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Damage from heat and humidity can be a scary thing. Unlike a storm, the damage can be done slowly over long periods of time, and you won’t know about it until it’s too late.
It’s one of those things where you can’t see it,” Les Thorpe, owner of Thorpe Construction and Management Company in Virginia Beach, Va., told weather.com. “Because you can’t walk around the inside or the outside [and notice anything] until it’s too late. All of a sudden you see mold build up on your walls.”
Not only can heat and humidity challenge the integrity of your home’s structure, but it’s outcome (think mold and mildew) can lead to health issues and possibly even termites. ” It may take a while for that to happen,” Thorpe said. “It’s a slow process, but once it starts, it’s a hard thing to really stop.”
For Thorpe, the number one space susceptible to damage from heat and humidity, look under the house at the crawl space. “There is stagnant air that seems to be trapped and doesn’t move [in the crwal space],” Thorpe said. “The humidity builds up and it starts to create issues with mold, mildew, and things of that nature.”
The newest, and most foolproof, way to protect your crawl space from humidity damge is by encapsulating it. Encapsulation goes beyond insulation and foundation vents — it is a complete covering of the foundation and ground beneath it.
“[Encapsulation uses] either a spray foam or rigid installation. Then there is a heavy plastic that gets laid down on the ground to prevent moisture from coming up from the ground. And this plastic goes up the foundation walls,” Thorpe said. “It really blocks any kind of moisture that typically would transfer from the outside to the inside.It allows a better controlled environment under the house”
After the protecting the bottom of your house from heat and humidity, it’s time to look up — all the way up. Accordin to Thorpe, many homes are not built with adequate airflow in the attic, which is troublesome in what is already one of the hottest areas in the home.
“Humidity starts to build up inside and the first thing that’s going to take a hit is probably the insulation,” he said. “Once we start breaking down the insulation, it starts to break down and it’s not really doing it’s job anymore.”
There are a few preventative measures you can take to improve how your attic handles heat and humidity. First, Thorpe recomments properly ventilating the eaves of the roof. He also suggests implementing a continuous vent system throughout the attic. The construction expert also suggests dehumidifiers to pull moisture out of the air in the attic.
But one thing he isn’t so supportive of? The attic fan. While he admits that they can do a good job at removing heat and humidity in warmer months, in cooler months they can be more of a burden. “When they’re not in use, there’s a hole in your roof and it lets cold air in,” he said. “They tend to let critters come in, they chew through the screen and get in your attic that way. The motor can burn up… It’s still a good product in some cases, but putting the vents in your roof and having the correct type of venting, is key.”
Bathrooms can pose a year-round heat and humidity threat with frequent hot showers and baths. “Mositure and humidity builds from the inside because of showers,” Thorpe said. “And you also have the transfer of heat and humidity built up in the attic.”
To combat this, make sure bathrooms with a shower or bath are vented outside the house and that the vent isn’t bringing outside air into the home. This kind of duct work can be faulty if not properly installed.
Windows and Door
Poorly sealed windows and doors can cause unseen damage from humidity between the interior and exterior of the home. “We’ll see that around windows and doors mainly because [poor] sealing around windows and doors can lead to moisture coming in,” Thorpe said.
“If there’s isn’t proper drainage between [the interior and exterior of the home], they have the tendency to trap water. It can’t go down the wall, so it gets trapped,” he said. “Moisture starts to build up and you get the temperature from the inside of the house trying to go outside the house and the outside coming in. It gets trapped and stuck between the walls.”
Just like windows and doors, plumbing can lead to damage from heat and humidity if not sealed properly.
“Where plumbing is, wherever plumbing may exit the house, a lot of times the application of a sealant around the pipes might not have been done well or over the years people are not looking around their house and making sure the caulking or foam applied is inadequate,” Thorpe said. “People tend to forget about that. There’s another transfer of outside air going inside and vice versa.”
By just taking the time to have a plumber evaluate the caulking, or touching it up yourself over the years, can prevent damage.
Already the site of new public artwork, the Chicago Riverwalk will “go global” later this week as part of a six-week-long event to celebrate the culture and cuisine of the Windy City’s 28 international sister cities. Dubbed “Unifest on the River: One Globe, Many Cultures,” the downtown event is scheduled to take place every Thursday afternoon between 4:30 and 8:30 PM starting July 13th. It runs through August 17th.
