Gunning Daily News

6 Tips to Prepare Your Boiler for Winter

September 25, 2012 6:12 pm

While the sun is still adding a bit of warmth to these crisp fall days, now is the time of year to make sure your boiler is prepared for winter. To ensure you stay cozy until spring, read the following tips on how to keep your boiler running smoothly and tackle frozen pipes.

1. Regular maintenance
Make sure your boiler is regularly maintained. Some manufacturers recommend that you run your gas boiler at least once a month, even during summer (on a low temperature), to ensure that it works smoothly and that you detect any problems well in advance.
2. Perform spot-checks
You should regularly check the outlets or flues for blockages which may cause congestion and build-up of exhaust gases.
3. Keep your boiler clean and tidy
A layer of dust can be a real problem in causing blockages - make sure that you clean your boiler regularly but never use a dust sheet. Your boiler should never be covered with anything.
4. Fit a carbon monoxide alarm
If your boiler is damaged or faulty, it can leak potentially lethal carbon monoxide which your regular smoke alarm will not detect. Carbon monoxide is invisible and has no smell or taste, so you might not realize it's there.
5. Get a boiler service
Get your boiler serviced and safety checked every year by a professional, in accordance with your manufacturer's guidelines.
6. Avoid frozen pipes
During extremely cold weather periods, if your boiler fails to operate and shuts down completely, it may be a result of a frozen condensate pipe (the pipe which carries condensation from your boiler to your outside drain). It's a good idea to insulate your pipe before the cold weather hits. Below are the steps you need to unfreeze and insulate your pipe:
  • Step 1 - Switch off your boiler and locate the condensate pipe (usually on the external wall directly outside the location of your boiler). Make sure that you can reach the length of the pipe while standing at ground level.
  • Step 2 - Warm some water (not boiling, as this can crack and damage the pipe) and pour the water along the length of the pipe, repeating two or three times if possible.
  • Step 3 - To prevent the pipe from refreezing, wrap it securely with some old towels.
  • Step 4 (for non-frozen pipes) - After you've thawed the pipe, insulate it using foam tubing (available in DIY stores). This comes in a variety of sizes, so measure the pipe's diameter first.

Source: www.HomeServe.com.

Word of the Day

September 25, 2012 6:12 pm

Title insurance. An insurance policy that protects against any losses incurred because of defects in the title not listed in the title report or abstract.

Q: Are Victims Whose Homes Are Damaged by Natural Disasters Granted Any Tax Relief?

September 25, 2012 6:12 pm

A: Damage, destruction, or loss of property from fires, floods, earthquakes and other disasters are deductible from both state and federal income taxes.

If destruction is caused by an event deemed a federal disaster by the president, homeowners can deduct their losses in the tax year before the event happened by filing an amended return. This helps to dramatically cut the wait for tax refund money that can immediately be used to make repairs or pay for living expenses.

Protect Your Pool from Freezing This Winter

September 25, 2012 5:12 pm

Once the creep of autumn makes it a little too cool for your pool, it's time to think about buttoning up your little oasis of aquatic pleasure until next spring. So for a raft of advice that really holds water, I turned to Ann Janowicz, general manager of Kasper’s Pool Supplies and Spas in Easton, Pa.

Janowicz says proper winterizing means more than just covering the pool. The pool must be cleaned, winter chemicals must be added, water chemistry must be balanced, and the water level should be lowered.

Most importantly, she says, winterizing is about freeze protection, and taking steps to protect the pool equipment and lines from being split apart by freezing water. To prevent freeze damage, Janowicz says water must be drained or blown out of all pumping, filtering, heating and chlorinating equipment and other pool plumbing.

This is not always a “do-it-yourself” project. Every pool is different, and each will require specific procedures and equipment to implement those procedures.

Janowicz, a certified pool operator (CPO) and a director of the Northeast Spa and Pool Association (NESPA) notes that, “If you don’t know the exact procedure or if you do not have the equipment to winterize correctly, you should call a professional. A pool is a big investment.”

She says the right time to winterize varies by climate and individual preference. Many pool owners opt to close in late August or early September before leaves begin to fall, while others heat their water and enjoy swimming into the early autumn season. In general, pool closing and winterizing should be done before the first hard freeze in your area.

For information about pool winterizing, or to find a professional who can close your pool properly, visit the NESPA website at www.nespapool.org, or your regional Spa and Pool Association or certified spa and pool professional.

Kitchen Cleaning: Tackle the Appliances

September 25, 2012 5:12 pm

Even if you aren’t the most dutiful housecleaner (no judgments here!), maintaining a clean kitchen is important. After all, it is where we prepare our food. But even when you know your stove needs a good scrub a dub, cleaning our appliances is a task that often gets put on hold because it requires so much time and effort.

According to the Scrubbing Bubbles Dirty Work Index survey, men and women agree the kitchen is the most difficult room to clean after the bathroom. Luckily, following a few simple steps and using all-purpose kitchen cleaners make tackling tough kitchen messes easier -- ensuring that your home is not only clean but also healthy. Follow the below tips and tricks to learn how to clean your kitchen appliances with ease.

Oven
If your oven boasts a self-cleaning mode, go ahead and turn it on. For the stovetop and exterior of the oven, spray a grease-cutting cleaner that stays where you spray, to thoroughly cover the surfaces, exterior walls and oven door. Allow the cleaner to go to work penetrating and lifting grime while you move on to the microwave. Use damp sponges or paper towels to remove the cleaner when the grease and grime have dissolved.

Microwave

To loosen grease and food spatters, boil a cup of water with a few lemon slices in the microwave for one minute, which will help to soften dried food particles to make cleanup easier. Then, use a foaming all-purpose cleaner and a damp sponge to easily wipe away residue and grease and leave a fresh scent behind.

Dishwasher
Use a toothbrush and warm, soapy water to clean around the rubber seal on the door of your dishwasher. Use a scrubbing brush or sponge to wipe away dirt and grime on the inside of the door, as well as the walls. Wipe away debris around the drain that could cause later clogging. Run your empty dishwasher on the hottest cycle to help further remove buildup.

Fridge
Because the refrigerator houses perishable foods, it's crucial to your family's health to keep it well-maintained and sanitary. Cleaning the refrigerator requires more work than just pitching old food. To ensure your fridge is thoroughly cleaned, turn the dial control to "0" and remove and discard old food items before removing shelves and drawers, then wipe them down using mild soap and water. Next, use a toothpick and toothbrush to clean corners, hinges and the rubber gasket. Finally, sanitize the drop pan with an antibacterial all-purpose cleaner. Cleaning the drop pan weekly will help reduce spilled food odors. After these steps are complete, return the dial control to the original temperature setting.

Sources: www.scrubbingbubbles.com, www.rightathome.com.

5 Ways to Brat-Proof Your Child

September 24, 2012 5:30 pm

A kid in preschool may not care if your child doesn’t say, “excuse me.” He may not even care if she uses her fork like a shovel. But he likely will care if your child keeps all the Legos to himself – or resorts to hitting instead of talking.

“Good manners still matter in today’s society,” says Robin Thompson, founder of etiquette.com. “Once your child is a toddler, it’s time to teach him or her that everyone else has feelings too, and that being polite is a wonderful way to make himself and others feel happier.”

Thompson offers five ways to start:

Lead by example – Children observe their parents’ behavior far more than you realize, and they learn how to act by watching you. Be sure to use, “please” and “thank you” even in your own home, and be on your best behavior when interacting with the neighbor, the postman, or the grocery store clerk.
Eat at the table regularly – Eating at the table instead of the on the couch in front of the TV gives you the chance to encourage your child to place her napkin on her lap, not to talk when her mouth is full, and wipe her mouth when she is finished.
Prompt kids in social situations – Encourage your child to say ‘please’ and thank you,’ to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye,’ to share with others, and to wait his turn.
Be consistent – All caregivers should be aware of the expectations you have set for your child and consistent in enforcing them. Even shy children catch on to what’s expected if everyone is on the same page.
Praise is a good teacher – Be sure to praise him when your child has exhibited good table manners, or behaved politely in a social situation. Praise is the best kind of reinforcement.

The Ins and Outs of Metal Roofing

September 24, 2012 5:30 pm

Your roof is your home’s biggest protector, so it’s no wonder that people want the best possible material for their roof. One choice that is becoming increasingly popular is metal roofing. Hailstorms, hurricanes, heavy snow and wildfires can all cause extensive damage to a home. In the U.S., approximately 10 percent of homeowners now choose a metal roof when remodeling.

