Real Estate Information Archive


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Troubleshooting the Hot Water Heater - Part 2

by The Jana Caudill Team

(continued from last blog…) 

Last time we dealt with stinky and discolored water from your Crown Point, Munster, or Cedar Lake hot water heater.  Today we’ll cover little hot water and no hot water at all.

Little hot water:  The first question is, does your water heater have a large enough capacity for the demand in your household?  Remember as a teenager when Dad complained about not having any hot water when he took his shower after the rest of the family had already taken theirs?  Use this handy hot flow rate calculator to find out if you have an undersized unit for your family’s needs.  Also check that you don’t have hot and cold water lines crossed somewhere in the house.  If you have a crossed line from the water heater to the washing machine, for example, you’re unintentionally using hot water where you don’t need it.

No hot water:  You’ve got either a faulty gas pilot, thermocouple, or pilot control valve.  First off, is the pilot light off?  If so, follow these directions to safely light.  If you’re unable to light the pilot light it might need replacing.  The thermocouple’s job is to sense when the pilot is on and hot enough to ignite natural gas.  If the pilot’s out the thermocouple will not open, as may also be the case if the thermocouple is defective.  Again replacement the defective part.  Same goes for the pilot control valve.

If you have water appearing externally around the base of the heater it’s more than likely one of three things.  One, you have a faulty temperature and pressure control valve which you can flush clean, re-check, and replace if leaking persists.  Two, with tank corrosion you should be able to see the area where corrosion has begun to eat through the tank in which case the tank will need to be replaced.  Three, leaking connective plumbing.  Again, easy to locate.

You’ll have to decide if you’re going to do any of these repairs yourself or call in a plumber.  Just because you know how to identify the problem doesn’t necessarily mean you’re the best person to fix it.  BE SAFE.

Troubleshooting the Hot Water Heater - Part 1

by The Jana Caudill Team

All of a sudden – or more likely the problem started small and got worse with time – you have an issue with your water heater.  There’s not enough hot water, or NO hot water.  Maybe your hot water smells a little funny or has a rust colored tinge to it.  Maybe you even have water on the floor of your Crown Point, Chesterton, or Dyer basement.

Ok, first things first.  BE SAFE.  This article is on troubleshooting water heater problems, and although I’ll suggest how to fix the issue, this is by no means a comprehensive step-by-step repair plan.  If at any point you become “a little iffy” around a troubled water heater call in a professional.  You may very well be an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, but accidents do happen, and more often than not they happen at home.  Now, if you’re one to dig a little deeper into the issue a little home safety review is in order.  If you have an electric water heater be sure to turn it off by cutting power at your circuit/fuse box.  For gas water heaters turn the burner setting to pilot.  Then, for all heaters turn off the water supply to the heater.  On to the diagnostics:

Rust colored water:  Either the sacrificial anode rod has deteriorated (by design) to the point of necessary replacement or there is corrosion inside the water tank.  Most often this can be fixed by replacing the old rod with a new magnesium anode rod.

Smell:  The rotten egg odor you have is a bacteria growing on the inside of the tank.  The bacteria is being kept alive by feeding off the hydrogen gas emitted by the corroding anode rod.  You’ll need to flush out the tank with hydrogen peroxide and probably also replace the old anode with a new magnesium anode.  If the problem persists you may have to replace the tank lining as well.

We’ll continue the diagnostic next blog with the issues of little and no hot water, and discuss leaking water collecting at the base of the heater.

