home maintenance January Home Checklist

Just Do It in January Home Checklist


After all the holiday decorations are packed away and stored for another year and your home life schedule gets back to normal, your home probably seems empty like ours does when all things red and green are removed. It’s a good time to pay attention to your home and take a little time to assure that all its systems are clean and functioning in proper order. These 10 items are inspections and basic cleaning jobs to make sure all systems are working.

  • Replace filters or wash permanent ones in heating system
  • Check for leaks in forced air heat duct joints and seal with duct tape
  • Look for indoor condensation on windows and cure
  • Vacuum coils of refrigerator condenser
  • Check refrigerator door seal for airtightness by closing it on a dollar bill half in and half out. If it pulls out easily the hinge may need adjusting or the seal may need to be replaced
  • Inspect and clean the spray arm and strainer of dishwasher and flush with vinegar
  • Unclutter the utility closet and reorganize
  • Inspect air leaks in electrical outlets and install foam gaskets to seal them
  • Label the electrical outlets in the power circuit panel
  • Compile product warranties

If you’re considering any home repair and improvements in the coming year, visit us at to compare the cost of hundreds of project whether you do it yourself or hire a contractor.

Christmas Christmas crossword puzzle crossword puzzle

Holiday Puzzle for Kids of All Ages

Enjoying some quality time with the kids while you wait for Santa to arrive?  Here’s a word teaser to work with the kids, either online or print out copies and work with a pencil. It’s your call, either way, enjoy being with the kids this holiday season. Home for the Holidays

Visit us to find lots more puzzles and the cost of hundreds of home improvement projects at Do It Yourself or Not.

Christsmas holiday crafts

Make a Log and Stick Reindeer

Follow this link to make a log and stick reindeer

Better yet, make a family of reindeer to decorate inside our outside your home.

Yo Ho Ho!

Crossword puzzles Thanksgiving Turkey Time crossword puzzle

Turkey Time Crossword Puzzle

Tired of watching football games on the big day? Are the kids looking bored and need a little quality time with you? Check out our Thanksgiving crossword puzzle and work it with them. It’s an enjoyable exercise to baffle and befuddle that you can print out and work with a pencil or go interactive and work it out online. Turkey Time

Wherever you are we hope you enjoy the holiday with loved ones.

And visit for more puzzles and to compare the cost of home improvements so you can decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

Gene and Katie Hamilton
Hartford Insurance Winter damage to homes

Avoid Insurance Claims for Winter Damage

Gene and Katie Hamilton

When an insurance company suggests how to prevent costly damage to your home from the ravages of winter weather it’s a good idea to listen. The Hartford has analyzed winter claims data from the past five years and surveyed nearly 200 claims adjusters to collect some really timely tips and trends to watch out for this winter. “We know winter weather can create challenges for homeowners,” said John Kinney, chief claim officer for The Hartford. “Our goal is to help people prepare for unexpected weather, protect what’s important to them and prevail over the season.”

Advance preparation can go a long way toward helping you ensure your home is prepared and protected in advance. And take the time to understand their insurance coverage you have so re-read the policy, or ask questions of your agent.

The three most costly claims are frozen pipes, hail damage and tree collapses.

Frozen Pipes

One of the most common and costliest cold weather claims is frozen pipes. While most common in the Northeast and Midwest, frozen pipes happen in all areas of the country and average about $18,000 per claim. The Hartford’s adjusters recommend learning where the water shut-off is before faced with a frozen pipe or water leak.

Hail Damage

Hail damage is another common and costly winter weather claim, especially in the South where it is three times more common than in other areas. Roof damage from hail is more likely at the end of winter and can lead to claims that average $10,000. Claims for hail damage are often filed late because the damage isn’t always easy to see. After large hail storm, a homeowner may want to consider hiring a professional to examine the roof if they’re not able to safely inspect it. Filing an insurance claim as soon as damage is noticed allows the insurance company to start working with the homeowner sooner to minimize the damage.

