5 Biggest Lawn Care Mistakes

testing soil pH level

Maintaining a healthy lawn is no easy task. Don’t make it harder on yourself by making these five common mistakes:

Not testing your soil.

Everything about your lawn starts in the soil, which is why it is important to have your pH level tested. Testing your soil will help you determine which type of lawn treatments are required, the best type of fertilizers to use, how much is required, and other important decisions.

Cutting the grass too short.

When mowing your lawn, it’s tempting to set the mower blades as low as possible. After all, the shorter you cut your grass, the longer until it’s time to mow again. However, it is possible to cut your grass too short, leaving it prone to disease and drying out. Set the mower height to about 2½ inches and never cut off more than ⅓ of the grass blade at once.

Bagging lawn clippings.

Do you bag your lawn clippings after mowing? If so, you are essentially throwing away free fertilizer. Freshly-mowed grass clippings are full of nutrients such as nitrogen; leaving them on your lawn can reduce your need for fertilizer by up to 25%.

Watering too much.

When it comes to watering your grass, less is more. Overwatering your lawn not only wastes water, it discourages your grass from developing a deep root system, making it more likely to die in periods of drought. A good rule of thumb is to add ⅓ of an inch of water three times per week. Water early in the morning if possible, as this helps minimize evaporation.

Waiting until it’s too late.

A lush lawn is a year-round commitment. If you wait until the late spring to start prepping, you’re already too late. This season-by-season calendar from House Logic details exactly what you need to do to maintain a healthy lawn all year long.

Devine Bros. offers the widest selection of landscaping and masonry materials in Fairfield County, Connecticut. From mulch to flagstone and everything in between, look no further than us to supply your next project. All of our products are available for pickup and delivery. If you live in Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, or the surrounding area, call (203) 866-4421 to learn more, or view our product selection online.

5 Areas Not to Forget While Spring Cleaning

spring cleaning

Break out your brooms and dustpans, it’s time for spring cleaning. Before you get started on your to-do list, make sure you aren’t forgetting about these five important areas:

Air Filters

It is estimated that four out of every five HVAC-related breakdowns are caused by dirty air filters. A dirty filter limits fresh air intake, thus increasing the wear-and-tear on your HVAC system. Clean or replace your air filters at the start of spring, and every month afterwards.

Gutters

A clean, fully-functioning gutter system is a home’s best defense against water damage. Clogged gutters force rainwater to seep into the roof, or pour over the edge and puddle near the foundation. A clean gutter system, on the other hand, directs rainwater safely away from the home. Clean your gutters now, before the April showers strike.

A/C Condenser Coils

The condenser coils on your air conditioner are designed to vent warm air, but they have been collecting dust over the winter season. When these coils can’t adequately release heat, your cooling bill will skyrocket, and you are more likely to experience costly breakdowns. Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on how to locate and clean your system’s condenser coils.

Patio

Your patio is the heart of your backyard, and usually the gathering place for summer barbecues. Now is a good time to clean it off and seal any cracks or potholes that may have developed over the winter season. Click here for a step-by-step guide to cleaning brick patios.

Air Ducts

Air ducts are a common hiding spot for dust, pollen, pet dander, mold, and all types of other allergens. This accumulation can hinder airflow, limiting the energy-efficiency and overall effectiveness of your cooling system. These particles can also spread throughout your home, triggering allergies. Air duct cleaning requires specialized tools and equipment, which is why you should hire a professional service every 3-5 years.

If you live in Fairfield County, Connecticut, let the home cooling experts at Devine Bros. help get your home ready for the warm weather. We offer professional air conditioner installations, repairs, tune ups, and more. Give us a call at (203) 866-4421 to get started with a free estimate.

Early Spring Landscaping Tips for a Beautiful Summer Lawn

early spring landscaping tips

One of the most popular quotes in the world of sports is, “championships are won in the offseason.” Similarly, great summer landscapes are made in the spring.

Your lawn is just waking up from the long winter season, and it is hungry for nutrients. If you want a lush, healthy lawn this summer, you need to start working on it now. Here are seven things you should get done before mid-April.

1. Clean your gutters. The start of spring is always a good time to clean out your gutters. A clean gutter system will prevent water from pouring over the edge of your roof and drowning plants close to the perimeter of your home.

