By Mark Schaufelberger
Are you expecting houseguests during the holidays? Make a good first impression before they even enter your home with these outdoor decorating and home maintenance tips.
’TIS THE SEASON
Retrieving holiday decorations from the garage or attic may remind you that these areas could use some cleaning and organizing. Replace old musty cardboard boxes with sturdy plastic storage totes with lids. They keep items dry and breakables intact, plus they’re stackable to maximize vertical space.
Grab a stiff push broom or a wet/dry vac to sweep up debris or (yuck!) animal droppings before storing your new containers. Then, inspect low-traffic crawl spaces and apply expanding foam to seal any small openings and keep cold air and pests out.
SAFELY LIGHT THE NIGHT
Take advantage of a mild day to hang outdoor holiday lights on gutters, eaves, and landscaping. Make sure they’re in good shape — frayed cords, even ones for outdoor use, aren’t worth the worry. Plus, the array of multi-holiday, seasonally-themed decorative lighting available now is eye-popping! Next, try a nifty ladderless light hanging tool with included clips to easily string lights from the ground.
‘LEAVE OUT’ THE GUTTERS
If you must use a ladder for holiday lighting, take note of leaves in your gutters. Skip the hose attachments and try a universal gutter cleaning kit for handheld leaf blowers on one-story homes. Or grab some protective leather or suede work gloves for the tried-and-true manual method. Either way, don’t let autumn’s leftovers dampen your gutters’ draining potential in a major snow melt. Also, invest in a snow roof rake to prevent heavy snowpacks from forming ice dams.
BRING THE HEAT
Once indoors, attend to areas we often take for granted. Clean out your clothes dryer’s lint trap and check for other hidden clogs. A dryer vent brush kit works wonders to enhance dry time, increase efficiency, and reduce the risk of fire. Clean out the ducting and vent cap on the other end where it vents outside. A damaged vent cap is an open invitation for small critters seeking warmth, so replace yours right away. Keep up with your furnace filter and replace it monthly. Pick a multi-pack for added savings. Upgrade to filters with higher Merv ratings if allergies are a common nuisance at home.
Vacuum the grates at the bottom of your refrigerator, both front and back. It might be a hassle, but it’s well worth the effort to help increase your fridge’s efficiency. Next, tackle wall air return vents and floor registers, or consider updating them to a modern finish. And try magnetic vent deflectors to better direct warm air where you need it. Lastly, don’t forget the baseboards, which are champs at collecting dust and pet hair. It’s a great time to clean your carpets — winter’s dry air helps freshly shampooed carpet dry faster. Pick up a portable rug cleaner and other carpet cleaning solutions for an easy DIY that will leave you feeling refreshed.
MARK SCHAUFELBERGER is the owner of Markle Hardware in Markle. He’s a member-owner of Do it Best, a Fort Wayne-based cooperative of thousands of hardware stores, home centers and lumberyards throughout the U.S. and around the world.
(This article is for informational purposes only. Indiana Connection and Do it Best assume no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information contained herein, or for injuries, property damage, or the outcome of any project.)