You don’t need to live near a body of water to be concerned about flooding in your home. You’ve got hundreds of gallons of water pumping through the pipes in your walls and floors. In fact, the most common form of household water damage is that caused by plumbing leaks and appliance failures (toilet flooding, a leaking refrigerator, burst plumbing pipes, etc).
When flooding occurs, the key to protecting your property is to act quickly and tackle the following ten steps:
1- Stop the flow of water: If the water is coming from an appliance or a plumbing pipe inside your home, use one of the main shutoff valves to cut all water flowing to the house. If the water is coming from outside your home, try to redirect the water elsewhere (if you don’t have sandbags, fill garbage bags full of dirt from your yard).
2- Turn off the electricity: When water comes into contact with electricity, it can electrocute anyone who touches the water.
3- Collect the water: Use any/all towels, sheets, and other linens to get water off the floors. If it’s draining from pipes or through ceilings, use buckets to contain it.
4- Gather valuables: Designate someone to gather all valuables while the others contain the flooding.
5- Wear protective gear: Put on rubber boots and gloves to protect yourself from polluted water.
6- Consider leaving the premises: If sewage or chemicals are in the water, live electrical wires are underwater, or the level of water is above your ankles, it’s best to evacuate the house.
7- Call for assistance: Call 911 if you need immediate medical assistance. Call your landlord if you’re a renter. Call your insurance company if you’re the owner of the home.
8- Document the damage: Once the situation is under control and everyone is out of danger, but before any major clean up or repair work begins, take photos of the damage done to your home, as well as any belongings damaged during the flooding. Your insurance company will want a record of this.
9- Start the restoration: Cleanup from flooding should begin within 24 hours. If the water soaked your sheetrock walls or the sub-flooring (the wood below your flooring), call a professional restoration company that specializes in water cleanups. If the damage is less extensive than that:
- Remove any water-soaked carpeting. Carpet is a breeding ground for mold.
- Quickly dry or discard cardboard and paper that was water-soaked to avoid mold infestation.
- Rent floor fans and use them to help dry the flooded area.
- Rent, borrow or buy a portable dehumidifier and use it in combination with the fans.
- Use a bleach solution to sanitize furniture and hard surfaces.
10- Watch for mold: Monitor walls, ceilings, floors, and belongings for the appearance of black spots. A musty smell is another sign of mold. Signs of mold exposure include itchy, watery eyes, runny/blocked nose, sore throat, sneezing, headaches and respiratory issues.
To respond promptly, you’ll need to know ahead of time where the main water and electricity shut-offs are located. This is something everyone who lives in your home should be shown as soon as possible. The main electrical panel is usually housed in a gray metal box attached to the wall in your basement, or in a utility closet. Typically, there’s one switch inside the box that cuts all power to all other switches. Most homes have two main water shutoffs. One is in a box in the ground in front of your home. And the other, typically, has a handle attached to a thick plumbing pipe inside your basement or utility closet.
Source: Windermere Home Update
Now that spring has sprung, let’s clear the cobwebs and get your home ready! Here is our quick guide to spring home maintenance:
Inspection top to bottom: Now that the weather is temperate you will want to check on how your home weathered the winter. Check the roof for leaks, the gutters for damage, and the siding for cracks. You will also want to inspect your basement or foundation for any shifts. Make repairs now to prevent further damage.
Clean out the gutters: April showers bring May flowers… so clear out the gutters to keep rain from pooling on your roof or near your foundation.
Pest control: Spring is mating season for eight-legged critters, so sweep out cobwebs, clear debris, and check the nooks and crannies. If you live in an area prone to dangerous species like brown recluse or black widows, you may want to contact your local pest control, but otherwise, household spiders do help eliminate other bugs.
HVAC system: If you have an air conditioner now is the time to check to make sure it is ready before summer gets here and everyone else is clamoring for maintenance. Now is a good time to check your home air filters and replace or upgrade to keep allergens at bay.
Clear the clutter: Do a sweep around the house and get rid of junk that you don’t use! Take a little time each week to tackle a room. Closets, playrooms, and basements can be especially daunting, but getting rid of old stuff and refreshing your space will go a long way!
Deep clean: On a nice day open the windows, dust, wipe, scrub, and clean. You will get a nice workout and your home will look and feel so fresh after a winter of being cooped up.
Update your décor: Add a splash of color to your home with small embellishments. Add a colorful vase, a lighter throw for your sofa, pretty pastel pillows, or spring-time candles, to upgrade your living space.
Take it outdoors: Let your throw rugs, curtains, and other tapestries air our outside. Shake off the dust, spot clean what you can and let everything bask in the sun for an afternoon.
Don’t forget the back yard: It may not be time to start up the grill, yet, but you can get started on your outdoor entertaining checklist. Check your lawn, and if you have some spare spots start filling in with seed. Check your outdoor plants, prune, plant bulbs, start to replenish the soil for your garden, and mow, so you are ready to start when the season allows.
