Monthly Archives

August 2018


Memory Health – How the Brain Works and the Changes Caused By Alzheimer’s

August 20, 2018

The brain is our most precious organ apart from the heart. Without it, we don’t live. Our bodies may continue to sustain life without brain function (much like a coma), but we can all agree that that is not living.

At just three pounds, the brain is so important as is its care. Concussions, lack of use, and factors that have little to do with outside considerations all impact how well our brain will or won’t function later on in life.

Over five million Americans live with some type of dementia, but some studies are showing that degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s are on the decline, and that’s welcome news.

The Framingham Heart Study, a joint project on Alzheimer’s research undertaken by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute and Boston University, has been studying dementia since 1975. The study followed 2,000 caucasian people, aged 60 to 101, and hope to show that some cases of dementia might be preventable or at least delayed. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and found that over the past few decades, dementia has been steadily decreasing by some 20% per decade.

The study found that the decrease of dementia seemed to apply only to those participants who had at least a high school diploma, but factors contributing to the decline have not been fully identified.

The Alzheimer’s Society says that lower levels of education and Alzheimer’s are connected. The brain seems to need to be used, and optimally, in order for it to stay sharp and not fall victim to diseases like Alzheimer’s. This doesn’t mean that those with a higher education won’t be prone to getting dementia, but only that it would push it to later on in life as Alzheimer’s research seems to indicate.

Based on research, we can surmise that those with a higher level of education stand a better chance of not getting degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s, but it has yet to be concretely proven.

Keeping the mind active is so important for good brain health; something most people don’t even recognize as a thing to think about or concern themselves with, but they should.

Some activities for stimulating the brain are gardening, puzzles of all kinds, exercises that flex memory use, crosswords, and Sudoku. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer’s, so break out the games and gardening tools, and take steps to keep your brain sharp because working the brain will help limit your chances of the brain being affected by Alzheimer’s.

So how does the brain work and how does Alzheimer’s change how the brain works? The brain is an organ; arguably the most important one. It has a soft, jelly-like consistency and is part of the nervous system. Without our brain, we would have difficulty walking, talking, and even doing something as simple as dressing ourselves.

There are four parts of the brain: the cerebellum, cerebrum, brain stem, and limbic system. The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain and is divided into four parts itself: the frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital lobes. While these different parts of the brain have their own particular functions, they also work together.

The cerebrum controls our thoughts, such as reasoning, emotions, problem-solving, and perceptions. The cerebellum maintains our balance and muscle tone, and our gait. The brain stem controls and is responsible for blood pressure, respiration, and heart rate. The limbic system controls hunger, thirst, memory, fear, and emotion, so it is this limbic system that we need to put attention too when it comes to Alzheimer’s.

Alzheimer’s is a degenerative brain disease and literally destroys parts of the brain. But how does it do that exactly?

In Alzheimer’s disease, brain cells lose the ability to form new connections with other cells, and this is important as cells can’t simply exist on their own. Messenger chemicals in the disease also decline, and these losses make it very difficult for people to learn new information and retain what information was already stored in their brain, hence the loss of information and memory in those who suffer from the disease.

Someone with Alzheimer’s can forget their child’s name and even their own. Much isn’t understood about the disease, but more is being learned as Alzheimer’s research continues.

With Alzheimer’s, the nerve cell connections that are there also disappear and basically the information stored in them (like information stored on a USB drive or CD) fades.

As the disease progresses and worsens (which it inevitably does as there is no cure yet), nerve cells start to die. The death of nerve cells destroys the brain’s ability to understand the world around them and has them start forgetting information they knew before the disease set in.

Over time, widespread cell death erases even the most basic knowledge stored in that person’s brain and they lose the ability to recognize family and friends, and often forget who they are, and where they live.

In its latest and final stages, Alzheimer’s disease ends up destroying brain cells that control movement and swallowing, so constant care for basic life needs at this point is required. Those who suffer from Alzheimer’s often need to be placed in a facility with round-the-clock help to keep them safe and cared for as it is beyond the scope of most family members to provide such consistent attention. Eventually, those who suffer from the disease die from Alzheimer’s.

Researchers and scientists are constantly working to figure out the mystery of how exactly Alzheimer’s destroys brain cells. Not much is known about the precise workings of the disease and the connection between cells and the brain, and the interplay that unfolds that to lead to degeneration of the brain in such an overwhelming and debilitating manner.

However, there are actions that can be taken to delay the disease and working in closely with a physician will provide the best long-term outcome. Don’t delay. Take action to maintain your brain health today.


Windows – How to Adorn This Often Overlooked Blank Canvas

August 20, 2018

There are many reasons to build a new home. Ensuring you have one of the most energy efficient homes is only one of many.

But it’s a big one.

After all, having an energy efficient home will ensure you pay less every single month in utility bills. And building a new home gives you the chance to select the best, most efficient building materials on the market. Your furnace, your water heater, even the appliances you select for your kitchen will all make an impact on your bottom line.

But don’t overlook your windows. They’re part of the design of your home. You have a choice in size, style, quality, and efficiency. Choosing Energy Star rated windows can help you save hundreds of dollars a year in your energy bills alone.

Have you shopped for windows before? If not, there’s a lot to learn. And the more you learn before you make your final selections for your new home, the more you can customize them to give you a look and feel you desire.

What window material is best?

Windows are made from a variety of materials with the three most popular being wood, vinyl, and aluminum.

Wood windows are considered to be the most traditional material. Wood is classic. Wood is solid. Wood gives you a look and feel like nothing else can. That’s why all other materials work to mimic this look that stands the test of time.

A solid wood frame provides far better insulation qualities than steel or aluminum. That means wood windows are a great choice to ensure the most energy efficient home. They may require a bit more work than other materials—you’ll have to paint them from time to time. But with the right care, they can last a long time.

Not sure you want to commit to the maintenance requirements of wood? Give vinyl windows a try instead. They perform similarly to wood windows, but are less expensive and require less maintenance over time. With the newest technology, vinyl windows have high R-values and are structured with significant amounts of insulation. They are a close alternative to real wood.

Aluminum windows offer low maintenance and are the least expensive option available. They are flexible in design and can be finished to take on a specific color, or left alone in its natural state giving it an even more maintenance-free option to your lifestyle.  

What window style is best for your room?

You’ll be surprised at how many different styles and selections of windows there are, each offering its own benefits to your home.

You might be most familiar with single and double-hung windows. These windows slide up and down to open and close. A single hung window has one operable piece of glass whereas a double hung window has two—you can slide both top and bottom open to determine how best to create airflow. This design makes opening and cleaning a breeze.

Casement windows are hinged at the side. That means instead of lifting your window into place, you’ll use a crank to open and close the window. Casement windows are great options for the difficult to reach areas of your home.

Awning windows are hinged at the top and open outward. Because they create an awning, they are the only window you can leave open during a rain shower without worrying about rain getting in. They operate with a hand crank system to allow you to open up to as much ventilation as you need.

Slider windows are similar to double hung windows, with the sliding action from side to side. They come in many sizes while still offering ventilation making them the perfect choices for your largest wall space.

Picture windows are fixed within the window frame, without the possibility of ventilation. That makes them the most energy efficient window option for your home. They come in just about any size, shape, or combination you can imagine, which makes them the perfect choice for glorifying a view.

What about glass options?

The most important aspect of a window is the glass. The glass you select determines the energy efficiency of your home. It’s also decided by the glass that is used between the panes, and how many panes of glass are in place.

Two panes of glass are better than one; three are better than two. You’ll find triple pane windows in energy efficient homes not just because they create a tighter seal, but also because they are more resistant to moisture. It’s the condensation that impacts your efficiency, and triple panes do an excellent job of keeping moisture away.

You’ll find either Argon or Krypton gas between your windows for the best insulation qualities. You’ll also find Low-E, a film placed on the inside of your window panes that helps reflect infrared light to keep conditioned air where it’s supposed to be.

Of course, it’s also important to look for the Energy Star rating. These guidelines are used to help you determine efficiencies with all four parts of the window: the glass, the gas, the spacer, and the reinforcement. The higher the rating, the more guarantees you’ll have of creating a highly efficient home.

What about style?

Now comes the fun part. Now it’s all about style.

Do you like a traditional home, filled with the looks of a simpler time? Do you envision a large front porch with the traditional farmhouse to match?

Or maybe you’re idea of the perfect home is modern and contemporary. A wall of glass is ideal for your plans.

That’s where windows accentuate the look. While some houses may do well by playing up the color palette of your window frames to emphasize the looks of your home, in other cases nothing but glass will do. You could never get by with having flashy frames that stand out from the rest of your home.

You already have a style in mind, even if you don’t know it. Take a look at your “dream home” file. What pictures do you have in there? What photos have you pinned? What pages from a magazine have you ripped out? Take a closer look at the windows.

