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Preventive Maintenance Tips for your Home-Part 8

We will conclude this series with tips for the fall.

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Every Fall

SMOKE AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS:

  • Change batteries and check to make sure they are operating properly.
  • Also consider installing a carbon monoxide detector if you don’t have any.

CLEAN CARPETING, UPHOLSTERY, DRAPERIES AND AIR DUCTS:  

  • Have your carpets, upholstery and draperies cleaned regularly, once every 12 to 18 months, to remove the dirt and grit that can wear them out prematurely.
  • Consider having the air ducts in your home cleaned if family members suffer excessively from respiratory infections, asthma or allergies; if there is visible mold growth inside ducts or on other components of your heating and cooling system, the ducts are infested with insects or rodents. Excessive amounts of dust and debris and/or particles are actually released into the home from your supply registers.

DRAIN-WASTE AND VENT SYSTEM:

Flush out system. HEATING:

Forced Warm Air Heating System

Before turning on your unit, make sure nothing flammable has been stored next to the furnace over the summer. Also, change the filters regularly. Be sure all access panels are secure, with all the screws in place. Be sure the thermostat is set in the heating mode. Run your heater for a few minutes to burn off the dust that usually collects on the heat exchanger over the summer (don’t worry, that smell is normal) and to make sure it is in working order before you need it. Arrange for service calls before the start of heating and cooling season to get better attention and have more flexibility when scheduling appointments. Consider hiring a pro to perform a furnace maintenance check-up, including these steps:

1. Inspect thermostat for proper operation.
2. Inspect filter and change or clean as needed.
3. Check all electrical components and controls.
4. Oil motors as needed.
5. Inspect heat exchanger for possible cracks, which would introduce carbon monoxide into the living space.
6. Check airflow. If diminished, it may be necessary to clean the evaporator coil and ductwork.
7. Check air fuel mixture, where appropriate.

Gas Burner 

  •  Clean burners and ports, or have them professionally cleaned.

Oil Burner 

  •  Have your oil burner professionally serviced; lubricate fan and motor bearings.

Thermostat

  •  Clean heat sensor, contact points, and contacts; check accuracy.

Heat Pump

· Schedule an annual service call to have a certified professional to inspect the wiring, check belts and replace if needed, and oil the moving parts. Arrange for service calls before the start of heating and cooling season to get better attention and have more flexibility when scheduling appointments.

Hot Water Heating System

  •  For steam heating, check shutoff valve for leaks and drain lower water cut-off per manufacturers’ instructions. Lubricate pump and motor; bleed air from radiators or convectors.
  •  Oil-fired Boilers
  • Hire a professional for annual maintenance including flue cleaning, a fuel-filter change, cleaning and adjustment of the jets. Arrange for service calls before the start of heating and cooling season to get better attention and have more flexibility when scheduling appointments.

DOORS AND WINDOW WEATHERSTRIPPING:

  • Check the weather-stripping around all doors and windows and replace it if necessary to reduce drafts. And the loss of heated air.
  •  Make sure the weather-stripping on the door between your garage and home is intact to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

FIREPLACE AND CHIMNEYS:

  •  The most important maintenance to do regularly is to have a pro clean your flue liners in order to prevent the build up of creosote.
  •  Have your wood burning fireplaces and stoves inspected annually and cleaned and repaired as required to prevent chimney fires, carbon monoxide poisoning and mortar and flashing failure.
  •  Water leaks can also cause your mortar to deteriorate prematurely.
  •  Consider installing a chimney cap to protect your chimney from water, debris and critters.

STORM WINDOWS AND DOORS:

  •  Inspect all windows and doors-replace any cracked or broken glass, tighten or repair any loose or damaged frames and repaint if necessary; replace broken, worn or missing hardware; tighten and lubricate door hinges and closers; check for broken or missing glazing.
  •  Consider installing a chimney cap to protect your chimney from water, debris and critters.

GARAGE DOORS:

  •  Clean and lubricate hinges, rollers, and tracks; tighten screws.
  •  If serious repair is required, consider replacing.

PEST CONTROL:

  •  Remember, insects and other critters would naturally prefer to come indoors out of the rain and cold, if possible, as winter sets in.
  •  Make sure all vents and other openings are covered and spray for insects along perimeter of house. ·

WATER HEATER:

  •  Every six months you should turn off the power source and drain it completely until it is clear of sediment.
  •  Also inspect flue assembly (gas heater); check for leaks and corrosion.

EXTERIOR CAULKING:

  •  Inspect caulking around exterior doors and windows, replace if necessary.

BASEMENT AND FOUNDATION:

  •  Check grading for proper slope away from foundation wall.
  •  Inspect for cracks and moisture repair if needed.

DECKS AND OTHER EXTERIOR WOOD:

  •  Inspect exterior wood for cracks, splintering, decay, and insect damage; treat and repair as needed.
  •  Keep decks clean, removing wet leaves and debris that can cause staining or encourage wood decay, mold and mildew growth.
  •  Having your deck professionally cleaned and sealed can add years to its life.
  •  Repair hinges and latches on your gates.

GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS:

  •   Clear/install/repair gutters and downspouts and make sure the runoff is directed away from your home so it can not erode the soil around the foundation or run into your basement or crawl space.
  •  Install gutter accessories to divert water, channel underground drain lines into existing yard drainage or storm sewers, or consider installing a dry well at the end of the drainpipe to slowly distribute the water to surrounding soil.

LANDSCAPING: 

  • Cut back any trees or shrubs that are touching the exterior. 
  •  Check with a local gardening service or your county extension agent for information about appropriate measures in your area for fertilizing, thatching, aerating and reseeding lawn and controlling disease and insects in all your landscaping

PIPES: 

  • Check your pipes for rust or white lime deposits that may indicate a leak is starting, replace if necessary. 
  • Check for leaking around the outside hose bibs.
  •  Install insulation around outdoor water pipes to protect from freezing.

ROOF: 

  • Check for warping, aging, moss, and cracking making sure that shingles, shakes or tiles are sound; repair or replace as needed.
  •  Inspect the flashing around chimneys, skylights and vents.
  •  Seal cracks or openings where water could penetrate. ·
  • If you see significant damage or wear, consider contacting a roofing specialist to give you a bid on a roof replacement. · Do NOT cover air vents or turbines.

SIDING: 

  • Inspect siding (especially on the south and storm sides of the house) for evidence of deterioration, including cracks, splintering, decay, and insect damage; clean, treat and repair as needed.

o Brick and stone: check joints between wood and masonry. Waterproof or repaint if necessary.
o Wood: look for lifting or peeling paint, splitting wood or areas where the wood grain is separating. This is evidence that water is getting into the siding.
o Stucco: a chalky residue that rubs off on your hand is evidence of oxidation, a deterioration of paint or color coat that reduces stuccos’ insulating value. If the stucco is cracked, this allows water to get in around windows and doors.
o Trim: look for peeling paint on the fascia boards, windowsills and sashes that could allow water in to form mildew and fungus on the interior of your home behind curtains, blinds and window coverings.

This concludes our 8 part series on Preventive Maintenance Tips. I hope that you have enjoyed this series and that these tips will make for a more enjoyable home. Join us next time on “Hiring A Contractor.” Visit us at www.freminshomeimprovement.com

More Spooky Vacations

Haunted Hotels, Inns and Castles!

