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Time for a Toilet Upgrade

by The Mike Parker Team

Whether it is a cosmetic or a mechanical reason for upgrading a toilet, you may not know all the choices that are involved to choose the right one for your home.  The current toilet may have cracks or leaks in the bowl or tank.  It could be the aggravation of constant clogging or inefficient flushing.  Maybe there is damage in the porcelain bowl or built-up mineral deposits that are clogging the inlet holes or syphon tube.

If frequent repairs have you on a first name basis with the plumber, it may be time to consider replacing the toilet.  There are a lot of things to consider and the following list may help you sort through the choices.

  • Round, oval or compact oval ... There are two basic shapes of toilets: round and oval.  The round bowl requires less space and are less expensive.  The oval or elongated tend to be more comfortable but require more space from the wall than round ones.  Most manufacturers produce a compact oval model also.
  • One-piece, two-piece and wall hung ... Manufacturers make one-piece models that mold the tank and bowl into one unit.  These can be a little more expensive, but they take up less space.  The two-piece with separate tank and bowl are more common.  The wall hung requires less space and make the room look larger, but installation will be more expensive. 
  • Height ... Standard toilet height is 15 inches.  An alternative to the standard is a comfort height which is more like a chair at 17-19 inches tall.  This can be an advantage for older and taller people as well as those with a mobility problem. 
  • Trapway - The trapway is a channel from the bottom of the bowl to the drainpipe that also keeps gas entering the home from the sewer.  While the trapway shows on the outside of most models, there are skirted or concealed models available for a more aesthetic appearance.
  • Single or dual flush ... Single flush toilets use the same volume of water each time it is flushed.  Dual flush toilets have two options for flushing liquid or solid waste.  This gives the user the ability to conserve water when appropriate.
  • Water per flush ... In an effort to save water, in 1995 the Department of Energy required toilets to use 1.6 gallons per flush.  Since then, California and Georgia, increased the restriction to 1.28 gpf which saves 20% more water.
  • Gravity-feed or pressure assisted - For four hundred years, gravity has been used to move the water through a flushable toilet bowl to eliminate the waste.  As water restrictions were added, pressure assisted toilets were introduced to assist the lower volume of water.  A sealed cylindrical tank inside the ceramic toilet tank provides the additional pressure.  These types of toilets are nosier than conventional flush types.

Once you've decided on what features are important, you can shop brands that fit your needs.  If you're curious to what kind of a job it is to install it, there are lots of videos on YouTube that will show you in detail what to expect.  Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional, you'll understand the process more.

To Do Lists for Better Homeowners

by The Mike Parker Team

Checklists work because they contain the important things that need to be done.  They provide a reminder about things we know and realize but may have slipped our minds as well as inform us about things we didn't consider.  Periodic attention to these areas can protect the investment in your home.

  1. Change HVAC filters regularly.  Consider purchasing a supply of the correct sizes needed onlineand they'll even remind you when it's time to order them again.
  2. Change batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors annually.
  3. Create and regularly update a Home Inventory to keep track of personal belongings in case of burglary or casualty loss.
  4. Keep track of capital improvements, with a Homeowners Tax Guide, made to your home throughout the year that increases your basis and lowers gain.
  5. Order free credit reports from all three bureaus once a year at www.AnnualCreditReport.com
  6. Challenge your property tax assessment when you receive that year's assessment when you feel that the value is too high.  We can supply the comparable sales and you can handle the rest.
  7. Establish a family emergency plan identifying the best escape routes and where family members should meet after leaving the home.
  8. If you have a mortgage, verify the unpaid balance and if additional principal payments were applied properly.  Use a Equity Accelerator to estimate how long it will take to retire your mortgage.
  9. Keep trees pruned and shrubs trimmed away from house to enhance visual appeal, increase security and prevent damage.
  10. Have heating and cooling professionally serviced annually.
  11. Check toilets periodically to see if they're leaking water and repair if necessary.
  12. Clean gutters twice a year to control rainwater away from your home to protect roof, siding and foundation.
  13. To identify indications of foundation issues, periodically, check around perimeter of home for cracks in walls or concrete.  Do doors and windows open properly? 
  14. Peeling or chipping paint can lead to wood and interior damage.  Small areas can be touched-up but multiple areas may indicate that the whole exterior needs painting.
  15. If there is a chimney and fires are burned in the fireplace, it will need to be inspected and possibly cleaned.
  16. If the home has a sprinkler system, manually turn the sprinklers on, one station at a time to determine if they are working and aimed properly.  Evaluate if the timers are set properly.  Look for pooling water that could indicate a leak underground.
  17. Have your home inspected for termites.

