Keeping Your Basement Dry This Summer

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Our home basement is finished, and have no leaks.  But, even though there are no visible leaks we still have a humidifier in the basement to keep the humidity low.  The air seems cleaner, and the water collected every day reminds us that having a humidifier in the basement is a good thing. Keeping your basement dry and your humidifier working can ensure that your family will enjoy a dry basement where the children can play, and you will have no worries about the accumulation of mold or the humidity levels.

For more about tips to keep your basement dry, follow the links below.

To prevent rot and mold behind your home’s brick walls, make sure the weep holes are not blocked

I live in a brick townhouse. In the back, there is a patio door leading to a concrete deck. The patio door sits on top of some brickwork. I’m trying to make sure the patio door is all sealed up, keeping out any and all moisture. I’ve noticed what seem to be round weep holes along the very bottom of the brickwork. I would like to plug them with some mortar to keep the moisture level down. Will this do any harm? What purpose do the weep holes serve?— Todd J., Newport News, Va.

Whatever you do, do not fill those weep holes. They’re an integral part of the drainage system to keep water from building up behind the brick. If allowed to contact any untreated lumber, this water will cause serious wood rot, mold and, eventually, structural problems with your home.

Allow me to explain the dynamics of brick walls, brick veneer and rain, and you’ll be able to do a fantastic job of protecting everything behind the brick.

Brick walls leak water. They have always leaked water. Builders and masons from hundreds of years ago knew this and developed a set of best practices to ensure that their brick buildings did not fall apart.

Sadly, for years, lots of this information was handed down by word of mouth. To add insult to injury, not all brick masons today are required to learn all the history about brick construction. If they had a better understanding of what’s going on, they’d be able to do a better job of preventing water infiltration.

Drain in slab floor might be salvageable without breaking concrete

Q. Our house has concrete slab floors, no basement or crawl. Our air conditioner and water softener used to drain to an opening in the floor in the utility closet, but the drain is stopped up. I was told I would have to break the concrete floor to fix the drain and am hoping you might be able to give me some ideas to fix this without taking out the floor.

A. A stopped-up drain can often be cleaned using a plumber’s snake. The drainpipe may have a simple 90-degree bend or there may be a P-trap under the floor if the drain is connected to a sanitary sewer system. It takes a little more shoving and turning if there is a P-trap. If there is a blockage in the pipe, the plumber’s snake will either break up the blockage or push it past the bends in the drainpipe and into the main sewer or drain line. When you remove the plumber’s snake there may be debris attached to the snake, so have a waste can or newspapers handy to clean the snake.

I strongly recommend using rubber gloves and eye protection. In older homes with cast-iron drains, the drainpipe may have collapsed and can no longer be used. If this happens you can use a lift pump to drain the condensate from the air conditioner. The pump has a small reservoir and a float switch that comes on when the reservoir is full. The pump can be drained to a washing machine drain, a sink in the laundry or directly to the yard.

7 Signs You Need a Dehumidifier

If you have a home that seems to have a dampness problem, it might be time to look for a dehumidifier. When excess moisture is detected in your home, first you should figure out the cause, then take steps to remedy the problem. Here, we’ll look at seven signs that indicate you might need a dehumidifier.

1. Mold spots on the ceiling or corners

If you notice mold anywhere in your house, it is generally a sign of excess humidity and time to get the best dehumidifier you can find. Bathrooms can’t air out steam and excess humidity, making them prime areas for mold to grow. It can grow on walls, ceilings, or around toilets and showers. For mold to affect your breathing you don’t even have to see it — it just has to be in your house. Try running the fan in your bathroom after each shower and work on keeping your ventilation system clean.

Small mold patches are a problem because they can quickly spread. They usually appear in clusters of small black spots but can also be gray brown or green in color. Mycotoxins, which come from toxic molds, can actually cause respiratory problems, inflammation, and mental impairment.


