Finding Your Property Line: A Guide for Homeowners

Here’s a scenario. You receive a notice of violation from your HOA regarding weeds in your front yard. Since your property lines aren’t clearly delineated with fencing or anything else, how are you to know that the property on which these weeds are growing is yours and not your next-door neighbor’s?

The answer can most likely (but not always) be found in that big packet of documents from the closing process. You still have that, right?

For many homeowners, trying to decipher closing documents is akin to attempting to get a sip of water from an open fire hydrant. That’s ok. We’ll walk you through practical methods and resources to help you identify your property lines.

Start with your deed and survey

Your property’s legal description can be found in the deed or survey documents. The deed provides a written description of the property’s boundaries, while a survey is a precise land map. Start by reviewing these documents, as they often include measurements, landmarks, and other relevant information to guide you in identifying your property lines.

Andie Huber, with This Old House, suggests, “Most mortgage lenders require prospective homeowners to have a current survey, and your title insurance also depends on it. If you bought your home recently but don’t have the survey, contact either company to see if they have a copy on file.”

What happens if you still can’t get your hands on the survey and can’t make heads or tails of the deed’s description?

Look for boundary markers

Boundary markers, such as metal stakes or concrete monuments, surveyors use to demarcate property lines. Begin by exploring your property’s perimeter and watch for any visible markers.

These markers may be buried underground, so gently probing the soil around the suspected area can help you locate them.

Be careful when digging. Utility lines are often buried as well. If you fear hitting a gas line or something else, dial 811 on your phone. This is a national number created by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). There is no charge to call; they will help you from hitting these hidden, underground hazards while digging.

Talk to your neighbors

A friendly conversation with your neighbors can be surprisingly helpful. They might know about the property boundaries or have conducted a past survey.

Sharing information and experiences can provide additional insights and help you understand your property lines.

Check local records and government offices

Local government offices, such as the county clerk’s or assessor’s office, often maintain property records. These records may include maps, plats, or previous surveys that can assist in identifying property lines.

Visit these offices or check their websites to access relevant information. Some counties even have online databases that allow you to search for property records using your address.

Use online mapping tools

Advancements in technology have made locating property lines easier than ever. Several online mapping tools, such as Google Earth, can roughly estimate your property’s boundaries.

While these tools may not be as accurate as professional surveys, they can give you a general idea to start with. Additionally, some counties have online mapping systems offering more precise boundary information.

Hire a professional surveyor

Hiring a professional surveyor is the way to go if you need precise and legally binding information. Surveyors use specialized equipment to accurately measure and map property boundaries.

The national average cost to hire a surveyor is Homeowners report that the average land survey costs around $516. The low end of the price range is $200, and the high end is $1045, according to

The surveyor will conduct a thorough survey of your property, locate existing markers, and may even install new markers if necessary. While this option incurs a cost, it provides the highest certainty regarding your property lines.

Ensure that the surveyor you hire is licensed and insured.

Locating your property lines is crucial for understanding your land clearly and avoiding potential conflicts with neighbors or your HOA.

While some methods can give you a rough estimate, consulting professional surveyors and relevant local authorities will provide the most accurate and legally binding information.







Understanding Umbrella Insurance Policies: Who Needs Them and Why?

So, you’ve got your car insurance, homeowners insurance, and maybe even a little something for your beloved furry friend. You’re feeling pretty confident that you’ve got all your bases covered.

But have you ever heard of umbrella insurance? No, I’m not talking about that handy accessory that keeps you dry in a downpour. I’m talking about an insurance policy that can provide you with an extra layer of protection and peace of mind.

Let’s dive into the details to help you learn if umbrella insurance is something you need.

What is umbrella insurance?

Think of it as an extra shield that extends beyond the coverage limits of your existing insurance policies, such as auto or homeowners insurance. It kicks in when the limits of those policies are exhausted, providing additional liability coverage.

For example, “An idle remark can get you sued for slander. A car accident can land you in court,” explains Richard Koreto at

While none of these are covered under the typical homeowner’s insurance policy, you can obtain this coverage with umbrella insurance.

