Indoor Air Pollution: VOCs

Monday, April 25th, 2016

Indoor air pollution

 

Volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, are man-made or natural chemicals that are emitted as gases, and are one of the major components of indoor air pollution. Many VOCs have been found to cause a number of adverse health effects on humans, including headaches, nausea, fatigue, dizziness, allergic skin reaction, loss of coordination, damage to vital organ functions including the kidneys, and liver and nervous system. Many organic chemicals are also known carcinogens, and have been shown to cause cancer in animals. VOCs are emitted from a number of household items in low levels, including paint and paint strippers, furniture finishes, building materials, cleaning supplies, fuels and even cosmetics.
In several studies conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, VOCs are found to be up to 5 times higher indoors than outdoors. After applying new paint to interior walls, the concentration of VOCs in the home may be more than 1,000 times higher inside the home than out. New buildings are the worst offenders, as new building materials can contain high amounts of VOCs. Paints and other similar materials can continue to emit VOCs from days to years after its application.

Most dangerous VOCs and where they are found:

  • Found in paint strippers, aerosol spray cans and adhesive removers, methylene chloride have been found to cause cancer in animals.
  • Benzene is a carcinogen, or cancer causing agent, that is found in tobacco smoke, paint supplies and automobile emissions.
  • Perchloroethylene is a chemical used in dry-cleaning, and can remain on clothing for a long period of time, particularly if the clothing is brought home still damp.
  • Many new building materials, including paint, ceiling tiles, wall boards and even new upholstered furniture slowly emit formaldehyde over time.

How to reduce exposure to VOCs:

  • When using products that emit VOCs with the home, increase the building’s ventilation and provide fresh air.
  • All potentially hazardous products have warnings on their labels, which include how to reduce exposure to any hazardous materials from the product.

VOCs can still leak from closed paint cans and other VOC-emitting products. The EPA recommends purchasing these products in amounts that are used quickly or in smaller quantities, and safely discarding or recycling products that will not be used.

If any products containing VOCs do need to be stored, they should be contained in their original containers with as tight a seal as possible, and in a well-ventilated area out of reach of children and pets. Once a product has been opened, it should never be stored inside the home, as VOCs will still escape over time.

Many companies now offer paints with low or no VOCs. Water-based latex paints are constantly being improved in performance and durability, and are low-emitting after application.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to completely rid the home of VOCs. However, by choosing products that are certified “green” or have contain no VOCs and properly ventilating the home, the indoor level can be reduced, which will greatly improve the home’s indoor air quality.

 

Protecting Your Basement from Spring Flooding

Friday, February 19th, 2016

SnowdriftAlthough a heavy snow fall can look quite beautiful, your home or basement may be at risk for flooding when all of that snow starts to melt. The drainage system built into your home is supposed to deal with this runoff by directing water away from the foundation. However, if the drainage system is inadequate or your sump pump is not working properly, you could find inches of water covering your basement floor. However, there are ways you can prevent water from coming in.

Check Your Gutters

 

No matter how well your drainage system works, you could potentially come home to a flooded basement if your gutters are blocked or are in poor condition. If you find that your basement becomes damp when the snow melts, take a look at your gutters. If you see space between the gutters and the fascia, water is most likely falling from your roof and dripping down into your walls instead of into your gutters. If you notice that your gutters have pulled away from the walls, call a local roofing contractor as soon as possible for a quick fix.

You may also have flooding problems if your gutters are clogged. In general, it is recommended that homeowners clean out their gutters once a season at the very minimum, even if you have gutter guards. Leaf litter can block the flow of water from being able to enter the downspouts, causing the water to overflow. Your roofer can also assist with basic gutter cleanings if you are not comfortable working on ladders.

 

Repair or Install a New Sump Pump

 

Sump pumps pump out any water that does infiltrate your basement. Like your HVAC equipment, however, the sump pump will eventually need repairs or fail. If this happens, you’ll find that your basement may be turning into an unwanted indoor pool. If your sump pump is working but you don’t want to have to worry about it suddenly failing without your knowledge, a sump pump alarm will let you know that your basement is no longer protected. This will allow you to get the repairs you need before any flooding actually happens.