Taking Care of Your Basement and Your Finances

pioneer (13)Unhappy customers are always more than willing to post a bad comment on a company’s Facebook page, or a bad review someplace else.  They have reason sometimes, but if you are doing a project where signing contracts is involved, doing research about the company and the products you are buying pays off. Those unhappy customers are unhappy for a reason, and although their comments may be exaggerated, maybe there is a grain of truth there. The BBB is an excellent place to check a business credibility, and although you should not inherently trust the BBB, that’s a good place to start. Trust your instincts as well if you believe there is something not quite truthful about the salesperson sales pitch, it is your money after all. Take care of it!

Analyzing basement cracks, shifts

In the last couple of articles we have been discussing what I see and what you see when looking at the same area or item in a house. We have referred to this as “double vision.”

In the past articles, we have spent time looking at the exterior of the house, the property, the garage and attic.

Today, lets go down into the basement and see if we still experience “double vision” here.

I always look forward to going down into the basement because usually it tells me more about the house than any other area. If the basement is finished off into a living space, it is more difficult to observe the systems, but on the other hand it tells us about the past owner’s mentality as it relates to making improvements. Finished basements typically are done by someone other than the original builder, often show semi-professional workmanship and they have shortcomings and issues.

In most cases, however, the basement is unfinished, but often it is full of boxes, tools, exercise equipment and old furnishings. Many people enter this area, grab their forehead and say, “Where do I start?” Well, let me give you a tip on how to get started.

Judge criticizes Green contractor convicted of bilking elderly Copley couple

A judge blasted a Green man convicted of white-collar crime after he attempted to hide his face from a newspaper photographer during his sentencing hearing on Wednesday.

“You’re a convicted felon,” Summit County Common Pleas Judge Mary Margaret Rowlands reminded Allan Vertucci, 41, who in January was found guilty by a jury of bilking an elderly Copley Township woman and her now-deceased husband out of $80,000.

Rowlands said Vertucci’s response to a Beacon Journal photographer snapping pictures showed he had no remorse for the couple or their ordeal, which left them bankrupt.

“This is a case devoid of one iota of remorse. I understand Mr. Vertucci maintains his innocence, and that’s his right, but to not even express sadness,” Rowlands said. “Mr. Vertucci is sitting here like he’s angry at the world.”

Rowlands was scheduled to sentence Vertucci on Wednesday. She also would have imposed restitution so the elderly woman could be repaid the money taken from her.

Ways to spot and stop basement water problems

Water damage. Until they’ve experienced it, homeowners tend not to keep it top of mind.

But it’s something everyone should be looking for in the basement of their home – or a home they’re thinking of purchasing.


If left unchecked, water can cause significant damage to the foundation, as well as harmful mold buildup.

As a result, it pays to know the signs that water is infiltrating a basement and how to remediate it.

“There are a few telltale signs I look for when I enter a basement,” said Bob Cunliffe, a basement waterproofing contractor who owns Basement Medics in New Hope, Pa., with his son Ryan. “The first is freshly painted walls.”

“There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with painted walls, but it could be a way to cover up a problem,” he said.

Next, he said he looks for stains on walls or a white powdery substance on block walls called efflorescence. The powder is mineral deposits and a sign that water is pushing its way through the block – or once did.

Lastly, Cunliffe said to be on the lookout for cracking.



References – the Consumer’s Secret Weapon

pioneer (6)In the digital world of Angie’s List, Yelp and Google Reviews, you don’t need to actually call people and check 3 references anymore.  It’s outdated and old school – besides they’re not going to say anything useful anyway.  No contractor would give references for someone who’d say something bad about them.  Right?

Nope, that’s wrong.  Most consumers don’t understand that live references are their secret weapon in the fight to find a good contractor.  While digital reviews are a good place to begin, they’re no substitute for talking to people.  They’re easier, but not better.  Use the following questions as a place to start and modify them to fit your situation.

1. What did the contractor do for you and did you like the outcome?

Be sure to compare the size of your project with the references’ project.  Contractors often overstate their experience.  If your remodel is major it’s important to know if he’s only done small ones. 

2a. Did you make changes and how did he handle them?                                                                2b. Did you have problems and how did he handle them?

Most projects have changes and problems, and the bigger they are the more they have.  Did he handle them in timely manner and with civility? 

