All posts by Katie Baron

6 Great Tips to Keep Pipes From Freezing!

Cold temperatures can cause pipes to freeze. Many landlords are afraid they will get this call from a tenant during the winter months. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent this problem. Learn six tips to keep the pipes on your property from freezing.

The Facts About Frozen Pipes

Picture of How to Keep Pipes From Freezing

Only A Cold Climate Problem?

This is not the case. Many mistakenly believe that frozen pipes are only an issue for those in typically cold climates.

However, the homes that are actually more vulnerable to frozen pipes are those in typically warmer climates because the pipes may not be properly insulated against such frigid temperatures.

Frozen Pipes Can Burst

Frozen pipes are a problem by themselves because they prevent water flow, but even worse, frozen pipes can eventually burst, causing damage and potential flooding. The good news is, there are six easy steps you can take to help prevent this problem from occurring when the temperatures drop.

Tip #1: Keep the Heat On

If you or your tenants are leaving for a period of time, make sure that the heat is kept on your property. It may be difficult to convince your tenants to leave their heat on when they are away, especially if they are responsible for paying their own utilities. You should inform them that the heat can help prevent pipes from freezing, and if pipes freeze and burst, it can cause a lot of water damage to the property and to their possessions.

The heat does not have to be kept as high as you normally would keep it if you were actually in the property, but keeping it set above 50 degrees Fahrenheit is a good idea. This should provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm and to prevent any water inside from freezing.

Tip #2: Allow Faucet to Drip

If you are afraid a pipe will freeze, you can allow the faucet to drip slightly.

Allowing the faucet to be open like this will relieve pressure in the system. If a pipe freezes, it is actually the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst. Allowing the faucet to be open will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, keep the pipe from bursting.

Tip #3: Keep Interior Doors Open

Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well. You should also keep all interior doors open so that the heat can flow throughout the home.

Tip #4: Seal Up Cracks and Holes

You should caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes. This should be done on both interior and exterior walls. Doing so can help keep the cold air out and the warm air in.

Tip #5: Apply Heating Tape

For pipes that are easily accessible, the electrical heating tape may be an option to keep them from freezing. This tape can be applied directly to the pipe.

There are two types of heating tape. One type of heating tape turns on and off by itself when it senses heat is needed. The other type of heating tape needs to be plugged in when heat is needed and unplugged when not in use.

Much like a space heater, these products can be dangerous, so you must follow the product’s direction and safety procedures exactly.

Tip #6: Add Extra Insulation

Pipes that are located in areas that do not have proper insulation, such as basements or attics, may need extra insulation to keep from freezing. Pipes in basements or attics are not the only ones that may not be properly insulated from the cold. If you have had a problem with pipes freezing anywhere in your home, extra insulation could be the cure.

Pipes can be fitted with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing. This can be an easy solution for pipes that are exposed but can get expensive if walls, floors or ceilings have to be opened in order to properly insulate the pipe. Additional insulation can also be added to walls and ceilings to keep the pipes warm.

Holiday Safety Tips!

 

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Christmas trees

  • Pick out a freshly cut Christmas tree – one that is too dry can easily catch fire. Trim at least one inch from the bottom of the tree; this will increase the tree’s ability to absorb water. Live trees need a lot of water so check the water level and refill often.
  • Place the tree in a secure stand designed to hold the weight of the tree. Never place a Christmas tree near a heat source such as a fireplace, radiator or stove. Do not use candles to decorate a tree. And never go near a tree with an open flame such as a candle, lighter or matches.
  • Dispose of the tree when it becomes dry, or when the needles begin to fall off in large quantities. Never burn old trees or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. Instead, take it to a recycling center or have it removed by a community pick-up service.
  • If you buy an artificial tree, make sure that it is made of fire-resistant material.

