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4 Funky Odors In Your House Only Your Guests Can Smell

by The Schnoor Team

You could be noseblind. Here’s how to find and eliminate the funk you can’t smell.

Stand in your kitchen and take a deep breath. Smell that? From last night’s fish to your son’s nasty lacrosse pads (why did he leave them on the table?), you probably can’t detect any of your home's rankest odors. You’ve got nose blindness.

“You adapt to the smells around you,” says Dr. Richard Doty, the director of the Smell and Taste Center at the University of Pennsylvania.

On a sensory level, your processing mechanism becomes less sensitive to the continuous stimuli. Or, on a cognitive level, you can become habituated to the smells and basically learn to ignore them. Or you can do both.

Here are some of the most common nose blindness culprits, and how to ban them from your home.

#1 Pet Funk

There’s one easy way to tell if your home smells like pets: Do you have them? Then yeah, unless you’re an obsessive cleaner and groomer, your abode has at least some Fido funk.

It could be pee, but more likely it’s just hair, gunky ears, and weeks-old slobber.

The first step to cleaning up pet smells is — sorry, pets — cleaning the pets themselves. Bathe and groom them regularly.

Then, vacuum, vacuum, vacuum. If they have a favorite couch or cushion, cover it with a blanket and run it — and the cushion cover — through the wash weekly. Every time you vacuum, start with a hearty sprinkle of baking soda on the carpet.

And use that crevice tool liberally; pet hair loves tight spaces like the border between the carpet and the wall, the edges of your steps and that little crack of space between the stove and your cabinets.

Hopefully urine isn’t the issue, but to be sure, you can use a black light to out any dried stains your pet was hoping you’d never notice.

Use more of that baking soda followed by a half-water, half-vinegar solution to neutralize the odor. Lots of people also swear by store-bought neutralizers, like Nature’s Miracle.

#2 Mustiness

Fortunately, nose blindness only affects one of your senses, and you don’t need your nose to verify a basement with a musty smell.

Mustiness is caused by mildew and mold, which — for better or for worse — your eyeballs can easily detect. Do a careful inspection of your basement, from the darkest corner to the surface of every cardboard box or bookshelf. If you find gray or white splotches anywhere, it’s probably mildew. If it’s fuzzy, (oh no!) it’s mold.

First, you’ll want to bust up those existing odors. Then, you’ll want to make sure they never return. Some elbow grease with regular household cleaner will scrub away mildew. Bleach isnt the cure-all for mold. If often can exacerbate the problem.

To prevent mildew and mold from returning, consider running a dehumidifier or improving air circulation and sunlight exposure in the affected area if possible.

For chronic mustiness, you can deodorize rooms by setting out bowls of vinegar, cat litter, baking soda, or — as crazy as this sounds — an onion also will do the trick. Cut one in half and let it sit in a bowl in the room. The onion smell goes away in a few hours, and so will the dankness.

#3 Smelly Bedding

Similar to pet odors, knowing if your mattress could smell is easy: Do you have a human body with skin and oils? Do you sleep on it?

Eventually, all the dead skin and body oils you shed while sleeping are going to build up, and stink they will, especially if your bedding is older.

You can’t exactly toss your mattress in the washing machine, so you’ll have to deal with it where it lies.

But it’s an easy fix: Sprinkle baking soda on it, let it sit for an hour or more, and then vacuum up the soda. (This works for memory foam, too.) Add a couple drops of essential oil to the soda (drip directly into the box and shake it well to mix evenly) for a pleasant smell. Bonus: Lavender has been shown to help you sleep.

#4 Fridge and Freezer Grime

It’s your fridge and freezer’s job to keep your food fresh, but they need a little help staying fresh themselves.

Itty bitty food bits hang out long after you’ve tossed the item from which they came. Although you might not notice the odor creep, you may notice your ice starting to taste funny or see those food morsels start to accumulate in the corners of your fridge shelves.

If you see or taste something icky, you can bet others can smell something icky.

To zap odors from from your freezer and fridge, unplug and empty them and do a thorough cleaning with a mix of hot water and baking soda.

You can sanitize with a solution of one tablespoon bleach and one gallon of water. Let it air out for 15 minutes. Try wiping it down with vinegar for extra odor eliminating, or even leave the door open for a few days.

What better excuse is there for a long weekend away, or to treat yourself to takeout?

Source: "4 Funky Odors In Your House Only Your Guests Can Smell"

It is snowing in New Mexico!

by The Schnoor Team

2018-19 OPENING DATES

The tentative opening dates for the 2018-19 ski season are below.  Please note these dates all subject to weather and snowfall amounts.  Things are looking really good! Thinks snow and keep dancing.

Sipapu –  First to open – November 10, 2018

Red River Ski & Summer Area – November 21, 2018

Ski Apache – November 21, 2018

Ski Santa Fe – November 22, 2018

Taos Ski Valley –  November 22, 2018

Pajarito Mountain  – November 22, 2018

Angel Fire – December 14, 2018

Sandia Peak – December 22, 2018

Source: "It is snowing in New Mexico!"

