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The Hilton Head Homes Blog

How to Prevent Allergy and Asthma Attacks at Home

If you or someone in your family has allergies or asthma, HealthFinder.gov offers tips to help make your home a better place to breathe easier.

Identify Triggers
One major step is figuring out what causes yours or a family members allergy or asthma attacks. Different people will react to different allergens and irritants (things that can irritate the lungs). Consult a doctor about tests to learn what exactly is causing a reaction. Once you identify these triggers, you can take steps to get rid of or avoid those things in your home.

Make Bedrooms Safer
We all spend a lot of time in our bedrooms, so work to keep allergens and irritants out of yours.

  • Cover your mattresses and pillows in dust proof or allergen proof covers to combat allergens, namely dust mites.
  • Wash all bedding in very hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) once a week. Go to a laundromat if the water in your home doesn’t get that hot.
  • If you have pets that youre allergic to, like cats or dogs, keep them out of the bedroom.
  • If possible, remove all carpets; its easier to keep bare floors clean.

Control Moisture
Keep your home dry to prevent mold. Mold, a common asthma trigger, can start to grow in wet or damp places within just one or two days.

  • If you have a water leak, clean up the water immediately. Fix the leak as soon as possible.
  • When you take a shower, run the bathroom fan or open the window for at least 20 minutes afterward.
  • Check the humidity level in your home with a moisture or humidity meter (available at hardware stores). You may need to use a de-humidifier or air conditioner to keep the humidity level below 60 percent"between 30 and 50 percent is best.
  • Safely clean mold or throw out moldy items. You may need to consult a specialist for bad cases.

Keep Pests Out
Rodents and cockroaches might cause allergy or asthma attacks, among other health issues, so practice pest prevention.

  • Fix leaks in sinks and toilets.
  • Put trays under your plants, radiators and refrigerator. Check the trays for water and clean them often.
  • Store food, including pet food, in closed containers.
  • Clean up crumbs and spills right away.
  • Fill in cracks or holes that could be good indoor hiding places for pests.
  • Put screens in your windows and doors.
  • If you see roaches or rodents, call a pest control company.

Go Smoke-Free
Tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, can make asthma worse. And babies who live in homes where people smoke are at higher risk of developing asthma. If you smoke, make a plan to quit today. If you have guests who smoke, ask them to do so outside.

Breathing too much smoke from a wood-burning stove or fireplace can also cause an asthma attack. If you can avoid it, dont burn wood in your home.

For more help, consult a doctor about managing allergies or asthma.

5 Upgrades That'll Make You Fall Back in Love With Your Home

Have you found yourself falling out of love with the home you once adored? You aren’t alone. Take millennial homeowners, for example. A recent Bankrate poll found that 63 percent of this vital demographic regret purchasing their current home. That’s an alarming number, but one that accurately shows how easy it is to fall out of love with a home.

Luckily, there are more options other than just cutting your losses and selling your house. By renovating the space, you can make the changes required to better fit your lifestyle. Here are five renovations that will make your home feel new again:

Install a Walk-In Shower
Replacing your old shower or tub with a walk-in shower adds an attractive spa element to your home. Go one step further and add an S-shaped bench, which will make the space feel even more like a spa. Walk-in showers are great for aging people, as well, because it’s easy to navigate the entrance to the shower. Additionally, you’ll also have no glass door that needs to constantly be cleaned.

Install Laundry Chutes
There’s no doubt that it’s a pain hauling laundry up and down the stairs every time laundry day rolls around. While carrying heavy laundry baskets down to the laundry room isn’t an enjoyable hobby, adding laundry chutes in the master bedroom, kids’ bedrooms and/or select closets will allow you to cut down on messy piles of laundry, as well as annoying trips up and down the stairs.

Build a She Shed
Is there extra room on your property that’s being underutilized? If so, a she shed is a wonderful way to utilize the space. She sheds can be built relatively inexpensively and used in various ways, from a place for a guest to stay during a visit to a sanctuary where you can escape when you need some alone time.

Make Room for a Second Dishwasher
By clearing space for a second dishwasher, you’ll likely lose some cabinet space; however, the convenience of being able to load one dishwasher while the other is working its way through the cleaning cycle will ultimately save you much-needed time. If your kitchen space is already limited, this may not be a viable option, but there are some brands that make double drawer dishwashers that can save you some time without taking up extra space.

Add a Kitchen Island
By adding a kitchen island, you’ll give yourself bonus counter space and seating. Consider adding an additional sink, mini fridge or even a wine bar to the space, as well. You can even build a wine rack on one end of the island so that you can store a variety of wines without losing space.

With these five renovation projects, you’ll find yourself falling in love again with your home. Additionally, you could add value to your home for when the time comes to sell!

Source: AnnaBeth Rouse/RISMedias Housecall

Is Optional Insurance Worthwhile When Renting a Moving Truck?

If youre going to rent a truck when moving, one of the first questions the clerk will ask you is: Do you want to buy the optional insurance we offer?

While your auto, homeowners or renters insurance may cover damage to a rental truck or your contents inside the truck during a move, the extra insurance can be worth checking into.

Here are some questions to ask when that clerk tries to sell you insurance:

What if youre at fault? A rental truck company likely wont cover you for physical damage you cause to the truck or bodily injury you suffer in an accident where youre at fault; however, your personal car insurance may cover property damage or bodily injury to others in the case of an accident. Keep in mind, your auto insurance policy likely excludes vehicles that weigh more than 9,000 pounds, such as a moving truck.

If the accident isnt your fault, then the other drivers insurance should pay for damage to the truck and for your bodily injuries.

What about my credit card coverage? Paying for a rental truck with a credit card will likely get you free insurance from your credit card company, though it may cover damage to other people and vehicles and not to the rental truck youre driving.

What does the extra insurance cover? U-Haul, one of the biggest moving companies, sells truck rental coverage that protects renters from being financially responsible for damage to its equipment. U-Haul says its essential because credit cards and car insurance dont typically cover its rental equipment.

U-Hauls Safemove package covers the truck and its belongings, but doesnt provide liability coverage. It has a few optional purchases within it, such as a damage waiver to protect you if you accidentally back into a street sign because youre not used to driving such a large vehicle. Theres no deductible for the coverage.

U-Haul offers up to $25,000 in cargo coverage for a one-way rental and $15,000 for an in-town rental. Theres a $100 deductible and coverage is for actual cash value.

U-Haul also has a Super Safemove program that adds liability coverage, like full coverage on an auto policy. The liability coverage is primary coverage, with the first $1 million in liability covered by U-Haul and not your personal insurance.

If you do decide to buy extra insurance when moving, first check with your auto insurer to see if they cover anything during your move.

Dramatic Ceilings for a Beautiful Home

These six types of striking ceilings will set your home apart!

Beamed Ceiling

Exposed beams provide a distinguished look while also making the space feel larger.

Cathedral Ceiling

These ceilings soar high above and allow more natural light to pour into the home.

Barrel Vaulted Ceiling

Rather than meeting at a fixed point, barrel vaulted ceilings have a rounded arch.

Coffered Ceiling

Coffered ceilings consist of sunken panels that are framed by beams to create a grid-like pattern.

Domed Ceiling

Perfect for a breathtaking foyer, domed ceilings add instant architectural drama.

Tray Ceiling

Tray ceilings allow a room to feel more open by creating a sense of depth.

Should You Use Money From Your IRA for a Down Payment?

Saving enough money for a down payment is a struggle for many people. If you have an individual retirement account, or IRA, you may be able to use some of your retirement savings for a down payment on a house, but you should carefully weigh the pros and cons first.

Rules on IRA Withdrawals for Home Purchases
Under most circumstances, you can only withdraw money from an IRA after you have reached the age of 59 1/2. Earlier withdrawals may be taxed, and you may have to pay a 10 percent tax penalty. Exceptions are made for first-time homebuyers.

A first-time homebuyer is defined as someone who didnt have an ownership interest in a primary residence in the previous two years. If youre married, your spouse must meet the same requirements. If you owned a vacation home in the past two years, you can still use money from your IRA to put a down payment on a primary residence.