If you don’t have a sump pump installed but often find your basement damp in the spring, consider installing one. Not only will the pump protect your basement against water damage and mold, but you’ll also add value to your home and keep your home structurally sound.

 

Waterproof Your Basement

 

If you find that your basement is always damp even though you have a working sump pump and a properly maintained gutter system, it might be time to hire a waterproofer. Most waterproofing companies provide a free estimate for their work. The contractor should be able to find a solution that works for you.

Before you hire a contractor, always look at online reviews for established contractors. Feel free to ask for references so you can ensure that you’re getting quality workmanship. The great thing about waterproofing work is that you will know immediately if the contractor fixed the problems as the water will disappear.

 

Don’t Wait Until You have a Water Problem

 

When your yard is covered in snow and that snow begins to melt, the resulting water will take the path of least resistance. If your foundation is not adequately protected, all of that snow melt may find its way into your basement. If that water sits for any length of time, a small water problem can turn into a major mold and mildew problem. By ensuring your gutters are maintained, your sump pump is in working order and your basement is waterproof, you’ll never have to worry.

Tips for Making Home Improvement Resolutions for the New Year

Friday, January 1st, 2016

With the new year just starting, it may be time to make some changes when it comes to your home. Whether you’re looking to make your home safer, make some improvements or de-clutter, here are some tips to get you started.

 

Improve Your Space

 

As you are analyzing your home and determining what projects you want to take on this year, don’t forget to look at your home’s stability and safety.• What are your home’s radon levels?It is estimated by the EPA that one in every 15 homes has elevated radon levels. Breathing in radon can lead to lung cancer. There are simple $20 testing kits that can put your mind at ease.• Are there working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors?Carbon monoxide and smoke can be deadly. To prevent accidental deaths, you should have a working smoke and carbon monoxide detector on every floor where there is a bedroom and near your chimney or furnace.• Is lint stuck in your dryer vents or ducts?

Dryer lint that becomes blocked in the vents or ducts can start fires. As dryer fires account for approximately 15,000 home fires every year, keeping up with dryer lint removal is a must.

• Do your bathrooms and attic vent to the outside?

If your home is not properly ventilated, you risk growing mold in your bathrooms and dry rot in your attic. This can eventually lead to structural damage that could require expensive repairs.

 

Identifying and Budgeting for Home Improvements

 

Creating a renovation budget for the home improvement projects you plan to complete this year can help you stay on track without overspending. Depending on the projects that you have in mind, you’ll want to keep in mind that certain expenditures will come up every few years. These expenditures can potentially include a new roof, new HVAC equipment and kitchen appliances.Depending on the size and cost of your home, you can expect to budget between $2,000 and $7,000 a year for general improvements and upgrades. If you have extra that did not go towards improvements this year, save it so you won’t be scrambling when major repairs or replacements are needed.

De-clutter

 

If clutter is a serious problem, there’s no time like the present to tackle this major project head-on. Before you make any major changes, you’ll need to identify whether the problem is caused by a lack of storage for your items or if you just have too much stuff.For storage concerns, there are many solutions available that could give you ore space and increase your home’s comfort. For example, you can install high shelving in small hallways, invest in shoe organizers to hold miscellaneous objects like computer wires or even install recessed storage areas between your wall studs. No matter what solution works for your home, you’ll love walking through the door to a clean and comfortable space after a long day.If general clutter is the main issue, you may need to go through each room and reorganize. Tackling one room each week can make the process less overwhelming. Identify where each item should go and make the push to ensure that everything is put back in its place by the end of the day. When it comes to clothing, makeup and other items that you continuously buy more of, consider going through your closet and vanity and donating or throwing out anything that you have not used within the last six months.

