Appliance Therapy: What to Do If Your Dishwasher Is Terrible at Cleaning Your Dishes

As kitchen appliances go, there are few loved more than the dishwasher. They can be a major time saver – that is, if your dishes are coming out clean. Let’s take a quick look at a few steps you can take if your dishwasher is not doing its job.

Give It A Good Cleaning

It may seem a bit strange to think about having to clean the dishwasher, but they do require maintenance from time to time. Grease, bits of food and leftover detergent can all build up, leading to reduced performance.

Here’s one cleaning recipe to try. On the top rack of the dishwasher, place a cup of white vinegar in a dishwasher-safe container and run a cleaning cycle. Once it has finished, sprinkle about a cup of baking soda around the bottom of the dishwasher, and run it again. 

Check That You’re Loading It Correctly

You might be surprised to learn that there are ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to load a dishwasher. And that loading instructions vary between different models. If your dishes are not coming out sparkling clean, see if you can track down the operator’s manual. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to load the dishes in the dish racks. This is a simple step that might fix the problem. 

Check That The Drainage Is Clear

Although you can’t see anything clogging the inside of the drain filter, that does not mean that the drain itself is clear. Most dishwasher models allow you to take the internal drain assembly off so that you can get at the drain without having to pull out the dishwasher. If yours does, it is worth taking some time to get in there and clean out the gunk. A partially-blocked drain will lead to dirty dishes. A fully-blocked drain can lead to a messy catastrophe.

Still Not Working? Make The Call

If you have exhausted the list above and your dishwasher still isn’t working correctly, it is time to call in an appliance repair professional. If you continue to use the dishwasher, it may end up failing and causing water damage to your kitchen flooring. If the dishwasher is still under warranty, contact the manufacturer as they will likely have a contract with a local repair shop. 

We can’t help you with your appliances, but we can help you with your real estate needs. If you’re in the market to buy or sell your home, contact us today. Our professional team is happy to help.

Spring Lawn Care Tips

12 TIPS TO ENSURE A BEAUTIFUL YARD ALL YEAR LONG

Dethatch With a Rake | Thatch is essentially dead or dying grass shoots and a little bit (less than 1/2 an inch) of it is actually good for your lawn, but too much thatch can suffocate it. For warm-season grasses, early spring is the perfect time to rake away this debris that can encourage pests and disease. An intense removal of thatch can be rough on your lawn, so make sure you do it at the beginning of a growth period so your lawn can recover properly. For heavy thatch removal (more than one-inch thick), consider a power rake. Otherwise, a stiff yard rake should do the trick.

Test Your Soil pHA | Healthy lawn needs soil with a balanced pH level, usually between five to seven, depending on the type of grass. If the pH level is too high (alkaline), you can add sulfate with a broadcast spreader. If your pH level is too low (acidic), you can add lime the same way. Be sure to read the directions on additives to make sure you don’t over- or under-treat your lawn. Once adjustments have been made, water the lawn and test the soil pH again in 30 days

Aerate the Lawn | Compacted soil keeps your lawn from thriving. By aerating the lawn during a high growth period, you loosen the soil so water and nutrients are better absorbed and roots have room to grow. There are lots of ways to go about aerating, depending on the size of the job. Aeration shoes or manual push aerators are perfect for small lawns, but if your yard is considerably larger, consider renting a gas-powered aeration tool. Late spring is the perfect time to aerate warm-season grasses like Bahia, St. Augustine and Bermuda, so the grass has time to heal from the process.

Weed + Feed | Weed and feed is a spring ritual for many lawn enthusiasts but beware of overdoing it. Late spring is the best time to do this; just make sure you actually have a major weed problem before treating your entire lawn. Too many chemicals can stress the plant’s roots, putting your lawn at risk during the intense heat of summer. Consider spot-spraying or pulling broadleaf weeds (dandelions) and applying slow-release fertilizer only if needed.

Deal With Bare Spots | Once your lawn begins to green back up in the spring, you may notice a few dips or bare spots. Don’t panic — you can deal with these areas by flushing the spot with water, raking out any dead grass, then leveling it out with sand and soil, as needed. Reseed with your grass variety and water regularly until the new grass is fully established. 

