Garage Fire: What not to do

Featuring guest blogger: Rick SolomonGarage Fire

One of my neighbors just had a garage fire and it made me think: this is fire information we should all keep in mind. Plus check that your fire extinguisher is where you thought it was, and that it is still good. The following is what not to do if you smell gas.

My neighbor described the fire: ‘The fire started due to a hole/leak in the hose that delivered gas to a gas dryer. He could smell the gas and he ran his hand over the length of the line to find the hole and turned off the gas temporarily, then duct taped the hose until he could buy a replacement, turned the gas back on and tested the dryer. After running for no more that 60 seconds, the large vent hose caught on fire thus catching the garage on fire.  Luckily they had a fire extinguisher handy and no one was injured.

fire_extinguisher_servicesTwo things he learned.
#1. If you discover a leak in the gas line don’t try to patch it. Replace the line (our 4′ replacement cost $28 at Home Depot) and keep the gas turned off and DON’T use the dryer until then.
#2. Get a bigger (or more) fire extinguishers than you think you need. Time is precious in a fire, and even if an extinguisher doesn’t fully put out a fire, it still give precious seconds until you and your family can escape or until the fire dept. arrives.’

Advice from the neighborhood expert Rick Solomon: Gas inside the home is relatively safe. It gives you the warning you have a leak based on the smell that is emitted. Gas is also lighter than air and dissipates. The problem was when you duct taped it, the corrugated gas flex didn’t allow the tape to fully seal. When the dryer started, there was an electronic glow plug folled by the flame of the dryer. Either 1 of them would be able to ignite any gas leaking in the vicinity of the heat source.

Technically gas is only coming into the house at approx 7″ of water column / approx 1/3 of a pound of pressure. Whereas water pressure is approx. 60-65 pounds within the house.

A simple test for a gas leak is the sniff test or a soap test. Mix up approx 10% liquid soap to clean water in a sprayer bottle. Then spray onto the suspected are of the pipe or connector. A leak will cause the soapy solution to make bubbles. Find the leak and either tighten the connection or shut off the gas serving that appliance. There is no legal miracle tape or glue for gas leaks.

Don’t use any soap solutions that contain ammonia as it will deteriorate some of the pipe and flex connectors we use in plumbing systems.

Rick Solomon from Rick Solomon Plumbing

(310) 836-1437  License # 00743321

Based out of Los Angeles and founded in 1981, Rick Solomon Plumbing is a plumbing contractor and provides plumbing inspection, septic tank services, water purification system installation, and shower installation. They are licensed by the state of California. Rick Solomon Plumbing is insured and bonded. They provide emergency services.

Remember: It’s good to have 1-2 fire extinguishers in the house.

Financing Makes It Easy to Green Your Next Home

One of the main reasons I educate myself in “Green Real Estate” is to make it more affordable to buy a home.  Using the programs that are in place many people can make upgrades to homes they need to make their home more comfortable, healthier, safer and better to live in.

Financing Makes It Easy to Green Your Next Home.

One really great resource is a free program with SoCal Gas:

George Kopf
Energy Advisor
BPI Certified Building Analyst
SoCalGas® funded Home Energy Advising 

600 Wilshire Blvd #202  •  Los Angeles, CA 90017

How to Enjoy a Compost Pit Without the Stench

By Guest Blogger Jaron Clinton

Pallet compost binThere are plenty of reasons to have a compost pit, such as excellent mulch and waste reduction, and if you are moving to a new home and want to grow a garden, now is the best time to give it a shot.

Compost pits use the decomposition power from billions of microorganisms that are commonly found in healthy soil to decompose lawn rubbish and kitchen waste into fertilizer growing plants can use. Some people like to maintain an indoor compost bucket in something smaller such as an empty and clean paint can. This is tremendously beneficial because it saves you the effort of going out to your compost pit every single time you have something to contribute to it. The soil created makes great fertilizer for most plants—everything from sunflowers to corn.

