Posts by Luke Sharp

The ABCs Of Preparing Trees For Tornado Season

The United States experiences as many as 1253 tornadoes every year on average, and if you happen to live in an area that is prone to these damaging wind storms, it can bring about a lot of new concerns as a homeowner–especially if you have tree around your house. Even though properly placed, healthy trees are typically a benefit for a homeowner, during tornado season, trees that are not the most well kept can be a major worry. To make sure your home is not inadvertently damaged by the trees you have on your property this tornado season, there is a simple ABC rule set that you need to follow in advance.   

Always trim branches that hang over your home or close enough to touch the house. 

When a tornado or strong wind storm comes roaring through your neighborhood, the high winds can bring down even the heaviest limb even when they appear to be healthy. Make sure you eliminate the hazard of having a tree limb fall through your roof or come bursting through your windows by trimming away tree limbs and branches that are getting a little too close for comfort. Any limb that is hanging over your house or reaching far enough from the tree that it s starting to touch should be removed. If the entire tree is growing close to the house, it is a good idea to consider having it removed completely. 

Be alert to signs that your trees are unhealthy.

Unhealthy tree are much more vulnerable to wind damage, which can involve everything from uprooting to limbs that don’t contain enough moisture and break off easier than usual. Check your trees and stay alert to signs like:

  • rotten spots in the trunk of the tree
  • signs that there is a pest habitation problem, like hole boring
  • discolored leaves or branches
  • limbs that are growing at an odd angle  

Cover overly exposed tree roots.

Trees are more likely to uproot in a storm if the ground is well saturated, but what many homeowners don;t know is that trees can also be more in danger of uprooting if their root system is not properly protected. Take some time to check out the root system of any tree that you have on your property, specifically those in close proximity to the house. If you see a lot of exposed roots, the tree could be more of a threat during tornado season. Call up a contractor (such as one from J&T Tree Co.) and have a few loads of topsoil delivered and compacted over the tree root system to add a layer of extra stability. 

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Want To Sell Scrap Metal? Use These 3 Tips To Help You Succeed

If you’re like many people, you have some scrap metal sitting  in your basement or garage. However, you might not know how to go about selling it. Here are some tips that can help you get started and make a nice profit.

Separate Metals

Because different metals command different prices, avoid having all your metal weighed together and getting a lump sum. Many times, that lump sum will be based on the least expensive metal you have. Separate out your metals so that you can maximize your profit. Use different buckets for each metal and label them so that when you head to the scrap yard, you are organized.

If you are just getting started selling metal, you may not yet know how to differentiate one metal from another. For instance, you may not be sure if you have aluminum or steel. One way to know for sure is to use a magnet and see what is attracted to it. Most types of steel will stick to a magnet; aluminum will not.

Research Prices

Before you walk into any scrap yard, it’s a good idea to have some idea of what you might be able to earn. Get on the internet and research the stock market to see how much different metals are being bought and sold for. Market prices are just a guide, as different scrap yards and buyers will try to sell at a little less so they can make a profit themselves. Call a few scrap yards and buyers in the area to get a clearer idea of what you can expect when you walk in with your metal.

Practice Safety

Metal can have sharp edges and can cause injury to your skin. Not only that, but metal can accumulate rust over time, and if rust infiltrates any cuts you may have, you might end up with an infection. The bacteria that causes tetanus might also be living on rust.

Therefore, to protect yourself, make sure you are safe when handling metal and take the proper precautions. When handling scrap metal, use rubber gloves or gloves made of some other thick material.  If you don’t use gloves when you touch metal, wash your hands carefully and thoroughly. You might even consider wearing goggles.

Use the information laid out above to help you start selling scrap metal. Consult local scrap yards to learn more about what you can do to collect more metal and make more money.

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Propane Leak Detection And Prevention | A Homeowner’s Guide

If you move into a home where propane is your main heat source and you have had no experience, leaking gas may become one of your primary concerns as a homeowner. However, propane is just as safe as other gaseous components used in home heating, even though you will likely have a large storage tank situated on your property. Here are a few of the most common questions homeowners usually have about propane leak detection and prevention.                       

What does propane smell like?

Propane gas on its own has no odor, so it would be difficult to detect on your own without professional tools. However, during the manufacturing process, chemicals that are added to give the propane an odor so that it is more detectable. Most people describe the odor that these chemicals produce as the smell of rotten eggs or sulfur and this odor is easily detectable even in small amounts. 

If propane is leaking from your tank, what should you do?

If you suspect that there is a propane leak at your home, you have to contact someone immediately to have your tank and gas lines checked thoroughly. You should look for the emergency shut-off valve inside of your home first and turn the gas supply off here. If your tank has an emergency shut-off valve as well, it will be located beneath the lid and should be turned off while you wait as well. 

