4 Mistakes Homeowners Don’t Know They’re Making

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Sometimes we forget how much an easily prevented mistake can cost us. For example, when leaving for home for an extended period of time, I make every attempt to make sure all lights are off to prevent running up the power bill. Except this time, I didn’t. Needless to say my next power bill was a lot. It was an easily prevented mistake that costs me a lot of money. That mistake isn’t so different from the 4 mistakes that I’ve listed. So whether you are a new homeowner or not, you’ll want to avoid these easily prevented mistakes.

Mistake 1: Carelessly drilling into Walls

Whenever you hang artwork, shelves, or closet systems into one of the walls in your home, did you stop to think what is behind that wall? Hidden inside the walls of your home are wires, duct-work, plumbing pipes, and cables. You can check for some of these things with a stud sensor, but they don’t detect everything. For protection, only drill 1 ¼ inches deep to clear plaster and drywall but not deep enough to reach most pipes and wires.

Mistake 2: Not knowing the depth of your attic insulation (or where it’s even located)

To locate the attic in your home, find the ceiling hatch (a square area framed with molding in a closet ceiling or hallway). Once you’ve found it, you have also found your attic. Go up into the attic and see how much insulation you have. According to houselogic.com, the recommended insulation for most attics is about 10 to 14 inches deep, depending on the type of insulation you choose.

TIP: If you can see the top of joists (any number of small, parallel beams made of timber, steel, concrete, etc.)), you don’t have enough insulation. Also check to make sure your hatch is insulated too.

Mistake 3: Forgetting about Two of the Most Used Items

Your HVAC system and your refrigerator are two of the most used items in your home, so why do so many of forget to maintenance them?  When performing maintenance for your HVAC, inspect everything from the coil, to the fan motor, and more. Refrigerator maintenance is easy too, follow your manufacturers specific guidelines, but they almost always include vacuuming the fan or condenser coils along the bottom of the fridge, cleaning the door gasket, replacing the filter, and more.

TIP: You can’t properly maintain either of these units without replacing their respective filter. Your fridge filter should be replaced every 6 months while your furnace filter should be replaced every 3 months.

Bonus TIP: Each system can be a little different so consult the maker of your HVAC system to make sure you’re following all recommended guidelines.

Mistake 4: Not Knowing where the main water shutoff valve is located

Water damage is one of the most common of all household insurance claims. In the event a broken pipe spills dozens of gallons into your home, you need to locate the main water shutoff valve. This will be located where a water main enters your house. Make sure everyone living in the house knows where it is located and how to close it.

TIP: Penetrating Oil on the valve stem makes sure it’ll work when the time comes.

Bonus TIP: When going out of town, turn off the water to the washing machine to prevent coming home to a flooded house.

There’s a chance we have all made these mistakes in the past, but today’s a new day. Let’s be more of aware and be “smarter” homeowners.

How to Create a Budget

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When I went away to college, my parents told me to “make a budget”.  When I graduated from college, my parents told me to “make a budget.  When I was planning my wedding, my parents told me to “make a budget.”  When we were looking to buy our first home, my parents told me to… you guessed it, “make a budget.”

By this time in my life I should probably be an expert on budgeting, but I am not.  Like most people, I occasionally fail to see the big picture and give in to impulse buys or spend too much money on a pair of jeans, or eat out too many times per week.  But, that does not mean I should throw in the towel and just spend money all “willy nilly”.

Occasionally I hear my father’s voice reminding me to “tighten the purse strings” and that “money doesn’t grow on trees”.   This is my conscience reminding me to sit down to redo our loathsome, yet necessary household budget.  I am after all, a reasonably responsible adult with a child who will be going away to college in less than 8 years.

There are many factors that play a role when creating a budget from scratch, especially if it is your first time.  The task may seem overwhelming, but there are a few very basic tips to follow.

  1. List all “fixed” expenses.  These are expenses that do not change month to month.  These may include rent/ mortgage, car payment, insurances, utilities, loans, credit card bills etc.
  2. List all “variable” expenses.  These offer some flexibility such as groceries, entertainment, travel, eating out and general “fun money”.
  3. Know all sources of monthly income.
  4. Do the math… subtract fixed expenses from income.  Then factor in variable expenses.
  5. Don’t forget to factor in all of your savings/ retirement plans!

That’s it!  You now have a very basic household budget to work off of.  Once you have a budget created, whether you choose to use any of the many software options available, or if you prefer to create your own spreadsheet, keep it handy.  Look at it often.  Remember to reevaluate and adjust your budget over time as things in your life change and evolve, as they will naturally.

Remind yourself of your long-term goals.  This will help strengthen your will power and make it easier to walk away from those $100 jeans or that $6.00 cup of coffee. Personally, I hope to be able to retire and live comfortably when the time comes.  I want to be able to travel some and spend plenty of time on some beach.  That dream, along with my parents voices saying “make a budget” help keep me on track.

To help keep your budget on track, visit FiltersFast.com for all of your water and air filtration needs.

How To Improve Indoor Air Quality: The Facts about Indoor Air Pollution

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Image Credit: home.howstuffworks.com

Alright, so maybe your family isn’t wearing gas/breathing masks at home. However, if you knew the problems with indoor air quality, you may be moved to take steps to protect yourself from it too. You may think you don’t need to be that worried about the air in your home, but consider this:

1. Indoor air pollution is 2 to 5 times worse than the air outdoors (an estimated 87% of American homeowners are not aware of this)

2. The EPA has ranked indoor air pollution among the top 5 environmental dangers

3. An increase in the number of children with asthma and severe allergies has been linked to increasingly poor indoor air quality

4. A recent study referenced on indoorairqualityhvac.com states that 86% of homes have high levels of particles and bioaerosols like pollen, dust, and viruses

Indoor air pollution is clearly a problem.

Fortunately it is a problem that can be managed. To do so, you have to first identify the common sources of indoor air pollution such as:

  • Cleaning and personal care products, pastes, glues
  • Building materials such as carpet, insulation, cabinetry, and more
  • Combustion products such as tobacco smoke, gas, oil, kerosene and wood stoves or fireplaces
  • Pet dander, mold, dust mites, viruses

 

To improve the air quality in your home, there are three important things you need to consider:

1. Change your HVAC filter on a regular basis. In addition to improving the efficiency of your HVAC unit (thus saving you a lot of money) it also acts as a line of defense between you and many of the air pollutants outlined above.

Tip: Your HVAC filter should be replaced every 3 months.

2. Increase ventilation. Consider opening the windows more often during warmer temperature days to increase a steady air flow through the home. Homes with poor air circulation tend to have poor air quality.

Tip: Avoid home ventilation on days with a high pollen count, as it can cause flareups for allergy sufferers.

3. Consider outside sources to improve your indoor air quality such as investing in an air purifier to help reduce dust mites, mold, pet dander and more.

Tip: Certain house plants such as the Peace Lily can help purify the air, but should never be considered as the sole source for better air quality.

With the right tools you don’t have to worry about wearing masks in your home as long as you pay attention to your air quality. Changing your air filters more regularly, buying an Indoor Air Quality Test Kit, or any other method can make your home the safe and healthy sanctuary it should be for you and your family.