How to Prepare Your House for Winter

How to Prepare Your House for Winter

With cold weather approaching, it’s time to take a couple days and get your home ready for the winter weather. To help you get started, here is a checklist with some of the most important tasks to get your house ready for the snow and cold.

Check for Leaks

In the winter, you want to make sure your home is a fortress. You don’t want any of your precious heat escaping, and you don’t want any of the winter weather getting in. To help you figure out your home’s leaky spots, you can hire a professional to do an energy audit on your home. This is a great option if you don’t have the time, or the desire to climb on your roof.

Windows: Swap out your screen windows for storm windows. During that process, check around your windows to make sure they are well sealed. To help identify small gaps, carefully hold a lit match or lighter a couple inches from the frame of the window. Move the flame around, always making sure it’s a safe distance from surfaces and fabrics, and watch for the flame to “dance.” If the flame moves, there is air movement in that spot. Use caulk to seal around the frame, or use a plastic window insulation kit to cover an entire window.

Heavy curtains will help keep more heat from escaping through your windows.

Doors: Replace your screen doors with storm doors. Again, check the seals during that process. If you can see any light around your doors, you have a significant gap for warm air to escape. Even if you can’t see any light, you still want to check the rubbery weather stripping around the door. If it’s brittle or cracking, it’s not doing its job. Installing a new weather stripping kit from a hardware store is a quick fix to make sure your doors are sealed.

Ducts: As time goes by, seals on duct work can come loose. Check your duct work to make sure your ducts aren’t letting any heat out into your attic, which can cause snow to melt and refreeze as ice dams on your roof.

Roof: Before winter arrives is a great time to check your roof for the season. Climb up (or at least get on a high ladder) and examine the shingles. Replace any that are missing or broken.

SEE ALSO: Who Knew's How to Prepare Your House for Winter

Make Sure Your Heating Systems Work

Furnace: Before it gets too cold, have your heating system checked out by a professional. The first really chilly day of winter is not the time to figure out your heater isn’t working. Have a heating and air company come out, check the systems, and change the filters, and you’ll be ready for Old Man Winter when he arrives.

Water Heater: The end of fall is a great time to drain your water heater. This should get done once a year, so if you haven’t done it recently, make sure you do before you find you only have really cold water in your house.

Chimney: If you have a chimney, make sure you sweep it (or have it professionally swept) before lighting any fires for the season. Removing the excess soot, as well as the birds and animals that made their homes in chimneys throughout the year, will help prevent fires and smoke damage. Also, examine the damper to make sure it’s still looking good. If it’s bent or warped, warm air will be able to escape through the chimney.

Reverse Ceiling Fans: If you have ceiling fans, now is the time to reverse them. Putting them in reverse will help blow down warm air that would otherwise be stuck near the ceiling, which will likely mean you can turn your heat down a degree or two.

If your fan runs on a remote, there is likely a button on the remote to switch the direction. If your fan runs on a switch, look for a small toggle or switch on the fan motor to make the change.

Be Ready Outdoors

Gutters: Make sure your gutters are ready to handle the winter precipitation. Empty the fallen leaves and anything else that has gathered in the gutters. Make sure they are secure to the roof, and repair them as needed. Also, make sure the drain pipe from your gutters is long enough and directing winter rains and melting snow away from your home’s foundation.

Water Lines: Prevent burst pipes by turning off all exterior water lines or insulating the pipes. If you have a sprinkler or irrigation system, drain the lines to make sure no water is left to damage the underground lines.

RELATED: Domestic CEO's Fall and Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

Tools: Be ready to get yourself out of the house by making sure all your winter tools are in good working condition. Turn on the snow blower, visually check the shovels, and stock up on salt or deicers. Having everything in its place and ready to go will give you a good start on digging out from a big blizzard.

Prepare Your Safety Kits

Pantry: During the winter, it’s always a good idea to keep extra food supplies in your pantry in case a big storm prevents you from getting to the store. Boxed and canned foods are the best because they take no electricity to store (in case that goes out), and have a long shelf life. Stock your pantry with a week’s worth of pastas, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, rice, beans, and bottled water, and you’ll be ready if the big one hits your town.

Boxed and canned foods are the best food to keep in stock because they take no electricity to store (in case that goes out), and have a long shelf life.

Lights: If a winter storm takes out your electricity, make sure you are ready with flashlights and candles to light your home. Keep flashlights in every room, and teach your kids where they are in case they need to find them in the dark.

Heat: If you have a wood burning fireplace, keep a solid stash of wood ready in case your power goes out. If you are in an area prone to losing power, you may also want to invest in a generator to run your furnace a couple hours a day during power outages. A good stash of blankets and comforters will help you get through chilly days and cold nights.