Budget Bathroom Redo's

by The Jana Caudill Team

Getting the itch to do something about that dreadful main level guest powder room but you’ve never really pictured yourself as a do-it-yourselfer?  Maybe you’re ready to put a hole in the peach walls or smash the forest green tiles of your outdated master bath though you’ve never picked up a hammer before in your life.  Here are a handful of tips and some easy and inexpensive Crown Point, Chesterton, and Valparaiso bathroom redos for the budget conscious first time do-it-yourselfer:

  1. Evaluate the project before you spend any money.  What can you realistically do yourself and what do you need help with?  Are there any structural items that need to be addressed?  Are you already looking at holes in the drywall, leaking plumbing, rot, or questionable wiring?  If so, and this is your first rodeo, it might be time to call in the pros.  Get estimates specifically for that work only.  You don’t need a contractor to buy your paint.  That’s when things start to get pricey.  Are you being realistic with your budget?  Is it going to cost more than you originally thought to complete all the changes on your bathroom redo wish list?  Are you okay with spending more if it becomes necessary?
  2. Replace low cost items that require no or easy installation.  We’re talking about the little things that combined can completely change the feel of a room like a new decorative toilet seat, candles, towels, wall hangings, soap dishes.  Anything that contributes to the new feel you’re after in the bathroom.
  3. Paint.  There, I said it.  Yes, paint.  The most affordable anyone-can-do-it remodel item on a room’s to do list is fresh paint.  Remember those drab peach walls that looked great thirty years ago?  A gallon of paint with a warm hue will work wonders.
  4. Self-adhesive tiles.  They’re cheap, they’re easy to apply, and they’re available in a large variety of sizes, colors, and styles.
  5. Be frugal.  Only replace what you have to.  You can often replace a sink without having to replace the entire vanity.  Shop for sale, one-off, close-out, bargain lighting, tiles, towel holders, sconces, etc. that can add that perfect affordable and unique accent.


by The Jana Caudill Team

Mice.  You’ve discovered droppings on the front porch in the corner by the front door, or along the walls in the garage – or even worse, inside your Crown Point, Chesterton, or St. John home!  Don’t let a small (some would say cute and furry) problem become an infestation.  You need to eliminate household pests like mice right away.

Should you take care of it yourself or call the exterminator?  Good question.  I guess the answer depends on how squeamish you are.  If you don’t mind setting and clearing/disposing of traps then by all means do it yourself, it’ll be cheaper.  If just the thought of setting the cheese or peanut butter on the mechanism gives you the heebie jeebies then you might want to call Orkin.

For you do-it-yourselfers there is one very important tip I must give you before you set out on your great pest adventure: DO NOT USE POISON!  Why?  Poison does a very effective job on killing mice you say.  True.  But it does not kill them instantaneously.  Mice eat poison then go back to their nests when feeling ill to die.  If their nest is inside the walls of your house, well then you do have your dead mouse, but it’s one that, if near any amount of moisture, as it progresses to decompose will become increasingly malodorous.  If you don’t know exactly where the nest is because you can’t see it then you’re looking at a potentially expensive and time consuming job poking holes in, patching, and refinishing walls until you find it.

Just sayin.

Kilz and the Family Cat

by The Jana Caudill Team

Okay, let’s be honest, it’s not always necessarily the family cat.  Could be your beloved basset hound who is long on years is also short on bladder control.  Maybe it’s your high-schooler’s ferret, you know, the one he promised to take care of all by himself to prove just how responsible he is.  For the sake of this article we’ll take one extreme example for illustration.  You have a cat (or dog, or parakeet, or ferret, you fill in the blank) who for some reason loves to perform his daily duties outside the cat box instead of inside where it’s proper.  This has left you with a strong, lingering and unpleasant animal odor on the basement floor that you seem unable to completely get rid of.  You see where I’m going with this.

Animals and odors go hand in hand.  To put it more bluntly, animals and animal waste odors go hand in hand.  And if you have a trouble spot in your Crown Point, Hobart, or Munster home, that favorite spot where Rover or Mittens often relieves himself you need Kilz.  The name doesn’t suggest eliminating the family cat, just the lingering urine odor in your subfloors.  Kilz brand has a line of primer products that are your best chance at eliminating entrenched pet odors, and can be used on cement, wood and wood subfloors, drywall, plaster, and all types of masonry.