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Today thrill seekers can go skydiving, cliff jumping, white water rafting or paragliding, just to name a few. Looking for a little adventure, but it's too wet outside to play? Why not snuggle indoors and thrill your imagination with a haunted vacation? Many hotels, inns, and even castles offer spooky weekend getaways. Perhaps a friendly ghost will fold your clothes and lay them out on the bed; a mischievous one might turn on the lights and radio at 2:00AM; or perhaps one with a chip on his shoulder might give you a little "bump in the night" to remind you he's there. You might find it a good laugh or a little fun to shake up the fall and winter humdrums. Below we have expanded a short list of haunted places to stay. We tried to collect from across the US and added in a few international destinations just in case you wanted a ghost with an accent! Enjoy and have some fun! International Haunts: Ireland: Ross Castle | United Kingdom - England: The Feathers Hotel | Scotland: Comlongon Castle | Wales: Ruthin Castle Alabama - Birmingham: The Tutwiler Hotel The History: The original hotel was built in 1914. This hotel was the grandest in the south for its age. Financed by Colonel Tutwiler, its luxury was meant to entice the American and Steel Institute to host its annual convention in Birmingham. Although the original hotel was imploded in 1974, the Ridgley Apartments, also owned by Tutwiler at their inception, was renovated in 1986 as the new Tutwiler Hotel. Either way, the good Colonel owned these buildings, and wanted to keep them for good... The Haunting: Colonel Tutwiler himself haunts this establishment. As long as you mind your P&Qs he will generally leave you alone. He likes to turn on the lights and stoves every night. The staff learned that if they politely ask him to turn everything off, he has been quite obliging. Of course after a renovation in 2007, there does not seem to be as much ghostly activity. Or perhaps the Colonel is just biding his time... How to see it: Although this building is about a century old, it recently received a $9.2 million facelift in 2007 - so all the creature comforts are here. To spend the night, click here. Alaska - Anchorage: Historic Anchorage Hotel The History: The original Anchorage Hotel was established in 1916. In 1936, an Annex was added to accommodate the growing population of visitors. It is this Annex that is now the current hotel and was recently renovated in 1989. Some of the most famous guests include Will Rogers, Wiley Post and artist Sydney Laurence. The Haunting: This is the place to "see" a lot of ghost happenings. Supposedly specters are seen in the halls and objects like to move on their own. TVs turn on and off and faucets are left running by the spirited guests. There is not a particular story other than an abandoned bride, who took her own life when her husband-to-be got cold feet. There is also reportedly a man who walks up and down the stairs, but his reason for staying around is unknown. How to see it: Although a ghost log is not available online, it is rumored to exist - why not check it out in person. All the modern amenities are available to guests. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Arizona - Jerome: Jerome Grand Hotel The History: Built in 1926, this building was originally the United Verde Hospital. The hospital was built to be fireproof and withstand blasts from the dynamite mining nearby. One of the best hospitals in the west, it unfortunately was phased out when the mining in the area began to slow down and closed by 1950. The building stood empty until 1994; it had been a time capsule and was unchanged for 44 years. It is now being restored as a hotel with many of the rooms already completed and open for guests. The Haunting: Being a hospital, there were many patients that perished in its walls. However, there were deaths of two orderlies that many believed was murder. There is also one recorded suicide. When the building lay dormant for 44 years, locals claimed they would still see lights burning in the vacant building. Since being reopen, more paranormal activities have been noticed. The most common is for guests to feel temperature drops and hear coughing or labored breathing in empty rooms or corners of their own guestroom. One ghost is said to be a woman who died in childbirth. She is upset that her child was buried in an unmarked grave and prowls the grounds looking for the babe. How to see it: You may stay in the hotel today. Room rates begin at $110 and go up from there. Being the highest point in the Verde Valley, it offers some great views. And if you're lucky, maybe a glance at a ghost or two! To spend the night, click here. Arkansas - Eureka Springs: Crescent Hotel The History: Founded in 1886, the Crescent Hotel started its career as a sleek and elegant hideaway for the Victorian wealthy. However, not able to stay afloat the hotel closed. It was reopened in 1908 as the Crescent College and Conservatory for Young Women. But this school closed in 1924. In 1937 it was opened as a hospital and health resort. Norman Baker claimed to have a cure for cancer but was met with scrutiny as it came to light that he had no medical education. He was later imprisoned on mail fraud. It wasn't until 1946 that efforts were made to reestablish the hotel. The Haunting: Perhaps the fresh spring water under the hotel attracts spirits thirsting for a little human interaction. This hotel has many different haunted areas from guest rooms, to the lobby, to the grounds. Guests have seen a women in the hall, a tall man knocking on the doors, and former cancer patients and nurses to name a few. A long list of guest experiences can be found at the hotel's ghost website. How to see it: The hotel offers history tours for groups of 10 or more. Ghost tours are available by Eureka Springs Ghost Tours. For reservations and more information click here. California - San Diego: Hotel Del Coronado The History: Babcock and Story built this resort to be the "talk of the Western world" in 1888. Since then it was visited by presidents, foreign dignitaries, celebrities and heroes like Charles Lindbergh and Thomas Edison. The hotel was famous as a backdrop for "Some Like It Hot" starring Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon. The Haunting: According to the hotel website, the tales of ghosts started with the untimely death of Kate Morgan. She was a guest in November 1892 that never left. She came to meet her estranged husband but he never showed. Kate was then found dead on the hotel steps leading to the ocean. She died of a gunshot wound to the head that was officially deemed a suicide. To this day some speculate it was murder. She likes to slam doors and randomly turn on the TV. Some have also seen an indentation in the sheets as if someone was sleeping there. There are other ghosts in the hotel as well that love to flicker the lights, provide cold spots and make some random noises. How to see it: Of course you can stay at this stunning resort and enjoy the spa, golf course, pool or take some surfing lessons. To find out more click here (Kate's room was 312, then renumbered to 3312 and now to 3327 - check with staff to verify your request). Long Beach: The Queen Mary The History: Her maiden voyage was May 27, 1936 but with the coming of WWII she was refitted and used as a troop ship housing 5500 souls by May 5, 1940. By the end of the war she was used to transport as many as 12,886 war brides and children from Europe to the U.S. and Canada on six voyages in four months. More war bride voyages would follow. It became a cruise ship in 1963. By 1967 it was purchased for Long Beach, CA to act as restaurant and museum with the first hotel rooms opening in 1972. The Haunting: The first class swimming pool has the most recorded ghost sightings and noises. Many women dressed in 1930 swimsuits have been sighted. But the spirits like to wander and have been seen in many parts of the ship - especially the engine room where two men were crushed to death by the heavy "Door 13". Those who take the self-guided walking tour of the ship have been spooked more than once! How to see it: Brave enough? Click here to find out how to spend the night and sign up for one of the Attractions @ Night tours including the Paranormal Shipwalk Tour, the Paranormal Investigation Tour, the Dining with the Spirits (Dinner and Tour), or the Twilight Historical Tour. The tours are technically enhanced to make certain you get a few jumps and spooks. The hotel also hosts a 'Terrorfest' of haunted mazes on Halloween. Colorado - Estes Park: The Stanley Hotel The History: Six miles from the Rocky Mountain National Park, this hotel has amazing views and offers a serene escape. F.O. Stanley created this hotel after moving to the west when forced to by poor health. Besides the hotel he helped to create the sewer, power and water supply for the area. A recent claim to fame is that a stay in this hotel inspired Stephen King's The Shining. The Haunting: Both F.O. and his wife Flora haunt the hotel. They are amicable ghosts that enjoy hanging about the rooms they loved so much such as the Billiard room and Ballroom. Rooms 407 and 418 have reputed activity of lights going on and off, noises and of course rascally kids playing in the nearby hallway. One story relates some guests checked out early as the kids playing in the hall kept them up all night. When the hotel staff looked at the register there were not any kids as guests (at least not any live ones!). How to see it: Not only can you spend the night but you can sign up for a Historic Ghost Tour that tells you all the history that has created a haunted playground. The hotel has fun with the reputation, click here for more information. Connecticut - New London: Lighthouse Inn The History: Originally known as Meadow Court, this home was a summer retreat for Charles Guthrie. Built in 1902, it was turned into an Inn in 1927. Among such famous guests as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford was Harry Rodvogin, a resident artist who lived at the Inn after his old friends Bill and Al Ronnick spotted him painting portraits on the street. Rodvogin is now recognized for the paintings he created and you can see his work in the local museums. The Haunting: One guest who hasn't left is the spirit of a bride who died falling down the main stairway on her wedding day. But she is rather harmless, she hangs out in guestrooms reading a book or walks around the halls looking a bit forlorn. Strange noises are also heard around the Inn on occasion but shouldn't disrupt a good nights sleep. How to see it: This Inn is now a resort offering such amenities as its own private beach and in-room spa services. To make your reservations, click here. Delaware - Bethany Beach: The Addy Sea The History: Built in 1902 by John Addy, this Inn was originally a family residence. After a wicked storm in 1927, the house was actually moved further back from the seashore. The original foundations were used as a BBQ pit and hang out until they were covered by sand over time. John Addy was a plumbing supplier and made the Addy house and his neighbors homes some of the most efficient and convenient in the area. This made it popular when it first became a boarding house in 1935. The boarding house was run by the Addy family until it was sold in 1975. The Haunting: Room 1 had a haunted copper tub - well until it went missing. The original Victorian tub was originally used by the Addy family. During renovations in the 1980s the tub was stored in a garage but went missing. The thief may have gotten more then they expected as the bathtub is supposedly haunted and rocks and shakes violently at times. But no fear, even with the haunted bathtub gone, there are still specters wandering the halls, random sounds and footsteps, strange whiffs of perfume and even haunting music all keeping the place "spiritually" active. How to see it: Enjoy the Victorian trappings, walk the beach or sit on the veranda on a rocking chair - who knows, maybe the empty one next to you will rock too? To find out more about staying, click here. Florida - St Petersburg: Renaissance Vinoy Hotel The History: Built in 1925, this resort quickly became a popular hotspot for the who's who of Hollywood and the sports world. After WWII the hotel was sold and became a St Petersburg social center, however it started to decline and was closed in 1974. After an extensive $93 million renovation in the late 1990s, the hotel was able to reopen with its original splendor and the ghosts came out to play. The Haunting: This hotel has ghosts aplenty that like to bug staff and guests alike. However, many of the stories of tragic fires and suicides are not seen in the hotels history. But that doesn't stop the ghosts from coming. Scott Williamson of the Cincinnati Reds tells a chilling tale of being pushed down into his bed by a male ghost from the past who shared the same last name! Other baseball players and coaches have reported seeing apparitions, randomly opening doors, faucets with minds of their own and even paintings coming to life - to name a few - for the full tales, click here. Of course I like the story of the historian giving a tour to a group of kids. When asked if the place is haunted, the historian said the 5th was supposedly. On cue, the elevator they were in suddenly went to the 5th floor and opened to an empty hall, no one was there and there is no explanation about why the elevator went there. Recently the TV show Ghost Hunters on SyFy reviewed this hotel. A clip of it may be seen at YouTube, click here. How to see it: Now owned by Marriott, you can learn more about accommodations and fun local activities (including a private marina and an on-site golf course) by clicking here. Georgia - Savannah: 17-hundred-90 Inn The History: This inn was actually built in 1820, not 1790. First a boarding house and later an inn, this home has had many owners and guests. One of these guests was Anne Powell. The legend says she was unhappily married at sixteen to an Englishman. She fell in love with a German sailor who left her "in the family way." She watched his boat sail away and then committed suicide by jumping from the window, landing on the brick pavement below. The Haunting: Anne Powell is the most famous ghost, believed to haunt guest room 204 from where it is said she jumped to her death. She doesn't seem to be a menacing spirit: she sits beside the fire, lays out guests' clothes on the bed or plays pranks on guests waking them up in wee hours of the morning by setting off the radio alarm. Another ghost in the basement kitchen and restaurant doesn't like women very much and likes to shove them around. But this ghost is countered by the ghost of a merchant marine who will help the staff turn the lights off at closing. How to see it: Savannah ghost tours stop here for a drink but you can go to the restaurant yourself and have a bite to eat. Or if you really dare, spend the night instead - ask for room 204! Savannah: Kehoe House The History: This home was built in 1892 for William Kehoe and his family. The large family (they had 10 children!) kept the home until 1930. After that the home became a boarding house, funeral parlor, and a private residence. In 1992 the home opened as a B&B, it changed ownership in 2003, but remains an inn with a B&B atmosphere. The Haunting: The main tragedy of the house (that we know of) was the death of the Kehoe twins who died when playing around the chimney. Children can be heard running the halls and some guests have even had children check in on them in their rooms. But if you don't see the children, their mother Annie is reputed to still wander the rooms, making sure to tuck in all the guests at night! How to see it: Why not spend the night? Ask for rooms 201 or 203. For more information, click here. Hawaii - Kailua-Kona: King Kamehameha's Kona Beach Hotel The History: King Kamehameha lived on this same site until his death in 1819. The hotel just recently went through a major remodel in 2008 - perhaps the ghosts like the new surroundings? The Haunting: Guests claim to have seen or heard an ancient warrior on the upper floor of this hotel. He seems to shout want guests describe as "war cries." King Kamehameha spent his last years on this property and may be buried on the grounds or under the hotel itself. How to see it: This hotel is proud of its surrounding history and displays portraits and artifacts from past Hawaiian royalty and warriors alike. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Idaho - Boise: Owyhee Plaza Hotel The History: Yikes - built in 1910 is about all we could find. So we'll guess that the ghosts are the garden variety scorned lovers, accident prone brides/grooms, restless owners or ex-staff that can't leave or something along those lines ;) The Haunting: Guests who stay in the main building have reported seeing spirits in their rooms. Staff have seen ghosts run though other areas such as meeting rooms and in the basement. How to see it: Unfortunately, there are not that many haunted hotels in Idaho. So don't miss you chance to check one out in every state and make the Owyhee Plaza your next stop! Click here for more information. Illinois - Okawville: Original Springs Mineral Spa & Hotel The History: In 1867 a saddler named Rudolph Plegge noticed water from his well wasn't "normal." After various tests it was discovered to be a spring with magnesia in the water. Plegge used the springs to launch a healing bath much like the ones he knew from Baden Baden, Germany. However, a real hotel wasn't built until 1885. Sadly, in 1892 all the buildings burned. The hotel was rebuilt with the latest and greatest and has undergone several renovations. Continuing as a Mineral Spa, guests were encouraged to drink up (the water) for their good health. The Haunting: Guests have seen ghosts in their rooms. Staff sometimes hear unexplained noises in empty rooms or feel like they are being watched. There are two suicides in the hotel's history and another owner was found dead in one of the upstairs rooms. Charlie Birger and the Shelton brothers were gangsters who took a liking to the place in the 1920's - perhaps they liked it too much? There is also music that leaks through time and walls. Or maybe there is just something in the water... How to see it: Now the spa includes everything from Swedish message to pedicures. Want to check in? Click here to find out how. Indiana - Nashville: The Story Inn The History: This historic inn is located at the boarders of Brown County State Park and Hoosier National Forest. This inn and its collection of buildings is actually what remains of the town of Story that was established in 1851, set up as a lodging community. The Haunting: The Story Inn is haunted by a lady in blue who floats about the second floor of the general store that has been turned into guestrooms. There has also been activity in the restaurant below. A guestbook details the experiences of the spooked over the years. How to see it: Snuggle in for the night. If you don't want a ghost watching over you there are other cabins available in this small community. Click here to find out more. Iowa - Bentensport: Mason House Inn The History: This hotel was built in 1846 for steamboat travelers along the Des Moines River. Later, the Mason House was used as a 'holding hospital' during the Civil War for soldiers being transferred to Keokuk. It also served as a 'station' along the underground railroad. Mason House gets its name from the Mason family who owned the property for 99 years. The Haunting: Three of the owners have died in the building and there was also one murder in one of the guest rooms. In 1860 poor Mr. Knapp had been drinking and accidentally went to the wrong room. The occupant thought he was being robbed and stabbed Mr. Knapp in self-defense. The home had also been a 'holding hospital' in the Civil War and some patients may have died in the home. Also a Doctor renting a room in the 1940s died in the building. All in all, a great hangout for ghosts. The ghosts come in many forms. There are wisps of fog and cold spots to actual figures who appear and disappear from sight. There is a boy that plays tricks; he likes to rustle sheets and tug at guests as they sleep. There are footsteps, thuds and a woman in white. An abundance of ghosts and paranormal events for all! How to see it: Today you may stay at this B&B for about $80/night ($125 if you are staying in the restored caboose!). Request to stay in the main house on the 2nd floor (rooms 5 & 7) for the best chance of paranormal dreams! Ghost Hunting 101 and 102 classes are also available about twice a year and a Halloween Ghost Walk around Oct 31st. To spend the night, click here. Kansas - Beaumont: Beaumont Hotel The History: First opened as a stagecoach station in 1879, there has been bed and board here to care for weary travelers ever since. Of course when named the Summit Hotel in 1890, the cattle barons stayed indoors while the cowboys had to make camp outside. Later the hotel changed hands quite a few times but stayed open. In the 1950s an airstrip was added and flight enthusiasts still make the Beaumont a destination to visit today. The Haunting: Apparently it is a cowboy named Zeke who haunts the halls here. Legend has it that the hotel owner's wife ran a small brothel in the hotel. She became fond of one of her clients named Zeke. The husband found out it was not longer strictly business, became jealous, and shot Zeke dead. Zeke now likes to move furniture and set off alarm clocks in the middle of the night. Some have heard spurs jingling. And Zeke is one of those who likes to go "bump in the night" and has been heard thumping the walls now and then as well. How to see it: Not only equipped with its own airstrip, the hotel also sits next to a 10,000 acre cattle ranch. If you don't want to eat in the cafe indoors, take a wagon ride and try a campfire cookout. To find out more, click here. Kentucky - Bardstown: The Old Talbott Tavern The History: This establishment has been called the oldest western stagecoach stop in America. It started service in 1779 and reportedly boarded such famous tenants as Daniel Boone, Abraham Lincoln, Jesse James and even the French King Louis Phillipe. Used as a stagecoach and Pony Express station, it has seen a lot of coming and going. There was a large fire in 1998 which the hotel is still recovering from; however, they are still open for business. Amazingly, the fire uncovered underground tunnels, secret storage rooms and an old staircase that seems to go nowhere. The Haunting: People have reported seeing a women in a white dress - perhaps Mrs. Talbott herself. Another dark figure of a male has also been seen. The tragic deaths of the Talbott children may lead to some of the energy present. Out of 12 children, 4 died of illness, one died falling down the stairs and another took her life because of a broken heart. There are many pranks that happen such as keys being hidden or items moved around. Others have seen mist form in rooms. How to see it: This hotel has fun with its reputation and offers a Ghost Hunting Getaway Weekend with local ghost chaser Patti Star. Patti worked as the hotel's manager for three years and has become very well acquainted with the "residents." If you want to stay always book ahead, only five rooms are available. To book, click here. Louisiana - New Orleans: Magnolia Mansion The History: This home was built in 1857 by Alexander Harris. After Alexander died of yellow fever his widow remarried and sold the home to the Maginnis family. John Maginnis owned a cotton mill and it was whispered he was struck by lightning because of the cruel way he treated his employees. In 1939, John's daughter inherited the home and willed it to the Red Cross. The Red Cross used the home to train nurses for WWII and the Korean War. In 1954 the home was again sold into private ownership. Magnolia Mansion was renovated in 2001 and opened as a B&B in 2002. The Haunting: When renovating the home, the crew had to stop as an oily substance appeared over the walls. The owner then verbalized her plans for the place out loud so the ghosts would know exactly what she was up to. She told them she was improving the home and the ghosts would not be able to scare the guests away. This appeased them for awhile. However, ghosts are still reputed to slam doors and snuggle into bed with guests on occasion. Many guests have photos of orbs and a few extra faces from their visits as well. How to see it: This adult catering B&B offers a great escape to any non-smoker over 21 years of age. Specializing in romance with Elopement and Wedding packages, the B&B also has fun with their ghosts offering a Romantic Ghostly Getaway Package which includes a room, treats and ghost walking tours. For more information, click here. St Francisville: Myrtles Plantation The History: This home was built by David Bradford in 1794 but stories of haunting did not start until the 1950's. The house had a long history with many different owners. There is only one recorded murder of William Winter in 1871. However, there are many tales that are told about the home to justify the haunting. Most of these seem to be fabricated tales, but many say that is just because the house is so haunted, people needed to make up some kind of explanation. The Haunting: Among the haunting activity is the ghost of a woman in a green turban who some believe to be the ghost of a slave killed for poisoning the head mistress and her two daughters. Others claim this ghost is not a young slave but an older, unknown woman. There is also a little girl who has appeared as well as a frustrated piano player who continuously practices the same cord over and over on the old piano. How to see it: You can dine in the restaurant, take a tour or spend the night. The choice is up to you. Click here for more information. Maine - Searsport: Watchtide The History: Built in the early 1790s, ownership transferred to Brigadier General Henry Knox in 1794. He was a trusted ally to George Washington and was the first Secretary of War for the U.S. After General Knox sold the property, it went through many owners, many of them sea captains who were involved in the shipping industry of the area. The house was an inn starting in 1917 to the 1940s when it then became a private home again. In 1994, the inn reopened and is still family operated today. The Haunting: Guests and a previous owner have reported seeing phantoms in period appropriate dress floating around the home. There are reports of music heard without a "source." Footsteps have also been heard. However, the new B&B owner says there does not seem to be as much activity of late. Perhaps it was the recent remodel that chased away or appeased the spirits. How to see it: Recently renovated, this B&B offers a great quiet getaway as well as easy access to many of the great sites around Maine. To make your reservation, click here. Maryland - Baltimore: Radisson Plaza Lord Baltimore The History: This Art Deco building was built in 1928. The hotel was named after George Calvert, Lord Baltimore who was the founder of the Maryland colony. This hotel was placed on the list of National Register of Historic Places in 1982 and although it has modern amenities, it keeps its historic setting with elegant furnishings and murals. The Haunting: There is a young girl in a cream dress and black shoes that has been spotted playing with a red ball or crying in the guestrooms. Supposedly a women committed suicide on the 19th floor. The elevator will go between the 19th floor and lobby with no one there to push the buttons. How to see it: To make your reservation and check in for the night, click here. Massachusetts - Fall River: Lizzy Borden House The History: As with so many haunted homes, this story begins with a murder. On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered by ax in their home. Their eldest daughter, Lizzy, was tried and latter acquitted of the murders. However, she was ostracized from the community for the rest of her life. Some consider that she had a split personality, even those close to her recall erratic and violent behavior. And of course there was the creation of the rhyme: Lizzie Borden took an ax Gave her mother forty whacks; When she saw what she had done Gave her father forty-one! The Haunting: There is a strange woman who tucks guests into bed and perhaps the same woman can be heard weeping in the night. Objects move on their own and electrical equipment such as lights and cameras have some interference. Many claim the most active room is Lizzy's old bedroom - which you can stay in if you want... How to see it: The home is now a bed and breakfast. You may spend the night, take a tour or even spend a weekend at Ghost Hunter University! To find out more, click here. Michigan - Marquette: The Landmark Inn The History: Although the hotel was started in 1917, it was not finished until 1930 as various investors worked things out. (It was during this time that legend has it the brothel girl met her untimely end - see below.) The hotel closed in 1982 as it was sadly outdated, however, after a large renovation project, it reopened in 1995. The Haunting: A 30 year old librarian was saved from spinsterhood when she fell in love with a sailor who worked on the ore boats. However, his boat was caught in a storm and all died. The librarian, who was staying at the Landmark Inn with him until they could be wed, refused to eat and soon after died. She now is often seen on the 6th floor, looking out the window for her love to return. During the construction of the hotel (1917-1930!), a makeshift brothel and bar were open. It was thought one of the girls was using her time with the men to influence their politics. Enraged, a drunk patron killed her and disposed of her body in an unfinished section of the hotel. She can still be heard crying for someone to dig her out. The lilac room seems to have the most activity for guests. In fact, even when the room is not rented, the phone from the room calls the front desk, with nothing to say.... How to see it: Stay in the lilac room if you're brave. Or have a drink in the haunted North Star lounge. To find out more, click here. Minnesota - Annandale: Thayer's Historic B&B The History: The Thayer Inn was already established when Gus Thayer and his wife Caroline settled in to manage the place around 1889. The B&B was put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Haunting: Both Gus and Caroline haunt the place. Gus will leave pennies for guests. A picture of Caroline is said to change depending on her mood. There are also ghost cats that nibble at your feet and make a general mess with yarn. How to see it: Having a lot of fun with its haunted guests, this B&B offers ghost tours, mystery dinners and is owned by a psychic! Instead of spa services, you can order from a laundry list of psychic services from palm reading to past life regressions. To find out more, click here. Mississippi - Natchez: Monmouth Plantation The History: Originally built in 1818, the mansion was purchased by General Quitman, a Mexican War hero, in 1826. The home was almost burned to the ground during the Civil War when the Union won this area of Mississippi. However, Quitman's daughters pleaded loyalty to the Union to save their home (their father was a staunch secessionist). The house stayed in the family until 1914. The home then went into disrepair until it was recently restored after 1978. The Haunting: The General himself stomps around the halls and makes many feel his presence as guests and staff cannot shake the thought that someone is staring at them. He also shows up as a specter to let all know he has an eye on things. Since the new owners have restored the home to its antebellum decor, there seems to be less stomping by the imposing General. How to see it: Regardless of the haunts, this hotel offers luxury accommodation and a great escape. To find out more, click here. Missouri - St. Louis: Lemp Mansion The History: This house was purchased by William Lemp around 1864 to use as a residence and office for the family brewery. William's father had used a family recipe/method to create a lager beer. This beer quickly became popular and William's father abandoned his grocery store to become a full time brewer. The beer continued to be made by the family until 1922 when family mishap and prohibition forced them to shut down and sell for good. The mansion itself has a sorrowful history with one brother dying under mysterious circumstances and three other men of the family committing suicide inside. The Haunting: With three suicides one can easily guess where the idea of ghosts haunting the mansion started. However, the families odd history also adds fuel to the imagination. There is the rumor that William Lemp had an illegitimate son with down syndrome who was kept hidden in the mansion attic his whole life. He is now said to be seen haunting the mansion and has the nickname "Monkey Face Boy." Tales of haunting first started after 1949 when the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. Strange knocking and footsteps throughout the mansion scared the tenants away so the house started to run into disrepair. In 1975, the mansion was saved and renovated and turned into a restaurant