How do you know a propane storage tank is safe for use?

If you move into a home that has an older tank that has not been used in a while, it will have to undergo a thorough inspection by the propane gas sales and service center before it can be filled. This usually involves the use of a small camera that is dropped inside of the tank to look for signs of corrosion, which is a big problem with empty tanks that have been sitting for long periods. Air and moisture that makes its way inside of an empty tank can start to break down the empty lining and if any discrepancies in the surface are found, the tank will have to be replaced. 

At least 10 percent of homes in the United States heat with propane or heating oil. If you move into a home where you will be using propane for the first time, talk to a propane sales and service agent, like those at Graves (John) Propane Of Arizona Inc, for more information about safety and detecting leaks. 

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Making The Most Of Your Solar Panels And The Energy They Produce

It’s not enough to simply invest in solar panels for your home if you plan on seriously impacting your energy costs. Solar energy will get you part of the way, but understanding how to maximize their production and efficiently putting that energy to good use will carry you much further. There is a lot you can do to improve your use of energy in your home, and with the right installation, your solar panels will help you drastically reduce your total energy cost.

Improving Your Solar Install

Even the best solar panels are limited by the nature of your installation methods. It starts with the orientation of your panels, and how their alignment relates to the path of the sun overhead. Apart from simply mounting them on a south facing slope, consider adding a motorized, self-adjusting frame as well.

Both two and three axis solar frames exist, which use the position of the sun and a small motor to continuously realign your solar panels for maximum energy production. By ensuring that the entire face of the panel is facing the sun throughout the day, you’re more likely to generate your solar panel’s maximum current from sunrise to sunset. Various models exist, and many solar contractors can help you choose the one that’s right for your home and your needs.

Improving Your Home

Even if you’re not relying on solar panels for most of your home’s energy needs, you can still cut your energy expenses with a few improvements. One of the most effective is simply to install an awning over your home’s southern exposure. This will cut down on the ambient heat striking the side of your home, and help keep the interior cool throughout the day, reducing the amount you spend on air conditioning.

With an awning in place, you can also consider opening up that southern exposure with large windows. As cooler temperatures become the norm, and the sun’s path tracks further south, large windows will help to catch more of the sun’s rays and heat your home in the winter. Add a natural stone or ceramic surface immediately in front of those windows, and you’ll enjoy radiant heat in your home long after the sun has set.

There are many ways to improve your home’s efficiency, and still more ways to boost the efficiency of your solar panels. A solar contractor (such as USA Solar Electric) can help fine tune your solar installation, and may be able to help with your energy efficiency too.

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Protect The Environment And Avoid Hassles – Items You Should Avoid Throwing In The Trash

It has long been a habit in American culture to throw an item in the trash can as soon as we no longer have a use for it. Unfortunately, modern technology has led to the development of many items that may be toxic and harmful to the environment when added to a growing trash pile, and many people remain ignorant to those restrictions.

Below, you’ll find a guide to some items that you should be sure never to dispose of in the garbage. Keeping this guide in mind will help guarantee that you do your part to support environmental consciousness while simultaneously avoiding the hassle and cost associated with fines for inappropriate disposal.

Lights, Batteries, and Electronics

Electronics technology moves faster than almost anyone can keep up with, and an item that is one day irreplaceable may become trash the next day. However, many electronic items and their associated lights and batteries contain a variety of compounds that are extremely hazardous if exposed in a trash pile.

Most municipalities and waste removal companies have scheduled electronics pick up days that will allow you to dispose of your electronic goods appropriately. If you can’t wait for one of those days, contact local recycling facilities who may be equipped to process your items any day of the week.

Items Containing Mercury

The dangers associated with mercury exposure are now widely known, and as such, few products are still produced that contain significant amounts of the substance. However, remnants from times past may still linger around your home in areas you haven’t considered until you go to dispose of them.

Older thermometers, thermostats, and electrical switches are all likely to contain mercury elements that must be properly handled. You should contact your waste disposal service for a special pickup, as loads of trash containing mercury need to be specially treated by individuals with experience in proper disposal techniques.


Completing a household painting project can introduce new life into a dull surface and allow you to express a huge amount of pride in your home. When you’re done, however, you’re likely to have open cans of paint left over that are unlikely to do you any good before they separate and become unusable. It’s important that you dispose of paint at a recycling center, hardware store, or other appropriate location, as its introduction into landfills in large quantities allows it to seep into groundwater and risk some serious health concerns.

For more tips about disposing of various waste products, contact a company like Tri-State Disposal.

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