January Home Maintenance Checklist for a Safer Home

Written by | Updated December 23, 2019

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.

1. Kitchen

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.

Pro Tip: You can use a flexible vent cleaning brush for cleaning both your refrigerator coils and your dryer vent.

2. Bedrooms and Living Areas

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.

Declutter Closets

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.

Check Batteries

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.

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Create a Home Inventory

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

Inspect Pipes

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.

Add Insulation

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.

4. Bathrooms

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.

5. Hallways

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.

Test Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Ensure that these life-saving devices are functional, and change batteries if necessary.

Review Your Emergency Plan

Make sure your family knows what the alarms on the smoke detectors sound like and what to do in case of a fire. Practice!

Check Fire Extinguishers

Speaking of fires, confirm that your emergency fire extinguishers are still charged. If the needle on the pressure gauge is in the green, you’re all set. Otherwise, get it recharged.

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6. Outside

Last but not least, check off these January to-dos for the outside of your home. These tasks protect your home exterior so you can feel safe inside.

Clear Your Gutters

Clear gutters of leaves, debris, ice dams, and icicles to prevent damage to your roof and siding. Use a roof rake to clean snow off your roof and trees.

Replace Light Bulbs

During this dark time of year, it’s important to have working outdoor lights for your safety and home security. Replace any burnt-out bulbs.

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Start Researching Security Cameras

Smart homeowners start planning ahead for the summer burglary season by researching home security systems and surveillance cameras during the winter. SafeWise’s Best Outdoor Security Cameras can help you choose the best camera for your home.

Make a Spring Task List

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.

FAQs

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.

Written by Kasey Tross

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

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