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The warm, humid days of summer are perfect for creepy little creatures. Now is the time to wage war on ants, fleas, and the like.
It's tempting to dial up the pest control people when you see a number of insects, but it may not be necessary. You can set up your own military operation.
Information gathering and a good strategy plus the proper mix of tactics will carry you to victory. Identifying a pest is your first task, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.
Some are easy to identify, but some are not. Pest control people can advise you on what you've got and what to do about it other than sign up for their services. But always start with prevention:
Pests like termites, roaches, clothes moths, ants, and wasps are a serious matter and require immediate and effective action.
Some bugs that get into houses are relatively harmless, like centipedes, sowbugs (roly-polys), and crickets, though crickets have been known to chomp on clothing.
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Image by Pixaline from Pixabay
The thought of having the convenience, security, cool factor, and thrill of being able to control your home with your cell phone, computer, tablet, and voice commands are very intriguing! But installing smart home devices in your house can be disastrous and out right dangerous for you family if not done properly. Knowing what protective measures to take are of great importance to protect you and your family from becoming a victim of identity theft, virtual break-ins, physical break-ins, spied upon, and financial ruin to name a few!
Smart Home Hubs
These units are generally used to connect all your smart home devices together on your network. These units can also be a massive weak link for hackers to take advantage of. Many times, these central devices have weak passwords, no passwords, or just the default password that it came with. It is very easy for a hacker to gain control of your smart home devices once they have access to your smart home hub. It is imperative that this major link to all your smart devices is well protected by a strong complicated password.
Home Surveillance Cameras
How would you feel when you find out that your family and home are being watched 24/7 without you knowing?
This is happening to many unsuspecting families who installed surveillance cameras for security. The security and protection they thought they were getting is dangerously opposite. All you have to do is go online and do a search, there are websites that have a plethora of compromised home surveillance cameras that can be watched 24/7. These families don’t even know they are being watched! Furthermore, hackers can control these cameras by shutting them on and off which can allow for unrecorded break-ins, they can edit the recordings, research how many family members there are, view license plates (this can be used to track down your address), even talk or scream through the speakers to upset and scare family members.
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
mart Door Locks, Lights, and Garage doors
Smart door locks can have unidentified security loopholes that a hacker can take advantage of. Integrated third party apps that control the lights in your home and open/close the garage door can allow others to gain control of them if they are not setup with secure authorization. Use only authorized apps to help mitigate the issue of having a hacker take control.
Smart Home Thermostats and Appliances
How great it is to control the comfort of your home through your network from anywhere? Except when you arrive home and your house is so hot or so cold that you feel like you just stepped into a desert or the arctic. Just imagine the high cost of your gas and/or electric bill at the end of the month. The smart appliances within the home can also be used maliciously, such as a hacker turning up the heat on your oven to cause a fire. Changing the temperature setting of your refrigerator to cause spoilage of the food inside could be accomplished as well.
Smart home speakers can be used by hackers to access previous recordings, listen to family members, gather information on purchases, use them to speak through and scare you, access credit/debit card information, even order products (like a big screen tv). Many home users order groceries and other products through these devices which have your credit/debit card information stored to make it convenient to order items you need/want. But that convenience makes your information vulnerable. Smart home speakers can also be used to control the other smart devices throughout the home. So, you can see how a breach of one of the key smart devices can allow a hacker full control of all the other devices that are linked to it.
image by hamburgfinn from pixbay
Take Action Now to Help Protect You and Your Family
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WHAT IS RADON?
Radon is a gas formed by the breakdown of uranium, a natural radioactive material found in all soil and rock.
As uranium breaks down it produces radioactive particles (Radon) that can get lodged in your lung tissue when you breath.
HOW RADON CAN ENTER YOUR HOME
RADON can enter your home at any opening where the house contacts the soil. Some of these openings include: floor drains and sumps, floor/wall joints, cracks in the foundation wall, cracks in the slab floor, utility penetrations, exposed soil/rock in crawlspaces, hollow support posts(eg. jackposts, missing mortar on block foundations, and pores in the face of block foundations.
MEASURING THE RADON LEVEL IN YOUR HOME
Health Canada recommends that home owners do a long-term radon test (minimum 3 months), during the fall or winter. The detector needs to be placed at the lowest level of your home (where homeowners spend a minimum of 4 hrs a day). eg.. a basement bedroom, office etc..
