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John F. O'Hara

John F. O'Hara
731 W Skippack Pike  Blue Bell  PA 19422
Phone:  610-277-4060
Office:  215-643-3200
Cell:  267-481-1786
Fax:  267-354-6973

My Blog

Is It Time for a New Water Heater?

September 16, 2015 1:06 am

(Family Features) Water heaters are energy-intensive appliances. In fact, they are the second largest energy user in the home, and as they age, they become less efficient, according to the Propane Education & Research Council.

If you don't know the age of your current water heater, or think it may be reaching the end of its lifespan, it may be time to replace it, says home improvement expert Danny Lipford, host of "Today's Homeowner.” Lipford advises keeping these three factors in mind when evaluating your water heater:

1. Cost
– According to U.S. Department of Energy estimates, the average family spends $400 to $600 each year on water heating costs, and as an older unit ages, its efficiency continues to erode. Rising water heating costs year after year could be a sign that it's time to replace your unit. By switching to a new energy-efficient water heater or a new energy source, you could save hundreds of dollars each year.

Depending on where you live and how often you use your water heater, a tankless water heater could drastically lower your annual water heating costs compared with electric storage tank models, which are working to heat water even when it's not needed. In comparison tests with electric units, propane-powered tankless water heaters saved more than $300 annually.

2. Lifespan – Most water heaters should be replaced every 10 to 12 years. To make the right choice for replacement, you should factor in the annual cost of ownership, which is the cost of original equipment, installation and expected annual energy costs divided over the unit's lifetime.

Both high-efficiency propane storage tank heaters and tankless models deliver lower annual ownership costs than electric or heating oil. At the same time, tankless water heaters also have a much longer lifespan than storage models -- they can last 5 to 10 years longer than storage water heaters.

3. Carbon Footprint – Upgrading to a newer, more efficient model means reducing your carbon footprint. Compared with standard efficiency electric storage tank models, propane produces two times fewer emissions. The difference amounts to about 1,300 pounds of carbon dioxide a year, the equivalent of driving a car more than 18,000 miles.

Source: Propane Education & Research Council

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tree Mulching Best Done in Fall

September 16, 2015 1:06 am

Tree owners often feel compelled to spray, prune or apply something to their trees and landscape plants on a regular basis. But, unless there is a specific reason, the best thing to do to keep your trees healthy is apply a layer of composted mulch.

“Fall is a great time to be out in the yard spreading shovels full of composted wood-chip mulch under your trees,” says Tchukki Andersen, staff arborist with the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). “Trees with mulched root zones are usually larger, more vigorous, develop faster and have higher rates of survival than plants surrounded by turf grass or bare dirt. Mulches retain soil moisture and reduce erosion and soil compaction.”

Mulched trees also have fewer weeds, which reduces the need for the roots to compete for limited resources. The soil under the mulch also likely stays warmer longer into the winter and also warms faster in the spring, helping extend the growing season for plants. Organic mulches are a favorite among professional arborists. Other organic mulches include bark chips, ground bark, composted lawn clippings, leaves and straw. These mulches are high in cellulose and low in nitrogen, and should be free of weed seeds.

How Wide is Wide?
A good mulch bed should extend out at least three feet from a tree’s trunk in all directions, though extending out to the dripline is preferred. This is where the fine, absorbing tree roots extend out into the soil. Keep organic mulches several inches away from the base of the tree to avoid rot and diseases.

How Deep is Deep?
The mulch bed depth should be maintained at 2 to 4 inches. If there is grass in the area that needs to be mulched, put a five-page layer of newspaper over the grass, get it wet, then add mulch on top. This will help keep the grass from growing up through the mulch. For poor soils, use well-composted mulch to build up the nutrients. Soils that are healthy will do fine with a highly stable softwood bark (such as cypress bark), which doesn’t break down as easily.

The biggest no-no when mulching is to create a “mulch volcano” that is piled high around the base of the tree. This practice traps moisture around the tree trunk and root flare leading to decay and, eventually, structural failure. Avoid fine mulch – thick blankets of fine mulch can become matted and prevent the penetration of water and air. Low oxygen levels (from packed-down mulch) creates a toxic “sour” mulch – which may give off pungent odors, and even worse, the compounds produced (methanol and acetic acid) can kill young plants.

While mulch does decompose, you do not want to accumulate excessive mulch year after year by adding fresh mulch every spring. If you want the look of fresh mulch, break up the old with a rake, and only add a layer of new on top if there is less than 4 inches in depth.

Source: TCIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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