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The Reinhart Blog

How Well Owners Can Improve Their Water Quality

Well water is typically an excellent source of good, safe drinking water for millions of Americans. But for those with water quality issues, such problems are easily addressed.

A key to improving water quality is knowing the basics about water testing, well maintenance, water treatment, and groundwater protection, says the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).well_water_l1

Unlike public water systems, private well owners are responsible for testing their own water. NGWA recommends that well owners test annually for bacteria, nitrate, and anything of local concern. To get your water tested, check with your county health department to see if it offers testing services, or check with a private drinking water testing lab.

Groundwater contaminants of local concern can be naturally occurring, such as arsenic, or man-made, such as chemicals or heavy metals from industrial or waste sites.

Designed specifically for household well owners, the NGWA website www.WellOwner.org contains more practical information about water testing, well maintenance, water treatment, and groundwater protection. If you are living or purchasing in Washtenaw County, click here for localinformation.

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4 Helpful Tips to Prepare Your Ann Arbor Home for Autumn

Autumn is associated with the changing of leaves and temperature. For homeowners, there are also changes that need to be made to prepare their homes for the upcoming winter. These four tips will get you on the way to preparing your home for Autumn.Ceiling fan, indoors

Clean and Reverse Fans
Your ceiling fans have been hard at work all summer so they may have gathered more dust than you realize. Turn your fans off, and clean the sides, tops and bottoms of the blades. Reverse your fans so the blades send air upward to disrupt the warm air that collects near the ceiling and disperse it downward. This is particularly effective in rooms with high or vaulted ceilings and rooms with stoves or fireplaces.

Women and drapesClean Window Treatments
Use a cordless hand-held vacuum to remove dust from hanging window treatments. If you have hanging curtains, take them down for a gentle launder. While they’re down, clean your windows and sills thoroughly.Female hands cleaning couch with vacuum cleanerVacuum and Clean Furniture
 Vacuum your upholstered furniture, and spot-clean the big stains as needed. Always test an inconspicuous area of your couch before applying any cleaning agent to a main area.

Caulking window in houseSeal the Air Leaks
Check your windows and doors for damaged weather stripping and cracked caulking, and make repairs as needed.

Credit: Home Warranty of America

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Our Summer Spruce Up Checklist

Before heading off to the beach, or theme park for your summer vacation, it is best to complete your summer home maintenance tasks off your to-do list. Keeping up with regular home maintenance tasks will save you money and time. Below you will find a checklist of items you should take care of over the summer. While the list is long, completing it over the summer will keep your home happy for years to come.


Interior

kitchenAppliances
• Check your oven door for a tight seal.
• Feel for any broken, torn, or deformed areas, and close the door to see if you can find any leaks.
• Clean or replace dirty range hood or downdraft vent filters.
• Clean the coils in your refrigerator.
• Keep you water clean by replacing disposable water filters on your water filtration system and/or icemaker as recommended by the manufacturer.
• Clean and deodorize your garbage disposal.
• Inspect washing machine hoses.
• Clean your dryer exhaust.
• Ensure your ice maker is working properly.

Hallway interior with folding attic ladder. Northwest USAAttic
• Search for insects or animals which have inhabited your attic.
• Search for mold, which can manifest in gray or black blotches.
• Check that vents and fans are working properly to ensure ventilation.
• Check insulation rating to ensure optimal energy efficiency.

Basement With Stone FireplaceBasement
• Test your sump pump by pouring water into the basin.
• Seal cracks in concrete floors, walls or window caulking.
• Ensure basement vents are free from debris or clutter.

Exterior

Ann Arbor Home ExteriorExterior Inspection
• Walk around and expect your bricks and foundation for cracks or leaks.
• Take note of loose or rotted siding.
• While walking around it is best to check for an infestation of bugs such as ants, bees, termites or wasps.
• Reseal the driveway to keep water out.
• Check the deck for popped nails or loose boards. Fix where necessary.

Man Cleaning Gutters on a Ladder Against a Brick HouseClean Your Exterior
• Your deck, siding, and gutters all need regular cleaning.
• While cleaning take note of anything that is damaged or needs to be replaced.

