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Carol And Nicole's Blog

By Carol and Nicole | Agent in Palo Alto, CA
  • It’s that time again! Fall back & do some seasonal household maintenance too!

    Posted Under: Home Selling in Palo Alto, Property Q&A in Palo Alto, Home Ownership in Palo Alto  |  November 2, 2012 9:28 PM  |  158 views  |  1 comment

    November 4, 2012 marks the end of Daylight Saving Time for 2012.  Changing our clocks to “Spring Forward in the Spring & Fall Back in the Fall” has become part of the fabric of our lives.  Did you know that this concept of capitalizing on daylight is credited to Benjamin Franklin who suggested it in 1784?  During World War I it was implemented in the U.S. but abandoned in 1919 due to its unpopularity.  While some local areas continued to observe it, its observation did not return nationwide until World War II.  After the war cities and states were allowed to observe Daylight Saving Time as they wished.  However, this presented a burden for national commerce and ultimately in 1966 Congress passed the Uniform Time Act which stipulated that Daylight Saving Time would begin on the last Sunday of April and extend through the last Sunday of October.  Congress amended this law in 2007 to start Daylight Saving Time on the second Sunday in March and end on the first Sunday in November.
    While you adjust your clock to fit the season, we suggest you also consider synchronizing your household maintenance calendar so that you remember routine tasks that are often overlooked until a problem is evident.  Based on years of selling houses and counseling our clients about attentive care for their homes here are our suggestions:
    1.    Clean your rain gutters to make sure that water can drain freely.  If your downspouts are not connected to a below-grade drainage system, this is a good time to install temporary extensions for the season being careful to avoid trip hazards.  Fluctuations of moisture to the soil create pressure on the foundation, so controlling drainage is an important part of good home maintenance.
    2.    Clean or change your furnace filter so that your furnace is able to operate at maximum efficiency.  Vacuum the registers and cold air returns to minimize dust particles in your home.
    3.    Walk around your home and check to make sure your attic and foundation vents are secure and that any openings around hoses/cords are properly sealed.  (See earlier post on rats, and you’ll know why this is important!)
    4.    Check your smoke detector batteries.  There are two types of smoke detectors.  The ionization models appear to be preferred for rooms where a fire may occur due to flames, while photoelectric models appear to be better for rooms where a fire may occur due to smoldering materials that burn more slowly.  As you are changing your batteries you may wish to consider the type of smoke detector that is best suited for the particular location.  
    The location of smoke detectors is an important consideration.  California’s Health and Safety Code requires that there be a centrally located smoke detector outside of each sleeping area.  Additionally for homes that have been remodeled since August 14, 1992, where the cost of the remodeling exceeds $1,000 and for which a permit is required, a smoke detector is required in each bedroom and centrally located in a hallway outside the bedroom.
    5.    Have you installed a carbon monoxide detector?  Effective July 1, 2011 the      California Health and Safety Code required that a carbon monoxide detector be installed in all single family residences that have fossil fuel burning furnaces, appliances or a fireplace, or homes that have an attached garage.
    6.    Don’t forget to pay your property taxes!  The first installment is due on November 1st, and becomes delinquent on December 10th.  A stiff penalty of 10% of the payment is imposed for late payment!  Some new homeowners may not have received a bill, but the County does not consider this an excuse for non-payment.  The amount due is posted on their website.

    Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like to be referred to our trusted vendors who can help you with your home maintenance items.  We love hearing from you!
  • Oh R A T S ! ! ! ! !

    Posted Under: Home Selling, Property Q&A, Home Ownership  |  October 28, 2012 12:53 PM  |  160 views  |  3 comments

    ….that’s right, oh, rats!

    Over the years we have had some interesting experiences in dealing with rodents. Rodents are very destructive to homes and are the carriers of disease. Unfortunately they seem to be everywhere in the communities where we work!

    Often evidence of rodent infestation is noted in inspection reports relating to the sale of a home and well-counseled sellers are advised to attend to the situation right away.

    House With a Rodent Infestation

    We have many disgusting stories we could tell, but one in particular comes to mind.
    We were once contacted about a property in Portola Valley, one of the hillside communities we serve. The executor of the deceased owner’s estate told us that the elderly owner had been placed in an assisted living environment prior to her death. During this time the home was unoccupied and a toilet had overflowed resulting in the floor rotting to the point that there was an open hole.

    Unfortunately, this opening allowed for a rodent infestation, actually a rodent invasion! Their “evidence” was everywhere; the floors, the furniture, the counters were covered by urine and feces!

    Health Danger Associated with Rodent Infestation

    Unaware of the significant health hazard this posed, we politely walked through the property and recommended that a rodent abatement company be contacted to seal openings and clean the home. At a subsequent appointment, the rodent abatement company quickly pointed out the dangers of the hantavirus, a life-threatening disease carried by rodents, and recommended that no one be provided access to the property until it had been properly sanitized including removal and disposal of furnishings and wall to wall carpeting, and the access openings sealed. This was not a mere “industrial cleaning” due to the extent of the infestation! Given the overall condition of the home and the likelihood that the future owner would build a new home, the cost to complete this process was not warranted.

    We wrapped the home in caution tape, did not allow access to the structure and provided lots of disclaimers and disclosures about the hazards of the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome! The property sold to someone who demolished the structure and built new.

    Rarely is an infestation this extreme, but no matter the extent, the presence of rodents in a home is always a nasty problem! Based on our Portola Valley experience we are sensitive to the health hazards and the destruction that can occur in a home.

    Signs of a Rodent Infestation

    There is a saying, “I smell a rat!”, and certainly when a rat dies at your house you will notice! The odor is intense and unforgettable! Rats and mice are nocturnal so you may not see them but here are some common signs associated with a rodent infestation:

    • Droppings
    • Urine pools or streaks
    • Squeaking and other noises – they will rustle around in the attic and wall cavities
    • “Grease” marks around access openings to the house, such as foundation or attic vents
    • Nibbling or gnawing marks on wires and wood. Their teeth are very strong!

    Rodents have very poor vision they are known to urinate and defecate to create trails that they can follow. Rodent droppings may be the source of disease and when the droppings break apart they may release dangerous airborne particles that can be ingested and cause infection. Saliva and urine can also transmit disease.

    When a homeowner becomes aware of the presence of rats or mice in their home it is a good idea to call on a licensed professional abatement company equipped to trap and remove the rodents and to properly sanitize your home to eliminate the odors to prevent a recurring infestation. In addition it is essential to find the openings through which the rodents gain access to your home.

    Preventing a Rodent Infestation

    Here are a few tips for preventing a rodent infestation:

    • Check your home for unsealed openings. If any are found, caulk securely. Remember rodents have very strong teeth.
    • Check your attic and foundation vents to make sure they are tight and secure.
    • Check window screens for holes
    • Make sure your trash and recycling bins are covered tightly
    • Do not leave pet food outside
    • Secure pet doors and keep other doors closed
    We hope that you will never have to deal with a rodent infestation, but if you do, don’t hesitate to contact us for a referral to our favorite rodent abatement resource!

    For more information about Real Estate in the Silicon Valley communities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Portola Valley and Woodside, go to our website at  

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