Now that the holidays are over, you might be left thinking, “Now what?”
Aside from the obvious–retiring the light-up reindeer and salting your sidewalk to avoid unintentional triple axels–January is perfect for a little pre-spring cleaning and careful inspection of your home’s structure and systems.
To help simplify the process, we created a January Home Maintenance Checklist. It will guide you through preventive maintenance tasks to make your home a safer, healthier place for you and your family in the new year.
If you’ve been hosting holiday events, your kitchen has logged some overtime. Maybe it’s time to give it (and yourself) a break and order some takeout.
Before you cozy up on the couch, clean these parts of your kitchen so it’s fresh and well-functioning when you decide to pick up a spatula again.
Check Your Range Hood Filter
Now that the busy season is over for your kitchen, it’s a good time to clean your range-hood filter in boiling water and baking soda. This not only rids your filter of ickiness—it helps keep your kitchen air pure. If the grease is too stubborn to clean, opt for a new filter instead.
Clean Your Cooling Coils
Refrigerator coils are dust bunny magnets. Boost your fridge’s energy efficiency by vacuuming the coils regularly.
Now that the holidays are over, your bedroom and shared spaces deserve some TLC. Time to make your environment conducive to all the ambitious New Year’s resolutions you may or may not achieve.
If that blue sweater got eaten by the dog, how would you feel? If you wouldn’t be devastated, then let it go. Start off your new year with some breathing room by dropping the dead weight of unused items.
Winter storms can bring power outages, so it’s a good idea to check batteries and bulbs in flashlights and weather radios and restock your battery supply.
Make a list of the items you’d want your insurance company to know about if, heaven forbid, you lost your home in a fire or flood. Don’t forget to add any big-ticket items you got over the holidays.
Update Home Files
Gather up all those instruction manuals and warranties and slip them into a single file. But first, check if the instruction manuals are available online—you may be able to chuck the physical copy. While you’re organizing, start a file for all the income tax paperwork you’re getting in the mail.
3. Attics and Basements
Hopefully you’ve already bundled up your water pipes with pipe insulation, but it’s still a good idea to check them for cracks and fractures throughout the winter. Catching the warning signs of a leak before it happens can save you from costly water damage.
Pack Away Decorations
You’ll thank yourself next year if you take the time to coil your lights carefully and pack ornaments securely so nothing gets broken.
Pro Tip: For an easy DIY ornament storage system, cut a piece of cardboard so it can lie flat in the bottom of a plastic tub. Glue plastic cups to the cardboard and place ornaments inside and around each cup. Place a second layer of cardboard and plastic cups on top of the first for another layer of storage.
Clean Filters and Vents
If you didn’t change your furnace filter as part of your December Home Maintenance Checklist, now is the time. Clear debris from your dryer vents and other air vents so you can breathe easy.
Inspect House Structure
While you’re poking around in your attic and basement, grab a flashlight and inspect exposed beams, foundations, and your chimney for cracks, leaks, mold, and damage from pests.
If your attic insulation is less than 12″ deep, it’s time to contact a professional to add more. Keeping your home well-insulated can lower your energy bills.
Your bathrooms need some love this month too—make sure to replenish medical supplies and ward off water damage.
Replenish Medical Supplies
Add more bandages, burn cream, and antiseptic to your first aid kit to make up for all the holiday injuries you doctored in December. Keep plenty of cold and cough medicine and vitamin C on hand to prep for flu season.
Run Water in Unused Spaces
It’s a good idea to flush toilets and run water in unused bathrooms to prevent frozen pipes and hard water stains. Clean your water softener to keep it in good working order.
Check for Mold
When it’s chilly outside, we don’t usually use bathroom windows to vent steam, and that can lead to moisture buildup. Check for mold and make sure your bathroom vent fans are working correctly.
Don’t forget the hallways. Your hallway to-do list for January won’t take long to execute, and it will thoroughly prepare you for emergencies.
Got cabin fever? Make the most of your indoor time and start a running list of things to do when the temperature gets over fifty degrees.
What if I haven’t yet completed any cold weather preventive home maintenance?
There are a few basic maintenance tasks you should do right away. Drain the water from your garden hose and turn off your outdoor faucets to prevent damage from water freezing inside. It’s also a good idea to close your storm windows, clean debris from window wells, and caulk any cracks in exterior doors and windows.
What should I look for in a security system?
Decide if you want a DIY or professionally installed system. Determine the number of detectors you’ll need for windows and doors (don’t forget your garage door) and whether or not you’ll want to monitor additional devices like carbon monoxide sensors and smoke detectors.
Can a security system monitor a water leak sensor?
Yes. Many security companies offer water leak detectors that you can put near appliances with water hoses, like your water heater or washer. Your system will monitor the detectors in the same way it would monitor a smoke or carbon monoxide detector. You can also buy stand-alone water leak sensors with loud alarms or smartphone notifications.
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