5 Tricks to Keep Your Pipes from Exploding This Winter

by The Schnoor Team

Even if you think they’ve already started to freeze.

New homeowners may have heard that winterization is important, but in the hubbub of your first year living in a home you own (finally!), it can be easy to overlook the need to prepare for the cold weather ahead. After all, it’s just not something renters deal with; prepping pipes for winters is often the landlord's job.

Ideally, you should winterize your pipes in the fall, before winter seriously sets in. But if you’ve forgotten and all of a sudden you’re in the middle of a deep freeze, there’s still time to prevent disaster.

Here are some easy techniques to save your pipes from bursting:

#1 Turn On Your Faucets

If the temperatures have dropped into freezing and intend to stay there, turning on your faucets — both indoors and out — can keep water moving through your system and slow down the freezing process. There’s no need to waste gallons of water: Aim for about five drips per minute.

#2 Open Cabinet Doors

During cold weather, open any cabinet doors covering plumbing in the kitchen and bathroom. This allows the home’s warm air to better circulate, which can help prevent the exposed piping from freezing. While this won’t help much with pipes hidden in walls, ceilings, or under the home, it can keep water moving and limit the dangerous effects of freezing weather.

#3 Wrap Your Pipes

If your pipes are already on their merry way towards freezing, wrapping them with warm towels might do the trick. You can cover them with the towels first and then pour boiling water on top, or use already-wet towels — if your hands can stand the heat (use gloves for this). This should help loosen the ice inside and get your system running again.

#4 Pull Out Your Hairdryer

A hairdryer (or heat gun) can be a godsend when your pipes are freezing. If hot rags aren’t doing the trick, try blowing hot air directly on the pipes. Important note: You don’t want to use a blow torch or anything that produces direct flames, which can damage your pipes and turn a frozen pipe into an even worse disaster. You’re trying to melt the ice — not your pipes.

#5 Shut Off The Water if Pipes Are Frozen

Have your pipes already frozen? Turn off the water immediately. (Hopefully you know where the master shut-off is, but if not, now’s the time to find it!)

Make sure to close off any external water sources, like garden hose hookups. This will prevent more water from filling the system, adding more ice to the pile, and eventually bursting your pipes — the worst-case scenario. This also will help when the water thaws; the last thing you want after finally fixing your frozen pipes is for water to flood the system — and thus, your home.

Source: "5 Tricks to Keep Your Pipes from Exploding This Winter"

 

Keeping Your House Clean with Dogs While It’s on the Market

by The Schnoor Team

Grout can be a real problem because it soaks up pet odors.

Oof. Houses that smell or look like pets have lived in them are just harder to sell.

Here’s how to de-dog your house before putting it on the market — and how to keep it that way while you sell.

#1 Steam Clean Everything Fabric

“Job number one is to take care of [the soft surfaces in your house],” says Melissa Maker, star of an eponymous YouTube channel and owner of a Toronto cleaning service. “They hold odors and hair like nothing else.”

This includes carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, and even the drapes, she says. Pets rub against drapes, getting oils, odors, and fur on the fabric. Send curtains out for a professional cleaning.

#2 Groom Your Pet

Get your pet groomed by a pro before you list your house. You can do it yourself, but a pro can get more hair and dander off than you can — plus, all that gunk is better off in the groomer’s drain than yours.

Brush your furry friend regularly (outside, preferably) while your house is on the market. Any hair you get off on a brush is hair that won’t end up on your sofa or in your rugs.

#3 Clean Tile-Floor Grout

Tile resists dog stains, but grout is porous and sucks them up like a sponge. “I had a cat who had an accident on a tile floor, and the pee seeped into the grout,” Maker says. Steam clean grout to lift old smells and stains. If your grout is really cruddy, hire a pro to chip out the old grout and put in new — or DIY it if you have the skills.

#4 Get an Air Purifier Tower

To you, it smells like home. But your HVAC has been circulating the same hair and dander again and again (especially in hot and cold weather when the windows are closed).

Add an air purifier tower with a HEPA filter; it pulls hair and dander out of the air before they even reach your HVAC.

Most air ducts don’t need to be cleaned, especially if you change filters regularly. But if dander and fur seem to be taking over, hire a duct-cleaning company before putting your home on the market.

#5 Use Enzymatic Cleaners

They’re the special forces of odor busters. Enzymatic cleaners are made of beneficial bacteria that eat stains and odors. They’re formulated to stamp out a specific type of stain, so a cleanser that targets urine won’t be the same as one for vomit.

“They’re cultivated for a specific mess,” Maker says. Apply them liberally to stains regardless of how old they are, before listing your house.

