A Quick Household Check Helps Conserve Resources

This is a good time to visually check of all your utilities, fixtures and appliances to make sure they are not using expensive energy and resources inefficiently.

Start with the faucets. Ensure they don’t drip when closed. If they do, replace the washers (or in the case of washerless units, the valve cartridges).

Next, check that your toilets don’t leak. To check for leaks, pour colored liquid bowl cleaner into the tank, then wait several hours to see if it appears in the bowl without flushing. If it does, you likely have a leak, and may need to replace the stopper in the bottom of the tank.

Then, make sure your hot water tank and/or pipes are not sweating. While you’re at it, consider turning down the tank thermostat by a couple of degrees – chances are you won’t notice a difference, except hopefully on your energy bill.

Finally, check that windows and doors are not drafty. If they are, consider caulking, repairing or replacing them.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
The Tumbarello Group

Moisture on Windows

You’re standing by your window admiring the view. Then you notice it. Moisture has built up around the edges of the glass. Should you worry?

It all depends on the reason for the build up.

Assuming you have traditional double-pane glass in your windows, there are a few things to look for if you notice moisture.

Often, moisture at the bottom of your windows is simply caused by too much humidity in your indoor air. If that’s the case, simply adjust your humidifier.

If the moisture is on the outside of the window, typically there’s also no problem with the window itself. It may have rained recently, or the outside humidity may have spiked causing the accumulation. Generally, there’s no reason for concern.

However, if the moisture is in between the two panes of glass, the seal has broken and surrounding air – along with its water content – has made its way in. This disrupts the thermal barrier of the window, reducing its energy efficiency. In fact, the glass might feel noticeably colder than your other windows on chilly days. In that case, you’ll need to replace the pane.

Similarly, if the moisture is coming in through only one spot – the bottom right corner for example – then you might have a leak. If you have a wood frame or sill, you may also notice a growing water stain. It’s important to get leaks fixed quickly. There may be water damage occurring within the frame that you cannot see.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
The Tumbarello Group

Spring Cleaning and Home Maintenance Tips

Looking for something to do around the house these days?

Here’s a few places to start:

Clear out the Clutter

There’s a lot going on during the winter months and throughout the holiday season, so household clutter tends to accumulate. Excess clutter can raise the level of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” in your body and tax your physical and mental health. The visual noise from excess clutter can even make it harder to think about what you need to do and make decisions.

The first step toward spring cleaning should be eliminating excess clutter. Start a donation pile and grab a waste bin and ask yourself as you pick up each item, “Do I really want this enough to put it away?” It may feel a little ruthless throwing out those old Christmas cards, for example, but unless you honestly think that you’ll look at them again they aren’t worth keeping.


Make an Indoor Cleaning Schedule

Starting from the inside and working out is a great way to get a grip on your cleaning and maintenance, but everything is easier to handle when you break it down into small steps and take them one at a time. A spring cleaning and maintenance schedule can help you focus your energy and time, and keep you from overlooking something important.

To make your spring cleaning schedule, grab a pen and a notebook. For now, concentrate just on the inside of your home:

  • Walk through and inspect your home. What areas have been most neglected over the winter? What areas get skipped during routine cleaning? Is there any particular task, like cleaning out the cupboards, that you’ve been putting off? Make sure they all go on the list.
  • Break down the tasks by room. Just writing “clean the bathroom” is too vague and can either leave you overwhelmed or liable to forget something important. Instead, be specific. List separate tasks like “re-caulk the tub,” or “clean the grout in the shower” so that you can better see what has to be done.
  • Set reasonable goals. You know how much you can accomplish in a given day without feeling burnt-out, so plan accordingly. Consider assigning yourself the small tasks (things that should take less than an hour) on the weeknights after work. Save the bigger jobs for the weekend.
  • Enlist help from your family. If your spouse and kids can pitch in, let them. You can coordinate the work and assign the jobs so that nobody is left wondering what they should do to help — and you don’t get frustrated from doing everything on your own.


Inspect the Exterior of Your Home

Winter isn’t just hard on people — it’s hard on buildings. Over the last few months, your home has endured everything from sudden cold snaps and thaws to piles of ice and snow. It’s time to look around to see what may need repairs — even if you can’t get to them right away.

As soon as the weather (and your time) permits, take a walk around your property and be ready to make notes. Take a good look at the following:

  • Roofing: You probably don’t have to climb up there to see if you have any lifted shingles or bare spots. Visible cracking, shifted and missing shingles are a sign that your roof is going to need a little tender care as soon as possible.
  • Chimneys: Look for cracked and missing mortar along the joints between your bricks that signal a need for repairs. You may also find that your chimney cap is missing or damaged thanks to winter winds.
  • Siding: Your siding may be a little worse for the wear, especially if you live in a high-traffic area where there’s been a lot of road ash or salt laid down. Look for loose pieces that need to be reattached and make note of whether or not you’ll need to pressure wash the house once summer is here.
  • Gutters: No matter how carefully you cleaned them before winter, the odds are high that your gutters are full of leaves and sludge again. If they are, you want to move those to the top of your list of necessary outdoor jobs as soon as it’s warm enough.

