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Originally published Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 7:47 PM

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Home and garden news and notes

Popular cleaning product offered in concentrated form.

Akron Beacon Journal

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S. C. Johnson is now offering some of its most popular cleaning products in concentrated form.

The company recently introduced 2.9-ounce bottles of Windex, Fantastik, Pledge, Scrubbing Bubbles and Shout Carpet concentrates. A bottle of concentrate is mixed with water to fill a trigger spray bottle.

The bottles use 79 percent less plastic than a standard bottle, and the smaller amounts of liquid require less fuel to transport, the company says.

The concentrates are available only online at www.scjgreenchoices.com. You can buy a single bottle of concentrate for $2.50, a trigger bottle for 50 cents or a starter kit for $5, containing two bottles of one type of concentrate and a trigger bottle. Shipping is $3.

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Q: I live in a condominium that's about 40 years old. A plumber was repairing something the other day, saw that the main water valve had some corrosion and said he thought it should be replaced. Also, he discovered the water pressure was about 85. He said anything above 80 can damage the pipes, so we should get a water-pressure valve installed. Both of the repairs are about $700. Is it worth spending the money?

A: Yes, Wadsworth, Ohio, plumber Cathy Geary said, but with a couple of caveats.

Geary said older-style main valves can sometimes continue to work with some corrosion, but you're taking a chance. Should a pipe leak or burst, you might not be able to shut off your main water supply.

A water-pressure valve is also important, because water pressure that high will wear out your fixtures, she said. Water pressure of 50 to 55 pounds per square inch is average, she said, and fixtures aren't made to handle pressure higher than 70 psi.

However, Geary wondered why your condo complex doesn't have a main water-pressure valve for the whole complex. You might want to check whether it does, and if so, suggest it might not be working properly.

She also thought your estimate looked high and suggested you get quotes from other plumbers.

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As the cost of sewage treatment rises, reducing stormwater runoff becomes a more pressing issue.

One of the most attractive ways to address the problem is a rain garden, a landscaping feature that collects runoff and helps to clean the water naturally.

Horticulturist Lynn M. Steiner and hydrology scientist Robert W. Domm introduce readers to this form of landscaping in "Rain Gardens: Sustainable Landscaping for a Beautiful Yard and Healthy World." They explain the benefits, offer instructions and tips on installing a garden and help readers choose the right plants and keep their gardens looking their best.

Along the way, they offer a little education about ecological issues, teaching readers ways to avoid polluting water, solve drainage problems and capture and reuse the water that falls in the form of precipitation.

"Rain Gardens" is published by Voyageur Press and sells for $24.99 in softcover.

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