3. What was your biggest positive and negative about the experience?

4. What were the crew/subcontractors like?

You want a good fit for your household, personality and project – be sure to ask follow up questions that are important to you.  (Did they show up on time?  How did they treat the kids and pets?  Was there a crew chief, if so what was he like?  How well did they clean up?  Did you feel comfortable leaving them in the house alone?)

5. Was there any trouble with the paper work (contracts, permits, licenses, etc)?

6. Were you happy with the contractor’s level of communication?

Again, look for what you expect and compare it to the reference’s experience.  (Did he give regular updates or only when there was a problem?  Did you hear from the foreman, contractor or office person?  How did he respond to questions and concerns?)

7. Did your job come in on time and according to budget?  If not, why not?

Look for patterns: was he chronically late, did he ask for advances, was he juggling several jobs at once, did he make a lot of excuses for poor work or work not done.

8. Did you get the results he promised and you expected?  If not, why not?

9. Would you hire this person again?  Why?

Just asking for references can separate the good contractors from the bad – say, “I want 3 references and be warned, I will contact them”.  You’ll be amazed at how many won’t follow through.  If the contractor is too disorganized to provide them or can’t find 3 people to vouch for his work you don’t want him for your project.

Unfortunately, there seem to be more incompetent contractors out there than competent ones.  Getting and calling references is a secret weapon you can use to increase the odds that you’ll find the capable one.  You’ll be surprised at what people will tell you.  I once had a man tell me, “I only agreed to be a reference for this guy so I could tell people how crooked he is.”

Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 150 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes.

Home Renovation Projects That Make Sense

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Springtime is for many homeowners the best time to start a new home improvement project.  The kind of home improvement they wish to do is entirely up to the owner of the home regardless whether it makes sense or not.  Budget issues, and the ROI the project brings do not matter if the home owner is set to do a home improvement project for their home.  If you are still wondering whether new windows versus a new garage door matters, read the article below to find more information about what home improvements will give you the best ROI.

Home renovation projects that can pay off in a big way

Spring is a peak time for home buying. And for sellers, it’s all about making their house stand out.

A recent survey from the National Association of Realtors showed that upgrades to the kitchen, bathroom and new wood flooring appeal to potential buyers.

But even cheaper and less time-consuming projects can pay off, often in areas you may least expect — the attic (insulation), the garage door, or even redoing your entry way.

“Some of the projects that have the biggest bang for the buck are these really inexpensive projects,” CBS News business analyst Jill Schlesinger told “CBS This Morning” Thursday. “These are projects that can really help sell the house.”

These types of renovations can “recoup a lot money” when selling your home.

By comparison, Remodeling Magazine found a new additional bathroom only returns a little more than half of your investment.

The idea of a new pool, Schlesinger said, is a “no-no,” because many people with children do not want to deal with the liability. Sun rooms, she said, are also a bad idea.

Crafty ways to tackle home maintenance projects: Part 2

According to the MI Money Health website, homeowners should set aside at least 3 percent of the value of their home for home maintenance each year. As the cold weather goes away and the spring rains begin to pour, it is a good idea to get outside and do some inspection.

  • Look around the yard for standing water left over from the snow melt.
  • Clean up the yard to make sure no sharp items or other hazards have not been uncovered.
  • Drain your hoses and check for cracks.
  • Take a look up and see if there are cracked or dangerous limbs.
  • Look at the shingles and vents on the roof and check for signs of winter damage.
  • Check your siding and paint for chips and cracks.

You might want to bring out a clip board and take notes or make a to-do list. You may uncover problems now that if not fixed will lead to great expense later.

According to the Healthy Homes Maintenance Checklist found on the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website, maintaining a home that is dry, clean, well-ventilated, free from contaminants, pest-free, safe and well-maintained is a healthy home. Maintaining your home can lead to financial health as well. According to this Michigan State University Extension article, the first step toward financial well-being is to manage your money.

Will a Personal Loan Fund Your Home Repair Project?

