1:5:10:365 EcoTip Blog

November 4, 2008

:309 Radon Gas Mat

Filed under: :309 Radon Gas Mat — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:19 am

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.

1:5:10:309 EcoTip: A radon gas mat system is sometimes installed under a concrete slab before it is poured to help control radon gas. If you have a crawlspace the same gas mat system can be installed on top of the crawlspace soil with the gas mat underneath a polyethylene moisture barrier to keep the radon exiting the crawlspace and entering the home. Other types of gases such as water vapor and pesticide treatments also seem to be controlled well by the gas mat systems.

Source: http://www.radonpds.com 

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review: :050, :128, :129, :130

Instructions and materials for the installation of a radon gas mat system under a slab foundation are available at: http://www.radonpds.com/Instructions_SM/Instructions_SM.htm. Using it in a crawlspace under a soil mat follows the same basic steps except the soil mat substitutes for the concrete.

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October 12, 2008

:286 Beneficial Nematodes

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

1:5:10:286 EcoTip: Beneficial nematodes are microscopic roundworms that are used as an organic grub control for soil in lawns and gardens. The nematode enters the grub’s body releasing a bacteria that attacks and kills the grub. The nematodes then use their host to feed and breed. The fall is a great time to use beneficial nematodes while grubs are active and preparing for winter. Two applications 7 spaced days apart is best for breaking the cycle.

Credit: ARBICO-Organics

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 Additional Information:

Suggested Review:

It is important to use the right nematode for the job. Some nematodes work best for mobile pests (see :241 about flea control) For soil grubs, beetles, weevils and borers you want to use a stationary nematode like Heterohabditis bacteriophora. They are available from ARBICO Organics.

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August 25, 2008

:238 Soil Pesticide Residues

Welcome to today’s 1:5:10:365 Tip for becoming a better steward for our home and planet environment.
1:5:10:226 EcoTip: There are a number of chlorinated hydrocarbons such as DDT, and chlordane that have been outlawed, but still have residues present in soil which can find its way into buildings.
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Before purchasing land previously used for agriculture – it makes sense to have it tested. Organic labeled produce only requires no pesticide use for a period of 3 to 5 years, but some of these chemical pesticides have a half-life of 50 to 100 years. This means they will still be detectable for generations. 
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 Additional Information:
According to a May 2001 article by the National Association of Home Builders in Builder Magazine titled “Sins of the Farmer “:

50 to 70% of land developed for homes between 1992 and 1997 was former farm land. DDT, arsnic and other pesticides may have been used.

The New Jersey Deptartment of Environmental Protection found 5% of the New Jersey land mass is contaminated with pesticides from farm use.

You can arrange for telephone consultantion and on-site inspection and testing of soil and structures through my office at RestCon Environmental  – (888)-617-3266.
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May 12, 2008

:133 Moisture Granules

Filed under: :133 Moisture Granules — Tags: , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:31 am

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

1:5:10:133 EcoTip: Moisture Granules are a polymer soil additive that helps conserve water by helping to hold more moisture in the soil. It is important that they be mixed into the soil well since they don’t help at the surface. This also helps insure that chlorine in the water has a chance to disapate before reaching the grannules. Chlorinated water has been reported to reduce their effectiveness.

 http://www.soilmoist.com/products/landscapers.php

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 Additional Information

According to their Manufacturer: “Soil Moist polymer granular is a soil amendment designed to reduce plant waterings by 50%, reduce transplant shock and soil compaction, and will remain effective in the soil for 3-5 years. It is an inexpensive form of insurance for the plant and is environmentally friendly. Soil Moist saves time, labor and plant loss.”

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March 21, 2008

:081 Compost Organic Waste

Filed under: :081 Compost Organic Waste — Tags: , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

pr_composting.jpg

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

1:5:10:081 Tip: Turning your yard wastes and food scraps into compost reduces landfill disposal and makes great fertilizer.

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Additional Information

There is a wide variety of information about composting available on the Internet.

