RE/MAX 440
Gail Ruth

Gail Ruth
4550 W. Tilghman Street  Allentown  PA 18104
Phone:  610-398-8111
Office:  610-398-8111
Cell:  610-390-5434
Fax:  267-354-6263

My Blog

Many Renters Underestimate Insurance Needs

May 14, 2015 12:24 am

Though many renter’s insurance policies are affordable, more than half of Americans who rent their homes or apartments do not have coverage, according to a recent InsuranceQuotes.com survey. Just 37 percent of renter respondents have renter’s insurance. Why the indifference?

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports the average cost of renter’s insurance is just $187 per year. But the majority of renter respondents say they lack renter’s insurance because it is too expensive – 71 percent believe a policy will cost more than $250 a year, and 22 percent believe a policy will cost $1,000 or more a year.

Other respondents report not needing insurance because their rental home or apartment is secure, their landlord has insurance or they don’t have enough property to insure.

“Landlord’s insurance typically doesn’t cover renters’ belongings,” says Laura Adams, InsuranceQuotes.com. “And even in a highly secure area, theft, fire, water damage and other accidents can still occur and are costly expenses to pay for out-of-pocket. Renter’s insurance is an inexpensive financial safety net that every renter should have.”

Source: InsuranceQuotes.com

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Hurricane Season: 3 Property Protection Tips

May 14, 2015 12:24 am

When it comes to hurricane season, just one storm can devastate a community, state or entire region. To lower your risk, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) advises protecting the areas of your home most susceptible to hurricane damage: entry points, the roof and the outdoors.

To protect your property from damage caused by high winds and wind-driven rain:

Fortify Windows and Doors – Protect all windows and doors from high winds and flying debris. Failure of a large window or door can result in pressurization inside the home, and potential damage. Attention should be given to all windows, entry doors, sliding glass doors, and garage doors.

Strengthen Your Roof – The roof is a home’s first line of defense against Mother Nature, making it the most important and most vulnerably access point. Roof cover damage occurs in the vast majority of wind-related claims, and a damaged roof can allow wind and rain to enter your home, resulting in even more damage. Consult with a certified roofing professional and your insurance company before making repairs or replacements.

Prepare Your Surroundings – Limit possible sources of wind-borne debris by surveying your building’s surroundings before a storm and trimming overhanging trees and removing anything that could potentially be picked up by high winds. Keep in mind that even seemingly heavy objects can become flying missiles during strong hurricanes.

Source: IBHS

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Obstacles to Healthy Living

May 13, 2015 12:48 am

Despite the fact that half of Americans desire to lose weight, just 26 percent are actively trying to accomplish that goal, according to a recent Gallup Health and Healthcare Survey.

"It's an unfortunate lack of self-awareness," says Dr. Wayne Briner, a psychology professor at Ashford University. Briner explains that outside influences can motivate unhealthy eating choices. Put simply, all diets work, barring these psychological and sociological factors.

Healthy eating isn't a priority. Healthy eating controls weight, improves mood, boosts energy, and supports wellness. While we all know healthy food choices are in our best interest, convenience frequently trumps good judgment. If you want to live a healthy lifestyle, make healthy eating a priority day in and day out. Eventually, good nutrition will become a habit.

Healthy eating takes more time. We live in a culture where speed is essential and faster is better. Many people eat on the run, sandwiching fast food into their busy lifestyles. But health food takes time to prepare, to chop, to broil, to toss and mix and bake. We have to take time to be healthy, to slow down and arrange time for proper meals and exercise.

People underestimate their food consumption.
For a clear picture of food consumption, keep a food diary of what you eat – everything consumed in one week, including portions and number of servings. A cafe latte on the way to the office? Write it down. Fifteen Chili Cheese Fritos? That's three servings, 480 calories. Write it down. The results may astound you.

People overestimate their physical activity. According to the Mayo Clinic, "As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more. Want to aim even higher? You can achieve more health benefits, including increased weight loss, if you ramp up your exercise to 300 minutes a week."

People confuse living to eat and eating to live. Eating, drinking, and being merry doesn't always lend itself to healthy food choices. Most beers, for instance, average 150 calories, with some craft beers topping 200. We're all human and we're all likely to indulge on occasion. Before you reward yourself with indulgences, balance it out with healthy eating habits.

