The Refrigerator Temperature Your Fridge Is Set To Is Probably Wrong

“Never really thought about this until we saw the article.  An interesting read.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Keeping foods chilled properly, at the right refrigerator temperature, helps them last longer and stay fresher. Sticking to the ideal refrigerator temperature can help you avoid potential foodborne illnesses, too.

By Kimberly Holland 

February 26, 2019

The refrigerator is a miracle of modern food preservation. At the right refrigerator temperature, the appliance can keep foods cold and safe to eat for days, even weeks, by slowing the growth of bacteria. After all, in the world of the cold storage, bacteria are your archnemeses, and a clean refrigerator is a happy and healthy one.

When food temps begin to climb above a certain point (about 40°F), bacteria start to multiple exponentially. Not every one of those bacteria is bad—but not every one is good, either. For both the quality of your food and to reduce the risk of food poisoning, you’d be wise to keep your fridge cooled to the recommended refrigerator temperature and follow good refrigerator maintenance guidelines.

What temperature should a refrigerator be?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)this link opens in a new tab says the recommended refrigerator temperature is below 40°F; the ideal freezer temp is below 0°F.

However, the ideal refrigerator temperature is actually lower: Aim to stay between 35° and 38°F (or 1.7 to 3.3°C). This temperature range is as close as you can get to freezing without being so cold your food will freeze. It’s also as close as the refrigerator temperature should get to the 40°F threshold, at which point bacteria begin multiplying rapidly.

RELATED: How Does a Refrigerator Work?

Temperatures above the 35° to 38°F zone may be too high. Your food may spoil quickly, and you could set yourself up for some tummy troubles with bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli.

How do you measure a fridge’s temperature?

You can purchase an inexpensive freestanding appliance thermometer online or at any home store. Place the thermometer in your fridge and leave it for 20 minutes. Then, check the reading. Are you close to the ideal refrigerator temperature, or even the recommended one? If not, turn to your fridge’s temperature control panel.

Unfortunately, not all fridge temp gauges are accurate. You may have your fridge set to 37°F, but it’s actually keeping temps around 33°F or even 41°F. It’s not uncommon for refrigerators to be a few degrees off the mark you set.

What’s more, some refrigerators don’t display temps at all. They let you adjust the fridge and freezer temps on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the warmest option. Without a thermometer, you can’t know what those milestones translate to in real degrees.

Once you have your thermometer and a reading, you can adjust the fridge temperature accordingly to keep the temps in the safe zone between 35° and 38°F. You can do the same in your freezer, aiming to get the temp as close to 0°F as possible.

Tips to keep your fridge cool

If you find your refrigerator temperature is flirting with the 40°F mark despite your adjusted temperature settings, you can take a few steps to help your fridge maintain the ideal temperature.

Let food cool before putting it in the fridge. Hot bowls of leftover soup or roast chicken can heat up the small space in your fridge quickly, putting the foods at jeopardy of rapid bacterial growth. To protect everything in your fridge, let foods cool for a bit (but not to room temperature—that will take too long) before covering and storing in the fridge.

Check the door seals. Gaskets around the edge of a refrigerator door keep the cold temps in and the warmer temps out. If there’s a leak in one of those gaskets, your cold air may be escaping. That can make cooling the fridge properly more difficult (and use up more electricity, boosting your monthly electric bill).

Stop opening the door so much. Every time you open the refrigerator door, you let the cold air out and the warm air in. Resist the temptation to stand at your fridge when you’re hungry, searching for a food that will cure your cravings. Instead, get what you came for, and shut the door quickly.

Keep the fridge full. A full fridge is a happy fridge. The same is true for your freezer. The refrigerator temperature can stay cooler longer and keep foods cooled best if the shelves and drawers are mostly full. Just be sure you don’t overcrowd the space and cut down on air flow. That can make moving cooled air difficult and increase the risk of warm pockets of air. (A little refrigerator organization can help with that, too.)


What is a Home Equity Loan?

“As Spring approaches you might be looking into a larger home project, that could cost several thousands of dollars.  A Home Equity Loan might be a good answer for how to pay for it.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Here’s What You Need to Know about Home Equity Loans

A home equity loan allows homeowners to borrow against the equity they have in their home, or the difference between what they owe on their home and what their home is worth.

