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Converting From Oil Furnaces to Natural Gas In NE USA States Means Adding Gas Safety Devices, Too.

by Barbara 4. December 2014 09:04

Question about safety issues when converting from oil heat to gas heat.

Q: "A natural gas shale line from Marcellus Shale gas in Pennsylvania may extend into the Northeastern states in the next year, if approved (Quote from CBS 12/3/2014) We currently are using oil heat. Replacing the furnace with natural gas will save us a lot of money. How can we avoid the health risks associated with natural gas?"Thanks Tom.

Answer: Continue using carbon monoxide alarms and smoke detectors as you have been doing, remembering to test them monthly and change batteries once a year. I would also suggest you add a Scentry III Gas Shut Off system on your main line into the home as well as Safe-T-Alert Combustible Gas Alarm or a Safety Siren III natural gas alarm near your natural gas appliances such as ranges, fireplaces, etc.

With the Scentry III GFRAB, you can add additional remote sensors, a battery back-up and a connection to a home monitoring system if you have one or plan to get one.

Remember that natural gas is lighter than air and "puddles" at the ceiling above the appliance using it. If near an open stairway, the gas will go to the top of the stairway.

An annual furnace tune up with filter change is needed with gas furnaces as well as with oil. If you want the best disposable furnace filters, use the 4 inch or 1 inch Safe Home filters.

Thanks for your questions.

Sincerely,

Barbara

 

Kirks Original Coco Castile Soap, An Ideal Soap for Campers Using Hard Water

by Barbara 23. June 2012 08:51

Q: "We go camping in the wilderness and in campgrounds. The water is alway hard. We are looking for a soap that lathers in hard water, even cold water and is not full of chemicals that could harm the environment.  Is Kirk's Original Castile Soap our best option?" Thanks from Janet.

Answer: Yes. we recommend Kirk's castile soap for campers and for anyone concerned about both the environment and the health of their skin. Kirks is a very mild soap made from all natural ingredients without any chemicals or animal fats. Because of its high glycerine content, Kirks lathers generously in hard water and in any water. You just get more suds with soft water. Kirks melts very slowly. A cake can last a long time. Each 4 ounce soap bar is approximately 3.75 inches long by 2.5 inches wide by 15/16 inches thick (measured with wrapping on.) We sell in 3 bar packs because we can offer it to you at a better price. Plus the shipping cost for 3 bars is about the same as for a single one!

We sell Kirks in cases of 48 bars, half cases of 24 bars, 1/4 cases of 12 bars and in individual bars as well. Most people buy a half or quarter case as the price and shipping costs per bar are more reasonable.

Those people with chronic skin conditions such as from exposure to Agent Orange rate Kirks Castile very highly. My late father is why we sell Kirk's soaps. When local supermarkets no longer sold Kirk's, Dad urged us to sell it. Dad's ceramic tile soap dish was so small that he always cut the bar in two. We've been selling Kirks since 2000. There is a very light fragrance to the soap: this is a natural one. The soap colors may vary slightly: several plants make the soap using the same formula yet the color is sometimes a little different.

If you have other questions, please contact us. Thanks again for your question.

Sincerely,
Barbara

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bar soap | castile soap | natural soap | soaps

Lambswool Dusters Made in Canada Are Fully Washable and Attract Dust

by Barbara 9. June 2011 08:30

Question about the lambswool dusters, the Lambswool Duster, 10 inch Head, with Standard Handle and the Lambswool Duster w/ Telescope Handle, Assorted Colors

Q: "Are these made in China? I prefer to buy products either Made in USA or Made in Canada. Also are these washable? And are they sturdy enough for a cleaning service? Thanks. Sue."

Answer: These are made in Canada with Canadian wool. Our  primary customers are large hotel and motel chains, cleaning and janitorial services and private companies who have their own cleaning and maintenance personnel. Individuals often purchase these dusters along with our Bona Kemi and Sh-Mop products if they do their own housecleaning.

The standard handle duster has a sturdy plastic handle that is 16 inches long, 26 inches with the 10 inch lambswool dusting head. We buy these in cartons of assorted colors as we do the lambswool duster with telescoping handle. Each has an end loop for hanging or you can thread a cord through for hanging if you choose.

