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How to Preserve Your Water Quality

August 21, 2017 1:51 am

Did you know August is National Water Quality Month?  With that in mind, New York-based Petri Plumbing offers residents these tips to help preserve water quality:

Flush the tap – The DEP is responsible for providing high-quality drinking water, but cannot control the variety of materials used in plumbing components. Many of the older plumbing pipes or fixtures leading to the home can absorb lead and pass it through the tap water. One way to minimize the potential lead exposure is to flush the tap for 30 seconds to two minutes before using the water for drinking or cooking.

Be aware of what goes down the drain and how it affects the water supply. Medications, detergents, creams, lotions and soaps all end up in the water supply. Consider switching to environmentally-friendly and non-toxic household cleaners and personal care items.

Discard trash and pet waste appropriately – Trash and pet waste, if not disposed of properly, can cause bacteria to run into storm drains and water supplies. The best practice is to tie pet waste in a recycled-plastic pet-waste bag and place it in the trash.

Have the water tested by a professional – If a resident is concerned about the quality of water entering their home through old pipes and possibly picking up contaminants in the delivery process, contact a professional to test the water. Once the water is tested, and any contaminants are identified, the expert can recommend a water filtration system that will work best for the home. The primary water filtration system uses charcoal to remove sediment and debris that build up in your pipes. A whole-home water purification system to remove lead, chemicals, heavy metals, chlorine and other contaminants is an option many homeowners select to give them peace of mind when it comes to the safety of their water.

Source: www.petriplumbing.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Storm on the Way? Make Sure Your Power Tools Are Ready to Roll

August 18, 2017 11:48 pm

From chainsaws to generators, outdoor power equipment can be critical to restoring order and safety in the aftermath of a storm. That’s why it’s critical to prepare your equipment now. Here are some steps to take from the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
  • Make a list of what may need cleaning up. Survey your property. Consider the damage a storm might cause and make a list of what tools might be needed for repairs. You might need a chainsaw, pruner, generator, or utility-type vehicle.
  • Take stock of your outdoor power equipment. Make sure equipment is in good working order. If needed, take your equipment to an authorized service center for maintenance or repair.
  • Find your safety gear. Avoid the scramble for sturdy shoes, safety goggles, hard hats, reflective clothing and work gloves, which should be stored in an accessible area with your equipment.
  • Review the owner's manuals for your equipment. Read product manuals to ensure you know how to operate your equipment safely.
  • Have the right fuel on hand. Fuel stations may be closed after a storm, so it's important to have the proper fuel for your equipment. Store your fuel in an approved container. Use the type of fuel recommended by your equipment manufacturer. It's illegal to use any fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol in outdoor power equipment.
  • Remain calm and use common sense. Clear-headed thinking and smart decision-making can help you make smart choices. This is no time to rush. Take time to think through a strategy for clean-up efforts.
  • Use safety precautions. Be aware of fundamental dangers that can occur. For instance, chainsaw kickback. Always stand with your weight on both feet, and adjust your stance so you're angled away from the blade. Hold the chainsaw with both hands. Never over-reach or cut anything above your shoulder height. Always have a planned retreat path if something falls.
  • Keep firm footing when using pole saws and pole pruners. Keep a firm footing on the ground. Observe the safety zone, which means keeping bystanders and power lines (those above you and any that might have fallen down) at least 50 feet away from your work area.
  • Ensure portable electric generators have plenty of ventilation. Generators should never be used in an enclosed area or placed inside a home or garage, even if the windows or doors are open. Place the generator outside and away from windows, doors and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors. Keep the generator dry and do not use it in rainy or wet conditions. Before refueling, turn the generator off and let it cool down.
  • Be aware of others. Keep bystanders, children and animals out of your work area. Do not allow other people near outdoor power equipment, such as chainsaws, pole saws or pole pruners when starting the equipment or using it.
  • Pay attention to your health. Storm cleanup can be taxing on the body and the spirit. Do not operate power equipment when you're tired or overly fatigued. Drink plenty of water and take regular breaks. 
If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Source: Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Bathroom Remodeling Tips for Aging in Place

August 18, 2017 11:48 pm

Even though baby boomers are aging, they’re still setting trends. Case in point, the aging-in-place movement. Opting for remaining in the homes they’ve lived in for decades as opposed to heading to warm-weather retirement communities, a growing contingent of older homeowners are staying put.

Aging in place, however, means adapting your home to make living easier and safer as we get older. And the bathroom is a smart place to start. New Jersey-based Gold Medal Service, a heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical service company, recommends the following bathroom remodeling tips that will accommodate limited mobility or physical impairments. 

