Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: Which Worked Better?

I add new mulch about every two years to the beds around our house.  Up until now, I’ve always used bagged mulch.  We had an SUV so it was easy enough to load up the back with as many bags as we could.  This was my first time having a pickup truck, so we decided to try getting bulk mulch.  This helped us evaluate whether bagged mulch or bulk was better for us.

We normally purchase bagged mulch from Lowes or Home Depot.  We found a place that sells mulch by the yard just a mile away from our home.  Basically, they just dump as much as you need (by the half-yard) into your truck.

Bagged Mulch Or Bulk: The Factors

image from morguefile via Kymmy
  • Getting The Mulch.   Driving up and having a load of mulch dumped in the truck took a few minutes.  Loading up the SUV with bags took quite a while.  Winner: Bulk.
  • Price.  I can usually get bagged mulch for $2 per bag.  It takes 13 bags to make a cubic yard, so it works out to $27 per bag.  The bulk mulch was $32 per yard, but I’m pretty sure they err on the top side.  Winner: Draw.
  • Quality.  This is probably too soon to tell.  People complain if the mulch breaks down too fast, loses color too fast, or actually grows weeds.  The quality of the bagged mulch has been OK.  In looking at the website of the place we got the bulk mulch from, they are very meticulous about what goes into making their mulch.  They also treat it for weeds and such.  We’ll have to wait and see.  Winner: To Be Determined.
  • Spreading the Mulch.  This was a total reverse of the first item.  Hands down, taking bags of mulch from the SUV to their needed location, then popping open the bag, was much easier than having to shovel mulch from the truck into a wheel barrow.  In fact, I felt that I gave up the advantage of the loading and then some.

Do We Have A Winner?

For the record we went through three yards of mulch this year.  That’s probably the most I’ve ever used.

So, if the factors above are equal, then right now it would look like I’d favor using bagged mulch.  But this is based only on three of four known variables.  Price is a draw, and the time to load and unload the mulch slightly favors the bags.  So if it was only on those factors, bagged would win.

However, quality is a pretty big unknown variable.  If this mulch knocks our socks off, then it might be worth the extra time it takes.  I guess the question is, can mulch really knock your socks off?

Readers, what do you think?  Is buying mulch in bags or in bulk a better option? Do you lay your own mulch or do you have someone do it?  Let me know your experiences in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

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7 Things To Do To Your Gas Grill

Ah, summer.  It’s here or right around the corner.  If you’re like me, then pulling out the grill is an integral part of the summer season.  I’ve always been someone who prefers a gas grill.  If you fall into the same category, here are some tips to make sure you’re ready for grilling season.

Check  Your Hose And Connections

The hose that carries the gas to the grill needs to be checked every year.  The hoses can crack, the fittings could come loose or crack themselves.  It’s important to make sure that you don’t have a leak.  Inspect the hoses for cracks.  To test the connections, use soapy water.  Put the soapy water over the connections and turn on the gas.  If any bubbles form, you have a leak.  If this happens, you need to replace your supply lines.

Inspect Your Grill Box

The grill box needs to be checked for any cracks.  If you find any, chances are it’s going to be time to replace the grill, or try to salvage a replacement box.

Vacuum Out Your Grill Box

Flakes of grilling sessions past will accumulate on the bottom of the box.  While many of these will burn off over time, it’s a good idea to clean the debris every so often.  A shop vac is a great tool for this task.

Check Your Gas Tubes

Our gas grill has three tubes inside that do the actual heating.  You want to make sure that these are working

Image from morguefile courtesy of ronnieb

properly.  One year, we had a spider build a nest inside one, and the line did not function properly.  If they need attention, refer to your instruction manual on how to disassemble the line for cleaning.

Clean Your Grates

We take off the grates and clean them.  This will remove grease and give it a fresh start to the season.  You can usually use a grill brush to keep them clear in between grilling sessions.  Depending on how often you grill, you may need to clean these monthly.

Check Your Gas Tanks

If you have a dedicated gas line, this may not apply to you.  But, we use propane and have 20-gallon tanks.  Check your supply at the beginning of the season.  We have two tanks, and try to keep one full at all times.  This ensures that you won’t run out of gas halfway through grilling up your favorite recipe.

Check Your Equipment

Grilling involves a lot more than the grill.  Make sure you have your full inventory of flippers, thermometers, brushes, basters and such at the ready.  Look them over and make sure they’re all ready to go.  The last thing you want to do is step away from your meat to have to find a needed accessory.

Nothing beats something fresh off the grill.  With a few minutes of easy work, you can make sure that you have a summer full of great grilling ahead.

Readers, have you used the grill yet?  What are your tips for a great grilling season?  Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.  Happy grilling!

 

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.

Sump Pump Floats And Floor Drains, Oh My

Yesterday, I got one of those phone calls from my wife that I never want.  “There’s water in the basement.”  My wife heard one of our water alarms going off and found a puddle of water in the middle of the basement.  She couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.  I only work a few minutes from home, so I was able to get there pretty quick.  I didn’t even have to go to where the puddle was.  As soon as I went down into the basement, I knew what the issue was.  The sump pump wasn’t pumping.