#6 Get Rid of Scratch Marks

Pet toenails leave telltale marks on doors and walls. For walls and doors made of synthetic materials, you’ll just need to paint over the marks. For a wooden door, use wood-filler pen can fill in the scratches. For hardwood floors, rub out small scratches with steel wool or fine sandpaper followed by mineral spirits, wood filler, and polyurethane. For major damage, refinishing the hardwood is a good investment with a stellar 100% ROI.

#7 Absorb Odors With Charcoal

Charcoal pulls moisture and odors out of the air. You can get inconspicuous little bags of it to hang in places your pets love most. Or, just strategically stash some charcoal briquettes around the house.

Just be sure to get the ones that aren’t presoaked with lighter fluid.

#8 Spot Clean Furniture Daily

If you’re like many pet owners, trying to keep your dog off the couch completely isn’t worth the effort. Instead, cover your freshly-cleaned furniture with throws or pet covers, and wash them at least once a week. Vacuum rugs and carpets every day. Pet smells sink in fast.

For quick hair removal before a showing, wipe down the couch with rubber gloves. The hair comes right off.

#9 Get a Sniff Test

You’ve scrubbed everything, and you think your house smells like a dog has never set foot in the door. Get a second opinion as to whether the odors are gone, Maker says. “You may be noseblind. Ask your agent to walk through and give you an honest opinion.”

Source: "Keeping Your House Clean with Dogs While It’s on the Market"


Cleaning Your House for Guests: A Checklist

by The Schnoor Team

Countdown to a perfectly clean guest-ready home no matter how much — or little — time you have.

It feels great to have a clean, organized, well-functioning home when you’ve got guests coming. Especially around the holidays. It’s like your gift to you.

Here’s how to get that satisfying feeling — no matter how much time you have. Just choose your starting point on this checklist:

Three (or More) Weeks to Go

Think big picture. Get anything that requires a pro or installation out of the way now. No one wants calamity to strike when guests are pulling into the driveway.

  • Get your HVAC maintained if it’s overdue.
  • If you have a self-cleaning oven, clean it now. An oven is most likely to break down during the cleaning cycle, so don’t save this task for last.
  • Replace any appliance on its last legs. You don’t want your hot water to go out or fridge on the fritz with a houseful of guests.
  • Steam-clean upholstery. (Or hire a pro. It’s a big job)
  • Hire a handyman for those repairs you’ve been putting off.
  • Check outdoor lighting. Replace old bulbs and call an electrician to address any bigger issues.

Two Weeks to Go

It’s not panic time yet. Focus on decluttering and a few deep-cleaning tasks now, and you’ll have a more manageable to-do list when the clock really starts ticking down.

  • Do a deep declutter. It’ll make things easier to keep clean.
  • Dust ceiling fans, light fixtures, and high-up shelves.
  • Wipe down baseboards.
  • Clean out and organize the fridge.
  • Wash windows to make the entire house feel brighter and cleaner.
  • Toss washable shower curtains and drapes in the washing machine and re-hang. Easy.

​​

One Week to Go

It’s strategic cleaning time. Here’s what to tackle now — things your family won’t easily undo before your guests arrive.

  • Declutter again.
  • Vacuum and dust guest rooms. If they’re low-traffic, the cleanliness should hold with just a quick wipe-down right before they arrive.
  • Wipe down walls.
  • Wipe down kitchen and dining room chairs and tables, including the legs. You’d be surprised how grimy they get.
  • Deep clean the entryway — and make room for your guests’ stuff.

72 Hours to Go

The final cleaning stretch is on the horizon.

  • Do another declutter.
  • In the kitchen, toss stove burners, drip pans, and knobs into the dishwasher for an easy deep clean.
  • Wash kitchen cabinet fronts.
  • Scrub the kitchen floor.
  • Clean and shine appliances.

48 Hours to Go

Now it’s time to get serious.

  • Clean and sanitize garbage cans to banish mystery smells.
  • Wipe down doorknobs, faceplates, and light switches. They’re germ magnets.
  • Clean the front door.
  • Deep clean the bathroom your guests will use, and close it off if possible.
  • Wash guest towels and linens.

24 Hours to Go

Your guests’ bags are packed. Time for final touches.

  • Do a final declutter - by now it shouldn’t take more than five minutes.
  • Give one final wipe-down to toilets, tubs, and bathroom sinks.
  • And another final wipe-down in the kitchen.
  • Do all the floors: mop, vacuum, sweep, etc.
  • Make guest beds and set out clean towels.
  • Plug in nightlights in guest baths.
  • Put out guest toiletries so they’re easy to find.
  • Add a coffee or tea station in the guest room or kitchen.
  • Get your favorite smell going, whether it’s a scented candle, spices in water on the stove, or essential oils.
  • Use rubber gloves to wipe off pet hair and dust from furniture. It works.
  • Do the full red carpet: Sweep or shovel porch, steps, and outdoor walkways

​​Source: "Cleaning Your House for Guests: A Checklist"

6 Near-Genius Ways to Fool Burglars Into Thinking You’re Home

by The Schnoor Team

Like telling your lights to turn on and off when you’re miles away.

