What to do when an Investment Performs Poorly

People often think their homes and other possessions are worth more than they are.

According to the Journal of Economic Perspectives, that’s why sellers of cars or homes usually  ask a higher price than buyers are willing to pay for the property. It’s called the ‘endowment effect.’

From an investment standpoint, the tendency to hold on to things too long can cause problems, and the endowment effect is responsible for the poor decisions of many people.

With personal investments, Charles Schwab recommends taking the time to ask a few questions about an investment that is performing poorly.

First, determine if you would repurchase the stock at the current price.

Second, decide if the original rationale for buying the stock, such as a competitive advantage or unique strategy, still exists.

Third, look around for better options and consider reallocating the money to the better prospects. The best advice is just not to get overly attached to a portfolio.

The key is: If it no longer works, let it go.

Maintaining Carpets Keeps Your Family Healthy

Maintaining Carpets Keeps
Your Family Healthy

A United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) study revealed that carpet actually helps to clean out air in our homes and offices. The carpet acts as a filter, trapping soils, gasses and pollutants such as pet and human dander, pollen,    and even air pollution. This is great news since nearly every home in America has wall to wall carpet installed in one or  more areas. Despite this study, some people still believe that carpet is bad for indoor air quality and causes health problems like allergies and asthma. The truth is that properly maintained carpets actually improve indoor air quality. The key to keeping the air in your home healthy is to have a maintenance routine for your carpet.

EPA Guidelines for Cleaning

Periodic professional cleaning is a major part of an effective carpet and air quality maintenance routine, eliminating the contaminants that build up over time. Of course, every household has its own unique combination of factors such as environment, number of occupants, children, pets, and smoking or nonsmoking, etc. So how often should you have
your carpets cleaned?

Fortunately, the EPA is there to help with some basic guidelines for a total carpet maintenance plan based on the kind of  use your carpet receives, as follows:

• In a home with two people who do not smoke, the EPA recommends you have your carpets cleaned every 6-12 months, more often if you have a particularly dusty outside environment or an extremely humid or cold environment.

• If you smoke, the carpets should be cleaned at least every four months.

• If you have kids or pets these numbers cut in half. In fact, a home with 2 adults, a child and pets should be cleaned at least
every 3-6 months, but every month if you live in a very contaminated or dusty area.

• Offices and restaurants, nursing homes and daycare centers should be cleaned once a month or even more frequently.
“Wait a minute!” you may say. “It seems a little extreme to clean my carpet that often.” But think about the source of these
recommendations. This is the Environmental Protection Agency, created to help assure the health and safety of living things in a variety of environments, including outdoors and inside homes and buildings. So these recommendations
are based on cleaning for health, not simply appearance.

Looking Dirty vs. Being Dirty

Carpet is designed to hide soil, so it can hold a lot of dirt before it begins to look “dirty.” Unseen contaminants
build up in the carpet over time to the point where they may have a negative effect on the occupants of the structure, especially those with underdeveloped, sensitive or compromised immune systems. The key is to avoid letting the carpet get to the point where this happens.

Maintaining Your Carpet between Cleanings

Are we saying if you don’t get all of your carpets cleaned according to these EPA guidelines that you and your family will get sick? Not necessarily. These guidelines are just that, a guide. There are things you can do to reduce the frequency
of professional cleaning. First, make sure you vacuum often; the more the better. Also, be prompt about cleaning up spots and spills. Use doormats at all entrances. Don’t wear street shoes in the house. Finally, avoid going barefoot because body oils get on the carpet and attract dirt. Regardless of how neat and tidy you are, there comes a time when you need professional carpet cleaning. Call Hansen Steam Way to schedule your next cleaning or to help choose a cleaning program that fits your lifestyle. You and your family will breathe easier; your carpets will look better and last longer.

 

Why do Spots Come Back?

Why do Spots Come Back?

Naturally you expect your carpets to look better after cleaning than before. So it may come as a surprise when some of the spots return. There are two reasons that this can happen: re-soiling from various residues and soil-wicking.

Re-soiling
Re-soiling is the result of new soil that is attracted to an oily or sticky residue on the carpet. One of the most common residues is left behind by common spot removers. Some of the products sold at grocery and home improvement stores can leave behind sticky, soil-attracting residues, especially when they are over-applied or not thoroughly rinsed.

Other residues that cause rapid re-soiling are: food grease, animal body oils, adhesive-tape residue, petroleum based oils, moisturizing lotion, hairspray,tanning oil, and sugar from spilled drinks. Once the visible soil is cleaned away from these areas, the carpet will look clean. However, the invisible residue acts like a soil magnet, leading to rapid re-soiling. This can take days or even a few weeks to occur.

