Home Maintenance: What You Should Tackle in January

a man and woman painting the side of a house

It’s 2020, and a new year means a new start – for your home as well as yourself!

The holiday bustle is finally coming to an end, and you might find yourself with a list of chores a mile long. Luckily, there are just a few things you need to do to keep your home in tip-top shape.

The secret: The sooner you get it done, the easier it’ll be. Not only that, but a little maintenance can help you save on repair bills and other unexpected costs all year long.

Here’s what to handle this January:

1. Clear Out the Holiday Clutter

It’s that time – taking down holiday decorations and displays should be the first task. Start by getting any items out of the yard, since these could be blown over or damaged by rain and wind. Then, take down the Christmas lights. Wrapping them around a hanger is a great way to prevent tangling.

If you have an authentic Christmas tree, it can be chipped up for compost or give your garden beds and shrubs a nutrient-packed head start on the coming spring. In the interior, don’t forget to tidy the kitchen. Set the oven to self-clean and wipe it down. Simple vinegar can make oven racks shine.

2. Protect Your Pipes

Broken pipes are one of the biggest disasters that can hit a home in winter. Exposed pipes are vulnerable to freezing, which can cause them to crack or burst. Protect outdoor fixtures by shutting off water valves and open spigots so water will drain out.

If you’re leaving for the winter, there’s an extra step to be aware of. Wrap up your pipes with heating tape or use a heating cable to provide consistent protection. Remember that the protective layer needs to spiral around the length of the pipe to be effective.

3. Look Out for Storm Damage

A quick visual inspection is all it takes to notice the majority of storm damage to your roof’s shingles, flashing, chimney, and gutter. It’s not necessary to climb up on the roof – just use a pair of binoculars, looking at the roof from all angles at ground level.

If you notice missing shingles, dislodged or missing flashing, new chimney cracks, or damage to the gutter, it’s a good idea to call a roofer right away. Any one of these problems can make your home more vulnerable to future storms, which may cause serious roof leaks.

It’s also wise to check for signs that you may need foundation repair. Be alert to warped doors and windows or sagging floors. Prolonged damage is indicated by “stair-step” cracks that can spread from the edges of doors or appear down the walls in hallways.

4. Clean Up for the Winter

Take the opportunity to bust dirt and grime, especially if your kitchen has been busy this season. Some places where hidden mess accumulates include the back of ceiling fan blades, light bulbs and fixtures, and air conditioning or heating vents. Pay special attention to your refrigerator, cleaning out the vacuum coils and freezer drip pans.

5. Maintain Home Hardware

Doorknobs, hinges, light switch panels, and cabinet handles are things we look at every day but might not think much about cleaning. Metal hardware cleans to a shine easily using soapy water followed by vinegar or lemon juice on a clean cloth, preferably microfiber.

6. Declutter “Hidden” Spaces

Do you feel a little dread when you think about your closets? Tackle the piles before they get bigger – both in bedrooms and storage closets. Set up two separate boxes to sort items you haven’t touched in a year: One for donations and another for recycling.

The best way to make progress? Pick one room, closet, or storage area at a time. If you find you have trouble starting, set a timer to start sorting through your piles for five minutes a day. Gradually, you can increase this to ten or fifteen, and you’ll find the clutter is soon under control.

7. Plan Your Spring Landscape

Sure, there’s not much growing now – but there’s plenty you can do today to make your spring a more pleasant one. New flowers and vegetables can be started inside, then planted about six weeks before the last frost.

For an easy, satisfying start, consider starting a container garden. You can mix up your own weed- and pest-free soil with one-third each of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss. You get all the fun with no raking or digging.

Look Ahead to an Easier 2020 With January Maintenance

When it comes to chores, it’s never too early to get started. Once you see results, it’ll be that much easier to get around to the other things you need to do. With these seven items, you’ll have January maintenance finished before you know it.

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