Aug 122015
 

What does it mean to have great flooring? Is it all about the way it unifies the whole room? Is it a just matter of sturdiness and durability? When it comes to floors, as with every other part of the house, it’s all a matter of taste, preference and prioritisation. There is no “one style fits all” for floors. That’s why there are dozens of options to choose from. You might have some ugly or outdated flooring you wish to fix, but what direction should you take? You could always cover it with carpet or buy a lavish designer rug to cover it. Other choices for your upgrade include tiles, linoleum, wood, granite, and so much more.

For the more creative home-owners, there is a new wave of trends when it comes to flooring that open up a myriad of endless possibilities. Among these options include: bottle cap flooring, brown paper bag flooring, painted floors, penny floors and white cork floors. These are some of the DIY flooring possibilities we’re going to talk about today.

a floor built with capsBottle Cap Floor

Bottle cap floors involve the use of bottle caps and grout. Simply prepare the floor with a thin-set mortar then place the bottle caps in an arrangement of your choosing. After having arranged the caps, fill in the gaps with grout and let it dry. Finish it all up with a sealer. This kind of style requires a lot of bottle caps, but the end result looks great! If you are struggling to gather enough bottle caps to fill your room, ask friends and family for help. Local restaurants and schools might also like to get involved!

Brown Paper Bag Floor

This style would require a lot of paper bags and glue. You’ll have to soak the brown paper bags in the glue and then lay it all out on the floor. Once you have them all set and dry, cover the surface with some coats of polyurethane. This style can be tweaked to be an eco-friendly project by replacing the glue with wheat or rice glue and using no-VOC polyurethane.

Painted Floors

As the name implies, painted floors are simply floors that have a coat of paint on them. Before painting the floor, make sure that you have sanded it thoroughly to remove any varnish or rough patches. Sanding it would also even out the surface of any high spots which would be off putting once painted over. You may opt to have one solid coat or use paint tape to help create a pattern. Once you have painted the floor, cover it with a water-based polyurethane.

building a cork floorPenny Floors

The Penny Floors follows the same system as the Bottle Cap floors. The pennies would have to be glued down using construction adhesive (preferably low or no-VOC) or epoxy glue. The pennies can be in a pattern or of any style you so choose. Be careful with the amount of adhesive you use, the ideal amount is enough to hold the pennies down, without too much oozing out the sides.

Wine Cork Floors

Wine Corks are relatively hard to collect. In order for you to be able to use this type of style for your floor, you could ask a local wine shop to help you out or seek the help of friends. You’ll need around 775 corks per square meter. Simply align the corks on your floor, glue them down, nail or staple the corks together and then apply grout to fill up the gaps.

Any of these ideas are sure to make any living space come to life with their unique appeal!

Mar 312015
 

A wheelbarrow full of nutrient rich soilAn organic garden is one filled with naturally grown plants or those grown without the use of chemical fertilizers. Many home gardeners prefer this method to using toxic poisons and pesticides, especially since they hope to eat the organic herbs and vegetables that eventually grow from it.

That said, trying to get an garden to flourish is not an easy task. This is even more true when no poisons or “shortcuts” are used. Many people would like to have their own little piece of earth growing healthy and delicious produce, however often they have no idea where to start. For those who find this initial step a bit over their head, hiring a landscape or gardening expert to create the initial garden bed is an idea worth considering. Since you’re here on our blog though we assume you’ve got the initiative and tenacity to take on the job yourself, which is great. Building the garden yourself will eventually prove to me much more fulfilling anyway.

With that in mind, a good starting point towards building a healthy garden at home has to do with getting the soil prepared. Assuming that the area for the organic garden has already been chosen, the next thing to do is to get the soil of the area tested. Obviously, this will involve some expense since a garden testing kit will have to be purchased. Also at a fee, a soil sample can be taken to the nearest local agricultural agency to determine its nutrient levels. Treatment recommendations can also be found there, and additives to the soil may be required if it is lacking in any particular areas.