Do they stand out or blend in? Do they accentuate the wall space or are they the wall?

Customizing a new home built just for you is the fun part of the process. And while you might be dreaming of move-in day, excited for all the new opportunities a new home will bring to your family, don’t forget to spend a little more time on the details.

If you select the perfect windows today, you’ll have a home you love for a lifetime.


The price of a piece of history: the rarest football programmes

August 13, 2018

Going to the football isn’t a complete experience without buying a programme. If you’ve been attending your club’s games to support them over the years, the chances are you’ll have a respectable pile of programmes somewhere in the house.

Like any collector’s item, some are worth a lot of money! Take a look through this guide, made by the leading UK roller banners provider, Where The Trade Buys, and see if any of yours are worth a potential jackpot!

Developing football programmes

1888 saw the birth of the Football League and with it, the first football programmes were printed. Unlike today, the aim of a programme was to keep score and it was made up of a single sheet detailing the teams and match date.

Aston Villa had one of the first printed football programmes with ‘Villa News and Record’.  Soon after, the football programme took on a weightier format of between four and eight pages, while the covers became more attention-grabbing and attractive. During and after World War II, a paper shortage cut the number of programmes that clubs could produce — making any that were released very collectible today.

Later on, a few football clubs changed the size of their football programmes, printing them on A4 rather than pocket-sized. From a single sheet of basic info, the availability of saddle-stitch book printing and a growth in popularity turned football programmes into thick, glossy books crammed with trivia, statistics and high-resolution photos that fans loved to buy before every match.

The intended purpose of football programmes today is to display team information.  Although today, the programme can also act as a mouthpiece for the club in question, allowing managers and players to speak to fans via interviews and club statements.

Could I have a rare football programme?

Rare football programmes certainly has an active market. In 2012, a family from Ipswich managed to make around £46,000 by auctioning off a set of football programmes they stumbled across in their house, which goes to show how easy it is to not realise the treasure you have sitting around your home.

Old Etonians vs Blackburn Rovers 1882 Fa Cup final’s programme sold for £30,000 in 2012 as it is the oldest-known of its kind. And in 2012, a programme from Manchester United vs Bristol City’s 1909 FA Cup final sold for £23,500.

Time to dig through the collection, because we’re looking now for the rarest of the rare!

Football programme treasures

Which rarities should you snap up if you see them? If you’re looking for an important, collectible item; try finding the first Wembley final programme from 1923, which details the match between Bolton and West Ham United and is worth around £1,000. Alternatively, there’s the programme from the one and only time a non-English club lifted the FA Cup — Cardiff City vs Arsenal in 1927 — which ended with a score of 1-0 and has a value of about £2,500!

Unsurprisingly, the programme for 1966 England vs West Germany are a collector’s item. But be warned; there were three reprints of the original, so tracking down a bona fide version is tough. If you want to be sure you’re buying an original, check the weight and colouring — the reprints are more lightweight, while the front cover of the original is a deep, royal blue. Different paper types are also used for the team pages in the original, but not in the reprinted versions.

In the aftermath of the 1958 Munich air disaster, the match between Manchester United and Wolverhampton Wanderers was cancelled, with the printed programmes ordered for destruction. A few copies were saved, and now the programme is a highly prized rarity. Also, the programme for the first match following the tragedy — the 19th of February 1958’s game between Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday, is rare too. In this programme, the club showed respect to those involved in the disaster by leaving the team page blank.

Some other collectables to keep a look out for are a 1932 Arsenal vs Manchester that sold for £520, a 1931 Exeter vs Leeds programme that went for £500, and a wartime football game programme for England vs Wales for £750.

Special finds

There are a few points to consider when you purchase programmes for your collection:

  • Age — anything over 50 years old is most collectible.
  • Rarity — if there are many available, this will bring the value down.
  • Popularity — programmes with an iconic footballer on the cover or detailing a famous match are the most prized and valuable.
  • Condition — creases, missing staples and water damage all harm the programme’s price, so ask for a photo before you pay.

A good purchase that holds value well over time is an FA Cup Final programme. Also, any programme that marks a player or manager’s debut or last match. Also, certain teams typically hold greater monetary value than others when it comes to programme collecting — although, programmes from your team’s past will be more personally valuable to you. Sides such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, West Ham, and Arsenal are all highly sought after and are worth keeping an eye out for if you want a particularly valuable item. The Football Programme Centre is also a good source of advice if you’re keen on becoming a serious collector.

