5 Winter Pests That You Should Look Out For

Pests are the biggest enemies of homeowners and they can literally disrupt your life. They can cause disease and damage the property as well. Though you may think that the threat of infestation is confined to summer months, you are mistaken. Winter is an equally risky time from this perspective because overwintering pests can hide in your living space during these months, just to come back as a major infestation once the days get warmer. So you should keep an eye on overwintering pests and take steps to get rid of them at the earliest sign. Here are some common winter pests that you should look out for.

Termites

Termites are perhaps the biggest threat for homeowners because they can literally eat away the wood faster than you imagine. The worst part is that they can be as dangerous during the winter as in summer because they do not hibernate. Any signs of chew damage on the railings, wallpapers and wood products indicate that you could have these lurking enemies. Check the basement and attic as well because there are the areas that may be most infested.

Mice and rats

Rodents such as mice and rats are some other unwanted visitors that you may have visiting this winter. If you have them hiding in your living space this winter, you may probably see some indications. Their droppings may be visible in the nooks and corners behind the furniture or in the back of cabinets and drawers. You can even find chew marks on the cardboard food boxes in your kitchen.

Bed bugs

Since bed bugs travel from one place to another, they are most likely to come with you when you are back from a holiday during this time of the year. Most of the time, they make their way into your luggage from hotel rooms and settle down in your bedroom. Overlooking the earliest symptoms is the worst mistake you can make. Rather, you should be vigilant and get Residential Pest Control as early as you can. Look out for signs such as dried bloodstains on your sheets and black sticky fecal residue under the mattress and box springs.

Carpenter ants

Another common overwintering pest is carpenter ants, which are capable of surviving the harsh winters by burrowing their colonies deep below the frost line. They can even burrow one in the wall voids of your living space. Even worse, they may be burrowing through the wood in your home all winter. If you see piles of dust and exit holes here and there, you probably have a colony of carpenter ants in your living space.

Wasps

The stinging wasps that are commonly seen in summers may make their home inside the attic spaces in your home when the cold weather comes. The best way to detect their presence is by cleaning the attic crawl spaces regularly. If you find a wasp nest there, have it removed by a professional. Don’t even try doing it on your own because they will sting if you poke in their home.

Timely detection and clearing away of overwintering insects is the best thing to do if you don’t want to start the summer with an infestation. So you must be vigilant for these signs and act at once if you notice any of them.

Orangeheat Review

Disclosure: I received samples to facilitate this post. The opinions are my own.

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I personally like the variety of designs available.  The have something for everyone!  My son loves trucks and construction vehicles, so I was really excited when they sent him shirts featuring a firetruck, a Volkswagon, and an excavator.  Thaxton was excited when he saw the shirts too.  When they came in the mail, he said, “Trucks!” [Read more…]

Must Haves For The Master Bedrooms of Your Dreams

In terms of where in the home to invest the largest portion of your decorating budget, I have always been a fan of spending big in the bedroom. Of course you want the home to look great in the communal spaces so that you can impress your neighbors , family and friends, but based on pure pragmatism you are going to spend far more hours in your bedroom than they will spend in your hallway and living room, which is why I’ll always go bigger in the master bedroom. There are some must-haves that you should focus on here which will help you to create the bedroom of your dreams.

The Main Event

The main centerpiece of your bedroom is the bed and I’d advise you to spend a lot of time researching and choosing the perfect bed, and spending as much as you can on getting it right. If you are designing a French provincial bedroom then investing in a glorious four poster bed is going to be the cherry on the cake and give you a room to be proud of. If you are opting for modern then floating beds look incredible, if you are going for a sanctuary style bedroom then a chunky sleigh bed can really set things off. This should be your first priority, get the bed right, invest in a mattress you love, and enjoy the pleasure of lying in paradise each night.

Lighting

The master bedroom has many uses, all of which call for different levels of lighting. You want a sombre feel as you read unwind to go to sleep, a bright light as you get up and start your day and perhaps even separate spotlights if you want to read a book before bed, but your partner does not. Explore lighting options such as dimmer switches for the main lights and always seek out smaller spotlights for each side of the bed.

