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Posted by on Apr 9, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Why Hiring a Private Firm to Trim Trees Beats Having the Utility Company Do It

Do you have a tree with branches growing close to power or telephone lines? That’s something you don’t want, and that your local power company definitely doesn’t want.

In most municipalities, the local utility companies have the right to trim back or spray any tree or vegetation that interferes with the wires. They are, in most cases, automatically granted an easement to manage any trees or vegetation that might interfere with the ability for the lines to properly transmit electricity or data. Here’s why you want to take care of the problem yourself, before the utility company gets to your tree.

1. Control the method.

Most people would prefer that their trees be selectively and professionally trimmed rather than completely removed, or unattractively pruned using methods like topping, or cutting off the top of the tree that interferes with the transmission lines. Topping is a practice that can hurt the tree and cause it to grow in unsightly ways. Even when this is not commonly used, a practice called directional pruning, where all potential interfering tree limbs are cut away, can have similar results.

The utility company generally has the right to remove any or all vegetation, or even to use herbicides on tall-growing trees or plants that might interfere with the lines. The herbicides that are generally used are supposed to be safe, but overspray could affect other plants nearby.

When herbicides aren’t used, mowing might be, which can result in an unattractive appearance, ground erosion issues and problems with uneven ground or rutting due to the mowers used.

2. Work is done on your schedule.

By employing a professional tree trimming service to maintain your trees and shrubs that are in the vicinity of power lines, you can keep them from growing too tall. Your utility company will have information about how much space they require around the lines; your local tree trimming professional should be well acquainted with the regulations in your area. In general, it’s a good idea to leave even more space than required to account for lines sagging in various weather conditions.

You can also have the tree trimmers come when it is best for your family and best for your trees. The utility company contractors who trim trees don’t pay attention to what’s best for the health of the tree when they come around.

3. Clean up is easier.

While in most areas, the utility company contractors make an effort to clean up cut branches, they may not do so according to your wishes. Perhaps you’d like the limbs chipped and be able to use the result as a garden mulch, or you have another use for them. When you hire your own professional tree service, you can control how the branches are collected and used after they are cut.

You may also find that your professional service will take more care with underlying landscaping than a utility contractor.

The wisest way to keep your trees at the proper height and prevent overgrowth into utility lines is to employ the services of a tree trimming professional to regularly maintain and treat your trees.

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Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

How To Keep Your Kids Safe During Spring Cleaning

As the warmer months are approaching, you’re probably looking forward to getting organized and doing a little bit of spring cleaning. One thing that you might be worried about, however, is keeping your little ones safe while you’re doing it. Luckily, following these steps will help you keep your kids safe and sound while you’re tackling this major once-a-year cleaning job.

Rent a Dumpster

As you’re doing your spring cleaning and organizing, you’re probably going to be getting rid of a lot of trash and unwanted items. Having these items all over your home throughout the cleaning process can be dangerous, however, because your kids can get into them or can trip over them while playing. Instead, consider renting a dumpster from a company like Tri-State Disposal while you’re tackling your project. Then, you can carry trash and unwanted items out while you’re organizing, and you won’t have to worry about them posing a problem for your family.

Use Natural Cleaning Supplies

Another thing to be worried about is your family being harmed by the ingredients in your cleaning supplies. As you probably already know, kids can tend to put a lot of things in their mouths or can lick and touch things that they shouldn’t. Avoid harsh cleaners like bleach or multi-purpose cleaning solution; instead, look for non-toxic cleaning solutions, or make your own. For example, many people don’t realize it, but you can make your own cleaning solution by mixing one part vinegar with one part water. You can add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a fresh and pleasant smell, and you won’t have to worry about your kids getting hurt if they ingest any of your cleaning solution.

Air it Out

No matter what you’re cleaning with, the smell inside your home can get really strong. Plus, if you do decide to use harsh cleaners, the fumes can be very harmful. Open up your windows while cleaning to let your home air out; not only will this make it safer for your kids and the rest of your family — it will also help you get some fresh air while recovering from the cold winter months.

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be dangerous for your kids or the rest of your family. If you follow these tips, you should be able to get your spring cleaning done without having to worry about the health or safety of your little ones.

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Posted by on Feb 5, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

How To Set Up A Neighborhood Recycling Program

More than 50 percent of the waste going into most municipal landfills is recyclable, especially if your city doesn’t have a recycling program in place. If you’re in a city with no program, set up your own neighborhood recycling group and deliver your items to the recycling center yourself.

Step 1: Find a Recycling Center

You need a reliable place to take your recycling before you can put a community plan into action. Your choices are either a city or private recycling service center like Quantum Resource Recovery. Check with the center to verify which items they can take. This varies at each center, but common recyclables include:

  • Aluminum, steel and tin cans

  • Paper and cardboard

  • Glass jars and bottles

  • Plastic (verify which numbers are acceptable. Numbers are printed or stamped on the bottom of the plastic item.)

