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Blizzard Prep 101 – How to be ready for the next blizzard.

Well, we have sort of lucked out the last two weeks. A beautiful white holiday with just enough snow to provide ambiance, and an ice storm that was followed by warm enough temperatures to keep it from downing many power lines and wreaking havoc on our lives. But, it is safe to say, we may not always be so lucky! Why not get prepared so that when the next ominous winter forecast predicts doom and gloom, you’re not only ready, but you feel confident challenging Jack Frost to “bring it on!” Here’s your blizzard prep guidelines!
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Thinking about buying a home? How to save for, and even save on, the purchase of your new home.

Going from renting to buying is a huge step in the right direction. Your money will be working for you instead of disappearing with the wind. It’s a big deal, so it stands to reason that some preparation is needed. Here are some practical tips for how you can begin to save for your new home and how you can save money on your purchase.
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Essential home repair fixes every homeowner needs to know

Homeownership is a blissful thing… it is having a place that is all your own where you can shed all layers, literal and symbolic, and just be you. It is a resting place, a memory maker, and laughter creator. Unfortunately, all good things have their negatives as well. A home well-lived in is one that has a tendency to fall apart a bit. That is why it is essential that every homeowner have some basic handyperson skills! You don’t want to have to call an expert every time a little issue arises; it can be costly! Also, you don’t get the satisfaction of learning something new and the pride of accomplishment! Here are some of the most essential home repair/fixes to help you do it yourself!

Air Filters

Every couple of months, you should be changing the air filter for your air ducts. If you have ever seen one after a couple of months, you will be thoroughly convinced that this is a MUST DO! They collect all kinds of junk in a short amount of time, and you certainly don’t want your family breathing that in! Also, a dirty filter makes your A/C and your furnace work harder which will shorten its life and cost you more money! The filter should be fairly easy to find. Look near your furnace base. Most filters have a proper way to insert them, so as you are taking out the old filter, notice the writing and the arrows and which way they are pointed. When you purchase a new filter, insert it the same way that you took out the old filter. Filters have a size to fit each system, so pay attention to that size like 16”x24”. You will also need to pick out a filter that has a MERV rating of 5-8 (each filter will list the rating on the packaging) that removes most pollens, molds, and dust. Lower rating will be cheaper but not as effective.

Leaky Faucets

If you live in a home long enough, you will encounter a leaky faucet. Most of the time it is a worn out rubber seal within the faucet. Turn the water off under the sink. Remove the screw cover on your faucet and begin taking it apart. Lay out the parts on an old rag in the order that you take them off. This will ensure you put it back together in the same fashion. Take the rubber ring to your hardware store and get it fitted for the exact size. Put the faucet back together, and then try it out!

Continuously Running Toilet

We’ve all been privy (pun intended) to the toilet that won’t stop running. This is often a simple fix. Take the lid off of the tank. It is likely that the chain, the flapper, or the float are the problem. Check to see if the chain is too loose, the chain is broken, the flapper doesn’t rest flush with the bottom of the tank, or see if the arm to the float is bent or broken. Then, consult this handy dandy guide from House Tipster. (Don’t worry about sticking your hand in the water–it is clean!)

Clogged Drains

First course of action is to simply pour down some baking soda and add some white vinegar. Give it time to break down anything that might be blocking the drain. If that doesn’t work, more drastic measures are needed.

Oftentimes when your sink is backing up, there is a clog in the trap under the sink. Cleaning the trap can be a messy, somewhat disgusting task, but it is also a somewhat easy task. Lay down a rag on the bottom of the sink cabinet. Put a small bucket directly underneath the trap. Unscrew the trap and empty it out into the bucket. Most of the time you will find the culprit straight away. (One time, I had a fork in my trap…don’t ask!) Clean the trap well, and reattach it tightly. Try the water and see if the water drains down.

If there is nothing in the trap, you will need to try to auger (snake) the drain below the trap. Using a handheld drain auger, run it down the drain. You will use the handle and crank to push it through whatever is clogging your drain. You can rent more powerful electric augers from hardware stores or purchase one. If you are unable to unclog it with the auger, it is time to call in the professionals.

The Water Main

Find out where to turn off the main water source to your house. If some kind of catastrophe happens inside your home, you want to be able to turn it off quickly, so knowing where it is located is huge! When you are going to be gone for long periods of time, you might consider turning it off so a leak won’t turn into a disaster while you are away.

