Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Does Your Hard Water Need Softening?

Ask yourself the following questions to see if your water may need softening. Do you have soap scum in sinks and bathtubs? Bathtub rings? Do your dishes or glass shower doors have spots? Do your foaming soaps and detergents work properly? Are your clothes dingy and yellowed by soapy residues that require an extra rinse cycle? Clogged pipes or increased water-heating costs from buildup of minerals? Have you ever had skin infections from bacteria trapped in pores underneath soap scum? 

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you are likely among the 85% of people in the US that are affected by hard water. Hard water is caused by the dissolved minerals calcium, magnesium and manganese. Hard water not only causes the already mentioned issues but can also cause your hair to feel sticky and look dull, your clothes to look dingy and feel harsh or scratchy, and on the opposite spectrum, can cause your water heaters to consume considerably more energy than those using softened water. As you can see, hard water affects almost every cleaning task and affects even your personal grooming. Although the effects of hard water are unwanted, hard water is not hazardous to human health. If you suspect that your water is hard, have it tested. 

Determining Your Water’s Hardness

If you have public supply, call your water superintendent or city hall and ask about the water. If you have a private supply, collect a sample in an approved container and take it to a testing lab. The following will help you understand the breakdown of how soft and hard water are determined.

Soft Water is classified as containing 0-1 grains per gallon. 1-3 ½ grains per gallon is slightly harder. 3 ½ -7 grains is moderately hard water. 7-10 ½ grains per gallon is considered hard water. And finally 10 ½ or more grains per gallon is very hard.

What is a grain? Water hardness is expressed in grains of hardness per gallon of water (g.p.g.). One grain of water hardness is the amount of calcium, manganese, and magnesium that is equal in weight to a kernel of wheat.
So How Do You Reduce Water Hardness?

Basically, your only option is to find a water softener. You have choice within that broad category as to what kind of water softener you will acquire.

All recognized home water softening equipment on the market today operate on the ion exchange principle to remove hardness-causing minerals from water. Within softening units, water passes through softening materials, usually sulfonated polystyrene beads, which are supersaturated with sodium on both their exterior and interior surfaces, thus having the ability to take on or give up electrical charges.

The ion exchange occurs as the water passes through the softening material. Calcium and magnesium attach themselves to the beads, while the sodium in the beads is released into the water. Eventually the softening material will need to be recharged, meaning the softening material needs to be washed with a brine solution that replaces the sodium and enables the ion exchange to continue.
Types of Softeners

Water softeners are classified into four different categories:
  • Manual: the owner starts and stops all steps in the recharging of the unit.
  • Semi-automatic: the owner starts the steps manually with the exception of the automatic termination of the rinse and return to service.
  • Automatic: the owner stops the unit when recharging is necessary. All other steps are automatic.
  • Fully-automatic: The unit operates with a timer and all operations are activated automatically. Softening material in this unit is sufficient for multiple rechargings but will be added periodically as required.
Things to Consider When Buying a Softener
  • Prices will range from $400 to $1800. Avoid both extremes and purchase a quality softener, installed, for about $600 to $800.
  • Only buy from a reputable dealer.
  • Do not decide on a system until you have considered the cost of the equipment, cost of installation, and know an approximation of operating costs. If installation is included, be sure to check and make sure there are no additional fees for bypassing lawn and garden water systems, replenishing swimming pools, ect.
  • Make sure you understand what the softener’s warranty includes and excludes. A quality warranty will be around 10 years on the tank and five years on the control valves.
  • Be sure to fully understand the method and cost of recharging your softener.
  • Ask for names of customers that have bought that unit to see if they are satisfied with that system and service.
Final Considerations

Not everyone should use water softeners. If you have heart or circulatory problems or are on a low sodium diet, you may not want to use a water softener. Consult a physician.

Softened water is not recommended for watering plants, lawns, or gardens. The sodium in the softened water is harmful to plant life. Make sure that the water used in recharging the softener is disposed of through a storm drain or sewer due to the damaging effects.

Mechanical water softeners can be rented. Renting softeners may be an option only in urban areas, but for a monthly fee, the company installs the softener and replaces it periodically with a freshly charged unit. This option would be more for smaller households, moderate water usage, or users who do not want to deal with equipment maintenance.

Use distilled, not softened water, in your steam iron. Softened water still contains minerals that may clog your steam iron.


Monday, March 7, 2011

10 Quick Kitchen Renewal Ideas

Winter will not be here forever, but while you cannot go outside and work on your home’s exterior or plant in the garden, you mind as well make use of the time you have inside.

Perhaps your faded kitchen needs a new and creative touch. In fact, you don’t even like spending time in the kitchen because it’s so gloomy, but you have limited time and finances to make improvements now. Well, kitchen renovations do not have to drain your pocket, take a lot of time, or put your kitchen in total upheaval. Try one or all of the following.

1.) Try Painting

Paint works wonders on everything. A dull room can be transformed into an atmosphere that feels alive and clean with a few strokes of a brush and a gallon of paint.