End of Bed Seat

I must confess that I always looked at those chaise-longue style seats at the bottom of people’s beds and thought that it was a preposterous idea and something which

really wasn’t necessary. As we decorated our bedroom however my wife really had her heart set on it and given that I got the bed which I had been after, I compromised and we bought a long seat for the foot of the bed. I have been proved completely wrong with this and to be honest it is one of my favorite features in the room, behind the bed of course. I use this when I put my shoes on and take them off, to sit down and read, as a perfect place to sit and get my head together for the day ahead and I love the additional option which it gives us beyond sitting on the bed. With this we know use the bed to sleep, and the long chair to sit down and relax.

Get your bed sorted, make sure the lighting is beautiful and go get one of those seats which you can place at the foot of your bed, an absolute game changer!

AC Troubleshooting – Why is My Air Conditioner Not Cooling?

It is one of those unfortunate and highly annoying moments that can happen, the summer days begin, night draws in, it’s hot and sticky so you reach for the AC, expect it is not blowing out the old air you so desperately need. There are many reasons why your AC is not cooling and whilst there is no good time to discover this, unless you happen to flick it on during winter, there are very often simple explanations to what is going on with your AC. Here are some things to check before you call the repair team in a panic.

Clogged Air Filter

When I lived on the Gold Coast we had an instance like this and I immediately hit Google and searched ‘repair air conditioning Gold Coast’ in the hope that someone would be around at 3am, they sadly weren’t. I took matters into my own hands and discovered that the air filter was thick with dust and grime. This was blocking the cold air coming out, so I simply changed the filter and everything was back up and running again.

Dirty Coils

The coils inside the AC unit are what helps to cool the air which it is taking in before it is pumped back out into the room. If however these coils get dirty or have debris stuck to them then they will not be able to efficiently cool the air. Check the condenser coils in your AC unit and if required give them a wipe clean and see if that helps to remedy the issue.

Faulty Thermostat

The thermostat has a sensor on it which detects the temperature in the room and then activates or switches off the cooling system. If however your thermostat is faulty it will not be able to detect he rise in temperature which is why the cold air may not be coming out.

Faulty Parts

Whilst there could be a quick fix to your AC woes, there is also the very real possibility that some of the parts in side the unit are faulty and need to be replaced. Generally parts will break down after a period of inactivity which is why you may find that on the first day of summer is the time when you realize that the AC unit isn’t doing its job. Everything has a shelf life including parts for an air conditioning unit.

Faulty Remote

Another personal experience of mine was that the AC unit wasn’t working, I checked the filters, the coils, the coolant and everything I could think of before giving up in a bad mood. I called out someone to take a look at I was most embarrassed to discover that the issue preventing me from cooling down was in fact the remote control, rather than the unit. This is a possibility so be sure to test out another control if you have it, or replace the one you have.

Don’t panic, check out these possible issues and you’ll be cool in no time.

Common Problems With Gas Heaters — and How to Fix Them Before You Freeze

Thanks to climate change, winter isn’t just coming — in many parts of the country, winter is indisputably already here. Forecasters everywhere are predicting a particularly long and brutal cold season that has already started and should last well into spring. Unfortunately, the turn from cozy fall to frigid winter happened fast, leaving many homeowners unable to complete their preparations for winter — and allowing many gas furnaces to fall into disrepair.

If you’ve been blindsided by the sudden cold snap, you aren’t alone. Here are some signs that your gas heater might need emergency maintenance if you expect it to keep you warm all winter long.

Dirty Filters

Easily the most common problem with any HVAC system — not just gas furnaces — is a filter clogged with dust and debris. Filters work to keep gunk out of your central heating system, to prevent it from causing more significant clogs deeper in the ducts; instead of taking your walls apart to clear a clog, you can simply change your filter every few months.

However, if you don’t change your filter (or clean it, if you use reusable filters) the dust and debris will build up, impeding air flow. This makes your furnace work harder to pull in air to heat — which is bad for two reasons. First, the less air your furnace has flowing, the less warmth it will pump into your home. Yet, perhaps more important in the long run, a furnace that is working harder than necessary won’t do so for long. You are more likely to experience other, more serious failures in your heating system when your filters are dirty, so set a schedule for changing your filters.

