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December homeowner to-do checklist

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“In the lead-up to Christmas, a list takes flight; cleaning and fixing, making everything just right”. We’ve put together a holiday checklist to prepare your home this festive season:

1. Check for drafts

When the temperature drops, you will soon know if you have any drafty areas of your home. Do a room-by-room inspection and check doors, windows, outlets, chimney and attic access. Seal drafts with caulking, weatherstripping, foam tape or insulating foam.

2. Chimney

Wood-burning chimneys should be cleaned annually by a qualified chimney sweep. A clean, properly functioning chimney will reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and prevent the build-up of creosote which can cause a chimney fire.

3. Furnace filter

Your furnace filter needs to be changed regularly to keep your furnace running efficiently. How often you change filters depends on the size of your filter. Generally, the smaller the filter, the more often it needs to be changed. Refer to your furnace manufacturer manual.

4. Deep dust

Dusting may seem like a housework chore that’s done throughout the year but when the cold weather comes, it’s important to give each room a deep dust. This will keep dust out of the ductwork and help the furnace run more efficiently and make it last longer.

5. Snow removal

Check your collection of snow shovels, ice choppers and window scrapers and replace if necessary. Also check your supply of ice melter and sand. Store snow removal tools and supplies near the door where you can access them easily during a storm.

6. Snow blower

Get your snow blower ready for a major snowfall by changing the engine
oil, replacing gas with fresh fuel and lubricating the drive and chassis. If necessary, replace spark plugs and belts. Then start up snowblower for a few minutes to make sure it is running smoothly.

7. Outdoor safety

Having a brightly lit and safe place to walk outside during the winter months is important. Inspect outdoor steps and railings and secure if necessary. Check that your outdoor lights all have working bulbs. Lay down anti-slip mats and stair treads to prevent slips.

8. Firewood

Top up your store of firewood so you have enough for the winter. How much you need will depend on how much you burn. For an indoor fire once a week, a half-cord may be enough. If wood-burning is your main source of heat, estimate two to three cords per 1,000 sq. ft. of home.

9. Generator

Regular maintenance on a standby generator includes changing the oil and filters and charging the battery. It’s also a good idea to have an annual maintenance check by a professional. Some service technicians may offer an oil, filter and battery service.

10. Tree limbs

Watch for heavy snow buildup on tree limbs. The added weight from heavy wet snow can cause tree limbs to break. Use a long handle broom to gently brush snow off. You can also lightly shake tree but be careful not to cause damage to brittle branches.

11. Home emergency kit

In a crisis, you may be on your own for at least 72 hours. Put together a kit that includes, flashlights, batteries, phone chargers, medications, first aid, spare keys, cash, important documents, food, water and a battery-powered radio. Keep kit in a place easy to find.

12. Ceiling fans

In winter, ceiling fans can help rooms feel warmer by changing the direction of the spin. Blades turning clockwise creates an updraft that moves warm air trapped near the ceiling back down to the room. Keep the fan speed on low, any faster and you’ll feel a cool breeze.

13. Clean stove, oven, range hood

December is a good month to deep clean your oven, stove and range hood and remove built up grease and crud. Regular dish soap will clean up surface grease but for the really tough dirt, go by the appliance manufacturer recommendations.

14. Coat closet

Make room for winter coats and boots in closets closest to your exterior doors. Start by emptying the closet and giving it a good clean. Clear out summer gear and store elsewhere. Add extra hangers for visiting guests and don’t forget a large boot tray to catch messy drips.

15. DIY projects

Small home improvement projects can have a big impact on the way your house looks for the Holidays. Think about replacing cabinet hardware or installing a dimmer switch on your dining room chandelier. Minor one-afternoon projects are practical this time of year and easy to do.

16. Decorate!

One of the biggest things to do in December is decorate for the Christmas season. Whether starting indoors or outdoors, it’s good to check the strings of lights first and replace burnt-out bulbs. Once you have the lights in place, put on a Christmas movie and enjoy the process!

Have any questions? Talk to a TIMBER MART expert for home improvement tips and advice.

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