Category Archives: Health

Yard Clutter and Mosquitoes

Yard clutter and debris—such as tires, scrap metal, buckets, cans, bricks, toys—often trap rain water and become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, which are famous for transmitting diseases from the simple summer cold to West Nile and worse. Piles of dead brush, rotting logs, dilapidated sheds, and unused hot tubs also become a breeding for mosquitoes and other pests.

A tire int he backyard full of mosquito larvae

Adult mosquitoes lay eggs in stagnant or slow moving water, or on moist soil or leaf litter in areas likely to collect water. By eliminating these water sources, you can keep new generations of mosquitoes from taking up residence in your yard.

Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. Usually, the eggs are deposited in clusters – called rafts – on the surface of stagnant water, or they are laid in areas that flood regularly. Eggs can hatch in as little as an inch of standing water. Females will lay eggs up to three times before they die.

Mosquitoes spend their first 10 days in water. Water is necessary for the eggs to hatch into larvae, called wigglers. Wigglers feed on organic matter in stagnant water and breathe oxygen from the surface. They develop into pupae, which do not feed and are partially encased in cocoons. Over several days, the pupae change into adult mosquitoes.

In addition to decluttering your yard, also consider these tips:

1. Drill holes in the bottom of any garbage or recycling containers stored outdoors.

2. Keep gutters clean and unclogged.

3. Keep swimming pools cleaned and chlorinated, even when not in use.

4. Walk your property after a rain, and look for areas in the landscape that are not draining well. If you find puddles that remain for four or more days, regrade the area.

5. Aerate ornamental ponds to keep water moving and discourage mosquitoes from laying eggs. Stock the pond with mosquito-eating fish.

6. Empty water containers twice per week. Birdbaths, pet water bowls, flowerpot saucers, wading pools, foot baths, garbage can lids, and pottery attract mosquitoes.

Junk King can help you declutter your yard for the sake of your health as well as your enjoyment.

Resolution for 2015 — The Declutter Diet

One of the most beneficial resolutions for 2015 is the Declutter Diet. The benefits are huge. Surveys consistently show that people get a sense of well-being—even pleasure—from clearing out closets and organizing. It’s easy, too.

All that unnecessary stuff wastes your time, space and causes stress. Getting rid of clutter is good for you and your relationships. TV shows like Oprah! feature gurus on decluttering. The techniques are easy and worth the effort.

Good Housekeeping has a great article “Control Your clutter in six Weeks” with practical advice for decluttering and organizing your home.

clutter-diet-cover-photo-s3-medium_new

So, don’t put delay.  Make that resolution!  Declutter your Kingdom! All that unnecessary stuff wastes your time, space and causes stress. Yes! Getting rid of clutter is good for you and your relationships. TV shows like Oprah! feature gurus on decluttering. The techniques are easy and worth the effort.

Let Good Housekeeping and Junk King help.  Good Housekeeping will take you room by room. Then call Junk King to haul away the clutter. We recycle, donate, or re-purpose 100% of everything we take, so you don’t need to worry that you are adding clutter to the environment as yu declutter your home. You make your Kingdom nicer and you help make everybody else’s Kingdom a little nicer, too.

Removing yard debris saves money and improves safety

Yard Debris: Old firewood.

Here’s the scenario. Five years ago, you had to take down a large tree in your yard. The tree company charges about $500 extra to haul away the wood. You have a fireplace, so you figure you’ll burn the wood: save $500 on the hauling and save $300 per cord for firewood. Brilliant!

But you’ve got more wood than you can burn in a couple of seasons and the wood pile starts growing mushrooms. It starts rotting, and it’s not good for firewood anymore. In fact, your old wood is now a thriving eco-system for insects such as ants, termites, wasps, and ticks brought in by small mammals. We’ve uncovered a copperhead snake in one pile.

You need to get that old, rotting debris out of your yard. Yes, it’s heavy. Yes, it’s nasty. But delaying the removal has a cost, too.

Here is a picture of some wood we recently removed. The log crumbled as we picked it up Note the termites. Also, see the shed about five feet away from the old wood pile. Note the termite damage.

PicMonkey Collage

The average cost of termite damage repair in Northern Virginia is $318 per structure

http://www.homewyse.com/services/cost_to_repair_termite_damage.html

Junk King will cheerfully remove the old rotten wood and yard debris. We do all the work, so you don’t need to get too familiar with the wildlife in the wood pile. You’ll have a safer, cleaner yard for you, the kids, and the pets.

Costs of Storage vs Decluttering

You have extra stuff in the house: files, books, clothing, old furniture, the kids’ old toys . . . Do you store it for later? There is a cost of storing stuff.

Storage_Basement_JK

1. Renting Space is Expensive
About 9% of Americans rent storage units. In the DC area, renters typically pay $75 per month or $900 per year for a 5X5X8 unit that can hold about 16 cubic yards.

