Tips for Packing Unusual Items

organization

The portable storage and moving containers used by Zippy Shell offer tons of flexibility with a predictable cost for all your moving and storage needs. Of course, the first step is neatly packing your belongings in boxes and organizing them all with color coded labels. The challenge begins when you come across an oddly shaped or unusual item that doesn’t fit neatly into a typical box. Unusually shaped items are at greater risk of damage during a move. So before loading your container, take a look below for great tips and tricks to pack those challenging items into your storage container.

Fragile Items – For breakable or sentimental items, your first priority is to choose a sturdy box that is secured on the bottom with a minimum of two strips of packing tape. Fragile items require extra packing materials. Have plenty of packing paper, bubble wrap, and packing peanuts on hand before packing. Label all sides of the box with FRAGILE.

Large Appliances – Refrigerators, washers, dryers, stoves, and lawn equipment come with their own set of challenges when packing your container. This first step is to thoroughly clean these items and take off all removable parts. Drain lawn equipment and tools of gas and oil before packing them, as these contents are flammable. For packing appliances, it can be helpful to use manufacturer boxes and packaging if you still have them available. If not, secure moving blankets around appliances with packing tape to prevent damage. Place these heavy items on the bottom layer of your storage container near the center.

Furniture – It is best to disassemble your furniture by breaking items down into the smallest possible components for transporting. Label smaller pieces and place them in boxes. Wrap everything else in moving blankets to prevent scratches and clearly label the screws, nuts, and bolts needed to reassemble your furniture upon arrival.

Televisions – When moving televisions, most people just loosely pack them into their moving trucks or rental containers. This heightens the chance of the TV falling over and cracking or shifting during transportation. A heavy duty TV box kit will protect your televisions from unwanted shifting.

Floor Lamps – Remove the lightbulbs and any lampshades to pack in separate boxes. Wrap the floor lamp base in a moving blanket and secure the blanket with packing tape. Stand it up between two heavy pieces of furniture to keep it from moving during transit.

Odd-Shaped Items – Some things simply will not fit in a box. All you can do is wrap them as safely as possible with bubble wrap, moving blankets, and tape. Protect delicate elements and protruding parts with bubble wrap, then wrap the entire piece in moving blankets and secure with packing tape or plastic wrap. Handle these items with care throughout the move.

We hope these solutions will be beneficial for moving those unusual items that don’t fit neatly into a basic box. If you still have questions, just give us a call and let us know what you need. Zippy Shell aims to make the moving process as simple as possible!

Common Winter Pests and What to do About them

winter pests

It may not be officially winter just yet, but it sure feels like it is. The autumn festivals and pumpkin carving with the kids feels like ages ago now that the frigid temperatures have set in. All most of us want to do is get warm and cozy in the house until it warms back up again. Unfortunately, there are quite a few pests that feel the same way. While some pests, like the ants and mosquitos, have disappeared with the appearance of cold weather, we are going to see some other ones trying to sneak into the comfort of your heated home. Take a look at some of the most common winter pests and what you can do about them.

RATS AND MICE

It is not uncommon to spot a mouse or a rat in the home throughout the winter months. They are looking for warmth, food, and water and will take up residence wherever they can find it. They can, unfortunately, carry diseases that can make humans very sick so if you suspect your home is being visited by rats or mice in the night or when you aren’t around, you should take steps to make sure they are caught. You can find a variety of solutions, including live traps, at most stores. Also important is determining the entryway point for the rodents so you can seal them. For extra assurance, keep the food in your pantry in sealed containers.

COCKROACHES

There are many different types of cockroaches, but I think we all can agree that they are pretty icky. They too look to your home for food, water, and comfortable temperatures. These little critters can get out of control very quickly, especially if they have found a treasure trove of resources. Be sure you are keeping your home clean of food, and even debris like papers and cardboard. You can try to use store-bought solutions like bait traps, but if the infestation gets too out of hand, you may need to call in a pest control specialist to rid your home of these guys.

