Dryer Duct Maintenance

Most of us don’t think twice about the laundry room.  It’s the dumping ground for dirty clothes, school backpacks, that stack of unused flower pots, those beat-up folding chairs from your parents, the dog kennel, and on and on.  It’s the first place to gather the discarded on its way to becoming garbage, and it’s generally the last room in the house to be tidied up or cleaned.

So if the laundry room is already an afterthought, what does that make the unseen accumulation of dust and lint in your dryer vent?  One word: dangerous.  Periodic cleaning of your dryer vent is a great habit to get into.  The problem is you just have to remember to do it – every year.  Here’s your reminder.

Over 15,000 fires happen in clothes dryers annually, and the vast majority of them are attributed to poor cleaning and upkeep.  Daily, newspapers around the country run articles about dryer vent fires and their devastating effect on local families.  15 deaths and over 300 injuries happen every year in clogged dryer vent fires in residential buildings.

Greater Oklahoma City area experts recommend having your dryer duct and vent cleaned out at least annually.  It’s all too easy to overlook some of these infrequent yet necessary home safety maintenance chores.  Again, the reason for this reminder.  Group this task with other annual or semi-annual home maintenance jobs like changing the backup batteries in smoke alarms and emergency flashlights, or inspecting your fire extinguisher.  Schedule these tasks into your computer or cell phone calendar, or pencil it in on the tried and true printed calendar on the front of your refrigerator.

The Down Payment and the Little Things

Think it’s impossible to save money for a down payment on a house?  Think again.  Here are some tips on the little things you can do to save money for that down payment on your Edmund and Greater Oklahoma City dream home while comfortably reducing your overall spending.

  1. Get a savings account.  I don’t mean the one you already have.  I’m talking about a brand new account, one that is used for the sole purpose of saving for your down payment.  This account is a one way street; money goes in and it does not come out, not until it’s big enough to help you purchase that new home.
  2. Cut back on eating out.  Easy to say, very difficult to put into practice.  You know the story.  It’s the end of a long day.  You’ve spent all morning and afternoon at the office, and come five o’clock you start your second job running kids to basketball or soccer practice, or picking them up from band practice.  And there’s homework and housework, not to mention feeding the family…Make cutting back on eating out a game, especially the eating fast food part.  Anytime you get that urge to run through the drive thru take a moment to compute how much it will cost you to feed your family of five at McDonald’s.  Go ahead, I’ll wait.  Now make a conscious decision to take the money you would have spent on happy meals and deposit it into your home savings account.  I’m not saying you have to quit fast food cold turkey in order to purchase a house.  But what will your home savings fund look like if you deposit an extra thirty of forty dollars a week because you made the commitment to drive past those golden arches instead of thru them?
  3. Coupons.  You can save quite a bit every week using coupons at the grocery store.  Why not calculate how much you saved each week on your bill and take exactly that amount to the bank?
  4. Make the sale. Use eBay and Craigslist to sell some of your old stuff.  What about a garage sale?  Kids outgrow their clothes just as fast as they outgrow their toys.  Remember that DVD collection you never use?  What about that old couch in the basement.  Promote your unused stuff online or in your garage and move the proceeds directly into your home savings account.

Garbage Disposal Troubleshooting (Part 2)

Continuing our troubleshooting guide on the handful of things that go wrong with a garbage disposal, today we’ll look at leaks and slow draining.  As with most garbage disposal issues, you can easily fix the majority of them yourself without calling in a professional.  And a quick safety reminder before we get started – be sure to cut power to the disposal whenever working on it, and NEVER stick your hand down the sink and into the unit to retrieve, for example, broken glass or to dislodge the flywheel.  Back to the troubleshooting:

