The Key to Getting Rid of Ants

2020-09-08 00:00:00 +0000

The Key to Getting Rid of Ants

An invasion of ants into your home can be an unwelcome discovery, even in the best of times. Given the numbers in which they appear, it can seem like an overwhelming problem, but the good news is that you can get rid of them. Read on to see how.

Set Bait Traps

Experts like this one at Cornell University say that bait is an effective way to eliminate an infestation of ants. These work by using a sweet syrup that attracts the ants who then bring it back to their colony. The bait contains compounds that kill the ant larvae it comes into contact with and reduces the colony size. You may have to try a handful of brands to see which one works best in your case.

Pesticide sprays don’t work all that well since you can only spray the ants you can see, and that represents a tiny fraction of their numbers. It also exposes you to chemicals you may not want to be breathing in or spreading around your kitchen. It’s best to avoid these and either use commercial bait traps or make your own.

According to this useful article at WikiHow, you can make a DIY bait trap using a formula of 1 tablespoon (9 grams) of boric acid with 1.25 cups (251 grams) of sugar, then sprinkle this mixture in places where you often find ants. It’s also a good idea to keep this bait in a jar or lidded container with holes punched in it so pets or children cannot get into it.

Keep Your Home Clean

Food of almost any kind will attract ants, so keeping your house free of crumbs and loose bits of food is going to deny them a food source and thus a reason to come in. Keep food secured in containers when you’re not actively consuming it. The most attractive food for ants is sugary liquids, so take care to clean up spills.

When you see ants moving in a line, wipe down the surface with bleach or a soapy solution after clearing them out. Ants leave a pheromone trail for their fellow ants to follow so you will want to destroy this or more of them will soon appear.

Seal Cracks and Entry Points

You probably can’t seal up every hole ants can get through given their tiny size, but you can make it harder for them. Good Housekeeping suggests caulking cracks (or stuffing them with steel wool), replacing old and worn out door sweeps, and patching torn screens as good places to start.

Know When to Call a Pro

Ants can be difficult to remove on your own sometimes. You are only likely to see about 10% of the colony. If you have tried the suggestions above and you are still having an ant problem, it may be time to call in a professional. Also, if the ants you see are larger (about ¼ to ½ inch) you may have carpenter ants, and a professional exterminator should handle these. Carpenter ants can do considerable damage to the wood structure of your home, so don’t ignore this problem.

Ridding your home of unwelcome ants doesn’t have to be painful if you combine one or more of the strategies above: prepare bait traps, close up entry points, and keep your home clean. Respect ants but don’t ignore them when they invade your home; remember that you are only seeing a small fraction of their number. And remember to call in the professionals if you think you have carpenter ants or you’re not seeing results after taking these steps. Enjoy living in an ant-free home!


Photo by Peter F. Wolf on Unsplash

How to Organize Your Tools

2020-09-07 00:00:00 +0000

4 Ways to Avoid Having to Search for That Thing You Need

If you’ve ever searched in vain for that one tool you need for a DIY project you’re working on, then you probably can appreciate why you should organize your tools. It’s hard enough to find the time to get going on a project without finding yourself spending much of it just finding what you need. And if you’re a professional who uses tools in your everyday work, it’s detrimental to your productivity to stop what you’re doing to search for the next thing to continue the job. It’s important to recognize that not all tool organization systems are going to be the same. Depending on what tools you have around, from small hand tools to table saws, there won’t be a one-size fits all approach to every situation. But there are a set of tips you can draw from that will help you in most cases.

Step 1: Inventory and Categorize

First, take an inventory of all your tools. Sort them into categories. For example, hand tools, power tools, saws, clamps, etc.

Step 2: Create a Space for Storage

Set up a “home” for each of these categories of tools where they will always be when you’re not using them. You could build a cabinet out of spare lumber hanging around on which to hang tools. Use pegboard to create a wall space for hanging tools. Try to keep categories of tools you use together close to each other. For example, try keeping clamps for a table saw near the table saw, to reduce the time needed to set things up when you need to saw something. Build a DIY workbench with the space you need for storage in mind.

Step 3: Maximize Vertical and Open Space Storage

Try to keep as much as possible out in the open, where you can see it. Make use of wall space where you can. You can install a slat wall system or pegboard for mounting bins and baskets for storing things. Make these transparent so you can easily identify what’s inside. Use wall strips with anchor hooks to hang miscellaneous tools in plain sight. Use the end space on cabinets and workbenches to install some scrap wood with holes drilled in it to store screwdrivers or other tools.

Step 4: Use Containers

Some tools just won’t work on a wall or other hanging space. When you have to store them in a container, make sure you label these. Also, separate nuts and bolts by size and store them in transparent containers like jars. After following these steps, you should be grabbing what you need for a job quickly and easily, and finding yourself much more productive!

