PSE offers home-improvement safety tips for summer

July 13, 2010

Puget Sound Energy reminds residents to watch for underground and overhead utility lines when building a new fence or deck, working on the roof, planting trees and shrubs, or even flying a kite.

Follow these safety tips during summer and the rest of the year:

  • When getting ready to landscape a garden, pull a tree stump, build a fence or undertake any other digging activity, call 811 — the free, call-before-you-dig-hotline — to avoid potential hazards associated with striking or digging up underground utilities.
  • Place new trees away from overhead power lines. Do not build playhouses or platforms in trees with nearby power lines.
  • Never climb trees near power lines — even if the power lines are not touching the tree.
  • Avoid flying kites, metallic balloons and radio-controlled toys near power lines. If a kite or Mylar balloon drifts near a power line, let it go. Never try to retrieve anything caught in a power line or from a tree located near a power line.
  • Never install hot tubs, swimming or wading pools underneath or near power lines.

PSE advises anyone who damages a natural gas line, or who smells the odor, to quickly move a safe distance from the damaged line, call 911 and report the damage to PSE by calling 888-225-5773 toll free.

Puget Sound Energy offers home-improvement safety tips for summer

June 27, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. June 27, 2010

Despite day after day of cooler-than-normal temperatures, summer started last week and, with it, so did the season for gardening and outdoor home improvements.

Puget Sound Energy reminds residents to watch for underground and overhead utility lines when building a new fence or deck, working on the roof, planting trees and shrubs, or even flying a kite.

Follow these safety tips during summer and the rest of the year:

Read more

Time for sprucing up

June 8, 2010

June always makes yards look overgrown and messy. The dark days and all the spring rain make plants reach for the sky.

We don’t like to work in the yard when it rains, so we end up with yards that really need hair cuts. Look at it as an opportunity. Even if you don’t have a good landscape design, it can be simple to make it look so much better.

Trees, shrubs and groundcovers have different basic forms. The trick is to enhance each plant with pruning to fit its own character, and keep each of the three — shrubs, groundcover and trees — visually separated from one another.

Columnar shrubs: Clip off floppy side branches and top them if too tall.

Mounding shrubs: Trim to nearly flat, or rounded with even tops, not ragged. Allow them to grow together if they are close enough. One mass often looks nicer than individual lumps, but it may be difficult to reach across the next time you prune. Read more

New season means new choices for new mowers

May 11, 2010

Go gas or electric, front-wheel or rear-wheel drive

Now that winter has finally relinquished its grasp on local weather, allowing a transition to spring, many homeowners have probably noticed the grass in the yard has grown out of control since last fall.

This leaves them to answer the question — is their mower up to the task or is it time for a new one?

Homeowners in the market for a new mower have myriad choices when it comes to lawn maintenance. Randy Byrd, floor associate at The Home Depot, lends his years of expertise to help steer potential buyers toward the right mower for the right yard.

The first question Byrd asks is the size of the yard, to help determine whether the homeowner needs a riding lawn mower or a push model.

“It matters if the yard is hilly or flat and if it’s just a 20-square foot patch in the suburbs,” Byrd said.

The general standard, unless you’re looking for extra exercise, is steer toward a push mower if it would take less than an hour. For those with large lawns, riding mowers come in the standard 42-inch deck (the width of the area blades cut) all the way up to 52 inches.

Read more

Five simple steps to prepare your mower for its first run of the season

May 11, 2010

Clean the mower deck

It’s important to clean the grass and debris buildup from under the mower deck and on the cutting blades at frequent intervals in order to prevent clogging and to improve cutting performance. Do not use sharp instruments to clean the deck. Always wear safety glasses, and make sure the spark plug wire is removed from the spark plug before performing any maintenance.

Change the air filter and oil

In order for your mower to run at its optimum level, you must change the oil and air filter once a year.

Replace or clean spark plugs

Your spark plugs should be replaced when you notice rust forming around them; however, it’s important to clean them on a regular basis. If you don’t replace or clean the spark plugs, the mower will not function properly.

Sharpen or replace mower blades

In order to get the best cut possible, sharpen or replace the blades. You can use a metal file to sharpen blades, but if you’re uncomfortable doing it yourself, take it to your local hardware store.

Use fresh gas and fuel stabilizer

Old gas can clog the engine, which can cause major system damage to your mower. Be sure to use up or empty gas at the end of the season and start with a fresh tank every 30 days. Always use a minimum of 87-octane gas with no more than 10 percent ethanol and add fuel stabilizer to your gas can at every refill to protect your mower from problems that can be caused by today’s ethanol-blended fuels.

Source: MTD Products Inc.

Put some work into a home office makeover

April 13, 2010

When homeowners put a personal touch on each room of the house, designers caution not to forget one of the more important rooms — the home office.

