What is a Water Hammer and Why You Should Know

We all know that houses have their little noises and creaks. It’s part of what gives them character and (sometimes) charm. However, if you live in a house older than a few years, you’ve probably heard a loud bang in your pipes that is anything but charming. Well, it’s called a water hammer (apt!) and in a few simple steps, you can stop this from happening altogether!

Source: Supply House

A lot of people think water moves peacefully through their pipes like a lazy river; after all, it just trickles out of the sink, right? Wrong. Water tumbles and rushes this way and that, wherever the pipes let it go, and when the pressure in the pipes increases suddenly (or sometimes, when you shut off your water value completely) the water comes to a full stop, making the pipes bang into their hangers and fasteners. This can be a one-time thing, or it can happen repeatedly, caused by a clog or by air chambers that have become waterlogged. As you can probably imagine, excess hammering can go hand-in-hand with bursting pipes and other plumbing issues.

Source: PlumbingMart
Source: PlumbingMart

So what is there to be done? If you’re feeling capable, you can turn your water line off and drain the main supply lines, and then make sure everything is off before turning the water back on again. You faucets will sputter for a few seconds afterwards, but then the balance should be restored. However, if this doesn’t work or you don’t feel like it’s something you have the DIY knowledge to accomplish, simply call a plumber. They should check your pipes for excess buildup and clogs, and might install a pressure-reducing valve. Hey, whatever it takes to stop that nerve-wracking banging, right?

How to Make Your Home Smell Amazing

Smell is often one of our most overlooked senses; because we rely on our eyesight and sense of touch so much, scent can easily get brushed aside. However, different smells have the ability to transport us, to change how we feel about a space immediately, and to make us recall crystal-clear memories within seconds of inhaling. The power of scent is so strong that ancient civilizations like the Egyptians and the Romans used to use essential oils both for pleasure (like in baths and in their hair) and in spiritual rituals.

Source: The Independent

These days, we’re a lot more relaxed about our scent use, but some experts still believe that essential oils can do amazing things, like aid in the healing process or help muscle relaxation. Luckily, there have been a ton of cool technological innovations that allow essential oils to permeate the air in your home, so it always smells (and feels) relaxing! One fairly low-tech method is a reed diffuser, which uses these delicate sticks to help the oils evaporate. They also look really interesting and add a natural element to a bookcase or shelf.

Source: Young Living
Source: Walmart

If you’d like something less earthy looking, there are candles and heating diffusers, which both melt scented wax, releasing the scent into the air along with the smoke from the wick, for candles. One of the more fun innovations to pop up in recent years is the ultrasonic diffuser, which looks like a modern sculpture or vase and releases water vapor as well as delightful smells – bonus! And for an extra buck (or several), you can purchase a “smart” diffuser which can be controlled by an app in your phone, allowing you to turn it on right before you get home, so your house instantly smells like an oasis! Sign us up for that one!

Why Your Home Needs a High-Efficiency Washing Machine

We all want to go green for the planet, but only if it’s worth our while. These days, so many energy-efficient products are pitched to us that we want to make sure that what we’re buying is built to last and really helps the environment. So is it really worth it to get an HE (High-Efficiency) Washer unit? How much does it really save you?

Source: GE Appliances

It turns out that these machines, which came on the market roughly 20 years ago, really do help their owners save money, about $210/year in electricity! This is good for the planet as well, because chances are that electricity isn’t 100% green-produced. The washers use less water, and squeeze clothes more than they spin them, which is a gentler and more efficient way of removing water from clothes. They also have bigger tubs, so you end up running fewer loads of laundry per week.

So how long does it take for these wonder machines to pay for themselves? They’re more expensive than your standard washer, roughly $200-$400 more for comparable models. Comparing energy savings and loan size, manufacturers say you should make your money back in about six years, which is good news because washers should last their owners about ten years total. Those last four years, owners are basically profiting from their larger purchase.