2. Remove debris and dead plants. Your lawn and garden have taken a beating from the long, cold winter – it’s time to clean them up. Pick up dead branches that have fallen from surrounding trees, rake up dead leaves, and remove any unwanted growth.

3. Prune trees and shrubbery. Prune any trees and shrubs which look damaged, diseased, or dead from the winter weather. Remove any weak spots and encourage the shrub’s natural shape. Wait to prune spring shrubs until after they have finished blooming.

4. Mulch your garden beds. Mulch tends to decompose or wash away during the winter months, making now the perfect time to restock your garden beds. Using a shovel, rake, or your hands, evenly distribute the mulch until it is 2-3 inches deep.

5. Apply pre-emergent weed killer. Don’t let weeds plague your landscape this season: kill them before they have a chance to grow by applying a pre-emergent weed killer.

6. Inspect landscaping equipment. Lubricate, sharpen, and inspect the various components of your landscaping equipment. If you notice any signs of damage, have it repaired now so it is ready to go when you need it later on.

7. Repair any stone fixtures. You’ve done everything you can for the vegetation in your yard; now it’s time to turn your attention to masonry. If you have any stone fixtures, clean them off and make any necessary touch ups and repairs. If you don’t have any stone fixtures, now is the time to install one.

Devine Bros. offers the widest selection of landscaping and masonry materials in Fairfield County, Connecticut. From mulch to flagstone and everything in between, look no further than us to supply your next project. All of our products are available for pickup and delivery. If you live in Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, or the surrounding area, call (203) 866-4421 to learn more, or view our product selection online.

 

Spring is Here, and Allergies Will Soon Follow

spring allergies

Spring is in the air – or is that just pollen?

While spring is generally welcomed with open arms, the 50 million Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies may not be as receptive. Luckily, there are ways to minimize your symptoms without barricading yourself in your home.

Here’s a few tips to help keep your allergies under control this season:

  • Start taking your allergy medication now, so it is working at full strength by the time peak allergy season comes around.
  • Dust, vacuum, and mop your home regularly.
  • Wash your bed sheets every week in hot water. Consider using a hypoallergenic cover on your mattress and pillows.
  • Bathe your pets twice a month, and don’t let them sleep in your bed.
  • Take off your shoes when you enter your home and leave them at the door.
  • Keep windows closed when the pollen count is high. Use the air conditioner at home and in the car.  
  • Find and remove any mold or mildew in your home.
  • Change your air filters in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Have your air ducts professionally cleaned. They could be harboring dust, pollen, pet dander, mold, and other allergens.
  • Keep your humidity levels under 50% to kill dust mites.
  • Invest in a HEPA filter to remove airborne particles from your home.

Poor indoor air quality can worsen your allergies, and even lead to health problems down the road. How clean is the air in your home? If you live in Fairfield County CT, call Devine Bros. at (203) 866-4421 to schedule an air quality consultation.

How to Get Your Home Ready for Spring in 5 Easy Steps

how to prepare your home for spring

Spring is around the corner; is your home prepared for the change of seasons? Follow these five steps from Devine Bros. Heating & Cooling, and it will be:

1. Clean your gutters. Spring showers are on the way, and if your gutters are clogged, rainwater can seep into your roof and foundation. Clean your gutters at the start of the season to divert rainwater away from your home and prevent water damage.

2. Care for your lawn. Great summer lawns are made in the spring months. Remove debris and dead grass from your lawn with a rake, then loosen up the soil. Lay down quality grass seeds, add fertilizer, and stay on top of your watering, and you will have a lush lawn before you know it.

3. Change your air filters. HVAC air filters should be cleaned or replaced every month. Dirty filters can restrict airflow, leading to increased wear-and-tear and higher energy bills. Refer to your owner’s manual for instructions on how to replace your filter.

4. Switch your ceiling fans. Set the blades on your ceiling fans to rotate counter-clockwise during the warmer months. This will gently push air down into the room and create a wind chill effect to help keep you cool.

5. Schedule an A/C tune up. Your air conditioner has been sitting idle for months, but soon you will use it almost every day. Make sure it’s ready for the sudden increased workload by having it professionally tuned up. In addition to preventing breakdowns, an A/C tune up can improve comfort and lower your energy bills.

