Whether you’re a snowbird heading south for winter, a family with a summer home by the ocean, or the owner of a camp that loses its charm in the dead of winter, you’re going to want to prepare your vacant home to fend for itself through the winter months. Here are some tips on how to best prepare your empty home to withstand the colder weather while you’re not around to make sure everything is running as it should.

  1. Turn off the water supply. This can prevent your pipes from freezing and potentially bursting on very cold days. If you’re leaving a home in an area where freezing pipes can be a problem, drain all waterlines including toilets, the water heater, and the expansion tank.
  2. Unplug all appliances. Not only can this protect against potential electrical shortages, but it will also save you money as your unused appliances will not be using any phantom energy.
  3. Turn off your gas line. This will help to prevent gas leaks or other related incidents.
  4. Guard against unwanted guests. Clean out your fridge, your freezer, and your pantry, leaving only dry, nonperishable foods in air-tight containers. Also be sure to put away any soaps, sponges, or candles, take out any trash, and clean kitchen areas thoroughly.
  5. Close your damper or flue. That way no snow, rain, or animals can find a way into your home.
  6. Turn down the thermostat. You’ll want to keep the inside temperature above freezing and at a level where everything will stay dry. Somewhere between 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended temperature.
  7. Bundle the house up tight! You want your home to look like the little boy from A Christmas Story, especially if it’s in an area prone to snow storms. Install storm windows and doors, close the shudders, store all your outdoor furniture and decorations, and make sure you leave everything closed and locked tight.
  8. Clean your gutters. Otherwise water might not be able to pass through them and they could freeze over and break during the winter.


The season is a-changing in most of the U.S. right now (well, perhaps not in parts of the Southwest or Florida, where the only preparation they do is to prepare to receive winter tourists escaping the cold). For many, it’s a time of green (or brown) grass adorned with crimson, gold and tangerine-colored leaves, cooling temperatures, and the promise of holidays is ahead. It’s also time to get ready for whatever kind of winter you usually experience.

Those piles of leaves are not just there for kids to play in, although they are a big attraction even for adults. Did you know that if you left the leaves there, they decompose and make it harder for your grass to grow in the spring? So, grab a rake.

No matter where you live, along with leaves the gutters of your home receive junk, whether from trees, flying debris, or the powder left behind by roof tiles (split shingle, concrete or composite), clogging them so rainwater can’t flow through. Then they spill over. This overflow can damage your home’s siding, foundation, and leave huge ruts in your landscaping. Get a ladder out and take a survey of them before they have a chance to build up.

While you’re at it, check your roof shingles, which may have begun to warp, age or shed and if repairs are in order, do them before the rains hit. The summer sun can be brutal on them.

Even in the Southwest and along the west coast, stucco and concrete can crack and expand. Take a stroll around the exterior of your home, looking for damage along the pathways and cracks in stucco that could lead to water intrusion, especially around windows. Those cracks and gaps around windows and doors can rob you of heat in the winter and cool air in the summer. They also can harbor critters who have made your home their own.

Patios need attention in the fall. Those cushions we lay around on in outdoor living areas can mold and discolor in the rain and should be stored away. Even in hot areas where rain is more infrequent, however, wicker and teak outdoor furniture can receive some brutal treatment. Might be a good time to check around for damage and take stock of what needs to be replaced.

Many fireplaces still burn wood. If yours does, schedule a time to have your chimney and heating system cleaned and maintained, including swapping old filters for new ones. It’s important that everything is in good working condition to decrease the likelihood of house fires. Speaking of fires, your dryer vent can get a lint build-up and now is a good time to clean it. Cooler weather means more static electricity, meaning lint can ignite more easily.

Source: ZillowPorchlight, TBWS


Finally, the millennial generation has started to enter the housing market. At least, they should be. Unfortunately, between a volatile job market, high student loan debt, and the delaying of life events like marriage, millennials have been hesitant to take that step into buying their first home. However, despite what they may believe, the home market is currently great for millennial homebuyers. Here are the top five reasons why millennials should take that leap of faith and enter the world of homeownership.

