RE/MAX 440
Cheryl Goedeke
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA   18944
Phone: 267-664-2288
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Fax: 267-354-6833
email: cheryl@remax440.com
Cheryl Goedeke

My Blog

How Overwatering Your Lawn Can Cost You

August 28, 2014 12:57 am

Overwatering your lawn is not only detrimental to your water bill, but can also disrupt the ecosystem, advises the Environmental Protection Agency. Healthy lawns are inhibited by too much saturation, so skip the daily sprinkler and water only when necessary. Here’s why:

Root damage
- Your lawn only needs one inch of water a week in growing season, and overwatering can encourage growth of root systems that are shallow, not strong.

Weed growth - Weeds thrive in moist conditions, and an overwatered lawn prevents oxygen from reaching the roots, which leaves the grass vulnerable to insects and plant diseases.

Environmental effects
– Overwatering can lead to runoff, which carries fertilizers and pesticides into storm drains and larger public waterways.

If you notice your lawn is turning brown in color, don’t panic. This signals the start of a natural dormant period, which is not at all harmful to your lawn.

To cut back on watering, consider scaling down the size of your lawn by planting trees, shrubs and other ground coverings. In addition, richer soil holds water for longer stretches of time, so add mulch or compost to conserve even more.

Source: Consumer Reports

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Five Steps to Building a Better Credit Score

August 28, 2014 12:57 am

According to a recent survey by BMO Harris Bank, the majority of Americans (80 percent) across all ages say they are knowledgeable about how to achieve a good credit rating. Half check their score once a year, while 30 percent check it every few years or less. One fifth do not know their score.

On average, Americans believe a good credit score is 660. Among millennials, that number drops to 625, and those aged 35-54 and 55 and older believe a good score is 675.

Overall findings indicate that while most Americans believe they have a solid understanding of what a good credit score is, there is confusion around attaining it. Harris offers a number of basic tips to manage and improve a credit score, including:

Check your credit report. This should be done at least 60-90 days before applying for a loan in order to make sure that the report is correct. If it is incorrect, notify a credit agency before you apply for a loan. Checking your score will not change the number.

Pay your bills on time.
When a bill is paid late, or is even 30 days past due, it can show up on your credit report for up to seven years.

Use credit when needed.
If you never use credit of any kind, it doesn't mean that you'll have a great credit history. Lenders generally prefer to see some type of satisfactory payment history.

Use your cards lightly. Racking up big balances can hurt your scores, regardless of whether you pay your bills in full each month. You often can increase your score by paying the balance off and keeping it low.

Consider that credit needs to be built up. A credit score is something that can take time to improve, so don't expect immediate changes and plan ahead. Your credit behavior can take months to be reflected in your score.

"The good news here is most Americans are not far off in what they believe is considered a good score, which we generally tell customers is in the 680-720 range. However, there's some room for improvement," notes Alex Dousmanis-Curtis, Head of Retail Banking, BMO Harris Bank. "Encouraging education around credit scores is a major focus for us. A credit score stays with you as you go through your financial life, and can impact major decisions.”

Survey results cited in this report are from interviews with an online sample of 1,004 Americans conducted between July 2nd and July 4th, 2014. The margin of error for a probability sample of this size is ± 3.1%, 19 times out of 20.

Source: BMO Harris Bank

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What Can Happen If Your Child Skips School?

August 21, 2014 12:18 am

With the new school year starting soon, school districts are reminding parents that truancy isn't just the student's and school's problem, but may have serious ramifications for parents as well.

Truancy is the legal name for skipping school. In most states, truancy occurs whenever a student a certain age or under (17 in most states, 16 in some) is absent from school without an excuse from a parent or guardian. Although skipping school is often romanticized in pop culture, according to U.S. News & World Report, school districts are cracking down on both truant students and their parents.

So what can happen if your child skips school?

Discipline for 'Truant' Students

Though truancy refers to skipping school in general, a "truant" is generally a child who has skipped school more than the number of times allowed by a particular school district.

Students who are considered truant will be subject to discipline by the school district, which can include being barred from participating in sports or other activities, suspension, or even expulsion from the school. Increasingly, however, schools are getting tough on truancy by also referring truancy cases to juvenile courts.

In Arizona's Pima County, for example, a student who has three unexcused absences from school is referred to the Center for Juvenile Alternatives, which works with the county's juvenile court system to offer the student, and the student's parents, the choice of a diversion program or court-ordered sanctions.

Criminal Charges against Parents May Be Possible

An increasing number of states are also filing criminal charges against the parents of truant children.

For example, dozens of parents in Baltimore were sentenced to jail for their children's chronic truancy. And one California mother was sentenced to 180 days in county jail after her two kids missed a total of 116 days of school in 2011.