An alternative to the purchase of soil additives is to mix in some humus, organic matter composed of animal manure, grass clippings, leaves, or compost. In keeping with the goal of building an organic garden, artificial or chemical additives should not be included. Compost can be made easily at home to save money. The most common means of making compost is to combine carbon-rich materials like green leaves with nitrogen-filled items like manure and kitchen scraps.

A pile of soil measuring at least six inches should serve as the topping of the compost preparation. This should be turned each time new layers as well as water are added onto the pile. The addition of water is crucial, not only to keep the prepared compost moist, but to promote microbial action which conditions the soil further. Compost preparation takes time, but if you make it yourself you can be sure that it is 100% organic. If your compost pile or bin starts to smell too strongly, add in more dried leaves, sawdust, and other carbon materials.

two piles of compostTo help the compost become nutrient dense soil faster, make more frequent turns of the pile. Some people choose to mix their compost inside a rotating bin for easier and faster turning. Depending on the temperature and microbial action the compost should be ready for use in around 2-3 months. Once it is ready it can be mixed in with the existing soil on the ground or used in pot plants to give seedlings and smaller herb and vegetable plants or trees a boost.

Compost is essential to any sustainable organic garden. It serves as food for trees, plants and shrubs. It also helps to retain moisture in the soil and helps to stop weeds from growing near your plants. Most importantly however, compost is a great way to turn food scraps, garden debris and other organic waste back into something valuable and useful.

Once you have conditioned your soil you should be ready to start planting! Make sure you purchase seedlings from a local farmer or organic seedling store or nursery to ensure they are well suited to the theme of your garden. We use The Herb Store for all of our Australian herb, seedling and plant purchases. Many farmer’s markets are known to offer these types of seedlings as well, and may even have recommendations on the best plant varieties to raise depending on your location.

Feb 192015
 

Although some plumbing jobs might be too tough and/or unsafe to take on yourself, there are some plumbing problems that must be handled immediately. Many plumbing problems are caused by leakages or blockages. Leakages can be easy to deal with because you can shut off your water valves, but blockages can be frustrating especially if you can’t point out the main reason why water won’t go down the drain.

cloggedpipePushing a plunger up and down in a toilet bowl helps unclog a toilet. However, this only works with blockages that are not too serious. If plunging fails, try using drain cleaning agents. Although these products are pricey, they can save you the expenses that comes with hiring a plumber to clean our your blocked drain for you. Since these products usually contain chemical components, you should ensure that it’s legal and safe to use them in your locality before pouring them down your pipes. Pouring boiling water  through the drains sometimes dislodged debris or flushes it away, but it can melt your pipes too, so should not be done for prolonged periods.

Using a drain snake is another approach towards eradicating clogged drain problems. There are different brands of pipe cleaners on sale, but before buying any, ensure that you are getting the correct one for your types of drainage systems. We spoke with one of the experience drain unblocking experts from Drain Cleaning Brisbane about what to do before calling a plumber to fix your drainage issues. By following these steps you will reduce the amount of time that any plumber will need to be on site, and save yourself money in the process.

Calling the plumber

If your ‘do-it-yourself’ efforts haven’t worked, it is time to call a professional plumber. Prior to dialing your your local plumber’s number, you should do the following:

Prepare for questions

You plumber will ask a number of questions about your problem. You ought to examine everything carefully and take note of anything unusual that you see, smell and hear etc. In this age of technology, it is possible to take pictures of your systems and message them through to the experts. It is advisable to take the photos early. Preparing comprehensively in this manner saves you money because the professionals will spend less time diagnosing the problem.

Uncluttering is important

If your plumber bills clients per hourly basis, any time they waste physically getting to the problem will cost you money. If the sink is the problem, you must ensure that there is space under it. Clear stairs and all areas that might need to be accessed. Since professional plumbers will also come with their own tools, there should be space available for them to put it. Eradicating hazards and obstacle can save your plumber time, and you, money.

Where are the parts?

It is important that you keep all fixtures pieces handy if you have disassembled anything. Asking your plumber early on for recommendations on what to buy can also help you save time and money. Generally it is a good idea to find a reliable, reputable plumber so you can always call them for advice whenever you need it, regardless of whether or not you will require them to help you with the job.

