Do’s and Don’ts of Patio Maintenance


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The outdoor elements of winter can cause a lot of strain on patios. And while you may already be thinking of ways to get your patio back into shape, there are a few things you should watch out for. Here are some of the Do’s and Don’ts of patio maintenance to keep in mind before you bring your work:

  • DO’s

    • DO seal your wooden deck every few years. Choose a one-step product that combines but stain and sealer to save you some time.

    • DO be careful with power washing. Too much pressure tends to damage wood and stone surfaces.

    • DO sweep away debris on a regular schedule. Dirt that gets trapped can lead to mold, rot, and stains. Some preventative sweeping is much better.

    • DO re-arrange the furniture at least once a year. People that live in more mildew-prone areas of the country should especially be careful since water can become trapped over time.

  • DON’TS

    • DON’T sand your wooden deck before sealing. It’s only a good idea to do so if the surface of your deck has become too rough.

    • DON’T paint your deck (if you can help it). The painting will only create more maintenance later, and moisture can tend to get trapped underneath the paint as well.

    • DON’T feel obligated to seal your patio.Since you have to re-seal about every two years, it’s not really worth it to seal the deck. If you want that “wet” look, it would be better to seal the hardscape.

    • DON’T go overboard with the washing. Normal wear and tear on a patio is normal and should be cleaned, but if you clean before that build up occurs, you risk damaging your deck even further.

Low-Tech Ways To Keep Your House Warm Over The Winter



Tis the season for colder weather. And while plenty of heating companies may be pressuring you to install a new system or other expensive additions to your heating system, there are a few cheap, low-tech ways to retain heat in your home. Here are a few quick suggestions:

  • Tin Foil: If you want to prevent unnecessary heat loss from radiators (especially those that are attached to external walls), you can use heat reflective aluminum foil behind the radiator. This will help keep heat from disappearing through the wall and instead reflect it back into the room.

  • Thick Curtains: Curtains with thermal lining are another cheaper option for retaining heat inside your home. The thicker the curtains, the better. But if you don’t want to buy completely new ones and are looking to save a little bit more money, you can always cover your existing curtains in a cheap fleece material.

  • Sunlight: Sometimes the best source of heat comes right from the original source. Letting the sunlight in during the day will help do a lot of the work in heating your home while you’re away at work.

  • Cover Bare Floorboards: Since floors account for as much as 10% of heat loss if not insulated, it’s better to get them covered if there are any cracks or gaps in the flooring. Also, floorboards and skirting boards have been known to contract, expand, or slightly move with everyday use, so just make sure to use a filler that can tolerate movement.

  • Setting Timers: Having trouble keeping track of when to turn the heat one? Just set some timers for yourself that will give you reminders so you’re not using the heat more than you need to.

Host a Winning Super Bowl Party



The Super Bowl is coming up soon! And while Northwest fans may be down that our hometown Seahawks aren’t making an appearance this year, that doesn’t mean we need to let a good opportunity for a party go to waste! If you’re looking to host your first Super Bowl party this year and are wondering where to start, here are some fun suggestions that are sure to make your party stand out:

  • Football-Themed Decor: Aside from just putting up a few football decorations here and there, why not get creative? Cut some drink coasters out of astroturf or set out some potted wheatgrass topped with pennants and mini footballs. The decorations don’t need to be too outlandish, but a few light touches here and there is always fun.

  • Finger Foods: Try to stay away from large and heavy meals on Super Bowl Sunday and focus more and small dishes. Either little sandwiches, cocktail sausages, nachos, would work really well. Set up a buffet station in the kitchen and add some paper plates and utensils for guests to help themselves.

  • Party Games: If there’s a lull in the energy, you can always have some fun party games to play with your guests. Another idea is to hand out Super Bowl Bingo cards and have people stamp their cards when noteworthy events occur in the game until the winner yells, “Bingo!”.

  • Drink Station: Designate a table or corner of your kitchen entirely to the drinks. Have a few big coolers out with beer, along with any other wines or spirits for people to mix their own drinks. If you’re feeling particularly festive, you can always make a Super Bowl Punch!


Preparing Your Home For Winter



We may almost be done with January, but that doesn’t mean we’re done with winter quite yet. More cold weather could be right around the corner over the next few months, and you’ll want to make sure your home is as prepared as possible. Here are a few helpful tips to consider that could lower your utility bills and protect your home investment this Winter:

  • Heating System: This is something you’ll want to get checked out sooner rather than later. It may be worth it to pay the small fee now to have a technician inspect your heating system. Hopefully, you won’t need any critical repair work, but if you do, it’s better to schedule it as early as possible. Many homes in the area have heating issues this time of the year, so the wait for repairs can take a while in certain areas.