Pilot Light Problems The pilot light is a small flame that serves to ignite the gas used to heat the air that fills your home. If your pilot light isn’t functioning properly, much of the gas your furnace consumes won’t burn — which could be a serious fire risk for your home, or it could waste resources without making your home warm. There are two common conditions that indicate a faulty pilot light:

The pilot light blows out. Strong drafts near your furnace can eliminate the pilot light, requiring you to manually reignite it according to the furnace’s instructions. If this happens often, you might need to insulate around your furnace.

The pilot light burns orange or yellow. The pilot light should be a crisp blue — so if you see a flickering yellow or orange flame, you have a problem. Often, this means there isn’t enough oxygen in the area, but it could also mean that the flame is producing carbon monoxide, a toxic gas. You will need a professional to help you with this problem.

Cracked Heat Exchanger Heat exchangers serve to keep different gases and liquids separate, to ensure that the heating or cooling system functions as it should. Unfortunately, heat exchangers can crack, due to old age or poor maintenance, and those cracks pose a serious risk to your heating system and your health. Carbon monoxide is a typical byproduct of gas furnaces, and as mentioned above, CO is toxic and can be deadly. If you don’t replace a cracked heat exchanger, you could be putting your family’s lives at risk. Unfortunately, heat exchangers cannot be repaired; if your heat exchanger is cracked because your entire furnace is out of date, it might be worth investing in a new gas heater for your home.

Thermostat on the Fritz

Just because your home isn’t heating up to the temperature you set your thermostat doesn’t mean your furnace is automatically to blame. Thermostats can cause all sorts of problems on their own, like not registering the correct temperature, not sending the right messages to your furnace or otherwise not functioning as they should. If you constantly seem to have heating or cooling issues, your thermostat might be to blame.

Often, thermostats are placed improperly in your home. You should consider moving your thermostat to a more central location, where it is out of direct sunlight, dark shade and the path of heating or cooling vents, so it will take more accurate readings of the temperature inside your home. You might also want to invest in a smart thermostat, so you can have more minute control over your home’s temperature from near and far.

Gas heaters are incredibly efficient — unless you fail to take proper care of them. By learning more about what can go wrong with your heater, you can take steps to prevent those catastrophes from occurring and enjoy the longer winter in complete warmth.

5 Cancers You Need to Know About

Within the realm of diseases and ailments that one can experience in their lifetime, cancer seems to be the one most people are concerned with; we don’t blame them. In fact, new data suggests the number of annual cancer diagnoses has surpassed 1.5 million. With statistics like this rearing their ugly head, now is the perfect time to turn inward and examine your own health.

  1. Prostate Cancer

Most individuals have been misinformed about this type of cancer. As a result, many patients don’t take prostate cancer screening guidelines as seriously as they should. One way for men to take care of themselves and be proactive about this is through  Prompt PGS, a major advancement in evaluating genetic predisposition to prostate cancer. Prompt PGS empowers men with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their health. The test is for any man who wants to better understand his lifetime risk of developing prostate cancer, enabling him to personalize his own respective approach to screening.

When asked about prostate health, many men feel as though prostate cancer is a slow-growing issue that never spreads to the surrounding area. Contrary to this belief, prostate cancer has the tendency to thrive in one of two states: slow and benign, or fast and deadly. Located below is a brief list of symptoms associated with this form of cancer:

  • Increased bathroom breaks
  • Inability to hold urine
  • Blood within the urine

    Colorectal

If you’ve heard the terms “colon cancer”, “rectal cancer” or “bowel cancer”, you’re well aware of the havoc that colorectal cancer can cause in one’s life. This form of cancer begins to show itself when frequent constipation becomes part of everyday life for a patient. From here, individuals may find dark blood in their stool, a full feeling in their stomach even when they haven’t eaten and extreme fatigue.

The most important factor to address when a doctor diagnosis colorectal cancer is to make sure tumors and cysts have not formed near the lymph nodes. Should they be found, immediate surgery will be performed to try and prevent cancerous growths from spreading. From here, the doctor will customize a treatment plan to give the patient their best chance at survival.

  1. Lung Cancer

To find out if a patient may have lung cancer, they first need to address the most common side effects. When lung cancer first begins to form, the individual may notice a large amount of rust-colored phlegm in their system. From here, a patient will notice extreme bouts of coughing accompanied by unwavering chest pain.

