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Work Smarter, Not Harder: Improve Your Garden and Landscaping

April 10, 2018

Work Smarter Not Harder - Improve Your Garden and Landscaping

Raise your hand if this describes you: every spring you have ambitions of having a beautiful garden, overflowing with flowers or vegetables, that can be enjoyed whenever you entertain outdoors. But somehow things never work out as planned. You water things too much or maybe not enough. It doesn’t quite achieve the look you envisioned. By the end of summer, you’re tired and feel like you’ve worked hard for little return.

We feel your pain. Gardens (and landscaping that makes your neighbors jealous) are a dream that can easily turn ugly. Our fix: do more by doing less. Use these two tricks to make sure your garden and landscaping are everything you dreamed they would be.

Put your watering on autopilot

You know your garden needs regular watering, but it’s a pain to drag the hose through your yard or to lug watering cans back and forth. We have your fix. Add a new hose bib right next to your garden. That’s one less obstacle each day.

Want to go a step further? Install a soaker hose or dripper, along with a timer. In fact, soaker hoses are perfect for the Tennessee climate because they result in less water evaporation by getting water directly to the root zone of a plant .

Many timed irrigation systems can now even be controlled by smartphones, or even adapt to changing weather. A smart irrigation system can save your outdoor water use by up to 50%, according to the EPA.

Stay up to date on the weather and when you need to water with our weekly weather forecast on Facebook.

Get you lighting game on point

We’ll be honest, the right landscape lighting can make all the difference when it comes to showing off your hard work (or smart work if you automate correctly). When it’s done right, landscape lighting can make your house the envy of your friends and neighbors. The good news? You can get it right without much work.

When setting up your landscape lighting system, you’ll want to consider all the potential highlights in your yard: trees, gardens and landscaping features, home facade, and any other focal points. If it’s too much to think about, don’t hesitate to hire a pro. Click here to enjoy $20 off a Lee Company electrical service call and get your home backyard party ready in no time.

Even better, just like your new automated watering system, you can control many landscape lighting systems with your smartphone. Use dimmers to set the mood, or trigger your lights to turn on when you step outside. The possibilities are wide open and all yours.

Pro tip: Landscape lighting also serves as a powerful home security device, scaring away potential intruders by lighting your home and yard.

Creating the perfect garden and landscaping for your home doesn’t have to be hard work. By working smarter, you can create a perfect marriage of the simplicity of garden life and home automation. It’s a win-win.

The Best Ways to Keep the Air in Your Home Clean

March 27, 2018

The best ways to keep the air in your home clean

When spring rolls around, it’s time to get outside to tend to your garden, hit the ballpark, and plan some outdoor cookouts. But if you suffer from allergies, spending too much time outdoors might send you scrambling back to the safety of your home. Use these steps to make sure your home is a place of refuge from air pollutants.

Lay Some Ground Cover

You already know we’re big proponents of regular HVAC filter replacement. We recommend changing them every three months, and checking them on a monthly basis to make sure there isn’t too much dust and dirt buildup.

Dirty filters not only cause your HVAC system to work overtime to get air passed through, they can also cause dirt and dust to build up in your ducts and on household furniture. So keep them clean and allow all the air in your home to filter freely.

If you let your filter go too long without replacement, you might want to think about scheduling an air duct cleaning with your HVAC professional. At the very least, we recommend having ducts cleaned every 6 years as part of regular maintenance, to clean your system of any trapped debris that’s built up over time.

Bring Out the Big Guns

Now you’re ready to hit your home allergens where it hurts — at the source. Installing a home air purification system in your ducts protects the air in your home. In-duct units are mounted into air conditioning and heating systems air ducts, which can bring relief to those who suffer from allergies and other respiratory issues.

When it comes to whole home air purification, the REME HALO™ is tough to beat. The award-winning system recreates a natural process for cleaning air, and kills indoor air pollutants throughout your home including pollen, dander, dust, odors and more.

Thinking about adding an air purification system to your home? We’re offering $300 off the REME HALO system now through 4/30/2018. Click here to learn more.

Get Some Natural Relief

Looking to add some beauty to your home while fortifying your air defense? Plants should not be overlooked as an effective tool in your air-cleaning arsenal. In fact, NASA commissioned a study that concluded plants can have a huge part in removing chemicals from the air inside our homes and offices.

Here are our 4 favorites (because they’re easy to maintain in Tennessee climate while doing a darn good job of cleaning the air):

  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
  • Boston Fern
  • Aloe Vera
  • Bamboo

For more great houseplants, check out these 10 from the Huffington Post.

Don’t let dust, dander, and pollen take over your home. Use every weapon available so you can make your home a safe haven from allergens.

How to Get Your Air Conditioning System Ready for Summer

March 16, 2018

As nature springs to life, so do many homeowners, taking care of everything they didn’t get to before the weather turned cold. Before long, spring temperatures will give way to Tennessee’s summer heat and you want to make sure your home is ready.

One of the worst feelings for a homeowner is turning on the AC during the first heat wave of the year only to feel hot air blowing from the vents. Regular maintenance is the best way to make sure your AC unit doesn’t let you down when you need it most.

Here are five things you can do this spring to keep your unit operating at its best.

1. Clear debris — leaves, sticks, etc. — and trim plants

Winter and spring storms can toss debris around your yard. Clean up any sticks or branches that may have fallen around your outdoor unit. Once that’s done, trim back any trees or plants that are encroaching on the space around your unit.

2. Schedule an AC inspection

Contact a trusted HVAC professional to complete an annual inspection and tune-up on your unit before you turn it on for the season. A good tune-up will include cleaning the condenser and coils, testing wiring and capacitors, and checking both interior and exterior units. Lee Company technicians complete a 22+ point inspection on every visit, detailing all maintenance they perform.

Pro tip: For extra peace of mind, schedule next year’s inspection when your technician is still on site. As a Home Maintenance Plan Member, Lee Company will even send a postcard reminder with your scheduled date and time.

3. Clean or replace filters

Your heating and air conditioning systems both use the same air filters. Spring is a great time to replace your HVAC filters, especially if you neglected to check on it over the winter. We recommend checking your filters once a month and changing every three months to keep your units running efficiently.

4. Check interior vents and ducts

Check all of your air vents to make sure they’re open; closed vents will reduce airflow and make your system work harder than necessary. Make sure there is nothing blocking any vents — curtains, furniture, etc. If you suspect your ducts may have leaks, contact your HVAC company to perform a leakage test in your home.

5. Program your cool settings for the season

Your HVAC professional should test your unit with you after they complete a tune-up. Once you know things are ready, check your programmable thermostat to ensure the schedule and temperatures are set correctly for warmer weather. That way, when things get hot you’re already set and won’t waste money. Don’t have a programmable thermostat yet? Give Lee Company a call. We can help with that.

Keeping your AC unit in working shape requires a little extra planning every summer but it’s worth the effort. To save even more time and money, Lee Company’s Home Maintenance Plan helps keep all of your home’s critical systems — heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical — in tip-top shape. As a member, you’ll receive an air conditioning tune-up and 22+ point inspection every year. Learn how you can become a member starting at $99 a year*.

*Home maintenance Plan is $99 per year, with $50/year for each additional HVAC system.

How to Get Your Garden and Landscaping Ready for Spring

March 06, 2018

Warm weather has been coming and going, but soon it will be here to stay. For those of us eager to get outside, it’s easy to look forward to the beauty and colors of Spring. With the final frost dates in Middle Tennessee usually being between March 30 and April 30, it’s the perfect time to set your home garden and landscaping plans for the year.

The USDA offers a Plant Hardiness Zone Map to find annual temperatures in your area.

Whether you’re simply tending to your lawn, crafting a dream landscape or sowing a home garden, here are some ways to use March most effectively.

Get your tools in shape and ready to use

Check your garden tools to make sure they’re all in working order before you need them. This includes sharpening blades, cleaning tools or removing rust. Replace any broken tools now and save yourself a headache in the future. Now is a good time to also check your lawnmower to make sure it’s running properly and fully fueled for the warm weather ahead.

HGTV offers some great tips for cleaning your garden tools.

Set your strategy and make it happen

Once things start growing, it’s harder to make big changes. Have you been mulling over a new irrigation system? Install it now and get it running smoothly by the time you plant. Are you jealous of your neighbor’s landscape lighting? Upgrade your lighting to solar and save energy once summer sun hits. The possibilities are endless if you start early.

Here are some benefits of outdoor landscape lighting for your home.

Clear the way for growth

Speaking of things growing, March is the time to clear away any dead branches or debris winter left behind. Rake your lawn and pick up any branches or debris to give the soil some good air and light. Sprinkle any dead patches with a soil/seed mixture to get new grass growing.

In your garden or landscaping, prune damaged branches and clear out dead perennials. Pay attention to the soil and pull any winter weeds you see before they have a chance to seed. You can also transplant any existing shrubs and perennials you want to move or divide.

Plant early crops and flowers now

March is a great time to plant early spring vegetables – broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, onions, and potatoes. You might even explore planting several varieties to prolong the harvest. If you plan to plant any seedlings indoors, get them growing now so you’re ready to transplant after the final frost.

Check the Old Farmer’s Almanac for optimal planting dates in your city. For help all year long, you can print this home garden calendar from the University of Tennessee (PDF).

Spring weather is almost here to stay. The more prep you do up front, the more you’ll be able to enjoy your lawn and garden throughout the warm seasons. As always, if you are looking for help getting your home ready for the warm season, call Lee Company today.


Parks and Rec: Beyond Classic TV

February 24, 2018

Parks and Recreation

If you’ve ever binge-watched Parks and Recreation, you know the passion that Leslie Knope brought to work every day. What you might not know, is that the Lee Company Facilities Solutions team brought that same kind of passion to a recent project for Nashville Parks and Rec!

Over a two-year period, working with Metro Parks, we updated HVAC systems at eight Nashville community centers. Our design-build team visited the centers, identified the best equipment for each individual facility, and then designed and installed the solutions.

Parks and Recreation

The result? With efficient and comfortable heating and cooling, these community centers are more inviting than ever. Our work helps make it easier for thousands of area residents to enjoy the great programs these community centers offer – everything from fitness classes to after-school fun to senior activities. And more!

Parks and Recreation

We live in the communities we serve, and it’s always an honor to do work that strengthens our hometown amenities. Lee Company is delighted to have helped: Easley Community Center; Hermitage Community Center; Morgan Community Center; Napier Community Center; Antioch Community Center; Looby Community Center; Old Hickory Community Center; and Shelby Community Center.

If you haven’t taken advantage of programs at these outstanding facilities, what are you waiting for? You’ll find information on your nearby Nashville community center here.

Why You Need to Check Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors Monthly

February 23, 2018

The little things in our homes can be the easiest to forget. Unfortunately, they can also be the most important. That’s definitely the case when it comes to smoke and carbon monoxide detectors; lifesavers that can be easy to ignore.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, the risk of dying in a home fire is cut in half if the house has working fire alarms. Yet, nearly half of home fires that fail to trigger alarms occur in houses where batteries have expired or been removed from a smoke alarm.

We’ve put together some tips to make sure your home is always equipped with properly working alarms.

When to test

Test every smoke and carbon monoxide detector in your home once a month. It won’t take more than a few minutes. Just press the test button on your alarm and after a second or two it will make a loud siren or alert.

Check the batteries in your alarms every six months. Replace batteries once a year to be safe (unless it’s a 10-year battery smoke alarm). If you hear random chirps from your alarm, that’s a signal you need to change the batteries immediately.

Pro tip: When testing, have someone walk to other rooms of the house to make sure the alarm can be heard throughout. If the sound is too low, replace the battery or the unit entirely.

They expire so replace them on schedule

Smoke alarms last about 10 years before needing replacement. Carbon monoxide detectors last 5-7 years. After that, deterioration can occur inside the alarm and make it less likely to trigger (besides, technology keeps improving so we recommend staying with the curve).

Detectors today will come with a manufacture date on the back for easy reference. If you have alarm without a date, it’s probably old and in need of replacement.

Pro tip: Consider getting alarms with voice alerts that notify you of which area in the house has been triggered. This will save you from wandering to find that pesky beeping alarm. Studies also show that voice alarms may be better at waking children under age 12.

