What’s New: The Flexzilla Garden Hose Puts an End to Kinks, Frustration

flexzilla_resizedIf you are tired of going through inexpensive garden hoses that leak or kink after a couple of seasons, then you should consider the Flexzilla garden hose.  This hose is new to our store for 2015, but it has been out on the market for an number of years and has been getting rave reviews!  It has much of the same look and appearance that you would expect with a garden hose, but a few features make this hose stand-out above the rest…

1) Hybrid polymer walls will not kink under pressure – The unique wall design is made from materials that have no memory.  Therefore, the hose will uncoil with you as you tug and pull it throughout your garden.  It will coil back up just as easy!  Besides the material, the Flexzilla has a kink-resistant fiber that runs through the length of the hose that prevents the it from kinking when under pressure.

2) Lightweight design – 100 feet only weighs about 15 pounds, which is about 25% lighter than rubber garden hoses.

3) Aircraft aluminum threaded ends – Aluminum reduces the overall weight of this garden hose while also providing incredible toughness.  The aluminum ends are stronger than typical brass fittings and help prevent them from being stripped, worn down, or damaged.

4) Swivelgrip connectors – New for 2015 is the Swivelgrip model, which is the one that we are stocking.  It offers all of the same features as the original Flexzilla garden hose, but it also incorporates ends that are easy to grip and easy to twist with your hands to attach and disconnect from the spigot, hose nozzles, or sprinklers.  This is a truly unique feature that we have not seen on any other garden hose before!  The demonstration video below shows the Swivelgrips in action!

5) Drinking water safe – the polymer walls and aluminum ends are all made to be drinking water safe, which makes this hose great for marine use, kids play pools, and much more!

 

What’s New: DeWit Garden Tools – A Better Hand Tool

We are excited to start offering some DeWit hand tools in our store.  The DeWit lineup of Dutch made hand tools are the finest money can buy.  Whether you are an avid gardener or just someone that likes quality tools, you will not be disappointed with the design and craftsmanship offered by DeWit.

The right tool can make all the difference:  DeWit tools are built for the long haul and are backed by a lifetime guarantee.  Their blades are made from high-quality Swedish boron steel (the same steel that is used on a popular brand of bulldozer blades) and forged for long-lasting strength and durability!  The handles are made from certified ash hardwood and ergonomically shaped for ease-of-use.

There are hundreds of tools in the DeWit portfolio, but we have started with 5 of their most popular hand tools:  Forged hand trowel, potting trowel, patio knife, cape cod weeder, and dutch hand hoe.  Not only are they built to last, but the DeWit designs and specialty tools make certain jobs a lot easier.  This is especially so with the DeWit patio knife.  I love this tool!  It makes cleaning out the weeds between concrete pavers a breeze; it’s thin, yet sturdy blade, knifes through the weeds and cut them deep down so that they will be less likely to come back!  Their cape cod weeder is also a unique one; it is flared at the end and scoops under mulch to cut weeds at their roots.  This unique design allows mulch to remain largely undisturbed which can not be said with all weeders.

There is just something different about DeWit tools and you can feel the quality from the first time you pick one up!  They are built from the “best materials so you can have a tool that gets the job done, gets it done right, and continues to work for you year after year.”

 

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Now’s the time to: Sharpen Garden Tools for the Spring

sharpening garden tools resizedSpring is suddenly upon us and the weather is cooperating (at least for now).  Our yards and flower beds may still be dormant, but the spring growing season is not far off!  Soon we will need to go grab those trusty ‘ole tools and get back to digging, pruning, and cutting all throughout our yards.  Now is a great time to think about which tools are in need of some ‘tlc’.  Bring your worn and dull garden tools to us for a hardware make-over (better known as a sharpened blade).

Did you know that we can sharpen many of your garden tools for less than $10 each.  Stop by our Plumbing Department and drop off any dull tools that you would like to be refreshed.  We will grind the blades down and put a nice new edge on their for you!  We just ask that you leave the tool for a few days and we will give you a call when completed.  We are able to sharpen most blades, including lawn mower blades, hand pruners, loppers, grass clippers, hedge shears, axes, hatchets, knives, and scissors.  Any edge that is wavy or irregular typically can not be sharpened, but those are few and far between.  Stop by or give us a call if you have any questions!

