5 Tips to Maximize Your Pantry Space

Organized Pantry

In most homes, the area designated for the pantry is typically far too undersized for our needs. The standard pantry tends to be packed full of overflowing boxes and bags of food. This sometimes leads to waste when the “out of sight, out of mind” food in the back goes unnoticed for too long. If this has happened to you and you are ready to try something new in your pantry, take a look at 5 of our favorite tips to help get that space back under control.

MOVE YOUR SHELVES

If you have adjustable shelves, change the heights of your available space to more closely fit your needs in the pantry. Depending on the types of foods you are storing in the pantry, you may benefit from adjusting your shelving to have less height, giving you the ability to add an extra shelf or two. If your shelving is not adjustable and you feel you are unable to appropriately use the large spaces without stacking boxes and cans, try using hanging shelves. These are racks that have “arms” that hold onto the shelf and giving storage space underneath. You can find these in many sizes and choose the ones that work best for you.

LET THERE BE LIGHT

Adding lighting, whether motion detected or touch-activated, will not necessarily add space to your pantry, but will make it feel bigger and more accessible. Lighting is not typically added to the standard pantry, but you can buy lights that you stick onto the wall to give your pantry some much needed illumination. We suggest opting for rechargeable lights as opposed to ones that use up a lot of batteries.

USE YOUR DOOR

You can use the back of your door to increase the storage space in your pantry. You can buy specially designed shelving, or you can DIY some extra storage space using a hanging shoe holder.

ARRANGE CAREFULLY

Sometimes, simply changing how you arrange your food items will create a lot of space. You not only need to arrange items of most use in the front but try to arrange the taller, more visible items in the back and the shorter items in the front so they do not get lost. Don’t waste space by putting small cans on your largest shelf unless you intend to have them stacked to take advantage of the vertical space.

UNIFORM CONTAINERS AND BINS

Anyone who has ever played Tetris knows there are a few pieces that you wait and hope for because the uniformity helps fill out the space. Instead of trying to fit together a bunch of different sized cereal boxes and bags of flour, buy clear plastic containers of similar shapes and sizes to better arrange your food items. This will also help keep household pests out of your food! Buy bins that you can pull out easily to store loose items.

We hope these tips are useful to you as you work to maximize your pantry space! If you have a local or long-distance move coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 for a free quote. We also offer mobile and onsite storage to help you cover all your moving and/or storage needs. We look forward to hearing from you!

Are the Mosquitoes Ruining Your Summer?

Summer outdoor party

We have all been spending a lot of time outside enjoying the summer weather and fun backyard activities. But we aren’t the only ones! The mosquitoes have been out in droves threatening our peaceful evenings outside. With their constant buzzing and biting, it’s hard to tolerate for too long. Some use pest control companies to treat their yards when it gets bad, but we have a few tips you can try first.

KEEP IT DRY AND TIDY

We can’t control the weather, but we can do our best to limit standing water and active water sources around the home. Mosquitoes love water, and if given the opportunity, will use the available water to lay eggs in. This means a mosquito population that you won’t be able to ignore this summer. Walk around your home and yard looking for any possible water sources that would allow mosquitoes to thrive. This includes toys that hold water, buckets, wheelbarrows, or anything that allows water to accumulate. You should also make sure your gutters stay clear of debris.

NATURAL REPELLANTS

While there are many chemical sprays and DEET repellants available in most stores, there are natural options you can use in your yard or on yourself to help keep the mosquitoes at bay. Citronella candles are great for smaller areas. There are many different types of oils that you can get to make your own repellant sprays. Citronella, lemon-eucalyptus, cedarwood, and lavender are some of the most common oils that are used for DIY mosquito repellant. You can do a quick search on Pinterest to find hundreds of different recipes to fit your needs. A word of caution: not every repellant recipe will be appropriate to use on children or around pets.

AVOID SCENTED LOTIONS AND BODY PRODUCTS

Some people attract more mosquitoes than others. There are a lot of different theories to explain why one person is untouched by mosquitoes, but another ends the evening with 20 bites. Some believe your blood type determines your mosquito magnetism, while others believe it has to do with your hormones. We don’t know if these are true, but we do know that certain scents attract and repel mosquitoes. It has been theorized that mosquitoes are attracted to scented body lotions and products. Try to avoid applying scented products before going to hang out outdoors to keep the mosquitoes away.