  • Bulbs and batteries

  • Electronic E-waste

Step 2: Talk to Your Neighbors

Visit your neighbors and find out which ones are interested in a community recycling group. Take down names and addresses. Keep in mind that more people will want to contribute recyclables than will want to do any labor toward the program. Ask how much time they are willing to commit to the project, because you will need at least two or three helpers to keep the program successful.

Give each participant a list of the acceptable recyclable materials, along with any instructions, such as keeping them separate or rinsing out jars and cans first.

Step 3: Set Up a Collection Plan.

Regular recycling center visits will make people more likely to recycle, because no one wants the recyclables to build up in their house. Set a collection schedule. It can be weekly, biweekly or monthly, depending on the amount of people involved and how much recyclable material they generate. Try and arrange it for the same day each week or month.

Step 4: Create a Collection Site

You have two options for collection – pick up everyone’s recycling on the collection day, or have them drop it off in a central location. If there is a spot in your yard or in a neighborhood gathering area for collection containers, you can set up a container for each recyclable. Clearly label the collection container for each recyclable group so nothing becomes mixed together before you bring it to the service center.

Step 5: Organize Deliveries.

Even if you plan to make all deliveries yourself, it’s a good idea to have at least one backup deliverer in case you are out of town or ill. Make sure every delivery volunteer knows the location and hours of the recycling center, along with any key details such as drop off protocol once on the center’s site.

Recycling groups often have a slow start. It takes time for everyone to get into the habit of collecting their recyclables separately, and you will need to find out whom you can rely on for help. Give the new program time to become a habit, and you may find that doing your part for the environment has become second nature.

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Posted by on Jan 15, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

What New California Residents Need To Know About The Smog Test

Although 33 states require smog checks in vehicles, it seems to be a bigger deal in California than any other state. If you have just moved to the great state of California, you have probably already heard about the smog test that your car will need to pass. While smog tests can often be a hassle for any car owner, it can seem especially daunting when you are unfamiliar with the rules. Understanding the expectations and how to prepare for the smog test can help make sure you pass the inspection the first time.

Do You Have to Get a Smog Inspection?

There are certain vehicles that do not require a smog test for registration. These are mostly vehicles that are environmentally-friendly and diesel trucks that have no hope of passing but are necessary to keep the country running.  The vehicles that do not need to have a smog test include:

  • Motorcycles and trailers

  • Hybrid and electric vehicles

  • Natural gas vehicles that weigh more than 14,000 lbs

  • Diesel vehicles manufactured before 1997 and/or weighing more than 14,000 lbs

  • Gas vehicles manufactured before 1975

Also, new cars that are less than 6 years old can opt to pay a $20 smog abatement fee every year.

How Long Do You Have?

After you establish residency in California, you have 20 days to register your vehicle. If you fail to meet this deadline, you will have to pay late fees from $30 (less than a year) to $200 (more than 2 years) in addition to highway patrol fees if you happen to be pulled over and present an expired registration. However, before you can register your vehicle, you must pass the smog test. It is best to have the test conducted fairly quickly. This will give you time to fix any problems with your vehicle and have another test (or two) conducted before your registration time frame is up.

Also, don’t think you’re sitting pretty if you already have a passing smog inspection certificate from another state. California requires your vehicle to pass in their state, with their standards. After you successfully pass your first test and register your vehicle, you will be required to pass the smog test every two years.

What Happens During the Smog Test?

The smog test consists of two portions. The inspector will look for any blue or black smoke coming from the tailpipe during the visual test. Then the inspector will attach your vehicle to a smog check machine. Your vehicle will be tested for the levels of CO, NOx, and HC it emits. If the levels of emissions are within state guidelines for each of these compounds, you will receive a smog inspection certificate. If any of the levels are above the limits, your car will fail the inspection.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Car’s Chances of Passing?

If you don’t own one of the lucky few vehicles listed above that are exempt from the smog test, there are some things you can do to improve your chances of passing.

  1. Repair Your Vehicle First – If you suspect there is something wrong with your car or truck, bring it to a mechanic to have it checked out and fixed before you bring it in for a smog test. In addition, the smog technician may refuse to perform the test if the Check Engine or MIL light is on because this is an automatic failure. Taking your vehicle to a mechanic beforehand can save you an extra inspection fee and a lot of hassle.

  2. Drive It Before the Test – Take your car for at least a 20 minute drive before the smog test to warm up your engine. Your engine runs better and more efficiently when it is properly warmed.

  3. Pump Up the Tires – Part of the smog test usually requires driving your vehicle on a dynamometer, especially if the model year is before 1999. Equal pressure in the tires will improve the stability of the vehicle, which leads to improvement in the emissions output of your vehicle. In addition, try to avoid taking your vehicle in for the smog test on a rainy day. Although the smog machine can dry your tires before the test, any moisture that remains on the tires can reduce the stability of the vehicle on the dynamometer and affect the results. If you have a vehicle that might not pass, it may be best to reschedule for a sunny day.