Whether used for a home business, managing personal finances or just having a place to help children with their homework, more and more homeowners are setting aside a space for a desk, computer, cabinet and other office supplies.

Local experts weigh in on what to keep in mind when giving a room in your house a makeover into the ideal home office.

Kathy O’Neill’s home office, converted from part of the garage, features attractive window treatments, a functional shelf of wood file boxes, and her relaxing view of the backyard. By Greg Farrar

Location, location, location

Kathy O’Neill, owner of Kathy Jones Design, said the first key is placement.

“The biggest thing to keep in mind is to keep your home office away from the kitchen and other high traffic areas,” she said, “so mentally, you can leave the daily home life, even if you’re not leaving the building.”

O’Neill heeded her own advice when she designed her own home office — she walled off a section of her three-car garage, built a new exterior window and moved everything into that room.

If the budget is tight, she recommends converting an underutilized space, such as a formal living room or a dining room. She’s also seen guest rooms pull double duty as a home office. Daybeds are used, well, by day and a trundle pulled out for overnight guests.

One of the biggest mistakes many homeowners make, O’Neill said, is sharing a home office space with a bedroom.

“Mentally, you can never truly leave work,” she said. Read more

Here’s some easy tips to enliven your home for spring

April 13, 2010

There is nothing more exciting than that first warm day of spring when everyone feels enlivened and refreshed.

It’s time to bring the renewed energy inside and give your home the boost it needs after a long and tired winter.

Once you’ve set aside time to spruce up your home, make sure you have resourceful products at your disposal, like baking soda. One box has countless uses for effective, safe and economical cleaning and deodorizing all around your home.

“Using natural ingredients found in your kitchen allows you to turn your home into a clean and fresh living area,” says lifestyle expert Jill Cordes. “And be creative. Baking soda works on everything from deodorizing carpets and cleaning patio furniture, to polishing jewelry and putting the shine back into your bathroom floor. And even better yet, it is affordable, at about a dollar a box.”

Try the following tips from Cordes to have your entire home looking and smelling clean this year:

Start in the kitchen

  • Grab the baking soda and sprinkle some onto a clean, damp sponge or cloth to wipe down stainless steel surfaces, like the kitchen sink, without scratching. Rinse thoroughly.
  • If you wrinkle your nose in disgust every time you open the door to your microwave, it’s definitely time to deodorize. Baking soda on a damp sponge not only helps clean dried-on food, but also keeps odors at bay. Leave a box of baking soda in the microwave when it’s not in use for continued freshness. Read more

Open a window to federal remodeling tax credits

April 13, 2010

As warm weather approaches and the tax credit for energy-efficient replacement windows is in full swing, now is the perfect time to consider upgrading your home with new windows to help save on cooling costs in hot summer months, and to also save on heating costs when winter rolls around again.

The tax credit for energy-efficient replacement windows and doors, originally introduced in 2009 as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is set to expire at the end of 2010, which makes this year the best time for homeowners to replace their windows and upgrade the look and feel of their home.

Here are some tips and guidelines to help homeowners make the most of the energy-efficient replacement window tax credit:

How do I qualify for the tax credit?

The federal government established strict standards for windows to qualify for the tax credit. Replacement windows must have a glass package with a U-Factor rating — the rate at which heat is prevented from escaping — of 0.30 or lower. Qualifying windows must also possess a Solar Heat Gain Coefficient rating of 0.30 or lower. The lower the window’s Solar Heat Gain Coefficient, the less solar heat it transmits.

A common indicator of a window’s energy efficiency is the Energy Star label, which as of this year includes more stringent guidelines. Homeowners who purchase windows with the Energy Star label should still check with their contractor to ensure the windows they purchase meet the tax credit guidelines because the tax credit qualifications may vary from Energy Star guidelines in certain locations. Read more

Bring peace to your inner space

March 9, 2010

Looking for ways to spiffy up your indoor décor for spring? It’s as close as the nearest paint shop. Read more

Discover who’s who at the Bellevue Home Show

January 12, 2010

Issaquah-based Decks by JRW recently completed this project. www.jrwdecks.com

Issaquah-based Decks by JRW recently completed this project. www.jrwdecks.com

Now in its 28th year, the Bellevue Home Show brings new features and a new attitude when it opens at the Meydenbauer Center on Jan 22. Eastside homeowners will find a strong emphasis on green — in building, remodeling, food, financial matters and creative opportunities. More than 150 local exhibitors represent the entire scope of the building, remodeling and interior design industries.

Rosanne Cohn, of the Bellevue Home Show, said the exhibition is ideal for Eastside homeowners.

“It’s smaller, more accessible — a local experience showcasing the top vendors and exhibitors in their industries, and is dedicated to the Eastside economy and environmental attitudes,” Cohn said.

Four Issaquah businesses are participating this year, ready to enlighten homeowners about the latest in decks, use of natural materials in new homes and home remodeling projects both big and small. Read more

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