When It’s Cold Outside, Pests Head In

As the seasons change and autumn takes hold, bugs and pests are looking for a place to keep warm. If you give them an opportunity, your house will be an inviting place to winter over. Prevention is the key to keeping your house pest free.

Firewood, leaves, logs, stumps, and other pest habitats must be cleaned up and stored away from the foundation of the home. Carpenter ants and termites love it when firewood is stacked right up against the house; it makes it so much easier for them to get in unnoticed. Landscaping bushes, vines, and shrubbery must also be cut back away from the home, and plants and mulches should be kept at least one foot from the foundation. Clip, rake, and prune away these bug bridges into your home.

Bigger pests, like raccoons, mice, squirrels, and chipmunks love dryer vents, attic vents, ripped screens, and foundation holes. Seal the house up as best you can by using mesh to keep these types of animals in the wild. Fill gaps and cracks in the foundation and around pipes, wires, and cables with caulk or steel wool to keep the smaller animals from finding their way in. Caulk and epoxy will help keep the bugs out come spring also.

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Decorating with Patents-The President’s Oval Office

In a recent interview with Michael Lewis for Vanity Fair, President Barak Obama said he and Michelle enjoy sitting on the Truman Balcony and that the first night sleeping in the White House makes “you just kind of startle awake.” He said, “There are times when you come in here and you’re having a particularly difficult day. Sometimes I come in here,” regarding the handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address that is in the Lincoln Bedroom, and talked about the loss of “serendipity” as one of the costs that comes with the job of POTUS.

What got me most about the interview, aside from the fact that the President does enjoy his basketball, is his choice of décor for the Oval Office.


He’s Not a Disk Kind of Guy

“We came in when the economy was tanking and our first priority wasn’t redecorating,” the President said. However, the previous administration “had a bunch of plates” lining the shelves of the Oval Office, and our current Prez is “not a dish guy.” So he ditched the plates and placed famous patents and models along the shelves, including the patent for the first telegraph by Samuel Morse in 1849. “This is the start of the Internet right here,” he told Lewis.

Since then The Atlantic named him the “geek in chief,” and even though he did have some serious trouble with an iPhone, as he is still a BlackBerry man, the President has been a social media type of guy since taking office.


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Carpenter Ants

Every summer it seems like some type of ant invades at least one area outside and, much to my chagrin, my kitchen. This year, they are in my basement, and I fear they might be carpenter ants.

From what I’ve learned, unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat the wood they chew. They simply tunnel through it. Though this doesn’t make me feel better, as the damage they cause can be just as bad as that caused by termites.

Carpenter ants are common in the Inland Northwest, and the most common one in Washington is a variety that has a black body and reddish legs. The carpenter ant queen is pretty big at three-quarters of inch long, while the workers are between one-quarter and one-half inch in length.

According to the Spokane County Extension office, signs of infestation include the sawdust the ants are moving out of the tunnels and a trail leading from the house or area of activity, which is easiest to find at night because that is when carpenter ants work. Should you have carpenter ants, the extension office says controlling carpenter ants after they are established is done with chemicals. Dust formulations are used inside walls and along indoor trails, while liquid chemicals are effective outside on foundations.


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Two Remodels For The Long Haul

The economy has made many homeowners think more creatively when considering home improvement and remodeling projects, including making changes for personal satisfaction instead of for resell value. However, there are a few remodeling projects that might be wise undertakings for the long haul.

Adding space to your existing home, be it a mother-in-law apartment or entry-level bedroom, makes more sense today then every before. Sure you can use the space for mom, but lots grown children are moving back in with mom and dad today too. This trend doesn’t seem to be going anywhere in the near future, making a remodeling like this good for the long haul.

As the population in our homes increase, the desire for useable living space is increasing too. Today though, many homeowners are opting for outdoor living spaces. You don’t have to add outdoor kitchens and fancy walk ways, to improve the space. Just make it comfortable and usable. Backyard living renovations have been following an upward trend for several years now, and we don’t think this is likely to change any time soon, making this remodeling project good for the long haul also.

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St. Louis Homeowner Gets Surprise During Home Renovation

Bryan Fite was rewiring his house in preparation of the installation of central air and heat when he came across remnants of the homes original owner.

Fite said, “The original owner lost the house and was put in a sanitarium for alcoholism. So, perhaps that might be a story behind it too, that that was his secret stash up in the attic.” While moving floor boards in the attic for the new wiring, Fite found what he thought was 13 tubes, or steam heat pipes, with something on them.

In actuality, the tubes ended up being bottles of whisky, with many being filled and unopened. The bottling date was 1917, making them nearly 100 years old. Fite said, “I’m a history buff. I like the history of it. Im my mind it’s not what they’re really worth monetarily, it’s the fact that they’re part of the history of Saint Joe and part of the history of this house.“ He continued, “It’s nice to honor and appreciate history, but I always kind of think also that things need to be left alone to a certain extent. I think it’s amazing to be able to feel a little bit energetically what’s been going on in this house for its history,” KQTV reported via CNN Newssource.

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When To Call the Professionals

There are many improvement jobs that homeowners can tackle on their own, but some renovations are best left to professionals.

Some electrical work can be downright deadly to homeowners. Adding, replacing, or extending electrical circuits should be left to a licensed electrician. The risk of fire and electrical shock is simply too great for the average homeowner to risk.

Asbestos removal can get expensive, prompting many homeowners to attempt removal on their own. The problem is that asbestos is toxic. If not removed properly using containment precautions, a homeowner risks their own health, and the health of anyone else that could come in contact with airborne particles.

Complex plumbing projects are another area that is best left to professionals. Not so much because of the act of replacing or installing pipes, but more because pipes tucked in walls, floors, and ceilings can potentially cause significant damage, including dangerous mold growth, if there is any type of leak, no matter how small.

According to the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, gas appliance repair, whether it’s a clothes dryer, hot water heater, or oven, should be left to professionals. Even the smallest leak can lead to a home full of carbon monoxide, risking the lives of everyone inside.

Homeowners can enjoy taking on many projects, but when a simple mistake can take lives and cause extensive damage, there’s no shame in calling in professionals.

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Ceiling Fans For Energy Conservation

A correctly sized and placed ceiling fan can lower air temperature in a room by as much as eight degrees. In the winter, ceiling fans can be set to run in reverse, which helps circulate warm air around a room.

Ceiling fans are available in a vast array of shapes, sizes, colors, and blade widths, so they can be placed in nearly any, and every, room in the house. The American Lighting Association suggests the following tips when choosing a fan:

  • Use 36- inch and smaller fans in rooms up to 75 square feet large
  • Use 36- to 42-inch fans in rooms up to 144 square feet
  • 50- to 54-inch fans are efficient in rooms of up to 225 square feet

Optimally, ceiling fans should be placed at least seven feet above the floor, while 8 to 9 feet from the floor is even better. If you have low ceilings, choose low profile fans, so they won’t be in the way.

Ceiling fans for damp rooms, like a bathroom, will be UL-listed for damp locations, while ceiling fans that are appropriate for porches and patios will be UL-listed for wet locations. When choosing a ceiling fan for these locations, be sure it has a corrosion and tarnish resistant high quality finish.

Ceiling fans are very easy to install, even remote controlled fans, and most come with complete step-by-step instructions so that even a novice can install them.

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