(StatePoint) What’s growing on your windows? If you have wood windows, or even dirty window sills, the answer could be mold.
“When materials in the home, such as wood window frames or wood window sills, come in contact with moisture for an extended period of time, mold can grow,” says John Stark, marketing manager for Simonton Windows. “The key is the presence of an organic food source.”
And mold growth can be hazardous to your health, causing respiratory problems and allergic reactions. So how do you reduce your home’s risk for mold?
• You may see your windows “sweat” during the winter or summer months because of varying humidity levels inside the home. Without proper ventilation, moisture can accumulate on windows and walls from daily household activities such as hot showers, boiling water and opening dishwashers after a cleaning cycle. Use ventilation fans and dehumidifiers to minimize condensation and help reduce humidity in the home.
• If your windows have major air leaks, don’t close properly or are failing to act as a solid barrier to the environment, then it’s time to replace them. Opt for vinyl window frames, such as those from Simonton Windows, which won’t provide an organic food source for mold. More information can be found at www.Simonton.com.
• Keep window frame surfaces clean. Even if tiny particles of organic debris are found on or around the surfaces of a vinyl window in a moisture-rich area, you could potentially find mold growth. What makes up this debris? It can be anything from fragments of pollen to animal dander to insect pieces to normal household dust.
• Reduce the chance of condensation in your home. Use ceiling fans, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom to increase ventilation. Leave interior room and closet doors open. Consider reducing the number of house plants.
• If your blinds or window coverings are closed all the time, condensation can get “trapped” in between the window treatments and the windows, creating a damp environment that may encourage mold growth. Routinely open window coverings to increase ventilation near windows. Additionally, ensure air vent deflectors are placed on floor vents to reroute air into the room rather than straight up against a window.
While installing vinyl windows in the home is a smart start, homeowners also have to do their part – keep the home well ventilated and clean during all seasons to reduce mold.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:46
(StatePoint) Your backyard is a space where you enjoy quality time with your family all year long. But accidents can happen anywhere - even in the oasis of your backyard. For parents, taking extra safety precautions out back should be just as important as childproofing done indoors.
To prep and maintain your yard for outdoor safe play and relaxation, here are several important steps:
• Lawn: Remove tree stumps and level concrete footings to avoid tripping. Lawn debris such as rocks could become projectiles when cutting the grass. So be sure to clear the yard. Additionally, children should never be nearby while you’re using motorized equipment. Store potentially dangerous tools, equipment and chemicals completely out of the reach of children, such as in a locked shed or garage.
• Fencing: A yard without a fence is like a house without walls. Fences help protect children from danger, keeping toddlers out of swimming pools, hot tubs, ponds, or away from traffic or strangers. Fences can also improve pet safety, keeping your pets in your yard and other animals out, and can reduce your liability by preventing injuries to uninvited guests on your property.
With that in mind, be sure your fences and gates are functional and free of rust that can render them useless or dangerous.
“Rusty metal gate hardware that no longer functions properly or becomes a threat to children is a top homeowner concern, according to our research,” says Jim Paterson, senior vice president of D&D Technologies, which manufactures gate latches and hinges made of ultra-strong engineering polymers.
Eliminate this worry by installing high-quality fencing impervious to seasonal weather, ground settling and other factors that can cause gates to become misaligned over time. Opt for gate hardware that can be easily adjusted to function properly over the long-term. For example, some models of TruClose self-closing tension adjustable hinges are vertically and horizontally adjustable.
Additionally, be sure to install pool barrier access gates with adjustable self-closing hinges like TruClose and self-latching gates where the latches are out of the reach of children, such as the Magnalatch Safety Gate Latch. Both products carry lifetime warranties and are adjustable both vertically and horizontally for easy adjustments.
Homeowners can peruse a bevy of rust-free gate hardware and child safety latches online at www.ddtechglobal.com or in person under the Stanley Hardware brand available through most Lowe’s stores.
• Sun Protection: When the sun is bearing down, skin can be susceptible to burns and permanent damage year-round. And children’s skin can be even more sensitive to harmful UV rays. Your yard should have plenty of shady areas to seek respite. Plant trees and watch them grow. Install a canopy. Adorn patio furniture with an umbrella.