The first day of spring is March 20, which means the days are growing longer and summer isn’t too far behind. While many across the country are still battling ice and snow, soon the weather will warm up and thoughts will turn toward outdoor activities. Some people might start planning vacations, but others might want to turn their focus toward their home. If you own a house, chances are there are improvements or additions you’d like to see made. You might be putting them off until you have the money or the time is right, but why not make your dream home repair project a reality this year with the help of apersonal loan?

Personal loans aren’t just for dealing with debt

Although a personal loan can be a great help to those who need to consolidate debt or pay off medical or other emergency expenses, that isn’t the only function it can serve. Although it isn’t necessarily a wise idea to take out a loan for something frivolous or to go on a lavish vacation, you could be saving money by taking care of necessary home repairs now — such as replacing your drafty windows — which could be adding up to unrealized costs, such as higher energy bills. And beyond personal savings, certain home repair projects that upgrade your home to be more energy efficient can not only be a help to the environment but also make your household eligible for certain tax credits.


Is Your Unleveled Driveway Hurting Your Home?

pioneer (1)An unleveled driveway can be harmful to the foundation of your home and basement.  In the winter months, snow left around the foundation of your home can seep into your basement when it melts, and do damage to the walls, foundation and floors of your home.  In the spring time, rain accumulated and left unattended because of an unleveled driveway can easily find its way to the basement, and cause damage there as well.  We know clean gutters help the water flow easily, and hopefully away from the foundation of our homes, but  many of us don’t realize  that an unleveled  driveway can be harmful to our basement as well.

For more information about this topic, follow the links below.

Does your finished basement have seepage? Does water find a way in, and make you wonder if you need foundation repair?

A wet basement can be a homeowner’s nightmare.

From a finished basement that’s soaked to an unfinished basement with persistent leaks or dampness — water is no friend to your home.

If you’ve experienced leaking walls, floors or cracks in your home’s basement, it’s likely you need the help of an experienced basement waterproofing contractor to devise a basement solution.

But you’ll quickly find there are a variety of choices in basement waterproofing repairs or systems designed to tackle the problem, as well as opinions about which one is the most effective.

How’s the water getting in the basement?

If you’re noticing water in your basement, investigating the solution should start outside your home. Make sure all your home’s gutters, downspouts or other drainage systems are working effectively and diverting water away from the home.

The grade of soil around the foundation should encourage water to flow away from exterior walls, not toward them.


Top 5 Costly Home Drainage Mistakes

In a recent study, it was determined that 85% of home repair expenses in the United States come fromwater damage, and in particular, larger cities see higher than average incidences of this. Misguided landscape irrigation and uncontrollable runoff is the primary reason for such water damages. Foundation and structure are at greater danger of being damaged and thus needing foundation repair work done and water damage can also threaten the sidewalk and driveway of a property. Luckily there is a solution, and much of the damage caused by uncontrolled water can be prevented by minor fixes. The following are some of the issues uncontrolled water can cause:

  • Damage to concrete and asphalt
  • Damage to foundation and structure
  • Deterioration of building materials
  • Erosion
  • Insects, spiders, reptiles and rodents
  • Mold growing
  • Wood rot


Basement Waterproofing and Foundation Repair

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Ensuring a dry basement for the enjoyment of your family, for storage, or to simply keep it dry for health issues means being vigilant about the state of your basement walls and  foundation.   To ensure you have a dry basement inspect your home for signs of water after a  storm, and after the cold winter for signs of seepage.  Here are 3 reasons why water find its way to the basement of your home.

  1. Cracks in the foundation of your home can lead water to continually seeped into the basement.  A small crack can  leave you with a big problem if you are not vigilant, and let those cracks become bigger.  Checking the walls, floor and foundation of your home yearly can alert you if you have a problem.
  2. Keeping the gutters clean of debris can help the water move freely, and away from the foundation of your home.
  3. Uneven driveways, or uneven soil can let the water sit around the foundation of your home, and find its way to the basement.  Flat flower beds, or soil slopping away from your foundation should keep water from seeping  into the home.

If you need a free consultation for waterproofing your basement, give us a call,  and we will happy to meet with you.  Check our BBB rating by following the link below.

For more about this topic follow the link below.

