Posts from the ‘home’ Category

Minnesota is a hotbed for radioactive gas radon | StarTribune.com


  • Minnesota is a hotbed for radioactive gas radon | StarTribune.com.
  • Here’s a news story from Star Tribune about how prevalent Radon Gas is in Minnesota. It’s incredibly easy to test your home yourself to find out if you have a problem with radon. I tested my home last year with a First Alert test kit that I got from our hardware store. The test kit includes instructions that were very easy to follow. I placed my tester out in a specific spot based off of the instructions and sealed it up 24 hours later. I received my test results after 2 1/2 weeks that indicated that I had low levels of Radon present.

    Gas Leak detector Radon Test kit First Alert Easy radon test Cheap economical hardware store mail in EPA listed Lab test included

    First Alert Radon Test Kit Available from LeVahn Brothers Plumbing and Hardware

My levels were low enough that I didn’t need to do anything. It gave me peace of mind to know that I wasn’t poisoning my kids, wife or myself with radon in my home. I highly recommend getting a test or having your home professionally tested if you have serious worries and want more immediate results.

If you are wondering if the neighborhood that you live in is a hot bed for radon the Star Tribune has a page that allows you to enter your zip code and it will let you know how many cases of radon have been reported in that area.  It will also tell you how that compares to the national average. According to the Star Tribune Minnesota has some of the highest radon concentrations in the country. I entered the Zip code of where the hardware store is located and it indicated that in Maple Grove 55369 just over 34% of the homes tested had unsafe levels of radon present. In Maple Grove 55311 27% of homes tested had unsafe levels. Plymouth Zip code 55442 also was above 27%.  Plymouth 55441 had over 41% of homes tested above unsafe levels of radon.  Here’s the link to that web page if you want to check out your neighborhood:

http://www.startribune.com/local/190270511.html

 

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Radioactive gas a Minnesota health risk | StarTribune.com


Every 25 minutes, a person in the U.S. dies from radon-related lung cancer. It is the largest environmental cancer risk and the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. But the risk is largely preventable.

More than 40 percent of Minnesota homes have dangerous levels of radon gas, and state health officials say every home should be tested. Gov. Mark Dayton has declared January “Radon Action Month” in Minnesota. Public health agencies and the Minnesota Department of Health are giving 8,000 radon test kits to residents at low or no cost. Find info on the MDH website.

Radon is the second-leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, and more than 21,000 deaths are attributed to radon each year. Radon reduction systems can be installed in homes.

Radon is odorless, colorless and tasteless, so the only way for homeowners to know if their home has radon is to test. Most test kits are priced under $20 and available at city and county health departments, many hardware stores, or directly from radon testing laboratories. Discounted test kits can also be purchased online at http://www.radon.com.

via Radioactive gas a Minnesota health risk | StarTribune.com.

If you want to purchase a kit today you can buy them at LeVahn Bros Hardware and Plumbing in Maple Grove. We carry the First Alert Radon test kits ($17.99). They are very easy to use. The kits cost also includes the lab testing and the cost of shipping the test materials. I tested my house last year shortly after we moved in and got my results back in about 3 weeks. We did not have dangerous levels of radon but doing the test gave me peace of mind about my house.

First Alert Radon Test Kit

First Alert Radon Test Kit

 

 

Fall lawn care practices may be different this year : Extension news : University of Minnesota Extension


Here is an article from the University of Minnesota Extension about our drought conditions in Minnesota and what to do about your lawn and garden this fall.

Fall lawn care practices may be different this year

Media Contact: Catherine Dehdashti, University of Minnesota Extension, office 612-625-0237, cell 651-329-2427,ced@umn.edu

ST. PAUL, Minn. (9/18/2012) —Fall is the preferred time for many important lawn care practices. From fertilization and weed control, to aeration and seeding, there is no better time for cool-season turfgrass maintenance in the Midwest. But this year is different, according to University of Minnesota Extension turfgrass educator Sam Bauer.

“The lack of precipitation in August has caused many of our Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, or fine fescue lawns to turn brown and cease growing,” said Bauer. “In order for your lawn to recover, you will need to begin irrigating regularly.” This means more than just one or two cycles, but enough water to wet the root zone sufficiently to sustain turfgrass health.

If your lawn is stressed from lack of moisture, typical fall maintenance practices that have been recommended in the past may add additional stress. “Concentrate more this fall on creating the best possible growing environment for your turfgrass, and you will reap the benefits during next year’s growing season,” said Bauer.

