Archive for the 'Healthy Homes' Category

High Water Table Can Pollute Your Well September 25th, 2012

Categories: For Buyers, Healthy Homes

Talkeetna Flood,
Matsu Borough Photo

The Mat-Su Borough has warned everyone to check their well water after this flood to make sure it isn’t contaminated. If the water has come over the top of your well… it certainly is contaminated.

After the water recedes, you need to flush it and then check for bacteria before you drink it.

In a discussion with other Realtors this morning, we were warned that many wells are likely contaminated even if they did not flood. With all the rain the water table has risen in many neighborhoods. A high water table can contaminate your well by leaking through the fitting below the ground where the waterline comes out of the well shaft. It can also seep down along the outside of the casing.

Many people have also found that their septic systems have flooded. This will add to the contaminated ground water in your area, as well as create other problems.

Be wise and test your water!

Here are some local test labs:

Mat-Su Test Lab
Analytica

Written by Marty Van Diest

Alaska Alternative Energy April 19th, 2009

Categories: Healthy Homes, Wasilla Real Estate News

Wilder Close upAlaska is slowly becoming a leader in Alternative Energy solutions. There are several factors that tend to bend Alaska in that direction.

One of the reasons Alaska is moving out in front in the alternative/renewable energy field is the many different options that are available. We have rivers galore, tidal and wave action in the oceans, geothermal possibilities all over the place, wind and more wind, and believe it or not we get a lot of sun. Actually, we get a lot of sun in the summer…not so much in the winter.

The fact that hydro-fuels are so expensive in many communities makes people wonder if there are less expensive ways to make power than burning $ 8 per gallon diesel. The high cost of energy is the number one reason Alaskans keep tinkering with alternatives. Although the environment is always a consideration, the cost of the power is at the forefront of peoples minds. If the cost of alternative energy is expensive, then it is impractical, and Alaskans are practical people.

Another reason that Alaska is moving to the front of the pack in the search for alternative energy solutions are the Alaskan people themselves. Alaskans tend to be an independent bunch, and the thought of producing one’s own power without dependence on a utility company is very attractive. They are willing to take risks and try things that others may not.

A few years back I helped Ricky and Shannon Wilder buy a home in the Matanuska Valley. A photo of thier home is at the top of this post. Wilder solarThis property is on a large parcel of land between the Talkeetna And Chugach Mountain Ranges. The Matanuska River and the Glenn Highway are in the same valley but several miles from their home. The home was primarily powered by a generator when they purchased it but the Wilders have been weaning themselves from the generator ever since they moved in.
Wilder Turbine
Along with their son Jordan, they have learned so much about alternative power that Ricky and Jordan wrote and published an e-book on Ultimate Guide to Wind Powerwind power. The Ultimate Consumers Guide to Wind Power walks you through the options for wind power. Written from the perspective of people who actually depend on wind power, this book is a practical solution for anyone looking into this option for themselves.

Ricky and Jordan also have a website, (power-talk.net) on which they discuss and review actual products from a users perspective. They are not trying to sell you a product with their reviews but hope to save you time and money when you start getting serious about alternative energy for your own home.

The Wilders are have been working with solar as well. They report that they get usable solar power from February through October and hope to increase their solar array this year to take advantage of these months. In fact Ricky told me that March and April are great months for solar power because the sunlight is increasing and reflecting off the snow at the same time.

Wilders heaterThey heat their house and garage with a central wood boiler that is located behind the house. The hot water is piped into the house and garage which both have radiant in-floor heating systems. The Wilders harvest their firewood in a sustainable fashion using birch and spruce grown on their own property.

With wind and solar producing electricity and with wood heat they are almost completely self-sustaining. Shannon tends a Wilder Panoramalarge garden in the sunny spot in front of their home to help with their self-sufficiency.

They still need to purchase fuel for their transportation and saws but who knows…with battery technology improving all the time, perhaps they will be able to break the hydrocarbon habit completely.

All photos provided by Ricky Wilder…click on any photo to enlarge.

Written by Marty Van Diest

Alaska Housing Home Energy Program August 31st, 2008

Categories: Healthy Homes, Wasilla Real Estate News

Alaska HousingAlaska Housing Finance Corporation, (AHFC), recently introduced several incentives to try to help alaskans save money on energy. 

We have all heard about the energy assistance program where a one time check of $1,200 will be issued to all alaskans.  You should have that cash in hand soon if you qualify for a Permanent Fund Dividend.

But in addition to cash to pay heating bills, Governor Palin and the Alaska State Legislature approved three more programs to help alaskans use less energy.

These are the Weatherization Program, the Home Energy Rebate Program, and a Second Mortgage Program for Energy Conservation.

The weatherization program provides free energy saving renovations on homes for home owners and renters as well.  There are income limits on this program that are actually pretty generous. I think this is an amazing program that anyone who qualifies should use.  You need to be patient because there is a waiting list.  I believe it may be possible to receive up to $30,000 in renovations.  The decision of what and how to renovate is made by AHFC and not the homeowner or renter.

Then there is the rebate program.  There are actually two divisions of the rebate program.  One for current home owners and another for new home buyers.  There is no income limit for the rebate program.

  • For new home owners, if you purchase a 5 star plus energy rated home, you receive a $7,500 rebate from AHFC.  Simple and to the point.  This is something to keep in mind while you are shopping for a new home.
  • For existing home owners, you can also qualify for a rebate if you upgrade the energy rating of your home.  You need to document the current energy rating by having an energy rater test your home.  This costs $395 and will be refunded by AHFC if you follow through with the application.  The energy rater will give you options on how to upgrade and you decide how and what to do.  Then after you upgrade the energy rating and document it you can be eligible for up to a $10,500 rebate depending on the level of the energy upgrade.

The third program is the second mortgage for energy conservation.  If you would like to upgrade your home but don’t have the cash to spend up front you can borrow it from AHFC.  The rebate program for home owners requires that the upgrades be done before you receive the rebate so this creates a problem for cash short home owners.  That is where the second mortgage for energy conservation comes in.  You can borrow the money to make the upgrade and then pay the money back with the rebate after you receive it. 

To find out more about these programs, check out Alaska Housing website here.

If you have more questions about these programs or real estate in general feel free to call me at 907 232–7900 or email at [email protected]

Written by Marty Van Diest

Fuel Oil Is A Contaminant May 15th, 2008

Categories: Healthy Homes, Wasilla Real Estate News

I heard a very sad story yesterday that should be a warning to anyone who heats with oil.

A burglar broke into a home and stole the toyo stove early this winter.  Toyo and Monitor heaters are about the most efficient way to heat with oil so they are very popular here.  They are also very popular with burglars. 

The loss of the stove and the freezing of the house was only a small problem compared to the disaster caused by the leaking of the fuel oil.  With the stove gone and the pipe broken the oil tank drained into the house and leaked through the floor into the crawlspace and into the ground.

The ground under the house was contaminated to a depth of 20 feet in places.  This will be very time consuming and expensive to clean up.  The costs could easily exceed the value of the house.

The value of this property has been reduced to almost nothing because of the unknown clean-up costs.  It is not the only property in the Mat-Su Borough that has been de-valued by leaking fuel storage tanks.  Many of the gas stations had leaking underground storage tanks…but the government  helped them get cleaned up.

As far as I know, there are no programs to help a homeowner clean up a contaminated property caused by leaking fuel oil.  All who heat with fuel would be wise to consider ways to prevent a similar disaster. Here is the State Of Alaska Guide For Heating Oil Tanks.

Written by Marty Van Diest

Smelly Homes In Wasilla October 6th, 2007

Categories: For Sellers, Healthy Homes

Img_0799In a previous post a guest author discussed why artificial scents don’t make cents when selling your home. While cigarette smoke or pet smells are also marketing killers as I mentioned in August, covering these odors up is the wrong solution.

Today I showed a beautiful home in Wasilla.  This home was in the $400,000 price range and was beautiful inside and out.  My clients were a little interested in it but we had to open the front door and the back door just to breath. 

There were plug in scent dispensers in almost every room.  Some rooms had more than one.  There were aerosols cans in the bathrooms, counter top deoderizers, and scented candles in the living room.  There were signs that a pet had been in the home, but no pet smell was detected, no odor but the overpowering sweet/chemical perfume of the artificial scents was in the air.

The buyers and I discussed the possibility that all of the carpet may have to be ripped up in Img_0800order to clean whatever smell was being masked.  It must be an awful smell to require 17, yes that’s SEVENTEEN, plug in scent dispensers in the house.

Much better than hiding an odor with another chemical is to clean whatever is causing it in the first place.  Clean, has no smell.  If there is a bad odor, it needs to be removed before placing the house on the market.  It is usually not that difficult to find the odor.  Even if the clean up job is a big one, it will pay off with a higher sales price. 

Almost always, buyers are suspicious of a house with lots of candles and scent dispensers.  

Get rid of them. 

Written by Marty Van Diest

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