Collecting programmes is loads of fun, especially if you can find a rare edition bargain! So, why not keep yourself football-focused until the new season kicks off by learning more about the hobby?



3 Ideal UK Locations For Your Next Holiday

August 9, 2018

When it’s time for a holiday, sometimes figuring out where to go can be the biggest challenge. There are so many destinations both locally and globally to choose from depending on your preference. Over the years, staycations have become increasingly popular, and people are more open to exploring the hidden treasure within their countries. You may be reading this for a similar reason and be looking for ideas of places you can go within the UK. It may be pleasing to know that there are several destinations that you likely haven’t explored yet. You’re going to find three in particular which could be ideal for your next holiday below.

The Owl Barn, Anglesey

If you’re looking for a nice holiday spot in the UK, perhaps think about going to The Owl Barn in Anglesey. This is a great spot for the family as it’s jam-packed with attractions and activities. For one, there’s a beach, so if you decide to go during the summer, you can enjoy some warmth of the sun’s rays and clear waters. Additionally, there’s a pub and open countryside a stone’s throw away that you can enjoy. It is particularly suitable if you’re doing a big family holiday as it can accommodate up to two families, has a games room and more than enough baby gear. If you’re curious about other beach vacations, have a look at Coast Radar to find a variety of beaches around the UK, especially ones close to you.


In case you’ve never been to Cornwall, your next holiday is a perfect chance for you to do so. Located on the South Coast of Cornwall, this location offers an all-weather clubhouse with indoor swimming pools, soft play, fresh food, and areas ideal if you’re coming with family. There are also tennis courts, watersport centers, and an amusement arcade there to keep you busy. Pentewan sands consist of stunning views, good food, and it’s left to you to bring along great company. Other things that you can do in that Pentewan axis include visit the Megavissey Museum, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, visit the Porthpean beach and also engage in Cornwall watersports.

Cropton Cabins, North Yorkshire

When thinking of locations for your next holiday, it may be worth adding Cropton Cabins in North Yorkshire to the list. Seeing as it’s located on the edge of North York Moors National Park, it’s ideal if you want an outdoor and nature type of holiday. You’ll likely find stylish new cabins, terraces, and outdoor hot tubs. In addition, you can partake in onsite activities like dusk watching, archery, horse riding and laser combat as well.

A holiday should be filled with heart-warming memories that are impossible to duplicate. No matter what destination you decide to go to, you should feel relaxed, comfortable and engaged during your stay. There are so many locations in the UK. However, that can achieve this and more. The hope is that after reading this, you’ll find a local destination that makes you feel all of those things and more.


5 Benefits of Metal Roofs

August 8, 2018

Thinking of tackling a few home improvement projects this year? Where should you begin?

For many savvy homeowners, it starts with knowing what adds the most value to your home. Especially if you think you might sell your home in a few years, what projects offer you the greatest return?

Of course, many of the top renovations are things you would expect. You can’t go wrong by making improvements to your kitchen. But others may surprise you. Did you know replacing your roof is high up on the list?

There’s a reason for that. Sure, you might be used to the boring roof your parents had on their home while you were growing up. But roofing today offers many more benefits and features. Today’s roofing options can add style and class. And of course value to your home.

Residential metal roofing is currently one of the fastest growing segments of the home improvement market. That’s because the benefits are many. While other roofing options quickly diminish in value as they age, metal roofs provide lasting benefits.

Expected Life

One of the biggest benefits of installing a metal roof is its life expectancy. Properly installed, you can expect a metal roof to last almost as long as the house. That’s because metal roofs bring so many advantages to light.

Water won’t be able to penetrate through the material. Metal can withstand high wind speeds. And even the occasional snow storm won’t damage a metal roof; it simply melts the snow away. Bugs and pests can’t damage it. It won’t grow mildew or rot. It even offers protection from the most damaging forces of nature, including fire.

While warranties vary, you’ll often find a roof service company will offer one of the best warranties in the business on metal roofs, typically anywhere from 20 to 50 years.


As you’re finalizing your decision on what new roof to install, it’s easy to fall in love with some of the sophisticated products on the market. Clay tiles look beautiful on certain home styles. Did you know they add a lot of weight to your home’s structure? Did you know that in some cases, a roof service company has to build in support to the structure before it completes the installation?

Clay or concrete tiles can often add as much as 900 pounds per square—an area equal to 100 square feet. That’s a lot of weight on top of your home.

