Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring Means It's Home Maintenance Time

With warmer weather in the air, are you getting the itch to play in the sun, plant a garden, throw open your windows, and... have your furnace inspected?  That’s right!  Spring is a great time to protect the largest investment of your life, your home, by providing routine checks and repairs that can improve its appearance and functioning, while also preventing expensive damage. 

Here are some tips courtesy of NeighborWorks America, a national network of not-for-profit groups, including TRIP, that are committed to revitalizing their communities. 
NeighborWorks Home Maintenance Tips

Preventive maintenance includes routine checks and repairs that improve your home’s appearance and functioning as well as prevent more expensive damage from occurring. 
These include:
·    To protect against leaks and insect damage, inspect your home’s roof, basement, and outside wall
·    Inspect doors and windows for unusual wear and tear. Repair and replace caulk, weather-stripping, glazing, window and door seals as needed.
·    Inspect insulation and replace any wet or damaged pieces.
·    Clean debris from gutters and down spouts.
·    Examine carpets and flooring. Treat minor mold growths quickly with a bleach and water solution.
·    Have your furnace, air conditioner and hot water heater inspected, upgrading them as needed to improve energy efficiency. Replace air filters regularly.
·    Thoroughly clean lint and debris that has built up in dryer ducts and behind lint screens.

Home repairs and replacements include fixing or replacing appliances, fixtures or systems in your house as they wear out through normal use.
·    Repair or replace an inefficient furnace, air conditioner or water heater to save energy and money.
·    Repair and replace leaking faucets and plumbing.
·    Routinely replace smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

Taking the time now can save you expensive repairs later.  Don’t delay. 

Loan Scam Alert: Don’t Be Fooled

As more homeowners face foreclosure, we want to remind people not to get scammed by “loan mod” companies and other for-profit companies that make promises to rescue homeowners in default.  Their slick and appealing marketing materials may have you believing that they can save your home, your world, and your future, but don’t be taken in.  If you need foreclosure assistance, we urge you to contact TRIP’s HomeOwnership Center at 690-0020 for free, confidential, and professional assistance.  You may also contact any of the reputable not-for-profit housing counseling agencies listed on the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s website at

Please also note that there will be monthly Foreclosure Clinics held locally with free legal review and housing counseling available.  April 15 and May 12 at the Legal Project. 5-8pm. Contact TRIP  at 690-0020 for more info.

A national campaign has been created by HUD, NeighborWorks America, and others to provide important info to consumers. You can find some valuable information at its website at  A list of “6 Things You Should Know” is copied below from the website. 

New York State is also getting the word out to consumers to beware of scams.  A  Statewide “Loan Modification Scam Alert” campaign was launched last month during Consumer Awareness Day.  For more information, go to
6 Things You Should Know
Scams aren't always easy to spot – but it helps if you know the warning signs to look for. Here are six red flags to indicate that you may be dealing with a loan modification scammer:

1. A company/person asks for a fee in advance to work with your lender to modify, refinance or reinstate your mortgage. They may pocket your money and do little or nothing to help you save your home from foreclosure.

2. A company/person guarantees they can stop a foreclosure or get your loan modified. Nobody can make this guarantee to stop foreclosure or modify your loan. Legitimate, trustworthy HUD-approved counseling agencies will only promise they will try their very best to help you.

3. A company/person advises you to stop paying your mortgage company and pay them instead. Despite what a scammer will tell you, you should never send a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage lender. The minute you have trouble making your monthly payment, contact your mortgage lender.

4. A company pressures you to sign over the deed to your home or sign any paperwork that you haven't had a chance to read, and you don't fully understand. A legitimate housing counselor would never pressure you to sign a document before you had a chance to read and understand it.

5. A company claims to offer "government-approved" or "official government" loan modifications. They may be scam artists posing as legitimate organizations approved by, or affiliated with, the government. Contact your mortgage lender first. Your lender can tell you whether you qualify for any government programs to prevent foreclosure. And, remember, you do not have to pay to benefit from government-backed loan modification programs.

6. A company/person you don’t know asks you to release personal financial information online or over the phone. You should only give this type of information to companies that you know and trust, like your mortgage lender or a HUD-approved counseling agency.

Amanda's Law

On February 22, 2010, "Amanda’s Law" took effect. The law mandates the installation of carbon monoxide (CO) detectors in all homes in New York State. The law is named for 16-year-old Amanda Hansen of West Seneca, NY, who died on January 17, 2009 due to a carbon monoxide leak from a defective boiler while she was sleeping at a friend’s house.

The reason for the law is simple: CO poisoning is the #1 cause of poisoning deaths in the United States and can be prevented by detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors can save lives.

The law requires carbon monoxide detectors in every 1-2 family property; apartments in a multiple dwelling; and all condominium and cooperative apartments where the dwelling unit has appliances, devices or systems that may emit carbon monoxide or has an attached garage.

Under the law, homes built before January 2008 are permitted to have battery-powered CO alarms, while homes built after that date are required to have the alarms hard-wired into the building. Previously, only homes built or bought after July 30, 2002 were required to have these devices installed.

Additionally, Amanda’s Law will require contractors in New York State to install a CO alarm when replacing a hot water tank or furnace if the home is not equipped with an alarm.

Carbon monoxide can be produced when burning any type of fuel, including gasoline, charcoal, propane, natural gas, kerosene, oil, wood or coal. If any flammable material burns incompletely, carbon monoxide is produced. Carbon monoxide, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless, can kill within minutes or over a longer period of time depending on the amount that is in the air.

The symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning are often mistaken for the flu and can include dizziness, fatigue, weakness, throbbing headache, nausea, vomiting and confusion. By the time people realize there is a problem, they are often too sick or too disoriented to get out of the house and get help.

CO detectors can be purchased at most hardware stores and home centers as well as many grocery stores.

Contemporary Arts Center at Woodside

Here is a good Troy project that can benefit from your assistance to get a $50,000 grant from Pepsi.  All it takes is your online voting – daily if you can. 

The Contemporary Artists Center Woodside (CAC) is situated on a commanding hill overlooking the Wynantskill and the Hudson River in South Troy, NY.  Formerly the Woodside Church and Chapel, the buildings stand as the only remaining structures of the once vast Upper Works of the Burden Iron Company, a site of profound significance in the history of American invention, industry, and engineering during the nineteenth century. It was built in the 1860's for Ironworks owner Henry Burden in memory of his wife. Purchased in 2007 by CAC, this neo-gothic stone church is now being rehabilitated and turned into a public contemporary art exhibition space. The first phase, the residency hall, has been open since June 2009 and has been bringing in artists from around the world. 

You can help in the success story of a large church reuse!  CAC is in the running for a $50,000 grant from Pepsi, which would go towards to the restoration of the main church structure and its opening to the public.
The grant is decided solely based on online votes.

Here is what you can do:
   1. Sign up on the list:  (for instructions and daily reminders)
   2. Vote for us as often as you can, up to once a day
   3. Spread the word!  (please give friends and coworkers the link and let them know about the project!)

Voting takes literally 10 seconds a day, and there is even a Facebook voting app for those on Facebook.

For more info: