RE/MAX 440
Mary Mastroeni
mmastroeni@remax.net
Mary Mastroeni
731 W Skippack Pike
Blue Bell  PA 19422
PH: 610-277-2900
O: 215-643-3200
C: 610-213-4878
F: 267-354-6212 
Welcome Home from RE/MAX 440!

Mary's Blog

Get Greener Plumbing, Today

July 19, 2017 12:39 am

You may be greening up your cleaning products or your eating habits, but have you stopped to consider your plumbing?

Read the following green plumbing tips from Petri Plumbing & Heating, Inc.

Insulate water pipes: According to GreenBuilding.com, heating water for homes accounts for as much as 30 percent of residential energy consumption. By insulating the pipes and using high-grade pipe insulation, it can lower the energy expenditure needed to heat your water.

Install water saving features: In older homes, plumbing features such as faucets, showerheads and toilets are as historic as the homes themselves. By replacing these dated units with modern, energy-efficient counterparts, you can reduce leaks, conserve water and reduce your energy bill.

- Newer and more efficient toilets can cut down the amount of water used by as much as 80 percent. A low-flow toilet only uses 1.28 gallons of water per flush, whereas a full-flow toilet uses 3.5 gallons per flush. A dual-flush toilet uses only 1.6 gallons for solid waste and only 0.8 gallons for liquid waste. A newer toilet can translate to a potential savings of 10,000 gallons of water each year.

- Install a tankless water heater, which uses much less energy than a standard water heater. Instead of wasting energy keeping a huge reservoir of hot water at all times, a tankless water heater heats the water only as it is needed.- Replacing a traditional showerhead with a low-flow showerhead will reduce the traditional water usage by around 50-70 percent. The homeowner can also install an even greener shower product, the steam shower. While traditional showers use 25 gallons of water per shower, a steam shower uses around 1 gallon of water per shower.   
Inspect your home plumbing for leaks: Detecting leaks can be a difficult task, and in some cases, small leaks can be unnoticeable to an untrained homeowner. Hire a professional to help you hunt down hard to spot leaks.

Source: Petri Plumbing & Heating, Inc.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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The Mother of All Paint Jobs: Your House

July 18, 2017 12:39 am

If your DIY ambitions have reached epic proportion and you’re ready to take on painting your home’s exterior solo, weigh the decision carefully before proceeding. You’ll need to decide if you have the time and patience to do a detailed and thorough job. If you’re ready, willing and able, here’s how HGTV recommends going about it:

Step 1: Prep Your Surface
Priming your home’s exterior is essential to a good result. If you’re painting a new stucco home, let it cure for at least 28 days, otherwise the paint will not adhere properly. If you’re repainting an existing home, check for peeling, chipping, mildew, etc. Remove mildew by using a garden sprayer to apply a chlorine bleach solution, then use a pressure washer to remove dirt and old paint from the entire exterior.

Step 2: Caulk and Patch
Use caulk to seal any cracks and joints where one type of exterior comes up against a different type of exterior, such as window frames, door frames, molding and fascia boards. Patch chips in an older stucco surface with new stucco - allowing time for it to cure - and replace wood siding or fascia boards that show any signs of rotting. Gently sand wood trim and doors to ensure an ideal surface for painting.

Step 3: Prime
Primer is key to a good paint job as it has a high resin content that locks old paint in place and creates a healthy surface for new paint to adhere to. If you are repainting walls that have become chalky or dusty, select a chalky wall sealer. Paint will not stick to a dusty surface. When dealing with new construction, latex primer works well for vinyl and most wood siding. Check the label on your primer or sealer to determine how long to wait before you begin painting.

Step 4: Choose Quality Paint
Opt for a 100-percent acrylic latex paint for your home’s exterior. Better quality paints are usually higher in volume solids and have better binders to help hold pigments in place longer, improving the durability of your paint job. Check the manufacturer's website or ask your local distributor for a Technical Data Sheet, to determine a paint’s level of volume solids, but generally speaking, those labeled "premium" or "super-premium" are higher in volume solids than budget brands.

Step 5: Choose an Appealing Color
This may seem like an obvious step, but it’s really the most important one - not to mention potentially overwhelming - so do some research. Investigate your neighborhood to see what you like on other houses, but take into consideration the style of your home. Choose a color that complements your roofing and any brick or stone accents you may have. If you’re having trouble deciding, paint samples on your home’s exterior and study how it looks at different parts of the day. And keep in mind that vibrant colors will fade faster.