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Decorations and lights

  • Do not overload electrical sockets by plugging too many cords into a single outlet. Always unplug holiday lights when no one is home or when everyone goes to sleep for the evening. Use only Underwriters Laboratories (UL) approved lights. Inspect old light strands for any cracks, frayed edges or bare spots. Throw out any damaged chords.
  • When decorating a tree with lights, fasten them securely to the tree and make sure that no bulbs come in contact with needles or branches. Check wires regularly. If they become warm, unplug the lights immediately.
  • Never use indoor lights outside. They are not designed to withstand the elements and if they get wet, can cause an electric shock. Remove outdoor lighting as soon as the season is over. Even specially created outdoor decorations are not designed to withstand prolonged exposure to the elements.
  • Do not block exit paths to doors or fire escapes with Christmas trees or other decorations.

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Fireplaces

  • Never burn wrapping paper in the fireplace. This may release fire-starting embers or produce a build-up of dangerous chemical fumes in the home.

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Children and pets

  • Place all ornaments and candles out of reach of small children and pets. Small or breakable ornaments can be easily knocked down, which can result in cuts or choking. Curious children and playful pets can topple a tree in seconds causing serious injury.
  • Beware of toxic decorations. Mistletoe and holly berries may be poisonous if more than a few are swallowed. Old tinsel may contain lead so discard old tinsel if you are not sure of its composition. Fire salts (which produce a multi-colored effect when thrown on burning wood) contain heavy metals, which if swallowed may cause serious gastrointestinal problems and vomiting.

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Candles

  • Check candles frequently to make sure they do not burn down too far or drip hot wax. Make sure candles are placed in sturdy, non-combustible holders away from decorations and other combustible materials.
  • Clean and trim candlewicks to 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch before lighting. Long or crooked wicks cause uneven burning and dripping. Candles should be placed at least three inches apart so they do not melt onto one another. Keep candles free of wick trimmings, matches or any flammable material that might ignite.
  • Never leave candles burning unattended. Remember to snuff out all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep.

 

Have a safe and Happy Holiday!

The great holiday of Thanksgiving may bring everyone together, but it also comes with its unique risks.

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Thanksgiving is a time in which we reflect on all that we have as Americans and give thanks to it all. It’s a time where we get together with our loved ones, cook delicious meals, and enjoy an excellent weekend together. But aside from getting caught in your aunt’s rambling or listening to your old uncle’s rather unique view on politics, what are the real risks that Thanksgiving brings? Here are the risks of Thanksgiving and how you can avoid them with Thanksgiving Home Safety Tips.

Thanksgiving Home Safety Tips

 

Food Safety

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With so much food that needs to be prepared, it’s important that you not rush anything. Taking something out of the oven even 1 degree F too soon could spell trouble for you and your guests.

  • A 20-pound turkey can take up to 5 days to properly thaw. Plan ahead if you will be cooking the turkey.
  • Turkeys need to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F before you take it out of the oven.
  • All leftovers must be placed in the refrigerator two hours after being served.

Fire Safety

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Thanksgiving Day is unique because there is, on average, three times as much cooking as a typical day, and that increases the risk of a fire.

  • Never leave what is cooking on the stove unattended and periodically check the oven to make sure nothing is burning.
  • Use oven mitts when dealing with something hot and place them away from heat as they could catch fire.

Having a sense of safety is important on Thanksgiving. But the only way you can protect yourself against any accidents that happen is by knowing that you have the right Public Adjuster. Contact Property Adjustment Corporation with any possible damage or insurance needs. At Property Adjustment Corporation, we make things right! Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

16 Ways to have a safer Halloween

16 Ways to Have a Safer Halloween

Kids trick-or-treating
There’s something scarier about Halloween than the costumes: It’s the scariest day for child pedestrian accidents.
That was a key finding from a 2012 study by State Farm® and Bert Sperling of Sperling’s BestPlaces that shed light on the risks surrounding trick-or-treating. To help make Halloween activities safer, whether you’re going door-to-door, driving or passing out treats at home, keep these tips in mind.