  • Reverse Ceiling Fans: For fans with a reverse switch, you can run the fan’s blades in the opposite direction after you turn on your heat. This will help produce an updraft and push heated air into the room from the ceiling.

  • Roof: Check the whole roof carefully for any damage, especially any loose or missing shingles. Make sure any issues get corrected as early as possible. Also, check and repair breaks in the flashing seals around vent stack and chimneys as well.

  • Caulk Around Windows/Doors: If the gaps between the siding and the window or door frames are larger than the width of a nickel, exterior caulk needs to be reapplied. For exterior use, silicone caulk works best due to the fact that it won’t shrink and it’s impervious to the elements.

  • Gutters: Any gutters that are filled with debris could potentially have water backed up against the house, possibly damaging the roof, siding, and wood trim. Not to mention leaks and ice dams. Double check for any missing or damaged gutters and fascia boards and repair them too.

Real Estate Market Trends During Winter



The winter has been known to have tempered expectations when it comes to the real estate market. The cold weather has been known to cool the buying and selling activity along with it. But that doesn’t mean that all hope of buying or selling a home is lost. If you’re vigilant and work with a real estate professional, there are ways to stay on top of the market trends so that you can put yourself in the most advantageous position for success. Here are a few trends to look out for this winter:

  • Carry-Over: Since supply has been unable to keep up with the demands of the 2017 real estate market, it’s rational to guess that there will be some carry over in the first months of winter. It’s pretty safe to assume that prospective buyers who started looking in the Fall are going to continue their search, just as a seller would not want to take a home that didn’t sell during the Fall off the market just because it’s Winter. Look to take advantage of this carry-over as much as possible.

  • Rising Interest Rate: The Federal Reserve has already raised interest rates twice in 2017, so you can expect them to rise again sooner than later. This could result in the cost of ownership going up, and while it may not go up very much, those increases could be enough for buyers and sellers to navigate the market with more urgency.

  • Prices Going Up: Again, because of the increasing demand, we’re currently in a seller’s market. Anytime that happens, prices go up. The median home value in the US is currently somewhere around $203,000. That price represents a 6.5% increase from the year before, with an additional 3% further increase over the next 12 months. This is definitely something to consider if you’re looking to buy or sell a home sometime soon.

Winter Damage That Isn’t Covered By Insurance



As extreme winter weather events become more frequent, so do the insurance claims as a result. The percentage of winter insurance claims have more than doubled the average of the previous twenty years. If you find yourself a little concerned over what types of damage cause expensive insurance claims, here’s a list of the four main ones to keep an eye on:

  • Frozen Pipes: One of the biggest overall sources of home damage. Usually, this kind of loss is prevented by your homeowner’s insurance, but if your insurance decides that it was preventable and the pipes were frozen due to negligence, you could be on the hook for a costly payment. So make sure you take the proper steps to ensure you’re doing everything possible to prevent pipes from freezing.

  • Hail Damage: Roof damage due to hail can be expensive, and while you can’t prevent hail storms, you can definitely prepare for them. Inspect your roof carefully to see if anything needs to be fixed. Typically, homeowners don’t notice hail damage right away, only months later when they start to leak. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

  • Wind Damage: One of the most common types of damage. To prevent damage, remove anything outside that isn’t nailed down and inspect the inside of your home for anything that may be loose such as shutters and gutters. It’s also a good idea to keep the trees along your house trimmed as well.

  • Snow And Ice: A little snow on top of your house can be a pleasant thing, but a lot of snow after a big storm? Not so much. Ice dams can occur as snow on your roof melts then refreezes. Also, ice forming in your gutters can prevent runoff from draining properly which can cause water to seep into your roof.

Home Heating Myths That Could Be Pushing Up Your Winter Bills



Nobody wants a ridiculously high energy bill during the Winter months while they’re trying to stay warm. We’ve all heard suggestions (whether it be from our neighbors, family, or friends) about what to do, but it’s important to distinguish fact from fiction. After reading a survey from the Energy Saving Trust, here are a few myths about heating that you may have heard before:

  • Myth – Turn the heating up when it’s cold outside: While it may seem like a quick solution, turning the heat up will not be the quick fix you seek. The thermostat is there to control and maintain internal temperature, no matter what the weather outside is like.

  • Myth – Turn up the thermostat to heat the room quicker: Again, the room will not warm up any quicker, but the entire house will slowly become heated to a warmer temperature when adjusting the thermostat. If you’re looking to get warm quick, consider putting on a sweatshirt or thick clothes until the house heats up.