In a nutshell, umbrella insurance offers the advantage of extending the liability protection on your home and auto policies. It’s like having an insurance safety net to catch you when unexpected events or accidents exceed your other coverage.

Now, you might be wondering who exactly needs an umbrella insurance policy. There are a few situations where umbrella insurance becomes particularly crucial:

High-Net-Worth Individuals: If you’ve accumulated substantial assets, whether it’s a luxurious home, valuable investments, or a fat savings account, you become a potential target for lawsuits seeking large sums of money. An umbrella insurance policy can shield your hard-earned assets from being wiped out in case of a lawsuit or judgment exceeding your primary insurance coverage.

Homeowners: While your homeowners insurance policy covers you for many unforeseen events like property damage or theft, it may not be sufficient to cover certain liability claims. For instance, if someone were to slip and fall on your property and decide to sue you for medical expenses and damages, your homeowners insurance might fall short. An umbrella policy can step in and provide the extra coverage you need to protect your assets.

Drivers: We all know that accidents happen, and sometimes they can lead to costly lawsuits. If you cause a severe accident that results in significant injuries to others, the liability limits on your auto insurance might not be enough to cover medical expenses, legal fees, and potential damages. An umbrella insurance policy can help fill that gap and save you from a financial nightmare.

Pet Owners: As much as we love our furry friends, the truth is that accidents involving pets can happen. If your pet were to bite or injure someone, you could be liable for their medical expenses and any resulting damages. An umbrella insurance policy can offer that extra layer of protection in case your pet’s actions lead to a lawsuit.

So, you might be wondering, “Why can’t I just increase the limits on my existing insurance policies?” Increasing your primary coverage limits can be an option, but it has limitations.

Insurance companies often have maximum limits they can offer, and those limits may not be enough to cover you adequately in high-stakes scenarios. Additionally, umbrella insurance isn’t just about increasing the limits; it often covers claims not covered by your primary policies, like slander or libel lawsuits.

Why umbrella insurance might be worth considering

Now that we’ve covered who might need umbrella insurance let’s talk about the reasons why it’s worth considering. Here are a few key benefits:

Increased Liability Protection: The primary purpose of an umbrella insurance policy is to give you peace of mind by providing additional liability coverage. It acts as a safety net, ensuring you’re financially protected in the face of unexpected lawsuits or claims beyond your primary insurance limits.

Affordable Coverage: Umbrella insurance policies offer substantial coverage at a relatively low cost. Considering the potential financial devastation that can result from a lawsuit, the annual premium for an umbrella policy is often a small price for the protection it provides.

Broader Coverage: Umbrella insurance policies often include coverage for various liability situations that might not be covered by your primary policies. This can include things like defamation, false arrest, or even worldwide liability coverage for certain situations. It’s like having a safety net that catches you in various scenarios.

Peace of Mind: Let’s face it; life is full of uncertainties. Accidents happen, and lawsuits can arise from unexpected situations. Having an umbrella insurance policy in place lets you sleep better at night, knowing you have an extra layer of protection to shield your assets from potential financial ruin.

Before you rush off to purchase an umbrella insurance policy, it’s important to note that there are typically requirements for eligibility. Insurance companies often require you to have certain minimum levels of primary liability coverage on your existing policies before you can purchase an umbrella policy. This ensures that you have a solid foundation of coverage in place.

When it comes to choosing an umbrella insurance policy, it’s crucial to work with a reputable insurance provider. Shop around, compare quotes, and read reviews to find a company that fits your needs and has a track record of excellent customer service.

DIY solutions to a sticking sliding glass door

Sliding doors have been around longer than most of us think. In fact, archaeologists say that they were somewhat common in “… Roman houses as early as the first century CE,” according to Martin Whitmore, President of US Window and Door.

In those days, however, the doors hung from the ceiling, so they “… were able to move freely …,” Whitmore concludes.

Fast-forward to post-World War II, glass sliding doors became “the most popular type of door in the world,” according to Whitmore.

