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Can Ultrasonic Waves Keep the Pigeons at Bay?

Pigeons have long been a part of urban landscapes. Romanticized images of older folks feeding them from park benches and children chasing them into the air by the flock, will forever be icons of inner city living. But, pigeons live in many geographical areas and can put down roots on private patios, balconies and poolside areas creating not just a nuisance and an unsightly mess, but a public health hazard. Pigeon feces can carry over 60 diseases including E.coli, Salmonella and Histoplasmosis - a potentially fatal respiratory disease arising from breathing a fungus that thrives in dried bird droppings.

Hope is in the air, however, by way of ultrasonic repellant devices such as those made by Riddex. For less than $50 and a handful of AA batteries, the Riddex Silent Bird Repellant promises to keep pesky birds away by emitting a high-frequency sound heard only by birds. When an infrared motion detector picks up the presence of a pigeon or other bird, the ultrasonic noise is set-off causing the birds to flee from the irritating sound.

As with many products, silent bird repellants have been met with mixed reviews. Some consumers report total success while others experience no effect at all, but if you plan to give them a try, here are some helpful hints to maximize the efficacy of the product and increase your odds of success.

Understanding how ultrasonic waves work is a good place to start. Most importantly, they travel only in a straight line and do not penetrate solid objects. So, unless you have a straight and clear path to where the birds have set up shop, it is helpful to purchase several units - or units with mulitple speaker options - in order to create a "surround sound" type of effect. And, if you are living in a complex or multi-unit type of setting, getting neighbors together to make a concerted effort is a great way to go. Ultrasonic waves can only travel so far (most units covering only about 20 linear feet) and this can create a situation where the birds gather next door or a few doors away.

Perhaps the most common complaint with silent repellants is they work for a short time until the pests become accustomed to the noise. To combat this, experts recommend starting with the lowest frequency and gradually increasing if necessary. Also, occasionally moving the units to different parts of the battle zone helps to prevent the birds from finding a comfortable, noise-free spot.

There are a couple of things to consider before installing silent repellants. One is to be sure to they are "ultrasonic" - not simply sonic. Sonic waves can be detected by the human ear causing a variety of symptoms including dizziness and headaches. It has been reported that some people - mostly women and children - are also able to detect ultrasonic waves. If any physical disturbances arise after installation, try disarming the devices and see if the symptoms go away. If they do, this method may not be the best way to go. Finally, while they are mammals, bats are susceptible to ultrasonic bird repellants. That may be an added bonus to many homeowners, but bats are a vital part of the ecosystem and are a protected species in many states. Simply call your local wildlife association before installation to be sure it is allowed by law.

Since there are many instances where silent bird repellants work very well, it is worth giving them a try. They are a humane, clean and low-maintenance way to rid your property of bird pests - and they are relatively affordable, especially if bought in bulk by your neighborhood association. Placing them strategically and observing the resulting patterns will dramatically increase your odds of success and keep the birds where they belong - in the park amusing the young and old.

The new Trex Deck Color Visualizer App.

New Trex App Brings Deck Design to iPad

Trex Company recently announced the release of their Deck Color Visualizer App for the iPad. The App let's users explore all the deck color options available from the wood-alternative decking and railing company. It also makes it easier to share ideas with others and get feedback.

The App uses "photo-realistic representations" of three Trex outdoor living spaces. App users can swap colors in and out of the various deck elements illustrated in the photo to get an idea of how color combinations would work in an outdoor deck setting. The different deck components that can be fiddled with include top and bottom rails, balusters, posts, post caps and post skirts. Additionally, the deck itself can be altered for color.

It's a nifty little way to explore the offerings of one of the leaders in decking materials. Buying/building a deck is a big commitment. It's not a project a homeowner wants to take on once every few years, so getting it right the first time is crucial.

Would you use the Deck Color Visualizer to pick your deck colors?

The reusable G-CLEAN bags are compact and space-saving. When mixed with water they fill up to 1 gallon of cleaning solution.

Sustainable Pressure Washing

The phrase sounds a bit forced. "Sustainable pressure washing." Sort of like attaching "green" to every verb or noun, slapping it on a product label and counting on undiscerning consumers.

But in this case, there's something to the claim. Green Earth Technologies has released a line of sustainable/reusable collapsible pressure washer cleaning solution bags, called their G-CLEAN line. Filled with biodegradable, ultra-concentrated detergent, the bags are lightweight, space-saving and free-standing. They can be placed on the ground or hung on the pressure washer and are filled with 12 ounces of detergent. Consumers need only add water to fill the 1 gallon bag. Each bag of detergent is good for a total of 21 gallons of mixed solution.

The product comes in three different lines: Siding & All Purpose Cleaner, Concrete Cleaner & Degreaser and Mold & Mildew Stain Remover. Bags of this stuff can be found at Home Depots across the nation.

And just in time for Spring Cleaning. Nice to see more Earth-friendly products hitting the shelves.

For those who aren't familiar with the practice of pressure washing, watch this How To Video on Pressure Washing for decks, concrete and siding to get the idea.

You'll also want to brush up on the importance of Routine Deck Maintenance and Sealing and Staining a Deck.

Best of luck out there with your spring cleaning chores. What's on your list of things to do?

Get that deck looking like new!

Cleaning Up After the 4th | Deck Cleaning and Deck Maintenance

We hope everyone had a great 4th of July weekend. For those who hosted a party (or two), we know clean-up can be a pain, especially on certain surfaces like your deck.

Don't waste any time when it comes to cleaning off that wood, composite or plastic deck. The last thing you want are unsightly wine, food or ketchup stains.

Follow these guidelines for caring and maintaining your deck. Get on it now!

Routine Deck Maintenance

Sealing and Staining Your Deck

How To Use a Pressure Washer

Have a great week!

Don't spill the salad dressing!

Post Memorial Day Clean Up | Deck Cleaning and Deck Maintenance

Memorial Day has come and gone, but for those of us who hosted a BBQ or gathering may have more than the memory lingering on. I can practically smell all the ketchup stains worked into those decks.

The return to work today might be a valid excuse for putting off the necessary deck cleaning for a few days, but sooner or later there's going to be another outdoor party, and no one likes walking on a dirty deck.

So when you're ready to get that wood or composite deck looking like new again, take a moment to read up on the best methods for deck cleaning and deck maintenance. Everything from best pressure washing practices to picking out a cleaner for your composite deck is covered.

And once you've cleaned that natural wood deck, you might as well get to sealing and staining.

We hope everyone had a great Memorial Day Weekend. Happy Summer!

Unrolling ProFekt to make an old deck look like new.

A Maintenance-Free Deck: Is This for Real?

Editor's Note: Sorry to say (or maybe not) ProFekt has gone the way of other "too good be true" miracle products, but before you split, we suggest checking out these time-tested low-maintenance decking solutions that could, in actual fact, serve you well for years to come.

What do you do when your wood deck is faded, rotted and splintering? Why, roll out a new one, of course.

Maintaining a wood deck is a pain. On a visit to my brother's home in Virginia a few years ago we spent our "quality time" together sanding and staining the shoddily-constructed and poorly maintained deck that came with his house. The sand paper was routinely shredded by overlooked nail heads and our staining job was undone by a freak and sudden rainstorm that passed through.

If only ProFekt had been around then.

The looks-like-real-wood product was created to "say goodbye to deck maintenance," but rather than replacing your real wood deck, you're just covering it up. The ProFekt rolls out over the faded, rotted and splintering deck to present a "Real Wood Look Surface" that extends the life and look of the deck and basically eliminates the need to ever again rent a sander from Home Depot.

The 3 mm. thick, 5.5-inch wide material comes in 40 ft. long rolls, each retailing for $69.99. Available colors include Cedar, Redwood, Sea Coast Gray and Natural Tobacco Barn. A handy online chart helps you determine how many rolls you will need for your deck size. The ProFekt website also has some videos that demonstrate installation.

The product is allegedly available online at Home Depot, ProBuild and ArchaDeck, but I couldn't find it.

My feeling is that ProFekt will have its share of proponents and willing buyers, particularly as it is an alternative to actually maintaining that wood deck. There's part of me that compares this to throwing a coat of paint over an old, rusty car, but even in that case the painting sure beats working the rust out.

Got a wood deck? Would you consider ProFekt?

Photo courtesy of Kebony ASA

Sugar-Coated Wood

Do you love the look and durability of tropical hardwoods but hate the idea of destroying the rainforest? The Norwegian based company Kebony has found a solution. Their "kebonization" process is a non-toxic treatment that gives softwoods that exist outside of the rainforest like maple and pine the strength of teak and ipe.

The kebonization process involves soaking the wood in furfuryl alcohol, a waste byproduct from sugar cane, that is completely non-toxic, unlike other pressure treating methods. The resulting wood can be used for siding, roofs and decking and is so strong the company claims roofs built using it can last 30 years.

Alas, the company has not yet opened an American office. Until then, the material must be imported from Europe. Kebony, come to the U.S.!

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