water flowing over the side?  Do you have leaks behind the gutter?  Do you have leaks at seams along the gutters? 

    2.  Check your downspouts.  Is water flowing out? Are the extensions in good shape?  Where is the water flowing to?

    3.  Check the area around the house and foundation.  Is it damp?  Is water pooling next to the foundation?
     
    Now it’s time to go inside, don’t forget to bring the ladder.

    4.  Set up the ladder and take a look inside your attic.  Does it smell damp? Can you see water dripping down any of the pipes or vents that go through the roof? Do you see stains on the roofing materials?  Is there any evidence of rust on metal pieces?

    5.  Check all of your windows?  Is there water leaking past any of them?  Can you feel cold air? Is there condensation between the panes of glass?

    My next post will tell what these problems mean and some tips on how to fix them. 

    You can learn more about maintaining your home by taking classes at Workshop for Women .  Our next home maintenance class is scheduled for this Saturday, October 16th at 1:00 pm.  Check out our calendar

    Friday, October 1, 2010

    10 Tips to make your next painting job a breeze!

    10 Tips to make your next painting job a breeze!

    These tips are provide by Kathy Fiebig of Minor Details Denver. Visit her website for a list of services she offers. www.MinorDetailsDenver.com
    1. Remove as many things from the room as possible prior to doing the prep work.
    2. Cover EVERYTHING! The one spot you miss is where you will spill
    3. Use good drop cloths. Light weight canvas is the best material and available at your local home improvement store (sheets don't absorb paint and shower curtains are too slippery and will not stay in place).
    4. Use good paint. The better the paint the better the finish. If your budget permits consider going to a paint store such as Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams. If you're on a smaller budget consider using the Behr brand.
    5. Buy a good brush. Buy a Purdy or Wooster brand brush. A $2 brush does a $2 job.
    6. Research gloss levels before you buy paint. Flat is the most forgiving and easiest to work with. Anything with gloss requires extra care when "cutting in" the edges.
    7. Don't rush your color selection. Buy a sample, put in on the wall and live with it for a while.  But trust your first instinct, too. If you loved it immediately it's usually right.
    8. Match the 'nap' of your roller cover to your wall texture. 
    9. Use a tinted primer to save time and money when making drastic changes in color.
    10. Ask questions at the store if you're not sure. Consider going to a specialty paint store if you're new to painting, the employees are usually happy to give you guidance for your project.

    Thursday, September 9, 2010

    Discount Home Improvement Supplies in Denver

    My field trip last Friday was a big success.  I'm very grateful to my friend, Eileen, who joined me and was instrumental in turning me on to many of these places.  We had a fun day except for our run in with salty licorice we bought at a small deli in North Denver.  It turns out that the deli was owned by a Dutch woman and apparently that is how they like there licorice.  I won't be adding that to my list of favorite candies anytime soon.

    Here is a list of the places we visited and a few comments about each place.  If you have a favorite place that isn't on my list I'd sure like to hear about it.

    Habitat for Humanity Home Improvement Outlets
    http://www.habitatoutlet.org/index.html
    Habitat outlets are my personal favorites and usually the first place I check when I’m looking for discounted items. I like that my purchase goes towards supporting a cause that is important to me.  I find plenty of things here to use in my classes.  You have to go frequently if you want to take advantage of large quantities or new items.  The inventory changes all the time.

    Denver Outlet
    70 Rio Grande Blvd.
    Denver, CO 80223
    303.722.5863

    Wheat Ridge Outlet
    10625 W. I-70 Frontage Rd N.
    (Between Kipling and Ward)
    Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
    303.421.5300

    Kitchen Cabinet Superstore
    buynewkitchen.com
    Great selection of new, used and discontinued cabinets.  We found 2 sections of cabinets with drawers for our kitchen here that even matched the finish.  Cost was just over ½ the price of unfinished cabinets at home depot.
    Friendly, helpful service.
    1696 West Evans Avenue,
    Englewood, CO 80110-1017
    (303) 777-0182

    Ron Schrantz Carpets and Flooring
    ronschrantzcarpets.com
    I had never been here before and I enjoyed the experience.  The staff was friendly and very helpful.  You can find good carpet at a good price.  They have remnants, too and good deals on laminate and hardwood flooring too.
    1841 W Evans Ave # A,
    Denver, CO 80223
    (303) 937-1699 