Step 6: Time to Paint
The ideal way to paint exterior walls is called spraying and back-rolling. This method requires two people, one to apply paint with a sprayer, another to follow behind with a roller. This delivers an even finish, particularly on textured surfaces like stucco. If your budget allows, apply a second coat after the recommended dry time. Muted colors cover better than bright ones, which may require a second coat to get the full color.

Step 7: The Details
The last step is to paint the doors, fascia, molding, shutters and other decorative details. Use a good brush or 6-inch "hot dog" rollers.

Remember, there are no short cuts, so be prepared to invest the necessary time. And it will be worth it - a quality paint job can last 10 years in the right climate.

Source: HGTV.com

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Tips for Summer Eye Safety

July 18, 2017 12:39 am

This summer, don’t let your eyes sizzle behind a pair of cheap sunglasses. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, when our eyes are exposed to strong sunlight without proper protection, UV rays can burn the cornea and even cause temporary blindness. Long-term sun exposure is linked to more serious eye disease, such as cataracts, eye cancer and growths on or near the eye. A lifetime of exposure also likely increases progression of age-related macular degeneration, a condition that can cause blindness.
Below are a handful of eye safety tips from the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Shop right. When shopping for sunglasses, look for a tag or label that says 100 percent protection against both UVA and UVB or 100 percent protection against UV 400. UV protection is the essential piece you need to look for in a pair of sunglasses. Darkness and color do not indicate the strength of UV protection, and neither does the price tag. Even the least expensive sunglasses can offer adequate protection.

Double check if needed. If you doubt your sunglasses have the UV protection claimed by a retail tag, take them to an optical shop. Any shop that has a UV light meter can test your sunglasses. A UV light meter is a handy test for when you doubt your sunglasses have the UV protection claimed by a retail tag or if they are simply old and you want to make sure.

Add a hat. In addition to shades, consider wearing a hat with broad brim. They have been shown to significantly cut exposure to harmful rays.

Check your child. If you’re a parent, make sure your child’s eyes are properly protected. "It's so important for children to wear UV-blocking sunglasses early in life. It's the cumulative damage that occurs over time that puts you at risk of developing sight-robbing eye disease," says Jeff Pettey, M.D., a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology. "And it's never too late to pick up the habit. Start protecting your eyes today."

Source: the American Academy of Ophthalmology

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Ice Cream

July 18, 2017 12:39 am

Ice cream is an all American sweet treat. While it’s perfect for hot summer days, most Americans enjoy ice cream all year long. In fact, people living in the United States indulge in ice cream more than any nation in the world, averaging a whopping 48 pints per person, per year, according to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA).  Ninety-eight percent of all U.S. households purchase ice cream, with more sold on Sunday than any other day of the week. The NFRA notes that 87 percent have ice cream in their freezer at any given time.

Since ice cream season is in full swing, below are 10 ice cream facts, from the NFRA.

Top Ten Cool Ice Cream Facts

- The first ice cream parlor in America opened in New York City in 1776.
- It takes 3 gallons of milk to make one gallon of ice cream.
- A cow gives enough milk to make 2 gallons of ice cream per day - that's 730 gallons per year.
- About 10 percent of all milk produced in the US is used to make ice cream.
- The most popular ice cream flavors are Vanilla, Chocolate, Cookies 'n Cream, Strawberry and Mint Chocolate Chip.
- The favorite ice cream topping is chocolate syrup.
- It takes about 50 licks to finish a single scoop ice cream cone
- One in 10 people admit to licking the bowl clean after eating ice cream, and 1 in 5 share with their pet.
- Cherry is the number one popsicle flavor.
- Twin popsicles were invented during the Depression so two children could share one treat.

Source: National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA)

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For the Real Estate Market, the Outlook is Good

July 15, 2017 12:39 am

Despite the rise in home prices and affordability issues in several pockets of the country, the U.S. housing market has a bright future. According to Nationwide’s latest forward-looking barometer of U.S. housing market health, the primary reason for the positive outlook is simple: housing demand. Household formation growth picked up sharply over the last quarter to move above the long-term average, and job gains remain solid.

According to Nationwide's Health of Housing Markets Report (HoHM Report), household growth is expected to remain above average during the next few years, increasing demand on an already limited supply of homes. In fact, while the National Association of REALTORS® recently reported that national home inventory is at about four months at the current sales pace, several markets are experiencing just a month's supply of inventory turnover in half – and even a quarter – of that amount of time.

The report also found that, regionally, the rankings show positive and healthy housing trends in more than 75 percent of MSAs, suggesting sustainable expansion during the next year.

While markets with strong ties to the energy sector (including North Dakota, Texas, Louisiana, and Alaska) continue to dominate the bottom 10 rated MSAs, the outlook for housing in these areas is slowly improving as energy production and employment recover.

MSAs with the lowest housing inventory are, in order: Seattle-Bellevue-Everett, Wash.; Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.; Tacoma-Lakewood, Wash.; Boulder, Colo.; Fort Collins, Colo.; Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash.; Mankato-North Mankato, Minn.; Olympia-Tumwater, Wash.; San Francisco-Redwood City, Calif.; Sacramento-Roseville, Calif.; Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas; Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas; San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, Calif.

The 10 top metro areas in the index are, in order: Lancaster, Pa.; Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; Fort Smith, Ark.-Okla.; Lawton, Okla.; Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.; Pittsfield, Mass.; Toledo, Ohio; Springfield, Mass.; Philadelphia; and Vineland-Bridgeton, N.J.

Source: Nationwide

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Priciest Zipcodes, Unveiled

July 15, 2017 12:39 am

It’s no secret that some areas of the country are pricier than others. To explore this,

GOBankingRates used data from Zillow to find out how zipcodes stacked up against one another. To do this, the company surveyed median home values and mortgage payments, as well as cost of living expenses such as groceries, transportation, utilities and healthcare for zip codes in 48 states and the District of Columbia. To find the total amount of money needed to live comfortably in each zip code, the study split the costs using the following metrics: necessities (50 percent), discretionary income (30 percent) and savings (20 percent).
Below are the results.

Top 5 Most Expensive Zip Codes

Atherton, Calif.: 94027
Total Income Needed: $668,078

Water Mill, N.Y.: 11976
Total Income Needed: $438,510

Alpine, N.J.: 7620
Total Income Needed: $330,756

Medina, Wash.: 98039
Total Income Needed: $297,905

Greenwich, Conn.: 6830
Total Income Needed: $222,002

Additional Study Insights

- Honolulu, Hawaii (96821) sits at No. 6 on the list of most expensive zip codes across the country, with a total income of $202,798 needed to live comfortably there. This city also has utility, transportation and grocery costs that top the charts.

- Of the most expensive ZIP codes in every state, the 25314 ZIP code in Charleston, West Virginia is the lowest, with a total income needed of just $61,100.

- South Dakota and Maine have been excluded from the list due to lack of data (for example, only two ZIP codes exist in Maine).

Source: GOBankingRates

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Are You Making These Travel Insurance Errors?

July 15, 2017 12:39 am

Traveling to a new destination is exciting--and expensive. When it comes to insuring your trip, Squaremouth, explains the following three mistakes travelers make that causes them to overspend on travel insurance.

Not Capitalizing on Credit Card Insurance

Travelers don't always know that some credit cards include free travel insurance for customers who pay for trips with their card. However, many of these cards limit the trip costs that can be covered, and typically don't cover medical emergencies during a trip.

Expert Tip: Only insure the trip costs that are not covered by your credit card. If your card covers $10,000 per trip, and your trip cost is $15,000, you can save money by only insuring the additional $5,000. A lower trip cost typically results in a less expensive policy, however, be aware that some providers require you to insure 100 percent of your trip cost.

Over-Calculating Non-Refundable Trip Costs

Trip cost is one of the main factors that can drive up the price of a policy. Travelers have the choice of insuring all, some, or none of their trip cost, but travel insurance can only reimburse prepaid and non-refundable trip expenses up to the amount insured.

Expert Tip: Insure only the trip cost you lose if you cancel. If you just pay a 50 percent penalty to cancel a hotel reservation, insure that amount rather than the full cost of the hotel to get a less expensive policy.

Overlooking the Least Expensive Policies

When comparing travel insurance, more expensive does not mean better. Each provider tailors their policies toward a specific demographic. If one policy is less expensive than another policy with the same coverage amounts, it's because the traveler falls in that provider's sweet spot, not because the coverage is worse.

Expert Tip: Pick the least expensive policy that meets the coverage you need.

Source: SquareMouth

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Precaution: Don’t Leave Home Without It

July 14, 2017 12:39 am

Can’t wait to get out of town for a much-needed vacation? Make sure you don’t ruin your trip by returning to a disaster at home. New York-based T. Webber Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning offers the following tips to help prevent an unpleasant homecoming:

Unplug all appliances. Believe it or not, phone chargers, computers, televisions and coffee pots all continue to use energy even when turned off.  Unplugging them before you leave will not only  save energy, but help prevent damage from lightning strikes and power surges.

Raise the thermostat. Air conditioning uses a significant amount of energy, so turn the temperature up 10 degrees higher than it is usually set. Better yet, install a programmable thermostat that will allow you to turn the AC on just before returning home.

