Donna Maicher
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RE/MAX 440   Donna Maicher
101 Quakertown Ave.  Pennsburg, PA  18073
Office Phone: 215-679-9797    Phone: 215-679-9797  Fax: 267-354-6869  Cell: 267-249-6850
donnamaicher@comcast.net

My Blog

Ask the Plumber: How to Conduct a DIY Leak Test

January 11, 2016 1:04 am

Did you know more than one trillion gallons of water leak from homes across America each year?*

“People are often shocked at the volumes of water wasted through household leaks,” says Paul Abrams, ROTOGreen expert with Roto-Rooter. “A dripping faucet is easy to ignore and fix whenever you get around to it, but numerous small leaks can add up and have a very noticeable impact on the water usage and water bill.”

The average household can save up to 10,000 gallons of water each year simply by fixing leaks—one of the biggest culprits of which is toilets, which can leak up to 200 gallons per day. To detect for leaks in the toilet(s) in your home, Abrams recommends the following DIY tricks:

• Put a few drops of food coloring in the tank and wait 15 minutes. If colored water appears in the bowl, you have a leak. Repairing this type of leak is best left to a professional plumber.

• Sprinkle a pinch of flour or talcum powder on top of the water in your toilet tank. Watch it carefully. If it drifts toward the tank’s overflow tube, then you have an overflow leak. Overflow leaks can easily be repaired by replacing the float valve.

*U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Source: Roto-Rooter

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Poll: What Motivates a Move?

January 11, 2016 1:04 am

People move for all kinds of reasons—but as a recent Harris Poll® revealed, their decision-making is primarily driven by region. Just over half of respondents to the poll, and mostly millennials, said they’d consider moving to another state to live in an area with a better climate or better weather.

Not surprisingly, climate consideration appears to be a greater motivating factor for prospective movers in regions prone to less-than-pleasant weather. According to poll results, 64 percent of Easterners and 61 percent of Midwesterners would consider moving to an area with better weather; just 48 percent of Southerners and 39 percent of Westerners would do the same.

The poll also shed light on other common moving motivators. Over 40 percent of respondents would consider moving for a job opportunity, more than one-third would factor in proximity to family, and exactly one-quarter would consider a move for health reasons.

Less common, yet still significant reasons emerged in the poll’s findings, as well. For example:

• Eighteen (18) percent of respondents would consider a move to be closer to friends.
• Sixteen (16) percent of respondents would consider a move to be closer to a significant other.
• Fourteen (14) percent of respondents would consider a move for an educational opportunity.
• Thirteen (13) percent of respondents would consider a move to a location in which their lifestyle is more accepted.
• Eleven (11) percent of respondents would consider a move to a location in which their political views are more accepted, or to a location in which recreational marijuana is legal.
• Seven (7) percent of respondents would consider a move to a location in which their religious views are more accepted.

Source: The Harris Poll®

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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An Expert's Guide to Closet Organization

January 8, 2016 12:58 am

(Family Features)—How many times have you put off organizing your closets? The issue doesn’t lie with your habits—often, it’s a lack of storage solutions that makes organizing intimidating, says professional organizer Barbara Reich. To quit procrastinating once and for all, it’s best to install functional storage systems—set-it-and-forget-it tools that help you keep your closets in order without constant upkeep, says Reich.

Start by determining your overall goal. Are you simply organizing what you have, or do you need to purge unused items? Don’t be afraid to get rid of things you don't need or won't wear, Reich says. Remember that items in good condition can be donated to those in need. 

Once you've determined just how much you'll have to organize, consider what systems will best fit your space and needs. Reich recommends do-it-yourself closet organizers, which are affordable, easy to install and adjustable. Accessories such as drawers, fabric bins and shoe shelves can also help personalize the space.

After your new system has been put in place, hang as much as possible—this makes it easier to see what you have, says Reich. Group and place like garments together, and position clothing you wear most often in a place that is most accessible.

Remember to stay consistent, Reich adds. Have a plan in mind when you purchase new items. A good rule of thumb is the 1:1 ratio: for every one item you purchase, remove one item from your closet.

Source: ClosetMaid

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Tips for Safe Christmas Tree Removal

January 8, 2016 12:58 am

O Christmas tree, how low are your branches?

Like many homeowners, you’re probably wondering when to take down your Christmas tree. Did you know that the longer the tree remains in the home, the greater the fire risk becomes?

“Christmas trees are very flammable,” says National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy Lorraine Carli. “Trees dry out the longer they remain in the home, and can be consumed by fire in a matter of seconds.”