Americans have a love-hate relationship with these sliding doors.  Many homeowners claim that they aren’t attractive, like French doors. Others dislike dealing with the common problems of these doors, such as a lack of security and the multiple malfunctions they have faced over the years.

The fact is, however, millions of homes offer this feature.

The most common malfunction is when the door no longer slides as well as it once did. Fighting with it just to get it closed is beyond frustrating.

The good news is that you don’t always need to call a professional to fix the problem. Let’s explore some simple do-it-yourself (DIY) solutions to help you quickly get your sliding door back on track.

1. Clean the tracks

One of the most common reasons for a sliding door sticking is dirt, dust, and debris accumulating in the tracks. To resolve this issue, start by thoroughly cleaning the tracks.

sliding glass door repair

Begin by removing any loose debris using a vacuum cleaner or a brush. Next, mix a mild detergent with warm water to wipe down the tracks. Scrub gently with a soft or old toothbrush to remove any stubborn grime.

Finally, rinse the tracks with clean water and wipe them dry. This simple cleaning routine can work wonders in restoring smooth operation to your sliding door.

2. Lubricate the tracks

Lubrication might be the key if your sliding door is still sticking after cleaning. Applying lubricant to the tracks can significantly reduce friction and improve the door’s sliding action.

Begin by selecting a silicone-based or Teflon-based lubricant specifically designed for door tracks. “Although they may feel slippery when they’re first applied, grease and oil-based lubricants eventually become sticky and will attract dirt that clogs your sliding glass door tracks,” cautions the pros at

If you’re unsure when purchasing a product, check the ingredient label.  “If you see ‘petroleum’ listed, don’t use it—the lubricant has an oily base,” the Glass Doctor pros conclude.

Apply a small amount of the lubricant to a clean cloth and wipe it along the entire length of the tracks. Make sure to cover both the top and bottom tracks. Move the door back and forth a few times to distribute the lubricant evenly. This simple step can often make a noticeable difference in how smoothly your sliding door operates.

3. Adjust the rollers

Another common cause of a sticking sliding door is misaligned or worn-out rollers. The rollers are located at the bottom of the door and help it glide along the tracks.

To adjust the rollers, locate the adjustment screws on the bottom edge of the door. Using a screwdriver, turn the screws clockwise to raise the door and counterclockwise to lower it. Make small adjustments and test the door’s movement after each turn.

If the rollers are worn or damaged, they may need to be replaced. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions or seek professional assistance to ensure proper replacement.

4. Check the door alignment

Sometimes, a sliding door can stick due to misalignment. Check if the door is properly aligned within the frame. Inspect the top and bottom edges of the door to see if there are any noticeable gaps. If the door is misaligned, you may need to adjust the frame.

Loosen the screws holding the frame in place and gently tap the frame using a rubber mallet until the door aligns correctly. Tighten the screws once the alignment is satisfactory. Remember to make small adjustments and test the door’s movement after each step to ensure proper alignment.

A sticking sliding door can be frustrating, but with a few DIY solutions, you can restore its smooth gliding action without needing professional help. By following these simple steps, you can save time and money and enjoy the convenience of a sliding door that operates effortlessly.


Stop the Drip! A Simple Guide to Fixing a Dripping Kitchen Faucet

Is the sound of a dripping kitchen faucet driving you crazy? It may also be causing your water bill to soar.

The good news is that fixing it is easier than you might think. This blog post shows how to fix that pesky drip and save water and your sanity.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Before getting started, make sure you have the necessary tools handy. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver (both flathead and Phillips)
  • Replacement parts (such as O-rings and washers) specific to your faucet model. You can find these at a hardware store or online
  • Plumber’s grease

Step 2: Turn Off the Water

Locate the shut-off valves (typically resembling an outdoor faucet) under the sink and turn off the water supply to avoid any unwanted surprises. Clockwise usually closes the valve. Once the water is off, turn on the faucet to release any remaining water in the pipes.

Step 3: Disassemble the Faucet

Now it’s time to take apart the faucet. Start by locating the handle and removing any decorative caps or covers. Use a flathead screwdriver to carefully pry them off. Underneath, you’ll find screws holding the handle in place. Use the appropriate screwdriver (flathead or Phillips) to loosen and remove these screws. Once the screws are out, gently lift off the handle.

Step 4: Identify the Problem

With the handle removed, you’ll now have access to the inner workings of the faucet. The most common culprits for a dripping faucet are worn-out O-rings and washers. Examine these parts for signs of damage, such as cracks or tears. If they look worn or damaged, it’s time to replace them.

Step 5: Replace the O-Rings and Washers

Carefully remove the old O-rings and washers using your fingers or a screwdriver. Take note of their size and shape; you’ll need to find suitable replacements. Take the old parts to a hardware store to ensure you get the correct ones. Once you have the new O-rings and washers, lubricate them with the plumber’s grease and carefully install them instead of the old ones.

Step 6: Reassemble and Test

With the new O-rings and washers in place, it’s time to put everything back together. Start by reattaching the handle and tightening the screws. Then, place the decorative caps or covers back on and press them firmly into place. Now, turn the shut-off valves back on to restore the water supply.

Step 7: Check for Leaks

Once the water is back on, turn on the faucet and observe. Is the drip gone? Keep an eye out for any leaks around the handle or spout. If you notice any leaks, you might need to recheck the installation of the O-rings and washers or tighten the faucet components further.

Congratulations! You’ve successfully fixed a dripping kitchen faucet all by yourself. Not only have you saved water, but you’ve also gained valuable DIY skills.



Let’s transform that unused closet

At one time, closets were the same size as a large room in our modern homes. In these spacious caverns, folks studied, wrote and spent time in contemplation.

Where did they keep their clothing, you ask? They stored them in wooden storage chests.

The closet as we know it today, “…a dedicated space built into the home for storage,”  came into being in the United States around 1840, according to the folks at Closets by Design.

And homebuyers fell in love with them. Naturally, home builders picked up on the feature; after all, people were willing to pay more for a home with closets.

Fast forward to 2023, when homes are vastly larger and not all of us have a hoard to store away. Believe it or not, some folks even have an unused closet.

If you are among these minimalists, read on to get some closet transformation ideas, many of which can be accomplished in one weekend.

Ditch the dining room table and create a brilliant workstation

The practice of transforming a closet into an office has become so popular there is a term for the result: Cloffice.

If you have an unused closet in the home, consider turning it into an office or a workstation. It’s a fun project that you can easily DIY over a weekend.

Step one is to determine if you’ll paint the closet’s interior. Many are so dreary that working in them may become drudgery.

Whether you know it as a closet bar or closet rod, that thing that holds your clothes hangers needs to be removed, if you didn’t do so while painting, before performing the next step in the transformation. Don’t dispose of it because if you ever sell the home, you’ll need to replace it.

Now you should have an empty closet, save for a shelf or shelves, set higher on the wall. On these shelves, use decorative boxes, trays or other organizational items to store small office supplies such as paper clips, staples, etc. Check out the ideas on

Don’t neglect installing suitable lighting. While overhead lighting is necessary, a desk lamp should also be on your shopping list. Shop for one that is adjustable, offers a generous amount of light, and has a small footprint.

Now all you need to do is figure out the desk situation. This can be as simple as plywood propped on short filing cabinets or a small version of an office desk. Get ideas online at and

Now, pull up that comfy chair you’ve chosen and get to work!

Curl up with a good book in your own reading nook

Shallow closets are ideal for this transformation idea. All you need is a comfy spot to lounge in and good lighting. But, really, the sky is the limit when designing this space.

Two examples we’ve found online are brilliant and include built-in window seats (our favorite) or a giant pouf to sit or lie on (this is especially cute for a child’s reading nook).

Good lighting is essential in this closet transformation.

From closet to laundry room? Yup!

Yes, it may sound wacky, but stick with us here. “Converting a closet into a laundry can be an inexpensive exercise as long as you have easy access to both plumbing and drainage,” according to an unnamed writer who took on the project and walks readers through it at

We love the closet/laundry room with racks built into the doors to hold laundry soap and other supplies.

