DIY

6 Crucial Tasks BobVila.com Readers Are Doing Right Now—Including 1 That Shocked Our Editors

There are some projects you should take on during the dark and dreary first months of the year. We’ve rounded up the ways BobVila.com readers are filling their time right now, and why these tasks should be done ASAP.
January BV Readers' Projects

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Once the frenzy of the holiday season has passed, many people experience a change of pace in the first couple of months of a new year. Schedules may not be as packed, vacations have concluded, and there is an eventual slowdown that accompanies colder temperatures and earlier sunsets. The months of January, February, and even March may seem uneventful: Big projects such as renovations, remodels, and large-scale replacements are planned for warmer months, and lawn care and landscaping tasks seem like pointless endeavors when the ground is frozen and grass is dormant.

However, there are ways homeowners can—and should—make use of this time. We’ve compiled the top six ways BobVila.com readers have been beating the winter blues since the beginning of the year, and why completing these popular projects now can set you up for success over the next year.

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To determine the popularity of projects, we reviewed how our readers have engaged with our content in January 2024 thus far. We defined “popularity” by focusing on topics with a higher-than-average number of readers, clicks to our vetted and recommended professionals, and even direct bookings made through our links. We also considered external official reports and studies. 

1. Responding to Emergencies

January BV Readers' Projects
Photo: istockphoto.com

Many of the most popular projects that BobVila.com readers have been hiring for can fall into the category of “responses to emergencies.” Likely because of the recent freezing temperatures and winter storms that blanketed much of the United States, nearly 20 percent of all projects that readers inquired about could be qualified as an emergency; we defined “emergency” as a service request in response to an event that can potentially be harmful to the health and well-being of a home’s residents. Service inquiries for snow removal; mold (or other toxic material) testing and remediation; repair of essential kitchen appliances (such as freezers and refrigerators), repair or replacement of faucets, fixtures, and pipes; and pest control have been occurring at high rates. Pest control is notable if only for the type of pest. Small animals have been a particular nuisance this month so far, likely because of how many species like to seek shelter from the elements within or around homes.

Emergencies are inevitable, but homeowners can reduce the chances of one occurring in the coldest months. Preemptively scheduling inspections for appliances and systems is one way; winterizing the home is another. Hiring for year-round service from one of the best pest control companies (such as Orkin or Terminix) and sealing cracks, gaps, and small entries to the home is also one of the best ways homeowners can prevent infestations and unwelcome animal visitors.

2. Staying Warm and Dry

Unsurprisingly, staying warm is top of mind this time of year, and many homeowners have been making a variety of home-heating service requests. The most common have been for repairs, inspections, cleaning, and general maintenance of fireplaces, pellet stoves, chimneys, furnaces, and water heaters. These projects accounted for 8 percent of all service inquiries, with installations and replacements of these same home-heating appliances taking up an additional 4 percent. Insulation projects make up 2.5 percent of all service requests so far, while waterproofing and encapsulation projects make up 4.6 percent. All together, around 15 percent of all project inquiries so far were likely a response to home-heating issues or a desire to improve home-heating efficiency. Of course, this isn’t an ideal time for a furnace to break down or a water heater to give out. Experts typically advise that homeowners stay ahead of inspections, repairs, and replacements before their comfort—and even safety—is impacted too severely. Fall is the ideal time to schedule these crucial home-heating maintenance tasks. Heidi Gehring, the director of residential HVAC product management at Carrier, confirms this. “It’s super important to make sure that the heating system is well maintained. Make sure to change the air filters regularly; debris can certainly build up, and that causes the system to run less efficiently, and this is something that a homeowner can do themselves. The other thing is considering a clean and check. Doing that clean and check both in the spring and fall before [you fire up] up that heating or cooling equipment is really important. From a furnace perspective, make sure that the electrical and gas connections are working correctly, sound good, and don’t have cracks or corrosion. They’ll [A furnace professional] check the igniter, gas pressure, so those clean and checks are critically important.”

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3. Repairing Home Theater Systems

What does one do at home when it is too cold to go outside? While the answer would undoubtedly vary from one person to another, it wouldn’t be a surprise if more than one person answered the question with “watching television.” So when a home theater system breaks down and outdoor activities are limited, it becomes almost a necessity to get that entertainment system fixed as quickly as possible. In January 2024 so far, nearly 3 percent of all service inquiries related to a need for home theater system repair. If your TV is starting to act up, it’s not a bad idea to ask an electronics professional for help ahead of time–especially if you’re a football fan who is looking forward to Super Bowl Sunday! The cost of TV screen repair or general home theater repair is often cheaper than buying a whole new system, but this was one project we didn’t expect as one of the most popular this year so far.

January BV Readers' Projects
Photo: istockphoto.com

4. Booking Vacations

Dreaming about where you’ll go on your next vacation? You wouldn’t be the only one. BobVila.com readers have been reading Airbnb stories with greater frequency, and these articles have experienced a notable 18 percent increase in popularity compared with the month prior—and January isn’t even over yet. Airbnb is still one of the best vacation rental sites, but there are popular alternatives to Airbnb that are worth looking into: Vrbo is gaining popularity as a competitor, for example. So far, one of the most popular destinations is Orlando, Florida, with readers looking for places to stay near Disney World. Now is a great time to search for your next destination and book your accomodations—and if you’re going to Disney World, booking 6 months in advance is strongly recommended by frequent park visitors. Even if Disney World (or Orlando) isn’t on your travel bucket list this year, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to book flights and accommodations early. After all, travel experts are predicting that 2024 will be a year of relatively low prices for domestic travel (according to The New York Times). 

5. Upgrading Closet Space

BobVila.com readers are doing more than just cleaning out their closets; they’re actually revamping their closets entirely. They have been consulting articles about the best closet design companies about 9 percent more on a daily basis than they did in December 2023. It’s a great time to revisit your home’s organization: spring cleaning is just around the corner, and if your home is lacking in storage or other desired features, a remodel (partial or full) can be a solution worth considering. When the time comes to clean and reorganize, you’ll have a better idea of how much storage space you have available.

6. Completing Their Tool Boxes

BobVila.com readers love their tools, and small tools make up some of the most popular purchases this month so far. Stud finders, laser levels, digital calipers, and laser measures are just some of the most-purchased items thus far. Home improvement novices and professionals alike tend to invest in power tools during the holiday season, when there were many sales and deals to take advantage of. With holiday sales now concluded, January is not the best time to buy those big-ticket items. Small, more budget-friendly, and often multipurpose tools are excellent purchases this time of year, especially after all that spending in December!