Tips to Protecting your home in Cold Weather at Tahoe

snowblowerIn Tahoe we have big winter storms and it’s not a question of IF the power will go out, but WHEN will the power go out.  When we have a power outage it generally happens during a warm storm with big winds. So when the power goes out, we generally don’t also have freezing temperatures to add to the hassle. Most power outages are resolved within a few hours. However we generally will have one storm a winter where the power is out for more than 24 hours. It is very rare that we have power outages for more than 48 hours.  If you will be here often in the winter for long stretches, I highly recommend a gas generator. I have one, and when the power is out for more than 24 hours I use it to keep the water  pump going and the refrigerator on .

In most cases when we have a power outage you should not also have to be concerned with freezing temperatures as well.  Here are the situations when the pipes can freeze:

 The outside temperatures needs to stay well below a day time high of 30 degrees for at least 3 days in a row to have concerns with pipes freezing.
 – AND –
The house temperatures were not kept at a least 45 degrees prior to the freezing temperatures.  
– AND –
The water pipes were not wrapped with insulation or the water was not properly drained from the home.

Faucet dripping

Here are ten tips to help you prepare your home for winter in Tahoe:
1. Wrap your pipes.
2. Keep the temperature of your home at a minimum of  45 degrees.
3. Have an electrical heater in the basement or sub area of your home at a 60 degrees.
4.  Pay your electrical bill on time.
5. Have a programmable thermostat that will contact you when the temperature goes below 35 degrees in your home.
6. Have a local area contact that can check on your home if the temperature goes below 35 degrees.
7. If no one will be using the cabin all winter, have your water pipes winterized by a professional local plumber.
9. If you pipes freeze and cause damage, call your insurance agent. This is what insurance is for.
10. Use me as your Realtors. I put out alerts to all my home owners letting them know when we have extremely low temperatures and offer to have someone check on your home if you are concerned about freezing pipes.

Tahoe Homeowner Fire Prevention

Forest FireMay is Wildfire Awareness Month (WAM) in Tahoe and as Spring quickly heats up towards summer temperatures, the fire Danger this year is high and seems to climb higher each year.  With low snowpack, the forest is already dry which means you the homeowners need to be especially aware and take an pro-active approach to protecting your home this fire season.

“Research findings prove that house survival during wildfire is not random, miraculous or “dumb luck.” Rather, it is how the house is built, the characteristics of the adjacent vegetation and other fuels, and routine maintenance that often determine which ones burn and which survive. These types of actions are called “pre-fire” activities. Pre-fire activities are actions completed before a wildfire occurs that improve the survivability of people and the house. The “winners” will be the people who implement pre-fire activities.”  – Living with Fire published by University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

Details are available at the Living with Fire Website interactive program to help you see what your home needs, but here is a few key points to get you thinking…house on fire

Defensible Space – We’ve all heard the term, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you actually take the time to learn about the different areas around your home and what is required.  From an immediate space within 5′ of the house, to the “lean” space 30′ perimeter

Know You’re House – The materials your home is built with and surrounded by are just as important as defensible space.  From the roof, to siding to vents…all the little details matter.

Getting and and Getting Out – Emergency access is equally important as your evacuation plan.   The faster emergency vehicles can get to your home means your home can be better protected.  Don’t forget about your furry friends – make sure they are tagged and chipped as part of your evacuation plan.

Spring Cleaning & Decorating Tips to refresh Your Home

A great way to refresh your home, whether you’re planning to sell or just want a change, redecorating a room or two may be just the thing you need. Better Homes and Garden has a fantastic list of spring decor ideas. I’ve highlighted some of them for you here.

1.  Make it Welcoming – Buy a new doormat or deep clean the old one…everything starts at the front door, so maybe add a new pot of foliage or flowers to give your home a “welcome” face.

2. Add a Color Pop:  Bright colors are in – It’s easy to give a new look to you Tahoe toned house with  pops of color from bright vases, colorful pillows or fresh flowers.

