RE/MAX 440
Sandy Hershey

Sandy Hershey
4092 Skippack Pike, P.O. Box 880  Skippack  PA 19474
Phone:  610-909-2929
Office:  610-584-1160
Fax:  267-354-6987

My Blog

New Options in Radon Gas Monitoring Available Soon to U.S. Homeowners

October 11, 2013 1:15 am

There are epidemiological evidences that indoor radon exposure is responsible for a substantial number of lung cancers in the general population. In the U.S. alone, more than 20 thousand people die yearly from radon. About eight million homes throughout the nation have elevated levels of radon in indoor air.

It is estimated that up to 14 percent of lung cancers are attributed to radon gas radiation. Radon is the second cause of lung cancer after smoking. Analyses indicate that the lung cancer risk increases proportionally with increasing radon exposure. As many people are exposed to low and moderate radon concentrations, the majority of lung cancers related to radon are caused by these radon exposure levels. This indicates that in countries where radon is found, most buildings should be monitored for radon as part of general preventive health care.

In most fields, technology has for long moved from the analogue to the digital age. Not so when it comes to radon gas monitoring technology. The traditional technology – track edge film – is still the most prevalent in the market. Many countries now demand more appropriate technologies for continuous radon monitoring in homes. This has inspired the Norwegian company Corentium AS to develop accurate and affordable digital monitoring devices. The development of the monitor Corentium model QRI is largely a response to the 2009 UN World Health Organization report “WHO” handbook on indoor radon. A public health perspective which provided detailed recommendations on reducing health risks from radon gas.

The Corentium enables homeowners to continuously monitor the indoor radon concentration– making radon gas diagnostics much easier. The Corentium monitor gives the possibility to read short term average values for 1 day and 7 days, and the long term average up to a year. The Canary is also ideal for a fast disclose of the effect of mitigation done by the homeowners themselves. That brings the solutions closer to the homeowners - increasing awareness and reducing costs.

The Corentium model QR' will soon be available through US resellers. To learn more about Corentium, visit http://www.corentium.com/us.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Winter Moving Tips and Tricks

October 11, 2013 1:15 am

With the Farmers’ Almanac predicting winter to be piercing, bitterly and biting cold, two-thirds of the country is bracing for a colder-than-normal season. Just the thought of having to move house in these conditions sends a shiver down the spine, but as the housing market is on the rebound and with Americans moving at least 8.2 times in their lifetime, the dreaded task of relocating is one that many will be faced with during this cold winter.

Here are some moving tips if you’re planning on moving during the coldest season of the year:

1. Pack items as usual with one caveat. Make sure any temperature sensitive items (plants, anything that can freeze, etc.) are well protected and kept from exposure. Most trucks are not temperature controlled so special care and thought should be given to protecting these items in transport if they will be in transit for long periods.

2. Dress appropriately. You'll be back and forth, in and out of cold weather, and probably breaking a sweat regardless. Wear layers that can be easily added or removed as your temperature fluctuates throughout the day.

3. Prepare for the elements. Icy sidewalks and steps, poor driving conditions and the elements in general can make moving a box across the street a challenging adventure. Be prepared with the proper attire and footwear, or even rock salt and sand to cover icy areas. And don't forget to put down mats by the door of your home to help reduce the dirt and snow tracked in.

4. Monitor and be flexible. Some natural events cannot be avoided – and an unexpected blizzard may force you to reschedule your move. Staying on top of the weather forecasts and staying in communication with your moving company (or moving help) will help you prepare for any last minute changes you might require, including rescheduling a move in advance.

5. Keep warmth within reach. Pack a separate box or bag of cold weather gear – including extra blankets and warm clothing. Make sure to have your car checked if you will be moving long distance so you can avoid any breakdowns in the frigid middle of nowhere. And make sure to contact all the utility companies to ensure you'll have properly functioning heat and hot water when you arrive at your new home. You don't want to spend your first night shivering.

6. Pack and organize extra early. The more organized you are, the more efficiently you will complete your move. Why spend more time outside than necessary?

Source: FlatRate Moving

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Home Buyers Value Environmentally Friendly Features

October 11, 2013 1:15 am

Homeowners frequently see their heating bills rise as fall begins and the weather cools. For this reason, homes with energy efficient and environmentally friendly features are often a priority to prospective buyers. According to the National Association of Realtors®’ 2012 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, nearly nine out of 10 recent homebuyers said that heating and cooling costs were somewhat or very important when considering a home for purchase.

