Cure Those January Blues with Home Improvement & Maintenance Projects

Man on a ladder checking the gutters for damage.

Unfortunately, plowing into a wintery or rainy January is always a drag: the holiday decorations are gone (hopefully), there aren’t any events, sports are in midseason limbo, and the movies are all bad. But there’s always a great way to cure those post-holiday blues by putting yourself and/or your family to work with some home improvement projects that are perfect for this time of year. Here are some ideas for home improvement projects that will keep you busy and float you through to sweet February.

A woman cleaning up holiday decorations.

1. Handle Holiday Cleanup

Don’t you be that weird neighbor with the cats who still has their Christmas tree and holiday lights hanging up in April. If you haven’t already dealt with the aftermath of your holiday cheer, that’s your first task. Take down holiday lights and use my mom’s weird trick of wrapping them around a used paper towel roll to prevent them from tangling. Set the oven on self-clean, and then wipe it down well with vinegar or another natural cleaning product. If you’re the sort of person to own a woodchipper, mulch the tree and toss it in the compost pile or scatter it around gardens and shrubs. (If you’re a normal person, just look up online where you can recycle the tree.)

A man checking on the smoke detector in his home.

2. Maintain All the Things!

There are just way too many devices and appliances in a typical home that need checking so why not bundle all those tasks together and start the new year off right? Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors by holding down the test button until you hear the device’s distinct beep or siren. You can also just replace the batteries right after the holidays and test it again on July 4th if you need a handy memory device.
  •  Inspect your fire extinguisher’s pressure gauge; the needle should be green. If it’s not, the extinguisher may have inadvertently lost pressure and should be replaced or serviced. You’ll need to replace it if the locking pin on the handle is missing or the handle is broken, or if the hose or nozzle have developed cracks with time.
  • Change your furnace filters every four to six weeks during the winter months, as dust and grime tend to accumulate faster when the house is buttoned up for the winter.
  • Flush your hot water heater every January to keep sediment and minerals from building up and causing a malfunction.
  • Replenish your first aid kit with any materials you’ve had to use in the past year such as bandages, antiseptic, gauze, or medicine.
  • Vacuum the coils inside your refrigerator to ensure that it’s working most efficiently and isn’t holding a bunch of dust and grime that could cause an electrical fire.

A man cleaning gutters and checking for storm damage.

3. Check Your Roof and Gutters for Storm Damage

It sounds counter-intuitive to inspect your roof for problems in the middle of winter but if something bad has happened to your roof because of wind, snow, or ice damage, the problem will just continue to get worse as the winter months come to an end. You don’t need to climb up on a snowy roof, either. Just use a pair of binoculars to look for ice dams, missing shingles, clogged gutters or other problems. If you have a particularly tech-friendly neighbor, you could also borrow a drone to look for damaged areas.

Remember, working on the roof can be risky so if you’re not confident in your ability to fix a problem, you may have to call in a professional such as a roofing company, arborist, or professional contractor.