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

Moving? Choose a Safe Self-Storage Facility

February 20, 2015 2:00 am

The Self Storage Association (SSA) notes that 1 out of every 10 households in the United States currently rents some kind of storage unit, including portable on-demand storage (PODS). That represents a significant increase from 1 in 17 U.S. households in 1995.

If you’re considering renting storage space when moving, look for a safe facility that meets these guidelines:

The facility is clean and well-maintained. If a storage facility is not routinely and thoroughly cleaned, there is a good possibility no one is monitoring for pest infestations. Verify that the facility has a permanent, reliable extermination contract in place before you trust them with your belongings.

The facility is secure. Ensure the facility has minimum security measures, like fencing that secures the entire property and access control. Ideally, the storage building should also have onsite features like 24-hour video surveillance cameras and coded security pads. Find out about the facility’s procedures in cases of fire or flooding.

The units are climate-controlled.
Very high or low temperatures, as well as dampness, can quickly cause damage to appliances and furniture. Make sure that rising groundwater from snow or rain is unable to penetrate the unit.

The facility offers insurance. If your renters or homeowners insurance does not provide off-premises coverage, you may want to opt for one of the company’s coverage options. Keep in mind that any facility should have its own insurance to cover damages to the property or injuries that occur on the premises.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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E-Cycle Your Household Gadgets

February 19, 2015 2:00 am

With advancing technology, sleeker, shinier and faster cell phones, computers, tablets, mp3 players and televisions are finding their way into the hands of American consumers. But what about the old ones that are still perfectly functional? Think e-Cycle, says the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Rather than making products from scratch, recycling electronics keeps harmful toxins out of landfills, recovers valuable materials that can be reused, conserves virgin resources and results in lower emissions, including greenhouse gases which contributes to climate change.

Smartphones make up a large portion of the waste stream. For every one million smart phones recycled, 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered and reused.

The good news is many retailers and manufacturers now take back old electronics for recycling by certified electronics recyclers. By using certified recyclers, you can rest assured that your old electronics will be recycled responsibly. To find such locations near you, go to http://search.earth911.com/ and enter your zip code.

In addition, many states, cities and counties sponsor collection events for electronics during the year, or they may offer a permanent drop-off location with certain hours of operation.

Source: EPA.gov

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Hiring a Tree Care Professional

February 19, 2015 2:00 am

To care for trees on your property, doing your homework is imperative to ensuring quality, safe work, avoiding scams and saving money, according to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA).

“With hundreds and possibly thousands of dollars at stake, not to mention the integrity and appearance of your property and your personal safety, make sure that you take the time in deciding which company you should hire,” cautions Peter Gerstenberger, TCIA. “Disreputable companies are renowned for ripping gutters off, breaking fences and bird baths and even dropping trees on houses. Then they typically fold up and leave, never to be seen again.”

Before beginning your search for a tree care professional, understand that the credentials for someone who uses the title “arborist” can vary widely. An arborist is a professional who cares for trees and other woody plants by pruning, fertilizing, monitoring for insects and diseases, consulting on tree-related issues and occasionally planting, transplanting and removing trees.

Homeowners searching for qualified tree care companies should look for:
  • Proof of Insurance – Ask for current certificates of liability and workers’ compensation insurance, if applicable. If the tree company you hire doesn’t have insurance or is not a legal company, you, the homeowner, could be held responsible as a contractor.
  • Good References – Ask for local references, and check the quality of their work and level of service. Don’t feel rushed by a bargain and never pay in advance.
  • Solid Reputation – Verify professional affiliations the company might have, such as memberships in business organizations.
  • Comparisons – Get a second opinion and quote. Always get estimates in writing.
  • Up-to-Date Knowledge – Ask if they follow ANSI standards. A professional arborist will be aware of the current safety, pruning, fertilizing and cabling standards.
  • Contract – Insist on a signed contract as to cost, dates, when work is to be performed and exactly what is to be done.
There are also inherent dangers for one attempting tree care or removal – pruning limbs, felling trees and especially climbing into trees are hazardous activities even for trained professionals. For safe and efficient work, hire a tree care professional with experience, expertise and equipment to safely take down or prune damaged trees.

Source: TCIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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First-Time Homeowner, Meet Your HVAC System

February 19, 2015 2:00 am

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of buying your first home, but being a first-time homebuyer comes some unfamiliar territory. As a new homeowner, it’s important to understand the functionalities of your HVAC system to help you better determine when something is not working as it should be.

