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Low Flow Shower Head

by The Jana Caudill Team

The US has been using low flow shower heads to varying degrees of success since the 1990s when the federal government legislated their use.  The early models did decrease water usage from 5 – 7 gallons a minute to the mandated 2.5 gallons a minute, however, the problem back then was that decreased water flow also often meant decreased water pressure.  So when it took you longer to rinse off soap residue due to low water pressure your shower time became longer, in turn bringing water usage back up.  Kind of self defeating.

Today’s low flow shower heads not only decrease water consumption, they stabilize water pressure and save you money on your water heating bill since you’re heating less water.  Check out these comparisons of the pre 1990 shower heads to the various incarnations that followed.  How does the shower head work?  There are two kinds of low flow shower heads, aerated and non-aerated.  The first kind uses air to pressurize the water stream, while the second maintains water pressure by pulsating water through separate water jet streams.

Let’s say your family takes a conservative total of three showers a day.  If you switch from a 2.5 gallon per minute fixture to a 1.5 gpm fixture, that’s a savings of 21 gallons every day.  And what if your shower head is still one of those pre ’90s water wasters?  You could be saving over 100 gallons a day by replacing it with a low flow unit.  Let’s see, in a thirty day month that comes to 3000 gallons of water NOT down the drain!

Check back often on our blog page for great articles on home buying, home selling, do-it-yourself projects, and home finance and more!

Implementing an Emergency Escape Plan for Your Family

by The Jana Caudill Team

Create the plan – Practice it with your family – Minimize risks

It’s crazy to think that most families do not practice their emergency escape plan, let alone have a plan in place.  Statistically speaking, the most common home emergency requiring a family to evacuate is the house fire, so any emergency plan should take into consideration fire contingencies.  Here are a couple key pointers for your family’s emergency escape plan:

  1. Plan your escapeCreate a plan that quickly and efficiently gets your family out of the house.  Designate primary and secondary exits, as well as a neighbor’s house as the destination everyone should head to for safety and for placing the call to 911.
  2. Practice your escape.  This is as crucial a step for adults as it is for children.  Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.  Children can be easily confused in an emergency.  Add the emotional trauma of an unexpected fire in the house and even mature adults can panic.  Practice the escape plan from the fire alarm all the way to your neighbor’s doorstep.
  3. Minimize risks in the home.  Test fire alarms and CO detectors, and change out backup batteries.  Clean build up out of the bottom of your stove and grill, and never leave pots and pans unattended on range burners.  Get a fire extinguisher, make sure everyone knows where it is in the house (in or close to the kitchen), and have it inspected regularly.

From our team to your family, Happy Holidays!

Relighting the Pilot Light

by The Jana Caudill Team

Here’s one: relighting the pilot light on your furnace.

First you’ll have to remove the access panel on your furnace.  Once you have the panel removed and set aside, locate the gas control knob.  Have your long fireplace matches ready.  Turn the knob to “pilot.”  Press and hold the “pilot” knob down while you use one of the matches to light the pilot.  Keep the knob depressed for thirty seconds before releasing.  If the pilot stays lit, turn the knob to the “on” position, replace the access panel, and you’re done!  Here’s a helpful video going into much greater depth covering all the furnace components involved, as well as a bonus video on lighting a pilot on a water heater.

Troubleshooting:

  1. If the pilot won’t light or stay lit the pilot nozzle (where the gas comes out and the flame lights) is more than likely obstructed and will need to be cleaned.  Be sure the gas is turned off and use a wire brush to clean away accumulated dirt and residue.
  2. If the flame is yellow or blue, not enough or too much oxygen, respectively, is reaching the burner.  You will have to adjust the burner control to obtain a flame that is light bluish on the outside and green on the inside.

Here’s to a safe and happy New Year!  Happy Holidays to our Northwest Indiana family, friends, and neighbors.

Garage Door Torsion Spring Replacement

by The Jana Caudill Team

This is NOT a do-it-yourself project to take on ill-advised.  Garage door torsion springs are under a tremendous amount of torque, and their replacement poses a serious safety hazard.  I’m certain there are a number of you out there who will choose to do this home repair yourself.  My hope with this article is that by helping you understand how the garage door and springs work together you will eventually decide to just go ahead and call in a professional should your garage door springs ever break and need replacing.