With a cat you’re generally speaking about either a cement floor, like in a basement, or wood subflooring underneath tile, carpet, etc.  Here’s what this odor killing project looks like:

  1. Pull away tile, carpet, or other floor covering to get to subflooring.  If you’re working with a cement floor you’ll go right on to number 2
  2. Thoroughly clean subfloor/cement with water and bleach
  3. Allow flooring to completely dry
  4. Apply Kilz primer according to directions
  5. Apply second coat of Kilz for particularly troublesome areas
  6. Replace flooring

Of course there could be extenuating circumstances, for example, if your cat sprays the walls downstairs.  Kilz works there too.  Here is a great paint solutions page on other product applications like smoke damage, water stains, and more.

House Ants

by The Jana Caudill Team

It’s summer in Crown Point, Chesterton, and Valparaiso!  It’s time for favorite activities like bike rides through the park, Frisbee and baseball.  Summer is also a time for picnics and cook outs, and those always unwelcome guests: ants.  But ants can crash an indoor party just as easily as one outside.  How do you get rid of your army of pests?  Follow this trail of crumbs:

  1. If you’re able to follow the trail of ants you’ll eventually get to the source of your troubles, meaning some crumb of food in the bottom of a cabinet, in the trash can, under the sink with the recyclables, wherever.  Ants don’t just show up for the fun of it.  There’s something at the end of the line that’s got their attention.  Whatever it is, however small it is, get rid of it!
  2. Thoroughly clean counters, backsplashes, sinks, floors, cabinets (inside and out), under the sink, inside the trash can, anywhere the ants have been.  This will remove any residual food scents they have been hauling from the source back to their home.  There are two trouble spots to pay particular attention to.  First are hard to reach areas like under the sink.  Second is the trashcan.  Often bits of food end up on the lip of the receptacle, or even on its side.  This is especially true if you have young children who, despite their best efforts to help clean the dinner table, can sometimes miss their mark when disposing of food scraps in the trash.  Take the can outside, hose it off and scrub thoroughly.
  3. If you set ant traps you want to place them along the ants’ supply route, which is to say between where they are and where they’re headed.  If you’ve caught them on the floor along the floorboard on their way to the trash that’s where you need to place your trap.  Also, as much as possible, put them in an inconspicuous space.

The object is to get rid of the pests AND keep them from returning during your (indoor) summer festivities.

Your Dog and Burn Patches in the Yard

by The Jana Caudill Team

Burned patches of grass can be caused by excess amounts of salt and nitrogen in dog urine, just as too much lawn fertilizer (also generally high in nitrogen) can have the same results.  Highly acidic or alkaline urine can do the same.  There are many remedies on the internet for those unsightly burned patches resulting from our canine friends’ potty breaks.  Suggested solutions are as wide ranging as is their effectiveness.  Everything from changing the pup’s diet, to products applied directly to the spots, to training your dog to do his duty elsewhere.  Here’s a sampling of what’s out there on the World Wide Web:

  • Flush the spot where the dog urinates with water immediately after they go.  As effective as this one is (it simply dilutes the burning agents in the urine to milder levels before they have time to start killing your grass) it’s a difficult solution to stay consistent with if you’re used to just opening the back door to let Rover outside.
  • Change your landscaping to something more dog friendly that won’t burn like clover or hardscape.  A more costly though long-term solution that’s very effective.
  • Train your pooch to do his business in a designated location.  You trained him not to go inside your Crown Point, Dyer, or Munster home.  Now train him to go in a designated area you covered with sand, river pebble, or even artificial turf.
  • Add lime to the soil of your dog’s favorite spots.  This changes the pH of your lawn soil and gets rid of burn spots.  It’s easy and inexpensive.  You just have to stay consistent.

And don’t overlook the possibility of neighbor’s dogs or wild animals visiting your yard, in which case a fence might be your best bet.

Interior Wall Color Choice - Part 2

by The Jana Caudill Team


You’re selling your home.  The first question I’d ask you is do you have any paint left over from when you bought the house?  If your home is relatively young you may still have a can or two left over in the basement or garage from when the builder originally finished the interior.  If so, do you have enough to paint the kid’s room(s)?  My point is, maybe you don’t necessarily need to paint everything.  Is there only one or two specific rooms that need attention?  If you don’t have any leftover paint, or the job is going to require purchasing more paint, here’s the number one cardinal rule for painting to sell:  One neutral color.  That says it all.  Choose beige.  Choose eggshell.  Choose (insert your favorite sandy off-white color here), but choose just one color.  And yes, make it neutral.  A new coat of taupe paint may not be the feature that excites buyers to the point of writing an offer, but the alternatives sure may turn them away.  Go neutral.