What’s Trending? Deep Clean Your Carpets Without Water

host_carpet_cleaner_resizedMany of our customers are looking for a better way to keep their homes clean.  We have products all over our housewares department that are giving us alternatives to the traditional Lysol and Clorox and harsh chemicals that we have grown accustomed to.  Our busy lifestyles and the sloppy weather, make our carpets prone to stains and spills.  When it comes to deep cleaning carpets, most of us are familiar with the wet carpet cleaners such as Rug Doctor and Bissel’s Clean Machine, but what if we told you there was an alternative to the waterlogged carpets created by shampoo or steam cleaning methods?  The Host carpet cleaning system is the easier, less messy, completely water-free way to deep clean your carpets!

How does it work?  The process is quite simple.  First you will want to vacuum the carpets and/or area rugs that are to be cleaned.  Then apply the flaky HOST carpet cleaner dust to the carpets.  Agitate the carpet fibers in several different directions with the special HOST carpet cleaner brush unit (pictured above).  The rotating bristles on this unit scrub your carpets clean of dirt, dust, spills, stains, etc.  Once the carpets are clean and the stains are removed, come back with a vacuum and pick up the HOST carpet cleaner dust that has been spread throughout the carpet.  If some flakes are left behind, don’t worry; they are all natural and safe for kids and pets.

Why use HOST dry carpet cleaner? Besides for its effectiveness at all types of stains, people love the HOST system because it does not leave behind a wet carpet.  As a result, carpets do not run the risk of mold or mildew damage, and rooms are ready for immediate use after cleaning.  Plus, the HOST system leaves behind no sticky or soapy residue that may re-attract dust or dirt to the carpet fibers.  It’s safe and gentle cleaning bristles are delicate enough for all types of carpets, including shag, orientals, and low pile carpeting.  Because of the unique bristle motion, carpets are massaged and carpet fibers that have been matted down for years because of heavy furniture will be lifted.  Once you finish with the wall-to-wall clean of a Host carpet cleaner, your carpets will look like new!

If you are interested in renting a Host carpet cleaner, we rent the machines daily, so just stop on by when you are ready.  The Host cleaner flakes and spot cleaners are available in store as well.  May your carpets always be clean and dry!

Thanks for reading,

Derek Satterfield

 

Now’s the time to: Summer-ize Snowblowers

toro snowblowerNow that winter appears to be in our rear-view mirror, our garages will be under quite a bit of turn-around.  Out come the garden tools and the lawn mower, and into storage go the ice melter, shovels, and the snow blower.  In doing so, it is important to “summer-ize” your snow blower before pushing it to the corner of your garage in storage.  A few simple steps will ensure that your snow blower starts up on the first pull next winter!

1)  Drain gasoline inside the engine:  This is the most important step with snowblowers, especially so with the newer 4-cycle snow blowers, which do not use an oil/gas mix.  The easiest way to drain the engine (fuel tank and carburetor) of gasoline is to “run it dry”.  To do so, you will turn the snow blower on and let it run out of fuel.  This will dry up the the engine so that the old gas doesn’t deplete and absorb water (both of which make your engine hard, if not impossible, to start next year).  The other option is to drain the engine of fuel through the carburetor.  There will generally be instructions on how to perform this step in the owners manual.  4-cycle (no mix) gasoline that is used in your snow blowers can be poured in your car for use.  2-cycle (oil/gas mix) and 4-cycle gasoline can both be used in spring power equipment with like gas mixtures!

2)  Use up old gasoline:  This point is an extension of the first step.  Not only do you need to use up the gasoline inside the snow blower, you will also want to use up the gasoline in your gas can.  If 2-cycle, it is often best to run it through the snow blower.  If 4-cycle gasoline, then it is often best to pour it in your car.  The general rule of thumb is to never use gasoline that is more than one month old in your small engines.

