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Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraSummer's imminent arrival means your vehicle's air conditioning system will soon be under serious strain.

If your A/C isn't as frosty as it used to be, but it's still blowing cold, the system may need to be recharged.

Manufacturers used to use a type of refrigerant known as R-12, or Freon, until researchers found it caused ozone depletion. As such, it's illegal to use Freon in vehicles built after 1994. Now, manufacturers use R-134a to keep things cold in the cabin.

Working on an air conditioning system is about as much fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

Unless you are skilled in vehicle maintenance, it’s safest to take the job to a professional.

An AC compressor is usually driven by your vehicle's serpentine belt, and as it spins, it pressurizes the system's refrigerant. It's this change in pressure that cools the air coming into your cabin. The best way to keep your compressor from failing is to have your A/C system serviced once a year.

If your compressor needs replacement, most responsible shops will recommend swapping out a number of periphery components at the same time.

Why? The easy answer is working on an air conditioning system is about as fun as sticking your hand in a blender. Twice.

To avoid draining your refrigerant, removing your compressor, installing a new unit and refilling the system with new cool stuff — only to have you come back in a week and say it's still not cold enough — it makes sense to replace the necessary components.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen of Snap Fitness - FITNESS INSIDER -

SNAP FITNESS - Mike NielsenAs the inspirational saying goes, “Live less out of habit and more out of intent.”

While it’s true that starting a fitness routine can be difficult, I offer the following tips to get you in the gym door and on the road to good health.

Assessment — New SNAP Fitness clients receive a free jump-start session, including consultation with a trainer. The assessment determines the client’s baseline, helps us guide their first steps, and is an opportunity to discuss adding personal training.

Cardio — The national recommendation for exercise for all ages and fitness levels is to get to the gym at least three days per week, and to do a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio per visit. Working out with a friend will make it more fun, help you feel more accountable, help you stay at the gym for more months and achieve a higher level of success.

Strength training is key to replacing fat with muscle, becoming leaner, stronger and improving balance. Do two to three sessions of strength training per week.

Nutritional guidelines — Instead of eating three large meals per day, eat five to six small meals. This will fuel your energy throughout the day and avoid post-meal sluggishness. Also drink 96 ounces of water daily.

Online help — SNAP has a complete online nutritional program and training center. Free with membership, it provides a personalized workout plan, sample menus and a complete library of instruction videos.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

Mike Nielsen, Snap FitnessStrength training is an essential part of an exercise program, even for someone who hasn’t been active in a while.

Lifting weights, using weight machines and doing core work increases muscle mass and bone density.

As we age, our muscles deteriorate (called sarcopenia) and bone density decreases.

Research shows that seniors are more susceptible to bone breakage that younger adults. As people age, their metabolism slows down. We are seeing more and more seniors joining gyms.

If we take the average adult between the ages of 40 and 50 and do basic strength-training three to four times per week for 90 days, the outcome can be life-changing.

Here’s a myth-buster: Muscle does NOT weigh more than fat! A pound is a pound. 

Muscle is, however, more dense than body fat and takes up less area than fat. If you were to start an exercise program complete with strength training, you would increase your lean body mass and decrease body fat.

The body takes up less space and metabolism speeds up, resulting in a higher BMR (base metabolic rate, the amount of daily caloric intake needed to maintain LBM and weight.) This reverses sarcopenia and increases bone density.   

Not everyone walks into a gym and knows exactly what to do. Snap gives new members an opportunity to meet with a Certified Personal Trainer, who assesses their body and their goals. 

Let’s get started.

Snap Fitness

Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.



Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170



Brought to you by John Sciarra, Bernard's Garage - AUTO MAINTENANCE INSIDER

John Sciarra, Bernard's GarageRegular maintenance on your car is, quite simply, a good investment.

For example, when you bring your car in for a timing belt — typically needed at 90,000 to 100,000 miles— it costs in the range of $400 to $500. But if it breaks, it might be $1,800 to $2,000.

At our shop, when we do it, we do it right. With the timing belt, we also replace the timing belt tensioner, idler pulleys, camshaft seals, water pump and coolant.

Mileage interval maintenance, which is only done by shops, should be done at 30,000, 60,000 and 90,000 miles.

The ideal scenario is to get the car into the shop about three times per year for inspections, which will find things like rodent damage, which is more common than you might think. It’s mainly squirrels in this area.

An inspection will also uncover leaking coolant or oil, as well as plugged-up air filters. Once a year, you should get a brake inspection.