    Mr Breaker
    mrbreaker.com
    I was so excited to learn of this place.  Thanks to my friend Eileen for sharing this place with me.  If you have an older home with old electrical service panels and breakers, this is the place for you.  They sell re-conditioned and new electrical breakers.  The owners are wonderful people, friendly service that just can’t be matched. 
    3423 W 1st Ave,
    Denver, CO 80219-1407
    (303) 934-4160 

    Extra Building Materials
    extrabuild.com
    This place is a little out of the way and not easy to find but they have just about anything you might want.  If you are in the market for interior trim, doors, windows or miscellaneous building materials you should visit here first.  Plenty of friendly, helpful employees.
    400 West 53rd Place
    Denver, CO 80216-1625
    (303) 296-8090

    Wednesday, September 8, 2010

    Discount Home Improvement Supplies in Denver

    My field trip last Friday was a big success.  I'm very grateful to my friend, Eileen, who joined me and was instrumental in turning me on to many of these places.  We had a fun day except for our run in with salty licorice we bought at a small deli in North Denver.  It turns out that the deli was owned by a Dutch woman and apparently that is how they like there licorice.  I won't be adding that to my list of favorite candies anytime soon.

    Here is a list of the places we visited and a few comments about each place.  If you have a favorite place that isn't on my list I'd sure like to hear about it.

    Habitat for Humanity Home Improvement Outlets
    http://www.habitatoutlet.org/index.html
    Habitat outlets are my personal favorites and usually the first place I check when I’m looking for discounted items. I like that my purchase goes towards supporting a cause that is important to me.  I find plenty of things here to use in my classes.  You have to go frequently if you want to take advantage of large quantities or new items.  The inventory changes all the time.

    Denver Outlet
    70 Rio Grande Blvd.
    Denver, CO 80223
    303.722.5863

    Wheat Ridge Outlet
    10625 W. I-70 Frontage Rd N.
    (Between Kipling and Ward)
    Wheat Ridge, CO 80033
    303.421.5300

    Kitchen Cabinet Superstore
    buynewkitchen.com
    Great selection of new, used and discontinued cabinets.  We found 2 sections of cabinets with drawers for our kitchen here that even matched the finish.  Cost was just over ½ the price of unfinished cabinets at home depot.
    Friendly, helpful service.
    1696 West Evans Avenue,
    Englewood, CO 80110-1017
    (303) 777-0182

    Ron Schrantz Carpets and Flooring
    ronschrantzcarpets.com
    I had never been here before and I enjoyed the experience.  The staff was friendly and very helpful.  You can find good carpet at a good price.  They have remnants, too and good deals on laminate and hardwood flooring too.
    1841 W Evans Ave # A,
    Denver, CO 80223
    (303) 937-1699 

    Mr Breaker
    mrbreaker.com
    I was so excited to learn of this place.  Thanks to my friend Eileen for sharing this place with me.  If you have an older home with old electrical service panels and breakers, this is the place for you.  They sell re-conditioned and new electrical breakers.  The owners are wonderful people, friendly service that just can’t be matched. 
    3423 W 1st Ave,
    Denver, CO 80219-1407
    (303) 934-4160 

    Extra Building Materials
    extrabuild.com
    This place is a little out of the way and not easy to find but they have just about anything you might want.  If you are in the market for interior trim, doors, windows or miscellaneous building materials you should visit here first.  Plenty of friendly, helpful employees.
    400 West 53rd Place
    Denver, CO 80216-1625
    (303) 296-8090 


    Do-it-ur-self Plumbing & Heating Supply

    plumbdummy.com
    If you are in the market for antique plumbing fixtures or need a blue or green toilet or sink you’ll want to check this place out. You will probably find just what you need.  The also have a wide selection of new fixtures and parts.  I didn’t take the time to compare prices but you can always give them a call.
    3100 Brighton Boulevard,
    Denver, CO 80216
    (303) 297-0455 