Compost BinsA compost pit also serves as an excellent way to recycle food and lawn trash that would otherwise clog up landfills and add more problems to our already worsening climate. For items that should not be composted, make sure you utilize landfill diversion techniques to keep our planet clean. Creating a compost pit is a simple process that doesn’t take up too much time or space, but if you don’t create the pit properly then it can take on a bit of an unpleasant odor. Luckily, eliminating this is a pretty easy process.


The first and most important step to eliminate a smelly compost pile is to make sure the ingredients are properly mixed and aerated. “A healthy compost pile needs plenty of oxygen mixed in. Otherwise, aerobic bacteria (those that need oxygen to metabolize the organic materials) cannot function, and decomposition will be driven instead by anaerobic bacteria, which produce foul-smelling gasses as byproducts of their metabolism,” according to WikiHow. The easiest method to ensure that the aerobic bacteria do their job is to use a rotating compost bin. When this is not an option, make sure to turn or mix the pile every few days with a shovel or pitchfork.

If that doesn’t solve your stinky pit of soon-to-be fertilizer, then take a peek at the size of materials you’re using. Subpar airflow can also be a result of materials that are too small and don’t leave enough room for air to sweep through. “For example, a compost pile composed largely of sawdust will be difficult to aerate, as the small pieces of sawdust will fit together snugly and prevent air from flowing through the pile,” the WikiHow article states. “To prevent this problem, integrate larger or looser materials into your pile. Tree limbs and cardboard scraps are good materials for this purpose.”

Finally, if that still isn’t working to get the air flowing then you’re stuck making sure your pile isn’t too wet. Air finds it difficult to push through a moist environment. A handful of compost should have the dampness of a wrung out sponge.

If by chance your compost pile is getting enough airflow but still smells, then take a look at what you’re tossing in there. Eliminating meat from your diet is a great benefit to society, as livestock account for a staggering one-fifth of global greenhouse gasses and 75 percent of deforestation, and similarly, meat should never find its way into your compost pile.

Rich CompostLearning how to compost is an awesome experience that gives you a better understanding of how the decomposition process works. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better fertilizer in your local hardware store, and so long as you wear proper sun protection, being outside to toil through the pit is good exercise. The only downside beginners often encounter is the smell, but by following these tips the only thing you’ll be smelling will be a bed of growing flowers.

SoCalWaterSmart Turf Removal Program Funds Committed

It was announced today that the funds for the Turf Removal Program also known as Cash for Grass Program are all reserved and no more projects will be approved.  If you have already had your project approved your rebate should be reserved.  However, there is no money left for new projects to be approved.

BUT, there are still a lot of other great water saving programs that can be found on the website as well as at

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) 
announced that it will be closing its turf removal program to 
new applications today July 9, 2015 because available funding 
has been fully allocated. LADWP is currently retooling their 
program to continue a utility-sponsored rebate program for their
customers. The revamped program will be available soon – please 
check back. Please also check 
for additional instructions.


How I got Cash for Grass: Through SoCalWaterSmart Turf Removal Program.

How I got Cash for Grass: Through SoCalWaterSmart Turf Removal Program

After of lawn
After of lawn
Front Yard Grown In
Front Yard Grown In
Parkway After
Parkway After

Did you know you can get around $4 square foot to remove your thirsty lawn and help pay for new drought tolerant landscaping?  When I did this process I only got $2 square foot and still ended up with $3300.

How I got Cash for Grass: Through SoCalWaterSmart Turf Removal Program.

How I got Cash for Grass: SoCalWaterSmart Turf Removal Program (Reveal)

Feel free to add your own links to your own projects.  We would love to see your new yard!

Drought Tolerant Yard Design

Free Money for Home Upgrades

Home Energy Upgrade Programs
Home Energy Upgrade Programs

Have you been thinking about a home project for a long time and  not had enough money to throw into the project?  Your windows are old and inefficient, your walls have little to no insulation, your air conditioning and heating unit hardly works…..  There are tons of programs available to help you switch to more efficient systems and get money to help you replace them.  But there are way too many programs to actually figure out.

SoCalGas has started a program where they match you up with a coordinator that can help you navigate through these programs.  THIS IS THE BIGGEST HELP THAT WE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR!!!  I highly recommend EVERYONE call to see where you can find free money to make your home better.  You will have your own personal Home Energy Advisor.

