Previous month:
July 2007
Next month:
September 2007

August 2007

Photos, MLS Listings & More: Arrowhead Lake Community

Whether you are looking for the lakefront home of your dreams, a little weekend getaway place, or a piece of property to invest in for a future or immediate build, Arrowhead Lake may be a good choice for you.  I am happy to provide you with automated MLS listings of houses or properties in Arrowhead or any other Pocono community-just send me an email with your wish-list and I will set it up!  You will receive an email each day a new property that meets your needs becomes available, keeping you constantly updated on what is on the market.  What better way to keep an eye on prices and inventory levels?  These reports are not the bare-bones ones that you get on other sites either-they contain the full property specifications one needs to properly evaluate all the choices.  And they are available only from an area real estate specialist like me!!

Pocono Crawlspaces - Common Issues & Advice

From the Desk of:
Jeff Remas, President
REMAS Inspections, Inc.
West Pittston, PA
Web Page

Every day that I wake up & head out to inspect someone's home that has a crawlspace, I could probably fill some of my inspection forms ahead of time. It is an unfortunate fact is that many crawlspaces in the Pocono Mountains have moisture problems. As we all know, there are plenty of horror stories out there about crawlspaces & moisture problems so why don't we talk about the cause and cure of these problems.

There are two different types of crawlspace setups, vented and non-vented.

Vented: There are vents that provide adequate cross ventilation, the sub floor of the home is insulated along with the pipes in the crawlspace to prevent freezing, there is a vapor barrier on the ground and the vents get closed in the winter time. A small heater or heat tape is used help keep the pipes from freezing in addition to the insulation on the pipes.

Non-vented: The crawlspace foundation walls are insulated, the sub-floor is not. The vents are blocked off with insulation all year long, a vapor barrier is in place on the crawlspace ground and the air is conditioned with a dehumidifier. A small heater and pipe insulation are still recommended.

Causes & Cures:

1) No rain gutters. Although controversial, we all need gutters to keep the rainwater away from our homes. The average roof sheds 1,000 gallons of water during 1 inch of rain. This water will fall along the foundation and find the crawlspace very quickly. The best rain gutter covers are solid and cover the gutter opening, allowing water to come in by curling under the cap via gravity. Mesh and screen covers just get clogged up or collapse.
2) Downspouts terminate along foundation. The downspouts need to shed water away from the home at least 6 feet or more or to underground pipes that lead away from the home.
3) Terrain slopes toward foundation. Make sure that the landscaping does not do this. All surface water should be directed away from the home. A swale may be necessary if your home is built on a slope. The foundation can have significant structural damage caused by water along the foundation that freezes in the winter collapsing the foundation inward.
4) Inadequate ventilation. Don't forget to open those vents that you closed for the winter. A crawlspace needs a minimum of 1 square foot of ventilation for every 150 square feet of crawlspace floor area and should be within 3 feet of the corners allowing for cross ventilation. Low decks, other types of construction above or against vents along with shrubs can block the vents making them useless. Your home needs to breathe.
5) Insulation installed upside down. Depending on how you have your crawlspace set up, either vented or non-vented, you may have insulation in the flooring. The paper side of the fiberglass insulation should always face the heated living space and sit against the sub flooring. When it faces downward towards the earth, it has a tendency to trap moisture between the sub floor and the paper hiding moisture damage. If your crawlspace is set up properly as a non vented crawlspace, no insulation is necessary in your floor.
6) Damaged or loose vapor barrier. You should have a 6 mil thick poly vapor barrier on the ground of your crawlspace, overlapped and sealed around columns and the walls. This will help to keep the ground moisture vapors from rising up into your framing. Most homeowners will add gravel on the top for protection.
7) No or non functioning sump pump. If you have a sump pump installed, make sure it is at the lowest point in the crawlspace and all area easily drain to it. The pump should be inspected regularly and function automatically. If you get standing water in your crawlspace even with items 1 through 6 in place, you need a sump pump. Nothing can take the place of a properly installed perimeter foundation drainage system by the builder but a sump pump is the next best thing. The pump should be in a plastic cylinder in the ground and eject water outside, away from the building and not into the septic or sewer system.
8) A non vented crawlspace with no dehumidifier. If you are going to set up your crawlspace as non-vented, you must condition the air with a dehumidifier and have the water collected piped to the sump pump or install a condensate pump. If you don't pipe it to drain automatically, you will be emptying the collection device daily. Buy a quality dehumidifier with an adjustable, automatic setting so it does not run all of the time.

Please remember that a crawlspace is an integral part of your home and should be kept neat, clean and easily accessible. Inspect it often looking for signs of moisture or mildew and consult the local code official for any repairs. Remember the old saying "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure".

From experience, my personal preference is the non-vented crawlspace. Talk with your home improvement specialist or builder to see what is best for your situation. All systems should be professionally installed and inspected by local code enforcement.

Jeff Remas
REMAS Inspections, Inc.

