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Thomas Skiffington,  CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
Fax: 267-354-6800
email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Protect Your Appliances over the Holidays

November 21, 2012 12:08 pm

With so many guests coming in and out of the house, plumbing and appliance emergencies are the most frequent service requests over the holidays. Kitchen appliances, chimneys, furnaces and garbage disposals are especially prone to malfunction during the hectic holiday season. HomeAdvisor's Home Improvement Expert and DIY Network host Amy Matthews offers useful tips to help homeowners prepare their homes for the winter season.

"The holidays can be as stressful as they are joyous, especially if an unexpected home repair emergency occurs," says Matthews.

Kitchen Appliances
According to HomeAdvisor, the most frequent home emergency repair in 2012 has been for appliance repairs. Avoid having an emergency situation during a big family feast by thoroughly cleaning your oven and grill and keeping kitchen appliances in tip-top shape. If the oven isn't cleaned properly, homeowners risk the chance of filling their house with smoke and ruining their meal. A professional can inspect top trouble areas and provide insights on repairs or replacements.

Garbage Disposals
Matthews advises that homeowners avoid garbage disposal repairs by never placing coffee grounds, grease, eggshells, bones or potato skins in the disposal. It is also important that homeowners do not overfill their garbage disposal or use chemical drain cleaners to unclog it. It is unlikely that chemical cleaners will work completely and they leave the sink full of toxic liquids.

Chimney and Fireplace
A crackling fire is charming during the holidays, but dirty chimneys can be extremely dangerous and can cause a fire in the home. A professional should inspect the fireplace to ensure the chimney is clean before lighting the first fire of the season. A money-saving tip is to install a glass enclosure or glass doors on the opening of the fireplace to reduce the amount of hot air that escapes from the house.

Furnace

Keeping a clean filter in the furnace through the winter is essential to maximizing its efficiency. Dirty filters make the furnace work harder and may even damage it. It is also best to hire a professional on an annual basis to install proper filters, vacuum the unit, and recommend appropriate upgrades. Annual maintenance on a furnace can increase its life expectancy by up to four years

Yard
Dead and dying tree branches can be a danger to people and power lines. Keep your home safe and prevent power outages this season by hiring a professional to prune branches and limbs close to your home.

Source: www.HomeAdvisor.com
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Natural Gas Leaks: Recognize and Respond

November 21, 2012 12:08 pm

With the winter weather upon us, people tend to use their natural gas appliances more often. The following safety tips can help you recognize and respond to natural gas leaks:

Use your sense of sight, hearing or smell to alert you to the presence of a gas leak. Signs of a possible leak include:

  • A damaged connection to a gas appliance, dirt or water being blown in the air, dead or dying vegetation (in an otherwise moist area) over or near pipeline areas, a fire or explosion near a pipeline or exposed pipeline after an earthquake, fire, flood or other disaster.
  • An unusual sound, such as a hissing, whistling or roaring sound near a gas line or appliance.
  • The distinctive odor of natural gas. Even though an odor is added to natural gas to assist in the detection of leaks, do not rely on sense of smell alone to alert you to a gas leak since there may be occasions when you might not be able to smell the odor additive.
If a leak is suspected:

  • Remain calm.
  • Do not light a match, candle or cigarette, and don't turn any electrical devices on or off, including light switches, or use any device or equipment that could cause a spark.
  • Immediately evacuate the area where the leak is suspected and from a safe location and call a professional, or 911.
  • Do not attempt to control the leak or repair the damaged pipe or meter.
Source: http://www.socalgas.com
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10 Tips for Coping with Grief during the Holidays

November 21, 2012 12:08 pm

The glitz and glitter in the stores, special traditions and get-togethers with family and friends make the holidays a time of anticipation and joy. However, holidays can act as a trigger for those who are grieving the death of a loved one. While some people want to ignore the holidays altogether, some want to continue traditions. What can one do?

