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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
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Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Water Damage: Protect Your Floors. Protect Your Home

March 30, 2012 6:32 pm

Hardwood floors are a terrific investment for your home. However, should your floors experience water damage, there are alternatives to removal and replacement. Restoring hardwood is now a popular option for homeowners, allowing them to forego the expensive alternative to completely replacing their hardwood floors. Matching existing flooring can be very difficult, and replacement is not only extremely time consuming but costly, compared with restorative drying methods.

Drying Hardwoods Floors
When assessing the amount of water damage and the level of repair required, there are two key elements that must be considered: the length of time that water saturated the wood and the quantity of moisture within the floor.

Until recently, two construction factors have interfered with a contractor's ability to dry hardwood flooring. First, the flooring is nearly always nailed to the sub-flooring, preventing adequate access to the subsurface side. Second, the attractive finishes applied to the surface of the wood have low permeance, acting as effective moisture barriers. These two characteristics trap unwanted moisture in the wood.

Staining

Although wood decay is the most important issue in long-term water damage to wood products, physical damage emerges as the primary concern when dealing with hardwood. As the hardwood absorbs water, swelling occurs, resulting in warping and staining.

If nails are present in flooring that has excess moisture for a long period of time, oxidation can develop and stain the wood around the nails. In some cases, the nails are already oxidized, and water damage simply accelerates the existing flood damage.
If the floor is water stained, re-finishing may be necessary.

Cupping, Crowning and Buckling

Tremendous pressures build as hardwood absorbs water, which can cause saturated hardwood to become permanently stressed and damaged if left unattended. When exposed to water, hardwood floors can buckle, cup or crown. Buckling is separation from the subfloor, while cupping and crowning are warps that bend away from the moist sections of the wood. With immediate attention, a professional experienced in restoring hardwood can often prevent permanent water damage to wood flooring.

Source: ServiceMaster Restore
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Question of the Day

March 30, 2012 6:32 pm

Q: What is a variance?
A: A variance is a request made to your local jurisdiction to deviate from current zoning requirements. If granted, a variance will allow you to use your land in a way that is normally not permitted by the zoning ordinance because it waives a certain requirement of the zoning ordinance. For example, it may allow the owner of an odd-shaped lot to reduce slightly the setback requirements in order to accommodate a building, or permit the building of a gazebo in the backyard.
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Word of the Day

March 30, 2012 6:32 pm

Condominium. Type of housing where buyers own their units outright, plus an undivided share, or joint ownership, in the common elements of the building or community.
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Tips to Tame the Wild, Wild Web

March 30, 2012 6:32 pm

There's no doubt that mobile phones, tablets, computers and the Internet make accessing and sharing information a lot easier. From pop culture trends, politics and sports updates, to breaking news and social networks, there's an awful lot of information out there, and trying to stay on top of it all can be overwhelming. If everyone in the family is connected to their devices—are they really connected to each other?

Information Overload
If you think your email inbox is overloaded, take a look at some of these numbers:
• 30 billion pieces of content are shared on Facebook every month.
• 864,000 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every day.
• More than 190 million tweets are sent on Twitter every day.

It's not just adults trying to consume all that information. The Kaiser Family Foundation says that kids 8 to 18 years old average more than 7 1/2 hours a day using digital media. And they spend a lot of that time using more than one digital medium simultaneously, so they end up packing 10 hours, 45 minutes worth of media content into that 7 1/2 hours.

So how can you get the information you want while also turning down the noise?

Tips for Managing Your Media

"Internet and digital devices aren't going away," says Kinsey Schofield, pop culture maven and social media strategist. "They're only going to become more prominent. The trick is to find ways to manage your time and the information effectively. When you do that, you'll have less stress and more time for some fun together."

Set Internet Limits -- For Everyone

With so much information and social connections available in an instant, it's tempting to spend too much time in the digital world. But when you do that, says Kinsey, you miss out on things happening in the real world.
• For kids, set time limits on their electronics usage. They can earn time by doing chores, for good behavior, or as rewards for good grades. Keep track of time with stickers, beads or even candy.
• Adults should lead by example. Set aside a specified chunk of time to deal with emails, social media check-ins or catching up on the latest celebrity news, for example. Designate meal times as "device-free" zones, and make a point of letting your kids see you setting aside your devices.
• As a family, make a list of Internet house rules. Include the types of sites that are acceptable and those that are off limits, time allowed on the Internet, and guidelines for sharing information online.

Monitor Mobile Usage

A lot of time is spent on the phone -- and most of it isn't actually talking.
• "Just looking at your data usage each month can be a wake-up call," says Kinsey. Go through your monthly statement as a family so you can see exactly how much time you are spending connected. This can help you determine reasonable limits on texting, Web browsing, game playing and consuming music.
• Most mobile data plans have parental controls available that will let you limit when kids can text or call, filter Web browsing, block picture messaging and block unknown phone numbers. This can help you put some limits on when your kids can go online, and keep them safer while doing so.

Source: www.msnnow.com.
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Improve Your Child's Vocabulary

March 30, 2012 6:32 pm

While a fondness for reading can come naturally, for some children, it can be difficult to get started, especially with competition from various electronics and toys. But you can encourage a love of reading and help expand your child's vocabulary as they grow using these simple tips.

For Young Children
• Read often. Reading to your child on a regular basis can really help improve their vocabulary. Don't be afraid to stop and explain difficult words to them. Keep your child engaged by asking them to describe different words as you go along.
• Engage on the go. When you're out running errands, ask your child to describe different objects they can see from the car, such as people, animals, buildings, parks, etc.
For Older Children
• Make it fun. Give your child vocabulary games such as flash cards and word searches that will help further encourage your child to read.
• Research books. To make sure you know what your child is reading, look to sites that offer suggested book listings for children of various ages such aswww.ReadKiddoRead.com and www.teachersfirst.com.

Source: www.kidsvillenews.com.
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Hot Products: Power Brooms

March 30, 2012 6:32 pm

I am always looking for ways to help homeowners get the job of clean up and maintenance faster and easier. So when the subject of power brooms came up recently, I went looking for some details on how this tool can be utilized around the house or property.

The Power Broom performs the following functions:

• Sweeping hardscape
• Removing snow
• Sweeping debris from turf
• Dethatching lawns
• Sweeping sand in pavers
• Blossoming artificial turf
• Installing and leveling filler in artificial turf
• Cleaning sports fields

If you already own one of the growing line of split-boom yard equipment, chances are there's an affordable hand-held exterior power broom for small jobs. Husqvarna's Split Boom Trimmer, for example, offers a 24" sweeper attachment for $299.

At around $1,400, the Turf Teq Power Broom is the next step up in the food chain of these tools. The Turf Teq is a self-contained ride-on unit with an 18" diameter x 46" wide brush and can be used year-round. Its two-speed drive is suited for both debris and snow removal.

Brush pressure, brush speed and left/right pivot angle can all be adjusted easily from the operator position. The broom is also ideal for use in dethatching lawns.

The Turf Teq Power Broom features an on-the-go differential lock for exceptional traction and productivity and the hydrostatic wheel drive allows you to adjust ground speed to meet heavy or light sweeping needs. This power broom also makes changing directions quick and easy, improving productivity while reducing operator fatigue.

Among the top of the line power brooms at $2599 is the Bercomac. This power broom, which attaches to a riding mower, ATV or lawn tractor features brushes are 18" diameter x 44" wide.

The Bercomac power broom can be angled from the driver’s seat with a handle. It features 6 inch dolly wheels support the weight of the brush to prolong the brush life and helps when using the power broom for lawn de-thatching.
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Container Veggie Gardening: 7 Steps to Growing Great Vegetables

March 30, 2012 6:32 pm

Yes, vegetable gardens can be a chore to maintain, and yes, the price of tomatoes does go down in summer anyway—but most people agree there is nothing better than the taste of home-grown veggies.

To minimize care and make best use of small spaces, the garden editors at Sunset Magazine suggest growing vegetables in pots. Here’s how:
• Begin by choosing a few generous size pots, some good potting soil, and a space on the deck, patio or back yard that gets at least six hours of sun daily.
• Fill the pots with a high-quality potting soil containing peat moss and perlite. Blend in a complete fertilizer, either a dry organic product―such as one containing alfalfa meal, bone meal, kelp meal, or other natural nutrients― or a controlled-release type that supplies nutrients over a three- to six-month period. If you plan to water pots by hand, add soil polymers such as Broadleaf P4 (available at most garden centers.
• Plant seeds or seedling plants of favorite summer veggies such as tomatoes, peppers or eggplants. Cucumbers and squash require space for trailing vines.
• Water frequently enough to keep the soil moist. Drip irrigation is a preferred method, but if you water by hand, do so often enough to keep the soil moist at all times.
• Feed regularly. If you use an organic fertilizer at planting time, supplement it with weekly applications of fish emulsion or reapply dry organic fertilizer according to package directions. If you use controlled-release fertilizer, give vegetables a boost by applying fish emulsion every two to three weeks.
• Control pests, such as aphids, mites, or whiteflies, by spraying them with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil. Handpick and destroy tomato worms.
• Harvest when crops are ripe, tomatoes when fully colored, peppers when fully grown and green, eggplants when skin is shiny, cucumbers and squash before they get too big and seedy.
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How to Avoid a Kitchen Extension Disaster

March 29, 2012 6:26 pm

An open kitchen is a hot home feature right now, and homeowners all across the country are extending their kitchens to include a living space. Unfortunately, many are seeing disastrous results due to poor planning and other complications.

Kutchen Haus offers the following tips to help you avoid a kitchen extension disaster:

1. Look for inspiration
This may sound simple, but look in magazines, on the TV and in kitchen showrooms, ideally with lifestyle room-sets for different kitchens that you like. You may see something you like, that you haven't seen before which is just perfect for you. 

2. Meet your kitchen designer before you start
All too often we meet customers who have decided to extend their property and want a new kitchen. Great! However, rather than speaking with a skilled kitchen designer prior to starting the building work, they plough ahead and in some cases, actually finish the build. This is not the best way to undertake a kitchen extension as the kitchen plays such a pivotal role in the whole scheme, so you must talk to a designer first. They will see things the builder won't, plus they will also be able to tell you what is possible with your room dimensions. 

3. Make a kitchen wish list
It may sound simple enough, however customers struggle time and again, to understand that they can no longer have an island in their kitchen, as their dimensions or budget will not allow it. By making a list of your 'must haves' and 'would like to haves' you can avoid making compromises on key areas. Also think about worktops, appliances, flooring and lighting here. If you need to cut costs down later on, this list will help so much though a process of elimination. You may want the granite worktops for example, but the wine fridge can go. 

4. Agree your kitchen design before the building plans
As previously mentioned, your kitchen should be as important as the building work so ensure you have everything thought through. It is so much easier to move windows and doors on a design that it is during the build itself. 

5. Avoid building work changes
Changes made during the building work also eat into your kitchen budget. Try and avoid this happening so that you don't have to cut costs down on the kitchen later on. After all, your dream kitchen is the main reason for the extension. 

Above all, take the time to think, research and speak to professionals.

Source: http://www.kutchenhaus.co.uk
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Spring Tornado Safety Tips

March 29, 2012 6:26 pm

According to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in an average year, 800 tornadoes are reported nationwide, resulting in 80 deaths and over 1,500 injuries. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.

Once a tornado in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, carried a motel sign 30 miles and dropped it in Arkansas! While you may think tornadoes are reserved for summer, the recent outbreak of tornados in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois and other states demonstrate the immense power of these type of severe weather during any season.

A tornado can be identified when clouds move in a rotating fashion and form a funnel shape that extends from the sky to the ground. Strong and damaging winds will be present and may reach upwards to 300 miles per hour. Tornadoes could be classified as natures most violent storms and can form so quickly that in some instances communities may receive a late warning or no warning at all.

Terminology referring to an impending tornado includes a "Tornado Watch," which is issued when a tornado is possible and is a warning to remain alert for approaching storms. At this point skies are under observation and updates can be expected via local TV and radio emergency weather warnings. A "Tornado Warning" is issued when a tornado has been sighted or identified by weather radar this is the point at which shelter must be sought with extreme haste.

FEMA has published these safety tips for tornado preparation and safety:

• Being prepared is essential. Family plans for both the emergency and after the emergency are crucial, as is having on hand an emergency kit that includes first aid supplies, water, flashlight, food, battery operated radio and any other needs for a period of at least 72 hours.

• Listening to up to date weather reports and following any emergency instructions is recommended.

• Evacuation instructions are issued by emergency management professionals and should be followed also continued alertness to changing weather conditions and approaching storms is imperative.

• Signs of an approaching tornado include dark and sometimes greenish stormy sky, large hail, large rotating low-lying clouds, and loud roar that has been described as being similar to a freight train.

• When a storm as described happens, shelter should be sought immediately. Low places such as basements, storm cellars, or a central room on the lowest floor are options. It’s possible to find safe places to shelter if outside such under bridges or in ditches (but flooding could be an issue).

• Trying to outrun a tornado is dangerous and not recommended as there is additional danger of flying debris.

Source: www.AllHandsFire.com
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This Spring, Clean Your Finances

March 29, 2012 6:26 pm

Your closet isn’t the only thing that can use cleaning this season. April marks National Financial Literacy Month cleaning out the clutter from your personal finances can help you take control of their financial future and re-evaluate their spending practices.

Howard Dvorkin, CPA and Founder of Consolidated Credit reminds consumers that 'budget' is not a dirty word. "Take a look at what your spending money on. Be honest, if you're wasting money spending frivolously now is the perfect time to buckle down and take control. Set up a realistic budget, one you'll be able to stick to."

"Budgeting is not easy and it doesn't happen overnight. It takes practice but it can be mastered--you just need to stay goal-oriented," says Dvorkin. "When you think of budgeting, picture yourself paying cash for a vacation, helping your kids through college, and enjoying a nice retirement."

Financial spring cleaning tips:

• Clear out the junk. It is much easier to be organized when there is less clutter. Put all receipts together and print out bank and credit card statements. Make a list of all debts including the account number, interest rate, outstanding balance, payment due date, credit limit and the minimum payment. This keeps things organized and prevents bills from being late. 

• Review credit reports. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 1-877-322-8228 to request a free credit report from the three primary credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Each bureau is obligated to provide a free credit report every 12 months. Verify that all information is accurate and if mistakes are found, contact the credit-reporting agency immediately. Rather than dispute the mistake via an online form, send a letter that includes complete name and address, a description of each item being disputed, an explanation of why it is getting disputed along with a request for deletion or correction of the information.

• Wipe out debt. Pay off high interest rate debts first. Once the high-interest debt is paid down, tackle the next highest, and so on. Continue paying the minimum due on all other debts. 

• Don't hesitate to ask for help. There are reputable debt-counseling agencies that consolidate debt and teach individuals to manage their finances better.

Source: ConsolidatedCredit.org.
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