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

Home Appliances are a Leading Cause of Residential Water Damage

September 26, 2011 5:03 pm

A recent study by the Insurance institute for Business and Home Safety found that water damage related to home appliances were one of the top 10 reasons given for residential water loss, with failures costing an average of $5300 after the deductible was paid. 

After reviewing over 500 washing machine related claims, it was determined that over half of the problems reported occurred when the supply hose (which carries water into the machine) failed. Machine overflows and drainage failures accounted for the next 28%.

The life span of the washing machine has to be taken into account when looking at the failure rates, especially as it relates to internal component failure, machine leaks, or burst hoses.

These three elements combined account for two thirds of all washing machine failures. Most appliances were about 8 years old when the first failure occurred. Since most hoses are not replaced until they fail, it was determined that the age of the failed hose was approximately the same as the machine it serviced.
Most machines are only slightly older when their internal components begin to break down. The motor/pump assembly was the usual culprit, accounting for 40% of all claims that were examined.

For reasons unknown, the rate of damage claims was higher in the southern region of the country, as much as 67% higher than those found in northern states.

It was also determine that the location of the washing machine in the home can have an effect on the frequency and severity of the loss when failures do occur. For machines located in lower levels or basements, the presence of sump pump or other drainage device often prevented more serious water damage from occurring. Units located on upper floors put them in close proximity to valuable electronic or furniture items, which can substantially increase the cost involved with any water damage event.

Water Damage Local.com recommends installing washing machines either in the basement or upper floors of the home. Machine failures on the first floor of a home account for 30% greater losses due to their position relative to other valuable items.

In order to minimize the damage caused by a malfunctioning machine:
• Look for signs that the supply hose may be ready to fail. If the tube is worn or there are visible “blisters’, go ahead and replace the hose.
• When replacing the supply hose, opt for a reinforced steel braided hose.
• If the connections are loose, tighten them down. Loosening often happens as the result of a move or relocation of the unit.
• Replace hoses every five years, whether you think they need them or not. This lets you stay ahead of any wear and tear.
• Be sure and turn the water valves off completely if you are going to be gone for a period of several days.
Finally, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to reduce the risk of other types of washing machine related water losses. Never overload a machine, always use a detergent designed for this type of use and try to operate washing machines when someone is home.

For more information, visit www.waterdamagelocal.com.

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Word of the Day

September 26, 2011 5:03 pm

Word of the Day

Installment payment. Periodic payment, usually monthly, of interest and principal on a mortgage or other loan.

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Stripes Worth Saluting: Trend in Home Decor

September 23, 2011 5:03 pm

There are not many patterns that have been in fashion for more than 300 years.

"Stripes are always in style," says Jan Jessup, director of communications for the Calico Corners—Calico Home stores. "Think of ticking stripes, sailor-shirt stripes, regency stripes, tone-on-tone stripes, menswear stripes, ombre stripes, multi-color stripes, awning stripes, nautical stripes, flag stripes, flour-sack stripes, pinstripes and seersucker stripes. Stripes take the prize for versatility!" she notes.

While stripes never seem to go out of fashion, they're back in a big way—literally. "Bold stripes and wide stripes are a hot look now," adds Jessup. "They're great companions to the strong graphic prints on the market in floral, aviary and other patterns." Stripes are clean-lined and streamlined—and can look modern without being trendy. A two-color or multi-color stripe is a way of bringing more color into a room without a riot of pattern.

"Stripes usually run vertically on furniture or window treatments—however, we're seeing more and more stripes run horizontally, like a bold rugby shirt," observes Jessup. "This is a more casual application and can be a fun look on informal furniture—or a way to rev up a more traditional piece." Stripes can also be mitered on pillows and table skirts for visual interest and to show off custom workmanship.

Why do stripes have such enduring appeal? "They're orderly when life is messy," says Jessup. They add the illusion of height to a room or a window. They can be quiet and elegant, as in ombre silk stripes. They can be breezy casual and colorful. "Stripes are great mixers with other prints and patterns," she adds. "The right stripe can add zest and freshen an existing interior. Stripes come in a splendid variety of scales, textures and colors. They're timeless, they're trendy, they're now."

For more information, visit http://www.CalicoCorners.com.

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Your Fall Pumpkin is Packed with Power

September 23, 2011 5:03 pm

“Pumpkins produce warm pies, butter, cookies, bread and side dishes. They are loaded with an excellent source of nutrients. The bright orange color tells you that it is full of the important antioxidant, beta-carotene. Research shows that a diet rich in foods containing beta-carotene can reduce the risk of developing many types of diseases,” says Angela Paymard, Chairwoman of the Orlando based, N2N Global.

If you have kids, it’s a good idea to let them have a pumpkin for carving and choose another for cooking. It certainly is safe to let them use the seeds from the one they have carved. The best pumpkins for eating are the ones that are heavy for their size.

