Septic System Care and Maintenance

Trees And Storm Damage: How To Care For Your Damaged Trees

After a major storm, your trees may experience branch and limb loss and extensive damage. The damage may result in limbs that fall later, which can cause a risk of injuring someone in your home or damaging the house itself. With the right post-storm action plan, you can preserve the health and beauty of your trees and keep your property safe. Here are just a few things you should include in your action plan.

Prune And Trim The Tree

Having your tree trimmed and pruned will help to repair the branches and encourage new growth. Your tree trimming service will know how to handle splits, tears and breaks to promote new growth. When your tree is trimmed properly, the damage is cut away and the tree is ready to begin growing again.Your tree trimming experts can also use rope to tether potentially weak limbs together as they grow to prevent breakage and branch falling. For smaller trees and bushes, you may want to consider pruning as a DIY project.  

Anchor Leaning Trees

Both mature and new trees can begin to lean under the stress and strain that heavy rains can produce. If you have a tree that has begun to lean, anchoring it will promote growth in the proper direction. The anchoring process may also prevent the tree from becoming uprooted and falling on your home or garage. The anchoring is typically performed by using support lines, which are driven into the ground, much in the same way you might secure tent poles into the ground. The supports stay in place for a length of time until the tree no longer leans. Your tree trimming and repair experts can tell you how long your tree will need to stay anchored, based on the type of tree and the amount of damage it has experienced.  

Recycled Tree Branches

After the storm is over, you may have a significant amount of branches and twigs on your lawn. Instead of hauling them to your trash can for pickup by your local trash service, consider having a yard waste recycling company pick them up. The recycled materials can be used for a variety of manufacturing projects, and you get the added peace of mind that comes from knowing your tree’s damage resulted in something positive. If you have your trees pruned, ask your tree trimming company (such as J&T Tree Co.) whether or not it recycles. If the company does not, ask to have the yard waste left on your property until a recycling company can pick it up.

Damaged trees can cause injuries and damage to your home, and they can also become unsightly. Handling the damage from a storm properly can keep your property looking great, and it can encourage new growth in your beautiful trees.

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First Time Drivers: What You Need To Do To Pass Your Smog Test

If you just got your driver’s license and your first vehicle, you are going to need to take your vehicle in for a smog test. A smog test ensures that your vehicle’s fumes are within the allowable limits. Here are a few things you need to know and do in order to pass your fog test.

Address Your Check Engine Light

If your check engine light is currently on, do not take your vehicle for a smog test just yet. First, you need to take your vehicle to your mechanic and figure out why the check engine light is on and you need to address the issues behind the check engine light.

If your check engine light is on, you will fail your smog test based on that fact alone. Additionally, if your check engine light is on, that means something is wrong under the engine. Whatever issue the engine is flagging may be enough to cause you to fail your smog test if it is not addressed. 

Change Your Oil

If it has been a while since you had your oil changed, and you are due for an oil change anyways, get one before you go and get your smog test.  When your oil becomes contaminated and old, it becomes high in hydrocarbons, which will cause your vehicle to fail its smog test. 

Be sure and ask the mechanic to clean out your oil pan when they change your oil. This will help ensure that your fumes meet the emissions standards of your state. 

Check The Tire Pressure 

When you take your vehicle in to have the oil changed, ask the technicians to check your tire pressure. Your tire pressure should be even on all sides. Having the tire pressure correct on your vehicle will provide your vehicle with increased stability and accuracy when your vehicle is driven over the dynamometer during your smog test. This will help keep your engine stable and the emissions from your vehicle consistent. 

Checking and correcting your tire pressure may be what allows a borderline vehicle to pass the smog test. 

Avoid Getting Tested On A Rainy Day

If you can help it, avoid going in for a smog test when it is rainy outside. When it is rainy outside, your car’s tires will get wet. Wet tires increase the chance that your tires will lose traction while on the dynamometer for the smog test. This could compromise your test. The chance is low that a rainy day will cause you to fail your smog test, but if you can help it, going on a dry day increases the chances that everything will go right during your smog test.

Warm Up Your Vehicle

Finally, make sure that you warm up your vehicle before you take it in for a smog test. Drive around for at least half an hour before you head over to the smog testing facility. Driving around will ensure that your engine has had enough time to warm up so that it is running at its most optimum levels. 

Follow these tips and you’ll be prepared to pass your smog test. Contact local smog testing centers, such as West Coast Smog, for more information.

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3 Signs Your Septic Tank Needs To Be Pumped

Having your septic tank pumped regularly by a septic tank service is essential to keep your home’s plumbing functioning properly. Here are three signs that it is time to have your septic tank pumped.

Standing Water in Leach Field

Your septic tank disposes of water and effluents in the soil in an area known as the leach field. Not all waste materials can be disposed of in the leach field, as heavier elements will fall to the bottom of the tank. When the tank is full, these solid materials will begin to clog parts of the drain pipes that lead into the leach field.

As the leach field drain pipes become clogged, they are no longer able to distribute waste water evenly through the leach field. This will eventually oversaturate the soil in the areas where the pipes are not clogged, causing waste water to rise to the surface. If you see any standing water on the surface of the soil in your leach field, it is a clear indicator that the septic tank needs to be pumped as soon as possible.