If you’re going door-to-door

Always accompany young children.
Exercise great caution during the ‘scariest’ hours: between 5 and 9 p.m. The study shows that the hour between 6 and 7 p.m. is especially dangerous for pedestrian accidents.
Stick to neighborhoods with sidewalks. If you must walk on the street, keep to the far left, facing traffic.
Practice safe crossing procedures: Use crosswalks; wait for corners; and look left, right and left again before crossing.
Stick reflective tape onto costumes to make your child more visible. Also have him or her carry a flashlight.
Make sure costumes and shoes are the correct size to prevent tripping. Use face paint and leave the masks at home: They can obstruct vision.
If an older child is venturing out without supervision, ask that he or she go with a group, discuss the route and agree on a curfew. Give older kids cell phones so they can stay in touch.

If you’re driving

Be alert for children and eliminate in-car distractions.
Drive slowly.
Practice extra caution at intersections and corners.
Pull in and out of driveways carefully.
Discuss these and other driving pointers with your teen driver. Drivers ages 15-25 were involved in around one-third of fatal crashes involving child pedestrians on Halloween, according to the study.

If you’re handing out treats

Keep your home brightly lit indoors and outside.
Clear debris and other obstacles from your lawn, sidewalks and steps.
Opt for battery-operated candles in jack-o’-lanterns or other areas where costumed trick-or-treaters might stand.
Keep pets kenneled or in another room.
In addition to protecting children from accidents, remind kids of stranger danger on Halloween. Teach children to visit only well-lit homes, to avoid dark streets and to not enter homes that aren’t their own. Kids should show all their loot to parents before eating any of it. Homemade treats from people they don’t know shouldn’t be eaten.
Learn more Halloween health and safety tips from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The National Safety Council also offers suggestions for a safer Halloween.

Ready for autumn weather to arrive in N.J.? Keep waiting

Forecasters say high temperatures could get close to record territory in some locations in New Jersey on Tuesday, as the wave of warm weather continues.

 

After getting a brief taste of cool autumn temperatures during the first few days of October, New Jersey has been stuck in a warming trend that has made it feel more like late summer the past few days.

Thanks to warm air flowing in from the southwest, much of the state was 10 to 15 degrees warmer than normal from last Thursday through Monday. And the trend will continue for one more day, with temperatures expected to climb into the low 80s on Tuesday.

With sunshine returning and humidity dropping, “it should be a beautiful day,” said Valerie Meola, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Mount Holly.

Although daily record highs for Oct. 10 likely won’t be broken, the mercury could come within a few degrees of the records in Atlantic City and Trenton, according to the National Weather Service. Even if records are not matched, the afternoon highs on Tuesday will be running 14 to 17 degrees above normal for early October across most of New Jersey, as well as in New York City and eastern Pennsylvania.

Forecasters say temperatures will revert back to near-normal, autumn-like numbers on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday before creeping up again — into the mid- to upper 70s — on Saturday and Sunday.

 

LOCATION
NORMAL HIGH
FORECAST HIGH
RECORD HIGH
YEAR
Trenton 67° 84° 89° 1939
Atlantic City 68° 82° 85° 1939
Newark 67° 81° 92° 1949
New York 66° 81° 91° 1939
Philadelphia 69° 84° 90° 1939
Allentown 66° 81° 89° 1949
Reading 66° 80° 89° 1949
Mount Pocono 59° 73° 86° 1949

Much-needed rain

Meanwhile, New Jersey received some much-needed rain the past two days, because of a frontal system from the west and leftover moisture from Tropical Storm Nate from the south.

Although South Jersey had a fairly wet September, many parts of central and northern New Jersey received less than 2 inches of rain throughout the entire month — 2 inches below normal — and less than a quarter-inch of rain during the first eight days of October.

