House & Home

Tackle These Home Maintenance Tasks This January

All has been merry and bright. We’ve laughed. We’ve celebrated. …and many of us have eaten WAY too much. We’re now rolling into the new year. It’s an exciting time but for many of us, it is also a busy time and one in which it’s easy to let things like home maintenance fall by the wayside.

That said, setting aside a little time to maintain your home can pay off in dividends.

Here are some things you might/should tackle this month.

Home Maintenance Checklist

Since I’m all about saving you time and money, I’ve created a handy checklist of home maintenance tasks that need to be completed this month—plus tips for how to do them faster and easier, or with the help of a pro. So take a deep breath and dive into those chores. The good news? Many are inside chores, so you have no “It’s too cold!” excuses.

Be sure to save this image to your phone/desktop and keep reading for more insight and home hacks to help you on this mission!

1. Handle Holiday Clean-up

Task: You’ve had the fun, and now it’s time to get rid of the evidence. Take down holiday lights and wrap them right to prevent tangling (and setting yourself up for a ton of frustration come November); set the oven on self-clean; chip your Christmas tree and throw it in the compost pile, or scatter it around garden beds and shrubs for a midwinter mulching.

Call in the pros: If you’ve ever considered a cleaning crew, now’s the time. Figure on paying $200 to $300 for a one-time cleaning. Ask friends who have a regular cleaning person to share the name for a one-off.

2. Protect the Pipes

Task: Prevent exposed pipes from freezing as temperatures drop. A frozen pipe can crack or burst, flooding your home. If you’re planning a winter vacation, don’t forget to wrap pipes with heat tape you can control with a thermostat. And if you haven’t turned off water to outdoor spigots yet, consider yourself lucky—if they haven’t yet burst, shut off water valves and open spigots to drain existing water.

Home Hack: To thaw a frozen pipe, wrap it with a heating pad or turn a hairdryer on it.

Call in the pros: If a pipe bursts, shut off the main water valve to your home and call a plumber. If everything’s drenched, a water remediation or restoration company can perform cleanup —cart away damaged material, replace ceilings and walls, paint, and reinstall plumbing fixtures.

3. Check for Storm Damage

Task: After winter storms, your home maintenance routine should include an inspection of your home’s roof, siding, gutters, and yard for wind, snow, or ice damage.

Call in the pros: A little storm damage can become a big problem if you don’t make immediate repairs. A roofing company can inspect and replace a few shingles; a handyman can reattach hanging gutters; and an arborist can remove cracked tree limbs and prune trees.

4. Seek and Destroy Hidden Dirt

Task: Yes, cleaning counts as home maintenance! Clean those filthy places that people don’t see but you know are there. They include the range hood and grilles, refrigerator coils, tops of ceiling fans, dusty light fixtures and bulbs (make sure lights are off before dusting) and HVAC vents.

Home Hack: Let your dishwasher clean metal parts such as vent grilles and range hood filters. You can pop dirty sponges and dishrags in the dishwasher, too.

Call in the pros: This deep cleaning is above and beyond the tasks that cleaning crews normally perform and consequently costs more. For this, many cleaners will charge by the hour rather than a flat fee as they often have no way of knowing how deep that rabbit hole with go in tackling your hidden grime. If you want a crew to do this type of cleaning, negotiate the rate up front. Be sure to be clear if you need to set limits/a max budget ahead of time. Clearly communicating expectations on each side is important!

5. Give Hardware Some Love

Task: Shine and tighten doorknobs and hinges; tighten loose cabinet pulls and nobs; and level cabinet doors.

Home Hack: To clean metal hardware, wash with soapy water, then shine with a microfiber cloth dipped in vinegar or lemon juice. Brass polish will remove tarnish from solid brass hardware. Not sure it’s brass? If a magnet sticks, it’s most likely metal, not solid brass.

Call in the pros: If you’re going to take off hinges and locks, you might consider hiring a handyman (those doors are heavy). If DIY’ing it, be sure to label these based on where you took them down, particularly if there are mismatches throughout the home.

6. Do a Deep Declutter

Task: Banish piles, clean out closets and drawers and tackle the basement if you can stand it. If you haven’t touched something in a year or don’t love it, then you should really consider tossing, donating or recycling it.

Shortcut: If you can’t face a total house declutter, do little bits over a few days. Pick one room or a corner of the room to organize. Or, every time you walk into a room, put/throw one thing away.

Call in the pros: Professional organizers take no prisoners when decluttering your home and setting up systems to keep things nice and tidy. But this tough love doesn’t come cheap. A professional organizer can cost roughly anywhere from $30 to $80 an hour, and the average room takes 8 to 12 hours to organize.

7. Think Green

Task: If you can’t deal with the January gloom, you can always look ahead to spring. Home maintenance extends beyond the actual home too: Grab those seed, bulb, and bare-root plant catalogs and start planning your flower and vegetable gardens. If you’re starting seeds inside, plant them about six weeks before the last frost in your area.

Home Hack: You’d be amazed by how much produce you can grow in raised-bed or container gardens. There’s no hoeing, raking, or digging. Create your own weed-free soil by mixing one-third vermiculite, one-third peat moss, and one-third varied compost.

Call in the pros: What, and miss all the fun? A professional landscape designer, who designs gardens and suggest plants can help you make sense of it all and devise a strategy when it seems a bit….well, HUGE. Some garden centers will give you free design advice if you buy plants there but don’t expect to get this from Lowe’s or Home Depot – go to the pros that know your area, get your garden and can help you find that sweet spot while catering to your particular needs and tastes.

Published by LaTricia Morris

Hi. I'm LaTricia Morris, licensed PA Realtor, wife and mother of two amazing children, one cat and a 3-legged pit-baby. I also work in health and wellness through my business Defiance Fitness + Nutrition where I offer solutions that help people overcome obstacles to their health and wellness goals. What can I say? I couldn't be more committed to the call to helping people like you maximize your life potential and fall in love with the life you get to live. It's my joy to help you improve your quality of life, from helping you look and feel your best to helping you find the home that will serve as the setting for some of your life's most precious memories. I LOVE seeing you accomplish your lifestyle goals and count it a blessing to be part of that.

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