Preparing your Pumpkin:
Start with clean hands and wash the pumpkin in cool water to remove any surface dirt. Using a sharp knife, remove the stem, then scoop out the seeds and scrape away all of that stringy stuff. Cut the pumpkin into large chunks and rinse in cold water. Now you can boil, bake; even microwave the pumpkin, whatever your favorite recipe calls for.

If you’re not going to eat your pumpkin right away, make a puree by putting the peeled pumpkin into the food processor. Puree freezes well. Place it in plastic bags, and be sure to label and date them. In the freezer it will last up to a year. “If you don’t want to puree the pumpkin, cut it into slices, and boil it before freezing. That will yield the safest and best quality of food,” Paymard says.

Freezing Facts:
-Freezing does not destroy nutrients.
-Freshness and quality at the time of freezing can affect frozen foods.
-Freeze items you won’t use quickly, sooner than later.
-To successfully freeze vegetables, partially cook them in boiling water or in the microwave oven. Then chill them quickly before freezing and storing.

With mashed or pureed pumpkin, canning is not recommended. Pumpkin is a low acid food that is capable of building bacteria if stored in the wrong conditions. If the pumpkin is cubed or sliced, however, canning in a sealed, pressure container is safe.

Pumpkin seeds are also a very popular fall treat. After they are removed from the pumpkin, the seeds must be checked to make sure there is no excess pumpkin tissue. Once the seeds are clean, dry them of all moisture either under the sun or in a dehydrator. Seeds should not be stored with excess moisture. You can safely bake them once they are dry.

You can certainly make pumpkin preserves. It’s a popular and safe use of pumpkins; however, care must be taken into the preservation. Due to the low acidity of pumpkins, there must be a substantial amount of sugar or added acid to ensure safety and inhibit the build-up of bacteria.

The coming of the fall season brings these fresh, tasty pumpkin treats for all food lovers.

For more information, visit http://www.n2nglobal.com.

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Word of the Day

September 23, 2011 5:03 pm

Improvement. Any form of land development or man-made addition, such as the erection of a building or fence, to enhance the value of private property; also an improvement to publicly owned structures, such as a sewer or road.

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Question of the Day

September 23, 2011 5:03 pm

Q: Do state and local governments offer loans to assist with home renovations?

A: Just about every state now offers loans for renovation and rehabilitation at below-market interest rates through its Housing Finance Agency or a similar agency. Call your governor’s office to get the name and phone number of the agency in your area.

At the municipal level, many cities also have programs for special improvements to certain blocks and neighborhoods they are trying to spruce up. Call City Hall, as well as a Community Development Agency in your city.

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Legitimate Work-from-Home Jobs: Tips for Avoiding Scams and Making a Few Bucks at Home

September 23, 2011 5:03 pm

Someone once said, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." When it comes to earning money at home, there is no doubt about it. 

Legitimate ways to work from home require preparation, expertise in a particular field, and/or a level of commitment, such as getting a license. Ads promising pay for little or no expertise, such as stuffing envelopes or telemarketing, are very often scams. In no case should you be asked to pay up-front money.
But working from home holds definite appeal, and the opportunities are out there for enterprising men and women who are willing to research and prepare. From a panel of formerly employed moms who operate home-based businesses, here are some tips on what they do and how they do it: 

Child care. Caring for other children is a natural answer for those who want to stay at home with their own kids. But licensing laws are strict, as are home and backyard requirements. Check with your City Hall for information on preparing for a career in home child care. 

Writing and editing. Freelance writers, editors and artists are used by any number of magazines, newspapers and publishing companies. If—and only if—you have experience and demonstrated communication skills, check with editors you have worked with in the past and ask for recommendations.
Transcription and typing. For skilled typists and transcribers, especially for those with some medical knowledge, work may be available from local hospitals, colleges and doctor's offices. Post notices in college student union halls, and ask your doctor's office or hospital about the possibility of doing medical transcription. 

Accounting or bookkeeping. Experienced bookkeepers may find part-time but steady work opportunities from any number of local businesses who can't afford full-time help. It will take some footwork, but make the rounds to introduce yourself and your skills. 

Sell items you create. Take stock of your handiwork. If you make birdhouses, create lovely wind chimes, or bake attractive breads, cupcakes or cookies, look for restaurants or retail outlets willing to take your stock on consignment.

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Do-It-Yourself Interior Painting - Like Money in the Bank?

September 23, 2011 5:03 pm

Trying to decide whether to do some home remodeling this year or leave your money in the bank? You can do both if you remodel with paint. 

"The cost of do-it-yourself interior painting is so low, it's almost like remodeling without touching your bank account," says Debbie Zimmer, spokesperson for the Paint Quality Institute. 

The key, of course, is investing some sweat equity. 

"While a professional painter might charge up to $500 or more to paint a room, if you're willing to provide the labor, you can complete the job for a small fraction of that amount," says Zimmer. 