Lastly it is important to remember that any professional can make a mistake. Your choice plumber could make a mistake that exposes you to huge losses. This is why the expert you choose must be licensed and insured.

Feb 032015
 
grass being aerated

Aeration is the term used to refer to the process where air is exchanged or circulated between the soil and atmosphere. The process of aerating soil mechanically is called “core aeration” where small plugs of thatch and soil are removed from the lawn to improve natural soil aeration. Core Aeration should ideally be done on a yearly basis but some lawns, especially those that grow on heavy clay or subsoil, may need it more than once each year.

Aside from improved air exchange, core aeration has a lot of other benefits. Core Aeration enhances water absorption, fertilizer absorption, prevents water puddles, reduces compaction of soil, and enhances heat and drought stress tolerance. There are numerous tools that can be used when it comes to aerating your lawn. Among the most common of them all would be the: Spiked Shoes, Fork, Hollowed Tiner, Scarifier, and Slitter.

Spiked Boots

Strap on spiked soles can be attached to the underside of shoe. This can then be used to aerate the lawn by simply walking through the lawn itself. These do not do a great job of aerating lawns, and can actually have a negative effect on grass if used incorrectly.

Fork

A pitch fork is a tool with a long handle and long, thick, widely separated tines or prongs. They are commonly used to lift and pitch agricultural materials such as hay, leaves, straw, etc.

A pitch fork can easily be used to aerate one’s lawn. Simply push the tines of the fork into the lawn till it has reached a depth of 3 inches and then gently move the fork sideways to widen the holes. Lift the fork out of the aerated area and move another four inches from the said space. Push the tines of the fork into the soil and repeat the process until the entirety of the lawn has been covered. This is an effective way to aerate grass, however it is extremely slow and time consuming.

Hollow Tiner

aeratedgrassA hollow tiner is a specialized kind of tool which looks very much like a pitch fork except the tiner has hollow tubes rather than spikes. It is a very useful tool for aeration and relieving soil compaction. This tool is used on lawns with highly compacted surface areas.

There are two kinds of hollow tiners. The regular hand held variety is the one used where you manually dig it into the soil much like the process discussed with pitch forks. There are also petrol powered hollow tine aerators that have several rotating drums which total to 30 or more corers. They only go as far as 2 inches deep but are still be able to sufficiently aerate the lawn.

Petrol powered hollow tine aerators are expensive but can be rented. Many people also choose to hire a professional lawn aerator such as Oz Aeration to aerate their lawns for them. A “sports turf” variety offers a more advanced option where a cam action ensures that the spikes penetrate deeper into the lawn. This variety, however, is hard to drive or manipulate and is usually only safe to use on ornamental or stone free lawns.

Scarifier

A wheeled lawn scarifier is used to rake out moss and dead grass or remove thatch from the lawn. There are manually operated scarifiers and there are those that rely on an engine to operate. The price range for an engine operated scarifiers is $1500 to $5000, depending on the make and model.

Slitter

A slitter is used by running it over the grass and it immediately penetrates through the turf using its sharp blades. The grass roots are then trimmed which enables air pass through.

These tools each have their own specific advantage when it comes to aerating lawns. In order to maximize the use of any or all of these tools, the lawns composition must first be identified in order to match it with the strengths of the tools available. If you want advice on how to aerate your grass, get in contact with a local lawn aerator company and see what they would recommend in your particular circumstance.

If you’d like to know more about the mechanics behind soil aeration and how it all works take a look at this really informative article on how to maintain a pristine lawn.

Jan 062015
 

While the name hydro-mechanical grease interceptor makes it sound high-tech and fancy; the more commonly known “grease trap” is a mainstay of many Australian kitchens and a necessity in most restaurants. Usually found under the kitchen sink, a grease trap is a container or a vessel that waste water must pass by before flowing through to the sewerage system. This receptacle literally traps any grease such as oils and fats from being flushed out into the municipal waste water system.

a kitchen greasetrapThe mechanics of an interceptor is really simple. As water flows down any given sink, it will come face to face with the grease trap. Because grease and fats  stays on the surface of the water they can easily be captured by the trap through baffling and regulation. The fat and oil remains prisoners of the trap, while the cleaner can freely proceed in the sewers for waste water treatment. If you try to peek inside a grease trap, you will see a dense gloop of thick grease which have accumulated. Over time the efficiency of a trap is lowered when it is filled up with lumps of fats. When this happens an interceptor cannot separate the water from the grease.