Compare that with metal roofing that is lightweight and easier to install. Most varieties run anywhere from 50 to 150 pounds per square. And because it’s so lightweight, if you are adding a new addition, you can often downsize or reduce the support system built into your home.

Fire Resistance

Because metal is a noncombustible material, it makes a perfect addition to your home. Most metal roofing materials have Class A fire rating, which is the most resistant on the market.

Keep in mind that it isn’t just the metal itself that helps make your roof fire resistant. A roof’s overall classification also depends on materials beneath the surface that could ignite in intense heat.

Most metal roofs are applied over combustible material such as wood, which can lower it to a Class B or Class C rating. It’s important to speak with your roof service company about the rating process, especially if you are in an area prone to fires.

Energy Efficiency

On almost any structure, the roofing material is the start of what determines total building energy efficiency. Likewise, the roof is also responsible for energy production. So whether you are looking at increasing your home’s efficiency, or would like a way of producing more energy, your roof is a great place to start.

Metal roofing products consider both. They do what you expect: warm under the sun and help shed rain and snow during the colder winter months. But they also have a unique way of reducing summer heat gain, too. Metal roofs address all forms of heat transfer—radiant, conductive, and convective—ensuring maximum energy efficiency.

Beautiful Style

If you’re like many homeowners, you might be sold on the benefits. After all, we all care about safety and energy efficiency. But when it comes right down to it, you also care about style. Why would you want something on your home that is less than beautiful? Why would you want to destroy curb appeal for the sake of saving a little money?

Luckily, you don’t have to choose with metal roofing. Metal roofs have PVDF coatings. The color is added to this finishing process; it’s what gives them pigmentation and provides fade resistance. You’ll be surprised at how many color choices you have.

Despite the advancement in color pigmentation, lighter colors, including grays and browns, will perform better than the bright colors. With brighter colors—reds, blues, and yellows—they have more saturation, meaning they are formulated with more than one pigment. These pigments can change over time, impacting the color that shows through on your roof.

Still, that is part of the process. Selecting the final color and style is based on your personal preferences. And with the help of your roof service company representative, the final choice you make will be perfect for your home.

Convinced a metal roof is for you? There’s one more thing to keep in mind.

While you may have settled on a metal roof for your home, who you purchase your roof from is just as important as the style. Select the wrong roof service company and you may be paying the price for years to come.

The roofing industry is filled with problems. Because it’s a major home investment, the industry is ripe for opportunity from less than stellar businesses. Beware the scams that run rampant throughout the industry.

  1. The contractor that gets paid before doing work. They may ask for an unusually large down payments. They may want you to sign over insurance checks before any work is performed. Don’t let your guard down. Make sure you are hiring a well-known roof service company before you sign on the dotted line.
  2. Avoid the strangers going door to door. They may tell you your neighbor is having a new roof repaired and you can save money by having a new one installed too. Don’t fall for the ploy. Do you own research and find out if the company is as good as they say.
  3. The bid seems too good to be true. If you jump at the opportunity to save cash on your home improvement projects, they often wind up costing you double the price. Take the time to fully investigate potential roof service companies to ensure you are getting high-quality service.

Are you ready to install a metal roof on your home? Contact your local roof service specialists today.



5 Reasons to Verify Your Locksmith’s Credentials

August 8, 2018

Imagine, for a moment, this happening to you.

It’s late at night. It’s cold and rainy. You’re locked out of your home or car, so you pull out your phone and type “locksmith companies” into Google. Up pops a list of names; many of them in spaces reserved for local service companies.

You might assume that the space reserved for local service companies are all companies near you and have earned ranking based on good customer reviews. Some will fit that description. But odds are a lot of the rankings you see for locksmiths aren’t locksmiths at all.

Instead, they are call centers. They may be out of state or even out of the country. But they are using a high-tech strategy that lets them trick Google into thinking they have a physical store in your neighborhood.

What’s worse, they might not even be locksmiths at all. Instead, they may be poorly trained subcontractors who are buying up leads in hopes of making a little extra money on the side.

And that’s where your trouble begins.

The goal of these lead generation companies is to gain as much money as possible from every customer who comes their way. They might quote you a price over the phone only to have the subcontractor demand three, even four times that amount once they’re on site. And because you’re tired, cold, and possibly even scared, you’re eager to pay the fee and resume life and get back into your car or home.  

This is a classic bait-and-switch move. And it has become quite an epidemic across America. While these subcontracting scams have deep roots in locksmithing, the model is moved far and wide to all types of consumer home services, including home security, repair services, and of course, locksmithing.