Look Forward to Improving Your Home

 

The start of the new year is the best time to get excited about making improvements to your home. By starting off with a plan of action, you’ll be sure to stay on track and reach those resolutions.

Winterizing Your Home when You Go on Vacation

Friday, December 25th, 2015

VacationIf you’re looking forward to spending a few days or even a few weeks away from your home for winter vacation, you want to make sure that your home is safe and secure. One of the ways to protect your home while you’re gone is to winterize it.

What is “Winterization?”

Winterization essentially means preparing something for the oncoming winter. When you winterize a home, you protect it against extreme temperatures, snow buildup and ice. Although winterization can be a lengthy process, you won’t come home to frozen pipes, expensive bills and general damage.

Avoid Water and Pipe Damage

When it comes to your pipes, you have two options. You can leave the water supply to your home on or you can turn it off. If you choose to keep your water supply on, keep in mind that you risk coming home to frozen pipes. To avoid this, you’ll need to keep your furnace running. By simply keeping your thermostat at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you should be in the clear. This option may be a good idea if the temperatures are not expected to get below freezing before you return.

If you’re going to be gone for some time or if freezing temperatures are coming your way, turning off your water supply can allow you to avoid having to deal with burst pipes in the future. After you turn off the water, make sure that you open all of your faucets and flush your toilets until all of the water is out of your pipes. If some water remains in your toilet, you can add a small amount of non-toxic antifreeze to the bowl and the tank to prevent the leftover water from freezing.

Prevent Ice Dams before They Form

As you know, ice dams can be detrimental to your roof. If you had a problem with icicles and ice dams in prior years, call your trusted roofing contractor to come take care of the problem. The roofer will find the right solution for you so you don’t have to worry about coming home to major roof repairs and roof leaks. The professional roofer may even inspect the roof to ensure that there are no major problems that could leave you with expensive repairs.

Reduce the Risk of Pests

Rodents and insects are quite happy to move into homes that are temporarily vacant. Once they make your home their home, it can be very difficult to get them to leave. To make your home less attractive to rodents, give your living spaces a good cleaning before leaving. Remove any perishable foods from your refrigerator, freezer and pantry. For flour and other bulk items, storing them in airtight containers will keep the bugs out. Any pasta and other boxes edibles should also be stored or eaten.

Final Maintenance

Before you shut and lock the door for the last time before heading to your destination, consider a final walkthrough to make sure you didn’t miss anything. Unplug all of your appliances to protect them against a power surge. Take out any remaining garbage, bring in the mail and remove any large branches or overhanging limbs that could damage the roof while you’re away. If you have a friend or neighbor who has been tasked with getting your mail for you or is willing to house sit, ensure that they have a key and a list of emergency numbers should something happen.

Enjoy Your Vacation

When your home is properly prepared for the winter, you won’t have to worry about taking off for a few days or weeks. You can enjoy your winter vacation and your return to home.

 

Ice Dams and Your Roof

Friday, December 11th, 2015

When the temperatures drop below freezing and snow covers the ground, you may enjoy the view of icicles hanging over the roofs on the homes in your neighborhood. While this creates a pretty sight, those icicles actually indicate that the roof has an ice dam. If ice dams form on your roof every year, than it is likely that your home is not properly insulated and is not working efficiently.
Not only are ice dams problematic for your roof, they’re problematic for your energy bill and indoor air quality. If heat is escaping into your attic through bypasses in your ceiling, outdoor air can find its way indoors, costing you money and potentially exacerbate allergies or other health problems. As such, if you see icicles forming, you should contact an expert as soon as possible.

 

What are Ice Dams?

 

Ice dams are walls of water that form around the edge of the roof as the snow melts and refreezes. The ice dams form when heat escape into the attic and heats up the snow that is on the roof. That snow melts, sliding down the roof towards the eaves. Once the snow melt reaches the cold eaves, the water refreezes to ice. Essentially, the ice walls that form prevent melting snow from sliding off the roof.