  • Mortgages Are More Affordable. Between today’s historically low interest rates and the abundance of mortgage products currently on the market that allow down payments as low as 3.5%, it is much easier for first time homebuyers to find affordable housing options.
  • Less Strain On Your Application. Not only are mortgages currently easier on the millennial budget, but they’re also easier on their credit. Credit requirements have eased significantly, allowing lower credit scores than have been accepted in years to be eligible for a mortgage. Plus, the variety of products on the market allow for more people to find a mortgage that will fit with their particular financial situation.
  • Freedom in Owning A Home. Owning a home means being free to decorate and change it in whatever way. There are now options to paint, change the flooring, hang photos, or even take down whole walls without having to worry about putting everything back when it’s time to move out. The house belongs to the homeowner, not a landlord who gets to call the shots.
  • Enjoyable Tax Breaks. Thankfully, a homeowner’s mortgage interest, and many other home-related expenses, is deductible from income tax. Thus, owning a home can actually help decrease tax burdens. Unfortunately, this does make tax filing a little more complicated for homeowners, but it will be well worth it in terms of savings.
  • It Helps Young Families Build Wealth. Owning a home means no longer having to worrying about paying rent and that money is now actually going toward a mortgage and not just a landlord. There won’t be any stress over rising rent prices and the money that goes into each mortgage payment will begin to build equity and contribute to a primary source of a homebuyer’s net worth. Owning a home means millennials can start padding their own retirement fund and not that of a landlord.


Unfortunately, the air in today’s homes, schools, and businesses are often found to be more polluted than the air we breathe when we’re outside. This pollution is caused not only by biological sources like mold and fungi, but also by synthetic building materials, finishes, and furnishings being used in homes. Even the use of personal-care products, cleaning supplies, and pesticides help add to this problem, and with Americans spending 90% of their time indoors, these facts sound pretty daunting.

Fortunately, there are ways that homeowners can improve the quality of their indoor air without spending tons of money. NASA and the Associated Landscape Contractors of America (ALCA) conducted research on house plants in order to determine which, if any, could help aid in the removal of major indoor air pollutants. Their study found several plants that were actually quite effective in the removal of various indoor pollutants such as formaldehyde, benzene, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. Here are ten of the best plants to help filter your indoor air.

  • Peace Lily
  • Spider Plant
  • Bamboo Palm
  • Moth Orchid
  • Chinese Evergreen
  • Rubber Plant
  • Ficus Alii
  • Boston Fern
  • Snake Plant
  • Lady Palm

Though these plants will be greatly beneficial to the improvement of your air, their ability to control indoor air pollution is not nearly as well established. Thus, it is important to remember that source control and adequate ventilation are the most effective solutions for problems with indoor air quality.

Also, always remeber before you bring any new plants or flowers into your home to check with your Veterinarian to make sure your new additions will not be harmful to your furry friends!


Things Pet Owners Look for in a Home

Sep 6
Category | General

These days, more Americans than ever have a furry, feathery, or scaly friend as a member of their family, and their needs are just as important as everyone else’s. In fact, around 79 million U.S. households currently own a pet, so as they start looking to buy a house they’ll need to make sure it can accommodate their animal companion. Here are the main three things pet owners should look at when searching for a home.

Rules, Regulations, and Requirements. HOA, condo, and townhouse rules all probably have something to say about pets, so it’s important to go over the fine print before deciding to move in. County code restrictions should also be looked into as they may limit the amount of pets or sometimes even the types of pets a household can have. Also, look into neighborhood leash laws and clean-up requirements as these could affect a pet owner and their normal routine.

Location. Consider the area surrounding the house such as sidewalks and traffic. Is it safe to take dogs for walks in the area? Would a cat be able to go outside without being in immediate danger? Also look into the house’s distance from any parks, pet stores, vets, or other pet-friendly places, and try to find out if the neighborhood itself is pet friendly. Look for other dog walkers, community placed doggie clean-up stations, cats sun bathing on porches, or talk to the neighbors if they or their friends have pets. A neighborhood that’s hesitant about them may not be the best option.

Features and Layout. This is probably the most important aspect of house hunting for pet owners. Will this home be comfortable for them? Consider a pet’s age and mobility and how the floorplan may affect their happiness. An old cat may not be comfortable in a home with a lot of stairs, and a closed floorplan may be too tight for an active puppy. The little details are important, too, such as if there are wood and tile floors or if the whole house is carpeted, or if there’s a faucet outside to use to clean a big hairy dog. Also consider the yard. Is there one? How big is it? Is it fenced in? A happy pet makes for a happy life, so it’s important to look at how a new home will impact the little guys.

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