What to do with cracked concrete, popping planks and cold garage floors

Frigid weather doesn’t just leave cracks in your skin and emotional well-being. It does a good job of ripping up your flooring, too.

“Humidity levels drop significantly in the winter due to the colder, denser air around us,” says Bryan Baeumler. “If you start to notice gaps opening up in your hardwood flooring, baseboard and trim, even cabinets, that’s a good sign your home is too dry. The humidity in your home should be between 35 to 40 per cent. Any lower and everything starts to shrink. Make sure you’re in the sweet spot by monitoring humidity levels, and installing a humidifier and dehumidifier.”

Thankfully, the star of HGTV’s Leave it to Bryan and Canada’s Handyman Challengehas the advice you need to mend your winter wounds. This week, he answers Star readers’ questions on cracked concrete, popping planks and cold garage floors.

Hi, Bryan. We recently looked at a house (for sale) with the garage concrete pad full of gaping, criss-crossing, jagged cracks. The owners had moved everything out of the basement to the garage and would not move things in the garage for a better look. Also, the basement was newly finished and one wall had a double wall. So there was the concrete foundation exterior wall, and then another wall inside — with a space of over a foot between the two walls. The interior wall was the studs and framing and drywall. Why would this be done?



Homeowner’s Insurance Policies: Do You Have Good Coverage For Your Home?

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Have you checked your homeowners’ insurance policy lately? Many homeowners-including myself-believe we have enough coverage to withstand a catastrophe in our homes.  The reality though is far from it.  There are many insurance companies that can sell you flood insurance for your home, but you have to make certain you ask and pay for that type of insurance, or chances are you will have none.  Looking over the coverage your home has, and making changes or adding other types of coverage to your policy may be a good decision to make.

For more about this and other stories, follow the links below.

 Winter damage control: Know your homeowner’s insurance policy

Insurance professionals say it’s important to know what is covered under your homeowner’s policy as snow, ice and subzero temperatures are often linked to winter weather damage.

Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Teresa Miller recommends that consumers review their homeowners insurance ahead of time to make sure they are prepared.

“Most standard homeowners insurance policies should cover damage to homes typically caused by winter storms, such as a collapse caused by the weight of ice or snow, or water damage caused by burst pipes or ice jams in gutters and downspouts, which prevent proper drainage of water,” Miller said.

Homeowners policies should also cover damage from fallen trees or tree limbs. Miller suggests that consumers check with their insurer before removing fallen trees, to see if the cost is covered.

Mark Luba, marketing director at Baker’s Waterproofing and Foundation Repair in Bentleyville, said he’s received an increase in the number of calls for this time of year from people living in the southern counties it services.

How to protect your pipes from freezing

It’s a job that’s been the butt of jokes (pun intended), but when the temperatures crash below zero this weekend, no one will be joking around about plumbers.

Freezing temperatures are a water pipe’s nemesis, which is why I always tell my clients: Ice expands, pipes don’t. Every winter some 250,000 families in the United States see at least one room in their home damaged by water pipes freezing and breaking, according to State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.

As freezing water expands, it causes the pressure inside the pipes to increase, often resulting in a pipe break. A pipe will not usually burst at the frozen part, but somewhere between the freeze and the faucet.The ice blockage can cause thousands of pounds of water pressure to build up. Just one pipe burst can unleash gallons of water to run behind walls and ceilings, causing thousands of dollars in damage to your house and personal items. The good news is that many home insurance policies will cover the damage.

The ice dam cometh. Are you ready?

After the winter we had, our motto became: “Ice dams be damned.”

My husband and I spent the summer with a parade of roofers and insulation contractors trying to figure out how to prevent our home from being ringed by icicles again.
We had icicles everywhere: the front, the side, the back. They stretched from 2 inches to two stories tall. One time I got so annoyed at one that I tried to knock it down with a snow shovel. I nearly got speared. Don’t ever try this at home.But the icicles weren’t just a nuisance. They were destroying the house. They were the telltale signs of ice dams, which form during periods of heavy snowfall followed by a stretch of freezing temperatures.