Here are some tips from Bauer for drought-stressed lawns:

  • Aerate after the lawn’s health has been restored. While aeration is a great fall practice, it further stresses drought-stressed turf and may actually cause the lawn quality to decline.
  • Don’t dethatch or use a vertical mower. This process tears turfgrass leaves and crowns, and should only be conducted when the lawn is healthy.
  • Don’t spray herbicides on a brown lawn. Systemic and contact herbicides used for weed control are more effective when weeds are actively growing.
  • Choose fertilizer sources with at least half of the nitrogen component present in the slow release form. High rates of quick release nitrogen fertilizers can have negative effects on drought-stressed turf. There is also a greater potential for environmental loss of nitrogen when the lawn is not actively growing.
  • Raise the mowing height and mow less frequently to encourage turfgrass recovery.
  • Maintain soil moisture to promote turfgrass recovery.
  • Spot seed and fertilize thin, weak areas with a high-quality turfgrass seed mixture.
  • Perform a soil test to determine fertilizer requirements of phosphorus and potassium.

For more information on lawn care, visit www.extension.umn.edu/turfgrass

Fall lawn care practices may be different this year : Extension news : University of Minnesota Extension.

A winter survival guide for your house | StarTribune.com


Photo: Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

Star Tribune photo galleries

Chimney

• Have it inspected by a professional chimney inspector every year.

• Have it cleaned every year or two, or more if you have a lot of fires or tend to burn softer woods.

• A chimney cap with a rain hood and screen will minimize rain damage and keep critters out.

Fireplace

• Stock up on clean, dry firewood. A fireplace store can recommend someone to deliver and stack it for you. Store it away from your house to keep mice and other vermin at a distance.

• Close the damper when the fireplace is not in use. When you’re using it, turn down the thermostat and open a window near the fireplace to prevent warm air from being pulled from other parts of the house.

• Install glass doors on the fireplace to keep warm air from being drawn up the chimney.

• If you use the fireplace frequently, a fireplace insert improves efficiency by blowing heat into the room and limiting heat loss up the chimney.

Keep the cold out and the heat in

• Reducing air leaks and properly insulating walls, crawl spaces and floors can cut energy bills by up to 10 percent. Seal leaky ducts with metal-backed tape or aerosol sealant. Consider having your insulation updated to save money, improve comfort and lower the risk of ice dams.

• Set your thermostat between 65 and 70 degrees when you’re home; lower it when you’re sleeping or away from home for more than a few hours. Use a programmable thermostat to make the switches automatic.

• On sunny days, open curtains and blinds to let the sun’s heat in. Close them at night to trap the warmth inside.

• Close or install storm windows, which reduce drafts and frost formation and can cut heat loss through the window by 25 to 50 percent. For a cheaper alternative, cover windows with plastic.

• Schedule a home energy audit through Xcel Energy; for $30 to $100 a professional will inspect your home and identify ways you can save on energy, including windows, insulation, and heating and cooling systems.

Keep rooms toasty

• Run your ceiling fan at low speed in reverse direction (counter-clockwise) so the blades drive warm air down into the room.

Heating

• Change your furnace filters per the manufacturer recommendations. Most homes are built with a 1-inch filter which should be refreshed every month.

• Clean your furnace before the first cold spell. If your furnace isn’t too dirty, you can save money by vacuuming the blades yourself.

• Get acquainted with your

house’s ductwork. Most homes are equipped with dampers, allowing you to change the volume of heat delivered upstairs, downstairs and all rooms in-between.

Plumbing

• Disconnect your garden hose, shut off the water valve and drain the spigot — even if you have a frost-free faucet.

• Drain the sediment from your water heater. This should be done once or twice every year.

Pests

• Repair any exterior damage that might invite pests. Carpenter ants like leaky pipes, warped storm windows and tattered roof shingles, whereas frayed screens and chewed-through door sweeps attract rodents.

• Clear your garage of mice-magnets, especially if you have an attached garage. This isn’t the place to stash woodpiles and unsealed birdseed.

Spring

• Prevent a flooded basement by caulking any gaps in your sidewalks, especially those closest to the house.

Gutters

• Clean debris from gutters and downspouts. Open any roof drains or vents.

Roof

• Check the caulking around vents and chimneys and other roof protrusions to make sure the seal is tight.

• If you tend to have problems with snow and ice backup, consider installing electrical heat tapes to keep melted snow flowing off of the roof.

• If you use an ice rake to remove snow from your roof to avoid ice dams, make sure you rake all the way to the roof’s peak, or dams could form above the rake line.

Sources: Crystal Manik, senior marketing business consultant for Xcel Energy; Eric Siedow, technician for Chimney Guys; Rodney Pierce, salesperson for Genz-Ryan Plumbing, Heating and Air Conditioning; Colleen Cannon, staff entomologist for Plunkett’s Pest Control; Bill Yares, president of Twin Cities Home Evaluations; Stacy Reese, manager of Walker Roofing.

via A winter survival guide for your house | StarTribune.com.

