As the cold winter months approach, homeowners gear up for the challenges that come with plummeting temperatures. Besides winterizing their homes and vehicles, it’s crucial to consider the safe storage of items like gasoline and other potentially hazardous materials. Proper storage not only ensures safety but also preserves the quality and usability of these substances. Here’s a comprehensive guide on safely storing gas and other items during the winter.
Invest in approved containers specifically designed for gasoline storage. Look for containers made of sturdy materials like metal or plastic, equipped with secure caps to prevent leakage. Ensure the containers are in good condition without any cracks or damages.
Store gasoline in a well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight and any potential heat sources. Ideally, keep it in a detached, well-ventilated shed or garage. Avoid storing it in your home or basement to mitigate the risk of fumes accumulation.
Gasoline can expand in extreme temperatures, leading to container damage or leakage. Ensure the storage area remains at a moderate temperature to prevent any adverse effects on the container or the gasoline itself.
Clearly label the containers as “Gasoline” to avoid any confusion and ensure that it’s stored away from children and pets. Additionally, consider labeling the purchase date to keep track of its age and usability.
Only store the amount of gasoline needed for immediate use. Avoid storing excessive quantities as it increases the risk and could lead to potential hazards.
If you use propane for grills or heaters, ensure the tanks are stored upright in a well-ventilated area outside the home. Keep them away from potential ignition sources and check for any leaks before storing them.
Many household cleaning products can be affected by extreme temperatures. Ensure these items are stored in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight. Check the labels for any specific storage instructions.
Cold temperatures can negatively impact the performance of batteries. Store spare batteries in a dry, room-temperature environment to maintain their efficacy.
Store these items in a climate-controlled area, away from freezing temperatures. Freezing can alter their composition, rendering them unusable.
Drain fuel from lawn mowers, snow blowers, and other outdoor equipment before storing them for the winter. This prevents fuel from degrading or causing damage to the machinery.
Always ensure proper ventilation in the storage area to prevent the buildup of fumes.
Strictly prohibit smoking in the vicinity of any stored flammable items.
Equip the storage area with fire extinguishers and smoke detectors for added safety measures.
By adhering to these storage guidelines, homeowners can ensure the safety of their families, properties, and the environment during the winter months. Remember, proper storage not only prevents hazards but also maintains the quality and usability of these items for future use. Stay safe, stay prepared, and enjoy a cozy winter season!
The holiday season is upon us, and that means gatherings, laughter, and the joy of hosting friends and family. Sometimes, those moments happen spontaneously. Whether it’s a planned gathering or an unexpected visit, getting your house guest-ready in under an hour can feel daunting. Fear not! With a strategic approach and a dash of creativity, you can transform your space into a welcoming haven for your guests in under an hour. Here are five easy steps to get your house guest-ready and leave a lasting impression.
The first step to a guest-ready home is to clear the clutter. Grab a laundry basket or a large bin and swiftly move through each room, gathering misplaced items. Focus on the main living areas and guest spaces like the living room, bathroom, and guest bedroom. Tuck away shoes, coats, and any lingering personal items into closets or under the bed. This simple act instantly creates an organized and inviting atmosphere.
Now that the clutter is under control, it’s time for a speed clean. Focus on high-traffic areas and surfaces. Wipe down countertops, tables, and kitchen appliances. Give the bathroom a quick once-over, replacing used towels with fresh ones and making sure the essentials like hand soap are stocked. A quick vacuum or sweep of the floors will make a significant difference in the overall tidiness of your home.
The right lighting can set the mood and create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. In each room, ensure that you have enough light to create a bright and inviting space. Open curtains or blinds to let in natural light during the day, and strategically place lamps or candles for a cozy ambiance in the evening. Consider using warm-toned light bulbs to add a touch of sophistication.