Over time, the melted snow can back up underneath the shingles and drip into the attic. If the leak is severe enough, the snow melt could make its way into your living space and cause damage to your ceiling or walls. In some cases, the leaks caused by ice dams can damage your insulation and cause issues with your electrical systems.

 

Temporarily Getting Rid of Ice Dams

 

The best way to temporarily prevent ice dams from forming is to remove the snow from the roof. If you are comfortable working on a ladder, you can use a roof rake to pull the snow off the roof. Keep in mind that this can be dangerous if you accidentally pull the snow down on top of yourself; you don’t want to end up being buried by the snow. If this is done before the ice dam forms, you won’t have to worry until the next snowfall.

If the ice dam has already formed, you can take a cheap pantyhose and fill it with calcium chloride. When you lay this homemade device perpendicularly across the snow, small channels will melt into the dam so water can escape off the roof. This will not completely rid your roof of the dam but it will help prevent damage to your roof.

Finally, you can chip or chisel away at the ice dam and any icicles that form. However, this needs to be done very carefully as this can be both dangerous to you and damaging to your roof. If you need the icicles and the ice dam to be removed as soon as possible, it’s best to call an expert.

 

Preventing Ice Dams in the Future

If you want to permanently stop ice dams from forming on your roof, you’ll need to ensure that your attic is properly insulated and ventilated. Ensure that your attic has the proper amount of ventilation; building codes usually require most home to have up to 14 inches of insulation. If you don’t have enough, you can simply add more right on top. An expert roofer can also be brought in to close up any bypasses that allow hot air to come into the attic from the living space. This may mean fixing cracks or filling spaces around light fixtures, chimneys and any other ceiling penetrations.

 

What Are Odorless VOCs?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

As you may already know, VOCs are volatile organic compounds are molecules that get into your indoor air as they evaporate. While there are some VOCs that exist naturally, others are brought into the home during home refurbishment projects and everyday activities. Many VOCs have odors; homeowners often determine whether VOCs are harmful based on these odors. As a result, many companies, such as paint, carpeting or cleaning product companies, have turned to creating odorless products.

 

Are Odorless Products Harmful?

Unfortunately, products that claim to be odorless are not necessarily VOC-free. As an example, we can look at paint. As more homeowners have become aware that the paint vapors can contribute to poor indoor air quality, paint companies have been working to reduce the odors that are associated with paint. If you look at the label, however, you may see a warning that states that the product contains certain chemicals and vapors that can be extremely harmful to at-risk individuals, including young children and pregnant women.

There are certain products that are always going to have VOCs regardless of whether or not they have odors. The problem with low-odor products is that homeowners often do not realize that the product, whether that be an adhesive, paint or a cleaning product, may continue to give off odorless fumes for a long period of time after the product is applied.

Odorless Vapor

What are the Ways to Avoid Products with Odorless VOCs?

When you are purchasing products, such as cleaning materials, paint or craft supplies, the Environmental Protection Agency requires dangerous products to include certain words on the product labels. For easy reference, these words are:

  • Dangerous: This word indicates that the product can be extremely harmful or could even result in death if used without proper ventilation.
  • Warning: If a product has this word on the label, it can potentially result in injury or illness.
  • Caution: If this product gets on the skin or in the eyes, it can cause irritation.

Essentially, these signal words indicate that a product may have VOCs even if they do not have release an odor when used.

There are also certain chemicals that produce VOCs. For example, benzene, styrene, acetone and ethylene glycol all often have harmful VOCs associated with them. Because it can be very difficult to keep track of all of the chemicals that can decrease the quality of your indoor air, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a database that contains a list of all products that are sold. The database includes health hazards and whether or not vapors are released. This can be particularly helpful if you are unsure about the information on the product labels.

Odorless does not Mean that the Product is Harmless

It is always important to remember that certain products are just more likely to have VOCs and toxic chemicals. Even if the packaging claims that the product has a low odor, it is best to investigate what is actually in the product. If the product must be used, use the product in a well-ventilated area and that the product has some time to dry and dissipate.

