How to Prevent Holiday Season Break-ins in Kansas City and Parkville

blogAll the hustle and bustle of the holiday season – from the shopping and wrapping, to entertaining and traveling – can leave us feeling tired, overwhelmed, and downright distracted. In fact, with everything that’s going on, it’s too bad that bad luck or misfortune couldn’t take a break this time of year.

Unfortunately, it’s the other way around. As in, communities all over America witness an increase in theft and property damage over the holidays as would-be robbers and vandals try to use all the inherent distractions to their advantage.

But now you can better protect your home and family and preserve the holiday spirit by following these time-tested tips.

  • Keep some lights on when you leave the house, especially at night. And install motion-activated lights outside.
  • Make sure holiday gifts are not visible from any windows.
  • Deter porch package thieves by having your packages held for pickup. Or ask the shipping service to leave them on a back porch or at the home of a neighbor.
  • Cut up all boxes, especially from pricey electronics, before putting them out in a trash or recycling bin.
  • If traveling for the holidays, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home, park his or her car in your driveway occasionally, and bring in your mail.
  • Never leave valuables in clear sight in your car and keep the doors locked at all times.
  • Know what you have. Keep a list of all your valuables and update it often.
  • Don’t forget about identity theft. Always shield your credit card information at checkout or while at an ATM. And only use online shops that offer secured checkout.

Hopefully the day will come when advice like this won’t be necessary. But for now, it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.

Holiday Season Gifts for Teachers in Kansas City and Liberty

blogIt’s hard to say who gets more gifts this time of year: your mail carrier or your child’s teacher. But just because others have already thought of it doesn’t mean that your gift, whatever it might be, won’t be just as appreciated.

Still, many home owners struggle with exactly to give that teachers, in this case, not only will welcome for the thoughtfulness, but for the gift itself. So instead of guessing, we asked a couple of teachers who are customers of ours what their favorite student gifts are, and you know what? They didn’t even have to think about it. Not only about what they prefer as gifts, but what they don’t.

So, if you haven’t already completed your shopping, here’s what NOT to get your child’s teacher:

  • Coffee cups or mugs – how many can one person use?
  • Holiday ornaments – ditto
  • Perfume or cologne, or anything else of a potentially inappropriate nature
  • A framed picture of your child – can you imagine of everyone gave one of these, year after year?!

And now for the gifts that teachers prize:

  • Treats and sweets of all kinds, just be aware of any prevailing allergies
  • Fruit and fruit baskets still work too, including the ever-popular apples
  • Gift cards to local coffee or pastry shops, etc.
  • Amazon or other online gift cards
  • Gas gift cards
  • Body lotions and similar items
  • Fun things they can use at home or in the classroom, like fancy markers or colored sharpies
  • A warm scarf or mittens
  • Homemade, hand-crafted gifts
  • One gift from the entire class

Remember: the idea isn’t to be original or to one-up anyone. It’s simply to show that you and your child appreciate their dedication and to devotion to your child’s academic growth and overall well-being.

Oh yes, and one more thing. When thinking about what to get a teacher, don’t forget the school nurse. The federal government has determined that a 750-1 nurse-to-student ratio is appropriate – talk about a demanding and often thankless job!

Holiday Season Safety Advice in Kansas City & Lee’s Summit

The holidays are upon us and that means it’s time to deck the halls, make your list, and delight in the beauty of the season. It’s also the perfect time to perform a home safety check.

You see, whether you’re entertaining, traveling, or simply enjoying a quiet evening at home, a little planning and forethought can help ensure that your holidays are not only merry and bright, but worry-free.

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Here are 9 things to consider when getting your home “holiday ready”:

  1. If you’re traveling, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house, shovel snow, and park in your driveway occasionally.
  1. When going out for the evening, turn off holiday lights, blow out candles, and put out the fireplace or wood burning stove completely.
  1. When choosing a real Christmas tree, look for one with green, bendable needles. Trim a couple inches off the trunk to promote water absorption, and place the tree away from sources of heat.
  1. Always inspect lights and extension cords before use. If you see any signs of damage, better to buy new than to risk a fire.
  1. Don’t connect more than 3 light strands together to prevent overworking a socket.
  1. Consider using battery operated flameless candles instead of fire burning candles.
  1. Choose your decorations wisely. For example, if you have small children in the house, place fragile items out of reach and avoid using decorations that look like candy or food.
  1. Enforce a kid (and pet) free zone in the kitchen while cooking and never leave cooking food unattended.
  1. Keep walkways to your front door clear of decorations or other obstructions. And stock up on ice melt and/or sand for those icy patches that might pop up over the course of your celebration. In fact, it’s a good idea to have winter’s supply of ice melting material on hand.