Source: Ashford University

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Cut Costs at Home with a Natural Air Conditioner

May 13, 2015 12:48 am

Cutting costs through improved energy-efficiency continues to be a priority for homeowners. Did you know there is a natural air conditioner that can save help you save big in cooling costs?

A mature shade tree can block up to 90 percent of solar radiation, which translates to a significant reduction in home cooling costs, according to the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA). In fact, computer models devised by the U.S. Department of Energy predict proper placement of as few as three shade trees will save an average household $100-$250 in energy costs each year.

The TCIA recommends planting deciduous trees on the south and west sides of your home, where the sun’s rays are most intense. For homeowners in temperate climates, deciduous trees with high, spreading crowns should be planted to the south of the home to provide maximum summertime shading. Those in colder climates should avoid this step so as not to block winter sun. Trees with crowns lower to the ground are more appropriate to the west, where shade is needed from late afternoon sun.

For protection from storm conditions throughout the year, opt for slow-growing trees which tend to live longer and have deeper roots.

Tree shrubs and groundcover plants can also shade the ground and pavement around your home. This reduces heat radiation and cools the air before it reaches the home’s walls and windows. Use a large bush or row of shrubs to shade a patio or driveway. (Note: Shrubs planted close to the house will fill in rapidly, but avoid allowing dense foliage to grow immediately next to a home.) Plant a hedge to shade a sidewalk, or build a trellis for climbing vines to shade a patio area.

No matter what you decide, be sure to consult a certified tree care professional before planting or removing trees and other plantings on your property.

Source: TCIA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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6 Plumbing Maintenance Checks

May 13, 2015 12:48 am

Routine maintenance can save homeowners thousands in potential repairs, especially when it comes to plumbing. There are several steps homeowners can take to check for red flags in their plumbing systems, says Patricia Bonacorda of Spartan Plumbing. She recommends these conducting these six maintenance checks at least once a year.

Lint Trap – It may seem unrelated to the plumbing system, but lint buildup can block the drain of your washing machine if left unattended. Clear your lint trap (typically found on the internal recess of the unit) or hire a plumber to install a wire trap filter to improve drainage.

Supply Hoses – Inspect hoses that connect to appliances, such as your dishwasher, icemaker and washing machine. Look for bulging or other signs of leakage. If you spot a leak, make repairs or replace with a stainless steel hose immediately.

Sinks – Hard water deposits can clog the faucets in your kitchen and bathrooms, reducing energy-efficiency. If you notice mineral buildup, unscrew the screen at the tip of the faucet (the aerator) and soak it in vinegar overnight.

Toilets – Conduct a DIY litmus test by adding a few drops of food coloring to the tanks of toilets in your home. If the water in the bowl changes colors after a half an hour, call a plumber to assess the problem.

Water Heater – Check the thermometer to make sure the temperature is lower than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Increase the longevity of your unit by draining a few gallons of water from the tank to eliminate corrosion-causing sediment.

Sump Pump – If your home’s basement is protected from flooding by a sump pump, test the unit by pouring a few buckets of water into the sump pit. It should activate automatically and shut off when the job’s done. For an added layer of protection, install a flood alarm.

Source: RISMedia’s Housecall

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Painting, Landscaping Top Curb Appeal Projects

May 12, 2015 12:36 am

According to a recent Sherwin-Williams National Home Design Survey, more than four out of five homeowners are seeking to improve their home’s curb appeal this spring – and the majority are planning a painting project to do so.

Painting can be an affordable way to freshen up any home’s exterior. Exterior painting projects range from repainting the front door or adding a fresh coat of paint to a fence to repainting the entire outside of a home.

“A fresh coat of paint and some minimal landscaping updates can make a lasting impression and improve the overall personality and feel of your home,” says John Gidding, an interior designer and landscape architect. “This is especially true for curb appeal, and this time of year is perfect for sprucing up your space.”

Homeowners also report seeking a landscape upgrade to enhance curb appeal. Homeowners say they’d choose to landscape and paint the interior of their home themselves, but are more likely to hire a professional for outdoor painting projects.

Source: Sherwin-Williams

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Tips for a Functional Laundry Room

May 12, 2015 12:36 am

(Family Features) From fitting laundry into your schedule to removing tough stains, keeping your wardrobe and linens clean is no easy task. To keep fabrics looking their best, use these tips.

1. Don’t Forget to Prep – Invest in multiple hampers to separate everything by color and fabric. When organizing laundry, close all zippers and untangle pant legs and tablecloths before starting a new wash.