Will My Home Ever be Free of VOCs?

Unfortunately, VOCs are found in such a wide variety of products that it is very difficult to avoid them. All homes normally have a background level that represents the normal amount of VOCs that are often found. However, using products that are more environmentally friendly can help to reduce the levels of VOCs that may be found in the air that you normally breathe.

 

Improving Your Home to Reduce Heating Costs this Winter

Friday, October 9th, 2015

During the summer, you can open the windows or turn on the fans to save on cooling bills. When it comes to winter, the heater is often the only way to stay warm. However, this can cause your wallet to take a hit when you get your next energy bill. While keeping your thermostat lower can keep your bill a bit lower, there are improvements that you can make to your home to save even more.

Deal with the Drafts

Drafts around the door, the windows and elsewhere can lead to a loss of heated air. In most cases, the weatherstripping that prevents cold air from getting in needs to be replaced. You can find rolls of weatherstripping at your local hardware store that will work. Professionals recommend taking a piece of the old weatherstripping with you when you go so that you get the right replacement materials.

Replacing the weatherstripping is very easy. Doors and windows have small slots where the weatherstripping goes. The old weatherstripping should easily peel away from the door or window. The new weatherstripping can then be placed in the slot.

Check the Insulation

Ensuring that the attic is properly insulated is one of the best things you can do for your home when it comes to saving money on your energy bills. Insulation prevents cold air from getting into the attic and warm air from getting out. This can be extremely helpful if your duct work is in your attic. Having the right amount of insulation in the attic will also provide you with benefits all year round and even a longer lasting roof.

Air Seal the Attic

While you may not realize it, you’re likely trying to heat the attic when you turn your thermostat up. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that up to 30 percent of the energy it takes to heat the home is lost due to leaks in the attic. This is because the attic is often not sealed; hot air can travel through cracks in the light fixtures, wiring holes or the duct chaseway. Although a professional is more likely to be able to find all of the leaks, you’ll see savings just by plugging the big holes.

There are several materials that can be used to air seal the attic. Smaller cracks and holes can be sealed using a high quality caulk. Aluminum-faced acrylic tape and other housewares tape can be used to seal around drywall and other hard products. Rigid foam panels can be used to seal the attic hatch and the soffits.

Seal Your Ducts

Sealing the duct work can result in some heating savings. When the ducts leak, it is estimated that 25 to 40 percent of heated air is lost. This often means that you’re spending money trying to heat the environment. By sealing the ducts, you can cut back on how often the heater is running.

Home Improvements can be Beneficial All Year Long

Although these home improvements do require a small investment, you’ll find that this is an investment worth making. Not only will you save on your heating bills this summer, you’ll find that these savings extend into the spring and summer.

 

How to Stay Warm This Winter while Reducing Your Energy Bills

Friday, September 11th, 2015

Depending upon where you live, heating your home during the winter can be an expensive endeavor. Even if you strive to keep your heating equipment and vents in good, maintained condition, you may find your electric bills to be on the expensive side. While many often harbor slightly negative feelings towards the changing season and the onset of cold weather, there are a number of innovative ways that can help you keep your home a warm haven while keeping your energy bills reasonable.

 

Install a Programmable ThermostatAprilaire 8600 Thermostat

The lower you set your thermostat, the more you could potentially save on your energy bill. However, lowering your thermostat too much could make for a very cold winter. A programmable thermostat allows you to keep your home at a comfortable during the day while adjusting to lower temperatures while you sleep. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy stated that turning down the temperature 10 degrees for just eight hours could shave 10 percent off of your bill.

Ensure that Your Home is Well-Insulated

The small gaps around your windows and doors are quite efficient in sucking the air you’ve been paying to heat outside. Applying weather-stripping and ensuring that the caulk around your windows is well-maintained can save up to 30 percent on your energy bills.