“REALTORS® build communities and know that consumer demand for greener homes and features has grown considerably over the past several years. Going green has proven to be more than a trend; many people now seek out this way of living and want homes and communities that are more resource efficient and sensitive to the environment,” said NAR President Gary Thomas. “As energy savings and green building features are becoming more important to buyers, sellers and businesses, it comes as no surprise that consumers are placing a higher value on properties with those features.”

It’s easy to understand why homebuyers tend to favor greener houses; often the higher a home’s energy efficiency, the more money is potentially saved in monthly heating and cooling costs. NAR data show that features that directly affect monthly energy costs are important to buyers; thirty-nine percent of survey respondents reported that a home’s heating and cooling costs were very important when considering a home for purchase, followed by energy-efficient appliances and lighting, each at 24 percent. Landscaping for energy conservation and environmentally friendly community features were less important but were still a factor in the minds of home buyers; nearly half of buyers found these features very or somewhat important.

Regionally, buyers in the North and South placed a greater importance on heating and cooling costs, probably due to more extreme temperatures in those areas of the country. The survey also found that buyers who purchased more recently built homes placed greater importance on environmentally friendly features than buyers who purchased older homes; nearly 60 percent of buyers who bought homes built in 2011 said heating and cooling costs were very important, compared to less than thirty percent of buyers whose homes were built before 1910.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Reasons Investing in Outdoor Space Pays Off

October 10, 2013 1:12 am

Increasingly, homeowners around the nation are investing in their outdoor living space. In fact, the majority of homeowners surveyed by American Express revealed that they have plans to engage in some sort of home improvement project in the next year. The outdoor living and landscape sector has grown into a $60 billion per year industry, according to IBISWorld, a market research firm. Investing in outdoor living provides a good return on investment for most people, making it an ideal home improvement project.

“Many people are finding that they want to get back to spending more time outdoors,” explains Bob Dallas, the chief executive officer at UltraOutdoors.com. “People also want to put money into their home improvement projects where it is going to pay off. Outdoor living is a logical choice that fulfills both of these needs.”

Here are five reasons investing in outdoor space pays off:

1. Resale value. HGTV claims that homeowners recoup 65-90 percent just by adding a deck. Experts agree that investing in your outdoor living space will add to the value of your home. When you put money into this area, a lot of it will come back to you, when and if you decide to sell your home. Buyers will like the fact that your home includes nice outdoor living features and spaces.

2. Personal enjoyment. Most people could use a place to unwind and de-stress. Having a relaxing outdoor living space will create an environment where the family can relax together and enjoy each other’s company.

3. Save money. Consider how many times a family leaves home in order to seek out something that could have been in their backyard. This includes leaving to use a swimming pool or going to the park. Create the environment you are seeking in your own backyard, and save the gas and fees of taking your recreation elsewhere.

4. Entertaining opportunities. Having an ideal outdoor living space creates an oasis for entertaining. Whether hosting a holiday gathering, Friday night s’mores around a bonfire, or an outdoor picnic-style potluck, you will have a great place to pull it off.

5. Benefits of nature. There are mounds of research demonstrating the many benefits of spending more time outdoors. These include such things as reducing stress, improving mental clarity and mood, improving concentration, and more. Many people find that spending time outdoors is the cheapest form of therapy there is, and it’s good for all ages.

“The pay-off from investing in an outdoor living space comes in many forms,” added Dallas. “Not only is it good for the value of your home, but it’s a solid investment for creating great recreation and entertainment spaces, and giving your family a relaxing area where they can re-charge their batteries.”

There are many outdoor living options to choose from, including outdoor fireplaces, kitchens, pools and water features, patios and decks, gazebos, sitting areas, and landscaping. The key to having the outdoor oasis that fits your needs is to work with a professional to design a custom plan.

Source: www.UltraOutdoors.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Tips on Mold Pricing

October 10, 2013 1:12 am

Home and business owners often do their best to prepare for the inherent dangers that come along with being a property owner. Dangers like home or office security, fire damage, severe storms, and water damage are on the short list of what keeps a property owner up at night. While these hazards can prove to be extremely costly and dangerous, a silent threat that is often forgotten about can be just as detrimental to the wallet and to the health of a property's inhabitants. This silent threat is simply known as mold.

Mold growth is actually a necessary part of the everyday environment as spores can often be found both indoors and outdoors. However, when toxic mold spore counts are elevated inside the home or business, indoor air quality can negatively affect the health of families, colleagues and customers respectively. Also, the physical toll mold growth takes on the structural integrity of a property can be catastrophic.
Needless to say, removal of the toxic fungus must be done immediately in a safe, effective way. Property owners often do not take mold remediation into account when budgeting for repairs. Oftentimes, home and business owners look for the least expensive option when shopping for a remediation specialist.

Value of mold remediation depends on a variety of factors. First, it is important to understand how mold behaves and how the colony can spread throughout the home or business. Whenever mold is attacked, it sends its spores into the air to find a suitable replacement area to regrow the colony. Therefore, if a general contractor without the proper equipment or insurance simply cuts away areas affected by mold without treating it properly, cross contamination will occur as spores populate other areas of the property.

Mold spores can regenerate a colony whether they are dead or alive. Valuable residential and commercial mold remediation pricing includes:

• Containment of the affected area
• Removal and safe disposal of mold affected materials (eg. drywall, carpet, padding, wood, etc.)
• Scrubbing of support beams and concrete with brushes and EPA-approved biowashes
• Eradication and removal of live and dead spores with a HEPA filter vacuum

Along with these general practices, which provide a level of safety and efficiency necessary to mitigate mold, technicians should also wear Personal Protective Equipment, maintain proper insurance and bonding, and complete training and certification. These practices will ensure the safety and health of the technicians and the property inhabitants who are counting on dependable mold removal.

Cheap mold restoration does not provide true value. While initial costs may be less by choosing an uninsured, uncertified contractor who does not follow the mold removal guidelines listed above, costs will increase exponentially in the long run when spores contaminate other areas of the home or business.

Source: SI Restoration

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Homeowners Excited About Remodeling Again

October 10, 2013 1:12 am

Planese, Inc. announced that homeowners across the country are now willing to spend 30 percent of the value of their home when they remodel; remodeling expense as a percentage of home value has been trending upward since 2007. Consumers also plan to use materials that are more expensive and spend an average of $102,000 to improve their homes.

These findings are part of the Fall 2013 Remodeling Sentiment Report, a forward-looking report based on data from the Planese and remodelormove.com survey of homeowners nationwide that analyzes and documents trends in the home improvement industry. Planese compared the responses of today's homeowners throughout the nation against the findings reported both during the recession in 2010 and at the height of the remodeling boom in 2007.

"The wealth effect is taking hold; consumers are spending again, which bodes well for the entire home improvement industry," said Dan Fritschen, CEO and co-founder of Planese, Inc. "More people are feeling secure enough during this economic environment that they are remodeling. It's no longer the most affluent; we are at the beginning of a multi-year trend."

More homeowners (74 percent) plan to hire a general contractor, which is up significantly from the 64 percent reported in 2010 and 2007. The percentage of people who plan to engage an architect (56 percent) has bounced back from the low of 47 percent in 2010 during the recession. As the scope of projects increases, so does the need for an architect.

The projects planned are larger; the average number of rooms to remodel is four. Homeowners are more likely to remodel a kitchen (55 percent), which tends to be expensive and often is a discretionary expenditure, than a bathroom (48 percent), which is often viewed as a necessity.

The survey also found that homeowners are less likely to do any of the work themselves. Today, 43 percent plans to do none of the remodeling work themselves as compared to 36 percent in both 2010 and 2007. In addition, more homeowners say they will use expensive materials when they remodel (17 percent) today, as compared to 9 percent in 2010 and 10 percent in 2007.

