Thursday, October 4, 2012

Divining Mirrors

Replace Mirrors MN

Have you noticed mottled black spots forming around the edges of your mirror? Don’t be too quick to chalk that deterioration up to aging or cheap material; you yourself might unknowingly be the perpetrator of this diminishing effect.

For those who don’t know what gives a mirror its magic, allow American Glass & Mirror to shed some light on the subject. Mirror is constructed by depositing aluminum or silver nitrate on normal plate glass creating the material’s reflective luster. The thin metal layer forms the backing of the mirror and is generally topped with two protective coats of paint.

Aluminum, and to a lesser-degree silver, is susceptible to tarnishing when exposed to various elements, like sulfur, which is a common pollutant in the air. This means it is critical that the paint layer remains intact in order to form a buffer between the metal and corrupting elements.

Be careful what kind of cleaner you use on your mirror! Many household cleaners contain ammonia, an astringent compound, which precipitates the breakdown of the mirror backing. Instead, opt for an alcohol-based cleaner. You can even mix up your own at home by combining denatured alcohol and water (50:50) in a spray bottle. Simple, cheap, and effective.

Don’t be so quick to point fingers when you notice your mirror going bad. First, think about your choice of glass cleaner. Does it contain ammonia? A long look in the mirror might hold the answer to your tarnished image.

Bye Bye Birdie

Perhaps this has happened to you.  You’re sitting at the kitchen table, enjoying a cup of coffee over the morning paper when, THUNK, you’re startled by a single, solid knock to your window.  You look up expecting to see a grinning neighbor or the kids running in fear, but find only your well-manicured lawn sitting undisturbed.  Curious, you lift yourself from the table and move over to the window, where you peer out, trying to spy the culprit.  After a moment’s search the sad truth presents itself – it was a little wren that struck the glass and disturbed your peace.  Now, the bird lies motionless in the lawn below.
Scenes similar to this occur hundreds of times each day, most often without witness. According to the American Bird Conservancy, millions of birds are fatally wounded each year through collisions with window glass.  Even if the little creature shakes off the blow, and flies off apparently unharmed, it may later succumb to internal damages.

The vast majority of these unfortunate deaths could be avoided if homeowners took it upon themselves to crash-proof their windows.  Birds fly into window glass because it appears to them to be an open passage to safety.  The most reliable way to deter this instinct is by breaking up the empty plane into smaller segments.  This can be achieved by creating designs with Tempera paint or decorative tape strips, or mostly simply, by keeping blinds or shades partially closed.  The window segments should be broken down into areas no larger than one square foot.  Applying decals or hanging prisms and other window charms are two more sound approaches to crash-proofing.  Once again, you want to place these objects within one square foot of each other to break up the open space.

Although these accident-reducing tactics will keep your neighborhood birds flying straight, it is unfortunate to lose an unimpeded window pane. Certainly, this is a sacrifice not easily made, and one probably unnecessary except for in high-volume bird areas.  Two further options that would allow you to retain your unobstructed view, while offering protection to birds are window netting and protective film.  Although, American Glass & Mirror does not offer these products, we would be happy to help direct you to available retailers.

Migratory birds have a long and perilous journey to make this fall. Countless dangers await them along the way; make sure your kitchen window isn’t one of them.