Residential house garageMaintain Your Garage
• Consider installing insulated garage doors.
• Remove clutter and dispose of hazardous materials.
• Keep fertilizer and power tools out of children’s reach and behind lock and key.
• Don’t store heat sensitive or combustible materials in a non-climate controlled garage.

grillPrepare Your Grill
• Get ready for summer barbecues by cleaning and repairing the gas grill.
• Scrub the grates with liquid grill cleaner, and clean the burners and burner covers with a wire brush.
• You can also use vinegar and aluminum foil to clean a grill. Use a toothpick to clean the holes on the burners to ensure even cooking.

HVAC
• Keep the air in your home clean by replacing the air filter on your air conditioner every 1-3 months.
• Keep your a/c unit free of shrubs and plants to ensure proper airflow.
• To prevent water from backing up in your home, it’s important in the summer to clean the AC drain line regularly with bleach.
• If the drain does become clogged, use a wet/dry shop vac to remove the clog, then pour a cup of bleach down the access pipe to kill anything else that might be growing in there.
• Clean ceiling fans and ensure they operate at all speeds.
• Clean vents and ducts from obstructions and debris.
• Consider having a professional duct cleaning.

window with flowersWindows and Doors
• Wash your windows and window screen so the light can shine in your house.
• Ensure windows and doors are properly caulked.
• Clean and lubricate window channels and door hinges to ensure smooth function.

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The Advantages of Furnished Corporate Housing

TravelerFor travelers that are on the road, whether for work or pleasure, the cost of a hotel room can be quite the financial burden. According to Statista.com, the average daily rate for a hotel in 2016 runs $126.73. People traveling for extended periods of time may prefer corporate housing over a hotel, because hotels just don’t feel like home.

Now you may be wondering, “What is corporate housing and is it a better option for me during my time away?” Depending on the situation, it may be. Corporate housing offers all inclusive fully furnished apartments, ideal for those looking for a bit more space and a 30+ night stay. Most include furniture, housewares, linens, utilities, basic cable, internet and local phone service.

apartment-key

Like the name suggests, corporate apartments are generally used by employees and contractors of large companies and corporations that travel for work. People tend to find themselves more comfortable and “at home” since they can cook, relax in a bigger space and utilize the amenities the community offers. Though primarily used by business travelers, corporate apartments also appeal to people who are relocating to a new area and may be looking to purchase a home but need time to find the right one. They also appeal to vacationers, college students, military personnel and others in need of a short-term furnished apartment.

Amenities found in corporate housing are comparable to those of a luxury hotel. A fitness center, resort-style swimming pool and hot tub, covered parking and housekeeping services are just a few amenities that corporate housing may offer its residents. Many of the ​apartment ​communities are found close to shopping, restaurants and the city centers for the convenience of ​their residents.

Because of the accommodation and short-term lease options, corporate apartments are ​generally more expensive than unfurnished apartments with a 12-month lease. However, it’s still more cost-efficient than a hotel since you get so many more perks and amenities for less.family with pets

People traveling with pets or children will likely find corporate housing apartments a more suitable option than a hotel. Hotels may offer suites but they ​usually ​do not offer the space that a family of four may want or need.

Are you looking for a more spacious short term housing option? Will you be relocating to a new city and may need interim housing? If so, please visit http://www.reinhartrealtors.com/apartments and we would be happy to help!

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How to Keep Warm and Safe This Winter Season

Whether it’s a polar vortex, arctic blast or old-fashioned winter storm, make sure your home is protected and stay warm with these tips. Meteorologists are predicting a slew of arctic blasts and winter storms this 2017-2018 season.

With these arctic blasts, temperatures could drop more than 30 degrees, which can wreak havoc on your home. So what can you do to prepare your home post haste for winter storms?

thermometer_cold

Service Your HVAC
First, make sure your HVAC has been properly serviced for the winter. Doing so will ensure it’s running efficiently and safely.

Check Your Smoke DetectorCheck Your Smoke Detectors

Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are in working order. Installing a carbon monoxide detector near your furnace and water heater is a good idea, especially since they could be running on overdrive in freezing temps.