You probably can’t handle these repairs immediately, but you should be aware of them early so that you can plan for the work and any extra expense as soon as possible.

Handle the Seasonal Preparations

There are a few household jobs that are just necessary every spring if you want to have an easy summer. They include:

  • Replacing your furnace and HVAC filters: Those old filters from the start of winter have probably seen better days, and new filters will keep your home cleaner (and much more allergen-free).
  • Checking the dehumidifier: If you have a basement dehumidifier, it’s time to check the hoses, filters and other working parts to make sure it’s still operating properly — especially with spring rains coming up.
  • Getting the garden tools ready: Dust off the mower and make sure it’s charged or has plenty of gas, and make sure that your trimmers and other garden tools are clean and ready.

All of this work can go quickly if you keep at it. We suggest keeping your list pinned up to the fridge where you can check it daily — and check off the tasks as you do them for a greater sense of accomplishment and a happier, healthier spring.


Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist Fishers
The Tumbarello Group

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Did You Prepare Your Home For Back-to-School Season?

Prepare Your Home For Back-to-School Season

Did You Prepare Your Home For Back-to-School Season?

We are still in the middle of the “dog days” of summer here in Indiana, but with many area schools on ‘balanced calendars’ these days, a lot of us already have a back-to-school mentality. Even if summer break was shorter in days, it still felt oh so long, right? You didn’t get everything accomplished that you wanted to this summer. Between work, vacations, pool days, camps, and just trying to enjoy some fresh air before Indiana winter locks us away, your house might feel neglected. So, let this article give you the charge of motivation you need to get your home back-to-school ready in a few simple steps.

Organize those closets.

All of them. Nobody enjoys scrambling or feeling disheveled. You’ll want to start in the kids’ rooms. Pull the school appropriate clothes to the front and organize/purge all the stuff that has accumulated from the summer. Ideally, clear a space that can hold 5 completed outfits. This will take away the morning struggle of searching, choosing, and arguing about what to wear. (Not a bad idea to do for yourself too, eh?) Look for small cubbies or stackable drawers if you want to take it to the next level. Don’t leave out communal closets during this process. Wherever shoes, jackets, backpacks, and rain gear are kept, should be cleared out with most used items easily accessible. If it’s no longer used, donate it. You need the space. Thoroughly working through your closet space will help prepare you for the next step we suggest.

Take inventory.

There is nothing quite like stocking up on notebooks, pens, and pencils, only to discover an untouched stash of those items forgotten somewhere. Make a detailed list of what you already have and then assess what you still need. This will save you money, space, and time. Think beyond school supplies here. Take inventory of school clothes, socks, and shoes too. What still fits and what can be sold second hand or donated? Now you’ll be set to make a thorough list and avoid a million trips to the store. If you want to go the extra mile, give everything summer related a once over. If it will not be of use again next year, take care of it now. If you know there’s something your family will need/want to purchase next year, try to score on end of season sales now.

Create stations.

Your home is a place to relax and be yourselves, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice productivity. Maintain a sense of order by setting up designated areas that will make daily routines easier. A homework station, for example, that will help your kids stay on task and feel accomplished. Let them pick out a cool lamp and maybe even the paint color for the wall. Make it their responsibility to clean up their space when they are finished. Other areas might include a snack station where a 15-20 minute snack break takes place each afternoon. A ‘school supply station’ set up in a utility room, entryway, or closet is where books, backpacks, and extracurricular equipment that need to go to school the next day are kept. How nice would it be to avoid scrambling around trying to find the other soccer cleat as you hear the bus rumbling towards your stop in the morning? This is also a great spot to hang up a large calendar or whiteboard for easy viewing of important reminders.

Get on a schedule.

Breaks in routine are always great from time to time. That’s what summer is all about, right? Setting morning alarms and earlier bedtimes are a good place to start. This is also a great time to discuss any new expectations or responsibilities that come with the next grade level!

Do something fun.

It is still summer after all! Even if the new school year has already started back up for your crew, plan a simple outing this weekend to celebrate a new school year. Let the kids choose something special to top off a fun-packed summer!

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist
The Tumbarello Group

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Best Ways to Keep Your Attic Cool This Summer

Best Ways to Keep Your Attic Cool This Summer

Best Ways to Keep Your Attic Cool This Summer

We’re always excited when the temperatures start to rise in spring . . . but then they keep rising . . . and the humidity rolls in . . . and by July, some of us are ready to go back to February. Before you end up sweltering in your home this summer, check out these ideas to keep your home cooler by reducing the heat in your attic.