Diane Snyder Cowan, the director of Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center, Hospice of the Western Reserve, offers the following tips:

  • Recognize that the holidays may not be the same and you may feel intense feelings of grief. Try not to isolate yourself
  • Talk with family members and friends about your feelings and share stories about your loved one.
  • Plan ahead so you can be prepared when invited to holiday get-togethers. People who are grieving often do not have the emotional or physical energy to celebrate the holidays as have they done in the past. Let others know when you are not up to attending a gathering.
  • Consider honoring your loved one through a commemorative ritual. This can be as simple as lighting a candle in his or her honor, visiting a place that holds special meaning, or baking a favorite holiday dish.
  • Do what you want to do, not what you feel you should do.
  • Surround yourself with those who are supportive and understanding.
  • Allow someone else to do the baking, cooking and decorating this year.
  • If you go to an event, take your own car so that you can leave when you choose.
  • Shop using catalogs or the Internet or don't shop at all this year.
  • Do something for others: volunteer at a soup kitchen or bake and deliver muffins to a homebound neighbor.

"There is no calendar for grief. Give yourself permission and time to grieve," Snyder Cowan says. "The first year, things may seem surreal. You may still be in a fog. The second or third holiday season can be just as difficult as your new reality sets in. Be kind and gentle to yourself. Honor your time to grieve."

Source: http://www.hospicewr.org
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Word of the Day

November 21, 2012 12:08 pm

Bylaws. Rules and regulations that govern how a homeowners’ association will be run.
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Q: What Home Improvements Are Deductible?

November 21, 2012 12:08 pm

A: According to the IRS, home improvements add to the basis, or value, of your home. A tax-acceptable improvement is defined as one that adds value to your home, "considerably" prolongs your home's useful life, or adapts your house to new uses. Examples include installing new plumbing or wiring or adding a bathroom. If the work done on the home is purely for maintenance, the cost cannot be deducted and generally cannot be added to the basis, or value, of your home. However, repairs done as part of an extensive remodeling or restoration of your home are considered improvements and therefore pass the deductible test.
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Prepping for Thanksgiving Travel

November 20, 2012 6:06 pm

Thanksgiving is a time for great food, fun and family. Unfortunately, family isn’t always local. Traditionally over 40 million Americans travel more than 50 miles from their home each Thanksgiving, to connect with friends and family in all corners of the country.

Recognized as one of the most travel intense weekends in the year, packing becomes just another part of life we must be thankful for.

Whether you and your crew are jamming five people into a sedan, or you have the luxury of running through crowded airports, there are a few packing tricks you can use to take some of the stress out of Thanksgiving weekend travel.

Travel light

First and foremost, select a suitcase that ensures your bag isn’t one of the items weighing you down.
Step two, pack only what you need. While we all like to have a few choices, depending on different scenarios we may encounter on the long weekend, making the commitment to travel light will ensure your packing (and equally as important, your unpacking!) experience is a much easier task. Take some time to check the weather forecast for your destination to choose appropriate attire. And do throw in a few back-up items, just in case! Best of all, by packing light, you may just have some room to pick up a few souvenirs along the way.

Leave your self room to maneuver

We’ve all been there – packed perfectly, maximizing each nook and cranny of our luggage. But what about those extra items you may need to bring home? Could a friend or relative have something to pass your way? Are you planning on doing any shopping?

Designed with the traveler in mind, the Helium Fusion 3.0 Trolley bags feature two additional inches of packing space with the expandable zip, so that you can accommodate all your new treasures. Exclusive to Delsey, the bags also include the patent-pending Over Weight Indicator, which signals packers when their bag exceeds the standard 50 lbs limit, and providing peace of mind by avoiding overweight baggage fees at the airport. And in case your bag is over the limit, the Pocket Tote-a-Long clip with an adjustable webbing strap allows you to attach and effortlessly carry another bag.

Pack smart
Once you have selected the correct combination of clothing, take some time to properly place these items into your suitcase. Think of what you will do when you arrive – will you unpack or live out of your suitcase for the weekend? Then, arrange accordingly.

Also, think of what you will need as soon as you arrive, and make sure those items are easy to access.

Source: www.delsey.com
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5 Habits That Destroy Your Smile

November 20, 2012 6:06 pm

You’ve heard that too much coffee and red wine can stain your pearly whites. But the Academy of General Dentistry spokesperson Steven A. Ghareeb, DDS, FAGD, offers advice on how to keep your smile healthy and pretty by avoiding these five bad oral health habits.

1. Not flossing

Brushing your teeth twice a day is important, but many patients don't realize that flossing at least once a day is just as critical to achieving—and maintaining—a healthy smile. Flossing removes the cavity-causing bacteria left behind from food particles that get stuck between teeth. "Although bleeding and irritation sometimes can occur when you first start flossing, it's important to keep at it," says Dr. Ghareeb. "Your gums will toughen up and your oral health will be better for it."