Your Home: You love it, but sometimes you have to leave it.

Whether it’s the eight hours a day or eight days on a dreamy beach, allowing your biggest investment to fend for itself can be stressful. And it’s a legit concern; when your home looks empty, break-ins happen. A lot. Ugh.

You could deter burglars by never leaving your house again. Or you could do the next best (OK, way better) thing, and just make it look like someone is there all the time. Here’s how.

#1 Light Up a Room (From the Road)

Your parents may still rely on their lighting timer — on at 8 p.m., off at 7 a.m. That old-fashioned option still works, but apps are more fun. They not only turn your lights on and off, but can do so randomly for a more realistic effect. And you can decide to flip on your porch light while sipping a mojito in Fiji.

You can Google your options, but one affordable example is the Lutron Caséta Wireless system (about $80 for the device and $55 per switch). You replace your current wall switches with these wireless ones and “talk” to your lights from afar.

#2 Fake a Netflix Binge

Nothing says “we are definitely home” like the colorful glare of a television dancing in the window.

Put the little FakeTV gizmo where it can project light onto a curtain, and that’s exactly what your home will say to passersby.

The device (which runs between about $20 and $40 depending on size) plugs into an adapter and can either work on a timer or with a light sensor, so it can switch on when it gets dark.

#3 Change Up Your Shades Remotely

Leave your window shades down while you’re gone and you might as well put out a “Gone Fishin’” sign.

Check out wireless options to throw some shade on the go. Several companies have systems — including Hunter Douglas PowerView, Pella Insynctive, and Lutron Serena — that allow shades to go up and down at your command for about $300 to $500 a window.

#4 Make Some Noise

Burglars can change plans in a hurry at the first sound of life inside a home — they’re a bit tetchy that way. So one option when you’re just gone for the day is a noise app, like Sleep And Noise Sounds that can play on a homebound phone, tablet, or computer. With noises like vacuuming and a boiling kettle, it can deter a thief who cracks open a window.

#5 Make Them Ring And Run

“Burglars will often ring your doorbell, and if no one answers, they’ll go around back and kick in the door,” says Deputy Michael Favata with the Monroe County Sheriff’s office in New York. Now you can answer the door with the Ring Video Doorbell ($180 for the basic model).

If someone pushes the doorbell, you can talk to them through an app on your phone. Whether it’s your nosey neighbor or a sketchy stranger, you can say, “I’m in the basement” while you’re really on the slopes. They’ll never know. And even if they don’t believe you, they know they’re being watched (insert devilish laugh here).

#6 Try a No-Tech Technique

Not everything requires a gadget. Here are ways to up your home security without downloading a single app:

  • Hire a house sitter. Then someone will be home.
  • If there’s snow, have a neighbor walk up and down the path to your door, shovel a passage up to the garage door and drive in and out of the driveway. If it’s hot out, ask them to keep your plants looking fresh with regular waterings. And don’t forget to bring them a nice gift from your getaway.
  • Ask friends, family, or neighbors to just be present on your property — use your patio, play in your yard, or bring in the mail.
  • Invite a neighbor to keep a car parked in your driveway. During the holidays, they may be happy if they need overflow for visitors.
  • Install a fake security camera for as low as $8. Burglars may not notice these fakes don’t have all the wiring necessary to be real. And their blinking red lights offer reasonable doubt.
  • Get a dog. A real dog. While you’re at work or running errands, nothing deters bad guys and gals like a barking, slobbery security guard. And when you go away, having a pet sitter stay can be as economical as some boarding facilities (especially if you have multiple dogs), and you’ll get the benefit of a human and canine sentinel.

Source: "6 Near-Genius Ways to Fool Burglars Into Thinking You’re Home"


WINTER SPANISH MARKET

by The Schnoor Team


The Annual Winter Spanish Market takes place late each November in Albuquerque.

With well over 100 of the finest artists who embrace the traditional Spanish Colonial arts participating, visitors can expect to see santos, tinwork, straw appliqué, weaving, pottery, precious metal, colcha, bone carving, furniture, woodcarving and utilitarian objects, all traditions endorsed by Spanish Colonial Arts of New Mexico.

Several live demonstrations by some of the artists will be offered, and visitors will have the opportunity to meet and talk with the artists throughout the event. 

Source: "WINTER SPANISH MARKET"

How to Be a Savvy Open House Guest

by The Schnoor Team

Getting smart — about what to do, ask, and avoid — can move you ahead of the crowd.

Ah, the open house — a chance to wander through other people’s homes and imagine yourself knocking out walls and gut rehabbing their kitchens. This is what dreams are made of (or at least episodes of HGTV).