The extended length, telescoping duster has the same 10 inch long lambswool duster head. The handle locks at the length you prefer. The handle extends to 42 inches from 32 inches.

Before using, spin the duster between your hands to open up the wool. Repeat after cleaning to shake out dust after use. When necessary, wash in warm, soapy water. When dry, spin duster handle to regain fullness. Lambswool attracts and retains dust: synthetics often do not.

Thanks for your question.
Sincerely,
Barbara

Safety Alarms Needed to Protect Home Recently Converted to Natural Gas Heat and Water Heater

by Barbara 31. December 2010 02:34

Question: "We recently converted to natural gas heat and gas hot water boiler. We have two floors above this basement installation. What safety alarm units are required for protection? Nate.

Answer: Thanks for your question for the Ask Barbara Contest, Nate. I am going to answer with the assumption that your home was all electric prior to this conversion. If you heated with propane or oil, some of these recommendations may not apply.

Natural gas homes or businesses need two different types of safety alarms.

Combustible Gas Alarms.

Why do I need a combustible gas detector/gas alarm?

The purpose of a combustible gas alarm is to alert you when you have a raw gas leak. Yes, mercaptan is added to natural gas to make it smell like rotten eggs. But if you are not in the area of the gas appliances and/or you do not have an ability to smell, the odor does you no good. This units must be installed near the gas using appliances. So if your gas furnace and gas water heater are side by side, one natural gas alarm is all you need.

  • No matter how good your nose is, you may not be in the right place at the right time to notice a natural gas or propane leak.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms give NO protection against combustible gas leaks. carbon monoxide sensors detect only carbon monoxide, not raw fuel.
  • Turning off a light, setting a security alarm or closing a door spark a gas explosion or fire. Natural gas leaking from a basement furnace can leak upstairs through hollow walls.
  • Gas can leak into homes via sump pits, inbound water lines or a natural gas well under your home.
  • Each gas appliance is a potential source of a gas leak. Each gas appliance needs its own gas detector
  • We sell two different models with gas specific sensors. These are the Safe-T-Alert Model 40-411-120 and the Safety Siren Pro Gas Alarm; The main differences between the units are how they are installed.

    To properly install the Safe-T-Alert you need an electrical outlet near to the gas appliances. Because this unit has a line cord that is approximately 65 long, mounting ths unit properly is usually less a problem that the direct plug-in Safety Siren. Raw gas detection units must be mounted within 6 inches of the ceiling or on the ceiling at least 12 inches from a wall for natural gas leak protection. Natural gas pools above the appliance: think of an upside down pothole filling with water and you get the picture.

    The Safety Siren requires an electrical outlet near the appliance. Many people choose this option because the Safety Alert unit has a safety tab through which an outlet screw goes. This means the unit cannot be removed from a standard, single screw, double outlet without removing the screw.  These units meet the UL1484 standards for combustible gas alarms.

    Note: UL 1484 listed combustible gas detectors are not detectors for minute gas leaks. Sensors and detectors are tested in a combustible gas environment and meet the UL 1484 standards for alerts of dangerous gas levels. Deliberate exposure to natural gas, butane, propane, etc. can destroy the sensor in this unit. Use the test button to test this unit, not exposure to raw gas.

    Carbon Monoxide Alarms:

    One product of natural gas and all fossil fuels like coal, wood, peat, etc. is carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas. If your furnace and water heater are working properly, carbon monoxide is vented outside. If the vents are not working properly due to obstructions or the furnace heat exchanger cracks, then carbon monoxide is discharged into the air. Unlike combustible gasses, carbon monoxide does not pool but is distributed throughout your air. Carbon monoxide exposure symptoms range from flu-like symptoms to brain damage to death from asphyxiation.

    Recommended at a minimum are carbon monoxide alarms in or outside every bedroom, near the gas appliances and at the top of stairways. The easiest to install are the 9 volt battery units. Believe the alarm even if it sounds intermittently. About 5 years ago, I went to visit my parents in Pennsylvania. They have a washer and gas dryer in their kitchen (since 1952). I noticed that the Costar 9 volt CO alarms were all off their mounts (there were three units total). I was told they were "defective" as they were going off intermittently. I took them home with me and sent them to Quantum Group to be tested. Dave from Quantum phoned and said nothing was wrong with them! Meanwhile, my elderly father did NOT install the plug in Safe-T-Alert unit I had sent them because "I didn't know where to put it." The problem was the vent for the gas dryer was partially clogged with lint!  Since then, local code has changed: their 4 inch diameter gas dryer vent had to be replaced with a 5 inch for the newest dryer to be installed this past year.

    Types of Carbon Monoxide Alarms:

    If you are really concerned about a gas leak, we recommend the Scentry III gas valve shut off systems. Choose from a Scentry III GFRAB LP/Natural Gas Detector Valve Controller with remote sensor capability and a battery back-up option feature or a Scentry III SFGVC Automatic Gas Valve Controller, No Gas Valveunit with a single sensor at the gas valve itself. Scentry units are made in the USA. They do require a special diaphragm type gas valve in 1/2, 3/4 or 1 inch size, a 24 volt power supply and 120VAC or 240VAC power.

    Also install and maintain your smoke alarms which I am sure you already have.

    Thank you for your question and your entry in the Ask Barbara Contest.

    Sincerely, Barbara

    Getting Rid of Yard Moles, Gophers and Voles Without Poison, Traps or Noise

    by Barbara 12. June 2009 11:15

    Question about how to get rid of yard moles without poison or noise.

    Q: "Once more the moles have invaded my yard and garden beds. The burrows are going everywhere. What suggestions do you have to get rid of them without using traps, poison peanuts or noise?" Thanks. Jack.

    Answer: Getting rid of yard moles, voles and gophers is faster if you use several methods simultaneously. Gophers are the most difficult to evict if they've established extensive underground tunnels over some years. Moles eat worms and grubs while they tunnel at grass level. Gophers eat the roots of your plants and shrubs. Voles eat vegetation and snails, etc. All burrow.

    Treatment options include liquid sprayed castor oil, known as Scoot Mole, granular repellents like Mole Scram and inserting Vibrasonic vibrating metal mole chaser stakes, Supersonic Metal Mole Chaser Stake with Battery Saver Mode or the Original P3 green PVC mole chaser stakes into solid ground, not the tunnels or burrows themselves. (The noisy Weitech tunnel units are no longer available.) There are also Sol-Mate solar powered mole stakes and Smart Solar Mole Gopher Stakes for flower beds in sunny climates since you cannot mow over them. The Smart Solar product has an advantage in that the unit comes in two pieces. Rather than digging out a hole or trying to force this into the ground, the installer waters the area to soften the soil and then takes a wooden block, covers the pointed metal part and uses a mallet to push the bottom into the ground. Connect the two parts and the unit is ready to go.

    P3 International mole chaser stakes operate on alkaline batteries (4 D cells), are waterproof (screw on top), are almost silent except for the hum when they cycle on and can be buried deep enough that you can safely mow over them. (To replace batteries, you unscrew the watertight top, remove the battery sleeve and replace the batteries. Batteries last 4 to 6 months on average.) Initially the pests can mistake the currents of vibration/sound as food source so there may be more activity at first..

    Using a grub killer on your lawn as a preventative helps get rid of the moles and also save your lawn from destruction if you are not opposed to chemicals on your yard.

    Using both the liquid or granular and the stakes at the same time has the best results. Moles eat their body weight every three days or they dehydrate and die. After a few unpleasant meals plus being irritated by the vibrations or ultrasound, the mole pests begin looking for a fresh food supply. In 1 to 2 weeks, they typically are gone.

    Scoot Mole comes in a liquid with or without a sprayer. Refills are available. The downside to this liquid is that you need to have a very long water hose or a several long water hoses connected together to be able to reach all of the area to be treated if it is large. Dragging hose around and spraying is not easy if you have a large area. "BANDING" is recommended i.e. treat a small strip (10-20 feet wide) around the perimeter of a mole-free area.