Your backyard can be one of the most exciting places for your children to play through the entire year. A little prevention along the way will keep it safe and fun.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:45
(StatePoint) After a busy work week, it can be hard to get motivated to complete chores and tasks around the house. And knowing what tasks to do and when to do them may not come intuitively for everyone. But neglecting home maintenance is a mistake, say experts.
“Regular home maintenance can benefit your family’s health, safety and pocketbook,” says Elizabeth Dodson, Co-Founder of HomeZada, a digital hub to store pertinent information about your home. “Consider creating a home maintenance schedule to stay organized and motivated.”
With this in mind, here are several examples of how to maintain your home and why it’s important:
• Mineral deposit build-up in your refrigerator’s ice maker can eventually cause a leak that could damage the refrigerator and its contents. Annually clean water lines to prevent the need for a major appliance replacement.
• Lubricate your garage door for smooth operation and to delay the need for parts replacement.
• Lint build-up in dryer ducts is flammable and a common cause of house fires. An annual cleaning eliminates this dangerous situation. You should also regularly clean your dryer’s lint filter after every couple of loads. Likewise, you can prevent fires with checks on electrical and gas equipment and fireplaces.
• Maintain the air quality of your home by replacing or cleaning the filters on your home’s heating system quarterly, or as needed.
• A regular schedule of battery replacement in your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors could be life-saving.
Reducing utility bills
• Periodically ensuring that your home is properly sealed and insulated can lower utility bills. Use weatherstripping to close gaps around windows and doors.
• On an annual basis, inspect heating and cooling equipment to ensure it’s running optimally.
• Ensure your fireplace damper closes and opens properly. When your fireplace is not in use, keep the damper closed to maximize your climate controlled environment.
A house in worn condition can lose 10 percent of its previous appraised value, whereas proactive maintenance can increase the appraised value each year by 1 percent, according to the National Association of Realtors.
And you don’t have to invest a ton to improve your home’s value. Plenty of projects offer great returns on investment. This becomes especially important if your home is on the market. From replacing elements of your home’s exterior to updating your kitchen, your realtor can offer suggestions for updates that can help you sell.
Consider new tools to help you track home improvement projects in one place. For example, by signing up for HomeZada, you will automatically receive comprehensive home maintenance checklists, as well as automated alerts and reminders when it’s time to complete a task, so you never miss anything important.
Additionally, the site provides how-to videos and other free resources for do-it-yourselfers. For more information, visit www.HomeZada.com.
Don’t let key maintenance tasks fall by the wayside. Let new tools help you keep your home safe and up-to-date.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:44
(StatePoint) One of the simplest ways to make a big impact on your home’s exterior is with your front door. But if you are tired of the old standards colors, you’re not alone – experts predict bolder trends this year.
“Exuberant hues will be popular this year as a way for homeowners to show the world their energy,” says Kate Smith, a color trend forecaster and president of Sensational Color. “For those going for a classic feel, colors that are vibrant, yet at the same time, offer comfort, warmth and reliability will reign.”
For homeowners looking to express their “colorful selves,” consider selecting a paintable fiberglass door with a smooth finish. For example, those from Therma-Tru Classic-Craft Canvas Collection and Pulse, feature clean lines, crisp angles and attractive glass configuration options, and are ideal for adding personal expression to a home.
According to Smith, the top five door colors for the “exuberant homeowner” in 2014 include:
• Capri: A tropical blue that wakes up natural woods and neutral surroundings, this hue adds a splash of energy.
• Raucous Orange: This color demands attention with its energetic tone and makes the perfect punctuation point for homes with a modern look.
• Dynamo: This flirty violet hue instantly updates traditional color schemes for a trendier home front.
• Relic Bronze: A deep, almost brown mustard color, “Relic Bronze” reflects aged beauty.
• Quixotic Plum: This sophisticated deep purple is where trendy meets timeless.
