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Home Repair and Maintenance


The Better Mousetrap by Intruder Inc


SUMMARY: Much better than traditional mouse traps! They cost more but are worth it!

Our house is in a rural area and is surrounded by woods. So in the fall we start seeing signs that mice are finding their way into our house. When we fist moved in, I tried traditional mouse traps. But more often than not, I would find a sprung but empty trap, or I would find the trap still set, but with the bait stolen. I find peanut butter works well as a bait, so imagine that the mouse was free to eat the peanut butter off of the trap trigger without even triggering the trap! I started searching for something that would work better. I didn’t want to use poisons in most areas as we have a dog and I was concerned she might get into it. I found some live traps, but I didn’t want to keep the mouse alive. What the heck would I do with it? Throw it outside so it could find it’s way back in. I didn’t want to particularly drive miles away to just let it go. I came across The Better Mousetrap. I bought a couple of The Better Mousetraps at the local hardware store and tried them out. I have only rarely found the trap sprung without something in it. I have never found the traps with the bait stolen. On a few occasions I have found that the trap has caught the mouse only by the leg, and the mouse is still alive. In these cases I simply dropped the trap and mouse into a bucket of water, and the plastic trap acted like cement shoes. The traps cost a little more than traditional traps but since they actually catch mice where the traditional traps don’t, they are worth it. If you have mice in your house, these will catch em!
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Having bought a new wood stove with plans of heating our house with it, I will need lots of wood. Our property is 1.6 acres covered with trees. But our house is uphill from most of the trees. I don’t want to be just cutting down trees for the wood. We like our trees, and that is why we bought the property. But I am more than willing to cut down dead trees, or use fallen trees for firewood. The problem is getting the wood back up the hill which is kind of steep in most parts.
So far I have cut up the trees down the hill, and carried armloads of wood while climbing up the hill dumping them into a wheelbarrow, and when the wheel barrow was full, wheeled that around to where I stack the wood. All in all it is a lot of work compared to the resulting wood pile.
There has got to be an easier way to get the wood up the hill. I have considered some sort of winch that I could drag a whole log up the hill, and then cut into firewood at the top. Another thought is buying an ATV and drag the logs around the hill, and then up. But the cost of the ATV would be pricey, adn I would need a significant amount of would to offset the price, and the work involved. A buddy suggested something like an escalator type thing like they use to bring hay up into a barn.
Another source of free wood is the wood people cut up and leave on the side of the road. Having only Honda Civics, we couldn’t bring much of the wood home like this. And it would be hard on the cars. I considered buying a truck, but decided that the cost would probably not be merited. I can get cut, chopped, seasoned for $200 a cord. If I use 4 cords a year it would be $800. If I bought a used truck, there would be the cost of the truck, the maintenance, insurance, licensing, etc. And I would still have to do a lot of work. And I would still be depending on actually finding enough fee roadside wood to make it worthwhile. Plus with rising gas costs, how much could the truck carry, and how far before the cost made it now worthwhile?
Thus far, the best idea is the winch. I have glanced at winches, and they are not cheap. I would probably need to pay at least $100. Then what do I hook it to? I am not hooking it to the front of my Honda Civic. I suppose I could rig up soming to connect it to the trunh of a solid tree. Then I would have to have a winch with a long cable so that I could pull a log about 100 feet or so. It would need to be somewhat strong. Not sure how strong. A full cord weighs about 6000 pounds. I dought I would be dragging up anything so big in a single shot. But maybe a log big enough to make a face cord, or half that much, so 1000-2000 pounds. Then how is the winch to be powered? 12 volt dc? 115v ac with a long extention cord? I will have to do more research.
Maybe if I had an ATV at the top of the hill with a rope going down the hill to the log, I could drag the log up?
If anyone has a good idea how to do this, I would love to hear any comments!

Here is a side view picture of my property. My house is in the upper right corner.
House On Hill

SUMMARY: They were friendly and honest, did a great job, and charged a fair price. I was very happy with their service!

The guys came out and looked at my chimneys. They looked at the first one which is set up as a fireplace, and said it really didn’t need to be cleaned. The other chimney had a wood stove. With some work, they managed to pull out the old Gibraltar wood stove. Man that thing is heavy! They actually had to dismantle part of the stove’s surround to get it off, so they could get back in there. They scrubbed and inspected, and the one guy actually was sitting in the fireplace scrubbing inside the chimney with a hand brush. The guy actually seemed happy doing such a dirty job. My hats to him. I had them leave the old wood stove out as I am getting it replaced in a week and half, and am not going to be using the old stove at all. They charged me about half the fee that they charge for moving a wood stove because they did not need to push it back into place. It was really great dealing with this company, and I plan on calling them next time I need my chimney cleaned!

According to what I’ve read, a ton of wood pellets is equivalent to a ton and a half of hardwood logs. A hardwood pulpwood cord generally weighs between 5,400 pounds and 6,075 pounds (or about 3 tons). So that means a ton of pellets is equal to about half a cord of hardwood. A ton of pellets costs about $235. Half a cord of seasoned hardwood costs about $100. So $235 worth of pellets is equal to $100 worth of wood.

According to :
It takes 0.065 cords to generate a million BTU. It takes 0.075 tons of premium wood pellets to generate a million btu. The prices in the PDF are old, so with updated prices ($200 for a cord of season hardwood, and $235 for a ton of pellets), cordwood costs $13 for a million BTUs (0.065x$200), and wood pellets cost $17.63 for a million BTUs (0.075x$235). And that cost for the cordwood is delivered, where the cost of the pellets does not include delivery. Wood is still cheaper.

And here is another Fuel Cost Calculator:
It calculates for hardwood $11.43 per Million BTU of Heat delivered to home. And for pellets $20.81 per Million BTU of Heat delivered to home. (based on $200 for a cord of season hardwood, and $235 for a ton of pellets).

And from what I have heard, some places are having shortages of pellets because of the demand. And the price of the pellets is expected to increase due to demand. I was told that in some places pellets are currently going for over $300 for a ton.

Uniden 2.4GHz Cordless Phone (EXP4241)

Uniden 2.4GHz Cordless Phone (EXP4241)


SUMMARY: Inexpensive phone. Generally works well, but occasionally gets short bursts of interferance.

I have multiple cordless phones spread throughout the house. I had a VTech cordless phone in my living room, unfortunatly the volume of the phone was very quiet. When I turned it up, it would get louder, but then I would have a background hiss. So I decided to replace it. The best phone in the house is an older Uniden, so I decided to get another Uniden phone.
Not wanting to spend alot of money if I didn’t need I started at the low end of the price scale. The Uniden EXP 4241 only cost $15 (actually $14.99). Always following the directions, I let it charge for 24 hours before using it. The sound quality is pretty good, way better than the VTech. We have been using the Uniden for a while now, and it works well most of the time, but occasionally we will get short bursts (lasting about one second) of noise coming through. They don’t happen very often. I am not sure what causes them, so they might something unique to our house or area. We have a lot of electronics, computers, electric heaters, etc, so it could any one of those things causing it. I have also noticed that there is a slight background noise when we are running the microwave oven as well, but I have heard this is common with the 2.4Ghz phones. Overall I think this is a good phone for the price. I have paid more for worse phones. The EXP 4241 is black, but there is also an Uniden EXP4240 which is the same phone except that it is white.
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