The heat in your house rises and escapes through the attic, and it melts the snow on your roof. When the melted water flows to the edge of your roof, it will refreeze and form icicles. If this keeps happening, your house will probably develop an ice dam. That means water will back up under the shingles and then try to find a way out, usually inside your house.



Communication is Key to a “Comfortable” Repair

stock-photo-3164773-executive-home-bar-and-entertainment-roomBecky recently completed an expensive home repair.  It went well and she was satisfied with the results.  But, throughout the process she had an uneasy feeling, which she was never able to identify.  Finally, she realized what she’d been feeling was uncomfortable.  When the workmen were there she didn’t feel comfortable in her own home. 

Several weeks later Becky recognized why she felt this way when an HV/AC contractor said, “I’m going to be in and out a lot.  Do you want me to knock first and then come in, or just walk in without knocking?”  She immediately felt comfortable with the knocking option.  She realized that when the other repair men just walked in she perceived it as impolite and invasive.

Her experience is actually very common.  People are so focused on cost, time and contracts that they don’t think of making the process more comfortable for themselves, their families and the workers.  They “just want to get though it”.  But, a conversation with your contractor about your expectations may go a long way toward helping you feel more at ease.

When expectations aren’t discussed the contractor, his employees and you are doing a lot of assuming, which often leads to confusion, misunderstanding and possible embarrassment.  People have very different opinions on what is appropriate in certain situations – opinions they assume others are aware of and share. 

But, people don’t have the same expectations.  Some home owners might think, “The workers need to take time to make friends with my kids and dog, it’s their home too.”  While other owners think, “It’s my job to keep my kids and dog out of the way, the workers are too busy to be bothered by them.”

If you and your contractor don’t discuss it he won’t know what your expectations and boundaries are.  A reputable contractor and his employees want you to feel comfortable – they want you to clearly spell things out for them.  Otherwise, they’ll drive to the closest gas station to use the bathroom, while you’re wondering why they’re not using the downstairs half bath. 

Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 150 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes. 

Foundation Repair and Basement Waterproofing for 2016


The snow accumulation for northeast Ohio this winter has been minimal compared to other years.  Melting snow hasn’t been a problem for your this year, but cracks in the foundation of your home or water damage done to your basement  the previous year might be noticed and felt through out your home.  Doors that do not close well, big and even small cracks where the wall meets the floor are indicators of foundation problems in your home. Foundation repair and waterproofing your basement during the winter can be done, and if you have issues that you have postponed, do not wait much longer.  Call us and talk to us, we offer a hassle free consultation to find a solution to your foundation or basement problems. We have been in business since 1979, and our BBB rating speaks for itself. Don’t know if we service your area? check this link to find out.

For more information and news about basement and foundation repair follow the links below.

Small cracks can mean big problems

Most homes have doors that stick or small cracks in the walls. Even though it’s common, cracks are not something to be ignored.

Homes and the soil underneath them move with the temperature and moisture of our Louisiana weather. Given the type of soil that makes up the Red River Valley and our Louisiana weather patterns offering river flooding and drought at the same time, we have dynamic soil. This can cause serious structural damage to our homes over time.

Soil and concrete slabs are subject to temperature change, which means a house will move and “settle” throughout the year. Foundation settlement issues are standard for our area, experts and homeowners agree, but when should a homeowner be concerned that a crack is more than just a crack?

“All structures and buildings move to some extent,” said Matt Wallace, a professional engineer, registered structural engineer and president at local firm Aillet, Fenner, Jolly, and McClelland, Inc.

Homeowners should be aware of warning signs for a possible cracked foundation, such as doors failing to latch, cracks in walls – over doorways, ceilings – cracks in the flooring, or windows failing to operate properly.

Habitat for Humanity offers home repair program for vets, low-income residents

CLEARLAKE OAKS, Calif. – In 1994, Navy veteran James Evans retired to Clearlake Oaks to enjoy the outdoor opportunities Lake County has to offer. 

Evans enlisted in the Navy at age 17 and served three years as an aircraft mechanic before entering the private sector as a high precision camera mechanic.

When he and his wife moved to Lake County, it was with the intention of remaining here indefinitely.

However, without the means to keep up with the maintenance of his home, there was concern as to what the future would hold.

