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TOP-BANNER-NL-AUGUST-2015Article-1

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You can also visit our new Hotline News section of our blog to view the detailed market statistics and our monthly Hotline News features. All the local, useful information that you’ve been looking for is now available at your fingertips! Article-2

By John Voket

For the “do-it-yourself” homeowner, outsourcing tree work may seem like an unnecessary expense. But in reality, the costs of tackling tree care on your own can run high – damaged property, hospital bills, and a ruined landscape aren’t cheap.

“Most homeowners simply don’t have the tools, knowledge or experience necessary to safely attempt their own tree work,” says Tchukki Andersen, BCMA, CTSP and staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “We hear many unfortunate stories each year of homeowners getting severely injured or killed while attempting this dangerous, and often misunderstood, work on their own.”

Here are three reasons homeowners should leave tree work to the professionals:

  1. Lack of Knowledge and Training

Safe tree work requires extensive knowledge of tree physics and biology, which can take years of experience and study to acquire.

For example, felling a tree in a controlled manner is not as simple as cutting through the trunk with a chain saw. It requires establishing a drop zone, making precise cuts, and sometimes guiding the tree safely to the ground with ropes as leverage. When homeowners attempt this, many are injured or killed when the tree falls in an unexpected direction.

Up-ended root plates or root balls are also unpredictable. Severing the trunk of a fallen tree from an up-ended root plate releases tension, which may be strong enough to pull the stump and root ball back into the hole, trapping anything or anyone nearby underneath it.

Other hazards may be invisible to the untrained eye; rotten trunks and limbs, pest and fungal infestations, and other diseases and defects can only be identified and treated by an experienced tree care practitioner.

  1. Poor Situational Awareness 

Even homeowners who know their way around trees may still fall victim to nearby hazards.

Electrical wires are a common situational hazard in tree work; many trees grow near power lines and have their branches, leaves and limbs entangled in live wires. Each year, a number of amateur tree workers are seriously injured or killed when they come into contact with an energized line, directly or indirectly, through tools or tree limbs. Navigating this danger is tricky, even for professionals, and should never be attempted by homeowners under any circumstance.

Attempting do-it-yourself tree work is bad enough, but some homeowners go one step further and try to finish the job alone, which further impairs situational awareness. If you do try to do any of the work yourself, always make sure there is at least one other person working with you. Even trained professionals work in teams!
Improper Use of Tools

Homeowners who use incorrect, faulty or complicated tools may hurt themselves and others while attempting tree work.

Chain saws, for example, are incredibly dangerous and easy to misuse. A common mistake is to use a dull chain saw, which forces the operator to use excess pressure, causing them to lose control. Many homeowners also make the mistake of using the chain saw to cut branches on the ground. This can result in chain saw kickback, and painful injuries, when the bar tip hits the dirt or other foliage.

Misused ladders are another common source of injury. Using a ladder that is too short, set on unstable ground, or supported by a faulty limb can easily result in the homeowner falling – often fatally – from the tree. Ladders are often knocked out from under the homeowner by the same limb that was just cut.

Tree work may also require tools the average homeowner does not own. Stump grinders, wood chippers, and aerial lifts are just a few examples of complex, and often necessary machines that only a trained arborist can handle.

Source: www.treecaretips.org.

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By Barbara Pronin

If there’s not enough money in the budget to remodel your kitchen, Lowe’s home designers suggest you browse the aisles of your home store for ideas and give the room a whole new look with a few cheap and easy makeover options.

  • Paint the walls – Paint covers a multitude of sins and freshens up even the dullest kitchen. If you make one change to your kitchen, paint it – and opt for a color different from the old one.
  • Transform the cabinets – Use a brush or roller to paint wooden cabinets or, if you’re a bit braver, apply new wood or vinyl veneers to change the look of laminated cabinets.
  • Switch out the hardware – Shiny new cabinet and drawer pulls can make a huge difference to your kitchen – and there are literally hundreds of styles  to choose from.
  • Replace appliance hardware – Spiff up your old stove and oven with new knobs. You can also change out those pans under your stove’s burners for a cleaner look overall.
  • Get a shiny new sink – Choices include stainless steel, enamel-coated cast iron, and composites – as well as single bowl or double bowl, top mount or under mount models.
  • Change the faucet – For a fun and inexpensive modification, get a new fixture. A spray attachment can come in handy, as can a faucet with a built-in soap dispenser.
  • Alter the lighting – A blend of overhead, natural and under-cabinet lighting can make the kitchen glow. You’ll finally be able to see what you’re cooking. You might also want to add a dimmer switch to your new lighting for times when you want the room a little mellower.
  • Add some simple new decor – To give your kitchen a new look – say, farmhouse, rustic or modern – buy some framed prints to hang on the walls – and add small design touches such as glass canisters, a cookie jar you love, and/or vase or pitcher of flowers. Complete the look and color scheme with new kitchen towels and potholders.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia.©2015. All rights reserved. Article-4

Utility costs, especially HVAC expenses, can eat up your household budget if your home falls short on energy efficiency. A top-to-bottom energy audit may not be feasible, but there are areas of your home you can make more energy-efficient with relatively little time and money. The experts at HomeAdvisor.com recommend:

Sealing Air Leaks
: Whether heating or cooling your home, escaped air is literally dollars out the window. To keep HVAC bills low, check for leaks around all entry points to the home, including windows, doors and in your attic or basement, where holes may have formed in the insulation. Simple weatherstripping will suffice to seal up windows or doors, but if your insulation is leaking air, hire a professional to remedy the problem.

