January Home Tips

Hello, Everyone, Last month my home tips were devoted to smoke detectors, and I included my recent experience with a 10-year irreplaceable battery smoke detector which didn’t work, but I couldn’t remember the brand. The brand was Kidde, so beware. If you’re thinking of remodeling, then check out this website, www.remodeling.hw.net/cost-vs-value, to give you the % return for 36 types of renovations, depending on which part of the country you live. Charles Viancin, a French designer, has developed food covers in fun designs like lily pads and sunflowers for use in a refrigerator, microwave or on a stove pan. They’re clever products to use instead of plastic wrap, etc. Amazon has them. Best, Bonny

December Home Tips

Hello, Everyone, Because it’s the season of lights, please check on line or call your local fire department to learn the proper placement of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your house or condominium. Before I order a smoke/co inspection at the fire dept. for a closing, I check the house to see if it will pass inspection and am amazed at how many properties are missing detectors or have them installed in the wrong places. Be safe! According to a Cambridge firefighter, detectors have a limited lifespan even with the batteries changed, so do check on the effective age of your detector/s. Hard-wired detectors are age affected, too, and also will not work if a fuse in the system has blown. Last month the man I use to help with lots of things, including installation of detectors, purchased a detector from Home Depot. The detector was a new style, containing an irreplaceable battery that is supposed to last 10 years (there is no way to open the detector to change the battery). Before installing the detector, we tested it for sound and it didn’t work. Maybe it was only 1 defective detector out of a case of them or out of many cases, but one out of one not working is enough for me to avoid that type in the future. Happy holidays! Very best, Bonny

November Home Tips

Hello, Everyone, There are a number of water leak alarms that can be connected to your washing machine and to your water heater and are available for just a few dollars each to pricey ones. Remember to have your gutters cleaned and drain the outside faucets. The English Ivy, which strangles and kills trees, is easier to remove at this time of year. However, you might need a saw to cut into the thick vines at the base—an indication of how strong and pernicious these vines are. If you cut the vines on the bottom and are unable to pull the vines off the trees, at least the worst part of the vines has been cut. Happy Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving Turkeys

12 Fruits & Vegetables Most Likely to be Contaminated

The Environmental Working Group has listed its Dirty Dozen, which ranks fruits and vegetables containing the most pesticides—but also includes a list of those fruits and vegetables containing the least.

And, as I wrote last year, English ivy kills trees; it can be seen encircling/strangling trees in Cambridge, Belmont, and Somerville, etc. Please check the many web sites if in doubt.


January Home Tips

Hello, Everyone,

As you know, 2013 was a really crazed year for real estate, so the monthly tips from me fell by the wayside, sorry to say. However, to compensate—and to assuage my guilt—here are several:

If you haven’t cleared the leaves from your house gutters, please hire someone to do it. Clogged gutters could cause ice dams, water damage to the exterior and interior of your house, the vegetation will attract insects, etc. (I wrote to “hire” someone for good reason: I knew someone who was on a ladder, clearing his mother’s gutters. A snake reared its head in the gutter and the shocked man fell backwards off the ladder and fractured his back in several places.)

According to Consumer Reports, the following are the best rated, energy-saving, general purpose light bulbs (prices will vary, depending on store):

60 watt; 3 equally good; LED—Samsung A19 60-Watt Warm White for $30 (warm yellow); the Felt Electric A19/OM/800/LED for $35 (white); the Utilitech A19 13.5 60-W Warm White LED for $20 (white); GE A19 Dimmable 60W for $35 (white);

40-50 watt; LED—Toshiba A19 40W LDAB0827WEGUSD for $40 (warm yellow);

75 watt; 2 equally good; LED—Phillips A21 17W 75W Soft White for $31 (warm yellow); Sylvania 14W A19 75W LED Dimmable for $40 (warm yellow);

100 watt; 3 with same overall score; CFL:

Utilitech 100W Soft White CFL for $2.50 (warm yellow); brightness—good; warm-up time—very good; frequent on/off performance*—very good; no light distribution rating; Felt Electric Ecobulb Plus 100W CFL for 42.50 (warm yellow); brightness—very good; warm-up time—good; frequent on/off performance—very good; no light distribution rating; EcoSmart 100W Soft White CFL for $1.50 (warm yellow); brightness—good; warm-up time—very good; frequent on/off performance—excellent; no light distribution rating.

* Reflects the average number of 2-minute-on and 2-minute-off cycles each bulb survived

One glass of water contains a lot of water. A flood from a 40- or 60-gallon water heater can be disastrous. Paul Cornell, who is tops on my inspectors’ list, likes the easy installation of an alarm for your water heater. Paul suggests a Kidder Watercop, which comes in a variety of prices, depending on your needs.

In a previous Tip of the Month, I wrote about the dangers of English Ivy to trees. English Ivy is not native to this country. It’s invasive and pernicious, attacking the trunks of trees, affixing its centipede-like roots to the bark, keeping water from the trunk and eventually strangling it. The vines are easier to remove now, when their grasp on the trunk has been lessened, by cutting the vines and pulling the roots out of the ground when weather permits. The vines are damaging to houses, too. Take a look at the Foster Street side of the yellow house at the corner of Foster and Lowell. The vines were removed from the side of the house but not before they made their imprint on the paint and made indelible tracks on the stone foundation. If you know anyone with English Ivy-covered trees, do let the owners know. The ivy is attacking so many trees in Cambridge and Belmont and in Somerville on the grounds of the Academy of Arts and Sciences.

To end, here’s some fun; you’ll love it.

Stay warm!