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With temperatures dropping and winter quickly approaching, most of us cannot wait to light the wood in our fireplaces and officially kick off this year’s holiday season. In fact, more than one-third of Americans use fireplaces, wood stoves and other fuel-fired appliances as their primary source of heat in winter. While the thoughts of crackling wood and marshmallows roasting fill our minds, we are often unaware of the fire risks associated with heating with wood and other solid fuels. Shockingly, heating fires, such as those caused by wood burning fireplaces, account for 36 percent of residential fires. We often forget that all home heating systems require regular maintenance to operate properly and safely. Listed below are a few fire safety tips to help keep your fireplace burning safely this winter.
Keep your fireplace and wood stove clean.
- Chimneys and wood burning stoves should be inspected and cleaned annually by a specialist. Most heating fires are caused by creosote buildup in chimneys and stovepipes.
- Keep the area clear of decorations and other flammable materials.
- Always use a metal-mesh screen while your fireplace is in use. The will help contain sparks and pieces of burning debris.
- For your wood burning stove, install stovepipe thermostats to monitor flue temperatures.
- To reduce creosote buildup, keep air inlets open on wood stoves and never confine the air supply to fireplaces.
Burn fuels safely.
Keep your home’s exterior protected.
- Keep all firewood stacked at least 30 feet away from your home.
- Cover the top of your chimney with a mesh screen spark arrester and clear the roof of all debris such as leaves and pine needles. One spark from the chimney is all it takes to set a leaf on fire along with the rest of your roof.
- Cut down any branches dangling above the chimney, flues or vents.
Keep your home’s interior protected.
To contact a mortgage specialist for your Dallas home purchase, call (512) 524-8077.
When we think of the winter season we often think of the holidays, chunky sweaters and cold weather. However, what we tend to forget is that a drop in the temperature often means a rise in our electric or gas bill. Our mortgage professionals are here to help. They have developed a list of ten ways you can make the most of your energy dollar this winter season. Follow our list of tips below and give yourself the gift of a lower electric or gas bill this holiday season.
- Dress accordingly. Before cranking up the temperature on the thermostat, consider putting a sweater on. It may sound crazy, but for every degree you raise your thermostat in the winter, your utility bill rises approximately three percent.
- Replace or clean the filters regularly. A good rule of thumb is to clean or replace your furnace filters once a month or as needed. If you are like the majority of us who forget to check the filters, then set a reminder for yourself. We promise it’s worth it; this simple task could improve your systems’ energy efficiency by ten percent.
- Keep the warm-air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators clean. Also, make sure none of the items previously listed are being blocked by drapes, carpeting or furniture.
- Once or twice a winter season, bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators. If you are unsure how to go about completing this task, contact a professional.
- Position heat-resistant radiator reflectors between exterior walls and the radiators.
- Use ventilating fans with caution. Kitchen and bath ventilating fans can suck out a houseful of warm air in one short hour. If you absolutely must use one of these fans, be sure to turn it off as soon as the job is done.
- During the winter season, keep your draperies and shades open during the day. Doing so will allow natural sunlight to enter the room. When the sun goes down, keep your window coverings closed to keep the cool night chill out.
- Keep the doors to unoccupied rooms closed. If your spare guest bedroom is not expecting any visitors until Thanksgiving, there really is no point to heat the room now. If you are unsure as to whether or not closing vents in these areas will harm your air system, don’t do it. Instead, just keep the door closed.
- If you have it in your budget, consider installing double-pane windows with protective coating that reflects heat back into your home during the winter. If installing new windows is not in your budget, try covering your windows with a plastic film. Believe it or not, this only costs about $4-$6 per window and can reduce the heat lost through windows by 25-50 percent.
- Weather strip and caulk around exterior seams, openings and cracks. On the inside, weather strip and caulk around windows and door frames. By doing this, you cut back on the cool drafts that slip through the cracks.
What is the secret to the most stylish kitchens? Simple, a neutral palette that’s fresh and attention-grabbing. If you’re on a tight budget or just aren’t looking to completely renovate your kitchen, adding a modern piece, like a contemporary faucet or industrial lighting can make a big difference that is inexpensive and stress-free. Below are five of today’s most popular kitchen design trends to help guide and inspire you for your next kitchen project.
Black and White
The finishes may change and the style may evolve, but the charm of a black-and-white kitchen never dies. To the human eye, the high contrast is attractive and clean. For an easy update, paint the kitchen cabinets white. As small as it is, the hardware on kitchen cabinets can express a lot about your style. If you are going for a more contemporary look, try using a brushed nickel bar; if you are attempting to pull off a more traditional look, go with an iron-style cabinet pull. To contrast with the white cabinets, black granite countertops work best. Lastly, warm rustic hardwood floors look amazing with the sleek design and help bridge the gap between a country and modern look.
When we want to add excitement to a room, our minds usually drift towards paint. However, when working with a small space, painting the walls a bright, bold color can make the space feel even smaller and more cramped. Therefore, instead of slapping on a coat of colorful paint, add drama by using large, oversized light fixtures. One of the easiest ways to do this is to suspend large pendant lights over an island or breakfast table. They will create a sense of depth in the kitchen and add instant, eye-catching drama.
Most homeowners with small kitchens fear dark cabinets. They believe that the dark colors will close off the space and make it appear even smaller. However, finding the right balance of light and dark will create a stylish and appealing space. If you currently have a rich, dark finish on your current cabinets, consider adding countertops and a backsplash in a white or very light color. This will create balance in the kitchen while still adding drama and style.
Apron-front sinks are one kitchen item that never goes out of style. They add a timeless focal point to any kitchen. From the basic white to dark suede, apron-front sinks come in a wide variety of colors. Because apron-front sinks are visually wide, they tend to work best in medium or large sized kitchens. While they look great, apron-front kitchen sinks are also extremely practical. They are deep enough to hold large pots and platters even give shorter people better access to the sink.
Just because you keep neutral colors in your kitchen color palette doesn’t mean the area has to be bare. Kitchens are no longer just kitchens; they are now beautiful, staple rooms in the home. Don’t be afraid to combine different styles and finishes that give the look of having been acquired over time rather than purchased all at once. A mix of gray and dark brown tones can give the homeowner’s kitchen a rich, antique look.
To contact a mortgage specialist for your Dallas home purchase, call (512) 524-8077.
Whether you are getting organized, renovating, or completely remodeling your garage into a spare bedroom, knowing what you want your end result to be is crucial when giving your garage a makeover. While envisioning what you want the end result to look like seems easy enough, knowing the steps to get there is what typically makes homeowners continuously put off the project. If you are one of those homeowners, today you are in luck. Our team at Team Candy has developed an easy-to-follow, three-step guide to transforming your garage from a cluttered mess to a workable space.
Strategy No. 1: Establish your main objective.
What do you want your dream garage to look like? Are you planning to make it into an extra bedroom or a workshop? Or are you just trying to get it cleared out enough to park your car inside?
Once you set a goal, it is best to evaluate your needs and consider how much you have to work with. Whether you are reorganizing or rebuilding, you only have so much space to work with and most of us have a finite budget. If you are planning to transform the garage into a guest bedroom, how do you see the layout of the room flowing. If you are just trying to get organized, how much storage is readily available? Where will you put everything you wish to keep? Luckily, even a small garage, if laid out in the most efficient manner, can provide homeowners with quite a large amount of useable space.
If you are planning to remodel your garage into an addition on your home, now is the time to looking into building codes and permit requirements. Codes and permits were created to ensure the quality and safety of your home, choosing to ignore them is at your own risk. We highly advise you to check with your building department before starting any home improvement or renovation project.
Strategy No. 2: Divide the territory.
Now is the time to start sorting through the items stashed in your garage. There is no reason your hammer, drill and nail gun should be stashed with your garden tools. Therefore, go through each cluttered area in the garage and begin placing similar items together and remove the items that don’t belong. As you are doing this, start tossing unused and unwanted items out. After the process you can either sell the unwanted items in a garage sale or throw them away if they no longer work. If it is broken and has not been repaired in the past 6 months, chances are, it will never get repaired; therefore, go ahead and throw it away.
If you are completely remodeling your garage, now is the time to start deciding where you wish to store everything that is in the garage now. Maybe you want to invest in a storage shed, or move everything up to the attic. Whatever you decide to store the garage items, know that once the area fills up, that’s it. Anything that doesn’t fit will need to be tossed so choose your “keep” items wisely.
Strategy No. 3: Use your wall.