In all seriousness, going to open houses (and scheduled private showings) is one of the most exciting parts of the home-buying experience. Beyond the voyeuristic thrill, visiting houses allows you to assess things that you just can’t see online.

Anyone who has taken a super-posed selfie knows that a picture doesn’t always tell the whole truth. Professional listing photos can make small rooms look spacious, make dim rooms bright, and mask other flaws of a home — but you don’t know any of that until you actually see the house yourself.

You can tour houses at any point, but it can be helpful to first discuss your needs and wants with your partner (if you have one), do some online research, and talk with your agent and your lender. That way, you — and your agent — can take a targeted approach, which saves you time and can give you an edge over your buying competition.

So, before you start viewing, follow these tips to get prepared.

Make It Your Job to Know Which Houses Are “Open”

There are four ways to know when a house is available for viewing:

  • Ask your agent. He or she will have details on specific properties and can keep you informed of open houses that fit your criteria.
  • Use listing websites. A number of property sites let you search active listings for upcoming open houses. On realtor.com®, for instance, when searching for properties, scroll over the “Buy” tab and click the “Open Houses” link to see upcoming ones in your area.
  • Scroll social media. On Instagram, for example, you can search the hashtag #openhouse, or similar tags for your city (#openhousedallas, for example), to discover open houses. Many real estate agents and brokerages also post open house announcements on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter; find ones from your area and start following.
  • Drive around. Cruise through the neighborhoods you’re interested in — it’s a good way to get a sense of the area amenities — and look for open house signs.

And while you’re searching, be sure to jot down the location, time, and date for any open house that strikes your fancy. It will make it that much easier to plan times and routes for hitting as many homes as possible.

Get There Early (and Say Hi to the Neighbors)

If you’re seriously interested in a home, show up to the open house early. That way you’ll beat the rush, and the agent showing the house (AKA the host) will have time to focus on you and your questions.

And don’t be shy! Many home buyers hop from one open house to the next without talking to the listing agent. But chatting up the host can help you learn information that you wouldn’t get by only touring the premises.

If a house seems like a match, take a walk around the neighborhood. Strike up conversations with the neighbors to get an insider’s perspective on what life in that community is really like — families, singles, what the vibe on the block is like, and whether the homeowner’s or condo association (if there is one) is easy to work with.

Ask Lots of Questions, But Avoid TMI

To make the most of your open house visits, have a list of questions in mind for the host — and take notes while you’re there, so you can keep track of what you learned.

At the same time, remember this: Your interaction with the host could be the beginning of negotiations with them. If you end up making an offer, you’ll use the information you’ve gathered to inform your bid. (They’ll also remember that you were an engaged yet courteous person, which can’t hurt your cause.)

Equally important: Oversharing could hurt your negotiating power.

Be careful about what information you share with the agent hosting the event. This person works for the seller — not you. The host can and will use stats they’ve gleaned about you to counter, reject, or accept an offer.

Keeping that in mind, here are eight questions you can ask a host to help determine whether a house is a good fit for you:

  1. Have you received any offers? If there are already bids on the table, you’ll have to move quickly if you want to make an offer. Keep in mind: Listing agents can’t disclose the amount of any other offers, though — only whether they exist.
  2. When does the seller want to move? Find out the seller’s timeline. If the seller is in a hurry (say, for a new job), they may be willing to accept an offer that’s below list price.
  3. When is the seller looking to close? Price isn’t the only factor for many home sellers. One way to strengthen your offer is to propose a settlement date that’s ideal for them. For example, a 30- to 45-day closing is standard in many markets, but the seller may want more time if they haven’t purchased their next home yet.
  4. Is the seller flexible on price? Most listing agents won’t tip their hand when you ask this question, but there’s always a chance the agent says “yes.” And, in some instances, the seller has authorized their agent to tell interested buyers that the price is negotiable. In any case, you might as well ask. (It’s kind of like googling for a coupon code when you buy something online.)
  5. How many days has the home been on the market? You can find this information on the internet, but the seller’s agent can give you context, especially if the house has been sitting on the market for a while. Maybe the home was under contract but the buyer’s financing fell through, or the seller overshot the listing price and had to make a price reduction? Knowing the backstory can only help you.
  6. Has the price changed? You can see if there’s been a price reduction online, but talking to the listing agent is the only way to find out why the seller dropped the price.
  7. Are there any issues? Have there been any renovations or recent repairs made to the home? Some upgrades, like new kitchen appliances, are easy to spot, but some are harder to identify. Specifically ask about the roof, appliances, and HVAC system because they can be expensive to repair or replace. BTW, repairs like a leaky faucet, aren’t things that need to be disclosed.
  8. What are the average utility costs? Many buyers don’t factor utility bills into their monthly housing expenses, and these costs can add up — particularly in drafty older homes. Ask the listing agent what a typical monthly utility bill is during the summer and during the winter, since heating and cooling costs can fluctuate seasonally. Be prepared for higher utility bills if you’re moving from an apartment to a single-family home.

