Which Caulk Works Best?

The prep for caulking and sealing small repairs like windows and doors is usually pretty minimal. The surface needs to be clean and dry and it is best if the temperature is at least 55.  Rain should not be in the immediate forecast as the caulk needs to cure properly.  Using the right material for Window-Caulkingthe job, however, is critical. Price is not really an issue, as most of the caulking materials are inexpensive, but there are some ease-of-use issues. The water-based spray foam is probably the easiest for a novice to use around windows and doors and the clean up is pretty easy.  Look for low or no-VOC products that carry the Greenguard label to maintain good indoor air quality.

Here is a chart from Consumers Reports that outlines several products and their best uses:

Type of Caulk Best Use(s) Pros Cons Price
Acrylic tub and tile To seal kitchen and bathroom fixtures. Flexible; mildew resistant; cleans up with water. Not paintable; not as durable as 100% silicone. $4 and up per tube
Butyl rubber To seal and fill around windows and skylights and around flashings and in gutters to seal dissimilar materials (glass, metal, plastic, wood, and concrete). More flexible (can stretch in multiple directions) than silicone. Good in areas that experience high temperature variations. Formulations with with asphalt are best for roofing repairs. More flexible (can stretch in multiple directions) than silicone; can be painted after curing one week. Good in areas that experience high temperature variations. Formulations with asphalt are best for roofing repairs. Does not adhere well to painted surfaces; shrinkage varies; might require two applications. Can be toxic; precautions must be taken and requires solvent cleanup. $3.50 and up per tube
Concrete and mortar repair To repair cracks in concrete and damaged masonry and mortar. Can be shaped to fit before drying; remains flexible, cleans up with water, dries to color of concrete mortar or can be painted. Not recommended for horizontal surfaces where water could accumulate. $4.50 and up per tube
Latex To seal gaps in exterior walls and plug holes and fill gaps in interior walls and woodwork before painting. Inexpensive; takes paint well;, can be sanded; easy to work with; cleans up with water. Will crack eventually where temperatures vary greatly (acrylic latex formulations are more durable); needs to be painted when used outdoors; won’t adhere to metal. $1.50 and up per tube
Oil or resin-based To seal gaps in exterior walls. Inexpensive; will bond to most surfaces. Cracks after a few years; much less durable than elastomeric (silicone, latex, or acrylic) caulks. $1 and up per tube
100% silicone To fill around pipes and vents and building structures made of nonporous materials and plumbing fixtures. Not as effective on wood or masonry. Very durable and flexible; doesn’t crack. Expensive; limited colors; can’t be painted or sanded, gives off strong odor when curing; solvent required for cleanup. $4.50 and up per tube
Siliconized latex Same uses as 100% silicone, except not on plumbing fixtures. Very durable and flexible; rarely cracks, many colors available; cleans up with water; less expensive than 100% silicone. Can’t be sanded. $3.50 and up per tube
Spray foam (polyurethane-based) To seal around window and door frames or to fill cracks and holes. Expands more than latex and fills a greater area than caulking alone. Expands after application, so it can warp door and window frames; can’t resist UV light; must be painted for exterior use; very difficult to clean up after use. $5.40 and up per can (but one can fills as much space as many tubes of caulking)
Spray foam (water-based) Around window and door frames or to fill cracks and holes. Does not expand as much as polyurethane foam; can be shaped while wet; easy cleanup with water; will not cause windows or doors to bind. Does not adhere as tightly to materials as urethane; takes longer to cure (up to 24 hours). $5 and up per can (but one can can fill as much space as many tubes of caulking)

Chart Courtesy of Consumer Reports.

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Natural remedies and Treatments To Help You Stop Smoking

Why is Smoking Addictive?

cigarette butt

There is no doubt about it: Smoking kills. One of the best ways to live a longer, healthier life is to stop smoking. This however, has proven to be one of the hardest things for smokers to do. It is hard for smokers to quit because they are addicted to nicotine. Nicotine is a powerful, highly addictive drug found in tobacco that is considered to be as addictive as heroine and cocaine.

