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10 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Do Before the Holidays


By Daisy Barringer

The holiday season is right around the corner, which means now is the time to get your home ready for cold weather and entertaining. We know how busy you are (and how much you probably don’t feel like adding more work to your hectic schedule), but once you knock these 10 chores off of your to-do list, we promise the inside and outside of your home will be both more welcoming for friends and family and a lot safer.


Deep clean your home’s living areas

For many people, the holiday season means a steady stream of visitors. Make sure that your home feels clean and inviting by giving your living areas and kitchen a deep clean. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to call in the professionals to steam the upholstery and curtains (though go for it if you want to!), but rather you should do enough so that your home feels fresh. Here’s a good place to start:

  • Declutter your living spaces and kitchen. Putting everything in its rightful place is the quickest and easiest way to create a sense of calm and organization.
  • Clean the guest bathroom (including the medicine cabinet because, yes, people look). This is one area where you’ll want to spend some time and energy — a tidy bathroom shows you’re a thoughtful host. Make sure there’s extra toilet paper (under the sink or in a cute basket), fresh soap, and clean hand towels.
  • Straighten the coat closet and make room/add hangers for guests’ coats.
  • Wipe down everything in the kitchen, including appliances, and clean out the refrigerator and oven.
  • Vacuum carpets and mop floors in living areas. If you have the energy, be sure to get under the couches and other areas covered by furniture.
  • If you’re having house guests over for the holidays, vacuum and dust the room where they’ll be sleeping. (You can wait to put on fresh sheets until right before they arrive.)

Check your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

We suggest that you use daylight saving time as a reminder to check that your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors function properly. However, if you didn’t do that at the beginning of the month, now is a great time to do so. Many home cooking fires happen on Thanksgiving and the day before it, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

To make sure your detectors are working, hit the “test” button. If the alarm doesn’t go off, then you should replace the batteries immediately and test again. It’s also a good idea to replace any alarms that are over 10 years old just to be safe.

Fix any plumbing issues

The busiest day of the year for plumbers is the day after Thanksgiving. Get a jump on fixing slow drains, stubborn toilets, or finicky garbage disposals before you have a house full of guests putting even more pressure on your plumbing. Otherwise, the problems will only get worse, and all of the plumbers will be busy with customers who didn’t have your foresight.

Reverse the direction of your ceiling fans

In the summer, you want your ceiling fans to push cool air down to the floor, but in the winter, you want them to pull cool air up, which is why you should set them to rotate clockwise. Running your fans clockwise and at a low speed during colder months will redistribute the warm air and can save you up to 15 percent on heating costs.

Clean light bulbs and light fixtures

Now that the days are getting shorter, it’s the perfect time to take a damp cloth and wipe down all of the light bulbs in your lamps and fixtures as well as the lamps and fixtures themselves. Dirty bulbs put out less light, and you’ll want your home to be as bright as possible for the holidays.


Inspect outdoor walkways and stairs

In many parts of the country, winter brings rain, sleet, and snow, which, on their own, can make getting to your home dangerous. Add in a broken stone in your walkway, wobbly stair, or loose handrail, and that walk from the car to the front door suddenly gets a lot more treacherous. Take time before the weather gets bad to inspect outdoor walkways and stairs and get any damage repaired as soon as possible.

Make sure all of the outdoor lighting is working

Exterior lighting is a great way to enjoy your home’s landscaping in the winter, but it’s also a safety issue. Outdoor lighting along pathways and entryways can help you and your guests spot any potential hazards, create an inviting passage into your home, and help deter criminals.

Check all of your outdoor fixtures and replace any bulbs that are burnt out. In addition, consider placing your outdoor lights on a timer that turns the lights on at dusk and off in the morning to save energy.

Clean your gutters

Ideally, you should clean your gutters twice a year, and one of those times is after the leaves have fallen from the trees near your home. It’s definitely not a fun chore, but getting those leaves, sticks, and other debris out of them is crucial to controlling the flow of rainwater and protecting your roof, walls, foundation, and landscape. If you put it off now, it can end up costing you a lot of money come spring.

Not up for the task or don’t feel safe climbing a ladder? There are lots of professionals with all of the proper equipment who can do this job for you.

Rake up dead leaves

Grab that rake out of the shed one last time and get all of those final fallen leaves before the snow and rain come. This will not only ensure your lawn isn’t smothered all winter or infected by snow mold, but it will also prevent leaves from clogging drains and becoming a slipping hazard when wet.

Inspect the exterior for damage or cracks

It’s not fun to think about, but when it gets colder, mice and other critters want to find a nice, warm place to move into for the winter.  They will get into your home through windows and doors that haven’t been properly sealed, as well as any cracks in the exterior. Take the time now to do a thorough inspection and make sure doors are sealed tightly against thresholds, there aren’t any visible gaps between the trim and the siding or where the walls join the foundation, and that the weather stripping is in good condition.

Sealing any air leaks in your doors and windows will also prevent draft spots in your house and save on your heating bill.


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