    Lumber Guy
    thelumberguy.net 
    This place has just about anything you could want from railroad ties to interior trim.  The also had paving stone and blocks the inventory went on and on, it was a little overwhelming.  There were several downsides.  First you’ll want to bring plenty of help, to load whatever materials you are purchasing. Also it was almost impossible to find someone to help us.  Not sure I would make the trip here unless I had a very detailed list of what I needed and it was a large enough quantity to justify the extra headaches.
    888 East 50th Avenue
    Denver, CO 80216-2009
    (303) 979-8823 

    Saturday, September 4, 2010

    Fall Lawn & Garden Care Tips

    This article was provided by Andy Carlson of Ace Hardware - Alameda Station.  
    Visit Andy's store at: 
    417 South Broadway
    Denver, Colorado 80209

    It is September and although it can still feel like summer, cooler temperatures are just around the corner.  Here are a few of our best tips for getting your lawn and garden areas ready for Fall and Winter.
     
    (1) Aerate your lawn.  This can be done with a simple step-on core aerator but many people hire a service to do it with a gas-powered aerator.
     
    (2) Apply a winterizer fertilizer, with weed control if appropriate, to your lawn in September or October.  We recommend great winterizing products from Scott's or Ace that can be applied with a spreader.  If you are over seeding you should not apply a winterizing fertilizer with weed control.  The herbicides in weed control products prevent the seeds from germinating.  Our helpful associates can help you select the right product.  [Pictured:  Ace Green Turf Winterizer 5,000 Sq. Ft. $13.99]
    Ace Winterizer 
    (3) If your lawn is thinner than you'd like, now is a great time to over seed.  Apply seed evenly with a spreader and follow the watering instructions on your seed package.
     
    (4) If you have annual flower beds, remove old plant matter from the garden and add it to your compost bin.
     
    (5) Add finished compost to your soil and turn the soil with a pitch fork or rototill the soil.  This will make your Spring planting much easier.
     
    (6) Plant Spring flowering bulbs such as tulips, daffodils or flowering onions before the first frost.
     
    (7) You can further protect beds in winter by applying mulch.  If you have a mulching leaf vac like the Black & Decker Leaf Hog this is a great way to economically generate your own mulch.  [Pictured: Black & Decker Leaf Hog $54.99]
    Leaf Hog 
    (8) For perennial beds, remove old stalks and leaves and apply mulch if desired.  Cut roses back 6" - 12" and apply a mound of fresh top soil and mulch around each plant base.
     
    (9) By mid-September, make sure you bring-in any houseplants you have allowed to summer outside.  Nighttime temperatures can really dip later in September and snow or frost is definitely possible.
     
    (10) Reduce watering of trees and large shrubs in the Fall so they harden-off for Winter.  Once the leaves have fallen, give them a final thorough watering using a deep root waterer.  [Pictured:  Ross Root Feeder $25.99]
     
    Root Feeder(11) When the weather turns cold, cover your compost bin with a tarp to prevent compost material from being blown away in winter storms.
     
    If you have specific questions about your lawn or garden this Fall, please see David, Betty or Marie in the Lawn & Garden Department or ask any of our helpful associates at Ace Hardware - Alameda Station
     

    Thursday, September 2, 2010

    Gazebo Project - The End

    The Beginning
    The End

    I promised there would be a celebration and it's finally here.
    If you have been following this project and live in the Denver Metro area you are invited to our Labor Day BBQ!
    Monday September 6th
    12:00 pm - 4 pm
    Bring your favorite side dish or dessert to share.
    Please send me an email at judybrowne@workshopforwomen.com and I'll send you the address and directions.
    I would love to have you see it in it's final form.