You’re maintaining Crown Point, Chesterton, or Merrillville investment property.  One color, just like above, but taken one step further.  Use one color for all your investment properties.  That way you don’t have to try match paint for each room in each house.  One color, across the board.  And make sure it’s semi-gloss so you will have an easier clean up in between tenants.  One color semi gloss means less time on maintenance, and quicker turn-around time for getting new paying tenants moved in.  This is one of those situations where time truly is money.

Interior Wall Color Choice - Part 1

by The Jana Caudill Team

If you’re preparing to paint the interior of your Crown Point, Hobart, or Munster home this summer the first question I would ask you is, “What are you painting for?” I don’t mean to suggest you avoid the project, or switch from paint to wallpaper.  I’m asking first if you’re painting for yourself, because you want to brighten up the family room; or because you’ve always wanted a lavender bedroom suite.  Maybe you’re planning for a move, and you’re painting to clean up the walls before listing your home for sale.  Maybe you’re painting the walls in a rental property you own as part of your investment portfolio.  What are you painting for?  If…

You're doing it for yourself You’ve always wanted mango walls in the dining room, chestnut in the study, and yes, lavender in the master bedroom.  Ask yourself a few planning questions up front.  What’s the scope of your project?  Are you doing one room?  Two?  Ten?  I won’t tell you not to use ten colors in ten different rooms, but I will ask you to reconsider.  Think less is more.  Too many colors can make a home feel chaotic.  This video will help you understand the basics of color scheming, line of site combinations (standing in your mango kitchen and looking through the archway into your chestnut study for example), and proper pairing of wall color with a room’s accents and furnishings.

You can spend as much or as little time as you like just deciding colors.  One of the best ways I’ve found to help the process is what I call “living with it.”  Once you and your spouse have narrowed your choices for any particular room down to, say, your top three, get a sample of each of the choices.  Paint a six by six inch square patch of wall, larger if you like, with each of the colors on a section of wall where every time you step into the room you see the choices.  Then “live with it” for a few days, or a week, or a month.  Try to monitor your initial reaction to the colors each time you step into the room.  Which color jumps out and grabs you?  Do you find your eyes drawn to one color over the others?  How about your spouse, and your children?  What do they think?

Next time I’ll have some tips for choosing paint colors when you’re preparing to sell your home and when maintaining rental/income properties.

Kitchen Fires

by The Jana Caudill Team

The most common place for a fire to start inside your Crown Point, Hobart, or Dyer home is the kitchen; the garage and laundry room come in at second and third.  It makes sense though, right?  The kitchen’s the room that’s home to the range top, the oven, and multiple electric appliances.  But not all in-home fires are the same.  The kitchen is not only the most likely place for an accidental fire, it is also the location most susceptible to the widest variety of fires.  Before I go any further, if you have an in-home fire and your clothes happen to catch fire, you know the drill: STOP, DROP, AND ROLL! And if the flames are high and out of control GET OUT OF YOUR HOUSE AND GET TO SAFETY FIRST, THEN CALL 911!  Don’t risk your life.  There’s no sense in anyone getting hurt.  Things can be replaced, people can’t.  That said, here are the three most common types of small in-home fires and the best method for putting them out.

  1. Wood, paper, cloth fire: Put out the flames with water or a class A fire extinguisher.
  2. Grease fire: Use baking soda or a class B extinguisher.  If the fire is in a pan, slide a lid over the top first to smother the flames and turn off the heat.  DO NOT USE WATER!  Water will only make a grease fire spread.
  3. Electric fire: Baking soda or a class C extinguisher.  Again, no water.

Home fire extinguishers should have an ABC rating to cover most home fires.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 45