3)  Replace spark plugs and check for worn parts:  The spark plug is generally easy to replace and can be done with a deep socket wrench.  If you do not own one, you can purchase an inexpensive one for a few dollars in our automotive department.  It is recommended to replace spark plugs once a year.  Also, you will want to check the scraper and paddles, which become worn and may start to limit the effectiveness of your snowblower’s ability to lift and toss the snow.

If your snowblower is a Toro or Lawnboy brand, our service department will be happy to perform all of these steps for you!  Consider bringing your snowblower to us in the spring, so that it can be summer-ized and prepared for next winter season by one of our experienced mechanics!

Now’s the time to: Start Seeds Indoors For Your Garden

seed startingWinter is almost over and most of us can’t wait to get outside in our gardens.  The start of an abundant vegetable garden actually starts now!  Get a head-start on your garden by starting certain vegetable plants indoors, including tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, eggplant, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, cauliflower, and others.  By starting certain seeds indoors, you eliminate the risk of frost and ensure yourself a hardier plant that will produce more through the growing season!

The general rule of thumb is to start plants indoors 4-8 weeks prior to the last spring frost, which for the Pittsburgh area is around May 1st.  Individual crops will vary, but tomatoes and peppers are some of the most commonly planted vegetables and ones and should be started indoors about 8 weeks prior to the last frost!  Below, we have made some suggestions for improving your results with indoor seed starting.

Containers:  Almost any container that is 2-3 inches deep will work as a planter, provided that there are some holes at the bottom.  You can use plastic seed-starting trays that are divided up in small cells, or any other container with a similar shape.  Egg cartons are a great option if you are looking to reuse something around the house!  Some people even choose to place seeds in a tray and then once they sprout to transplant them quickly to a larger container, so that they can be started in a smaller space at first.  Regardless of the container, you will want to place them on a tray that will allow you to water them from the bottom up.  If seedlings have outgrown the container they are in, be sure to move them to a larger pot or planter so that their grown is not stunted.  Biodegradable peat pots are a popular item because they can be planted directly in the soil once ready to be transplanted outside.

Soil:  A fine, light and fluffy (or spongy) growing medium is most desirable.  If the soil is too heavy or thick, roots will not be able to push their way through (do not use a garden soil or top soil). Many companies package a seed-starting soil mix that is highly moisture retentive and includes some fertilizer to help them grow quicker.  Expandable peat pellets or coconut coir are also available at most garden centers and work very well too.  You can even make your own mix with equal parts vermiculite, perlite, and milled sphagnum peat moss.  If making your own mix, you will want to start feeding your seedlings a few weeks after they germinate with a liquid fertilizer, preferably an organic choice!

Sunlight:  Sunlight is crucial for seedlings to grow rapidly, since it promotes the photosynthesis process.  This can be obtained by natural sunlight through windows or preferably from light bulbs positioned directly above the growing medium.  Ideally, you will want to position the high intensity light about 3 inches from the seeds or seedlings and raise the light as they grow.  There are grow lights sold typically sold in 2 or 4 ft lengths, or you can make your own out of chain and shop lights of some sort.  Light is most critical once the seedlings have emerged.

Temperature:  The ideal soil temperature for seeds to germinate is about 78 degrees, although it can vary depending on the plant.  Because this is warmer than most of our homes at this time of the year, we recommend placing your seed trays on top of your refrigerator or a couple inches above a radiator.  Sunlight is not a necessity to promote germination, so you want to look for a warm pocket in your home and place your seeds there.  Once sprouts have reached about 1/2 inch, you will want to move your seeds to a cooler environment (between 60-70 degrees) where they will receive the most sunlight possible.

Water:  When seeds are germinating, you will want to create a humid environment by placing a clear plastic lid (often sold with seed-starting trays) or loose fitting plastic wrap or grocery bags over your growing medium.  Once seeds have emerged, remove the lid and water seedlings from the bottom only.  This technique will resist disease and not disturb seedlings when they are small and fragile.

Check Them Daily:  We recommend that you place your seed trays in an area that you will be able to conveniently check them each day.  You will want to make sure that lids don’t need removed, water replenished, or lights adjusted among other things.  If plants are put on a windowsill, you will want to rotate them every couple of days to make sure that they do not get pulled in one direct too much.  These are all things to pay attention to and are important for the most success this year!

