1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

November 28, 2008

:333 Porous Counter Tops

Take the 1:5:10:365 challenge: Do one thing – for 5 to 10 minutes – 365 days a year to make our home and planet environment better.

1:5:10:333 EcoTip: A recent University of Arizona, Tucson study has shown that porous counter tops can harbor harmful organisms such as E. coli. A non-porous material is safer because it is easier to clean and sanitize.

The study highlighted the fact that consumers need to consider wear-and-tear when selecting a countertop surface. After a few years, most porous surfaces, such as granite, laminate, marble, wood, concrete, tile, and limestone wear down; lose their protective coating, scratch, and warp –all decreasing the ability to be effectively cleaned and sanitized.

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 Additional Information:

According to the National Institute of Health:

Bacteria can spread from one food product to another throughout the kitchen and can get onto cutting boards, knives, sponges, and countertops. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood, and their juices away from all ready-to-eat foods.

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September 18, 2008

:262 Clean and Dry

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:262 EcoTip: Before reconstruction after flooding can begin – it is critical that the indoor environment be clean and dry. If its not clean there can be organic material that results in odor problems or bacteria. If its not dry mold can develop and materials may degrade. You can’t tell if many types of construction materials are dry by touch – it is important to confirm they are dry using a moisture meter.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :256, :257, :258, :259, :260, :261,

This is the seventh in a series of EcoTips about protecting oneself when remodeling and working around buildings when participating in disaster recovery such as occurred with hurricane Katrina and is going on now with Ike. This information is timely since 2008 is the most active hurricane season since 2005 and many buildings are being damaged.

The following is from my book Extreme Weather Hits Home. I am discussing the reconstruction process in Key West Florida after hurricane Wilma in 2005:

Storm surge-damaged gypsum board and insulation can’t be saved, so in most of the buildings I looked at they had been removed shortly after the water damage occurred to allow air drying of the remaining wood framing or concrete block that is commonly used for construction on the island. In those buildings where it had not been removed, the gypsum board was falling apart, full of mold growth, and smelling horribly from the bacteria and dead sea life that hadn’t yet been removed and disinfected.

In the cases where the residents quickly removed and discarded the water-damaged gypsum wallboard, they simply left the wet wood framing in the homes exposed to allow natural air circulation for drying. What I found surprising was that even after three months of air drying the wood framing materials and furring strips had a wood moisture content greater than 30 percent. It became apparent that mechanical drying using dehumidifiers and air circulation would be necessary to get these buildings dry enough for reconstruction. Experience has shown that if the wood surface is exposed to air circulation it is rare for mold to grow even if the center of the wood still has elevated levels of moisture. Fortunately, leaving the walls open and not rushing reconstruction avoids the problem of mold growing.

One of the big problems I observed while in Key West were homes where the gypsum wallboard and insulation had been removed and replaced with new materials while the wood still had these elevated levels of moisture. These homes began to grow mold on the paper of the brand-new gypsum wallboard materials.

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August 27, 2008

:240 EM Power

Filed under: :240 EM Power — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:16 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:240 EcoTip:Manure management is an important step in controlling flys. Adding bacteria to manure piles, composters and pet waste disposal systems (:239) helps it break down faster.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :239

EM-Power is a bacteria supplement that can be used to help break down manure. It is available from ARBICO-organics.

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July 29, 2008

:211 Muck-Vac

Filed under: :211 Muck-Vac — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:34 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:211 EcoTip: If there is too much sediment build-up and flushing doesn’t work, some plumbers have a system called the Muck-Vac which can be used to vacuum sludge from the tank. This helps remove the hiding places for the bacteria that can cause the rotten egg odor and helps eliminate the rumbling and popping noises.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :203, :208, :209, :210

The Muck-Vac was developed by Larry and Suzanne Weingarten, of Elemental Enterprises in Seaside, California. The inside of the water heater is accessed by unscrewing the sacrificial anode from the top of the tank. (tomorrow’s EcoTip is about this anode)

The Muck-Vac`s sucks out the sludge through a filter which traps the sediment. The water is then pumped back into the tank.