The biggest risk of holiday season home mishaps is fire, so please do everything in your power to protect your home and family this holiday season.

Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Our Friends in Kansas City & Independence

Did you know that a cooking fire is more likely to occur on Thanksgiving Day than any other day of the year? It’s true. All those extra guests and increased activity in the kitchen can cause even the most buttoned-up culinary masters to become distracted and forget about that pie in the oven.

But by practicing a few safety tips and a with little bit of planning, you can make sure that your Thanksgiving Day gathering is fun, festive, and worry-free.

  1. Make the stove area a kid and pet free zone, keeping them at least three feet away from hot ovens and stove tops.
  1. Don’t leave that turkey to roast on its own; leave the errands for another day or leave someone in charge if you must head out of the house.blog
  1. Use a timer to remind you to check on cooking food, especially those that require extra cooking or baking time.
  1. Keep pot holders, dish towels, and other flammable items away from the stove top or any other heat source.
  1. If you’re thinking of using an outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryer, you may want to reconsider. They can lead to serious oil burns and even destruction of property.
  1. Whether you’re using an electric knife, a crockpot, or warming dishes, make sure that cords are out of reach of children.
  1. Never leave burning candles unattended, and make sure they too are out of reach of children.
  1. Test your smoke detectors and make sure your fire extinguisher is full and ready to go.

Another common Thanksgiving mishap is either a clogged drain or garbage disposal? Common? Actually, that’s an understatement. You see, plumbers call the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday; that’s because it’s our busiest drain cleaning day of the year. And while LBA will be on hand and ready to help should your drain or garbage disposal back up, you can prevent that from happening by:

  • Keeping grease, fats, and oils out of the drain
  • Grinding up only small amounts of food at a time
  • Placing meat bones and fibrous foods like lettuce and soft vegetables in the trash

From all of us at LBA Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing, have a happy and safe Thanksgiving 2014.

 

How to Prevent Dry Skin and Hair Problems in Kansas City & Gladstone

There’s something so comforting about autumn. Breathing in the cool, crisp air, coming in from the cold to a glowing fire, enjoying a mug of hot chocolate, and kicking off the holiday season with family and friends.

But that nip in the air and all the extra time spent indoors can make your skin feel anything but comfortable. What’s more, dry indoor air can leave hair looking dull and turn your nails dry and brittle. But all that can be remedied by following these self-moisturizing tips:

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  • Long, steamy baths and showers strip away our natural oils, so keep them short and sweet, and not too hot.
  • Choose moisturizing skin and hair care products that don’t contain alcohol, fragrances, or other ingredients that can dry you out.
  • Lotion up right after bathing while your skin is still damp.
  • Avoid washing your hair every day. But if you must, use a hydrating shampoo and conditioning treatment.
  • Give your nails a break from nail polish and keep cuticles healthy with a cuticle cream.
  • Give cracked heels the boot by applying a generous amount of moisturizer before bed. Seal the moisture in with a pair of cozy cotton socks.
  • Apply sunscreen, even in the dead of winter. And don’t forget a moisturizing lip balm to keep chapped lips at bay.

At LBA, we can help add much-needed moisture to your home all heating season long with a whole-house humidity control system.  It allows you to set the exact level of relative humidity you desire, all winter long.  And you can change the setting any time you like. In addition to preventing dry skin and hair problems, a whole-house humidity control system also can help prevent static electrical shock and your wood furniture, doors, and floors from shrinking and cracking.

Contact LBA today for more information and a free new system quote.

How to Reduce Heat Loss in Kansas City and Blue Springs

blogIn a perfect world, autumn would bring majestic foliage, mild temperatures, and the smell of bon fires well into November. In reality, fall is notorious for its mix of extreme highs and lows, blustery winds, and the occasional freak snow storm.

Fall is also the time when the inevitable happens: you turn your heating system on for the first time. We know of some families that refuse, on principle, to turn theirs on until November 1 or some other pre-determined date – just because. While others crank up the heat as soon as the thermometer show a reading of 68 degrees or less.

Wherever you happen to be on that home heating spectrum, here’s one thing most home owners have in common: fear and loathing for your home heating bills, starting with the very first one

But take heart, because if this is the year you’re serious about paying less, then follow these tips for heat loss reduction and watch your heating bills stop dropping in pretty short order:

Add layers. No, we’re not talking about thick wool socks, warm sweaters, and cozy scarves, although any of those will keep you nice and toasty. Instead, we’re talking about adding warm area rugs to bare floors, thick or insulating window coverings, and insulation even in the un-likeliest of places, like inside your wall switches and sockets. And those don’t even make the list of air sealing trouble spots on Energy.gov.

