Category Archives: Blogs

The fall home maintenance checklist offers tips for reducing energy consumption and preventing problems with appliances

Canton, Mich.—®, the trusted online store for replacement parts and free how-to repair help for home appliances, outdoor power equipment and heating and cooling equipment, today shared fall maintenance tips that will save homeowners money.

“There are many simple maintenance to dos that, when completed provide considerable cost savings for home owners,” said Chris Hall, co-founder and president. “Properly maintaining a home and its appliances and heating and cooling equipment will reduce energy consumption and keep them running safely and efficiently.”

• Replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries and test them.

• Thoroughly clean out the dryer venting system.
Use a long dryer vent cleaning brush to remove lint buildup from inside of the dryer to the outside. Dryer lint buildup causes thousands of fires every year; a cleanout should happen at least once per year.

• Prepare the central air condensing unit for the off season.
Turn off power to the unit and remove leaves and debris from inside and around the condensing unit. Do not cover the unit with a tarp or plastic, as covering the unit completely will restrict important air flow. Use a condensing unit cover made for this purpose which allows air flow while keeping out moisture.

• Complete a heating system tune up:
– Replace the furnace air filter.

– Check venting registers for restriction and relocate any rugs, drapes or furniture that could restrict air flow.

– Clean and replace filter(s) in the humidifier, if equipped.

• Seal the exterior to prevent draft and to reduce heating costs considerably.
Use expanding foam to seal holes in a home’s exterior. Apply weatherstripping and caulking to window and door frames.

• Thoroughly clean the refrigerator.
– Clean condenser coils. Use a bristle brush to remove dust and dirt from black condenser coils located behind or beneath the unit. These coils are responsible for removing heat from the unit and must be clean in order to work properly.
– Change the water filter, if the refrigerator is equipped with a water/ice dispenser.

• Prepare lawn mowers and other outdoor power equipment for fall storage.
Follow the owner’s manuals for specific instructions. Add fuel stabilizer to the fuel tank. Store in a dry, covered area such as a garage or shed.

• Tune up and repair snow blowers and other winter tools and equipment.

• Clean out the water heater tank.
Remove natural sediment buildup by draining two gallons of water from the water heater. Follow the owner’s manual for instructions.

• Inspect all appliances and equipment for damage and changes in performance.
Appliances, outdoor power equipment and heating and cooling equipment often show changes in performance as warning signs about larger problems. Troubleshoot and complete repairs to avoid more costly repairs later.

This year, RepairClinic celebrates 15 years in business and three and a half million customers who have saved $260 million in repair costs by completing repairs on their own. Its 1,900 how-to videos have been viewed more than 34 million times.

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The Mortgage Process Continues to Evolve

By Rich Flannery
Ask anyone the question, “What is the American Dream?” You might receive a unanimous answer: Home Ownership. It is, without question, a vision that we dream of: owning a home, settling down, raising children and eventually retiring. Since the notorious credit crisis of 2008, the process of obtaining a mortgage loan has substantially changed. From the types of loans available, how loans are documented, how loan risk is assessed, to the amount of regulation and compliance lenders and consumers must navigate. The lending landscape has shifted dramatically since 2008.
How has this affected hopeful Homeowners? Qualifying for a home loan today takes a lot of planning. Borrowers should make sure they have a two-year job history in the same line of work. They will also need to make sure all of their income and assets can be verified and documented. Prospective borrowers should pay all of their current debts on time. Down payment requirements and debt to income ratios are not as lenient as they used to be, so their best bet is to consult with a mortgage professional for guidance prior to beginning their search for a new home. The consultation will give them a better understanding of what to expect and let them know their buying power and what will fit into their budget. A consultation with a licensed originator will also allow for time to correct anything that could be a potential issue in the home buying process.
Another helpful tip for potential homebuyers, always be mindful of your credit. Your overall credit rating can have a significant impact in the type and terms of a loan you may be able to obtain. Credit is a discussion all into itself, but for starters you should check your credit to review what is being reported on your credit report and make sure everything is accurate. You are entitled to pull your credit report from the three credit bureaus once a year for no cost. This can be done at
A frequently asked question; what is the forecast for housing and interest rates? For housing you must keep in mind that all real estate is local. Therefore, when you hear media reports about national housing trends it may not relate to your local market. Traditionally real estate markets are driven by how strong the local job market is fairing. The exception could be a market like Estes Park. Our real estate market’s primary driver is not employment, though an improving job market is beneficial, it may not be a primary driver for Estes Park. The reason for this is that we have a predominant retirement community and second home owners whose home ownership are not driven by being locally employed. Another important factor for Estes Park real estate is that we are surrounded by the National Park and National Forest; therefore, the amount of housing supply will be finite. For both of these reasons Estes has always had a stable housing market and is projected to continue as such. As for interest rates they are a dynamic component of the financial markets which are constantly moving. Overall rates continue to remain near very historical low-levels. Uncertainty often supports lower rates. We have been in a time of economic, geopolitical and regulatory uncertainty. All these factors can contribute to ongoing low interest rates. Many analysts are forecasting for rates to begin slowly moving up in 2015 as our economy gets on more solid footing without the assistance from the Federal Reserve. For now rates remain at very attractive levels.
Rich Flanery is a Licensed Loan Officer at Envoy Mortgage and a Registered Investment Advisor. His branch is located at 501 S. St. Vrain Ln. Ste. 101 in Estes Park; 970-577-9200; NMLS #256117, Envoy Mortgage, Ltd. NMLS #6666

The importance of proper address signage

By Seth Hanson
I had a recent conversation with the new fire marshall, Marc Robinson, about the importance of proper address signage. In situations where minutes and seconds can mean life and death, every advantage we can provide our fire fighters is critical. Properly displayed street addresses can play a large role in expediting our fire fighters’ arrival on scene.

Even as a realtor, I’ve struggled to find certain homes due to a lack of visible addresses. I can’t imagine what it would be like to search for a home under the duress of more critical situations.
Efforts that can be made to more clearly display your address are the following:
• Make sure the numbers are in a conspicuous place
• Use numbers with reflectors rather than darker options that blend in at night
•Display your address at the street and also on your home
• Cut back plants and trees that may be covering the sign.
Every effort, whether small or large, plays a vital role in fostering a safer community. Thank you for your cooperation.

Save a bundle by bundling insurance

Bundling insurance products with one company — and scoring cheaper premiums as a reward — isn’t a new concept. It’s a perennially popular option, and the benefits it offers can lead to greater satisfaction and greater savings.
Charles Valinotti, Head of Underwriting & Product with insurer QBE, says bundling insurance policies offers other benefits besides lower premiums.
“Customer convenience is one advantage,” says Valinotti. “It’s easier to manage insurance policies when you don’t have to work with multiple insurers.”
How can you get the biggest bang out of your insurance bundle? Valinotti suggests:
* Take a look at all your insurance policies. If they’re not with the same insurance company, you could be losing as much as 25 percent in discounts.
* Consider adding an umbrella policy. If you own your home, an umbrella policy gives you extra liability protection on your home and car, and might earn you other discounts.
* Research options for renters. Look into bundling a renters policy with your car insurance, which might result in as much as a 20 percent discount on your auto coverage.
Valinotti adds, “Make sure you speak with your agent about all available bundling options and choose those you’re most comfortable with.”

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