Inject a bit of holiday spirit into your home with minimal effort. Grab a few festive throw pillows and blankets to adorn your living room and guest areas. A scented candle with seasonal fragrances like cinnamon or pine can instantly make your space feel more inviting. If you have a little more time, a small bowl of holiday-themed snacks or a tray of hot beverages can add an extra special touch for your guests to enjoy.
Finally, add a personal touch to make your guests feel truly welcome. Place a few fresh flowers in a vase, set out a stack of magazines, or arrange some family photos in the guest bedroom. These small touches go a long way in creating a comfortable and inviting space that your guests will appreciate.
In under an hour, you’ve transformed your home into a haven for guests, ready to celebrate the holiday season. With a clear and organized space, a touch of holiday cheer, and a warm ambiance, you’ll make your guests feel right at home, creating lasting memories for the season. So, take a deep breath, follow these simple steps, and get ready to welcome your guests with open arms and a festive spirit!
The holiday season is a magical time of year when homes are adorned with twinkling lights, festive ornaments, and the unmistakable scent of evergreen trees. Christmas decorations have the power to transform your living space into a winter wonderland, and the question of when to put them up and take them down is a yearly conundrum. Let’s dive into the traditions and considerations that can help you strike the perfect balance.
Thanksgiving Weekend: Many people consider the Thanksgiving weekend to be the unofficial starting point for the Christmas season. After all, it’s a time when family and friends gather, making it an excellent opportunity to put up the decorations together.
The First Weekend of December: If you’re not a fan of mixing holidays or want to preserve the distinctiveness of Thanksgiving, the first weekend of December is a popular choice. It allows you to enjoy your Christmas decorations for a full month.
Advent: For those who follow Christian traditions, Advent begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas and marks the official start of the Christmas season. Many families choose to decorate their homes during this time, adding one element to their decorations each Sunday.
Personal Preference: Ultimately, the best time to put up your Christmas decorations depends on your personal preferences. If you can’t wait to start celebrating, there’s no harm in decorating your home as early as you like.
Twelfth Night: The tradition of taking down Christmas decorations on Twelfth Night, which falls on January 5th or 6th, has been practiced in many cultures for centuries. It’s the 12th night after Christmas and is seen as the end of the Christmas season.
Epiphany: For Christians, January 6th, also known as Epiphany, commemorates the visit of the Magi to the infant Jesus. It is a significant day in the Christian calendar, and taking down decorations on this day is a way to honor the end of the Christmas season.
New Year’s Day: Some people prefer to start the new year with a fresh and uncluttered home. Taking down Christmas decorations on New Year’s Day can symbolize a fresh start and a clean slate for the year ahead.
Groundhog Day: A less common but fun approach is to take down your decorations on Groundhog Day (February 2nd). This lighthearted tradition can extend the holiday spirit well into the new year.
Personal Convenience: In the end, the best time to take down your Christmas decorations depends on your schedule and convenience. If you feel ready to return to a more minimalistic decor, don’t hesitate to take them down at your leisure.
Ultimately, when to put up and take down Christmas decorations is a matter of tradition and personal choice. Whether you’re an early decorator, a strict adherent of Twelfth Night, or someone who finds a middle ground, the key is to enjoy the process. Decorating for the holidays and taking down decorations can be a cherished family tradition or a personal moment of reflection and preparation for the year ahead.
Remember that there’s no right or wrong answer, and the most important thing is to make choices that bring joy to you and your loved ones. If you put up your decorations early and take them down late, it doesn’t matter as long as it fills your heart with the warmth and happiness of the season.
When you embark on the exciting journey of buying a home, you’ll come across many unfamiliar terms and concepts. One of these is “escrow.” Escrow is a crucial part of the home buying process, and in this blog, we’ll explain what it is and why it matters to you.
At its core, escrow is a financial arrangement in which a neutral third party holds and manages funds or assets involved in a transaction until specific conditions are met. In the context of buying a home, escrow plays a pivotal role in ensuring a smooth and secure process for both the buyer and the seller.
Escrow serves several essential purposes:
Security for Both Parties: The seller wants assurance that the buyer has the necessary funds to complete the purchase, while the buyer wants assurance that the property’s title is clear, and there are no outstanding liens or disputes. Escrow helps address these concerns.
Fair Disbursement of Funds: The escrow agent, often a title company or an attorney, is responsible for disbursing the funds at the appropriate time in the transaction. This ensures that the seller receives the agreed-upon purchase price and that any outstanding debts or fees are paid.
Safeguarding Important Documents: The escrow holder also safeguards important documents, such as the deed to the property and the buyer’s mortgage documents, until all terms of the contract are met.
Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of how escrow functions during the home buying process:
Open an Escrow Account: Once you and the seller have agreed on the terms of the sale and signed a purchase agreement, the escrow process begins. An escrow account is opened, and the buyer usually deposits the earnest money into this account. Earnest money is a good faith deposit, typically around 1-2% of the purchase price, which demonstrates the buyer’s commitment to the transaction.
Title Search and Inspection: While the earnest money is in escrow, the buyer conducts inspections and a title search to ensure the property is in good condition and that there are no legal issues with the title.
Mortgage Approval: If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage, the lender will require various documents and assessments. The lender may also place the loan funds in escrow to ensure that they are available when needed.
Closing Process: When all conditions are met, the parties proceed to the closing. At this point, all funds, including the down payment, closing costs, and the loan amount, are placed in escrow.
Final Review and Disbursement: The escrow agent reviews the closing documents and ensures that all funds are in place. Once everything is in order, the escrow agent disburses the funds to the seller, pays any outstanding debts or fees, and records the deed in the buyer’s name.
Closing Escrow: After the closing process is completed, escrow is officially closed, and ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer. The title company will provide a title insurance policy to protect the buyer from any unforeseen issues that may arise in the future.
For home buyers, escrow offers several benefits, including:
Protection: It provides a safety net to ensure that the transaction goes smoothly and that you get what you paid for – a clear title and a property in good condition.
Financial Security: Your earnest money and down payment are protected during the process.
Organization: Escrow ensures that all documents and funds are properly organized and disbursed at the right time.
While it may seem like a complex concept at first, working with a knowledgeable real estate agent and an experienced escrow officer can make the process much smoother and more manageable. So, as you embark on your home buying journey, rest assured that escrow is here to help you make your homeownership dreams come true.
In the age of online shopping, package theft has become an increasingly common problem for homeowners. With the convenience of having items delivered to our doorsteps comes the risk of those items falling into the wrong hands. Fortunately, there are several proactive steps you can take to safeguard your packages and prevent theft. Here are some valuable tips and tricks to help you keep your deliveries safe.
Most delivery services offer package tracking apps or websites where you can monitor the progress of your deliveries in real-time. By staying informed about when your packages are expected to arrive, you can be ready to retrieve them promptly, reducing the window of opportunity for thieves.
Investing in a home security camera system can be an effective deterrent against package theft. Visible cameras can discourage potential thieves, and if a theft does occur, you’ll have valuable footage to provide to law enforcement.
When placing an order, specify delivery instructions to keep your package out of sight from potential thieves. Request that packages be left in a less visible spot, such as behind a fence, by the back door, or with a trusted neighbor. Many delivery services offer options to add these specific instructions during the checkout process.
Some retailers and delivery services provide in-store pickup options or secure locker delivery services. Choosing these alternatives can significantly reduce the risk of package theft since your items will be stored in a secure location until you’re ready to retrieve them.
Consider investing in a smart package locker system if you frequently receive packages. These lockers can be installed on your property and provide a secure and convenient way to receive and retrieve deliveries. Some models even come equipped with electronic locks and smartphone notifications.
Whenever possible, schedule your deliveries for times when you’re at home. This way, you can personally accept and secure your packages immediately upon arrival. Many delivery services offer delivery windows that allow you to choose a time that works best for you.