A couple in Virginia even faced criminal charges after their kids were repeatedly tardy for school. The couple faced up to $3,000 in fines under Virginia's truancy laws after their children were late to school 85 times over the course of several months.

Withdrawing Your Child from School

If you're dissatisfied with your school's curriculum, treatment of your child, or rules regarding truancy, one option is to withdraw your child from public school altogether.

Although withdrawing your child from public school will allow you to homeschool your child, you may still be responsible for adhering to any state laws regarding truancy as they apply to homeschooled children.

Source: Findlaw.com. 

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The Top Six Most Useful Kitchen Additions

August 21, 2014 12:18 am

Modern kitchens are generally built with space and convenience in mind. But if you’re living with an older kitchen, there are easy additions you may want to consider to maximize available space and cooking area.

The Wall St. Journal’s home and living editors provide their top six suggestions:

  • Kitchen island – A kitchen island can double or triple both food preparation and storage space. An inexpensive portable island can give you space and flexibility.
  • Wall oven – It’s a lot easier to baste a turkey at eye level than it is when it’s below the stove – and there’s something to be said for the extra elbow room it will give you when you are multi-tasking in the kitchen. Lastly, a wall oven with two compartments gives you extra baking space and the availability of convection or rotisserie options.
  • Cabinet organizers/lazy susans/pullout shelves – Easy access to pantry items and pots and pans make food preparation easier and faster. Consider having lazy susans, pull-out shelves and other organizers built into your kitchen cabinets.
  • Pot and pan racks – If cabinet space is an issue, think about wall-mounted racks to keep you most-used pots and pans within easy reach. A trip to the home store or a look online will yield plenty of options.
  • Dishwashers – Today’s large capacity and energy-efficient dishwashers are a boon to the family cook. Install one if you don’t already have one built in – or replace the one you have if it’s more than seven or eight years old.
  • Ventilation system – Experts say that cooking churns out airborne contaminants like nothing else in the home – and even food that smells great while it’s cooking doesn’t smell so good hours or days later. With the right ventilation system, odors and contaminants will become a thing of the past.

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DIY Tips for Common Plumbing Problems

August 20, 2014 6:09 am

Whether you're a new homeowner or have been handy with a wrench, snake and other tools for years, there are some situations that require more than a plumbing amateur's skills. From the kitchen sink to the toilet and pipes underneath your home, these problems can occur at any time. As a homeowner, you should know how to handle them and when to call a professional.

Clogged Drains or Toilets
When the water that's sitting in a bathtub, toilet or sink won't go down the drain, you have a problem. Start the repair process by first determining what caused the problem. Is it a clump of hair or a grease build up? Something worse, perhaps? Whatever the case, finding out about it first is essential to finding a solution.

Most toilet clogs can be handled with your trusty plunger. The clog in your drain will likely go away if you use a commercial grade drain cleaner. If you decide to use a commercial drain cleaner, wear gloves and a protective mask at all times.
If the clog persists after a few times, it might be time to call the professionals. Don't overdo it with the drain cleaner because you might end up hurting yourself and damaging the pipes.

Professional plumbers have tools that can help identify the problem much easier, such as snakes and video cameras. They'll be able to use one of their many de-clogging tools to remove your clog in no time.

Burst Pipe

Regardless of the reason, a burst pipe can cause thousands of dollars in damage if not rectified in an appropriate amount of time. The best way to fix a burst pipe is with a C clamp. The first step is to turn off the water completely. Then, place a piece of rubber over the exposed area of the pipe. Secure the rubber by placing a piece of wood on top and then tightening down both pieces with a C clamp. Make sure you tighten the C clamp until both the piece of wood and rubber are secure.
In most cases, burst pipes can only be fixed temporarily by homeowners. Once you've turned off the water and secured the pipe, call a professional; they might have to replace the pipe altogether.

Leaky Fixtures
A leaky fixture, such as a faucet, can be extremely annoying. Luckily, you only need a few tools and some basic knowledge to fix this type of problem.

First, remove the handle by removing the screw that attaches it to the faucet. Then, try tightening the packing nut which is located at the base of the stem. After you've tightened this nut, place the handle back onto the faucet and test to see if the leak is gone.

If this simple process doesn't work, you may need to replace some necessary parts, such as washers or nuts, or it may be time to get a new faucet altogether.

No Hot Water
Lack of hot water is an issue that millions of people across the United States experience on a daily basis. If you have an electric water heater, some of the causes may be a tripped circuit breaker, a bad thermostat or a faulty electric heating element. Once you've finished the troubleshooting process, the best thing to do is to replace any parts that you find are broken. Most plumbers have extensive knowledge of water heaters and should be contacted immediately.