This step is mainly for those who are just trying to organize a messy garage. If you have bikes, consider hoisting them from the ceiling or installing a wall-mounted track organizer. For boxes, try adding additional shelving. Just picking moving items off the floor will immediately give you more space and help organize your garage.
With summer drawing to an end, it is time to start stowing away your summer tools and equipment. Now is the time most homeowners begin to transition from summer to winter mode and get all things summer placed away safely and securely. From barbeque pits to garden tools, our team of Team Candy mortgage experts has prepared a simple checklist to assist you with all of your winter preparation. Follow our tips below to protect your summer tools and equipment from harsh weather and prolong their shelf life and use.
If your barbeque pit has wheels, it is best to roll it to an inside storage area. If your barbeque pit uses a propane tank, it is best to keep detach the tank and keep it covered with a tarp or plastic bag outside and wheel the empty barbeque pit inside. Propane poses an explosion risk indoors.
If you do not have adequate space to store your barbeque pit indoors or you are the proud owner of a built-in pit, keep it outdoors but keep covered. Almost all hardware stores sell plain barbeque pit covers from $15 – $85, especially this time of year. If you are afraid the basic covers sold in stores will not adequately protect your pit from moisture and/or your area’s harsh weather conditions, look into purchasing a custom-made cover. These generally run about $300, but if you recently put in a top-notch outdoor kitchen with a built-in grill, the $300 may be money well-spent.
Although today’s play equipment is heavy enough to withstand the harsh outdoors or anchors into the ground, there are things that can be done to preserve the playground and keep it safe for children. If you have wooden play equipment, apply a water sealer at the beginning of fall and start of spring. At the end of each season, check the playground for splinters and be sure to sand down all rough areas. For heavy plastic play equipment, check for broken pieces that cause sharp edges and remove any that you see.
In order to avoid the chaos and multitudes of people who take their mowers in for a tune at the very beginning of mowing season, take your lawn mower in for a tune at the very end of mowing season. Also, add a gasoline stabilizer to the mower’s remaining fuel to preserve it. Use this same routine for all of your gas-powered equipment and tools.
To prolong the life of your garden hoses, unhook them from the spigots, empty the remaining water, and store in a garage or shed. This will prevent freeze damage and allow your garden hoses to last much longer.
Be sure you bring any and all paint that you wish to preserve indoors. Latex paints freeze and end up having a cottage cheese consistency once thawed. Oil paints don’t distort as much if they freeze, but do require paint thinner to bring them back to their original state.
Take all lawn furniture cushions inside or store them in the garage. Lightweight plastic furniture should also be stored somewhere indoors. Heavier lawn furniture pieces, such as wrought iron, are okay to leave outside as long as you keep them covered with either the manufacturer’s designed cover or a large plastic bag, usually made out of vinyl, that can be purchased from a local hardware store.
Garden Tools & Potted Plants
Keep you shears, pruners, spades and weeders clean and lubricated by dipping them in a mixture of sand and motor oil before placing them in an indoor storage area. As for your potted plants, it is best to pull up the dead summer annuals, dump the soil and store your pots in a shed, garage or basement. Terracotta pots left outside can freeze and crack, and plastic pots will only last a couple of years if constantly exposed to harsh weather conditions.
Seek help from a professional if this is going to be your first time winterizing a swimming pool. Usually, water is drained from all pool lines to prevent frozen pipes from bursting. Pools should be covered and ladders should be removed. Diving boards can also be removed and stored indoors or covered.
To contact a mortgage specialist for your Dallas home purchase, call (512) 524-8077.
Visit us online for helpful mortgage resources and information about the Dallas mortgage programs we are currently offering to qualified borrowers nationwide.
As cute and lovable as puppies are, they get into everything. If not properly prepared for one, a puppy can wreak havoc on your beautiful home in a matter of seconds. In order to prevent this sort of thing from happening, follow our easy guidelines on how to puppy-proof your home before bringing home your little canine companion.
The first step towards getting prepared is to think like a puppy. Consider every possible thing that might interest you. Some of the obvious items include: garbage cans (especially ones that can easily be tipped over), pillows, rugs, electrical cords, furniture, shoes, toilet paper, food, medications and cosmetics. All items that you believe will spark an interest in your puppy should be put away somewhere out of the puppy’s reach.