Additional related articles:

How to prepare your home for colder temperatures

How to prevent an outside faucet from freezing

Get a roof rake to prevent ice dams

What to do for a frozen sump pump discharge line

Save money by insulating your home

It’s prime lawn care time | StarTribune.com


It’s the perfect time to attend to your lawn.

As garden chores wind down, you can turn your attention to improving your grass — now and next spring.

Star Tribune photo galleries

Early fall is a time of active growth for grass, both above and below ground. That means regardless of the current condition of your grass, it’s prime time for lawn care. Any effort you put into your yard now will pay dividends not only this fall, but also next spring and summer.

Here’s how to keep your lawn looking great:

FERTILIZE

fall fertilizer

Because turf grasses are growing so actively now, they’re able to take up and make use of fertilizer most effectively.

Apply a high-nitrogen fertilizer in early to mid-September, then water the lawn lightly afterward to make sure the granules reach the soil and don’t wash away. (Nitrogen is always the first of three numbers that give the nutrient analysis of any fertilizer.)

The University of Minnesota no longer recommends a second application later in autumn, because grass is less able to absorb nitrogen then. One fall application will do.

WATER

Though we often receive plenty of rainfall in autumn, it’s not unusual to run into a dry spell.

If we haven’t had rain for a week or so, you should water the lawn, especially if it’s been warm or windy. It best to water deeply, rather than lightly, but how often you need to water depends on the weather. As the temperatures drop, you can water less frequently, but as long as grass continues to grow it will need water — whether from the sky or your sprinkler.

MOW

Keeping the grass taller during summer (2 1/2 to 3 inches) results in deeper root growth. But once the weather cools off, you can gradually reduce the height of the grass. By the final mowing, your lawnmower blades should be set so the grass is only about 2 inches tall. If the grass blades are left too tall going into winter, they can pack down, which makes the grass more prone to disease.

SEED

Scotts ez Seed shaker

 

Early September is the best time to overseed thin patches of grass. Soils are still warm, there’s usually more rainfall, and nights are longer and cooler — all favorable conditions for grass seed to germinate and grow rapidly. Plus, few weed seeds are programmed to sprout now, so there’s less competition.

Scruff the soil so seeds make good contact rather than sit on a hard-packed surface. Aerifying the lawn before overseeding loosens the soil and creates an excellent surface for planting. Fertilize with standard lawn fertilizer or one formulated specifically for use when planting grass seed. Then water lightly as often as needed to keep the soil moist. Water more heavily and less frequently as the young grasses grow. Mow the areas that are overseeded when existing grasses grow too tall. Most important, do not use any form of herbicide in these areas until next year, including fertilizer/herbicide combinations.

WEEDS CRABGRASS

An abundance of crabgrass has been one of this year’s most common complaints. The repeated heavy spring rains interfered with pre-emergence herbicides. So even lawns that were treated for crabgrass may have lots of it.

Because crabgrass is an annual weed that dies over the winter, there’s no point in using weed killers on it now. Instead, plan to apply a pre-emergence herbicide to infested areas next spring.

Natural products containing corn gluten meal also prevent crabgrass, but they take several years of spring and late-summer applications to be the most effective.

PERENNIAL WEEDS

 

Creeping Charlie Herbicide

Ortho herbicide for creeping charlie

By the latter part of September, temperatures will have cooled enough to begin using broad-leaf herbicides on dandelions, plantain, creeping Charlie and other perennial weeds, which spring back from the same roots year after year.Because perennial weeds are storing nutrients in their roots now for next year’s growth, they’ll take in herbicide more readily in the fall. On really tough weeds such as creeping Charlie, you can add a second herbicide application two weeks after the first.

If you prefer not to use herbicides, manually dig out perennial weeds. And remember, the weeds you remove this fall won’t be around to produce seeds next year.

AERATE AND DETHATCH

If your soil is hard or you have a thick buildup of thatch (more than 1/2 inch), your lawn will benefit from core aeration in September. Aeration takes small plugs out of the soil, which allows water, fertilizer and oxygen to penetrate below the surface and encourages good grass growth. (The small cores of soil should be left on the surface of the grass, so they break down and top-dress the soil.) You can rent an aeration machine (it’s hard work) or hire the job out.

Power rake

If the thatch is really thick, rent a dethatching machine, also known as a “vertical mower.” (Again, this is hard work you may wish to hire out.) The machine slices through the grass, bringing up lots of thatch, which will have to be raked up and added to your compost pile.

Aerating and dethatching may be done on the same day, but they will dry the soil rapidly, so be sure to water the lawn once you’re done.

Deb Brown is a garden writer and former extension horticulturist with the University of Minnesota.

via It’s prime lawn care time | StarTribune.com.

