Skip to main content

The December home maintenance checklist everyone needs

Make sure your home is ready for the cold, snow, and ice with this checklist

house with vinyl siding and brick in winter
enderson rangel / Shutterstock

As those last leaves fall and the pumpkins hit the trashcan, a new season of to-do lists starts to emerge. With the holidays bearing down on you, it’s time to start transitioning away from your fall home maintenance checklist and into the winter one. To prevent you from being caught off guard by forgotten winter tasks, we’ve assembled the perfect December home maintenance checklist that will go a long way in preparing you for the cold months ahead.

Garage and driveway with man shoveling snow
LesPalenik / Shutterstock

Get ready for snow and ice

The most pressing of items on December’s to-dos regard bracing for the coming freeze. Being unprepared for snow, ice, and freezing weather can lead to stress, discomfort, and damage to your home. Not to mention it can be downright dangerous. Here are all the things you need to do to prepare for sub-zero temperatures.

Shut off outdoor faucets and store away hoses

Water expands as it freezes, and that’s why burst pipes are so common in the winter. When the weather starts creeping toward freezing temperatures, it’s time to disconnect your hose and store it away so that it’s not punctured or damaged come spring.

Don’t forget to shut off your outdoor water faucets to prevent ice from building up in pipes as well. Otherwise, they could freeze and burst.

Check your emergency kit

With winter comes winter storms, and approaching storms often mean a snow emergency. By early December, well before the stormy season, check your emergency kit and ensure it’s fully stocked. Some key items to keep in your kit include:

  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Bottled water
  • Non-perishable, no preparation food and snacks
  • Extra blankets and pillows
  • First aid kit

Pull out and examine winter gear

Make sure you and your whole family are armed with appropriate gear for the winter. Pull out all of last year’s coats, scarves, mittens, hats, and boots, and examine them. Be sure they’re the appropriate size and aren’t damaged in any way. If needed, replace worn or outgrown items as soon as possible.

Plan for snow removal

There’s no worse time to find out your snow removal tools are malfunctioning than right after a big snowfall. Make sure you’re prepared ahead of time by:

  • Testing your snowblower
  • Examining shovels and replacing any damaged ones
  • Refilling salt containers
  • Marking off driveways and walkways with marking posts
Winter outside through french doors in white living room
Antoha713 / Shutterstock

Prevent energy waste

Your energy bill will likely spike to its highest levels during the cold months, but, fortunately, there are some things you can do to conserve energy and reduce waste. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to inspect your home to make sure it’s not losing heat unnecessarily.

Examine and beef up your insulation

Particularly in the attic where heat often escapes, examine your insulation and check for drafts. If needed, add in some additional layers of insulation to trap heat and lower your energy bill.

Check windows and doors for drafts

Windows and doors are also notorious for letting out that precious heat. Walk around your home and check each door and window for cold drafts coming through. If you find a drafty one, there are a few things you can do to keep the cold air out:

  • Winterize the windows by adding a sealed plastic or glass pane.
  • Re-seal around the frame of the window.
  • Install insulating curtains.

Get your furnace inspected and serviced

As December ushers in the coldest months, it’s crucial to prepare your home for winter with a furnace inspection and servicing in your home maintenance checklist. