Consumer Real Estate News

    • Lightning Protection Systems: How Do They Work?

      21 May 2018

      Maybe it's a near impossibility for lightning to strike the same place twice, but most hope lightning never even strikes their home even once.

      According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), between 2007-2011, U.S. local fire departments responded to an estimated average of 22,600 fires per year that were started by lightning.

      These fires caused an average of nine civilian deaths, 53 civilian injuries, and $451 million in direct property damage per year.

      Most of these fires occurred outdoors, but most associated deaths, injuries, and property damage were associated with home fires.

      The NFPA says lightning-related fires are more common in June through August and in the late afternoon and evening; however, peak seasons for lightning-related fires vary by region, as do weather patterns in general.   

      So how does a lightning protection system actually work? says lightning protection was first invented by Ben Franklin in 1752. Today's lightning diversion system consists of a lightning rod combined with cable and ground rod, which provides a very good conductor with very low electrical resistance between the lightning rod atop the protected object, like your home or outbuilding, and the earth.

      InspectAPedia explains that if a lightning strike begins to form between the protected object and the cloud, the lightning protection system conducts that electrical energy safely to Earth. Otherwise, that same energy would pass through the protected object itself, almost certainly causing more serious damage, or perhaps a fire, as well.

      The website says the budget for a residential lightning protection system can be as little as a few hundred dollars for an average two-story house. This includes a lightning rod atop the roof with an insulated cable running to the ground.

      However, this kind of system offers minimal protection and may fail, depending on the intensity of the strike. A single lightning strike can hold as much energy as 150,000 amps, the site states.

      A more complex and secure system, with several lightning rods strategically placed around the roof and several ground electrodes, may cost $2,000-$3,000 for an average two-story house. The price dips a bit for a one-story house, and rises slightly higher for a three-story house. This is primarily due to the materials cost for the metal-conducting wire.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Spruce Up Your Outdoor Spaces

      21 May 2018

      (Family Features)—Over time, the appearance and function of any outdoor space can dull due to combinations of heat, precipitation and use. With some careful attention, you can quickly spruce up your outdoor living areas and get them back in great working order for patio season.

      Take care of textiles. Outdoor textiles often take a beating from the elements. Freshen up often-overlooked things like outdoor rugs, lawn furniture cushions, pillows and umbrellas. A thorough vacuuming may be adequate to remove leaves, bugs or dirt; however, if stubborn spots persist and a deeper cleaning is needed, review the manufacturer's guidelines. Washing covered furniture from time to time helps ensure it's ready for use no matter the season.

      Declare dust-off limits. Dingy light fixtures and fans lend an air of disrepair in any space. Outdoors, they'll undoubtedly collect dust and dirt quickly, but a deep clean can help make them easier to maintain. Dust and scrub as needed, and if necessary, grab a scrub brush and some soapy water to brighten up other items like decorative pieces and flower pots.

      Freshen up finishes. From furniture to hard surfaces, the finishes can take a beating. Take time to bring these items back to their former glory by rinsing, scrubbing and brushing dirt away from your wrought iron, metal, aluminum or wicker furniture. If needed, apply a fresh coat of sealant or add a rust-preventive layer of new paint. The same applies for other surfaces with finishes that may be chipped and dull.

      Blast away grime. A careful sweeping with a sturdy broom is a good starting point, but to get your outdoor space truly clean you may need a little more power. When used at the appropriate settings, a pressure washer can clean a wide range of surfaces from patios, decks and sidewalks to siding, windows, screens and tables.


      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Tips for Safer Youth Sports

      18 May 2018

      Sports safety is always important, but when it comes to youth sports, keeping your kid protected on the field is a top priority. The Taylor Haugen Foundation cites these five tips for building the safest youth sports program possible, in schools and throughout other organizations serving school-age kids:

      Post dedicated medical personnel on the sideline. For timely response to on-the-field injuries, it's vital that some sort of emergency medical service (EMS) (e.g., a licensed athletic trainer, paramedic, team doctor, or some other emergency unit) is actually along the sideline for every game (including warm-ups) in every sport.

      Establish proper sideline protocols for injuries. Develop an action plan for game-time response to potential injuries, from minor sprains and cuts to major blunt-force impact that could result in significant trauma, such as a concussion or fracture or abdominal injury. (In secondary schools, serious sports-related abdominal injuries, such as those to the ribs, spleen and liver, are on the rise at an alarming rate.)  Coordinate the plan with the attending EMS.