  4. Get an Oil Change – Cleaner oil in your car could help reduce emissions. Change the oil before a smog test to get rid of contaminated oil. It will help you pass the test and avoid premature engine wear.

  5. Use Fuel Additives – Fuel additives can be poured into a vehicle’s gas tank when refueling. The additive cleans carbon deposits, allowing for free fuel and air flow. This improves combustion and leads to lower emissions.

Don’t leave your smog test to the last minute. Find a reputable station to perform your smog check and take your vehicle in well in advance of your registration deadline. If you prepare properly for the inspection and take good care of your engine, you should have nothing to worry about.

For more information, contact West Coast Smog or a similar company.

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Posted by on Dec 11, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Humane Mouse Removal

Mice may be small and cute animals, but they can become very unwelcome visitors in your home. Mice can cause damage to homes by gnawing holes into the walls and can possibly carry disease. Here are some tips to see if they are inside the house, how to trap them humanely, and then how to prevent them from sharing your home with you again.

How Do I Know if Mice are Inside My House?

From actually seeing them to seeing their small droppings, there are various ways to determine whether or not you actually have mice in your house. If you see holes in your food, you will know that mice have been getting into your food supply. To determine where they are, you may need to track down the small hole they chewed into your walls to get inside. One trick to see if mice come and go through that hole is to put flour in front of the suspicious hole. Check later to see if small mouse prints are in the flour.

How Do I Humanely Trap Them?

There are a variety of ways to trap them humanely and then release them back outside. You can purchase mouse traps, or try the arduous task of trying to watch their mouse hole and watch them come in and out until you find the perfect moment to try and trap them. Click here to see some common mouse traps. Most of these traps are reusable after they are cleaned. Some people use their pets to determine where the mouse has gone by watching their pets to see if they act interested in the walls. Be careful of this method because the mice have several holes they use to get inside.

How To Prevent Mice From Coming Again

In order to keep mice from coming inside again, you will need to take measures to fix the damage they have already caused. You will need to plug up the holes they made with much harder material so they can’t come through those openings again. Another key thing you will need to do is make it harder for mice to find food. Make sure you clean the kitchen and made sure that food is not lying around so they do not find easy places to scavenge for crumbs and leftovers. Also be careful about leaving pet food out at night or accidentally spilling seeds in the garage or house because mice will eat nearly anything.

For more information, or if you would like professional assistance, contact Environmental Services Pest Control or a similar company.

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Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

How To Identify A Brown Recluse Spider

Winter weather means that basement workshops see a lot more use than during the warmer months. This is a time to catch up on forgotten projects. It’s also a great chance to disturb spiders and other tiny creatures that have settled among the clutter and the spare parts.

In some areas, this includes the brown recluse spider. While these spiders are not aggressive, they can deliver a nasty bite and should be treated with respect. Here are some ways to find out if you have brown recluse spiders lurking in that scrap lumber.

Step one: Check to see if you live in brown recluse territory. This spider (Loxosceles reclusa) is only known to live in the central United States. If you are outside of this region, you probably have a different kind of spider in your basement.

Step two: Catch the spider.

Never attempt to grab an unknown spider with your hands. Instead, scoop it up with a plastic container or a paper cup with a lid.

Step three: Examine the spider.

You’re going to be checking a number of things, so it’s important to take your time. If possible, put the spider in a clear glass jar so you can examine it without losing it or risking a bite. Remember to put holes in the lid. It may not be necessary to kill the spider. Use a magnifying glass and a strong light.

There are many brownish spiders, but the brown recluse has some characteristics that make it easy to identify. If the creature you caught matches several of these, contact your university extension for proper identification.   

What to look for

Color. This will be a dusty brown, in some cases shading to a dark brown or orangish color.

Size. Look for long, slender legs on a body about 3/8 of an inch long.

Hairs. The legs will be covered with short, fine hairs. There will be no spines or other projections — if you see these, let the spider go. It’s harmless.

Markings. Where insects have three body segments, the head, thorax and abdomen, spiders only have two. The head and thorax are combined into a segment called the cephalothorax. It can be identified by the fact that this is where the legs are attached to the spider’s body. The brown recluse has a violin-shaped marking on the back of the cephalothorax. The neck of the violin will point toward the spider’s abdomen.

Eyes. Most spiders have eight eyes. The brown recluse has six, arranged in pairs. These can easily be seen with a magnifying glass. Look for a pattern that has two outer pairs of eyes, with the third pair between and below them.

Not a brown recluse

The spider is not a brown recluse if it has a violin on its abdomen, more than six eyes, shaggy legs, or short, stubby legs. In those cases, you’ve probably found the basement guardians that are keeping the crickets from taking over your house. 

Still, this is probably a good time to clear out those old projects, and to contact a company like Killingsworth Pest Control, Inc. if you have an abundance of creepy creatures in your basement.

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