BROWN RECLUSE AND BLACK WIDOW SPIDERS

We can sometimes see an influx of spiders in the home during the winter months, but most are often harmless. There are two spiders, in particular, that if you see in your home should cause some concern—the brown recluse spider and black widow spider. Thankfully, both of these spiders have distinct markings that make them easy to identify. The brown recluse has a violin-like shape on its back, hence the nickname “fiddleback”. The black widow spider is black with a red hourglass shape on its abdomen. Neither one of these spiders like to be around people, so take care when you disturb dark corners of the garage or rarely used areas of the house. If you were to find multiple spiders, this is another case where we would recommend a professional pest control company to treat your home. These spiders are highly venomous and should not be left in the house.

Have you had to deal with any of these pests during the cold months? Stop by our Facebook page to share your stories with our online community. We look forward to hearing from you!

How to Use Less Water in Your Home

save water

It’s always a good thing to use less energy and water in the home. Last month, we talked about ways to be more energy-efficient and to save money. This time, we will go over some ways you can decrease your water usage.

MAKE SURE NOTHING LEAKS OR RUNS

If you have a leaky faucet or toilet, you can be using far more water than you realize. There are different ways to determine if you have something leaking. First, pay attention to your toilets after you flush them. Once they refill, they should not make any noise. If it continues to run, this is using unnecessary water. You can check for leaky faucets by putting a cup under the faucets at night and checking if there is water in the cups when you get up in the morning. Don’t forget to check around the outside of the house for unexplained water or soggy ground that could be explained by a leaking exterior pipe.

INVEST IN WATER EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

This is not a cheap solution, but if you are using old appliances, you may want to consider investing in newer, more efficient appliances. New dishwashing and washing machines are made to use much less water and energy. You can also swap out your old toilets for the newer low flow or dual flush toilets to help save water.

SWAP OUT YOUR SHOWER HEADS AND FAUCET AERATORS 

If you are still using the shower heads that came with the house, you can purchase and install newer, water restricting or low-flow shower heads. An easy way to choose a water-saving shower head is by looking for a “WATERSENSE” label. This is a program run by the EPA so you know you will be choosing an efficient product. Changing out the aerators on your faucets is another DIY change you can make to use less water when using your faucets. These work to reduce the flow of water by mixing air with the water to use less without creating a noticeable change in water pressure.

JUST USE LESS WATER

This sounds obvious, but there are ways to conserve water just by making some simple changes to your daily habits. Sometimes it can take a few days to train yourself to make and stick to these changes, but we know you can do it. You can start by making sure you are never letting a faucet run when it doesn’t need to be. If you are brushing your teeth, turn the faucet off until it is time to rinse off your toothbrush. When you are shaving, you can use a cup of water to dip your razor in between shaves. Don’t handwash dishes under a running faucet; instead, fill a sink with soapy water to wash all your dishes. You can also challenge yourself to take shorter and faster showers. You can even purchase a shower timer to assist in making this difficult change.

We hope you find these tips helpful and are successful in your goal of saving water in the home. If you have any other ideas on water conservation in the home, stop by our Facebook page and share with our ZIPPY SHELL community. We would love to hear from you!

If you need flexible moving and storage solutions, give us a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online. We can help!

5 Tasks to Complete Before Putting Your House on the Market

House at dusk

Receiving timely, over-asking-price offers is always the goal when placing your home on the market. Today we are sharing 5 tasks that will give prospective buyers a great first impression. In addition, these tasks can add thousands of dollars to the value of your home and cut the time it takes to sell. By portraying the picture of a flawless house, home buyers can see the full potential of your space.

Boost Curb Appeal

Great curb appeal can create a lasting first impression. It’s important that your landscaping looks neat and that it complements your home’s exterior. Make sure your yard is looking its best by clearing out debris, watering the grass, trimming the hedges, mowing the lawn, and putting in a few annual flowers to brighten things up. Clean the exterior of your home and add some bold, vibrantly colored accessories like planters, door decorations, or a welcome sign.

Deep Clean

The kind of clean your home needs to be before listing is not the same as weekly vacuuming, dusting, and cleaning the bathrooms. It is not even the type of cleaning you would do before your mother-n-law comes for a visit. We are talking about a deep, deep clean. This means baseboards, appliances, light fixtures, switch plates, vents, fan blades, windowsills, drawers, cabinets, fireplace – nothing is off limits. Potential buyers will examine your home and its contents with a fine tooth comb. A spotless home will send the message that this is a well-maintained property. Hiring a cleaning crew for a one-time deep clean is definitely a wise investment as it can add to your resale value.

Revive the Flooring

Take a hard look at the area underfoot. Allow your floors to put their best foot forward with a professional cleaning, especially if you have carpet. Hardwood floors should be buffed and polished before the first open house.

Tackle Maintenance

All the little things that annoy you about your home like the drippy faucet, the sticking drawer, or the squeaky closet door should be addressed before putting your home on the market. Buyers will be coming into test drive your home and every blemish can stick out in their mind. This is a good time to tackle the tiny nicks, scuffs, scratches, and holes that may stand out to buyers.

Refresh with Paint

Freshly painted rooms are a natural attraction. Using a light or neutral shade will allow buyers to more easily picture themselves living in your home. Plus, lighter colors will make your home seem larger, cleaner, and more appealing. If your walls are still in pretty good shape, washing them can give the same desired look.

To give the illusion of space in your home, it may prove useful to store excess items off-site. We can deliver all-steel, weatherproof storage containers to you for all your storage needs. Zippy Shell delivers the container directly to your door to be loaded then safely stores all your furniture and other belongings back at our climate-controlled facility – out of sight and mind for you and your potential buyers. If you want a simple way to store your stuff, look no further than Zippy Shell.

5 Safety Checks for the Home

home checklist

Have you checked your home for potential hazards as we get ready to enter the winter season? Take some time this week to do a run through of these important safety checks to make sure your household has a safe and enjoyable holiday season.

  1. ENSURE YOU HAVE SAFE WALKWAYS: Not only do you want to make sure you are keeping your walkways clear of debris, you want to make sure you have everything you need to clear snow or de-ice the walkway if you live in an area where snow and ice is an issue. One of the most common injuries during the winter season is slip-and-fall accidents in the driveway or walkways.
  2. HAVE YOUR FIREPLACE AND CHIMNEY INSPECTED: It is important to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned each year before use. Soot and built-up creosote can cause fires that can quickly spread to the rest of the home. This can be devastating. Hire a professional to come out to your home to make sure your fireplace is safe to use this winter.
  3. REPLACE BATTERIES FOR ALL ALARMS: You should make sure that all your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have fresh batteries and that they have all been tested to ensure each one is working properly. Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can be the difference between life and death in a dangerous situation like a house fire or a carbon monoxide leak.
  4. BE AWARE OF POTENTIAL WINTER HAZARDS: The winter season comes with hazards that are not an issue the rest of the year. We tend to use things that increase the risk of a house fire during the winter. Space heaters, in particular, is something that many of us use but don’t always pay attention to the warning labels. Never leave space heaters running unattended. Turn them off when you leave the house. You should also be aware that Christmas trees can be a potential flammable item in your home this winter and turn the lights off when you go to bed or you leave the house.
  5. CREATE A SAFETY PLANS AND KITS FOR POTENTIAL EMERGENCIES: Create safety plans for potential winter emergencies that everyone in the family understands. You should have escape routes in case of a fire. You should have supply kits stocked in the case of a winter snow or ice storm that could have you trapped in your home. If you have a generator that you use when the power goes out, make sure everyone understands how to safely use it. The most important thing is that everyone, including the children, know what they are supposed to do during an emergency situation.

We hope these tips help as you get ready for the winter season. If you have a move coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online through our website. We have a variety of moving and storage options that will you flexibility for a stress-free move. We look forward to hearing from you!

5 Easy Home Enhancements

home improvement

The fall and winter season is a great time to work on the interior of your home. While it is a little cold for outdoor work, the inside can get some updates and enhancements before the new year. You don’t have to do a big remodel to see some drastic improvements in your home. Take a look at 5 of our favorite home enhancement ideas!

UPDATE YOUR FIREPLACE

If you have a fireplace in your home, you probably get a lot of use out of it throughout the winter season. Why not give it an update to create a brand-new aesthetic in your home. You can give it a new coat of paint or even add brick or stone. If you don’t already have a mantle on your fireplace, this is an easy and inexpensive way to give it an entirely new look. You will have a great place to hang your stockings this holiday season as a bonus!

GIVE YOUR FLOORING A BOOST

Whether you have carpet, tile, hardwoods, or linoleum—give your floors some extra care and attention this fall and winter. They have seen a lot of traffic over the year and could use some love. If you have a lot of carpet, hire a professional to come in and give them a good clean. Hardwoods need to be polished on occasion to restore them to their original shine. It would be a good time to go through and fill or repair any noticeable scratches as well. If you have linoleum that has seen better days, you can try to repair the worst areas or even put down some new flooring yourself.

FRESH COAT OF PAINT FOR WALLS AND TRIM

Giving your home a fresh coat of paint on the walls and trim is a dramatic way to completely revamp the look and feel of your home. It can be a big project, however, and if you don’t have time to do every room at the same time, consider tackling your most used rooms—like the living room.

RENEW YOUR CABINETS

There are a lot of ways you can renew your cabinets but painting them is an easy and affordable way to update the appearance of your kitchen. Some of our favorite cabinet colors this year are dark blues and grays.

CHANGE OUT OLD AND DATED HARDWARE

For a quick update in your home, you can change out all the doorknobs and replace the hardware on all your cabinets, drawers, and dressers. This is a fairly easy job that can probably be completed in one day, but will give your home an instant update.

How are you updating your home this fall and winter? We would love for you to share your home improvement plans with us and our online community.

If you have a move or remodel coming up, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online. We have a variety of moving and storage services that can fit any need.

Top 3 Fireplace Questions Answered

fire place

Nothing feels better in cold weather than the whole family curling up around a wood burning fireplace, especially during the holidays! Get ready for the snap, crackle, and pop of a cozy fire after reading the answers to these top fireplace questions.

What are the best safety practices when using a fireplace?

  • The National Fire Protection Association recommends both your chimney and fireplace be inspected for safety and cleaned annually. It is important to check for creosote build-up or blockages that could prevent smoke from escaping.
  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is clear of all flammable items such as furniture, drapes, books, or magazines.
  • Always use a fire screen or fireplace doors to contain sparks from your fireplace.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Make sure it is completely out before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Install both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test them monthly and change the batteries at least twice a year.

What is the best way to clean out a wood burning fireplace?

In addition to the annual heavy duty cleaning of the chimney, you will want to regularly clean out your fireplace to keep it burning cleanly. Wait at least 12 hours after your last fire before attempting to clean a fireplace in order to give the ashes and embers a chance to fully cool down. Wear old clothes, gloves, a face mask, and protective eyewear to keep the soot from irritating your lungs and skin. Lay a plastic tarp or old sheet in front of the fireplace to catch the mess. 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. 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! 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. The glass doors can be cleaned with a 50-50 solution of water and vinegar.

What is the best method for building a fire in a wood fireplace?

The first step is choosing the right wood. Use seasoned hardwood that has been split and dried for at least six months, but preferably for a year. Burning new wood is not recommended as it can cause more creosote buildup in your chimney. To prevent smoke from billowing into your home, be sure the damper is open. Next, crumble balls of newspaper and place them underneath the grate. Lay some dry kindling in a criss-cross pattern on top of the grate to ignite from the newspaper. Finish the stack by securely resting one to three dry logs over the kindling. Prime the flue by tightly rolling up a sheet of newspaper and holding it toward the open damper for a minute or two until you see the smoke going up the flue. Now light that glorious fire from the bottom! We hope answering these fireplace questions will help you get cozy this fall and winter. If you have a move coming up, contact us at Zippy Shell. We would be happy to discuss our storage and moving services and provide you with a free estimate.

Things to Consider When Creating a Home Wish List

Brick Home

If you are looking at buying a house, you probably already know that the available inventory is low since homes are flying off the market. Many homes are receiving offers the very first day they are listed! This can be frustrating to those who are trying to find the perfect home to purchase. But if you have been waiting for longer than you want, maybe it is time to revisit your home wish list and make some adjustments. Today we are going to talk about some areas of the home wish list that could warrant more flexibility and some that don’t.

  1. BUDGET:  One thing that should stay firm is the budget that you have determined for your next home. You don’t want to purchase a house that is more than you can afford. Instead of increasing what you are willing to pay for a house, adjust other aspects of your wish list in order to stay in your desired price range.
  2. LOCATION AND SCHOOL SYSTEM: If you have kids that you are trying not to move out of their current school system, you do not have much flexibility in the location of your next home. If not, consider widening the area of your search to give yourself more options. You may find your perfect home in the town next to one you have been looking in.
  3. STYLE AND LAYOUT OF THE HOUSE: If you do not have any accessibility needs, like a wheelchair ramp or a home with no stairs, the style and layout of the home can be an area where you can have some flexibility. If you have your heart set on a cape cod style home, but you find a colonial or craftsman that fits most of your other needs, it’s worth considering marking the cape cod style off the list.
  4. SIZE OF THE LOT AND HOUSE: If you have specific preferences for both the house and the lot you want, you may be waiting a little longer than if you make some concessions on the size you are hoping for. If you have a large family, the size of the house you get may be more important than for a couple who just sent their last child off to college.
  5. FLOORING AND COSMETICS: The flooring and cosmetic appearances of a home can seem like big items when touring homes, but if the price is right on a house, you can easily update the flooring, paint, hardware, and other cosmetic type items yourself. When looking at homes, try to envision them after you put your own personal touches on them instead of being dismayed at the wall-to-wall carpet when you want hardwood floors.

Have you recently bought a home and had to make changes to your wish list? Stop by our Facebook page and share your story with our growing online community. We’d love to hear from you!

If you have an upcoming move, Zippy Shell has the perfect moving and storage solutions for any of your local or cross-country moving needs. Give us a call at 888-947-7974 for a free, no-obligation estimate.

Top 10 Holiday Decorating Hacks

holiday decorating

The holidays are all about doing fun activities and making memories with friends and family. Baking, looking at lights, listening to music, watching holiday movies, opening gifts, enjoying good food and drinks, and decorating are all ways to enjoy the holidays with your loved ones. Some people stress over holiday decorating, but it should be fun, not stressful! Take the stress out of your holiday decorating with these fun and easy hacks.

Decorating the Tree

  • Bulk up your artificial tree by wrapping extra garland around areas that are looking bare.
  • If you are using a pre-lit tree, add an extra strand of lights or two for some extra sparkle. To make the look more interesting, add light strands with a different sized bulb.
  • For a perfectly balanced tree, place your large ornaments first and then fill in the gaps with smaller ones. You can also hang ball ornaments deep inside the branches of your tree to fill gaps and hide any bare spots. Use green floral wire or evergreen pipe cleaners to secure heavy or priceless ornaments to the branches.
  • We all know how tempting a fully decorated tree is for toddlers and fur babies. Hanging jingle bells on the bottom of your tree will give you a heads up when kids and pets are pulling on the branches.
  • If your old tree skirt has seen better days, multi-purpose a soft neutral-colored throw blanket as your tree skirt. It can be used year-round and doesn’t have to be stored the rest of the year!
  • When wrapping gifts for underneath the tree, use a specific gift wrap for each member of your family. This will cut down on having to use gift tags and if you keep your wrapping paper choices a secret, as a bonus it will also cut down on the holiday present peeking.