But, nicotine is not the only harmful drug found in tobacco. There are over 4000 toxic chemicals and gases that are toxic and addictive, including arsenic, methane, ammonia, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. The smokerbecomes physically and psychologically dependent on the nicotine and other chemicals and this is what sets up the ever increasing addiction. When smoke is inhaled, these chemicals enter the bloodstream via your lungs and move throughout the body.

Nicotine also acts as a stimulant, increasing your heart rate and producing pleasant, satisfying feelings making you want to smoke more. The health and wellbeing of others are also affected when you smoke around them. Second-hand smoke is just as dangerous as active smoking, and that is why smoking in public has been prohibited.

Dangers of Smoking

Smoking is responsible for serious medical conditions such as lung cancer, bladder cancer, heart disease, systemic organ damage, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis to mention just a few. It also causes premature wrinkles, bad breath stained teeth, fertility problems, low energy levels, and places you at a greater risk of illnesses like colds and flu.

Women who smoke during pregnancy stand a greater chance of having a miscarriage or a low birth-weight baby. There are also implications if you smoke while breastfeeding, as nicotine is passed through the breast milk to the baby. If you are over the age of 35, smoke and use birth control pills, you have a much higher risk of having a stroke or a heart attack.

Help to Stop Smoking

Kicking the habit and stopping smoking is extremely difficult and requires willpower, determination and support. Once you have made the decision that you want to stop smoking, there are various treatment options available to assist you such as:

  • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) which is available over-the-counter or by prescription in the form of nicotine patches, gum, microtabs, lozenges, inhaler, nasal spray or inhalators
  • Prescription medication such as Zyban and Champix which are variations of antidepressant drugs prescribed to help people stop smoking
  • Laser therapy treatment
  • Acupuncture
  • Counseling
  • Hypnosis

Natural Remedy Products

crave x drops

 

Crave-Rx Drops™ Natural remedy with herbs to help support emotional health and balance moods while quitting smoking

 

 

Triple Complex NicoTonic

 

 

Triple Complex NicoTonic™ Homeopathic remedy to relieve symptoms of quitting smoking such as irritability, restlessness and tension

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The Hovenring, Netherlands’ Suspended Bike Roundabout

Netherlands bike roundabout

The Hovenring is an incredible suspended roundabout designed by IPV Delft to allow cyclists to safely navigate congested traffic by traveling above it. The Hovenring is located between Eindhoven and Veldhoven in the Netherlands. The circular steel bridge not only offers an alternative route for cyclists, but is also aesthetically pleasing landmark for locals and tourists.

The structure adds is an intriguing element to the landscape, with a pylon that soars approximately 230 feet high with 24 steel cables attached to it, holding the circular pathway up like a hovering saucer. The Hovenring provides spectacular viewing in daylight and at night, when the structure is illuminated. The Hovenring bicycle path offers an innovative approach to future road designs focused on efficiency and safety.

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Caulking Tips

Caulking seems like a relatively easy thing to do, and in most cases it is. There are simple tips and tricks that can make a big difference between a easy, seamless, hassle-free caulking job and one that’s messy and full of frustration. Before you start your next caulking job, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Window-Caulking

  • Purchase a good-quality pro-style caulking gun ($10). Skip the cheap low-end guns that utilize a ratcheting plunger. Ratcheting guns don’t operate smoothly, making it hard to apply a clean, uniform bead.
  • Use blue painter’s tape to protect your windows and the other side of the joint you are trying to fill. Leave a gap between the tape about 3/8ths of an inch wide.
  • Find a utility knife as when you cut off the top of the caulk tube, you do not want an uneven or straight cut. Make the cut at a 45 degree angle.
  • When you apply the caulk you will hold the caulk gun at approximately 45 degree angle.
  • Bend a piece of cardboard and practice on the seam before you attack your first seam. You could start in a less visible area where any mistakes will be less noticeable.
  • After you apply the caulk, use a plastic spoon to smooth the seam so that it is more or less flush.
  • Keep the tip of your caulking tube clean and free of dried caulk.
  • Make sure you pull the tape off before the caulk dries to leave clean seam.