Now that you’ve got your answers, there’s one last thing to do: Thank the host before you go. You never know — you could be seeing them again at the negotiating table soon.

Source: "How to Be a Savvy Open House Guest"

What’s Causing Those Spooky Sounds and Smells?

by The Schnoor Team

Are you haunted by strange noises and weird odors? With the proper maintenance, you’ve got more than a ghost of a chance to rest easy.

Creaking and Popping in the Night

The many materials that make up your house — wood framing, plywood, glass, metal ducts, nails, plumbing pipes — all expand and contract at different rates.

When a house cools at night, these materials may move slightly, rubbing against each other and making noises. Occasionally, they’ll contract with an audible pop.

These sounds tend to be more noticeable in fall, when warm days give way to rapidly cooling nights. The bad news? Not much you can do about it. The good news? Those sounds are harmless and normal.

Zombie Odor

It’s either time to throw out the garbage, or you’d better call your gas utility to check on your gas lines and connections.

Natural gas is odorless, but natural gas suppliers add a foul-smelling odorant — butyl mercaptan — to alert occupants to any leaks. The smell is like rotten eggs.

Leaks can occur at your gas-fired water heater, fireplace, clothes dryer, and any gas line. Leaking natural gas is potentially dangerous — leave the house and call your natural gas provider to assess the situation. Most utility companies perform safety checks for free.

Footsteps in the Attic

Amplified by an unfinished attic space, a raccoon or even a good-size squirrel on your roof might sound like an ax murderer is doing the polka overhead.

These rooftop transits are normal for critters — roofs offer a nice long unobstructed highway.

Make sure your soffit, rafter, and gable roof vents are covered with screens and in good shape, or your rooftop buddies might find their way into your attic for real. Trim back branches that provide critters easy access to your roof.

Something’s Burning

You can smell the odor of burnt wood, but the smoke detectors aren’t going off and there’s no smoke in the house. The culprit could be your fireplace — even if you haven’t had a fire for days.

The probable cause is a drafty chimney and negative air pressure in your home, meaning that outside air is infiltrating down your chimney, bringing stale burnt smells with it.

Stop drafts by making sure your damper has a good seal. Regulate air pressure by adding more cold air return ducts to your HVAC system. You’ll get rid of the odor and save on your energy bill, too.

Moaning and Clattering

These classic spooky sounds often show up when the wind blows and there’s a storm brewing.

Vents for clothes dryers, bathrooms, and water heaters exit out the roof or the side of the house. To prevent backdrafts, these vents have dampers — flaps designed to let vented air out and prevent outside air from coming in. Thesx`e flaps sometimes move and rattle in high winds.

Because dampers often are located in attics or in between floor joists, the sound can be difficult to pinpoint. You may need a new damper ($85).

Source: "What’s Causing Those Spooky Sounds and Smells?"

Haunted New Mexico

by The Schnoor Team

With its rich Wild West history, New Mexico has no shortage of fodder for ghost stories, and no shortage of great places to haunt. If gadding with ghouls is your idea of a fine vacation, we've got a digest of all of the Land of Enchantment's most haunted stops.

Albuquerque:

Hotel Parq Central- Visitors to Albuquerque’s high-end Hotel Parq Central and its Instagram-worthy rooftop cocktail lounge, Apothecary, might not be aware of its history as a location for haunted happenings. Before it was overhauled and made into luxe accommodations, the building spent decades as a hospital and psychiatric facility. It’s not just recent visitors who’ve seen ghostly apparitions, either. Former patients of the hospital claim that during their stays, they experienced disembodied voices, objects being moved by unseen forces, and a feeling of constantly being watched. To this day, visitors often have the feeling of being watched, too, and a group of ghost hunters supposedly communicated with the spirit of a former patient using a flashlight. Grab a drink, book a room, and keep your eyes and ears peeled!

KiMo Theater-  One of the state’s most famous haunted locations, the story of the ghost that supposedly dwells in the KiMo Theater reads like something straight out of a scary movie. In 1951, a water heater exploded in the theater, killing several people, including a six-year-old named Bobby. His ghost is a poltergeist, a spirit that likes to cause mischief. It’s tradition for performers at the KiMo to leave Bobby a small gift or treat — often donuts — to earn his affection and trust so he doesn’t interfere with their performance. He supposedly messes with the electricity, opens and closes doors repeatedly, and drops cables and other equipment from the ceiling in order to distract the performers and make them forget their lines. Are these stories true, and is there really a poltergeist that haunts the historic theater? We chatted with Larry Parker, the general manager of the KiMo Theater, to hear his take — spoiler alert: He’s not a believer. 