“The HVAC system is the largest source of energy within a home, so it’s important to keep the units properly cleaned and maintained in order to avoid increased costs and energy usage,” says Bill Benito, NADCA. “A dirty air conveyance system will restrict air flow at the coil and the blower, and also within the duct system. In many cases, a good cleaning of the cooling coil and the system components will increase air flow and make for a more efficient HVAC system. As a result, you’ll likely see significant savings on your energy bill.”

Did you know?

On average, 40 pounds of dust is generated each year in 1,500 square foot homes.
The amount of dust that gathers in a home depends on several different components, including the HVAC system design, the location of the system (attic, basement, or crawlspace), along with the family habits. Are pets living in the home? Are smokers? Children? All of these factors can contribute to the amount of dust and dirt that is generated within a home.

Approximately 4,200 dust mites can live within just one ounce of dust.
Indoor air is actually not always cleaner than outdoor air. Contaminants inside of the home (like dirt, dust and animal dander) can be circulated during cleaning when ineffective or substandard cleaning devices are used. If the dust is not contained during routine vacuuming, it can be distributed around the living space, where it will eventually just resettle.

Having your HVAC system professionally cleaned in springtime typically costs less than at any other time of year.

Although spring months are spent preparing for cooling season, many homeowners wait until the summer to have their systems cleaned. As a result, there are very long waiting lists for scheduling appointments. In addition, many companies will provide discounts during the spring to encourage homeowners to schedule their maintenance and cleaning before the units are needed for air conditioning during the summer.

NADCA defines a complete and proper cleaning to include the inside of the air ducts from where the air enters the return duct, through the air handler (blowers, coil and heat exchange), to the exit, where the air is released to condition the home.

Source: NADCA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Two-Thirds of Sports Fans Showcase Memorabilia at Home

February 18, 2015 2:00 am

It’s no surprise that sports enthusiasts have a desire to show off their team pride, but a recent Gladiator® GarageWorks survey reveals that two-thirds of sports fans use their homes to display memorabilia. That’s a lot of team spirit!

The survey found that male sports fans spend more on fandom than women, spending on average $768 per year on tickets, apparel or memorabilia. Women spend $486 on average.

Other interesting stats from the survey include:
  • Sixty-nine percent of sports fans surveyed say they have at least one game day tradition.
  • Fifty-three percent of those surveyed said they were “big fans” of professional football, followed by 32 percent for college football and 23 percent for baseball.
  • Twenty-six percent of sports fans surveyed display sports memorabilia in the living room; 10 percent display it in the garage; and eight percent display it in the yard.
Source: Gladiator® GarageWorks

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Pros and Cons of Building on Lots vs. Land

February 18, 2015 2:00 am

If you’re in the market for new construction, one of the first items you’ll need to address is where your home will be built: on a developed lot or undeveloped land. Let’s review the pros and cons of each.

Lots, or developed land parcels typically partitioned by builders, have unique advantages. They are often priced to sell and owners can expect a significant price appreciation in the future. Thanks to the builder, homes on lots are generally connected to water and sewage systems, have electric, phone and cable lines wired and have paved road access. A qualified builder will also disclose information such as drainage and soil issues, making it easier for the buyer to weigh their options.

Owning on a lot has its cons. For the sake of mass production, builders create cookie cutter floor plans. Every upgrade, whether it’s marble in the bathroom or cherry cabinets, will cost more. Homes in developments are typically spaced close together, limiting outdoor space for some and creating concerns for those who seek more privacy. Homeowners in developments are also subject to HOA fees, which can take a toll on household budgets. But HOA fees do come with their fair share of benefits: trash pick-up or lawn care, for instance.

Building on an undeveloped plot of land gives you the freedom to choose your location. Those interested in building on land will face more expenses, but have the ability to customize the home to their needs and wants. The homeowner may also enjoy a more eco-friendly lifestyle, especially if the home is in a rural area with cleaner air.

Aside from higher costs, the disadvantages to building on land include the potential for zoning changes to affect construction or ownership down the road. Homeowners may also need to install a septic, dig a well or run electric, phone and cable lines. The land itself may also present some challenges, such as buried oil tanks.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Give Your Landscaping a No-Maintenance Makeover

February 18, 2015 2:00 am

(BPT) – According to the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), low-maintenance landscaping outranks native plantings, water features and food/vegetable gardens among homeowners. Armed with know-how and using sweat equity, do-it-yourselfers can employ tips that professionals use for a no-maintenance landscape makeover.

Landscape professionals use retaining wall systems for a variety of landscaping solutions. Segmental retaining walls are commonly used to transition elevations, shore up slopes along foundations and define spaces such as planters, tree rings and other features.