Most of New Jersey picked up less than a tenth of an inch of rain on Sunday, while a few climate sites recorded from two-tenths to a half-inch, according to data from the New Jersey Weather & Climate Network, based at Rutgers University.

The top rainfall amounts on Sunday were: 0.48 inches in High Point, 0.42 inches in Jersey City, 0.42 inches in Walpack, 0.31 inches in New Brunswick, 0.20 inches in Cream Ridge and 0.19 inches in Ramsey.

On Monday, the remnants of Tropical Storm Nate brought about 1.3 inches of rain to High Point and 1.2 inches to Wantage in Sussex County, and just over 1 inch of rain to Walpack in Sussex County and Upper Deerfield in Cumberland County.

Knock, knock. Who’s there? It could be a hurricane insurance scam waiting to happen

 

 

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Beware of the repair people who come to your door offering to repair your roof or replace your windshield. Don’t ever pay for repairs upfront and don’t sign an AOB (Assignment of Benefits) form to get repair work started.

These are some of the tips from consumer protection advocates, who are warning that insurance and repair scam artists will likely be out in force in the aftermath of Irma.

 

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Damage from Hurricane Irma could create new opportunities for unscrupulous home repair vendors and trial attorneys seeking to profit off the disaster by asking homeowners to sign an AOB to start repair work. In doing so, the homeowners lose control of their insurance policy — which can result in vendors inflating the cost of claims and file lawsuits against insurance companies that dispute the amount. A sharp rise in AOB cases has been blamed for recent hikes in homeowner insurance rates.

 

“Unfortunately, hurricanes often attract scam artists seeking to profit off people in times of crisis,’’ said Mark Wilson, president and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which spearheads the Consumer Protection Coalition. “Consumers who sustain damage during the storm should call their insurance company first before signing over the rights of their insurance policy to someone else.’’

How Hurricane Harvey Could Cause Long-Term Devastation

Traffic lights in Corpus Christi, Texas, are knocked down as Hurricane Harvey approaches.

How Hurricane Harvey Could Cause Long-Term Devastation

The record floods predicted as the storm stalls on the Texas coast might wreck the federal flood-insurance program, and cause financial ruin for insured and uninsured homeowners alike.

Beyond the Category-4, 130-mph winds, the devastating eye wall, and the storm surge hundreds of miles wide, the most destructive part of Hurricane Harvey as it bears down on the Texan Gulf Coast might be the rain.

The storm is projected to basically sit over the region as it runs its course, in the process pouring biblical amounts of rain—30 inches or more—on Texan coastal areas from Corpus Christi to Houston. Even outside the area of truly catastrophic rainfall predictions—which were so high that some weather maps had to add brand new colors to their legends—places like the lower half of Louisiana seem likely to receive a foot or more of rain.

The most likely outcome, unless the storm takes an unexpected turn, appears to be tragedy. The region is already inundated. Houston’s already seen abnormally high amounts of rain this August, and parts of Louisiana are still flooded after rain storms earlier this month, a situation that left parts of New Orleans under several feet of water after some of the city’s water pumps failed. For now, the best case scenario is to hope that most people have evacuated, and that the storm and flood’s ravages will come against property and not human lives. After all, houses can be rebuilt.

But this time, even that may not be true. Although Texas and Louisiana—owing to the constant threat of floods—are among some of the places in the United States where flood insurance is most prevalent, there are few places where even a quarter of all homes are covered. In Houston, just over 119,000 places are covered by flood insurance policies backed by the National Flood Insurance Program, which helps fund most flood insurance policies. There are just over 800,000 occupied housing units in the city, which means that somewhere under a sixth of all homes in the city have flood insurance. The situation is the same in Corpus Christi, where 19,183 buildings are insured of around 115,000 occupied housing units.

