This guy has made so many DIY coolers and whatnot that I can’t keep track anymore, lol. That said, I do like that it’s highly portable and able to be easily run off solar power too…
Last night at about 1:45 am, which is technically today, our interconnected house smoke alarms went off for no reason. You know, the smoke alarms where if one goes off, they all go off. Yeah, those. I make this distinction because we also have a handful of independent, battery-powered smoke alarms throughout the house and none of those went off.
Anyway, I never do well when I’m startled out of bed in the middle of the night and last night was no exception; it took me a few seconds to realize what was going on, but once I did my wife and I bolted out of the room and started looking for the trouble… followed very closely by a now shaking dog who NEVER appreciates it when the smoke alarms sound.
Once I realized that there wasn’t a problem on the main level, I quickly ran downstairs fearing that the kids had maybe left the space heater on and it caught something on fire. But, when I checked, I saw no fire and smelled no smoke. So, I quickly moved to my boy’s room (they share a room)… nothing. Finally, I checked on my niece’s room… nothing again.
My oldest son managed to rouse himself from his slumber enough to ask me what was going on. I didn’t know and told him to go back to bed.
The smoke alarms were still going off at this time and, realizing there wasn’t an immediate threat, I started to attempt to silence the smoke alarms but they stopped blaring at about the same time. I then choose to do one last check around the house just to be sure. Still nothing.
Confused, I tried to lay back down and wouldn’t you know it… the smoke alarms went off again about 20 minute later!
Less concerned that there was an actual fire, I decided to silence the alarms initially because they were driving me nuts, and then I set off to check the house yet again. Nothing. I’m not disappointed, mind you, just confused.
This morning I did a quick search to try and figure out why I was so rudely awoke in the middle of the night for no apparent reason, and I happened upon this article which gave me a few possibilities besides the obvious ones, including:
- Humidity / steam. Apparently smoke alarms can’t distinguish between smoke particles and high moisture content which I think is odd, though probably not my problem because it’s wintertime and not super humid in the house.
- Chemical odors. This would be strong odors, such as ammonia or paint fumes. I wasn’t using any strong chemicals or painting in the middle of the night, so this probably isn’t the issue either.
- Dust. I think I knew that dust could set off a smoke alarm but, again, there’s no reason for heavy amounts of dust to have been in the air.
- Insects. I had no idea that small bugs could crawl into a smoke alarm and set one off. And, if I had to pick one odd reason, this would be it because we do have an inordinate amount of creepy-crawlies around and inside our house.
Now, let me get to the entire point of this post…
You Know What’s Worse Than Smoke Alarms Going Off For No Reason In The Middle Of The Night?
Besides being started half-to-death, what’s worse is that my youngest son (who’s now twelve years old) didn’t even budge when the alarms went off!
And it’s not like they went off for only a few seconds; the first time they went off they had to be sounding for at least a minute or two. That should clearly be long enough to have woke him up at least to wonder what was going on, but apparently not.
You know, when my kids were much younger, I did worry that they wouldn’t wake up when a smoke alarm went off because I’d seen it happen. After all, young kids can seemingly sleep through anything. I figured, however, that my now much older kids would surely wake up. I was wrong.
In fact, I just asked him this morning if he’d heard the smoke alarm last night and he responded, “No. The smoke alarms went off last night?”
And that’s what I’m now still afraid of.
I’m not quite sure how the video creator came up with this being “3000 watts,” but if you watch the later half of the video you’ll see some of it in action.
Of course, as with any large DIY solar mirror project, it can be dangerous to use! Please be cautious if you intend on making one yourself.
Here’s the video (and watch the second one below on how to make one)…
If you want to see another video I found on how these could be made, watch this one…
Did you know that roughly 10,000 home burglaries are committed each day here in America? That’s well over 3,000,000 per year!
Fortunately, I can help you to avoid becoming a victim with my sixth book, 28 Powerful Home Security Solutions, which is now available into Thursday for FREE on Amazon in Kindle format.
In return for offering the book free, I only request you leave a rating or review when you’re finished reading the book… it both helps to keep me motivated writing and let’s other potential readers know what YOU think.
Now, there’s plenty you can do to stop burglars from targeting you and your possessions… and to gain the upper hand in this never-ending battle.
While there’s no way to 100% ensure that your home won’t be targeted and possibly robbed, we can, however, employ many strategies to both dissuade would-be thieves and to thwart their efforts if they do choose your home.
Taking the actions discussed in this book WILL greatly sway the odds in your favor to be sure.
Inside this book, you’ll:
- Get to know the enemy (who these people are and what they really want)
- Understand how they plan their heist (you might be surprised at how fast they act)
- Discover which factors deter burglars (some things aren’t so obvious), as well as
- Uncover 25 vital actions you should take to stop them dead in their tracks (what are you missing?)