WEAR LONG SLEEVES

Sometimes, despite all our best efforts, you will find the mosquitoes are relentless. If this happens in your yard, try wearing lightweight long sleeves and pants. It’s not ideal to wear long sleeves and pants when it is hot outside, but if nothing else works to keep the mosquitoes off, the cloth barrier will give you a needed reprieve from the unwanted bites.

We’d love to hear how you keep the mosquitoes from ruining your time outdoors. Stop by our Facebook page and share with our Zippy Shell community.

If you have a local or long-distance move coming up, give us a call for a free, no-obligation quote. We are standing by to assist you with all your moving or storage needs!!

Fresh Curb Appeal Ideas

House at dusk

Many people have transitioned to more of a “work from home” lifestyle. In many cases, this means a much shorter commute that can add hours to your day. So you may finally have the time to freshen up your curb appeal! Of course, now you may be wondering what exactly is curb appeal? It is essentially how appealing your home looks when first viewed from the street, like a first impression. Curb appeal matters if you want to sell your house, if you want to welcome your friends and family, if you want to feel a sense of pride every time you drive up, or if you just don’t want to make the neighbors mad!

Front Door – The entry door is artistically referred to as “The Portal to the Soul of Your House” – sounds important, right? Fix minor imperfections by sanding the area down, filling it with wood filler, and repainting or staining. Speaking of paint, a brightly colored door will definitely turn heads. Check out the inspiration found here to help your front door stand out from the crowd. When you update the front door, don’t neglect the hardware. A new knocker and doorknob in a matching finish will complete the look.

Bold, Vibrant Accents – If a boldly colored front door is not your style, consider adding vibrant accessories like flowers, planters, or door decorations. Welcome signs, welcome mats, and porch furniture are also a great place to incorporate pops of color.

Exterior Illumination – Well planned outdoor lighting is essential to curb appeal. Done right it will set the mood and welcome nighttime guests. Use the right combination of wall sconces, lanterns, step and path lights to highlight your architecture and showcase the landscaping. Also, fresh new light fixtures can cast a brighter light and they give the impression that your home has been updated recently.

Make it Shine – Making the exterior of your home sparkly clean can probably add more power to your curb appeal than anything else. After everything is cleaned up, take time to repair any places that need attention. Focus on chipping paint around the windows, missing shingles, or siding that needs repair.

Landscaping – The simplest way to boost curb appeal is to have a well-manicured lawn. Healthy looking, weed free trimmed grass, clean lines around walkways and flower beds, and trimmed bushes and trees will set the foundation for curb appeal you can be proud of. Put in a few perennial flowers to brighten things up.

Paint Your Mailbox – Your mailbox sees a lot of wear over the years as it is constantly attacked by the elements so a little paint can provide an instant curb appeal boost. You can use inexpensive craft store stencils to let the kids add a creative design.

Looking for some extra storage space to clean up the outside of your home? Zippy Shell has onsite and portable storage solutions perfect for the job! You can learn more by visiting www.zippyshell.com today!

Home Inspection Facts for the New Home Buyer

home inspection

If you are getting ready to buy a home, you probably know that it can be a long and tedious process. There are a lot of different steps and many of those must be completed under certain time restraints. Knowledge is one of the best tools you can have in your arsenal when it is time to start making offers on the homes you like. While you likely have a real estate agent and a mortgage lender guiding you through the many steps, doing your own research will help you feel confident in the process. One aspect of homebuying that can be confusing is the home inspection. Who pays for it? Is it necessary? What do they look for? These are important questions that we are going to address.

WHO PAYS FOR THE HOME INSPECTION?

The buyer almost always pays for the home inspection. If the home inspection turns up issues that you do not want to fix, you can negotiate with the seller to have them pay for repairs. You also have the choice to walk away or accept the home as-is.

WHEN DO YOU GET THE HOME INSPECTION?

Once you make an offer and the seller accepts, you are under time constraints to complete each step. It is important that you already have a trustworthy home inspector ready to make a quick appointment. Some home inspectors stay scheduled out for weeks, so don’t wait until the last minute to find one that will be able to get you on the schedule.

IS A HOME INSPECTION REALLY NECESSARY?

While not always mandatory, home inspections are a necessary part of buying a home. It can be tempting to skip the inspection to save the money, but it could cost you far more in the long run if you decide to forgo the inspection. Inspectors know to look for things that we just are not attuned to. The last thing you would want is to move into your new home and find major issues when it is too late.

WHAT DO HOME INSPECTORS LOOK FOR?

Home inspectors look for many different types of things. They will check for water damage, damage that could affect structural integrity, roof issues, electrical system and plumbing problems, HVAC issues, pest problems, and more. You could also purchase radon and air quality tests. Hopefully, your inspection report does not show many problems, but if it does, you can make an informed decision on your next steps.

HOW TO CHOOSE A HOME INSPECTOR?

Ask around for recommendations from friends and family. Word of mouth is a great way to find someone that you can trust. The home inspector you choose should be current on all their certifications and training. You will also want to make sure they are fully insured and experienced in the type of property you are purchasing.

We hope this information on home inspections will be helpful to you as you enter the homebuying process. When you are ready to move, be sure to give Zippy Shell a call. We are ready to partner with you for an easy and stress-free move.

7 Tips for Working at Home

Working From Home

If you are one of the millions of Americans now forced to work at home, you may be wondering how you can be productive in an environment with less accountability. If you are new to remote work, it can take some adjustments to work in an area that is usually associated with rest and relaxation. Everyone has their own set of unique challenges when it comes to working from home, but we have some tips to help you succeed.

Dedicated Workspace

Not everyone has a designated office in their home. If you do, great! Make sure you keep it organized and free from clutter to minimize distractions. If you don’t already have an office, it can be challenging to find a place in the home to call your own. Many are also trying to work with their kids in the home, which can be even more tricky. In this case, you will need to find a place that will be free from the distractions of a busy household. Maybe this is simply a corner or nook in your bedroom that you can set up a comfortable workspace.

Dress for the Part

Some people can be productive in their pjs or house clothes, but some of us need to feel dressed for the part. If you find that you don’t feel as motivated while dressed in casual clothes, try dressing as you normally would for work. This can help you create a daily routine that keeps you feeling normal.

Create a Regular Schedule

You should create a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Your schedule may need to be tinkered with in the beginning to find something that best works for you and your household, but when you get it figured out, try to make it your daily routine.

Set Expectations with Family

This may be the biggest hurdle many are facing as they are expected to show up to virtual meetings with bored children and pets in the background. Have a family meeting to explain the schedule you need to keep and the times you will need to have a quiet background. This will allow everyone in your family to plan their daily activities in a way that will provide an acceptable working environment for you.

Block Distractions

Distractions can come in many forms: the pile of laundry on the bed, the barking dog in the backyard, or even the temptation to check social media while on the clock. Take some time each day to make sure your workspace is clean and tidy. A cluttered space is a cluttered mind! If the outside noises make it hard to concentrate, think about getting yourself a pair of noise-cancelling headphones. If you are struggling with checking social media or other websites, try installing a browser extension that will block those sites during set work hours.

Take Breaks

We all need breaks, maybe even more than ever before. Be mindful to schedule certain times during the workday to take some time away from your chair and your screen. Go for a walk around the block, check in with your family, or use this as a time to rest.

Set Expectations with Yourself

This is a confusing time for everyone, and we are all just doing our best. Go easy on yourself as you try to establish a new working environment. If the day doesn’t go how you planned or how you wanted, try again tomorrow!

Zippy Shell is still here and working to cover all your moving and storage needs. If you have a move scheduled during this uncertain time, click here for a quote or give us a call 888-947-7974!

Make Your Home More Energy Efficient with These 7 Tips

Energy Efficient

Make Your Home More Energy Efficient with These 7 Tips

When thinking about making a home more energy-efficient, homeowners often worry about the expense. It’s true, you can spend a fortune making your home “green”, but you can also make less expensive changes that can still make a huge impact on energy efficiency. Here are 7 tips to consider when making your home more energy-efficient.

  1. Shade trees and shrubs – The first tip in making your home more energy efficient may already be checked off your list—planting shade trees or shrubs. Often overlooked, by planting this type of foliage around your house, your home will be more shaded, thus resulting in lower air conditioning usage in the summer. Not only will your home be cooler, but you’ll save money!
  2. Seal windows – If your home is older, the windows may not be properly sealed. Unless you have the funds to replace your windows with more energy-efficient brands, consider caulk and weatherproofing strips found at any hardware store for a fraction of the price. When air escapes the home and also allows air from the outdoors to sneak in, your heating or cooling system has to work overtime to keep your home comfortable. And this means increased energy fees!
  3. Energy-efficient light bulbs – If you aren’t already using energy-efficient light bulbs such as LED and CFL lights, you will be excited to know this is an easy and immediate way to make your home more efficient! These bulbs are a little more expensive but pay for themselves by lasting longer and requiring less electricity to generate them.
  4. Low-flow showerheads – Most families use a lot of water on a daily basis. Between showers, baths, dishwashing, washing machines, etc., your water bill adds up! Help reduce that bill by installing low-flow showerheads. These are especially beneficial in areas that are prone to drought.
  5. Unused chargers – Did you know that by simply unplugging your unused chargers when not in use can reduce the amount of electricity you use? Get into the habit (your family too!) of unplugging all those chargers you have for all those devices and save on your energy bill!
  6. Thermostat – When you don’t manipulate your thermostat to avoid extremes in temperature, your HVAC unit works harder resulting in more electricity being used. When it’s hot outside, keep the thermostat a couple of degrees higher and when it is cold out, try keeping the heat a little cooler. Save money and make your home more energy efficient by being smart with your thermostat temperature.
  7. Energy audit – To discover the full efficiency potential your home has to offer, we recommend scheduling an energy audit in addition to the above tips discussed. A professional auditor will identify additional areas for improvement and ways you can save the most energy and money!

Doing your part, whether small or large scale, to reduce your carbon footprint is always a win-win! And implementing these 7 tips can help you achieve a more energy-efficient home without emptying out your bank account! Thinking about making other changes such as storing away some personal belongings or furniture? Our professionals would like for you to consider a climate-controlled facility with Zippy Shell!

How to Properly Clean Out a Fireplace in Your Piedmont Home

A nice fire going in a home fireplace.

Curling up in front of a wood burning fireplace is one way to stay cozy when the weather turns cold in the Piedmont Triad. If you are lucky enough to own a wood burning fireplace, you know that the comfort and warmth it provides requires a bit of maintenance from time to time. The National Fire Protection Association recommends both your chimney and fireplace be inspected for safety and cleaned annually. Creosote, which is an oily wood-tar by-product that can cling to chimney walls, can cause fires to flare out of control. If you are searching for a potential new property in the Piedmont Triad, be sure to ask for details about recent chimney inspections and cleanings. 

In addition to the annual heavy duty cleaning of the chimney, you will want to regularly clean out your fireplace to keep it looking tidy and keep it burning cleanly. These steps can take it from filthy to flawless!

  1. Wait at least 12 hours after your last fire before attempting to clean a fireplace in order to give all of the ashes and embers a chance to fully cool down.
  2. Wear old clothes or an apron because this can be a messy task. Also, it is a good idea to put on gloves, a face mask, and protective eyewear to keep the soot from irritating your lungs and skin.
  3. Lay a plastic tarp or old sheet in front of the fireplace to catch the mess.
  4. Using a handheld broom, sweep any soot and ash from the floor and walls of your fireplace and collect it into a dustpan. Dump the ash into a heavy duty paper or plastic bag as you work. Do this gently to keep as much dust as possible from flying around. Pro tip: Sprinkle a handful of used coffee grounds on the ashes to minimize flyaways.
  5. For good measure, you may want to vacuum the area to catch any remaining dust. But don’t forget to clean the vacuum brush attachment afterwards – you don’t want to spread soot around the rest of your home!
  6. Now it is time to scrub! Water and hearth cleaner work well for the brick and iron parts of your fireplace. But if you have brick front or facing that’s more than 50 years old, just use water with a light scouring. Old brick is more susceptible to crumbling. For marble and stone, scrub with water and dishwashing detergent. Use old rags to wipe each area after scrubbing.
  7. If you fireplace features glass doors, they can be cleaned with a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar. You can also put the discarded ashes to good use by sprinkling some onto the towel to act as a light, natural abrasive.