Unfortunately, the bait-and-switch move isn’t the only scam you might find in the locksmith industry.

Ghost Location Scam

The ghost location scam is a continuation of the one we mentioned above. When you search for a high-quality locksmith company, you select one based on the internet results you find online. You choose one that looks promising, has a physical address in your community, possibly even has photographs of the location for you to see. They have reviews—everything looks like it’s on the up and up. When it comes time to have the services rendered, they send someone out to your location.

But the danger is the follow-up. If you have a problem with your service and you try and connect with them once again, there is no way for you to locate the contractor you’ve just done business with.

Emergency Services Scam

This is less of a scam and more of a contractor taking advantage of your vulnerability. When you call a locksmith, and the person arrives, they know you’re in a desperate situation. And in this case, knows they can charge whatever they desire and you’re likely to pay.

They can hike the price up two, three, even four times the normal fee based on the concept that it’s an emergency situation. The worst part about this scam is people are very likely not to think twice and rarely complain. Their emergency situation was solved, and they’re happy to be back in the car or home safe and secure.

Scary, right?

You may be considering a lot of different alternatives at the moment to ensure you never face this situation. But emergencies arise all the time. And instead of believing that the entire industry is rife with scammers, we’d like to give you a little advice on finding reputable locksmiths that care about the services they bring to people within your community.

Yes, reputable locksmith companies do exist. And here is how you find them.

Check for a license

Only fifteen states require a commercial locksmith to obtain a state-issued license. Oregon is one of them. Washington state is not. If you live in a state where a state-issued license is required, you can request to see the license before you start doing business with the contractor.

Even in a state that doesn’t require licensing, you can request to see what licenses and other criteria they have for doing business in your community. You can also ask for an additional form of state-issued identification to keep a record of who you are doing business with.

Demand an Estimate

Regardless of the cost you have been quoted over the phone, you should also receive an on-site cost estimate once the contractor arrives. This is particularly important before allowing a locksmith to begin working on your auto or home.

This is your biggest defense in avoiding the bait and switch scam. If you have a quote that is very low, this will ensure you have written quotes showing you how much they will charge. This will also give you justification to fight the charge if they attempt to raise it after they begin work.

Pay by Credit Card

One of the biggest problems with traveling services is they show up and disappear without leaving a trace of where they came from or went to. If you pay by cash—and many of them will ask you to do so—you have no resource for the transaction.

But if you pay by credit card, it creates a digital footprint that involves your credit card company as a third-party. This can help you track down your locksmith company if you need to in the future.

Look for Certifications and Trade Organizations

Reputable locksmiths care about their business and will become certified through reputable organizations to build credibility within the industry. Look for companies that are certified and go the extra mile to ensure their technicians are well educated and offer you the highest quality service.

Look for certification through organizations like Associated Locksmiths of America, Safe and Vault Technicians Association, and the American Association of Automatic Door

Manufacturers. You can also look for locksmiths who join local contractors associations and the Better Business Bureau.

When you call on a locksmith, you might be tired, cold, even a little scared. But don’t let yourself be vulnerable in this situation.

Not only should you ask for a receipt, but you should jot down the information you gain throughout this process. Be sure you have the company’s name and the technician who helped you out. Get license numbers and phone numbers. The license plate number is also a good number to verify and put into your notes. Then, in case the unthinkable happens and you suspect you were scammed, you’ll have more information to help you move forward.

Since 1949, Harry’s Locksmith has been helping residents and business owners throughout Southwest Washington and the Greater Portland area. If we can help you, give us a call today.


Why House Size Maters When Selecting The Proper HVAC System

August 8, 2018

Need a new furnace? Looking at new air conditioners? The numbers can all get a little confusing as you start comparison shopping.

When you are in the market to replace your heating and cooling equipment, buying the biggest and most efficient won’t necessarily give you the right size for your home. Some are too large. Some are too small. And finding the right one requires a combination of knowing the proper criteria and having the experience to put the information together, formulating the perfect package for your home.

Today’s technology makes the process a lot easier, with software used to aid in the final decision. But the final determination is still up to the professional you hire to install your equipment in your home. Hire the wrong HVAC company and you’ll be paying too much for years to come.

When you install the right size furnace, air conditioner, heat pump, or complete HVAC system, you’ll have a system that provides consistent indoor comfort for you and your family. You’ll also save energy, as a system that is too large or too small wastes energy.