That was when Evans reached out to Habitat for Humanity Lake County.

Last summer, Habitat for Humanity Lake County received its third grant – totaling about $200,000 – from the Home Depot Foundation Veterans Home Repair Initiative, as Lake County News has reported.

Thanks to that Home Depot grant program aimed at helping veterans, Habitat for Humanity Lake County was able to provide much-needed repairs that have improved the livability of Evans’ home.

5 Things Home Sellers Try to Hide

Don’t be fooled

You’ve finally found a house that checks all the boxes, so now it’s time to make an offer, sign on the dotted line, and book the movers, right? Not so fast. That dream home for sale in San Francisco, CA, can turn out to be a real nightmare if the seller failed to disclose a cracked house foundation or pest infestation, and you fail to notice until after closing. Here are five things sellers commonly try to hide during the sales process, and the questions you can ask to suss out the truth.

1. Leaks

Leaky faucets, radiators, ceilings, roofs — you name it, real estate agents, brokers, and sellers might try to temporarily plug that drip to attract offers. But honesty is always the best policy, and admitting your property’s faults can actually work in your favor. Jennifer Breu, a real estate agent based in New York, NY, once showed a home with a ceiling that was falling down; she still got a ton of offers on it and made the sale by being honest that the repairs would be made soon. “Leaks are very common, but they can be fixed very easily before the close,” says Breu. “It doesn’t pay to mask something that isn’t a huge issue and can be fixed. Transparency increases value.”

4 Things to do When Your Basement Gets Wet

stock-photo-6173250-pipes-under-houseA wet or flooded basement is a common problem in our area.  Clean up can be labor intensive, emotionally draining and time consuming.  It can also be time sensitive; the longer there’s moisture the higher the possibility of health risks.  Here are some steps to take to protect the health of your family if your basement gets wet.

Dry it out – The basement and all the items in it should be dried out as quickly as possible.  Use fans and dehumidifiers, as well as open doors and windows.  Even if it’s cold outside, when circumstances allow, open them anyway.  The faster it’s dried the better chance you have of saving possessions and decreasing the health (mold) risk.

Clean it up – The best way to avoid or eliminate mold growth is to immediately clean the things which can be disinfected.  Many porous items (i.e. clothes, carpet and padding, upholstery, wallpaper, drywall, ceiling tiles, insulation, paper, wood products, toys, food) can’t be effectively sanitized.

Mold thrives in and on these surfaces, and the longer they’re wet the more difficult it is to kill all the spores.  This is the time to be ruthless – your kid’s school projects, pictures and stuffed tiger may not be salvageable. The Center for Disease Control recommends erring on the side of caution; even dead mold can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Throw it away – Triage is vital and decisions must be made in a timely manner.  Mold spreads fast and the longer you take to get rid of unsalvageable items the better chance it has of taking hold.

Items that can’t be cleaned should be immediately thrown away in receptacles outside the house (including the garage).  If you need to store something for an insurance claim, do so out of the house.  In extreme cases you may have to temporarily move out while damaged floors and walls are removed by professionals.

Take appropriate caution – Use strong, disinfecting cleaners and wear the proper equipment (gloves, face masks and protective clothing) while using them.  Try to avoid cross contamination – don’t wear your shoes on the wet, damaged basement carpet and then walk through the rest of the house with them on, spreading spores as you go.

Also, you may need to consult with your doctor before you begin clean up.  People with allergies, asthma, weakened immune systems and respiratory conditions should contact their physician to find out what type of participation is allowed. 

OK, you’ve had a big enough problem that you’ve had to follow some or all of these guidelines.  If the trouble is internal (i.e. sump pump, leaking basement walls, broken pipes) this is your wake-up call to fix it.  Don’t go through all the hassles of clean up only to have to do it all over when the problem reoccurs.

Nicole Abbott is a professional writer who’s had over 100 articles published.  She’s a business consultant and former psycho-therapist with over 20 years of experience in mental health, business and addiction.  She’s a coach, lecturer, trainer and facilitator.  She has conducted over 200 workshops, trainings, presentations, seminars and college classes.