Once everything is clean and back in its place, you will need to decide what to do with your ashes. If you would prefer a professional clean your chimney, make sure they are a certified specialist before hiring them. You can find a certified chimney sweep technician near you by visiting the Chimney Safety Institute of America’s website and search for a pro today, as well as get other helpful tips.

If you’re looking for a place to dispose of your ashes and your Piedmont Triad home has a garden, we recommend spreading them there. Ashes are a great source of calcium, potassium, and other nutrients for plants and they also repel some garden pests! If you are making plans on moving to a home in the Piedmont Triad area that has a nice fireplace to curl up by, then give Zippy Shell of the Piedmont Triad a call! We would love to make you moving and storage needs simple!

4 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home

Woman cleans her living room.

How many times have you heard New Year/New You? It’s true that millions of us make New Year’s resolutions, but what about resolutions that focus on your space? After all, your space is where you spend a lot of downtime, friend time and family time. Creating an inviting space, whether in your current one, or in a new one, could mean a happier and healthier New Year. It isn’t too late to amend or add to your New Year’s Resolutions and make a better home environment!

Bravely declutter: Take a moment to consider what came into your space last year that maybe wasn’t needed – the extra decorative box picked up at the vintage store, more coffee mugs received from co-workers during Secret Santa or yet another blue shirt because you had a coupon. Be courageous enough to edit down your personal belongings. Donate duplicate items and recycle things that don’t work or are in disrepair. If you aren’t sure about items, consider putting them in temporary storage with Zippy Shell and make the decision after living without them for a while.

Spruce up a single area or a single item: Sometimes planning for an update feels overwhelming. Consider focusing on a single objective in the New Year and make it happen. Ideas include:

  • New paint in one or more rooms
  • A new rug or some new flooring
  • Updating a single new fixture (like in the kitchen or bathroom)
  • Repairing something that’s been broken for a while
  • Adding fresh mulch or a few new plants to the landscape
  • Painting your door or adding a new wreath

Plan to recycle and save more energy (or recycle more): Recycling not only feels good, it does good. If you currently recycle, consider upping your game. If you don’t recycle, consider starting small until it becomes a habit. Small starts include unplugging electronic devices when not in use to reduce using phantom or vampire energy, taking reusable bags to the market, saving and recycling all of your plastics and cans during the week, opting for paperless billing or purchasing a reusable water bottle instead of buying water and drinks in plastic bottles. Next steps could include composting, buying local and eating seasonal and creating your own unique gift paper rather than purchasing wrapping paper or gift bags for birthdays, anniversaries and holidays.

Stay safe: Your space is your haven. Keep it safe by:

  • Checking for dryer lint. Most people know to check the lint filter at the front of the dryer, but did you know that there may be vents and ducts behind the dryer that could be a hazard and need attention, too?
  • Testing your detectors. Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are just two of the items in your space that need routine tests.
  • Changing a/c filters. Checking and changing the filters keeps your unit running more efficiently.
  • Checking for a fire extinguisher. Do you have an extinguisher in the kitchen? How about upstairs, if you have another floor? Check them and any expiration dates they may have.

As the New Year rolls in take time to consider more than just personal resolutions. Make a few resolutions for your space, too.  If you find you need extra space, give Zippy Shell a call! We would be happy to help you safely store some of those extra belongings!

5 Common Fire Hazards in Your Home

Family plays with cardboard box while unpacking

Home fires are dangerous and can result in devastating property damage and even loss of life. You may consider your home fire-safe, but you should always prepare for the unexpected. Having a fire-safety checklist with you when you are evaluating potential new properties or when updating/remodeling is a great way to help you spot potential hazards that might not be so obvious.

There are several common fire hazards, though, that you can easily identify. Taking steps now to remedy any of these hazards could save a life in the future.

  • Electrical Cords – The first step to reducing fire hazards caused by electrical cords is to make sure all major appliances are plugged directly into a wall receptacle outlet and not an extension cord. This includes refrigerators, dryers, washers, stoves, air conditioners, microwave ovens, and other large appliances. Keep in mind, too, that a surge suppressor is not made for heavy loads. Also, make sure all electrical cords are in good working condition and not broken, cut or frayed. Even old extension cords that look as if they are in good working condition may need to be replace from time to time.
  • Heating – To prevent fires, have heating equipment and chimneys cleaned and inspected each year. If you are purchasing a new home, be sure to ask about the last time these items were completed. Keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from all heating equipment. This includes furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, and portable space heaters. Always use a fire screen or fireplace doors to contain sparks from your fireplace. While asleep or when you leave home always extinguish all fires and candles and unplug all heating appliances. Never assume that the fire will “burn down” or that the flame is contained.
  • Clothes Dryer – Fires involving clothes dryers are usually caused by accumulated lint, which is highly flammable. Lint can build up in both the lint trap and the venting system. The best way to prevent this fire hazard is to clean the lint trap on your clothes dryer with each and every load. It is also recommended to have your dryer vents professionally cleaned every 12 to 24 months.
  • Cooking – Unattended cooking is involved in the majority of kitchen fires. The best way to prevent these fires is to closely supervise your cooking. Also, remove clutter from your cooking area and keep anything that can burn at least three feet away from the stove top area.

  • Safety Tools – While there are things you can do to minimize fire risk in your home, be sure you have the tools on hand in case something happens. First and foremost is a working smoke detector. Test your smoke detector and ensure it works. Maintain it according to manufacturer directions and never, ever take the smoke detector down or disable it. Another key safety tool is a fire extinguisher. Every home should have at least one.

A fire can easily occur in your home, regardless of your home’s age, location, or condition. Take the time to reduce and eliminate as many fire hazards as possible before the holidays! 

Prevent Frozen Pipe Problems this Winter with These 7 Tips

Kitchen faucet running in a home

One of the most important things you can do as a homeowner is to winterize your pipes to prevent them from freezing. When water freezes in pipes, volume expands and puts pressure on pipes from the inside. The result of this pressure will cause the pipes to crack or rupture entirely, causing expensive damage to your home.

Here are 7 tips to help you avoid a frozen pipe issue this winter.

  1. Pipe Insulation: Pipes located in unheated areas such as garages, attics and crawl spaces need insulation. Pipe insulation can be found at most home improvement stores for very little cost. It comes in long strips that can be cut to size with a utility knife. You can also consider heat tape for a few dollars more.
  2. Seal Cracks: Look for cracks or openings that might let cold air in on pipes that run from inside to outside the home (i.e. dryer vents, water pipes). Seal these cracks or openings with caulk.
  3. Outdoor Spigots: Turn off the outside water supply, disconnect garden hoses from spigots, and drain any water from the pipes. For optimum protection, purchase an inexpensive insulated faucet cover to be placed around each outdoor spigot.
  4. Garage: If water supply lines are in the garage, be sure and keep the doors closed. If you park your vehicle in the garage, minimize the length of time the garage doors are open to help keep water supply lines warmer.
  5. Kitchen & Bathroom: Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the pipes.
  6. Faucets: Let your faucets drip to keep water moving through the water system. This will reduce the water pressure and help prevent frozen pipes. If a pipe does freeze, it is less likely to rupture due to the lower water pressure.
  7. Vacation: Prevent frozen pipes by setting your thermostat to 60 degrees or above while away on vacation. Ask a neighbor to check inside and outside your home to ensure your pipes have not frozen and ruptured.

Although you can’t wrap your house in bubble wrap, these preventative measures can help you prevent a costly disaster this winter. If you discover frozen pipes, call a professional plumber immediately. The team at Zippy Shell hopes you don’t encounter a frozen pipe disaster, but if you need to store your belongings, consider Zippy Shell for any short or long-term storage needs you might have!