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Keep the grill away from the house for happier vinyl siding.

Vinyl Siding: Served Medium Rare

Despite the pervasive “where did the summer go” question I hear at this time of the year, there’s still plenty of grilling yet to be done. If you’re lucky enough to live in more temperate areas -- or if a little snow and sub-zero temperatures don’t scare you -- you might be one of those grill owners who count the number of potential grilling days in the year at 365.

Whatever your grilling habits, here’s a piece of advice: Keep the grill away from the house. In a recent conversation with a local contractor I discovered that replacing melted vinyl siding was one of his most frequent jobs. Folks push their grill right up against the side of the house, where the 300+ temperatures do a warp-job on the heat-sensitive panels.

The Home Safety Council recommends placing the grill 10 feet away from other objects, including the house and bushes. While it might be tough for some homeowners to abide strictly by that rule, do yourself a favor and at least don’t push it flush with the side of the home. You’ll help keep your vinyl siding from looking like it belongs in a Van Gogh painting. So tell us: What's your worst grilling error?

Photo courtesy of JonF119

Preserving New England Stone Walls

One of my favorite memories as a kid growing up in New Hampshire was coming across old stone walls in the woods. Rock walls in the New England area are estimated to run a total of 250,000 miles. But, given the increased popularity of weathered stone in home improvement projects, those walls are now under assault. Thieves in Londonderry, NH used heavy equipment last year to dismantle a 500 foot section of wall for resale.

State government is moving quickly to stop the plundering. A bill recently signed by the NH governor upped the fine for stealing stones to "triple damages against thieves, plus attorney's fees, to restore a picked-apart wall," which could in effect cost up to thousands of dollars. I think this is great -- and think we should throw them in the stockade while we are at it. What do you think: Recycle old stone walls or preserve the beauty of the woods?

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