Preparing Them For The Outdoors:  You will want to be sure that you “harden” your plants to the outdoors.  Instead of planting them quickly outside, you will want to acclimate your seedlings to the outdoors, by moving them outside during the daytime for a couple of hours each day over the course of 2 weeks.

If you are not sure which seeds need to be started indoors and what can be sowed directly in the garden, be sure to reference the backs of each seed package.  All of this helpful information is directly on the label so that you can time out everything on the calendar.  Also, seeds packets include many, many seeds.  Not all seeds will germinate and not all will be of the same strength, so you may want to “weed out” those that are not as strong and pay more attention to the stronger plants/seedlings because it is often not practical to have 10-20 plants of each variety in your garden.  Thanks for reading, and Happy Gardening!

 

What’s Trending? Clean Walls Make for a Perfect Paint Job

clean_walls_resizedHave you ever had newly painted walls that look bumpy or show signs of fuzz or lint under the paint?  Maybe even new paint that is peeling or not adhering well?  If you have experienced these symptoms, it is a good chance that your walls were not clean and dry before paint.  Whenever dust, debris, grease, oils etc are on your walls, you will likely notice these imperfections in the finish coat of paint as well.  Dust and debris can cause for bumps and ridges to show up.  Grease and oils (a common place in kitchens or around light switches) can cause paint to peel or fail to adhere.

By cleaning your walls first, you can be assured that the paint will go on smooth and look beautiful.  The importance of this step is magnified when you are talking about a kitchen that might collect grease and grim on the walls, or a bathroom that might have calcium deposits or lint clinging to the walls.  This debris may not seem bad at first sight, but when you paint over it (especially with certain colors), you will find that it will stand out even more.

How do you clean and dust your walls?  You may dust your walls with a vacuum cleaner or some other sort of lint catcher.  To attach grease and grim a simple detergent/water mix with a lint-free sponge can be used.  However, if you are looking for the easiest way to dust and clean your walls, we recommend a new product from the Chomp company appropriately called Clean Walls!  This product provides you with the reach and the soft touch, lint-free materials that will be non-damaging to your walls.  Clean Walls also makes a cleaner concentrate that is mild, yet effective against the grease and grime that may be present.

For more information on this product and the benefits of clean walls before your next paint project, feel free to stop in to our store and talk to our expert paint clerks any day of the week!

Below is an informative video from Lou Manfredini for Housesmarts where he shows the product in action…

What’s Trending? Miele Vacuum Filtration is Second to None

miele filtrationA growing concern with vacuums is improved filtration and you will not find a vacuum brand that is more dedicated to high quality filtration than Miele.  How does Miele reach the highest standards when it comes to filtration?  It is a 3 step filtration process, and we break it down in the following article.

Miele AirClean Dustbags:  It all starts with the dustbags.  That’s right!  Forget the bag-less vacuums that let dust and allergens back into the air when you go to empty them.  Miele’s AirClean vacuum bags are comprised of 9 layers of electrostatically charged material with an Auto-Seal, self-locking collar that keeps microscopic dust and allergens trapped inside for good.  No more messy bag removal!

Pre-Motor Filter:  The pre-motor filter is pretty simple, but it keeps dirt, sand, pebbles, and other debris that might have escaped the dustbags from damaging the motor.  As you can see from the picture above it is on the interior of the vacuum and it is the second step in the filtration process.  Air that moves through the dustbag will be pulled through the motor, so it is important to have a clean, working pre-motor filter.  A new one of these is included with each box of Miele bags.

Exhaust Air Filter:  This filter is the last step of the filtration process and helps capture unpleasant odors and harmful allergens before they are dispensed back into the air.  Some Miele vacuums come standard with the AirClean filter material, but if you want the best available, Miele’s HEPA air filters are for you!  These are a true HEPA filter!  Many companies claim to have HEPA filters in their vacuums, but without enough of the filter material present the results may not actually be HEPA certified.  Miele’s HEPA filters meet Europe’s stringent HEPA 13 standards, capturing over 99.95% of all particles, down to an amazing 0.1 microns.  This upgrade is great for households with kids or pets or individuals that suffer from allergies.