You’ll also discover the three most effective security measures you can take that all but guarantee a thief will move on and leave your home alone for good.
If you want to know how to truly stop a burglar from targeting you and your possessions, then this book will show you how.
Note: Some people get confused about how to purchase a Kindle book because Amazon offers multiple choices. Just choose the “Buy now with 1-click” option and, so long as the book is offered for free (such as during this promotional period), you shouldn’t have to pay for it. If you choose the “kindle unlimited” option, then you’re signing up for their monthly subscription which you may or may not want.
I’m pretty sure this is what I do most days to start a fire in my fireplace. I just love to use alternating layers of sticks whenever possible. Also, watch through the end, you’ll get a kick out of it, I promise…
All I can say is, “Oh, my!” While the second half of this video gets ridiculous, I still had fun watching, enjoy…
Lately, I’ve been thinking about earthquakes again, mostly because I’ve run into various YouTube videos and whatnot talking about the “Big One” to hit the west coast, but not the one you’re thinking of to hit California… the Cascadia Event to hit the Pacific Northwest where I live. To be honest, if that one ever hits us, boxes and bungee cords won’t save us.
That said, it is possible that smaller, shorter duration earthquakes could hit us like the ones I grew up with in California. With that in mind, I’ve started to consider what problems we could run into as a result, and one of those problems is our ability egress. Here’s where I’ve started:
I’ve picked the space above our washer and dryer as the place to start because, although you can’t tell, that area happens to be the main pathway between our bedrooms and the family room and front door. In other words: it’s the bottleneck for traffic in our home.
And, while there are doorways to exit each bedroom so that we wouldn’t have to go through this area (if an earthquake struck at night, for instance) odds are that we may still need to walk through the area for a number of reasons after an earthquake hit.
Now, I really should have taken a photo of what it all looked like before I started this mini project but, honestly, I wasn’t planning on writing about it until I was done. Oh, well… just picture all sorts of cleaners and glass bottles lining both shelves and you get the idea.
For months I’d walk by that area and I kept thinking to myself, “What if an earthquake struck and those glass bottles came crashing down and broke on the floor where we’d have to walk?” To make things worse, “What if the cleaners came down and spilled so that now we had a slick floor and broken glass to walk over?” There are so many homemade cleaners as well as laundry soap up there that something would assuredly spill and be a hazard.
So, the current solution was to group items together into boxes because I figured that it would take more effort for an entire box to come flying off a shelf than a single bottle which, in my opinion, increases the chances that everything will stay put.
Of course, I know that even entire boxes can come sliding off the shelves during an earthquake which is why I plan on adding bungee cords to hold the boxes in place too but, for now, I’ve just used a single bungee cord for holding the loose, large bottles in place, such as the laundry soap and vinegar you see to the left.
I might also take the boxes sitting on the top shelf and move them to the garage because most of that stuff is rarely accessed as an extra precaution.
Anyway, it’s a start. Will boxes and bungee cords do any good during an earthquake? Who knows, but I do know that I feel better about the whole situation and, at the very least, I’m beginning to be proactive again about our family’s disaster safety.
What do you think? Is this worth a darn or not? What can I do better?
This was an interesting video I ran into earlier today on one man’s experience while working in Afghanishtan in 2003. You can skip to about the 2:35 mark to get to the heart of his talk, if you like, but I’d say the entire video is worth the time, especially if you want to know what life might be like after a major disaster, and what to do about it. He discusses situational awareness, blending in, avoiding confrontation, and more…
Did you know that, according to the FBI, “Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the U.S., claiming more than 10 million victims a year.”
And guess what? That statement was from 2004!
According to the U.S. Department of Justice more than 17 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2014.
Obviously, identity theft is on the rise and only getting worse as we continue to move our lives and financial transactions to a digital existence.
Fortunately, you can take 7 critical steps right now to prevent this from happening to you, and it’s all laid out in my new book, Your Identity Theft Protection Game Plan, which is currently free in Kindle format on Amazon, but only for the next few days.
Here’s what’s covered inside:
- Why your mailbox is the riskiest non-technological point for identity theft (and what to do about it)
- Why identity thieves call trash day, “cash day” (and how papers that most people never take a second look at help criminals steal from you)
- How to quickly and easily minimize junk mail and credit card offers to limit your mail theft exposure
- 4 ways to minimize your identity exposure (and one surefire way to stop criminals from accessing your credit files)
- Why antivirus software isn’t enough to combat online identity theft (and how smart devices are becoming the new “battleground” for your data)
- How using public Wi-Fi could be the most dangerous thing you do all day (and one simple way to virtually guarantee your safety)
- Why using variations of the same password is a horrible mistake (and a surprisingly easy way to protect your most sensitive online data)
- How RFID “No Swipe” technology allows thieves to steal your credit/debit card information without your card ever leaving your pocket (and how to protect against it)
…and plenty more. Plus, we’ll cover 7 additional actions to minimize your overall exposure as well as what to do should you become a victim of identity theft.