Taking care of your detectors

Other ideas to keep your detectors in safe, working order:

  • When you test, vacuum any dust buildup out of your detector to keep the unit clean.
  • NEVER take your detector battery out to use in something else, even temporarily.
  • Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your house. Ensure they’re installed on every level of the house, and ideally in every bedroom.
  • You can sign up to receive monthly testing reminders via email from free services, including:

Additional Resources

Find the top rated smoke and carbon monoxide detectors:

Help increase awareness with smoke alarm outreach materials:

A few minutes a month can ensure that your detectors are ready to help save your family and home in an emergency. If you have any questions about your home’s smoke or carbon monoxide detectors, give us a call at 615.567.1000.

Air Duct Cleaning: Is It Worth It?

February 14, 2018

Air duct cleaning - is it really worth it?

With the chills of winter almost behind us, many have started thinking about Spring cleaning; the annual thorough cleaning that makes a home feel as fresh as the Spring air. After dusting, scrubbing and organizing everything in sight, often times there are hidden parts of the home left behind, and they can be the culprits behind a home feeling less than Spring clean.

If you notice the need to dust your house more than you used to, or if your furniture gets dusty just after you clean it, it may be time to have your air ducts cleaned.

What can get stuck in air ducts

Anything that passes through your filter (or accidentally drops through a vent like your kid’s toys) will end up in your air ducts. Some of the most concerning things can include:

  • Excessive dust or remodeling debris
  • Insects or rodent waste
  • Pet hair and dander

Every time the furnace kicks on, it blows out whatever particles are stuck in your ducts. For many homeowners, this can trigger or increase sneezing, allergies, and sinus issues.

Pro tip: If you’ve done any remodeling work in your home lately, drywall dust and other debris may be trapped in your ducts. This can also occur in newly built homes where sawdust, sheetrock, or other home building materials may be in the air ducts.

How we clean air ducts safely and quickly

At Lee Company, our professional technicians use a two-pronged method to clean air ducts thoroughly. It involves using a brush to scrub, release and vacuum any trapped debris, along with a powerful air machine that sucks any remaining dust outside of your home and through a filter. Specifically:

  • Rotobrush: We use the latest Rotobrush system to go into each individual duct, scrub it clean and vacuum it out
  • Negative air machine: This powerful vacuum produces a negative draw on the HVAC system, pulling any dust or dirt that remains out of your ducts and through a filter, before heading out of your house for good

We also pay close attention to furnaces, cleaning the indoor blower and the indoor coil to remove any dust and dirt that has collected over time. This process makes the system run more efficiently (saving you money) and allows more air to run through debris-free.

One more hidden area

If you notice your dryer is taking longer than usual to dry clothes, it’s likely there is excess lint trapped in the vent. This can pose a potential fire hazard. To keep your home safe, ask your professional about cleaning the dryer vent.

Pro tip: Dryer vents should be metal, not canvas. If you still have a canvas vent, please have it updated to avoid fire risk.

So, is it worth it?

We recommend having your duct work cleaned every 6 years as a part of regular maintenance. If you don’t know the last time your air ducts were cleaned, or if you’re noticing more dust than usual around your home, then having your air ducts cleaned may be worth it for your family and home.

To get pricing and schedule an air duct cleaning appointment, give us a call today at 615.567.1000. As always, Home Maintenance Plan members receive an extra 20% off the service.

Home Generators: Which Fuel Source is Best for You?

February 08, 2018

When storms hit, the last thing any of us want is to lose power. And, let’s face it, storms in the South can hit with a fury making power outages more common than we’d like.

Of course, a home generator can save you from the headache of bored kids, dark rooms, and missing your favorite show. But more importantly, it will keep your refrigerator running, your security system online and run any medical equipment you might have in your home.

When you think of generators, you might imagine the portable gas generator your friends use for camping or tailgating. While those are great for limited use, they aren’t the best choice for powering your home during an outage. Permanently installed home generators are a much better choice when you want to protect your family and your home.

Automatic standby generator systems can detect a power loss and kick on within a matter of seconds, and automatically shut off when power returns. They truly can be a life – or at least a food and appliance – saver.

When buying a generator, which fuel type is best?


While gas or diesel power might be the method of choice for a portable generator, diesel generators are not the best choice for home-installed backups. They require fuel tanks and storage space, making them more difficult to install than other options. Further, EPA regulations have become more stringent in recent years, requiring diesel generators to become increasingly efficient. You will want to avoid purchasing a generator that doesn’t pass these regulations in the future.