2. Brushing too soon after eating

Consuming acidic foods and beverages, such as sports and energy drinks, citrus fruits, wine, and tomatoes, can erode tooth enamel—the glossy outer layer of the tooth. Brushing your teeth too soon after eating and drinking these items can cause more damage because you are essentially brushing the acid into the teeth, not getting rid of it. Instead, you should rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and beverages and wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your pearly whites!

3. Not replacing your toothbrush often enough
Not only are old toothbrushes ineffective, but they also harbor harmful bacteria that can cause infections. Toothbrushes should be changed every three to four months. "It's also important to change your toothbrush after you've had a cold," says Dr. Ghareeb.

4. Excessively bleaching your teeth

Overzealous bleaching can cause your teeth to look unnaturally white and increase tooth sensitivity. Before using an at-home bleaching product, talk to your dentist. "He or she can advise you on proper use of these products as well as which type of bleaching system will provide you with the best results," says Dr. Ghareeb.

5. Using a hard-bristled toothbrush
A hard-bristled toothbrush coupled with an aggressive brushing technique can cause irreversible damage to your gums. Use a soft toothbrush and gently brush your teeth at a 45-degree angle, in a circular motion. Using a back-and-forth, sawing motion causes the gums to recede, and can expose the root of the tooth, making teeth extremely sensitive.

Source: www.KnowYourTeeth.com.
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Word of the Day

November 20, 2012 6:06 pm

Undivided interest. Ownership by two or more persons that gives each the right to use the entire property.
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Q: What to Consider when Buying a Vacation Home

November 20, 2012 6:06 pm

A: The second home market has more ebbs and flows than the primary home market. Sales are iffy in a bad economy except, perhaps, on the high-end. That said, there is a growing trend toward the purchase of vacation homes. They are being bought for investment purposes, enjoyment, as well as retirement. In the latter instance, some people are buying with the idea of turning a vacation home into a permanent retirement haven down the road, a move that puts them ahead of the game now.

Some of the tax benefits mirror those for a primary residence. Mortgage interest and property taxes are deductible, which helps to offset the cost of the home payment. And if you treat your second home as a rental property, you can fully depreciate it as well. But you are only allowed to occupy it for two weeks a year, or 10 percent of the total rented time, whichever is less.

Before taking the leap, ask yourself if you can afford to carry two mortgages, maintain two households, and pay the extra utilities and maintenance costs. Also, learn about financing requirements and options, which can differ slightly from those on a primary residence.
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Think ‘Function’ and ‘Scale’ When Weighing Design Option

November 20, 2012 4:06 pm

After a couple of chilly or rainy early fall days, I am ready to turn attention inward. With holidays coming you can never have enough advice on improving your interior living space –whether it is a sprawling mansion or cozy apartment.

With that in mind, we turned to Vanessa Pereira an Interior Design Consultant at Mid-Atlantic Builders (midatlanticbuilders.com) who offered these tips about planning for fall interior design projects that will impress all your holiday guests.

Before investing your time and money on the interior design of a room, Pereira suggests evaluating the following:

Function – Decide the purpose of the room up front. As an example, a family room should have furniture that is both durable and comfortable, as you will likely spend a lot of time in that room. The function of the space will help determine fabrics, furniture placement, lighting and what color scheme to use.

Scale – Fitting properly sized pieces into the appropriate space helps to bring out naturally beautiful features of your home like floor to ceiling windows and fireplaces in the family rooms. A room that is designed with scale in mind will have the right size furniture and a fitting amount of wall treatments with a noticeable focal point.

In rooms with natural focal points, the furniture should be oriented in a way so as to accentuate those features. Pereira says there should be enough room for traffic to navigate between the furniture.

Avoid placing many small pieces of furniture in an oversized room. Instead use two larger pieces complemented with a few smaller pieces such as side tables or accent chairs.

Pereira also says each room should be a reflection of your individuality. The mood of a room comes together by the color scheme, style of furnishings, fabric textures, patterns and accessories.

An inspiration piece such as an antique sofa or painting can lead the way for the rest of the room’s design. To make it easy, Pereira suggests you make sure all the fabric patterns in a room have at least one color in common.

And resist the urge to be trendy - everyone else has already done that and seen that. Since trends come and go, your best bet is always going with an overall plan to fit your personality or your lifestyle.
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