Think of holiday home maintenance like cooking Christmas dinner. Although busy with the mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and sweet potato pie, it doesn’t mean you can skip the turkey and hope nobody notices. The truth is between hanging decorations, writing Christmas letters, setting up the tree, shopping for presents and planning for guests, most folks bump home maintenance chores to the bottom of the to-do list. That’s unfortunate, since basic home maintenance isn’t only important for your home, but it also can make your life a lot easier during the holiday season. Here’s our special recipe of home maintenance ideas most likely to help you have a happy holiday season!
- Hire a Cleaning Service — As we mentioned before, you’ve got plenty on your holiday plate already. Throw cleaning the oven, dusting off the ceiling fans, waxing the kitchen floor and vacuuming behind the couch into the mix, and it’s not unusual for homeowners to find they’ve bit off more than they can chew. Set a date just before your company is going to arrive to hire a professional cleaning service to come in and knock all those dreaded cleaning chores off your to-do list.
- Have Your Heating System Serviced — Nothing puts a damper on holiday fun like a sub-zero abode. If you didn’t have your heating system serviced in the fall, there’s no better time than the present to make sure it’s in tip-top shape.
- Have Your Chimney Sweeped — In many a home Christmas is incomplete without a cozy fire burning. Unfortunately, the creosote buildup found in poorly maintained chimneys is a leading cause of dangerous house fires. If it’s been a while since you checked it, you owe it to your guests to get the chimney cleaned.
- Seal Door and Window Drafts — If you’ve been noticing your home is a little drafty, be sure to seal things up before your guests arrive. Caulking, sealing and weather-stripping windows and doors is inexpensive and an effective way to improve your home’s overall comfort level and energy efficiency.
- Check Snow Shovel and Snow Blower Status — If you live in a cold climate where snow is likely, be sure you’ve got a good snow shovel or a working snowblower in the garage. Remember, you might not mind tramping through a foot of snow, but you’ll need to have your walks and driveway free of ice and snow when grandma and grandpa arrive.
Preparing Your Home if You’re Eating Out
If you’re on the other side of the holiday dinner pilgrimage, and you’ll be leaving your house idle for an extended period of time, here are a few other suggestions that are worth looking into:
- Insulate Pipes — Coming home to busted or frozen pipes tops the list of cold weather homeowner nightmares. In most homes you’ll probably be okay, provided that you leave the furnace on at a lower temperature while you’re gone. If your pipes have a history of freezing, consider insulating them against the cold or installing heat tape that a friend or neighbor can plug in if a serious cold spell hits while you’re away.
- Seal Door and Window Drafts — The less your furnace has to run while you’re away, the lower that January utility is going to be.
- Unplug Christmas Lights and Unnecessary Appliances — Leaving unused appliances plugged in while you’re away isn’t just a fire hazard, it’s costing you money. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s EERE website, the phantom loads created by unused, but plugged in, electrical appliances can account for as much as 10% of your monthly utility bill.
- Install a Security System — With so many homes left vacant for the holidays, the Christmas season is just as popular with intruders and thieves as holiday well-wishers. Before you leave your home, consider installing a security system to protect your belongings. Remote monitored systems are ideal, though it’s a proven fact that the presence of any security system is often enough to deter a thief. At the very least, make sure that you hold your mail and newspaper deliveries, and consider purchasing an inexpensive light timer at your local hardware store to give the impression that somebody’s still at home.
- Arrange to Have Your Walks Shoveled — Most municipalities have laws in the books that require homeowners to shovel their walks within 24 hours of a major snowfall. If you are taking a vacation and there’s a chance of bad weather, make sure that a friend or neighbor has your walks covered so that a nasty fine isn’t waiting for you when you get home.
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