Natural gas

For most Middle Tennessee residents, natural gas generators are the way to go. Natural gas is a readily available, endless source of fuel for your home (as long as you pay your gas bill). They don’t require any storage tanks and can be hooked up directly to your current gas line during installation. Even more, they’re quieter and more efficient than diesel or gas generators, and run without emitting any fumes.


Propane generators are most commonly used in rural areas that do not have access to natural gas. The propane is a stored fuel source, so homeowners need to pay close attention to fuel levels, especially when running all or most of a home on it. Tank refills can require a large upfront cost, though unlike diesel fuel, propane can be stored for years without degrading.

How much do home generators cost?

Homeowners can design a home generator system that fits their needs, depending on the size of their house and how much they want to power. Home generator systems can be equipped to handle as little as a home security system, major appliances, and lights, to powering everything in your home, as if the power was still on.

No one wants to be left in the dark when an unwanted power outage strikes. By working with your home services company, you can design a home generator system that will be the best fit for your family’s needs.


How to Fix a Frozen Pipe Leak in Your Home

January 31, 2018

Cold winter temperatures can stress our home’s systems, from HVAC and electrical to plumbing. But during extreme cold, there is a particular headache that homeowners can face: frozen pipes.

Actually, the frozen pipe itself isn’t usually the biggest concern; it’s the water leaks that can come after water starts flowing again. The best way to manage water leaks is through prevention. However, if you do find yourself experiencing a water leak, following these steps will get your plumbing back in order.

1. Turn off the water supply

The first step is to stop water from running into your home. It’s important that you always know the location of the main shut off to your home or, at the very least, how to stop the water at the meter. Once the flow inside has been stopped, you’ll only have to worry about what remains in your pipes.

If you notice any electrical sparking or outages, turn off the electricity to the affected area using your home’s fuse box or breaker panel. Always be careful around water and electricity.

Pro tip: If you don’t know where your shut off valve is located, you can call your local water department or fire department and they will cut your water off for you.

2. Call a licensed plumber

A plumbing professional will fix the leak and drain off any remaining water from your pipes, making sure nothing else in your home gets wet or damaged. If you suspect some pipes may still be frozen, ask your plumber to help thaw them out. Be sure to talk with your plumber to discuss the best ways to prevent freezing in the future.

Pro tip: Common places to protect against freezing include foundation vents and unprotected water lines.

3. Take pictures and document all damages

If you need to file a claim with your insurance company, you’ll want photos of affected areas before doing any cleanup. Walk through your home and document any places you notice a water leak and take photos of the damage. Note any furniture or other items that have also been affected or damaged. Don’t throw anything away until the insurance adjuster has seen it.

Pro tip: Make sure to look up! Look at the ceilings around your house and take note of any water stains or bulging. You can also ask your plumbing professional to help identify and remedy any hidden leaks.

4. Dry the area as quickly as possible

Use mops and sponges to sop up standing water (old newspapers are also a great tool for soaking up puddles). Move wet items out of the room to dry and pull up any wet carpet or rugs. Use fans and dehumidifiers to create as much air circulation as possible around the area of the leak. The goal is to dry things out quickly to prevent mold and mildew from growing in your home. If it isn’t too cold and wet outside, open windows to increase airflow.

Pro tip: Do not circulate hot air. It can induce bacteria growth and encourage mold and mildew to show up more quickly.

5. Call your insurance company if a large area was affected

Water leaks are one of the most common sources of homeowner insurance claims. Most homeowners policies will cover the damage but not the actual broken pipe (be sure to review your policy). Prepare your photos and documentation so you can easily share them with your insurance company when filing your claim.

6. Contact a remediation company, if needed

Most work with a variety of insurance companies. Your plumber or insurance company may even have a favorite they’ll recommend to you.

Water can be one of the most destructive forces in a home. The sooner you can take action on a leak, the less you’ll have to worry about potential damage.

10 Best Uses of Amazon Alexa in Your Home

January 24, 2018

10 Best Uses of Amazon Alexa in Your Home

Amazon’s Echo with built-in Alexa was on our list of top holiday gifts for good reason. Tens of millions of Alexa devices have been sold worldwide and the Echo Dot was the most popular product during the 2017 holiday season.

If you were one of the lucky people to have an Echo wrapped for you under the tree, here are some of the most fun and useful ways to make Alexa work for you.

1. Listen to almost any song, on demand

Alexa works with almost all the most popular music streaming services. If you choose to go with Amazon’s Prime Music offering, Alexa even responds to specific requests for music genre, mood, era and can even search by lyrics.

Hosting an 80’s-themed party? Ask Alexa to play 80’s pop. Need to relax after work? Ask Alexa to play some chill music. You can even use your Echo as a sound machine to help you fall asleep.

Try this: “Alexa, play classic rock, please.”

2. Get the daily news and weather

Arguably Alexa’s most-used feature, any Echo device will give you daily updates or weather reports on command. It’s as simple as asking “Alexa, what’s the weather in Nashville today?”

Customized Flash Briefings will also help you start your morning right. Select from popular news outlets or see which of your favorite publications has added their own feed, then ask Alexa for your flash briefing when you wake up.

Try this: Open your phone’s Alexa app and navigate to Settings > Flash Briefing, then select Get more Flash Briefing content. From there, search or select your favorite feeds. Then say, “Alexa, what’s my flash briefing?”

3. Listen to your favorite books 

The first major online bookseller (Amazon) has more than a few best-sellers in its library. If you’re an Audible member or have purchased audio books on Amazon, Alexa can play anything in your library with a simple voice command. It will even keep track of where you leave off so you can listen later on your drive to work.

Alexa can also use text-to-speech technology to read many of the Kindle books sold on Amazon. The only downside is that instead of a human narrator, your book will be read back in Alexa’s robotic voice.

Try this: “Alexa, play the Kindle book [title], please.”

4. Set your smart thermostat 

The days of using your hands to set your thermostat are behind you now. If you happen to have another one of the items featured in our gift guide — the Ecobee — you can ask Alexa to change your home’s temperature at any time.

Try this: “Alexa, set the temperature to 72, please.”

5. Control other smart home gadgets, including your lights

Since the days of the clapper, we’ve all dreamed of controlling the lights in our house on command. With Alexa and some smart lightbulbs, today it’s possible.

After installing smart LED bulbs that can connect to WiFi, or a smart hub that’s compatible with Alexa, you can use your voice to turn on the kitchen lights, dim the living room lights, or even turn your office green.

Try this: “Alexa, dim the living room lights to 50 percent, please.”

6. Manage security systems and cameras

If you’ve ever woke up in the middle of the night wondering if you locked the back door, Alexa can help you avoid leaving your warm covers.

Alexa pairs with many alarm systems, allowing you to arm and disarm your system with a voice command. Even better, some companies pair with smart locks to check the status of a door sensor, or even lock your doors (garage door included). That’s peace of mind.

Try this: “Alexa, ask [alarm company] if the alarm is armed, please.”

7. Control your Amazon Fire TV with voice commands

Through pairing your Echo to a Fire TV, you can search for and play television shows or movies on any supported app. You can even control playback, pausing, rewinding and resuming all using your voice. And when you’re ready to switch it off, just ask Alexa to turn off your Fire TV.

Try this: “Alexa, find home improvement shows on Hulu, please.”

8. Call friends

Alexa’s new calling and messaging feature allows you to call almost any number in the U.S. from your Echo device. And if your friends have an Echo, you can call them there, as well. Just sync your contacts list using your phone’s Alexa app and all of them become instantly Echo-reachable. With Alexa, you can talk hands-free anytime you want.

Try this: “Alexa, call dad’s office, please.” Or if you need to call to schedule a service, you can just say “Alexa, call Lee Company, please.”

9. Set up routines

Want lights dimmed to a certain level, the weather forecast and a traffic report when you wake up? Alexa now lets you bundle commands into a single request. We were going to make a joke about asking Alexa to make your coffee, but then we found out connected coffee makers exist. Now you can get your caffeine fix ready before you even walk into the kitchen!

Try this: Open your phone’s Alexa app and navigate to Settings > Routines. Choose your phrase and select which actions you want Alexa to take. Then say, “Alexa, start my day.”

10. Find new features

Alexa is always adding new skills. A simple voice command will help you keep up.

Try this: “Alexa, what new features do you have?”

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