The top five door colors for those following the more classic trend of comfort, as identified by Smith include:
• Georgian Bay: Brighter than dark navy, this step-above reserved blue is a trusted color when it comes to the welcoming message it sends to family and friends.
• Show Stopper: Like classic red at dusk, “Show Stopper” adds a touch of mystery to this bright hue. A slight spin on traditional red, this color warmly welcomes people to a home.
• Polished Mahogany: The deep, rich shade of brown has a staying power that traverses trends and captures a solid feeling for homeowners.
• Classic French Grey: Stepping out of the shadows to stand on its own, this cool, neutral grey will continue to rule the palette in 2014.
• Gulfstream: This bright, modern blue has an of-the-moment appeal. At the same time, it still feels rooted in something familiar and nostalgic for homeowners.
Whether you follow new trends or stick to tradition, don’t forget to take your entire home’s exterior into consideration. From roof to door, a “top down” approach can help you pick color combinations that are eye-pleasing and flow naturally to create curb appeal.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:43
BOZEMAN – Are you a Montanan who is 62 or older as of Dec. 31? If so, then check to see whether you qualify for Montana’s elderly homeowner/renter tax credit for 2013.
If you can answer yes to all of the following questions, then you may be eligible for the credit:
• Were you 62 or older as of Dec. 31, 2013?
• Did you occupy a Montana residence(s) as an owner or renter for 6 months or more during 2013?
• Did you reside in Montana for nine months or more during 2013?
• Was your total gross household income less than $45,000 in 2013? Form 2EC contains instructions for determining total gross household income.
To determine eligibility, complete “Form 2EC,” which can be found at your local office of the Montana Department of Revenue, library or post office.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:42
(StatePoint) Warmer weather is just around the corner, which means higher temperatures. But does it have to mean higher energy bills too? The answer is no. There are numerous ways to keep your home cool and bills low this summer.
After a few months off, it is vital to check that your air conditioning system is still working in an efficient and optimal manner. If you have a central air conditioning system, for peace of mind, you might want to have your system checked by an HVACR professional. In order to save, be sure to shop around for special deals, which are not difficult to find for seasonal preventive maintenance. Understand however, that the proficiency of HVACR technicians differs greatly.
When searching for the right HVACR technicians for your home, one way to make certain that the job will be done properly and effectively is by hiring a professional certified by North American Technician Excellence (NATE), the nation’s largest independent, non-profit certification body for HVACR technicians. NATE-certified technicians are qualified to properly install and service equipment, which means maximum home comfort and energy savings.
Once a NATE certified HVACR technician has inspected your system for efficiency, there are a number of things you can do to keep energy bills low:
• Clean your air filters. Check them every couple of weeks and change them at least twice in the season, or as directed by the manufacturer.
• Don’t obstruct airflow around air conditioner units – keep them clear of plants and debris.
• Raise the thermostat about five degrees, because each degree you raise the thermostat will save you a percentage off your cooling energy bill.
• Compare energy bills from last year. If your costs have significantly increased, simply contact a qualified HVACR technician - they can help determine the source of the problem.
Remember, just because you have an energy-approved, eco-friendly, high-efficiency product, it does not mean automatic money and energy savings. For substantive results, proper installation, service and maintenance are important too. So do yourself a favor - request the service of a NATE-certified technician. In order to locate a contractor that employs certified technicians, look for the NATE logo or go to www.HVACRAdvice.com.
By taking preventive measures, you can rest assured that this season you will be cool while saving money and energy.
Last Updated on Thursday, 06 March 2014 11:39
SAN VITO, Costa Rica – Election day in this former banana republic is like flag day – not the red, white, and blue tricolor stripes of the national emblem but the varied banners of the 13 (!) political parties with dogs, however small, in the fight.
Folks wear their party’s T-shirt and cars, pickups and farm trucks prowl the winding streets of this mountain town with flags a-flying: The green and white of the perpetual powerhouse PLN (National Liberation Party), the yellow and red of the PAC (Citizens’ Action Party), the blue and red of Social Democrats, the yellow (red lettering) of Frente Amplio (Broad Front).