Tree Collapses

Wind damage and tree collapses are another common and costly winter weather claim. Trees in the West are generally larger than other parts of the country and claims in this area average more than $10,000. By comparison, tree collapse claims range on average from $3,000 to $5,000 in the Northeast, Midwest and South. The Hartford recommends regularly assessing the trees and other vegetation on the property. Weakened tree limbs can easily come down in windy weather so the adjusters suggest maintaining and trimming trees near the home that could fall on the house, other buildings or vehicles during a storm.

Be Pro Active

Seasonal maintenance is critical:. Have the heating system serviced on an annual basis, which includes testing to make sure the heat is working throughout the home. It’s also important to insulate any pipes that are susceptible to freezing and unhook hoses from outdoor faucets.

Be prepared: Move vehicles off the street and/or away from large tree limbs and having the snow blower serviced. Become familiar with how to trip the manual release on overhead garage door openers and having shovels ready ahead of the storm.

Keep supplies on hand: Be ready for an extended power outage and have bottled water and non-perishable foods, clothing and blankets, batteries and flashlights. Don’t forget a snow shovel and supply of rock salt or sand.

Don’t Make These Common Mistakes

Despite the best laid plans, it may be necessary to file an insurance claim after winter storm damage. The Hartford’s adjusters indicated the most common claim filing mistakes made by homeowners are: not trying to mitigate or limit damage while waiting for an adjuster to arrive, waiting to file a claim and throwing away items without taking an inventory or capturing documentation.

Visit and compare the DIY and Contractor costs for hundreds of improvement projects.

closet storage

Closet Redux – Get Your Stuff Organized

Gene and Katie Hamilton
Gene and Katie Hamilton

Now is a good time to get rid of stuff you don’t use or no longer need. Free up space inside clothes closets and dresser drawers by taking little used clothes and donate them to make room for sweaters and socks. If you haven’t worn or don’t like them, why give them space in your closet and save them?

If you can’t remember the last time you wore a jacket or coat, give it to someone who can use it. The same goes for boots, hats and gloves. Just because it’s in the closet doesn’t mean you have to keep it.

The payoff is you’ll feel good every time you open the closet door and see items hanging nicely without being scrunched together. More empty is better than over full.

Attacking the contents of your clothes closets is just the baby step toward all the things that have accumulated in your house and garage. It may require a yard sale or many trips to donation centers.  Purging your stuff is possible, but it’s not easy. And it takes a plan and time to execute that plan, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Visit to learn how much a closet redux costs and compare doing the work yourself with hiring an installer.

November home checklist November home maintenance checklist

Just Do This in November

Gene and Katie Hamilton
Gene and Katie Hamilton

With trick-or-treating behind us and Thanksgiving approaching it’s time to take a look at this list and see what needs to be done before there’s a change in the weather. Most of these eight items deal with preparing for cold weather by plugging up leaks and making sure you have supplies you’ll need on hand.

The experts tell us time is well spent now preparing for foul weather that can damage our homes especially if the winter is a long and sustained one. You know the drill, do it now and be glad when the first squall or snow storm hits your neighborhood.

  • Replace filters in heating system and humidifier
  • Clean carpeting, upholstered furniture and draperies
  • Plug air leaks in siding or foundation with spray foam insulation
  • Install heat tape or pipe insulation around pipes near northern exposure
  • Insulate crawlspace walls
  • Inspect exterior lights and outlets
  • Mark driveway with stakes for snow
  • Tune up snow shovel and snowblower

And if you’re budgeting for a home improvement project in the future visit us at to find cost information and compare how much it costs to do it yourself vs. hire a contractor.