Detectors: Winter means an increase of home fires and carbon monoxide leaks. Make sure you and your family are protected by replacing the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and testing them before winter hits.

All the tasks on this list are important to get done before the snow starts falling. If you don’t have the time to do them all, hire a trusted professional to help you knock a few off tasks off your list. You’ll be thankful that you have everything done and ready as soon as the first big storm hits.

I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

How to Clean Jewelry Using Common Household Items

How to Clean Jewelry Using Common Household Items

Baking soda

Easy DIY jewelry cleaner

Baking soda mixed with hydrogen peroxide is a great cleaner for lots of household objects, and it’s also a safe and effective cleaner when it comes to cleaning gold, silver, and costume jewelry. For best results, make a by adding drops of hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda, then rub gently on your jewelry. Rinse off and wipe dry. It gets rid of dirt, grime, and body oils, and leaves your gold and silver sparkling.

Quick and easy way to clean silver jewelry

If your silver jewelry is starting to look a little dull or needs polishing, stick it in a bowl with a few tablespoons of baking soda and a square of aluminum foil.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes, then wipe clean. The aluminum acts as a catalyst for ion exchange, a process that will make the tarnish transfer from your silver to the baking soda. This is the magic of science, folks!

Dishwashing detergent

Gem-polishing potions

Wondering how to keep your beautiful jewelry looking like the first day you wore it? Gentle dishwashing detergent and water plus a soft cloth can clean rubies, amethysts, citrines, emeralds, sapphires, and garnets. Diamonds can be washed similarly: Fill a small pot with a cup of water, plus a teaspoon of dishwasher detergent. Add your diamonds, bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the pot sit until it cools. Once it’s cool (but not before), carefully remove your jewelry and rinse.

Just make sure to wash each piece separately to avoid chipping.

See also: 12 Surprising Personal Uses for Baking Soda

Classic jewelry cleaning recipe

Here’s the recipe that we received from reader Madelyn Jessup, which her mother always used to wash her gold jewelry: Mix 1 teaspoon dishwashing liquid with ½ teaspoon ammonia and 1 cup warm water. Dip the jewelry into the solution for 10 seconds, and use an old toothbrush to brush off any marks. Your gold will look sparkling new!

… And other household items

Another easy clean for gems

The easiest way to clean emeralds, diamonds, rubies, and sapphires may be with club soda. Place your jewelry in a glass of it overnight and they will shine like new in the morning.

Related: 6 Clever Hacks to Solve Jewelry Mishaps

Get sparkling pearls with vegetable oil

Because they’re so fragile, pearls shouldn’t get wet—and can’t be cleaned with normal jewelry cleaners. Instead, use vegetable oil. Dab some oil on a soft cloth, then gently rub on each pearl. Let the vegetable oil dry overnight, then buff with a soft cloth to remove dust and oils that can make pearls look dull over time. The best way to care for a pearl (or coral) necklace is to wear it regularly—oils from your skin add a gentle luster.

Quick clean for costume jewelry

Clean costume or inexpensive jewelry by dropping two Alka Seltzer tablets into a glass of water. Immerse jewelry for about five minutes and pat dry with a clean towel.

These stones should never get wet: Since turquoise, opals, amber, and marcasite are porous stones, never immerse them in water. Instead, polish them with a soft, dry chamois (clean claws with a soft bristle brush). Wipe with sweet almond oil to remove any grease marks, if desired.

Just for fun: How to Insure Jewelry and Expensive Gifts

For more cleaning tips from all around the internet, check out our Cleaning Tips board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram!

11 Coffee Hacks for Flavor, Stains, and More

11 Coffee Hacks for Flavor, Stains, and More

Flavor tips

Obviously, coffee is the best part of every morning. But if your coffee needs a pick-me-up, we've got you covered. 

Make coffee more drinkable

If you’re sensitive to acidity in coffee but love the pick-me-up in the morning, here’s a way to reduce the acid level: Just add a pinch of baking soda to the drink! You can also use this tip to decrease the acidity in other high-acid drinks and foods.

Save your cream

If your cream or half-and-half has begun to develop an “off” odor, but you desperately need it for your coffee, try mixing in 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, which will neutralize the lactic acid that is causing the cream to sour.

Before you use the cream, however, taste it to make sure the flavor is still acceptable.

SEE ALSO: Grammar Girl's Why Do We Call Coffee a 'Cup of Joe'?

Perk up your coffee

Make stale coffee taste like it’s just been brewed by adding a pinch of salt and a dollop of fresh water to your cup. Heat it up in the microwave, and you’re ready to power through the rest of your workday. Works for me every time!

Remove coffee stains

These stubborn stains aren't going to get themselves out! 