“With the Riverwalk’s surrounding architecture and bridges as a backdrop, Unifest celebrates what makes Chicago a world class city—a global mix of cultures and communities coming together to enjoy everything the city has to offer,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. The extended six-week menu as well as pricing information is available on Unifest’s official website.
Amid the heart of the spring home-selling season, May sales in the Chicago area climbed 5.1 percent over a year ago, according to the Illinois Realtors.
As homeowners continue to hold on to houses rather than sell, a shortage of supply is frustrating potential homebuyers and forcing prices to rise as multiple bids compete for the limited number of homes on the market, said Doug Carpenter, president of Illinois Realtors.
Supply is especially limited among homes priced at the low end, with $200,000 to $300,000 homes the most popular among buyers, he said.
Compared with a year ago, prices were up 5.6 percent in the Chicago area in May, with a median price of $246,900. In the city, prices were up 5.5 percent to a median of $306,750. But the number of sales in the city were down 0.2 percent, after a previous decline of 2.3 percent in April.
There were 12,491 homes sold in May in the metro area, compared with 11,884 the previous May. In Chicago there were 2,973 sold, compared with 2,980 the previous year.
The inventory of homes on the market in the Chicago area dropped 19.6 percent from a year earlier as those on the market sold fast. The average time a home spent on the market was just 42 days, far shorter than the six months that’s considered an average market. In Chicago itself, homes were on the market for only 36 days on average.
“There are so many multiple offers that it’s driving the price up,” Carpenter said.
At a conference for area real estate agents this week, a speaker asked the audience how many were experiencing multiple offers on the homes they were selling and almost all hands went up.
The price gains on condos in Chicago have slowed after a huge surge earlier in the year. The median price of condos sold in May was $331,000 — a 2.3 percent increase over a year earlier. Single family homes surged 12.1 percent, however, to $255,500.
With gains in home prices in the Chicago area lagging many markets, outside investors and flippers are buying homes in areas that hadn’t appreciated, and the activity has been lifting the average price, according to real estate agents. The median price of homes in the Chicago area now has recovered from the real estate crash, according to Geoffrey Hewings, director of the Regional Economics Applications Laboratory at the University of Illinois. He is predicting continued modest rises.
Yet, there are still many areas that have not recovered and price gains have varied substantially between areas over the last year. For example, in the last year the median sales price for the year in LaGrange is up 32.6 percent to $539,000 and Streamwood is up 20.6 percent to $205,000, while Lisle has had a decline of 1.5 percent to $352,000 and Naperville and Orland Park have each had only slight increases of 0.9 percent, according to data from the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors. The median price in Orland Park is $303,700 and in Naperville it’s $411,250.
Prices in Cook County overall are up 5.3 percent over the last year, with a median price of $258,000 and sales up 3 percent, according to Illinois Realtors. Among the counties experiencing largest increases in price: DuPage County is up 8.9 percent to $280,000, Lake County is up 7.9 percent to $253,600, Kane County is up 6.5 percent to $236,275, and Kendall is up 6.9 percent to $231,000. Will County has had the slowest price growth, just 3.8 percent to $217,500.
For the first time in three years, Illinois finally has a new budget—almost. But the controversy over who did what over an explosive 4th of July weekend and whether it was worth the price and whether the final result will solve Illinois’ fiscal problems is certain to rage all the way to the 2018 elections.
The news is that, over the objections of Gov. Bruce Rauner and most but not all Republicans, both House and Senate lawmakers now have adopted a $36 billion fiscal 2018 budget that features less spending than last year, higher income taxes, and a start on paying down $15 billion in overdue bills.
Rauner vetoed the budget package shortly after it was approved, but the Senate almost immediately voted to override by a bare 36-19 vote—the minimum needed—with one Republican joining 35 Democrats. House members had dispersed for holiday events by Rauner’s veto at mid-afternoon yesterday, but Speaker Mike Madigan is believed to have the votes to pass the budget package into law over the governor’s objections later this week. Fifteen House Republicans voted for the budget package on the first round. The latest word is that the House override vote will take place Thursday.
Statements from two of the main antagonists, Rauner and Senate President John Cullerton, underlined just how wide the political and philosophical gap remains.