2. Invest in Front Load – Upgrade to a front load washer and dryer for better cleaning and gentler handling of garments. Front loaders use gravity to tumble your clothing, so there's no heavy agitation that can damage or wear down sensitive fabrics.

3. Save on Time – Take back time spent waiting for cycles to be completed with speedy and efficient appliances. They boast maximum efficiency with less water usage per load and unparalleled energy efficiency.

4. Keep It Fresh and Clean – Use decorative baskets to keep supplies like softener, detergent and dryer sheets organized and tidy. This can also help prevent liquids from spilling onto appliances. To keep your washer and dryer free of odors, leave the doors slightly ajar.

5. Take Advantage of Tech – Utilize advanced features from appliances such as special steam settings which work to eliminate stains in the washer and remove wrinkles in the dryer.

Source: Electrolux

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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5 Ways to Make Your Home Show-Ready

May 12, 2015 12:36 am

(BPT) - What makes someone decide a home is the right fit? If you're selling your home with an open house, there’s a lot you can do to wow would-be buyers. Make the best impression and boost offers with these five tips.

1. Work from the Outside In – Poor curb appeal can turn buyers off before they step foot inside your home. Make sure the outside is every bit as beautiful as the inside. Paint the exterior if you need to, plant flowers and mow the lawn.

2. Clean Up Shop – It sounds simple, but it’s amazing how many homeowners don’t clean their homes before an open house. If nothing else, the kitchen and bathrooms must be spotless. If you don’t feel you can get your home ready on your own, hire a professional cleaning service to do the job for you. The money you spend will be well worth it when your home sells quickly and for top dollar.

3. Cut the Clutter – Even the cleanest homes still feel messy if there’s too much clutter. Before your open house, adopt a minimalist lifestyle to keep your home as clutter-free as possible.

4. Eliminate Stale Odors
– Don’t underestimate the benefit of fresh air in your home. Consider using essential oils to keep your home smelling great throughout showing. Simply tap a few drops and some salt into a decorative bowl and place near a sunny window or heat register to diffuse the aroma.

5. Make Wise Investments – If your home requires improvements, allocate funds for the rooms buyers care about most – the kitchen and the master bedroom. A granite countertop, new appliance, additional closet or fresh coat of paint will work wonders when it comes time to sell.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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There Are No Zero-Risk Zones for Flooding

May 11, 2015 12:33 am

Did you know standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood risk? A separate flood policy can protect you from footing the bill for flood-related repairs. This policy is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), or through a few private insurance companies, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

Recent flood insurance reforms are phasing in for areas at high risk for flooding, and flood maps are being updated to move some people into higher- or lower-risk zones. However, there are no zero-risk zones. Through the NFIP, the average cost of a policy for a homeowner, which includes coverage for both contents and the structure itself, is $700. Private excess flood insurance is also available if more coverage is needed than the maximum amount available from the NFIP.

Renters should also consider a flood policy. Most renters living in low- to moderate-risk flood zones are eligible for preferred rates, with contents-only coverage ranging from $44 to $266 a year, depending on the flood zone and amount of coverage.

Have a conversation with your insurance professional to make sure your coverage is up to date. Keep in mind that flood insurance policies through the NFIP have a 30-day waiting period before they go into effect, so do not wait for a severe weather warning to start looking into flood protection. Visit FloodSmart.gov for more information.

Source: I.I.I.

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Brace Yourselves - Summer Mold is Coming

May 11, 2015 12:33 am

Mold in the home can lead to serious problems, including respiratory irritation and warm weather illnesses, says the National Air Duct Cleaners Association (NADCA). Mold spreads due to air and moisture, and if an HVAC system produces condensation or is exposed to the elements, it can become an immediate breeding ground for mold.

To nip these problems in the bud, or rather, the spore, NADCA suggests an annual HVAC inspection. During an inspection, the condition of the property is categorized on the NADCA scale as Condition1, Condition 2, or Condition 3. Condition 1 represents normal ecology within the home; Condition 2 is assigned to homes which has been contaminated with settled spores or contains traces of actual mold growth; Condition 3 denotes a home with an active or dormant presence of spores and mold growth.

After the mold has been removed, be sure to keep the humidity in your house as low as possible. This can be achieved by using air conditioners and dehumidifiers in the more humid months, as well as making sure that there is plenty of ventilation in your home. Vents or fans over stoves and other moisture-bearing appliances are also a must.

Source: NADCA

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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