Treating lung cancer can range anywhere from small surgery, radiation or even chemotherapy. As always, consult with your healthcare physician to plan a course of treatment in the following months.

  1. Skin Cancer

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer within the United States. Here is a brief list of things to watch form when examining yourself for potential areas with skin cancer:

  • Moles that are adjacent to other moles of a different color.
  • Moles and marks that have a dark, undefined border.
  • Areas that are discolored and painful to touch.
  • Marks that have multiple colors
  1. Breast Cancer

While breast cancer is mostly found within the female population, men are at risk too, making breast cancer awareness important for everyone. Always be aware of hard, non-moving lumps found within your breast tissue. The best way to screen yourself in these areas is to run your fingers and lightly squeeze using medium pressure over the breast on a regular basis. If found, consult with a physician immediately as the cancer may spread to the lymph nodes located within close proximity of the breast.

Need A Family Dinner Idea? Get Some Pork On Your Fork! 

In our fast-moving society, families across the country are losing the ability to sit together and have a chance to really connect with one another through conversation.  With classes, sports, jobs, and workouts, each family member may be operating on their own program for the majority of the day— which turns into a majority of the week, and so the vicious cycle continues.  Having a family dinner together is a great way to create a familial connection on a daily basis, which cultivates the closeness and bond that we all long for with those we love most.  

So how does a family on the go stop dead in their tracks for a meal together? One way to get all those agents of chaos to fall in line for dinner time is to make sure that the meal you all share is as delicious as much as it is nutritious.  There are so many delicious meal ideas that are quick, convenient, and centered around one of the most versatile and widely available meats on the market today…Pork!  

Pork is a red meat that is derived from pigs, and it’s the most commonly consumed red meat worldwide.  It is high-protein meat that is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids that all play a huge role in overall health.  Lean pork (that is trimmed of visible fat) is nutrient-dense, satisfying, and good for you. Pork cuts like that of tenderloin, loin chops, and sirloin roast are made from lean cuts and are more healthy than chicken.  

Flavorful and inexpensive, pork is the underrated, jack-of-all-meats that works in all kinds of dishes— from “Taco Tuesday” to “Stir Fry-day,” it couldn’t be easier to be the culinary dynamo your family has always wanted you to be, and create fresh dinner ideas with all of the different types of pork cuts at your fingertips.  Here are 3 quick and easy ways to get a little bit more pork on your fork, and spread more joy around your family’s dinner table.

PULLED PORK TACOS

We all love the taste of pulled pork tacos.  Having a taco bar with some delicious pulled pork in the spotlight will have your family coming back to the table time and time again.  With a recipe that is as simple as it is delicious, your family won’t be able to say no to taco night!

HOT ‘N’ SPICY PORK NOODLES

Standard spaghetti and meat sauce is always a crowd-pleaser, but….snooze.  Try, instead, a savory asian twist on a family favorite to create a bowl of goodness that is way more exciting and just as easy to throw together.  Sometimes, all it takes it an innovative, spicy pork twist on a classic red sauce to create to bring the family together week after week.

Pork Salad Wraps

For those who are more health-conscious, and looking for a healthier way to serve the ones they love, look no further than a fresh lettuce wrap stuffed with savory pork tenderloin!  What better way to take the “bad rap” away from salad than by creating a finger-lickin’ fresh way to get some veggies on the table for your family. No one will bat an eye at the fresh veggies they’re scarfing, as long as the pork is juicy, savory, and as delicious as family dinner should be.

Although none of us can keep life from charging us at what seems like warp-speed, all of us can make the choice to slow down, connect with one another, and create the connection we all long for over the pork we all share with our fork.

 

Family Healthcare: Choosing the Right Primary Care Doctor 

A comprehensive healthcare plan is something that every person needs. When you are younger you may need it for a pregnancy or for basic procedures such as dental checkups and annual health physicals. However, as you grow older, its importance grows, too. 

Deciding on the Right Plan 

Most employers present an extensive healthcare package that contains an abundance of information regarding several different companies and plan options. This in itself can be overwhelming, especially if you are uncertain as to what your needs going forward may be. In order to make a decision that benefits you, a good approach may be to write down what you would like to have in your healthcare plan, such as the ability to continue to see your current doctor and to have the ability to go out of network to see a specialist. Another important aspect is the deductible. Some plans may cost less, however, they will more than likely have a much higher deductible for procedures like surgery, emergency room visits and prescriptions. 