Make sure to shut off all the rooms you don’t use. This helps the house stay warmer in the rooms you do occupy. Keep in mind that heat rises so if you are in a two-story home, your upstairs will generally be warmer than your first floor.

frozen pipesInsulate Pipes
Next, your plumbing, most importantly those pipes around your house. Disconnect hoses from each spigot, drain and store them. Then insulate any spigot that’s above ground. It is suggested that you cover all exposed pipes (laundry room, pool equipment, sprinkler system) with insulation or protective covering. You can even use bubble wrap. Another tip is to locate your main water shutoff in case a pipe does freeze and burst.

Cover Your Water Heater
Is your water heater in the garage or attic? If so, cover it with either an insulator wrap kit or a blanket if the R-value on the label is less than 25.

Two mugs for tea or coffee woolen things near cozy fireplace in country house winter vacation horizontal.

Clean Your Fireplace
If you’re fortunate enough to have a fireplace, make sure to get the chimney cleaned, check that the chimney cap is in place and buy plenty of firewood and store in a dry place. Have plenty of matches, candles and flashlights with fresh batteries available if the power happens to go out.

Prepare Your Foundation
Take a walk around the foundation of your home. Make sure debris is moved away and check and fill any cracks you see. An old farmer’s trick is to buy a few bales of hay and scatter it up against your foundation. This can help keep your floors warmer and less drafty.

Drain the Gas
It’s best to drain all gasoline from your outdoor equipment such as your lawnmower. Make sure your snow shovel is accessible and have plenty of rock salt on hand in case of a deep freeze.Emergency-Kit-

Most importantly, prepare an emergency kit. Here’s what you need to stock up on:

  •  A few extra gallons of water
  •  Non-perishable food items (don’t forget about your furry friends’ food either!)
  • Lots of blankets
  • A battery-powered radio
  • Backup battery for your cell phone and computer
  • A first-aid kit
  •  Flashlights, backup batteries, candles and matches
  •  Always talk through an emergency plan with your family

Old Man Winter is here to stay for a while so let’s be safe and enjoy.  Spring will be here again before we know it.

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DIY Project: Installing a Ceiling Fan

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Updating light fixtures in a master bedroom can make a huge difference on the look and feel of the room. While looking at the different lighting options consider adding a ceiling fan. Ceiling fans effectively circulate the air in a room to create a draft throughout the room. If you use air conditioning, a ceiling fan will help you save energy. Turning on the fan lets you raise the thermostat setting about 4°F and still stay cool.

Replacing an existing light fixture with a fan is a simple, one-day task. Before you start it is important to know that you can’t hang a fan from the existing electrical box. You must either use a specially rated hanger and box to mount the fan between joists or, screw a fan-rated “pancake” box directly to a ceiling joist. Learn the steps to ceiling fan installation below.

Shopping List

  •  Fan-rated 1/2-inch-deep pancake box
  • Medallion (made of rigid foam, not plaster, which may crack)
  • Fan blades
  • Fan motor
  • Light-fixture housing
  • Lamp shades
  • Down rod, canopy, and ceiling plate (all included in fan kit)
  • Remote-control transmitter with 9v battery
  • Twist-on wire connectors
  • Caulk or spackling compond (for filling nail holes in medallion)
  • 6D finish nails (for attaching medallion to ceiling)
  • Latex paint or acrylic spray (optional)

Instructions

1. Turn off power at breaker
After you turn off the power mark it with a DO NOT TURN BACK ON sign. Use circuit tester to make sure power is off to old fixture.

2. Remove old fixture.
Unscrew the nuts or screws holding the current fixture to the ceiling. Lower the fixture and disconnect the wires by twisting off the plastic connectors from the ends of the wires.

3. Remove the box and cut a new whole.
Before starting this step get your vacuum cleaner ready. Remove the old electrical box from the ceiling. If it’s nailed to a joist, pry it free with a flat bar. If it’s suspended from a bar, you may have to take off a metal plate to unscrew the box; then pry the bar from the joists. While doing this have your assistant use the vacuum cleaner wand to suck up debris

Hold a 1/2-inch-thick pancake box against the ceiling, centered on a joist, and trace around it with a pencil. Cut along the line with a drywall saw. Clean with the vacuum after you saw.

4. Install new, heavy-duty electrical box.
Feed the electrical cable coming from the ceiling through the knockout hole in the pancake box. (Be sure there’s a cable connector attached to the knockout hole.)

