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Category Tips From the Pros

Do Gutters Change the Value of a Home?

Do new gutters change the value of a home? Find out in this article.

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about how gutters change the value of your home — or do they?

The average homeowner or home seller might not think too much about their gutters, but the gutters are a critical piece of every property. Without the right gutters, a home can have issues with basement. Problems with flooding, foundation cracks and other serious problems also can happen. Do the gutters that are on the home you are listing add to the value of the home or decrease it?

The Importance of Good Gutters

Every year, homeowners insurance companies pay out a whopping $2.5 billion in water damage-related losses. In addition, 37% of homeowners have claimed losses due to water issues...

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Grocery store game plan

Do you have a grocery store game plan?

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with a blog about your grocery store game plan.

Going to the grocery store can be anything from a dreaded chore to an out of control shopping spree. Knowing how to make the most of your trip can save you time and money.

Plan meals ahead

Lots of things can help you plan a week’s worth of meals ahead of time. Check the grocery store flyer that I’m sure you get in the mail every week. See what is on sale. Chicken breasts? Plan a meal or two around them. See what coupons you have if you save them.

Check the pantry 

Before you head out see what you have in stock in the pantry and refrigerator.  While you are looking in the fridge, toss uneaten leftovers that have been around for five days ...

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4 Common Fall Chimney Problems

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about fall chimney problems.

Fall chimney problems can be a danger to your home.

Chilly nights and brisk mornings are here. That means many homeowners are suddenly noticing problems with their chimneys. Many chimneys can last for decades with regular preventative maintenance and repairs. And some homeowners forget about the importance of preventative maintenance until it is too late! What are the most common fall chimney problems?

The Most Common Fall Chimney Problems

  1. Obstruction: Blockage in your chimney can be the result of a broad range of things, including animals or creosote. Whenever blockage occurs, it can prevent smoke and dangerous gases from leaving through the chimney like they should...
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Is it time to declutter?

Do you know when it's time to declutter? Is the item expired? Get some tips from Aim 4 Order, professional organizer.
Time to declutter?

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with a blog – do you know when it’s time to declutter?

This is a bit of a trick question, because nearly all of us can purge a few things at any time. And most of us could declutter a lot more. But, how can you tell whether or not it’s time to declutter?

For health reasons, is it expired?

Lots of things have expiration dates other than food. Don’t risk your well being by keeping things that are past their date. People hang on to cosmetics for years, but that is not recommended, especially if it’s something you put near your eyes. If you look on the label of the cosmetics there should be an image of a little jar with a number inside or next to it...

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Diagnosing the Most Common Chimney Smells

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about how to diagnose common chimney smells.

Image: Clean Sweep Maryland

Now that the colder months are here, it’s time to prepare your chimney for cozy nights by the fire. However, sometimes you start a fire or open the fireplace only to find an unpleasant smell. At Clean Sweep, we regularly receive calls about strange and suspicious odors coming from chimneys and fireplaces.

What Are the Most Common Chimney Smells?

  1. Animals: If an animal unfortunately got trapped in your chimney and was unable to leave, it could leave behind a rotting or decaying odor. You may not notice a smell but you hear scratching, crying or scurrying from your chimney. That’s a sign that you have an animal stuck inside...
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Procrastination and your clutter

Thanks to Cindy Bernstein of Aim4Order for this episode of Tips from the Pros with an article about procrastination.

Procrastination and your clutter go hand in hand.
Making lists can help eliminate procrastination.

Fear is the parent of procrastination.
Procrastination is the thief of time.
Time is money.
~ Unknown

Procrastination

Procrastination in keeping your home organized can have its roots in fear or other emotions. It leads to clutter and clutter leads to more procrastination. Once you get a handle on that, you can let it go and start the organizing process.

Sometimes clutter comes from not having enough space to put things away. Other times it comes from hanging onto things we really don’t want or need. Once the clutter starts accumulating it can suck away your energy, cause stress and depression.

Often times we...

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The green tomato dilemma; or, will this fruit get any riper?

Thanks to the University of Maryland / Maryland Grows this article on the green tomato dilemma.

Does it ripen on its own after being picked?

I was reminded on social media this morning of an article published back in June by John Porter on the Garden Professors blog. It’s about which fruits (some of which are vegetables in a culinary sense) continue to ripen after being harvested, and which don’t. Using more scientific words, which are climacteric and which are non-climacteric. There’s a useful list — bookmark it!

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Unripe Siberian kiwis in May
Image: University of Maryland / Maryland Grows

I referred to that list this summer to confirm that kiwis are among the fruits that will continue to ripen once picked. I have three Siberian kiwi plants (Actinidia kolomikta), two ...

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Creosote 101

Get a lesson about creosote and how it can be a danger to your family.
Image: Clean Sweep

Thanks to Clean Sweep for this episode of Tips from the Pros about creosote in your chimney.

Every year, there are over 25,000 chimney fires across the United States. These fires lead to over $125 million in property damage. Aside from the property damage, there are numerous lives lost and harmed as a result. One of the most notable causes of these tragic chimney and house fires is creosote build-up inside of the chimney or fireplace. What does every homeowner need to know about this hazardous substance?

What Is Creosote?

It is a corrosive and flammable substance that builds up on the inside walls of chimneys and fireplaces. This chemical is made when ash, other gases and wood particles combine on the way out of your chimney...

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Gardening Tips for September

Thanks to Maryland Grows for letting me reprint these gardening tips by University of Maryland experts and master gardeners.

Image: Sansevieria trifasciata laurentii by University of Maryland

Houseplants

  • Before bringing houseplants back into the house: Check plants for antsearwigspillbugs, and other nuisance insects.  Wash off insect pests or apply a labeled houseplant insecticide to control any plant pests such as aphids, scales, spider mites, and mealybugs.
  • If the plants have outgrown their pots repot them into the next size pot or remove them, trim back the roots and repot in the same container. Use lightweight, well-drained soilless potting mixes...
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DNA testing privacy: what you need to know

Thanks to Tom Benisch of State Farm for this episode of Tips from the Pros about DNA testing privacy.

Understand the basics of how DNA testing works and learn how to remain vigilant over your data.

A scientist is looking in to a microscope doing DNA testing.

Genetic testing has gone from a novel curiosity to big business. More than 26 million people have taken an at-home ancestry test, which uses DNA to analyze their genomes. The explosion in testing companies and use have a lot of people asking about at-home DNA testing privacy and wondering about the risks. Here are the basics and what you need to consider.

How DNA testing works

Wider availability and advanced technology have made DNA testing much more affordable and much less intrusive...

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