  1. Leaks.  If you’re leaking at the sink flange (the metal rimmed drain cup that sits flush in the top of the metal or porcelain sink drain hole) you’ll need to remove the disposal from the mounting under the sink by rotating the unit counterclockwise.  It should pop right off.  Here’s a great illustration showing all the parts of the disposal for reference.  Next loosen the mounting screws below enough to be able to push the sink flange on top up off its seat and apply some plumbers putty between the flange and its seat.  Retighten the mounting screws, and remove any excess putty pushed out from under the sink flange.  Reattach the disposal, power up, and test.  Now if the leak is at the dishwasher connection you’ll need to either tighten the connector up enough to stop the leak or replace the hose and/or connector altogether.  If you have a leak at the discharge drainpipe, disconnect the pipe, and replace the gasket.  That should stop the leak.
  2. Slow drain.  First of all DO NOT use chemical drain cleaners with your garbage disposal.  Those cleaners, like Drain-o, can damage the working parts of the unit and hasten its demise.  Remove the bolts holding the discharge pipe to the disposal.  Disconnect the drain trap.  Check all parts for clogs or other obstructions.  If you don’t find anything that’s a sign that the clog is in the pipe going into the wall and not in the disposal.  Using a sink auger will clear that right up.

A couple quick do’s and don’ts to maintain a healthy, functioning garbage disposal.  Do periodically grind lemon peel and ice cubes in your disposal to keep things smelling fresh while grinding away potential food deposits stuck on the shredding wheel or flywheel.  Do Not drop egg shells or potato skins down the disposal.  Egg shells and coffee grounds will cling to any sludge building up inside the unit, and potato skins produce a past like substance that sticks to everything and contributes to clogs.  Try our blog page for more helpful how-to articles, and visit our home buyer and home seller pages for great Real Estate tips and information.

Garbage Disposal Trouble Shooting (Part 1)

Other than burning out the motor, there are generally only a handful of things that go wrong with a garbage disposal.  Most of those are issues you can easily fix yourself without calling in a professional.  A word of caution before we get started – be sure to cut power to the disposal whenever working on it, and NEVER stick your hand down the sink and into the unit to retrieve, for example, a wedding ring or to dislodge the flywheel.  I don’t want to read in the newspaper about one of our Greater Oklahoma City neighbors losing a hand in an accident.  On to the troubleshooting:

  1. The garbage disposal does not turn on, or has no power.  Reach up to the underside of the unit and feel around for the reset button.  Periodically this button will trip and it will seem that the disposal has no power.  Press the button in and test to see if that fixes the problem.  If not start to work your way back to the circuit breaker box.  Start by checking to make sure the unit is actually plugged in under the sink.  Check that outlet to see if the GFI button needs to be reset.  If that’s good move on to the circuit box.  Find the breaker assigned to the kitchen/refrigerator/disposal area.  Breakers can be labeled many different ways, and there are often more than one breaker assigned to an area of the house.  Reset the kitchen breakers and return to the disposal to test.  If you still get no power either the disposal is burned out or there’s a wiring problem in the wall. If you’re not an electrician that’s when it’s time to call in a professional.
  2. The flywheel is jammed.  Often when you flip the switch to turn the disposal it doesn’t sound quite right, and it might only be emitting a low hum.  Turn the disposal off.  It is getting power just fine, the problem is that the flywheel is jammed.  What you want to do is locate the offset wrench that came with the disposal.  It is probably taped to the side of the unit under the sink.  Again, make sure you disconnect power to the disposal prior to working on it.  Insert the end of the offset wrench into the flywheel hole on the bottom of the unit.  Turn the wrench clockwise until the flywheel inside moves freely.

Tune in next time for part 2 of troubleshooting your garbage disposal.  As always give us a call or send us an email with all your Real Estate questions, and check back often with our blog page for more helpful do-it-yourself tips.

April 2013 Update on the Mortgage Market

In an article dated March 1, 2013 in “Mortgage Daily News,” writer Jann Swanson reported, “Freddie Mac’s net income increased by 55 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 primarily due to a decrease in newly delinquent loans and an improvement in home prices.  The company reported net income on Thursday of $4.5 billion compared to $2.9 billion in the third quarter of 2012.”

Good news and one of the positive signs for our Edmund and Greater Oklahoma City neighbors that the recovery is progressing in the right direction.  Here are this week’s mortgage interest rates:

The 30-year fixed rate this week is at 3.43%, with 0.8 points, which is down .11% from last week with no change in points.

The 15-year fixed is at 2.65%, with 0.7 points, down slightly from last week’s 2.74% rate with no change in points.

5 year ARMs are at 2.62%, with 0.5 points, down slightly on the percentage from last week’s 2.65%, with no change in points from the same time period.

1 year ARMs are at 2.62% this week with 0.3 points, down ever so slightly from last week’s 2.63%.  Points are lower from last week’s 0.4.