Storing items needs to be a temporary solution and you need to have an exit strategy. If not, you are most likely wasting money.

2. Filling your Garage or Basement is Expensive
When you fill your garage or other living space with stuff, you are using an expensive asset. Depending on your neighborhood, your existing space is worth $80 to $150 per square foot. Additions can cost $125 to $250 per square foot.

This month, we decluttered a finished basement in a nice neighborhood in Fairfax. We effectively reclaimed 600 square feet of space for the owner. That space was worth at least $72,000. (If you live in Arlington, you can double that figure.) Consider the costs of owning that asset. The principle, interest, taxes, and insurance on a $72,000 real estate asset would run at least $330 per month – almost $4,000 per year.

Clutter in the home also adds to the costs of maintenance because clutter collects damaging moisture and attracts pests.

3. Decluttering is the least expensive alternative.

As a rule-of-thumb, the cost of disposing of unwanted items is equal to about 6 months rent to store them as a self-storage unit.  You need to ask yourself, “Is this stuff is really worth the cost of storage?  And how long?” Should I just rent a dumpster and be done with it all?

As a rule-of-thumb, the cost of disposing unwanted items is equal to about 2 months of the value of the asset used to store the items.  A storage facility actually makes better economic sense than using your expensive real estate as a storage unit.

Decluttering is the most economical way to acquire more living space. The 600 square feet we cleared involved 60 cubic yards of unwanted debris. The total cost (labor, trucks, and disposal) was about $1,500 the cost to build 600 square feet of finished basement would run around $72,000 or $330 per month for 30 years.

If you are having a hard time deciding what stuff is really unnecessary, a professional organizer can help. We can refer excellent organizers.

When you are ready to reclaim your space, call Junk King Fairfax (703) 455-3861. We will work with you to get the best outcome.

Salted Roads Not as Safe as you Think

How safe are the roads treated with salt? Not as safe as you might think. Do not assume that a salted road is safe for driving. It depends on the amount of salt applied and the temperature.  We expect up to 10 inches of snow over 12 hours and temperatures down to 4F.  We can expect the application of the salt to be heavy is some places and light in others. Ice forms when the­ temperature of water reaches 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When you add salt, the freezing temperature drops: A 10% salt solution freezes at 20F. A 20% solution freezes at 2F. Typically, a salted road solution rarely exceeds 10% to 20%. Theoretically, the County could dump about 300mgs per 1kg of water to achieve a 30% solution, but that’s a lot of salt to wash into our streams and ponds.  An acre of road surface expecting 10 inches of snow would need about 10 tons of salt to achieve a 10% solution.  Don’t count on your roads having a higher than 10% salt solution. Therefore, you need to consider that patches of salted roads will freeze at temperatures below 20F (most of the next two days) and most of the roads will be problematic when the night temperatures fall to 4F. Be careful out there!  We at Junk King wish you a safe and warm 2014. saltRoads2

Scale for Measuring Clutter and Hoarding

Maria Spetalnik, member of the Fairfax County Inter-Agency Hoarding Committee, shared a metric to help one distinguish between clutter and hoarding. If you have a loved one or neighbor who might have a problem with clutter, do not jump to the conclusion that the person is a hoarder. Click here to get The Clutter Hoarding Scale to help your assessment.

She points out that hoarding encompasses all socio-economic groups. The causes can vary from head trauma to a psychological disorder.  The case can be chronic or a one-time episode.

In many cases, friends and family can effectively help, but even those with the best of intentions need to know the severity of the problem and their own limits for helping. The Clutter Hoarding Scale is a great place to start. If you and your family can manage the situation, you can call Junk King to provide the labor and trucks. We remove and recycle or repurpose everything we haul.

If you think you might have a tougher organizing or hoarder problem, contact Maria at Conquer the Clutter.

What is the biggest mistake you can make when dealing with a hoarder?

Maria Spetalnik of Conquer the Clutter answered this question for me. Her answer surprised me even though as owner of Junk King, I thought I had a fair understanding of hoarding. Yet I know Maria is an expert on the subject with 20-years of hard-earned experience. So, I trust her answer, and so should you.

She told me, “The worst thing you can do to a hoarder is a forced clean out.

Maria explained the typical scenario. The concerned adult children decide to help their aging mother who has a moderate hoarding or clutter problem. One of the siblings takes Mom on a weekend trip, and while she is safely away, the other siblings secretly clean out the house. They pay haulers to remove the trash and ruined furniture. They pay to clean the house top to bottom, pay to shampoo carpets—even paint. It is a Herculean effort motivated by filial love for Mom. At the end of Mom’s weekend trip, the siblings welcome Mom back to clean, orderly home expecting Mom to get emotional—overcome with gratitude.

As Maria explained, the returning hoarder gets emotional for sure, but it’s not gratitude. From the hoarder mom’s point of view, her children lied to her, violated her home, and stole her possessions—some of which may have great sentimental value. And to make matters worse, within three months the typical hoarder, after a forced clean out, will re-clutter the space.

