Monthly Home Maintenance

Unfortunately, there are jobs to do to best maintain your home.  On the plus side, doing a little maintenance each month will help your home run at maximum efficiency.  Also, these bits of maintenance will help retain the highest value when it comes time for resale.  Pride of ownership is easily recognizable and can be the make or break factor when a buyer is making their home buying decision.

January Home Maintenance

With the holiday hangover, most of us want to kick back and relax. A few tasks to take care of in January can help free up some major issues and give us the free time we want and need.More...

1. Handle Holiday Cleanup

Task: You’ve had the fun, and now it’s time to get rid of the evidence. Take down holiday lights and wrap them around a hanger to prevent tangling; set the oven on self-clean, then wipe the interior with a vinegar-soaked cloth; chip your Christmas tree and throw it in the compost pile, or scatter it around garden beds and shrubs for a midwinter mulching.

Shortcut: Instead of pitching holiday cards or tucking them away never to be seen again, recycle them into gift tags for next year. Find a pretty part of the card that has no writing on the back, cut it into a small square, and punch a hole in the corner.

2. Keep Fresh Air and Exhaust Pipes Clear of Snow 

Task: This is number 2 on the list but is really the most important.  We live in Saskatchewan and we get snow.  These pipes pictured are the fresh air intakes for your furnace (pointed downward) and the exhaust pipes (pointed upwards) for your furnace and hot water heater.  Problems that could arise if blocked are fairly substantial.  If fresh air pipes are blocked, your furnace could be choked off and will shut down.  Nobody wants to lose a furnace in our cold winters.  Blocked exhaust vents can cause carbon monoxide to back up int0o the home.  Also, not a desired result.

3. Test Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Detectors

Task: Since we are on the topic of carbon monoxide, check both of your monitors.  Newer models may intigrate both carbon monoxide and smoke into the same monitors.  Simply push the test button on the unit and make sure you get an alarm.  If not, new batteries are needed.

4. Seek and destroy hidden dirt

Task: Yes, cleaning counts as home maintenance! Clean those filthy places that people don’t see but you know are there. They include the range hood and grilles, refrigerator coils, tops of ceiling fans, dusty light fixtures and bulbs (make sure lights are off before dusting), and HVAC vents.

Shortcut: Let your dishwasher clean metal parts such as vent grilles and range hood filters. You can pop dirty sponges and dishrags in the dishwasher, too.

5. Give hardware some love

A lot of hands probably touched that door handle, so go head and wipe it down.A lot of hands probably touched that door handle, so go head and wipe it down.

Task: Shine and tighten doorknobs and hinges; tighten loose cabinet pulls and nobs; and level cabinet doors.

Shortcut: To clean metal hardware, wash with soapy water, then shine with a microfiber cloth dipped in vinegar or lemon juice. Brass polish will remove tarnish from solid brass hardware. Not sure it’s brass? If a magnet sticks, it’s most likely metal, not solid brass.

6. Do a deep declutter

Task: Banish piles, clean out closets and drawers, and tackle the basement if you can stand it. Channel your inner Marie Kondo: If you haven’t touched something in a year or don’t love it, then you should toss, donate, or recycle it.

Shortcut: If you can’t face a total house declutter, do little bits over a few days. Pick one room or a corner of the room to organize. Or, every time you walk into a room, put/throw one thing away.

December Home Maintenance

December is a tough month to focus on home maintenance. There’s so much holiday cheer to hang up and drink down that doing routine chores seems like a wet blanket over the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/Festivus spirit. But you can give yourself an early holiday present by doing just a few maintenance tasks before cold weather truly sets in. I've created a handy checklist of home maintenance tasks that need to be completed this month, plus tips for how to do them faster and easier—or with the help of a pro.More...


Check these to-do items off your list, then sit back with a few mugs of eggnog and enjoy the rest of the year. (Tip: Don't drink while operating a snowblower. You'll thank me later!)

1. Snow removal

Task: Clear snow and ice from walkways.