As you do not want to odour of rotten accumulated grease dominating your kitchen, it is always a good idea to regularly clean out your trap. Aside from maintaining a pleasant smell in the kitchen, an unmaintained grease trap also contaminates the waste water systems by allowing oils and fats to flow out. This can clog pipes and also impair the water treatment. While not the most pleasant of jobs, cleaning a grease trap is a necessity and should be done on a regular basis to keep the interceptor working optimally.

Here are the steps required to maintain the efficiency of your grease trap from the plumbers at Citi Plumbing in Brisbane:

  • Melt some ice – lots of it. Before you commence with the cleaning, leave a some considerable amount of ice in the sink which is directly connected to the grease trap and let it melt. By doing this, the smell is greatly reduced and at the same time the lower temperature will cause the lumps of grease solidify. It is much easier to remove congealed grease than to remove sticky or viscous gloop.
  • Scoop it out – after the ice process, scoop out the hardened grease.
  • Inspect the clean out – check the clean out and clean it as well. Remove it and thoroughly rinse it off.
  • Don’t forget the pipings – inspect the pipings too and remove the accumulated grease on there as well.
  • Do it often – consistent removal of grease is important. You should schedule a fixed time to clean your grease trap on a regular basis. The more frequent, the better. This routine cleaning schedule will ensure that the receptacles will function properly and will not release any foul odor or clog up your pipes with an overflow of grease.

If you follow the above steps your grease traps will function efficiently and effectively. Also point to remember is that “prevention is better than a ton of cure”. By this we mean it makes sense when cutting slabs of fatty meat or working with large volumes of oily stuff in your kitchen, can catch the grease before it washes down the sink and throw it in the garbage to minimize grease deposits. Less oils and fatty deposits will mean you won’t need to clean your trap as often.

Jan 062015
 

A recently built home in BrisbaneNo matter how handy you are around the home, you’ll always need the help of others when it comes to those bigger jobs. Building your own home is a task not many of us could tackle, so I wanted to offer some advice for you today when looking for a builder for a new home or even a renovation or extension.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who dreams of their ideal house in which to settle down with the family. A house built to perfection and tailored to match the personality and requirements of each member of the household. A house that can bring the family closer together, protect them, and keep them safe. Essentially a house they are all happy to call their home.

Building your ideal home is not an easy task. It requires a lot of time and planning, as well as large amount of money. It’s not as simple as building a sand castle in that if you want to change the design you just can simply rebuild it all over again. Building your home is like setting the foundation for the future of your family life. It needs to be done right, the first time.

Once you have a plan, the next step is to find the right builders to construct your home. It is often said that the most crucial element in construction is not the right materials, but the right builder. They are the artists of your development, so you need to ensure that their vision is the same as your own. Picking the builders is not always as easy as you would think, especially if your new home or renovation isn’t just of standard fare. The more exquisite or irregular a build is, the more technical and skilled the construction team will need to be. A passionate, quality builder is essential because their efficiency and love for their work will be incorporated in whatever they build. You do not want to hire the wrong contractor for your job, or your dream might turn into a nightmare.

We spoke with the team from one of the leading commercial builders in Brisbane who had some advice on choosing the right builder.

Do Your Research

It does not take a secret agent or a private investigator to find out which builders in your area have the best reputation. You can search online; specifically on forums about home renovations and construction. Read about other peoples’ experiences and find out which companies have the most satisfied customers.

Socialize with New Home Owners

The best source of firsthand information about the performance of home builders are from people who have just had their house constructed. Have a chat with the owners of new homes or homes still under construction in your area and let them spill the beans about the attitude and performance of the builders of their homes.

shakeMeet and Greet

Meet some of the known builders around your area in person. Get a feel for their attitude towards your particular job, and decide whether you would trust them with the construction of your new home. Trust your instincts. If you don’t like their attitude or find something about them off-putting, perhaps it would be best to go with a different company.