    Judy Browne

    10 Things You Must Know About Bed Bugs

    As many of you may be aware there have been a number of news stories both written and on TV about the increase in the incidence of bed bugs in both public areas and homes throughout the U.S. I’m not going to rehash the stuff that was already talked about in the articles but I’ve put links below to a variety of articles and resources.
    What I have done, after reading all of this information, is to summarize some of the most important pieces.  If you find yourself in a position of needing to get rid of bed bugs I urge you to spend some time reading the information linked here prior to spending a lot of money on a cure that may not work.
    1. Relax!  A bed bug infestation is NOT a cleanliness issue. Bed bugs can be found in the humblest of homes and the most extravagant mansions.  Any home can become infested.
    2. Try to discover how the infestation may have occurred. This will help prevent future infestations. Possibilities include: recent travel, adjoining apartments/condos which are infested, recent purchase of used furniture or clothing, recent visits to an infested home (sleepovers), library books, recent visit to a public place where you sit or rest for a long time (movie theaters).
    3. Bed bugs do NOT transmit disease.  “Fortunately, extensive testing has determined that bed bugs are incapable of transmitting human pathogens” (Colorado State University).  They feed on human blood, however, and each individual may react differently to a bite. (http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05574.html)
    4. To inspect for bed bugs you must be very thorough, looking for evidence of bed bugs (bites, spotting, cast skins), live adult bed bugs (oval, flat, brown, wingless insects similar to a wood tick), live immature bed bugs (smaller, colorless).   Be sure you not only look in the suspect room but all adjoining rooms, too.Consider having an inspection done by an independent contractor such as the dog described in this article http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13034075?source=pkg  
    5. A combination of treatments and a systematic method of application are required to completely rid a home of bed bugs and it may take several applications to be successful.  You should also be prepared to quickly respond to any new infestations immediately.  
    6. Treatments: vacuuming, steam, heat, laundering at high temperatures (wash and dry temps), freezing, insecticide application and disposal of articles.
    7. If you are using a professional pest control company be sure they have experience with bed bugs and will be using a combination of treatments as described above, will return for a follow up inspection and offer some type of guarantee. 
    8. Insecticides must be used carefully following the manufacturers directions.  Be especially careful when using insecticides on your mattress or bed.  Some products mention treatment of bedding be sure they are refering to sleeping surfaces for people not just pets. 
    9. A follow up inspection should be performed about 10 days after the initial treatment to assure the bed bugs have been eliminated. Repeat treatments as required until elimination is successful.

    News Articles and Reports:
    Denver Public Library Story http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/21095953/detail.html
    Denver Post Article http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13034250
    Denver Post Article - Dog http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_13034075?source=pkg

    General Public Information:
    Tri-County Health Department Fact Sheet http://www.tchd.org/pdfs/bed_bugs_fact_sheet.pdf
    Denver Public Health Website http://www.denvergov.org/tabid/435054/Default.aspx
    University of Minnesota – Information for Travelers http://www.ipmctoc.umn.edu/Travellers_prevent_hitchhiking_bedbugs.pdf
    Bed Bug Registry http://bedbugregistry.com/ reports of hotels with bed bug problems

    Detailed Inspection and Treatment Information:
    Inspection Information http://www.nachi.org/bed-bugs-inspecting-house-herpes.htm
    University of Minnesota – Information for Pest Control Companies-very detailed descriptions on how to remove bed bugs.  http://www.ipmctoc.umn.edu/Control_of_bedbugs_in_residences_US_Commercial.pdf
    Colorado State University http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/insect/05574.html

    Insecticides Purchase:

    Ace Hardware http://www.acehardware.com/search/index.jsp?kwCatId=&kw=bedbugs%20insecticide&origkw=bedbugs%20insecticide&sr=1 
     
    Pest Inspection and Control Experts:

    Bed Bug Beagle http://www.bedbugbeagle.com/
    Heat Treat Removal http://www.heattreat.biz/
    Enviro Pest http://www.enviropest.com/pest-identification/bed-bugs 

    Author, Judy Browne is the creator and founder of Workshop for Women. Judy is also a Certified Home Inspector with Pillar to Post-Denver.  Workshop for Women offers fun hands-on classes in basic home improvement skills especially designed for women.  Classes include: Power Tools, Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrical, Drywall Repair and more.  Visit www.workshopforwomen.com for more information about classes or www.pillartopost-denver.com for information about a professional home inspection.  You can also give her a call at 303-284-6354. 

    Wednesday, September 1, 2010

    Day 23 and 24 - Remove Sod and build raised bed planters

    We are finishing up the final touches on the gazebo project which also ended up including doing some landscape work on the back yard.   I posted earlier that we wanted to put in a path from our patio to the gazebo and also some raised bed planters for next year.  My husband is the gardener so those will be for him.  I like to build things but I'm not good at tending to plants, grass and flowers.  I've never found gardening to be relaxing like I hear other people say they do.