Source: YouTube

If you do get one of these washers, make sure you purchase HE detergent to get the most efficiency from your washer. It produces few suds and works optimally with the rinsing method of the dryer. Also keep in mind that you should also always run a full load, and use the cold water setting. And finally, check with your utility company – they may offer an environmental rebate to encourage you to go green and offset some of those initial costs!

Will 2017 Finally Be the Year of the Smart Home?

We’ve all heard of these so-called “smart houses,” fully automated homes that you can control remotely and entirely. The technology has been around for a few years, and yet there hasn’t been a huge market for them, despite the buzz they generated when they became a reality. Why is that? Brad Kozak at IHS Markit says it’s because consumers aren’t sure how best to use it. “It’s been a lot of fragmentation in the industry, a lot of confusion among consumers as to which devices are the best to go with. Is there longevity here? If they install a system tomorrow, will it be around in the next year?”

Source: Curb Energy

This makes sense because buying a home isn’t like buying a new cell phone. People need their homes to last, to work well for years to come, and not to become obsolete. However, all that is changing as the average consumer is learning that the technology can be upgraded and that working it is easy – or can be. 2016 saw a 64% increase in the sales of home tech devices, which now include helpers like Amazon’s Alexa. And analysts say that the number will continue to rise as companies are learning how to market their devices as easy and essential to potential consumers.

Source: CNET

However, built-in tech is a different story. Realtor Theresa Taylor says that while home buyers like new homes to come with better technology already installed, they don’t are if that’s not the case on older homes. “They’re not willing to pay a premium for it. If the house has it, that’s fine, but it’s nothing that’s on the top of their list.” This may just indicate how willing buyers are to customize their house: they’re willing to purchase the upgrades they’d like, and leave the ones they don’t want behind. Predictions indicate that in 2017 this market will explode, with 130 million smart home devices shipped this year!

10 of the Most Over Priced Housing Markets in the U.S.

Unless you’re a bazillionaire, you know that the housing market in America is bubbling like chewing gum. Actually, if you’re a bazillionaire, you’re probably aware as well, only you’re pleased with that prospect. However, for those of us average Joes, finding a city to settle in that isn’t insanely overpriced is extremely difficult. With that in mind, we present to you the top ten most overpriced markets in America:

  1. Denver – Prices here have risen by ⅓ in just seven years (since the housing crash in 2008). The mile-high city looks like it might be peaking, according to James Paine, realtor. Yikes.
  2. Boston – At a 27% increase, this revolutionary city isn’t that far behind Denver, although incomes in the city can’t match pace, making buying extremely difficult for Bostonians.
  3. Washington, D.C. – Washington elites are known for their ability to broker powerful deals, but these days it seems like you have to be a former head of state to purchase a home in the D.C. area.

    Source: Abbot Klarr Real Estate
  4. Pittsburgh – This Pennsylvania city wasn’t hit as hard by the housing market crash, and as a result, prices have been climbing steadily for years, with an almost 25% increase since 2008 alone.
  5. San Francisco – It’s no surprise that notoriously expensive San Fran made this list – after all, they were the first city to take the step of raising the minimum wage themselves – but Paine says they have, “the highest median home price in the entire country and the lowest affordability.”
  6. Honolulu – Who doesn’t want to live in Hawaii? Well, for a relative 18% jump in seven years, we’re going to opt out.

    Source: Hawaii Beach Front Homes
  7. San Jose – So many jobs are opening up here that it’s only natural the market is climbing. However, this is one city Paine thinks might be slowing down, market-wise at least.
  8. Louisville – It’s not a huge bump – only about 8% – but a strong small business market and labor force, buyers are feeling the increase acutely.

    Source: Highlands Louisville
  9. Colorado Springs – back in Colorado, the increases in this lovely town just South of Denver may not stay up; Paine suspects that if the military pulls out of the region, they’ll take a lot of it’s economic growth with them.
  10. San Diego – This sunny Southern California city has long been an alternative for those who can’t handle the downsides of Los Angeles, but Paine suggests that you could probably find better housing deals in the City of Angels!