Think you can’t fit those appliances in the closet? The aforementioned unnamed writer says, “Most closets are 600mm (24″) deep. Most laundry appliances are around 500mm (20″) deep.”

With a bit of time and inspiration, you can quickly transform your unused closet into an area that is a joy to use.

Make your spring/summer garage sale the talk of the neighborhood

It’s a mystery how they figured this out, but did you know that Americans hold 6.5 million to 9 million garage sales each year? According to, the practice dates back to at least the 1950s.

If you’re considering removing unused household items, the garage sale is the ideal way to do it, provided you take the time to plan and prepare.

A good garage sale starts with a good plan

The first step in the planning process is to choose a date for the sale. Sounds easy, right?

You may be sorry if you just pull a date out of a hat. Instead, consider that there may be competition for your event. Check to ensure no significant sporting events are happening, live or televised.

Also, check to ensure there won’t be any popular local events, such as fairs, festivals, etc. Although there are a lot of die-hard garage sale fans, even they will skip a sale if there’s something else competing for their attention.

Another way to ensure your sale is a success is to plan it for when it’s more likely your customers will have money to spend.

The Yard Sale Queen offers a brilliant suggestion: find out when employees of some of the larger businesses in your area get paid and hold your sale the weekend after payday.

Typically, folks get paid on the first and 15th of each month.

Consider the following as well:

  • Make a sketch of the garage or yard, noting where the tables and racks will be located. Ensure there is room to walk between these items and that you can see all items from wherever you plan to be stationed.
  • This one is tedious, but you’ll be so glad you took the time to do it. Create a list of everything that will be up for sale and how much you want.
  • As something sells, cross it off the list and note how much you received for it.
  • Price items clearly.
  • Enlist help from family and friends.
  • Round up an extension cord so that folks can test out electronics and small appliances.
  • Save all of your grocery bags, Amazon boxes, and packing material. They will come in handy for fragile items.
  • Selling clothing? The Yard Sale Queen suggests that you go through all the pants pockets, and compartments in purses, and fan out books to ensure no money or other valuables are hidden within.

The Day before the Sale

Now you must let everyone know about your super-fantastic garage or yard sale. Advertise it on Facebook, NextDoor, and other social media platforms you use frequently.

  • Create signs that can direct customers to the home. Start placing them on the busy streets first.
  • Get some change and small bills from the bank to make the change.
  • Determine how you will hold the cash during the sale. A cashbox isn’t a good idea as it’s too easy for someone to walk away with it. A “fanny sack” that you wear around your waist or a wallet in your pocket is a much safer way to hold your cash.

Additional considerations for a winning yard sale

If you live in a gated community, getting people into the sale is more challenging. Contact your homeowners association (HOA) first to determine what rules they have about yard sales and if there are any restrictions.

Check local regulations to ensure your street signs aren’t violating any city or municipal codes.

Be aware of some of the more common scams:

  • When making change, don’t immediately pocket the bill the customer gives you. Hold it in your hand or place it under a paperweight while you make change. This way, the customer can’t claim to have given you a larger bill.
  • Large groups of customers arriving at once or rowdy children can be distracting. Have someone help you monitor folks when they may be deliberately trying to distract you.
  • The Yard Sale Queen suggests that you always look inside any large items you sell before allowing the customer to leave to ensure something else isn’t hidden within.


What’s happening there between the curb and your home’s front door?

What happens — or doesn’t — in that area is known in real estate circles as “curb appeal,” and it makes or breaks your home’s first impression.

The focal point of this area is the entryway to the home – the front door and surrounding area. This is where your guests’ eyes will settle as they approach your home.

If you are one of those brave souls who got past the unattractiveness of a home’s exterior and decided to purchase anyway, or if you’re planning on selling your home, let’s figure out how to make your front door entrance warm and inviting.


When planning the landscaping for your front entry, there are three primary considerations, according to Environmental Landscape Associates, a Pennsylvania design firm:

  • Principles
  • Program
  • Elements

Important principles include ensuring that the design is in synch with and complements the architectural style of your home. In other words, don’t go for a cottage garden entryway on a house with modern architecture.