    Mole Scram is a granular formula containing Castor Oil: 15% , Citronella Oil: 0.4997%, Garlic Oil: 0.0003% and Peanut Hulls 84.9%. Depending upon your yard size, you can either sprinkle or put into a rotary lawn spreader. The plan here is to first spread the granules on the area closest to your home. For example, treat the half of the yard closest to your house or garden. Water in for 20 minutes or apply before a storm. (Hopefully you have an irrigation system,lawn sprinklers or have occasional heavy downpours). The next day do the second half and again water in thoroughly. This treatment typically lasts 3 months. The manufacturer states, "Mole Scram has higher concentrations of castor oil that its competition. Plus MoleScram adds garlic oil and citronella oil to the mix. Moles cannot tolerate the garlic odor. The citronella oil helps get rid of bugs, an alternative food moles love. The carrier is ground peanut hulls which releases the oils faster than similar granular mole repellers on the market."

    Simultaneous to these topical treatments, insert mole chaser stakes in your yard, once more inserting first those closest to your home or the area you wish to protect. Remember that in heavy clay soils, vibrations are intense in a small area. In sandy soils, the vibrations are less intense. Insert mole chasers accordingly. In a laboratory test, moles typically were gone within 1 to 2 weeks.

    My personal experience with the P3 units is 100% positive. We've used the same units for the past 5 years, just replacing batteries. One warm January, the moles tunneled from the woods to the front yard: the batteries were dead and who would expect warm weather in January!

    I hope I've given you enough information to decide how to fight your battle.

    Thanks. Barbara

    Attracting Toads to a Toad House for Natural Garden Insect Control

    by Barbara 3. June 2009 10:17

    Question about how to use toad houses or toad abodes to attract toads to a garden.

    Q: "I am interested in maintaining an organic garden. I understand that toads are one way to keep the insect population controlled. What products do you suggest to attract them?

    Answer: Each toad can eat about 10,000 insects in one summer. For "green" gardening, place one or more toad houses in areas of your garden that get lots of water. That keeps the soil cool: toads look for a break from the summer heat and sun! Keep a small dish of water near your Solar Toad Abode, Solar Toadstool Abode or Ceramic Toad House. That daily soak keeps permeable toad skin moist.

    If you have hostas, remember that toads eat slugs, too.

    Use no pesticides or chemical fertilizers in your garden as they are toxic to toads.

    Toad Specific Hints:

    1. Toads can poison. Keep dogs away from toads and do not handle a toad if you have cuts in your skin. Domestic dogs can die within 15 minutes of eating a toad. Toads are a common cause of poisoning in dogs. The toad can poison cats, too but this is not very common. Toads exude a milky white toxin from poison glands behind their eyes. They squeeze this poison onto the surface of their skin when they are under threat. Toads do not spit or squirt the poison as commonly believed, and they don’t bite. Dogs and cats are poisoned when they mouth the toad or sometimes when the toad’s poison gets into their eyes. The toad’s poison is also dangerous to humans and deaths have occurred. Some adults have even been affected when they absorbed the poison through cuts in their skin after handling a toad.
    2. Let a young toad find your toad house: adults have already chosen a home so don't try to relocate them
    3. Lure toads in spring and early summer. Bring the toad house inside in late fall and winter.

    Thanks for your question. Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

    Sincerely,
    Barbara

    Which Deer Repellent Products Work the Best in Winter and Summer?

    by Barbara 20. January 2009 06:23

    Question about the Deergard, Deer Scram, Scoot Deer, Deer Chaser, ShakeAway Deer and Plant Saver All Natural Rabbit and Deer Repellent.

    Q: "I have a deer problem and wonder which product or products will be most effective to discourage deer from my yard. Thanks."

    Answer: Using several products typically works the best. My suggestions are to use at minimum the Deergard and Deer Scram if it is a winter problem. For warmer weather, the Water Scarecrow is quite effective. The Deergard also keeps out most wandering animals depending upon the height at which it is mounted. Hungry deer will ignore most repellent products especially once patterns of travel are set. And often even if not hungry, they will attempt their old trails even if there is now a 6 ft chain link fence in the way. (I had 500 feet replaced three years after it was installed as the deer butted huge dents in it the first two years.)

    Plant Saver All Natural Rabbit and Deer Repellentwhich is hung on plants or sprinkled on the ground, works quite well for up to 6 months. 100% organic deer repeller granules and rabbit repel by Cedar Creek Products . Won't wash off in the rain. Lasts up to six months. Safe to use on fruits and vegetables. Used by thousands nationwide. Safe for animals and the environment. 2 pound bag. Included are 10 small bags, each should be filled up about 1/2 ounce of product. Place every 4-6 feet along the edge or your garden or tie the small bags to shrubs or trees. Safe for lawns, paths and gardens. This lasts about 6 months depending upon the climate. Also you may sprinkle Plant Saver around the border of a particular area: this lasts about 3 months depending upon the climate. To keep dogs and racoons away, wet bags and roll in pepper. Made in USA in Arborvitae, Wisconsin. Net weight: not less than 28 ounces. Also repels elk, moose and opossum. Active ingredients: 19% Sodium lauryl sulfate and 6% Cloves. If food is limited or a favorite food is readily available, deer have been know to ignore many types of repellents. As with humans, predicting deer behavior is not a guarantee.

    Deer Scram, a granular product spread on the ground, is guaranteed to work in winter, too. "Deer Scram works effectively in winter to get rid of deer. No mixing is required: easily sprinkle the granular formula in any conditions. Apply as directed above in late November or before first heavy snow. Works well under up to 18 inches of fresh snow. Can be applied on top of existing snow cover. Re-apply after 100 days. Note: If snow becomes crusted or iced over an application of Deer Scram, break up the crust and re-apply in the loose snow."

    Scoot Deer is a liquid with micro-encapsulated particles. This new formula is active for up to 30 days and is water resistant. One treatment has full strength effects that last up to15 days and as much as 50% protection for a full month. It appears better to be used on grass and plants and also works for rabbits.

    The Deergard has a built-in infrared motion sensor that activates when pests move into the repellent's coverage zone. Use it with the continuous or motion-sensor operation settings and adjust the frequency to keep out other pests like raccoons, dogs, etc. On the deer setting, it is silent. Mounts anywhere with keyhole slot. The Deer Chaser uses an infrared sensor that activates a light and/or a radio (choose your favorite station or your least favorite) to scare off deer.

    Do remember that batteries can freeze. So using a unit with an AC adapter means you'll get sounds even in the most bitter cold.

    Thanks again for your questions. We stock these products on site 365 days per year except for Deer Fortress which is a growing season product.
    Sincerely, Barbara

    Attracting Bats to Backyard Bat Houses for Insect Control

    by Barbara 17. January 2009 21:00

    Question about using bat houses to attract bats to backyards to control insects.

    Q: "I am looking for a "green solution" for insect control around my home. We have a wooded lot. How do I attract bats to my yard? Are bats dangerous? Are some bat houses better than others?"Thanks. Lloyd.

    Answer: Bats are greatly misunderstood: research shows that one bat can consume more than 600 mosquitoes per hour. Bats eat other flying species of insects such as corn borers and cutworm moths. So, yes, this is a cost-effective organic pest control method you should pursue. You can make your own bat house if you'd like. Buying a kit or pre-constructed kit may be cost effective when you consider the tools, time, etc.

    How to Attract Bats:

    • Install bat houses.
    • Have water nearby: a lake, a pond, a bird bath, etc. where insects gather. (How about a backyard koi pond with solar water pump?)
    • Plant night-blooming flowers.

    Bat House Instructions:

    • Most bat houses are made by a rough, nontoxic wood (such as plywood or cedar): a rough surface makes it easier for bats to climb in and out of the house.
    • Size of the house: at least 2 feet tall, 1 foot wide, and 3 inches deep.
    • Mount your bat house is in the fall or winter. This lets the wood of the house to age and odors dissipate.
    • Install facing south, preferably where sunlight reaches the house most of the day.
    • Mount on a pole, tree or under the eaves of a house, garage or barn about 12 to 15 feet above the ground.
    • Be patient: it may take up to a year to attract a colony.