Finding the Right Doctor 

If you don’t currently have a primary care provider, choosing the right one can be a daunting task. One way to narrow the search is to check their credentials and their rate of client satisfaction, which you can usually find on the doctor’s website. Another thing to look for is how they protect their client’s personal information. Today, unlike just a generation earlier, hackers are constantly looking at small businesses as their payday for a wealth of personal information they can use. When you are in the healthcare industry it’s a requirement by law that you take specific necessary steps to protect your patient’s private information. A doctor’s office that is HIPAA HITECH compliant is doing everything they can to achieve that goal. Trusting your healthcare provider is more than liking the doctor, it means keeping your private health information safe; not breached, not for sale, and not available for product development. 

Convenience

The workday today can begin at 8:00 A.M. or 2:00 P.M. There is no one-size-fits-all for office hours anymore. Selecting a doctor’s office that understands that not everyone can make it to their office prior to 4 or 5:00 P.M. is important. Many doctors today have a more flexible schedule wherein they have at least one evening where they remain open until 8 or 9:00 P.M. and some even have hours on Saturday. Additionally, you should find a doctor within your local area. It makes it convenient for regular visits and, if you or your child becomes very sick, you can get there in short order. 

Cater to Their Clients

Not all doctors put their focus on their clients’ needs ahead of their own wallets. You may find a doctor within your location and one that accepts your insurance; however, they might be lacking in customer service. For instance, some doctors, in order to make more money, schedule several appointments for the same time slot. You walk into the doctor’s office and see a room full of people seated and waiting and suddenly find out that they all have the same scheduled appointment. This can cost you valuable time and, if you took time off from work, it means you’ll spend the entire day in the office versus at home getting rest.

A Formal Meeting

While liking your doctor isn’t the most important issue if they provide quality care, it helps. When you like a person you are more apt to strike up a conversation which, in many cases, can include things that trouble you either emotionally or physically. So, in the end, it can help you maintain better health.

Healthcare is something every person in your family needs. Throughout your lifetime you will, from time to time, have difficult decisions to make when it comes to healthcare. Finding a qualified physician with excellent credentials, a superb reputation and protections in place to preserve the integrity of your personal information are key factors you should weigh carefully before making your final decision.

Top Home Improvements You Probably Shouldn’t Do Yourself

Thanks to home improvement reality shows and blogs DIY has caught on everywhere. Homeowners are learning just how easy and cost-effective it can be to complete home maintenance and repairs on their own. While it can seem like a win-win (maintain your asset and save money), that’s not the case for all home improvement projects. 

If you were to do a quick online search of DIY mistakes or disasters, you’d find a ton of stories of homeowners who attempted to complete projects on their own that backfired big time. It ended up costing them more money to have a professional come out and fix what they damaged while also taking care of the original repair. 

Not to discourage you from doing your own home repairs and improvements, but there are some things that really should not be done without professional assistance. How do you know which projects are safe and which you should hire a contractor? Check out this list below: 

Electrical Projects

Electricity is dangerous to anyone that doesn’t have adequate education and training. You should never try to work with electrical wiring on your own. You run the risk of getting electrocuted or starting a house fire. As electrical wiring runs throughout the home, you should hire an electrician when doing everything from installing a ceiling fan to a kitchen or bathroom remodel. You can visit sites like PacmanElectric.com to find certified electricians servicing your area. 

Significant Structural Changes

You don’t know how many DIY disaster stories there are from homeowners who tried to make structural changes on their own. They suddenly decide that they want an open-concept kitchen and knock down a wall. Only the wall they knocked down happens to be load-bearing which causes a ton of mess. 

There’s more to a wall than meets the eye. Behind many of them, you can find everything from plumbing to electrical wires. If it is also a wall that serves to support the weight of the property, removing it can result in significant structural damage. So, any time you want to tear down a wall, it is best to at least hire a contractor to advise you on whether or not tearing it down would cause an issue. 