If you have a traditional IRA, you can use up to $10,000 to buy, build or rebuild a house. You wont have to pay a 10 percent penalty, but you will have to pay income taxes.

If you have a Roth IRA, you can withdraw an amount equal to your IRA contributions without paying taxes or fees, since the money was taxed before you made contributions to the retirement account. After youve withdrawn a sum equal to your contributions, you can withdraw up to $10,000 in earnings or money converted from another account without having to pay a penalty.

If youve been contributing to your Roth IRA for less than five years, youll have to pay income taxes on earnings, but not on converted funds. If youve had your IRA for five years or more, you wont have to pay any taxes or penalties.

If you currently own a house, you can use up to $10,000 from your IRA to help your or your spouses child, grandchild or parent make a down payment on a first home without paying a tax penalty. You can make multiple withdrawals, but none of them can exceed $10,000.

Is Using IRA Money for a Down Payment a Good Idea?
Retirement savings benefit from years of compounded interest. Withdrawing a large sum of money could jeopardize your long-term savings. This is particularly risky if you havent saved much and are nearing retirement age.

Even if you arent planning to retire soon, annual IRA contributions are limited. You might not be able to catch up to where you were before you withdrew money for a down payment on a house. Think carefully before tapping into your retirement account to fund a down payment for your home or someone elses.

This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice.

Affordable Ways to Furnish Your New House

Moving into a new house can be a quick lesson in how little furniture you have. And while you may not want to fill up every nook and cranny, unless youre moving to a smaller home, chances are youll need to buy some furniture after a move.

Budgets vary, making it easy to go over budget when furnishing an empty space, so here are some simple ways to make furnishing a new house affordable:

Budget and Save for It
This is a step you hopefully made before buying a home. Budgeting and saving for new furniture is a good financial move, because it can be a big expense that can take some time to save for. By proactively setting money aside for furniture, you can keep your expenses at a set level, which will allow you to buy what you need without having to go into debt for it.

Pay Cash
If your furniture budget isnt quite where you want it to be, make it a point to pay with cash whenever possible to avoid putting anything on a credit card and paying interest on revolving credit. If you do use a credit card, make sure you can pay it off in full before interest charges start. Some stores even offer no-interest credit for a set number of months, with credit charges from the date of purchase taking effect if you dont pay off the bill before the promotional period ends, so explore all your options before making a purchase.

It shouldnt be a big deal to let a room or two be sparsely appointed (or even sit empty) until you can save enough cash to buy what you need.

Buy Essentials First
Blowing all your money on furniture is the last thing you want to do, so focus on purchasing the essentials first. Essential items include a dining table and chairs, beds and a couch or comfortable chairs for the living room.

Once youve acquired the essentials, begin saving for bigger functional pieces that will make a room look full. These include sectional sofas and large area rugs.

Negotiate and Shop Sales
Like many big-ticket items, furniture stores are often open to negotiating prices. Ask for discounts on floor models, shop around to compare prices, and look for seasonal sales around the holidays and during specific months of the year, including January and July.

You may even be able to find good deals at warehouse stores, thrift stores and online sites such as Craigslist and Nextdoor.

Affordable Extras
Some smaller, inexpensive items can make a house feel like a home while showing off your style. For instance, unique-looking lamps can make a room look cozy, while drapes, throw pillows and a fresh coat of paint can make a room more inviting.

How to Design Your Home With a Sense of Harmony

Take these factors into consideration when it’s time to decorate your living space!

Proportion & Scale

Before buying furniture, always take measurements and try to visualize how it will fill the space its intended for.

Color Scheme

Take the time to look for inspiration and choose colors that match the mood youre looking to create.

Traffic & Flow

When arranging furniture and decor, consider how youll move about each room and the way in which these items direct traffic.

Balance

The goal is for a room to have a consistent impact or weight, rather than having lots of decor on one side and wide open space on the other.