Extreme Weather
Metal roofing systems are designed to stand up to extreme weather conditions. For homes in hurricane-prone areas, metal roofing's durability is a key factor to consider when re-roofing. Many metal roofing systems have a 120-mph wind rating and uplift resistance that exceeds new building code requirements. They are also highly resistant to hail damage. Hail will not penetrate a metal roof. Metal roofing products have the highest impact resistance and hail rating granted by Underwriters' Laboratory (UL). Most metal roofing products earn a UL2218 Class 4 rating, meaning that a sample of the product did not crack when it hit twice in the same spot by a 2-inch steel ball, which would translate into a huge hailstorm.

Natural Disasters
Washington state homeowner David Gordon experienced firsthand the importance of selecting the right roofing system when the metal roof he chose protected his home from being engulfed by the deadly Cle Elum wildfire. In the high wind conditions common in a wildfire, burning pine needles and debris can easily ignite a traditional asphalt roof.

"The odd thing is, we choose our metal roof primarily to help with shedding the heavy snow loads we get in our area. As it turns out, our metal roof saved our home when the wildfire swept through our area," explained Gordon.

Durability
Metal roofing materials interlock, forming a protective barrier that other roofing materials do not provide. The interlocking system makes the roof stronger and more resistant to high winds.
"Smart homeowners recognize the investment value in a metal roof," says Bill Hippard, president of the Metal Roofing Alliance. "In fact, 61 percent of consumers who choose a metal roof cite durability as the top reason for their choice. "

Source: www.metalroofing.com.

Made in America: Brick Options Rise with Housing Upswing

September 24, 2012 5:30 pm

As the U.S. housing market reports a cautious rebound, genuine clay brick manufacturers continue to invest in progressive technology for sustainable exteriors in more textures and colors at a wider price range. Historically a provider of steady jobs, brick manufacturers continue to increase environmental efficiency with environmentally-friendly plants to offer Made-in-America quality--and endless green building design options.

"Brick is where the imagination meets green living," says Gregg Borchelt, president and CEO of the Brick Industry Association (BIA). "There is no substitute for American-made genuine clay brick exteriors — unlike synthetic building materials that are fabricated to look like something they're not," he said.

Over the course of 100 years, the American brick industry has provided good-paying jobs with employees working 15, 20 or even 30-plus years — often in small and rural communities where the plants are based. Like farm to table, genuine clay brick is made from local resources at least two brick plants are located within 500 miles of 49 of the country's top 50 metropolitan areas.

Leading examples include:

  • The first brick plant built to Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design (LEED)® Gold standards with virtually waste-free manufacturing -- the use of landfill gas, natural day lighting, a cool roof and indigenous landscaping all add to the plant's sustainability
  • A growing selection of machine-molded antiques with added textures for the look of handmade brick at a lower cost
  • Increasingly incorporating genuine clay brick as an element of sustainable building design
  • Brick apps for iPad/iPhone/iPod and Web-based programs: to envision and choose brick exteriors in various colors and textures, including matching mortar to the brick for a monochromatic, seamless look
  • Increasing details/design options to personalize the home, including custom arches, window sills, quoin corners, artistic brick designs above doorways and other locations

While some other exterior options may cost less initially, genuine clay brick offers a superior value through benefits including low- to no maintenance, superior durability, enduring beauty, superior moisture control, design flexibility with many color choices, patterns, textures and custom blends. Genuine clay brick is also free of volatile organic compounds with virtually no waste and is inherently fire resistant.

Source: www.gobrick.com

Word of the Day

September 24, 2012 5:30 pm

Title. Actual ownership; the right of possession; also the evidence of ownership such as a deed or bill of sale.

Q: Can I Deduct Improvements Made to My Home?

September 24, 2012 5:30 pm

A: Yes, but only after you have sold it because improvements add to the basis of your home. Your gain is defined as your home’s selling price, minus deductible closing costs, minus your basis. The basis is the original purchase price of the home, plus improvements, less any depreciation.

The IRS defines improvements as those items that “add to the value of your home, prolong its useful life, or adapt it to new uses” – such as putting in new plumbing or wiring or adding another bathroom.