3. Windows and Fixtures: When it’s cold no one feels like cleaning, especially items like windows and fixtures.  But now that the weather is warming up, get those windows cleaned so you can enjoy the view without the spots.  Don’t forget fixtures like overhead lights and fans – bugs can collect and dust can settle on top of fan blades if they haven’t been used this winter.

4. Sheer Panels Add Dimension: Sheer Panels offer a bit of privacy, add texture and a splash of color. Curtains are also easy to change if you decide on another style or color later on.

5. On the Surface: Don’t overlook the places that rarely get cleaned…the drip marks on outside of the dishwasher, the entry wall shoe scuff marks….a little soap and water can clean up wall spaces that you don’t realize have gotten a little dingy.

6. Take Your Time:  Instead of trying to get it all done in a day, do one room at a time.  De-clutter before you clean and get rid of those items that have been sitting there for a few months instead of cramming them in the back of the closet.

7. Take off the Dust: Break out the patio furniture and refresh your old lounge cushions or add a few new outdoor pillows.  Touch up the paint to patio sets if it’s chipped over the winter for a fresh start to the summer.

To check out all of Better Homes and Gardens spring decorating tips, click here. Maybe you need a little more help with some creative design ideas for your home. If you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, hiring a professional designer can save you time and frustration. I highly recommend Sue Pipal of Dragonfly Designs for your interior design needs.

For information about selling (or buying!) your home, please give me a call at 530-386-0302. I’ll be able to tell you what your home is worth and develop an efficient marketing plan that fits your needs.

February Home Maintenance Tips

Kitchen InteriorTypically we see lots of snow in February, however this year we’ve had warmer temps and sunny days.  Although we all still hope for more winter weather, the warm spell give you a little break do deal with some home maintenance that usually would have to wait until Spring.

– Get your driveway sealed.  I suggest doing this once a year as driveways are expensive to replace and sealing your driveway can ensure you get those extra years out of  driveway with the typical winter snow load.

– Do some inside small item maintenance:  Cleaning Products

  • Clean and sharpen your garbage disposal by crushing ice and washing with baking soda and citrus fruit.
  • Clean your ceiling fans and light fixtures…bugs like to collect inside bowl like fixtures.
  • Vacuum behind fridge and oven…no need to leave temping crumbs for rodents.
  • Kitchen Cabinets – clean & polish
  • Check your fire extinguisher expiration dates and make sure you have one in the kitchen that’s accessible

– Clean out your pantry.  If you’ve stocked up for the winter, pull out the older items and check expiration dates.

-Turn Mattresses (if you still have the kind that need to be turned)…this is something that many home owners forget to do.



January Home Maintenance Tips

Here’s a few tips this winter season to keep your Tahoe home in tip-top shape as snow continues to fall!

firewood1.  Replace your furnace air filter – if you want to keep your furnace from having issues, make sure you replace your air filter every few months if you run it constantly.

2. Check your wood or pellet covers for leaks and moisture if you store them outside.  Make sure the snow isn’t melting and ending up in your dry wood!

3.  Change direction of ceiling fans. It’s a fact that hot air rises, so now’s the time to reverse your fans and keep the heat down if you haven’t already done so.

Snow on stairs4. When temperatures drop, pipes can freeze. See my tips for avoiding frozen pipes.

5.  If you’ve never inventoried your home, now is a great time.  An easy way is a video inventory that you can then put in your safety deposit box for safe keeping.  If you’re out of town or your home is used as a vacation rental, accidents happen and the last thing you want is a flooded house with no record of your valuables for the insurance company.

6. Check hoses on your appliances that use water for leaks.  Dishwashers and ice makers tend to leak the most and you don’t want water collecting somewhere you can’t see until the damage is done.

7. Make sure your deck railings and steps are secure and shovel off excess snow to keep the weight on your deck low to prevent damage to the beams.



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