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How-To Tuesday: Extend the Lifespan of Your Appliances

Home appliances are typically pretty big purchases, which means you expect them to last a long time. Believe it or not, you are a deciding factor when it comes to appliances running smoothly for years on end or going kaput earlier than expected. Below are some tips on what to do and what not to do to extend the life of some major household appliances.

First and foremost, you should always read the owner’s manual that comes with your appliance. While they’re not exactly thrilling reading, owner’s manuals are a wealth of information about how to use, clean, maintain, and repair your appliances.

Refrigerator and Freezer

Your refrigerator is arguably the hardest worker of all the appliances in your home. It runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and when it’s not doing its best work, it can prove to be pretty inconvenient. Help your refrigerator stay healthy by doing things like keeping it clean and changing filters as recommended. One of the easiest ways to extend your fridge’s life is to make sure the condenser coils are clean. Condenser coils may be mounted on the back or the bottom of your fridge. Their job is to help the refrigerator stay cool by releasing heat from the sealed system. Simply use a vacuum cleaner or coil brush at least twice a year to get rid of dirt, pet hair, food particles, and other debris that might build up over time. You should also clean the rubber seal on your doors, known as the gasket, periodically to ensure a good seal when the doors are closed. If your fridge is on the old side and the gaskets aren’t sealing the door shut very well, you can replace them fairly easily.

Dishwasher

Even though some dishwasher are advertised as amazing marvels that clean the gunkiest, grossest stuck-on food, you should always give dishes a thorough rinsing before loading them into the dishwasher. Food particles can get stuck in the machine parts and small spaces and cause damage. Be smart about how you load the dishwasher to ensure a good clean and prevent the need to run dishes through again. You should also clean the dishwasher every three to six months. Just run the empty dishwasher with a cup of vinegar or a dishwasher cleaner to remove calcium deposits. Even if you don’t use the dishwasher much, you should still run it every now and then to stave off dry rot, mold, and mildew.

Washing Machine

Many people tend to let laundry pile up and stuff the washer full on laundry day. This is a major no-no if you want the washing machine to last as long as possible. Overloading your washer can damage the machine thanks to the extra weight of wet clothing. It throws things off balance and can cause premature wear to the drum and bearings. Keep wash loads on the smaller side, never filling the washer more than two-thirds full. Additionally, you should never use more laundry detergent than what is recommended. It might sound like more soap would equate to a better clean, but it can actually do the opposite. Too much detergent can cause a buildup of residue that omits an odor and causes machine parts to fail.

Dryer

Dryers can be a huge fire hazard in a home when they aren’t properly maintained. Clean out the dryer’s lint trap after every use. This helps prevent dust, fuzz, and pet hair from getting into the dryer vent. A lint trap that hasn’t been cleared in a while also causes clothes to dry slower, which means the dryer will have to work harder. You should also clean the dryer vent—located on the back of the dryer and connected to the outside by a hose—at least once a year. Do this by unplugging the dryer and using a vent brush to clean the venting system.

Friday Five // November 2nd, 2018

Happy November, everyone! It’s Friday again, which means it’s time for the Friday Five, our weekly roundup of five fun events going on throughout the Lowcountry this weekend. Learn through play, celebrate ancient culture, attend a food truck festival, and more! Whatever you choose to do, the staff and agents at Johnson & Wilson Real Estate Company wish you a safe and happy weekend.

Don’t miss the 47th Scottish Games and Highland Gathering at Boone Hall Plantation this Saturday from 9am until 5pm. This is an annual event that features something for everyone: athletics, music, dancing, culture, food, beverages, children’s games, a Border Collie demonstration, and more. Last year, more than 6,000 people from all over the world attended the games. Get there early, and expect to be wildly entertained all day long!

Bring the family out to Marion Square on Saturday for FAM JAM, a signature annual event brought to you by the Children’s Museum of the Lowcountry. Come celebrate community and family togetherness and the power of play along with more than thirty community partners. Through live music, entertainment, and hands-on activities, families are encouraged to move and stretch their bodies, minds, and imaginations. This event takes place from 10am until 2pm and is free to all.