The dearth of flood insurance policies makes the result obvious: Most people who lose homes or have them damaged in Harvey won’t have money to replace or repair them. There are a number of reasons why people might go without insurance. Flood protection is expensive, especially in at-risk areas—indeed, that’s how a flood insurance system should work. And although people in especially high-risk flood areas have to purchase flood insurance when they purchase homes as per NFIP guidelines, for people outside of those extreme-risk areas, lack of recent flooding can persuade many homeowners and renters from taking on the additional expense.

For a place like Houston, where the number of extreme-risk areas has skyrocketed over the past few years as floods have become much more common, many people without insurance may simply not know that their homes have a 25 percent chance or more of facing flood damage in a year.

But even for homeowners who do have flood insurance, the prospect of receiving full support for their future claims seems dicey. To say the NFIP has been beleaguered would be a euphemism—the program has been in debt since its inception 50 years ago, and now sits at least $24 billion in the hole. The premiums many homeowners pay are not enough to cover expenditures, the program has just started utilizing reinsurance for catastrophic costs, and the structure of the program is such that there’s never a disincentive to building homes in flood-prone areas, which means that 30 percent or so of the NFIP’s hemorrhaging of money goes to a handful of houses on floodplains that just get rebuilt every year.

Additionally, after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the program has been dogged by allegations that it has repeatedly shortchanged homeowners and that the private insurers that administer policies backed by NFIP have been negligent in their business practices. Essentially, the program has appeared to be one Sandy-level event away from total disarray. And after constant already-catastrophic flooding around Louisiana and eastern Texas, Hurricane Harvey seems to be much more than a Sandy.

In an email to me on Friday evening, Roy Wright, NFIP administrator and acting FEMA associate administrator for insurance and mitigation, noted that floods are the most common form of disaster. “Flood insurance—whether purchased from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or through private carriers—enables insured survivors to recover more quickly and more fully after flood events,” Wright said. “It is one way Americans can financially protect themselves from losses caused by floods.”

But this protection might not be possible if the critical instability of NFIP continues. That’s the main reason why politicians have tried—and failed—multiple times to reform the program, and perhaps to create a disincentive for constant rebuilding, and a way to increase premiums on the riskiest bets. But, as environmental justice scholar Robert Bullard noted in his book Race, Place, and Environmental Justice After Hurricane Katrina, especially in the Gulf region, the people who are already lapsing on NFIP policies or have avoided them by technicality or grandfather clauses tend to be lower-income and often people of color.

Indeed, historically the most vulnerable populations of people have tended to inhabit land on the riskiest plots flood-wise, which means that efforts to make NFIP more fiscally responsible could also have the effect of stripping marginalized people from the only available tracts of land they can afford.

The conundrum of federal flood insurance has been such that it’s allowed some bipartisan movement in a Congress that is currently polarized to the point of rigidity. NFIP expires in September, and Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York, Louisiana Republican Bill Cassidy, and West Virginia Republican Shelley Moore Capito have introduced a reauthorization bill that might keep the program from collapsing. The reauthorization would decrease barriers to privatization of flood insurance, would allow NFIP administrators to identify the most expensive beneficiaries, and would strengthen flood mitigation and flood-plain reporting.

But even that reauthorization appears not to be able to grasp the fundamental instability of flood insurance—right now, as a concept, flood insurance is simply not a profitable venture, and as climate change alters weather patterns, there are more and more catastrophic flood events.

Catastrophic flood events like the next few days of Hurricane Harvey, which will create problems that none of the ongoing flood-insurance reforms can fix. No amount of reform will save the lives or homes of people living in the path of the storm now. Many people—perhaps even those with insurance—will be left without recourse when the storm is over. But the thousands of people who will likely lose homes in Hurricane Harvey are reminders of the dire problems caused by flooding, and of the need to create a new, workable program that might be able to cope with the next Katrinas and Sandys and Harveys. Because the evidence indicates there will be many more to come.

Credit: TheAtlantic.com

Fire Precautions !