Set the box into the hole cut through the ceiling and press it tight against the underside of the joist.Attach the box to the joist with the two 1 1/2-inch No. 10 hex-head screws provided. Drive in the screws with a drill/driver equipped with a 5/16-inch nut-driver tip.

Wrap the cable’s bare copper wire around the grounding screw inside the box. Allow the wire end to hang down.

5. Attach new ceiling medallion
Apply a small bead of urethane-based adhesive to the back of the ceiling medallion.
Pass the wires through the medallion. Center the medallion on the pancake box and press. Fasten it with four 6d finishing nails driven into the joist. Set the nail heads and fill with caulk or spackle.

6. Mount the Ceiling Plate
If you want to paint medallion paint it before installing the ceiling paint. Hold the fan’s metal ceiling plate up to the pancake box and pull the wires through its center hole.

Attach the ceiling plate to the box with two 1 1/2-inch-long 10-32 machine screws.

7. Assemble the Fan
With the fan on the floor, feed the wires coming from the motor through the center of the canopy. Set the canopy on top of the motor. If pipe’s threads have a factory-applied coating. Don’t remove this coating; it keeps the pipe from unscrewing. Next, pass the wires through the hollow down-rod pipe.

Thread the down-rod pipe into the top of the motor. Use a wrench to tighten the square-head locking screw on the side of the pipe.

8. Connect the Wires
Hook one side of the canopy onto the ceiling plate.Using twist-on wire connectors, join the two green wires to the bare copper wire coming from the cable. (If your room is wired differently from the one shown here, consult a licensed electrician.)

Join the two white wires. Then connect the two black wires. Swing the fan up into position against the medallion and secure it with the two canopy screws.

9. Add Blades and Lights
Attach each fan blade to a blade iron (the bracket that holds the blade to the fan). Then, fasten the blade irons to the motor with the screws provided. Plug the fan’s light-fixture housing into the wire hanging from the underside of the fan’s motor.

Install the shades and lightbulbs. Screw the plastic holder for the remote control to the wall beside the wall switch.

10. Restore power.
After you do a final check to make sure things are secure, turn back on the power. Test out the light and fan.

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Fire Safety: Space Heaters

The recent drop in temperatures has many people turning to space heaters stay warm. Space heaters are a wonderful way to increase the temperature of rooms. It is important to be cautious with space heaters because they cause 80% of all winter heating fire deaths.

When you use a space heater, follow these guidelines to stay safe:

  • Only purchase newer model heaters that have all of the current safety features. Make sure the heater carries the Underwriter’s Laboratory (UL) label.
  • Choose a thermostatically controlled heater, because they avoid the energy waste of overheating a room.
  • Select a heater of the proper size for the room you wish to heat. Do not purchase oversized heaters. Most heaters come with a general sizing table.
  • Locate the heater on a level surface away from foot traffic. Keep children and pets away from the heater.
  • You should always turn space heaters off when if you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything flammable including clothing, furniture, newspapers, blankets, curtains, and you.
  • Electric heaters should be plugged directly into the wall outlet. If an extension cord is necessary, use the shortest possible heavy-duty cord of 14-gauge wire or larger. Always check and follow any manufacturer’s instructions pertaining to the use of extension cords.
  • Buy a unit with a tip-over safety switch, which automatically shuts off the heater if the unit is tipped over.


Don’t let safety features lull you into a false sense of safety. Remember space heaters cause about one-third of all winter house fires. Follow the procedures above to protect your house, belongings and family.

Source: National Fire Protection Association

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5 Easy Ways to Prepare for Winter Weather

 

winter weather

Despite a milder than usual start to winter, yesterday’s storm reminded us of the dangers of winter weather. It is important to have supplies ready for the cold, snow and ice so you and your family can stay warm and toasty.
Kit
Winter Preparedness Kit
When a storm hits it is vital that you are prepared. The first thing to do is create a winter preparedness kit for you home. If you have already a kit make sure you restock it. The following items will help you get through a storm.