The Gas Line

As with the water main, it is a good idea to know where your gas line is in case you start to smell gas. You should first call the gas company outside of the home, and then turn off the gas if instructed. The valve is commonly located outside by your gas meter. You will likely need an adjustable wrench.

The Power

Determine where your circuit breaker box is so that you can reset your breakers. Also, it is good idea to know how to turn off the power to your home should you want to replace a light fixture or install a new outlet.

The Walls

Knowing how to repair and attach things to your walls are important. If you want to attach things to walls, you will want to be able to locate the studs, which are the 2”x4”s used to build the walls. A stud finder is an inexpensive tool that can be very handy. You can also knock on a wall with your knuckles until you hear a different sound. Hollow sounds will indicate there isn’t a stud. If you can’t locate a stud, you can find them by measuring and marking every 16” from the corner of a wall which is the common distance between studs, don’t forget to add on 2” to mark the width of each 2”x4” board.

If you are hanging a heavy object, you want to be sure to attach screws and hangers to a stud. If you have to center an object on a wall where the studs aren’t in the best place, you will need to use anchors and screws that fit into those anchors. Make sure the anchors are at least 1 1/2 inches long to ensure that whatever you hang will be secure. (Don’t hang your 50 lb shelf with anchors!)

Using Caulk

All things near water sources are bound to wear out, especially caulk. Being able to replace the caulk will be necessary if you own your home. You will need a caulk gun and the right type of caulk for the surfaces you are working on. Once you get an edge up on the old caulk, it is fairly easy to remove the old and start the new. You will need 24-48 hours to complete the project as most caulks shouldn’t get wet until they dry. Using the caulk gun, you will twist until you have a steady line of caulk. Moving slowly and evenly, follow the edge of your bathtub, sink, windowsill. Wipe the excess off with your finger and a rag.

Replacing Screens

Most homeowners have experienced a child or pet putting a hole in your screen door or window screen. Fortunately, these can easily be replaced! Purchase the right-size for your window/door, a “convex wheel” (a.k.a. spline roller), and a roll of cord (it will be hard to use the old cord if it is cut to the exact size of the window/door). It is a pretty inexpensive project. Take the old cord out and remove the screen. Cut a piece of screen bigger than the window. Pull the screen taut, and use the convex tool to push the new cord into the groove (make sure you leave an extra couple inches of cord outside the perimeter to make sure you don’t end up short. Remember to keep pulling the screen gently to ensure it is taut.

This certainly doesn’t cover all the home repairs that might be needed in your home, but it covers some of the most common. Before you call your home repair guy/girl, be sure to check out some of our easy fixes and do a simple google search, you will likely save a whole lot of money on labor for something you could do yourself! Likewise, you might even feel damn proud that you did it yourself.

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Wondering if you can sell your home in the winter? Yes, you can!

Sometimes we have the option to decide when we want to sell our home. Other times, we may be at the mercy of a new job, a family crisis, or some opportunity that forces us to sell our home. Whether you get to choose or not, sometimes circumstances or life choices force us to sell our home during the winter. Despite what you may have thought, selling your home in the winter can be a winning proposition!
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Decluttering isn’t just for selling and moving

One of the best things about a change of address or moving are the boxes and boxes of unused stuff that you pack up and ship off to Goodwill. If feels like you are unloading hundreds of pounds that have been weighing you down without you even knowing it. What if we decluttered before we had to? Not only will decluttering your home make moving easier, it will make showing and selling your home easier, too. But, the best part, decluttering will positively affect your mental and physical health. The Mayo Clinic states that clutter causes a lack of focus, makes your brain less able to process information, contributes to sleeplessness, and can increase cortisol levels which are very unhealthy for your body. Now that you know why you should declutter, here is the how to get you started.
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Why You Should Do A Walkthrough and How To Do It Right

What?

Doing a walkthrough before closing on your new home/property is very important. It is the very last step before you head to the title office to seal the deal. Considering that this purchase is most likely the biggest purchase you have made to date, it is something you absolutely want and need to get right. The walkthrough allows you to check out the property to make sure that any agreed upon updates and repairs have been completed and that the condition of your new home is even better than it was when you made the offer.
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Top Questions to Ask Potential Real Estate Agents Before Signing on the Dotted Line

A really good real estate agent wants to be as good a fit for you as you are for him/her. In order to determine whether you will all work well together, you have to ask some important questions. A professional and experienced agent will be expecting you to do your due diligence and welcome the opportunity to answer your questions.

Here are some important questions to ask before committing to an agent:
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