    Like any mammal, bats can catch rabies: the risks are low and you are unlikely to handle a bat.

    Some suggested bat houses:

    • Heath Bat House BAT-1ADimensions: 11.5 inches by 12.8 inches by 2.5 inches deep. Meets guidelines from Bat Conservation International.
    • Schrodt - Colony Bat House:A triple chambered nursery capable of accomodating dozens of mature bats and their offspring. Etched brass moon and branded bat design. 17 inches tall.
    • Songbird Cedar Large Bat Chalethis large bat house has grooves on the inside front and back so bats can "hang out" in comfort. The Songbird Cedar Bat Chalet has two compartments, room for a colony of bats. Mount 15-20 feet high on pole, structure or tree. Install now for next summer. Dimensions: 18 inches by 4 inches by 13 inches.

    There are many other options. Remember that bats do not chase away birds nor do they suck the blood of humans!

    Which Gas Detector Do I Need? I Have Anosmia.

    by Barbara 11. August 2008 09:27

    Q: "I have anosmia, i.e. I have lost my sense of smell. We have natural gas heat, a natural gas water heater and a natural gas cooking stove. I cannot smell a gas leak. Which gas detector do you recommend?"

    Answer: Currently, we sell two brands of combustible gas alarms and an automatic gas shut off system that shuts off gas and sounds a loud alarm when a significant gas leak occurs.

    Two brands are UL1484 listed for use with natural gas and propane gas and also work with gasoline fumes and butane fumes. These are the Safe-T-Alert 40-411AC and the Safety Siren Combustible Gas Alarm and the Safety Siren CO and Combustible Gas Alarm.

    The advantage of the Safe-T-Alert is the long cord for proper positioning of the detector, i.e. high and near the appliance for natural gas and low and near the appliance for propane. We also sell the Safe-T-Alert Combustible Gas Alarm in a 230VAC unit for Europe and Asia. The Safety Siren unit is a direct plug in with a safety tab that the outlet cover center screw (standard 2 or 3 prong outlet) goes through so the unit cannot be easily removed. Most customers who buy the Safety Siren model install an electrical outlet at the proper height for natural gas or propane.

    All our combustible gas alarms sound at less than 25% of the lower explosive or flammable level of the gas.

    The Scentry III GFRAB propane/natural gas detector is only one component of this home safety system. The GFRAB means Gas, Feet on the bottom of the case, Remote, Alarm and Battery. To have a complete system, you need these additional components:

    As noted above, the compatible valves are in .5, .75 and 1 inch sizes. Each valve is an electrically operated gas shut off valve that opens and closes on a demand signal from a thermostat or other controlling device. Can be used with both natural gas and LP gas at pressures up to 0.5 psi. The White Rodgers replacement is a compression spring closing and soft seat construction gas valve.

    The advantage of this system is that the controller unit supports up to 5 calibrated remote sensors.

    Scentry III-GFRAB Specifications:

    • Case: ABS Plastic
    • Physical Size: 7.6 inches by 4.6 inches
    • Weight: 2.25 lbs
    • Color: Gray
    • Power consumption: 1.5va
    • Supports up to 5 calibrated remote sensors (not included)
    • Requires Scentry III-GVD gas valve (purchase separately)
    • Supports Battery Back-Up (Not Included)
    • Supports Gas Valve Controller for Explosive Gas (Not Included)
    • Connections: screw terminals
    • Input Power: 115VAC, 60 Hz
    • Output Control Relays: 2 amps,
    • 24 VAC Alarm Signal
    • Output: 12V DC @500 ma
    • Reset: manual
    • Sensor Type: Tin Dioxide Semiconductor
    • Alarm Points: Propane (LP) <5200 PPM Alarm Points: Natural Gas / Methane <12,200 PPM
    • Manufactured Proudly in the USA for Safety First USA, Inc.
    • Warranty: 1 year from date of purchase.

    Thanks for your question. Just remember propane gas and natural gas are safe sources of energy if you add protective measures including alarms, shut off valves and regular maintenance of the appliances that use gas.

    Sincerely,

    Barbara