Retaining wall systems combined with concrete pavers can be used to create raised patios in place of high-maintenance wooden decks. Retaining wall units and interlocking concrete pavers come in a variety of colors, shapes and textures to complement any landscape design and are often used to create design continuity in outdoor spaces. Tree rings can be coordinated or color-contrasted with raised patios, retaining walls and other hardscapes.

Permeable pavers
are an environmentally sound and low-maintenance solution where impervious surface limits, storm water management, water quality and water conservation are issues.

Low-maintenance landscaping practices can make it easier to control weeds and manage lawn care. The use of rock mulch and natural rock in gardens and beds or as walkways and stepping stones offers an attractive solution to weed control and also lessens the need for irrigation. At least three inches of rock mulch or four inches of natural mulch will prevent weeds. A landscape fabric under stepping stones and rock mulch offers even more protection against weeds.

Selecting maintenance-free outdoor furniture and accessories is another way to make over an outdoor space. Outdoor furniture made of recycled materials requires no storage or maintenance other than cleanup with soap and water.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Word of the Day

February 18, 2015 2:00 am

Installment payment. Periodic payment, usually monthly, of interest and principal on a mortgage or other loan.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Six Ways to Start Fresh in an Old Home

February 17, 2015 2:00 am

Buying an older home can net you lots of charm and character, often at a more affordable price than you’d pay for a newer model. But, say home improvement gurus, a few strategic renovations can go a long way toward making it more comfortable and efficient.

Renovation expert Bob Vila, host of TV’s popular “This Old House,” suggests the top six projects new owners may want to plan for when they move into an older home:

New front door – Replacing a decades-old front door will do more than improve your home’s curb appeal. A high quality new door will enhance energy efficiency and provide more dependable security.

New windows – Old windows are drafty and hard to operate. Replacement windows that meet Energy Star® guidelines are not only beautiful and easy to open but will save you hundreds of dollars a year on heating and cooling bills.

Updated electrical system – Modern life involves a lot of gadgets. If you are experience tripped circuits, buzzing noises, or dimming lights when you turn something on, a licensed electrician can update your system to make it safer and more compatible with today’s electronics.

More open floor plan – Older homes were built with smaller, boxed-in rooms that were fairly easy to heat. If you long for a more open floor plan, a licensed contractor can remove barriers and design a brighter, airier, more inviting arrangement of space.

Floors worth a second look – Owners of older homes often find the happy surprise of hardwood flooring under worn linoleum and carpets. If that’s the case, think about refinishing. In any case, check it out before installing new tile or carpeting.

Cook’s kitchen – An older kitchen can be a cheerful and homey gathering place. But if you’re not happy with the old cabinetry and countertops, replacements for both are a great investment – not just for you, but as a draw for new owners when and if you decide to sell the house.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Surprising New Uses for Everyday Items

February 17, 2015 2:00 am

Ever think of using your hairdryer to dust behind the sofa? Enterprising Woman’s Day Magazine readers shared surprising new uses for everyday items found in nearly every home:
  • Dust hard-to-reach places with a hairdryer – Aside from clearing out dust behind the sofa, set the hairdryer on cool and point it at high shelves or intricate knickknacks to blow off the dust with little effort.
  • Clean the toilet with Alka Seltzer – The fizzy action works like a charm. Drop in a couple of tablets, let sit for 10 minutes, then swish with a bowl brush and flush.
  • Use dryer sheets to freshen stinky shoes – Smelly running shoes or gym bag? Stuff them with dryer sheets overnight to absorb odor and make them sociable again.
  • Use wine bottles to hold boots upright – Floppy boots messing up your closet space? Used and cleaned wine bottles are just the right size to hold boots upright for storage.
  • Shine copper and brass with lemon and salt – Spiff up those copper or brass serving pieces or candlesticks with wedges of lemon dipped in table salt.
  • Use toothpaste to shine silver and more – Non-gel toothpaste will remove tarnish and polish silver. It can also remove a water stain from wooden furniture. Just dab on, allow to dry, and wipe away.
  • Shave your legs with olive oil – Out of shaving cream? Coating your legs with olive oil will give you a smooth shave with no razor burn – and it’s moisturizing, too!
  • Use plastic ice cube trays to sort small items – They make a great way to keep earrings in pairs or store any jewelry as well as organize paper clips, rubber bands or other office supplies.
  • Old plastic bags can aid package wrapping – Re-use old plastic bags as free alternatives to pricey bubble wrap. Stuff them into boxes you are mailing to keep the items inside from rattling around.
  • Use isopropyl alcohol to disinfect surfaces – The medicine cabinet staple will clean off the grime and disinfect communal surfaces around your home or office, like phone receivers, door handles, switch plates and even computer keyboards.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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