Survey Results:

Cost to remodel /home value
2007 – 25 percent
2010 – 28 percent
2013 – 30 percent

Plan to perform none of the work
2007 – 36 percent
2010 – 36 percent
2013 – 43 percent

Plan to use a general contractor
2007 – 64 percent
2010 – 64 percent
2013 – 74 percent

Plan to hire an architect
2007 – 54 percent
2010 – 47 percent
2013 – 56 percent

Plan to use expensive materials
2007 – 9 percent
2010 – 10 percent
2013 – 17 percent

Plan to add a bathroom
2007 – 52 percent
2010 – 53 percent
2013 – 48 percent

Plan to remodel a kitchen
2007 – 57 percent
2010 – 48 percent
2013 – 55 percent

Source: http://www.planese.com/

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Four Tips for Fall Car Care Month

October 9, 2013 1:12 am

October is Fall Car Care Month, so use it as an excuse to make sure your vehicle is ready for the harsh winter weather ahead. Taking a few simple steps now can save you the headaches and cost of an emergency breakdown later, says the Car Care Council.

Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, the Car Care Council recommends the following proactive steps to make sure your car is ready for winter driving.

Battery – Keep the battery connections clean, tight and corrosion-free. Cold weather is hard on batteries, so it's wise to check the battery and charging system. Because batteries don't always give warning signs before they fail, it is advisable to replace batteries that are more than three years old.

Heater, Defrosters and Wiper Blades – Check that the heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) system are working properly as heating and cooling performance is critical for interior comfort and for safety reasons, such as defrosting. Wiper blades that are torn, cracked or don't properly clean your windshield should be replaced. As a general rule, wiper blades should be replaced every six months. When changing the blades, be sure to also check the fluid level in the windshield washer reservoir.

Tires – Check the tires, including the tire pressure and tread depth. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots. If snow and ice are a problem in your area, consider special tires designed to grip slick roads. During winter, tire pressure should be checked weekly as tires lose pressure when temperatures drop.

Brakes – Have the brake system checked, including brake linings, rotors and drums. Brakes are critical to vehicle safety and particularly important when driving on icy or snow-covered roads.

"Getting your vehicle ready for winter while temperatures are still mild is a proactive approach to preventive maintenance that helps ensure safety, reliability and fewer unexpected repairs when severe winter weather strikes," says Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

Source: www.carcare.org

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fall Decorating Tips to Warm Your Home

October 9, 2013 1:12 am

When the weather begins to turn cold, take cues from fall to warm up your world. Think about the decorating styles that appeal to you and use the following tips for guidance:

Look to Elemental Colors: Air, Earth, Fire and Water; nature inspires the most beautiful colors. Colors reflecting air will make your home breathe. Earth inspired colors will ground and calm a room. Colors pulling from water inspire playful fun, and lastly those reflecting fire will say bold confidence.

Take Natures Cues: As the air turns cool, nature gives us clues as to which colors make your home feel warm and cozy in the fall. Look around at the fall foliage and you'll see vibrant golds, rich reds, deep chocolate browns and toasty oranges. These colors inspire life and energy as the days get darker and cooler. Look for ways to incorporate these colors and sceneries into your room décor. National Geographic Wallpaper or wall murals can help create this inviting nature setting.

Go Natural: With the increasing focus on the environment, there are abundant products available today that reflect and are good for nature. These products often incorporate earthy colors and textures; a perfect theme for fall. Choose eco-friendly shades which are PVC-free and 100 percent recyclable.

'Tis the Season: Carve out a tall pumpkin and use it as a flower vase or use small pumpkins for candles. A throw pillow, bowl of fresh citrus fruit or a bouquet of cut flowers are inexpensive ways to provide some color pop while welcoming your guests with the feel of nature.

Come Together: Gather around the fireplace. Rearrange your furniture to set your fireplace, instead of the TV, as the focal point of the room. Footstools, ottomans, and floor pillows by the fire create an inviting, warm atmosphere that will get you through the harshest days of winter. If you don't want the hassle of starting and maintaining a fire, try placing tall white candles in the fireplace for a similar glow.

Go Vibrant: Add a few splashes of vibrant color. They enrich any look and keep you from feeling drab. Deep colors also inspire confidence. Use an area rug to add warmth and personality to any room.

Go Circular: Designing a wreath is one of the easiest DIY projects you could hope for. And this time of year there is an abundance of colorful items to choose from at your local craft store or around your home. Get the kids involved and make it a family project.