We do complete automotive repair, including pre-purchase inspections for $150. That’s a comprehensive inspection, which can detect unforeseen problems and save you from buying a compromised vehicle.

Our average cost for an oil change is $38; $58 for a brake inspection.

It’s a small investment. We do it properly and can save you a lot of trouble and expense down the road.

Bernard’s Garage

2036 SE Washington St., Milwaukie



Mike Nielsen - Snap Fitness - Fitness INSIDER

SNAP FITNESS - Mike Nielsen“We are a friendly, success-oriented fitness center,” says Mike Nielsen, vice president and co-owner of Snap Fitness locations in Oregon City, Milwaukie and Canby. “We’re like the ‘Cheers’ of the gym world, where everybody knows your name.”

Nielsen has been a certified fitness coach for 13 years and has been with Snap for eight years. He says being a fitness coach is all about helping individuals achieve the best version of themselves.

“It’s not just something that’s done at the gym, but it’s a lifestyle change,” he said of Snap. “We focus on not only the physical but also the mental and emotional aspects of everyday life, to make sure we are able to achieve long-term success.”

He says Snap gyms have a family feel and a personal touch.

The gyms are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with monitored access for safety. Snap has more than 1,500 locations nationwide.

The fitness centers offer cardio, personal training, weight-loss programs, a health center, strength training and Olympic lifting. An online web page for members offers nutrition counseling and an online training center.

“Our members are our greatest assets,” Nielsen added. “We do all we can to make sure they have not only the best facility and equipment, but a wonderful experience.”

Snap Fitness


Milwaukie: 4200 SE King Rd.


Oregon City: 19703 S. Hwy. 213, Ste. 170


Canby: 1109 SW 1st Ave.


Brought to you by John Sciarra - Bernard's Garage - AUTOMOTIVE INSIDER -

BERNARD'S GARAGE - John SciarraAfter nearly 100 years of providing excellent full-service automotive repair and maintenance, Bernard’s Garage is a classic Milwaukie institution trusted by generations of customers.

Founded in 1925, old timers and area residents still remember Joe Bernard Sr., who would design and build custom car parts when his customers’ vehicles needed it. Joe Bernard Jr., a former Milwaukie mayor, helped modernize Bernard’s and continued his father’s tradition of excellent customer service.

The current owner, Jim Bernard, another Milwaukie mayor and current Clackamas County commissioner, has computerized Bernard’s—turning his father’s mechanics into today’s technicians.

Besides providing free pickup and delivery, Bernard’s offers DEQ repair and adjustments, check-engine light diagnosis, manufacturer-scheduled maintenance, brakes, steering and suspension repair, timing belt tune-ups, radiator and water pump work, as well as engine, transmission and air conditioning service.

“We are straight shooters and will let you know what the problem is and what the cost is upfront,” Operations Manager John Sciarra says.

Sciarra, an 18 year veteran of Bernard’s, has attained numerous specialty vehicle class certifications. With 26 years in the industry overall, Sciarra is our INSIDER for automotive excellence.

Bernard’s Garage is a 17-year-long supporter of the Milwaukie Farmers Market, a Milwaukie First Friday participant and frequently donates to the Annie Ross House, Milwaukie Senior Center and other local schools and events.

A member of the Clackamas County Chamber of Commerce since 1955, Bernard’s has been named Business of the Year twice since 2000, and has received the BRAG award from the county for practicing responsible recycling and waste management.

Bernard's Garage 

2036 SE Washington St, Milwaukie, OR.

(503) 659-7722


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Energy review helps homeowners save money


by: PHOTO BY ELLEN SPITALERI - Homeowner Marci Hartson listens to son, Daniel, as he points out the model of an energy-efficient home he constructed for a school project.Leave it to a third-grader to get to the heart of the matter, as to why homeowners should have a free home energy review.

“It saves energy and helps the Earth,” noted Daniel, the 8-year-old son of Marci Hartson, a Happy Valley homeowner who took part in a free energy review walkthrough last week.

In fact, Daniel is one of the reasons the review was scheduled in the first place, as he chose energy efficiency for his school project at Sojourner Elementary School in Milwaukie, said Hartson. After watching a presentation at the Sunnyside Library by the Energy Trust of Oregon, an organization that offers free energy assessments, Hartson decided the time was right to have the family’s home energy needs looked into.

