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

 

 

Christmas Gift Ideas for the Handyman (or Woman) in Your Life


I’ve come up with the greatest list of Christmas gift ideas ever assembled.  Or at the very least, it’s the best list that I have ever assembled. The following products are all items that we carry at our store (of course) but feel free to buy them from any other locally owned brick and mortar location near you. Please support the people in your own community, it’s what keeps our economy going. Now that I have that off my chest I can get off of my soapbox and move on to the goods.

First off is a line of flashlights from a company called Nebo. We have a number of different products that we carry from them and we have been very impressed with the quality and performance of all of them. The cream of the crop is the “Redline Select” LED flashlight. This flashlight is amazing. Its features: 310 lumens, adjustable spot/flood settings, power save 50% and 10% modes, S.O.S. mode, and defense strobe mode. It also has a magnetic base and a belt clip. This flashlight is intense. In spot light mode it can be seen 200+ yards away. We’ve had this flashlight and its little brother at our store for about 6 months and my favorite part about carrying it has been customers reaction to it. I try to warn people about how bright it is and without fail every single one of them shine it in their eyes and temporarily blind themselves. I try to hold back saying “I told you so” as they try to recover while swearing and rubbing their eyes, but it slips out every time.

The next products are a line of products from Leatherman Tools. Leatherman is the creme dela creme of multi-tools. They offer a pretty extensive line of options that meet a huge variety of needs. We carry the Surge, the Kick, the Sidekick and the Blast. They vary in price based on the amount of tools they slap on the classic needle nose body. I love my Leatherman. I can’t recall what variety it was but I’m pretty sure that when I bought it there wasn’t the options that they have available today. I’ve had mine for 18 years now and it still works exceptionally well. I just wish that it would break so that I would have an excuse to buy a new model.

Another exceptional new tool is the Turbo Pro Knife by Olympia Tools. We have seen a number of variations of the classic box cutter come and go but this one is far and away the best. What makes this knife so great is how you load and unload blades. They have made it so easy that you will never want to go back to the old way of doing things.  The gist of it is that the blades auto load. You press a release button, pull out the old blade, then slide the trigger back and it automatically reloads another blade in its place. Here is a link to a video that better shows how it works: http://youtu.be/0F_AwPbdSfc.

For the woodworkers and grease monkeys out there the next product is a must. O’keeffe’s Working Hands and it’s cousin Healthy Feet are a working mans new best friend. We started carrying this product a few years back and I was excited that I could finally take care of my bloody, painful, splitting finger tips without using my wife’s stinky aromatic lotion. I could moisturize without worrying about my manhood. The best part is…. it REALLY works! Try it and you’ll be a believer too.

Also for the woodworker, weekend warrior, and all around do-it-yourselfer is the line of rotary tools by Dremel. Dremel has an extensive line of gadgets, gizmos, and attachments that make their rotary tools incredibly diverse. They grind, they sand, they cut they slice, they dice. Dremel has also added a line of oscillating tools called Multimax. These are great for removing grout, cutting pipe,  pulling up carpet and more. If you are looking for a tool for that guy that has everything this is the tool for you.

Lastly, are a group of items that are for the kid in all of us. It’s a group of toys that have stood the test of time. They require imagination and even a little bit of motor skills. They help us to recall our childhoods and remind us of a simpler time before the invention of the iPad. First off is the rubber band gun. My brothers and I each had one as a child that was made by my great-uncle Morris. These aren’t nearly as nice as uncle Morris’ but they’re pretty close. Next is the Balsa Glider. Who didn’t have one of these as a child? The best part of the balsa glider is the fact that they cost $2.00! That means kids can find awesome and destructive ways to obliterate them (think bottle rockets) and it won’t cost much to replace it.  Lastly is the Take-Along Tool box by Melissa and Doug. This is a classic all wood toy. That’s right, believe it or not toys can be made out of a material besides plastic. It is a tool box that contains, nuts, bolts, nails, a hammer and a wrench all made out of wood. Josey, my 4-year-old girl, still plays with hers and she’s had it for 2 years. When you think about it that’s pretty impressive considering the amount of toys that little girl possesses.

All of these products can be purchased at our store but like I said earlier if you don’t buy it from us buy it at a locally owned brick and mortar establishment (that’s just fancy talk for an actual store and not online). Support those people who actually live in your community this Holiday season. We could all use a pick-me-up.

LeVahn Brothers Hardware and Plumbing is located at 12700 Bass Lake Rd. Maple Grove, Mn 55369

You can find us on the web at levahnbros.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/levahnbrothers

You can reach us by phone at 763-553-1222

Stuff I found in the back room of our shop


I was a little bored today so I decided to do some clean up around the shop. Here’s a selection of some of the interesting looking things that I found. Enjoy.

ceramic coffee mug with leather handle

1970’s coffee mug

square nail

rusty pipe #2

bailing wire

chainsaw bar and chain

chainsaw

roller chain

rusty pipe

extra heavy cast iron fitting

steel I-beam clamp
Beam Clamp

galvanized watering can spout

steel pipe hanger

REI Stainless steel coffee mug
coffee mug

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

When should you dethatch or aerate your lawn?