Home equity documents

So, you need some money – and a lot of it. Maybe you have medical bills to pay, or college tuition bills for your children. Maybe you need to update, renovate or make repairs to your home. Whatever the reason, you’ve been wondering whether a home equity loan is right for you. Such a loan could let you borrow a large amount of money, and because it would be secured by your home, it’d be easier to get than a personal loan.

But, before you call your mortgage broker, you need to know the ins and outs of these financial products. What are home equity loans, and how do they work? What are the pros, cons and alternatives? And what are the best ways to protect yourself and your family when you take out a home equity loan? Read on to learn the answers to these questions, and more.

What is a Home Equity Loan?

A home equity loan is basically a type of mortgage. Like the mortgage you took out when you purchased your home, a home equity loan is secured by the home itself.

Homeowners can and do use home equity loans to fund repairs, updates, renovations and improvements to the home. If you use a home equity loan to fund certain home improvements, you may be able to deduct the interest from your taxes. However, once you have the money, you can do whatever you want with it – pay for your kids’ college, start a business, or buy a second property, for example.

How Do Home Equity Loans Work?

A home equity loan usually allows you to borrow between 80 to 85 percent of the difference between what you owe on your home and what it’s worth. For example, if your home is worth $300,000, and you owe $100,000, you should be able to borrow up to 80 to 85 percent of the difference – or about $160,000 to $170,000.

However, a home equity loan is a second mortgage, and it’s structured just like a purchase mortgage. You’ll have to put in an application and your lender will assess your ability to repay the loan. You’ll pay closing costs, and your home will secure the loan. You’ll make monthly payments over a fixed number of years, but your interest rate should be fixed for the life of the loan. Home equity loans are amortized, which means that each payment will reduce both some of the interest and some of the principal of the loan.

Pros and Cons of Home Equity Loans

Home equity loan benefits

Like any other loan product, home equity loans have their pros and cons. It’s generally pretty easy to get a home equity loan, because they’re secured by your home. Interest rates are typically much, much lower than they are for credit cards, personal lines of credit and personal loans, and if you’re currently paying a low mortgage rate, you don’t have to jeopardize that with a cash-out refinance. Payments are the same every month, so they’re easy to fit into your budget, and closing a home equity loan is faster than a cash-out refinance.

However, home equity loans can be inflexible – you have to take a lump sum of money at once, which can be inconvenient if you need to use the cash incrementally, such as for college tuition payments or a renovation project. You’ll pay interest on the money even if you’re not currently using it. Home equity loans can also represent significant debt, and they come with closing costs and fees. Of course, because your home secures the loan, you could lose your house if you don’t pay it back.

Alternatives to Home Equity Loans

As an alternative to traditional home equity loans, many banks now offer home equity lines of credit, or HELOCs. Instead of receiving a lump sum in a specific amount, you can get approved for a maximum amount of available credit, and just borrow what you need against that amount. A HELOC offers more flexibility if you need to spend the money incrementally, or if you otherwise need to borrow multiple times. That way, you only pay interest on the money you actually spend. You may even be able to make smaller monthly payments in the beginning.

Cash-out refinances are another option for homeowners who find that their home is worth much more than they owe. This involves taking out a mortgage for more than you owe and pocketing the difference. It’s a good idea if you need a large sum of money for renovations, home improvements, college tuition, or other expenses, and it can be especially beneficial if you’re able to secure a lower mortgage rate.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Family When Taking a Home Equity Loan

A home equity loan can be a wonderful tool, but a wise homeowner uses caution when wielding it. Just as with a mortgage, you should shop around for the best rates before choosing a lender.

Before you take out a home equity loan, make sure you understand the terms. Don’t borrow more than you can pay back, and don’t sign up for high monthly payments that are unsustainable. If you choose a HELOC instead of a home equity loan, be careful; some HELOCs require the borrower to borrow a minimum amount, whether they need it or not. Of course, you could still make such an arrangement work for you, as long as you have the discipline to pay back the difference between what you need and the minimum loan amount.

Most importantly, don’t treat your house like an ATM. It can be tempting, especially with a HELOC, to just keep borrowing money. Your home should be a means of building wealth, and continually borrowing against your home equity undermines that. Use your home equity in ways that can help you grow or protect yours and your family’s wealth (such as by funding improvements, renovations, repairs, or the purchase of more property) or your potential to create wealth (such as by funding higher education, or starting a business).

If you’re a homeowner, you could be sitting on a source of cash to cover major expenses in the form of your home’s equity. But, while home equity can be a great resource, it’s vital to know exactly what you’re getting into with a home equity loan, so that you don’t end up regretting a second mortgage.

7 Home Renovation Trends Worth the Money

“Recently attended the ‘Remodeling and Garden Show’ and saw a number of ideas that are right in line with these trends.  Many of these were really not that expensive when you look at the return.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – Dc Metro Realty Team 


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Get a Head Start on Planning Your Garden, Even if it’s Snowing

“It may seem premature, but now is a perfect time to start planning on what you are going to do this Spring.  You don’t even have to go outside!”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Dealing with Mold and Mildew in the Bathroom

“Mold and Mildew are common occurrences from time to time.  However, you can get rid of it and take steps to prevent it in the future.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

How to Get Rid of Mold in Showers — and Everywhere Else in Your Bathrooms!

What is mold? And why is it in your bathroom? Mold and mildew are enemies that constantly need to be kept under control. AHS is here to help get your bathroom mold problem under control.

girl looking at black mold in bathroom tile

Mold and mildew are enemies that constantly need to be kept under control. The presence of mold can cause health problems, including coughing, skin and eye irritation, and serious lung infections in people that have breathing problems or other chronic illnesses. Some level of mold is always around in your house, due to the outside mold spores coming and going. But if you discover mold in areas with moisture, warmth and darkness — like your shower — there are things you can do to keep that shower mold (and bathtub mold) under control. Let’s look into ways to control and prevent mold in bathrooms.

What is mold?

We hear a lot about mold these days. But what is mold? It’s not a plant or an animal; rather, it’s a type of fungi. Mold spores are very small and light, and they actually float in the air. This is what allows them to spread and be inhaled. All molds, including the dreaded toxic black mold (in bathrooms and other areas of your house), can feed on organic building materials found in your house if they have been exposed to the right environmental conditions: moisture, warmth and darkness. What are some common spaces with these conditions? Attics, basements and crawl spaces, to name a few, especially if there are roof leaks or leaking water and drain pipes. The showers and tubs in your bathrooms also provide what mold needs to grow, when the conditions are right. There’s, off course, moisture from the water you use to bathe and shower, not to mention the warmth –– unless you’re into cold showers –– and subdued lighting. In a nutshell, your home could easily make for a “home sweet home” for mold.

Why do we have mold issues these days?

As homes and buildings are being designed and built for more energy efficiency, they are more airtight. This traps the warm, moist air inside. Without proper ventilation, mold could likely be a problem.

How do you get rid of mold?

Although mold can grow in virtually any conducive conditions, it especially loves to grow in the grout of the shower, which is porous and holds moisture longer than the tile, as well as around the shower drain. The same goes for bathtubs and sinks.

The first thing you want to do when it comes to knowing how to get rid of mold in showers and other bathroom areas? Assess the damage. If your mold problem covers less than 10 square feet, you should be able to handle it on your own. (If it’s a larger area, you need to call a professional as soon as possible.) And if the grout around your shower, tub and sinks is compromised — that is, broken, cracked, missing sections, overrun with mold, etc. — you’ll need to remove it and recaulk after the mold is removed.

Next, gather these supplies:

  • Product(s) that claim to kill mold: bleach, white vinegar and many other commercial cleaners
  • Baking soda
  • Nylon brush, toothbrush or sponge with a scrub pad on one side
  • Large bowl or plastic bucket (if you are mixing your own solution)
  • Spray bottle (if you are mixing your own solution)
  • Dry towel or paper towels
  • Caulk (if necessary)

American Home Shield® Insight: If you are planning on using bleach or a commercial cleaner, open a window or run the ventilation fan. You should also wear gloves and a mask to protect yourself from fumes. Likewise, never mix bleach with other cleaners.

