Smart homeowners know that December is about more than just decking the halls. You’re also preparing your home for cold temperatures, holiday guests, and a whole lot of cooking. Nothing dampens the spirit of the season like an unexpected home repair or skyrocketing energy bills. Our room-by-room December home maintenance checklist outlines easy tasks that save you money and prevent potentially damaging holiday disasters like exploding pipes, gutter waterfalls, and pyrotechnic presents.
When it comes to your oven and range, there’s no rest for the weary this time of year. To protect against fires and other risks, check your oven seal for cracks and wear, inspect your oven’s heating element for problems, and clean the filter on your range hood.
If you value your fingers, don’t try cutting a tomato with a dull knife. Save your fingers by sharpening your knives before holiday cooking commences. On the flip side of the coin, invest in knife-blade covers for safe storage—especially if there are little ones running around.
If it uses water, it’s a leak risk. Check the hoses on your dishwasher, refrigerator, and clothes washer to ensure the water stays where it belongs.
Unless you’re itching to scale your roof, we recommend leaving chimney sweeping to the experts. But you can extend the time between chimney cleanings by removing ashes and other debris from the fireplace after every fire.
Water Your Christmas Tree
When you don’t water your Christmas tree, you’re putting your family—not to mention your gifts—at risk. According to the National Fire Protection Association, a dry Christmas tree can becompletely engulfed in flames in less than a minute. If you have a live tree, water it daily.
To remember to water your tree, use the reminder feature on your smart home assistant or set a recurring timer on your phone. While you’re at it, set a reminder to blow out that candle and unplug the space heater too.
Set Light Timers
It gets dark early in December, and leaving a dark house when you’re away from home is an open invitation to burglars. Smart plugs are easy to install and give you control over your lights from anywhere via smartphone app.
Attic and Basement
Warm attics offer cozy hibernation real estate for wild critters and pests, so caulk any cracks to keep out uninvited holiday guests. While you’re up there, check your roof for leaks to prevent water damage.
Bundle Up Pipes
Frozen pipes = broken pipes. Use pipe insulation to wrap up any exposed pipes in your crawlspace or basement.
‘Tis the season to injure yourself while fetching things from high shelves. Keep stable step stools accessible in storage areas and avoid injury by splitting up large hauls into multiple trips.
Change Your Furnace Filter
Now that you’re spending more time indoors, you’ll want to breathe clean indoor air. Change out your furnace air filter every three months so you and your family can breathe easily.
Install Non-Slip Mats
If older guests are staying with you for the holidays, non-slip bathroom mats can help prevent serious injuries from falls.
Restock First Aid Kits
Speaking of injuries, when was the last time you checked the bandage count in your first aid kit? Maintaining a well-stocked first aid kit in the bathroom keeps you prepared to handle any minor cuts and burns.
Clean Shower Curtains
It’s in the shower with you–shouldn’t the shower curtain already be clean? Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. December is a great time to clean or replace shower curtains.
Change Detector Batteries
Heaters and candles and fire hazards, oh my! Test the batteries in your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re in good working order. If you don’t have detectors, now is a good time to invest.
Repair Steps and Banisters
Step to it! Check banisters and stairs to make sure everything is tight and sturdy.
Add All-Weather Mats
Everyone likes to make an entrance, but slipping and falling on a wet floor is a painful way to do it. Put mats in place for wiping feet and use boot trays to contain puddles of melted snow.
Use adhesive carpet tape to keep mats and rugs from sliding on hardwood and tile floors. This boosts safety in high-traffic areas and also protects against active kiddos and pets inadvertently rearranging your floor decor.
Clear the Snow and Ice
We’re not just talking about driveways and walkways (although those are important). Use a roof rake to remove snow and ice from your roof, tree branches, and gutters to relieve them of potentially damaging weight.
If you’ll be out of town, hiring a snow-removal service to prevent snow and ice buildup can keep your house from looking vacant.
What if I didn’t do any preventive home maintenance in November?
You’ll have just a few extra maintenance tasks to add to your December home maintenance list. Check seals on exterior doors and windows, clean debris from window wells, and drain your garden hose and outdoor faucets.
Clean attic vents and dryer vents as well, and clean your refrigerator coils to make your fridge more energy efficient.
What else can I do to protect my home against burglars during the holidays?
A home security system offers great protection against burglars. You can also place shades on windows, add exterior lighting, and factor theft-prevention into your foliage choices. Keep landscaping trimmed to prevent an air of vacancy, and consider introducing thorny bushes under windows as burglar deterrents.
What are the safest holiday lights to use?
We recommend LED holiday lights because they emit less heat than traditional bulbs. No matter what lights you use, be sure to inspect the wires for fraying before hanging them.
Kasey is a trained Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member and a freelance writer with expertise in emergency preparedness and security. As the mother of four kids, including two teens, Kasey knows the safety concerns parents face as they raise tech-savvy kids in a connected world, and she loves to research the latest security options for her own family and for SafeWise readers. Learn more