Remodel the bathroom on the main floor. If you have a house with multiple levels, focus on the first-floor bathroom, which is hopefully adjacent to a first-floor bedroom. This will allow aging homeowners to avoid stairs altogether.  

Provide extra space in the bathroom. Make sure there's enough room in the bathroom to move a wheelchair around, should one be needed down the road. Have doorways set to at least 32 inches wide, and ensure that there's enough space to position a wheelchair next to the toilet, bath or shower, to enable a safe and easy transfer.

Stick with non-slip floors. Non-slip tiles are a must to prevent slipping and tripping on the bathroom floor. Loose rugs can be hazardous, so stick with non-slip materials.

Make tubs and showers more accessible. Older bathtubs can easily be replaced with a walk-in bathtub. Consider having a seating area in the shower so an individual doesn't have to remain standing the entire time while showering. And be sure tub and shower surfaces are non-slip.

Add grab bars. Using towel rails as grab bars is a major safety risk as they will not support a person. Instead, install grab bars following manufacturer's instructions carefully. Place them next to the bath, shower and toilet.

Mind the lighting. Make sure you have ample lighting in the bathroom with a minimal amount of glare.

Have an elevated toilet seat. Standing up from a low-set toilet can be difficult as we get older.

Consider extra accessories. Properly locating things like soap dishes, shaving stands and shower caddies will make using the bathroom more convenient and safer.

Use low-maintenance materials. When you remodel your bathroom, consider using modern materials that are easy to clean, mildew-resistant, and have a lifetime guarantee.

If you’d like more information about homeownership, please contact me.

Source: Gold Medal Service

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Home's 'Hot Spots'

August 18, 2017 11:48 pm

We all know there’s no place like home, but did you know that certain rooms in your home are responsible for the majority of your home’s…well, homeyness? A recent study examined the connection we have to certain rooms in our home and how the design of these hubs—or hot spots—have a direct correlation to our emotions.

A "hot spot" is a room or space associated with positive emotions and memories. The most beloved rooms are designed to accommodate a balance of functionality, relaxation, and socialization. When designed right—by overlapping key room dynamics—a hot spot can increase your overall satisfaction with your home. The Hot Spots Research Study, commissioned by fireplace and grill manufacturer Napoleon, uncovered findings that can help homeowners create a more comfortable and welcoming home.

In the study, rooms qualified as a hot spot when at least 50 percent of respondents checked at least two of the following emotional categories to describe that room: welcoming/social, cozy/warm, relaxed/peaceful, or fun/enjoyable. The more the emotional categories overlapped—the hotter the hot spot.

The top hot spots turned out to be the living room, bedroom and kitchen, with the living room ranking at more than 60 percent in all four categories. Focusing on design in these three rooms will enhance their appeal even more for both you and your family, and potential buyers when you list your home for sale. Enhancing design in these areas can be as simple as rearranging the furniture, incorporating different patterns and textures, adding seating that’s more conducive to socializing, and playing with lighting to add more warmth.

The study also found that hot spots other than the top three can be created by adding amenities associated with positive emotions. For example, think about adding gathering spots, access to the outdoors with a balcony or French doors, smart home features or fireplaces to other rooms in your house to dial up their emotional appeal.

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Source: Napoleon Fireplaces

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Bracing for the Back-to-School Transition

August 18, 2017 11:48 pm

As the lazy days of summer wind down, and the familiar harbingers of back to school dot the landscape, the transition can be jarring to your home life. Here are some ideas for easing the family back into school mode.
  1. Conquer the summer work. While it may take a herculean effort, getting your kids to complete (or in some cases, start!) their summer work will stave off tremendous stress, both for you and them, come the last week of summer.
  2. Fill out the forms now. Ditto for all those school and doctor’s forms. Take an hour, gather everything your child will need to return to school, and complete it all now. Place everything in a file folder and tuck it away to be easily handed over on the first day of school.
  3. Make a packing list. If you’re sending a child off to college, sit down with him or her and create a detailed list of what they will need, including clothing, dorm décor, medicines, and groceries. This list will save you from the stress of a last-minute scramble, or worse yet, having to mail boxes of stuff after the fact.
  4. Discuss and plan for schedules. One of the toughest summer-to-school transitions involves having to set alarms and get back on schedule. The best way to avoid the stress is to plan the schedule in advance. Find out when buses arrive and where, when the kids will need to report for sports or band practice, which days you and your partner or neighbors will cover drop off and pick-up, etc. This way, everyone knows where they’re expected to be, and who will cover which responsibilities.
  5. Plan an end-of-summer getaway. Whether you can spare a week, a weekend, or even just a day, take one last chance to gather the family together and do something fun that commemorates summer. 
Putting these strategies into action will help close your summer on a good note, and set your fall up for success.
 
