Home Windows: Repair or Replace?

Home Windows: Repair or Replace?

We love light-filled rooms and beautiful views. But inevitably, our windows will let us down. They will stick, they will leak, and they will let in unwanted drafts. Whether to replace or repair them, that is the question.


Types of Windows and Frames

Knowing the type of windows is the first step. That will help you to understand what to look for in terms of repairs and replacements.

  • Awning windows are horizontal top-hinge windows that swing outward.
  • Bay windows have 3 panels at an angle that create an alcove.
  • Bow windows have 4-6 panels and are like bay windows.
  • Casement windows are hinged at the side and crank to the outside.
  • Single slider windows slide horizontally in one direction.
  • Double slider windows slide horizontally to either the left or right.
  • Single hung windows have the top sash fixed in place, with a bottom that slides up and down.
  • Double hung windows have both the top and bottom that slide up and down.


Window Wellness Check

An annual window inspection is a good idea to flag problems before they become expensive repairs or replacements. Schedule a time each year, such as when you replace your smoke detectors, to do a window checkup.

  • Check that your window opens and closes easily, and that your window locks.
  • Check the weatherstripping to make sure it’s intact and even all around.
  • Open the window a quarter of an inch or so. Make sure the opening is even across the bottom of the window.
  • Inspect panes for cracks and signs of moisture.
  • Check screens for rips or holes.
  • Check for signs of mold or mildew.
  • Aluminum windows: Check corner welds and exterior caulking. Make sure opening mechanisms are well lubricated.
  • Wood windows: Check the caulking on the exterior between the siding and the window frame. That’s where potential problems can arise. Regularly paint and seal the exterior finish and interior finishes.
  • Vinyl windows: Check exterior caulking and opening mechanisms.


Common Problems and What to Do About Them

Following are some common problems that you may encounter with your windows—and some guidance on whether to repair or replace.

  • Sticking/Not Opening

Windows are meant to be open, and when that doesn’t happen, it can be frustrating. If your window doesn’t open easily or at all, consider the following.

Repair: Some wooden windows are painted over so many times that they don’t open. Other times, dirt, dust, and pollen get lodged in the tracks. You can try removing the debris or paint and lubricating the tracks.

Replace: Aluminum windows that have broken corner welds are nearing the end of their lifespans. Similarly, steel frames that have deteriorated due to rust need to be replaced.


As windows age, your seals and caulk can dry out, leaving gaps. This can lead to water leaks when it rains.

Repair: Go around your window and reseal any cracks with caulk and weatherstripping. Almost all windows have bottom “weep” holes where water can drain out. Do not caulk over these holes. Otherwise, water can be trapped in there, freeze, expand and crack the window frame.

Replace: In some cases, windows can be defective and need to be replaced. In addition, if the leak has occurred for some time, the water may have caused the wood frame to rot.


If it’s cold outside, you don’t want to feel it through drafty windows. Check that you don’t have any openings and where you can, add extra protection.

Repair: Apply weatherstripping to your windows. Reglaze loose panes.

Replace: You can replace single pane windows with double pane windows that do a better job of blocking the heat of direct sunlight and still let the light come in.


Foggy windows could be a sign of expensive repairs to come so you’ll want to address this problem right away.

Repair: Condensation could be due to lack of ventilation. It can soak into the window trim and damage it. It can also lead to mold. You can try a dehumidifier with the windows closed to see if that eliminates the fog.

Replace: Fogging between double pane glass panels cannot be fixed and must be replaced. See the section on soft wood if the water has gotten into the wood.

Sagging Casement

Casement windows can be heavy, and the hardware must be strong enough to hold up over time.

Repair: You may notice the downward movement of the window sash on casement windows. You’ll need to reset the windows and replace the hardware.

Replace: While you can replace worn out crank mechanisms, you’ll need to replace them if they are bent or worn.

Soft or Rotted Wood

You may notice dampness and a darker color on the wood around your window. That could mean it’s structurally unsound.

Repair: When wood is soft to the touch, it is a sign of rot. Flashing protects the window frame from moisture, so make sure yours is not damaged or missing.

Replace: When water leaks into the walls, it can cause a more significant problem. It can attract carpenter ants, termites, and bugs. It can also affect your walls and foundation. Replace any rotted wood right away and eliminate the source of the moisture.


What You Need to Know About New Windows

New windows can boost your energy efficiency and help you save on heating and cooling bills. They can reduce exterior noise, increase security, and improve the look and value of your home.

However, new windows can cost $450-$1,400 per window or more. That means it’s expensive to replace all of them at one time. Also, even if you find a close match, new windows will look different. Consider replacing just a few on the same side. Ask about warranties. You will want protection that cover glass replacement up to 20 years.

Finally, your home is one of your greatest investments. Protect it with the right insurance for added peace of mind.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Vehicle Tires – Air vs. Nitrogen

Vehicle Tires – Air vs. Nitrogen

When it comes to keeping your tires inflated, you have a choice. You can fill up with air, like people have done for decades, or you can use nitrogen. What are the pros and cons of each? Let’s take a closer look.


Remember when you studied molecules in science class? Molecules are the smallest amount of a substance that still carries its properties. Nitrogen molecules are larger and slower than the molecules in air.  As a gas, nitrogen also is drier. These properties give nitrogen some advantages.


    • Nitrogen won’t seep out of your tires as quickly as air because of its larger, slower molecules. That will help you to maintain your tire pressure longer.
    • The moisture naturally found in air can cause changes in temperature. With nitrogen, there is no moisture and therefore it is less susceptible to temperature changes that affect tire pressure.
    • Nitrogen is especially good for locations with very high or low temperatures. It is often used in race cars, heavy vehicles, and aircraft because it is nonflammable and able to more easily maintain its temperature.
    • Nitrogen will not react to rubber, steel, or any of the tire’s components. There is no oxidation which can damage tires. That should help preserve your tire over time.


    • You most likely will pay to inflate your tires with nitrogen. The initial charge to remove the air and fill them with nitrogen can cost about $30 per tire. Then, it will be about $7-10 per tire for topping it off as you need more nitrogen.
    • Nitrogen may not be significantly better than air at maintaining tire pressure. Consumer Reports found only a 1.3 psi difference between air and nitrogen over the timeframe of a year.
    • There is no scientific evidence that nitrogen helps with fuel economy.
    • It is harder to find places to fill up with nitrogen. You will have to search for locations that offer nitrogen, even for a fee.

 Note: If your tire is low and there is no place to get nitrogen, you can top your tire off with air. It won’t harm your tires, but it will reduce the effectiveness of the nitrogen alone.


You may be surprised to learn that air is composed of mostly nitrogen. In fact, the mix is 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and about 1% of other gases. Air, which has been used to inflate tires for over a century, also has its advantages.


    • Air is often free. If it costs, it is minimal such as a dollar or two.
    • Air is readily available. You can find it at gas stations, convenience stores, wholesale clubs, tire shops, and more.
    • While air loses pressure over time, its rate is close to that of nitrogen. Plus, with air, drivers are more likely to check in often versus relying on nitrogen to stay pressurized.


    • You will experience more pressure changes with air. Air is affected by temperature changes due to water vapor in its mix. However, it is worth noting that most tire shops have moisture separators that limit the amount of water vapor.
    • The oxygen in air can cause oxidation, which can make rubber brittle over time.
    • You will have to fill your tires more often when you have air versus nitrogen.

Tire Pressure is Key

When you fill up with nitrogen, you get a green cap on your tire valve. When you fill up with air, your cap will be black. However, whether you use nitrogen or air, you still will fill your tires to the same recommended pressure. Check the inside of your door or your driver’s manual to find the right psi.

Maintaining the correct pressure helps your tires last longer, your car handle better, and could even help with fuel economy. Under or over inflated tires increase your risk of a blowout and increase wear and tear. No matter whether you use nitrogen or air, regularly checking the pressure of your tires is part of responsible vehicle maintenance.

Your car is one of your greatest investments. Protect it with the right insurance for added peace of mind.

Safe travels from all of us at California Casualty.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Celebrating National Craft Month

Celebrating National Craft Month

Embrace your inner artist and let your imagination run wild. Whether you prefer glue and glitter or pottery and paint, it’s fun to get creative. In honor of March, National Craft Month, we compiled some of our favorite crafts for home and the classroom. So, whether you’re looking to unwind after a long day or searching for a fun activity to share with your students, join us in celebrating National Craft Month.

Benefits of Crafting

Crafting is good for our brains and our spirits. Working with our hands and exercising our creative skills helps with hand-eye coordination, concentration, critical thinking, and problem solving. Crafting teaches us patience and resilience, and how to fix things when they don’t exactly go our way. The process of creation can also reduce stress and anxiety, improve our mood and self-confidence. When we create with others, we also build community and a sense of shared accomplishment.

Here are some ideas to get you started. Feel free to improvise; after all, creativity is what it’s all about!

Colored Mason Jars


These decorative mason jars make great gifts. Personalize them with your favorite stencils.

Supplies: Clear mason jars, Mod Podge, food coloring or acrylic paint, foam brush, adhesive stencils, glitter, scissors, wax paper (Use food coloring if you want the final result to be clearer, and acrylic paint if you want more color.)

Process: Wash and dry the mason jars to ensure the best result. Add some Mod Podge to a bowl with a few drops of food coloring or paint. Put about two tablespoons into the mason jar and roll it around to coat it. Add more as needed, one tablespoon at a time. Shake it over the garbage can to get rid of excess Mod Podge. Place the jars face down on wax paper and allow to dry for 24 hours. Affix your stencil on the outside of the jar. Cover the stencil area with Mod Podge. Peel off the stencil and apply glitter right away. You can tie the jar with baker’s twine for a festive touch.

DIY Sharpie Mug


This personalized mug makes a great gift and it’s so easy to create.

Supplies: a plain and inexpensive ceramic mug, oil-based Sharpie marker (regular Sharpies will wash away)

Process: You can draw any design on the mug or write a meaningful quote. Try affixing a large alphabet sticker and using your Sharpie to make colorful dots around it. Then peel off the sticker and you’ll have a monogrammed mug. Once the marker paint is dry, put the mug in a cold oven. Turn it to 250 degrees and bake your Sharpie mug for 2 hours. Turn the oven off and let it cool completely. Note that color changes can happen while baking. If you are concerned, you can skip the baking and simply coat the mug with Mod Podge.

Flower Pens


Create a beautiful bouquet of pens with just a few supplies. Make it extra special by choosing favorite flowers or colors.

Supplies: Pens, silk or plastic flowers with stems, floral tape

Process: Place the flower stem against the bottom of the pen. Wrap floral tape around the stem and pen to attach it. Continue wrapping the tape all the way to the top, then bring it back down again. Cut off the excess once the pen is fully wrapped. The floral tape will self-adhere with some pressure.

Glitter Sensory Bottles


These bottles are easy to make, and kids love them. Use them as a sensory tool in class or as a free time reward once work is done.

Supplies: Clear, empty water bottles, baby oil, glitter, pony beads, buttons

Process: Fill the bottles three-quarters of the way with baby oil. Add glitter; start with a small amount. The glitter will sink to the bottom. Add other items such as beads or buttons. Put the cap on. Turn the bottle upside down and right side up a few times. Watch the glitter fall. Add more as necessary. When it’s finished, fill the bottle to the top with baby oil.

Paper Plate Dream Catchers


These dream catchers are easily customizable. Tie them into a social studies curriculum on Native American crafts.

Supplies: Paper plates, yarn, feathers, pony beads, hole puncher, markers, glue

Process: Cut out the inner circle of the paper plate. Punch 8 evenly space holes around the inside cutout circle. Decorate the plate with markers. Cut a 55-inch length of yard. Tie it to one of the inner holes and knot it in place. Thread the yarn through the other inner holes in any pattern that you like. Punch one hole at the top and tie a piece of yard to hang the dream catcher. Punch three holes at the bottom where you will hand yarn with beads and feathers. Cut three pieces of yarn, 12 inches long. Tie the feathers to the end of the yarn. Add some glue to keep them in place. Slide beads down over the yarn above the feathers. Tie the feathered and beaded yarn on the bottom. You are now ready to hang your dreamcatcher!

Salt Painting


Experiment with color and texture as you create a beautiful piece of art.

Supplies: Glue, table salt, watercolors or food coloring, paintbrush, pencil, cardstock

Process: Draw the image on the cardstock. Trace the lines using glue. Keep glue lines thin. Sprinkle salt over the glue. Use a lot so it coats every part. Shake off the excess salt. Dip your paintbrush in the watercolor and gently tap the salt. Watch the color spread. Let your painting dry. Spray with a sealer.

Tissue Paper Painting


Create a masterpiece of color with this easy technique. Make sure to buy tissue paper that is not shiny. The cheaper tissue paper found at Dollar Stores will not “bleed” easily.

Supplies: Watercolor paper or cardstock, tissue paper, a spray bottle, water

Process: Tear up the tissue paper into small pieces. Arrange it on your paper in a design. Make sure to overlap some colors. Spray the tissue with water until it is wet. Then, let it dry. Once the project is completely dry, remove the tissue paper and see the colorful results. It is very important that everything is completely dry. Removing the tissue too soon will damage the paper underneath.

Yarn Pumpkins


These yarn pumpkins can also be yarn apples or decorative balls. They make beautiful centerpieces and are so easy to make.

Supplies: Balloon, yard, white glue (one full 2-ounce bottle per pumpkin – Tacky glue works best), pipe cleaners, tape measure, scissors, plastic fork

Process: Blow up the balloon about half full. Pour glue into a bowl. Tie one piece of yarn to the end of the balloon and use it to hang the balloon from a kitchen cabinet or other location so that it’s easier to manage. Dip a piece of yard in the bowl of glue and swirl it around with the fork. Then holding the end of the yarn with your fingers, run it through the fork tines to remove extra glue. Press it against the balloon, winding it around. Repeat until much of the balloon is covered. Allow it to dry for 24 hours. When you’re ready to pop the balloon, press your fingers down under the yarn all around to detach the balloon. Make a very small hole near the balloon knot to let the air leak out slowly. Pull the deflated balloon out. Add pipe cleaner stems and vines. Create spirals by wrapping the pipe cleaners around your finger.

Do you have a favorite craft that’s not listed here? Share it with us in the comments.

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Free Money Resources for Teachers

Free Money Resources for Teachers

It’s a tradition in teaching to reach into your own pocket to cover classroom supplies and those fun ‘extras’ that make learning memorable. Educational grants can help. From pencils to white boards to field trips, these grants can offset your expenses and, in some cases, boost your school’s budget.

Unlike other types of funding, grants do not have to be repaid. Most grants require an application, and a report on how the money was spent. Some can be competitive. If you meet the criteria and the deadline, however, you’re on your way to earning free money.

We did a deep dive to discover some of the best and most innovative grants for educators, both on the national and state levels. Here’s what we found.


Colibri Special Project Grant

Up to $5,000

These grants fund projects that significantly advance student learning and create engaging student experiences. Grants are for grades K-12 in public schools. Please note however: these grants do not fund textbooks for schoolwide use, technology or A/V equipment, travel, admission fees, or field trips.


Dollar General Literacy Foundation


Dollar General offers youth literacy grants to help students below grade level. The grants can be used to implement new or expand existing literacy programs, purchase new technology to support literacy initiatives, or to buy books, materials, or software.


Kids in Need Foundation

Boxes of supplies

The Supply a Teacher program seeks to provide necessary resources for teachers in underserved schools. These grants are open to teachers at schools where 50% or more of students qualify for the National School Lunch Program. Applications are accepted year-round.


NEA Foundation

$1,500 – $5,000

NEA Student Success Grants are meant to elevate and improve student development through project-based learning in public schools. Funds may be used for materials, equipment, transportation, or technology. To be eligible for this grant, you must be a member of the NEA.


Pets in the Classroom

Award varies

Grants are available for PreK through 9th grade teachers to purchase and maintain small animals in the classroom. There is also a Dogs in the Classroom program that supports animal-assisted therapy.


Toshiba American Foundation Grants

Up to $1,000 (K-5) and $5,000+ (Grades 6-12)

These grants are for project-based learning in science, technology, engineering, and math. Note however that the Foundation does not fund computers, laptops, or tablets.


Voya Unsung Heroes

$2,000 – $25,000

Voya funds innovative projects for K-12 classrooms, both public and private. Project areas span the curriculum, and include history, social sciences, psychology, economics, political science, career technical education, English, music, art, physical education, nutrition, and wellness.



Arizona School Boards Association


Each quarter, the ASBA awards grants to enhance PreK-12 classroom learning. Teachers must describe how the project will impact student achievement and how it reflects the priorities of their district. Grant winners must attend a board meeting where they will be recognized.



California Retired Teachers Association


This organization provides funds for teachers to use in their classrooms however they like. There also are local CalRTA divisions that offer direct support for local schools.



Professional Association of Colorado Educators

Up to $500

PACE Classroom Grants may be used for a variety of projects and materials, including but not limited to books, software, calculators, math manipulatives, art supplies, audio-visual equipment, and lab materials. Awards are competitive and PACE members are given preference.



Idaho CapEd Foundation

Up to $800

These grants are for PreK-12 teachers in Idaho. The funding is to be used for specific and innovative educational classroom projects and school programs. Projects should enhance the state or district curriculum for the grade level.


Northwest Professional Educators

Up to $500

Grants may be used for books, software, calculators, lab materials, art supplies, audio visual equipment and other materials. Awards are competitive.



Casey’s Cash for Classroom Grants

$3,000 to $50,000

These grants cover physical improvements, material needs, professional development, and community engagement. Applicants must be a K-12 public or nonprofit private school in Casey’s 16-state footprint, which includes Kansas. Submissions are due in the fall and awarded in the spring.


Kansas Association of American Educators

Up to $500

These grants may be used for a variety of projects and materials, including but not limited to books, software, calculators, math manipulatives, art supplies, audio-visual equipment, and lab materials. Awards are competitive, and preference is given to members of the Kansas Association of American Educators.



Oregon Education Association Foundation

Up to $100

These grants are designed to help students meet basic, urgent, and immediate needs so they can succeed in school. Importantly, these needs must be unmet by any other source. California Casualty has proudly worked with the Oregon Education Association (OEA) as their exclusive auto & home provider since 1974, and regularly donates to the Foundation.



Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium

Up to $500

This funding is available for Wyoming educator professional development, and can include attending workshops or seminars, hosting events or activities, purchasing materials for use in the classroom or out-of-school educational settings, continuing education, and other related activities.


Provided by California Casualty

California Casualty Music & Arts Grant


The California Casualty Music & Arts Grant was established to provide support for K-12 public schools negatively impacted by reduced budgets. To apply for this grant, you must be a member of an education association that partners with California Casualty. Learn more at the link below.


Thomas R. Brown Athletics Grant


This namesake program was established 2010 based on California Casualty Chairman, Emeritus Tom Brown’s belief that lessons learned through athletics – teamwork, trust, communication, and confidence – translate in the classroom and beyond. The program is open to middle and high school employees who are members of participating education association. Learn more and apply using the link below.


Do you have a grant that’s not mentioned here? Share it with your colleagues in the comments.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Buying a Vehicle Online

Buying a Vehicle Online

You’re ready for a new set of wheels. Time to head to the dealership, test drive some models, and negotiate like a pro. Or you could boot up your laptop and start clicking from the comfort of your couch.

Online car shopping is a game-changer. You can shop anytime, anywhere, with access to a multitude of vehicles without the sales pressure. But is it right for you?

What it Means to Buy a Car Online

Many of us shop online for everything from clothes to groceries. A car, of course, is a larger purchase. It costs much more and so there is more at stake. You might be comfortable researching a car online, and even calculating loan payments. But there’s a comfort level to continuing the car buying process in the dealer showroom. However, more and more people are taking the plunge into online car shopping. They’re buying online from start to finish.

Pros & Cons

It’s ultra-convenient to shop for a car online.

  • You don’t have to go to a dealership during business hours. You can shop on your schedule from any place.
  • There is likely more inventory available online than at your local dealership.
  • You can get pre-approved for a loan before you even start shopping.
  • There is less sales pressure and no haggling. Prices are clearly posted, and what you pay ultimately depends on the base price, any trade-in, and your credit rating.
  • You can fill out paperwork online at your leisure.
  • Many online marketplaces have a short return window, so if the car wasn’t what you expected, you can return it.
  • You can get the car delivered to your driveway.

Of course, there are some downsides.

  • You can’t physically see the car or test drive it before you buy it. (Some services are offering test drives, however, and you can always test drive at a dealership before buying online.)
  • You can’t negotiate the price.
  • Online purchases often come with extra fees. It can cost $1,000 or more to deliver a car.
  • Your financing choices may be limited. The seller may restrict you to a single lender.
  • You cannot get your car the same day, as you would at a dealer.
  • You can potentially get more incentives onsite at a dealer, such as lease specials or cash rebates.

 Online Sellers

There are a variety of online vehicle sellers. Some new car dealers offer the full online experience, including car delivery. There are also services that sell used vehicles in online marketplaces. Still others connect buyers with private sellers. Each site has different terms and warranties, so make sure you understand them before you buy. Here are some of the most popular:

  • Carvana offers used cars, auto loan prequalification, and a 7-day return window. Car delivery is not available everywhere and may include a shipping fee.
  • CarMax also sells used cars. They can deliver a car for test driving (fees may apply). CarMax offers financing and has a 7-day return window.
  • Vroom sells used cars with a 7-day or 250-mile return window. Vroom also offers access to online financing.

You may buy from private sellers on sites such as these:

  • eBay Motors connects you with private sellers. The site offers free vehicle purchase protection that can cover you if there are problems with the sale.
  • CarGurus also connects you with private sellers and offers support for paperwork including title transfers. They offer financing through their partner, Auto Pay.

Red flags

  • Be careful with sellers that are not vetted by a third party. While you can find cars on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, it is more difficult to know if it’s a scam.
  • Avoid bait-and-switch scenarios, where the car you want is suddenly not available, but another similar more expensive model is. If a seller does that, chances are there will be problems later with other items such as warranties.
  • Beware of fraudulent websites. Make sure the site and the seller are legitimate. If the price is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Do not make a deal without a written agreement. Remember to read the fine print.

Ready to buy?

  1. Know what you can afford for a monthly payment, and then work backwards to determine how much you can finance.
  1. Know your credit score. Your credit rating is used to determine your interest rate.
  1. Pre-qualify for a loan. You can get a loan from a bank or credit union, or from the dealership or online marketplace where you will get your vehicle.
  1. Determine the type of car that fits your needs. Do you need a large SUV for off-roading and camping with the family? Perhaps you need the right car for your teen driver? Browse the online inventory to find the car that meets your budget and needs.
  1. Comparison shop across at least three websites to determine the best options. Consult Consumer Reports, Edmunds, and Kelley Blue Book to ensure that your car is priced at current market value.
  1. If you’re able to arrange a test drive, do so. You want to make sure that you can fit comfortably in the car, and you like how it handles. If all checks out, then go ahead with the purchase.


A car is one of your greatest investments. For added peace of mind, protect it with the right insurance.

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

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