They’re coming! The holiday season launches into high gear next week. A time that often produces equal parts joy and stress.

Whether you’re preparing for out of town guests, or just getting through the holiday’s themselves, our time seems to squeeze down to a fraction of normal. With shopping, preparation, cooking, and yes, even some merriment, there isn’t any extra time for oh, say, home maintenance.

With all that is going on a small plumbing leak or even a faulty smoke detector can become a big deal. Shed some of that stress by confirming that your home is ship shape for the holiday season for you and you guests.

Guest Bedroom

The best way to see if you are ready for guests is to become one. Try moving into and living in your guest bedroom for a couple of nights. You’ll get first hand experience with its comfort and “guest readiness.”

  • Lighting – Is the ambient lighting enough to move around the room at night? Add a night light if needed, and check to see if the bedside lamps are adequate for reading in bed.  This is also a perfect time to switch to compact florescent bulbs.
  • Check the ceiling fan –  Does it wobble, squeak or click?  If so, try to isolate the cause and repair it so your guests can get a good night’s sleep.
  • Closet Space – Do your guests have enough room to unpack and get comfortable while they are visiting?  I know, not too comfortable, but it’s nice for your guests to be able to empty a suitcase and feel like they are “settled in” for the visit.
  • Guest Bed – These are often hand-me-downs. Is it noisy or springy? Is it still comfortable enough for you to sleep on? If not, consider at least adding a soft mattress cover. They are not expensive and can add a great deal of comfort to a so-so mattress.  Make sure that the bedding is comfy and have an extra blanket or two handy in the room.
  • Heat in the Room – Open the floor or ceiling registers and check for debris in the floor registers. They can be vacuumed out and wouldn’t this be a perfect time to change the furnace or heat pump filter?


  • Along with your fall clean up, the holidays can mean extra projects including the installation of outdoor decorations. Safety first is the name of the game here.

    Confirm that the gutters are clear of debris and the down spout extensions carry water away from the house. Water in the house from a heavy down pour would not be welcome now, or anytime.
  • If you live in a colder climate, the sprinkler system should now be shut down for the season. Consider calling in a sprinkler system service to blow out or drain your system.
  • Use extra care when hanging holiday decorations. Use a sturdy ladder on a secure surface.
  • Watch for overhead wires including the electrical service wires feeding your house. All work should be done from a ladder. Not the roof top.
  • Use UL approved, outdoor extension cords and multi-outlet power strips. In newer homes, check to see if all exterior ground fault outlets test and operate correctly.

Around the House

  • If you have a wood burning fire place, it should be cleaned out by a professional every few years, even after moderate use. This should be done at the beginning of the season. The pro will look for any creosote build-up. Remember, a chimney fire can be disastrous…any time of the year.
  • Check all smoke detectors. If they chirp, a new battery is needed.  Better now than when everyone is trying to sleep and you’re searching for the right battery.
  • Check under all sink cabinets for leaks.  A small leak can sometimes go undetected, and then become a big deal at the worst time.
  • In an older home, consider having the main drain line cleaned or scoped. The added water use could overwhelm a partially clogged drain.
    Whether your tree is natural or artificial, or if there is a tree at all, a handy, easy to use fire extinguisher is a must for every house. Look at it, understand how to operate it and hope that you never need it.

This article first appeared here.

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