Slow Drains and Sewage Backup

As your septic tank begins to fill up, your drains and toilet will start draining water more slowly. This happens because it takes longer for the water that goes down the drain to filter through solid materials that have built up inside the pump.

Once the septic tank is completely full, waste water from the septic tank is likely to begin backing up through your home’s drains. This will appear as black, foul-smelling water flowing out of the drains. Any further use of the drains will only cause the septic tank to overflow further, releasing more waste water into your home. If you see sewage backup in sinks, toilets, or bathtubs, pumping the septic tank is necessary to prevent significant water damage to the interior of your home.

Bad Odors Inside and Outside

Even if your drains are still working properly, you should pay attention if you notice any foul odors from drains inside your home. Bad odors from drains are often the earliest sign that your septic tank is getting too full.

You may be able to smell a foul odor outdoors around the leach field before water is visible on the surface. This indicates that a clog is present somewhere in the drain pipes below and the soil is just beginning to become oversaturated.

If you have your septic tank pumped at least every three years, as well as any time you notice these signs of a full tank, you can keep your septic tank in good condition for years to come.

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Wondering How Your Multi-Tank Aerobic Septic System Gets Cleaned Out? What To Expect With Your First Septic Pumping

If you recently bought a property and had a multi-tank aerobic septic system installed, or the property came with this type of system, you may be wondering how the system is cleaned out. After all, all three of the tanks involved are underground and the access pipes seem too small from which to extract waste. Here is what you can expect with your aerobic septic system and your first septic pumping.

Aerobic Systems Generally Break Down Waste

Although most septic systems collect waste and disperse it into a leach field and fecal matter remains behind in the tank until the tank cannot hold it anymore, an aerobic system uses fewer chemicals to break down waste and uses more air to help with the breakdown process. Also, with a three-tank system, the solid and semi-solid waste is passed into the final tank where it has more time to decompose. Having this type of system means you will have to pump less often, and you will not be releasing the waste into a leach field or cesspool.

When Your Aerobic System Does Need a Septic Pumping

When your aerobic septic system finally does need a clean-out, the septic pumping company (like River City Septic & Excavating) will send its crew out. The pump is attached to the final tank where all of the solid waste sits and has been decomposing for some time. Because the solid waste has broken down into a liquid or almost liquid form, it glides right up through the small pipe that opens to the surface of the ground (and sometimes extends above the ground by a few inches). If anything gets stuck (which is rare), then the pump crew slides an auger down the pipe to grind and bust up the blockage before resuming the waste extraction process.

Opening the Inspection Lids and Checking the Other Tanks

Each of the three tanks in your system have inspection lids. The septic pumping crew may open each of these inspection lids to see where the wastewater levels are at and possibly remove the top layer of scum that has collected on the surface of the wastewater in each tank. Then more chlorine may be added to the pipe that supplies tanks one and two with a means of sterilization. Finally, if the septic pumping company deems it is necessary, extraction of some of the wastewater from the first two tanks will occur (if this step is taken it usually occurs before more chlorine is added and not after).

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5 Alternatives to Throwing Things in the Trash

Sometimes it seems almost impossible to avoid throwing things in the trash. However, even if you don’t change your lifestyle to avoid buying things like disposable diapers and pre-packaged raw meat, educating yourself about disposal options and then thinking two or three times about each item you dispose of can really decrease the amount of trash you send to the landfill. Consider these five alternatives to throwing redeemable materials in the trash.

1. Re-use

This doesn’t work for everything, of course. But there are a surprising number of things you use in everyday life that are just as usable after their first use as they were before. Try using some of these items multiple times:

  • Disposable water bottles. If you refill each water bottle once after it’s empty, you’ve just halved your water-bottle-disposal impact on the environment for the day. Or use the same bottle over and over for a week at a time, eliminating your water bottle disposal for days on end.
  • Resealable plastic bags. Those sandwich baggies can actually be washed out each night and left open to dry. They’re not dishwasher safe, but if they were holding something non-messy like a sandwich, usually all it takes is a little swish of soap and water and a good rinsing.
  • Re-closable food packaging. Does your lunch meat come in a plastic container with a re-sealable top? When it’s empty, wash it out and use it to carry your sandwich to work the next day. 

2. Re-purpose

This term is almost synonymous with the catchy new term “upcycle.” If you can hack your shopping bags into strips and create a throw rug from the remains, have at it. Or if you’re not the crafty type, save up re-purpose-able items for that one crafty friend who’s always doing clever projects. In addition to old clothes and grocery bags, you can repurpose items such as these:

  • Window blinds
  • Worn-out linens
  • Junk mail
  • Picture frames
  • Doors, mirrors, windows
  • Cosmetics bottles

The list could go on almost forever. If you’re about to throw something away and it doesn’t seem totally nasty, try to think of some way it could be used for something else.

3. Donate

If you can’t think of a good use for it and your crafty friend doesn’t have time or can’t find any potential in it, maybe your rejected items can be used by someone else. Why not donate them to a charity-run thrift store? You’ll feel good about giving stuff to charity, but you won’t be inconvenienced because it was stuff you didn’t want anyway. Everybody wins.