Radon test kits can be purchased by phone, from the internet, or in person from certain professionals, local community health organizations or home improvement retailers..
Note: be sure to send the detector to the lab once the three month testing period is over, and be sure to write down the test start date and the stop time and date.
If you hire someone, make sure they are C-NRPP certified.
REDUCING RADON IN HOMES
1. Active Soil Depressurization.
This is the most effective and reliable radon reduction method. This involves installing a pipe through the foundation floor slab and attaching a fan that exhausts the radon gas from below the home to the exterior.
2. Sump-Hole Depressurization.
The sump can be capped and sealed so that it can still drain water and also serve as a location for a radon suction pipe.
3. Drainage System Depressurization.
Drain tiles or perforated pipe that drain water away from a foundation can be an effective way to suck the radon gas from under the foundation and exhaust it to the exterior.
4. Crawlspace: Active Sub-Membrane Depressurization.
The soil in a crawlspace can be vented. It involves laying a thick plastic sheet over the soil, sealing the air-tight membrane to the foundation walls and installing a fan to draw the radon from under the plastic and vent to the outdoors.
5. Sealing Major Entry Routes for Radon.
eg.. cracks in foundation walls, install a sealed sump pump cover, floor drains,
6. Increase The Mechanical Ventilation Of The Home.
eg.. a heat recovery ventilator (HRV)
More information can be found here:
Health Canada's guide to "Radon Reduction Guide For Canadians. 2014
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March can be a busy time for the determined gardener
Weather in March is so unpredictable. It may say Spring on the calendar, but the weather rarely cooperates completely.
In Zones 8 and higher, the average dates of the last killing frost occur throughout March. Zone 7 gardeners must beware of frost throughout April.
Make the repairs to fences and arbors now so they will be ready when the weather settles down. Clean out bird houses, if you dare. Watch out for wintering mice.
March is the perfect time for starting summer blooming seedlings indoors. By now, seed packets are available everywhere. It usually takes about six weeks for seeds to become strong enough for plants to be set outside in pots or a garden.
Some vegetables can be planted right now in Zones 7-8, but start later in more northern climes. Vegetable seeds may be started in prepared starter pots made of compressed peat and filled with a proper soil mixture.
It's a good time to test the ph of your garden soil. You can add whatever you need as soon as the soil is dry; not wet and clumpy.
Some pruning this month
Roses, in particular, can be pruned and fed this month. Cut roses back sharply for more compact bushes and long, slender stems. Cut honeysuckle vines back to three feet. Prune the fruit trees before the buds appear.
Trees and shrubs
You can still fertilize trees and shrubs. Acid types go with azaleas, rhododendrons, evergreens, and conifers.
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A home can be greatly compromised by the intrusion of water. This issue can have an effect on our health, comfort, as well as damage our home and the contents within. Quite often homeowners overlook several simple ways in which water can be managed to help keep it from finding its way into our homes.
Here are some simple ways to manage and control the water around your house:
1. Have a professional roofer inspect your roof covering yearly and perform any repairs that are necessary – this will help extend the life of your roof and reduce the chances of water getting past.
2. Keep the roof covering and gutters free of debris and trim back any branches that are touching the shingles – debris will slow down and possibly dam the water allowing it to work up under the roof covering, abrasion from branches and such will wear the shingles and shorten the life expectancy.
3. Downspouts that drain water from higher roofs onto lower onesneed to be extended all the way to the gutter on the lower roof – water that is dumped onto a lower roof will wear and shorten the life span of the shingles in the area that the large amounts of water run over.
4. The vast amount of water that is collected by the gutter and downspouts need to exit approximately 6 feet away from the building – this helps ensure the water absorbs into the ground away from your foundation, but only if number 5 is followed.
5. Maintain a positive grade away from your foundation to prevent water from pooling and running back to your house – water can more easily enter a basement when there are large amounts of it absorbing into the ground beside the basement walls.
6. Inspect and repair any cracked, loose or missing caulking around windows, doors, flashing and penetrations in the exterior wall – this will help prevent the water from getting in through these gaps and holes.
When these easy inexpensive tactics are put to use and maintained on an ongoing basis, many of your water woes can be greatly reduced.