NFPA statistics show nearly 40 percent of Christmas tree fires occur in January—and though they are not common, they are much more likely to be serious when they do occur.

When removing your Christmas tree, the NFPA recommends the following safety tips:

• Use the gripping area on the plug when unplugging electrical decorations. Never pull the cord to unplug any device from an electrical outlet, as this can harm the wire and insulation of the cord, increasing the risk for shock or electrical fire.

• As you pack up light strings, inspect each line for damage, throwing out any sets that have loose connections, broken sockets or cracked or bare wires.

• Wrap each set of lights and put them in individual plastic bags, or wrap them around a piece of cardboard.

• Store electrical decorations in a dry place away from children and pets where they will not be damaged by water or dampness.

• Use your local community recycling program, if available, for tree disposal. Trees should not be put in the garage or left outside.

Source: NFPA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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New Year, Lower Mortgage Rates

January 8, 2016 12:58 am

The 30-year fixed mortgage rate lowered to 4.11 percent at the start of the New Year, making the monthly payment for a $200,000 loan $967.56, according to Bankrate.com’s weekly national survey. This downward trend was also reflected in the 15-year fixed mortgage rate, which lowered to 3.38 percent.

The decrease can partly be attributed to the movement of global stock prices, which fell following disappointing news regarding China’s economy. Mortgage rates are closely related to yields on long-term government bonds.

Per Bankrate.com’s survey, the larger jumbo 30-year fixed mortgage rate also inched down, remaining below the smaller conforming 30-year fixed mortgage rate at 4.08 percent. Adjustable mortgage rates retreated, as well, with the 5-year, 7-year and 10-year adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) pulling back to 3.46 percent, 3.73 percent and 3.89 percent, respectively.

The 30-year fixed mortgage has an average of 0.25 discount and origination points. The 15-year fixed mortgage has an average 0.16 discount and origination points.

Source: Bankrate.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The 3 Best Practices to Shield Your Identity

January 7, 2016 12:58 am

The average American spends upwards of 10 hours each day connected to digital media. The problem with all that screen time? Many users neglect to safeguard their digital presence, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA).

"We live in a global, always-connected digital age, and everyone needs to adopt good habits to lead a safer, more secure online life," says NCSA Executive Director Michael Kaiser. "As we think about how to better protect our virtual lives, we've identified three reliable practices that will empower Internet users to reap the benefits of connectivity with greater confidence.”

These three practices are:

1. Turning on Two-Step Authentication

To thwart cybercriminals, anyone who is active online should make a commitment to get two steps ahead and turn on two-step authentication—also known as two-step verification or multi-factor authentication—to make their accounts more secure. Activating this technology adds an additional layer of protection beyond a password to better protect the safety of your online identity and sensitive personal data.

Many of the Internet's most popular email services, social networks and financial institutions offer this key security step free of charge, but you must opt in to turn it on. Visit stopthinkconnect.org/2stepsahead to view a list of the websites that offer two-step authentication.

2. Limiting Exposure to Public WiFi

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and the same goes for free WiFi. Free public WiFi is often a playground for lurking cybercriminals waiting to obtain your personal data once you connect to an open network. Public wireless networks, including hotspots, are not secure, which means that anyone could potentially see what you are doing if you use them on your connected device.

To limit what you do on public WiFi, avoid logging in to key accounts like email and financial services. Consider using a virtual private network (VPN) or a personal or mobile hotspot for a more secure connection.

3. Assigning Digital Chores

Almost 70 percent of American households have between one and five devices at home connected to the Internet. With this increased connectivity, there is a need for maintenance where everyone in the household has a role to play. Just as families have daily tasks, like making the bed, or weekly chores, like mowing the lawn, all households should take responsibility to keep their connected families safe by incorporating ongoing digital maintenance into their household routines. This can include updating software and backing up documents to keeping up with latest ways to stay safe online.

Source: NCSA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Want to Lower Energy Bills for Good? Small Improvements Equal Big Returns

January 7, 2016 12:58 am

There are several ways to improve the energy-efficiency of your home—and many are too costly for the average homeowner to finance. The truth is, you don’t have to spend a fortune to reap the benefits of increased energy-efficiency. In fact, you can save up to 30 percent on energy bills every month with a simple, DIY home energy audit, plus the following inexpensive fixes:

1. Take advantage of the automatic setting on your air conditioner. This turns your AC and heater automatically on or off to save energy.

2. Pay attention to rooms that you are not using. Close those air vents in order to avoid needlessly cooling or heating unused spaces.