Speaking of the grill – if you have a gas grill you will want to pull this out and perform a maintenance check. Clean everything up and check to make sure all the gas lines are clear, as these can get clogged after sitting idle all winter. Make sure the grill is clear of spiders too, as they can build webs in the tubes, causing damage to your grill. You can start to bring out your garden furniture too, or clean it up if you left it covered outside all winter. Because before you know it, it’ll be barbecue season!
Source: Windermere Real Estate Blog
2018 Design Trends
This issue of Home Update is all about trends. You may not have the biggest or the best house in the neighborhood, but if you put these design insights to good use you can be the proud owner of a super stylish abode. According to the interior design experts, the work they’re doing, and the industry shows they’re attending, minimalism will continue to be a strong trend in 2018, cosy comfort will be combined with cold technology, and vibrant colors will be splashed across the walls.
Interior designs that pare a room to only the most essential items will continue to be a leading style. The same is true for open layouts with few walls. But experts say the look is also becoming a bit more relaxed and less structured. In other words, it’s okay to flaunt a few more possessions these days, and even be a little careless in how they’re arranged.
Adding to the more relaxed minimalist look is a complementary trend to incorporate more coziness – especially around all those cold, metallic objects of technology (big screen TV’s, computers, surround-sound speakers and more). For example, consider using a freestanding room divider to create a cozy nook in one corner of the living room.
WOOD, CORK AND BRIGHT LIGHTS
Natural wood floors will also continue to be very popular, as will wood cabinets and trim. But wood ceilings, accent walls and furnishings are also becoming trendy – as is cork flooring. To keep all that wood and cork from making a space too dark, use it sparingly and make a plan for bright lighting, as well.
The color experts at the Pantone Color Institute say metallic colors have outgrown their role as accents and are now being painted on walls and incorporated into primary pieces of furniture. Another trend they’re highlighting for 2018: fewer pastels and more intense colors.
PLUS, YOUR PERSONAL TOUCH
If you’re a creative or crafty person, you’ll be glad to learn that personal statements are another growing trend. The idea is to make your home truly unique by incorporating homemade art (including framed paintings created by your children), mementos from your travels, collectables and other items that bring your personality to life. Frugality and originality are encouraged.
FEEL FREE TO MIX AND MATCH
If the above trends seems a bit random and at times conflicting, that’s by design: 2018 is expected to be a year of rapid transition and transformation, and designers feel our homes should reflect that mix of ideas and progress.
And finally, if you’re thinking this may be the year you make the move to a new home, I would be happy to share the trends reshaping our local real estate market, as well. All you have to do is ask.
Source: Windermere Real Estate Home Update January 2018.
Preparing for Holiday Visitors
Take time now to ensure your home is properly prepared for the onslaught of family and friends who may be visiting during the holiday season this year. The secret to being a memorable holiday host is having a house that’s not only welcoming, but also safe and well-maintained. Following are some suggestions for quick, pre-visit improvements.
LIGHT UP THE OUTDOORS
Installing exterior lighting can quickly transform your house from a dark object to an evening oasis. For dramatic effect, beam lights along the sides of your house. To bring your landscaping to life, mount upward-facing lights at the base of large trees and bushes. Beckon your guests (and make their final approach infinitely safer) by posting lights along walkways and stairs.
PRESSURE-WASH THE WALKWAYS AND DRIVEWAYS
Mossy steps and walkways are very slippery at this time of year. And the best way to remove these organic build-ups is with a powerful pressure washer.
BOLT THE BOOKSHELVES
Bookshelves more than five feet high can be accidentally pulled or pushed over by the well-meaning guests – with potentially serious results. Anchor them to the walls with brackets and bolts specially designed for the task.
GIVE YOUR TOILET(S) A TUNE-UP
To ensure your loo can accommodate the additional users…
- Use a small, handheld mirror to see if the all-important water holes on the underside of the toilet bowl rim are plugged with mineral deposits and grime. If so, use a length of wire clothes hanger to clear them.
- Treat your toilet with one of the products that dissolves built-up paper and organic waste in the pipes (a product called “Toilet Care Tune-up” is sold at hardware stores, Walmart, big box home-improvement stores, and more).
- Make sure it’s still securely bolted to the floor: Grab both sides of the bowl and try to rock it back and forth. If there’s any movement, tighten the floor bolts (but not so tight that you crack the fragile porcelain).
CLEARN THE ENTERTAINING AREAS
If guests have to maneuver around pet food bowls, recycling containers, potted plants, piles of reading materials and other obstructions, there’s a very good chance someone is going to trip or slip.
HAVE THE CHIMNEY INSPECTED
If there’s even a chance you’re going to have a real-wood fire, and you haven’t had your chimney inspected and cleaned in a couple of years, schedule an appointment with a chimney sweep now.
CHANGE THE FURNACE FILTER
To help those guests who may have allergies to dust, pollen and pet hair, change your furnace filter.
