Gunning Daily News

Time to Plant for Fall

August 5, 2011 3:35 pm

Now that most of summer’s produce is here, or well on its way, it’s time to start planning your garden for fall. Below are some hardy things to plant now for a full fall harvest.

1. Broccoli. Plant at the end of summer but well before the first frost, about 10 weeks.

2. Cauliflower. Plant in rich soil and be sure to water well.

3. Lettuce. Be sure to shade new seedlings from the afternoon sun.

4. Spinach. This hardy veggie lasts well into winter. Plant at least 5 weeks before first frost.

5. Cabbage. Not everyone is a cabbage fan, but this vegetable does well in cooler temps. Be sure to keep soil wet and the young plants shaded from too much sun.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning Is Not Just a Cold Weather Risk

August 5, 2011 3:35 pm

Back-to-back carbon monoxide incidents within one week of each other reaffirm what safety officials keep telling citizens: the risk of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning is not only a danger linked to cold weather and furnaces.

In both emergencies, faulty rental water heaters were the source of the deadly carbon monoxide gas.

Safety expert Carol Heller offers these CO summer safety tips:

1. Have all fuel-burning appliances inspected annually by a licensed professional. Boaters with watercrafts that have sleeping quarters, generators and/or inboard gas engines should also have annual inspections.
2. Replace carbon monoxide alarms every 7 years, per CSA certification. CO alarms from other manufacturers must be replaced every 5 years.
3. Replace batteries in CO alarms at least once annually
4. Consider purchasing CO alarms that have a digital display, which will alert you before harmful levels of the invisible gas are reached
5. Install CO alarms on watercraft that have sleeping quarters, generators and/or inboard gas engines. And remember, the boat moored next to you could also be a source of CO so stay safe in any marine situation.
6. If your CO alarm sounds, evacuate immediately and call 911.

What Homeowners Need to Know about Summer Mold Danger

August 5, 2011 3:35 pm

It's summertime! The sun is shining, the weather is warm. Who's thinking about mold? American Leak Detection says that if homeowners are not thinking about mold, they should be. Summer's heat and humidity—especially when combined with an undetected or untreated leak—can set the stage for mold to flourish. 

"The best way to deal with indoor mold is to prevent it in the first place," says American Leak Detection President Bill Palmer. "That means you need to recognize the signs that you may have a leak, and locate and repair the leak promptly. Undetected leaks can allow mold to take hold, and that can create a health risk to you and your family and expensive damage to your home." 

Even without a leak, mold can flourish when summer's downpours and steamy weather cause heat and humidity to raise moisture levels in basements, crawl spaces, closets and other enclosed, dark places. Palmer advises that if homeowners notice any of the following seven symptoms of a plumbing leak, they should take action promptly: 

1. The continuous sound of water (like a toilet running) when nothing is turned on.
2. The water meter reading changes when no water is being used. (Mark the indicator on the meter; don't use any water for an hour; then check the meter. If the indicator moved, there may be a leak.)
3. The water bill escalates over a period of weeks or months. (Compare bills month to month.)
4. The walls or floors have wet, spongy, moist or discolored areas when nothing has been spilled.
5. Foul odors coming from floors or walls near drains or sewers.
6. Cracks in the building foundation, uneven vegetation growth, or the earth shifts for no apparent reason.
7. Warm spots on the floor, particularly on concrete slab floors. 

If any of these signs are present, and the homeowner is unable to quickly identify and repair the leak, it's time to call in a specialist, like the leak detection experts at American Leak Detection. Their trained technicians specialize in minimally invasive leak detection to identify not only the source of the leak, but also its origin, which is critical in limiting property damage during repairs. 

For more information visit http://www.americanleakdetection.com.

Word of the Day

August 5, 2011 3:35 pm

Deficiency judgment. Judgment issued against a borrower when the sale of foreclosed property does not bring in enough to pay the balance owed on the mortgage.

Question of the Day

August 5, 2011 3:35 pm

Q: What are co-ops?

A: Cooperative apartments – known as co-ops – are not really owned by people as real property. Instead, people own shares of stock in the company that owns the building in which they live. But for all practical purposes, the experts say owning a co-op is almost like owning real property. Personal loans to “buy” a co-op apartment are written almost like mortgages. And the IRS treats co-op owners much like real property owners. They can deduct interest paid on their apartment loans and on their portion of the municipal taxes and mortgage interest paid by the corporation.