Instead of remembering when you need to do these different things, use your calendar to create a system.  As an example, make a new appointment with "change the HVAC filters" in the subject line.  Select the recurring event button and decide the pattern.  For instance, set this one for monthly, every two months with no end date.  You can schedule a time or just an all-day event will show at the top of your calendar that day.

By scheduling as many of these items as you can, you won't forget that they need to be done.  If you don't delete them from the calendar, you'll continue to be "nagged" until you finally do them.

If you have questions or need a recommendation of a service provider, give us a call at (859) 647-0700.  We deal with issues like this regularly and have experience with workers who are reputable and reasonable.

More Comfortable, Convenient, and Secure

by The Mike Parker Team

Smart home technology promises to make your home more comfortable, convenient and secure.  It may not be the home from the Jetson's but artificial intelligence is the hope to make it the home of the future which is available now and controlled from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

When Alexa appeared at Christmas-time two years ago, most people thought it was a novelty to ask what the weather will be or to play a song.  Few people understood the vision of Amazon would be verbally purchasing everything imaginable and that your calendar, contacts, lights, and appliances would all be connected.

There are plenty of players in the market including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Samsung Smart Things, Apple and others.  It starts with a hub that acts like a brain for your system to connect the different home automation devices.  You'll establish an online account with the hub manufacturer so that you can adjust settings and controls.

You could start simple with switch and plug receptacles that would allow you to control lights either vocally through your hub or from your Smartphone or tablet anywhere in the world where you have an Internet connection.

Programmable thermostats can lower your monthly utility costs while conveniently regulating your comfort by adjusting temperatures on your heating and cooling systems.  These can be particularly effective in homes with zoned systems where you might live in one area during the day but sleep in a different zone.

Door bells might be one of the next additions to your automation.  Not only can you communicate with the person at your door, you don't have to go to the door to do it.  The device cameras are motion activated so you'll see who is there regardless of whether they rang the doorbell or not.

Door locks can be convenient because instead of giving someone a key, you can issue a temporary code to let them enter.  You can give them permanent access and rescind it any time you want without having to change the locks.  You'll know when they enter and leave your home.

Other security options can include door and window sensors, motion detectors and cameras for outside or inside the home.  The homeowner will be able to monitor from inside or anywhere else they have an Internet connection.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as water sensors to determine leaking water around water heaters or in basements give homeowners peace of mind.

Most of these devices are available in wireless models so you won't have to string wire throughout the home.  The Wi-Fi can introduce a potential problem of hackers who could illegally access your system.  This is true with any home that has a Wi-Fi router and precautions should be taken.

The big box stores like LowesHome Depot, and Amazon offer a wide variety of brands and modules.  Many people prefer it as a do-it-yourself project and others would rather have a professional do it for them.  YouTube has a lot of videos that can probably show you exactly how to install the ones you select.

Moisture & Mold

by The Mike Parker Team

 

Moisture is mold's best friend and it thrives between 40 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit which is why it is commonly found in homes.  Mold spores float in the air and can grow on virtually any substance with moisture including tile, wood, drywall, paper, carpet, and food. 

Moisture control and eliminating water problems are key to preventing mold. Common sources of moisture can be roof leaks, indoor plumbing leaks, outdoor drainage problems, damp basements or crawl spaces, steam from bathrooms or kitchen, condensation on cool surfaces, humidifiers, wet clothes drying inside, or improper ventilation of heating and cooking appliances.

  • Control the moisture problem
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces using soap and water or other cleanser; dry completely
  • Do not paint or caulk moldy surfaces
  • Discard porous materials with extensive mold growth
  • Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold
  • Periodically, inspect the area for signs of moisture and new mold growth

The EPA suggests that if the moldy area is less than ten square feet, you can probably handle the cleanup yourself.  If the affected area is larger than that, find a contractor or professional service provider. 

Increasing ventilation in a bathroom by running a fan for at least 30 minutes or opening a window can help remove moisture and control mold growth.  After showering, squeegee the walls and doors. Wipe wet areas with dry towels.  Cleaning more frequently will also prevent mold from recurring or keep it to a minimum.

A simple solution to clean most mold is a 1:8 bleach/water mixture.  Since homes have thermostatically controlled temperatures and water is used all day long in the kitchen and bathrooms, the environment is conducive to mold. 

See Ten things you should know about mold written by the EPA.