Youthful enthusiasts beat drums, blow horns, chant slogans and blow kisses. The street leading down to the school polling place in San Vito, founded by Italians following World War II, is lined with brightly colored campaign tents. Volunteers offer to explain issues or candidates, or show the proper place to mark an “X.”
Vendors sell cool refreshments, food, or lottery tickets. Taxis arrive. Buses jammed with voters from distant rural areas disgorge the party faithful. All that’s lacking are jugglers and clowns dressed in party colors – which they do have in the nation’s capital, San Jose.
Costa Rica has its elections in February, one of a couple of months of dry season in a nation known for its bad roads and abundant rainfall – more than 10 feet a year. “Summer,” they call it, as streams and lakes dry up, leaves on some tree species turn brown or yellow and fall to the ground. The heat is on.
Voting is mandatory in Costa Rica. There´s a (never levied) fine, but about 30 percent of Ticos eschewed suffrage this time around. This 70 percent turnout compares to Montana’s 72 percent (of those who bothered to register) in the most recent election, and the Treasure State has a reputation for being one of the higher states in participation.
My landlord, Francisco Herrera, voted once when he was 18 but never went back. About 40 years ago, his man won and turned out to be a scoundrel, even worse than the rank-and-file Latin American politicians.
“They´re all crooks. They´re all liars!” Mr. Herrera says, echoing millions of Americans disenchanted with their imbedded two-party system.
Mr. Herrera has never been levied a fine despite decades of electoral abstinence and constantly dealing with government entities for taxes, restaurant and bar licenses, inspections and certification for his new “canopy” zip line where customers fly on a cable through the air among the treetops and over a lake that these days is more of a mud flat.
On the other side of the political spectrum is the Pittier family of San Vito. Gizelle and Pedro footed the bill for their daughters’ eight-hour bus ride from San Jose, where they attend college, to vote for the second-place candidate, Johnny Araya Monge, because “this election is so important.”
I have never been to a Costa Rican Jaycee meeting, but I imagine part of the Jaycee Creed says, “We are a nation of scofflaws, not men,” in a world of unhelmeted motorcyclists, unlicensed and uninspected taxis and restaurants, illegal hunting (all hunting is illegal), gold-mining and shark finning.
Despite a perception of corruption, bribes and chicanery throughout the spectrum of Costa Rican society, elections seem relatively clean – and tame.
A few issues are off the table. It’s hard to brand anyone a “socialist” in a country that has had universal health care for 65 years. And nobody – or everybody – is “soft on defense” when the 10,000 colones ($20) bill features a silhouette of President Jose Figueres Ferrer in 1949 symbolically taking a pickaxe to the walls of the old fort in San Jose and abolishing the military. Pre-dating Joni Mitchell´s “Woodstock” song, he actually turned the fort into a butterfly (and history) museum.
And despite all the multi-colored flags, Costa Ricans often seem to believe they are offered neither choice nor echo.
Sure, La Nacion (the country´s largest newspaper and so-called “maker of presidents”) branded the Broad Front candidate, Jose Maria Villarta, a “chavista.” comparing him to the late Venezuelan demagogue Hugo Chavez.
I suspect the real threat posed by Mr. Villarta was his perpetually scruffy beard and the fact that he was the only candidate (of the top five) to appear at the televised debates … without a necktie! He got third.
And sure, some friends up north informally slung a little mud on social media regarding the National Libertarian candidate, Otto (no relation to Che) Guevara.
His family was compared to the Kennedys. The Guevaras are into everything in the far-flung province of Puntarenas, and there was a listing of the family’s thousands of hectares of prime finca, beach-front hotels, factories and other enterprises – and pointing out that Mr. Guevara has never done a lick of work in his life. He got fourth.
Even a week or so prior to the elections, some of the more obvious also-rans already were “mothering up” to the front-runners on who – and at what price — they might be supporting in the second round, where the two top vote-getters square off again on April 6.
There is no majority party in Costa Rica, so all are members of a loyal – and shifting – opposition.
