January Home Maintenance To-Do List

Bedroom closet with cubby holes for shoes and racks to hang shirts and jackets

To-Do #3: Clean and Organize Closets

The New Year is a perfect time to organize your home, and why not start with your closets? Over the course of the year, closets get full of all sorts of stuff that may or may not belong there.

Since it’s too cold to do much outside, take advantage of a day stuck indoors to organize and clean your closets, and perhaps add some new shelving or other storage organizers while you’re at it. Follow these steps:

  • Inspect Closet: Examine your closet and determine what’s working and what’s not. Is there enough hanging room? Are shoes overrunning their space? Do you have belongings in the floor that have no place to go?
  • Clear Out Closet: Next, remove everything from the closet – yes, everything!
  • Purge Unused Items: Sort clothing, shoes, and accessories, and set aside unneeded items to donate. A good rule of thumb is, if you haven’t used it in a year, it’s time to go.
  • Clean Closet: Give the inside of the closet a good cleaning, and possibly a fresh paint job.
  • Update Closet: Examine the closet to see if you can make better use of the space. You can dramatically increase storage space with shelving, hanger bars, baskets, and bins that are tailored to suit your needs. For more information about DIY closet solutions, check out our video on How To Install a Track Storage System In Your Closet.
  • Fill Closet: Finally, put the remaining belongings back into your clean, neat closet.

Ice dams on house in winter

To-Do #4: Check Roof and Gutters for Ice Dams

Icicles hanging from your roof may be pretty, but ice in and around your eaves can damage your roof and cause leaks.

Ice dams form when the roof is covered with snow, and the attic is warmer than the outside air. The ice over the warm attic melts and refreezes when it reaches the cold overhang of the eaves.

As the ice builds up, it can prevent water from draining off your roof. This results in icicles, but it also can cause the water to back up underneath your shingles and leak into your attic.

To Prevent Ice Dams:

It’s much easier and safer to prevent ice dams than to try to remove them. Follow these steps:

  • Seal air leaks that could be allowing heated air to rise into your attic.
  • Make sure your attic has adequate ventilation so the air in the attic is a similar temperature as the air outside.
  • Whenever there’s a fresh snowfall, use a roof rake to remove as much snow as you can safely reach without climbing on the slippery roof.
  • Make sure gutters and downspouts are clear and flowing freely.

To Remove Ice Dams:

Ice dams can be very dangerous to remove; steer clear of any method that could cause chunks of ice or sharp icicles to fall on or near anyone standing below. Avoid climbing on an icy roof, or using a pressure washer or heat cables that could damage your shingles.

If you have severe ice dams, bring in a contractor to remove them safely. For smaller issues, you can fill nylon pantyhose with calcium chloride (not rock salt), and lay them vertically across the ice dam. The salt will slowly melt a channel through the ice, allowing melting water to drain off the roof.

Folder labeled assets

To-Do #5: Compile or Update Home Inventory

Finally, spend one of those cold winter days compiling a home inventory or updating the one you already have.

While nobody likes to think about losses in your home due to theft, fire, or natural disaster, a little preparation can go a long way to making the process of dealing with your insurance company easier should a loss occur.

To prepare a home inventory you’ll need a computer spreadsheet or paper notebook, camera and/or camcorder, and a tape measure. Here’s how to go about it:

  • Outside: Take a video of all sides of the outside of your home, including patios, landscaping, hardscaping, and sheds. Follow this up with photos from each angle. Take close-up photos of specific items, such as rockwork, outdoor kitchens, water features, and lighting to show detail. Record measurements, model and serial numbers, purchase price, and any other information that could help you determine the replacement value of the object.
  • Rooms: Next, move through your house room by room with a camcorder to video the interior. Slowly pan the room, starting at the upper left area from where you’re standing and moving toward the right, then down and back to the left across the lower half of the room. Repeat the process by taking wide-angle still photos of the room from each corner.
  • Individual Items: Now focus your camera on individual items of value. TVs, stereos, furnishings and rugs, equipment and tools, anything that would be important to replace in the event of loss. As you take photos, record on your spreadsheet each item’s name and image file number, along with as much information as possible. Record brands, model and serial numbers, measurements, and descriptive features.
  • Document Ownership: Finally, you’ll need to compile information to prove your ownership of each item. Record purchase dates and sources on your spreadsheet, and attach receipts and any appraisal statements to the inventory. Or, you can scan relevant document and attach them digitally to your inventory spreadsheet.
  • Secure File: If you compiled the inventory on paper, organize all documents neatly in a three-ring binder. If your inventory is in digital format, organize the digital files and copy them to flash drive, CD, or DVD. Make three copies of your inventory: one to keep at home, one to keep in your safety deposit box, and one to store in a remote location, such as with your insurance agent or a family member.

For more home maintenance to-do lists, check out:


  1. I heard that all(?) bathroom sinks can have their top part unscrewed. I tried with some force (didn’t want to break anything) but it seemed pretty solid. Can I unscrew it with no problem so I can more easily clean the drain. Thanks

  2. I am unsure how I received an email, but I am honored to have received it. I love the show and all the tips. I can’t wait to check out your sites.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here