Jumpstart Spring Cleaning with These 5 Tips

cleaning

Although it seems like we just celebrated the holidays, spring is around the corner. This is a great time for a fresh start to ease into spring cleaning without being overwhelmed. If you are considering storing away some items, you will really be glad you got a jumpstart on your spring cleaning to-do list. While the hardest part is getting started, here are 5 tips to help you tackle this chore head on!

Declutter: A good purge always puts someone in a good mood. “Stuff” weighs us down and streamlining your “extra stuff” can be like a weight-loss tool! Focus on your spring cleaning by decluttering so you can attack the deep cleaning. If the item hasn’t been used in over a year, you may want to consider selling, donating, storing or trashing. If you are having a yard sale, put items away from sight or box up, tape up, and label “yard sale.” This will eliminate the temptation to dig back into the box.

Supplies: Keep an eye out for specials throughout the year on cleaning supplies. Stock up when discounts are available. Get a vehicle, such as a shower caddy, to hold the supplies so you can easily take them from room to room. Look for supplies that cover multi-tasks to eliminate lugging too many cleaning supplies around.

Make a plan: Once you have decluttered and made an inventory of your cleaning supplies, make a plan and set goals if you haven’t already done this. Decide what rooms to tackle first. Some professionals suggest clean each room in a circle or from top to bottom. These suggestions can help with the flow of cleaning making it more effective and manageable.

Think outside the routine: Keeping the surface areas clean is important, but don’t forget to think of areas outside the routine cleaning zones. Here are a few suggestions: between refrigerator coils, on top of ceiling fan blades, inside the washing machine, around HVAC vents, inside light fixtures, on and around windows, around door frames and crown molding, behind the toilet, etc. It’s also a good time to check the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

Lighten up: Many people aren’t jumping up and down to tackle their spring cleaning to-do list. But with a shift in attitude, you can make this often-overwhelming feat much easier to bear. Crank up the stereo with your favorite tunes and jump in. Buy yourself something as a reward when you are finished. Another idea is to get the family involved. Assign age-appropriate tasks for the kids and make it a competition. As long as they aren’t adding to the chore list, the extra help should help you whittle down your spring cleaning to-do list quicker!

We hope these tips will help you attack spring cleaning with a positive, yet productive force. Just pretend that every room you clean will put you one step further to enjoying the fruits of your labor! And remember, if you need to store some items that aren’t being used right now, consider storing your things 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!

How to Boost the Curb Appeal of Your Piedmont Triad Home

A Well Kept Home's Front Yard

What exactly is curb appeal? It is essentially how appealing your home looks when first viewed from the street, like a first impression. Of course, we all know first impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo. Increasing your curb appeal can add thousands of dollars to the value of your Piedmont Triad home and cut the time it takes to sell. Even if you don’t plan on selling anytime soon, sprucing up your property can provide a more positive first and lasting impression!

  • The simplest way to boost curb appeal is to have a well-manicured lawn. Set the foundation for great curb appeal with healthy, evenly trimmed, weed-free grass. Next put any dead, dying, or sad-looking plants and shrubbery out of their misery and out of your yard. When bringing in new greenery, mix things up with a variety of plants that will bloom at different times during the season.
  • Create an inviting walkway to the door you use as your main entrance. Pavers or stone are extremely popular options for a beautiful walkway. Flank the area with colorful landscaping and incorporate illumination to finish the look.
  • Speaking of illumination, entryway lighting is crucial for setting a welcoming mood and providing security. A combination of pathway, landscaping, and entryway lighting is the perfect recipe for perfect curb appeal.
  • Add a splash of style to your home with bold, vibrant colors. Go big by painting your front door or front shutters with an exciting color or you can go smaller by 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.

Inspired yet? Just think of the amazing feeling you will get each and every time you drive up and realize that gorgeously maintained Piedmont Triad property is all yours! If you are looking to make a move to the Piedmont Triad area or need local storage services, give your local Zippy Shell of the Piedmont Triad a call at 336-499-3386 or visit our website to learn more!

5 Ways to Ramp Up the Curb Appeal of Your North Texas Home

Whether you are getting ready to put your North Texas home on the market or are simply looking for ways to make it look fresh and cheery for spring, now is a great time to tackle a few outside-the-home projects.

Spruce Up the Landscaping with Color Mulch: This is an easy one. Your local big box home store or locally-owned nursery probably is already bursting with fresh annuals and greenery. Take time to update/upgrade your beds or adding a couple of well-placed planters or window boxes. North Texas is blessed with amazing year-round weather. Think about upgrading to some perennials so they come back year after year.

Update Your Mailbox: Often, the mailbox is the last thing we think about, yet it’s one of the first things someone sees! Consider installing a new mailbox or painting the old one so it looks clean and new.

Clean Up: Do you have leaves in your gutters? Visible trashcans? Toys strewn about the lawn? Dirty fencing? Sometimes simply picking up the clutter and trash around the front area can make all the difference. If you have excess toys or outdoor furniture you no longer use, consider storing that until you need it.

Repair It: Easy spruce ups also include repairing or replacing torn window screens, touching up peeling trim around front windows and doors and even replacing bulbs.

Paint It: What about that front door? A fresh new color can take a ho-hum curb appeal house to a wow house! Ask your paint experts about best colors to match your existing exterior and trim colors. Be sure to choose paints that will stand up to the North Texas heat.

You don’t have to break the bank this spring to update the curb appeal of your home! Just a few simple changes can make a dramatic difference.

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

Quick Weekend Renovation Projects for Your Home

Install a medicine cabinet

Find a medicine cabinet that matches the shape of your mirror to hang it right behind your mirror with a few screws.  If you cannot find one that has a similar shape, hang any medicine cabinet above your toilet or next to your bathroom mirror.  This storage hack can easily be done in less than an hour.

Paint or paper a wall

Paint a whole room a new color or spruce up a room by adding wallpaper to one wall in a room.  This works great for a bathroom to accent around your sink and mirror.

Replace your showerhead

Buy a low flow showerhead or a showerhead that allows you to adjust the water pressure.  This will allow you to save money on your water bill and help the environment.

Weather seal your doors and windows

Insert foam weather stripping on the bottoms of your doors or on the panels of your windows.  This will keep your house sealed from cold fall air coming through.  This will also prevent you from wasting money on having to crank your heat up to keep your house warm.

Spice up your trim

Repaint your wall or door trim to give it a refreshed look.  Add a pop of color by painting a new color over it that balances well with the room.  This can also be applied well to your fireplace trim to give it a more modern look.

Patch up holes in your wall

You may have had a few holes in your walls that have been meaning to get fixed for a while now.  Take a minimal amount of time out of your weekend to put some spackle over old holes to clean up the room.

Storage in the Piedmont Triad Area

A customer in the Piedmont Triad area recently needed storage space while renovating their home. Zippy Shell delivered two onsite storage units to the customer’s home. The shells were loaded and put into a tight space in the customer’s backyard for the ease of unloading. The customer unloaded the items and put them back into their respecting rooms once the renovation in that room was complete. Then they would load the shell up with the other items from the next room while the renovation progressed. At one point, even a full-size stand up piano was loaded into the shell, stored, then unloaded without any damage to the piano. It was then easily transported back into the basement where it came from.
If you are looking to renovate your home and need storage for your furniture while the renovations are being done, get a quote with Zippy Shell today! We can provide onsite storage right at your home for easy access to your items or provide portable storage units that we can store at our climate-controlled storage facility.

Plants That Will Purify Your Home

Adding some of these plants to your home will help better the air quality in your home as well as create an aesthetic.

Aloe plant

While being known for soothing dry skin and burns, aloe is also good for the air. It helps clear the air pollutants found in chemical products used within your home.

English Ivy

Ivy is a great plant to add some beauty to your living space. They can climb structures and can grow along walls. This is great for an indoor space along a wall and does not require too much sunlight.

Peace Lily

Lilies are one of the few houseplants that will bloom indoors. Add this pop of color to your household during any season. Its high transpiration rate will also humidify your air.

Boston Fern

Ferns remove more formaldehyde than any other plant. The only catch is that these plants require a lot of attention, so you may have to water them daily.

Spider Plant

This easy-to-grow plant is one of the most effective plants at fighting off toxins like carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, and benzene.

Red-Edged Dracaena

This beautiful plant can grow up to ceiling height (up to 15 feet) so it is great at filling in spaces. It also removes pollutants including trichloroethylene and xylene.