Solarize. Consider adding a skylight to take advantage of nature’s heat source. If that’s not an option, pull the drapes open during the day to allow the sun to flood your home. Just make sure to pull them closed at night to trap more heat in.

Clear the air. Clean or replace air filters regularly, and make sure all heat vents and registers are free of dirt, dust, and debris. Then, make sure they are not blocked by furniture or heavy window coverings.

Turn on the fan, and turn down the heat. A ceiling fan does more than keep you cool during the summer. When operated in reverse, it forces the warm air that typically sits near your ceiling down toward the center of your room. Then, you can lower your thermostat a degree or two and actually feel warmer.

Get with the program. Upgrade your old thermostat to a programmable model that allows you to preset the temperature while you and your family are away from home. That way, you’re not wasting energy when no one’s home, and yet you’ll still walk into a warm and cozy home, just the way you like it.

Here’s another helpful hint from your friendly LBA Heroes: if it’s been a year or more since your heating system was professionally cleaned and inspected, the time to schedule service is now. Annual preventative maintenance helps your system run better, last longer, and you’re your heating costs under control. Contact us today for more information or to schedule service, and start saving money right away.

Halloween Trivia & Fun Facts in Kansas City and Shawnee

halloween pumpkin and decoration indoorAfter all these years, and after all the flack it’s taken, Halloween remains one of the most widely celebrated U.S. holidays. And the Kansas City area is no exception.

Each year millions of kids and adults mark the holiday by dressing up in spooky and silly costumes, carving pumpkins and, of course, consuming insane amounts of candy.

But how much do you really know about Halloween? Here are a few little known facts that you can use to impress your Halloween party guests or simply augment your personal useless knowledge database.

  • In 2014, it’s estimated that 70% of Americans will celebrate Halloween in some fashion, the highest total ever recorded by the National Retail Federation.
  • Black and orange are considered Halloween colors because black is associated with darkness and death, and orange represents the Fall harvest.
  • Each year, Americans spend an average of $2 billion on Halloween candy, and $6.86 billion on all Halloween purchases.
  • The tradition of carving Jack o’ Lanterns originated in Ireland, where candles were placed in hollowed out turnips to ward of spirits.
  • The most popular candy sold in the U.S. are M&Ms.
  • If you dress your pet up for Halloween, you’re not alone. It is estimated that Americans spend about $300 million on pet costumes each year.
  • This year, more than 35 million pounds of candy corn will be produced.
  • If you happen to see a spider on Halloween, consider yourself lucky. It is believed that spiders are actually spirits watching over us.
  • Those who have an intense fear of Halloween are said to have Samhainophobia.
  • Today, black cats have a bad reputation because they were once believed to be the spirits of witches.

If you’re among the 70% planning to celebrate Halloween this year, we urge you to exercise common sense safety precautions, like the following, for everyone concerned:

  • Dress your kids in brightly colored costumes to help make them easier to spot at night.
  • Keep their costumes on the short side to help prevent accidental trips and falls.
  • If you’re planning to hand out candy, keep your yard well lit and free of obstructions like rakes, toys, garden hoses, and so on
  • If you allow your kids to go out on their own, go over a list of rules with them in advance, such as never entering a stranger’s house or car
  • Use LED tea lights in your jack-o-lanterns, not lit candles.

Have a happy and safe Halloween, everyone!

Tools Every Home Owner Should Have in Kansas City and Prairie Village

blogIf you own a home, there will undoubtedly come a time when you will have to hang, loosen, nail, measure, or drill something. And while your shoe might be able to double as a hammer in a pinch, you’re far better off investing in a toolkit that can tackle some of the most common household repairs.

So if your rusty tool stash needs a revamp or you’re just starting out, here are 10 tools that every homeowner should own.

  1. A good, sturdy ladder is a homeowner’s staple. It’s much safer than using a chair to change a ceiling fixture light bulb, edge paint a wall, or string outdoor lights during the holidays.
  2. Skip the chemicals and unclog drains with a good quality plunger. A flange style plunger can tackle tough toilet clogs while a cup style plunger can help clear sink, shower, and tub clogs.
  3. Inexpensive and very versatile, a 4-in-1 screwdriver is a must. No more looking for the right size Philips-head in your junk drawer.
  4. Technically not a tool, a 5-gallon bucket can help you with some major messes. Use it to easily spread mulch, keep it filled with sand to de-ice steps and walkways, turn it upside down for a temporary step stool, and so much more. Come to think of it, you might just want to invest in two or three.
  5. Whether you’re hanging a heavy flat screen TV or a new towel bar, a stud finder can sometimes by your best friend. It’s a sure-fire way to locate – or avoid – studs in walls.
  6. If you’re determined to own just one basic hammer, choose a light-weight model with a curved claw for removing nails.
  7. Sooner or later, you’ll need to cut something. Having a saw on hand will make that task so much easier. A hybrid saw is a good option, as it slices on both the push and pull stroke.
  8. Not all pliers are created equal, so invest in a set that will cover most of your needs. Just avoid using pliers to loosen or tighten bolts as you might strip them. That’s where an adjustable wrench comes in.
  9. No tool kit is complete without an adjustable wrench. Invest in both a crescent wrench for smaller bolts and pipes, and a larger monkey wrench for those larger pipes and fittings.
  10. And finally, talk about a home owner’s best friend: how about a 25’ tape measure?! It’s a must have for measuring anything and everything.