and inn. All types of sights and sounds have continued and are still reported today. How to see it: Spend the night! Or take a tour if you're too scared... The mansion is a bed and breakfast that offers tours and a restaurant to those who don't want to spend the night. They also host a Halloween Party and Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. To find out more click here. Montana - Pray: Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa The History: In 1894 Percie and Bill Knowles inherited a home near the hot springs and opened their doors as a boarding house as there were not any accommodations in the area yet. They built a hotel in 1900. In 1912, Percie teamed with Dr. Townsend and turned the hotel into a hospital. It would remain a hospital until the 1940s when it would begin to change hands. In 1974, it was renovated and again opened as a B&B. The Haunting: There is a woman in white who likes to wander the halls and spook the security guards. She also likes room 349 where she makes sure the rocking chair is always facing the window. Many think it is Percie making certain everyone is minding their manners and running her hotel/hospital efficiently. How to see it: Relax your spooked nerves in the day spa or natural hot springs. Or get some more adventure on a trail ride or a dog sled trek in the winter. To find out more, click here. Nebraska - Chadron: Olde Main Street Inn The History: This hotel was built at the end of the 19th century. Over a hundred years old it is now a family run (3 generations) B&B who first took ownership in 1969. The most famous story associated with the hotel is that it housed General Nelson Miles and his men before the Wounded Knee Massacre in December of 1890. The Haunting: There is a heavy footed ghost named Jack who stomps up and down the halls and stairs. General Nelson Miles and his men stayed here before the Wounded Knee Massacre. He was a pacer - perhaps the footsteps are Nelson's and not Jack's. How to see it: You can grab a drink at the saloon or stay the night. To find out more, click here. Nevada - Gold Hill: Gold Hill Hotel The History: Most likely this hotel was built in 1859 and is considered the oldest hotel in Nevada. Early in the 1860s the hotel was expanded as business was booming around the combined gold mining towns of Gold Hill and Virginia City. The boom ended after the 1870s and by 1930 only a few hundred people lived in this area. The Gold Hill Hotel fell into disrepair after the 1950s and went through major renovation in 1986. The Haunting: Being so close to the mine shafts, it is believed many of the miner spirits still visit the hotel. The nearby Yellow Jacket mineshaft opens right next to the hotel. A fire in 1873 killed 37 miners in this shaft. Footsteps are heard, and strong smells of cigar smoke and rose water perfume are often present with ghosts William and Rosie respectively. How to see it: This hotel offers rooms as well as lodges made from older buildings around the hotel. Take your pick and enjoy! To find out more, click here. New Hampshire - Durham: Three Chimneys Inn The History: The Three Chimneys Inn was built in 1649 as a residence for Valentine Hill. The home was used during the Revolutionary War to house munitions stolen from the British. The house stayed relatively privately owned and within about four different families. Extensive renovations were done recently in the 1990s. The Haunting: It is possible one of the ghosts is that of Hill's daughter, Hannah, who drowned nearby. Hannah seems to like to hang out in the dining areas and there is an unidentified gentleman spirit that hangs out there as well. The spirits here like to play with electrical equipment - many things just don't work in certain rooms. Furniture will be heard moving about in guestrooms where no one is staying. Also, there will be music heard from the dining rooms. The gentleman has been heard stomping around pacing and one of the spirits even shattered a water glass in the dining hall while dinner was being served. How to see it: Although built in the 17th century, you won't have to rough it here. An elegant stay along the coast and you might get to meet Hannah as well. Click here for more information. New Jersey - Ocean City: Flanders Hotel The History: This hotel was built in 1923 by prominent citizens in Ocean City. This hotel was the luxury accommodations on the boardwalk. The investors were hit hard in the Great Depression and the hotel was bought out by Elwood Kirkman in 1932. After a change of hands, the hotel was considered for a retirement community. However, this was opposed and the hotel stayed and instead was remodeled in 1996 and reopened in 1997. Some of the famous who have stayed at the hotel include Grace Kelley and Jimmy Stewart. The Haunting: Emily is the name of the resident ghost who likes to walk through walls and mess with the lighting. She can sometimes even be heard singing. If she is not signing, she may be spotted hanging around the grand piano or walking through the hall of mirrors. Overall, she seems happy to have all the company. How to see it: Come stay for a visit and enjoy the suites, ocean, boardwalk, and ghosts. For more information, click here. New Mexico - Santa Fe: La Fonda Hotel The History: Records show that a hotel, Fonda, was established here by the Spanish as early as 1607. With the establishment of the Sante Fe Trail in 1821, the hotel became a welcome destination at its end. The original structure is gone but the hotel that sits there now was built in 1922 and has been hosting weary travelers just the same but with a lot more elegance and comfort. The Haunting: This hotel has a selection of ghosts. There are various ghosts that stomp up and down hallways and stairways. There is the gambler who committed suicide by jumping in a well - the well now filled and covered doesn't stop the ghost from disappearing into the floor where he jumps again and again. There is also a young bride who haunts, wouldn't you know it, the wedding suite. Many of the ghosts for this hotel like to be seen, not just heard, as all ghosts have appeared visually at some point another. How to see it: Located in downtown Sante Fe, this hotel offers a great home port for touring. While touring about the town, perhaps you can explore a haunted corner as well! To find out more, click here. New York - Bolton Landing: The Sagamore The History: This hotel was originally built in 1883 to provide a getaway on Lake George in the Adirondack Mountains. This historic building suffered two fires but was reconstructed in 1930. The resort was meant to be a retreat for the wealthy and is still neighbored by palatial mansions across the lake. The Haunting: This hotel has many ghosts including one of a little boy on the golf course! This boy chased balls and sold them when alive. He died in a tragic accident when he was hit by a car running after a ball. Now his shadowy form can be seen running after golf balls on the course. He likes to steal balls and laugh at golfers as they look for them. When they give up he tosses the ball at them, again, laughing. Other ghosts include the guest who come down from the second floor for dinner every night and wait patiently in the reception area before they literally vanish. Then there is the portly cigar smoker in the elevator who may not appreciate the non-smoking policy these days. How to see it: You can stay in the hotel, vacation lodges or a castle (if you have the cash!). Click here to plan your stay! North Carolina - Chapel Hill: The Carolina Inn The History: Owned by UNC, this inn was built by a UNC graduate in 1924. Throughout its history it has been used by the campus to host conferences, guests and alumni. Today the proceeds from the inn are given to the university library. The Haunting: Professor William Jacocks likes to haunt room 252. Although guests do claim to have encounters with the professor, the hotel staff say he has never frightened anyone to the point of packing their bags and running. Instead he is a friendly ghost who plays pranks such as holding the doorknobs so rooms won't open, rustling papers, and making the occasional noise. Some claim there are additional ghosts walking the halls and looming over their shoulder, but always more curious than menacing. How to see it: You can spend the night in this historic hotel; for more information click here. North Dakota - Anamoose: Sage Hill Bed & Breakfast The History: First opened in 1928, known as "White School," this bed and breakfast started history as a primary school. This model school set an example for the area. It used wind power and offered students hot meals and warm showers. The teachers and bus drivers stayed on site. There were two horse barns onsite to house the horses that pulled the school bus/wagons. At its peak, there were 100 students enrolled. The school closed in 1968 because of lack of enrollment. The Haunting: Legend has it that a superintendent and student died in a fire caused by a coal burning stove. The superintendent smoked cigars and the smell of cigar smoke still hangs in the air at times. Objects like to move by themselves around here and lights and even toilets work on their own. How to see it: Sage Hill was recently converted to a bed and breakfast by the current owners in 1996. Even remodeled, it has the feel of the old schoolhouse. Want to spend the night? To find out more, click here. Ohio - Granville: The Buxton Inn The History: Orrin Grainger opened "The Tavern" in 1812. This place has been a host to guests continuously ever since. The hotel's namesake, General Buxton, purchased the hotel in 1865 and gave the hotel a reputation for friendly service. In 1972, the current owners, Orville and Audrey Orr, helped keep the building from being demolished for a parking lot. Instead, the hotel was renovated and other old buildings in the neighborhood were also rescued. Famous guests have included President William H. Harrison, President Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Beecher Stowe, to recent celebrities such as Yoyo Ma and Jennifer Garner. The Haunting: A lot of the previous owners haunt the place. Grainger himself was spotted in the 1920s. Many of the ghosts here like to be seen and can be spotted roaming the main hall or sitting in the tavern. They sometimes like to make some noise as well and their voices have been caught on tape. Prefer animals? This inn is haunted by its very own ghost cat! How to see it: Whether you want to step into history and stay at Ohio's oldest continuously opened inn or if you want to play peek and boo with some ghosts, this is the getaway for you. For more information, click here. Oklahoma - Guthrie: The Stone Lion Inn The History: F.E. Houghton built this mansion in 1907. It served most of its years as a residence and later was turned into a funeral home. The only person to die in the home seems to be a young girl who died of whooping cough after receiving the wrong medicine. The Haunting: After turning this mansion into an inn, the new owners woke up at night to the sounds of footsteps and doors opening and closing. They called the police but no intruder was found. Soon after they realized they had their first "guest" who may be a small girl as she likes to take out the toys at night to play. How to see it: Ready for some fun? From a murder mystery night or perhaps a chance to see a real ghost, click here for more information about how to stay. Oregon - Yachats: Heceta House The History: This house accompanies a lighthouse on the Oregon coast built in 1894. Many families occupied the house/complex over time which included a post office, school and the light house. But it is only the keeper's house that has tales of haunting. Many believe this is the mother of a child who fell off the cliffs back at the turn of the century. The Haunting: The ghost named Rue is said to be an extra caretaker of the house. She makes it known if she is displeased with any activity in the house. One of the more humorous accounts was of her screaming in the middle of a card game, she didn't want them playing cards in her house! How to see it: This house is now a bed and breakfast. It also has guided tours from its interpretive center. Although the current owners don't play up and advertise the ghost, they have said guests have told them of strange encounters. To spend the night click here. Pennsylvania - Gettysburg: Farnsworth House Inn The History: A house was built here in 1810 and later changed to brick in 1833. During the Civil War, the Sweeney family lived in the home and the Confederates used the home as a shelter for their sharpshooters. The current owners purchased the home in 1972 and have worked on renovating the home keeping the early 19th century feel and history. The Haunting: Many ghosts haunt this home. Including Confederate soldiers who like to move furniture and stomp around the attic. Another soldier has been spotted carrying his wounded comrade to the cellar. He is heard singing to his dying friend as well. Mary, a midwife, likes to tend to anyone who is sick or distressed and may sit down on the bed next to anyone who seems to need the company. There is a small boy who died in a carriage accident out front and his grieving father who also haunt the halls. How to see it: Whether a Civil War enthusiast who needs a place to stay or interested in meeting some of the wandering spirits, this inn will fit the bill. This inn has fun with history providing ghost stories in their tours and theater shows. To find out more, click here. Rhode Island - Newport: Castle Hill Inn & Resort The History: The location for Castle Hill originally had a watch house as early as 1740 when it was used to watch the sea for ships during the war between Britain and Spain. The Americans used the same location during the Revolutionary War to bombard British ships as they passed. In 1874, Alexander Agassiz, an explorer and scientist settled here to better study the marine life. It was not only his home but a lab that housed research students as well. The Haunting: There is a girl spirit here who may have some connection to the original owner, Agassiz. She throws a bit of a tantrum now and then and has trashed some of the china on occasion. How to see it: This inn offers a luxury escape on the coast. For more information, click here. South Carolina - Charleston: The Battery Carriage House Inn The History: This house was built in 1843 for Samuel Stevens, a prominent lender in the area who helped local cotton farms finance their farms. In 1870, after the Civil War had ended local wealth in Charleston, Col. Lathers (of the Union Army) bought the home and had it remodeled to the current New York fashion, Second Empire. However, Col. Lathers was told he wasn't welcome in Charleston and sold the home in 1874 to Andrew Simonds, the great-great grandfather of the current owner. The Haunting: There is a gentleman ghost who may be the son of a former owner who jumped off the roof to commit suicide. But he is a gentle ghost and just seems to enjoy the company. There is also a headless torso who makes many feel threatened by his creepy appearance and moaning. He might be the ghost a pirate as some were executed close to the hotel. However it is just as likely he is a soldier from the Civil War. Some guests report seeing energy orbs or have electronics turn on when they are really off. Overall it seems rooms 8 and 10 have the most activity. How to see it: The owners of the hotel have not seen any of the ghosts themselves, but they don't mind if you want to try and catch a glimpse for yourself. Click here to find out more. South Dakota - Deadwood: Bullock Hotel The History: The Bullock Hotel was built in 1895 by Seth Bullock. Bullock had become Deadwood's first sheriff after James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickock was killed in 1876 and the townspeople demanded some law and order. The hotel has since been remodeled and renovated to match the original as much as possible. The Haunting: Sheriff Bullock haunts his old hotel keeping an eye on things. Many guests and staff report feeling a presence of being watched and some have even spotted him in the restaurant and cellar. The sheriff often shows up when people are relaxing or humming - apparently not working hard enough. He then has a bit of a tantrum and throws dishes and glasses about. If he isn't throwing a tantrum, he also likes to mess with lights and other electronic devices. But if that doesn't get your attention, he may just tap you on the shoulder as you walk down the hall. How to see it: They have spruced up the hotel with all the modern amenities. Spend the night, play at the casino and have a beer with the