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5 Ways to Avoid a Plumbing Disaster

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These tips can stop you from paying for plumbing damages that could have been easily avoided:

1. Regular inspection of the water heating system: A water heater for residential purposes can last a decade with proper care. Since
this appliance is used on a daily basis, it is crucial to have it checked at least once a month for possible problems. Lower the setting
of temperature to 115 degrees F. You can do this by adjusting the dial knob or the thermostat behind the electric water heater. Doing
this will prevent the apparatus from overheating.

Always look out for signs that something might be wrong with your water heating system. Immediately check the temperature and
pressure of the appliance in case you cannot hear a gurgling sound. This could mean that no water is being released to the drain tube.
In this case, replacement may be necessary to keep every one in the house safe.

2. Upgrading of hoses and fixtures: Home owners should consider replacing rubber hoses with metallic ones. This also applies to other
plumbing fixtures such as waterline raisers, valves, and pipes.  In general, modern residential structures tend to have a more complex
plumbing system. This is due to additional appliances that older types of house do not have such as automatic fire sprinklers and wet bars.
The easiest way to look for problematic signs is to walk throughout the house and inspect the walls, floors, and ceilings.

Cracks on wooden ceilings are often a sign of trapped moisture and leaking water. Although it is also possible that this is due to weak
construction methods, it would be best for the home owner to immediately replace old rubber hoses with ones made from copper or
stainless steel. Metallic materials are proven to withstand extreme weather conditions and can also last for up to 15 years.

3. Maintenance of sink drain: The sink drain in your kitchen and bathroom is prone to getting clogged with anything that can slow down its
draining process. Food particles, hair strands, and other debris can find its way to the sink drain and cause serious problems. Drain cleaning
can help prevent this from happening. Save yourself from calling an emergency plumber by making sure your kitchen is always clean. Pouring
of cooking oil and fatty fluids into the sink should be avoided. Clogs will start to build up if you keep on throwing your leftover cooking oil
down your sink drain.

In your bathroom, install a sink trap so that hair and soap particles will not be able to pass through the pipes. This must be installed before the
water in the bathroom floor starts to drain slowly. The sink trap will collect and catch debris that can potentially cause clogging. Hence,
plumbing repair will not be necessary.

4. Checking of main water shut-off valve: It is very important for home owners to know the exact location of the main shutoff valve. You can
easily find this next to where your water meter is installed. This is usually located at the front of your house. This valve allows you to immediately
stop the supply of water flow in times of emergency.

Because of its important function, both tenant and property owners should routinely inspect if it is working correctly and that no signs of leakage
are showing up. During winter, the freezing condition can harden the handle so check it once every two weeks to see if you can still turn it
clockwise. Take note also that local codes also require that main water shutoff valves are easily accessible.

5. Regular tune-up: Property owners should hire a master plumber at least once a year to inspect the entire plumbing system for possible
problems. Only a highly skilled technician can fix complicated damages that ordinary people will not be able to identify. A clogged drain and a
damaged septic tank are two examples of issues that you will not be able to fix yourself as this requires advanced knowledge in plumbing.
Contractors will test the general details of your plumbing system and based on their findings, they will suggest applicable repairs and fixes.
What matters most is that you have a preventative measure to avoid a plumbing disaster.


Signs That You're Ready to Buy

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If you are thinking about buying, you're not alone. So are you ready to make the move? You might be if you:

1. Are familiar with the market. If you've been paying attention to how much houses are listed for in the neighborhoods you're eyeing
and have a realistic view of how much a house will cost you, you're in good shape. But if you're dreaming about that big corner house
with no clue about it's asking price, you may want to spend some more time becoming familiar with the market and how much houses
are going for.

2. Have the money for a down payment and closing costs. The down payment is a percentage of the value of the property. Freddie Mac
says the percentage will be determined by the type of mortgage you select. Down payments usually range from 3 to 20 percent of the property
value. Also, you may be required to have Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI or MI) if your down payment is less than 20 percent. Closing
costs include points, taxes, title insurance, financing costs and items that must be prepaid or escrowed and other settlement costs. You can
expect to pay between from 2 to 7 percent of the property value. Generally, buyers will receive an estimate of these costs from your lender
after you apply for a mortgage.