Are you interested in making your home more efficient?

If you are, you will be excited to learn SoCalGas is funding a pilot program that offers free Home Energy Advising for eligible homeowners.

Home Energy Advising Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: I’m a homeowner interested in making my home more efficient and more comfortable while lowering my bills. How do I do that?

A: An Energy Upgrade might be just what you’re looking for! But where to start? Call toll free at (888) 382-2925 to be connected to a SoCalGas Home Energy Advisor.

Q: So what is “Home Energy Advising”?

A: Home Energy Advising is free, highly customized and ongoing expert phone-based assistance to eligible homeowners.

Q: What does Home Energy Advising offer?

A: Home Energy Advising provides eligible homeowners:

Incentive program referral
Expert technical advise
Assistance reviewing bids
Incentive paperwork assistance
And more!
Q: How do I find out if I am eligible?

A: Call (888) 382-2925 to be connected to your Home Energy Advisor. But hurry! Space is limited!

Further information can be found here:

SoCalGas Energy Upgrade Program
SoCalGas Energy Upgrade Program

TELL GEORGE I SENT YOU AND PLEASE LET ME KNOW HOW YOUR EXPERIENCE GOES!!!  I am still getting lots of questions about the cash for gas program which I got a rebate of $3,300 back for removing my lawn.  The rebate amount is now $3/sq ft so you can get even more.

Follow my cash for grass process here: 

SoCalGas’ Home Energy Advising Program

I was just contacted by SoCal Gas Energy Advisor, George Kopf.  They are working on connecting homeowners with people that can walk them through the different programs for rebates and incentives for energy upgrades.  How great is that to have someone to help you understand all of the options out there.  Here is the information he sent me.

SoCalGas Energy Upgrade Program
SoCalGas Energy Upgrade Program

Details on SoCalGas funded Pilot Programs

SoCalGas is funding two pilot programs that should interest every Real Estate Professional in southern California:

The Home Energy Advising pilot program provides independent expert advice and assistance for homeowners performing an energy upgrade to their home.



Are you interested in making your home more efficient?

If you are, you will be excited to learn SoCalGas is funding a pilot program that offers free Home Energy Advising for eligible homeowners.

Home Energy Advising Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: I’m a homeowner interested in making my home more efficient and more comfortable while lowering my bills.  How do I do that?

A: An Energy Upgrade might be just what you’re looking for! But where to start? Call toll free to be connected to a SoCalGas Home Energy Advisor, George Kopf,  (888) 382-2925 or

Q: So what is “Home Energy Advising”?

A: Home Energy Advising is free, highly customized and ongoing expert phone-based assistance to eligible homeowners who are interested in making their home more efficient and comfortable through an energy upgrade.

Q: What does Home Energy Advising offer?

A: Home Energy Advising provides eligible homeowners:

Education on the ability of energy upgrades to make their home more comfortable, durable, valuable, safe, healthy, and efficient.
Assistance in determining the availability of incentives for energy upgrades, the options for financing their upgrade, and the qualifications of participating contractors.
Ongoing assistance moving forward with their project: help selecting incentive programs, expert technical advise, assistance reviewing bids, completing incentive paperwork, etc.

Q: Sounds great! So who is eligible?

A: The free Home Energy Advising service is a SoCalGas funded pilot program for homeowners who are SoCalGas customers and receive their electricity from a municipal electric utility (LADWP, Riverside Public Utilities, Glendale Water & Power, Burbank Water & Power, etc.).

Q: How do I find out if I am eligible?

A: Call (888) 382-2925 to be connected to your Home Energy Advisor. But hurry! Space is limited!  Make sure to tell George I sent you!

Home Energy Upgrade Programs
Home Energy Upgrade Programs

Composting for Beginners

Here is a great article from guest writer Travis McKnight

Composting for Beginners

Gardening is a wonderful way to spend time at home, and adding compost is a great addition to any garden. Compost pits utilize billions of microorganisms in healthy soil to decompose kitchen scraps and lawn rubbish into nutrients and fertilizer usable by growing plants. They also serve as an excellent way to recycle trash that would otherwise clog up landfills, and save money at the same time. Creating a compost pit is a simple process, and anybody with the required space is able to take this step toward making a more self-sustainable, healthier garden. 