Consult the Experts

If you are really in doubt speak with industry insiders who would have worked with many builders in the past. Developers, plumbers, electricians etc. would all have inside knowledge of which builders do quality work and which ones do not. Talk with anyone in those or other related industries that you might know, and consider their point of view when choosing your team.

Look out for Industry Award Winners

Take note of any builders who have one industry awards in the past. They must be doing something to stand out from the rest of the builders in your area, find out what it is and see if they are a good match for your task.

While it may take a bit of work, spending time choosing the right builder initially can pay of exponentially in the long run. You can read a trillion stories about working with a nightmare builder (or sometimes a nightmare client if viewed from the builders side), and you don’t want to be another case study. Make sure you get things right the first time and give yourself and your family the best chance of living in your dream home sooner.

Oct 282014
 

Deciding to manage your own investment property is a big decision and many DIY landlords don’t always understand the complexities involved. Many investors see it as an easy way to save a buck and cannot justify enlisting a property manager. Brisbane property management is also a highly competitive industry, and finding a reliable property manager can be difficult. However, especially if this is their first time renting a property, landlords quickly realise there is more to being a rental manager than just collecting rent!

DIY Property Management Problems

5 Problems Faced by DIY Landlords

Legal:

As with so many industries nowadays the biggest issue facing landlords is the legal implications. QCAT (Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal) can be a nightmare for first time landlords. Keeping regular records detailing your property’s condition pre, during, and post rental is essential. If you’re going to be a DIY rental manager, you will need a solid knowledge of the tenancy legislation for Queensland (or your particular state), along with all the required paperwork. No one wants to go to court, it’s a waste of time and is very expensive. Common issues that may need to be address legally are fail to maintain your property, failure to pay rent, and having pets without approval just to name a few. Mismanagement in these situations could cost you from a legal standpoint.

Tenants:

Screening possible occupants is extremely difficult for DIY property managers. Property management companies have access to professional databases which give them a plethora of information including the applicant’s previous rental history, credit checks, employment checks and much more. This is all very time consuming and hard to achieve for the average property investor. Unfortunately, some tenants are serial offenders who aim to take advantage of landlords. These types of uncontrollable tenants know the laws which can often make it quite difficult to deal with. Professional property managers are trained in these areas and can help to avoid these problems from arising through proper screening and management.

Inspections:

The laws for each state highlight the procedures for conducting inspections and how much notice is required. Failing to meet these requirements leaves you liable legally and can attract costly penalties. There are obligations for landlords to inspect properties to carry out pest control, smoke alarm checks, and other safety checks. Organising these with tenants can be difficult. Landlords must also adhere to the appropriate authoritative bodies such as the RTA (rental tenancies authority). If this is something you have not done before it can be quite overwhelming.

Costs:

Not only is property management a time intensive job. There are a lot of associated costs that go along with it. For most landlords, they are trying to do their day job while managing their investment property. It’s simple, you wouldn’t do a plumbers job because it would take you a week to change a washer. Same thinking applies to rental management- employ a professional and get a professional result.

Protecting your investment:

Chasing up late rent can be extremely frustrating and can quickly become a financial burden. Can you afford to be locked out of your own home because you cannot evict dodgy tenants? These emotionally charged situations can become quite dangerous for landlords and can often result in damages to your property. With a professional property management team, these sorts of problems are much less likely to occur, and keeps you, your property, and your income safe.

Sep 272014
 

Prevention is better than a ton of cure. We’ve all heard the saying, but how many of us actually put these wise words into practice? You may look into preventative medical and preventative dentistry and the majority of us do preventative maintenance on our motor vehicles, but what about when it comes to maintaining our homes?

No TermitesAs with maintaining anything, a small expense and a bit of effort can save us from taking a bit hit in the back pocket later on. Preventative maintenance on your home is no different. Today we’re going to talk with you about preventative pest control and why you should consider having a pest control expert visit your residential dwelling to check that you won’t be wake up to a nasty surprise anytime soon.