Don’t allow the fine dust, pollen, allergens and pet odors that are pulled out of your carpet re-escape into the air inside your home.  With a Miele vacuum and certified HEPA filtration you can rest assured that these micro particles and smells are being captured and will not be put back into the air you breathe.  Because of Miele’s 3-step filtration process, we guarantee that the air escaping your Miele vacuum is some of the cleanest air in your home!  Stop by or give us a call if you have any questions.  We are always here for you to answer any questions that you might have!

 

What’s New: Convenient Under-Cabinet Trash Disposal System

sunbeam trashracNew to our store is the Sunbeam TrashRac trash disposal system.  This system is unique because it hangs on the inside of your cabinet door and is just the right size for kitchens and bathrooms with limited space on the floor.  There are two sizes: 3 gallon and 5 gallon.  The 5 gallon capacity size is typically recommended for kitchens, whereas the 3 gallon size is more common for the bathroom.  Sunbeam’s TrashRac system is easy to mount; simply screw the framework to the inside of any wooden cabinet door and you are all set!  Bags then slip over the top of the frame and are held in place on the sides.  The lid closes to trap odors so that they don’t escape into the room.  It’s a convenient and functional alternative to trash cans that sit on the floor or take up large amounts of space inside your cabinets!

What we love about this trash system: (1) When the cabinet door is opened, the trash can swings out from underneath the countertop, making it easy to scrape dishes and drop trash right inside.  (2) The attached (flip-back) lid closes down on top of the wire framework to lock in bad odors from food scraps, meat juices, and other kitchen messes.  (3) The trash system makes it’s own refill bags, but plastic grocery bags fit beautifully on these wire frames, so you finally have a use for all of those plastic bags that we accumulate!    (4) The bottom tray supports the weight of the contents and acts as a drip tray for juices or liquids that might escape grocery bags that have been re-purposed.

This type of system is not always the best option for those with large amounts of trash because the bag size is limited to 5 gallons, whereas typically stand alone kitchen trash cans will often hold about 10-12 gallons.  However, for those with smaller kitchens or bathrooms where floor space is limited, the Sunbeam TrashRac system can be the solution that you have been looking for!

Spend a Little, Save a Lot: Walk Behind Snow Plow

snow plowThis article is about a product that we have carried for about 5 years now.  It is not new, but does deserve more attention, because of its quick and efficient snow removal abilities.  The 38″ snow plow from YoHo is part of their Polar Tuff line of products and perfect for so many of our Pittsburgh snowfalls.  In fact, this Polar Tuff snow plow can clear more snow, faster than a snowblower!  This is especially the case with snow falls that are only a few inches deep, which seem to the majority of what we experience as of late.

Design:  As mentioned above, the 38″ wide blade clears a path about twice the size of your typical snow shovel.  The unique shape of the blade flips snow forward and the angle that it creates allows the snow to slide off to the one side.  If you want the snow to be pushed to the other side, simply flip the handle and the plow will work to the other side (blade is two sided)  With this snow plow, the concept is to walk the length of your driveway and to push the snow off to the edge(s).  The taller the snowfall, the less you can cut off with each path.  Works great on snowfalls up to about 3-4 inches.

Save on Time:  The biggest advantage the Polar Tuff snow plow is its efficiency.  As mentioned before, you can clear snowfalls of low to medium height quicker than with a snowblower and with the same type of ease.

Save your Back:  There is no need to lift the snow, so your back with be thanking you!

Save on Frustrations:  You never have to worry an engine that not start when you need it the most.  And as a result, no messy oil and gas to deal with.  Simply grab and go!

We love this snow plow… you might even see us using it to clear our parking lot or sidewalks throughout the winter.  Because it is only a pusher, it is not great for those that have a wall or ledge next to their driveway, constricting the amount of space there is to pile up the snow.  Quick and efficient way to clean a driveway, parking lot, or sidewalk of light snow.  Thanks for reading!

For a video demonstration of the Polar Tuff snow plow, please view the informational short video below: