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Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 54

Preparing your home for winter

by The Jana Caudill Team

 

 As the leaves begin to change from green to an array of beautiful fall colors here in Northwest Indiana, it is time to think about what you can do to prepare your home for winter. Below is a list of Fall to Winter preparations.

 

Property Tax Exemption Site for Lake County Up and Running

by The Jana Caudill Team

Here’s an update for all our Lake County friends, family and neighbors, copied from our friends at Professional’s Title Services:

 

Some really good news this morning…

The Lake County Auditor’s website for filing Property Tax Exemptions is now up and running.  There’s even a short video tutorial, for those uncomfortable online. 

To submit the form online, taxpayers must have the following before they access the application:
A valid driver's license or state ID
A credit card (There is a $5.50 convenience fee charged for online filing.  Well worth not having to suffer the hassles of the LCGC.)
A valid email address
Acrobat Reader 4.05 or higher  (Acrobat Reader is available for free from the Adobe website)

Please follow this link:
https://www.lakecountyin.org/portal/media-type/html/group/auditor/page/file-exemptions

It’s quite simple, but if people feel better about it, they can also print out the forms and mail them in.  If taxpayers provide an email address when they file, the Auditor will let them know when their exemptions are approved or denied (and, if so, why).

Please call PTS if you have any questions or problems.

-John

John P. Hagerman
Professionals' Title Services
Office (219) 736-1825
Fax (219) 736-1835


Have a wonderful day!

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.

Teaching Your Children How to be Safe at Home

by The Jana Caudill Team

You often hear about new parents “child proofing” a house.  They have safety latches for door knobs, oven doors, toilet lids, kitchen drawers and cabinets.  There are electric outlet covers, safety gates, drapery cords hung high, and knives, matches, chemicals, and medications all locked safely away.  There’s a lot parents can do to make their homes safer for their children. 

The problem is, with the term children, at least in the context of “child proofing,” we often only mean babies and toddlers.  What about when our kids are not only walking, but old enough to be talking and learning too?

Here are some tips that go beyond the measures you take to protect your children and venture into the realm of educating your children to help protect themselves.

  1. Water and electricity don't mix.  You already don’t let your kids put their glass of water or milk on top of the television in the family room.  Now’s the time to explain to them why.  Electricity and liquids do not mix.  Teach them about electric fires.  Tell them the age old story about the person using the hairdryer in the tub.  You can make your point without giving your kids nightmares.  Then do a planned tour of your home, visiting each bathroom, every television/DVD player/game system set up in the house.  Help them identify potential electric fire threats in the home.  Tell them how much you appreciate their participation in keeping your Crown Point, Cedar Lake, or Schererville home safe.
  2. Animals.  Tell the kids to never pull on tails or ears, and never to interrupt a house pet who is having his dinner.  Even the best behaved dogs can get a little annoyed with a younger family member who refuses to leave them alone during what would otherwise be a peaceful meal.  Talk to your children about avoiding strange animals, whether it’s the stray dog or cat in the neighborhood or it’s your neighbor’s pet just on the other side of the fence.  Mom and Dad should get to know potential new animal friends on the block and ensure there are proper introductions with little ones.
  3. Knives, matches, meds, chemicals.  Yes, it’s time for those talks too, and YES, KEEP THEM LOCKED UP.  Talk to your children about all potential dangers in the home – just don’t overwhelm them right out of the shoot.  If you unload everything on them all at once you risk creating a sense that the house is a giant booby trap.  Have these conversations as opportunities present themselves.  You will still keep items like medications, matches, and so on locked up until the kids are a little older.

Of course everything depends on communication and how mature your children are.  If you find yourself constantly removing that nighttime glass of water from the top of the cable TV box and your constant reminders go unheeded there should be repercussions.  And that’s okay.  You’re just trying to keep your kids safe.

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.

Attic and Basement Storage

by The Jana Caudill Team

I was thinking about storage solutions for your Crown Point, Dyer, or Munster home.  I’m not talking about color coded, stackable bins, or any of that.  What I had on my mind was how to make effective use of underutilized space.  After the garage the two most likely candidates for family storage are the basement and the attic.  Here are a couple pros and cons for storage both above your head and below your feet, and a thought or two on how to do it right.

As a rule basements are cooler than the rest of the house, and by comparison with the attic, much more accessible.  Generally if a large item like a couch or an exercise machine can fit through the front door and into the house it can also fit down the stairwell and into the basement.  But accessibility can have its drawbacks as well.  Anything you store in the basement will be seen every time you venture down there, and if there’s enough stuff down there it can easily get cluttered.  Not such a great strategy if you also use the basement as a family common area.  Take into account children and pets, particularly cats.  Nosy fingers and paws can accidentally overturn Great Granny’s antique china, or disturb Great Grandpa’s military medals and ribbons.  So anything you store in the basement should be clearly labeled in secure boxes.  Plastic containers are good, especially if there’s even the most remote threat of flooding.  Another drawback of storage in the basement is the simple convenience, and by that I mean anytime you have extra space life generally expands to fill it, which can inadvertently steal away usable living space.  It’s often easier to “take it downstairs” and deal with clutter later than to properly dispose of expendable items right away.  Basement storage in itself is a great argument for a garage sale.  So if you’re going to use the basement consider one or more of those standing, folding screens to store (hide) you stuff behind and out of site.  And don’t forget the space under the stairs.  It’s great for hiding more than childhood monsters.