The Pit

Where a compost pit or pile is created often leads to its success or failure. The EPA recommends the area be a dry, shady, or partly shady spot near a water source and preferably out of sight from people and pets. Ideally, the compost area should be about one cubic meter. “This size provides enough food and insulation to keep the organisms in the compost warm and happy and working hard. However, piles can be larger or smaller and work just fine if managed well,” the EPA states.  

If digging up the yard isn’t a viable option, creating an artificial compost bin is a great solution. The environmental website Treehugger has created a few DIY videos on what these containers look like and how to build them. 

The Materials

The great thing about making a compost pit is it recycles materials that would otherwise be thrown out with the trash. There are four conditions required to be present for optimally creating compost: air, water, carbon and nitrogen. For composting purposes, these materials are categorized into being either “brown” or “green,” and they’re both needed. 

Green materials serve as the nitrogen base, and are typically items like wet, fresh grass clippings, green leaves and soft garden waste, or vegetable and fruit peels, eggshells, tea bags and coffee grounds. 

The brown ingredients are where the carbon comes from, and that is mostly derived from shredded paper and cardboard and dry yard waste like dead leaves, small twigs, straw, sawdust and used potting soil. 

Do not use any metals, glass, dairy products, fatty or greasy foods, cat or dog waste, meat or seafood, diapers, black walnut tree leaves or twigs, yard trimmings treated with chemical pesticides or roots of perennial weeds. Be sure to dispose of the waste properly or use a reliable junk removal service.

Getting Started

With knowledge of the materials in place, it’s time to get started. The ideal amount of browns and greens in the compost is a three-to-one mixture; that is three scoops of brown ingredients for every one green, with the layers intermingling. Once the pile begins decomposing it will become warm, and may even let off steam on cold days. Once this happens, “fluff” the compost heap by mixing it with a shovel, and then add more to the mixture. 

Once the material is dark and absent of any food or yard waste it’s ready to use as fertilizer. This ready to use compost serves as a nutrient and conditioner for soil used in gardens, but it shouldn’t be used with household plants because it might still contain vegetable and grass seeds. 


As with every new experiment, problems are bound to arise. If a rotten egg smell comes about that means the compost pit isn’t getting enough airflow and needs fluffing. If an ammonia stench begins drifting from the pile that means it has too much nitrogen in it, and more coarse browns like sawdust need to be added. If the pile is decomposing too slowly, try to heat it up by covering it with a tarp. 

New Houzz Series on Living Off the Grid

I am really excited about this series of blogs on Houzz. I will be reading them right along with you. Let me know what you enjoy most.

Read Blog

Altbuild Water 2014

Altbuild WaterSaturday, April 12, 2014

Santa Monica College,
Bundy Campus


10 AM – 3 PM

AltBuild Presents With TreePeople
10:30 AM
Join Andy Lipkis, founder of TreePeople, as he discusses water in the Southland. We are in the middle of a historic drought. Find out what is being done and what WE can do about it.

Beth Pratt, NWF California Director, National Wildlife Federation
Lily Singer, TPF Director of Special Projects & Adult Education, Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers & Native Plants
Larry Santoyo, EarthFlow Design Works
Marilee Kuhlmann, Comfort Zones Garden Design
Pamela Berstler, The Green Garden Group

11:30 AM
Come enjoy cake and help celebrate TreePeople’s
40th Anniversary!

12:00 PM
Learn about Native Bees of California from expert
Hartmut Wisch

10 AM – 3 PM
• Additional Speaker sessions
• Demos and Exhibits featuring:
Lawn removal • Wildlife garden creation • Drip irrigation
installation • Planting native and low water landscapes •
Beekeeping • Backyard veggie gardens • Compost • Greywater • Rain harvest • All current rebate opportunities from regional utilities • Garden products, plants and rain barrels for sale on-site