Hope you found these tips helpful. If you need any real estate information, please contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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4 Questions You Should Ask Your Real Estate Agent About the Market

August 18, 2017 11:48 pm

When shopping for a home, we’re understandably preoccupied with the physical features of our future abode. How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Is there a first-floor master suite? Enough space in the yard for a pool?
 
While those details are of course paramount, there is some other critical information you should know about any home you’re considering buying: local market statistics. The house you buy is not only the place where you will raise your family and live the lifestyle you’ve always wanted; it’s most likely one of the biggest—if not the biggest—investments you will make in your lifetime.
 
Make sure you’re making a wise investment by asking your real estate agent the following questions:
  1. What’s the average time on market, and how has it changed in recent years? Knowing how quickly homes in your market sell is a great indicator of how much you will be able to profit off the sale of your home in years to come. Also be sure to ask how the days on market is expected to trend in the coming year.
  2. What’s the average sales price in your market? This is important to know in order to gauge whether you’re getting a sweet deal or potentially overpaying and hurting your chances to at least recoup your money when you sell. Find out if the average sales price has gone up or down in the last year or so and in which direction it will head over the coming year.
  3. What’s the current inventory of homes for sale in your market? Inventory is an easy way to determine whether you’re in a buyer’s or seller’s market. Both have their advantages. If inventory is high and you’re in a buyer’s market, you can negotiate a better deal. If inventory is low and you’re in a seller’s market, expect to pay above listing price. However, if market stats show that you will be in a seller’s market for years to come, you can make a nice profit should you choose to sell.
  4. What’s the rate of building and construction in your market? New homes, apartment buildings and businesses are all excellent indicators that you’re buying in a thriving and expanding market, which bodes well for your investment. Conversely, if businesses are closing or moving out of town, and if new-home construction is stagnant, your market may be experiencing a decline. 
Bear in mind, while market stats are extremely important, if you’ve found a great home in an area you love, and plan on staying put for many years, it’s most likely a wise choice. Real estate is still the safest and smartest long-term investment.
 
If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Questions to Ask Before Requesting that Credit Line Increase

August 18, 2017 1:51 am

When you see that tempting “request a credit-line increase” message on your credit card statement, it can be very tempting to take advantage of the offer. Before you apply for an increase, however, creditcards.com recommends asking yourself these five questions:

Why do I need a credit-line increase? Do you need an increase to help you finance a large purchase, like a trip or a new fridge, that you’ll be paying off the following month? Or are you spending more than you make and running out of credit? If it’s the latter, an increase is not a smart move and will only land you further in debt.

What’s my credit score? Before applying for an increase, make sure you know your current credit score. Even though you’re an existing credit card holder, asking for an increase is like applying for a new loan so check your credit report to see if there are any existing issues. Add up all your credit card lines and compare that to your total usage to determine your credit utilization score. If you’re using more than 30 percent of your total credit, that will negatively affect your score. If you have a history of late payments or have made only the minimum payments in the last six months or so, don’t ask for a line increase.

Can I afford a “hard pull?” When you apply for a credit-line increase, it oftens triggers a hard pull on your credit report - inquiries that are noted on your credit report for two years, and are factored into your credit score for a year, according to FICO. Before you apply for a line increase, contact the credit card company to see if they will do a hard pull, to avoid shaving even a few points off your credit score.

Will an increase help or hurt my credit score? A credit-line increase can help your credit score as it will automatically shrink your credit utilization ratio. However, if you quickly convert the increased line to new debt, then your credit score will suffer.

How much more credit do you really want? Do some soul searching and reality checking to figure out how much credit you can actually afford. Larger limits can tempt you into overspending and damage your long-term financial health.

I hope you found these credit tips helpful. Feel free to contact me if you’d like information about your local real estate market.

Source: creditcards.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Keep Your Water Clean

August 18, 2017 1:51 am

We think about keeping our homes clean and our clothes clean, but how often do you stop to consider the cleanliness of your water?

"Lakes, rivers, and streams are significant resources that the U.S. relies on heavily as principal sources of water," says Tommy Webber, owner of T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning. "We may use these water sources recreationally, but we take them for granted. Neglect, pollution, and overuse has put the water quality in danger.  

With that in mind, Webber offers residents these tips for cleaning up water.

Use a rain barrel – During the summer months, garden and lawn watering make up about 40 percent of a household's total water consumption. If your state allows it. Webber recommends using rain barrels to collect runoff from rooftops and use that to water lawns and gardens.

Wash the car on the lawn – Several of the soaps and detergents that are used to wash cars contain phosphorus and other nutrients that may be good for the grass, but may not be so good for our water sources. By washing the car on the lawn, the runoff goes into the ground as opposed to storm drains where the harmful chemicals will negatively impact lakes and rivers.