Source: Mammoth Plumbing

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Simple Updates Make Homes Environmentally Friendly

August 20, 2014 6:09 am

(BPT) - Green living not only helps the environment, it helps your pocketbook. When making upgrades to your home - whether it's replacing a light bulb or a total living room makeover - incorporate energy-efficient and repurposed materials to make your living space more environmentally friendly.

Emily J. Reynolds, an interior design faculty member at The Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham, a campus of South University, encourages green living through reuse of existing materials.

"There is a special feeling you get when you see a piece of furniture by the side of the road, fix it up, and put it to use again," she says.

Reynolds locates used furniture at resale stores including Goodwill and the Salvation Army, or at yard sales. "When you are searching for furniture, know that it does take a little patience to find the right piece." Reynolds says it's important to pay special attention to the form of the piece and to look for high quality construction.

If refinishing pieces sounds like too much work, professionally restored furniture is also available and fits in with today's trend toward distressed looks in furniture.

"Prices are often much lower for these pieces than if you purchased brand new pieces, plus you cut down on the negative effect of transporting new furniture to your doorstep," Reynolds says.

Reusing old pieces also fits into the current trend toward eclectic interior design. "Pieces of different styles can be mixed in imaginative ways to create a harmonious space," according to Reynolds.

When updating your home on a smaller scale, little changes can make a big difference, according to Sofeeka Hasiuk, one of the interior design faculty at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. "For instance, use no-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints for walls, furniture, or accessories," she says. This keeps potentially harmful chemicals from getting into the air and into your lungs.

Shine the light on your green living space with LED arrays - an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional light bulbs. "They last longer and consume significantly less energy than incandescent bulbs," says Hasiuk.

Other simple tips from the experts include:

* Use a programmable thermostat to increase energy efficiency. This will have a positive impact on the environment and your wallet.

* Replace traditional cleaning products with eco-friendly products or baking soda, lemon juice or vinegar. Plus they cost a lot less.

* Choose sustainable hardwood or tile flooring over wall-to-wall carpeting. They last longer and are easier to clean.

Once your home is greener, keep the trend going. As you purge pieces from your collection, be sure to recycle them properly or donate them so that they may be used again. "Sell or donate those pieces so they can continue being used. Avoid placing items in the landfill if at all possible," says Reynolds.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Tips for a Clean, Guest-Ready Home

August 20, 2014 6:09 am

(Family Features) Now is the season for enjoying backyard BBQs and poolside parties with friends and family – not being trapped in the house for pre- and post-party cleaning. With a little planning, you can minimize time spent on daily chores and maximize time spent soaking up the sun and creating memories with guests. Here are a few quick tips to clean and prep your home for get-togethers – anytime day or night.

Load the dishwasher first. When you’re throwing a get-together, the last thing you want is to open the dishwasher to find dirty dishes. Make sure to run the dishwasher the day before your guests arrive to ensure everything is clean when you need it.

Prepare dishes for the wash cycle. To ensure dishes get clean and dry the first time, scrape away large pieces of food and excess leftovers before loading, and the dishwasher will take care of the rest. Make sure your silverware gets the right water coverage by loading some pointing up and some pointing down, including knives. And remember, safety first, especially if kids are helping. If you don’t plan to run the dishwasher immediately, remember to rinse foods such as mustard, mayonnaise and tomato based products as they may cause discoloration of plastics if allowed to sit for a long period of time.

Fill the upper rack, load the bottom. Cups, glasses, stemware, small plates and bowls are all welcome in the top rack. Make sure any plastic items go on top, too. Be sure to load open-ended items into the washer facing down for the best cleaning and draining. No more tumblers full of water. Save your biggest items for the edge of the lower rack. Face everything else – plates, large bowls, etc. – toward the center of the rack for a thorough clean.

Make it a family event. Throw a family cleaning party to get everyone involved with the get-together prep, making it quick and fun. Get creative and play a game to assign rooms to different family members. Put all rooms that need to be cleaned on a piece of paper, place them in a hat and have everyone pick. From dusting to loading the dishwasher to taking out the trash, the extra hands will be a big help, and before you know it, everyone will be out of the house and into the backyard to enjoy the sunshine.

For more tips to make your home a clean and welcoming environment, visit www.frigidaire.com.

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Is Your Clothes Dryer Shrinking Your Energy Budget?

August 19, 2014 5:57 am

Regular readers know I talk a lot about new developments and technologies related to home appliances. But despite great strides many manufacturers have voluntarily made creating more energy efficient appliances, clothes dryers that still play an important function in millions of homes across the nation are still a major energy concern.