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Compost. Composting creates an organic, slow-release fertilizer that improves soil fertility and physical condition. You can make compost by collecting crop residues, animal manure, unmarketable and unsold harvested produce, and organic waste found around the farm and home. Yard waste (fallen leaves, cut grass or pruned twigs and branches) or some food wastes (egg shells, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable peelings) are also good ingredients. Layer all these materials in a pile, add water, and turn once or twice a week. After a storm or hurricane, even more yard waste is available to be composted. Source: University of Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service

If you want a lot more details – check out http://www.compostguide.com/

A number of composters are evaluated and available at http://www.peoplepoweredmachines.com/composter_landing.html

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March 18, 2008

:078 Expansive Soil & Trees

134-expansive-soil-tree-tif1.jpg

source: Extreme Weather Hits Home

Suggested Review – :075, :076, :077

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

1:5:10:078 Tip: When a large tree is stressed by drought it can remove 100 gallons of water from the soil each day. This can be especially damaging to buildings if the tree roots extend under the building and the soil is expansive clay.

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Additional Information

Trees should not be planted close enough to buildings for the roots to extend under the foundation. This generally means you need to plant the tree as far from the building as its expected mature height. If you have an existing tree that is too close, an experienced arborist can cap offending roots and help save both the building and the tree.

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March 17, 2008

:077 Re-hydrating Soil

131-photo-expansive-clay-soil-usda.jpg

source: USGS reprinted from Extreme Weather Hits Home

Suggested Review – Also see 1:5:10:365 Ecotips :075, :076, :078 for more information on expansive clay soils.

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

1:5:10:077 Tip: When expansive clay soils shrink from drying out they cause damage by no longer supporting the buildings foundation. Re-hydrating soil that is expansive must be done properly to prevent additional permanent damage. It is always best to consult with an expert since the way the soil is re-hydrated can be very important. For example watering expansive soil cracks directly can wash soil into the crack and prevent it from closing completely making the damage permanent.

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Additional Information

135a-wrong-soil-watering-jpg.jpg

 wrong watering source: Extreme Weather Hits Home

135b-right-soil-watering-jpg.jpg

correct watering source: Extreme Weather Hits Home

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Climate change isn”t only about warming. In my book- Extreme Weather Hits Home: Protecting Your Building From Climate Change, I discuss how to prepare your home for many other extreme weather conditions including expansive clay soils.

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March 16, 2008

:076 Expansive Soils

expansive-clay-soils-usgs.jpg  Credit: USGS

Suggested Review: See 1:5:10:365 EcoTips :075, 077, :078 for more information about expansive clay soils

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

1:5:10:076 Tip: Over half of the United States has areas with buildings constructed over varying amounts of expansive clay soils. These soils shrink and expand based on their moisture content. Early identification of the problem can help provide less expensive solutions. Expansive clay soils cause more damage each year than earthquakes and is typically not covered by insurance. 

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Additional Information

In my book Extreme Weather Hits Home, Protecting Your Buildings From Climate Change I discuss how warmer soil temperatures are resulting in less soil moisture and greater damage from expansive clay soils.

For maps of expansive clay soil regions in the United States, and more information about this problem, go to my book blog at http://jbanta.wordpress.com and click on your state.

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March 15, 2008

:075 Photograph Cracks

132-expansive-soil-damage-greer-photo00731.jpg

Suggested Review – none

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

1:5:10:075 Tip: Keep a digital photo of any structural or foundation cracks. This will allow you to compare the crack with the photo later to determine if and how much the building is shifting. The photo above shows damage caused by expansive clay soil.

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Additional Information

Suggested Review: See 1:5:10:365 EcoTips :076, 077, :078 for more information about expansive clay soils

The sooner shifts in a building are noted the less expensive their causes are to diagnose and repair. Take a far shot to indicate the cracks position and a second close-up with a ruler next to the crack to provide some perspective for the shot.

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March 13, 2008

:073 Lead in Soil

Filed under: :073 Lead in Soil — Tags: , , , , , , — John Banta @ 12:01 am

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Credit: NORTH CAROLINA COOPERATIVE EXTENSION SERVICE 

Suggested Review – none

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

1:5:10:073 Tip: Gardening in soil near buildings with lead based paint can result in the heavy metal being concentrated in the plant. Soil should be checked before planting edible plants near buildings with possible lead paint.

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Additional Information

The University of Minnesota has information about recognizing and dealing with lead in soil at: http://134.84.92.126/distribution/horticulture/DG2543.html

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