Selecting an energy efficient model is being a smart consumer. Selecting an energy efficient model allows you to take a whole house approach to curbing your energy bills. The capacity of your equipment needs to match the size of the area being heated or cooled, and it must take in key factors to do so.

What happens when an HVAC company installs a system too large or too small?

A number of issues can arise when you have an incorrectly-sized HVAC system in your home.

Too Large – a system that is too large for your living space creates the following problems:

  • It uses too much energy because it takes more energy to operate a larger system
  • It wastes energy through short cycling, turning itself on and off repeatedly and running for only a short time
  • It creates unnecessary noise as it pushes excessive air through the ductwork
  • It creates large temperature swings from not properly cycling
  • It creates more wear and tear on the system
  • It fails to remove sufficient humidity from the air as it doesn’t properly run throughout the cycle

Too Small – a system that is too small for your living space creates the following problems:

  • It runs continuously trying to achieve proper comfort levels
  • It might require supplemental heating and cooling solutions for you to reach your ideal temperature
  • It can create noise in ductwork as the ducts are smaller than required to service your home’s needs
  • It is more likely to malfunction since it runs continuously
  • It will require more maintenance to keep it operating over time

Properly Sized System – when a system is properly installed in your home by a reputable HVAC company, these are the benefits:

  • It operates at optimal efficiency, saving you money in energy costs
  • It keeps your home at the proper temperatures, with every room being comfortable and consistent
  • It provides proper humidity control, increasing comfort level and reducing the chances of biological growth
  • It operates without excessive noise
  • It operates according to manufacturer’s guidelines, without overburdening the system and shortening its lifespan

What factors go into the decision of selecting the right sized heating and cooling equipment?

There are many different considerations that a good HVAC company will use to find the proper size equipment for your home.

Size of your home

The size of your home is an automatic place to start. A 1,000 square foot home will need different equipment than a home 3,000 square feet in size. But there are many other considerations too. Is a home open concept? Does it have large or small rooms? How many windows does the home have? Does the living space face north or south? Even similar homes on different lots can have different needs.


Think all homes in your area are the same? Think again. A home tucked down by the river has different needs than a home placed in a rural area with large open spaces. When the sun shines, does your home benefit by soaking up the energy? Or is it tucked into the forest, rarely seeing the sun’s rays? The quality and amount of insulation makes a difference, as well as how the home is constructed. A brick home differs from wood construction. Even landscaping can impact the requirements for larger or smaller equipment.


We all live in our own unique ways. A family with teenagers operates differently than a single person living alone. Lights and other heat-generating appliances and electronics can increase or decrease your efficiency levels.

Can you do the calculations yourself?

Head online and do a quick search and you’ll find basic HVAC load calculators available for your use. The question is: should you use them?

They’ll ask a few basic questions: the style and type of your construction, your insulation values, how many windows you have, the dimensions of your home. Then it’ll pop out a few calculations: number of Btu’s needed and nominal tons.

None of these measurement are difficult to find or use. But they are fairly involved and take time and patience to complete.

The problem lies with your expertise. If you find your HVAC load calculations once in twenty years, are you taking into account all the factors that impact your final decision?

Commissioning an HVAC company to handle your heating and cooling load calculations can save you the stress of doing the calculations on your own.

It can also help you avoid erroneous calculations, which occur because of lack of experience. Because technicians perform this service on a regular basis, they understand what to look for and what to consider. They not only use a specialized computer program to air in finding the most accurate calculations, but they also use their experience to know what’s right.

What’s wrong with rule of thumb?

In the HVAC industry, do enough research and you’ll likely find people who will tell you the “rule of thumb” method is good enough. And many HVAC companies use the rule of thumb method rather than going through the trouble of working out the actual heating and cooling load calculations that are needed. This won’t ensure that the HVAC system you buy and install in your home is the optimal size for keeping your living space comfortable and energy efficient.

What’s your next step?

Find the right HVAC equipment for your home. When you’re ready to hire the best HVAC company for your needs, do some research and make some calls. Ask the right questions and you’ll have everything you need to make a well-informed decision.


How Much Should I Water My Trees in the Summer

August 8, 2018

You probably already know that the three most important rules for desirable real estate are location, location, location. Of course the curb appeal of beautiful, healthy trees in your landscape doesn’t hurt either. In that respect, the three rules of seasonal tree care are water, water, water. Either too little or too much water can leave your trees looking and performing poorly.

