Consumer Real Estate News

    • Pool Owners: How-To Keep Swimming Pools Mosquito-Free This Summer

      16 July 2019

      Nothing ruins summer fun faster than a swarm of mosquitoes, and for pool owners, mosquitoes can be a real problem. Swim University offers the following insights on keeping your pool swarm-free.

      Use a Pool Cover. Keep your pool covered whenever it's not in use to keep mosquitoes from setting up camp.

      Keep water moving. Still water is heaven for mosquitos, who cannot develop in moving water - so make sure your pump and filter are running 8 to 10 hours every day. 

      Maintain your chemistry. Balancing proper chemicals in your pool will make it harder for mosquitoes to survive.

      Dump standing water. If there is standing water elsewhere in your yard, you increase your chances of mosquitoes swarming. Overturn buckets, clear old tires, fill in tree holes, and look for any spots water may gather.

      Source: Swim University

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Purchasing a New Home? Check the Plumbing

      16 July 2019

      When you've found your dream home after a long search, you can often feel immense pressure to make an offer ASAP.  However, it's important to pay mind to certain overlooked aspects of your home-to-be before diving in. One of these is plumbing.

      "If you double-check the plumbing before making an offer on your dream home, you're setting yourself up for future success as homeowners," says Richard Hart, co-owner of Harts Services. "Forgetting to inspect crucial plumbing elements can easily lead to higher repair costs and other expenses down the road, but knowing what to look for while home shopping can grant a peace of mind for years to come."

      Hart offers the following advice for checking the plumbing before closing the deal on a new house:

      Check for water leaks. According to the EPA, one drip per second can waste 3,000 gallons of water in a year, and unseen leaks can significantly increase monthly utility bills. To check toilets, place a few drops of food coloring in the back of each tank, wait about 30 minutes and then look in the bowls to see if any color is present. Watch for condensation inside kitchen and bathroom cabinets, near the faucets, and look for warped or discolored areas on your walls and ceilings. To check the entire home, make sure no water is being consumed and write down the meter reading. Wait ten minutes, then check again. If there's a change, there is a good chance a leak is present.

      Inspect the gas lines. If your potential new house uses natural gas for any appliances, it's important that you check all of the lines for leaks. Gas leaks are always dangerous, and can sometimes be deadly. Signs of gas leaks include a sulfur-like smell, slight hissing sounds around lines and/or wet, bubbling areas near exterior lines. Never attempt a do-it-yourself gas repair or move a gas appliance on your own. Instead, always contact a professional and verify their license before allowing them to perform gas work in your home.

      Check to see if the house comes with a sump pump. Due to the wet and soggy nature of the Tacoma area, sump pumps are commonly implemented into basements. A sump pump is a mechanism used to remove water that has collected in a low-lying sump basin. By pumping the water out of the home, the devices help prevent basement flooding that can otherwise lead to tremendous costs, like repairing water damage, mold remediation treatments and replacing destroyed property.  

      "Sometimes, homebuyers think of plumbing as one of those features that's safe to assume is working flawlessly," Hart says. "Unfortunately, that's not always the case – and it's a good rule of thumb to check on these things before you move in and become responsible for fixing them."Source: Harts Services

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Lower Your Energy Bills This Summer with These Tips

      15 July 2019

      Home feeling hot but worried about breaking the bank with sky-high cooling bills? You're not alone.

      "A lot of people expect their utility bills to soar this summer, but that doesn't have to be the case," says Tommy Webber, owner of T.Webber Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric. "And that doesn't mean you have to suffer through the season, either. There are reliable methods for cooling your home besides simply blasting the AC, and while they might take a little planning or practice, they'll keep your energy consumption down and also keep you comfortable."

      Below are five suggestions Webber recommends to lower your utility bill without cranking the thermostat:  

      Turn on your fans. Using electric fans lets you keep the thermostat at a higher temperature and still stay comfortable. Experts say a fan can make up to a four-degree difference. Remember not to let fans run if no one is in the room.

      Turn off the oven. The oven can raise the temperature of your kitchen up to 10 degrees. Plan meals that don't require the oven, like salads and leftovers, or use the stovetop instead.