Proper caulking and sealing will lead to an increase in energy efficiency of a home’s heating and cooling systems. Caulking can also substantially extend the life of windows and doors.

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Test For Air Leaks and Drafts to Reduce Energy Loss

Properly sealing cracks and openings in you home can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs throughout the year. You may already know where some air leakage occurs in your home, such as an under-the-door draft, but you’ll need to find the less obvious gaps to properly seal your home. 

Here are several tests that can be used to check for air leaks:

  1. Window Seal Check – Shut the window on a piece of paper. If paper can be pulled without tearing paper, than window should be resealed.
  2. Visual Gap Check – After daylight hours, shine a light through closed window and door seam and have a partner confirm if light is visible on other side.
  3. Hot/Cold Air Check – Use your hands to feel around door and window seal checking for cold or hot air coming in through a leak.

Common areas to check for leaks are between brick and wood siding, between foundation and walls, and between the chimney and siding. In addition, you should inspect around these areas for leaks and drafts:

  • Door and window frames
  • Mail chutes
  • Electrical and gas service entrances
  • Cable TV and phone lines
  • Outdoor water faucets
  • Where dryer vents pass through walls
  • Bricks, siding, stucco, and foundation
  • Air conditioners
  • Vents and fans

 Home Pressurization Test

If you are having difficulty locating leaks and drafts, you may want to conduct a basic building pressurization test:

  1. First, close all exterior doors, windows and fireplace flues.
  2. Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
  3. Then turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.

This test increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. You can use incense sticks or your damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to drift, and if you use your damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.

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Green Tip: Green Wedding Ideas

Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, but your special day can also result in harm to the environment. It has been calculated that the average wedding can result in up to over 15 tons of CO2 that it also causes substantial environmental damage.

Luckily, if you do not have the time or know how, there are many wedding planners that specialize in eco-friendly weddings. However, there are many easy steps that the do-it-yourselfer can do to minimize waste on their special day.InvitationsOne way to cut down on paper usage, you can send e-cards or emails instead of sending out card invite. This would allow you to limit paper invites to those without computer access. For those paper invites, be sure to use recycled paper.

Flowers

The flower arrangements can be one of the most expensive and wasteful portions of the wedding. Try to get double use of the flowers by arranging to use the same flowers for the wedding and reception. The flowers could have a second life by drying and pressing the flower petals for use as handmade thank-you notes or for placement in your wedding memory book or photo albums.

After the wedding, you could dry and press the flower petals and use them to make handmade thank you cards for your guests and/or incorporate the petals into your wedding scrapbook or photo album. Also plan to have the leftover flowers sent to a hospital or a nursing home. .

Food

There are nearly always leftover food items at weddings. In the first place it’s a good idea to order the food with restraint, as people never eat everything there. If you do have leftovers, choose a venue that supports the environment and has a waste composting capabilities.

If composting is not an option, encourage guests to take home the remaining food or donate the food to a local charity.

Wedding Favors and Decorations

If you opt for favors, avoid disposable itmes that are not recyclable such as disposable cameras.  Use leftover decorations, and napkins either reusable or recyclable Go for favors which are not personalized with your names, so that they can be reused for future use.

Catering Service

This may be one of the most visible ways to make your wedding green-everyone talks about the food at a wedding. Making simple choices like using biodegradable utensils and plates that can be composted. Also choose organic and local food for the cuisine.

Honeymoons

Following the wedding, it’s time for the honeymoon. There are global opportunities for eco-tourism options that get get you fare of the beaten path. There are many companies that specialize in outdoor adventure activity and environmental advocacy. These companies promote sustainable tourism which safely connects people with the world’s greatest places and adventures. By combining the economic power of sustainable tourism with the ingenuity of those connected with nature and aware of its peril.

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What’s In Your Water?

Water pollution remains a constant concern in many US communities. This guide can be helpful in understanding what contaminants that could be in your water. You should contact your water utility if you suspect something is wrong.

Water

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