 

There is a debate going on among our employees about when to dethatch a lawn. Some the guys here say you should do it in the spring when the grass has established its root base. They base their opinion off of what golf courses do for their grass in the spring. Others, like myself, believe it should be done in the fall. If you dethatch your lawn late in the summer/early fall lawns are less succeptible to weeds and crabgrass establishing themselves. Whether you dethatch in spring or fall you need to make sure to give your lawn a healthy drink afterward. At least a 1/2 inch of watering should be done. If you dethacth in the spring you are going to want to make sure to use a fertilizer with a weed killer or crabgrass killer in it after you are done.  Here are a few articles I have found to support only my argument. If the other guys in the store want to defend themselves they’ll have to start their own blog:)

Late summer lawn care:

Lawn aerification: If your lawn has significant compaction problems, the period right around Labor Day and through the early fall is an excellent time to do some core aerification. Lawn aerification machines are usually available through most rental businesses.
9-09_02lawns.jpg
Photo 2: Lawn aerifier. Note the hollow tines for removing soil cores. Bob Mugaas.

Be sure to rent a core aerifier, one that actually pulls cores out of the soil and redeposits them on the lawn or soil surface. The extra aeration in the soil will encourage more active root growth as well as benefit the soil microbial community. Healthy plant roots and a healthy soil microbial population make for a healthy, vigorous grass plant better able to withstand stress along with normal wear and tear of lawn activity. The cores can be left on the soil or lawn surface to naturally decompose. This will also help control the buildup of thatch in the lawn. It is best to make two or three passes over the lawn to increase the number of holes needed to maximize the benefit.

Thatch control: Occasionally, a thick layer of brown fibrous material will build-up between the soil surface and where the grass plant shoots begin to turn green. This brown fibrous mat is known as thatch. It is actually composed of both living and non-living material. Thatch develops from the regular sloughing off of plant roots and other dead and decaying parts of the grass plant. It is however, NOT composed of any grass clippings. While there may be some grass clippings left on the surface, they are not part of the true thatch layer. So, whether you pick up your clippings or not, it will make no difference on the build-up of thatch. The living component of thatch consists of some roots, rhizomes and, of course, the many microorganisms and other living creatures.
If thatch develops at a faster rate than can be broken down by microorganisms, it can accumulate to undesirable levels. Generally, thatch greater than half-inch is undesirable. Cultural practices that contribute to thatch buildup are excessive nitrogen fertilizer, overwatering, infrequent mowing, compacted soils and simply the genetics of the particular grasses. Some grasses are more prone to thatch build-up than others.

Photo 3: Vertical mower or dethatcher; sometimes referred to as a power rake. Bob Mugaas.

Late summer (i.e., early September) is a good time to work at removing excess thatch build-up. Machines known as vertical mowers or de-thatchers can be rented and used to mechanically remove some of the thatch build-up. Leaving the soil cores on the surface will also help begin to break down thatch. In fact, where very thick thatch layers exist, using both a vertical mower and core aerifier may be helpful. If this is the case, thoroughly aerify the lawn, than perform vertical mowing. This operation can be done back to back on the same day if desired. It’s a good idea to follow-up with a quarter to half-inch inch of water to reduce lawn stress incurred from the dethatching and aerification processes.

Taken from the University of Minnesota extension page http://blog.lib.umn.edu/efans/ygnews/2009/09/checklist-for-late-summer—ea.html

Dethatching Drought Damaged Lawns

August 7, 2012

If your lawn has been damaged by the recent drought conditions, chances are that you will have to do some lawn repairs come fall.  Depending on the extent of the damage it might be beneficial to dethatch your lawn.  There are several ways to remove thatch from a lawn from manual removal to using power equipment.  Thatch rakes are found at most home improvement stores.  These rakes have sharp, claw like tines that grab thatch and remove it from the lawn.  This is the most labor intensive way to remove thatch.  If you are dethatching a small patch of lawn it might be easier to dethatch the lawn by using a thatch rake.  Anything over a couple of hundred square feet is best left to power equipment.  Most folks do not have hours to dedicate to the manual removal of thatch.

The most effective way to remove thatch in a lawn is through the use of a power rake.  Most home owners do not own a power rake, but they can rent one at most rental stores.  Power rakes are about the size of your average push mower and can be used by almost anyone.  Most power rakes on the market are constructed using metal blades that spin on a drum.  The blades are usually serrated, which allows them to grab the thatch in the lawn.  Power rake blades spin continuously while the machine is being propelled forward.  Most units come with a bagging system to catch the removed thatch.  There are adjustable settings on most machines which allow the user to choose the depth of the blades.  You only want to set the blades low enough to remove the thatch.  If your blades are removing chunks of dirt and living grass, then your machine is set too low.  Any rental store should provide instructions on how to properly use the machine prior to renting it out.

taken from clean-cut property services http://cleancutproperty.com/529/dethatching-drought-damaged-lawns/

Here’s a few more articles about lawn care, seeding, dethatching and aeration:

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

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/

 

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