      Check the AC. An air conditioner that runs well uses a lot less energy than one that needs a new air filter or cleaned-out coils. If it's time to replace your unit, look for a more energy-efficient model. Even if it costs a little more, it will offer significant savings in the long run.

      Install a smart thermostat. You'll be able to program the most efficient settings for morning, evening and night with different settings for weekends and weekdays. You can also adjust the temperature remotely, even if you're on vacation.

      Unplug electronics and small appliances. That charger sucks up electricity even when it's not connected to your device, and so do TVs, lamps, toasters and microwaves. Electronics and appliances also generate heat, so unplug them when they're not in use for both savings and comfort.

      Source: T.Webber Plumbing, Heating, Air & Electric

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Heat Wave: Protecting Your Outside Plants

      15 July 2019

      Garden lovers have often spent sweltering summers staring at the brown and withered landscape plants that bloomed with so much promise just a month or two earlier. How do you save your gorgeous landscaping if you're facing an extended heatwave?  

      Eddie Powell at the University of Florida IFAS Extension offers a few tips to homeowners subject to periods of high heat:
      - Plants grown with the correctly applied rate of nutrients will tolerate hotter temperatures better and recover from wilt injury faster than plants grown with little to no nutrients. 
      - If high heat is predicted, Powell recommends watering vegetable garden plants early in the day to help protect them. He says well-watered soil will stay cooler than a dry soil and keep plants hydrated. 
      - Beware however, because saturated soil conditions can damage the root systems of most plants over a few days, so make sure the ground is well-drained.
       
      Melissa G. Womack of the Agriculture and Natural Resources department at the University of California  suggests the following:
      - Avoid fertilizing plants or trees during hot summer months. She says when a fertilizer is applied, especially one that is high in nitrogen, a plant is triggered to produce more green growth — demanding more water and nutrient needs. 
      - When temperatures get extreme, having a good layer of mulch prevents soil from heating up excessively and losing water to evaporation. Womack says to apply 4 inches of a medium shred bark mulch to insulate the soil. 
      - During extreme heat, Womack also suggests relocating any exposed potted plants to a shaded area.

      Rebecca Latta Consulting of Southern California tells her clients that the following heat tolerant species from South America and the Sonoran desert serve sun drenched properties well:

      - Tipu
      - Mesquite
      - Desert willow
      - Velvet ash
      - Pinyon pine
      - California juniper
      - Red willow
      - Desert apricot 
      - Cypress

      Latta also advises weeding out understory competition such as ivy, creeping fig and vincathat can sap vital  water and nutrients away from trees and shrubs.

      Finally, Greg Seaman at learn.eartheasy.com says during a heat wave, use light colored mulches will reflect the sunlight and help maintain cooler surface soil conditions. And leave your grass taller than usual to benefit the soil by helping to retain moisture. 

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Aging in Place: Bathrooms

      15 July 2019

      Many of us plan to grow old in our homes, also known as "aging in place," and some of us have family members currently doing just that. So how can you make sure your home stays safe as you age? Let's look at one room that is home to a large majority of slips and falls: the bathroom.

      "Bathrooms can be very dangerous for people who have difficulties with mobility," says Ted Puzio, owner of Southern Trust Home Services. "Luckily, there are steps you can take as a homeowner to make them safer for your friends and family members."

      Puzio suggests the following adjustments for those wanting to increase the safety of their home restrooms:

      Consider installing a walk-in shower. By removing any hurdles your loved one might have to step over in order to bathe, you significantly reduce the risk of throwing them off balance.

      Equip showers and surrounding walls with sturdy grab bars. Giving seniors something to hold on to while they bathe can help them maintain their center of gravity, making a fall less likely. You may even want to consider adding a shower chair as well.  

      Install faucets that are easy for seniors to turn. Struggling with a faucet can also lead to seniors getting thrown off balance. Consider faucets that are easy to use, like a lever faucet.

      Invest in handheld shower wands instead of an anchored showerhead. Handheld shower wands are flexible and never require reaching or straining in order to make adjustments. Try to find one with a convenient on/off button so your loved one can easily use it from a single position.

      Consider raised-height toilet models. There are lots of ADA-approved toilet options that will lessen the chance of a harsh fall. Try to find one that's a comfortable height for the senior members of your household.

      Source: southerntrusthomeservices.com.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.