If you live in Fairfield County, trust Devine Bros. to help get your home ready for the spring and summer months. We offer air conditioner repairs, installations, and tune ups, and have one of the largest inventories of landscaping supplies in southern Connecticut. If you live in Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, or the surrounding area, call (203) 866-4421 today.

End-of-Season Furnace Care

Electricity circuit breaker blown fuses human hand close-up

Even with the impending snow storm, spring is still on the way. After the next few weeks, we won’t be relying on our home heating systems to keep us warm too much. It is important to prepare your furnace for the long spring and summer seasons so that it is ready to run in the fall when you need it again.

Follow these step-by-step instructions from the experts at Devine Bros. to prepare your heating system for the offseason:

  • Clean or replace your air filter. If you have central air conditioning, your A/C likely uses the same ductwork as your furnace. Replacing your air filter only takes a few minutes and can significantly reduce energy usage and prevent breakdowns for your heating and cooling systems.
  • Perform a visual inspection. You don’t need to be an HVAC expert to give your heating system a quick visual inspection. Simply examine your furnace and its components for cracks, loose connections, and other signs of damage. If you see something wrong, have it professionally repaired before it develops into a bigger problem.
  • Clear the surrounding area. It’s easy to let items accumulate around your furnace during the summer months, but if you need heat on a cold, rainy day, a cluttered environment around your heating equipment could present a fire hazard.
  • Power it down. If your furnace has a dedicated switch on your breaker box, turn it off for the season. This will prevent it from accidentally turning on, which would waste energy and could put you at risk for a fire.

If you run into any problems when working on your furnace, the professionals at Devine Bros. are just a phone call away. Our trained technicians can service, repair, or install any type of home heating system. If you live in Fairfield County CT, give us a call at (203) 866-4421.

9 Cost-Effective Ways to Keep a Cozy Home

Life is better in socks

Space heating is the biggest energy consumer in the house, accounting for about 42% of our utility bills each year. While it might be tempting to turn up your thermostat on those days you can’t seem to get warm, just a few degrees can break the bank. Try these nine low-cost ways to warm up instead:

Don’t let your money go out the window

  • Seal your windows with caulk. Caulking your windows only costs a few dollars, can be done in less than an hour, and could significantly reduce your energy bills.
  • Open your curtains during the day time. The sun is the world’s largest source of free heat, use it to your advantage by opening your curtains on sunny days.
  • Keep them closed at night. If you do opt to open your curtains during the day time, make sure you close them when the sun goes down to minimize heat loss.

Increase your insulation

  • Throw down throw rugs. Plush rugs can prevent heat from escaping through your floorboards. Plus, they feel great to walk on.
  • Put bubble wrap on your windows. Bubble wrap is a cheap, easy, and effective way to temporarily insulate your windows.
  • Use draft blockers under your exterior doors. You can purchase a draft blocker for less than $10, make your own, or use a rolled up towel – anything to stop cold air from creeping under your door.

Make use of other HVAC equipment

  • Use a humidifier. Raising the relative humidity in your home can make it feel up to five degrees warmer, even though the temperature stays the same.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans. Switch the blades on your ceiling fans to rotate clockwise. This will push warm air that gathers at the ceiling back down into the room.
  • Fire up the fireplace. If you are lucky enough to have a working fireplace and a sufficient amount of wood to burn, use it to your advantage.

Devine Bros. has been helping homeowners in Fairfield County, Connecticut save money on their heating bills for nearly 100 years. We offer affordable fuel delivery services, furnace tune-ups, energy-efficient heating equipment installations, and more. Visit our website to see what we can do for you, or call (203) 866-4421.

Where is Your Home Losing Heat?

home heat loss

Think your home is air tight? Think again. Even with all of your windows and doors shut, most homes still lose a significant amount of heat through small gaps, air leaks, and other inefficiencies. Read below to learn more about the common sources of heat loss:

  • Ceiling. Warm air rises, so it should come as no surprise that the roof is a significant source of heat loss in most homes. Poor insulation in the attic can result in heat loss of up to 25%!
  • Walls. Many estimate that walls account for up to one-third of heat loss, making them the most significant source in the home. This could be due to poor insulation, small gaps around exterior doors, and even air leaks around your electrical outlets.
  • Windows. Your money could be going right out of the window – literally. There are a few ways to minimize heat loss through your windows. One way is by installing new double-paned glass with a low-emissivity coating. You could also simply seal air leaks with caulk or weatherstripping. A more low-tech approach involves covering your window with a thick, insulative curtain. However, this is more of a band-aid solution and prevents you from opening your curtains during the daytime.
  • Furnace. If your heating system is more than 10 years old, it could be only 65% efficient. That means 35% of the fuel you burn is ultimately wasted. This number could be even higher if you have leaky air ducts. A brand new, Energy Star heating system can offer 90% energy efficiency or more, allowing you to heat your home for less.