Chase coffee stains

Coffee stains can be frustrating, but you can get them out of your carpet by pouring beer on them. That’s right—one great beverage deserves another! Just dribble a couple of sips onto the stain, and it should vanish. Dab up the extra beer with a paper towel, and if the coffee stain doesn’t go away completely, repeat the task a few more times. This trick works on tea stains, too.

Get creative with stains

If you can’t get a coffee or tea stain out of a white tablecloth, try one last solution. Soak the tablecloth in a bucket of strong coffee or tea (depending on the type of stain) for 2 hours. You won’t get the stain out, but you will dye your linen a lovely earth tone!

RELATED: Who Knew's How to Remove Almost Every Stain

Other ways to use coffee

Who knew that you could use coffee for reasons other than getting out of bed in the morning? 

Share some coffee

Here’s an ingenious idea for an elegant-looking decoration that also smells wonderful! Place coffee beans in votive holders or small bowls, then add tea light candles. They’ll cast a pretty glow and make your home smell like coffee.

Try vanilla-scented tea lights if you love the smell of French vanilla coffee.

Surprising use for a coffee bean

To freshen your breath, try sucking on a coffee bean. It’s much cheaper than a breath mint, and tastes great to us coffee addicts!

Reach for a coffee filter

We always prefer to clean our windows with something reusable, like an old rag. But if you like to go the disposable route, try coffee filters instead of paper towels. They won’t leave behind any lint or paper pieces. Coffee filters work great for electronic screens as well—they grab dust without scratching or leaving streaks.

SEE ALSO: Domestic CEO's No Mess Camping Coffee

Perfect wood patch

If you need to repair a hole in a piece of wood, add a small amount of instant coffee to the spackle, or to a thick paste made from laundry starch and warm water. The coffee tints the paste to camouflage the patched-up spot.

Freeze out funk

Add a shallow bowl of freshly ground coffee, uncovered, to your freezer. Leave for a few days and any funky freezer odors will disappear.

Cover up with coffee.

Would you ever imagine coffee stains could be a good thing? For your damaged wood furniture or floors, they are. Just brew a very strong pot, and then use a cotton ball or rag to apply the coffee over the scratch. It works as a stain, and will blend in the scratch in no time!

8 Fun and Easy DIY Moisturizers

8 Fun and Easy DIY Moisturizers

Petroleum Jelly

Once a month, cover your hands in petroleum jelly or thick hand cream, then slip them into some soft cotton gloves for the night. In the morning, your skin will have absorbed all the cream, leaving you with the smoothest, softest hands you’ve ever had. You can also soften your feet the same way (use socks rather than gloves, of course).

Apricot Scrub

Apricot kernel oil, available at vitamin and health-food stores, is rich in vitamins A and E and is an excellent moisturizer. Combine two tablespoons of it with a half cup of brown sugar and two tablespoons of lemon juice for an exfoliating—and hydrating—hand scrub. Massage well into hands, then rinse.

Rosewater-Honey Rub

For rough patches on the hands and feet, try this rub scented with rosewater, which has been used for centuries to soothe irritated skin and is thought to help regenerate skin tissue. Whisk together two tablespoons of it, along with one tablespoon of honey, one tablespoon of apricot kernel oil, and one tablespoon of lemon juice, in a small bowl. To use, rub onto rough patches on the hands and feet, then rinse.

Olive Oil Scrub

We love this olive oil scrub for its simplicity and effectiveness! In a small bowl, add a quarter cup of olive oil and enough sugar to make a damp, runny mixture. Rub it into your hands or feet, then rinse for smooth, moisturized skin.

Dry Rub

In a small bowl, stir together a quarter cup of flaxseed or almond meal and a quarter to a half teaspoon of olive oil. The mixture will be just barely damp. Rub well into dry, rough patches on your feet, then rinse.

Sea Salt

You can pay a lot of money for a fancy sea salt scrub, or you can make your very own version in just a few minutes. Sea salt contains natural minerals not present in regular table salt. It also helps remove dead skin cells and other toxins present in the skin. In a small bowl, add one cup of sea salt and just enough olive oil to make a slightly runny mixture—you don’t want it to be too loose. Rub into dry hands and feet for several minutes before rinsing off.

Sugar

Try this quick hand scrub that combines the exfoliating power of sugar and the lactic acid in sour cream. Mix one tablespoon of sugar and one tablespoon of sour cream together, and rub into hands for a minute or two. Rinse to reveal soft, smooth skin.

Buttermilk-Almond

Try this overnight hand mask to gently remove dead skin cells. Whisk together a half cup of buttermilk and one tablespoon of almond oil in a small bowl. Submerge your hands completely, remove, and allow to dry. Then cover your hands with cotton gloves and leave on overnight. In the morning, rinse your hands well to reveal brighter skin. 

For more all natural remedies from all around the internet, check out our Health and Beauty Tips board on Pinterest. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook and Instagram! 

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.