  • Have at least three gallons of water per person
  • Have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food per person
  • Prescribed medications
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Chemical fire extinguisher
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Pet supplies including food and bedding
  • A complete change of clothing and footwear for each person
  • Bedding
  • Important family documents
  • Cell phone, portable charger or extra batteries
  • Extra clothes, blankets, sleeping bags and warm winter coats

PipesInsulate Pipes
It is essential to insulate pipes that run through your wall, basement and attic. This will help prevent them from bursting during the winter season. While looking through the walls, attic and basement consider examining exposed ducts and use a sealant to plug up any leaks.

ValveWater Valves
Teach everyone who lives in your house know where the water valves are located. It is also necessary to test your shut-off valve. This knowledge will help you if you have to shut them off to prevent pipes from bursting. In most single-family homes, the shut-off valve is in the basement or the crawl space, on a wall facing the street.

fireplaceBackup Heat Source
Be prepared for electrical outages with a backup heating source. A backup heating source will prevent pipes from freezing and keep your home warm in the event of an outage. There are many options for heating your home if the power goes out including a wood fireplace, heaters and power generators. If you use gas generators or fuel-based heating systems make sure they are vented outside to prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning.

smoke detectorSmoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Check that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are in working order. If you don’t already having a carbon monoxide detector make sure to buy and install battery-operated CO detectors near every sleeping area. CO poisoning is most prevalent when furnaces are turned on to fight cold winter temperatures or when people rely on portable generators for electricity during outages.

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7 Ways to Prepare Your Home for Thanksgiving

Are you preparing to have friends or family over to your home this Thanksgiving? If so the task might seem daunting.  While we all know we need to clean our homes before company there are various other steps to hosting a gathering in your home. Here are seven tips meant to help you to prepare you home for the holiday.

Illuminate Your Home

Outdoor lightsEven though you can navigate your home with ease your guests may have difficulties. Consider trimming any plants or bushes that may be blocking your front walk.  Make sure outside lights are bright enough so that guests can see the way to your door. Indoor motion-activated night lights will ensure safe passage in hallways, bathrooms, and bedrooms.

Don’t under estimate the role that inside lighting plays during holidays. Use lamps instead of overhead lighting. Add atmosphere by lighting some candles. This draws the eye away from any areas that weren’t deep-cleaned, and makes your home feel warm and cozy.

 

Make Space

Hat RackThe larger the number of people attending your Thanksgiving celebration the more room you will need for coats and bags. If you have a coat rack in your entryway, empty it to make room for your guests’ belongings.  Alternatively, you can make up the bed in your guest bedroom for people to put their coat and bag.

Organize Your Dishes

DishwasherGather all the dirty dishes from the kitchen counter and sink and load them into the dishwasher. Start the first dishwasher cycles before your guests are arriving. If you possible, unload the dishes before everyone sits down to dinner. This eliminates dishes stacked in the sink and on the counter.

Arrange the Table

Table Setting
If you have a formal dining room, consider setting the place settings the day before Thanksgiving.  Spreading holiday tasks over a few days can make your holiday less taxing. The more people who help out the less stress is on one person, so consider getting your children and/or spouse to help with this task.

Gather Bathroom Storage and Supplies
towels
Make sure to clean and prepare your bathroom with supplies before your guests arrive. Place toilet paper, towels, and toiletries within sight and reach for your guests.  You can put items on wall shelves, or in open baskets around the bathroom.  Also, make sure each bathroom has a plunger visible.

Assemble Ahead of Time
apple pie
Consider cooking some recipes the day before Thanksgiving.  According to Food Network, soups, cranberry sauce, and pie crust can all be made up to a week before the holiday.  Sweet potatoes, Brussel sprouts and pie can be made the day before Thanksgiving.  This will free up your stove for other items and eliminate some of the pressure that holidays tend to bring.

Give Thanks
It is easy to become overwhelmed around the holidays, especially if you are hosting an event.  Remember that Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks. If you start feeling drained during your preparations, take a minute to stop and appreciate all the loved ones who are in your life and home.

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Reinhart Has Record – Best Month Ever

April was the best month in Reinhart’s history for newly signed sales agreements! This is a reflection of rising consumer confidence, improving economic indicators, favorably low mortgage interest rates and growing inventory of homes for sale.

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If you’ve been thinking about listing or buying, the market is strong and now is a very good time.

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For sound advice and help creating your real estate plan, call a Reinhart Realtor today. 

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