If your old wood tone cabinets are not catching your eye anymore, try spray-painting them very glossy white or hand painted with oil-base in creamy white. For only a few bucks, you can paint your cabinetry, providing leaps and bounds of improvements.

After painting the cabinets, repaint the walls with a latex satin enamel in soft sheen or no sheen. Use a color to contrast your new looking cabinets.

2.) Replace the Pulls, Hinges, and Knobs

Even the worst cabinetry can smile again after new hardware. Perhaps you should look into vintage hardware. Expensive pulls can totally change the look of your kitchen.

3.) Remove a Few Doors

Examine the cabinets carefully and think about which doors could be removed to expose the shelving. Not only does open shelving make a room look larger, but you can also then display your favorite dishes, cookbooks, glasses, or whatever. This is easy to do and a new look.

Take this idea one step further and paint the inside of the newly exposed shelving either the same color as the cabinets or create a contrast with an opposite bright color.

4.) Replace Solid Doors with Glass Fronts

By replacing the solid cupboard doors with glass fronts, you open up the room and display dishes, glassware, silver, or anything that you wish to display. The glass does not have to be just clear either, you can use frosted or put out a few more bucks and get vintage doors that are mastered to fit. You could also add sheer fabric behind the glass fronts.

And if you’ve already thought of removing a few doors to open up shelving, the glass fronts will beautifully compliment.

5.) Change the Lighting
  • Wire Suspension Lights: make any space look contemporary and new.
  • Track Lights: lighten up any kitchen.
  • Paper lanterns: adds life, character, and originality.
  • Halogen bulbs: make a box or rectangle of lights if you have a small kitchen
6.) Tile a Countertop

Tile your countertop and have new countertops in a day. If you have a small kitchen, this is when you actually benefit, because you can get a more expensive tile and still not have to pay a lot of money.

7.) Flooring is Easy

Changing your old flooring does not have to be difficult or expensive. Today there are countless, patterned self-stick tiles that can be laid quickly and easily.

Or paint the floor a dark color such as black. Then, tie in the wall or cabinet color by using a ragging or faux finish over the dark color.

8.) Faucets Finish the New Look

You would be amazed to see how much of a difference a new faucet can make in your kitchen. For the amount of money that you put into the new faucet and pull out spray, your kitchen will be singing.

9.) Add a Reflection

One of the easiest and best ways to make a space feel larger, without literally expanding the room, is to add a framed mirror to the end of a galley kitchen. You will add dimension to the room. Plus, the mirror reflects already existing light, which will brighten up your kitchen.

10.) Change the Window Treatment

Curtains often fade and almost feel like furniture or part of the wall after awhile. We forget that changing them can easily upgrade the feel and look of the room. A matchstick blind cut to size can add texture and light control.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Heart Labrador Retriever Mix: An adoptable dog in Chester, MD

Heart: Labrador Retriever, Dog; Chester, MD Heart: Labrador Retriever, Dog; Chester, MD


Labrador Retriever Mix: An adoptable dog in Chester, MD

Large • Baby • Female
Entered 2/21/2010 Cute is an understatement when describing this little gal and her 6 siblings who are just 8-10 weeks old. They are eager to find a loving family to call their own so please stop by the center to meet them.

More about Heart

Spayed/Neutered • Up-to-date with routine shots • Primary colors: Black, White or Cream • Coat length: Medium

Congratulations to Ken on is recent purchase that was a fantastic bargain! If you are in the market to purchase a home, this is the perfect time to take advantage of a large selection of homes at discounted prices.

 I have several lenders with aggressive lending programs ready to serve you. Call me today to discuss your next purchase.

Dina Baxter
Rosendale Realty
605 Main Street
Suite 100
Stevensville, MD 21666
(410) 643-2166 O
(410) 507-1936 C

Friday, March 4, 2011

Charlie Sheen's in Escrow-9000 Square feet-7.5M Listing

Charlie Sheen is in escrow to purchase a home in the same Beverly Hills, Calif.-area neighborhood in which he lives, according to people familiar with the matter.
Charlie Sheen

The home, which is listed for $7.5 million, is currently owned by Mike Medavoy, chief executive of Phoenix Pictures and producer of films like "Black Swan." Mr. Medavoy purchased the home several months ago for $6 million, according to public records.
Located in a gated community on a half-acre lot, the 9,000-square-foot, two-story Mediterranean-style house has six bedrooms and eight bathrooms and recently underwent extensive renovations. The home has an outdoor bar and kitchen, two terraces and a heated veranda that overlooks a swimming pool. There is also a library, butler's pantry and a formal dining room as well as views of the city and mountains.
Mr. Sheen stars in the CBS show "Two and a Half Men," which ended production for the season after incendiary media interviews by Mr. Sheen. The 45-year-old actor, who has claimed to have cured himself of drug and alcohol addiction, went on a media blitz this past week, criticizing the network and one of the show's creators for the decision to halt production. Mr. Sheen, who has five children, currently lives with two girlfriends.
Mr. Sheen's manager didn't return calls for comment. Mr. Medavoy could not be reached for comment. Jade Mills and Joyce Rey of Coldwell Banker Previews International have the listing. WSJ