Attics are difficult to access, and their entry points are significantly narrower than the hallway downstairs.  However, attics are great out of the way, forgotten spaces in the house, and anything you are able to haul up a ladder can be easily put out of site and out of mind.  That means no nosy children or pets accidentally breaking priceless family keepsakes.  A word of caution though.  Attics are warm, and can get downright miserable during the summer.  Be careful not to store Grandpa’s old letterman jacket up there.  Painted leather, like the sleeves on many of those coats can sweat natural oils in the heat and ruin the finish.  So it’s safer to keep delicate materials and fabrics elsewhere if possible.  This includes old family reel to reel movies, video tapes, and music cassettes.  All of these can suffer in the heat.  Here’s the hot tip for using your attic for storage: install a folding ladder and some flooring for safety, and easier accessibility.

Fuse Box and Circuit Breaker Box Safety

by The Jana Caudill Team

The fuse box or circuit breaker box is the electrical nerve center of your Crown Point, Cedar Lake, or Dyer home.  Everything that you plug into an outlet or screw into a light socket that’s not running on batteries but uses electricity in the home counts on fuse and breaker boxes to do their job, and do it safely.  You do too.  Accordingly, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind when accessing the nerve center of your home:

  1. Just say “no” to H2O.  We’ve all been warned at one point or another not to use electric appliances like hair dryers, curling irons, or plug-in radios near the bath tub.  The principle is shockingly basic: water and electricity don’t mix.  Apply that principle to electric boxes.  If your home has recently suffered water leakage or flooding, possibly from extreme weather conditions or a roof leak, and your walls are wet DO NOT access your electrical box.  Again, water and electricity don’t mix, so if walls are wet, and/or you are standing in standing water stay away from the fuse or breaker box.  You are quite literally risking death.
  2. Replace blown fuses only with properly sized replacement fuses.  Incorrectly replacing fuses, or worse, attempting to bypass the fuse or breaker altogether by wiring around it risks starting an electrical fire, and that’s not the kind of fire you put out with water!  Always, ALWAYS use a properly rated and sized replacement fuse.  Your home circuits were designed with this built-in safety feature for a reason.  Which brings us to…
  3. Call an electrician if...  If you have to constantly replace blown fuses or reset tripped circuit breakers something is wrong, especially if you’re repeatedly installing the correct fuse.  You either have an overloaded circuit, meaning a few too many combination TVs, stereos, DVD players, and video game systems plugged into one circuit, or some other malfunctioning short in the circuit.  If unplugging and relocating some of your electrical equipment to lighten the load doesn’t solve this you need to call an electrician right away to inspect your wiring for safety concerns.

When the Lights Go Out

by The Jana Caudill Team

When the power goes out, especially at night, isn’t it nice to be able to walk right over to the bathroom cabinet, kitchen drawer, garage, or wherever you keep your flashlight(s) and voila, let there be light!

Doesn’t always work that way, does it?  Either the batteries are dead, extending the scavenger hunt in your Crown Point, Dyer, or Munster home for at least another ten minutes while you look for fresh batteries, or the flashlight isn’t there (now, when you need it most) to begin with.  Maybe you have candles tucked away for these infrequent not-quite emergency situations.  Again, are they still where you remember storing them?  Do you remember where you stored them?  Do you even own any candles?

Here are a few forethoughtful tips on ensuring you have ready and recharged access to illumination when the power goes down.

  1. Store candles in plain sight.  Many homeowners use decorative candles as part of their home décor.  Dining room center pieces, fireplace mantle dressing, bath accents, you name it.  Integrate candles in locations where you might otherwise place a vase of fresh flowers.  Keep a multi-purpose lighter handy, but in a secure location away from children, instead of matches which require an ashtray or similar unsightly receptacle for cooling down after use.
  2. Put a flashlight anywhere you have a sink.  Under the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, powder room sink, and laundry room sink.  That way you’ll have access to multiple flashlights in easy to remember locations.  The only issue here is if you have children.  Kids love flashlights.  The easy solution is child-proof cabinet latches.
  3. Like with the battery backup in your smoke detectors, replace your emergency flashlight batteries once a year.  I suggest every holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.  Make it an annual part of decorating the house for the holidays.

Buy House, Change Locks

by The Jana Caudill Team

You signed the mountain of paperwork, and you and your spouse are so happy to finally be moving into your first Crown Point, Hobart, or Chesterton house together you know if you had to you’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.  The sellers are happy too, after all they’ve been trying to sell the house for almost two years and they can finally get on with their lives.  They slide five copies of the house key across the closing table to you and wish you luck.  Your Realtor gives you two gold engraved key fobs that proclaim “There’s no place like home…”  Ahhh, everything’s right in the universe until months later things start to turn up missing.

The facts are not everyone was a fan of Mr. and Mrs. Good Neighbor when they used to live in your home.  And it’s not your fault; how were you to know?  A neighbor kid never returned the key to the front door after the one time he house sat for the sellers and forgot to feed the dogs for three days…The forgotten key ring the sellers’ usually responsible thirteen year old lost at the playground after school…The code to the key pad mounted at the garage door Mr. Good Neighbor shared in a moment of weakness when Mr. Questionable Character next door called their cell phone while they were away on vacation.  He just wanted to borrow the ladder…

When you buy a house change the locks.  All the locks:

            Front Door Key
            Back Door Key
            Garage Access Key
            Remote Key Pad for the Garage Door
            Reset Garage Door Remote Controls for Your Cars
            Mailbox Key
            Utility/Exterior Storage Shed Keys

Remove access, remove temptation, and sleep easier.

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 54

Contact Information

Photo of The Jana Caudill Team Real Estate
The Jana Caudill Team
Redkey Realty Leaders
503 East Summit St., Suite 2
Crown Point IN 46307
219-661-1256
Fax: 219-663-5949