4. Compost

Composting is a great way to do something productive with whatever food scraps your dog refuses to eat. Aside from bread products and meat products (which tend to attract vermin), you can dump almost any food-related items into your compost bin. If you do it right, you can even store a compost bin in your kitchen. Or, to make the mixture even more attractive to your houseplants, you may opt for a worm bin

5. Recycle

Recycling can be so easy, especially if your city offers pickup at the curb. You’ll have to follow the municipal regulations about what you can recycle, but usually it includes plastic food packaging (other than styrofoam), all or most types of paper, cardboard, glass bottles, and more. It’s a great way to dispose of seemingly useless stuff that’s made of perfectly good materials.

As you can see, thinking about each item before tossing it in the trash has a good chance of helping it escape that fate. Click here for more info about what you can reuse and recycle.

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Install Solar Shingles And Save

One of the best new solar energy products to come out in recent years are solar roofing shingles. Unlike their large solar array counterparts, solar shingles are both attractive and highly functional. They save homeowners money while increasing the value of their homes.

How Solar Shingles Work

Solar shingles are miniature solar panels that are the same size and shape as a standard three-tab asphalt shingle. When combined together on a roof top, they can produce just as much energy as a large solar panel array. Because they lie flush on the roof decking, they are virtually invisible and suburban homeowners can install them on their homes to help offset their electrical costs without sacrificing their home’s beauty. They can be installed on almost any type of roof in combination with existing shingles, provided the home has at least one southern exposure. Once connected, the shingles can be wired into the home’s electrical grid to help supplement the home’s power needs. How much energy is produced is dependent on the square footage of the shingles and the pitch of the roof. The optimal angle is equal to the local latitude, but shingles can still be quite effective even if the pitch is not optimal. As the shingles capture and transform sunlight into energy, the home uses that power to run everyday appliances and electronics. Theoretically, 100 percent of a home’s energy needs can be met by installing solar shingles, but many homeowners choose a percentage of the power bill they can offset based on the amount of roof they wish to cover.

What do Solar Shingles Cost?

Solar shingles are considerably more expensive initially; however, they not only protect the roof, they generally save enough money over time to pay for themselves. The costs can vary considerably, depending on the geographic region, but some installations may run as much as $20,000, or more. Keep in mind that the federal, as well as many state and local governments, offer tax credits to homeowners who install energy-saving roofing materials. The federal government is offering a 30 percent tax credit, which means that for a $20,000 roof, the homeowner can expect to have their tax bill cut by $6,000. Homeowners who wish to take advantage of this credit must actually owe taxes, but with a combined federal and state credit, homeowners can save up to half of the purchase and installation costs for the tax year that the roof is installed. Additionally, many locales have programs whereby the homeowner can sell any excess energy back to the power company, which can result in significant savings as well. Another significant financial gain is that a solar shingle installation can increase a home’s value as much as the actual cost of the system, so owners can recoup almost 100 percent of their initial investment if they sell their homes.

Solar shingles are a great option for homeowners who are replacing an old roof who want to reduce their footprint. The overall savings and the increase to the home’s market value make solar shingles a sound investment. For more information, talk to a professional like AAA Solar Source.

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How To Deal With Spiders In Your House

Most people aren’t real thrilled when they are walking around their house and see a spider. In fact, some of those people may make an undignified sound when they see a spider, especially if it’s a big spider. If you see a spider in your house and you are one of those people who aren’t really happy then you are going to want to figure out where they are coming from and how to get rid of them. 

Hidden Dark Nooks and Crannies

While some spiders like damp areas like your cellar and others like dry areas like the vents in your home, there is one thing that all spiders like. They like the nice dark areas of your house. That means they like areas like any crawl spaces, attics, and ductwork. One place where they are very visible is up in the highest corners of your room. Those corners tend to be darker than other visible areas of your house. 

Creepy Crawlies

While nice dark crannies are going to attract spiders because they make the ideal home for the spiders, that’s not the only thing that is going to make the spiders come into your house. They are also going to come in and stay in for a steady food source. Most spiders that you are going to see in your house eat insects. No matter how clean you keep your house, there are going to be creepy crawlies in your attic or cellar. The better the food source, the more spiders you are going to have. 

Spider Spray

One thing you can do to get rid of them is to make up some spider spray. Get a spray bottle full of water, add a few drops of an essential oil like lemon or peppermint, and a few drops of dish soap. You can spray it anywhere you see spiders. You can spray it on any webs and cobwebs you see, but it’s a better idea to vacuum them up so the spiders can’t continue to use them. 

Professional Help

You can always turn to a professional for help. An exterminator (like those at Environmental Services Pest Control) will help you deal with the problem. They will find places where the spiders are coming in. They will also help to control the spiders by spraying around the outside of your house for spiders and for insects. Creating a barrier on the outside of your house is a good way to keep spiders and their food source out of your house. 

If you aren’t thrilled by spiders, you want to know where they are hiding in your house. You also want to know the best way to get rid of them and keep them from coming back. 

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