Invest in Your Home With These DIY Projects

A family takes a break from painting their house

It is never a bad idea or a wrong time to invest in your home and capitalize on the long-term benefits of home improvement. DIY home improvement projects reduce the amount of money you spend on a project giving you the most significant return on investment. Plus, the satisfaction and enjoyment you will receive from creating a better home environment and learning new home improvement skills are just bonuses. We have rounded up a list of DIY projects you can start on today.

  • Painting – This is an easy one to start developing your DIY skills. Painting anything and everything is a great cost-effective way to completely transform your home’s look and give you the most bang for your DIY buck. It can be messy, and you will have to move things around, as it can take a while for the paint to dry between coats. But trust us, it is worth it!
  • Update Fixtures – Light fixtures, bathroom fixtures, kitchen fixtures, doorknobs, and cabinet hardware are all easy DIY updates that can make a huge difference.  Fixtures go in and out of style pretty frequently and can quickly turn a dated-looking home into a beautiful home. 
  • Upgrade Your Doors – A new front entry door will add to the beauty of your home and will reduce utility bills. It also has one of the highest returns on investment. Replacing your garage door is another DIY option. You can upgrade to a spiffy new steel model and save some cash by keeping the same motorized opener.
  • Go Green – Instead of building a privacy fence, plant one! By planting a living privacy fence, you can create the seclusion you crave, block noise, and create a natural windbreak. While a living privacy fence is not a quick fix, your patience will be rewarded with a unique botanical barrier that serves your purposes and helps save the earth. There are a wide variety of plant options for your living fence. Evergreen trees, evergreen or flowering shrubs, or ornamental grasses are all good ideas. You can also consider a trellis covered in vines or a structure that will support a vertical garden.
  • Finished Basement or Attic – Depending on the size, this project may take a little more time and will likely require professional help. The result will provide you with additional square footage that everyone could use right now. Think about using the new area for a home office, a guest room, a workout area, or a place to entertain.

Are you inspired yet? If you need extra storage space to work on DIY home improvement projects, Zippy Shell has onsite and portable storage solutions perfect for the job. You can feel confident knowing that your furniture, appliances, and personal belongings are safe and within easy reach during home improvement projects. You can also use our storage containers to house your project materials and tools. A portable storage container is like having your very own storage facility located right on your property. Learn more and receive a free, no-obligation quote by visiting www.zippyshell.com today.

3 Inspiring Outdoor Trends for Summer

A back porch pergola arranged with flowers

As the weather warms up and the sun comes out, outdoor spaces become the place to gather. The past year of a pandemic has shown us the value of having inspiring outdoor spaces at our homes to welcome small groups of friends and family safely in an open-air environment. What would your dream outdoor space look like? Here are some trends to help you envision an area where you can cheer on summer!

Pergola

Beyond being beautiful, pergolas offer many benefits. One of the most important benefits of a pergola is that it defines your outdoor space. While a deck or patio can also define your space, a pergola does this with more beauty and style. Going the extra mile by combining your pergola with flooring such as pavers, a concrete patio, or a deck creates a much more cozy atmosphere. Adding to the beauty of pergolas is that they can support landscaping features such as climbing flowers, vines, and ivy. Pergolas can also provide that perfect combination of shade and sun. You can still see the beauty of the sky and stars with slight breaks from the sun’s full force.

Fire Feature

There are so many options for having a fire feature in your outdoor space. Of course, some are more budget-friendly than others. You can choose from a DIY concrete paver ring, a stone fireplace, a chiminea, a kerosene fire table, or a wood-burning fire pit. A fire feature adds ambiance, and it will become a focal point for meaningful conversation. It can also take the chill out of the air once the sun goes down. Bring out a basket of lap blankets on especially chilly nights. Depending on the type of fire feature you choose, cooking over a fire can be a fun option. Who doesn’t love fireside s’mores?

Backyard Entertainment

While you are spending time in your backyard this summer with friends and family, make memories by having some fun. Outdoor movies under the stars are always a hit, especially with younger kids. Many adults could also get behind a movie night filled with “classics” from way back when. Backyard games can fill the night with laughter. Think along the lines of bocce ball, ladder golf, corn hole, giant checkers, or badminton. Or maybe your idea of “entertainment” is just quiet relaxation. If that is the case, lounge chairs, hammocks, or an outdoor daybed for reading may increase your speed. Adding a water feature can enhance the relaxation factor. 

If you need extra on-site storage for tools or materials while working on the backyard of your dreams, Zippy Shell makes it easy. Portable storage containers are a popular option during remodeling or construction because they give you the flexibility of having extra items on hand for the duration of your project. Learn more about our storage solutions by visiting www.zippyshell.com today!

6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Not Skip

A nice home front in a neighborhood

It is essential to keep up with the maintenance around your home and property to keep everything in good repair. There is nothing worse than an ill-timed breakdown when some simple maintenance could have prevented it. We have listed six commonly skipped maintenance tasks that we think are too important to forget. Take a look!

Have your HVAC unit serviced

If you have your HVAC unit serviced at least once a year, you will find that you maintain peak energy efficiency and prolong the life of the unit. Just like with your vehicle, regular maintenance helps prevent breakdowns that could potentially end with you needing to replace the whole unit.

Check your sump pump

If you have a sump pump, you know how vital it is to be in good working condition. If it stops working, you want to know about it before a big rainstorm, not after! You should consult the owner’s manual for your sump pump and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and maintenance. You can also have your sump pump professionally inspected if you prefer.

Clean your refrigerator condenser coils

The condenser coils on your refrigerator are located at the bottom of the back of the fridge. They work to cool and condense the refrigerant. If they get covered with dirt, dust, debris, and pet hair, they will not be able to release heat efficiently and will make your fridge work harder and harder until it eventually gives out. It’s a relatively easy job to clean them. You can purchase a coil cleaning brush to scrub off the coils, vacuuming as you go. Be sure you unplug your fridge anytime you work on it.

Clean your exhaust fans

Your bathroom exhaust fans are important for making sure that condensation doesn’t build up in your bathroom, causing mildew and mold. If it gets full of dust, it can stop working efficiently. You should make sure to clean it once a year. This task requires a little more effort but will be worth it. First, turn the power off to the fan at the circuit box. Remove the grate covering the fan and wash it with a gentle dishwashing liquid and warm water. You can then remove the dust on the fan assembly with compressed air or a vacuum attachment. Once everything is clean and dry, you can replace the grate and turn the power back on.

Clean your dryer vents

If you have ever noticed that your clothes are taking longer and longer to dry, they are coming out of the dryer hot (not warm) to the touch, or you smell something burning, it is time to clean out the vents to your dryer. This is an easy task, but you may need to visit your local home improvement store to purchase a dryer vent cleaning kit. It usually will include a long brush and vacuum attachment that can fit into the vent.

Check for dead limbs and trees around your home

Dead limbs and trees near your home present a real danger. It would be best to do regular checks on the trees close to the home or hire an arborist to do an evaluation.

We hope these tips help as you make your home maintenance list this year. If you have a move coming up, feel free to give Zippy Shell a call at 888-947-7974 or contact us online. Our portable storage options are perfect for any move or storage needs you may have.

We look forward to hearing from you!

DIY Fence Installation Tips

A wood fence in a backyard

More and more people are making improvements to their homes during the pandemic, especially improvements to their outdoor space. With the price of lumber currently at all-time highs, many people have been thinking about doing a DIY fence installation to cut down on costs. Depending on the size of the fence you are installing it can take a weekend to a week or even more to complete, but there are some things you need to know before beginning. Keep reading to see if this is a project you think you can tackle on your own.

  • The first step is to determine if you need any building or zoning permits to build a fence on your property. Also, check your survey to determine exact property lines and find out about any easements. Do some research into your neighborhood bylaws as they may contain specifications for fence height, materials, or appearance.
  • Sharing a fence line across the edge of your property with a neighbor is a good way to share the cost. If you choose to go this route, be sure to have a written agreement in place before beginning any construction. Even if you aren’t going to be sharing a fence with your neighbors, it would be courteous to discuss your plans with them before breaking ground.
  • Always call 811 before you dig. Underground utilities need to be clearly marked to avoid a dangerous situation or a service interruption.
  • Choose your materials wisely. Wood fences are beautiful and economical, but they require regular maintenance. Cedar or redwood is typically used as these woods are more resistant to rot and decay. Always use pressure-treated wood for the posts as the parts that go into the ground are susceptible to insects and moisture. Composite, vinyl, or metal fence materials cost more upfront, but require much less in time and money for maintenance.
  • Mark the layout of your fence clearly with stakes and line. Determine the location of all the posts and mark those spots for digging. Fence posts should be installed a minimum of 36” into the ground. Adding gravel to the bottom of the hole will provide extra drainage that will prevent water from affecting the bottom of your fence posts. Use a level to ensure fence posts are plumb in both directions. The more secure your fence posts, the longer your fence will last. After securing the posts with cement, allow them to dry for 24 hours.
  • Installation of the fence panels will vary depending on the type of fence you choose. Be sure to use galvanized or stainless steel screws and nails as they are resistant to rust and corrosion.
  • Secure the gate. Gates are often the most difficult part of your fence installation as you have to be spot on with your measurements and you often need at least one additional pair of hands to hold it in place while you attach the hardware.
  • If using wood, protect it. Staining helps extend the life of a wooden fence by protecting it from elements that cause rotting.

Take advantage of the warm weather this spring to make some home improvements. We can deliver all-steel, weatherproof storage containers to you for all your home improvement storage needs. If you want a simple way to store your stuff, look no further than Zippy Shell

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.

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!