Standard 16 X 7 garage doors can weigh 150-200 pounds or more, so don’t think for a minute that little garage door opener from Sears is doing the heavy lifting on its own.  In fact, the counterweight created by the torsion springs balance against the weight of the door so all the opener has to do is give that little extra umph to raise and lower the door on its guide tracks.  Take away the springs and you have a giant guillotine on your hands.

Most two bay garage doors use two torsion springs to get the job done.  Even so, after thousands of ups and downs they still can break.  When they do, one or the other spring can snap, usually not both at the same time.  If the break happens while the door is part way up gravity will take over and the door will come crashing down.  That is why it is always important to stand clear of a garage door whenever it is in operation.  That goes double for children and pets!

Still not convinced?  Watch this video starting at about the 45 second mark.  It shows a torsion spring wound to the point of snapping.  Imagine that force behind one of the winding bars in these videos.  At a minimum that’s a trip to the emergency room for a broken hand.

Here’s your garage door safety checklist.

Privacy for the Cat Box

by The Jana Caudill Team

Maybe your family is growing, or one day you woke up to discover you and your spouse are empty nesters.  Either way, you’ve decided the time is right to put the house on the market.  There’s just one problem, the distress caused by all the hubbub and showings to potential buyers at all hours of the day hasn’t gone unnoticed by the family cat who is suddenly doing his business everywhere but in the box.  To make sure your feline cooperates with keeping the house clean you’ll need an out of the box solution.  You don’t have to look much further than an old real estate maxim: Location, location, location.

Be sure to move the cat box to a nice private area of the home.  Cats like to be alone when nature calls, that’s why it’s important to keep the litter box out of high traffic areas.  You will want to continue prohibiting the family dog from having free access hovering about the box as well.  The key is putting the litter box in a location where it’s neither the very first thing buyers see when entering your home, nor the very last thing they see before they leave.  Negative first and last impressions are difficult to overcome when accompanied by unpleasant odors.  If you keep this in mind you’re likely to place the box where the kitty will be happier as well.

Place an old area rug or carpet remnant under the box.  Cats love to dig and scratch around the litter box; tile, hardwood, or basement cement floors aren’t the best choice.  The texture of a rug under paw makes the litter box that much more attractive to the cat, likely helping you to reaffirm that as the place to go when it comes to doing his duty.  Likewise, you can place a few sheets of aluminum foil in areas where kitty may have had recent accidents.  As much as cats love the feel of a rug under their paws, they hate the feel of aluminum foil.  Hide the foil before showings, and return it to problem spots afterwards until kitty becomes retrained to the new box location.

Click here for more dos and don’ts on retraining your cat to his litter box, and check out our blog page for more tips for home buyers and sellers.

Stocking Your Home's First Aid Kit

by The Jana Caudill Team

You can always purchase a pre-assembled first aid kit that will contain most of what you’ll need for first response situations at home.  The downside is these kits can be more costly than assembling one yourself, and you’re subject to whatever the manufacturer decided to include with their product.

Here’s a great video on putting together your own first aid kit.  You’ll want to start with a container that’s large enough to keep all the supplies together in one place, yet highly portable so the kit can be moved easily from room to room and even outside for outdoor accidents.  Tackle boxes are always a great choice.  Here’s a list of the standard items to include in your first aid kit compliments of Kids Health.  For home kits, one item worth including that is often overlooked is a flashlight.  When assembling your kit keep in mind the types of activities you and your family often participate in.  For example, if your family hikes and camps frequently be sure to stock supplies in your kit to address campfire burns, poison ivy, and insect bites.

If you’re assembling a travel kit think about including an old cell phone and charger.  Most adults have cell phones nowadays, but this will insure you always a phone handy in an emergency.  I found this great webpage worth sharing with your family on tips for calling 911 from a cell phone.  It’s completely different from calling from home, and knowing the difference in an emergency, as they say, is priceless.

Have a healthy and safe new year!

Why is My Toilet Running?

by The Jana Caudill Team

A running toilet is not just an annoying intrusion on an otherwise nice, quiet evening at home, it is also a hidden water waster, which you can translate as money waster.  Whenever you hear the toilet running, I want you to picture water coming into your home from your utility provider, through the home’s web-work of plumbing and into the top of the toilet’s water tank, then flowing right back out the bottom of the tank, down the waste-water line, never to be seen nor heard from again…until the arrival of your next monthly water bill.