Prepare for Winter: Now is the time to prep your home. There are several easy steps you can take. Consider insulating cellular shades or lined window treatments such as thermal curtains or foam-backed draperies for older, drafty windows. Insulate your water heater with insulation wrap. Seal leaks and drafts with caulk or weather strips. Clean your furnace and change your air filter. And lastly, but certainly not least, install a programmable thermostat. This allows you to conserve energy during the day while you're at work and at night while you sleep, but still come home or wake up to a warm, cozy home.

Source: www.americanblinds.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Hard Water: Bad for Your Home and Wallet

October 9, 2013 1:12 am

(BPT)—Nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water - water containing high levels of calcium and magnesium, according to The U.S. Geological Survey. The hardest water is commonly found in the states that run from Kansas to Texas as well as in Southern California. Hard water on its own is bad enough, making it difficult to wash clothes and dishes and leaving scaling on your pipes and showerheads as well as nasty brown rings in your sinks and toilets. However, it is also costing you money.

Research by the Battelle Institute found that with hard water, showerheads lost 75 percent of their flow rate in less than 18 simulated months and could not maintain the required flow rate because of scaling.

Water heaters are also negatively affected by hard water. When using softened water, researchers found that all the water heaters tested maintained 100 percent efficiency over a simulated 15-year lifetime, but with hard water, the gas and electric heater efficiency dropped by 25 percent - an incredible loss in energy resulting in significantly higher costs. In the case of the new instant tankless water heaters, hard water caused them to completely fail to function because of plugged-up scale, or mineral build-up associated with hard water, after only 1.6 years of simulated use - about a tenth the normal life of the appliance.

Another study conducted for the Water Quality Research Foundation assessed the impact of water hardness on automatic dishwashers. Soft water was up to 12 times more effective at cleaning dishes than increasing the amount of detergent used. Researchers also found that for washing machines, the most important factor in removing stains was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water.

You can take steps to eliminate the source of the scaling with a salt-based water softener. In order to make hard water into soft water, you have to remove the calcium and magnesium. The only way to do that effectively is with a salt-regenerated water softener. These work by running the incoming hard water through a resin filter that traps the calcium and magnesium in the water, as well as any iron, manganese or radium ions and replacing them with sodium ions. Magnetic and other non-salt based water softeners do not remove these harmful hard minerals.

Do-it-yourself water testing kits are available at most hardware stores, or you can have a water treatment professional do the testing. The Water Quality Association's website lets you search by company name, state or ZIP code to help find a professional in your area to handle the testing.

Eliminating hard water minerals delivers significant benefits in terms of the efficiency and maintenance cost of appliances and plumbing. From a budgeting perspective, using less detergent and energy can add up to real savings for families and individuals. Plus the harder these machines have to work, the faster they wear out and need repair or replacement, representing another very significant expense for homeowners. For more information on water softening, visit water-softening.org.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Fall House Cleaning: Chores to Do Now

October 8, 2013 1:09 am

Everyone talks about spring house cleaning – a time to freshen up your living space to get it ready for fresh air and sunshine. But, advises a staffing supervisor for Molly Maids cleaning service, a clean house requires a fall cleaning routine as well:

Deep clean the closets – Sort out your wardrobe and clean out clothes closets. Donate whatever you are unlikely to wear again to make room for seasonal purchases.

Get rid of expired medicines – Check the medicine cabinet for expired meds and last winter’s leftovers. As you dispose of them, make note of things you need to buy, such as bandages, antiseptic creams or over-the-counter cough syrup.

Clean out the fridge – Dig deep for tired or expired foods, clean the shelves and organize the fridge. Remember to replace that old box of baking soda with a fresh one to guard against odors.

Clean the carpets – A little elbow grease now will get you ready for holiday entertaining. Deep clean summer’s grime out of your carpets or hire a professional carpet cleaner with equipment that may dig deeper than you can.

Clean ceiling fans and ceiling light fixtures – Open doors and windows all summer have likely left them coated with dust. Clean them thoroughly now that the doors are closed.

Wash the windows – Washing them inside and out may be a pain, but winter can be depressing enough without having to look through dirty windows.

Shine the silver – Before Thanksgiving is the best time to get out the polish and get your silverware ready for company.

Check the gutters – Autumn means gutters are full of falling leaves. Clean them out now with a special hose attachment that has a hooked end to get down into the gutters. Look into attaching “hoods” or “helmets” to the gutters so you won’t have to worry as much about cleaning out leaves in the future.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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