ghost of Sheriff Bullock. For more information, click here. Tennessee - Chattanooga: Sheraton Read House Hotel The History: First named Crutchfield House, this hotel opened in 1847. Although the family was split about the war, the hotel was used by the Union during the Civil War. The hotel burned down in 1867 and was rebuilt. In 1926 the hotel was again destroyed (this time demolished on purpose) and rebuilt to what you see today. The Haunting: Legend has it that a Union soldier killed a prostitute in his room. However, the hotel burned in 1867, so perhaps it is not her ghost that is pestering people. Another story relates that it was the cheating wife who was killed by her husband in the 1920s. Regardless of where the ghost comes from, it seems to like room 311. You may have to specifically request this room as rumor has it the hotel only assigns the room as a last resort. How to see it: A hotel more interested in your comfort than ghosts, you should have a pleasant stay no matter who you "bump" into. To find out more, click here. Texas - Austin: Driskill Hotel The History: Jesse Lincoln Driskill opened this hotel in 1886. The hotel was grand and luxurious, funded by his success as a cattle baron. In 1888, the family lost its fortune due to drought and a cold winter that killed most of the cattle. The hotel then changed from owner to owner with the most recent change of hands in 1995. The Haunting: Driskill is claimed to still wander the hotel, puffing cigar smoke while he turns lights on and off. There is the ghost of a small girl, daughter of a Senator who was left unattended and fell to her death while playing with her ball - she can still be heard bouncing the ball today. How to see it: The hotel today offers all kinds of pampering. To find out more about staying, click here. Utah - Salt Lake City: McCune Mansion The History: This mansion was built in 1900 by a railroad tycoon named Alfred W. McCune. After leaving for California in 1920, the McCune's donated the mansion to the Latter-Day Saint Church. It was then turned into the McCune School of Music. It later became a Brigham Young University Salk Lake City Center and Virginia Tanner Modern Dance School. In 1999 it was purchased by Phil McCarthy who worked to restore the mansion and open it as a hotel. The Haunting: Music is said to still haunt the McCune halls. A small room under the stairs was used by the McCune's as a stage for hired musicians. The whole house would be filled with music but their guests did not know from where it came. It is said this music still fills the air from here. Other happenings include doors locking that are not fit with locks, doors opening on their own and lights going on and off on their own. How to see it: You can schedule a tour of the mansion through the Utah Heritage Foundation. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Vermont - Stowe: The Green Mountain Inn The History: This home was built in 1833 by Peter Lovejoy. The home changed hands and became a hotel in the later 19th century. Mark Lovejoy purchased the hotel in 1893 and renamed it The Green Mountain Inn. The inn stayed in service while having many different owners. In the 1980s massive renovations were done including the addition of clubhouses and townhouses with luxury suites. The Haunting: A tap dancer named Boots Berry haunts the third floor of this inn. Born in 1840, Boots was actually born in the servants quarters - now hotel room 302. He gained local notoriety after he stopped spooked horses from running away with the stagecoach. Boots was treated to one too many drinks and became a bit of an alcoholic and lost his job at the inn. Boots left the area and, as legend has it, was arrested in New Orleans where he learned to tap dance from his cellmate. After a life of a traveling vagrant he returned penniless. During a winter snow storm a girl was stranded on the roof of the inn. Since Boots was familiar with the area (right above the same servants quarters) he found a way to her and helped her to safety. He however slipped and fell to his death. Now it is said during winter storms you can hear Boots tap dancing on the third floor. How to see it: There is lot to do in the area and at the inn itself. Ice cream, chocolate and wine tasting - yes please! Click here to find out more. Virginia - Middletown: Wayside Inn The History: The Wayside Inn opened in 1797 acting in its early years as a stagecoach stop where travelers could get some rest and a hearty meal while the horses were changed. During the Civil War, the inn kept neutrality and served soldiers on both sides which probably helped to spare it from any real damage. The inn was renovated in the 1960s with modern amenities but added antiques to keep the history of the place. The new owners purchased the inn as recently as June 2009. The Haunting: Many of the ghosts here are soldiers from the Civil War. Both sides were welcome here and it seems liked their stay a little too much. The soldiers have been seen and also heard on occasion. Heavy footsteps or a conversation your not part of, just little things to let you know they are there. If you are going to stay, room 14 is said to have the most activity. How to see it: This inn offers old world charm with modern comforts. To find out more about spending the night, click here. Washington - Lakewood: Thornewood Castle The History: Thornewood Castle was built for Chester Thorne, a successful founder of the Port of Tacoma. This Tudor/Gothic estate was completed in 1911. Inspired by the estates in Britain, the stained glass windows were even imported from a castle in Europe. The castle has many different imports that add to the structure and contents of the building. One of the more interesting aspects is the "wishbone sticks" left by the Native American workers who helped in the construction. These sticks help to ward off evil and are found at the foundation in the basement. The Haunting: There are multiple photographs taken of orbs throughout the castle and reports of objects moving on their own. Tape recorders have picked up voices, one of an unknown child. One child did drown in the lake and is said to haunt its shore, perhaps they visit the house as well? Overall, the spirits at Thornewood seem to be a good natured sort. There is not a violent history attached to this home. Although the wife of Mr. Thorne is said to haunt the halls, this is more because she likes the place rather than she is out to get anyone. In fact, some believe Thornewood Castle acts as a vortex and can attract ghosts from the other side. Some guests have reported making contact with loved ones from their lives who have no connection with the castle. How to see it: You may stay in the castle as it is now a B&B. There are Candle Light Tours: for $100 and the cost of a room you can spend the night exploring the haunted halls with a small group of ghost hunters. To spend the night, click here. West Virginia - Parkersburg: Blennerhassett Hotel The History: William Chancellor designed and built the hotel in 1889. The hotel was luxury living and housed the First National Bank of Parkersburg in the front. The hotel underwent renovations in 1985. The Haunting: William is said to haunt the hotel and many can smell his cigar smoke as he patrols the halls. When his portrait was put in storage during renovations he acted up bit - climbing into bed with guests - to make certain he was not forgotten. Since his portrait has been placed back on the wall, he has been a bit less obtrusive. But William isn't the only ghost. Another gentleman ghost in a white suit likes to pop up behind you when you look in the mirror. I think I would rather hang out with William... How to see it: This hotel offers comfortable accommodations with an old world feel. They even have fun with their haunting reputation and offer a haunted weekend getaway in the fall. To find out more, click here. Wisconsin - Milwaukee: Brumder Mansion The History: George Brumder had the home built in 1910 for his son, George Jr. After they sold the home, the house was everything from a boarding house to an activity center for a Lutheran church. They used the home for office space, a theater, and later opened a coffee house with a live music venue. The current owners purchased the home in 1997 and opened the renovated space as a B&B in 1998. The Haunting: The Gold Room was once the room of one of the Brumder daughters who never married after suffering a broken heart early in life. She is said to still stay in the room, in fact she was quite appalled and upset when the current owner spent the night in this room with her dogs - no dogs allowed! Your dreams will be haunted if any dogs sleep on the bed! How to see it: It's a Bed & Breakfast, so take the plunge and spend the night - request the Gold Suite! You can even join a ghost hunting seminar or enjoy a haunted history dinner! For more information, click here. Kewaunee: Kewaunee Inn The History: Built in 1912 by William Karsten this inn is still commonly known as the Hotel Karsten. Father and son managed this hotel until William Karsten Jr.'s death in 1964. The hotel then changed hands and received various facelifts. The most recent owners renamed the hotel to the Kewaunee Inn at Hamachek Village in May 2008. The Haunting: The ghosts at the Kewaunee Inn didn't start to bug the living until after renovations started in 1966. The inn website mentions the triad of ghosts include William Karsten Sr, Billy Karsten III (who died at 5 years of age shortly after his grandfather), and Agatha the housekeeper. Agatha seems to be the most active, floating about the halls and popping up behind you when you look in the mirror! She doesn't seem to like men much - so any male guests be on your guard! William likes to have a drink at the bar now and then and Billy still runs up and down the hall playing. How to see it: Brave enough to spend the night? Click here to make a reservation. Wyoming - Cheyenne: The Plains Hotel The History: This hotel opened in 1911 to meet the needs of travelers, oil tycoons and cattle barons alike. Attracting all types of guests, presidents such as Harry S Truman and Ronald Regan as well as movie stars such as Jimmy Stewart and Debbie Reynolds have stayed here. The most distinguished visitor was an Arapaho, Chief Little Shield, whose portrait now is used as a type of logo throughout the hotel. The luxury of yesterday was recently restored in 2002. The Haunting: Legend says a newlywed couple and a mistress walk the halls here. The couple were on their honeymoon when the new husband went downstairs to the bar. When the wife followed she spotted him with another woman. The wife followed the two lovers to their room, shot them, returned to the honeymoon suite and then shot herself. Laughter and crying can now be heard in the honeymoon suite. The husband is seen wandering the halls and the basement. The mistress can't be missed, she wanders the halls in a fancy red dress. How to see it: Shake up your journey a bit and spend the night. To find out more, click here. Puerto Rico: Hotel El Convento The History: This former Carmelite convent named The Monastery of Our Lady Carmne of San Jose was founded in 1651. The nuns left this convent in 1903 and site fell into ruin until 1962 when Robert Woolworth purchased it to make it into a resort. The Haunting: Dona Ana was a noblewoman who lost her husband in the war with the Dutch and then turned to her faith. She donated the land for the Carmelite convent. It is said her spirit and those of nuns can be seen about the grounds and gliding through the halls. How to see it: For information about how to enjoy a luxurious stay with these faithful spirits click here. International Haunts: Ireland: Ross Castle The History: This area shows record of settlement since the Iron Age. The castle tower was completed in 1537 by Richard Nugent, 12th Baron of Delvin. A family loyal to the English crown for their title and rank hoped to received the extra boon of £10 given as encouragement for each fortification built in Ireland. In time the Nugents began to marry the once rival Celtic nobles especially the O'Reillys. In 1644 the castle was pulverized by Cromwellian soldiers in retribution for Myles O'Reilly's defiance. Restoration was begun by the family in the 19th century and the castle was later modernized with plumbing and electricity. The Haunting: The castle's founder, Richard Nugent was also known as the Black Baron and, you guessed it, he had a reputation for being quite unpleasant. The Black Baron had a beautiful daughter named Sabina who had the unfortunate luck to fall in love with Orwin O'Reilly (at this time still an enemy). Moved by love to give up their home, family and wealth, they decided to elope. However, as they made their escape by boat a storm came up and it capsized. Orwin died but Sabina lived. Crushed with heartache, she pinned away in Ross Castle tower until she finally gave up the ghost which in turn walks the halls to this day. She is said to sometimes be heard screaming! The Black Baron is also rumored to haunt the grounds and can be quite unpleasant. How to see it: Besides ghost hunting, you can go fishing, golfing, horseback riding, sailing, boating, hiking, cycling, go see the races or even take flying lessons! Plenty to do and see in a romantic setting. For more information about spending the weekend, click here. United Kingdom - England: The Feathers Hotel The History: The original building was built in 1619 and has been added to and modified since. First a private residence, it was changed to an Inn in 1670 after the English Civil War and would remain one for the next 200 years! In 1863 it changed to a hotel and started to acquire more land and expand. Why feathers? There are faded motifs of ostrich feathers on the outer woodwork still visible. They were a symbol of the Prince of Wales and en vogue at the time of construction. Not to mention the town of Ludlow was royalist even during the English Civil War. The Haunting: There is a female "guest" in room 211 who is known to bother women rather then men in the room, pulling their hair and letting them know they are not welcome. There are a couple gentlemen ghosts roaming about including one who is accompanied by his ghost dog! How to see it: You can join on a ghost hunting adventure either with Eerie Evenings or Haunted Breaks. Or you may opt to spend the night and enjoy the historic surroundings. For more information click here. Scotland: Comlongon Castle The History: This stronghold dates back to 1451 when it was constructed for the Murray family. The residents of this border castle enjoyed the profits of dealing in "the black meal" or modern day blackmail. They would kidnap wealthy neighbors and hold them in a dark pit until terms of the ransom were arranged. They would then treat the prisoner as an honored guest until the amount was paid. But business wasn't always that good and the castle later fell into disrepair until purchased by the Earls of Mansfield in 1880. During WWII the castle changed hands again and became an orphanage. Then after 1984 it was revamped into the hotel it is today. The Haunting: In 1570 Lady Marion Carruthers was hiding out in the castle trying to avoid a forced marriage to James Douglas who wanted her fortune. When the courts ruled in favor of James, she jumped from the tower to her death and subsequently became the castles resident ghost. She is still seen wandering the castle and grounds today, you'll know if you see her by her green dress. How to see it: Advertising mostly as a picturesque local for weddings, this castle has plenty to offer the general weekend escapists as well. Click here to learn about spending the weekend. Wales: Ruthin Castle The History: Legend has it that the original castle was a wooden fort lorded by Huail. He fought King Arthur and wounded him in the knee. A truce was called but Huail later mocked King Arthur and was beheaded. The first stone structure was put up by King Edward I in 1277 and the castle was owned by the crown off and on until sold by Charles I in 1632. The modern stone structure was built in 1826. However some of the older walls, dungeons and tunnels are still standing today. The Haunting: This castle comes with its own Grey Lady, dating back to the time of Edward I, this ghost was sentenced to death for killing the lover of her husband. Soldiers are said to still march around the grounds and prisoners long dead are still heard moaning in agony. How to see it: If you don't find ghost hunting or random spooks exciting enough, this castle offers other entertainment including medieval banquets (one even with a murder mystery theme!), golf, and romantic getaway packages.