Make sure your attic is properly ventilated.

Your attic should be about 100 degrees in the summer. If it’s not ventilated, however, the temperature up there can climb to 150. An overheated attic can damage the shingles on your roof and will force your air conditioner to work harder which will raise your electric bill. You can remove hot air from an attic in one of two ways. You can force the air out by installing an electric ventilator or attic fan; these typically come with thermostats and automatically turn on when the temperature reaches a pre-set level. Alternatively, you can install vents that allow hot air to escape—but don’t force it—in the gable, soffit or ridge of the roof. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one square foot of vent space for every 300 square feet of floor space in the attic.

Make sure you have adequate insulation.

Installing more insulation in your attic won’t necessarily keep the temperature in the attic down, but it will keep the heat there from impacting your home as much. In Indiana (zone 5) the insulation should have an R-factor of at least 25.

Consider reflective roofing.

If it’s time to replace your roof anyway, you might want to look at different options. The Building Research Council in Illinois found that dark shingles are 27 percent hotter than white shingles, so opting for a lighter color can reduce your air conditioning costs. Metal roofs are more reflective than shingles and produce even more savings—though you do have to be sure that your ceiling is airtight so you don’t run the risk of condensation causing problems in the winter.

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist
The Tumbarello Group

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Spring Home Checklist

Spring is the season to repair any problems winter may have caused and to prepare for heat, humidity and rain.

  • Change or clean furnace filter monthly
  • Have air conditioner checked by a qualified cooling contractor and turn humidifier off
  • Ensure you sump-pump is operating effectively
  • Check crawl space and/or basement for dampness and seepage
  • Open crawl space vents when weather permits
  • Check attic areas and interior ceilings for leakage, paying attention to areas around the chimney, and plumbing vents
  • Gutters should be cleaned and check the condition for leaks
  • Ensure drainage from downspouts is flowing away from the house
  • Check roof for damage, loose or missing shingles
  • Monitor wood exterior areas for rot, warping and mildew
  • Check screens for winter damage, and replace as necessary
  • Get lawn mower tuned and blade sharpened
  • Apply crabgrass preventer mid-April
  • Apply lawn fertilizer early to mid May


If you would like references for qualified individuals to perform any of the tasks above, contact me at shawna.obrien@talktotucker.com.  I have an extensive list of credible individuals/businesses that would be happy to work with you.


Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist
The Tumbarello Group

How to Create Calm and Inviting Spaces Buyers Will Love

There’s a reason the home remodel, re-hab and re-decorating shows on TV are abundant and popular with viewers.  Everyone wants to see the AFTER pictures of the home and the transformation to a beautiful inviting space.

Take a minute and think about what makes the homes at the end of the episode look clean and inviting and apply the same tactics to your home before you put it on the market.  I also recommend looking at the decor builders use to highlight their spec homes.  Newly built homes are your competition so jump online and look at the pictures for ideas on how to make your home just as desirable.

Here’s how to create a calm and inviting space buyers will love without spending a ton of money.

1. Clutter

This will always be my number one tip for sellers.  Eliminate the clutter.  The knick nacks, stacks of magazines, papers, useless items taking up space, closets full of clothes you don’t wear, too many pictures on the wall, and personal keepsakes that don’t enhance the space. A buyer’s eye will be drawn to all the “stuff” instead of the square footage. Buyers want to feel relaxed and calm when they walk into your home, not stressed out and overwhelmed trying to envision themselves living in the space. Messy rooms are a distraction and science proves that the clutter is stressing YOU out too – and you don’t need that when trying to market and sell your home.

2. Bold Paint Colors (and/or Dirty Walls)

You have made your home the way you love it for you to enjoy and that includes choosing whatever paint color makes you happy BUT your home now needs to appeal to the masses.  Color is not only subjective but there are many studies to support paint colors evoke emotion. You want to evoke an emotion of calm and contentment when buyers are walking through your home. Therefor, I recommend repainting any rooms with bold colors such as red and orange and all rooms with bright colors & bold patterns.  Red was once a popular color for dining rooms but it’s been proven that emotionally, red makes people feel anxious and aggressive.  EEK! Choose neutral colors that will evoke a “homey” feeling for the buyer. If the walls are dirty from hand prints and pets, it’s imperative you spruce it up with a fresh coat of paint.  Perception is reality and buyers will believe your home is dirty.

3. The Home Office and/or Computer Area

Whether you have a room designated as an office area or you’re using a space in your kitchen or bedroom, hide all the personal documents and cords when preparing your home for buyers.  It’s not good aesthetically and just like clutter, it’s stressful and distracting to the eye and mind.  Work spaces are a want and usually a need for buyers so it’s great to show you have the space to accomodate, but buyers don’t want to see all your papers, cords, banker boxes, pencil holders, stuffed peg boards, multiple monitors, etc.