Home energy review

The walkthrough is an “opportunity for Energy Trust of Oregon to review where the homeowner can save energy,” noted Eric Wilson, a senior project manager with the organization.

An energy adviser points out energy savings opportunities to the homeowners, and provides them with a customized report with recommended improvements, right on the spot.

“We can then put them in touch with our trade allies to do the work; we have licensed contractors who are well versed in doing this kind of work,” Wilson added.

Why have a review?

Wilson said that Energy Trust of Oregon wants people to understand that up to 60 percent of the energy they purchase can be wasted, due to poor insulation, air leaks and/or inefficient equipment, like a hot water heater, heat pump or furnace.

Air leaks can occur in gaps and cracks, under doors and windows, and even behind light and plug sockets, Wilson noted.

He said that there are three ways to set up a review: “You can call and get an over-the-phone consultation, you can set up an in-home energy review like Marci did, or you do your own energy profile.”

Wilson added that the Energy Trust encourages people to get multiple bids to do the home improvements and that his organization has cost incentives for almost all the recommended changes.

What it all comes down to, however, like Daniel said earlier, the main reasons to get an energy review, are that improvements will help homeowners “save money on monthly utility bills and will help the environment, and help the planet,” Wilson said.

Simple improvements

A few simple things can improve a home’s energy efficiency, Wilson noted, including sealing air leaks, putting in more insulation and turning down the temperature on a water heater.

Lighting accounts for 12 percent of a home’s electrical energy usage, so that is big reason to change to compact fluorescent light bulbs, he said, noting that this is a “pretty low cost” option.

And finally, homeowners should consider removing their refrigerators that pre-date 1990, Wilson said, noting that they use five times as much energy as a new high-efficiency fridge, which can lead to costs of up to $200 a year in utility bills.

“A new energy-efficient fridge will cost you about $40 per year, and Energy Trust will come and pick up your old fridge and give you $40 in cash,” he added.

As an added incentive for people to schedule a home energy walkthrough, the energy adviser will provide homeowners with 10 CFL light bulbs, aerators for the kitchen and bathroom sinks to govern the flow of water and energy efficient shower heads — all at no cost.


As John Skoro, the energy adviser who conducted the energy review at Hartson’s home, began his assessment, the first thing that caught his eye was the recessed lights in the living room. Those can be a real source of leaks, and at $45 a bulb can be spendy to replace, but Hartson was told that the energy trust has LED kits with light bulbs and trim for only $25 per light.

Light bulbs now come with new federal regulation labels, which look like the nutrition labels on packaged food items. The labels allow the consumer to compare lighting options, and contain information like the brightness of the light, estimated energy costs, if the bulbs have a warm or cool tone and how long the bulbs will last.

After further discussing lighting options, Skoro then set up his ladder and took a look at the attic, to check out the insulation.

At the end of the review, Skoro told Hartson she needs to add more insulation in the attic, and recommended that she have a professional air leakage test done on her home, to measure the leakage through gaps and cracks in the attic, around windows and any place wires or plumbing come into the home. She can have the home professionally sealed, he told her, and the work can be done through one of the Energy Trust’s local allied contractors.

Skoro also recommended upgrading to energy-efficient windows. However, since this is a more costly item, insulation and sealing air leaks are the priority, he noted.

Home energy reviews are free to customers of PGE, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas customers.

Top five energy savers

1. Seal up places where air escapes and add insulation.

2. Turn down the heat. The heating system is the single biggest energy expense in most homes. To help save on costs, try lowering the heat at night or while the house is unoccupied.

3. Save water, save energy. Water heating is the second largest energy expense in most homes; 20 percent to 30 percent of a home’s energy is used to heat water.

4. Check lighting. Switching from traditional incandescent light bulbs to energy-efficient lighting at home is the easiest, most cost-effective way consumers can save energy, money and protect the environment. To help utility customers make a change to energy-efficient lighting, Energy Trust of Oregon is working with participating retailers across the state this fall to offer discounted prices on a variety of Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs. Discounted CFLs are available at Ace/True Value Hardware, Albertson’s, Batteries Plus, Bed Bath and Beyond, Bi-Mart, Big Lots, Costco, Fred Meyer, Grover Electric and Plumbing Supply, Haggen, Home Depot, Lowe’s, PARR Lumber, Platt Electric Supply, Safeway, Walmart and Winco. No coupon is required — the discounts are reflected in the shelf price and are available through the end of the year.

5. Unplug and recycle an older, second refrigerator.