How to Hire a Home Inspector

You need an experienced professional.

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So, you are buying or selling a home and you feel that you need an experienced professional to inspect the property so that you go into the sale/purchase knowing everything that you need to know to make the proper decisions and arrive at the dollar/value amount that the property is worth to you. But, how do you go about it? All of the Inspectors’ ads seem the same - they all tout the same lines of how great they are, etc., etc. It’s impossible to get a referral because you really don’t know anyone who has bought or sold a home recently, and you surely don’t trust the Realtor's choice because you are pretty sure the Inspectors that they use are “their good Ol' boys” that solicit the Realtors for work. So, what’s a person to do? 

Well, let me make it easy for you to cut right through all of the hype and “fairy tales.” I’m going to give you a downloadable short chart that you can print. On the chart will be a few of the most pertinent questions you would want to be asking of your prospective Inspector as to his/her qualifications to be sure that they will be the one that will give you the knowledge and peace of mind to move forward into one of the biggest investments/transactions you will make in your life. If you use the chart as it is designed to be used, you will be able to fill in the boxes below each Inspector's name with check marks or minimal info relating to the answers you receive from the several Inspectors that you interview. It will become evident in short order who is the most qualified Inspector that you should hire, unless, of course, you are an individual that is of the opinion that all Inspectors are the same, all inspection reports are the same, and the only difference is who is the cheapest, which, in that case, I’m sure that you will get exactly what you bargained for. Besides, who better than the Inspector himself knows what he/she is worth! Download the Home Inspectors Hiring Questionnaire as a printable PDF file.

Finally, for those that really want to know who they are hiring to perform such an important service for them, I will give you a list of additional questions that you can ask that will further qualify an Inspector to you, if you wish to know more and take the time to ask them. Hey, you’re only talking about a few hundred thousand dollars of your hard earned money here, so taking a few extra minutes of your time to hire a true professional who will be supplying you with the knowledge and peace of mind that you need at a cost of less than ½ of 1% of what the transaction will be is, well, maybe worth the extra effort. I’ll make it even easier for you; I’ll give you some links (see box to the right) to go to so you can check if the answers the Inspectors give you are true.

So, roll up your sleeves, pull out the telephone book, and go online and decide on a few Inspectors that on the surface look promising. Write their names at the top of the columns and then start dialing the phone and asking the questions and filling in the blank boxes with check marks and info.

Questions To Ask:

  1. How long have you been inspecting?
  2. How long have you been in the Construction and Home Repair business?
  3. Are you “certified” by any national organization as a Home Inspector? Are you a licensed General Contractor?
  4. Are you licensed in any thing?
  5. Have you ever hands-on built a home from scratch? If so what, where, when?
  6. Have you ever spent any “real” time in the home repair field? If so, what, when?
  7. Do you solicit realtors to obtain your work/inspections?
  8. What, EXACTLY, do you inspect and include in your inspection report?
  9. Is the report computer generated, easy to understand and have digital color pictures? Do you offer a money back guarantee?
  10. How long will the inspection take?
  11. What is your fee?

These should be the short list, lucky thirteen if you will, that should shed a little light on just how much experience your Inspector has, how qualified they are and the basics of what you can expect from them should you hire them. http://www.unbiasedinspections.com/index.htm

Additional Questions You May Want To Ask:

  1. Do have a website and what is its address?
  2. Do you have any references you would like to share with me?
  3. Can I accompany you during the inspection?
  4. Have you ever been sued over one of your inspections?
  5. How do you stand behind your inspection if a problem comes up?
  6. How much continuing education do you take every year? What other services do you offer?
  7. Do you belong to the local Realtors Board?
  8. Do you advertise in any of the real estate companies’ sales fliers?
  9. What/whose Standards of Practice do you inspect to?
  10. What Home Inspection organization(s) are you most proud to belong to and why?

MY ANSWERS To The Questions:

I have been in the Home Inspection business for 40 years.

I have been in the Construction and Home Repair business for 45 years.

I am certified as a Home Inspector by the following organizations: CalNACHI, NACHI International, IHINA.

I have been a licensed General Contractor since 1977.

I am licensed in the following: California General Contractor & California Structural Pest Inspector.

I have built many structures since 1977, including such projects as a geodesic dome home.

I have 45 years of hands-on “real” time in the home repair field/structural pest control business.

I do NOT solicit realtors to obtain inspection work.

For each report I inspect all visible and accessible portions and systems of the house and property.

Each computer generated report is easy to understand and includes digital color pictures.

I offer a money back guarantee and stand firmly behind it!

Each inspection will take 4 – 8 + hours depending on the property to be inspected.

The fee will vary depending on the property to be inspected.

I have a website at www.unbiasedinspections.com.

I have numerous client references on my website at Client Testimonials.

I encourage my clients to accompany me during the inspection, or at least be on site near the end of the inspection. 

I have never been sued over an inspection, even though I’ve been inspecting homes since 1968.

If a problem comes up regarding an inspection, I have a money back guarantee.

Each year I obtain usually 40 - 50 hours of continuing education in pertinent home inspection classes.

Other services offered… structural pest (termite) inspections, thermography scans and reports, floor level mapping, consulting.

I do not belong to the local Realtors Board in order to avoid any perception of conflict of interest or collusion.

I absolutely do NOT advertise in any of the real estate companies’ sales fliers.

My home inspections are performed under the Standards of Practice of CalNACHI (National Association of Certifed Home Inspectors).

The Home Inspection organization(s) of which I most proudly belong is CalNACHI (National Association of Certifed Home Inspectors) because of their high standards and stringent continuing education requirements. I’m also proud to be a member of Independent Home Inspectors of North America (IHINA) because in order to be a member you must sign a pledge NOT to solicit business from realtors!

- Ron Ringen Ringen's

Unbiased Inspections http://www.unbiasedinspections.comhtm

Insurance Coverage in an Economic Recession

Limiting Your Risk When Cutting Costs

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Lately, when we turn on the news, we hear about a troubled economy and an unstable job market. The constant barrage of bad news has encouraged most of us to cut spending wherever possible. Perhaps a household will cancel cable TV for a year, limit their cell phone plans, reduce the number of times they eat out as a family, or tackle another cost reducing option. As many different "belt-tightening" measures are taken, everyone should be careful they don't cut the essential items. One annoying essential is the cost we pay for insurance - there is no guarantee we will need it in the near future (in fact, we hope to need it as little as possible), however, if an accident does happen and we don't have coverage, the costs could send us into bankruptcy. Understandably, if a bread-winner of the household loses their job, it is tempting to cut costs where we cannot see the immediate need. This said, it is far better to reduce coverage than to go with no coverage at all.

