New Year, New Projects
At the beginning of a new year, it’s only natural to have some lofty ideas about home projects you'd like to tackle. But an overambitious to-do list can lead to stress and major home improvement burnout. Avoid to-do list fatigue by spreading projects out over the year instead! To help you plan, here’s a month-by-month guide to projects that will keep your home clean, safe, and properly maintained all year long.
January: Add Insulation to Keep Your Home Cozy
Does your house seem a little draftier than usual this winter? Maybe your attic insulation isn't up to snuff. As we enter the coldest months of the year, January is a great time to evaluate your attic insulation and add more, if necessary. This project is a twofer: Your home will feel warmer, and your heating system won't have to work so hard!
February: Clean the Dryer Vent for Fire Safety
You probably clean out the lint trap every time you put a new load of clothes in the dryer, but if you can’t remember when you last cleaned the dryer vent, it may be high time to do so—and the cold, dismal month of February is ideal for an indoor chore like this. Over time, lint, dirt, and dust can build up in the dryer vent, which carries moist air from the dryer out to the exterior of the house. This accumulation can hamper your dryer's efficiency and create a fire risk. Be vigilant about keeping the vent clear, especially during winter months when it can become blocked by snow or ice.
March: Gut the Gutters
Before spring showers inundate your house, you’ll want to clear your gutters of all the pine needles, twigs, leaves, and other organic material that accumulated over the long winter months. Give the gutters a thorough cleaning, and while you're up there, consider installing gutter guards, which are screens or foam inserts that prevent debris from piling up in the first place.
April: Pest Prevention for the Summer Months
By April, you’ll be ready for warmer temperatures—but so will all of the critters that are ready to hatch and find their way into your house. Do a little work up front to prevent pests like termites, ants, and silverfish from making themselves at home. Check for cracks in your siding, examine your roof for rotting or broken shingles, and seal things up tight so that unwanted creatures can’t get in.
May: Power-Wash the Siding
After a hard winter and a wet, windy spring, your home may start to show signs of algae or dirt buildup on the siding, giving it a sloppy, rundown appearance. May is a good month for washing the exterior of your house, as you’ll have plenty of dry, sunny days that are perfect for the task. Just be sure to use the proper pressure so you don't damage the siding.
Related: Bob Vila's 10 May "Must Do" Projects
June: Refresh Your Front Door
Now that your house is freshly washed, does the front door look a little dingy? Take time in June to refresh the door with a new, bold coat of paint that will rev up your home's curb appeal. With June's sunny but not scorching temperatures, the paint will dry quickly, and as you probably won't be using the air conditioning yet, you'll be able to keep the door propped open.
July: Repave the Driveway
If your asphalt driveway is cracked or chipped, or if it has a distinct alligator-like appearance, repaving may be in your future. Repairing or repaving an asphalt driveway is best done in the summer months as it’s easier to pour, spread, and level asphalt in warmer temperatures.
August: Clean and Polish Your Floors
Summer is winding down, and your floors have probably taken a beating with all the sand, dirt, and wet clothes they’ve been subjected to over the past few months. Before school starts up, refresh your carpets with a steam cleaning, and polish up your wood floors with a restorative treatment.
September: Prune Your Perennials and Plant for Fall
You should get busy in the garden well before the first freeze. September is optimal for pruning back your perennials to protect them from the frigid temperatures to come. Once you've cleaned up the perennials, plant some autumn vegetables like collard greens, peas, lettuce, and radishes.
October: Vacuum the Radiators, Baseboard Heaters, and Heating Grates
The temperatures are starting to dip, which means your heating system will be getting some serious use over the next few months. Before you turn on the system for the season, take an afternoon to vacuum any radiators, baseboard heaters, and heating grates to remove accumulated dust and dirt. Clean radiators work more efficiently, and the indoor air quality will be better.
November: Update Your Bathroom Fixtures
With November come the holidays and the accompanying rush of guests that give your bathrooms a real workout. As you prep and prime your home for the onslaught, why not take the opportunity to update outdated fixtures? Change out the shower head, faucets, or even the toilet to give your bathroom a fresh look for the festive season.
December: Repair Steps and Railings
Stairs are among the most accident-prone areas of any home, particularly if there are any carpet bulges or broken railings that could potentially lead to a trip or fall. Before guests start piling into your home for the holidays, repair any steps and railings that need attention.
Related: Bob Vila's 10 Must Do's for December
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