Real Estate Information Archive


Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 54

Warning Signs Your Dishwashing Machine is not Draining Properly

by The Jana Caudill Team

With automobiles, costly breakdowns are often preceded by warning signs that things are not quite working properly.  That sign might be the engine not starting (battery, alternator, starter), or weird sounds coming from various locations (loose belts under the hood, muffler and/or pipe below, wheel issues, etc, etc, etc).

With dishwashing machines that unfortunate first sign it’s not draining properly might be a flood on your Crown Point, DeMotte, or Merrillville kitchen floor.  Not good if you set your machine to run at night after everyone has retired to bed, or worse, if you set it to run after the family hits the road for a long weekend getaway.

Never fear, there are other subtler warning signs that it’s time to either troubleshoot your dishwashing machine yourself or call in a repair man.  Watch out for these signs to avoid the coming tide.

  1. Dishes come out of the cleaning cycle covered with tiny food particles and soap residue.  If your machine isn’t draining all the way at the right time during the cleaning cycle, those broken down food particles and soap scum that were just washed away can be re-deposited during the rinse cycle.
  2. Food particles accumulating in the bottom of the machine.  Food debris can settle across the tub (bottom collector plate) in a machine where drainage isn’t moving fast enough to wash it down.
  3. Ants.  If you’re noticing ants in the bottom of your machine there’s a reason.  Even if you can’t see food particles, there can be a buildup forming under the drain screen, under the inside bottom edge of the dishwasher door along the gasket, even inside the water flow float switch.  After disconnecting power and turning off the water supply these areas can be properly cleaned.

Here’s a helpful video on solving other common dishwasher problems.

Preventing Exterior Home Fires

by The Jana Caudill Team

Colorado and many other western states have been in the news lately because of summer drought conditions and recent devastating wildfires.  This got me thinking about home fire safety, and I’m not talking about kitchen grease fires, interior smoke alarms, or worn floor lamp power cords under the rug.  Today I’m talking about exterior home fires and their prevention.

In drought-condition forest fires it’s often the dry underbrush (wild grasses, and fallen, dead tree limbs, etc.) that provide as much fuel for a wildfire as the trees themselves.  This goes for your yard as well.  Keep dry leaves, dead tree limbs, and rubbish clear.  This yard clutter can turn a small fire into a blaze.

Clean your outdoor grill, and check it to make sure it’s operating safely.  Many indoor home fires start in the kitchen.  Likewise many outdoor home fires start at the grill.  These are particularly dangerous if your grill is positioned like most on the patio, near the house.  Every summer clean out the inside of your grill, removing all accumulation of grease, fallen food debris, and (if you use your grill only infrequently) wasp nests.  You don’t want anything inside the grill that can cause an unexpected flare up.

Building materials.  Stacks of lumber, roofing shingles, etc. sitting on the side of the house or in the garage can provide fuel for home fires.  If you have a home improvement project underway, try to use flame resistant materials.  And to take the lumber issue one further, keep outdoor stacks of firewood for your fire place and other combustible material at least 30 feet away from your Crown Point, St. John, or Cedar Lake home!


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.

3 Reasons to Re-evaluate Your Homeowner's Insurance

by The Jana Caudill Team

Property values are not static, especially in these tumultuous economic times.  Your Crown Point, Chesterton, or Dyer home’s value can depreciate in a rough housing market just as it can appreciate during a boom, and your homeowner’s insurance policy needs to cover more than just the replacement cost of all structure(s) sitting on your lot or land.  Here are three additional reasons beyond the fluctuating cost of rebuilding the physical house that I hope motivate you to re-evaluate your current policy:

  1. Personal possessions.  Let’s just say it’s been five years since you’ve evaluated your policy.  Here’s a question:  Do you own more (and more expensive) possessions?  Your policy can cover a certain dollar limit of replacement value for any personal possessions lost, for example, in a fire.  Have you purchased a new wide-screen TV, or in-home exercise equipment, or a closet full of new suits purchased for your new job?  Better to be safe than sorry.  Check it out.
  2. Cost of living.  The value of your home may have taken a little hit over the last few years, but the cost of living sure hasn’t.  For most people it has gone up, and if your policy covers any portion of cost of living expenses while your replacement house is being built you’ll want to make sure you’re not underinsured and susceptible to further financial strife.
  3. Home improvements.  Do you have a new addition off the back of the house, or maybe you finally built that detached two car garage at the back of your country lot.  These additional improvements increase the total value of your property and your insurance property should reflect these additions.

The worst way to find out if you have enough homeowner’s insurance is after disaster strikes.  Take a minute or two and give your insurance agent a call or send them an email.  They will take the time to walk you through the process.  If nothing else you’ll sleep easier knowing you’re already covered.

What to do With the Extra Room When Jr Goes to College

by The Jana Caudill Team

Hurray, you made it!  And congratulations.  The high school years are behind you and your college bound student.  There’s a new diploma on your Crown Point, Hobart, or St. John mantel and anticipation toward the future in your hearts.  Pressure from a younger sibling to move into big brother’s or sister’s room at the end of the summer when it comes time to move your college freshman into the dorm seems to have been mounting for years.  Maybe you’ve even been bitten by the bug to turn Junior’s room into that sewing room, craft room, home gym, (fill in the blank with your own renovation/remodel/repurpose room dream).  Here are a couple nuggets to keep in mind before taking action on your impulses.

  1. Feelings.  What does your new graduate think about losing his room to his little brother or the brand new treadmill?  Teenagers like to think they have it all together, that they’re now ready to take on the world, and that little things like their bedroom don’t matter anymore, but remember, “There’s no place like home.”  If they lose the one corner of the world that’s been their very own since they were a kid it might have an adverse effect.  Talk to them.  Make sure they’re okay with the change.  Listen to what they have to say about the situation.  If it truly is time for a younger sibling to get the larger room, have Junior participate in the passing of the torch.  Rather than taking the room from him, give Junior the opportunity to give the room to his sibling, as if it were a gift being handed down from big brother.
  2. School’s out.  What happens when Junior comes home for Thanksgiving, Christmas break, Spring break, and summer vacation?  It’s not like they’re moving out for good.  They’re just heading off to school, and will still need a place to rest, recuperate, and re-energize when school’s not in session.  If you must take over the space because the new furniture is already on order be sure you have a couch or futon that can be easily converted into sleeping space if the need arises.

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.

Displaying blog entries 11-20 of 54