Shareholders in a co-op are entitled to occupy specific units, use the common areas, and have a vote in the corporation. To maintain this right, they must pay a monthly fee that covers their share of operating expenses.

As for governance, a board of directors, which is elected from among the residents, runs the co-op. Under most bylaws, the board may evict any tenant/shareholder who fails to pay the monthly maintenance fee. Everyone is expected to abide by the rules, which may prohibit pets or even children under a certain age.


August Housekeeping Tips

August 4, 2011 5:35 pm

Keep your house fresh and cool through the hottest month of the year, and save a little money, with the following tips:

1. Line Dry. Take advantage of the warm weather and save energy by drying your clothes on a clothesline. Hanging clothes to dry can be a fun project with kids, and nothing beats sheets that smell like a summer breeze.

2. Collect Water. Watering plants and grass in the summer takes a ton of water. Make an eco-friendly move by placing rain buckets outside to collect water from a summer storm.

3. Make Shade. Your AC unit will have less work to do if you make your home cooler naturally. Smart landscaping—more trees, shrubs and vines—can shade your home from the outside. Additionally, retractable or removable awnings—attached to the outside of your windows—can have huge cooling benefits. Blinds and shades can do the trick as well, and of course, if financially feasible, an energy efficient roof (one with an Energy Star rating) can offset heat by reflecting light.

4. Limit electronics. You don’t realize it, but even small electronics generate heat, not to mention use power even when off. Unplug things like powerstrips, lamps, cell phone chargers and small appliances (toaster, blenders, etc.) when not in use to score cool and cost-friendly results.

5. Smart Cooking. When the temperatures are soaring, the last thing you want to do is turn on the oven—which makes your AC work harder than necessary. Score some outdoor family fun by using your grill, and when you need to use the stovetop, keep pots and pans covered to retain heat.

Avoid a Kitchen Reno Disaster with These Helpful Hints

August 4, 2011 5:35 pm

Whether homeowners are trying to sell their house or simply would like to make some improvements, TouchStone Kitchen and Baths, a kitchen and bath design and installation company, provides consumers with the seven key questions to ask any contractor before they begin any renovation this summer.
“For most homeowners, a major kitchen remodel is a once in a lifetime experience,” says Carl Smith, President of TouchStone Kitchens and Baths. “A kitchen is the nerve center of a home and if a renovation is not handled properly it can be disruptive and stressful, to say the least. It is important to choose a company that has the ability to both balance form and function in the design and complete the project professionally in consonance with the homeowner’s lifestyle and desires,” Smith continues. 

To make remodeling a kitchen, bathroom or other area of a home less stressful and more streamlined, from the first little ideas to the final masterpiece, Smith suggests consumers use these questions and answers to make an informed, cost effective, and hassle-free decision about whom they hire:
1. Insurance: How is the contractor insured?

Some contractors operate with little or no insurance coverage policies?

If there is a worker injury, a homeowner injury or a construction mishap, the liability may fall on the homeowner. 

2. Manufacturer Warranty: Is it possible to prevent the warranty from being voided?

Product manufacturers offer warranties for the products they sell, but if they have been abused or improperly installed there is no coverage. Proper training and experience by professional installers insures that all warranties will be honored. 

3. Updated Showroom: Can I see how my kitchen might look and feel before we start the work?

When you are considering products and services for a kitchen remodel it is reassuring to be able to go to a showroom that has all of the products available to touch and see to verify the quality and durability. 

4. Creative Designing: Will this contractor find the perfect blend of creativity and technical considerations?

Every kitchen remodel begins with the design or blue print for the project.

Everyone wants a beautiful end result, but it is important to make sure the kitchen will also function. 

5. Financial Stability: Will the contractor be able to complete the work?

Some contractors will rely on the homeowner’s deposit, sometimes up to half the cost of the job, and still lack the financial fortitude and strength to complete the job before they get any other payments. It becomes essential to understand that the company can complete the kitchen, on schedule, even though the final payment is paid upon completion. 

6. Accountability and Trust: How do I know I can trust this contractor?

From the first telephone call, you’ll want to be confident that the contractor is easily reachable. Upfront, you need to know how the work is going to be completed and if there are any hidden costs. 