Halloween trick-or-treating

Safe Trick-or-treating Advice from Kids’ Docs

Make your home a safe haven for trick-or-treaters by welcoming all the cleverly costumed kids with a well lighted front door entry. Add decorations to make it pretty or spooky – however you want – with pumpkins, scary creatures and jack-o-lanters, and provide safe footing so you can easily fill their bags with goodies. Give away candy or a healthy treat like a box of raisins in an easy-to-reach basket or bowl so kids can grab and go.

It only happens one night a year so make it special for the kids. Invite friends who don’t have trick-or-treaters in their neighborhood to enjoy seeing the kids in costumes. You may want to get in the spirit too and dress up yourself!

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some suggestions for a safe holiday.

  • Costumes that are bright and reflective will keep kids visible even on the darkest night. Use reflective tapes so they’re easy to see.
  • Masks can block eyesight so think about using non-toxic makeup instead.
  • If you’re buying a costume, choose one with a label clearly indicating it is flame retardant.
  • Give kids a small flashlight to carry.

To make sure your entrance is well lighted here’s what involved and how much it costs to upgrade the lighting. Install a Porch Lantern

Get kids in the spirit of Halloween with this crossword puzzle Halloween at Home

Age Proofing a Home

10 Easy Ways to Age Proof a Home

Rug tape
Rug tape

Thinking about age proofing your home? Here are common sense ideas to make your home an easy place to live whether you’re young or old, able or disabled.  Every home should be accident-proof so it’s a safe haven for everyone who lives there. These are simple solutions to make your home family-friendly so so you can stay in control – and in your home – as you age.

The picture is me with the help of Samantha, our grey tabbly, adding a rug tape to secure a throw rug.

1. Use nightlights in bedrooms, bathrooms and hallways
2. Secure extension and appliance cords to the base shoe molding at the bottom of a wall with u-shaped staples
3. Tame the tangle of home electronic cables and wire with cord managers, covers and cable protectors
4. Remove throw rugs (especially at the top and bottom of a staircase) or secure them with a rug grip or rug tape
5. Install a grab bar in a tub or shower for safe footing
6. Increase bathroom lighting for putting on makeup or reading the tiny print label on medicine
7. Add under-cabinet lighting for chopping food or reading a recipe in the kitchen
8. Add rollout storage shelves in cabinets to easily see what’s inside
9. Add a second hand rail on the wall of a staircase and increase the lighting to assure safe passage
10. Bridge the gap between different floor levels of two rooms by installing a multi-level door threshold reducer so they are level

Visit us at to find the cost of 100s of home improvement costs so you can decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

bathroom design guidelines bathroom remodeling

Plenty to Consider Remodeling a Bathroom

If a bathroom makeover is in your future and you’re in the “noodling” stage of planning the project, take a look at these suggestions and guidelines in Bathroom Design Basics about the spacing and placement of all the fixtures so you allow for enough clearance space around the fixtures. It’s a good first step to knowing your options for placing the fixtures. Whether you’re doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor you’ll be able to plan the project so the end result of your labor is a stylish, comfortable and convenient bathroom to enjoy for years to come.

At you can compare the cost of bathroom remodeling projects, that is, how much it costs to do the work yourself vs. hiring a contractor. Bathroom remodel projects are some of the most popular projects because the room is so frequently used. A major challenge in a small bath do over is its small footprint limits where the fixtures can be placed. Of course, your budget is the prime factor that will influence all of your decisions, but don’t assume it’s easy placing and optimizing the plumbing fixtures in a minimal space.

In one house we remodeled the location and size of a bathroom window was the challenging issue because we couldn’t find space for the new fixtures unless we replaced the old double-hung with a casement window. That solved the problem and we made it work. In another, a second floor addition, we were forced to position a new bathroom below the existing bathroom on the first floor to eliminate extensive and costly plumbing work. Most recently we had to tuck the smallest size shower stall into a corner in a tiny narrow space we carved out for a ½ bathroom. It worked but it took some doing.

Here’s a link to Costing Out Bathroom Upgrades with the cost figures for some projects that make any bathroom, no matter its size, work more efficiently and look better.