For drafts caused by the space between your doors and flooring, the use of a draft snake can be a quick and easy fix. For example, placing a rolled up towel on the floor against the door should keep the warm air in and the cold air out. If you or your family members are stuck indoors due to poor weather conditions, a funky, attractive draft snake could potentially make a great project to keep everyone occupied.

Further, many hardware or general retail stores offer window insulation kits. These kits include plastic that can be used to cover your windows to provide an additional buffer between the inside and outside environment. When installed properly, the plastic becomes virtually invisible.

Seal Off Unused Portions of Your Home

If there are portions of your home that you just don’t use on a regular basis, don’t waste money on heating them. Seal off the ducts in these rooms and use a draft snake to plug any gaps. Not only will you use less heat overall, it will take less energy to heat the portion of your home that you do use. Further, shutting off unused rooms also reduces the amount of circulation of air throughout your home, which also reduces the amount of heat lost. Rooms that may not need to be regularly heated could include any room that you use for storage or your garage.

Invest in a HumidifierAprilaire Model 600 Humidifier

During the winter, the air within your home often becomes dry. Not only can dry air dry out your skin and cause discomfort, but it also makes you feel colder. Air that is moist holds heat and can make you feel warmer, especially if you set your thermostat to a lower temperature. As an added bonus, the moisture from a humidifier may also have some additional health benefits.

Check Your Water Heater

As the technology continues to advance, many people are choosing to turn to tankless water heaters or water heaters that make use of solar power. Not only do these types of water heaters reduce the amount of electricity your home uses, you can also take advantage of a federal tax credit that could potentially reimburse you for 30 percent of the cost or a maximum of $1,500.

If you are not in the market for a new water heater, you don’t have to lose out on the savings. One simple way to reduce your costs is to turn down the temperature of your water heater. When they are installed, water heaters are often set to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In reality, most households do not need or use that much steam. Setting the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit could cut your bill by up to 10 percent.

 

Quick and Easy Tips for Saving Money This Fall

Friday, September 4th, 2015

As weather continues to become colder and colder, you may be anticipating a fluctuation in prices on everything from energy to food. In many cases, you may be expecting the costs of living to rise as you begin to rely on heat to keep you comfortable and as holidays come and go. However, there are a number of tips available for keeping your living costs low throughout the year, especially in the fall. Here are four tips that you can use to start saving today.

Simple Home ImprovementsCash

Heat is most often lost through poorly insulated windows. Many online stores or home improvement stores offer cheap insulating kits that contain everything you need to seal any leaks. To add further insulation, hanging thermal blankets or thick curtains will help to keep the heat in.

Another easy way to cut back on costs this fall is to invest in a space heater. These may be particularly useful if you find yourself spending most of your time in an office or bedroom. They can be used to heat the room quickly while using less energy overall. The cheaper models can cost as little as $20, making this money-saving appliance ideal for smaller families.

Eat Fresh

CornucopiaIn the fall, there are tons of different fruits and vegetables that go into season, including cranberries, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms and honeydew melons in addition to the ever-popular apples and pumpkins. With great prices on fresh food, there’s no reason to start adding your favorite fruit or veggie to every meal. If you always find yourself craving fresh fruit throughout the winter but don’t want to pay the out-of-season prices, you may be interested to learn how to can them so you’ve got them when you want them.

If you’re looking to save as much money as possible, taking a peak at your grocer’s coupons may be a good place to start. Many stores offer coupons on top of food sales, which means that you save even more. Expert couponers recommend building your weekly menu around what’s on sale that week to make the most of your shopping trip.

Family-Friendly Activities

Before the weather turns too cold for comfort, plan a few outdoor family activities to take advantage of autumn. For example, a bike ride through a nearby forest preserve or park is a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the changing scenery.

With the local pumpkin patches and apple orchards overflowing with fruit, taking the family for a visit is a fun way to spend an afternoon or weekend. In addition to hand-picking delicious, fresh fruit, farms and orchards often offer other attractions such as corn mazes and even petting zoos. Otherwise, many towns or cities plan harvest festivals and farmer’s markets that can be attended at leisure.

