As the holidays approach, don’t overwhelm your disposal

November 21st, 2011

Thanksgiving is just around the corner which usually means plenty of cooking in preparation for Thursday’s  festivities.

However, this also means that there are lots of leftovers from this process that can quickly accumulate until the kitchen is an indiscernible mess of vegetable peelings and egg shells. Naturally most home owners want their home to look presentable for when the relatives arrive for the holiday dinner.

Yet,  where do you dispose of this refuge in a quick, convenient fashion?

The first thing that comes to mind would be the disposal in the sink. After all that’s what it’s there for, right? Its a virtual black hole, designed for disposing the unwanted remnants from cooking.

According to an article by Angie’s List, there are some things that do no belong in the disposal. Fibrous foods such as potato peels, celery stalks, and corn husks can wrap around the blade, impeding its operation. Greasy food meanwhile can cover the mechanisms with a slimy film that can create a foul smell while  also hindering the disposal. Finally hard solids such as chicken bones can destroy the blade or cause damage to the engine.

Fortunately, there are handy ways to manage the excess of food scraps without overburdening your kitchen’s disposal. The first step, as mentioned above, is to be mindful of the things you put into your garbage disposal. Instead of stuffing egg shells or bones into the disposal, try disposing of them in the trash can.

Second, try not to overburden your disposal unit.  Roto-Rooters, one of the s largest  plumbing company, states that many disposal units break due to being overtaxed by an excessive workload. The folks at Roto-Rooters recommend discarding leftovers in the trash before rinsing the remnants in the sink.

The key to maintaining a highly functional garbage disposal is to be mindful of what you are tossing down the drain as well as how much you putting into it.

Here’s hoping you have a great, stress free, Thanksgiving.

November 21st, 2011

Contractors: How to hire someone you can trust

October 27th, 2011
As the weather changes to colder and rainy conditions, a lot of contractors turn on a full-court marketing blitz that has the typical home owner believing that their domicile needs a new furnace or that their roof is full of leaks.

Hiring a contractor to make these types of repairs to your home can be a risky endeavor, especially since not all repair men are as reputable as their ads may have you believe. Yet, I would like to offer these simple steps for your winter home improvement projects.
Step one:  Verify the professional status of your professional repairs.  For example, the Texas Roofing Association provides a clearinghouse of reputable repair professionals who have completed the certification process.  While having a license is not needed for some repair skill sets, it demonstrates the dedication and efficiency of a prospective worker in his or her field.
Step two:  Don’t sign a contract without get at least two to three estimates.  I would expect a contract with specific metrics of performance and a timeline along with a payment schedule. 
Step three:  Get references from your contractors.  I would be wary of someone that gave me something like Matt S or John R.  I would want to get a previous customer’s full name, their phone number and a working email.    Reputable repair professionals will gladly give them to a customer. When calling someone as a reference, I would ask about their reliability to show up for a job on time and their willingness to work around a family’s work schedule.      

Step four:  Watch out for your elderly family and neighbors.  Many  repair specialists like to target the elderly, especially those who live alone.  There are a lot of stories of how an elderly person thought the “nice young man” who visited them was a reputable repair professional.  Once they had a deposit from them, they never hear back from them.   If your elderly relatives or neighbors ask about a repair specialist, have them follow steps one through three with your help.
When hiring contractors, it pays to do your research.  Nobody wants to deal with the noise, the cost or the hassles of home repair.  However, taking these steps will eliminate unneeded delays or the hassle of trying to track down a repair person to complete a project on time and on budget.

What to do if your house or car is vandalized

October 20th, 2011

Halloween night is a time that is bustling with activity. Children in
costume meander through the neighborhood led by their parents.
Meanwhile teenagers and young adults, too old for trick or treating, gather
at Halloween parties to dance the night away. However there are others who
prowl the moonlit streets with more mischievous ambitions.
These individuals choose to celebrate by committing mischievous acts such as
draping their neighbor’s trees with toilet paper or coating their math teacher’s car with a dozen eggs.

While these acts of vandalism aren’t always committed with ill intent, they
can nonetheless cause costly damages to your home or vehicle.
Fortunately there are steps to prevent acts of vandalism or, if necessary,
clean up the aftermath.

One of the more common forms of vandalism is “TPing” in which pranksters
toss rolls of toilet paper around trees branches, leaving behind long
strands of paper. These papery ribbons can be a major nuisance to remove,

especially if they get soaked from rain. Naturally, you will want to remove

the toilet paper as soon as possible. One of the best ways to exorcise your

tree of toilet paper, as recommended by the Money Pit, is to

use duct tape attached to a broom handle to pick up the strands of paper.

Another common prank is egging where, as the name suggests, pranksters
bombard a car or house with a barrage of what should be the filling for a
breakfast taco or two. While the leftovers are slimy, sticky, and altogether

unpleasant, egg yolk can cause serious damage to your home’s exterior or
car’s paint. To remove egg, apply warm water mixed with ammonia  to the

affected areas and scrub thoroughly until the remnants are removed.