3. Know how much you can afford. Freddie Mac says that as a general guide, your monthly mortgage payment should be less than or equal
to a percentage of your income, usually about a quarter of your gross monthly income. Also, your income, debt and credit history go into
determining how much you can borrow. As a general rule, your debt -credit card bills, car loans, housing expenses, alimony and child
support -- should not be more than about 30 to 40 percent of your gross income.

4. Know what additional expenses will come with owning a home. This includes homeowners insurance, utility bills, maintenance costs --
roofing, plumbing, heating and cooling.

5. Have your credit in good shape and make sure your credit report is accurate. Potential lenders will view your credit history -- how much
debt you've accrued, how many accounts you have open, whether your payments are made on time, etc. -- to determine whether they'll give
you a loan. You should get a report from each of the three credit reporting companies: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union.

6. You haven't made any recent major purchases, particularly a vehicle. If you do, you may have a harder time getting a loan -- or it could
potentially lower the amount you'll be approved for.


Check for Mold

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What does mold look like? It varies, but mold is generally white, black or yellow in color and has a cottony or leathery texture. Mold also carries
a pungent odor that’s similar to a dirty, wet sock.

Note: Always wear a mask and gloves on your mold search to prevent unnecessary contact with or inhalation of the spores.

1.Check your bathrooms. Mold can crop up anywhere there’s moisture, so bathrooms are common culprits. Check the area around your bathtub,
shower stalls and shower pan very carefully – mold usually rears its head in the grout above and around the tub and shower because water can
seep behind the tiles, where it gets trapped. Also check the area where your toilet meets the floor to make sure it’s not leaking and providing a
breeding ground for mold.

2. Check your sinks. Every sink in your house is vulnerable to mold, so it’s important to check all of them. Pay special attention to the areas near
water pipes and valves underneath your sinks, which may have leaks. Use a flashlight to check dark areas so you don’t miss anything.

3. Check your basement. Start by inspecting the corners of your basement, looking for mold or water leaks. Also check all closets and window wells.
If your basement has carpet, touch all areas with your bare foot or hand to test for moisture. If you find any water, identify the source of the water
immediately, fix the problem, and check those areas very carefully for signs of mold. Note: If you have a finished basement, mold will be more difficult
to detect because your walls and carpet may cover it up. Be extra vigilant with the smell test of your walls (step #5), and run a dehumidifier regularly
to remove excess moisture. For more information about inspecting your basement, read:
Inspect Your Basement

4. Check your attic. Again, you’re looking for signs of mold or water, particularly around the edges of the attic and in any closets or storage areas.
Mold can also grow in attics due to inadequate air flow and high humidity. In that case, mold will grow on the underside of you roof deck (the
plywood that the shingles are nailed to), so check that area as well. To prevent this problem, make sure none of your insulation is blocking the air
flow to your attic. For more information about how to keep your attic in good shape, read:
Inspect Your Attic.

Smell your walls. Mold can grow behind your walls where you won’t be able to see it. However, the smell can give it away. Perform a nose check
on the walls of your basement, bathroom, and any other room prone to moisture. If you detect that wet sock smell, contact a professional to take a
closer look.

Remove mold. If you discover a relatively small and contained mold problem, you can usually take care of it yourself. There are many products you
can use (bleach, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide) but
tea tree oil is by far the most effective natural mold killer. It’s more expensive than other options
(about $10 for a 2 oz. bottle) but it is safer than many chemical-based alternatives. Mix 1 teaspoon of tea tree oil with 1 cup of water and spray the
mold. The solution will kill the mold and prevent it from returning. Note: If you discover a large mold problem or smell mold in your walls, it’s time to
call a professional to deal with the issue.


Home Prices Post Biggest Jump in 7 Years

The housing recovery may have hit its strongest point yet. New data Tuesday show home prices in May were up 12.2 percent from a year ago, the
biggest jump since February 2006.

