7.27.2014

Caring for Your Plumbing System

Caring for Your Plumbing System By: Joe Bousquin Published: April 14, 2010 Care for your pipes so they'll last longer -- and prevent a costly plumbing disaster later. You probably don’t think much about the network of water and sewer pipes inside your walls that deliver your hot and cold water -- and eliminate your waste -- on demand. But giving your plumbing a little regular attention can prolong its life, prevent leaks, and avoid costly repairs. Here’s how to care for the pipes in your house. Plumbing maintenance checklist Avoid chemical drain-clearing products Clogged drains are the most common home plumbing problem, and you can buy chemicals to clear them. But these products sometimes do more harm than good. They can actually erode cast-iron drainpipes. And because they typically don’t remove the entire clog, the problem is likely to recur, causing you use the chemicals repeatedly. “Each time, they’ll eat away at the pipes a little more,” says Passaic, N.J. plumber Joseph Gove. “Soon, you’re going to get leaks.” Better to hire a plumber to snake the drain (usually $75 to $150) and completely remove the chunk of hair or grease that’s plugging the line. Or you can pick up a snake of your own, for around $20 at the hardware store, and try clearing the drain yourself. Prevent future clogging Clogs aren’t just nuisances. Backed-up water puts added pressure on your wastepipes, stressing them and shortening their lifespan. So avoid plug-ups by watching what goes down your drains. That means keeping food scraps out of kitchen drains, hair out of bathroom drains, and anything but sewage and toilet paper out of toilets. Install screens over drains in showers and tubs, and pull out what hair you can every few weeks to prevent buildups. Scrape food into the trash before doing dishes—even if you have a disposal—and never put liquid grease down the drain; pour it into a sealable container to put in the garbage after it cools. “Grease is only liquid when it’s hot,” Gove says. “When you pour it down the drain, it cools and becomes solid. Do that enough, and just like a clogged artery, your drains won’t work anymore.” Reduce the pressure As nice as high water pressure can be when you’re taking a shower or filling a stockpot, it stresses your pipes, increasing the likelihood of a leak. “That drastically reduces the life of your plumbing,” says Phoenix, Ariz., plumber Alex Sarandos. “It makes your pipe joints, faucets, and appliance valves work harder.” You can measure your water pressure with a hose bib gauge, available at the hardware store for under $10. Attach it to an outside spigot and open the line. Normal pressure will register between 40 and 85 psi. If it’s above that range, consider hiring a plumber to install a pressure reducer (around $400). By the way, adding a low-flow showerhead won’t affect pressure in the pipes. It only affects the amount of water coming out of the showerhead itself. Soften the water If your water has a high mineral content—known as hard water—it can shorten your plumbing’s lifespan. Those naturally occurring minerals, usually magnesium or calcium, build up inside your pipes and restrict flow, increasing the pressure. Plus, they can corrode joints and fittings. Although hard water can occur anywhere, it’s most common in the Southwest and parts of the Northeast. A white buildup on showerheads and faucets is a telltale sign of hard water. Or, if your house receives municipal water service, you can easily find out how hard it is. By law, every municipality must file an annual water quality report with the Environmental Protection Agency. If you have a well, check your most recent water test report for hardness information. Anything over 140 parts per million is considered hard water. The only way to effectively deal with hard water is by installing a water softener. Most use sodium to counteract the minerals in your water, but new electronic softeners use electromagnetic pulses to dissolve minerals, and have the advantage of not adding sodium to your water. You’ll need a plumber to install a traditional, sodium-based softener, for $500 to $1,000. Electronic units start below $200, and because the pipes don’t have to be opened up, you can install one yourself. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need an outlet nearby to power the unit. If you opt for a sodium-based softener, consider installing a whole-house pre-filter at the same time. Since the plumber will already be cutting into your pipes to install the softener, the pre-filter might add only $100 to the job. And not only will it give you cleaner drinking water by removing particulates and chlorine, you’ll reduce stress on your pipes that can occur when those particles clog faucet filters. Keep your sewer lines or septic tank clear If you have municipal sewers, hire a plumber to snake your main sewage cleanout every few years. This will cost $75 to $150, and will remove tree roots that inevitably work their way into these pipes—leading to messy sewage backups. If you have a septic system, get the tank pumped out every three to five years, for $200 to $500. Other ways to avoid trouble Learn where your home’s main water shut off valve is—so if there’s ever a leak, you can go straight there and quickly turn off the water to the entire house. Remove hoses from outdoor spigots in winter to prevent frozen water from cracking the pipes and causing a flood. Add pipe insulation to the plumbing in cold parts of your house—such as garages, basements, and crawl spaces—to avoid frozen pipes (and to shorten the wait for hot water). Never use an exposed pipe as a hanger rod for laundry. Doing so can loosen joints and fasteners. Fix problems quickly. Even small leaks can make pipes corrode more quickly, and cause significant water damage or mold. Read more: http://members.houselogic.com/articles/plumbing-system-maintenance/preview/#ixzz38j4TQOrk Follow us: @HouseLogic on Twitter | HouseLogic on Facebook

7.20.2014

Commuter Buslines Expanding to Plainfield

Commuter bus lines expanding to Plainfield, Whitestown Brian Eason, brian.eason@indystar.com Charlie Nye An IndyGo Commuter Express bus stops at the corner of Ohio and Pennsylvania streets. Charlie Nye / The Star. PLAINFIELD – Even as public transit ventures in Carmel and Fishers struggle for funding, the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority is expanding commuter bus services to smaller communities in the metro area. CIRTA plans to launch new routes in Plainfield and Whitestown this fall with the help of a federal grant, the authority has announced. They join three other express suburban bus routes, including the existing Plainfield Connector. All connect to IndyGo routes inside Marion County. The announcement came just one week after the bus operator servicing another CIRTA route to Carmel and Fishers said it would need to raise rates or get a boost from local governments to stay afloat. It is uncertain whether either city will provide such assistance. Meanwhile, Rich Carlucci and Dax Norton, the town managers for Plainfield and Whitestown, respectively, said the new routes to their towns represent critical economic development tools. And CIRTA officials praised the towns' willingness to help pay for the new connectors. "These commuter services are important for people who need jobs and also for employers who need workers," said Patricia Castañeda, mobility manager for CIRTA, in a statement. "Plainfield and Whitestown have been incredible to work with, because they recognize the need and see the local value of these demonstration projects." Here are the new routes: • The Plainfield North Connector will pick up commuters at the IndyGo Route 8 stop on Bridgeport Road between Washington Street and Perimeter Road and make a loop on the north side of Plainfield. With stops throughout the All Points Midwest industrial park, it will primarily serve employees at the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Prime Distribution and Ingram, the release said. • The Whitestown Connector will pick up commuters at IndyGo Routes 37 and 86 and stop at Trader's Point. It will serve Anson Development employers including Amazon, Express Script, GNC and Weaver Popcorn. Most of the costs will be covered by a three-year federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant, with some assistance from local governments. Rides cost $1 with a valid IndyGo pass, or $3 without one. For more information, call (317) 327-7433 or visit www.cirta.us/pages/bus/.

7.12.2014

Do you really need that in your new house?

By Shannon Lee, ImprovementCenter.co​m When you are looking for a new home, it's easy to get carried away. That formal dining room that you never thought about before is suddenly a must -- but the next house you looked at had a wide fireplace that stole your heart. How about that master bedroom with the balcony? Or that spiral staircase that had you at hello? Unfortunately, you can't have it all. That's why it pays to choose wisely from the wide array of home features that have the ability to turn you from an eagle-eyed real estate guru to a ball of mush. Consider your day-to-day life, your lifestyle, your family members, and your history when it comes to choosing the right features for your dream house. If you really love to cook … There's no doubt that the perfect kitchen can be a huge selling point. But before you give in to the power of that enormous counterspace and expensive range, consider your cooking and entertaining style. Are you into cooking for just your lucky family, or do you turn out mini quiches and pies with the speed and skill of a professional caterer? That can mean the difference between needing a typical kitchen and one that can house an entire crew of sous chefs. What about a place to consume all that wonderful food? If your dinner parties are legendary, then a huge formal dining room is probably exactly what you need. But if you mostly have you family and small groups of friends over, that dining room could quickly become home to dust-covered boxes and other storage odds and ends. For the home cook who likes to keep things quiet, consider nixing the dining room for a much larger kitchen -- especially one with plenty of space for a kitchen table. If quiet nights in are your thing… Not big on entertaining? Do you prefer to lock yourself away from the world and simply enjoy family time? A huge family room or entertainment area might be the perfect feature to allow you to get away from it all, right there in the comfort of home. Jazz the family room up with a big television and a nice surround sound system to turn the ordinary movie night into a true experience. Not quiet enough? Look for a home with features such as a bay window with a seat for quiet reading or a small "bonus" room that can be turned into a meditation area. Remember location, too -- a house deep in the woods is likely to provide you with all the quiet nights you could ever want. If the great outdoors is calling your name … Sometimes even the most luxurious house can become stifling. That's when it's time to move to the backyard -- to the huge patio or deck that comes complete with all the trappings that can turn an afternoon into an adventure. Imagine a hammock strung between two trees, a comfortable seating area with a grill standing by or even an outdoor kitchen that allows you to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner under the open sky. Even if the space is simple and bare, great outdoor space is a feature that allows your imagination to run wild. Not big on spending time outside? Never even thought of owning a grill? Then while a house with a great backyard could look fabulous and tempting, you might consider if your money would be better spent on a home with features that will get day-to-day use. If you might expand the family soon … Before family members start picking out bedrooms, take a deep breath and consider how much bigger your family might get. Are there plans for a little one in the future? If so, a nursery that can eventually convert into a bedroom is a definite must. If there are no extra rooms but the house is a dream come true in every other way, look at the structure. Would it be easy to build an addition onto the house when the time comes? But it's not just about the perfect nursery. If you have elderly parents, there might come a time when the best thing for everyone is to move them into your home. Will there be enough room to make that happen? Consider things like wide doorways, the possibility of a lift or elevator and other amenities that can make life easier. If you want to live there in your golden years … Many people choose a home that they believe they could enjoy forever. But then they get a few decades older and reality hits -- those stairs are just too tough to climb, that yard is way too much work and the kitchen isn't conducive to someone who can't move around well anymore. All of that can combine to the heartbreaking decision to leave a home that has meant everything to you over the years. When choosing your dream home, consider what your needs might be in ten, twenty, thirty years or more. Does the house have the flexibility to accommodate things like wheelchair ramps, walk-in tubs, universal design in a remodeled kitchen and other elements that can keep you at home longer? Remember, a dream house should suit every aspect of your life, as well as every time of your life. When looking for a new house, don't be seduced by the little things -- be prepared to make tough choices. A decade from now, you will be glad you did. More from ImprovementCenter.co​m

7.04.2014

MAY HOME SALES 24 PERCENT HIGHER THAN IN APRIL

June 24, 2014 Contact: Stacey Hartman FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 317-644-9210 cell or text shartman@indianarealtors.com INDIANA REALTORS®: MAY HOME SALES 24 PERCENT HIGHER THAN IN APRIL Low inventory still impacting year-over-year activity comparisons, but boosting home values (INDIANAPOLIS, IN) – May home sales were 24 percent higher than those in April, marking the fourth month in a row that the number of closed home sales statewide increased from the previous month. This is according to the Indiana Real Estate Markets Report today released by the state’s REALTORS®. However, the 7,552 homes sold statewide in May was 3.7 percent lower than those in the same period last year. Other year-over-year comparisons from the report show –  The median sale price of homes increased 0.4 percent to $128,000  The average sale price increased 2.3 percent to $154,016  The percent of original list price received increased 1.6 percent to 94.2 percent  The number of pending home sales decreased 2.3 percent to 7,448  The number of new listings decreased 1.4 percent to 12,377 “Local housing markets continue to improve month-to-month. And home values are increasing, which is as beneficial to our communities as it is to individual property owners,” said Kevin Eastridge, 2014 President of the Indiana Association of REALTORS® and Owner/Principal Broker of the Evansville-based F.C. Tucker Emge REALTORS®. “Low inventory keeps activity from jumping year-over-year hurdles. In addition to more homes for sale, housing most needs further job creation, wage growth, and credit availability,” continued Eastridge. “Provided the economy and the lending environment continue on their current paths, IAR members expect for this report to be about the same for the next few months.” Anyone looking to buy, sell, or invest should start with the sortable county tables of this report and then talk to a local REALTOR® who can give the most insight into what’s happening in a neighborhood, city, or school district. IAR represents approximately 15,000 REALTORS® who are involved in virtually all aspects related to the sale, purchase, exchange or lease of real property in Indiana. The term REALTOR® is a registered mark that identifies a real estate professional who is a member of America’s largest trade association, the National Association of REALTORS®, and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.