Seed the Lawn | Whether you’re starting from scratch or nursing an existing lawn back to health, seeding is an important task you want to get right. Early spring is a good time to do this. Just keep in mind that colder soil conditions may slow growth down a bit. You can also seed in the fall if you miss the window! 

Know Your Varieties | Depending on where you live, your commitment to lawn maintenance and the type of sunlight you get will dictate which grass variety will work best for your yard and lifestyle. Warm season grasses spread by runners to create a thick mat of turf and thrive in hot sunny regions. If you live in the south and erosion is an issue for you, then this type of grass could be a problem-solver. Cool-season grasses like ryegrass and fescues are considered “bunch” grasses and perform well in slightly shady yards and climates with major temperature fluctuations. Do your homework before you invest in pricey pallets of sod or take on a major seeding to ensure the very best result. 

Water It Well | All grass needs water, and depending on the type of turf you have, that amount will vary. If you can’t spring for an elaborate in-ground irrigation system, that’s OK. The next best thing is a well-placed sprinkler on a basic timer. Outdoor timers are relatively inexpensive (around $35) and ensure you don’t forget those early-morning watering sessions. Simply attach the timer to your exterior water spigot, then attach a garden hose to the bottom of the timer. Turn the water on, and the timer will control the water flow to the sprinkler. 

Maintain Your Mower | Take care of your mower, and it’ll take care of your lawn. Sharp blades are important so cuts are crisp and the grass heals quickly after cutting. Fresh gas and spark plugs will keep your mower in peak performance mode. If your mower needs a tune-up or repairs, some small engine technicians make house calls, so ask around. Mowers aren’t cheap and with a bit of annual maintenance, yours can last for many years. 

Avoid Short Cuts | When it comes to cutting the grass, less is more. Don’t scalp your lawn, especially cool-season varieties or “bunch” grasses. A good rule of thumb is to never cut more than the top third of the blade off; otherwise, it could stress the plant and cause unsightly browning. Cool-season grasses have an ideal height of around two to four inches tall. Warm-season grasses are shorter and may require more sessions pushing that mower. 

Mow in Varied Directions | We all know that a diagonal cut looks fancy, but did you know that mixing up your mowing direction is actually good for your lawn? By mowing in varied directions you ensure a more uniform cut, an upright growth pattern and reduce soil compaction. 

Leave the Clippings | If you abide by the 1/3 rule, your grass clippings are essentially a natural mulch for your lawn. Clippings are rich in organic compounds and will help feed your lawn, so don’t bother bagging them up. Just make sure you mow when the lawn is dry so the clippings don’t clump up.

Shared with Permission from AustinTitle.com

Best Pizza Around Austin

PIZZA! One of America’s favorite foods! While Austin might not have the pizza history or reputation or cities like New York or Chicago, it does have a number of great pizza restaurants and options for all different tastes and styles. Here are some of our FAVORITES!

VIA 313

Via 313 was started in 2011 by two brothers from Detroit and have grown quickly and developed quite the following. Now, with two pizza trailers and three brick and mortar restaurants, their Detroit-style pizza is a favorite in Austin. You can even find them on numerous local and national “Best Pizza” lists! Menu and Locations…

Pint House Pizza

Good enough to be known for either their pizza or their beer, Pint House is a must-stop location on your Austin pizza tour! With four locations around Austin, you can enjoy their soft crusts and tasty brews in a relaxed environment with space for your whole party to hang out. Menu and Locations…

Home Slice

Known as the “Queen of Pies”, Home Slice has evolved over the years into an iconic Austin landmark with their original location on South Congress and now also on North Loop. Home Slice serves classic New York-style pizza with huge slices and amazing taste! Menu and Locations…

East Side Pies

East Side Pies has three locations around Austin serving some of the best thin-crust pizza you can find! Their extensive menu allows for you to swap the traditional red sauce for ricotta, black bean, pesto or chimichurri sauce for a never-ending combination to find your perfect pie. Menu and Locations…