Shortcut: To use a snowblower and avoid constantly having to adjust the chute, start in the middle of the driveway and blow the snow to one side, then make a U-turn and blow the snow to the other side. (Yep, it's that simple.) Just make sure to fuel and oil up your snowblower now, in case it’s suddenly needed.]

If you’re using a shovel, clear the snow after every 2 or 3 inches of snowfall, which is significantly better for your back, heart, and general disposition than trying to lift a foot or more of snow.

Call in the pros: Hiring a neighborhood kid will probably cost you $25 and a cup of hot chocolate. Hiring a professional will cost $40 to $65, depending on the length of your driveway and the depth of the snow. It’s best to contract with a snow-removal service at the beginning of the snowy season (read: now) and pin down a price. The last thing you want is to beg a plow driver to clear your driveway after a blizzard, when he's the most in demand.

2. Prevent ice damming

Task: Prevent ice dams in your gutter and on your roof, which can push water into your home.

Shortcut: If you live in a frigid or snowy climate, you can install heating cables along the edge of your roof to keep snow runoff from freezing. Fifty feet of cable costs about $230.

Call in the pros: A roofing company will install heating cables on your roof for, on average, $817. If your roof is particularly steep or big, you’ll pay more.

3. Beef up insulation

Task: Check attic insulation to make sure it hasn’t deteriorated or flattened, which will reduce its efficiency.

Shortcut: Look across your attic, and see if the insulation is level with the attic floor joists, or if it's packed below—which indicates you need more. (If it's packed down below the top of the joists, then it loses some of its insulation power.) The cheapest way to beef up insulation is to lay down fiberglass batts, which cost about $100 to $500 for an 800-square-foot open attic.

Call in the pros: Putting down insulation is labor-intensive and can be messy. You can hire a company to insulate an 800-square-foot attic for $400 to $1,800, depending on the type and insulating value of the material you choose.

4. Put up/take down holiday decorations

Save time next year by winding your lights around a cord holder this year.

Task: Before you hang decorations, make sure to replace your old, incandescent lightbulbs with LED lights, which stay cooler and decrease fire risk.

Shortcut: If you hang lights in the same place each year, install permanent hangers, which will save time every year thereafter. When you take down the lights, keep them from tangling by winding them around a cord holder or heavy cardboard, or threading them in and around an old Pringles can.

Call in the pros: The cost of hiring pros to light up your home like the Griswolds' will vary from place to place and depend on the size of the project. For instance, this San Antonio, TX, company charges $149 to $1,399 to hang lights you own. Take-down prices range from $99 to $299.

5. Get your home ready for guests

Task: Spruce up your guest room for your friends and family. Launder sheets and blankets for the holiday rush.

Shortcut: You can buy brand-new bedding—comforter, sheets, pillowcases—for less than $50, which will give rooms a new look and feel. Fill a basket with bottles of water, bags of nuts, and tiny tubes of shampoo and conditioner you've taken from hotels (c'mon, we know we're not the only ones doing it).

Call in the pros: Hire a cleaning service to help out. A one-time cleaning of a 1,300-square-foot, single-story home runs $95 to $300.

6. Clean the chimney

7. Prevent icy hazards

Task: Take steps to deal with any home issues that could prove dangerous in icy weather. Turn off water to exterior spigots, drain them, and leave them open throughout the winter to minimize chances of frozen, burst pipes. Make sure outdoor stair railings aren't wobbly, which could cause someone to slip and fall on iced-over steps. Wrap exposed piping in your basement and garage with heat tape, which will keep water flowing freely in cold snaps. Trim overhanging branches that could cause roof damage if they snap under the weight of snow or ice.

Shortcut: If branches aren't too large or hard to reach, use a pole saw or pruner. Just don't venture onto the roof to get the job done.

Call in the pros: Tree limb removal costs vary, but it's usually between $50 and $75.

Tim Chicilo
Phone: 1 (306) 539.0085
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