    Here is a quick summary of the building of the raised bed planters and the path installation.

    Raised bed planters
    We first had to remove a bunch of grass.  This time we had on our thinking caps and rented a sod cutter.  We were able to remove all the grass we needed in under 2 hours.  The same amount it took us all day to remove when we did it by hand at the beginning of this project.  Who says you can't teach 2 old dogs some new tricks?!
    Next it was back to Home Depot for some 6 x 6 x 8 ft lumber to make the planters.  We also arranged to have these delivered...see we learned a lot on this project.  We had to move all of these from the driveway to where we were building the planters...boy were these things heavy.  We used our dolly to move them.  It worked very well.
    We built the planters using full length (8 ft) pieces for the long sides and 1/2 length pieces for the ends. We decided to go 4 high because we liked the height better.  It will sure be nice for Bill when he's out there planting and weeding:)  We used 12 inch spikes to connect the layers together.  We used a spade bit to drill some 1/2 inch holes in the top piece prior to driving in the spikes.

    It took us most of the day to finish both planters, but compared to building the gazebo it was an easy day.

    Day 23 and 24 - Remove Sod and build raised bed planters

    We are finishing up the final touches on the gazebo project which also ended up including doing some landscape work on the back yard.   I posted earlier that we wanted to put in a path from our patio to the gazebo and also some raised bed planters for next year.  My husband is the gardener so those will be for him.  I like to build things but I'm not good at tending to plants, grass and flowers.  I've never found gardening to be relaxing like I hear other people say they do.

    Here is a quick summary of the building of the raised bed planters and the path installation.

    Raised bed planters
    We first had to remove a bunch of grass.  This time we had on our thinking caps and rented a sod cutter.  We were able to remove all the grass we needed in under 2 hours.  The same amount it took us all day to remove when we did it by hand at the beginning of this project.  Who says you can't teach 2 old dogs some new tricks?!
    Next it was back to Home Depot for some 6 x 6 x 8 ft lumber to make the planters.  We also arranged to have these delivered...see we learned a lot on this project.  We had to move all of these from the driveway to where we were building the planters...boy were these things heavy.  We used our dolly to move them.  It worked very well.
    We built the planters using full length (8 ft) pieces for the long sides and 1/2 length pieces for the ends. We decided to go 4 high because we liked the height better.  It will sure be nice for Bill when he's out there planting and weeding:)  We used 12 inch spikes to connect the layers together.  We used a spade bit to drill some 1/2 inch holes in the top piece prior to driving in the spikes.

    It took us most of the day to finish both planters, but compared to building the gazebo it was an easy day.

    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    4 Tips for home mortgage shoppers

    These tips were provided by Denise Wing of Academy National Mortgage. To contact Denise visit her website at www.academynational.net  or give her a call at 303-987-0622.

    Finding the mortgage product that fits your lifestyle and financial situation is crucial to any refinance or new home purchase. If you are one of the many looking to take advantage of the current low rates and discounted homes on market, read these 4 tips before making your next mortgage decision.
    Get acquainted with mortgage basics
    Get educated! Borrowers should know terminology and mortgage basics before they shop. By knowing mortgage lingo and market conditions you can be sure to understand the terms of the mortgage product and discuss any concerns or questions you may have with your Academy National Mortgage Corporation mortgage specialist.

    Know your credit score
    In order to get the best interest rate possible, you'll want to ensure your credit score is up to snuff. Request your free annual credit report and amend any discrepancies before applying for a mortgage. Addressing any issues on your credit report prior to applying for that loan will allow you to take advantage of more desirable mortgage rates and products.

    Shop your product options
    It's always tempting to simply pick the product with the lowest interest rate, but buyers should also consider closing costs and points before locking into their new loan. Work with your mortgage professional to determine the mortgage products that best fit your financial situation and loan needs.

    Though conventional loans (which require a 20% down payment) are typically the most desirable, a mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) may be more feasible. FHA insured mortgages almost always require mortgage insurance which is paid for by you, the borrower, in return for issuing a minimal down payment (typically 5-10%) and less restrictive qualifying requirements..