To learn almost everything there is to know about water heater’s I recommend Larry and Suzanne’s book “The Water Heater Workbook” published by Elemental Enterprises, PO Box 928, Monterey, CA, 93942, 408-394-7077

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July 28, 2008

:210 Water Heater Flushing

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:210 EcoTip: By flushing a few gallons from your water heater every 6 months you can help avoid the build-up of sediment that may lead to rumbling noises and bacteria. The regular screw type drain fixture on the side of most hot water heaters doesn’t let the sediment out easily. The valve should be replaced with a ball valve.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :203, :208, :209

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July 27, 2008

:209 Water Heater Sediment

Filed under: :209 Water Heater Sediment — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 7:28 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:209 EcoTip: Sediment build-up in the bottom of hot water heaters can provide a place for bacteria to grow. Some types of bacteria that grow in hot water heaters make them smell like rotten eggs.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :203, :208

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July 26, 2008

:208 Bacteria in Water Heater

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:208 EcoTip:If the rotten egg smell is coming from your hot water, it is likely your water heater is contaminated with bacteria that are producing the rotten egg – sulphur odor. This generally involves several considerations which with be covered in the 1:5:10:365 EcoTips for the next several days.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :203

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July 24, 2008

:206 Septic System Treatment

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:206 EcoTip: Septic tanks utilize bacteria to help digest the solid sewage so that it becomes liquified. The liquid waste then flow through the leech lines where additional bacterial action renders the wastes safe. The digestion process that takes place in septic systems and leech lines can be aided by adding bacteria that assist the process. 

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :203, :204, :205

If you have a septic tank or cesspool and want to start using bacteria based supplements, it is important not to begin adding them when the septic tank is full. The bacterial action helps break up the sewage, but this can cause a temporary expansion in the volume contained in the tank (kind of like yeast causing bread to rise). If you add the bacteria when the tank is full, the sewage may expand to the point where it will back-flow or pop the tank lid. If you have a septic tank make sure the level is less than half full when you first start using them. A good time to start is a week or so after you have had your tank pumped out. If you are having to pump your tank more frequently than once every five years, supplementing the digestion process may help.

Roebic has bacteria based septic treatments that are readily available. Their biological sewage treatment products are certified 100% biodegradable by Scientific Certification Systems, Inc. of Oakland, California. They have additional good information on drain and septic care at their website http://www.roebic.com/septicintro.htm.

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July 23, 2008

:205 Drain Cleaning Bacteria

Filed under: :205 Drain Cleaning Bacteria — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 7:20 am

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:205 EcoTip: Odor problems in drains may be because of the build-up of grime with bacteria. In order to reduce bacteria levels it is necessary to eliminate the organic material that has built up. This is the same debris that eventually leads to clogs. A bacterial enzyme drain and trap cleaner is preferable to the use of caustic chemicals.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :203, :204

Think of this a using “good” bacteria to fight “bad” bacteria. By treating your drains on a regular basis, the bacteria that cause odor problems and the grease and organic materials that cause clogs are broken down and flushed out of the pipes into the sewer system without the risks and harm from the chemical drain cleaners. Bacteria can also help keep septic tanks and lines clear so they don’t need to be pumped so often.

Roebic is one brand of bacteria based cleaners that is readily available. Their biological sewage treatment products are certified 100% biodegradable by Scientific Certification Systems, Inc. of Oakland, California. They have additional good information on drain and septic care at their website http://www.roebic.com/septicintro.htm.

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July 16, 2008

:198 Ozone Water Purification

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.

1:5:10:198 EcoTip: Ozone has some uses for killing bacteria as a part of water purification. This method has become popular for spas and swimming pools permitting a reduced amount of chlorine to be used. When used for drinking water purification, it should be combined with other types of filtration and purification to address contaminants that ozone doesn’t reduce.

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :190, :191, :192, :193, :194, :195, :196, :197

Ozone has been used for helping to achieve low bacteria levels in spas, hot tubs, wells, pools and water purification units. One way of generating ozone uses UV light which was discussed yesterday in :197.

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