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It’s hard to believe that 2021 will be here in just a few days. And while many of us will be glad to put 2020 behind us and go into “celebratory” mode, it’s important not to overlook the fact that you still need to do some prep work to get your home ready for the upcoming year.

While many of us have been spending more time at home lately, that doesn’t mean that we’ve had extra time to tackle the often-overlooked jobs around the house. After all, even though you’ve been home, you may have been juggling working from home, helping your kids with their virtual learning, and keeping everyone focused on what needs to be done in spite of all the distractions you have faced. There’s been a lot of stress and obstacles to overcome, and you may have put your growing to-do list on the back burner.

However, now that you may have a few days “off” around the holidays, you can start tackling some of the items on your home to-do list. What better way to enter 2021 than with a clean, fresh, and prepared home that is ready for whatever the new year has to bring?

We’ve put together a list of things that may already be on your to-do list, as well as a few often-overlooked tasks that you shouldn’t forget.

Schedule heating maintenance

If you haven’t already scheduled a tune-up appointment for your home’s furnace, NOW is the time to get this accomplished — before the weather gets any colder. The official start of the winter season was only a week or so ago, and we still have plenty of brisk weather headed our way in the next few months. Be sure your home’s heating system is ready to handle whatever Mother Nature will throw your way.

During this appointment, the skilled technician sent to your home will inspect, clean, and ensure that the components inside your unit are working efficiently. If there is a potential issue, he or she can diagnose it and get it taken care of before it results in a breakdown of your system. Also, the technician will ensure that the unit is running safely and is free of any dangerous natural gas or carbon monoxide leaks.

Tasks to complete inside your home

This is a great time to note any areas of your home that feel drafty. Run your hand along your window and door frames. If you notice pockets of cold air, add extra weatherstripping in these spots to help prevent cold air from getting inside, and warm air from getting out.

Also, when completing indoor tasks, test your carbon monoxide and smoke alarms to be sure they’re working properly. If replacement batteries are needed, install them now before you forget.

In addition to doing a clean sweep inside your home, remember to replace your furnace’s air filter. The filter should be replaced once a month, more often if you have individuals in your home who smoke, or if you have pets. The filter traps airborne pollutants to keep them from reaching the air your family breathes. If the filter is dirty and full of dust, warm air from your heating system can’t easily move through the vents into each of your rooms. This could cause your heater to work overtime, and this may result in higher energy bills and premature wear and tear on your unit.

Don’t forget your home’s exterior!

Now that you’ve tackled indoor prep work at your home, it’s time to focus on some outdoor tasks. Make sure your gutters aren’t clogged or damaged in a way that could prevent them from moving moisture away from your roof. Even though winter has just started, you may already have seen brutal winds, snow and ice. These things could have damaged your gutter system, so it’s crucial that you do a visual inspection of your roofline to check for areas that may need to be repaired or replaced. Failure to do so could result in melting snow/ice pooling up on your home and/or spilling down your siding. This can lead to a variety of serious (and expensive) structural problems that could have been avoided.

Additionally, check the concrete surfaces around your home. It isn’t uncommon for the freeze/thaw cycle in the earth surrounding your home to cause a shift beneath your concrete sidewalk, patio, driveway, etc. When this happens, it can lead to uneven surfaces which may be a tripping hazard. If you notice any issues, get in touch with a concrete expert to get the problem addressed as soon as possible.

Also, if you haven’t already put away your outdoor furniture, do that before the next round of bad weather. Outdoor chairs, couches, tables, etc. are designed to withstand the elements, but that doesn’t mean that they can handle being exposed to brutally cold temperatures and snow/ice accumulation for long periods of time. Protect these items and store them away until next spring.

Protect your home’s vital lines, systems, and appliances

While you’re taking care of a variety of tasks inside and outside your home, think about enrolling in a protection program from American Water Resources to help keep your home’s heating and cooling systems, water lines, sewer lines, plumbing systems, etc. protected in the new year. At American Water Resources, we offer a variety of protection programs that provide coverage in case of an unexpected issue with your service lines or home systems. To see what plans are available in your area, visit us online and enter your ZIP code. If you have questions or concerns, call us. We are here for you!