Sign up for package delivery alerts from your preferred delivery service or retailer. You’ll receive notifications via email or text message when your package is on its way and when it’s been delivered, enabling you to act quickly to retrieve it.
Establish a good rapport with your neighbors and consider creating a neighborhood watch program. Neighbors can help keep an eye on each other’s properties and packages, making it more challenging for thieves to operate unnoticed.
Invest in a lockable mailbox or package box to add an extra layer of security. These boxes are designed to keep your packages safe until you can retrieve them, preventing them from being left out in the open.
If you suspect package theft has occurred, report it to your local law enforcement agency and provide any available surveillance footage. Timely reporting can aid in the recovery of stolen items and help prevent future thefts.
As the seasons change, temperatures fluctuate and kids return to school, it becomes almost inevitable that someone in your house will get sick. Whether it’s the common cold, the flu, or a new variant of COVID-19, it’s crucial to be proactive and prepare your home to minimize the risk of illness and ensure comfort when someone does fall sick.
Before coming down with whatever is going around, give your home a thorough cleaning. Pay special attention to high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, and countertops. Regularly disinfect these areas to prevent the spread of germs.
Make sure you have essential supplies on hand, including over-the-counter medications, tissues, hand sanitizers, and cleaning supplies. A well-stocked medicine cabinet and pantry can save you from last-minute runs to the store when you’re feeling under the weather.
Invest in an air purifier with HEPA filters to improve indoor air quality. Clean and replace air filters in your HVAC system regularly to reduce allergens and pathogens in the air. Proper ventilation also helps in circulating fresh air throughout your home.
Maintaining proper humidity levels in your home can prevent dry and irritated respiratory passages. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air, especially during the cold, dry months.
Place hand sanitizers and hand-washing stations in key areas around your home, such as near entrances and in the kitchen and bathroom. Encourage regular handwashing, and make it convenient by providing soap and disposable hand towels.
Designate a room in your home as a sick room if possible. Stock it with extra blankets, pillows, and tissues. This room can be isolated from the rest of the household to limit the spread of illness.
Ensure that your laundry room is well-equipped to handle the increased demand during sick season. Stock up on laundry detergent and have a dedicated laundry basket for soiled linens and clothing. Use the hottest water temperature recommended for the fabric to kill germs.
Keep yourself informed about current health advisories and vaccination recommendations. Consider getting flu shots and other recommended vaccines to reduce the risk of infection.
Have a plan in place for when someone in your household falls sick. Assign responsibilities for caregiving, and make sure everyone knows where to find necessary supplies and medications.
Prepare easy-to-make, nourishing meals and stock your pantry with non-perishable foods. Soups, broths, and canned goods can be lifesavers when cooking energy is low.
Gather comfort items like books, movies, and cozy blankets to make sick days more bearable. Creating a comforting environment can promote a quicker recovery.
Stress the importance of rest and recuperation when someone is sick. Adequate sleep helps the body fight off infections more effectively.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle year-round with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and good hygiene practices to boost immunity and reduce the risk of falling ill.
By implementing these steps and maintaining a clean and health-conscious home environment, you can significantly reduce the chances of getting sick and ensure a smoother recovery if illness does strike. Remember, a healthy home is a happy home, and taking proactive measures can help you and your loved ones stay well throughout the year.
How Phoenix homeowners treat their yard this autumn can determine the quality of their yard next spring and summer. Here are some helpful tips to help you lay a strong groundwork for a great yard next spring:
Grass still needs regular care to stay healthy. Grass that is too high may attract lawn-damaging field mice. Shorter grass is more resistant to diseases and traps fewer falling leaves. Cutting the grass low also allows more sun to reach the crown of the grass. However, cutting off too much at one time can be damaging, so never trim more than a third of the grass blades off in a single cutting. Put mower blades on the lowest settings for the last two cuts of the season.
