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    January Home Maintenance Checklist

    We’re not gonna lie: Taking care of home maintenance tasks isn’t going to be any easier in January than it was during the holiday bustle of December. You’ve buttoned up the house against the cold, and you’re in the dead of winter without even a glimpse of spring in sight.

    Still, homes must be maintained, even in January. Why? It’s always easier and cheaper to maintain a house than to repair it—sometimes to the tune of thousands of dollars.

    Since we’re all about saving you time and money, we’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. So take a deep breath and dive into those chores. The good news? Many are inside chores, so you have no “It’s too cold!” excuses.

    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.

    2. Protect the pipes

    Task: Prevent exposed pipes from freezing as temperatures drop. A frozen pipe can crack or burst, flooding your home. If you’re planning a winter vacation, don’t forget to wrap pipes with heat tape you can control with a thermostat. And if you haven’t turned off water to outdoor spigots yet, consider yourself lucky—if they haven’t yet burst, shut off water valves and open spigots to drain existing water.

    Shortcut: To thaw a frozen pipe, wrap it with a heating pad or turn a hairdryer on it.

    3. Check for storm damage

    Task: After winter storms, inspect your home’s roof, siding, gutters, and yard for wind, snow, or ice damage.

    Shortcut: Instead of climbing on the roof to look for missing shingles, use binoculars to search for damage. Better yet, buy a drone that can fly over your house and spot damaged areas.

    4. Seek and destroy hidden dirt

    Task: 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

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

    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.

    7. Think green

    Task: If you can’t deal with the January gloom, you can always look ahead to spring. Grab those seed, bulb, and bare-root plant catalogs, and start planning your flower and vegetable gardens. If you’re starting seeds inside, plant them about six weeks before the last frost in your area. | Lisa Gordon

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