We spoke with Pete from Pest Control North Brisbane about what to look out for and why. This way, even if you can’t afford or be bothered to get a pest controller out to check over you home, at least you can look for the most obvious signs of an impending disaster. Pete gave us a rundown of the most common pest control problems that can be solved by preventative maintenance, here is a shortlist of his main points.

Termites

If you’re home is made from wood than it’s a good idea to get it checked for termites every year. This is the recommended time according to Australian Standards for termite management AS 3660. Termites eat timber from the inside out, and leave a paper thin veneer where the solid wood use to be. This often causes the timber to appear spotted with mud, and crinkley or wrinkley. Take a look at your door frames, skirting boards, framing, and subfloor timbers for signs of a termite infestation. If you suspect you might have one, contact a termite control professional immediately. Early detection can save you thousands of dollars in replacing the timber the termites have consumed.

Rats and Mice

Rodents are often found where there is easy access to food. The best preventative maintenance for keeping away these vermin is to keep you home tidy and keep all food locked away where it is inaccessible to hungry rats or mice. If you leave food in accessible areas a few rodents may move in, and as long as there is enough food to nourish them they will multiply extremely quickly and soon you will be forced to hire a professional to clean up the problem. Keep this in mind when leaving dirty dishes in rooms or around the house or not washing up immediately after meals.

Cockroaches

Similar to rodents, cockroaches love it when people leave out food for them. They also love rotting, wet wood and other organic materials, so if you have dripping taps or leaking pipes under the house or sink, you could be asking for trouble. Keep all your plumbing in check and clean up after your meals to keep plagues of cockroaches at bay.

Possums

A common household problem in suburban Australia, possums love living in the crevices in ceilings and dark spaces in outside garages etc. Keep a lookout for loose or cracked tiles on your roof that may act as an entry point for possums, and ensure any other cracks they could use as an entry into your roof cavity are sealed up. Another way to keep possums away from your roof is to cut back tall trees that are close to your home. This makes it difficult for them to access your roof even if there are entry points from there into your ceiling (which there shouldn’t be). Take these steps and save yourself from having to hire a possum removal expert to catch any possum invaders that will urinate and defacate in your roof and keep you up at night with their scampering and squealing.

Even better than doing it yourself however is to hire a local pest control expert to come and do a full review of your home every few years at a minimum. They will know how to spot the telltale signs of trouble and will help you catch any potential pests before they become a full-blown nightmare.

Jun 302014
 

Did you know possums are Australian native animal and have been protected under the Wildlife Act since 1975?

These days we google everything. The word ‘google’ no longer only refers to the company it is also commonly used as a verb to denote searching for something online. It is interesting to be able to review what information other people have been searching about, and when. By using Google Trends we can analyze when the most people search for possum and pest control related keywords, which should give us an indication of when related problems are the most serious. For this analysis we have used data from the period of 2000 to 2014. The trend charts are built based on normalized data in the range of 0 to 100.

GlobalPossumpestcontrol It is interesting to see that there is a significant difference between the worldwide trend chart and the Australian chart. The blue line shows the history of the keyword “possum”, whereas the red line shows data for “pest control”. The first figure shows the Google Trend chart globally. Here we can see that the blue line is lower than the red line throughout the observed period. This is a likely indicator that possum disturbances and research have been fairly low when compared to general pest control searches. We also see a consistent pattern of spikes in the months from May to June each year, except for 2011, that shows a spike slightly earlier in April.

AustraliaPossumpestcontrol

Figure 2 – The Australian chart, shows a very different situation. Firstly we can see that the blue line is quite a random pattern, while the red line signal shows a more orderly line. While the spike highs are not as sharp as the red line ones in Figure 1, there are consistent peaks around January each year. There are also consistent lows around August of each year. These peaks and troughs coincide with the summer and winter in Australia.

From 2004 to 2009, the keyword “possum” was more frequently searched for than “pest control”. In the following years until this year, “pest control” has been increasingly searched and has overtaken “possum” on the average number of searches. This may be due to an increasing number of pest problems around Australia recently, or perhaps because more people are now searching for services on the internet and not just information, and people searching for “possum” prior may have been more interested in learning about possums, not just possum removal services.