Before we discuss insurance any further, let us get this down now - it is not worth the risk to eliminate insurance coverage completely.

  • For homeowners insurance, your mortgage lender will require that your home is at least minimally insured. However, it is possible to let your insurance coverage lapse if you don't pay your bills or mortgage. A few months lapse does not mean you lose your insurance right away. However, letting it go longer than a couple of months will leave your home uninsured. When you then try to reenroll your coverage, the insurance company may charge you as much as 2 or 3 times more depending on how long you went uninsured - you have become a higher risk client. If you do not reenroll and let your insurance continue to lapse, your lender can take action to protect their investment. A lender may enroll the house in an insurance policy which they then add to your loan payment. However, they will be the party to receive funds if the home is damaged (i.e. fire). Essentially, you will be forced to pay for an insurance of their choosing (maybe at a higher rate) but you will not receive the benefits of the original coverage under your name.
  • Basic automotive insurance is required by law in most states. If you are driving uninsured, you could be faced with a lot of out-of-pocket expenses as well as legal fines if you are ever in an accident. Again, if you drop insurance coverage and reenroll later, the insurance company may charge you as much as 2 or 3 times more depending on how long you went uninsured as you are a higher risk client. For a chart detailing the amount of coverage required in your state, click here to visit Insure.com. Before you cut your auto insurance to the bare minimum listed, consider some of our insurance shopping tips listed below that may help you lower your costs.
  • Finally, what about health insurance? It is estimated that this year the number of Americans without health insurance is as high as 52 million. Most Americans rely on their employers to help cover some of their health insurance cost. However, as premiums rise for companies, they are forced to increase the contributions of their employees. So in today's economy, both those with jobs and those who have lost their jobs are struggling to keep affordable health insurance. Everyone should have health insurance to offset the astronomical cost of emergency health care. Those without insurance may find that the ambulance ride alone may break the bank and leave them with more debt than they can possibly afford to repay. Below we have provided some strategies for obtaining cheaper health insurance.

The above said, let us see how you can cut some of your insurance rates!

Cutting your insurance costs does not mean you should go without coverage. Instead, be a savvy consumer and do your research and shop around. Recently an insurance company ran an ad where they asked consumers how long they shopped for their car and received answers from a week to even a couple of months. When they then asked how long they shopped for insurance, there was a pause and the usual answer of, "Er, uh, less than an hour." This commercial proved a good point about how many people approach shopping for insurance with less care than the big ticket items to be covered. Here are some shopping tips to help you find the best price and coverage.

Strategies for obtaining discounts on home, automotive, and health insurance

SHOP before you DROP your money! As the commercial we used as an example above, and as we keep mentioning over and over, nothing can beat comparison shopping. Use the web to your advantage as there are so many quote and comparison sites available. If you aren't comfortable with the web, do some calling around to your local agents. It is worth your time and money! 

Considering the online insurance option? You may give up on some individualized care, but the cost savings may be worth it. Consider these PROS and CONS before you buy online insurance coverage:

The PROS - There are many benefits for utilizing online insurance:

  • Easy Comparison Shopping: Using insurance websites, you can compare coverage and prices on almost any type of insurance. You can also browse the individual insurance carrier websites once you have narrowed your search. Almost all companies now have libraries and tools for you to learn more about their services online.
  • Your Time Is Money: Shopping for insurance online can be done at any time of day. It is hard to get time away from your daily schedule to sit down and comparison shop with insurance brokers, or indeed, individual agents.
  • Low Pressure: Let's face it, many people find it easier to stand firm without the person-to-person contact. Users feel they can be more savvy and better informed when every option is at their fingertips rather than relying on an agent's account.
  • Save Money: Due to the time needed to comparison shop, the pressure to stay loyal to one company, and the uncertainty of other companies, some may lose money by staying blindly loyal to their insurance carrier. The online market allows for easy comparison shopping, less pressure, and research tools to learn more about other companies. By becoming well informed, you can work out a better rate with your current provider or move to a new provider who offers better coverage for your dollar.

The CONS - Be aware of these complications when purchasing insurance online:

  • Understanding Coverage Options: Without an agent to explain 'insurance speak,' you may not know all the coverage you may need. This is especially the case for those getting insurance for the first time. However, if you have discussed options with an agent before and have a generally good idea of the type of coverage you will need, this may be something that is manageable with a little extra research.
  • Is that quote really a deal: All quotes may not be equal. Take care to examine all the coverage included with quotes. The online quotes may help you narrow your search, but should not be taken at face value because not all companies offer the same 'comprehensive' coverage.
  • Buying Insurance Coverage In Your State: Not all states allow you to purchase insurance online. Some allow you to get quotes but still require you to meet with an agent before signing any contracts. Also, because the Internet clouds locality, you will need to make sure the insurance carrier is licensed in your state.
  • Individual Customer Care: Do you really want to push 1, then 2, then 4 to talk to someone about your insurance coverage? Working with a local agent still offers the advantages of individualized customer service. They will also have a better knowledge of the coverage their carrier provides and can help you understand all of your options. They may also be aware of more discounts available to you that you may not know to ask for online. In this way they can offer better individualized care.

For more information about purchasing insurance online, read our article 'Online Insurance: Is Online Insurance Right for You?'

  • Look for and Ask about Discounts: All insurance companies offer discounts, however, not all of them will offer a discount if you don't ask. Since not all insurance companies are upfront with all the discounts they offer, it is best to shop with this at the top of your list of items to ask about. Discounts are available for all types of coverage and include everything from being a long-time client to paying your policy in full (rather than monthly). Homeowners can get discounts by making certain upgrades to their home that make the home more secure and/or energy efficient. Automotive insurance often has the most selection of discounts ranging from a good driving record, a short daily commute, or even a high grade point average (for those student drivers in the house). Health insurers will give discounts for clients in good health - if you lead a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, no smoking or drinking, you may find completing a health survey will save you money on your premium.
  • Raise your Deductibles: By raising the amount you pay out-of-pocket in the case of an emergency, you can lower your rates substantially. Higher deductibles will mean that you may have to pay as much as $1000 or more out-of-pocket per event. However, it does provide a safer gamble compared to no insurance at all. For health care you may consider a high deductable plan for "emergency" or "catastrophic" insurance. These plans will only cover a major accident but, if you are in good health and don't need a lot of medications, this plan can help offset high rates. However, keep in mind that you will have to pay over $1000 out-of-pocket and these plans will not cover routine doctor visits. Instead, combine this insurance with a Health Savings Account for the best rounded coverage.

MORE Strategies for obtaining discounts on home and automotive insurance: Flood damage is not covered by homeowner insurance. The National Flood Insurance Program is a partnership between FEMA and isnurance companies that offers coverage. 

  • Bundle to Save: Using one insurance provider to cover your home and vehicle can help save you money as most insurance companies provide a discount to get your business. This will save you money if you check with your current provider, but don't be shy, take advantage of online comparison sites or do some calling around. You may be surprised at the differences!
  • Review your Policy: Make certain you review your policy at least once a year. There may be adjustments you can make in coverage. For example, as your car gets older and subsequently worth less than when you first bought it, you may find you need less coverage. For your home, you may find you have sold high insured items from your household or take inventory and realize you don't need to cover that old computer or entertainment center for as much as you did before. Examining your Personal Property Value may lead to areas you can logically cut coverage.

For more information about homeowners' insurance, read our article 'Understanding Homeowners Insurance.'

Insurance Company Rankings

• AM Best Company - Insurance Reports http://www.ambest.com/homepage.asp
• Consumer Reports (requires membership for ratings) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/money/insurance/index.htm Standard & Poor's Ratings http://www2.standardandpoors.com/
• US News & World Report - Top Health Insurance Companies http://health.usnews.com/sections/health/health-plans/index.html

Online Insurance Comparison Sites

• Insurance.com www.insurance.com
• Quicken http://www.quicken.com
• InsWeb www.insweb.com Insure.com www.insure.com
• eHealthInsurance www.ehealthinsurance.com

 

Feng Shui

Another Look at Interior Design

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Feng Shui (pronounced Fung Shway) has been used in China for centuries and has made a strong entrance into western culture. Best described as "the art of placement" Feng Shui was originally used to determine the placement of temples, official buildings, graveyards and homes in their natural environment. In China, there became many different schools of Feng Shui such as the Land Form School in the southern region and Compass (Fukien) School in the northern region, to name a few. When the western world first came into contact with Feng Shui it was labeled as a form of geomancy which is considered "divination by means of figures or lines or geographic features." Although this may be a misrepresentation of the initial use of Feng Shui, this art is constantly in flux and today there are many different schools, some of which do concentrate on the use of this art as a way to impact ones fate in a favorable direction. With this variation, Feng Shui has found a niche in the New Age market of the western world. This has added some aspects to the art that are not for everyone. However, this art of placement does have some wonderful interior design techniques that everyone could adapt and find beneficial. This article will discuss many of these interior design solutions for cluttered and cramped spaces in the home and office. It is difficult to write about Feng Shui without looking at some of the ideas of balance that have become part of this art form. First we will look at some of the ideas behind the creation of balance and then we will look at some of the practical solutions this art form has for our living and working spaces. For those who are more interested in the practical interior design aspects of Feng Shui, take a look at the third paragraph.

Feng Shui, as the art of placement, is aimed at creating the best balance of elements and flow of chi throughout any space. Chi is considered an energy that surrounds all living things. Feng Shui strives to give chi the smoothest possible flow so it does not become trapped or flow through too quickly causing an imbalance in the energy/vibe of a space. If chi does not flow correctly it is believed to have adverse effects on those living around these imbalanced areas. The elemental balance of a space is reached by balancing five elements of nature: earth, water, wood, fire and metal. These elements are mapped out using a bagua. A bagua is a chart used for IChing that is also used to plot the areas of a home/space. Each direction has an effect on certain areas of life (click on the image to the right for a larger look). The main directions of North, South, East, West and center correspond the five elements of nature. In short, the areas on the bagua effect and are represented by the following:

  • South - Fame - Red, Fire, Birds, Summer
  • SW - Relationships & Marriage - Yellow & Pink
  • West - Children & Creativity - White, Metal, Tiger, Autumn
  • NW - Helpful People & Travel - Gray
  • North - Career - Black, Water, Tortoise, Winter
  • NE - Knowledge & Spirituality - Turquoise
  • East - Family & Ancestors - Green, Wood, Dragon, Spring
  • SE - Wealth - Purple

Keep in mind some of the colors and other symbols may change depending on the school of Feng Shui you choose to use. It is also interesting to note that in some schools the bagua is superimposed over a space (i.e. in a drawing of a room) strictly based on compass direction - the chart's North points the same direction as compass North. In other schools, especially those popular in western adaptation, the bagua is situated according to the main entry to the space. With this method, the South end is always on the same wall as the main entrance so your doorway will always fall into the SE, S or SW section. Once the bagua is superimposed over the drawing of a space you may then see how the various areas of a room or areas of the house are affecting your life whether it be your career or your children. On examining the space you may then pinpoint if something in that space is disrupting the chi of the area and the balance of that part of life. Major problem areas can be fixed with various cures from mirrors to crystals. Changing the placement of objects and adding more lighting can also improve areas (leading into the interior design aspect of Feng Shui). Or if the space is fine but you want to enhance that portion of your life you can add elements and symbols to the space to increase their effectiveness. For example, hanging black and white (gray) travel photos in the NW section may help to encourage travel opportunities. Finally, Feng Shui looks to balance spaces based a symmetry, square and rectangle shapes are ideal. Odd shapes and areas jutting out often can cause imbalance in the chi. For example, if a bedroom falls outside the square or rectangle shape of the house that person will feel detached from the rest of the family and it may lead to arguments or withdrawal. Obviously this is only the tip of all the aspects of Feng Shui and its variances. It takes books to explain these concepts in detail. Let us move on to the more tangible interior design aspects of this art form.