But how often should you water, and how much water is too much, or not enough? The answers depend on numerous factors based on the science of how trees grow, including healthy root systems, climate, soil type and condition, and weather extremes like heat and drought.

Specific watering needs also depend on the age and species of your trees. Mature trees in native habitats need less seasonal tree care than newer trees or exotic species. Well-established trees are able to tolerate moderate heat and dry periods much better.

Nursery species and newer transplants need more care and attention, especially in the first few weeks. Additionally, non-native or exotic trees require more attentive, seasonal tree care and should be checked often for any signs of water stress.

Newly Planted Trees

When purchasing nursery tree stock, you’ll find the roots are generally compacted in a tight ball of potting mixture, either wrapped and tied or planted in a large pot. No matter how your tree is packaged, take care not to damage roots when removing. Carefully follow all planting instructions provided with your tree.

After planting, it’s important to keep the root ball area moist until the roots have had a chance to spread out and grow further into the soil. Water the tree directly over the root ball every few days for the first weeks, and longer during warm weather.

If your soil has a large percentage of clay, it will leach moisture from the loam surrounding the root ball. In that case, you may have to water your newly placed trees daily. The goal is to keep the soil around the roots moist but not saturated, to a depth of approximately one-half to one-foot.

Once the roots have had several weeks to spread and grow, seasonal tree care becomes easier. Directing irrigation further out from the base of the tree, and watering to a sufficient depth on a weekly basis is generally sufficient.

Keep in mind that newly planted trees grow more quickly in the first few years than at any other time. Sufficient watering is important to support the early growth spurt. Pay particular attention to your seasonal tree care during this time and remember to monitor the moisture content of the soil around your trees during periods of unusual heat or drought.

Mature Trees

Once trees are well established, frequent watering becomes less necessary as roots grow well out beyond the drip line of the tree, forming a web of feeder roots beneath the surface soil. Mulching the ground around the base of your tree to several feet out from the trunk will help retain moisture for longer periods. Commercial wood chip mulch is a good choice.

Avoid watering close to the trunk of mature trees as too much moisture there encourages insect infestation or fungus.

Checking Soil Moisture

There are a few ways to check the moisture content of the soil around your trees. The easiest way is to try poking a knife, screwdriver, or other long tool into the soil. If it’s difficult to penetrate the soil, you need to water.

You can also check soil moisture by inserting the blade of a trowel into the ground near the tree and creating an opening large enough to poke your finger down into the dirt. If it feels warm and dry, it’s time to water.

If you feel you must get your hands into the soil to be sure, dig about six or eight inches down and scoop out a handful soil. It should feel cool to the touch. It should not be muddy or soaking wet, but rather easily rolled into a ball that holds its shape. If the soil is warm and crumbles in your hand then it needs water.

You can also purchase an inexpensive meter that will accurately measure the moisture content of your soil.

Under Watering or Over Watering

Goldilocks wanted a bed that felt just right. Who can blame her? Your trees want their soil beds to be just right too. Not too soft, not too hard, not too cold or too warm, and not too dry or too wet. It’s all about the roots and keeping them happy.

Signs of under watering in deciduous trees include dry, perhaps brittle leaves, curling or wilting, and browning, yellowing or scorching of leaves. Premature color change and leaf drop is another good indicator.

Evergreens will display yellowing or browning needles, while excessive leaf or needle drop, and die back of branches in both evergreen and deciduous trees also indicates lack of water.

If your trees are thirsty the solution is simple—step up your watering schedule, water to a depth of about a foot, and check soil moisture frequently to determine how often to water.

Signs of overwatering are spongy or soggy ground around the trees or ground that is constantly wet. New growth will often wither and die. It may appear lighter green. In cases of severe overwatering, leaves or needles may turn yellow. If leaves appear to be a healthy green, but break easily, you may be over watering.

Over watering is a common mistake in seasonal tree care. Overly moist or saturated ground for extended periods of time damages roots. Letting the ground become dry for short periods between watering allows for pockets of oxygen in the soil. Yes, your trees need to breathe too.

If you see water standing around your trees, or have noticed the signs of overwatering, there are a few solutions. You can’t turn off the rain, but you can turn off the hose; if you’ve been watering, stop. Also, assess your soil type. If it’s mostly clay, add compost to help drain the water away from drowning roots.

If you find water pools around your trees when it rains, do a little detective work. Find out where it’s coming from and whether it can be diverted by trenching or other means.

Trees are a long-term investment adding to the interest, beauty, and function of your landscape, so make sure to water with care.