While we could make assumptions about a decrease in possum disturbances over the last half-decade, a search for “possum removal” paints a different picture. Searches for that keyword have been continuously increasing since 2009, so we it is unlikely possums have stopped menacing the people of suburban Australia. Have you noticed an increasing possum problem around your home? If so, please let us know, but before you do anything drastic to quell their night-time scampering and fighting, here are some facts about those noisy critters:

1. Possums breed in the autumn, but…

According to a paper in Journal of Zoology by Gilmore D.P., Australia has two species of possums, the Brushtail (Trichosurus vulpecula) and the Ringtail (Pseudocheirus peregrinus). Both species have a very consistent breeding cycle. They breed mostly in the autumn, but some specific species have a minor breeding season in the spring. In the warmer temperature of northern Australia, they breed all year long. In a conducive environment, they can live up to 11 years. Going back to the above Google Trends chart for Australia, we can see that while more likely in the warmer months, there is potential for possum disturbance all year long.

2. They are peaceful marsupials, but …

Although possums have a peaceful nature and generally try to avoid confrontation, they will turn aggressive if provoked. This is especially true if they feel their babies are being threatened. Ringtail possums are social marsupials and tend to live in a family group. The female possums carry their babies in their pouches, just like kangaroos. Once the babies get too big, the females carry them around on their back until they are big and strong enough to live independently. In extreme cases, six adult possums can live together with their babies in a single attic. Because of this, sometimes it is  easier to find their entry and exit points to block it off instead of fixing a trap for each of them. Try not to get into altercations with them as they can be aggressive if trapped or provoked. They have 52 sharp teeth, more than any other marsupials. Be extra careful if you encounter a any female possum and their babies on your property. If you aren’t sure what to do it might be best if you contact a possum removal expert.

3. Possums eat leaves, but …

Possums eat nearly all kind of leaves, but Eucalyptus is their favourite. Along with these, possums diets also consist of cultivated plant leaves, flowers (like roses and hibiscus), and orchard fruit. Their tough digestion system is supported by la arge colon and special gland that secret special kinds of enzymes and bacteria. This is the reason their faeces has a very sharp odour and makes them very easy to track. With diets supplemented by eating grass, fungi, and bird’s eggs, the Brushtail Possum may even occasionally eat small vertebrates such as baby birds, as mentioned on the website of Melbourne Victoria Government. To keep them away from your home keeping your garden and backyard tidy, prune any tree branches near or above the roof, mow your grass regularly, cut off dead trees or dead trunks around your property.

4. They are nocturnal, but…

Possums are nocturnal marsupials. They are very active at the first part of the night and then resuming feeding just before dawn. This is why we rarely encounter them during daylight hours. On colder, darker days in winter you may see them occasionally however. They may also be seen during the day when food is scarce or when they have been disturbed from their sleeping quarters. They usually make their inside a property at night by finding an easy opening through a crevice or crack. Gaps between decks and the ground are also comfort nesting areas for possums.

While Google Trends tracking can show us how problematic possums or any other pests for that matter have been during any particular time period, it is in our own best interests to take the steps that we can to alleviate our own issues. By taking care of your garden and maintaining your property you can ensure that you will get a decent nights sleep every night, even if your neighbours and possible even the majority of the rest of the Australian population, aren’t. Stay tuned for more possum removal tips on our blog later in the year.

Jun 302014
 

If there were Seven Wonders in the 17th century, electricity would likely be one of them. Discovered by an Englishman William Gilbert in 1600, it has become of increasing importance each century, and today our standard of living is completely dependant on it. So integral in electricity to modern society, some may even consider it the fifth element of life; an addition to to classical earth, water, air, and fire.

Electricity has rapidly spread in its uses since 19th century with the invention of derivative technologies like fibre optic cable, telephones, computers, televisions and of course, the light bulb.

elements

Figure 1. The four ancient elements (from Wikipedia)

The following graph shows data from US Department of Energy (US-DoE). In 2011, the world consumed around 20,000 billion kWh (kilo watt hours) of electricity. The US DoE predicts that this number will not decrease anytime soon, with population expansion and the development of electrical-thirsty industrial sector being the main reasons.

