It's the most wonderful time of the year! With the caroling, marshmallow toasting, glowing lights... and bursting pipes. OK, so maybe winter isn't all hot mulled wine and gingerbread decorating, but most home maintenance and hosting hiccups can easily be avoided with a little preparation.
1. Get the Lights Up — Safely
The holidays wouldn't be the same without the colorful lights that adorn homes, shops, and city buildings alike. Whether you're going all out or opting for a minimalist approach this year, keep the following safety tips in mind. Nothing puts the kibosh on festivities like a broken leg or electrical fire! To keep your lights going all season long, skip daisy-chaining. Instead, make sure you plug your exterior extension cord into a power strip with anti-trip and plug that into a GFCI outlet in a waterproof box cover. All of these steps will keep water away from electricity, or turn the right things off should moisture find a way in nonetheless. And, of course, follow ladder climbing safety guidelines.
2. Protect Your Home From Fires
With the increased use of heating appliances in winter... comes increased risk for gas leaks, house fires, and other hazards. If you haven't already, get your water heater, furnace, stove, and chimney cleaned or serviced. To be alerted at the first sign of danger, check smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors for proper functioning. Also, check the batteries and replace them if necessary. If you have a combined model, consider purchasing a separate carbon monoxide detector, which needs to be plugged in or mounted no higher than 5 feet up a wall to be effective. And if you smell gas, shut off the gas main ASAP then seek professional help. It should be located outside near the front of your home.
3. Keep Pipes From Freezing
We're used to nice weather year-round in the Bay Area, but pipes can and do freeze in winter! When a cold front hits, the water in your pipes freezes, increasing in size and causing pipes to burst. Depending on the location of your pipes, your only indication may be a much higher water bill next month. If you suspect a leak, check your crawl space for leaks and mildew or consult your water meter (it's usually located in front of your home, where you would shut your water off). If the dial is spinning when no one's using water, you likely have a problem.
The fix: call a pro to fix broken pipes and install tube pipe insulation (especially for piping coming off your hot water heater). You can also try leaving your faucet on a slow drip to keep water flowing, which prevents it from freezing.
4. Get Guest Rooms Ready
Last, but not least, you know the holidays will be busy, so work ahead as much as you can and start getting your home ready for guests. That means laundering the sheets, dusting guest rooms, and stocking up on anything your in-laws might need once they get here. They'll appreciate the thoughtfulness! And don't forget to knock off any last "honey-dos" remaining on the list, like that pesky jiggly doorknob or leaking faucet. "Honey" lacking the time to get those finished? You can always schedule a AAA House Manager to help with those.
How are you preparing for the holidays? Do you have any failsafe tricks you use every year? Leave your thoughts and comments in the section below!