      Outfit your athlete with the proper protective equipment. Start by researching "sports protective equipment" or "sports safety gear" online. Also, determine which protective equipment is mandatory and what's optional for each sport, and understand how some non-mandatory products can help make a difference. For instance, there is a protective rib shirt on the market that can help protect against commotio cordis, an often-lethal disruption of heart rhythm that can occur from a blow to the area directly over the heart.

      Partner with other parents. Talk openly and often—at parents' meetings, booster club gatherings and other events—to address the important questions about sports safety and proper protocols. Together, parents can raise questions with the coaches to ensure safety precautions are both in place and being taken seriously. Presenting a united front to coaches, principals, school boards, etc., can help parents demonstrate they mean business when it comes to advocating better safety protocols and equipment, including optional gear.

      Talk to your kids about sports safety. Make sure they understand how to be as prepared and protected as possible for competition. Check for proper equipment fit and see that all the vulnerable bodily areas are adequately covered. In addition, some of the more recent regulations about contact in football have made the torso the logical target for hits, so make sure your athletes know how to tackle—and be tackled—without causing harm.

      Source: Taylor Haugen Foundation

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Ways to Step Up Date Night Without Breaking the Bank

      18 May 2018

      (Family Features)—Most relationship experts agree that making time for date night is important, whether it's the early days of a blossoming romance or decades into a comfortable marriage. Spending that valuable time together doesn't have to be expensive, as long as you take the time to make it special.

      Plan your next date with these ideas for low-cost experiences with the one you love:

      Share time outdoors. Except in the most extreme conditions, there's always something to do outside, and most of those activities are either free or relatively inexpensive. Whether it's taking a stroll hand-in-hand or planning a picnic at a scenic location, the exercise and fresh air can be good for your body and mind, for both you and your beloved.

      Dine on a dime. Although the days of a nickel burger are long gone, there are ways to curb your spending when you eat out. For example, many restaurants offer menus with smaller portions, as well as promotional nights with discounts geared toward certain audiences. Some restaurants even offer daily discounts—as high as 10 percent off your total bill—for AARP members. If you are not a member, it's simple to sign up online.

      Master the movie schedule. Prime time at the theater can be pricey, but if your calendar is flexible, you can catch a show earlier in the day for a steep discount. Some theaters also offer special discounts for ordering tickets online. An added bonus? Taking in an early movie with a snack may help save money on dinner later.

      Enjoy special engagements. Whether it's a local sporting event or a musical performance by a group visiting your town, sharing a pastime that you're passionate about is a good way to share a piece of your life and interests to help establish a deeper connection with a loved one.

      Source: AARP

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Simple Tips to Keep Your A/C Chillin' All Summer Long

      18 May 2018

      Once the summer heat is upon us, there is no cool time for an air conditioner to quit. Here are few tips to keep your central and window air conditioners in tip-top shape.

      For central A/C systems, Don Vandervort, blogger for HomeTips, advises scooping leaves and debris out of the base of the condenser, and, if it has a drain, make sure the drain is clear. He says to use the vacuum and a rag to clean the blower's fan blades. Then, tighten any loose mounting bolts, and, if the fan motor has oil ports, put a few drops of lightweight oil or spray WD-40 into the ports for lubrication. Mop up any excess water inside the unit, and then reassemble the condenser.

      When it comes to window units, Ashley Eneriz at The Hartford, an insurance company, says investing 20 minutes at the beginning of the summer will help keep your air conditioners running efficiently.

      First, she says, unplug your unit and clean the filter. The filter is located right behind the front grill that blows air into your room.

      If it's a paper filter, replace it, and if your window unit has a mesh filter, clean it with warm, soapy water and let it dry thoroughly. If you notice any mold on the filter or grill, wash it in a solution of bleach and water.

      Then, clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil with a soft vacuum brush. The evaporator coil is behind the filter and the condenser coil is behind the compressor.

      Finally, Eneriz says wipe down the outside of the unit and check the window seal for cracks or wear. If there is a gap, add adhesive-backed foam weather stripping inside the gap to ensure a proper seal.

      Depending on how often you use your window A/C during the summer, Eneriz says you should clean the unit once or twice more before autumn.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.