Take a drive out to Johns Island County Park from 11am until 5pm Saturday for Harvest Festival, a fun autumn event for the entire family. The festival will have live music from five local bluegrass bands, hay rides, pumpkin decorating, archery, and more. Enjoy delicious Southern fare like Carolina barbecue, kettle corn, and other delicious festival foods. Then head over to the crafters’ market to get a jump start on your holiday shopping.

Fans of food trucks will love the Charleston Battery Food Truck Festival at MUSC Health Stadium this Sunday from 11am until 6pm. This event will feature lots of local food, drinks, entertainment, and football on the Jumbotron. Food truck vendors include Cory’s Grilled Cheese, Holy City Waffles, Semilla, Holy Rolly Charleston, King of Pops, Greekin’ Out, Happy Thai, Booze Pops, and many, many more! Bring your lawn chairs, tents, blankets, tailgate games, and dogs on leashes, and enjoy a fun afternoon of delicious food and beverages with your nearest and dearest. Oh, and by the way, admission is free!

If you’re looking for a new way to keep (or get) fit, meet people, and learn something new, come out and meet the Charleston Hurling Club at Corrine Jones Park on Sunday morning. The club will host a Hurling 101 clinic for all—men, women, and youth—to learn about the national sport of Ireland. No prior experience or special gear is required. Simply wear athletic attire, bring a pair of running shoes or cleats and some water, and join in the fun! Stick around after the clinic to watch the experienced players battle it out in their Fall Pub League championship match.

Break Up With These Bad Housekeeping Habits Now

Housekeeping is hard, especially when there are things like work, school, family time, and fun to be had. Some people take joy from completing household tasks, but for most of us, housework is a chore. We try to use shortcuts to save time, but sometimes we end up just creating more work for ourselves. In actuality, breaking just a few bad habits can save a lot of time and elbow grease. Here are some bad housekeeping habits to break up with now and help make housework a little easier.

Bad Habit #1: Getting Distracted

The number one issue many people have with cleaning and organization is getting distracted and not finishing the job. If you want to make cleaning your house easier and faster, you need to concentrate on finishing a task before moving on to something else. Let’s say you’re folding laundry, and you realize just how many t-shirts you own. You decide to go to your t-shirt drawer and start purging your collection to create more space. Then you move on to purging the closet, completely forgetting about the mountain of clean, unfolded laundry on the bed. Instead, finish folding and putting away your clothes. Then, if you have the time and motivation afterward, go ahead and do that purge.

Bad Habit #2: Ignoring Papers and Periodicals

Your email inbox probably fills up faster than your actual mailbox,but somehow  junk mail and other papers still have a way of accumulating and taking over counters and tabletops. Bills, school papers, cards, magazines, newspapers…whatever the pile is made up of, it needs to be taken care of. As tempting as it is to just toss it all in the recycle bin, DON’T. You could be throwing away an important document. Instead, set aside a chunk of time to go through your mountain of papers. Make a stack to file, a stack to shred, and a stack to recycle. Designate a line-of-sight spot for all incoming papers. Go through them once a week and shred, file, or toss accordingly.

Bad Habit #3: Post-Shower Pile-Up

Not a fan of scrubbing the bathroom? Neither are we. Hate doing laundry? Us too. Good thing we can break one simple habit to help mitigate the amount of time we spend cleaning the bathroom. After each shower, simply close the shower curtain. This will help it dry faster and discourage mildew growth. Also make sure to hang your wet or damp towel so you can get another use or two out of it before tossing it in the hamper.

Bad Habit #4: Forgetting to Clean Your Cleaning Tools

Washing dishes with a bacteria-riddled sponge. Using a vacuum cleaner that hasn’t been emptied in who knows how long. Washing clothes in a washing machine that has a mildewy odor. They all defeat the purpose of cleaning in the first place. You can’t expect dirty tools to be effective in cleaning up. Be sure to clean or replace them after each use or as needed.

Bad Habit #5: Letting Dirty Dishes Fester

Leaving dirty dishes in the sink creates a veritable buffet for pests, a perfect breeding ground for bacteria, and a gross odor that wafts throughout your house. In order to break this habit, you’re going to have to create new ones. First, empty the dishwasher every time it’s finished. We’ve all been guilty of using the dishwasher as storage from time to time, but it’s really not a great idea to leave your clean dishes in the warm, moist environment to invite mildew and even bugs. Plus when you have an empty dishwasher just waiting to be filled again, it won’t take any more effort to put your dirty bowl there than it will to put it in the sink.

Bad Habit #6: Stockpiling Dirty Laundry

Laundry day will be so much easier if you don’t allow your hampers and baskets to overflow. Instead of waiting for it to amass so you can do a full load, think about doing smaller loads throughout the week. It might sound like a waste of water and energy to do it this way, but most washers nowadays have settings for smaller, quicker, and more efficient loads of laundry. You’ll be more likely to fold and put away smaller loads of laundry than one giant one on your designated (and dreaded) laundry day.

Bad Habit #7: Disinfectant Wipe Abuse

Disposable disinfecting wipes like are a godsend for those times when you need to do a quick cleanup. What you don’t want to do, however, is use one disinfectant wipe to clean multiple areas. If you use one to wipe down the bathroom counters and then move on to the toilet with the same wipe, all you’re doing is spreading bacteria.

Bad Habit #8: Wearing Shoes in the House

Make a new rule that everyone must remove outside shoes as soon as they step through the front door. It’s easy to forget the amount of germs and bacteria and bits that can amass on the soles of our shoes. After all, how often do we really look at them? Place a basket, bin, or tray inside the front door for collecting shoes. Removing shoes each time you come inside will help save a lot of time and energy spent on vacuuming and mopping floors. (It also helps ensure certain family members and friends don’t put their shoes on the furniture!)

Bad Habit #9: Forgetting to Clean Out the Fridge

We get it. Life’s busy. It’s easy to forget to clear the fridge of old food and drinks. After all, how much time do you spend looking inside your fridge and freezer? Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, it’s time to make a point of cleaning out the refrigerator weekly. Toss any leftovers that haven’t been eaten after a couple of days. Even though it’s refrigerated, food that remains untouched and improperly stored grows mold and bacteria and causes bigger messes than necessary.

Bad Habit #10: Saving the Dusting for Last

Where do you think that dust ends up when you wipe down dirty surfaces? If you think every bit is trapped the cloth or duster you’re using, you’re wrong. Dust particles fall to the floor or float through the air and land on other surfaces you might have already cleaned. So do yourself a favor and clean top to bottom, completing the dusting first. Any dust remnants can be cleaned up when you vacuum or sweep and mop.

Bad Habit #11: Not Making the Bed

It may seem like such a small thing, but making your bed really sets the tone for the day. It can also make the bedroom look cleaner by half with just a few seconds of effort. To make it really easy on yourself, use non-fussy bedding that’s easily pulled up and situated, and keep things like throw pillows and afghans to a minimum.

Bad Habit #12: Skipping the Directions

If you think you can save time by not reading the directions on things like cleaning products, think again. You might actually cause yourself to spend more time cleaning up the mess you made by using a product incorrectly. For instance, some cleaners require a few minutes to sit, soak, and do their thing before you’re supposed to wipe them up. If you spray the cleaner on and get down to business with the scrubbing right away, you’re just creating more work for yourself. If you’d read the instructions, you would’ve known to spray the cleaner on, wait ten minutes, and then wipe it all away with much less effort.

How-To Tuesday: Winterize Your Pool

It looks like the cooler weather is finally here to stay in the Lowcountry. For those homeowners who have a swimming pool, that means it’s time to winterize and cover it for the season. If you usually just throw a cover on and forget about it for the rest of fall and winter, you’re probably making more work for yourself (and setting yourself up for potential problems later on). Here are a few tips on how to winterize your pool the right way to prevent future issues and make reopening it in the springtime a breeze.

First Things First…

Before you close your pool for the winter, it’s important to give it a good cleaning. Remove any leaves, insects, twigs, and other debris that might have fallen in with the changing seasons. Skim out any organic matter out now so you can start with clean slate in the spring. Store your ladders, floats, and toys for the winter as well.