Cimarron:

St. James Hotel- Built by Henry Lambert in 1872, the St. James Hotel was the backdrop for numerous shootouts during its Wild West days — it still boasts the evidence in its dining room ceiling where 22 bullets are still wedged. It's located in the heart of Cimarron, 40 miles south of Ratón on N.M. 62. Train robber Blackjack Ketchum, and outlaws Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Billy the Kid stayed in the hotel during its heyday, and today, you can stay in rooms named for these famous guests. It is said to be the location of more than 26 murders, and the victims supposedly wander the hotel. In fact, room 18 — supposedly haunted by the spirit of T.J. Wright, a gambler who was murdered after a winning hand — remains un-booked as though he, or his ghost, were still staying there today.

Chama:

Foster's Hotel- The Wild West is still alive and well through the wanderings of three ghosts said to frequent this rugged hotel, saloon, and restaurant in Chama. Guests have reported hearing the sound of a woman — said to be a frontier judge who was poisoned in the hotel when several local men took offense to her leadership position — choking and gasping for breath. Across the hall, hotel staff has heard a small girl's cries. They believe they are from the ghost of a youth who died there of an illness more than 100 years ago. The specter of a cowboy is also said to wander the hotel's halls. Pair these events with other mysterious sightings, and this hotel, which is located directly across the street from the famed Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad, and you'll have plenty to investigate during your next ghost hunt.

Haunted Clayton:

A visit to northeastern New Mexico is a must for amateur ghost hunters. Free of charge and open Tuesday through Saturday as well as by appointment, the Herzstein Museum is a must-see for history buffs, with exhibits focusing on the Santa Fe Trail and the Dust Bowl as well as rooms restored to look how they did in eras gone by. Even more intriguing? Confirmed ghost activity! In March of 2018, a crew of paranormal research investigators spent time in town and discovered strange, unexplained noises such as stairs rattling with no one walking on them and poltergeists knocking objects over. In addition to the museum, the group also noted ghost activity at the town’s movie theater and courthouse. If you’re in town, the museum proprietors will give you a personalized tour.

Hotel Eklund- Next on the list? The Hotel Eklund. Experience paranormal activity for yourself if you stay in room 307, which according to local legend is haunted by the ghost of a maid named Irene. Visitors claim to hear creaking floorboards and that faces are visible in the wallpaper. Even if you’re not interested in the creepy aspects of the hotel, you won’t be disappointed if you stay. Authentic and traditional architecture, especially present in the old dining room and saloon, will transport you straight back in time to the Wild West.

Blackjack Ketchum- Clayton’s other claim to fame? It’s the final resting place of New Mexico’s other famous outlaw, Blackjack Ketchum. If you’ve already visited Billy the Kid’s gravesite in Fort Sumner, you’ll want to cross this one off your Wild West bucket list: A famous train robber, he was hanged in 1901 – the last official hanging in New Mexico (it occurred before New Mexico became a state). Legend has it that during the hanging, he was decapitated. If you visit the local cemetery, it’s easy to find his grave. At the time, the cemetery was divided between Catholics and Protestants, and neither group wanted to Blackjack’s remains in their half… so he’s buried in a median on the dirt path that snakes its way through the cemetery.

Cloudcroft:

The Lodge Resort & Spa- Originally constructed as a stopover for the Alamogordo and Sacramento Mountain Railway, The Lodge burned to the ground in the early 1900s. During the quaint chalet's heyday, Rebecca, a strikingly beautiful chambermaid with red hair, was murdered when her jealousy-stricken lumberjack suitor found her in the arms of another man. Today, The Lodge's "friendly," though mischievous, ghost has been said to wander the halls: moving furniture, flicking lights on and off, and spontaneously igniting fires in fireplaces. Some believe Rebecca is searching for a new lover or friend who would appreciate her playful nature. The cozy mountain retreat, located 20 miles east of Alamogordo, is ideal for curling up with a book by the fire during the winter, and striking out for a golf game at The Lodge's course during the summer. During your visit, don't miss a hearty meal at their restaurant — named after their favorite friendly ghost.

Dawson:

Dawson Cemetery- Dawson was once a coal mining town close to Cimarron, and throughout the beginning of the 20th century, it prospered. Sadly, an accident led to its tragic end. In 1913, an explosion at the mine killed more than 250 men, making it one of the worst coal mining disasters in American history. Another disaster took the lives of 123 miners in 1923, and now all that remains of the town is a cemetery. It’s got a reputation as one of the most haunted places in New Mexico, and for good reason. Visitors who are brave enough to explore the cemetery at night have reported back with strange findings. Some have seen lights, reminiscent of those on the front of mining helmets, and some have even seen ghostly apparitions wandering among the headstones.

Las Cruces:

Dona Ana County Courthouse & Jail- Ghost Adventures, a popular paranormal show on the Travel Channel, helped put this southern New Mexico building in the national spotlight where paranormal activity is concerned. Built in 1937, this courthouse is no longer in use, but remains an attraction due to its reputation as a hotbed of paranormal happenings. The location of many deaths over the years, the building has been unused since 2008. Ghost hunters and paranormal investigators have made a point to stop in, and some say they’ve encountered an unknown, violent entity. In addition, shadowy apparitions have been seen, and people have also reported feeling cold spots in the building, a surefire sign of ghost activity according to believers. Other creepy occurrences? A repeat visitor to the site states that he has been scratched by an invisible hand and has witnessed a jail cell door closing on its own.