Soil-wicking
Soil-wicking is another ,common reason that spots reappear after cleaning. Soil-wicking is a result of how carpet is made and how it dries. Carpet is made up of multiple layers. Each of these layers plays a role in soil wicking. The yarns that you  see in the face of the carpet are stitched into a thin, woven fabric called the primary backing. This primary backing can be seen by parting the fibers of the carpet and looking down between the rows of yarns.

During “normal” carpet cleaning, the intent is to clean the face yarns only. But sometimes spots, spills and pet urine penetrate the primary backing. If you look at the back of the carpet, you will see the secondary backing, a coarser, stiffer woven material designed to give the carpet more strength and stability. The secondary backing creates a capillary action that can spread a spill out to a much larger area than you see on the surface. Just a 2-4 ounce spill can create a 12 inch diameter spot on the back of the carpet.

Between the primary and secondary backings, there is a layer of latex adhesive holding it all together. Some spills can penetrate into thislayer and dry. These deposits can be “reactivated” by normal cleaning and wick to the surface of the carpet fibers during the normal drying process.These returning spots can be as much of a surprise to your carpet cleaning professional as they are to you.

The reason the spots return has to do with the mechanics of capillary action. As carpet dries, water evaporates from the tips of the carpet yarns, drawing some of the remaining moisture behind it. If there is any kind of soil or spill at the base of the yarns or in the backing, it too can be drawn up to the yarn tips. Unfortunately, while water readily evaporates, soils do not. So the spots that were hidden in the backing system are now at the top of the carpet where they can create a visibly noticeable spot. Correcting recurring spots may simply require a thorough rinse. Other times, specialized cleaning agents and more intensive cleaning techniques are needed.

While we do our best to prevent recurring spots, it does happen sometimes. If you ever see a spot come back after Hansen  Steam Way cleans your carpet, please call us as soon as possible so we can return and properly address the situation. Once we find the cause, we’ll use special techniques to correct it and leave your carpet spotless again.

For a beautiful start in spring, store your tropical bulbs

For a beautiful start in spring, store your tropical bulbs

The growing season might be over, but you don’t have to say goodbye to your tropical plants. With a little effort, you can have twice as many next spring, and you won’t have to spend a lot of money to do it. You can store the bulbs.

For those who have a special liking for elephant ears, cannas, gladioli, dahlias, begonias, caladium, and other exotics, here’s  how to save bulbs from the winter cold.

After foliage has dried back from the first light frost, trim the top growth, then gently dig up each bulb and brush off excess  soil. Discard any that are dried out or rotted.

Spray each bulb with a protective fungicide such as Concern Copper Soap and allow to dry. Keep bulbs in a warm, dry area   for a week to ease them into dormancy.

Store the bulbs in a cardboard box. Cover the bottom with newspaper and place the bulbs so they don’t touch each other.  Cover with peat moss, then make another layer.

Most bulbs prefer a 45 to 55 degree temperature range. Begonias, gladioli, and cannas prefer 50 to 60 degrees.

Knee replacements not for everyone

Knee replacements not for everyone

In older adults, cartilage in the knee joint can wear away, causing pain and limited movement.

A new study shows that, for the most serious cases of arthritis, knee replacement did improve quality of life. However, for most people the improvements were minimal.

The study published in The BMJ observed the results of 7,400 middle age and older adults who had arthritis of the knee or were at high risk for the condition.

If your knee pain is not severe, you might be able to get some relief and postpone knee problems by strengthening your thigh muscles.

Losing weight also helps. Each additional pound adds four pounds of pressure on the joints. Less weight equals less pressure and happier knees. But avoid high-impact jogging, aerobics, or jumping while you lose the weight.

According to the Harvard Health Letter, people with good range of motion in the knee have fewer pain symptoms. It’s important to be able to straighten out the knee. Try sitting on a bed with a pillow under the ankle. Then use your leg muscles to gently move your knee down and straight.

Osteoarthritis symptoms often get worse by standing on a hard surface for long periods or squatting (as an example, while gardening). Sitting on a low stool is better than squatting.You can also wear cushioned shoes or gel inserts.

 

Spend a little now… save a lot later

Spend a little now… save a lot later

Fall is the perfect time to do some maintenance on your home’s exterior. Warm weather and the higher humidity of  summer cause materials to shift and expand, then as the weather cools and the humidity decreases the process reverses. This can leave your home with areas that water, pests and rot can penetrate. Now is the time to act.