Such good intentions can have such a horrible outcome! Mom is in a worse position than before the forced clean out. The clutter is back, and Mom no longer trusts her own children.

If you think you have a loved one who has a clutter problem, call a professional like Maria and take advantage of her 20 years’ experience. The small investment in your time may save life-long relationships and ensure that your loved one gets the lasting results he or she needs.

Next month, we’ll look at a metric to help us understand the severity of a hoarder situation.

Keeping E-waste out of landfills

Junk King Fairfax is 100% landfill free, which means we recycle 100% of the e-waste we haul.

According to DoSomething.org, an incredible 80 to 85 percent of tech junk, or e-waste, ends up in landfills or incinerators, and can release toxic gases into the air.  Again,  Junk King keeps 100% of the e-waste we collect out of the landfills.

1. 80 to 85 percent of electronic products were discarded in landfills or incinerators, which can release certain toxics into the air.
2. E-waste represents 2 percent of America’s trash in landfills, but it equals 70 percent of overall toxic waste. The extreme amount of lead in electronics alone causes damage in the central and peripheral nervous systems, the blood and the kidneys.
3. 20 to 50 million metric tons of e-waste are disposed worldwide every year.
4. Cell phones and other electronic items contain high amounts of precious metals like gold or silver. Americans dump phones containing over $60 million in gold/silver every year.
5. Only 12.5 percent of e-waste is currently recycled.
6. For every 1 million cell phones that are recycled, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold, and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
7. Recycling 1 million laptops saves the energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 U.S. homes in a year.
8. E-waste is still the fastest growing municipal waste stream in America, according to the EPA.
9. A large number of what is labeled as “e-waste” is actually not waste at all, but rather whole electronic equipment or parts that are readily marketable for reuse or can be recycled for materials recovery.
10. It takes 539 pounds of fossil fuel, 48 pounds of chemicals, and 1.5 tons of water to manufacture one computer and monitor
11. Electronic items that are considered to be hazardous include, but are not limited to:
• Televisions and computer monitors that contain cathode ray tubes
• LCD desktop monitors
• Laptop computers with LCD displays
• LCD televisions
• Plasma televisions
• Portable DVD players with LCD screens.

Imagine how much better we’d all be if all haulers met Junk King’s standard of 100% landfree.

Thanks to Terry Whearley, CMIT Solutions of Fairfax; www.cmitsolutions.com
for sending us this link to DoSomrthing.org

Bank of America shares how clearing clutter can help your finances

A Bank of America article offers practical tips how de-cluttering your home can make it more inviting, reduce your stress and help you avoid health problems aggravated by mold or dirt. Also, de-cluttering your home can save you money!
1.  Catch problems early. Do you remember the last time you saw the back of your closet? If not, your stuff may be blocking you from signs of damage. You may avoid major repair or extermination bills down the road.
2. Make better use of freed-up space. Do you have a spare room or basement that’s full of junk? If you clear it out, you’ll have more space for your family, and possibly avoid renting a storage locker. You may even be able to turn that extra space into income by taking on a tenant.
3.  Entertain at home. Do you ever go out for dinner or coffee with friends to avoid inviting them into your untidy home? If so, your clutter is ramping up your entertainment expenses. By making your home more guest-friendly, you’ll be a more comfortable host while saving money on restaurant bills.
4. Identify your big clutter problems. You may notice that just one or two types of items cause much of your clutter. Is it books and magazines? Clothes? Gadgets? Once you’ve fingered your clutter culprit, put it on a “do not buy” list. This way you’ll avoid cluttering your home again, and save money on future purchases.
Junk King can help you take advantage of this excellent advice from Bank of America. We can help yo clear the clutter. Then you can enjoy your clean home and improved finances.

Junk and Debris Removal – Help for Asthma Sufferers

You may be one of the 57 million Americans who suffer from severe allergies and asthma. Then beware the microscopic dust mite.

40,000 per dust particle!House dust mites are the most common trigger of asthma. In addition, they can cause mild skin and allergic reactions,  including eczema.
Dust mites live in house dust. The feces of the dust mite is the actual allergen that causes breathing problems. You get about 40,000 dust mites per speck of dust, and each of the buggers produce feces 20 times per day. That’s a lot of dust mite poo that you’re inhaling.
Here are three tips that can help you battle dust mites:

1. Get rid of the junk and debris. All that extra stuff attracts dust, traps moisture, and become a breeding ground for dust mites. Junk King can help you with this important first step.

2. Vacuum rugs and carpets regularly.  Occasionally, steam clean carpets and other furniture with heavy fabrics such as couches.

3. Keep the air dry with air-conditioning or a dehumidifier. Dust mites like humidity.

4. Use a HEPA filter to 3 microns. Or you may prefer a negative ion and ozone generator. If your house doesn’t have an air filter, then your lungs are the air filter.