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Clean out medicine cabinets.
Go through your medicine cabinet and discard any medications that have expired or are unidentifiable. If you're unsure how to dispose of certain medications, check the label or look at the Food and Drug Administration's website for guidelines. Also, be on the lookout for National Prescription Drug Take-Back events that are hosted by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA hosts several events throughout the year.

Change exterior lights to yellow "bug" lights.
Exterior lights can be a magnet for flying insects. To keep a home well-lit without attracting every winged pest in the neighborhood, switch to "bug" lights around the home's exterior. Yellow "bug" lights don't repel insects, but they will attract fewer pests because insects are drawn more to white light than they are yellow light. As an added bonus, your home will appeal less to hungry spiders looking for a quick meal. Have pests already invaded your home?

Inspect metal patio furniture.
It's inevitable. Water and metal will lead to rust, and at some point your metal patio furniture is going to experience this. Before having the neighbors over for dinner or hosting the summer pool party, check your chairs, tables and loungers to ensure they're all rust-free. Rusted areas should be sanded and repainted. Keeping patio furniture rust-free will help extend the lifespan of the furniture and ensure no one goes home with red marks on their clothes.

Inspect your basement for moisture.
The annual thaw and spring rains can cause water to seep into your basement so check now for puddles on the floor or wet spots on exterior walls. Moisture problems are usually the result of poor drainage and can easily be addressed. If left unchecked, moisture problems can lead to the development of mold and mildew which can cause health issues. In severe cases, moisture problems can compromise your home's structural integrity. If you find signs of moisture in your basement, immediately contact a licensed and insured foundation pro.

Need a Sump Pump?
A sump pump is a drainage-tile system that is placed under the floor of your basement that channels water into a pit. Some houses have an unavoidable problem with flooding due to natural weather and environmental conditions.
A sump pump helps channel that water to a designated area other than your home. Sometimes water in your basement is a result of other issues that need to be addressed-for example, your gutters might be clogged or the downspouts are allowing pools of water to build up too close to the home. If you've checked all drainage installed around your home and you still have basement flooding, it's time to consider a sump pump.
If you choose to have a professional install a sump pump for you, keep in mind that the quality of equipment, ease of access, and local rates will influence the cost.

Be Water Wise (Outdoors)
• Avoid over watering your lawn. One inch of water per week in the summer will keep most grasses healthy.

• Water lawns early in the morning or in the evening during the hotter summer months. Avoid watering on windy days.

• Choose plants that are drought tolerant, heat tolerant, and tolerant of the minimum water temperatures.

• Use a broom, and not a hose to clean sidewalks and driveways.

• For plants that need more water, use a watering can or a hose on low pressure.

• Use lots of mulch around shrubs and trees to retain moisture, reduce run-off, moderate soil temperetures and help with weed control.

• Avoid over-fertilizing! Get a soil kit to determine what nutrients your soil needs. If you apply fertilizer only in the spring and fall, your grass will be healthy, use less water and need mowing less frequently.

• If you have a swimming pool, get a cover. You'll cut the loss of water by evaporation by 90 percent.

Tornado Safety:
Tornadoes have been reported in every state, and they can develop suddenly with little warning. During any storm, listen to local news or NOAA Weather radio to stay informed about watches and warnings.

Watch for telltale greenish clouds, a tornado phenomenon caused by hail. The safest place to be is in an underground shelter, basement, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building.

Outdoors or in a car, seek shelter in a basement, shelter or sturdy building. If you can safely get visibly lower than the level of the road, exit your car and lie down, covering your head with your hands.

Weather Terms:
A Watch = a tornado is possible in your area. Be prepared.
A Warning = a tornado is imminent and expected in your area. Seek Shelter.

Electrical outlets and lighting.
Generally speaking, each wall should have at least one wall outlet and each room should have one wall-operated outlet or over-head light. When operating light switches, look for dimmed or flickering lights that may indicate electrical problems somewhere in the circut. Also check the light switches for sparks (arching) when switches are turned on and off. Feel the light switches for overheating. Switches that are worn should be replaced. When a light will not turn on, even after the bulb has been replaced, it will likely be a result of a bad switch.

Water Heater Maintenance Tip
Gas water heater maintenance is the most dangerous out of all the different kinds of water heater maintenances you can perform. As long as you follow the safety precautions outlined in your owners manual and the extra safety precautions that are discussed on this site you will do fine.

Although gas water heaters are the most dangerous of all of the types, they are also the most common water heaters in homes today. Gas water heaters work about two times as fast as electric water heaters do, and running a gas water heater costs about as much as an electric water heater to heat the same amount of water.

Gas water heaters have changed a great deal over the last several years to make them more efficient, but to get the life you would expect out of a gas water heater it is very important that you give it proper maintenance. Gas water heater maintenance is close to the same steps as electric water heater maintenance, with a few differences.