As Winter Approaches

Paint, caulk, shingles, wood, rubber, vinyl and siding are all affected by high temperature and UV radiation from the sun. As a result, the exterior envelope of your home may not be as “tight” as it was in the spring. As weather gets cooler,  materials tend to shrink and harden. Air is drier, resulting in further shrinkage as materials lose moisture. Rubber seals around doors and windows become brittle. Caulk separates from siding and trim, allowing outdoor air and damaging moisture to enter.

The wood around doors and windows can rot. High moisture levels encourage insects and termites to make your home their home. Hidden mold growth on wood, drywall and other porous surfaces causes millions of dollars in structural damage every year. Moisture is the primary cause. You can take a few easy steps to ensure your home is in good shape as winter approaches. Following is a list of things that you can check out and another list the ambitious homeowner can do, or which you can hire an inspector to check out for you.

Easy Fall Checkpoints

As fall approaches take a slow walk around your house and check the following:

• Visually check out all windows and doors. Look at the wood trim to ensure it is not rotted or pulling away. Check the caulk to ensure it is flexible and wellsealed. Pound in loose trim nails and re-caulk if necessary. Remove brittle, deteriorated caulk before resealing.

• Check weather stripping to ensure pliability and good seal. If you can see daylight around the door or window then you may need to install new weather stripping.

• Look around windows, doors, soffits and other areas for water intrusion. If you see dark stains or rotted areas you may have a leak and want to call a professional. After the leak is fixed you can replace damaged wood. Or, check out this great product called “Git Rot”, available at marine centers, for repairing rotted wood.

• If you have a basement check it for leaks by touching the wall, especially where it meets the floor. Sometimes, minor water issues can be corrected with sealing paint.

Getting Professional Help

If you are a very handy homeowner then do the following checks as well. Otherwise, hire a pro to:

• Have your gutters cleaned and checked. Ensure all downspouts are directed away from your house. If you don’t have gutters, consider having seamless gutters installed; they are actually quite inexpensive compared to other home improvements.

• Have the roof inspected. Many roofing companies will do this for free, just be sure to pick a reputable one. Ensure they look for gaps and issues around the chimney, plumbing stacks and any other roof penetrations.

• If you have a crawl space under your home, hire a professional to crawl under it once a year and check it out for plumbing leaks, structure issues, and animal infestation.

The old saying says that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It can save you a ton of money in the long run as well.

Do You Breathe Easy at Home?

Do You Breathe Easy at Home?

How to Control Indoor Air Pollution

Pollution. We use the word to describe harmful or poisonous substances introduced into an environment. Water pollution, ground pollution, noise pollution, and air pollution are examples we most commonly relate to the outdoor environment.So it may surprise you to find that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published reports that indoor air is 2-5 and in some cases up to 100 times more polluted than the air outside.

This article will give you some recommendations to make your indoor air cleaner, healthier and safer. But first, the basics…

What is “Air”?
Air is a mixture of gases that make up Earth’s atmosphere. The part of the atmosphere that contains the right mixture of gases to support life contains nitrogen and oxygen, as well as trace amounts of argon, carbon dioxide, helium, neon and other gases. Air also contains variable amounts of water vapor. We refer to the amount of suspended water vapor as humidity.

Humidity Plays an Important Role in Indoor Air Quality
The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends maintaining indoor relative humidity levels between 30% and 50% for human health and comfort. Higher humidity can create an environment where microbes can flourish and create an unsanitary condition. In addition, higher humidity can result in condensation of water on surfaces. This can hold soils and organic matter, creating a perfect incubator for mold,which can exacerbate asthma and allergies.

Air Suspends Particles
Most airborne particles are harmless. However, others can cause problems, particularly for those with asthma, allergies or immune disorders. There are four keys to keeping your indoor air clean and healthy: exclude, capture, clean and control.

Exclude – Keep contaminants out
Keeping contaminants out of the home is challenging because most airborne particles are tiny and can be everywhere. Pollen, carbon, mold spores, organic matter, insect matter, car exhaust, and plain old dirt enter the home, transported on air currents, clothing and shoes.

Reduce entry by keeping your doors and windows shut, removing shoes when entering and immediately changing your clothing after dusty activities like yard work.

There are other contaminants that originate from within the home. Pet and human dander, food particles, dust mites and their feces, cooking gases, sprays, chemicals, cleaning agents and many other particulates combine to reduce overall indoor air quality. Controlling these can be tricky, because they result from every day living activities. Your best defense is to capture, clean and control them.

Capture – filter and contain that which enters
When airborne particles enter your home, they remain suspended for a period of time. Large and dense particles drop out of the air and settle onto surfaces. Smaller, lighter particles remain suspended longer – some nearly indefinitely – and are best removed by air filtration devices and the filter on your home’s HVAC system.