Especially if you plan on putting the home on the market, curb appeal is far more critical than your personal taste in landscaping.

The second consideration, the program, is part of the process wherein you’ll need to determine how to utilize the space. Is the entryway merely for front-door access, or will there be entertainment elements also?

Large porches can accommodate seating and dining areas that become part of the home’s curb appeal. Don’t forget any privacy concerns. If you need to screen the front windows from neighbors or passing traffic, the barrier must coordinate with the other elements.

The design elements include everything you’ll need to create it, such as hardscape elements (bricks, pavers, etc.) and plants – both in the ground and in containers.

When deciding which plants to purchase, refer back to the principles and the program to ensure everything flows and is tied together at the end of the project.

Formal Entry Ideas

Formal entryways should exude symmetry. Think “organized.” Both sides of the entryway should mirror one another. This balanced approach lends a formal feel to the area.

Use patterned hardscapes, formal, shaped hedges, and elegant groundcovers. Hedging to consider includes:

  • Juniper
  • Rosemary
  • Boxwood
  • Holly

Frame the front door by planting – either in the ground or in attractive containers – identical plants on either side.

Informal Entry Ideas

You can get a lot more creative when creating informally landscaped entryways. Use natural stones on the walkway and, set them in irregular patterns, mix and match shrubs and perennial flowering plants. Line the walkway with interesting edging materials, such as a small white picket fence or colorful flowers.

If you aim for a relaxed feel, such as with a cottage entryway, use fragrant flowering plants such as roses, lilies, lavender, and thyme.

Soften a concrete or rigid walkway surface by lining it with soft-colored plants, such as dusty millers, combined with any red- or pink-foliage landscape plants, such as begonias or multi-colored coleus.

Year-Round Appeal

Whether your landscaping at the front door entrance is formal or casual, ensure it remains interesting all year. Combine deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs so the entry isn’t completely bare when the leaves fall.

The experts with the University of Missouri Extension suggest choosing deciduous trees that bear flowers in the spring and summer, have good foliage color in the fall, and have an exciting branch structure.

Consider a mixture of the following plants:

  • Ornamental grass
  • Woody ornamentals, such as abelia and Japanese bayberry
  • Perennials, such as sedum

Put it all together

When the aim is to focus on the entryway, the most common arrangement of plants is to place large plants at both ends of the house and progressively smaller plants as you move toward the door.

The University above of Missouri Extension agents also suggests using odd numbers of plants in groupings – such as three or five – when designing an informal entryway. Your goal is formal, with symmetry and order, and use even number groupings.

The path to your front door, whether it heads straight to it or meanders a bit, requires landscaping to fit the home’s architecture and to provide year-round interest.

After all, this area is your home’s welcoming “handshake,” according to the editors of Sunset Magazine. Avoid giving your visitor the limp fish while you don’t want to offer a bone-crusher.


3 tips to keep your dog safe this Independence Day

“More pets get lost on July 4th than any other day of the year,” according to the experts at HomeAgain, a lost pet recovery service.

Dog owners know well that the pooch can be in the furthest reaches of the home but will come running if you grab a crinkly package of chips from the pantry.

That’s how keen their sense of hearing is. “In fact, they are capable of hearing sounds four times further away than the human ear can discern … They have 15 different muscles that move their ears in all directions,” claim the experts at

Imagine then what the booming, blasting, popping sounds of the typical July 4th celebration does to a dog’s ears. Since it’s something most dogs don’t hear frequently, it causes great fear and anxiety.

The dog experts at Purina say that it’s not only the sound of fireworks but their unpredictability of them that causes the dog to perceive them as a threat.

“This triggers their fight-or-flight response,” they say online at “Your dog may bark at the noises or try to run away and hide. They may also show other signs of anxiety, like restlessness, panting, pacing, or whining.”

Many dogs get the fight or flight response and choose the latter, attempting to escape the perceived threat. This leads us to the first tip to keep your dog safe on Independence Day.