If your current home is no longer satisfying your needs, including holiday hosting duties, take some time this winter to seriously consider your real estate options. Spring is a great time to sell. And I would be happy to provide some initial information regarding pricing, market trends and the state of the mortgage industry.
Source: Windermere Real Estate Home Update.
The vast majority of Americans (about 70%) will go on at least one vacation this year – leaving their homes vulnerable to thieves for days at a time. There are lots of ways to secure your property against burglars, but the best ideas are usually centered on facts. Following are the latest home-burglary statistics complied by the FBI and the insurance industry, as well as specific suggestions to prevent your home from becoming the next vacation victim.
VACATION TIME IS ALSO PRIME BURGLARY TIME
July and August are the most popular months for Americans to vacation. But for thieves, it’s a time to get to work burglarizing homes. According to the FBI, residential burglaries spike 10% during those two months, marking that 62-day period as the most active of all for home break-ins. To play it safe, carefully consider who you tell about your vacation plans. And wait until you’re safely home to post accounts of the trip on social media.
MOST THIEVES ARE NON-PROFESSIONAL OPPORTUNISTS
The idea that professional thieves are monitoring your home, waiting for you to go on vacation, is seldom true. In reality, the typical burglar tends to act quickly when a good opportunity presents itself. To keep thieves at bay, make it always appear that someone is inside:
- Don’t let the mail, packages or newspapers pile up on the porch
- Use timers to make the interior lights turn on and off
- Arrange for someone to cut the grass if you’ll be gone for longer than a week during the growing season
- Ask a neighbor to care for your garbage and recycling containers when you’re traveling
MOST BURGLARIES HAPPEN DURING THE DAY
The majority of burglaries happen between 9am and 3pm, when you and most of your neighbors are at work. Installing an alarm system is one very good way to protect your home during the day. But another, often overlooked, option is to ask the retirees in your neighborhood to keep an eye on the place.
UNLOCKED DOORS & WINDOWS ARE A BIG PROBLEM
Many people think they won’t be burglarized, so they don’t make an extra effort to keep all the doors and windows locked. The result: nearly 30% of all “unlawful entries” are made through an unlocked door or window. The solution is simple: lock everything (including the garage door and any upper-floor windows) every time you leave.
ALARM SYSTEMS SCARE BURGLARS
Homes without an alarm system are two to three times more likely to be burglarized. Fortunately, there are many types of systems available today, with a wide variety of affordable price tags.
PROTECT YOUR PIECE OF MIND
It’s tough to transition into a vacation state of mind if you’re worrying about your home’s security. Take time now to implement the ideas above, and you’ll be able to leave those concerns behind on your next vacation getaway.
Source: Windermere Real Estate Home Update May 2017
Moving Made Easy
The average American will pack up all their belongings and move to a new house or apartment 11.4 times during their lifetime. Many of us – especially those of us with young children and a multitude of possessions – have come to dread the moving process. Yet, there are people who have a knack for making it all look…dare we say…easy. On the day that the moving trucks arrive, everything just seems to fall into place. Everyone knows the plan. Things happen quickly.
Truth be told, those are the people who planning and organized for weeks beforehand, which is the key to a smooth move. To become one of those people, here are six suggestions:
- Get Started Six Weeks Beforehand – Organizing for a whole-house move takes time. This is not something that can be rushed. Give yourself at least six weeks to prepare.
- Hire a Pro to Help You Purge – If you’re like most people, you love the idea of streamlining your possessions before a big move, but you find it one of the most challenging of tasks. The solution: Hire a professional organizer. Typically, the organizer will provide coaching, support and recommendations, as well as physical help.
- Develop Plans for the New Spaces – Move-in day will go much smoother if you determine ahead of time exactly where you want your furnishings to be place in the new property. Take measurements. Create a schematic. Put notes on each piece of furniture. You should even designate a space in each room where boxes can be safely stacked out of the way.
- Include the Kids – If you have children, give them plenty of advance notice so they can get used to the idea of a new home. Take time to answer their questions. Visit the new home and neighborhood as a family. And finally, arrange for someone to care for your children off-site on moving day.
- Arrange a Smooth Exit – While you’re surely excited about your new home, you’ll want to focus some of that energy on your current residence too.
- Renters: Plan to meet on-site with your landlord at least two weeks before your move-out date to review all the move-out processes and expectations. Ask if any of the required steps or paperwork can be completed before your final day.
- Sellers: Confer with your real estate agent about what items should/should not be left behind, how much cleaning needs to be done and more.
- Set Aside the Essentials – Moving is an all-day affair – which means you won’t have time to do much unpacking before the next day dawns. Red-tag the items you’ll want to access the first day in your new space (phone charger, essential kitchen items, etc) so they can be packed in a specially marked box.
Taking the time to plan in advance can save you a lot of stress on moving day and help you start enjoying your new home as quickly as possible.
Source: Windermere Home Update March 2017.