Feng Shui as a interior design tool is truly an art of placement. All placement has an effect on chi and placement should be a conscience act. Many of these placement ideas have very practical reasons and aesthetic appeal to those who may not be interested in the chi aspect of the placement. The following list includes some of the more common aspects of Feng Shui interior design.

Keep places clear of clutter!
One of the basics of Feng Shui is that everything should be kept in its place. Keep areas clear of clutter. Cluttered spaces will trap and slow down chi but will also give you a subconscious weighted down feeling. It sounds simple enough and it is! Clear off your desk, file those papers, go through that stack of books, etc. It will feel like a weight was lifted off your shoulders and you will find that you can think more clearly as there is less subconscious worries about needing to "get to that someday" - get to it today so you can move on!

Doorways 
-All doorways should be in good shape, if they need any repairs, repainting or replacement this needs to be done. Doors should also open into the room rather then out. This will encourage energy to flow in rather then out. -Main Entrance to the Home: Considered the most important entry, the main entrance to your home should be welcoming and positive. Keep the area well lit and free of clutter. Company should come in the doorway feeling welcome.
-Common problems with the main entrance: 1) If your home is a split level you may see stairs going both up and down as soon as you enter. This will cause chi to disperse too quickly and may lead to conflict and bickering in the home as you don't see things the same way. The two stairways also cause a split view which can lead to anxiety. Cures for these entrances include mirrors or a multidimensional picture that illustrates depth. 2) Seeing the back door directly from the front door. This will cause chi to flow too quickly through the home causing missed opportunities. Also, when guests can see the "exit" upon entry it will make them feel unwelcome or impatient to leave. Fixes for this include a screen, curtains or plant to block the direct view; this can also add a rich fullness to the home and encourages people to enjoy what is around them rather then peering through to your backyard right away. More traditional cures use crystals or wind chimes hung between the doors. 3) Some entrances are small and box-like with blank walls. To fix this hang a painting, perhaps one of the outdoors that makes the visitor think of spacious areas.You may add a mirror, but some Feng Shui experts advise against this as startling your visitors (and yourself) with your reflection as one walks in the door can be unnerving and rude. Make sure the area is well lit and bright. You do not want cramped, blank entrance ways to be dark and shadowed. -Other Doorways: Keep the path of doorways clear of clutter. Doorways provide the main pathway for chi and should not be disrupted or blocked - you shouldn't have to tip-toe around a bookshelf, etc when you first enter a room!

Windows
-Like doors, windows in disrepair are not good for the home. Cracked and damaged windows disrupt the chi and should be replaced.

Bedroom
-The bedroom is one of the most important rooms of your house and the placement of your bed is the most important placement in this room. The bed should be a place to rest so you do not want to be disturbed or startled easily. Many consider it ideal to place the bed diagonally facing the door. However, if that is not possible, the following bad alignments should be avoided: 1) Do not have the foot of the bed directly in line with the doorway. 2) Do not have the head of your bed directly in line with the doorway. 3) Place the bed against a solid wall instead of a window or open space. 4) If you have a slanted ceiling the bed should not be under the lowest point.
-Some schools of Feng Shui are against any mirrors in the bedroom. If you do insist on having a mirror in the room make sure it is not directly opposite or viewed from the bed, this set up can cause unease as you will startle yourself when waking.
-Also, electronics such as TVs and stereos should not be kept in the bedroom. These items are usually not conducive for rest and sleep and should therefore be placed in the more awake rooms of the house such as the living room.

Study/Home Office
-The desk is the most important piece in this room. It should be in a command position where you can see the door. Ideal is diagonally so you can see as much of the room around you as possible. Never have your back to the door when seated at your desk. Also, if you sit too close to the door or have a poor view of the room you less control of your surroundings.
-Keep this room clear of clutter. Clutter will work on your subconscious and you will contently be split among several tasks and never be able to concentrate on just one.
-Lighting is important in this room. It should be bright but not glaring. Natural light from a window is good but should not be directly in front of you, instead it should be to your side.

Kitchen
-Another major area of the home the placement of the stove is considered key to this space. The stove should never be placed where you have your back to the main entrance and therefore prone to being startled while cooking! -It is extremely important that this room stays clean
- should be the cleanest in the house! Living Room -Furniture in this room should provide for easy movement. Chairs should be faced towards one another and share a coffee table or stand between them. Empty space between people may cause tension and more conflict, whereas having a table as common ground between them makes them feel more secure and comfortable in discourse. -Many living rooms lead into other spaces such as dining rooms, etc without any real doorway. This may cause an odd or L-shaped room. Again, it is bad Feng Shui to have tangents hanging off the main shape (rectangle/square) of the room. To counter this you may add a screen, open shelves, plants, etc. that gives more structure to the two spaces and keeps them separate. -If your living room or similar room is a sunken room make sure to get floor lamps to brighten the room up. Light will help bring the room up on equal level to the rest of the house and counter the detachment this feature may cause.

Dining Room
-This room should not be overcrowded but more spacious and inviting to groups. Comfortable table and chairs should encourage diners to take their time and enjoy the meal. -Mirrors are great for this room - double the size of your rooms and family!

Obviously this is just a quick sampling of the types of rules Feng Shui has for the placement and design of the home.

Feng Shui, although an ancient art has many practical uses for the modern age. Practical ideas such as having a command position in a room to tackle tasks more effectively can be very beneficial. There is no doubt that the various number of schools and approaches and the New Age aspects and fluctuations of this art form can be a bit confusing and frustrating at times. However, this art, whether you delve into it deeply and adopt its sometimes mystical aspects or if you only want to pull a couple ideas about placement, can still be beneficial and fun to anyone who wants to give it a try.

Fast Fun Feng Shui


- Some schools of Feng Shui believe that each person can be mapped by the bagua as well. Using birth date, the bagua calculators can tell you which directions are more auspicious than others and what areas should be avoided or countered. For an example calculator click here: www.fengshuitimes.com/resources/GuaCalculator/ There is even alterations to the bagua chart based on the astrological year (for year of the dog click here: www.bhargo.com/articles/firedogyear.asp


- Not home much? Feng Shui suggests that homes should always have flowing chi. If you are gone often or for long periods of time make sure to bring life into your home. On vacation - set the radio or TV to create sound while you are gone. Long days at the office or weekend trips - get fish or plants in your home so their energy will keep your space alive.

- Feng Shui isn't just about objects anymore! Have messy neighbors that are cluttering your space and chi? Many modern schools of Feng Shui suggest talking with neighbors and volunteering to help them with clean up projects. Not only will your chi and space feel better, you will also work on you outside partnerships and bring positive energy into your life and home.

- Not all antiques are good antiques. Antiques may have a carry over of bad energy or chi from the previous owner. Make sure to take time to calmly consider and feel the vibe from an antique before purchasing it.

- Cures for your bad Feng Shui: some schools rely heavily on cures. These include chimes, crystals, bagua mirrors, bells, golden arrows and bamboo flutes (to name some of the most common). However, some schools are dissatisfied with the commercialism of these cures. Instead they rely more on rearranging objects already in the homeowners decor or adding ascetic elements such as plants, water fountains and statues.

- My student is an A+ student! Many Feng Shui practitioners believe that you can aid your children's or your own scholarly pursuits through good placement. This could mean having your child's bedroom in the NE sector of the home. Or it may mean placing their desk in the NE sector of the room. Also adding colors of the blue and green/turquoise that represent your child's scholarly interest in the NE sector of the room. For example, blue and green planets on a mobile or pictures of marine life, dinosaurs, etc. where these colors dominate.

- Problems with office politics at the workplace? Work stations should not be directly face to face as this will cause conflict. Sharp angles and corners should not be pointed towards anyone's back other wise they will become the target of office politics and back stabbing. The boss should always have the office furthest from the front door so they are not distracted by everyday events and the distance gives them time to contemplate decisions. If a subordinate is further back then the boss they may feel like they see more and know more.

- Selling your home? Feng Shui can be considered to help aid you sell as well. One example is to make sure you don't have heavy furniture at the base or southern point of your home as this will keep you grounded. Or have a water fountain to help de-stress potential buyers. It is a growing trend and there are programs that offer real estate agents contact hours in Feng Shui training!

Further Reading Online

American Feng Shui Institute
www.amfengshui.com
To correct mistakes committed in various Feng Shui books on the market and to prevent people from being victimized. To help people discern real professional Feng Shui practitioners from impostors, and to set Feng Shui apart from superstition, mysticism, and religion. To apply the fundamentals of Feng Shui to initiate interest and research in the ancient natural science. To utilize Feng Shui correctly such that it benefits all mankind.

Fast Feng Shui
www.fastfengshui.com/articles.htm
We are pleased to offer the following articles on contemporary western feng shui.

Feng Shui Chinese
www.fengshuichinese.com
The Site is made in Hong Kong and China by Feng Shui Experts and is in both English and Chinese Languages. We appreciate your feedback.

Feng Shui Gate
http://www.fengshuigate.com/
Essays on the origin of Fengshui

Feng Shui Society
http://www.fengshuisociety.org.uk/ 
The Feng Shui Society, based in the United Kingdom with links throughout the world, is an independent, non-profit organization established in 1993, run on a voluntary basis by an executive committee elected from the membership. It administers minimum standards for education in feng shui to professional practice level and maintains a register of accredited consultants. 

Feng Shui Times
www.fengshuitimes.com
Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times

World of Feng Shui
www.wofs.com
First Magazine of Feng Shui in the World

Appliances and GFCI circuits.

Our home inspector said that we should not plug our deep freeze into a GFCI circuit, because it could trip while we are away, and ruin our food. Is this correct?

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Q. Our home inspector said that we should not plug our deep freeze into a GFCI circuit, because it could trip while we are away, and ruin our food. Is this correct?

A. Yes, your home inspector is correct. Appliances such as refrigerators and freezers or medical equipment that must remain running should never be connected to GFCI outlets. The reason for this is that GFCI outlets can trip without warning shutting off power to the appliance. GFCI outlets are very sensitive to changes in their environment, and can trip under various conditions. These outlets when placed outside or in garages can trip during rainy weather, because there is too much moisture in the air. GFCI outlets that are wired to other similar devices can turn off when one of the other outlets trips. Under normal circumstances, GFCI outlets are perfectly suited for such things as small appliances, bathrooms, kitchens and exterior devices such as hedge trimmers and power tools. When used properly, GFCI outlets are life savers, but because they are so sensitive and prone to tripping without warning, they are ill suited for appliances which must remain on at all times.