Properly dispose of pollutants – Used motor oil, antifreeze, paint, roof tar, rechargeable batteries, unused fertilizer, unused medication and other similar contaminants can be recycled at the Wheelabrator solid waste plant. This will prevent these dangerous substances from entering the water supply.

Pick up pet waste – One ounce of dog waste contains 23 million microorganisms of disease-causing fecal coliform bacteria. Either flush your pet's droppings or put it in the garbage.

Put trash where it belongs -- Recycle, reuse or put it in the garbage. Plastic does not decompose and can harm many animals and fish as well as pollute the water.

Have the water tested by a professional – Some residents rely on private wells for their water source. Unlike public water systems which are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), private wells are not. Households that use private wells need to take special precautions to ensure the water that enters their home is safe for their families. Homeowners that are concerned about the safety of their water should contact a professional to test the water. Once the water is tested, and any contaminants are identified, the expert can recommend a water treatment system to improve the water quality and provide peace of mind.

Source:T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Safely Photograph an Eclipse

August 18, 2017 1:51 am

With August 21 on the horizon, residents across the country are gearing up to witness the first total eclipse since 1979. However, according to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, there is one thing that sets this month's total eclipse apart from others: Smartphones. Millions of ordinary people are expected to use smartphones and digital cameras to photograph this eclipse. Eye care professionals are concerned that first-timers might train their cameras on this phenomenon, unaware of the damage they can do to their eyes.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Optometry teamed up to offer the follow tips on how to safely photograph an eclipse:

Buy a solar filter or modify your eclipse glasses to function as a solar filter for your smartphone. Cut your glasses in half and tape one eyepiece over your smartphone camera lens.

Take the filter off during totality. Totality is when the moon entirely blocks the sun's bright face. The path of totality for the Aug. 21 eclipse stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. Unless you're in the path of totality, keep your solar eclipse glasses on throughout the eclipse.

Use a tripod to keep your camera stable.

Use a remote trigger. With a remote, you can adjust settings and shoot the photo while keeping your camera stable.

Practice. Take photos just after sunset during twilight to get an idea of what the light levels will be like during totality.

Shoot photos of the moon to learn how to manually adjust the focus on your camera. Tap the screen and hold your finger on the image of the moon to lock the focus. Then slide your finger up or down to darken or lighten the exposure.

A telephoto lens system is a must-have for eclipse photography with a smartphone. There are zoom lenses for smartphones designed solely to provide magnification without resorting to digital zoom.

Try the pinhole effect. This eclipse effect is easily captured with point-and-shoot cameras. Use a straw hat or a kitchen sieve and allow the sun's shadow to fall on a piece of white cardboard placed several feet away. The small holes act like pinhole cameras and each one projects its own image of the eclipsed sun.

Make sure you purchase solar eclipse filters and glasses from reputable manufacturers. There have been reports that some companies are selling counterfeit products labeled as if they conform to international safety standards.

Source:  www.aaopt.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mortgages Are Going to the Dogs

August 17, 2017 1:51 am

A third of millennial-aged Americans (ages 18 to 36) who purchased their first home say the desire to have a better space or yard for a dog influenced their decision, according to a recent survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Mortgage, a division of SunTrust Banks, Inc. Dogs ranked among the top three motivators for first-time home purchasers and were cited by more millennials as reasons for buying a home than marriage/upcoming marriage (25 percent) or the birth/expected birth of a child (19 percent).

Only the desire for more living space (66 percent), and the opportunity to build equity (36 percent), were identified by more millennials as reasons they purchased their first home.

According to Dorinda Smith, SunTrust Mortgage president and CEO, renting can be expensive and stressful for dog owners, making homeownership a better living situation.

Among millennials who have never purchased a home, 42 percent say that their dog – or the desire to have one – is a key factor in their desire to buy a home in the future, suggesting dogs will also influence purchase decisions of potential first-time homebuyers.

SunTrust offers the following tips when considering a first-time home purchase:

Understand your initial expenses. The down payment and closing costs can really add up, but don't forget to budget for moving expenses. These include everything from truck rental to setting up water, power, cable, internet and more.

Organize your finances. While there are different types of loans for different needs, your finances will be thoroughly evaluated during the credit application. Make sure they are organized so you can better retrieve them throughout the application process.

Get pre-qualified. Lenders can use your income and credit history to give you an estimate of the home loan amount for which you qualify. The pre-qualification amount can be a helpful guideline when you are considering which properties to purchase.

Create a realistic timeline. Even with a pre-qualification, loans can take weeks to be finalized. Work with a loan officer to decide the best type of loan for your situation and make sure your loan will be ready in advance of your closing.

For more information about preparing to buy a home, please contact me.

Source: SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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