1. Ensure that your dog’s microchip is up-to-date and that he or she wears a collar with an ID tag attached.

Your dog is microchipped, right? According to a study published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and highlighted by Ohio State University’s website, animal “… shelter officials housing lost pets that had been implanted with a microchip were able to find the owners in almost three out of four cases.”

It’s not enough, however, to have your dog microchipped as a puppy and then forget about it. If you move, the chip should be updated to contain your current contact information.

Don’t let your pet be among those that never see their owners again because they aren’t chipped or the chip contains old information.

2. Thinking of taking the pooch with you to the festivities? Think again.

Not only will there be the frightening and unpredictable fireworks at celebrations, but also the crowds of people, the kids running around, and being in an unfamiliar place. Your dog may just decide to make a run for it.

Experts with the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommend leaving the dog at home “… in a safe, escape-proof room or crate.”

3. It’s not over until after the cleanup

The aftermath of any self-respecting Independence Day celebration can be dangerous for our pets. The wind could blow in debris from the neighbors’ yards even if you didn’t host the celebration.

It’s a good idea to clear the debris before allowing your dog to play in the yard. Pick up spent fireworks, food scraps (especially bones), barbecue skewers, and paper debris.

We hope you, and your pets, have a safe and happy Independence Day!




5 things to look for when buying a new built-in dishwasher

Dishwashers. We never really understand what a time- and effort-saving device it is until it goes on the blink.

And if yours has, you no doubt understand how much they’ve gone up in price over the past few years. Although you can purchase a basic model for less than $400, the models with the useful bells and whistles can cost up to a few thousand dollars.

“On average, a new dishwasher costs about $970,” suggests Paige Bennett at

Whether you’re looking for a no-frills dishwasher or a top-of-the-line brand, knowing exactly which features you need and will use and the right time to shop for it is the key to saving money.

So, what is the right time of year to shop for a dishwasher?

“Model year clearance time” is a phrase we often hear in commercials and see in print ads. That time is the month of May. This is because manufacturers put out their new models in June, so sales are abundant to get the old stock moved out.

“Federal holidays [New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.) are also a great time to find huge savings on dishwashers,” claims Debbie Wolfe and Lexie Pelchen at

Don’t forget Black Friday. You may find some real bargains on offer.

Finally, if you don’t mind a slightly marred appliance, you can check out the “scratch and dent” inventories at appliance stores and big box retailers any time of the year.

How to start your dishwasher shopping journey

The first step toward buying a dishwasher that meets your needs is much like the first step toward buying a home. Figure out what you need when it comes to features.

“Wi-Fi capability, touch screen controls and programmable wash cycles are nice, but they come at premium prices. Decide if you really need all the bells and whistles and if the extra cost is worth it to you,” warns Wolfe and Pelchen.

Take some time to get to know the various features that manufacturers are offering. Items such as stainless-steel tubs are quite popular with consumers, replacing the old interior surface that is easily stained. Other popular features, according to the folks at, include:

  • ENERGY STAR® Certification to help save money.
  • A dishwasher that boasts a quieter cycle.
  • Water softener if you live in an area with hard water that causes spotting on your dishes.
  • Hard food disposal

Which brands do consumers like the best?

“KitchenAid … ranks highest in customer satisfaction among dishwashers. Samsung … ranks second, while Bosch … and LG … rank third in a tie,” according to research by JD Powers and Associates.

Which finish is best for you?

Many shoppers choose to match the finish of their other appliances when shopping for a new dishwasher. Other than that, there are a few things to consider when choosing a finish.

If you despise fingerprints on your appliance, choose a brushed stainless steel finish. Black and traditional stainless-steel finishes attract dust, grime and fingerprints.

Tub material

We mentioned earlier the popularity of the stainless-steel tub. Your other choice is plastic. As the dishwasher ages, plastic tubs tend to become stained and may hold odors.

Not so with a stainless-steel tub. It dries quicker and is tougher. Yes, dishwashers with stainless-steel tubs are more expensive.

Does the noise bug you?

