December is a difficult month to focus on house maintenance. There is so much holiday joy to hang up and drink that routine chores seem like a damp blanket over the spirit of Christmas / Hanukkah / Kwanzaa / Festivus. However, you can get yourself an early Christmas present by doing just a little maintenance before the cold weather really sets in.
We’ve created a handy checklist of home maintenance tasks to do this month and tips on how to get them done faster and easier – or with the help of a professional.
Observe: It’s the time of year to complete these 3 simple home maintenance tasks
Check these tasks off your list, then sit back with a couple of cups of eggnog and enjoy the rest of the year. (Tip: don’t drink while operating a snow blower. You’ll thank us later!)
1. Snow removal
Task: Remove snow and ice from sidewalks.
Abbreviation: To use a snow blower and avoid having to constantly adjust the slide, start in the middle of the driveway and blow the snow to one side. Then do a U-turn and blow the snow to the other side. (Yes, it’s that simple.) Refuel and oil your snowthrower now in case you suddenly need it.]
Using a shovel will clear the snow after every 2 or 3 inches of snowfall, which is far better for your back, heart, and general condition than trying to lift a foot or more of snow.
Call the pros: Hiring a neighborhood kid will likely cost you $ 25 and a cup of hot chocolate. Hiring a professional costs $ 40 to $ 65, depending on the length of your driveway and the depth of snow. It is best to sign a contract with a snow removal service (read: now) and set a price at the beginning of the snow season. The last thing you want is to ask a plow operator to clear your driveway after a blizzard when it’s most in demand.
2. Avoid ice jams
Task: Prevent ice dams in your gutter and roof that can force water into your home.
Abbreviation: If you live in a cold or snowy climate, you can install heating cables along the edge of the roof to keep the snow from freezing. Fifty feet of cable cost about $ 230.
Call the pros: A roofer installs heating cables on your roof for an average of $ 817. If your roof is particularly steep or large, you’ll pay more.
3. Spice up insulation
Task: Check the attic insulation to make sure it hasn’t deteriorated or flattened, affecting efficiency.
Abbreviation: Look over your attic and see if the insulation matches the floor joists in the attic or if it is packed down below – which indicates you need more. (If it’s wrapped under the top of the joists, it loses some of its insulating power.) The cheapest way to improve insulation is to ditch fiberglass mats, which cost about $ 100 to $ 500 for an 800 square foot open area Attic.
Call the pros: Taking down the insulation is labor intensive and can be messy. You can hire a company to insulate an 8,000-square-foot attic for $ 400 to $ 1,800, depending on the type and insulation value of the material you choose.
4. Set up / dismantle holiday decorations
Save time next year by wrapping your lights around a cable holder this year.
(quavondo / iStock)
Task: Before hanging decorations, make sure to replace your old lightbulbs with LED lights that will stay cooler and reduce the risk of fire.
Abbreviation: If you hang lights in the same spot every year, install permanent hangers that will save time every year after that. Turning off the lights will prevent them from becoming tangled by wrapping them around a cord hanger or heavy cardboard, or threading them in and around an old Pringles can.
Call the pros: The cost of hiring professionals to light your home like the Griswolds’ homes varies from place to place and depends on the size of the project. For example, this San Antonio, TX company charges $ 149 to $ 1,399 for hanging lights you own. The prices for mining are between $ 99 and $ 299.
5. Prepare your home for guests
Task: Beautify your guest room for your friends and family. Wash sheets and blankets for the vacation.
Abbreviation: You can buy brand new linens – comforters, sheets, pillow cases – for less than $ 50 to give the rooms a new look. Fill a basket with bottles of water, sacks of nuts, and tiny tubes of shampoo and conditioner taken from hotels (come on, we know we’re not the only ones doing this).
Call the pros: Hire a cleaning service to help. A one-time cleaning of a one-story house with an area of 1,300 square feet costs $ 95 to $ 300.
6. Clean the chimney
Task: This is a must whether you are burning logs or having a gas fireplace. If you haven’t had a chimney sweep this year, now is the time to get involved before setting the baby on fire – dirty chimneys are a leading cause of house fires. (Pro tip: To keep things clean year round, remove fireplace ash after every fire. If you have a compost heap, throw ashes there to create lush soil.)
Abbreviation: You can clean the chimney yourself, but it’s not for the faint of heart. You will need plastic wrap and tape, various types of chimney brushes, safety equipment and a reliable ladder, as well as a desire to climb your roof. Does that sound like you?
Call the pros: We recommend this route to make sure your chimney is fully refurbished before setting fire to a Christmas wood. The standard chimney inspection costs between $ 100 and $ 250, depending on the accessibility of the roof and the type of chimney.
7. Avoid ice hazards
Task: Take action to resolve issues that could prove dangerous in freezing weather. Turn off the water by the outer spigots, drain them, and leave them open all winter to minimize the chance of frozen, burst pipes. Make sure that outside stair railings are not wobbly or someone could slip and fall onto icy steps. Wrap exposed plumbing in your basement and garage with heat tape to allow the water to flow freely in cold snapshots. Cut off overhanging branches that can cause roof damage if they snap into place under the weight of snow or ice.
Abbreviation: If the branches aren’t too big or difficult to reach, use a pole saw or secateurs. Just don’t dare go up on the roof to do the job.
Call the pros: The cost of tree branch removal varies, but is typically between $ 50 and $ 75.
8. Get rid of living things
Task: We mentioned this last month, but it has to be repeated during these cold months. Squirrels, rats, and raccoons crawl through every hole or crack in your toasted attic to stay warm. If you hear the patter of little feet above you, or discover that the instant ramen in your pantry has been mysteriously attacked, you’ll need to set traps or lay poison.
Abbreviation: Keeping pests away is so much easier than driving them away. Check the exterior of your home to make sure the vents are covered, the holes are patched, and the cracks are sealed.
Call the pros: Most animal removal companies will get rid of pests for you, but at a high cost. For example, if you have squirrels, you’ll pay $ 300 to $ 1,500 to inspect, set up traps, remove the squirrels, and seal the entry points. Now enjoy the holidays!