According to a Natural Resources Defense Council report released in mid-June, clothes dryers in U.S. homes are wasting up to $4 billion worth of electricity annually because energy-saving standards for the common appliance have not been significantly updated for almost 30 years,

The NRDC report, “A Call to Action for More Efficient Clothes Dryers,” finds that today’s typical electric clothes dryer can easily consume as much energy as a new energy efficient refrigerator, clothes washer and dishwasher combined.

Noah Horowitz, director of NRDC’s Center for Energy Efficiency Standards believes it is time to bring U.S. clothes dryers into the modern era and achieve some of the massive efficiency gains all the other major home appliances have seen.

The NRDC’s analysis suggests incorporating existing technology used abroad and adopting recommended technical and policy changes could slash U.S. dryers’ $9 billion annual electricity bills by 40 percent. And it can prevent roughly 16 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, equivalent to taking three coal-fired power plants offline.

A key reason for the energy waste is that U.S. dryers continue to use decades-old technology that bakes water out of clothing with brute force, wasting a lot of energy and blowing hot-air exhaust to the outdoors.

NRDC’s report recommends steps consumers can take in the interim to cut laundry-related energy use and utility bills:

  • Use the washer’s maximum spin speed to lessen the amount of water remaining in the clothing before reaching the dryer
  • Choose cold water in the washer will also save up to 50 cents per load in energy costs
  • Select dryer cycles like delicate that reduce energy use (but increase drying time)
  • And no overfilling the drum, this gives clothes more room to tumble dry more quickly

Read the report at http://www.nrdc.org/energy/efficient-clothes-dryers.asp.

Published with permission from RISMedia.

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Mind-Body Practices that Can Change Your Life

August 19, 2014 5:57 am

There is a lot of advice floating around out there about the best ways to manage your life and improve your professional success.

Entrepreneur Magazine recently interviewed five mega-successful individuals – including media magnate Oprah Winfrey and author/entrepreneur Arianna Huffington – to unearth some of the mind-body practices they say helped propel them to success.

Read the responses of these entrepreneurs and decide for yourself if making any or all of their five suggested changes may help vault you to greater accomplishment:

  • Deepening the human connection – Entrepreneur Seth Godin, author of “Tribes,” tries to tap in to the human desire for connection and belonging. He advises investing heavily in relationships that matter, cultivating strong ties to friends and family that increase trust and personal security and open the mind to better networking and decision-making.
  • Creating energy through exercise – More than one highly successful individual recommends regular physical exercise as a means to opening the mind. Whether it’s walking, yoga, or workouts at the gym, cultivating a healthy body can increase creative energy.
  • Getting enough sleep – If you aren’t getting enough sleep, you will crash and burn at some point, said Huffington. Good sleep habits increase mental acuity and foster a balanced emotional state.
  • Being grateful – Successful people are grateful people, said Winfrey. They remember to appreciate what they have every day and to say thanks often along the journey. The more you do that, Oprah says, the more successful you become.
  • Using stillness as a motivator - Whether it’s meditation, yoga or any other method of achieving a calm state of mind, respondents noted that being perfectly still for some period of every day promotes inner peace, increases the ability to react appropriately, and helps you to better solve problems.

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Be Wary of Fall Home Maintenance Scams

August 18, 2014 5:45 am

When autumn arrives, many homeowners prepare their homes for cooler weather by hiring specialists to clean and make repairs. Be mindful of cons during this time of year – scammers use this opportunity to swindle homeowners out of thousands of dollars for unnecessary work. Be wary of these four scams typically advertised during the fall season.

Chimney repairs – Scammers disguised as chimney sweeps will tell you your chimney needs to be inspected, and then use hard sales tactics to get you to make expensive, unfounded repairs. Don’t fall for it.

Gutter cleaning – Fraudulent gutter cleaners tend to prey on the elderly or those who cannot clean their gutters easily. They will assure you that they’ve worked in the neighborhood before, and quote you a very low estimate in return for shoddy, incomplete work.

Energy audits – Many scammers offer a “free” energy audit to reduce heating costs, claiming to be a representative from your local utility company. They insist on costly upgrades for your attic, such as solar blankets or insulation, and may or may not burglarize your home while conducting the audit.

Ductwork cleaning – Ductwork cleaning is rarely a necessity, so take caution. Scammers are known to damage your heating system while cleaning it in order to leech more money out of you for repairs. They also may create indoor air hazards.

Before scheduling maintenance with an unknown service provider, research the individual or company through your local BBB or the Internet. Seek out referrals from trusted family and friends, check for proper licensing and never pay upfront.

Source: Consumer Reports

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