If it has been some time since you’ve shopped for a dishwasher you will notice that the noise level, listed by decibel level, is now typically a standard part of the in-store description.

“A rating of 45 decibels or lower is a virtually silent dishwasher. Decibel levels between 45 and 50 have the equivalent sound level to steady rainfall. A 50 or higher decibel level is equivalent to the level of a normal conversation.,” according to Wolfe and Pelchen.

They go on to warn readers that “The lower the decibel rating, the more expensive the dishwasher will be.”

Have you heard about the filters?

Have you ever wondered what keeps the food debris on your plates from floating around while the dishes wash and possibly ends up back on the clean dishes?

It’s the filter that stops that mess and you’ll need to choose from a manual and a self-cleaning filter. The latter “… filters feature a grinder that pulverizes the debris and flushes it down the drain. Manual filters need to be removed and cleaned often to keep them free of debris,” suggests Debbie Wolfe and Samantha Allen at

Some additional features you might want to shop for

Wolfe and Allen suggest looking at these additional dishwasher features:

  • Soil sensors.
  • Adjustable racks.
  • A third rack.
  • “Smart home technology and Wi-Fi connectivity …” so you can program the machine to start washing even if you aren’t around via your desktop, laptop or smartphone.

Who knew there was so much to learn about something we use every day? Hopefully, these tips will help you make a choice from the many dishwasher models available on the market.

Don’t call the exterminator until you try these three easy DIY tricks

Bugs, creepy crawlies, pests — whatever you choose to call them, they actually have a season; a time when they are busiest.

“Spring marks the real beginning of insect season because … with rising temperatures and spring showers, insects become more active,” suggest the pros at Petri Pest Control in Boynton Beach, Florida.

For the most part, bugs are tolerable when they are outdoors. When they intrude inside the home, it’s time to take action. And, if the pest that’s bugging you is among those that can cause damage to the property (such as roaches), act quickly.

1. Perimeters aren’t just for crime scenes

Consider applying a perimeter spray.

There are a number of brands on the market and we’ve heard positive reviews on many of them from our homeowner clients. Many formulas are pet and people-safe if used as instructed and once they dry, including:

  • Ortho Home Defense® Crawling Bug Killer® with Essential Oils
  • EcoLogic Ready-to-Use Home Insect Control

Follow all safety precautions and the use instructions listed on the label. Wear protective clothing, gloves, and a mask, and wash thoroughly after using the product.

2. Push back on bugs

A good first step if you don’t want to use the perimeter spray is to push bugs as far from the home as possible. Ways to do this include:

  • Removing outdoor food sources that attract pests.
  • Eliminating outdoor water leaks, such as a faucet that constantly drips.
  • Declutter your yard to keep them from taking up residence in the clutter.
  • Stack your firewood 10 or more feet from the home.
  • Mow the lawn as short as possible.
  • Trim tree branches growing close to the home.

3. Then, seal up the home

Take a tour of the interior of the home, looking for:

  • Holes in floorboards (attractive to termites).
  • Piles of paper and cardboard boxes in the garage (the rats and mice thank you for the free bedding!).
  • Exterior cracks and holes that pests can use to gain access to the home.
  • The entomologists at the SC Johnson Center for Insect Science and Family Health™ recommend that you use caulk to fill the holes and cracks which will deny pests access to the home’s interior.
  • Cracks around doorways and windows.
  • Torn and bent screens on doors and windows (get them repaired).

Bonus Tip

Cleanliness is next to pestlessness

The ickies come into our homes searching for one of three things:

  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter

Deny them these needs and they will most likely go elsewhere. The best way to accomplish this is to keep the home clean.

  • Keep up after crumbs, both in the kitchen and in the kids’ rooms.
  • Take the trash/garbage out to a secured bin every day.
  • Pick up pet droppings in the yard.
  • Ensure your pantry items are stored in sealed containers.
  • Avoid leaving dishes in the sink.
  • Fix leaky faucets.

If pests can’t find food, water, or shelter in your home, they will leave.

And that, after all, is the goal.