The Creepy Crawly Debate

Gypsy_moth_caterpillar Gypsy moths (check this link for lots of info on history, life cycles, the State spraying program, etc).  Most people who live in a wooded area in the Northeastern United States knows how 'inconvenient' <intentional understatement for effect> this pest is.  The munching sounds, the poop, the effect on the trees...aarrgghh, make it stop!  I am probably one of the most squeemish of people when it comes to gross stuff and have declared publicly how 'skeeved out' I was when I found out what that brown stuff was on my car last summer (and I still haven't lived that statement down, let me tell you, people love to hear about your weaknesses :-)  ), so you may be surprised at what I have to say.

I attended the Monroe County Vector Control Gypsy Moth Meeting on August 8, 2007, to hear what I hoped to hear which is what the plan is to eradicate the gypsy moth which is eating all of our oak trees and making our outdoor living spaces unpleasant for part of the season.  The meeting was very poorly attended, considering the emotional responses one hears at the height of caterpillar season, with about 30 people sitting in the big auditorium at Pocono Mountain East High School.  Besides these few members of the public, the meeting was also attended by Tim Murasco from the Bureau of Forestry, Jacquelyn Hakim from Monroe County Vector Control, County Commissioners Nothstein and Asure, and State Representative Scavello.  The bottom line is that the Townships need to apply for the State Program through the County by October 1 and that residents who wish to contact their Township Supervisors to express their wishes in this regard are urged to to so.

Mr. Murasco was the first to speak, stating that 'the Poconos is one of the most defoliated areas in the county - ever!', and that we need to pray for a wet spring to help in any eradication effort...dry conditions are the gypsy moths' friend.  He explained that there are 29 counties in the state that may ask for help with spraying this year and that the State has increased the budget for such efforts to $3M, which could easily be spent in one county in a thorough eradication effort.

However, he also stated that the caterpillars are headed toward a 'natural' thinning out process due to a fungus that is affecting the colony.  Ms. Hakim from Vector Control agrees with this assessment, citing the cycle we saw from 1991-2005 which illustrated the natural ebb and flow of the size and scope of the caterpillar infestation.  She went so far as to say the 'prudent, scientific, unpopular but correct procedure is no spraying' <audible gasp>.  Did I mention that the people who attended the meeting were, for the most part, those who were hit extremely hard this year? I have to give this lady say this in front of that audience was very brave!

Why should we NOT spray?  1) Evidence of natural pathogens is present, and 2) One spray will not do the job properly and there is not enough money to spray twice.  Because of the severity of infestation and the size of the area needing treatment, we will spend the money to spray (one time) and STILL have a problem.  She feels it is a waste of resources to attempt to spray at all.

Of course, most of the people in the meeting were not happy to hear her assessment of the situation.  Representative Scavello was one who stood up to voice his concern and stated that he would be very disappointed if the County did not take advantage of the State's increase of this budget item because he was the one who convinced the legislature that it needed to be done.

I am writing today to take my position on the side of the scientists at the Bureau of Foresty and County Vector Control.  We need a long term solution to this problem, not a short term wasting of tax dollars just to make ourselves feel better.  Blasting the pests with lethal spray goes a long way emotionally, but is this really the solution for the long run?  As an organic gardener, I must side with the reasoning that eventually our forest will build up its own natural immunity, so to speak, to these pests by adapting the types of food available for them...the oaks that the caterpillars prefer will be replaced by species which aren't so palatable.  Natural predators of the gypsy moth, like certain types of flies, mice and wasps, will increase in numbers to meet the supply of food.  Complete eradication of the species would be nice (since it is not a native species) but I don't believe this is possible.  So, therefore, I must put my money on the idea that nature will balance itself out. But we need to allow it the time to do that.  This is not to say that individual property owners should not take steps to protect their investments, but as a forest management plan, I believe we need to listen to our scientists.

Do you agree or disagree?  Click on the comment button below and tell us why! 

Pocono Lake, PA: The Re-Emerging Destination

I am seeing renewed interest in vacation homes in the area, I guess because of the recent approval of a slot machine license in the county.  Funny, with the slight downturn in the number of sales overall, I am working with quite a few second home buyers right now.  And Pocono Lake is a perfect location for those looking for a getaway that is convenient to skiing, golfing, Pocono Raceway, and yes, the new Mount Airy Casino.

If you are looking for something other than your run-of-the-mill lake community home, let me recommend Wagner Forest.  This location is ideal for those who appreciate the naturalWagner_forest_lake beauty of the woods over the man-made amenties found in other areas.  Wagner Forest does have a small lake but it is part of the overall environmental preservation plan of the area.  The lots are very large, usually a couple of acres or more, and the forest is thick and abundant with flora and fauna.  This is the ideal place to escape the everyday hustle and bustle, but still be able to access the more commercialized fun available in any direction you go.

Housefront1211 Songbird Court is a perfect example of a home you will find in this community.  What makes it so special, though, is its tucked awayCampfire location which abuts a very large tract of forest preserve.  The home is enveloped by 3.4 acres of natural surroundings and is every  bit the peaceful, feel-good place one could ever desire.  Imagine yourself sitting on the deck counting the bird calls or preparing for your nightly campfire.