Cold weather home tips

This just in: It is going to be cold this week. Negative temperatures are going to be the norm Sunday through Tuesday.

weather

We start our cars a couple minutes earlier, we wear more layers, but do we really prepare our homes to weather a cold spell? Here are a couple tips:

Winter storms are upon us and it’s not too late to protect your home and avoid potential damage.

1. Keep your pipes warm. Some of the most expensive winter damage comes from burst pipes. Even if the rest of your house is warm, the water in the pipes in your attic, basement, crawl space and in the back of cabinets can freeze. Wrap the pipes in the cold parts of your house in insulation, and open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.

2. Avoid ice-dam damage. Another cause of winter damage is from ice dams. This happens when the heat inside your house causes water to melt in the middle of your roof and then refreezes near the edges, creating a dam that can lead to leaks in your roof and damage to your ceilings and walls. If you have icicles hanging from your roof, that may be a sign that ice dams are forming. To help protect against this problem, keep your attic cold — no more than 5 degrees to 10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature — by sealing holes from light fixtures and ceiling fans to prevent warm air from escaping into your attic.

3. Protect the outside of your house. If you have time, clean your gutters so water doesn’t back up and freeze. Check downspouts and make sure water will be diverted away from your house. Trim any low-hanging tree branches that can freeze, become brittle, snap and damage your house or power lines. Use weatherstripping or caulk to seal drafty windows and doors. Disconnect garden hoses.

4. Check your roof. If a lot of snow accumulates, your roof could collapse — especially flat roofs or the roof over porches and additions. You shouldn’t have a problem with average accumulations or dry snow. But if heavy snow starts to build up, consider getting a roof rake with a long handle so you can remove packed snow while you are on the ground. Going on the roof to shovel it yourself could damage the roof (and possibly you, too).

5. Keep two emergency kits. Keep one kit in your home and one in your car. In case the power goes out, stock flashlights, extra batteries, a battery-powered radio and some extra cash on hand. The Red Cross also recommends stocking a three-day supply of food and water for everyone in your house, a first-aid kit and a seven-day supply of medications. And don’t forget to have extra food for your pets, too.

In case you get stuck or stalled in the cold for a long time in your car, keep a shovel, windshield scraper and small broom, some energy bars and water, extra hats, socks and mittens, booster cables, and emergency flares and reflectors, recommends Tod Pritchard, emergency preparedness coordinator for Wisconsin Emergency Management. Also keep some road salt or cat litter, a first-aid kit, a car charger for your phone and electronics, a battery-powered radio and flashlight (with extra batteries) and a sleeping bag or blanket. Also keep your gas tank at least half full during the winter.

6. Buy a carbon-monoxide detector. One of the biggest winter dangers is carbon-monoxide poisoning, caused by improper ventilation of furnaces, generators, charcoal-burning or propane-burning devices or wood-burning stoves. Pritchard recommends keeping a carbon-monoxide detector on all floors of your home.

7. Consider a generator. You may not have time to buy a generator before the next storm, but it’s something to keep in mind as you make longer-term preparations for the rest of the winter. A generator can help keep your heat and power — as well as your sump pump and your fire and burglar alarms — running. It can help prevent frozen pipes and keep you a lot more comfortable, too. An automatic standby generator, which immediately turns on after a power outage, may qualify you for a discount on your homeowners insurance, too.

Want more? Try these:

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

How to prepare the home 

Let us know how you survive this storm!

La Crosse Fine Homes, LLC., of Keller Williams Realty

Five things: Home showings

With photos, video and virtual tours increasing in popularity, the good ol’ home showing is still the No. 1 way for a buyer to fall in love with your property.

While scheduling showings tend to disrupt schedules, there are still measures that need to be taken to avoid scaring away potential homebuyers.

We have seen everything from birds out of their cages to dirty laundry in the middle of a room, but keeping pets secure and laundry put away are only part of presenting a home in the best light.

You want buyers to envision what the home looks like when they live in it, not you.

 

1. Odors

Have you ever walked into a home and been immediately assaulted by nasty odors? Cigarettes, grease, cooking odors, diapers and pets all leave their mark on the way a home smells. While it’s almost impossible to rid the home of cigarette smoke without painting, there are ways to get rid of other odors:

  • Have the carpets professionally cleaned and deodorized.
  • Launder or dry-clean all curtains and drapes.
  • Consider having your upholstered furniture professionally cleaned.
  • Clean the grease from the range hood.
  • Keep the dog bathed and groomed to keep doggy smells at bay.
  • Place dishes of potpourri or scented candles in random areas throughout the home.

2. Sounds

Like the smell of a favorite perfume, we become habituated to certain things, including sounds. If you’ve ever lived under a flight path or next to railroad tracks, you understand how quickly one can get used to annoying sounds and not even hear them after a while. Strangers in your home, such as potential buyers, will hear the yappy dog next door, however, so here are some tips to mask the noises in your home:

  • Play some music, softly, while the home is being shown.
  • Invest in a white noise machine.
  • Play a sound-effects CD softly in the background.

3. Sights

Light and bright are the operative words when considering the ideal way to present your home to buyers.

  • Change all the light bulbs in the home to higher wattage bulbs. Leave the lights on for showings, including closet lights.
  • Paint the walls. If you can’t paint, clean the walls.
  • Remove heavy drapes and replace them with lightweight fabric that allows natural light into the home.
  • Don’t neglect the outside of the house. Before a showing, make sure that the planting beds look clean and attractive and that the lawn is mowed.

4. Set the Scene

If you’ve ever toured model homes, you are familiar with the concept of staging – the art of carefully crafting interiors that appeal to homebuyers. If you’re on a tight budget and can’t afford a professional designer, make some simple changes that appeal to buyers.

  • Create vignettes throughout the home. Set the dining room table with attractive dinnerware or create a cozy nook in the bedroom with a small table and chairs. Group items in threes, use different heights, and keep it simple.
  • Fresh flowers add so much to a home, from masking odors to adding pops of color and texture. A gorgeous bouquet on the dining room table can take the place of a fussy centerpiece. Night stands are ideal places to set small vases of flowers.
  • Bathrooms are important, so pay close attention to how you stage yours. Get rid of the countertop clutter and add fluffy towels and a new shower curtain.

5. Security

Since sellers should make themselves scarce when the home is being shown, it’s important to take security measures. Lock up or remove valuables, weapons, prescription drugs and money.

  • Don’t leave personal items – especially paperwork with your financial information – lying around in plain sight.

Whatever you can do to make your home appear move-in ready will appeal to buyers and might tip the scales in your favor.

If you have any other questions on how we can sell your home, feel free to contact us!

La Crosse Fine Homes Group of Keller Williams Realty