Why You Don’t Skip Routine Maintenance

Remember how I said I knew right away what the problem was?  I knew that it was the sump pump because when I went downstairs, I saw that water was seeping up through the cracks in the floor, as well as around the perimeter.  And this had happened once before, many years ago.  That time, I went downstairs to feed our cats, and saw the same thing.  And it was the same problem.  The sump pump wasn’t working

What happened that time was that the sump pump floats got tangled up.  See, we actually have a backup system.  We have a backup pump that runs on a marine battery.  That way if power ever goes out, or the main pump fails, the backup can keep us water free.

They both have floats to trigger them to turn on, and what I found out years ago was that they wiggle around over time to where they end up around the same place.

Ever since then, every few months, I would go down, work my way into the tiny space where the pumps are, and move the floats around to where they were nowhere near each other.  For years I didn’t have the problem.

Except guess what I didn’t do last fall when I should have?  I’m not sure why, but it just didn’t happen.

So when that happens, it knocks out both the primary and the backup system.  Since the floats basically get stuck together, both fail.

Preventing it is a simple fix and I was kicking myself for not having done it.

Image from morguefile courtesy of jade

All Kinds Of Lucky

On a scale of one to ten, I’d rate it a four on the luck factor that we had a water alarm.  Since we no longer have cats, we don’t go down to the basement every day.  So, I have a water alarm near the hot water tank in case that starts leaking.  That actually was the one that went off.   The water was coming up through a floor drain that normally drains into the sump well.  Because of the alarm, I got the floats untangled quickly enough that nothing got very wet.

Now, on a scale of one to ten, that this happened THIS week was incredibly lucky, and I rate it a ten.  We’re heading down to Florida, and if this had happened a week later than it did, we’d have come home to an awful mess.  All the alarms in the world wouldn’t have helped if nobody was in the house for days to hear them.

That got me thinking, maybe I need to look into a wi-fi water alarm.  Such a thing has to exist.

Uncovering A New Issue

After everything was quickly back to normal, I started looking around to make sure there wasn’t anything I was missing.  As I was walking around, I happened to notice the other floor drain.  And I noticed that it was completely dry.

Now, in the sense that we only had one puddle to mop up instead of two, this was a good thing.  But, if we ever needed that half of the basement to drain, having it not functioning is bad.

When I looked down into the drain with a flashlight, I could see water but it was clearly nowhere near the level that you’d expect.  Clearly there’s something wrong.

I started thinking about it and the probable answer came to me.

Cat litter.

Although we no longer have cats, for the nine years that we did while living in this house, the litter boxes were each about ten feet from the drain.  My guess is that over time, a piece of litter here and a piece of litter there fell into the drain.  While there is still some water getting through, it’s probably blocked.

I’ve done some research and have found out that cat litter in pipes does cause clogs.  It’s also somewhat of a common problem, as I’ve found.  Apparently some people flush their cat litter down the toilet?  Ew.

Anyway, it seems that pouring a rush of boiling hot water can often free up the litter.  So I’ll have to try that.

In my case, it’s going to be a bit more of a complex job.  The pipes in question empty in to the sump well.  So, if I break up the litter, I can’t just let it travel along its merry way.  Otherwise, it’ll just end up in the well and probably wreak havoc on the pump, or create another clump in the pipe exiting the house.  So, I’ll have to figure out the exact spot where the pipe drains into the well, and will have to catch whatever comes out of it.

It’s been a pretty wet few weeks.  Doing what I described would probably be more manageable when things are dry and there isn’t much water coming into the sump well.

Add it to the to do list.   As well as making sure those floats are re-adjusted every few months.  Without fail!

Readers, have you ever had a sump pump issue?  Did you ever dodge a bullet like I did?  Let me know in the comments below.  Thanks for reading.

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7 Cleaning Tips I Find Useful

Cleaning the house is not top on the list of fun things to do for many people.  But, since it has to be done anyway, you might as well make the most of it, right?  Here are a handful of tips I’ve picked up along the way.  I hope you find them useful.

Cleaning Tips I’ve Picked Up

  1. Use vinegar.  We have some traditional cleaners in our house, but a majority of our cleaning is done with vinegar.  A 50-50 vinegar/water mix will clean most surfaces. Why put up with all the chemicals if you don’t have to?  Plus, vinegar is cheap!
  2. Spray first, scrub later.  When you spray something down, give it a minute or two before scrubbing.  You’ll find that many stains will dissipate and caked on mess will become easier to clean.
  3. Clean from top to bottom.  If you clean your floors first, chances are you’ll get them messy when you clean something above it. Work from the top down to avoid cleaning things twice.
  4. Clean windows and mirrors with newspaper.  I still use Windex here, but instead of paper towel, I use newspaper.  It doesn’t streak.  Hint: Only use paper with black newsprint.
  5. Clean lampshades with a lint roller.  Don’t bother trying to vacuum a dirty lampshade or wipe them down with a cloth.  Both leave messes.  A lint roller will do the trick every time.
  6. Clean on both sides of exterior door.  Are you tired of cleaning the floors only to have the first person that walks through the door bring in a mess?  Shake out rugs and sweep or vacuum on the outside of the door to minimize this.
  7. Carry around a screwdriver while you clean.  Technically, this isn’t a cleaning tip but it will save you time.  I often carry around a screwdriver to tighten cabinet pull knobs, doors, or other things that you notice but never get around to fixing.

I hope these tips help.  Readers, what are your favorite cleaning tips?  Thanks for reading!

Copyright 2017 Original content authorized only to appear on Money Beagle. Please subscribe via RSS, follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or receive e-mail updates. Thank you for reading.