While the holiday season probably doesn’t jump out as one that we want to undertake home projects, it can be a good time to take care of some of those smaller chores that you’ve been putting off. This time of the year often serves as a reminder of some of our deferred home maintenance, so think about taking some of these practical steps to make the season more enjoyable.
1) Install and/or maintain smoke alarms: With the cooking appliances working overtime, holiday scented candles continuously burning, and dry Christmas trees strung with hundreds of burning light bulbs, home fires during the holiday season increase substantially. Safety regarding fire hazards during the Holiday season deserves a discussion on its own. Suffice it to say that smoke alarms reduce the risk of death by a house fire by as much as 50%! Smoke alarms are an absolute MUST!
2) Fix Major Home Appliances: From turkey dinners to Christmas cookies, the holiday season is a busy time for most kitchens. Clothes washers and dryers often pull an extra shift or two during the holidays as well. If your appliances aren’t working — or aren’t working as well as they should — call an appliance-repair professional before the holidays arrive. A trained professional can diagnose and repair a problem in a major appliance for far less than the cost of replacement.
3) Seal Gaps and Add Insulation: Nothing makes a home more uncomfortable during the winter than a nagging, chilly draft. Consider a home energy audit that includes a review of your home’s caulking and weather stripping. An energy auditor also will likely look inside your attic. If the insulation is at or below the level of the joists, you might be able to keep your home warmer by adding more insulation. A depth of 10-14 inches is generally considered optimal, and you can supplement with a variety of types of insulation to achieve that depth, at a relatively low cost.
4) Fireplace Repair/Maintenance: Proper inspection of a fireplace is vital to ensuring its safe operation — even if it is rarely used. An experienced chimney sweep will check wood fireplaces for flammable buildup (known as creosote) and chimney blockages such as bird nests. A chimney or fireplace professional also should check for these red flags: improperly functioning dampers, damaged brickwork and masonry, and missing or damaged flue caps (the screen covering the top of the chimney).
5) Tune Up the Furnace: The furnace is the heart of most American homes during cold winter months. Without it, comfortable life indoors would come to a grinding halt. Occasional maintenance from a trained professional can keep your furnace running effectively and efficiently, and it will prevent potentially catastrophic damage to your home from burst or frozen pipes.
6) Install a Home Security System: If you’re looking for peace of mind this holiday season, consider enlisting the help of a home security company. A home security system will help protect against intruders, and many systems can monitor for signs of fire. Security companies will often install basic systems free of charge, provided you sign a monitoring contract. ‘Tis the season, and the loot that the burglars potentially stand to gain is enticing.
7) Insulate the water heater and any exposed pipes: Insulating the water heater can have a dramatic effect on your water heater’s ability to keep the water that it has already heated warm. This in turn allows your heater to take more breaks from continuous warming, and thus, can reduce your utility bills during the winter months. Insulating exposed pipes reduces the necessity to leave faucets running on the coldest nights, and better yet, can reduce the chance of a frozen/busted pipe disaster. Moreover, when you turn on the hot water for the morning shower, the water will get warmer more quickly.