Weekly home and garden rail, with items on wood-stove safety, furniture placement, keeping mold at bay, and more.
Home Improvements: Snuggling up to a stove?
As the mercury drops and days get shorter, you may be snuggling up to a wood-burning stove to keep your tootsies toasty. With today's economy, alternative heat sources may become more popular as penny-pinchers try to minimize gas and electric bills.
While wood-burning and pellet stoves can be quaint and efficient, they can also be dangerous. To avoid injuries and damaged property, ask yourself these four questions, posed by QBE Regional Insurance Senior Vice President Charles Valinotti. He's seen many dangerous stove set-ups and the devastation that can result.
1. Was it installed by a professional?
Installing a stove isn't a do-it-yourself job. Work with a professional. If the stove was installed before you moved in, it's worth having it inspected. One tip-off: If it has more than two connector pipes, it's probably been tampered with, Valinotti warns.
Also, take the same precautions with your outdoor wood-burning stove or one in your garage or outbuilding as you would with one that's inside your home. A stove in your shed could cause as much damage as the one in your living room.
2. What's above, under and around your stove?
Make sure your floor is covered with non-combustible material all around your stove in case a log accidentally escapes. Similarly, keep all decorations and clutter away from the stove, so that a puff of ash or an errant spark doesn't set your magazine collection or lace doily aflame.
3. When was your stove last cleaned and by whom?
Your answer should be: It was cleaned within the last year by a professional.
Valinotti says you can sweep and tidy up your stove and the surrounding area, but a professional chimney sweep should clean it annually. Only professionals can spot and fix creosote buildup and hairline fractures, which are a major fire hazard and liability risk.
4. How do you dispose of your ashes?
Make sure ashes are cooled, dampened with water and stored in a metal container with metal lid. "Never put ashes near or inside a paper bag, carton, box or anything combustible. I know it sounds obvious, but we see these very sad accidents more often than you would believe," Valinotti says.
Decorating Tip: Furniture placement
Have new furniture or just thinking about rearranging a room? Here are some tips:
- Place your furniture in shapes derived from the alphabet such as L, X or U, making sure whatever shape you choose works best with the size and shape of the room.
- Remember, no matter where you are seated, you need a place to put a glass, plate or cup of coffee within 15 or 18 inches.
- Finally, your coffee table should be two-thirds the size of your sofa to complement and blend with the rest of your décor.
-- Hunter Douglas
Home-Selling Tip: Take out the trash
Make sure you empty trash bins every time a potential homebuyer comes to look at your home. Even if your cans have a cover or are under the sink, you want to make a positive impression with your home. You don’t want the sight or smell of a trashcan to ruin a showing.
How To: Keep home mold-free
Even healthy people can be vulnerable to the side effects of mold. To fight mold:
- Periodically inspect your property. Look for water and moisture in and around your home. Pay special attention around pipes, in basements and crawl spaces, behind boxes and in other dark areas of your property.
- Control the humidity in bathrooms and wherever water is repeatedly used.
- Keep problems at bay with exhaust fans, proper caulking and effective cleaning with a product specially designed to prevent mold.
- Regularly have your HVAC and air conditioner inspected to identify moisture problems.
- Don’t be hesitant to hire a professional to tackle an extensive mold problem.
Did You Know …
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is making $10.1 million in grants available to help eliminate lead-based paint hazards in homes.
Garden Guide: Time to dethatch your lawn
By removing the buildup of dead roots and grasses at the end of summer, your lawn will get more air water and nutrients.
1. Mow the lawn short, to about 1 ½ inches in height.
2. Use a rake to remove the dead thatch and roots. Add the thatch to your compost pile, along with any leaves you’ve raked up.
3. Using an aerator to punch small holes in your lawn will help air, water and nutrients get into the soil and reach the roots of the grass.
You’ve cleaned your bird feeder, how about the nest boxes you’ve set out for visiting birds?
Birds can be messy housekeepers, so once they’ve moved out, give your nest boxes a thorough cleaning, removing all the feathers, droppings and other debris they’ve left behind.
If insects are living in a nest box, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends physically removing the pests and soaping the inside top of the box. Don’t use harsh chemicals of pesticide sprays.
GateHouse News Service