Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The 12 Days of Christmas Home Improvement

In Just 12 Days, Improve Your Home

Just like the crazy-lovable families from National Lampoon's A Christmas Vacation or A Christmas Story, our friends and family are on their way, ready to throw some chestnuts on the open fire, sing Jingle Bells to their hearts’ content, and drink too much egg nog (the real kind). Do you have your home all spiffy and ready for their arrival? Here are some great things to do (and you can even turn it into a song that sounds something like the Twelve Days of Christmas, if you’d like!)

Day 1: Deck the halls with lights (LED will save you money!)

Nothing says, “The holidays are here” like outdoor lights on your home. If you would rather have a professional hang your lights for you, San Antonio General Contractors has a wonderful website for estimating the costs on your home. They range anywhere from about $150 to about $1,000, depending on the extravagance you’re going for.

Day 2: Clean the fireplace (to prepare for Santa’s arrival)

When it’s "BRRRRRR" outside, the fireplace is a staple in your home. Nothing feels as good as lazing around on big comfy furniture, bare feet exposed to the heat radiating off a crackly fire.  However, before you use your fireplace, make sure it's hazard-free. Since you last used it, ash might have built up, which can ignite fires in the top of the chimney. So, now's a good time to look for a chimney sweep to do the dirty work for you.  They'll also be able to assess any possible structural damage in the chimney or fireplace that need to be addressed.

Day 3: Weatherstrip the doors and windows
You want your family and friends to be nice and cozy when they’re sitting in your home, kicking up their feet with a big foamy mug of hot chocolate by the nice, clean fireplace. If they are sitting near a poorly-insulated window and feel a draft, it might put a damper on the whole toasty experience. What’s more is that the heater might be working overtime to compensate for the heat escaping through the cracks throughout the house. That’s money down-the-drain. Just go around your home and hand-test the doors and windows for leaks, then weather-strip them if they need it. Problem solved.

Day 4: Test your plumbing
Once and a while it’s a good idea to hire a local plumber to perform a check-up on the pipes in your home, especially when the weather presents freezing temperatures that could cause them to burst. When your ninety-eight-year-old Aunt Gladys stays over for the holidays, the last thing you want is for her to have to wheel down the hall (or down some stairs) to use the bathroom. This situation is not something anyone wants to face when there’s so much joy and merriment to be had. The plumber can recommend any fixes, including insulating pipes to keep them from freezing if it’s really cold. Aunt Gladys will thank you!

Day 5: Inspect your furnace filter and clean if applicable
This is actually required once a month, but let’s face it—not many of us do that. The cleaning ensures that the hot air circulates easily through the vents and ducts throughout your home. If the filter gets too dirty, the furnace has to strain to do its job, which will reflect in your utility bill. The job is too easy and saves you too much money in the long run, so it’s a good idea to go ahead and knock it out. Replacing your furnace is waaaaay more expensive.

Day 6: Check out your insulation
Is your insulation clean, dry, and free of pests? If so, great! If not, it might have formed small holes that jeopardize its ability to protect your home from the elements. Just like a dirty furnace, this can also raise your utility bill. Hopefully, the issues are minor or none at all, or else you might have to hire a home insulation contractor to lay down some fresh, clean insulation.

Day 7: Have your home inspected
The aforementioned are all small problems, and mostly easy-to-fix. However, if you want to see if your home has bigger issues that are more difficult to spot, hire a home inspector. Depending on whether or not there are any issues, the inspection could take a few hours, so prepare yourself for that reality, sit back, and make yourself some iced tea while he or she does their investigative work.

Day 8: Fix anything the home inspection finds
We certainly hope you’re in the clear of any issues, including pests, draining issues, leaks, wiring or electrical problems, mold, water pressure issues, cracks in the foundation, or more (broken leg lamps?), once you get that inspection done. But it will be important to your home in the long run to fix these issues, all of which could become major issues in the future if not remedied now.

Day 9: Install a new thermostat.
Remember our post a few days back about changing your old wired thermostat to a top-of-the-line wireless one? Yeah, we still mean it. It will not only look better and function fabulously, but it will also save you on your utility bill. 

Day 10: Paint the walls, stand back and marvel
Remember the time you decided to paint your walls, and you and your family stood back in awe of how beautiful and refreshing it turned out? Try a serene blue paired with stark-white trim, to give a clean and spacious impression of the room. There's plenty to choose from! Plus, there’s nothing like the smell of fresh paint to make you feel like you’re living in the lap of luxury and newness. It will be the perfect backdrop for a beautifully-lit Christmas tree.

Day 11: Don we now our cleaning aprons
You know the drill on this one. Put on those aprons and rubber gloves, grab a bucket and a scrub brush, some cleaning sprays, and get down and dirty. Make that home sparkle! Sure, your Uncle Larry is going to end up getting crumbs all over the living room and splaying his clothes all over the guest room, but we’ll worry about that when the time comes. For now, it’s your time to reveal the glory and beauty of your newish home. Call it your Christmas present to yourself!

Day 12: Organize your stuff
Now is the perfect opportunity for you to do all the Pinterest organization projects you’ve been admiring. Label and arrange your medicine cabinet, or get color-coordinated baskets and decals that make your utility closet look like the cleanest, most stylish on the block. Your whispering in-laws will be impressed/threatened by your freakish attention to detail.

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