3. Look for openings around window and door frames where air can enter or escape the home. Block them with weather strips or draft guards.

4. Non-insulated attics are a major source of energy loss, as they do not effectively protect your home's interior from outside temperatures. Make sure to insulate your attic properly and ask for help from a certified contractor if you are not sure how to do it yourself.

5. Replace incandescent light bulbs with LED or CFL models that last much longer and save significant amounts of energy and money in the long run.

Source: Homeselfe

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Mover Magnet: The Top Inbound States of 2015

January 7, 2016 12:58 am

Migration patterns inform inbound and outbound trends across the country, revealing which states see an influx of new residents and which states see departures. In 2015, one state stood above the rest when it comes to inbound migration, according to a recent report by Allied Van Lines: Texas.

The Lone Star State is no stranger to inbound moves—in fact, Texas has topped Allied’s list for 11 consecutive years. In 2015, the state saw a net relocation gain of 2,558 families.

"Texas continues to be a strong attractive state," says Lesli Bertoli, general manager and vice president of Allied Van Lines.  "Corporate moves continue to influence these results, with corporate relocations strongly favoring moves to Texas in 2015."

Second to Texas in terms of inbound moves was Florida, which saw a net relocation gain of 1,611 families in 2015. Following Florida was Arizona, Oregon and South Carolina, in that order.

Outbound moves, on the other hand, were most prevalent in Virginia, with 1,343 moves out of state in 2015. Second for outbound moves was Illinois, followed by Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey, in that order.

The Allied report also tracked the most mobile states, or states that see both significant inbound and outbound rates. The most mobile state in 2015 was California, with more than 12,000 moves in all. Behind California in 2015 was Ohio and Louisiana.

Source: Allied Van Lines

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Do-It-Now Steps for Healthy Finances in 2016

January 6, 2016 12:58 am

(BPT)—The New Year is an ideal time to evaluate your financial situation. To start the year off strong, take these simple, do-it-now steps:

1. Reassess Your Budget – If you don't have a budget, make one. A budget is an essential tool for planning how you will spend, save, invest and enjoy your money. It should be a guideline to how your money will work for you, and not written in stone. Life changes, and outside influences mean you need to periodically examine and update your budget. Start by jotting down your financial goals for the year, then review your budget to see if it's going to help you achieve those goals, or if you need to make adjustments.

2. Pay Off Holiday Bills ASAP – Every month you carry a balance on a credit card, interest rates increase the actual out-of-pocket cost of those holiday gifts you purchased. If possible, pay balances in full right away during the month of January. If that's not possible, create a payment plan for yourself with the goal of paying off the total balance in as high an increment as you can afford, so you minimize the time you're carrying a balance.

3. Maximize "Found" Money – Did you know more than a third of gift card recipients in the last year have not used their cards? If you have a gift cards you don’t plan on using, bring them to a Coinstar Exchange kiosk at your local grocery store and exchange them for instant cash. Put the extra money toward paying off holiday bills or boosting your emergency fund.

4. Review All Your Credit Accounts – Even the most careful shopper can fall prey to crooks, who are particularly active and crafty during the holidays. Look over your credit card statements to ensure you authorized all the charges that appear on them. For an extra layer of safety, check your credit report; it can help you detect signs of identity theft or other fraud.

5. Increase Your Savings – By now, you've reviewed your budget and cashed in your unused gift cards, so you've got some extra money in your pocket. Instead of spending it, use that money to increase your savings. It's especially important to have an emergency fund equivalent to a few months of living expenses. Those savings can help protect your financial health against unforeseen circumstances like a big auto expense or home repair bill, or even a job loss.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Best Mini-Remodel for Winter

January 6, 2016 12:58 am

Home improvements often kick into high gear during summer. But did you know winter can be a good time to make upgrades, too?

"January is actually the best time to buy carpeting and flooring," says Brendan Phillips, president of SMART Carpet and Flooring. "The busy remodeling times are typically during tax refund season and again in the warm summer months, which makes the winter a slower season for most flooring manufacturers. That means better pricing during January, which is traditionally a slower season for remodeling in general."

According to Phillips, the bedroom is a good choice for a winter mini-remodeling project. A brand new carpet, wood, vinyl plank or vinyl tile floor will not only freshen the look of the space, but improve air quality at a time when homes typically have less fresh air flow.

Not sure which type of flooring is right for your home? Phillips recommends carpeting for bedrooms, because they dampen sound and lend warmth.

Source: SMART Carpet and Flooring

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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