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Did you know that if a fire starts in your home you may have as little as two minutes to escape? During a fire, early warning from a working smoke alarm plus a fire escape plan that has been practiced regularly can save lives. Learn what else to do to keep your loved ones safe!

Top Tips for Fire Safety

  1. checkmarkInstall smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  2. checkmarkTest smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
  3. checkmarkTalk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
  4. checkmarkIf a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.

11 easy ways to lower your air conditioning bill this summer

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Summer’s here, and with it will come rising electric bills as you fight to keep your home cool and take refuge from the sweltering heat.

Luckily, there are many ways to fight astronomical air conditioning costs — here are 11.

1. Upgrade your windows

If your home has old windows, they might not be energy efficient. You can cut the costs of cooling your home by installing new energy-efficient windows. Some upfront cost is involved, but you’ll make it up in the long run with lower bills.

2. Seal your windows

Poorly sealed windows leak air, which makes your air conditioning system work harder. Caulking leaks or cracks and weather stripping your windows will prevent cool air from leaking out of your windows.

3. Install a programmable thermostat

Programmable thermostats cut energy usage by adjusting temperatures while you’re away or asleep. You can program them yourself or purchase one that slowly adapts to your temperature preferences. Some can even be set up with an app away from home.

According to the Department of Energy, you can save up to 10% annually by adjusting your temperature by seven to ten degrees for eight hours a day. Programmable thermostats can automate the process.

4. Use ceiling fans

Ceiling fans circulate cool air, taking some of the burden off your air conditioning system. Use your existing ceiling fans (or install them throughout the house) to increase energy efficiency.

5. Replace your HVAC air filters

Air filters keep your HVAC system running smoothly by preventing dust from blocking your vents and promoting air circulation. If the filters are dirty, your system will have to work harder to circulate air.

You’ll want to replace your filters at least every few months, and possibly more if you have pets or kids. Luckily, air filters are cheap and easy to switch by yourself.

6. Avoid cooking indoors

Cooking on an oven or stovetop generates a lot of heat, which strains your air conditioning system. The summer months are great for outdoor cooking, and grilling outside a couple times a week can help. Alternatively, you can use appliances that throw off less heat, such as crockpots or electric griddles. Speaking of crockpots, here are eight ways they help you save money.

7. Reduce the sunlight

Sunlight streaming in through your windows raises the temperature of your home. By blocking the sunlight, you can calm that effect. Planting some shade trees outside your windows can curb encroaching sunlight while blackout shades or curtains are another low-cost option.

8. Insulate your walls and attics

Windows aren’t the only part of your home that leak air. Attics, walls and crawl spaces lose air as well. Professionally insulating your home is one of the best ways to increase energy efficiency. If you have an older home, this could be worth the investment.

9. Find lower ground

Heat rises, so avoid the upper floors of your home as much as possible. By doing this, you can probably leave your thermostat set to a higher temperature for longer periods during the day. You can lower the temperature at night if your bedroom’s upstairs.

10. Get your air conditioning system serviced

Hiring a local contractor to service your air conditioning system can keep your system working efficiently. Your contractor should clean outdoor coils, check voltage connections and make sure the refrigerant is at proper levels.

11. Install solar panels

Solar panels, which are usually installed on roofs, use the sun’s energy to power a home, which can greatly reduce cooling costs. The price for installing these panels depends on whether they’re bought or leased, and the amount you save on your bill will depend on your energy usage and system.

Kevin Kaufmann- President of Property Adjustment Corporation named Rotarian of the Year!

 

We would like to congratulate Kevin Kaufmann, President at Property Adjustment Corporation on his recognition this past week for being Rotarian of the Year!

 

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This award is given to individuals who go above and beyond in providing humanitarian services in our community, while still being a professional leader and bringing business together.

As a Rotarian, Kevin is very active in his community with many organizations, and promotes exemplary dedication and awareness of the dignity of all people and respect.

 

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Great Job Kevin!!!