Winter Skin Savers

by Brad Campbell, January 21, 2021
Winter Skin Savers

Summer isn’t the only season that damages your skin. Sun exposure and its link to skin cancer are real concern. But cool weather can also wreak havoc on otherwise healthy skin.

Cooler months bring loss of humidity and cold air that can have very negative effects on the skin. (Plus, it makes me itch!) So what can you do to save your skin?

Use a mild soap. Experts recommend washing with a mild soap like Cetaphil. Long, hot showers can further irritate the skin, so take only one shower a day, and keep it short, around three to five minutes. Don’t lather too much or scrub too hard. Scrubbing removes skin’s natural oils.

Keep your skin moisturized. Moisturizing after a shower is a good idea. If you apply lotion while still damp, it will help to lock in the moisture. Try a lotion that contains the ingredient urea. Urea is a water-grabbing ingredient that draws water from the lower layers of skin to the upper layers where it is most needed.

You can add moisture to your air by using humidifiers, placing pans of water over radiators and adopting houseplants that transpire water into the air. Do your best to take care of your skin. After all, it has to last you a lifetime!

Time to Soup Up

by Brad Campbell, January 13, 2021
Time to Soup Up

As the weather gets cooler, it’s time to fill up on warm hearty soups. Homemade options can often be healthier, and tastier, than canned alternatives, but how do you get started?

Here are three common options for preparing the base of your soups and sauces this season:

Produced by simmering vegetables, aromatics (like herbs) and bones, stock is the best go-to as a base for soups, stews and sauces. Stock adds complex, robust flavor to any recipe it touches, despite having little or no salt.

Though less rich and flavorful, go for store-bought broth if you’re not ready to commit to hours in the kitchen.

Bouillon, a cube or granule form of dehydrated stock, is often processed with MSG, large amounts of sodium or other additives. Use it only in a pinch.

Don’t Let Winter Whittle Your Lawn Away

by Brad Campbell, January 7, 2021
Don't Let Winter Whittle Your Lawn Away

Warm weather may be over but there’s still plenty to do to get your lawn ready for the months of shorter days and lower temperatures…

Less Is More

OK, first things first: clean up the yard. Sure, many people feel that leaves add to their lawn’s seasonal and aesthetic appeal. But the truth is leaves that aren’t raked can actually suffocate the grass beneath.

Keep Evergreens Green

Ever notice how your evergreens tend to brown once spring comes around? It’s because of a process known as desiccation.

Basically, the trees dry out over the winter because of sun and wind exposure. And since the ground is cold, the trees can’t get that lost moisture back. To help, wait as long as you can before giving them one last heavy watering for the season.

Baby Your Trees

Sunscald can occur when the temperature fluctuates quickly. This often happens on those random days in winter when the temperature might be warm in the sun during the day but returns to sub-freezing once the sun goes down at night. Newly planted trees can be protected from this by wrapping their trunks in burlap or plastic wraps – just check your local lawn care or hardware store.

High Energy and Utility Costs Tanking Your Budget?

by Brad Campbell, December 31, 2020
High Energy and Utility Costs Tanking Your Budget

During the cold months there’s nothing quite like a hot shower or a nice long soak to warm you up. Yet there’s a sad truth, one you face every day – the costs of energy and utilities continue to rise with no end in sight. And it can be hard to enjoy your nice hot shower when it’s costing you a fortune.

See, traditional water heaters have to reheat the water in the tank as it cools, causing what is called standby loss. Essentially, you’re paying over and over to reheat the same water. Then there’s the wasted water in the pipes between the water heater and the faucet. You know – the water than you have to let “run” until it gets hot.

It may seem that the waste is inevitable since cold showers in the middle of Winter probably won’t be catching in any time soon. But there are alternatives to the conventional water heater that can save both energy and water use. One such option is the tankless water heater.

The tankless heater cuts your excess energy and water waste in two ways:

By heating water instantly and only once, energy required for hot water output it decreased. Because there isn’t a tank and water is heated instantly, no water is left in the heater causing the need to let water “run”.

Aside from the energy and utility savings, there’s the added benefit that your hot water never runs out. Of course, there are considerations to take into account before you switch to a tankless water heater:

• Size of electrical wiring or gas pipeline should be considered. They may have to be increased, which can add to the price of installation.

• There can be a “flow delay” for faucets further from the heater.

• Tankless water heaters are typically incompatible with hot water recirculation systems.

