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      Show us a water stain on a ceiling and, more often than not, it isn't a leaking roof ... it's a leaking bathroom fixture.

      WHAT ? Check the caulking in your kitchen and bathrooms. Don't just look formoldy or missing caulking; pull at it to see if the seal is good or ifit's just sitting there.

      WHEN ? Once a year.

      WHY ? As inexpensive as it is, caulking is essential to maintain the normallife expectancy of tile bathtub and shower enclosures. It's equallyimportant for the long life of laminated countertops and backsplashes.

      The backing material behind the tile maybe water-resistant, but it is not waterproof. The particleboard backingmaterial for plastic-laminated countertops is even more prone to waterdamage.

      The caulking may last for 10 or more years butbecause of poor surface preparation, poor tolerances and buildingmovement, the seal rarely lasts that long.

      HOW ? The key to good caulking is good preparation. The surface must be cleanand dry. This often requires lots of scraping and vacuuming. If it'sdamp behind the old caulking, wait until it dries.

      Use a caulking gun and caulking that can be cleanedup with water (acrylic latex silicone) for best results. Cut the tip ofthe caulking tube at about a 30-degree angle and make the hole in thetip the same size as the gap you are about to fill. Push the gun awayfrom you. This fills the gap and the trailing edge of the nozzle leavesa professional finish. Go for one continuous bead. Stopping andstarting makes a mess.


      When caulking a tub, fill it with water and stand in the tub. Theweight of you and the water makes the tub settle a bit and opens up thejoint to be caulked.

      After caulking, you can smooth the surface with a wet soapy finger, but don't push too hard.

      Some people use masking tape to make the job easier. If you do, be sureto pull the tape off immediately after caulking, and use thesoapy-finger trick to smooth the edge.



      Best amenity and value--may well be a tree

      By Dan Howley
      Albany Times Union

      April 29, 2007

      ALBANY, N.Y. -- You can hang swings from them. You can sit under them. You can watchsquirrels and birds in them. You can listen to them whisper in the breeze. Youcan marvel at their beauty. And if you look close enough you'll even see thatmoney, after all, really does grow on them.

      In addition to their intrinsic beauty, studies have shown that havingwell-placed, thriving trees on your property can increase the value of yourhome as much as 15 percent, while at the same time saving you money on yourheating and cooling bills.

      "There is something romantic about trees," said Frank Laskey, president ofCapital Construction in Ballston Spa, N.Y. "Trees strike a chord in people,and when they see a home surrounded by beautiful trees, it says something tothem."

      Laskey, who started in the residential construction industry in the early1970s and has been a developer since the mid-1980s, said today more than everpeople are aware of the environment and understand their relationship withtheir surroundings.

      "They would much rather live in a natural setting than on a suburban lotwhich has been stripped of all its trees," Laskey said. "I think developersare more conscious of protecting existing ecosystems, including its trees andunderstand the market is asking for that. People clearly understand there isadded value to a home with trees."

      Mark Derowitsch, a spokesman for the National Arbor Day Foundation inLincoln, Neb., said trees can increase the value of a home up to 15 percent,according to a study in Portland, Ore., which examined selling prices ofcomparable houses with and without trees.

      Derowitsch also said it has been proven that trees can provide substantialsavings on energy bills. He said studies have shown that the shade provided bytrees on the east and west sides of your home can cut air conditioning costs15 percent to 30 percent. Similarly, he said, they can help protect homes fromcold winter winds and reduce heating costs as much as 20 percent.

      But because the National Arbor Day Foundation exists for the higher purposeof inspiring people to grow, nurture and celebrate trees, Derowitsch measurestheir value in something other than legal tender.

      "Their colors give us beauty and mark the seasons," he said. "They can turna home into a painting. I think it's trees that make a house seem more like ahome."

      Ken Eitelman, who has been a broker for 13 years with Realty USA in theAlbany area, has seen firsthand what trees mean to both buyers and homeprices.

      "If you were to go to any home listings system and spend time studying it,you would find higher selling prices for homes with nice trees," Eitelmansaid. "I'd also say that it you take two similar homes in the sameneighborhood, the one with the trees likely will sell first. So when we list ahome we like to be able to mention there are nice trees on the property. It'scomforting for people to see trees around the perimeter of a property."

      However, huge trees put too close to the house don't garner the favor ofmoderately sized trees set amid well-planned landscaping, Eitelman said.

      "The underlying concern with the huge trees is that storm damage mightresult in damage to the home or if the trees are hanging over the roof theyare concerned about dampness," he said.

      But he said trees generally are aesthetically pleasing to buyers,especially in an urban setting.

      "Tree-lined streets can even add a nice value to a home," he said."Homeowners don't see them as their own and realize the city will maintainthem and they also hide the power lines."

      Laskey, the developer, said the connection people have with trees runsdeep, usually way back into their childhood.

      "People remember trees and might associate homes in the neighborhood wherethey grew with a tree," Laskey said. "A tree can become an emotional anchor, aplace of refuge."

      What price could that fetch?

      - - -

      Thanks, trees

      Following are benefits from having trees around your home:

      *Less fading of house paint.

      *Reduced heating costs.

      *Reduced air-conditioning costs.

      *Longer roof life.

      *Increased wildlife habitat.

      *Increased aesthetic appeal.

      *Increased property value.

      *Faster selling time.

      *Reduced soil erosion.

      *Less runoff from rain.

      *Cools city heat islands by reducing surface and air temperatures by asmuch as 20 degrees.

      *Decreased crime rates.

      *Streets with 30 percent tree cover need repaving less often.

      *Reduce the amount of storm water runoff and soil erosion.

      *Reduce traffic noise.

      Sources: National Arbor Day Foundation; Ohio State University Web site

      -- Albany Times Union

      Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

  • jazz  
    Dutch Swing College Band
    Harry James Orchestra
    Harry Connick Jr.
    Linda Ronstadt & Nelson Riddle
    Susie Arioli Swing Band
    Michael Buble
    Michael Bolton
    Jonathan and Darlene Edwards HaHa

  • Travel

    • Travel Agents in Greece

      I definitely recommend it. Every hotel in Greece has their own website these days and the quality of the web design does not always reflect that of the hotel. Unless you are back-packing and prepared to sleep anywhere, a trip to Greece is a lot easier if you work with a travel agent who knows what they are doing. They can organize ferries, flights, transportation to and from airports and ports, find the right hotel for you, deal with any unforseen circumstances, answer all your questions and in the end save you time, money and your sanity. You can choose from dozens of itineraries or you can create your own and by using my website you should have a pretty good idea of what you would like to do.

    • A grenade thrown into a kitchen in France would result in Linoleum Blownapart.

      The short fortuneteller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.
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