Hopefully, you won’t have to deal with these pranks.  However, if you do
have them occur, being proactive in dealing with it is key.

Halloween Van

October 20th, 2011

Haunted houses: Preparing your home for Halloween

October 10th, 2011
October is finally here, which means that Halloween is lurking just around the corner.   During this time of year many families prepare for the holiday by carving jack-o-lanterns and setting up spooky decorations in the front yard. Some go whole hog in the decoration process, turning their humble abodes into terrifying haunted manors. This article will discuss useful  to help ready your home to create a spooky, yet also safe environment for the wandering bands of young trick-or-treaters showing up at your doorstep.

One of the iconic symbols of the Halloween is the Jack-o-Lantern. Hailing from Irish folklore, carved pumpkins are a common sight illuminating the streets with their luminescent visage. However, they can also create a potential hazard when using candles as a light source. Fortunately there are substitutions that can be used in their stead. One good example are electrical candles, considered by the National Fire Protection Associtation to be a safe substitute. These can easily light up the hollow of your jack-o-lanterns without causing potential harm to trick-or-treaters or your property.   

Another creative, albeit temporary substitute that is recommended by, is the glow stick. Not only do you not have to extinguish the light source when you are finished, they can also provide your pumpkins with a variety of colorful glows.

When setting up decorations that require electricity to function make sure the wires are in good condition before plugging them in, checking for frayed wires or damaged sockets. When powering high power devices such as inflatable decorations, use heavy duty extension chords. Make sure that wires are out of heavily traffic areas to prevent the chance of injury. During Halloween night, walkways can become congested with trick-or-treaters so try to ease movement by keeping decorations a good distance from the pathway.

Finally, remember that lit porch lights are seen as a sign that you are participating in the trick-or-treat festivities. Those who are abstaining should remember to turn their porch lights off when possible. Likewise those who are finished passing out candy should take care to switch off their lights. Otherwise there is a chance of being awoken at the midnight hour by straggling bands of trick-or treaters.

Is your foundation holding up?

September 21st, 2011

When it comes to your home, the foundation makes up  a crucial element.  It acts as  a safeguard that prevents your domicile from collapsing. By transferring the weight of your house into the ground, it allows the structure to remain standing. In this video I interview Steven Guajardo, a civil engineer, who informs on ways to spot the warning signs for a problem foundation and ways to improve the moisture conditions that can affect it.

With the record heat, many people will have foundations that could face some serious cracks.  Here’s hoping that you take the time to watch the video and take the needed action.

Is your foundation holding up?

September 21st, 2011

Home Insurance: Are you prepared for disaster? Pt. 1

September 17th, 2011
Like anywhere else in the world, Texas experiences its share of natural disasters.  These disasters include wild fires during long periods of drought, hail during the changing seasons, and flooding. These disasters can strike without warning and cause costly damage to your home. In this video I interview Tim Miller from Access Insurance Services who provides insight on obtaining the sufficient amount of coverage needed for when disaster strikes.

Are you covered?

September 7th, 2011

Wildfires happen.

So do hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods.

No matter where you live in the United States natural disasters like these can strike without warning, no matter the season. However you can take steps to be prepared by making sure your insurance is up to date.

Now is the time to look back.

When was the last time your talked to insurance representative about your coverage? Two months ago? A year? Perhaps so far back you don’t even remember? If this is the case, now is the time to pick up the phone and give this person a call to set up a date to discuss your policy.

I would make up a list of questions to ask your representative. One good question to ask is “Do I have enough coverage to protect recent expenses such as home improvements or luxury items?”  Another good one is  “Will my current policy cover the 52-inch plasma screen television I bought for the college football season?”  
Another question to ask is what disasters do my policy cover? Many insurance policies typically cover damages caused by fire, tornadoes, and hail, yet many exclude damages created by earthquakes or floods. When assessing for potential disasters,  home owners must pay close attention to their environment.

Gulf Coast residents know they have the threat of hurricanes and floods.  Out in the dry plains of Central Texas, wild fires are a possibility especially during long periods of drought. In the Texas panhandle, an area known as “Tornado Alley”, twisters wreak havoc during the spring and summer seasons. Some coverages could be easily ruled out as well. If you live in San Antonio, Texas, it is unlikely that your home will be experiencing much in the way of earthquakes or blizzards. Remember, some rates may vary according to your region.

Still, it is important to remember that Mother Nature can be quite unpredictable at times as was clearly demonstrated in the recent earthquake in Washington D.C. or the floods in Vermont.  One way to prepare for these tragedies is to have an ongoing conversation with an insurance professional on how their insurance will protect you with those risks should they occur.

Remember, natural disasters can be unpredictable, causing untold amounts of damage in a short period of time. Don’t be caught off guard! Give your insurance representative a call and make sure you are properly covered for when disaster strikes.