    Know the market trends
    Mortgage rates adjust daily. If you find a low rate on a loan you like, consider getting a rate lock. A rate lock reserves that interest rate for a certain number of days and can protect you from a rise in the interest rate which may potentially increase your monthly mortgage payment.
    Remember, after you've locked the rate, you'll want to work closely with your Academy National Mortgage Corporation mortgage professional to ensure your loan will close before the lock period ends.

    Thursday, August 19, 2010

    Gazebo Project - some finishing touches

    The gazebo is just about done although we do have some finishing touches which we are determined to complete before the end of the summer. There is some trim work, some staining and a little tidying up of things that didn't fit 'just quite right'.  I'll write up a summary of the entire project soon with lists of what went right and what we would do differently next time.

    As most projects seem to go, whether inside my house or outside, one thing always seems to lead to another so of course with the gazebo structure done we now are moving on to more landscaping type projects.  As many of my friends now, especially those who have worked with me on Habitat projects, I do NOT like landscaping.  I much prefer to build a structure than tend to grass and plants.  Fortunately for me, and more so for my husband, the projects we have in mind are more building than tending.

    What we will be doing next:
    1. We plan to lay a paving stone path from our patio to the gazebo.  During the entire project we made a point to always walk towards the opening to the gazebo from the patio, even if it was not the shortest distance to our work just to get an idea of where the path should go.

    2. We are installing some raised bed planters next to the gazebo.  My husband has decided he wants to start some gardening and our neighbors have some wonderful raised beds that we are copying.  The nice thing is we have some experts on gardening just across the fence so advice is never far away.

    That should complete our backyard projects for this year.  I guess we'll take on the front yard next summer.  Bill (my husband) is taking some Xeriscaping classes to get some ideas about what we might want to do. 

    Stay tuned for more fun to come in the next few weeks and watch here for an invite to our gazebo party coming soon :)

    Gazebo Project - some finishing touches

    The gazebo is just about done although we do have some finishing touches which we are determined to complete before the end of the summer. There is some trim work, some staining and a little tidying up of things that didn't fit 'just quite right'.  I'll write up a summary of the entire project soon with lists of what went right and what we would do differently next time.

    As most projects seem to go, whether inside my house or outside, one thing always seems to lead to another so of course with the gazebo structure done we now are moving on to more landscaping type projects.  As many of my friends now, especially those who have worked with me on Habitat projects, I do NOT like landscaping.  I much prefer to build a structure than tend to grass and plants.  Fortunately for me, and more so for my husband, the projects we have in mind are more building than tending.

    What we will be doing next:
    1. We plan to lay a paving stone path from our patio to the gazebo.  During the entire project we made a point to always walk towards the opening to the gazebo from the patio, even if it was not the shortest distance to our work just to get an idea of where the path should go.

    2. We are installing some raised bed planters next to the gazebo.  My husband has decided he wants to start some gardening and our neighbors have some wonderful raised beds that we are copying.  The nice thing is we have some experts on gardening just across the fence so advice is never far away.

    That should complete our backyard projects for this year.  I guess we'll take on the front yard next summer.  Bill (my husband) is taking some Xeriscaping classes to get some ideas about what we might want to do. 

    Stay tuned for more fun to come in the next few weeks and watch here for an invite to our gazebo party coming soon :)

    Thursday, August 5, 2010

    Your home improvement project can improve America's National Parks

    CONTACT:   
    Karla Neely, kneely@mbapr.com
    Susie Lomelino, slomelino@mbapr.com
    214.521.8596, ext. 236, 231
                                                                                   
    YOUR HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT CAN IMPROVE AMERICA’S NATIONAL PARKS
    From Acadia (Maine) to Zion (Utah), America’s National Parks Need Your Help

    Three hundred and ninety two sites in 49 states.
    Approximately 275 million recreational visitors annually.
    More than 27,000 historic structures. 

    America’s National Parks are the largest and most diverse park system in the world.  But as the centennial of the National Park Service approaches, there is a severe backlog of maintenance and repair projects needed to keep the Parks safe and enjoyable for everyone.  Now there are two new ways homeowners can help protect and preserve our Parks while protecting and preserving their back yard deck (and fences and more!)