Home Safe Home

by The Mike Parker Team

Home is a place you should feel safe and secure. Sometimes, we take it for granted and unfortunately, we do need to remain vigilant about things we do that could compromise our safety. Here are a few tips to consider:Home Safe Home.png

  • Everyone loves an inviting home including burglars. Make sure it looks occupied and is difficult to break in.
    • Always lock outside doors and windows even if you’re only gone for a brief time.
    • Lock gates and fences.
    • Leave lights on when you leave; consider timers to automatically control the lights.
    • Keep your garage door closed even when you’re home; don’t tempt thieves with what you have in your garage.
    • Suspend your mail and newspaper delivery when you’re out of town or get a neighbor to pick it up for you.
  • Posting that you’re out of town or away from home on social networks is like advertising your home is unprotected.
  • Equally dangerous could be allowing certain social network sites to track your location.
  • Don’t leave keys under doormats, in flowerpots or the plastic rocks; thieves know about those hiding places and even more than you can think.
  • Trim the shrubs from around your home; don’t give criminals a place to hide.
  • Use exterior motion detectors and yard lighting.
  • Have an alarm system and use it when you leave home and go to bed.
  • Put 3 ½” deck screws in door plates and door hinges.
  • Have good deadbolts on all exterior doors.
  • Exterior doors should be solid core.

Friday HOME MATTERS

by The Mike Parker Team

Our weekly round-up of real estate-related tips and advice from around the web- enjoy! 


My 3-year-old is beaming as he hands me a scribbled-on piece of paper with stickers of his favorite cheeky train engine embellishing it. Clearly these illustrations represent the creative genius that is our little guy, but so did the five other art pieces that came before it today. We’re running out of fridge space with this constant flow of artistic works, so we’ve got to be picky about which masterpieces we feature and where we put them. Sorry, trains in a cloud of crayon, but you aren’t making the cut today.  
 
To reduce the precious-artwork clutter, here are a few thoughtful ways to present the favorites and feel no shame when you toss the rest. 

  

Want your place to look like those home design website images you drool over? Of course you do! Problem is, your budget may not match your design aspirations. Fear not! Making your home look high-end isn’t always about spending tons of cash. 

 

When it’s time to clean, have your trusty green cleaners at the ready — baking soda, vinegar — plus another ultra-cheap gem: hydrogen peroxide. You can use it anywhere, and can’t beat the price: A 16-oz. bottle only costs a buck or so. 

 

Here are 10 ways you can use that ubiquitous brown bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide to your home’s advantage… 

 

Buying a home is the largest purchase many consumers will ever make, and many will turn to a lender for financing. But finding a lender you click with can be a challenge, especially if you wait until the last minute. 

 

Li-Ning Huang, a research manager on Fannie Mae’s economic and strategic research team, says buyers should start talking to lenders early in the process — before you fall in love with a home — and compare several quotes. 

 

These once-stylish decor themes are oh-so-outdated. 

Friday HOME MATTERS

by The Mike Parker Team

Our weekly round-up of real estate-related tips and advice from around the web- Enjoy! 

 

Having pet odors inside your home can turn off potential homebuyers and keep your home from selling. Ask your real estate agent for an honest opinion about whether your home has a pet smell. 


If your agent holds her nose, here’s how to get rid of the smell... 


Easy and Inexpensive Ways to Fix Up Your Home Like a Flipper – Christina El Moussa 

If you’re anything like me, you may find that it’s all too easy to get caught up in the rush of flipping houses. I’ll admit — buying an old house, fixing it up, and flipping it for a profit is pretty exciting. But if you get too distracted by flipping houses, it’s easy to let your own home fall by the wayside. 

 

While profitable remodeling projects can be more tempting to work on, you can still benefit from tackling projects in your own home. Remodeling your home will not only up its value, but also improve the way you feel about it. After all, who wouldn’t love to cook in a newly remodeled kitchen? 

 

Here are five easy, inexpensive projects that will really make a difference in how you feel about your home. 

 

Enjoy beautiful, healthy roses with these easy tips. 

 

When you’re selling your home, you must be ready for people to pop in at a moment’s notice. And no, it’s not like when your neighbor drops by to ask you to water her plants while she’s on vacation, and leaves in five minutes without noticing how many dishes are stacked in your sink or the layer of dust on your coffee table. 

 

Nope, these people will scrutinize. And they will judge. But you’re still living in your home—how do you keep it clean enough to make a good impression, no matter the time or day? 


Some of us are just born creators. The thought of sitting still and binging a Netflix show, while nice in theory, isn't possible in reality. We'd be bored. We'd rather be out and about exploring.  