The energy savings and continuous hot water typically outweigh installation concerns, but you should consult a plumbing professional (like us!) to be fully informed of your options. Give us a call and we’ll be happy to explain each of them.

4 Heart-Healthy Tips

by Brad Campbell, December 22, 2020
4 Heart-Healthy Tips

Heart health is no laughing matter. According to a study by Bayer Aspirin, cardiovascular disease accounts for more deaths in the U.S. than cancer, diabetes or accidents. What can you do to stay healthy? Start by taking these 4 activities to heart and live, love and laugh longer!

1. Exercise – Any physical activity, such as walking your dog, for at least 30 minutes each day can help to strengthen your heart.

2. Reduce Stress – Avoid stressful situations by finding a balance in your home/work lifestyle. Meditation and laughter also help to reduce tension.

3. Reduce Alcohol Intake – Most females should limit themselves to one drink per day. More than two drinks can be harmful.

4. Keep Aspirin on Hand – In the event of a heart attack, call 911, then take one regular-strength aspirin to decrease the damaging effects and reduce the risk of death.

Foods for Good Moods?

by Brad Campbell, December 15, 2020
Foods for Good Moods

When reaching for a pick-me-up on a gray winter day, skip the cookies and instead choose a healthy alternative that offers a boost to both mood and energy. Stock up on good-mood foods so that at the first sign of a sinking spell, you’ll be ready to:

Peel a banana and chew on a slew of benefits, including fructose; fiber; vitamins B6, A and C; tryptophan; potassium; phosphorous; iron; protein and healthy carbohydrates.

Enjoy a handful of walnuts, an omega-3 rich food that also provides a dose of vitamin B6, tryptophan, protein and folate. (They are also a great addition to a quick salad.)

Take in a taste of dark chocolate. Rich in antioxidants, chocolate can offer a temporary mood improvement, thanks to its sugar, fat, caffeine and phenylethylamine – a chemical in the brain that releases the endorphins that produce all the happy feelings.

Put a Stop to These Winter Chills

by Brad Campbell, December 8, 2020
Put a Stop to These Winter Chills

Your doors and windows are shut. Yet, you just have this feeling that something else is lurking inside. Maybe it brushes up against your shoulders and gives you the chills. It’s time to check to see if a draft is flowing through your house attacking your warm, comfy air.

Take a lit candle and place it along each windowsill and baseboard. If it flickers, you’ve got a draft. Here’s what to do to help increase energy-efficiency by eliminating each draft one step at a time:

1. Clean and dry the baseboards with a paper towel.

2. Use white or clear paintable caulking to fill in the gaps between the trim and the floor.

3. Smooth out the caulking with a wet finger.

4. Get rid of the remains with a damp cloth.

5. Place weather stripping around the frames of your windows and doors to really seal-up tight.

Are You Flushing Your Money Away?

by Brad Campbell, December 1, 2020
Are You Flushing Your Money Away?

Try a simple test. For lots of homeowners, a toilet is working well when it flushes as directed, the bowl and tank refill, the water shuts off, and all becomes quiet. That’s true, but did you know that even when everything seems to be working well, you could still be wasting water?

It’s a matter of timing. First, a few basics. The toilet is made up of two main parts – the tank and the bowl. When you flush the toilet, a chain pulls up the flush valve in the tank which allows the water in the reservoir to rush through the discharge hole and trigger the flushing of the water from the bowl through the siphon and into the pipes.

After the flush, both tank and bowl begin to refill. The flapper falls over the discharge hole in the tank. Water begins to go down the refill tube and refill the tank – and also down the bowl refill tube through the overflow tube and into the bowl. As the water level in the tank rises, the float rises with it, and the refill valve shuts the water off.

Now for the timing issue. The bowl refill tube will not shut down until the tank is full. If the bowl has reached its “topped off” level while the tank continues to fill, that means that everything that continues flowing to the bowl is wasted water. This is because the water level in the bowl will not rise higher than the siphon – because any water that does goes right down the pipes.

Here’s the test... take a look at the water in your bowl and make a small pencil mark at its top level. Flush the toilet, then watch to see when the water in the bowl reaches the pencil mark. If the tank has not refilled by this time, every bit of water that is now flowing into the overflow tube is wasted water. All of that wasted water adds up on your monthly utility bills.

Give us a call, and we’ll help you with this and other ways to save water (And utility costs!). We can do this during an annual plumbing inspection, while we take a close look to see if the rest of your plumbing is operating efficiently.

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