Decking the Halls

  • If you are short on storage and storing boxes of holiday decorations just doesn’t make the cut, use disposable items like paper or greenery to create cute holiday decorations.  Create festive garland with items like popcorn and cranberries that can be used to feed the birds after the holidays. Candy canes can also be used to create cute, edible decor.
  • Bring the outdoors in by cutting branches from winter trees such as pine and birch. You can use branches on your mantle, hanging above your bed, on the chandelier, or around the banister. Not only do these natural items look great you will also get a great holiday scent from them. Create natural garland out of pinecones or use them to make a wreath. You can spray paint your pinecone creations or add glitter for extra flair.
  • Using candles in hurricane vases surrounded by beads, evergreen, berries, fake snow, or small ornaments is always a favorite decor item. Get by with using less filler by placing a can beneath your candle in the vase. Not only will you use less filler your candle will sit perfectly straight! Another trick is to put a toilet paper roll in the middle of an apothecary jar allowing you to save filler there, too.
  • Tie strips of ribbon or burlap in any color scheme onto a string of lights to make a quick, cute garland. 

Finally, take photos of your decor when it’s all in place so you can remember for next year! And if you have a move coming up after the holidays, or you need options for storage, give Zippy Shell a call for a free, no-obligation estimate.

Tips for Saving a Down Payment for Your First Home

saving money

Buying a house requires a lot of planning. You need to have a certain credit score, a specific length of time spent at your current job, a certain income, and according to the loan you are going to apply for, you may need a down payment. Saving up a large sum of money can be difficult, but with some changes to your spending and budget, you can increase the amount of money you can save each month.

ANALYZE YOUR SPENDING AND BUDGET

If you don’t know where your money is being spent, it is going to be difficult to save for your down payment. Pull out your bank statements from the last few months and categorize all your spending. Pay close attention to the money that is being spent on extra items like entertainment, eating out, and anything could be cut or pared down to save that money. Some things simply cannot be downsized, like your monthly rental payments.

CUT OUT BAD HABITS AND EXTRA EXPENSES

Whether it is smoking or a daily stop at Starbucks, cutting out any habits that costs money is going to help you save money faster than you think. Do you order out your lunch every day at work? Start packing one instead. Do you subscribe to every streaming service? Cancel all but your favorite. Cancel magazine subscriptions or any monthly subscription that you don’t need. If you don’t already, start shopping the sales at the grocery stores, use digital and physical coupons, and plan ahead in order to save money on what is typically a big monthly expense. Remember, you are making big changes to meet a big goal. It is going to take work and sacrifice, but it will be worth it in the end.

PAY OFF DEBTS

If you have credit card or other outstanding debts, work on getting those paid down or completely paid off. Not only will this help you cut out some of your monthly bills, but it will also make your debt-to-income ratio much more attractive. That’s a big deal when you go to apply for a loan.

SWITCH PROVIDERS

Call your current car insurance, internet, and cell phone service providers and see if they can offer you any current customer discounts. If not, call around and find new providers that can give you better prices. Any place that you can save money will help you meet your goals.

CONSIDER DOWNSIZING

If you have a lot of things in your current home or apartment that you don’t really need or even want, consider having a yard sale or selling online. This can make you some extra money that can go straight to your savings.

MARKET YOUR SKILLS

Do you have a special skill or craft? Maybe you can knit, paint, sew, or cook. Market your skills and make some extra money on the side to help boost your savings.

Do you have any other tips for saving for a down payment? Stop by our Zippy Shell Facebook page and share with our online community.

If you have a move coming up, or you need mobile storage, give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online. We would be happy to give you more information on all our moving and storage services and can give you a no-obligation estimate. We look forward to hearing from you!