Consumer Real Estate News


    • How to Know If Mold Has Made Its Way Into Your Home

      16 November 2018

      If you’ve been a victim of recent flooding or have a leakage problem in your home, you could be susceptible to mold. Here are some ways to tell if mold has infiltrated your home:

      A musty smell. If mold is hidden away in your house somewhere, a moldy smell might be your only clue. Don’t ignore the odor just because you can’t see the mold, as the problem may get worse.

      A patch of ‘dirt.’ You might mistake mold for soot or grime, so carefully inspect the ‘dirt.’ Even a small patch of mold should be handled right away before it spreads; or it could be a sign of a larger, hidden area of mold somewhere else.

      An odd discoloration. You might overlook a discolored area as something harmless when it's actually mold. Some mold can appear white and thread-like; other variations can be gray-brown or gray-green. Mold that grows behind wallpaper made of vinyl can even be orange, pink or purple.

      Chronic water issues. If you have recurring leakage problems in your home, there’s a good chance you have mold. So if you have water stains on walls, floors or ceilings, or bubbling, peeling or cracking paint, be sure to check for mold.

      Use a mold test kit to accurately check for mold or call in a professional if you’re unsure. Mold can cause a range of health issues from mild to serious, so be sure to treat it expediently.

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Texas Travel: Go Exploring for These Hidden Travel Gems

      16 November 2018

      (Family Features)--Discovering a region's secret treasures is one of the greatest rewards of travel. When you embrace an adventurer's spirit, there's no telling just where you'll go. From an uncharted journey back in time to new ways to appreciate unconventional art, a vacation that celebrates the unexpected is an ideal way to uncover hidden travel gems.

      Though it can be tempting to schedule every moment of your trip, a better way to capture the most exceptional travel experiences is to leave ample time for exploration and see what delightful sights you can happen upon by chance. A destination like the Texas Panhandle Plains offers a wealth of opportunities for excitement and adventure.

      Great grapes: A growing movement of casual wine enthusiasts has wineries popping up all over the country. Regional variances in climate and soil make for some tasty twists on your favorite varieties, so take time to explore and sample the local wine scene. World-class quality wine can be found from coast to coast, and a winery is the perfect place to relax and unwind while taking in the ambiance of a vacation destination.

      History lesson: In a place like the Texas Panhandle Plains, history is as much a part of the landscape as the canyons and plains. Frontiersmen and settlers encountered the Comanche nation, which led to the rise of the Frontier Forts throughout the region. Later the area became home to a great part of the American ranching industry. For example, Frontier Texas!, the Texas Forts Trail, Fort Concho, The Texas Plains Trail and the National Ranching Heritage Center are a few places where history comes to life.

      Off the beaten path: You may be surprised by what you can find when you venture away from more populated areas. In state parks, you can take adventure into your own hands and get up close and personal with a destination's rugged natural beauty. The scenic outdoors are the perfect backdrop for you to marvel at the native wildlife, hike, ride horses or bikes, camp, geocache or take a scenic drive. Similarly, local parks or lakes might also offer opportunities for boating, fishing and swimming.

      Local legends: Visiting a city with ties to an internationally acclaimed celebrity is almost like entering the screen of a self-directed documentary. You can see where he or she lived and ate, and travel the same roads, marveling at the lifestyle and environment that shaped a bigger-than-life persona. In Lubbock, visitors can do all that and more at the Buddy Holly Center, which pays tribute to the uniquely interesting life of the iconic music legend.  

      Artistic license: Art can be enjoyed in many places far removed from a traditional gallery or museum. You can even find artistic displays in an empty field, including one located on Route 66 west of Amarillo: Cadillac Ranch was created in the 70s by a group of California hippies. Originally a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin, today the 10 vehicles protruding from the earth are scarcely recognizable as automobiles. The iconic attraction is ever-changing, as visitors add their own interpretations to this piece of public art.

      Source: Texas Tourism Board

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 5 Swimming Pool Maintenance Errors--and Solutions

      15 November 2018

      Pool owners understand how delicate swimming pool maintenance can be, and even the most seasoned pool owners can have a misconception regarding pool maintenance. To help, LOOP-LOC has compiled 5 common swimming pool plunders many pool owners make, below, along with how to avoid and fix them.

      Letting a robot vacuum up algae is becoming a more common mistake as pool automation systems grow in popularity. However, these robotic vacuums are equipped with a mesh bag to push debris through, and when that debris includes algae, it clogs the bag and takes the algae gunk around your pool. Essentially, even though it seems like it's helping your algae issue, letting a robot vacuum it up really doesn't remove it at all.

      What to do instead: It's time to fish out your manual vacuum from the shed and put it to work to fully remove the algae out of your pool.

      Skipping a good pool scrub is not only inviting algae to spring up in the darkest corners of your pool and spread, but also letting your pool and its liner look dull and drab instead of sparkling clean. Many experienced pool owners become increasingly complacent when it comes to pool maintenance, but don't let the laziness talk you into deciding you can go another few weeks without brushing your pool.

      What to do instead: A thorough pool scrubbing will make your pool look brand new, along with keeping any unwanted invaders at bay.

      Shocking your pool in the daytime, while the sun is shining on your pool water. Shock works effectively to clean your pool of any chloramines and balances chlorine levels. However, shock is unstable, concentrated chlorine, and burns off at 1 ppm every hour it's under the sun. So, while you think getting your shock done in the day will free up the rest of your day, it's actually making your shock less effective.

      What to do instead: Clearly, the solution is obvious: shock your pool in the evening and let it work all night long for cleaner pool water.

      Pouring shock directly into your pool water is a common mistake made by new pool owners. Shock is a super concentrated chlorine, which is great for sanitizing your water, but chlorine is also a strong bleaching agent. Pouring shock directly in the water leaves your precious vinyl liner victim to bleach staining and deterioration. Besides not being a good look, the increased brittleness of the liner could possibly cause tears or leaks, two repairs you don't want to face mid-summer.

      What to do instead: Dissolve the shock in a bucket of water prior to putting it into your pool to protect your liner's integrity and beauty.

      Over-backwashing your pool may seem like you're just keeping things clean, but in reality, you could be doing more harm than good, on top of wasting money. Backwashing cleans the media inside your filter, but if there's little to clean, you could be reducing the life of your filter media.

      What to do instead: Keep an eye on your pool's pressure gauge; when it's 10 PSI over the normal pressure, proceed with the backwash.

      Source: LOOP-LOC

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • Voice Command Craze Continues

      15 November 2018

      It’s no surprise. We're more in love with our smartphones than ever, with an estimated 270 million Americans viewing our mobile devices about 14 billion times per day. And according to Deloitte's U.S. edition of the "2018 Global Mobile Consumer Survey," smartphone penetration rose to 85 percent in 2018, up 3 percent from 2017, with the strongest growth among U.S. consumers aged 45 and over.

      According to the survey, we’re looking at our phone an average of 52 times a day...even though 39 percent of us say we would like to cut back. But turns out what we’re most interested in are voice-assisted technologies, the next big movement in the world of human-computer interaction.

      Here are some interesting findings to consider:

      - Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of respondents have used the voice assistant on their smartphones, up 11 percent from last year.

      - Nearly half (46 percent) have used the voice assistant within the last week, if not in the last day.

      - Market penetration of voice-assisted speakers has nearly doubled over the past year (growing from 12 to 20 percent).

      - Sixty-nine (69) percent of respondents who own voice-assisted speakers report using their voice-assistance capabilities weekly, and 47 percent do so daily.

      Of course, as Americans demand and expect their mobile devices to do more, they’ll also want it done faster, so expect a rise in 5G-enabled devices. Consider the following survey results:

      - Overall, 60 percent of respondents indicated that 5G is either "fairly" (34 percent) or "very" (26 percent) important to them now, compared with 55 percent who felt that way a year ago.

      - That interest rose across all age groups over the past year—even among those aged 65 and over, who saw a 9 percent jump to 31 percent.

      - The perceived importance of 5G is highest among the 25 - 34 age group (77 percent believe it's either fairly or very important).

      - Interestingly, 29 percent of respondents said their current 4G/LTE network speed at home is either a little or much faster than their home WiFi, compared to 27 percent in 2017.

      Of course, if you’re among that growing percentage trying to reduce smartphone usage, there are ways to make it happen! Try leaving your phone in the kitchen when you go to bed at night or scheduling a phone-free outing once a week. .

      Published with permission from RISMedia.

    • 3 Common New Parent Questions

      15 November 2018

      (Family Features)--Almost every new parent knows the feeling: It's 2 a.m., you're bleary-eyed and you want nothing more than everyone to get some sleep. However, you're up, and so is your new baby.

      Though most parents wish their little one could tell them what's keeping him or her awake, sometimes there's no clear answer.

      To help parents who are looking for answers to the questions that keep them awake, including those regarding poop, sleep and tummy time, the experts at KinderCare, who've been caring for new babies for almost 50 years, offer this advice.  

      1. Why is my baby's poop a weird color?

      Flashback to before your baby was born: You probably never imagined you'd be searching the internet for answers to questions about poop. Yet here you are, and many new parents know how you feel.

      When you have questions about poop, however, you may find there's an app for that. Many apps also track sleep, feeding, pumping, weight and more, making them useful tools to add to your new-baby starter kit.
      If you see a change in your baby's poop, track it. It might be no big deal, but it's easier to remember what happened a week or even a day ago when you have all the data right at your fingertips. Also remember, if you see anything out of the ordinary, it's worth a quick call to your doctor's on-call nurse hotline to make sure it's nothing to worry about.

      2. What's the big deal about tummy time?

      You've probably read how important tummy time is for developing your baby's muscles to get ready for all of the crawling, rolling, scooting, sitting and walking ahead. While your baby's back is still the safest place for him or her to sleep, awake and supervised tummy time is important, too.

      Tummy time doesn't have to be long to be effective. Talk to your doctor to see what's recommended for your baby. Though tummy time can be any time, you might be more successful right after a nap or diaper change when your baby is well-rested and comfortable.

      If your baby just won't take to tummy time, try making it fun with toys and make sure you're getting down on the floor to play, too!

      3. What if my baby just won't go to sleep?

      It's never easy to hear your baby cry, but Dr. Elizabeth Super, a pediatrician and children's sleep specialist with the pediatric sleep medicine program at Oregon Health & Science University's Doernbecher Children's Hospital, has some advice for sleep-deprived parents.

      According to Super, by around 6 months of age, many babies no longer need a middle-of-the-night feeding and are ready to start learning how to self-soothe. However, about 25 percent of 1-year-olds still have problems waking up in the middle of the night.

      "They should be sleeping through the night and can be doing it, but it's very common that they're not," Super says. "Know that lots of kids have sleep issues, and sleep issues will come and go as they grow."

      In other words, if your baby has trouble sleeping, you're not alone. There's no one-size-fits-all solution, and it's important to choose an approach that fits your family. That might mean adjusting your schedule to accommodate an earlier baby bedtime (Super recommends 7-8 p.m.) or coming up with a simple bedtime routine like taking a bath, brushing teeth, reading a book, and going to bed.

      Source: KinderCare

      Published with permission from RISMedia.