 

If this description fits your personality, then you'll feel like you already know Austin Cameron. He's a 27-year-old software developer based out of Louisville. When he's not working, electric skateboarding (huh?), and working on his next startup, he's practicing photography. And that's why we reached out to Austin. He is this month's featured Photographer Spotlight. 

How's Your Memory?

by The Mike Parker Team

How's Your Memory?

 

How old is your bedroom furniture and what did you pay for it?  Don’t know?  That’s okay, let’s try an easier question.  When did you buy the TV in your family room and is it a plasma, LCD or a LED?

Whether you are the victim of a burglary, a fire or a tornado, most people are comforted they have insurance to cover the losses.  However, unless you’ve filed a claim, you may not be familiar with the procedures.

The adjuster will want to know the date and how the loss occurred.  Assuming you have contents coverage, the claim for personal belongings is separate from damage to the home.

You’ll be asked to provide proof of purchase, like receipts or cancelled checks, or a current inventory.  If they’re not available, you can reconstruct an inventory from memory.  The challenge is trying to remember things you may not have used for years and may not miss for years more.

Relying on memory can be a very expensive alternative.  A prudent homeowner will create a home inventory with pictures or videos while all of their belongings are in the home and they can see them.

Download a home inventory to make your project a little easier. 

Before You Call the Repairman...

by The Mike Parker Team

Before You Call the Repairman

Have you ever had a service company to your home to repair something and find out that it really wasn't "broken"? It probably conjured up ambivalent feelings of joy that it wasn't something serious and frustration that you had to pay a service call for something so simple.

Before you call the repairman next time, keep these things in mind to see if it is something simple:

 

  • Disposer not working - check to see if the reset button has been thrown. It is usually on the bottom of the disposer. If the disposer is making a humming sound, the blades may be stuck. While the disposer is turned off, use a wooden broom handle as a lever to gently rotate the blades. Remove the broom handle and turn on the disposer to see if it works properly.
  • Air conditioner not working - check to see if a breaker has thrown on your electric panel. You might need to flip the breaker completely off and flip it back on.
  • Electrical outlets not working - Electrical plugs in bathrooms or outside, especially on a porch or patio, are many times connected to a ground fault interrupter. The GFI will be a wall outlet and it may be located in the garage. Locate the outlet and reset the button that may have tripped.
  • Clogged drain - a simple way to correct a slow or clogged drain is to use the water pressure from a garden hose. You'll need a helper to turn on the water full-blast once you have safely placed the hose in the drain and are holding a hand-towel around the hose to direct the water to the drain. Be prepared to tell your helper to turn off the water when needed.

Whether it's preparing a home to market or arranging repairs required by the sale, REALTORS® know reputable, reasonable and reliable service contractors. We're here to share our contacts with you to help make home ownership better.

Top 5 Tips for Tackling Home Improvement Projects

by The Mike Parker Team

In the do-it-yourself age we live in, many homeowners are ready and willing to take on home-improvement projects themselves. But while you may be ready and willing, the real question is, are you really "able?"

I have access to many great home-improvement resources thanks to being part of the Top 5 in Real Estate Network®. The following advice comes from HGTV's Carter Oosterhouse. Heed these suggestions before you embark on your next project:

  1. Focus on projects that will pay you back. For example, if you're dealing with hot or cold weather, try to lower heating and cooling bills by properly sealing your home. Look for drafts around windows, doors, and vents,and then use caulk or weather stripping to seal them. It may not be glamorous, but it will pay you back down the road.
  2. Know where to start. If you have never taken on a major project, start with spaces such as the living room, spare bedroom, or the garage -- rooms that won't limit your ability to function, says Oosterhouse.
  3. Closet reorganization. Many times, people have maxed out their closet and have no more room to add, let alone organize. That's when it’s time to evaluate. Donate clothes you no longer wear to a charity, store seasonal attire in a separate location, and separate his from hers.
  4. Break down a big project. Planning is essential. As Oosterhouse says, if you think you can just start up any big job without a plan, then you are in for a world of frustration. Know your capabilities and limitations.
  5. Know where the biggest ROI is. The improvements that will most add to the value of your home include, the kitchen, the master bedroom and bathroom. These can boost your resale value and attract buyers who want a space that’s move-in ready.

These are just some of many great suggestions for tackling home improvement projects. Feel free to contact me for more ideas and please forward this email on to your fellow DIY-ers!

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Photo of Mike Parker - CRS Real Estate
Mike Parker - CRS
HUFF Realty
60 Cavalier Blvd.
Florence KY 41042
859-647-0700
859-486-3300