4. Update the lighting

You can’t change how the sunlight comes into the home during the day, how big your windows are to let in the natural light, or if your lot is shady, but you can change the lighting inside the home. Aesthetically, I recommend updated your lamps in general and adding more for rooms that don’t have ceiling lighting. Contemporary free standing lighting can be purchased economically at most big box stores and will update the space immediately.  End tables should have lamps that are to scale with your furniture and space, and ideally be symmetrical if you are bookending sofas and beds.  Replace bulbs with LED and energy-efficient lights to brighten and save you money.

All of the above can be accomplished without spending a lot of money, yet they will make a big difference in the desirability of your home. What other ways do you think you could create inviting spaces for buyers? Please share!

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist
The Tumbarello Group



Monthly Maintenance Tips – September 2018

As a homeowner, you know there’s a lot of upkeep to protect your investment.  Don’t get overwhelmed – do a little each season, each month, and each week to keep your home in top notch shape.  Here’s Septembers “To-Do” list.

  • Inspect roofing for missing, loose or damaged shingles and leaks.
  • Power-wash windows and siding
  • Flush hot water heater and remove sediment
  • Winterize air conditioning system
  • Have your HVAC inspected in preparation for winter
  • Check weatherstripping on doors and windows
  • Clean garbage disposal by running it with water, ice, baking soda and citrus rinds.
  • Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors
  • Apply fertilizer to lawn

What would you add to this list to prepare your home for the Autumn season and cooler temps?

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist
The Tumbarello Group

August Household “To Dos”

This time of year in mid-August has always been a weird transition for me.  It’s still summer and HOT, but with kids back in school and fall sports season started, my mind wonders to fall activities and fall maintenance.  Just last weekend we got a wild hair and cleaned out our garage.  It looks and feels amazing.

It motivated me to think – what can I tackle in August to get ready for fall so I’m ahead of the task list this year?

August Household “To Dos”:

Create a family Calendar

Last week was the first week back to school so I broke down and purchased a white board calendar.  It’s really great.  All of our appointments related to work, school, sports, meetings, etc. are all in one place.  We color coded everyone and although not Pinterest worthy, it works!

Organize and Clean Summer Items and Gear

You never know when the weather will flip and you no longer need the beach toys, towels and endless items that clutter your laundry room and garage during summer months.  During our garage clean out we pitched almost empty bubbles containers, broken shovels, and nubby sidewalk chalk. We narrowed down our beach bag collection to just a couple and took inventory of faded, thinning towels.  When our last day at the beach, pool or lake finally comes, we’re already organized for winter storage.

Clean and organize the kitchen and pantry for Fall.

My recent Sam’s Club stock up shop last week to get ready for back to school lunches and quick evening dinners forced me to clean out my fridge and pantry too.  It took some time but it was worth it and now I feel like it can carry me over until “Spring Cleaning Season”.

Clean out the car

For me, sometimes it’s easier to leave items in the trunk if they’re used so often.  Picnic blankets, camp chairs, sunscreen, sunglasses, ball caps, DVDs for the road trips.  But, when summer comes to a close, it’s a good time to give your car a thorough cleaning.  Clean out the glove box, cup holders and door cubbies and wipe them down.  I like to take my car to a local car wash company that as long as I declutter, they do an amazing job vacuuming the dirt, sand, and cookie crumbs as well as wiping down all of the interior after washing the exterior.

Organize Closets

Again, it always seems like I can’t find what I’m looking for that first day it becomes cool, windy or chilly rain.  Soon the temps will drop so take time now to purge and donate items you aren’t in love with for fall and find out if those windbreakers still fit for when the weather changes. Make a list of what you need for fall and get started supplementing (gloves, boots, jackets, etc).

Other ideas I haven’t tackled yet but it’s on my list this month:

  • Clean my baseboards.  Hoping I get another wild hair like when we cleaned out the garage.
  • Assess my Fall Décor.  A craft store ALREADY had fall and Halloween décor displayed in JULY! I just wasn’t ready to think about it yet.
  • Finish outdoor projects.  For us this includes some deck repair and most definitely inspecting the windows and roof.
  • Organize my home office.  I love working from home, especially when it’s dark and quiet in the morning. I can sip my coffee while being productive.  But, the office is suffering from our busy summer.
  • Organize summer memories.  Before the holidays come around again, I need to transfer pictures on my phone into my favorite share site where I organize by year, month and function.  Another time consuming activity that always makes me feel accomplished when it’s completed.
  • Plan Halloween costumes.  We already have a Halloween party on the calendar and the next two months always fly by with our busy sports and social calendar.  Any costume ideas you can share?

Do you have any ideas for August projects to get your home in tip top shape for fall?

Shawna O’Brien
F.C. Tucker Geist
The Tumbarello Group