Compressed soil can hurt the health of the grass. Aerating punches holes in the soil and lets oxygen, water, and nutrients into a lawn. Use a walk-behind aerator or get an attachment to pull behind a riding mower.
Many mowers can mulch leaves with an attachment. Since mulching with a mower can mix grass clippings with leaf particles, these nitrogen-rich grass particles and carbon-rich leaf particles will compost more quickly. They can then return nutrients to the soil.
Use trimmers, chainsaws, or pole pruners to cut back trees, shrubs, and plants. Make sure branches are safely trimmed back from overhead lines and not in danger of falling on a home or structure in winter weather. You may need to tie or brace limbs of upright evergreens or plants to prevent them from breaking in high winds or snow. Call a professional arborist for big trees or hard-to-reach spots.
Fall is a great time to patch bald or thin spots in a lawn. The easiest way to do this is with an all-in-one lawn repair mixture (found at most garden shops and home centers). Use a garden rake or dethatcher to scratch loose the soil on the spot.
If you’ve noticed unusual signs of damage around your property, pests may be to blame. Rodents, insects and other types of pests can wreak havoc on properties. Here are some signs of pests possibly causing damage in your Phoenix home.
The sudden feeling that the floors in your home are unstable could be a sign of a pest problem. This may be especially true if you have hardwood floors that are damaged because of termites. You might notice the boards curling on your floor as damage persists. Flaking and crumbling may also become noticeable as your floors continue to deteriorate from the damage. Crushed-looking wood at structurally significant points can be another obvious sign of a pest problem.
Damage that’s impossible to see can sometimes be detected by performing a tap test on wood surfaces around your home. Wood that’s solid all the way through should produce a thudding sound when tapped, and any hollow sounds could mean that termites or other pests are wearing away at the wood. Hollow sounds also mean that significant portions of your wood have already been lost, and calling a termite treatment specialist and contractor to repair the damage can resolve the problem and protect your home’s structure.
If lights, appliances or other equipment around your home that’s powered by electricity start to fail, you might have a pest problem on your hands. Lights that dim or completely go out along with appliances that don’t have as much power or fail to turn on when plugged in could mean that pests are damaging the wires. Rodents are known to chew through wires, which can also create a fire hazard in your home.
Tubes that appear to be made of mud may be visible in your yard and even on the side of your home. These tunnels are often constructed by organ pipe mud dauber wasps to store their larvae. Termites are also known to build tunnels that look like mud but are made from a combination of soil and wood along with a substance consisting of their saliva and feces. You might find these lining walls and floors, acting as a sure sign of infestation if you find them in your Phoenix home.
According to the Department of Justice, there are 10 percent more burglaries in the summer than in the winter. Additionally, the rate of household property victimization and household larceny also peak during the hottest months of the year. This time of year also happens to be when most of us pack our bags and head out for vacation.
While you’re out enjoying the summer weather, you don’t want to worry about what’s happening at home. Here are 10 tips to protect your home while on vacation.
Over 30 percent of burglars enter a home through an unlocked window or door. A few weeks before your vacation, check the windows and doors of your home to be sure they shut and lock properly. Make repairs as necessary, and verify they’re all secure on the day you leave for vacation.
In addition to reducing the chance your home will be burglarized by 300 percent, many leading systems offer remote access so you can check your home security from your phone. You can even use your device to lock/unlock doors or check on pets via security cameras. Plus, your insurance provider may discount your home insurance premium by up to 20 percent when you install a security system – and that savings could help pay for your vacation!
Many homeowners focus on the main body of their home and forget to secure the garage. Fortunately, there are several easy ways to help protect your garage from a break-in, including installing motion detector lights on the corners of the garage, ensuring the garage service door is locked, and hiding valuables out of sight. If you leave a car in the driveway, be sure to remove the garage door remote. A burglar won’t think twice about breaking into your car and using the remote to access your garage.
Light timers are affordable, easy to install, and can help deter criminals by making your home look occupied. Choose a timer with a “random on/off” option, so your lights turn on and off at various times throughout the day and night, making it difficult for burglars to determine if the home is vacant.
Over one-third of burglars enter a home through the front door, often using the homeowner’s “hidden” key. If there’s a key under your doormat or in another obvious location, remove it. You may also want to consider replacing your traditional front door lock with a keyless lock so you don’t even have to worry about keys.
Assuming you trust your neighbors, it’s a good idea to inform them you’ll be on vacation and leave a number where you can be reached. Make them aware of anyone who might be going into your home, such as a house sitter or dog walker. For extra protection, ask your local police department and neighborhood watch to be on the lookout for any unusual activity near your home.
Prepare your home for your departure by putting valuables – grills, bikes, and tools – in a secure shed or garage, and trimming shrubs so burglars can’t conceal themselves while trying to break into your home. If you have a gate that provides access to your yard, make sure it shuts and locks. Scan your property for anything a burglar might use to break into your home, such as a brick or hammer, and take it inside.
Enlist the services of a house sitter to keep an eye on your home while you’re away. He or she can pick up fliers left at the door, bring in the mail, and take garbage and recycling bins to the curb. These things help hide the fact you’re not home.
Protecting your house from a break-in is important, but you also want to avoid problems with utilities, like electricity or water. Unplug appliances, turn off the water valves to all sinks, the dishwasher, and washing machine, and test your smoke detectors.
If your lawn is overgrown, it can be a telling sign to people that no one is there to do upkeep. If you don’t have a regular lawn service, consider scheduling lawn maintenance once or twice while you’re away.
Many folks enjoy spending time outdoors in their own yards—provided they’re landscaped just right. And what people want in landscaping changes all the time. So what are the top landscaping trends of 2019? The National Association of Landscape Professionals, a trade organization with about a million members, provided its annual forecast of this year’s must-haves.
“What we’re seeing is people’s desire to make their outdoor living space an extension of their home. People are being very intentional with how they want to use their outdoor spaces,” says NALP spokeswoman Missy Henriksen. “It used to be people would put in the basics of outdoor decks or patios. Now people are looking more at how they will use their space. So perhaps the pergola they put in has shading so if they work outside they can see their laptops. We’re seeing more requests for charging stations.”
It’s not enough to just have a scenic backyard. Homeowners want it to be functional too. That means the things in that yard need to serve multiple purposes. For example, a vertical vegetable garden grown on a trellis can also serve as a privacy fence. Or a retaining wall can include built-in seating, good for conversing with friends or watching movies projected onto a screen. Folks are getting creative!
“We’re all very busy people,” says Henriksen. “Instead of people putting a new feature in their landscape, they expect it to be more than just pretty.”
Forget waking up early on the weekends to tend to the garden. Homeowners these days are embracing new technologies that take away the humdrum tasks they dread—like mowing the lawn and watering the plants. So they’re investing in things like robotic lawn mowers, programmable irrigation systems, and lighting that turns off automatically. Set it and forget it!
This isn’t your grandmother’s pergola. These overhead structures, which provide shade and a place to string lights and hang plants, are getting a 21st-century upgrade. This means enclosed versions with space heaters, state-of-the-art sound systems, and sophisticated, built-in lighting.
“People now design around them,” says Henriksen, adding things like outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and seating areas. “People are recognizing they are magical experiences to be enjoyed outside.”
The hot color to incorporate into your yard this year is pink. NALP expects homeowners will pick roses, petunias, zinnias, and hibiscus flowers in shades of coral and blush to add color to outdoor spaces. Light blush tones could even become the “new neutral.”
Homeowners looking to add sleek pizzaz to their outdoor escapes may want to turn to metal elements, like steel and iron, to incorporate into their design. This can include accents like decorative art, focal points such as streaming fountains or mini waterfalls, and furniture.
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