Clean the garbage disposal. You don’t want to come home to the unpleasant odor that results from an unused garbage disposal. Before you leave, flush it out with half a cup of white vinegar and hot water while the disposal is turned on.

Change the setting on the water heater. There’s no need to heat water for an empty home. Adjust the water heater to vacation mode. If the water heater does not have a vacation mode, turn the temperature down.

Put lights on a timer. According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), there are more than 2.15 million burglaries each year. A dark home is a sure sign that no one is there, so put a couple of lamps on a timer inside the home. Set these to go on and off at different intervals.

Avoid stagnant water. Water left inactive in the toilet can produce a foul odor and a difficult-to-remove ring that forms around the bowl. To prevent this, place half a cup of bleach in the toilet bowl just before leaving home.

Taking these steps will ensure that not only your vacation is relaxing, but your return home as well.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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How to Safely View a Solar Eclipse

July 14, 2017 12:39 am

With a solar eclipse coming in August, consumers across the country are gearing up for a great sky show. But solar eclipses aren’t all oohs and ahhs. To keep yourself safe, the AOA is sharing a few tips for viewing:

Get centered and enjoy the view. Within the path of totality, you can safely witness the two or more minutes when the moon completely covers the sun with the naked eye. Otherwise, your eyes should always be protected by verified viewing tools. Never look directly at the sun without eye protection, even briefly.  

Know your duration. Outside of the path of totality, always use solar filters. O.D.s want to reinforce that the only safe way to look directly at the uneclipsed or partially eclipsed sun is through special-purpose solar filters or other ISO-certified filters, such as "eclipse glasses" or handheld solar viewers. The AOA encourages ordering solar eclipse glasses in advance and recommends referring to the American Astronomical Society's (AAS) site for a list of manufacturers.

Be aware of harmful solar exposure. If you stare at the sun without protection, you may experience damage to your retina (the tissue at the back of your eye) called "solar retinopathy." This damage can occur without any sensation of pain, since the retina does not have pain receptors. The injury can be temporary or permanent. Visit your local doctor of optometry immediately if an accident occurs.

Visit your doctor of optometry. Check in with your doctor of optometry for information about safely viewing the eclipse. If you experience any problems with your eyes or vision after the eclipse, your optometrist will be able to provide you with the medical care you need. To find a doctor of optometry near you, visit the AOA's doctor locator at aoa.org.

Source: aoa.org/2017eclipse.

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Summer Safety For Your Feline

July 14, 2017 12:39 am

(Family Features)--Summer is officially here and while it may be the perfect time for family trips and outdoor activities, it's also a great time to reset and make sure you're keeping the whole family healthy, including your feline friend. By keeping your cat healthy, hydrated and active, your family will be able to enjoy more time together and get the most out of the season.

"For both people and cats, hydration, proper nutrition and overall healthy habits are imperative to fully enjoying the summer months," says Dr. Ernie Ward, veterinarian and IAMS Cat spokesperson. "To live their best lives, cats need to feel healthy from the inside out and much of that stems from what they eat. It's important to look for a premium cat food that includes high-quality protein to help your cat maintain strong, lean muscles and incorporate healthy vitality."

These tips from Ward can help keep your cat active, healthy and safe during the summer months.

Focus on food – Cats are natural carnivores and need the proper amount of protein in their diets, which helps maintain strong muscles and keep cats active. Ward recommends a high protein cat food, such as IAMS High Protein.

Other key elements to look for in a high-quality dry cat food include:
- Optimal levels of fatty acids for a soft and shiny coat.
- A fiber blend, including prebiotics and beet pulp, for healthy digestion.
- A good mix of premium, high-quality ingredients to contribute to healthy energy levels.

Keep hydrated – Cats need to stay hydrated, especially in warmer weather. Make sure their water dishes are always full and place a few dishes throughout the house. If there are certain rooms your cat is drawn to or if the family is spending quality time in a different area, have water readily available so pets can easily quench their thirst and avoid dehydration.

Prioritize playtime – Though they tend to sleep a lot, cats need exercise, too. Playing a cat and mouse game with your furry friend is one way to give him or her necessary exercise and create a fun bonding experience. Toys that can encourage cats to get off the couch are a great way to get engaged in a little aerobic activity.

Eliminate clutter – Cats are curious by nature and it's no secret that they tend to explore even the highest or smallest nooks in the house. It's nearly impossible to keep an eye on your cat at all times, so it's important to create a safe environment at home. Tuck cables and cords away, limit the amount of free-standing, sharp or glass objects and keep hazardous chemicals, such as cleaning supplies, locked away to help reduce the possibility of illness or injury.

Source: IAMS

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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