Cleaning Air Vents
: A dirty HVAC system consumes more energy, leading to higher monthly bills. It can also release dusty air into your home. For anywhere between $250 and $450, a professional can clean all vents and ducts to ensure your system is operating efficiently.

Changing Air Filters
: While having your system cleaned, be sure to swap out air filters, too. A filter with enough build-up can block air from entering your home, costing you more money each month. This is an easy DIY project that can be done in a half-hour or less.

Upgrading the Thermostat: Programmable thermostats effectively regulate the temperature in your home, automatically or manually. Upgrading to one can save at least 10 percent in monthly energy costs. The best part? They’re a cinch to set up.

Installing Ceiling Fans: It sounds counterproductive, but a ceiling fan typically costs far less than air conditioning and can be installed for a mere $150. The investment will pay back dividends in lower utility bills in no time at all, and is a great way to cool your home in warm, but not hot, months.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia.©2015. All rights reserved. Article-5

(BPT) – No matter how neat you keep your home, odors and stains will occur. These can be especially challenging to remove in areas prone to spills and smells. According to the KILZ paint and primer experts, here’s how you can freshen up even the most stubborn spots in your household.

1. Eliminate Refrigerator Odors – Refrigerators are subject to a variety of spills and odors. To clean your fridge, begin by emptying its contents and throwing out, recycling or composting any food that is expired or beginning to smell.

Next, pull out any removable drawers or shelving and place them in the sink. Using a damp, soft cloth or non-abrasive sponge, wipe down these pieces, the interior of your fridge and the door with a multi-purpose cleaner. Or, mix two tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of hot water for a natural soap alternative. Don’t forget the seams of the shelves and rubber door seal.

If your fridge requires an extra-deep cleaning, unplug it while you work to avoid wasting energy. Before putting all of your food back into the fridge, wipe down the exterior of each jar or container with a damp cloth.

2. Conceal Wall Stains with Primer – Have your kids made artwork of your walls, or has a leaky roof caused a water-damaged mess? Tough wall stains like these can be hard to get rid of, but are easily sealed by applying a high-quality, stain-blocking primer.

Before covering the problem area with primer, clean the wall thoroughly with a grease-cutting solution and lightly sand the area to be painted.

3. Remove Dirty Grout Lines – Tile surfaces are prone to dirt and debris, especially in bathrooms or high-traffic areas. To keep tile looking fresh and new, grab an old toothbrush or electric toothbrush for a deeper scrub. Before you start, wash the surface with water then mix two parts baking soda with one part water. Scrub the resulting paste into the cracks and crevices, then douse with water again. If the grout lines are stained, spray a mixture of equal parts vinegar and warm water onto the area and brush. After a final rinse, the grime will be gone.

4. Fight Off Washing Machine Mold
 – If you own a front-loading washing machine, you’ve probably noticed the unpleasant smell that can linger after completing a load of laundry. Despite being more energy-efficient, these machines have a tendency to hold odors and harbor mold. To clean and prevent grimy buildup, try this: instead of detergent, cycle two cups of vinegar and a quarter-cup of baking soda on a hot setting. When it’s done, use a clean sponge to scrub down the inside. Finally, rinse with a plain-water cycle, and you’ll see (and smell) the results

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia.©2015. All rights reserved.

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By Barbara Pronin

Even when the days are long and sunny, life can sometimes get us down. If you’re feeling grumpy and need to snap out of it, try a couple of these DIY mood-boosting tips gathered by Yahoo! lifestyle editors from a panel of therapists and psychologists:

Dance – Crank up music you love, tune into the beat, and dance, even if it’s all by yourself in the privacy of your own space. Happy movements bring on happy feelings, according to dance therapists.

Sleep – Sleep deprivation has been proven to be a major cause of depression. If you haven’t been sleeping eight hours a night, step up the time you spend in bed.

Hug – Nothing is more comforting than a big, heartfelt hug, so give and get as many as you can. Kindness releases oxytocin, a hormone known to lower blood pressure and boost positive emotion.

Talk – Connecting with others through meaningful conversation leads to feelings of belonging – which in turn leads to a happier sense of self. Just getting together with people you like can begin to boost your mood.

Meditate – When life seems dark or overwhelming, turning inward can help. Sit still for at least five minutes, try to still your mind, then focus on your blessings and on the things that make you happiest each day.

Help – Ever noticed that doing something nice for someone else makes you feel good, too? Volunteer at a soup kitchen, a library or a church. Help an elderly neighbor with chores. Lending a hand is, at its core, a win-win situation.

Step outside – Spending a lot of time under fluorescent lighting, behind a desk and huddled over computers can lead to boredom and the blues. Ditch the gloom and spend an hour or two outdoors, walking, exercising, or just sitting in the sunlight watching the world go by.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia.©2015. All rights reserved.

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