Pay attention to the filters you use. Use high quality pleated filters. Don’t buy based on price alone. Get filters that are rated MERV 7 or 8. Higher MERV ratings may place excessive restriction on your ventilation system, requiring a change in configuration. Talk to an HVAC professional for more information about how to improve filtration on your ventilation system.

Clean – remove pollutants from surfaces
Eventually, particles settle on surfaces such as floors, furniture, counters, window sills, shelves and walls. Vacuuming and dusting removes most of the particles, but make sure that your vacuum cleaner has good filtration too.

Hard surfaces can be cleaned with electrostatic dusters or dust cloths that attract and hold particles, or by wiping hard surfaces with a damp cloth and wet mopping floors. Other surfaces such as carpet, area rugs and upholstery will require periodic professional cleaning to remove accumulated soils and pollutants.

Control – maintain equipment, humidity levels and filters
Proper maintenance is important. Ensure your vacuum cleaner, AC unit, range hood and other ventilation equipment are working properly. Clean or replace furnace filters at recommended intervals; usually monthly depending on the type of filter and environmental conditions.

Hansen Steam Way can help you breathe easier indoors with regularly scheduled professional carpet and upholstery cleaning. Call us today to set up your clean and healthy maintenance program.

Healthy Babies

Healthy Babies

Sudden Infant Death (SIDS) is  the sudden, unexpected, and unexplained death of a child under one year of age and is sometimes referred to as “crib death.” Although no one knows what causes SIDS, there are some things you can do to make your baby safer.

Place your baby on his or her back to sleep. Although for many years, this was not considered good advice, studies have  now shown that this contributes greatly towards reducing the chance of an occurrence of SIDS. Not all babies should sleep on their backs however. Discuss this with your doctor if your baby has any medical, eating, or congenital problems.

Babies should never be placed in a crib or bed with large, loose, or fluffy blankets, pillows, or comforters. There should not beany gaps between the mattress and the crib frame.

The temperature in the room should be kept at a comfortable level. Do not allow your baby to get too warm.

Establish a smoke-free zone around your baby. Research indicates that cigarette smoke in your baby’s environment increases the risk of SIDS.

Breastfeed your baby, even if for only a short period of time. Breast milk contributes to your baby’s overall health and can decrease the risk of SIDS.

Eye Health as We Age

Eye Health as We Age

According to a survey by the Ocular Nutrition Society, four in five baby boomers ranked their vision as the most important  sense. In fact, those same people said that they worry about vision loss almost as much as contracting cancer or heart disease. But only fifty percent said they visit an eye doctor at least once a year.

What is the best way to protect your vision as you age? First, you should get an eye exam every year. Your doctor can help  you know if you are at risk for eye diseases such as macular degeneration. Be sure to know and discuss your family history of eye disease.

You should also protect your eyes by not smoking and always wearing sunglasses with UV protection. Regular exercise is not only good for your body, but also contributes to eye health as well.

Finally, be aware of the role nutrition plays in eye health. Vital nutrients such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega 3 protect your vision and keep your eyes healthy. To increase these nutrients in your diet, eat greens such as spinach, kale, and broccoli, along with salmon, halibut, and tuna. If you think you have shortfalls in your diet, you can take a vitamin supplement specifically formulated for eye health.

Milk and Mood

Milk and Mood

In response to low-carb and low-fat diet fads, many people have sworn off milk products. Others may be sensitive to the effects of milk on their digestive or respiratory systems.

There is a benefit to drinking milk, that those who have given it up are missing. Milk can positively affect your mood. It is high in whey protein, which is a rich source of the amino acid tryptophan. Whey decreases physiological responses to stress, can enhance your mood, and boost memory performance.

A study conducted by Dutch and Yale University researchers found that whey increases tryptophan in the brain, which in turn leads to a higher production of the chemical serotonin. This body chemical boosts your mood and has the potential to enhance your brain’s performance during stressful times.

Whey has also been found to aid in weight loss, as it plays an important role in limiting hepatic fatty acid synthesis. This means that muscle tissue burns more fat when exercising. Whey also can help with mild depression.

So, what is the best way to get milk in your diet without any negative side effects? Try adding low-fat or fat-free milk sources such as yogurt, cottage cheese, and cultured dairy beverages like kefir. You can also add whey powder to a daily smoothie. Or simply drink some milk.

Most negative effects come from drinking too much milk. An 8-ounce glass, one cup, of fat-free organic milk every few hours will boost your mood and give you a steady stream of energy for the entire day.

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