Here are some resources for some other useful tips on how to store your tools:


Photo by Eugen Str on Unsplash

The Art of Falling Asleep Fast

2020-09-04 00:00:00 +0000

It’s hard to overstate the importance of a good night’s sleep, but sometimes we just have a hard time falling asleep. According to a 2014 study, as many as 30% of adults have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Here are some tips you can follow for falling asleep quickly.

Turn Off Those Devices

It’s official: using your smartphone or tablet right before bedtime is going to delay and reduce the quality of your sleep. Try to set a time each night at which you stop using your screens. The earlier the better, but at the very least, make it 30 minutes before you go to bed. Try reading a book, and if a printed book doesn’t grab you, e-ink readers don’t produce the same negative effects on our sleep.

The 4-7-8 Breathing Method

This method can, with practice, lead to faster and more relaxing sleep. Start by placing the tip of your tongue behind your two front teeth at the top of your mouth and hold it there while doing the following:

  1. Exhale through your lips, then close them and inhale, then exhale through your nose while counting to 4.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  3. Exhale for a count of 8 seconds.
  4. Do this four times or until you fall asleep.

Try to Stay Awake

This might seem counterintuitive, but actively trying to stay awake can cause you to get sleepy. This “paradoxical intention” can be calming when you are stressed out about being unable to sleep. Tell yourself to stay awake in bed, or get up and go to another room and read in low light for a few minutes.

A “Secret” Military Technique for Falling Asleep

[This special technique]( 2059.a.22898932%5bsrc %5bch ) developed by the US armed forces may help you fall asleep, and it’s easy to do. It reportedly had a 96% success rate after several weeks of trials.
  1. Relax the muscles in your face, and breathe slowly, and deeply.
  2. Relax your body, starting with letting your shoulders drop, then your upper and lower arms, first on one side, then the other.
  3. Keep breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly, while relaxing your upper body and then your thighs, followed by your legs.
  4. Count to 10, and clear your mind. Some ways to do this would be to imagine yourself in a relaxing scene such as floating on a serene lake under a calm, blue sky, or repeating a phrase to yourself such as “don’t think” for 10 seconds.

After just a few more seconds you should be asleep.

Sleep can occasionally be elusive, but if you remember to turn off those devices well before bedtime, and use one of the relaxation techniques described above, you should drift off before you know it.


Photo by Bruce Mars on Unsplash

4 Things You Need To Know About Before Hiring a Plumber

2020-09-03 00:00:00 +0000

If you own a home you should expect to eventually require the services of a plumber. Plumbers perform many services including cleaning drains, repairing leaky pipes, clearing backed up sewer lines, installing water heaters, and repairing toilets, among others. But before you hire a plumber, here are a few things you should consider.

Licensed, Bonded, and Insured

Be sure you are hiring a plumber who is licensed in your state. This protects you from unqualified plumbers who could leave you with a worse situation than what led you to seek one in the first place. Angie’s List has a list of licensed plumbers you can check against.
Your plumber should be bonded (which is usually a requirement for obtaining a license). What this means is that your plumber has insurance that protects you from problems during the job. This includes damage to your property, lack of permits, and incomplete work among others. A plumber should also have contractor’s insurance that includes liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance. Liability insurance covers damage and injuries that occur on the job. Worker’s compensation pays injured workers for lost pay and medical expenses. As a homeowner, you want to be sure you’re not on the hook if an accident occurs. A responsible plumber has this coverage.

Get A Quote

A plumber should offer you a quote for the total cost for the job, including labor and materials before starting the work. It is generally a good idea to get several quotes from different plumbers. This will give you a ballpark figure for what the going rate is for that kind of work in your area, and also allow you to comparison shop for a good rate. Some plumbers give you an hourly rate, but push for a quote for the total cost of the work instead. You can’t know ahead of time how long a job might take, and a surprise bill at the end would be painful. A plumber should offer a quote only after coming to see the problem firsthand. Don’t settle for a quote over the phone from someone who hasn’t been to your home yet.

Reputation and Experience

For challenging jobs, you are going to want a plumber with some years of experience. This may push up the cost of the work, but you should also consider how much a poorly done plumbing job could ultimately cost you. A less experienced plumber will likely charge less, and for some less complicated jobs, this may be fine. Consider the reputation of the plumber you hire by seeking references, talking to prior customers, or making use of sites like NextDoor or Angie’s List, which can offer testimonials from people who have worked with them before.


Make sure to find out if the plumber offers a guarantee for their service. This is often described on their website or business marketing materials, but it doesn’t hurt to ask about it when talking to the plumber directly. Make sure you are clear on what the plumber guarantees.

Hiring a plumber doesn’t have to be a chore. Remember to get that quote up front, make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured, check their reputation, and get that guarantee. If you cover these bases, you should soon be on the way to stress-free plumbing repair.


Photo by Jacek Dylag on Unsplash