The Amador Hotel- Built in 1866, the Amador Hotel is a popular Las Cruces ghost tour stop. During tours, guests have reported seeing shadowy figures lurking in the hallways, flashlights turning on and off mysteriously and having their arms scratched. Some say it’s the work of the ghost of a little girl named Annie, who frequents the rooms on the second floor.

Las Vegas:

Plaza Hotel- Nestled in the lush green forests and fields about an hour north of Santa Fe, Las Vegas is a picturesque town that’s been featured in movies and TV shows like Red Dawn, No Country for Old Men, Easy Rider, and Longmire. It also boasts another claim to fame, one that’s a bit creepier and one you can experience for yourself if you book a room. The Plaza Hotel, built in 1882, has an illustrious history with a dash of the paranormal. It’s said to be haunted by the ghost of its past owner, Byron T. Wells. The hotel’s restaurant and bar is even named after him! If you’re feeling especially brave, book Room 310. It was Byron’s office, and to this day, hotel guests sometimes claim to feel his presence.

Los Lunas:

The Luna Mansion- A visit to Valencia County just isn’t complete without a tour of the Luna Mansion. Built in the 1880s, it’s a unique building, being the only known Victorian-style structure made of traditional adobe. It was built as a gift from the Santa Fe Railway in exchange for access through the extensive land holdings of the Luna and Otero families, and visitors today, who often come to experience the site’s rich history and delicious restaurant, are surprised by the sight of a ghost. The ghost is supposedly that of Josefita Otero, who died during renovations to the mansion in 1951. Since she left so much unfinished business, she’s said to still be hanging around. Her spirit is often seen sitting in her rocking chair or walking up and down the mansion’s expansive staircase.


Mesilla:

Double Eagle Restaurant - Built in 1849, the location has seen its fair share of unfortunate events over the years. It was the site of a brutal double homicide in the 19th century, and supposedly the ghosts of the victims still reside inside the room in which they were killed. Known today as the Carlotta Room, visitors today can see it for themselves, although they’re encouraged not to sit in the corner chairs so that they don’t upset the ghosts. Those who’ve encountered the ghosts say that they’re not malevolent spirits, but instead are similar to mischievous, prankster-esque poltergeists. They’re fond of moving tables and chairs and breaking wine glasses. Not into the paranormal? No problem. The Double Eagle is worth a visit for the food alone. Top-quality steaks and must-try margaritas are on the menu.

Santa Fe:

La Fonda- With a history that dates back almost to the City Different's founding 400 years ago, it's no wonder that the inn is fraught with tales of the paranormal. In 1857, an unfortunate gambler found himself truly out of luck when a lynch mob took him from the gambling hall and hung him in the hotel's backyard. Today, this patio has been enclosed and is the site of the hotel’s La Plazuela restaurant. Rumor has it that guests have seen what appears to be the shadow of a man swinging from a tree while dining there. Ten years later, territorial justice was transplanted from the courthouse to La Fonda's lobby when the Honorable John P. Slough, Chief Justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, was shot there. Guests claim they have sighted the judge, in his long black coat, wandering the hotel today. A young bride, who was murdered on her wedding night by a jealous ex-lover, is also said to haunt the wedding suite. The hotel, which is located at the end of the Santa Fe Trail, is an icon of Santa Fe-style inside and out, with its Southwestern décor and multi-tiered adobe exterior. During your stay, stop in the hotel bar for a late-night drink—the ghost of a cowboy might just pull up a barstool next to you.

La Posada Hotel- In 1882, a prosperous merchant named Abraham Staab built his three-story brick mansion in the French Second Empire-style on property that now belongs to La Posada. Abraham and his wife, Julia, entertained Santa Fe society in the grand residence decorated with the finest European materials. Legend has it that Julia Staab has never left it. Julia has most often appeared at the top of the grand staircase in the original building in the main complex of the inn. However, she has also been seen in the Nason Room, a small alcove built upon the old formal gardens of the original structure. So, why does Julia Staab linger? Some say that ghosts appear when death occurs in a state of turmoil and anxiety, such as the circumstances that seemed to attend Mrs. Staab’s final years. Depressed over the loss of a child and other unsuccessful pregnancies, Julia Staab was rumored to have gone mad, retreating to her bedroom until her death at age 52. In recent years, her alleged spirit has been the subject of many ghost tours, an episode of Unsolved Mysteries, and Weird Travels. The Staab House stands today in the form of a bar, where guests of La Posada enjoy cocktails and light Southwestern fare. Some have even reported meeting the grand lady.

Source: "Haunted New Mexico"


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