Now, let’s get to the cleaning:

  1. Scrub –  Before using chemicals, you might try just scrubbing with a damp sponge. If there isn’t much mold there, this might be the ticket.
  2. Mix –  Otherwise, mix a solution of one part bleach to two parts warm water, and fill your spray bottle with it, if you aren’t using a pre-mixed commercial cleaner. If you are using a commercial cleaner, be sure to follow the instructions on the container. Looking for a non-bleach and non-commercial alternative? Try white vinegar –– either straight or diluted with water.
  3. Spray –  Spray generous amounts of your cleaning solution on the areas of visible mold, and let it sit for about 15 minutes.
  4. Scrub again –  Scrub the areas with the nylon brush, toothbrush or sponge.
  5. Rinse –  Rinse the areas with warm water from another spray bottle, a very wet cloth or from the shower head or faucet.
  6. Paste –  For tough areas, make a paste of baking soda and warm water. Apply the paste and let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes.
  7. Scrub again –  Like before, scrub the areas with the cleaning utensil and rinse them clean with clean water.
  8. Dry –  Dry all surfaces with a dry towel or paper towels.
  9. Caulk – If you had to remove your caulk before cleaning, now’s the time to recaulk. Pay special attention to the instructions on the caulk tube about how long you must wait before you can use your shower, tub, etc., again.

How do you prevent excess moisture in the future?

If you have an operable window in your bathroom, open it and leave it open for a while after showering. Note: This is not a solution, however, if the air outside is very hot and humid. The bathroom vent fan should also be running during baths and showers and for thirty minutes afterward. In addition, air conditioning systems reduce humidity. The goal for relative humidity in your house to keep mold at bay is 50 percent or less. If you struggle to reach that percentage, a dehumidifier will also do the trick. And, of course, wiping the surfaces down after using them will certainly help. Remember: Moisture is one of the top requirements for mold.

What does light have to do with mold?

Fortunately, light is one of our weapons against mold. Open those blinds. Replace heavy curtains with something more sheer. Let the light in. Many of our showers are at the end of a dead-end bathroom with no window. If this is the case, you may have to use artificial lighting, or consider putting in a skylight. Also, keep the shower doors open or shower curtains drawn back to allow light into the shower –– when you’re not using it, of course. Basically, try to avoid creating a dark environment for mold to thrive in.

How can you prevent mold from growing?

Once your bathroom is squeaky clean, keep it that way. Spray or wipe the shower and bathtub surfaces with a solution of white vinegar and a little water. You can add a drop or two of essential oils to lessen the vinegar smell, if you’d like. And if you want to keep mold from becoming your unwanted bathing partner, make sure you do this quick and easy chore at least once a week.

How To Clean Your TV Screen

“Smudges on TV Screens happen.  But when they do, what’s the best way to clean them?  Here are some great tips from American Home Shield on how to do that.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Do You Know How To Clean a TV Screen the Right Way?

Spots and smudges are not what you want on your television screen. AHS can help you get your tv screen spot free, improving your viewing pleasure.

Cleaning a tv screen

The picture on today’s TV screens is better than it has ever been. Are you old enough to remember static and purple people? Having to constantly adjust the color and rabbit ears? If you are, then you know that the clarity today is truly amazing. You also likely know that if your TV is not brand new, the picture could possibly be even better.

Likewise, it’s no secret that electronic devices, including televisions, have a way of attracting dust. There are, however, a few guidelines for how to clean a TV screen properly. Just as important as what to clean it with is what not to put on a TV screen. Here are some things to keep in mind to safely remedy the dusty TV screen and get back to that amazing picture clarity.

First, Know Your TV Type

There are many confusing designations for the types of TVs used today: CRT, LCD, LED, OLED and Plasma. It is always a good idea to first consult your owner’s manual for cleaning instructions or go to the manufacturer’s website.

For Older CRTs…

Cathode Ray Tube TV’s have been disappearing since the early 2000s. These are the TVs that are the size of large microwaves. You may still have one. If so, the screen on one of these is all glass. And because of that, you can clean it the same way you clean your glass windows. Note that this is the only type of TV in which commercial glass cleaner is safe to use, though.

… And All the Rest

Plasma TVs also have glass screens, but they also have an anti-glare coating. This makes the cleaning instructions the same as the more sensitive LCD, LED and OLED TV screens. NEVER use glass cleaner or any commercial cleaner that contains ammonia, alcohol or any abrasives. If you do choose to use a commercial TV screen cleaner, make sure it states on the label that it doesn’t contain these harmful ingredients. In most cases, however, a clean, soft, dry cloth, like a microfiber cloth, is all you need. Even paper towels may scratch the screen.

Next, Turn it Off

Before you start cleaning, turn the TV off, or even unplug it, and let it cool down. This will reduce the risk of static shock. An additional benefit of cleaning the blank screen? The dust will be easier to see.

Now, You’re Ready to Clean

If you use a dry cloth, move it in a circular motion like waxing a car. Apply very light pressure –– remember, these screens are pressure sensitive. Make sure you don’t push it off of its perch, if it’s on a shelf or stand. And turn the cloth over as you clean, to always ensure you’re wiping new areas with an unsoiled part of the cloth.

Have stubborn fingerprints or stuck-on dirt? You may have to use a liquid. Start with distilled water, though, and just dab a little on the cloth. If necessary, you can mix a very weak solution of mild dishwashing soap and water. Never spray anything directly on the screen, as that could result in unwanted streaks on the screen. If you use a spray, spray it on the cloth.

7 Important Repairs to Make Before Selling Your House

“If you want to help make your house sell quickly, these are several key items that you must address if you want to attract the best buyers.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team 


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Key Measurements to Make the Most of Your Bathroom

“Winter is a great time to be planning your renovations.  Here are some great tips if you’re looking to upgrade your bathroom.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

How to Find a Good Contractor

“Finding a good contractor can be tough.  We have worked with many over the years and can help, but this article gives great tips on question to ask when getting initial estimates.”

Denise Buck & Ed Johnson – DC Metro Realty Team

Originally published by American Home Shield

How To Find A Good Contractor: Top Questions to Ask During the Repair Inspection

Finding a reliable home repair contractor is important. Learn what questions to ask to screen contractors before work is ever done and how to evaluate the repair.

questions to ask repairman

When it comes to an issue in your home — especially a broken appliance — it’s important to know how to find a good contractor to ensure the repair is made accurately and efficiently. Here’s what American Home Shield suggests asking home repair contractors vying for your business to build a better sense of awareness and experience during the repair inspection.

What Familiarity Do You Have Working With This Issue?

Of course you want to find home repair contractors with experience. That goes without saying. What you really need to assess, though, is each potential contractor’s experience with your issue at hand, in particular.

How Long Could the Repair Take?

If something in your home isn’t working — especially something that you use on a daily basis —  you want that product to be repaired quickly. Ask how long the repair will take so you can make necessary adjustments to your routine to accommodate the problem.

Is There a Guarantee on the Repair?

There’s nothing worse than getting something repaired only to have it mysteriously stop working or malfunction again shortly after. Ask if there is a warranty on what is being repaired, so you’ll know if another breakdown in the near future will, in fact, cost you even more money.

Are There Any Simple Repair Tricks I Could Do If This Happens Again?

If you could easily fix the problem yourself, it could obviously save you time and money. Ask if there is a DIY repair trick you should consider in the future rather than calling a professional, if you feel comfortable in your DIY abilities.

How Much Will It Cost?

Cost of repairs is one of the most important things to know upfront. If you can’t afford the repair, finding out as soon as possible could help you find alternatives. At AHS®, we connect our customers with a network of contractors at a discounted price. Therefore, considering a home warranty could save you time that would otherwise be spent looking for a repair person as well as money, since we have those discounts and contractor connections. And communicating the pricing upfront will ensure you won’t see surprises on the invoice later.

Would It Be Cost-efficient to Replace Whatever Isn’t Working Properly?

Why fix an appliance if the repair cost exceeds the price of buying a new one? Make sure to ask for all suggestions and prices as they relate to your repair. Also, it doesn’t hurt to do your own research. Surprisingly, it may be cheaper to simply start over with a new appliance.

Related: Money Matters: Budgeting for Unexpected Home Repairs and Expenses

Bonus Questions (to Ask Yourself)

  • What overall impression did the contractor give you?
  • Did the repair person show up when you were expecting him or her?
  • Did you feel like he or she was being honest?
  • Was he or she being respectful of your home? (For example, did the contractor mention anything about cleaning up after the job is done?)
  • Did the repair person document your conversation, to ensure he or she received all the details?