Devine Bros. offers energy-efficient heating system installations to homeowners throughout Fairfield County, Connecticut. If you live in Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, or the surrounding area, give us a call at (203) 866-4421 to schedule a service with one of our trained technicians.

3 Common Furnace Smells and What They Mean

woman pinches nose with fingers looks with disgust

Furnaces have been known to emit all sorts of strange smells, ranging from dust, to oil, to mold, and more. The scent coming from your furnace could indicate something as minor as a dirty filter, or as major as a gas leak – it all depends on the odor.

In this article, the heating experts at Devine Bros. go over three common furnace smells and what they could mean:

  • Dust. If you are firing up your furnace for the first time of the season (or maybe just after a long vacation), a dusty smell is normal. Dust can quickly accumulate in the burner element or air ducts of an inactive furnace; what you are smelling is simply the burning off or dispersion of this dust. The odor should subside relatively quickly.
  • Mold. Mold can grow virtually anywhere in the home – including inside your heating system. The air filter and air ducts are two of the most common places you will find mold in your furnace. Replace the air filter immediately; if the smell persists, you may need to hire a professional air duct cleaning service to remove mold that has grown inside your ducts.
  • Rotten Eggs. If you use natural gas to heat your home, the scent of rotten eggs is even more dangerous than it is unpleasant. In its native state, natural gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless, which makes it nearly impossible to detect. During the refinement process, sulfur is added to the gas so that leaks can quickly be identified. So when you smell rotten eggs, you are actually smelling sulfur, which means there is probably a gas leak. Immediately turn off your furnace, evacuate the home, and contact your gas provider.

Is your heating system emitting a weird smell? Fairfield County residents can count on the home heating experts at Devine Bros. to quickly diagnose and fix the problem. If you live in Norwalk, Westport, or New Canaan, give us a call at (203) 866-4421.

How Indoor Air Quality Can Affect Your Heart Health

indoor air pollution can impact heart health

Today is February 1st, which marks the start of American Heart Month. Sponsored by the American Heart Association, this month is dedicated to cardiovascular health. Heart disease is the leading killer of both men and women, but steps can be taken to reduce your risk.

While obvious factors such as diet and exercise can impact your heart health, today we will be focusing on a more subtle, but just as significant, influencer – indoor air quality.

What is indoor air quality?

Indoor air quality refers to the quality of air within buildings and structures, as it relates to the health and comfort of building occupants. While it is often overlooked, indoor air can be up to ten times more polluted than the air outside.

How does indoor air quality affect heart health?

Indoor air quality has been linked to an abundance of side effects, both short- and long-term. Short-term exposure to indoor air pollution can induce allergic-like reactions, including sneezing, coughing, runny nose, fatigue, dizziness, nausea, and headaches. If you already suffer from heart problems, short-term exposure has been known to trigger heart attack, stroke, and arrhythmias.

The long-term health effects can be even more debilitating, or even fatal. Indoor air pollution has been linked to respiratory disease, certain forms of cancer, and even cardiovascular disease. Pollution is believed to have inflammatory effects on the heart, which can lead to problems such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and heart failure.

How can I improve my indoor air quality?

Luckily, there are many ways to improve the air quality in your home. Some of them include:

  • Investing in a HEPA air filtration system
  • Adding houseplants such as the snake plant, peace lily, and english ivy.
  • Not smoking inside your home (or ever).
  • Using homemade, all natural cleaning products.
  • Avoid using aerosol air fresheners or burning candles.
  • Improving the natural ventilation in the home.
  • Dust and vacuuming your home regularly.
  • Use low-VOC paints and adhesives.

How is the air quality in your home? Find out with a free consultation from the experts at Devine Bros. If you live in Norwalk, Westport, New Canaan, or the surrounding Fairfield County area, give us a call at (203) 866-4421.