The bad news: you have a defective/damaged flapper.  The good news: it’s an easy and inexpensive fix you can do yourself.  And what’s more, you won’t need any tools!  How’s that for a do it yourself project?

Turning off the water fill valve behind the toilet will make inspecting the current flapper much easier.  You’re looking for evidence that either the chain is too short, there is something obstructing the flapper thus keeping it from properly sealing against the water drain seat, or simply a damaged flapper.  This video will help you identify exactly what’s happening in your case.  If by chance it’s not the flapper that’s the problem, here are some other possible common issues with toilets that are relatively easy to diagnose and fix yourself.

Check out our blog page for more handy how-to articles.  Happy plumbing!

Cleaning Out Your Dryer Vent

by The Jana Caudill Team

For most of us the laundry room is “Out of sight, out of mind.”  When we clean the house the rooms generally tackled first are those we frequent most (like the kitchen and bedrooms) or areas in the home that we might expect visitors to see (like the family room and bathrooms).  If the laundry room is an afterthought, what does that make the unseen accumulation of dust and lint in your dryer vent?  One word: dangerous.  Periodic cleaning of your dryer vent is a great habit to get into.  The problem is you just have to remember to do it – every year.  That or someone has to remind you.

Consider this your reminder.
 

Over 15,000 fires happen in clothes dryers annually, and the vast majority of them are attributed to poor cleaning and upkeep.  Daily, newspapers around the country run articles about dryer vent fires and their devastating effect on local families.  15 deaths and over 300 injuries happen every year in clogged dryer vent fires in residential buildings.
Experts recommend having your dryer duct and vent cleaned out at least annually.  It’s all too easy to overlook some of these infrequent yet necessary home safety maintenance chores.  Again, the reason for this reminder.  I recommend grouping this task with other annual or semi-annual home maintenance jobs like changing the backup batteries in smoke alarms and emergency flashlights, or inspecting your fire extinguisher.  Schedule this group of tasks into your computer or cell phone calendar, or pencil it in on the tried and true printed calendar on the front of your refrigerator. 

From all of us at the Jana Caudill Team, have a happy (and safe) new year!

Holiday Traveling

by The Jana Caudill Team

Everyone deserves a nice long vacation, and if you’re fortunate enough to be able to take the time off during the holidays then by all means pack up and go!  Yes, sometimes it’s nice just to stay home, watch a movie, complete the little renovation project on the powder room you started last spring, or maybe just catch up on some sleep.  Whatever suits you.  That’s not what I’m talking about here.  I’m talking about hitting the road, getting away, and in particular traveling during the holidays.

 Whether you’re venturing cross-country or just across the state, one thing to keep in mind when traveling during the holidays is the safety and security of your unoccupied home while you’re gone.  That brings up two main concerns, accidents and burglary. 

Accidents are the easiest to mitigate.  Start with turning off the main water supply valve in your home.  One of the top insurance claims throughout the year is water damage, and a burst pipe while no one is home to take care of it right away is no way to start the new year.  Also, turn off your water heater and its gas supply.  Not only does this prevent potential gas leaks, you’ll save money on your energy bill.  Everyone’s equipment is different, so refer to manufacturer’s directions first when considering any of these practices.  Here’s a complete checklist of things you can do to minimize the chances of an accident occurring while you’re away. 

The best way to deter burglary is to minimize opportunity while making it appear the house is operating just as it would any other day.  Stop newspaper delivery for the time you’re away so papers don’t start to pile up on the front porch.  Put house lights on timers.  Park a car in the driveway.  Remember, Business as usual.  That’s the message you want to broadcast to the outside world.  Even then, burglars are always out during the holidays looking for opportunities.  Don’t make it easy on them.  Hide spare car keys, jewelry, and other valuables in shoeboxes or behind the canned vegetables in the pantry.  Have a trusted neighbor stop by periodically to monitor the house, or consider hiring a house sitter for the week!

Take a few extra steps for your peace of mind before your vacation and whether you’re leaving Northwest Indiana for some time off or staying home enjoy the holidays!

Displaying blog entries 1-9 of 9

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