40 North

40 North is a neighborhood pizza joint in Austin serving Neapolitan-style pizzas from a wood-fired grill. Besides their taste, the unique toppings at 40 North make them stand apart (dandelion green and onion jam, anyone?). A collaboration with La Barbaque is worth the visit too! Menu and Location…

Little Deli & Pizzeria

As the Austin population has exploded over the past decade or so, many of the classic Austin resturants have faded away. Thankfully, we still have the Little Deli in Crestview and Windsor Park, going strong after more than three decades of serving delicious pizza and other food options. Menu and Locations…

The Backspace

The Backspace is one of Austin’s highest rated pizza restuarants. Chef Shawn Cirkiel’s Neapolitan pizzeria is known for its wood-burning Italian brick oven and delicous crusts! Menu and Locations…

Pieous

Located on the outskirts of Austin, Pieous offers scratch-made Neapolitan pizza, sandwiches & sweet pies in a handcrafted space that’s worth the extra drive! Menu and Locations…

Bufalina

Bufalina is a high-end, pizza focused establishment with an extensive wine selection. Their Neapolitan-style pizzas are cooked in a wood-burning oven at around 900 degrees for roughly 90 seconds – finishing properly charred and slightly wet in the middle. Menu and Locations…

If you are an Austinite, did we miss one of your favorites?! Or maybe we included your top spots and you have a favorite topping or combination to share?! Comment below – we’d love to hear from you!

2021 Homestead Exemptions

Taxes. Nobody likes them; everybody pays them. I’m sure when you considered buying a home you heard about the potential tax savings. Now you own a home and pay your own property taxes. You want to pay as little as you have to, because who would want to pay more? The good news is that you can reduce your property taxes by claiming a homestead exemption!

What is a homestead exemption?

A homestead exemption (HS) removes a slice of your home’s value from being taxed. A homestead is a separate structure, condominium or manufactured home on owned or leased land up to 20 acres. To qualify for a homestead exemption, you must:

  • Own the property
  • Use it as your primary residence as of January 1 of the year in which you are applying (2021 – so you had to close in 2020)
  • The address on your driver’s license must match the address you are claiming the HS exemption on.

When can I claim my homestead exemption?

You can file your regular homestead exemption application between January 1st and April 30th each year. You can first file for your homestead exemption on January 1st of the year following when you purchase your home. For example, if you purchased your home in 2020, you can now file in 2021. If you did not close until January of 2021, you must wait to file until 2022.

How much is my homestead exemption in Texas?

Texas law requires school districts provide a $25,000 exemption for property tax. So if your home is appraised at $100,000 and you qualify for a homestead exemption, you pay school taxes as if your home was worth $75,000. Taxing units also have the option to offer a separate exemption, which will vary based on where you live. For example, Williamson County offers a $3000 exemption for the special tax collected to farm-to-market roads. With your HS exemption, your county cannot raise the appraised value of your home by more than 10% each year, even if the actual value is greater. With the current rate of appreciation for many homeowners, this has saved many people a lot of money over the past few years!

What other exemptions are available in Texas?

The most common other exemptions claimed are the Senior Exemption (Over 65), Disabled Exemption and Veteran’s Exemption. Both the Senior Exemption and Disabled Exemption requires school districts to offer an additional $10,000 HS but one cannot qualify for both. When you turn 65, you may also qualify for a “tax ceiling” on your school taxes; that is, the school taxes on your home cannot increase as long as you own and live in that home. The Veteran’s Exemption is available to disable veterans and the surviving dependents and entitles a disabled vet an exemption equal to his service-connected disability, up to 100%. Here is a list of most of HS exemptions. Exemptions other than the homestead exemption do not have to be filed between January and April and can be filed as soon as you qualify for them.

How do I apply for my homestead exemption?

You can apply for FREE for your HS exemption by completing and turning in the correct form to your local county tax office. For Williamson County, you can also apply online. When you purchase a home, you will likely receive many official looking pieces in the mail offering services to file your HS exemption for you for a fee. THIS IS A SCAM. Please save yourself some money by filling out and mailing in the form yourself!

If you have questions about your homestead exemption, property taxes or any other real estate question, contact us and we’ll get back to you right away. I hope you have found all of this information helpful!