The first thing you should do when beginning your gas water heater maintenance you should check that your gas water heater is receiving sufficient airflow to the burner area. Also make sure that there are no flammable materials or liquid near your gas water heater. You should also visually inspect your pilot light and burner through the site glass. Your gas water heater manual should include information about what a proper burning pattern should look like. You should also inspect your venting and other connections normally located at the top of your gas water heater. This is considered regular gas water heater maintenance that should be done periodically. Every 2 weeks or so it should be a regular routine that you do the gas water heater maintenance listed above.

When doing your regular gas water heater maintenance you will want to follow the same type of steps as the electric water heater maintenance with a few different things. You will first want to shut off the gas supply to the water heater. Make sure that the pilot light burns out. This will ensure that there is no more gas trapped inside of the burner chamber.

Following the next steps for gas water heater maintenance are the same as electric water heater maintenance. The first thing you will do is close the feed line valve to the water heater. After the valve is closed, attach your hose to the drain valve on the water heater and make sure that the open end of the hose is somewhere that hot water is not going to damage it. A driveway or the drain side of the sidewalk works very well.

It is also very important that you open a hot water faucet in your house somewhere. This will prevent the vacuum effect from happening to your water lines. Open the drain valve slowly and make sure that the hose is not leaking. If the hose is leaking, close the valve and tighten the hose. If the hose is not leaking, it is ok to open the drain valve. Drain all of the water out of the tank.

After the tank is drained, you should then open the feed line valve back to the tank. This will flush out any extra debris inside of the gas water heater. This step is probably the most looked over step when doing gas water heater maintenance. Watch the open end of the hose, and when the water that is coming out is clean, it is then time to close the drain valve to the water heater.

Remove the hose from the water heater that you were using to drain it. It is also a good idea to walk the hose out, lifting it above your head and draining all of the excess water out of it. Roll the hose up and store it properly. Taking care of the tools you use for doing your gas water heater maintenance and keeping them in a designated area will help you for the next time.

It is now time to turn your gas back on and ignite the pilot. Follow your owner's manual instructions while doing this procedure. Each gas water heater is pretty much the same, but some manufactures have different procedures.

After your pilot light is lit and your water heater is back to burning, you are done with your maintenance. Congratulations.

  Simple Smart Ways to Save Energy Costs in Winter
Don't get stuck with impossible insulation or a failing furnace. Instead, use these savvy ways to save energy and freeze out the frost.

For every degree you set back your thermostat back, you'll save 3% on heating costs. Try these easy ideas:

Under doors: Place a rolled bath towel under a drafty door. Why? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, decreasing drafts can reduce your energy use by 5 to 30 percent.

On the ceiling: Reverse the direction of your ceiling fan to push warm air downward.

In the basement: Clean your furnace filter once a month during the heating season for increased airflow, and consider switching to a permanent filter, which traps around 88 percent of debris.

In the garage: Mount snow tires on a spare set of used wheels. With increased traction, you will have better stopping power.

Around the house: Rearrange furniture to make sure heating vents aren't blocked.

In the attic: Make sure you have at least 12 inches of insulation lining your attic to keep heat from escaping through the roof.

  Energy Saving Laundry Tips:
Wash your clothes in cold water using cold water detergents whenever possible.

Wash and dry full loads. If you are washing a small load, use the appropriate water-level setting.

Dry towels and heavier cottons in a seperate load from lighter-weight clothes.

Don't over-dry your clothes. If your machine has a moisture sensor, use it.

Clean the filter in the dryer after every load to improve circulation.

Use the cool down-cycle to allow the clothes to finish drying with the residual heat in the dryer.

Periodically inspect your dryer vent to ensure it is not blocked. This will save energy and may prevent a fire. Manufactures recommend using a rigid venting material, not plastic vents may collapse and cause blockages and cause fires.

Look for the ENERGY STAR and Energy Guide Labels.

  Spring Chores to Take Care of
Dryer : Clean the exhaust duct and space under the dryer, and get rid of all dust and lint.

Gutters: Clean your gutters, drains and downspouts, so that heavy springtime rains can flow freely off your roof.

Furnace: replace the air filter regularily. A dirty one can restrict air-flow and in turn overwork the furnace, increasing the risk of a carbon monoxide leak.

Trees: Prune dead branches so they don't snap off during fierce seasonal winds.

Fireplace: Examine the exterior of the chimney for any signs of damage. have the flue cleaned and inspected by a certified chimney sweep.

Sump Pump: If you have one in your basement, test it to be sure it's clean and operable and that the outflow is draining properly.

Battery check: Make sure all your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have new batteries.

If you have any questions or comments e-mail me Tom Kollias

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