Fix leaks. The most common fixture that leaks is the toilet flapper. Checking for leaks should be part of your overall maintenance plan and should be done on a regular basis. Perform a water audit. Take a look at your water meter when no one is likely to be using water. If the meter is moving, you have a leak.
Install water-saving devices. Can you transform your single flush toilets to dual flush with a kit? How about installing a Smart Faucet in every bathroom? The EPA has rolled a complete line of water saving fixtures under its WaterSense label, however, but these are merely minimums. Individuals should go beyond the minimum by installing 1.5 gallons per minute (gpm) shower heads when the WaterSense minimum allows shower heads with flow rates of 2.5gpm. Rebates may also be available from your local utility to promote the installation of new high efficiency toilets that utilize 1.28 gallons per flush or better.
Upgrade to water saving appliances. Old dishwashers and top-loading washing machines are incredible inefficient, utilizing as much as 25 gallons per load of dishes and 35 gallons of water per load of laundry. New high-efficiency models utilize a fraction of the water. Dishwashers in the two gallon range are very effective and front-loading washing machines use about a third of the water of what top-loaders use and rebates may be available. The less water an appliance uses, the less electricity and natural gas that will be needed to heat that water.
Rethink landscaping. Plant what’s appropriate for your region and you will reduce water consumption, increase habitat for native species and raise the value of your property. Re-landscaping is a big expense, but you are paying to water and maintain plants every year, year and year out, when you could be pocketing the money you currently budget for water.
On 8:30pm, Saturday 29th March, the WWF are encouraging everyone to switch their lights off for 1 hour to help recognize the increasing problem of climate change. It is widely accepted that climate change is causing the ice caps to melt and seas to warm, threatening ecosystems and coastal areas around the world. This is also causing related effects in other places as rising temperatures are causing increased droughts , threatening the most vulnerable animals and people worldwide.For just 1 hour, 8:30pm, Saturday, March 29th, many landmarks and cities throughout the world are showing their support for Earth Hour and recognizing the danger of climate change by switching the lights off during this time. To find out how you can participate, go to http://www.earthhour.org/TakeAction.aspx.
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 the 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
|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
||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
||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
||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
||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.
Why is Smoking Addictive?
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
Natural Remedy Products
Crave-Rx Drops™ Natural remedy with herbs to help support emotional health and balance moods while quitting smoking
Triple Complex NicoTonic™ Homeopathic remedy to relieve symptoms of quitting smoking such as irritability, restlessness and tension
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.
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.
- 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.
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:
- Window Seal Check – Shut the window on a piece of paper. If paper can be pulled without tearing paper, than window should be resealed.
- 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.
- 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:
- First, close all exterior doors, windows and fireplace flues.
- Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
- 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.