The housing recovery may have hit its strongest point yet. New data Tuesday show home prices in May were up 12.2 percent from a year ago, the biggest jump since February 2006.

The housing recovery may have hit its strongest point yet. New data Tuesday show home prices in May were up 12.2 percent from a year ago, the biggest jump since February 2006.


The housing recovery may have hit its strongest point yet. New data Tuesday show home prices in May were up 12.2 percent from a year ago, the biggest jump since February 2006.


The housing recovery may have hit its strongest point yet. New data Tuesday show home prices in May were up 12.2 percent from a year ago, the biggest jump since February 2006.


The housing recovery may have hit its strongest point yet. New data Tuesday show home prices in May were up 12.2 percent from a year ago, the biggest jump since February 2006.


The most recent data from real estate data firm CoreLogic show not only that price growth has accelerated but that the housing recovery has taken
hold across much of the U.S. Home prices grew in 48 states and the District of Columbia in May, with declines only seen in Delaware, where prices
fell by 0.6 percent year over year, and Alabama, where prices fell by 0.1 percent.

Leading the upward swing in home prices are Nevada, which posted price growth of 26 percent; California, with 20.2 percent; and Arizona, at 16.9
percent growth. Those three states were among the hardest hit by the housing crisis.

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[READ: U.S. Home Prices Rise in April by Most in 7 years]

The biggest reason why prices have been rising so sharply is that they're rebounding from big price declines after the bubble burst.  The markets
that have seen the biggest price increases tend to be those that saw the biggest declines a few
years ago.

According to CoreLogic's data, home prices have been growing since March 2012, which one company analyst says is largely due to a
dwindling supply of houses.

As we approach the half-way point of 2013, home prices continue to respond positively to the reductions in home inventory thus far.

That decline in inventory is a far cry from the post-bubble period, when scores of homes in hard-hit areas sat empty.

The supply of homes has dwindled for several reasons.  One is that the population has grown while construction has slowed, meaning more growth in
demand than supply. In addition, some homes are off the market because they are going through foreclosure or are bank-owned. In addition, he says,
inventory further tightened as a result of rising prices.

No one wants to sell at the bottom, so as soon as prices turned around, we saw inventory tighten even more.

While prices have been on a healthy upswing, they remain far from where they were before the crash. Prices are 20.4 percent below their April 2006 peak,
but that may be a poor standard by which to measure the recovery, he says.

Prices may see some downward pressure in coming months due to rising mortgage rates. Lender Freddie Mac recently reported that the average 30-year
fixed mortgage rate hit nearly 4.5 percent in its June 27
Primary Mortgage Market Survey – up more than half a percentage point from just the week before,
when it was 3.93 percent, and up 0.8 percentage points from one year prior.

That's the largest one-week jump in 26 years, and it may mean buyers will buy less expensive homes than they would have when rates were at historic lows.


New Home Sales Rise

The housing industry continued to gather momentum in April. New home sales, an important measure for the industry’s performance, climbed 2.3
percent last month. Home prices also rose to record highs.

The housing industry continued to gather momentum in April. New home sales, an important measure for the industry’s performance, climbed 2.3 percent
last month. Home prices also rose to record highs.

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The news comes at a significant time. Spring is a favorite season for homebuying or shopping. According to the Commerce Department, new home
sales jumped to a seasonally adjusted rate of 454,000 units. That’s up 2.3 percent from March and 29 percent compared to a year-ago period.

According to Reuters, some economists were expecting an adjusted rate of 425,000 units.

The Commerce Department also reported that the median sales price of a new home skyrocketed 14.9 percent compared to last year. At $271,600, that’s
the highest on record. The average new home price was $330,800.

The inventory of new homes in April shot up 3.3 percent to 156,000 units. That’s the highest since October 2011. Given the current inventory levels, it
would take 4.1 months to purge the homes that are up for sale in the market. According to industry experts, a six-month supply is normally considered
the sign of a healthy market. The tight inventory is triggering a rise in home prices.