Of course, even such a diverse and nicely balanced tool set won’t get you through all home repairs and upkeep, especially when it comes to plumbing, heating, and cooling. That’s when you need a true professional in your corner, someone you can turn to on a moment’s notice, if need be.

In and around Kansas City, that company LBA Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing is here to answer the call, 24/7, no matter how large or small the job might be.

Tips for a Healthier Heart in Kansas City & Overland Park

Did you know that cardiovascular disease is responsible for over 17 million deaths each year? In fact, it is the leading cause of death in the U.S. Fortunately, doctors agree that most types of cardiovascular disease can be prevented through lifestyle choices that help reduce one’s risk factors.

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So as we celebrate World Heart Day, we look at how our environment impacts our ability to make heart-healthy choices at work, at home, and at play. Because while

Here are just a few changes you can make in your own home and community take a stand against cardiovascular disease:

At Home

• Ban smoking in your home. It will not only improve your health, but the health of those around you.
• If you are a smoker, pledge to quit smoking. Consider starting a support group for others who might want to join you.
• Stock your fridge and pantry with healthy food choices, like fresh fruit and veggies, and minimally processed snacks.
• Prepare low-salt, low-fat meals using locally sourced, nutrient-dense ingredients.
• See your healthcare professional to discuss your cardiovascular disease risk factors.

On the Go

• Pack healthy lunches and snacks for work or school.
• Ban fast food for 30 days – or longer!
• Instead of taking the car, plan to walk or ride your bike at least once a week to work or to run errands.
• When out and about, park your car farther from your destination, or take the stairs instead of the elevator.
• Encourage your workplace or you child’s school to serve healthier lunch options.

Another way to promote improved cardiovascular health is by cleaning up your indoor air. On average, indoor air is twice as polluted as outdoor air, and indoor air as a known contributor to respiratory and cardiovascular disease.

At LBA, we offer a number of indoor air quality solutions, including whole-house air purifiers and whole-house humidity control systems. For more information or to schedule a free in-home discussion and analysis of your indoor air quality needs, contact your local LBA Heroes today.

Fall Home Selling Tips in Mission & Olathe

Fall is right around the corner and you know what that means – apple picking, harvest fairs, and searching for just the right Halloween costumes for your kids. But fall is also one of the best times of year to sell your home. In fact, it’s the second busiest season for the real estate industry.

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You see, unlike the typical spring buyer who can often be more selective and may have the luxury of time, fall brings forth a different type of buyer; one who is more serious about finding and closing on a home quickly due to a major life even such as marriage, a job transfer, or divorce. The autumn real estate market also sees empty-nesters and millennials going out on their own for the first time.

So if you’re selling your home, or about to, make sure it stands out above the crowd with these sale-enhancing tips:

Make a good first impression. Add curb appeal by making sure the lawn is well kept, branches and shrubbery are trimmed back, and flower beds are cleaned up. Pressure-wash the siding to get rid of dirt and cob webs, and thoroughly wash exterior windows. Adding colorful, seasonal plants like mums can make the front of your home look more festive and inviting.

Freshen up the interior. One of the easiest and least expensive things you can do to liven up a room is to give it a fresh coat of paint. Opt for more neutral colors like soft grey or beige. Also, consider replacing heavy window treatments with sheer panels that allow in more natural light.

Create the illusion of space. Cluttered cupboards and over-stuffed closets can make it feel like your home lacks adequate storage space. Thin down book cases, pair down the furniture, and box up items that you don’t use on a daily basis.

Tackle that home maintenance list. No matter how well your home shows on the inside or out, leaving a laundry list of to-dos will turn potential buyers away. Fix leaky faucets, replace cracked bathroom and kitchen tiles, and repaint walls or ceilings that show signs of water damage (after repairing the cause, of course).

At LBA Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing, we can help with your home plumbing repairs to make your house more readily sale-able. Same goes for your heating and cooling systems. So for repairs large or small, or even something as simple – but vital – as a home heating system inspection, contact your local LBA Heroes today.