Home Winter Preparation & Safety Tips

Home Winter Preparation & Safety Tips

Winter Home Safety Before Cold Weather

  • Disconnect garden hoses and shut off and drain water from pipes leading to outside faucets. This reduces the chance of freezing in the short span of pipe just inside the house.
  • Locate and insulate pipes most susceptible to freezing: typically those near or inside outer/exterior walls, in crawl spaces or in the attic.
  • Wrap pipes with heat tape (UL approved).
  • Seal any leaks and openings that allow cold air inside where pipes are located.

Winter Home Safety When the Weather is Predicted to be below 32 degrees

  • Make sure central heat systems are left on and set no lower than 55 degrees.  If you will not be staying at the residence or building, make sure you have someone check your house daily to make sure the heat is still on to prevent freezing.  If you cannot be present, the water should drain and shut off the water in your home.  Here is a video to show this process: Click here
  • Make sure you and your family know how to shut off the water in the event that a pipe bursts. Stopping the water flow will minimize the damage to your home.
  • Let hot and cold water trickle at night from any faucet that is in a room where the pipes are in an outside/exterior wall.
  • To help prevent freezing pipes, turn on faucets slightly. Running water will not freeze as quickly.

Protecting Water Pipes from Freezing

To help prevent frozen water pipes in your home or business – follow the simple steps below for suggested tips for Winter Home Safety:

  • Wrap pipes in insulation or layers of old newspapers
  • Cover the newspapers with plastic to keep out moisture
  • Let faucets drip a little to avoid freezing
  • Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to any un-insulated pipes under a sink or appliance near an outer wall.

  • Know where and how to shut off water valves to your home

If Your Pipes Freeze

  • Always be careful of the potential for electric shock in and around standing water. 
  • Call a plumber and contact your insurance agent.
  • Never try to thaw a pipe with an open flame or torch.

Winter Home Safety If You Lose Electric Service During Winter Months

  • Call your Utility Company to report the downed service and determine area repair schedules. 
  • Turn off or unplug lights and appliances to prevent a circuit overload when service is restored. Leave one light on to indicate power has been restored.
  • Make sure fuel space heaters are used with proper ventilation.
  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to help reduce the chance of your food spoiling.  Plan what you need to get out before you open the doors.
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide poisoning:
  1. Do not operate generators indoors.
  2. Do not use charcoal to cook indoors. 
  3. Do not use your gas oven to heat your home.

Fire Safety

Wood-burning stoves, fireplaces, and Space Heater Safety Tips:

  • Have your chimney checked before the season for creosote buildup – and then have it professionally cleaned.
  • Use only safe sources of alternative heat such as a fireplace, small well-vented wood or coal stove or portable space heaters. Always follow manufacturers instructions.
  • Have a fire extinguisher and smoke detectors in your home.  Have them tested regularly to make sure they are working correctly. If you are in need of smoke detectors and live in Union County, please fill out a request form here to the Union County Fire Department.
  • Never use gasoline to start your fireplace.
  • Do not close the damper when ashes are hot.
  • Keep curtains, towels, and potholders away from hot surfaces and flames.
  • Always keep a screen around an open flame.
  • As always, be prepared with a well-planned escape route for the entire family.

Staying Toasty Inside your Home or Business

Losing your heat during the Winter is a recipe for tough times. If your heat goes out during a winter storm:

  • You can keep warm by closing off rooms you do not need.  Use a sheet to hang over entryways that have no doors, but be mindful that it is not in close proximity to a flammable heating source.
  • Do not plug portable electric heaters of any kind into extension cords or power strips!  Plug directly into wall outlets.
  • Dress in layers of lightweight clothing and wear a winter hat.
  • Eat well-balanced meals.

More Winter Weather Resources:






For Local Information, including articles and resources I have put together in one place – visit this webpage here.


Michelle Miller Real Estate at Coldwell Banker High Country Realty Serves North Georgia as both a Buyer & Selling Real Estate Professional.  

Services offered to Blairsville, Blue Ridge, Hiawassee, Clayton, Tiger, Young Harris, Morganton, Mineral Bluff, Ellijay, Cherry Log, Suches, McCaysville & Epworth.

footer image that shows Certifications I have earned in Luxury Home Institute as well as my logo and picture.
Short Term Rental Moratorium for Union County

Short Term Rental Moratorium for Union County

Union County Short Term Rental Moratorium

Time Sensitive Update:
Union County, GA
Vacation Homes/Rental Homes

Union County is enacting a Short Term Rental Moratorium to apply for business licenses. 

Anyone has until August 15, 2022 to submit an application for a business license.   At that time, there will be a 180 day moratorium enacted as a 10 member committee studies the impact and variables associated with Short Term Rental/Vacation rentals on the County.

Here is a link to the Union County Short Term Rental Ordinance; Draft 3 dated 12/15/2022.


If you have any further questions, contact the Union County Commissioner’s Office at (706) 439-6000.



How to Pay for Your Home Improvements

How to Pay for Your Home Improvements

You will probably want to improve your home at some point.

It might be out of necessity if you need a new roof or fence — or you might want more space or additional amenities, like an updated kitchen or a swimming pool.

Whatever the reason for your projects, you will likely need some help paying for them.

Are you planning to make some improvements around the house soon?  Here are four ways to cover the costs.

  • Home Equity to improve your home: You can leverage your home equity to improve your home. Among your options are a home equity loan, cash-out refinance and home equity line of credit (HELOC). The latter, which functions more like a credit card, is a good option if you’re not sure how much you need or if you need cash over an extended period.  Click here to learn more about Home Equity. 
  • Cash Savings: This can be a great way to pay to improve your home or perform some updates — just make sure you’re not draining your emergency fund. You should always have a healthy amount of savings as a homeowner so that you’re ready for maintenance, repairs and other expenses even if you hit a financial snag. 
  • Home Remodeling Loans to improve your home: Renovation and remodeling loans are designed just for this purpose. You can use them to cover repairs, updates and other improvements, then pay the costs back over time as with any other type of loan.  Here is some additional information about home remodeling loans to being your research: click here 
  • Credit Cards: These should be a last resort, since credit cards typically come with higher interest rates than other financing options, like loans and lines of credit mentioned above. 

Are you considering buying a new property instead of doing updates?   Maybe you need a referral to a trusted loan expert?  Get in touch with me today and I will guide you to your goals.  For local links and helpful resources, please click here.

Michelle Miller Real Estate at Coldwell Banker High Country Realty Serves North Georgia as both a Buyer & Selling Real Estate Professional.  

Services offered to Blairsville, Blue Ridge, Hiawassee, Clayton, Tiger, Young Harris, Morganton, Mineral Bluff, Ellijay, Cherry Log, Suches, McCaysville & Epworth.

footer image that shows Certifications I have earned in Luxury Home Institute as well as my logo and picture.

North Georgia Housing Monthly Market Update – May 2022

North Georgia Housing Monthly Market Update – May 2022

Michelle Miller Real Estate at Coldwell Banker High Country Realty

Monthly Market Update

Monthly Housing Market Statistics Update for Union, Towns, Fannin & Gilmer Counties in North Georgia Mountains.  Data provided by NEGBOR and presented by Michelle Miller Real Estate at Coldwell Banker High Country Realty.


Information Includes Individual Monthly Statistics on the following categories:

– New Listed Properties

– Average Sale Price

– Number of Sold Properties

– Average Days on Market


*Michelle Miller is a Global Luxury Property Specialist & Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist

Fannin County Housing Update May 2022
Union County Housing Update May 2022.
Towns County Georgia Housing Update May 2022
Gilmer  County Georgia  Housing Update May 2022

Monthly Market / Executive Summary by County / May 2022

FANNIN:  The number of transactions in May dropped to 98.  That is the lowest number, except for 95 in January, since Covid (May 2020).  For comparison, the average number of monthly transactions in 2021 was 118. 

The average price though ($495,704), while under the March and April levels, was on par with the months before March.  Still, it would appear that the high relative prices in Fannin are affecting its number of sales transactions more noticeably than the other mountain counties.

UNION – Union also had a strong month in May. Units closed (97) was the best so far this year, and would have come in 5th place in 2021. Average price also was strong ($293,610), and in fact was higher than half the other months this year and all the months last year.

TOWNS – Towns had a strong month in May. Units closed (45) was on par with prior months, and the average price ($336,347) was higher than all but 3 months of the last 17.

GILMER – The number of Gilmer closings (127) is holding strong, and is on par with the monthly average of last year.  Gilmer’s average price rose to $305,481, which is higher than 8 of the previous 12 months. 


Rental Statistics for Fannin County – May 2022

Information Provided by Fannin County Chamber of Commerce.

Due to completed New Construction, and homes being purchased by investors and converted to rentals, the supply of houses & cabins for vacation rental has increased 30%-35% just over the last year.

Fortunately, bookings increased nicely by 26%-31% too, but since that wasn’t quite as high as the increase in supply, we saw a reduction in the occupancy rates.

Despite still strong occupancy and revenue in May, it looks like the arrivals (people visiting Fannin Co., even for a day only) during the January – April period were down (-23%).

And, amazingly, it looks like the average daily rate has held up well in both Fannin and Gilmer.  So, I’d say we remain an amazing place to visit, and also still an amazing place to invest in the vacation rentals business.

For a PDF copy of the Blue Ridge – Fannin County Tourism Statistics, please email a request to michellemariarealtor@gmail.com.

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