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Category Tips From the Pros

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!

IMG_5776
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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Lawn and Garden Tips and Tricks for August

Thanks to Maryland Grows for letting me reprint these garden tips.

For Ornamental Plants:

  • Late August through September is usually a good time to transplant, divide and plant perennials such as daylily, liriope (photo left), and echinacea. (HG 99) Be sure to keep them well watered during dry periods.
  • Annuals and perennials, like yarrow and salvia, may have grown spindly and are not flowering well. Cut them back to encourage re-bloom. Deadhead the spent blooms of annuals like zinnias and marigolds. This will encourage them to continue blooming more vigorously.
  • Plant hardy mums for fall color this month so they will become well established prior to the winter.
Enter Dormant lawn. Photo: University of Illinois Extensiona caption

Garden Tips For Lawns:

  • In dry periods grasses go d...
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Markets Stay Strong in 2019

L.K. Benson in Tips from the Pros talks about markets

The second quarter of 2019 ended about the same way it started, with positive returns across financial markets. In our 2nd quarter market commentary we’ll recap what happened, what we learned and where we go from here.

Best Planning Ideas for 2019

Each year at the annual AICPA Personal Financial Planning conference, Lyle moderates a panel discussion with leaders from the CPA financial planning profession. These leaders discuss the best planning ideas they are implementing with clients right now, and there always a number of great takeaways.

We’ve touched on many of these topics in our writing over the past couple years, but here’s a reminder of the top planning ideas to consider now.

The Kiddie Tax

The tax on the unearned income of children has long been a pai...

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