Make Home Maintenance Your New Year's Resolution With Our How-To Videos

by Matt Schmitz
A man holds his New Year s resolutions in hand in front of the Christmas tree and circles home maintenance as the one he intends to accomplish

HomeServe photo by Matt Schmitz

Fewer people are making New Year’s resolutions, according to a new survey from Baltimore-based health and wellness firm Medifast — with just 44% of adults planning one for the upcoming annum compared with 50% the previous year. And is it any wonder? Trotting out all the typical abstract, overly optimistic objectives like “get in shape” or “read more” (who has the time?), or “save money” (easier said than done), or “be a nicer person” (how’s that workin’ out for ya?), we may as well resolve to rub a genie out of a lamp to grant us three wishes … and then use our first wish to wish for more wishes.

This May Also Interest You: 11 Home Maintenance Tasks and Repairs to Complete Before Holiday Guests Arrive

But making a New Year’s resolution to start keeping up with basic home maintenance tasks you’ve been neglecting partially or entirely for as long as you can remember? Now that’s a self-improvement promise you’re capable of keeping — and it could even help you with at least one of those other resolutions (saving money).

Whether you’re ringing in the new year or just trying to make it through the current one, HomeServe’s here to help you help yourself. We’ve taken the liberty of rounding up a holiday honey-do list of home maintenance tasks that we think:

  • You should be doing
  • You can do
  • Will improve your home life and boost your self-confidence

And we’ll even walk you through the steps for each job. Here are eight ways you can resolve to take better care of your home in the new year:

1. Change Your HVAC Filter

A man wearing a black T-shirt and black rubber gloves changes the filter in a residential HVAC unit in the basement of a house

Changing out your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is one of the simplest, yet most vital, home maintenance tasks you can do. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most neglected. When you replace the filter regularly — every three months, at least — you can reduce your energy bills, improve air quality and extend the life of your HVAC unit. Check this one off the list, and you’ll literally be breathing easier in the new year.

Watch this video to learn how to change your HVAC filter in seven simple steps.

2. Drain Your Water Heater

A hose empties into a bucket the dirty water and debris that comes out when you flush your water heater

You’ll be shocked — and probably more than a little grossed out — when you see the filth that flows out of your water heater when you drain it, especially if you’ve neglected it for far too long. That’s because silt, sediment and other stuff builds up over time settles in your water heater. Draining and flushing it regularly (once a year is generally advisable) will not only improve the efficiency of your system but extend the life of this vital household appliance, saving you money in the long run and helping prevent an outage when you least expect it — like when you have a house full of holiday houseguests, a sink full of dirty dishes, a hamper full of used towels and no hot water for showers.

Watch this video to learn how to drain your water heater in seven simple steps.

3. Clean Your Refrigerator Coils

A vacuum cleaner is used to clean the dust and debris off of the condenser coils of a very dirty refrigerator

When’s the last time you cleaned your fridge coils? Let’s rephrase that: Have you ever cleaned your fridge coils? No shame here. We assume the answer is no … but it’d be a lot cooler if you did. Once you get underneath or behind your refrigerator and see the caked-on crud covering your condenser coils, you’ll understand why cleaning them every six months helps your fridge release heat more efficiently, preserving your perishables, prolonging the life of your icebox and saving you money. Come next year, you'll have the bubbly nice and chilled for your midnight toast.

Watch this video to learn how to clean your refrigerator coils in six simple steps.

4. Clean Your Oven

Man opens oven and expresses shock to discover that the inside of the appliance is filthy and in need of cleaning

You’ll find that even clean households often have filthy ovens — their kitchen’s dirty little secret lurking behind that groaning metal door. But the whole out-of-sight-out-of-mind factor only goes so far — right up to the point you’re setting off the smoke alarm to warm up those hors d'oeuvre for your New Year’s Eve party. You’ve got two choices: You can either roll up your sleeves and scrub away the grime before your guests arrive … or you can over-index on shrimp cocktail, crudité and pickled herring.

Watch this video to learn how to clean your oven in eight simple steps.

5. Seal Drafty Windows

A man measures the frame of a window for the purpose of installing plastic film insulation over the window

A leaky window isn’t just a cold-weather concern. Whether it’s letting the frigid winter air seep in and your heated air out, or the humid summer air in and the conditioned air out, insulating your home’s windows will stabilize your interior climate, help your HVAC system run more efficiently and (it always comes down to money, doesn’t it?) save you some cash on your utility bills. There are many ways to achieve this that don’t involve a pricey window replacement — caulking cracks, applying weather stripping, placing draft snakes in front of the window and using thermal curtains — but a quick way to seal you up for the season on the cheap is to apply a plastic film over your problem window. So, after you call it a wrap on this year, put a wrap on your windows next year.

Watch this video to learn how to seal your windows with plastic in nine simple steps.

6. Unclog Your Bathroom Sink

Hands wearing black rubber gloves unscrew the P-trap from underneath a bathroom sink.

Periodically, your bathroom sinks will start draining slowly as all that hair, spat-out toothpaste, washed-off makeup and all the other dreck you put down the drain accumulates and jams up the works. But a simple, superficial clog doesn’t require a pricey emergency plumber call. You can get under your sink, pop off the pipe and clean out your P-trap literally in a matter of minutes. Our step-by-step video demonstration focuses on how to retrieve a ring or some other valuable item that fell down the drain, but the steps are fundamentally the same for clearing a clog. Do that, and you’ll have one less obstruction to a productive new year.

Watch this video to learn how to unclog your bathroom sink in five simple steps.

7. Keep Your Window Wells Working Well

Landscaping gravel sits at the base of a corrugated steel window well of a basement egress window

Not every house has window wells — but if yours does, well, then you know how infrequently you think about them. But the fact is: You should be performing quarterly upkeep on these underground egresses that let natural light into your basement in order to clear out accumulated yard debris, keep the rain drain free of obstructions, keep the well liners properly sealed and keep the base of the well adequately maintained. And, hey, a lot of New Year’s resolutions focus on wellness, right?

Watch this video to learn five ways to keep your window wells clean and in good condition.

8. Check Your Recalls

A woman points to two consumer household products to demonstrate how to determine if a particular item has been recalled by federal safety authorities.

From cars to meat, federal safety recalls happen all the time for consumer goods of all kinds — and common household products are no exception, be they furniture, appliances, toys or “other.” A lot of people simply ignore these notices either because they don’t feel like dealing with them or because they don’t know how. We answer both the why and how to help you ensure your family’s new year remains something truly worth celebrating: safe!

Watch this video to learn what to do when one of your household products is under recall.

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