“The package of legislation fails to address Illinois’ fiscal and economic crisis—and in fact, makes it worse in the long run,” Rauner said in vetoing the main appropriations bill, a second measure dealing with revenue, and a budget-implementation bill. “It does not balance the budget. It does not make nearly sufficient spending reductions, does not pay down our debt, and holds schools hostage to force a Chicago bailout.”
“This is a step in the right direction,” countered Cullerton. “There is obviously more work to do. There always is. . . .(But) with today’s votes, the Senate approved a balanced budget that funds our schools, supports our universities, honors our commitments to social service agencies, keeps road crews employed and even ensures Lottery winners get paid.”
WINNERS AND LOSERS
As those statements suggest, a big winner in the apparent budget outcome is Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Assuming a House override, he won final approval of a plan to refinance Chicago pension funds covering laborers and white collar workers; the OK to raise the city’s 911 tax another $1.10 to $5 per phone line per month to pay those costs; and roughly $300 million more next year for cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools. Chicago and other municipalities also will be protected from losing any money in income tax receipts, even though the state will cut back on the share that goes to them, the Chicago Transit Authority and Metra their normal tax subsidy
A big loser, at least so far, is much of the state’s business community, which didn’t get the cost-cutting steps it wanted, especially a reduction in workers compensation payments. But other business groups, notably the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club, argued it was far more important to restore financial stability to reeling state government.
Rauner himself is biggest potential loser, as Republicans in both the House and Senate voted to pass a tax-and-spending plan that he opposed. But some believe the GOP incumbent may be able to use that to his advantage in his re-election campaign, arguing that he needs a new term and more Republicans with him to get Illinois back on track.
Here are some of the crucial details of what will happen—again assuming that the House goes along with the Senate and overrides the veto.
• The individual income tax rate will climb from 3.75 percent to 4.95 percent (the same level it was under former Gov. Pat Quinn) and the corporate rate from 5.25 percent to 7 percent Both will take effect on July 1 and won’t be retroactive to Jan. 1, as Democrats originally had intended. The hikes combined will raise about $5 billion a year.
• Dropped from the package are extending the sales tax to more services such as tattooing, and dinging satellite and streaming entertainment services. But corporate “loopholes” that mostly affect the petroleum industry—the domestic production deduction, exemption for activity on the outer continental shelf, and non-combination rule—will be closed, netting $125 million a year. In one plus for business, the research-and-development credit will be extended, until 2022. Still pending in the Senate late yesterday as an extension the Edge tax-credit for new jobs that earlier had easily cleared the House.
• The state’s earned income tax break will rise from the current 10 percent of the federal level to18 percent over the next two years.
• The budget includes $300 million from the sale of the Loop’s Thompson center. But a dispute continues over whether the city is willing to raise zoning on the property high enough to hit that figure.
• Democrats have not agreed to a deal on the structural reform/non-budget items that Rauner wanted to sign off on the tax hike. That includes workers comp, term limits at least on legislative leaders and, at the top of the list, terms for a statewide property-tax freeze. Democrats say they’re still willing to talk. Rauner accuses them of bad faith. Even if he’s right, though, the governor’s leverage to get a better deal through seems limited after passage of a budget.
• Total state spending will drop $2.5 billion from this year and be $1 billion less than in Rauner’s budget, Democrats say. Included in those totals are some legitimate items—operations of most departments will be slashed 5 percent across the board, for instance. Colleges and universities, meanwhile, will take a 10 percent cut. But other assumptions appear to me to be questionable, like assuming $800 million in cost savings by delaying increased pension payments.
Rauner aides say the Democrats are using bad math and that, in fact, they want to spend more than he did.
• There’s also a dispute over how quickly the state will begin to cut down on its backlog of $15 billion in unpaid bills, much of it payments to Medicaid vendors.
Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, the chief budget negotiator for Madigan, says the IOU list should drop by half thanks to inter-fund transfers and borrowing finances by a small fiscal surplus. Rauner aides argued those figures are way off the mark and that the state only will about tread water under this plan.
• Spending on grade and high schools will be legally tied to a revamped statewide aid formula previously approved by the Senate and House. That means the state will begin contributing another $215 million to pay for Chicago teacher pensions, and that CPS and other districts with large populations of poor students will get more from rising school expenditures overall.
As soon as the House acts, I’d expect the bond rating agencies to give their verdict. My guess is it will be at least neutral—the state’s bond rating won’t drop to junk. But I don’t know if an upgrade is coming anytime soon.
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