The second step is to barricade any areas you do not want the puppy to wander into. The easiest way to do this is to use baby gates.
Step three involves a trip to your local pet store. Puppies love to chew up couch cushions and legs of furniture, especially when they begin their teething stage. Because you cannot easily place your sofa in the closet until your puppy grows out of this phase, a chewing prohibitive spray will do the trick.
Lastly, be prepared to train your puppy. Most bad dogs are the result of a bad owner. Always stick with positive, cruel free training for your puppy. You should love your new dog, but educate him too.
Customer service our top priority at Team Candy. Our team of mortgage professionals offers mortgages with great rates and low fees to borrowers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and nationwide. Application and pre-qualification is free and we can get your home loan closed in 30-days or less. Team Candy is here to help with all of you mortgage needs. From the initial loan application to closing, we are available to answer any questions you may have regarding the mortgage process.
This website was created in order to provide an excellent online resource for both future and existing homebuyers. Our site allows you to browse through several of the mortgage programs we currently offer to eligible borrowers in the DFW area and nationwide. A few of our mortgage programs include: FHA Loans, VA Mortgages, Conventional Loans, USDA Mortgages, Refinancing Options, HomeStyle, Investment and Jumbo Loans. Our site also allows you to browse a wide array of Texas down payment assistance programs, read past clients testimonials, and check out the latest Dallas mortgage and real estate resources.
If you have any questions regarding Team Candy or the mortgage programs we offer please do not hesitate to contact us by filling out a form on the right or calling (512) 524-8077.
With the month of August in full swing and the wonderful Texas temperatures slowly creeping past the 100 degree mark, we could all agree that it wouldn’t hurt to try and conserve a bit of energy for the sake of our ever-rising electricity bills. Below are a few simple methods our team of Dallas mortgage professionals came up with to help you cut down your electric bill and save some hard-earned cash.
- Unplug any electronics that are not frequently used, such as the guest bedroom TV, DVD player and alarm clock.
- Unplug chargers that are not currently being used, like your cell phone, I-pod or Kindle charger.
- Always wait to run your dishwasher until it is completely full. To really cut back, switch of the heated-dry option and prop open the dishwasher door to let the dishes air dry.
- Keep your kitchen counter-top appliances, such as the toaster, blender, and coffee pot unplugged when not in use.
- Obviously, keep lights off that are not being used. If you find yourself constantly nagging your kids to turn the lights off, consider installing occupancy sensors that automatically turn lights on when someone enters the room.
- Focus lighting on the areas in a room that need it most instead of brightly lighting the entire space.
- Try using energy-efficient light bulbs throughout your home. Not only do they last much longer than regular bulbs, they also provide extremely high-quality lighting.
Termites – They are every homeowner’s worst fear and are considered the top threat to wood-based structures, ahead of fire, flood and wind. According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) termites cost Americans over $5 billion a year in damages. A home is most likely going to be the biggest investment most of us will ever have. Protect it from termites by educating yourself on the destructive pests.
Perhaps the most important thing to become knowledgeable about when it comes to termites is the warning signs. Below is a list of the five most apparent signs of termites in your home. If at the end of this article you suspect that your home may contain termite activity, contact a licensed pest management company to complete an inspection.
Wood that sounds hollow
Termites do not like being seen. In fact, they actually prefer dark, humid environments. Therefore, if you tap on a wooden surface and it sounds hollow, it could be because the termites are feeding on the wood from the inside out. In many termite cases, the wood looks smooth and undamaged from the outside.
Distorted or cracked paint on wooden surfaces
Some species of termites can enter your home through opening smaller than the edge of a dime, so if you spot any cracks in the home’s foundation, roof siding, vents and windows seal them up immediately.
Groups of winged insects of discarded wings
If you notice swarms of insects or spot large groups of discarded wings around your home, contact a termite specialist.
Look for frass
As termites eat their way through infested wooden areas, they produce wood-colored droppings called frass. Keeping your gutters, downspouts and crawl spaces clean and debris-free will cut off the food supply for termites.
Check exterior walls for mud tubes
Some species of termites create mud tubes on surfaces, like a home’s foundation, to retain moisture while they hunt for food. Be sure to keep all firewood, wood chips and mulch as far away from the home as possible to avoid producing a moisture-rich environment for termites to survive in.