Lower the Water Level

If you have an inground pool, drain enough water so that the waterline is below any tiles. While we don’t get freezing weather too terribly often here in the Lowcountry, it can happen from time to time. Freezing water can cause tiles to crack, so it’s best if the water isn’t touching them. Don’t drain the pool completely, though. Hydrostatic pressure from underground water can cause an empty pool to become unstable.

Adjust Chemicals

Once the pool is cleaned and the water level is lowered, you’ll need to adjust the chemicals. Check the water’s chlorine, pH, and alkalinity. If you’re not sure of the recommended ranges for these, you might want to take a sample of the water to your local pool store and have them help you out. You might want to consider adding products to prevent algae bloom and remove phosphates (which is what algae feed on).

Winterize the Plumbing

This step could be considered optional in our area since, again, we don’t encounter too much freezing weather. If a freeze does happen, however, you’re going to want to be sure your pool equipment can handle it. Use a wet-dry vacuum or compressed air to remove water from the pump, heater, filter, and underground pipes. Add an antifreeze product if you wish, and then plug the equipment to prevent any water from getting in.

Cover the Pool

To keep leaves, debris, and even wildlife out of the pool during the cooler months, cover your treated and winterized pool. Your local pool store is the best place to find a variety of options, and the experts there can give you great advice. Use a pool cover made from plastic fabric and held down by anchors surrounding the pool; or make your own using a tarp and sandbags. The latter is not recommended if you have small children as it could pose the threat of a drowning accident.

Do Routine Checks

Take a peek under the pool cover about once a month to make sure everything’s alright. You may need to remove excess debris that found its way in or adjust the chemicals every once in a while. You might also want to add chlorine or bleach to prevent the growth of bacteria and algae.

Reopen Your Pool Early

The longer you keep the pool closed, the higher the risk of stagnant water and algae bloom. To prevent this from happening, take the cover off the pool before outside temps reach 70 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the optimal temperature for algae growth. If you don’t want to clean up that green slime in the spring, open the pool before the water has a chance to warm up under that cover.

What Might Be Hiding Behind That Perfect Staging

It’s always nice to see a perfectly staged home when you’re out house hunting. Staging makes it easy to envision yourself and all your belongings in a space and makes things more attractive and inviting than a cold, empty house. But sometimes sellers are looking for a quick fix in order to sell a house quickly. If you’re interested enough in a house to entertain the idea of making an offer, be sure to check for any damage, cosmetic or otherwise, that perfect
“makeup” could be hiding. Here are just a few examples.

Wall Damage

A new paint job could be covering a multitude of sins. Take a closer look. Is there wallpaper hiding underneath that new paint? Are there cracks in darker paint that aren’t evident until you get up close? You should also make sure to have the walls checked for things like mold. Wall coverings, artwork, and knick knacks could also be hiding things like holes.

Floor Damage

Be sure that big, trendy rug isn’t hiding damaged flooring underneath. Oddly placed furniture could also be a red flag that there’s something lurking underneath. Take a peek under floor coverings to make sure that there’s nothing going on there that you should be aware of.

An Awkward Layout

There’s not much a seller can do beyond a full remodel to hide a home that has an odd layout or small rooms. In order to make a small or awkward room look more appealing, sellers are advised to stage the room with furniture that will make it seem bigger and more functional. Looks can be deceiving! It’s always a good idea to bring a measuring tape with you on your house-hunting trip to make sure your own furniture will fit.

Noise Pollution

It’s common for agents and sellers to play soothing music during open houses or showings. But that music could be doing more than setting a nice, relaxed mood. There’s a chance it could be hiding noise pollution such as outside traffic or construction, or even noises in the house like dripping faucets or creaky floors.

An Amateur Flip

Flipping houses can be a lucrative business, but unfortunately there are amateurs out there who really don’t know what they’re doing and don’t take the care they should with remodeling. A big warning sign is inconsistency in the home. For instance, if a few rooms look shiny and new while others are just so-so, you might be looking at a half-finished project. It’s possible that the flippers just concentrated on making the worst parts of the house look better and didn’t give the whole house the care it needs. You could end up having to undo all the “work” they did, which will cost more time and money than you probably bargained for.

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