Save yourself from years of heartache… take the right steps now, right now to protect your identity before it’s too late.
Remember, the book is free for a limited time, just click the “Buy Now” button (it may say “Buy now with 1-Click”) and you’ll be that much closer to protecting yourself from becoming the next victim of identity theft.
All I ask of you is that you choose to leave the book a quick rating (it takes only a few seconds) or an actual review when you’re done.
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Recently, I’ve been wanting to clean my own fireplace flue rather than having to pay somebody to do it. And, yes, I know there’s something to be said for having a qualified chimney sweep inspect it once a year, which I still plan to do, but for peace of mind until then I figured it couldn’t hurt to do it myself. As such, I started looking for DIY chimney sweeps.
The only problem, however, is that I REALLY don’t like climbing on my roof, especially since it has a rather steep pitch, but mostly because I’ve inherited my dad’s general fear of heights… you should see me trying to climb on my rooftop, it takes me at least ten minutes to do as I slowly shimmy my way way up there, lol. And getting down is even worse!
Anyway, rather than getting a traditional chimney sweep with a metal brush, the kind where I’d have to be on top of my roof, I found this Gardus Sooteater Rotary Chimney Cleaning System which allows me to keep my feet safely on the ground and to clean my flue from the bottom up:
The contents include the following (as shown in the photo below):
- Chimney sweep head
- 6 three-foot flexible rods
- Plastic sheet (to cover the fireplace opening)
- Drill bit adapter and wrench
I should note that I was a little concerned about the “flexible” rods because they didn’t seem that flexible to me at first glance, but I was wrong… they’re fairly flexible and I had no trouble with them. Time to get to work.
Now, here’s what the inside of the flue looked like before attempting my chimney sweep (after about a cord of wood). Clearly, there is some buildup, but it doesn’t look horrible compared to some photos I found online. Truth be told, I don’t really know what “normal” is so my opinion here doesn’t count for much:
The first thing I had to do was to trim the rotary head to be slightly larger than my flue diameter. I measured my flue diameter to be 5.5″ and, so, I trimmed the head to be about 6″ in diameter according to the directions:
I was a bit concerned about trimming the head to be THAT short because I felt like it may not clean the flue well enough if, for example, the head slid along one side of the flue pipe as I worked up the flue. I read online, however, that as it speeds up the head will tend to center itself and properly clean all of the flue. In addition, if I’d chosen to NOT trim the head to fit as directed that it may not clean well enough because it wouldn’t properly scrape the flue wall. Ultimately, I took the internet’s word for it and trimmed the head as directed.
Next, I cut out some of the plastic sheeting to fit my fireplace and taped it in place with some duct tape, though I left the bottom open so I could fit the chimney sweep inside, like so:
The directions, however, stated I should have poked a hole in the center of the plastic and taped the entire sheet in place; by now I figured I knew more than the manufacturer and, so, I ignored that recommendation… hopefully that wouldn’t come back to haunt me.
I quickly started to work my way up the flue and it was surprisingly easy to do. Here’s what it looked like after I’d added a few extensions:
I was done in only a few minutes, but I did slow down as I got near the top because I was worried about knocking off or otherwise ruining my chimney cap. Here’s what I got out of the flue pipe:
It was a good several scoops of what I’m assuming is first stage creosote because it was black, light, and fluffy. And, just out of curiosity, I wondered what my chimney flue looked like when I was done:
As you might be able to tell, half of the flue looked like it was cleaned well. The other half (where the red arrow points) didn’t look very cleaned, which is something I’d worried about when I cut the head strings so short. From what I could tell, however, it did seem to clean all of the flue pipe further up, at least, from what I could see. It was really just the bottom few feet where it didn’t clean because the head never centered itself. Oh, well, I think that next time I’ll try to replace the head strings and cut them a bit longer or really focus on the bottom section.
Ultimately, I’d say my DIY chimney sweep was a success. I was able to use my old 14.4 volt cordless drill (even though I was worried about not having enough torque) and I didn’t make a mess either by not fully sealing the door opening with plastic and tape… which also means I get to stay married for a little while longer. 🙂
One thing I do like about this system is that apparently I can replace the head strings on my own with weed-eater string (it just needs to be the right diameter) which means I can do this on my own again in the future, and very inexpensively.
I also think that next time I might try to work my way from the top down (but still keep my feet on the ground) as I saw this guy do here:
Overall, I’m fairly pleased with the Gardus Sooteater Rotary Chimney Cleaning System. It allowed me to clean out my chimney flue without having to climb on my rooftop (which I would have dreaded), was easy to do, can be reused, and didn’t cost much.
That said, I’m still probably going to have a qualified chimney sweep come out before next season starts and check it out just to be sure.