Shop for Next Summer

If you’re planning to put together a new fall wardrobe for next spring and summer, now is the perfect time to hit the clearance racks in your favorite stores. You’ll most likely find fantastic deals on swimsuits, summer dresses and light tops as companies drastically lower their prices in order to make room for all of their new seasonal merchandise.

28. Swimsuits

Likewise, fall is the perfect time to make the big summer purchases. If you’ve been looking at a new lawnmower or grill, you may find that the prices during the fall are a little bit more affordable as companies try to keep their profits as high as possible.

If your family is located in a neighborhood that is big on trick-or-treating, the day after Halloween is the perfect time to stock up on certain candy for next year. For example, hard candies, such as lollipops, have a long shelf-life and can be stored easily.

 

Reasons Why Your Lawn May Not Be So Green This Summer

Friday, July 10th, 2015

Brown Lawn

When the hot weather hits, you may want nothing more than to take a cool drink out back and relax on your beautiful green lawn. However, lawns sometimes begin to turn to not-so-pleasant shades of brown as the summer heats up. There are several reasons as to why your lawn may not be keeping its green, lush appearance.

 

Several Reasons Your Lawn May be Turning Brown

 

  • Fertilizer burn: When you fertilize your lawn, you are essentially adding nutrients back into the soil. However, too much of a good thing can be harmful. For example, an overdose of nitrogen can burn the blades and turn them brown. Overuse of some fertilizers may also cause excess salts to develop on the lawn, which draws the water out of the roots and causes them to turn brown or yellow.
  • Improper mowing: Brown areas can occur if the grass is cropped too short, causing the roots to become bleached by the sun. By mowing to a height of 3-4 inches, you’ll keep your roots shaded and reduce the amount of stress on your lawn.
  • Pet injury: Your furry friend can actually be detrimental to your lawn. Dog urine is high in salt, which causes salt burn. Adding Gypsum to the spot and heavily watering his favorite marking area will help to neutralize the salt content and will keep your lawn looking green.
  • Lack of water: When the summer droughts hit, the grass may begin to go dormant. This dormant state leaves lawns more susceptible to heat and other damage. If your area allows it, approximately 1 inch of water should be applied to the lawn once a week.
  • Insects: Common lawn insects may cause your lawn to turn brown. If your lawn is becoming discolored, you may want to learn about the types of these lawn insects in your area and look for the signs. A correct diagnosis is absolutely essential in order to rid your lawn of the problem. In many cases, the treatment may be a fungicide or insecticide.

 

Understanding Fertilizer

One of the most common reasons that lawns do not become lush and green is due to the misuse or misapplication of fertilizer. Different lawns in different climates need a different amount of nutrients in order to look its best.

In order to grow, your lawn needs three main nutrients:

  • Nitrogen: Maintains your lawn’s overall health and improves the plants’ green color.
  • Phosphorus: Improves the plants’ metabolic systems and helps your lawn to grow a healthy root system.
  • Potassium: Helps your lawn balance the water pressure around its cells.

Nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are listed on fertilizer bags as their symbols on the periodic table of elements. Thus, nitrogen will be listed as “N.,” phosphorus will be listed as “P.” and potassium will be listed as “K.”

The amount of each nutrient in one bag of fertilizer is listed according to the percentages by weight of N.P.K. For example, an N.P.K. rating of 10-5-5 indicates that 10 percent of the bag is nitrogen, five percent of the bag is phosphorus and five percent is potassium. Therefore, a 50 pound bag that has an N.P.K. of rating will have of 10-5-5 will have five pounds of nitrogen and two and one-half pounds of phosphorus and potassium.

When it comes to your lawn, it can be difficult to find the reason as to why it is taking on an unhealthy shade of brown. In some cases, you may need to seek a professional to help determine the cause and the best treatment.