The 67-member Legislative Assembly has only two parties with double-digit membership. The National Liberationists – of the pick-swinging Mr. Figueres, current president Laura Chinchilla and current hopeful and former San Jose mayor of Mr. Araya – has 18. The Citizen´s Action Party (PAC) of the top vote-getter, Jose Guillermo, Solis has 13.
So there may be some strange bedfellows in this country of 4.5 million, which promises to be carbon-neutral by 2020. Laws will be passed – and largely ignored. Taxis and restaurants will continue to operate outside the law and under the table. Hunting and cockfighting will continue to be both illegal and wildly popular. Logging with neither a government permit – nor the landowner´s permission – and gold mining in national parks and other protected areas will continue to support families, as they have for generations.
Maybe the election abstainers have a point.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 22:00
The 38th annual MATE Show and Home & Health Expo kicks off Thursday, Feb. 20, at MetraPark in Billings, running through Saturday, Feb. 22. Doors are open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday with Saturday offering open doors from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
More than 400 exhibitors will be on hand displaying products in more than 700 booths encompassing 100,000 square feet, making this the largest show of its kind in Montana.
The longstanding MATE Show is the flagship component of the event featuring the latest in farming and ranching equipment, products and services. This year’s spotlight feature item will be zero turn lawn mowers, displayed throughout the show in the demonstration area.
Stop by the MATE Theatre daily to gain valuable information on a number of topics specific to rural living from ATV safety to weed control and heating your home to local insect control. Other outstanding features of the event are the Bull Pen Preview presented by the Northern Ag Network with a great lineup of bulls from some of Montana’s best seedstock operations.
The MATE Show is also a chance to win the grand prize of a John Deere CX Gator, donated by area John Deere dealers and who doesn’t dream of winning the Sunshine Infrared Sauna being given away at the Home & Health Expo. There is something for everyone at this year’s MATE Show and Home & Health Expo.
CPR Saturday will once again be featured during this year’s event offering attendees an opportunity to brush up on their CPR training or get certified, Feb. 22. Registration must be done in advance via cprsaturday.com or by calling 255-8410.
Free tickets are available at the NILE Office, or First Interstate Bank locations. Also, tickets can be found at all MATE Show Exhibitors. For a complete list of events, vendors and map of the 2014 MATE Show and Home & Health Expo, go to www.themateshow.com.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 21:58
“Charlie Russell, The Cowboy Years,” Second Edition. By Jane Lambert
When you have a character – in more ways than one – like Charles M. “Charlie” Russell, it is hard to get everything you wanted said in one book. Thus it is with Jane Lambert and her second edition.
Lambert gives some further details on a couple of events in Charlie’s life from the first edition; plus discusses more of his “cronies.”
We have an expression that an event can get “western,” meaning it is anything BUT routine and mundane. Apparently a couple of Russell’s cronies were involved in divorces – “western” style.
One crony left town before he suffered an unexplained death at the hands of his wife, this not being her first time. Another one was “divorced” as a result of a shootout – she fired first, but he was a better shot.
Another crony that Lambert wrote about was a hand, later a foreman, for the O Circle outfit both at their Marias River location and just across the border at their Alberta location.
I found this one really interesting because, while researching for an article I wrote on the early days of Fort Benton, I found out the Circle outfit was one of the reasons the Montana Department of Livestock and its counterpart in Alberta came up with a law that a ranch on both sides of the border cannot have the same brand. It had to do with taking a tally of the livestock at tax time. It wasn’t done at the same time in both places, and the cattle had a tendency to drift.
Charlie Russell lived at an interesting time, and knew a lot of people in various walks of life. Once again, if you are a student of the Old West, this book is an ideal example of “and the saga continues.”
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 21:56
The Montana Stockgrowers Association is seeking a student intern for the summer of 2014. The internship will focus on involvement in the beef cattle community of Montana and will include work with MSGA Policy, Communications, and Marketing and Membership staff members. Students should be at least college juniors, majoring in a field related to agriculture, and preferably have a background in (or working knowledge of) the cattle or beef industry. Go to bit.ly/MSGAIntern2014 or call the MSGA office in Helena at (406) 442-3420.
Application packets must be completed by April 1.
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 February 2014 21:54