Getting Your Home Ready for the Holidays

By Shell Busey

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The holidays are fast approaching and if you're expecting a houseful of people for Christmas, there is still time to fit in a project to spruce up your home for entertaining family and friends. Perhaps you would like to freshen up kitchen cabinets, give them a lift with white paint and new chrome hardware; and don't forget about helping your bathroom look its best. A new set of faucets and a fresh coat of paint can upgrade any powder room almost instantly. But you may want to set your sights even further. If you have a weekend to spare, some projects make a big impact with little time and money. Adding crown molding, a new countertop, a modern tile back splash or a new front door are all great ways to transform your home.

While addressing cosmetic projects offers instant gratification, it’s important not to overlook the unseen to ensure a safe and problem-free holiday season. West Coast winters can be unpredictable and when temperatures dip below freezing, it can cause countless problems for homeowners, if you neglect some winter chores. Unfortunately, many homeowners wait until snow hits the ground before they take preventative steps to winterize their home. Ensure components such as external plumbing, home heating systems, chimneys, fireplaces, gutters, foundations and roofs are in fine working condition. Following a few seasonal tasks now can prevent costly damage later and avoid major inconveniences ensuring you have a safe holiday season.

Winterize Your Home

Fireplaces and Chimneys:
Before firing up your fireplace, one of the most important things you can do is have your fireplaces and chimneys cleaned and inspected by a professional for proper operation; including cracks, blockages (bird nests), leaks, or creosote buildup. Replace a damaged chimney cap or repair it, if necessary. The cap keeps rain, animals and birds from entering the chimney and keeps hot sparks in. If your chimney doesn't have a cap, consider installing one. Keep your roof clear of leaves and debris and remove any branches hanging above gutters, chimneys, flues or vents. This also provides a clear path for Santa and his reindeer.

Inside the House:
Make sure the area around fireplaces and furnaces remains clear of debris, decorations and flammable materials. If your fireplace has glass doors, leave them open when a fire is burning and always use a metal screen with a wood fireplace. Be sure all your heating equipment is serviced every year and is properly ventilated. Make sure air vents indoors and outdoors (intake, exhaust and forced air) are not blocked by snow or debris.

Ensure smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are installed on every level of your home and the batteries are tested monthly. Replace batteries every six months.

Outside the House:
Winterize external plumbing systems: drain exterior water pipes and any pipes that run through unheated areas (such as a garage, crawlspace or unheated porch). If draining these pipes isn't possible, wrap them with foam insulation or heat tape. Ignore this job and you could be faced with flooding, water damage and thousands of dollars in plumbing bills. The simple fact is water expands when frozen. If a water faucet freezes use a hair dryer to heat and the pipes to free the frozen area. Leave faucet set at a trickle to prevent freezing again.

Roof gutters should be cleaned every season after leaves have fallen from the trees. This will prevent freezing mass in gutters and opening the seams to leaks. Have outdoor pools drained and professionally serviced. Pools and hot tubs must have heat or circulation pumps running to prevent freezing. Drain underground sprinkler systems.

Don't forget! Have a snow shovel and ice melt on standby for when you need it.

Autumn is the ideal time to line up contractors since they book up quickly for the spring and summer months, which are the busiest time for renovators; especially painters, roofer and window installers.

Gearing up your home for the holidays can be a lot of fun! Even if you are going away for the holidays and intend to leave your home for an extended period of time, you will want to ensure you go over these tips before taking off.

It's Just That Easy!
Have a Safe and Happy Holiday Season!



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