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Posted by on Apr 4, 2014 | 0 comments

Vinegar and Baking Soda Unite: DIY Eco-Friendly Cleaning

Vinegar and Baking Soda Unite: DIY Eco-Friendly Cleaning

Just in time for spring cleaning, we were thrilled to host a demo on eco-friendly cleaning products. Our presenters, Jen Wills and Mellenie Runion, showed us how to avoid household chemicals by making your own cleaning products and embracing environmentally conscious lifestyles. Jen Wills is a Del Ray parent and environmentalist who has done extensive research on household chemicals. Jen started out by describing some of the common chemicals in our homes, saying “you name it, they’re there.” U.S. law allows manufacturers of cleaning products to use almost any ingredient they wish. If they make a claim like “kills bacteria,” though, they have to list the pesticides in the product. For example, this Soft Scrub product says “it kills 99.9 % of germs,” and therefore, also lists an active ingredient. Some labels sound rather innocuous like “BabyGanics: The Sparkle Maker Glass Surface Cleaner—Fragrance Free.” Well, that one contains this crazy-sounding chemical combination: HEXAHYDRO-1,3,5-TRIS (2-HYDROXYETHYL)-S-TRIAZINE. If you’re curious about what a specific ingredient is, like the one in the BabyGanics...

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Posted by on Feb 4, 2014 | 2 comments

DIY Home Maintenance: 3 Easy Plumbing Jobs

DIY Home Maintenance: 3 Easy Plumbing Jobs

We’ve had a few plumbing issues in our house, one that required immediate attention and a couple more that we’ve ignored for weeks. As you’d probably expect, my first instinct was not to hire a plumber. As every DIYer has probably said one time or another, “I can do that myself. It can’t be that hard.” I’m happy to report that I single-handedly (except for one) tackled three jobs and saved us a chunk of change — the jobs solved common problems that anyone can fix with some online research, basic tools, and in one case, a quick trip to the hardware store. Jammed garbage disposal The last time our disposal jammed and stopped working, we were living in a rental and I wasn’t as hip to the DIY approach as I am now. I called a plumber who charged around $80 for loosening the flywheel and removing the offending object — the plastic ring on the lid of the milk carton. So, this time, I vowed to do...

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Posted by on Mar 27, 2013 | 2 comments

Spring Jobs Around the Home

Spring Jobs Around the Home

Last year, my gardening guru and neighbor Eileen told me the bright yellow forsythia blooms are a cue to get started on some Spring jobs around the garden. Now that I’ve seen a few blossoms, I’m itching to do something with my pathetic neglected garden. But I also started thinking of some other jobs around the home. 1. Give Your Home a Check-up Before the heat and humidity arrive, you might be calling for a tune-up for your air conditioner, so why not have your plumber give your hot water heater a little look-see as well. Don’t be like me and let it fester there for years on the brink of disaster. If you’re concerned about home security, you can call the Alexandria Police Department for a free home assessment. They’ll help you determine the need for any improvements/upgrades to your home. 2. Love the Earth There are lots of easy eco-friendly jobs you can do around the house. Last summer I made reusable sandwich/snack bags for lunches. So far they have...

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Posted by on Feb 21, 2013 | 1 comment

The Illustrated Guide to Emergency Preparedness

The Illustrated Guide to Emergency Preparedness

In my house, we have a first aid kit, a few canned goods and bottled water in the pantry, but not much else by way of emergency prep, I’m afraid. I know that my family can better prepare for an emergency. When my neighbor Jen invited me over to see her “audit” her natural disaster emergency kit for expiration dates and such, I figured it was a chance to give the process some good thought, learn from her, and plan to do a better job in our own home. Jen has supplies to last her family of 3 at least 72 hours, which is the recommended length of time you should be prepared to be self-sufficient in your home in case of emergency. Jen’s family is prepared if the electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and phone service is cut off for weeks. They’re also prepared in case they need to evacuate on a moment’s notice. They keep backpacks ready to fill with sleeping bags, clothing, and basic supplies. “I started...

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Posted by on Feb 13, 2013 | 4 comments

Hot Water Heater Maintenance Fail

Hot Water Heater Maintenance Fail

I consider myself a pretty good homeowner. We’ve actually replaced practically every major system/appliance in our house and have our furnace and air conditioning unit checked seasonally (or at least try to). But there was just one itty bitty thing we left out that almost ended in catastrophe… the water heater. Yes, that’s my old water heater in the picture above. As I was doing laundry one day, I glanced over at the water heater and noticed some moisture on the floor. Hmm…that doesn’t look good. Those things aren’t supposed to drip. How long have we had this water heater? I also saw some evidence of corrosion dripping down the sides. My husband agreed something was amiss and we were in deep trouble. The next day I called Kesterson Plumbing (they replaced our sump pump motor last year and I was pleased with their service) and they were able to schedule an appointment for the next morning. And not a minute too soon, I tell you. The tech took...

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