Looked at another way, do-it-yourself interior painting is a great way to "earn" money. Since painting a room is usually a two-day proposition, if a contractor-applied paint job costs $500 in your area, you're essentially paying yourself $250 a day to paint. 

Absent the labor cost, do-it-yourself interior painting is downright thrifty. Your only outlay is for paint, application equipment like brushes and rollers, and some miscellaneous expenses for things like tape and a drop-cloth. Total cost? "Less than $100 a room," says Zimmer. That's little more than pocket-change in today's remodeling world. 

Whether you've decided to do your own interior painting to save money or simply to have a hand in beautifying your home, Zimmer offers the following tips: 

"Take the time to properly prepare the walls and other surfaces before starting to paint," she says. "That means cleaning them with a solution of detergent and water, after which they should be rinsed and allowed to dry. If there are any cracks or holes in the walls, this is the time to repair them with spackling compound or a good-quality acrylic caulk." 

Zimmer also recommends using only high quality brushes and rollers. "These will help you apply the paint more evenly to get professional-looking results, even if this is your first time painting," she says. 

When applying latex paints, be sure to use brushes and rollers with synthetic bristles and covers. According to Zimmer, the brushes will maintain the proper stiffness and the rollers will maintain their shape even when exposed to a lot of water. 

Lastly, Zimmer recommends that do-it-yourselfers buy only top quality 100% acrylic latex interior paints, which she describes as "the do-it-yourselfer's best friend." 

"If you're going to spend time and effort doing your own interior painting, you want the job to last, and that's where these paints really pay off," she says. "Top quality 100% acrylic latex paints are extremely durable, plus they resist fading, so your paint job will look great for years to come." 

So if you think you're up to the job, put yourself to work doing your own interior painting. You'll be rewarded not just with the money you save, but also with the satisfaction of a job well done. 

For more information, visit www.paintquality.com.

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Tips to Keep Your Home Safe and Sound

September 23, 2011 5:03 pm

The well-being of our family is a priority all year, but is especially considered during the holidays when statistics about accidents abound. Most of us, with the possible exception of Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” take extra precautions for the holiday season. If you’re buying or selling a home, here are a few tips for safety and security that ensure a safe and happy home during the holidays, and all year long. 

1. Protect little ones.
Whether you are preparing for a visit from your grandkids, nieces and nephews, or you have kids of your own, a child-proofing kit makes safety easy with grip-and-twist doorknob covers, latches and plug protectors.
• Child-proofing kit (Safety 1st, #42023), oven lock (Safety 1st, #62342), cord channel kit (#69682) 

2. Mark and secure entries.
The holidays can be prime time for burglaries, but updating your locks with an electronic deadbolt system can provide added peace of mind. If you install a set with a numeric keypad, you’ll never have to worry about leaving keys for your guests again. Mark your entry with path lights that clearly guide the way to the door.

3. Clear the air.
Place an air purifier in the guest room and common areas to remove allergens (especially pet dander) and prevent the spread of cold and flu germs. Choose one with a true HEPA filter for maximum effectiveness.

4. Be fire smart.
With holiday lights, candles and lots of cooking in the kitchen, it’s important to be prepared. Safeguard your family by keeping an extinguisher on hand for small fires, and install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors throughout your home. Check the batteries frequently to make sure they are in working order.

5. Equip your bath.
It’s a snap to convert your guest bath into a safer place for older guests and young children. Add a grab bar to make getting in and out of the tub easier, and a durable bath mat to help prevent slips in the shower.

For more information and ideas, please visit www.lowescreativeideas.com.

This article is adapted from Lowe’s Creative Ideas for Home and Garden®, November/December 2010 issue, Style & Solutions – Home Safety.


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Hot Product Alert: Wood Burning Stoves

September 23, 2011 5:03 pm

With the weather cooling down, many are looking toward alternative heating options. One economic and environmentally friendly heating option is a wood burning stove. The following are some of the reasons why many consumers will be cozying up to these stoves this winter.

1. They are economic. While many list having to buy wood as a slash against a wood burning stove, ready cut wood costs around a third of the cost of natural gas, electricity or oil. Plus, with a bit of planning and research you may be able to score wood for free. Neighbor having that tree in their yard removed? Offer to cut it down if it means you can snag the resulting wood. Plus, with a wood burning stove helping to warm your home, your heating bill will be lower. 

2. They are environmentally friendly. Burning wood is a natural heat source, and releases the same type of natural CO2 that is released into the air when a tree rots naturally.

3. They are safe. Wood burning stoves are safer than open fires as they are enclosed.

4. They are clean. As wood burning stoves are enclosed, there is less of a chance of your carpet or floor getting sooty or singed as it would with an open fire.

5. They provide an energy backup. A wood-burning stove can heat a kettle or a pan if you ever lost your main source of energy, such as your gas or oil.

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