    Beginning April 3, 2010, The Thompson’s Company, makers of the Thompson’s®Water Seal®brand of products, will donate one dollar for each eligible product sold – up to $50,000 – to be distributed to the National Park Foundation on behalf of America’s National Parks.  This includes a wide variety of Thompson’s Water Seal deck cleaners and waterproofers, so homeowners can get the look and protection that is right for them and contribute to the upkeep of the Parks. 

    For those who are caught up on exterior waterproofing projects, the Thompson’s Water Seal Web site (www.thompsonswaterseal.com) will also feature a “Donate Now” icon.  Simply click, and the brand will donate $1 to the National Park Foundation (up to $25,000.)  In addition, Thompson’s Water Seal will donate $25,000 worth of certain Thompson’s Water Seal products for use in the Parks, for a total donation value of $100,000 for 2010. 

    For the past five years, The Thompson’s Company has supported some of America’s most iconic parks, like Niagara Falls, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park, directly through the Very Important Places (VIP) Program.  The company has donated funds and products to protect structures like the Cave of the Winds decks at Niagara Falls, campgrounds and historic cabins in Yellowstone, viewing platforms in Glacier and more. 

    Thompson’s®Water Seal®Supports National Park Foundation

     “America’s National Parks have preserved the rugged, majestic natural beauty of our country for everyone to experience,” said Anika Davis, Director of Corporate Development for the National Park Foundation.  “They contain a wide variety of structures that serve staff and visitors, like decks, boardwalks, visitor centers, tourist cabins, hotels, campgrounds, Park Ranger housing and much more.  Extreme climates, natural occurrences like floods and fires and the increasing number of visitors all cause wear and tear on these structures which needs to be addressed for the Parks to continue functioning at their best.”

    SAVE MONEY AND SAVE THE PARKS   
    In addition to a donation to the National Parks, homeowners will get a rebate, in the form of a store gift check, on the Thompson’s Water Seal products they purchase, so saving your deck can save you money too.  Products included are:

    CLEANERS
    The first step to a great deck makeover is removing dirt, mildew and old coatings to get back to the beautiful color of the wood.  Consumers can get $3 back per bottle (up to $12) when they purchase one of these Thompson’s®Water Seal®cleaners from May 22-September 6:
    •    Oxy Foaming Action Exterior Multi-Surface Cleaner
    •    Heavy Duty Deck Cleaner
    •    Deck Cleaner & Brightener
    •    Maximum Strength Deck Stripper
    •    One of three new concentrated deck cleaner formulas (Wood Cleaner, Wood Brightener or  Wood Stripper)

    Consumers will get back $1 per gallon (up to $4) on purchases of Thompson’s®Water Seal®Deck Wash.

    WATERPROOFERS AND EXTERIOR STAIN
    After cleaning the deck, a waterproofer is applied to add color (if desired) and protection.  Consumers can get $3 back per gallon (up to $12 for clear and tinted waterproofers and up to $15 for exterior stains) when they purchase one of these Thompson’s Water Seal waterproofers or exterior stains from April 3-October 4:
    •    Advanced Wood Protectors (Natural/clear or four tinted shades)
    •    Waterproofer Plus Wood Protector (clear or four tinted shades)
    •    Deck & House Waterproofing Stains (latex or oil formulas, semi-transparent or solid)

    Thompson’s®Water Seal®Supports National Park Foundation

















    Consumers can find rebate forms in stores or they can be downloaded via the Web site at www.thompsonswaterseal.com.  While there, everyone can enter the Thompson’s®Water Seal®VIP Sweepstakes, with a grand prize of a trip to the National Park of your choice!  The winner will receive round-trip airfare for up to four people, a four-night hotel stay, rental car and $1,000 spending money for meals and souvenirs.

    ABOUT THE NATIONAL PARK FOUNDATION
    The National Park Foundation (www.nationalparks.org) is an independent charitable organization chartered by Congress in 1967 to strengthen the connection between the American people and their 392 national park sites. As the official national non-profit partner of America's National Parks, the Foundation raises private funds, makes strategic grants, creates innovative partnerships and increases public awareness about the need and opportunity for park philanthropy. In its 2008 fiscal year, the National Park Foundation distributed grants and program support of $27.3M.
                                                              ###

    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    5 Surprising things that may affect your indoor air quality.