Roof Repairs

Cleaning your gutters is one thing, but trying to install a roof, repair damage, or any other roofing repair without assistance is an accident waiting to happen. Without the proper safety gear and equipment, you increase your chances of falling and getting seriously hurt. Not to mention, if you damage the roof while trying to repair it, it will most certainly cause other issues around the house like leaks and water damage. It is a safer bet to hire a roofing contractor to maintain and repair your roof for you. 

Tree Removal

Dead trees can become a serious issue for homeowners fairly quickly. They need to be properly removed to prevent them from falling and causing damage to your property, your neighbor’s property, or hurt someone passing by. While it might seem simple enough to grab a chainsaw and begin hacking away, cutting trees is a lot more complex than you think. Cutting the wrong way could lead to property damage or injury. It is best to contact an arborist or landscaping company to have them come and cut the tree safely for you. 

Other Factors to Consider

These aren’t the only home improvement projects you probably shouldn’t complete on your own. Before deciding to do any project yourself, consider these factors: 

  • Knowledge – how much do you know about what you’re trying to accomplish? If you don’t have much comprehension on the topic, chances are you shouldn’t be doing it yourself. 
  • Tools – While some home repairs and maintenance projects require nothing more than a hammer and a few nails, there are others that require more advanced tools and equipment. If you cannot afford or do not have these tools readily available, you do not want to complete the job yourself. 
  • Permits – Each locality has its own rules and regulations as it pertains to getting home improvement projects permitted. These permits are to ensure that the work is done up to code and also means that your work will be evaluated by a city or county inspector. Unless you want the headache of going through all the red tape, it is probably best to hire a contractor to ensure the work is done appropriately. 

No one is against saving a few bucks while also maintaining your property, but it is important to play it safe. Trying to complete a home improvement project that you’re not skilled enough in or is very risky can cause you more harm than good. If you’re not sure you should be completing it on your own, it is best to start searching for the best-qualified contractor to get it done for you. 

How to buy the right type of international medical insurance

If you are taking your family abroad for a holiday or on a trip to see relatives you really need to buy travel insurance. Most of the time, things will go well and you will not need to use it.

But, despite this fact, buying it is never a waste of time. Without the right type of international medical insurance should someone fall sick the bill can potentially run into tens of thousands.

Coverage for your medical bills

The cost of treatment alone can be very high. Healthcare costs vary, but they are never cheap. Even in India, which has one of the lowest-cost healthcare services in the world, a broken ankle could easily set you back $7,000. You would also need to add the cost of drugs, crutches and outpatient visits to that amount. In other parts of the world, you would pay an awful lot more to fix a badly broken ankle.

So, it is wise to buy a policy that provides sufficient coverage for your medical bills. It is also important to check if there is an excess. If there is make sure that you understand how much it is.

The types of treatments covered

Look at the small print to see what kinds of treatments are covered by your policy. For example, if a brain injury is suspected you would want to be able to have a scan rather than just an x-ray because that is all your policy covers.

Transport to the medical facility

Not all policies cover transportation to the medical facility. It is never wise to assume that this bill will a small one. Even in well-developed countries like the UK, you may have to be flown to a specialist hospital to receive treatment for something like a broken back. If you have not bought the right type of international medical coverage you will have to pay that bill. Again, that bill can easily run into tens of thousands.

Repatriation coverage

Should you, or a member of your travel party, be so ill that they cannot return home without a medical professional you will again be facing a huge bill. As you can see here, the cost of medical evacuation is currently running at between $25,000 and $250,000. So, again, it is very important to make sure that your policy provides adequate coverage for this eventuality.

Expenses for other members of your party

Often, someone will need to stay with you to take care of your immediate needs. Again, this can work out expensive. You will have to find the cash to pay for their accommodation, food, travel expenses and new tickets to get home. All costs that the right international medical insurance policy will cover.

The activities that are included in your policy

You also need to be sure that your medical travel insurance policy will kick in regardless of how you get injured or fall sick. The last thing you need is to break your leg on a hike only to find that an injury sustained while hiking is not covered. For some policies, the list of activities that are not is a ridiculously long one. So, always check the small print before actually buying your policy.

The above is not a comprehensive list of what you need to consider when buying international medical insurance. Just the most important things, so, before buying please take the time to do a bit more research.