Mark Galante's Blog
If you’ve ever lived in the country, or even inside city limits but beyond the reach of the city’s sewer system, you may not know much about a septic system and how to take care of it. Just the idea that a home has a septic tank might scare you away and send you looking for a house with a sewer connection. The truth is, when properly cared for, a septic system can last for decades. And care for your system isn’t all that hard. Just remember a few basic rules.
How it works
A septic system uses bacteria and enzymes to breakdown solid waste that enters a large, typically watertight concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene tank. As the solid and liquid waste flows into the tank, the solids settle on the bottom to for “sludge” while the oils and grease float to the top to form “scum.” The wastewater (called “effluent”) flows out from between the sludge and the scum into a drain field (long, perforated pipes buried in gravel trenches spread across a large area) to be evaporated or percolate into the ground.
Inside the tank, bacteria break down the solid waste. To handle the scum, regularly adding enzymes designed for septic systems can break down the scum so that it becomes solid (to settle to the bottom) and liquid (to flow out to the drain field).
If your septic tank is not yet installed—that is, if you’re building on site in an area without a city sewer connection—make sure you apply for the proper permit. Officials from your county or city building department or health department most likely will need to perform a soil or percolation test (sometimes referred to as a perc test). They need to determine if the ground can support a septic system. In addition to the septic tank, septic systems need either a drainage field or a scum pond, so you need plenty of space for the system to work.
Septic system size varies depending on the size of the home and the number of bathrooms it has, so if you intend adding on to your home, or putting an apartment over the garage later, factor in a larger septic system.
Use common sense
Systems can be overloaded when too much water or waste enters the system without time for it to properly deal with the load. Excessive large loads of laundry and the same time as showers, toilets, and the dishwasher are in use, for example, might temporarily overload the system.
To reduce the load, use flow restrictors and aerators on faucets and showerheads, and use low-water, energy efficient equipment for clothes and dishes. Install efficient toilets as well to minimize the water flow, but don’t reduce the water too much, because solid waste needs water to properly function.
Do not park vehicles on the drain field and be careful not to build over the top of the pipes. Even a small storage shed can crush the pipes and damage your septic system.
Beware the disposal
In the kitchen, don’t use the disposal excessively for food waste since that taxes the septic system’s ability to break down the solids. Undigested food requires much more effort for the bacteria to break it down.
In the same way, do not pour grease and oils down the drain since these end up as scum. When either the scum layer or the sludge layer becomes too thick and cannot be broken down by the bacteria or the enzymes, your tank will need pumping.
In that case, it’s time to call in a professional to pump out the tank and restore function to your system.
While you may not think of it that way, your brain can become addicted to personal electronics to such a degree that it impacts multiple areas of your life. Of course, the physical effects are substantial once you’re aware of them. But worse yet is the impact on your family.
What smartphones do to your brain
While it may not be the same as a narcotic addiction, heavy cell phone users often find themselves compelled to check their mail, group chats, and texts without regard for the people with whom they are sitting. Often, they’ll break a conversation or lose eye contact if they’ve been away from their phones for too long. This needless checking and rechecking their phones steams from the “fear of missing out” on something. Unfortunately for the people they’re with, it seems like “fear of missing out on something better.”
When it comes to family time, reading, watching movies, endlessly scrolling through Instagram or Facebook, and playing games often take the place of meaningful interaction. And it’s not just the kids. Increasingly, parents are busy on their phones too, so when everyone is home after a day apart at work or school, they’re still not home together … they’re all in their own little worlds on their own devices.
Breaking the addiction
As with any addiction, recognizing the problem is half the battle. The emotional triggers that cause you to reach for your phone are vast and varied, but mostly you’ve developed a routine or habit that needs to be broken.
Turn on your screen-time statistics to see how many hours per day you spend on your device and the breakdown. Do you mostly play games? Spending time on social media? Read books? Read or watch the news? How about texting? Sometimes phone use is productive. Like where you’re going through work emails so that you can go into the office later in the morning, or when you use apps like Dropbox to check the progress of a project. Of course, we use our phones for banking and bill paying too, so once you know your usage stats, you can start to formulate a plan.
- Create mental speed bumps. That is, force yourself to go through a process before you can randomly use your phone. Make your login harder. Change your lock screen to ask you questions about your intentions. Put your phone is a case that takes the effort to use it for anything other than a phone call.
- Practice reducing your screen time for a week. Check your stats each day and make it a game for the next day to be less time on the clock.
- Go through all the apps on your phone and remove any that you don’t use.
- Then, give it another look. Remove the ones that take up large blocks of time without any meaningful return. For some that would be social media and for others, games.
Keep only those apps that you absolutely need. For instance, if you’re planning to buy a home, keep the real estate apps on your phone until you find the one to buy. Then, remove that one too.
Want to relocate to a condo? Buying a condo can be an uphill climb, particularly for homebuyers who are browsing the real estate market for the first time. Fortunately, real estate agents are available who will allocate the necessary time and resources to ensure you can find a top-notch condo in no time at all.
Ultimately, hiring the right real estate agent to assist you during your condo search can be easy. Here are three questions that you should ask a real estate agent before you hire him or her to guide you during your condo search:
1. How have you helped condo buyers in the past?
Ask a real estate agent about his or her past experience with condo buyers – you'll be glad you did. With this information at your disposal, you can find out how a real estate professional collaborates with condo buyers to help them achieve their goals.
A real estate agent should be a good communicator, i.e. someone who keeps condo buyers informed at each stage of the condo buying journey. That way, this real estate professional will keep you up to date about new condos as they become available and ensure you can find a great condo at a budget-friendly price.
When in doubt, be sure to ask for client referrals too. By doing so, you can reach out to a real estate agent's past clients to learn about their condo buying experiences.
2. How do you approach difficult situations?
Unfortunately, the condo buying journey sometimes can be filled with roadblocks along the way. For real estate agents, it is important to remain calm, cool and collected in these situations and do everything possible to limit their impact.
Ask a real estate agent to share details about past condo buying experiences that did not necessarily go according to plan. This will provide you with insights into how a real estate agent approaches unforeseen circumstances and whether he or she can thrive under pressure.
A real estate professional with condo buying experience should do whatever it takes to help his or her client get the best results possible. With this real estate agent at your side, you should have no trouble securing your dream condo, regardless of the challenges that you encounter along the way.
3. Why should I hire you?
There is no right or wrong answer as to why you should hire a real estate agent to help you find a condo. For many condo buyers, it is a gut feeling. Meanwhile, other property buyers will choose a real estate professional based solely on his or her education and past successes.
As a condo buyer, it is important to employ a real estate agent who you will feel comfortable working with at all times. This real estate professional should be happy to help you in any way possible and respond to your condo buying concerns and queries. In addition, he or she will go the extra mile to ensure you can buy a terrific condo that matches or exceeds your expectations.
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Before you launch a home search, it helps to prepare for the property buying journey as much as possible. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to get ready to find your dream house.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you prep for a home search.
1. Establish Homebuying Criteria
If you know you want to buy a home, it generally is a good idea to define your ideal residence as well. That way, you can streamline your house search.
Consider where you want to reside. For example, if you work in the city, you may want to focus on houses in or near the city itself. On the other hand, if you plan to return to school, you may want to search for a home near top colleges and universities.
Think about what features you want in your ideal home, too. If you have always wanted to own a home that boasts a luxurious outdoor swimming pool, for instance, you can map out your home search accordingly. Or, if you want to purchase a residence that features a state-of-the-art kitchen, you can search for a home that offers this amenity.
2. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
A mortgage typically is a must-have, regardless of where and when you search for a home. And if you enter the housing market with a mortgage at your disposal, you will know precisely how much you can spend on a residence.
Getting pre-approved for a mortgage can be simple. If you meet with banks and credit unions in your area, you can review your options and select a mortgage that complements your finances.
If you have concerns about home financing, don't hesitate to ask questions. Banks and credit unions employ courteous, diligent mortgage specialists who can respond to your home financing queries. As such, you can work with these specialists to gain the home financing insights you need to make the best-possible mortgage decision.
3. Hire a Real Estate Agent
As you get set to conduct a home search, there is no need to work alone. If you hire a real estate agent, you can collaborate with a homebuying expert who can take the guesswork out of finding and purchasing a house.
A real estate agent is happy to provide guidance throughout the homebuying journey. He or she can offer tips and recommendations to ensure you can find a terrific home at a price that matches your budget. Plus, a real estate agent will simplify the process of setting up home showings. Perhaps best of all, if you are uncertain about whether to submit an offer to purchase a home, a real estate agent is ready to provide insights to help you analyze all of your options.
Dedicate time and resources to prepare for the homebuying journey. By doing so, you can enter the housing market with the insights you need to succeed.