Other posts that you may enjoy:

 https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/10/02/fall-yard-care/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/05/08/grass-seed/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2009/04/14/spring-lawn-care-thatch-aeration-and-fertilizers/

Lawn dethatching | Lawn gardening | Home lawn care: Gardening.

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/lawn-dethatching-lawn-gardening-home-lawn-care-gardening/

https://levahnbros.wordpress.com/2012/09/01/when-should-you-dethatch-or-aerate-your-lawn/

LeVahn Brothers Hardware is located at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, MN 55369

Find us online at levahnbros.com and also on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/levahnbrothers

You can aslo call us at 763-553-1222

 

Product Highlight: Toro Power Shovel


Toro Power Shovel

The Product Highlight for the last week of 2010 is the Toro Power Shovel. It features a telescoping handle, 12″ clearing width, and can throw snow up to 20 feet. It is the perfect tool for decks, porches, stairs, sidewalks or small driveways. It is electrically powered so there is no gas or oil. You plug-in an extension cord and off you go. It is very lightweight and easy to use.

To purchase a Toro Power Shovel:

Call LeVahn Bros Hardware Hank  at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd Maple Grove, MN 55369

Visit us on the web at levahnbros.com

Get a roof rake to prevent an ice dam


Metrodome roof collapse due to snowfall

With 2 feet of snowfall occurring in the metro area of Minnesota you need to make sure you stay on top of the accumulation of snow on your roof. Take the collapsing of the Metrodome as a sign that snow accumulation on a roof is not a good thing. Snow accumulation on your roof isn’t going to collapse your roof but it can cause damage.

Ice dam

The biggest issue with snow accumulation on a roof is the forming of ice dams.
Ice dams occur when heat from your home melts the snow that is in direct contact with the roof surface. This melted snow then re-freezes and builds up an ice dam, normally at the gutter. As time goes by and water continues to feed the dam, the ice dam grows. If you have icicles forming, that is usually an indication that a dam may be forming.

Water bubble formed by a roof leak

The problem that arises due to ice dams is that the water that is backing up at the ice dam can find its way into your home. The water finds cracks and openings in the roof and makes its way into your attic space. From there it will make its way down walls or through ceilings. It can cause major water damage in your home.

Remove the first few feet of snow with a roof rake

To avoid having an ice form on your home use a roof rake to pull snow from the roof. A roof rake is essentially a really shovel that is turned on its side so that you can pull snow from the roof surface. When removing the snow you don’t need to worry about clearing the whole roof. All that you need to remove is 2-3 feet of snow from the roofs edge. The first couple feet of roof is where the dam forms and you need to keep this area free of snow to avoid having the water accumulate here.

Avalanche snow rake

The are a number of different roof rake options out there to purchase. The models that we carry are all around the same price (around $50-$55). A new unique version is the Avalanche snow rake. It slides under the snow allowing the snow to slide off the surface of the roof. There are also different length options so be sure to look at what length you need. If you have a really tall roof and need to extend your rake make sure you buy one that has that option. A five foot extension runs about $10.

“Roof Melt”

If you have an ice dam already formed do not attempt to chip or pull the ice up with your roof rake. They are meant to pull down snow only and they will break if you attempt to use them as an ice chipper. Remove the snow on top of the dam and as much as you can reach behind the already formed dam. As a last resort use a product such as Roof Melt ice dam remover. Roof Melt is a large pellet of ice melt. It is magnesium based so it doesn’t harm the surface as much as a sodium based product. I can’t say for sure that it doesn’t harm the shingles but I’d rather replace shingles then have to deal with gutting a room due to water damage.

If you have an issue with ice dams on your home you should strongly consider installing roof and gutter heat cables on your roof. Once installed, the heat cables can be plugged in anytime to melt an ice dam from your roof and/or gutters. They also can be placed on a thermostat that activates the cable at a certain temperature. It’s something that needs to be installed before there is snow and ice on the roof. We have dozens of customers (and this year hundreds of customers) that come in every year for ice dam issues. We always recommend the roof cables and hardly anyone remembers to come back and buy the cables in the summer or fall. I would recommend buying the cables now while it’s on your mind. If you have them on hand you’ll be much more likely to remember to install them in the warmer months. Cables can be purchased that are between 60′ and 120′.

Check out cable 12 for a story that they did on ice dams in the twin cities. They will be airing the story at 4:00 and 6:00 on Friday the 17th.

For more info on roof rakes and ice dams check out the blog “how to prevent and get rid of ice dams”

For more information call us at 763-553-1222

Stop in and see us at 12700 Bass Lake Rd Maple Grove, MN 55311

Or visit us on the web at levahnbros.com

Check us out on Facebook and “like” us

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