  • Myth – Leave the heat on low constantly: If there’s nobody there to benefit from the heat, then it doesn’t need to stay on low. Don’t let your heating costs rise just to heat an empty room.

  • Myth – Keep water heater on all day so you don’t run out: For a properly insulated hot water tank, water that’s heated for half an hour should stay warm until midday. You can always set your water to come on a half hour before you get up in the morning to shower.

Energy Efficient Tips For Your Home During Winter



Winter provides an interesting dilemma for homeowners everywhere. You want to save money on your energy bill each month, but you also don’t want to freeze to death. Luckily there are some things you can do to make the winter easier on both your wallet and body temperature. Here are some helpful tips to consider:

  • Sunlight: Open all the curtains on any windows that face towards the south windows during the day. This will allow natural sunlight to heat up your home. Just remember to close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from colder windows.

  • Cover Drafty Windows: Use a clear plastic sheet (heavy-duty is preferable) on a frame or tape the plastic film to the inside of the window frames. Ensure that the plastic is sealed tightly to help reduce any cold air infiltration. You can always install insulating drapes or shades as well if you’d like.

  • Adjust the Temperature: Make sure you’re being diligent about setting your temperature. When you’re home and awake, set it to the lowest temperature you’re comfortable with. When you’re out of the house or going to bed, the temperature doesn’t need to be that high at all. No reason to use the heat if there’s nobody around to use it!

  • Find/Seal Leaks: Seal any air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes, gaps around the chimney area, as well as recessed lights that may be insulated within the ceilings.

  • Reduce Heat Loss From Fireplace: Keep the fireplace damper closed unless there’s currently a fire burning in it. If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flute. But if you’re someone who constantly uses it, consider installing tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that will blow warm air back into the room.

Tips to Avoid a Costly Winter Plumbing Leak



Plumbing issues are always an inconvenience. But in winter, they’re especially stressful to deal with. If you’re looking to prepare your plumbing for the remaining cold-weather months, here a few tips you might consider helpful:

  • Protect Pipes from Freezing: When winter temperatures drop, water can easily freeze inside pipes. To reduce this possibility, wrap each of the pipes in a blanket of foam. You can buy foam tubes at most hardware stores.

  • Fix Leaks: Probably a no-brainer, but do not leave pipes to leak for any longer than they need to be. Fix them as soon as you’re able.

  • Drain Water Heater: If you live somewhere with hard water, sediment can build up in your tank and cause rust to develop there. The rust can sometimes find its way into cooking, drinking, and bathing water. If your water heater is too old and rusted, you’ll probably want to buy a new one ASAP.

  • Lose Outdoor Hose: Disconnect your outdoor hose, wrap it up, and put away until the warm weather returns. The last thing you want is for frozen water to expand into your faucets and pipes.

  • Clean Home’s Sump Pump Pit: Before the weather gets too cold, inspect and clean your sump pump and the pit where it rests. When exposed to cold weather elements, your pump and freeze cease to work. Inspect it early to avoid the possibility of flood damage later.

Seattle Seahawks: Hawks Keep Playoffs Hope Alive



On Sunday afternoon, the Hawks played the Dallas Cowboys on the road in Texas. It was basically a playoff game for each team since a loss meant the end of the season and a win meant playoff hopes stayed alive. While scoring seemed to plague the Hawks early on in the first half, a few big plays helped turn the tide and they were able to celebrate a 21-12 victory on their plane ride back to Seattle.

One of the biggest factors in this game was turnovers. Seattle had 3 turnovers while the Cowboys had none at all. Hawks cornerback Byron Maxwell forced a fumble, Justin Coleman had his second pick-six of the season, and K.J. Wright had an interception as well. Seattle’s defense bounced back overall, especially after that humiliating loss to the Rams the previous Sunday where they gave up 42 points. It also helped that middle linebacker Bobby Wagner was back to full-strength since his leadership and impact on the defensive end has always been critical to our sustained success.

As we head into the final game of the season, the Hawks are in an interesting position. In order to make the playoffs, two things need to happen: 1) The Hawks need to win their next game. 2) The Carolina Panthers need to defeat the Atlanta Falcons in their next game. If both of those scenarios end up favoring the Hawks, then we’ll have another shot at getting back to the Super Bowl.

Be sure to wear blue this whole week in support of our Hawks as they get ready for their last game of the regular season this Sunday, December 31st at 1:25 PM PST on FOX. Go Hawks!