    Many of us are becoming better educated about indoor pollutants and what we need to know to protect our health, but there are some surprising things that you may not have thought about that could affect the indoor air quality of your home.  A majority of this information has been excerpted from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s website.  Please visit their website for more specific information on each of these topics.
    Attached Garages - Houses with attached garages had measurable concentrations of benzene (a gasoline related pollutant) in their indoor air. Houses with no garages or detached garages had little or no benzene. This is true of a host of other airborne chemicals. The study revealed that pollutants in attached garages can find their way into the house.
    There are also secondary sources of pollutants in garages, apart from car-based emissions. There are many gas-powered appliances, such as lawn mowers, chain saws and edging tools whose emission systems are not as good as those found in cars. Chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides are also sources of pollutants. 

    Burning Candles - By-products of combustion include carbon monoxide, VOCs, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and soot. Do not burn candles, liquid fuel or incense in the home.

    Too Energy Efficient - If your house is stuffy, odors linger, or humidity is high in fall and winter, it is likely that your house does not have adequate fresh air. If you or your children have respiratory conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis or chronic colds, getting the proper amount of fresh air is even more important. Opening windows can be part of the solution, but open windows can be a security risk (in some neighborhoods), can cause comfort problems and can increase heating and cooling costs. Furthermore, opening windows may not improve indoor conditions under all circumstances. Using a mechanical ventilation system, such as an exhaust fan or a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), can be more effective.


    Your newly remodeled kitchen- In new or other well-sealed houses, significant indoor formaldehyde levels may still occur when new carpets or wood composite materials, such as plywood, particleboard and waferboard, are used in home construction, cabinetry and furnishings. These are the most likely sources of high formaldehyde levels in the home today.

    Radon - Radon is a radioactive gas that is released from the normal decay of uranium in rocks and soils.  Uranium is found in nearly all soils everywhere in the U.S.  Radon is invisible, colorless, odorless and tasteless and seeps up through the ground and diffuses into the air. Radon gas can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as attics, and basements. It can also be found in some spring waters and hot springs. It is often the single largest contributor to an individual's background radiation dose, and is the most variable from location to location. Please see additional postings on this blog about radon.

    Important note about filtration - Most people assume that contaminants can be removed by filtration. Typical residential furnace filters are designed to filter particles, not gases. Gases can be filtered only by special filter media, such as activated charcoal or activated alumina. These filter media require special installation and, like furnace filters, must be replaced frequently. Filtration as a means of removing airborne contaminants throughout the house is inefficient. The most effective way to remove chemical contaminants, whether particles or gases, is to stop or capture them at the source before they are dispersed over a large area. This means getting rid of the sources, and when this is not possible, isolating or encapsulating them.

    Monday, July 26, 2010

    Day 21 Gazebo Project - We're Done! ...well almost

    We are finally done with the project, well almost anyway.  We still have some minor details to finish like trimming the bottoms of the posts, laying a path and running some electricity to the gazebo, BUT the main construction is complete!

    What a great project this has been.  I've enjoyed almost every aspect of it, except the trip to the emergency room, and we've learned so much.  In a later post I'll summarize what worked, what didn't work and what we would do differently next time.

    We're still a few weeks away from a party but I promise to invite you all when we are ready.

    We started off the day, just the 2 of us working. It was hot and humid and anyone who has done any roofing knows how tough that can be but we managed to get 1 and 1/2 sections completed before help arrived.  Here's a picture of Bill working on the ridge caps.  We used architectural style shingles for the main sections because they are a random pattern and don't require tedious layout.  We used 3 tab shingles cut into sections to cover the ridges.

    My nieces came to the rescue once again and arrived in the early afternoon after they were done working.  We made great progress with the additional help. Bill and I might still be up there today if we had been on our own.

    Here are some pictures of our progress throughout the day.



    Bridgette and I were working on the ridge caps in this picture.







    Bill was starting the next section.







    Here are Brooke and Bridgette working together on the shingles.  They only bickered a little bit :) Aren't they beautiful??






    Here we all are at the end of a very long but satisfying day.