Energy-Saving Tips for Your Kitchen

The kitchen is often considered the heart of a home, where you can feed and gather with family and friends. With all of its appliances, the kitchen is also a prime spot for you to practice energy efficiency and help reduce your utility bills.

For example, simply unplugging smaller appliances, such as your coffee maker, toaster and blender, when youre not using them can prevent them from draining small amounts of power that could add up over time. To further save energy in your kitchen, try these tips from the U.S. Department of Energy for using your dishwasher, refrigerator and other common appliances more efficiently:

Dishwasher

  • Most of the energy used by a dishwasher is for water heating. Check the manual that came with your dishwasher for the manufacturers recommendations on water temperature; many have internal heating elements that allow you to set the water heater in your home to a lower temperature (120 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Be sure your dishwasher is full (not overloaded) when you run it.
  • Avoid using the rinse hold on your machine for just a few soiled dishes. It uses 3 to 7 gallons of hot water each use.
  • Let your dishes air dry; if you dont have an automatic air-dry switch, turn off the control knob after the final rinse and prop the door open slightly so the dishes will dry faster.

Refrigerator/Freezer

  • Dont keep your refrigerator or freezer too cold. Recommended temperatures are 35 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit for the fresh food compartment and 0 degrees Fahrenheit for separate freezers for long-term storage. You can check the temperature using an appliance thermometer.
  • Make sure your refrigerator door seals are airtight. Test them by closing the door over a dollar bill so its half in and half out of the refrigerator. If you can pull the bill out easily, the latch may need adjustment, the seal may need replacing or you may consider buying a new unit.
  • Cover liquids and wrap foods stored in the refrigerator. Uncovered foods release moisture and make the compressor work harder.
  • Regularly defrost manual-defrost freezers and refrigerators; frost buildup decreases the energy efficiency of the unit. Dont allow frost to build up more than one-quarter of an inch.

Other Kitchen Tips

  • Place the faucet lever on the kitchen sink in the cold position when using small amounts of water; placing the lever in the hot position draws hot water even though it may never reach the faucet.
  • When using a natural gas stove, look for blue flames; yellow flames indicate the gas is burning inefficiently and an adjustment may be needed. If you see yellow flames, consult the manufacturer or your local utility.
  • Keep stove-top burners and reflectors clean; theyll reflect the heat better, and youll save energy.
  • Use a covered kettle or pan or an electric kettle to boil water; it’s faster and uses less energy.
  • Use small electric pans, toaster ovens or convection ovens for small meals rather than your large stove or oven. A toaster or convection oven uses one-third to one-half as much energy as a full-sized oven.

When shopping for a new dishwasher or fridge, look for energy-efficient models certified with the ENERGY STAR label.

How to Properly Fix That Loose Hinge

Lets say youre about to host an open house or potential buyers are scheduled to visit your for-sale home. You go to open a door to a closet or bedroom and you discover the door is loose, or even off a hinge.

Dont despair, this is actually an easy fix that even the least handy of people can repair in just a few minutes, and heres how to do it.

The Tools for the Job:
All you need are a screwdriver (a powered screwdriver will make this chore a bit easier), screws, carpenters glue and wooden matches.

Remove the Screws:
If just one hinge plate is loose, you may be able to make the repair without taking the door down. Having someone hold the door in place for you as you make the repair will be a big help. Use the screwdriver to remove the screws from their base. They may be so loose that you can just pull them out without a tool. Also, consider buying new screws, theyre not expensive at all. Be sure to buy wood screws.

Fill the Hole:
Start by putting carpenters glue in the hole. Now heres where the wooden matches are put to use. Cut the tips off the matches, the part you strike to light them, and put one match in each screw hole. Break off the parts of the matches that stick out of the hole so that theyre flat. If you dont have wooden matches you can also use wooden toothpicks or a wood-filling product.

Put the Screws Back:
Position the door hinge in the correct spot and use the screwdriver to secure the screws. When youre done, tug on the hinge to make sure its secure. Then give it a final test by closing and opening the door to make sure its aligned.

And when people tour your home, theyll have no idea there was ever a problem with that door.