Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 11

Kitchen Sink Odors

by The Jana Caudill Team

It may sound simpler than it really is, getting rid of that odor emanating from the kitchen sink.  When trying to mask the smell with candles, air fresheners, or Lysol only makes things worse try a homemade solution that works.  Two quick safety tips before you begin:  Never mix products containing bleach and ammonia to clean your sink, or for any other purpose for that matter.  Together they give off toxic vapors that are very harmful to your health.  Also, use extra care when working around a garbage disposal.  We don’t need any trips to the emergency room.

  1. After thoroughly cleaning sink pour ½ cup bleach into drain and let sit for 15 minutes.  Rinse with cold water.
  2. For a sink with a garbage disposal, use small cleaning brush and dish soap to safely scrub food particles from top and bottom sides of rubber splash guard.  This is one of the main hiding places for decomposing food and bacteria to hide.  Scrub well.
  3. Turn on cold water to rinse.  While the water is running turn on garbage disposal, then drop a couple handfuls of ice, one cube at a time through the disposal.  This will clean the disposal’s blades and inner wall.  Grind up a whole lemon or orange peel for a nice fresh citrus smell.

Here are a few more helpful how-to tips for taking care of that odorous Crown Point, St. John, or Hobart kitchen sink.

Top Return on Investment Kitchen Remodels

by The Jana Caudill Team

Anytime we set money aside in an investment, whether it’s a long term retirement account or the family’s rainy day or vacation savings fund, we are concerned with return on investment.  Maybe we’re not as worried about accumulating a great amount of interest on that vacation fund because we’re going to turn around and use it right away in the next six months, but we sure don’t want to lose money on it either.  The same can be said for investing in home remodeling projects whether we’re planning on staying in our house for the long haul, or we’re doing a little updating prior to listing our home for sale.

Studies show the national average home kitchen remodel cost over $58,000 last year with about a 68% return on investment, or another way to look at it is money recouped in resale values.  That was for major kitchen remodels.  For the smaller update or “facelift” kitchen remodels costing under $20,000 over 72% of the cost was recouped in resale values.

According to Remodeling Magazine, here’s what you get with your average $20,000 update kitchen remodel:

  • Replace cabinet and drawer fronts and hardware
  • Replace wall oven and cooktop with energy efficient models
  • Replace laminate countertops
  • New sink and faucet
  • Repaint trim and add wall covering
  • Remove and replace resilient floor covering

So if you’ve got a tight budget and still want to freshen up the kitchen there is a way to do it without breaking the bank.  Visit this site for some great new kitchen looks to inspire your Cedar Lake, Munster, or Valparaiso home remodeling project.

Heart Set on Wallpaper,Huh?

by The Jana Caudill Team

Need to tear down that old, peeling, yellowing wallpaper?  Considering repapering a room?

Ugh.  Just the thought of taking on a wallpapering project is enough to have you wondering if you’re a glutton for punishment.  Wallpapering a room, especially if you have to remove old deteriorating paper first conjures up nightmares of uneven patterns, paste in your hair, and vanishing weekends.

Let’s face it, most of us are not professional contractors, so, as with most home repair/remodel projects the more time you put into preparation the greater the chances your project will go smoothly with little to no headaches.  That means the first thing on your supplies list is Patience with a capitol “P,” and with wallpapering, the second item on your list is, like it or not, Time, yes with a capitol “T.”  Be realistic with how long your project may take.  Anything worth doing is worth doing right.  Take your time.  Be patient.  Sound like something your parents used to say?

When removing old wallpaper the trick is in using a perforator so when you apply your glue dissolving solution the solution can penetrate the paper and do its job.  You have to allow the solution sufficient time to work its way in before you start pulling the paper down.  This is the part where I stress the first item on your supply list again.  You have to be patient with this process.  The old paper may come down easily in large strips.  Then again, you may have to use your scraper to do some additional coaxing.  Be patient.  You don’t want to scar the wall underneath and turn your wallpaper job into something bigger and more time consuming.

Once your surface is prepared, and that means the wall is not only dry but dust free, you are ready to start papering.  Make sure you have all the supplies you need using this project list, then watch this video on great tips for cutting proper lengths of paper and hanging the wallpaper.

Here are more great do-it-yourself articles!

Caulking Bathroom Fixtures

by The Jana Caudill Team

Cracked and pealing caulk around kitchen and bathroom fixtures can cause more problems down the road if not addressed right away.  If improperly sealed against moisture, water can get between the fixtures and adjacent walls, and if the wall stays damp long enough soon you will be dealing with bigger issues, mold and rot.  Considering faucets in the kitchen and bathrooms are used multiple times every day, if you notice a caulk problem you’d be better off to fix it sooner rather than later.

Replacing caulk is one of the simpler home repairs you can do on your own.  Here is a video on the basics.  Supplies you will need are a putty knife, a tube of caulk and caulking gun, household cleaner, chlorine bleach, and scissors.

First peel away the old caulk using the putty knife.  Then use household cleaner to clean the surface, adding bleach to take care of any mildew.  Dry the joint where you will lay down the new caulk thoroughly.  You don’t want to seal any moisture in.  Put down a new bead of caulk following instructions on the package.  Check out this step by step video illustrating a bathtub project.

Visit our blog page for more great articles including additional do-it-yourself home repair projects.

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.


  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.

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!

The Great American Garage

by The Jana Caudill Team

Here are three quick tips for freeing up space in your garage:

  1. Bicycle Racks.  Whether you have a lawn mower or a snow blower (or both) everyone has large, heavy equipment of some sort taking up valuable floor space in the garage.  Bicycles take up a good amount of space as well, but they are much lighter.  Install one of a variety of bicycle racks in your garage to get them up, off the ground, and out of the way.
  2. Clear Storage Bins.  Used cardboard boxes have always been a staple of garage and basement storage.  But even when the most detailed of us labels each box with its contents often it is still difficult to find what we’re looking for when the boxes are stored up high on shelves, in lofts, or up in the attic.  Try using clear bins for storage.  Multiple bins are all of uniform size and easy to stack, AND you’ll make locating that last box of holiday decorations easier because you are able to see the contents of each bin right through the clear plastic.
  3. Go vertical!  Use the ceiling of your garage to help maximize space for storage.  There are many companies who sell motorized lifts for the lifting and storage of, among other things, bicycles.  If that’s a little pricey for your taste what about adding ceiling or wall mounted shelving units to get boxes and bins up, up, and away?

Come back and visit our blog for more great tips for home buyers, home sellers, do-it-yourselfers and more!

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 11