Global electricity usage grew nearly 18% from its 2007 level at 17,000 billion kWh. The United States alone consumed nearly 4000 billion kWh that same year. Here in Australia we consumed 200 to 220 billion kWh of electricity each year during the years between 2007 to 2011. The rising population rate is regarded as the major driving factor to such high energy consumption.

Figure 2. Total global electricity consumption

Figure 2. Total global electricity consumption

According to the US Dept of Energy, about 461 billion kilowatthours (kWh) of electricity were used for lighting by the residential and commercial sectors in US in 2012. This is about 12% of total U.S. electricity consumption. In Australia, the average household’s spending on energy was $99 per week in 2012, according to the Australia Bureau of Statistics. About $40 of this was spent on electricity and/or gas. However households with energy sourced only from electricity spent less, at around $30 per week.

A survey on residential lighting conducted by Australian Government in 2013 found that kitchen and living room had the highest average usage in hours per weekday. The lowest lighting usage was in garage at 0.7 hours per weekday. Based on the surveyed homes, the peak usage hours were between 7.00 to 8.00 o’clock in the morning and 6.00 to 9.00 p.m. in the evening.

The type of lights chosen by a household affects the amount of electricity used.

Fluorescent lights, compact fluorescents (CFLs), and now LED lights, use considerably less energy and last longer than tungsteen-wired traditional lightbulbs. According to the above-mentioned survey, over 50% of all homes in Australia have turned to using fluorescent lighting. This means that Australians are open to new ways to save on their energy bills.

Most of the surveyed households agreed that they try to reduce more on lighting than with other electrical appliances, since they couldn’t as easily avoid turning on their heaters during cold winter days, or airconditioners during summer etc. Because of this they are always looking for other ways they can reduce their consumption.

LED’s Savings

LED or light–emitting diodes, are basically semiconductors that produce visible light when an electrical charge is passed through them. Used often for indicator lamps for electronic devices, replacing small conventional bulbs in the 60’s, LED applications continue to increase. It seems like only yesterday when LED were introduced as a component of the common television remote control. Since then LED usage has rapidly expanded across all forms of electronics which emit a low intensity visible-light wave. These days they are even used for car brake and tail lights and at traffic stop lights.

As LED semiconductor technology continues to improve, cost have begun to decline. LED lights and panels now come in smaller dimensions but thousand times more output power than when they first entered the market.

These days we have access to a wide variety of LED lighting options. The website of Top Frog Energy, an Australian LED retailer, gives a good example of the many indoor and outdoor LED lighting options available.  As LEDs become more popular and factories are increasing their production capacity and reducing or even stopping completely their production of conventional bulbs. Because of this, end customers like us get to have more choices about the technology that offers some of the following benefits:

  • Lower operating temperatures to reduce fire hazards
  • Longer lifespan (up to 50,000 operating hours) which makes them more cost effective
  • Mercury-free (unlike CFLs) which more they are more environmental-friendly and safer for your health
  • No ultra violet ligth and and no flicker which is better for our eyes
  • Bright and clean light which increase visibility

Because of all these benefits many adapters of new technologies are switching from conventional light bulbs and CFLs to using LEDs in there home. The benefits of making the change don’t stop here however. Because of the almost unlimited potential of LED lighting, many companies are still working on newer and even better technologies that use LEDs.

One small company based in Brisbane, LED Arts have developed a series of LED downlights that have replaceable chip technology. This development is being hailed as the next big improvement in LEDs, because when the diodes eventually wear out (if they don’t outlast you) you can keep the entire unit and just replace the chip containing the diode. This saves money because you don’t need to buy a whole new unit, and it’s also a great way to cut down on waste as well. Currently all lightbulbs are disposed of in entirety any time the lighting component of it wears out.

Hopefully this LED downlight technology will be adapted to work across other forms of lighting once it has proven to be a success in the marketplace. Many other companies are also working on various new technological advancements for future LED designs. All of which points to a very bright future for LEDs. So next time you’re out looking for a replacement lightbulb, consider getting an LED and next time you’ll have more money in your wallet and you probably won’t even need to make that trip.