7. The Design and Build Process: How can I be sure that the contractor has my best interest in mind?

From concept to completion, homeowners are a part of the entire process. Ask for references and talk to previous clients to feel comfortable with your decision.

For more information, visit http://www.touchstonekitchens.com.

Deceptive HVAC Companies Leave Homeowners in a Pickle and Insurance Companies Holding the Bill

August 4, 2011 5:35 pm

Consider the following real-life scenario: 

At the peak of one of the hottest summers on record—the kind that prompt weathermen to caution against outdoor activities of any kind—your AC unit suddenly, and without warning, dies. As the temperature inside your house literally rises by the minute, you jump to action, anxious to find a quick fix to this major inconvenience. 

Lacking any real knowledge about your AC system, you scour the phone book (or Google) for someone, anyone, who can bring you relief from the oppressive and dangerous heat. At long last, you locate a local HVAC company willing to dispatch a technician and get you back on your feet. You breathe a sigh of relief, not knowing that your call has set in motion one of the oldest insurance scams in existence today. 

The rest of the story is all too familiar. The HVAC technician visits your home, briefly inspects your AC unit, and informs you that he's got good news and bad news. The bad news (predictably) is that your unit is damaged beyond repair, and you need a replacement system. The good news is that if he denotes "Lightning Damage" on his handwritten invoice, there's a very good chance that your insurance carrier will pay for it, because it's most likely covered under your homeowner's policy. 

And as you pick up the phone to call your insurance agent, you unwittingly perpetuate the continuous cycle of fraudulent HVAC claims. 

"It's been our experience that there are many honest HVAC companies out there," states Damon Stafford of HVAC Investigators of Charlotte, NC. "However, the blatant dishonesty and fraud that we encounter on a daily basis is disheartening. We see full replacement claims submitted to insurance companies where a breaker is simply tripped, or where the wiring leading to an HVAC compressor was accidentally cut by a previous repairman." 

Sadly, this is nothing new for the HVAC industry, and as insurance carriers focus more on fighting HVAC fraud, it's leaving homeowners between a rock and a hard place. What could have been a simple $75 repair has become a significant cost that your insurance company may not be responsible for ... and you could be left holding the bill. 

"Due to the significant downturn in new construction business, the temptation for HVAC companies to take advantage of these situations has exacerbated. Our research shows that insurance companies routinely overpay on HVAC claims by an average of 65%," says Stafford. "And this ultimately affects us all, and by 'all,' I mean anyone who pays property and casualty insurance premiums. It's a sad reality, and what's worse ... most homeowners don't even know they're a part of the scam. They're just looking for relief." 

For more information, visit http://www.hvacinvestigators.com.

8 Tips toward Unplugging on Vacation

August 4, 2011 5:35 pm

You have your iPhone, your BlackBerry, your Android. You have your laptop or netbook with wifi. It's hard enough to unplug for the weekend...let alone an entire vacation. But for your own sanity and even that of your coworkers, you need to. 

There's no reason to take a vacation only to spend it working. The beach might be great, but think about how much better it would be if your phone was left in your hotel room.

Vacations are meant to help employees recharge so they can return to work re-energized and refocused. But if you're constantly checking in with the office, you won't get a real break.

To help you unplug and look forward to your vacation, here are eight tips from CareerCast.com:
1. Plan ahead. Coordinate your vacation time with your co-workers, team and other executive staff to ensure that things run smoothly while you're out.
2. Designate your main point of contact and give them a detailed account of all your projects and work commitments along with your emergency contact information.
3. Try to leave the majority of your work-related hardware at home.
4. Inform your key accounts, vendors and clients when and how long you'll be out of the office.
5. If you have a lot of projects that will need attention while you're out, consider distributing your projects among your co-workers or team.
6. If you can't resist the temptation to check in, try to set up specific times or days you will be checking messages.
7. Leave your mobile devices in your room so you can concentrate on family and friends and not be tempted to check in during the day.
8. If you receive urgent voicemails or emails while you're out, ask your main point of contact troubleshoot the issue.

Remember, your health is important, and taking a vacation may be all the help you need.

Word of the Day

August 4, 2011 5:35 pm

Deed restrictions. Provisions placed in deeds to control how future landowners may or may not use the property. Also called deed covenants.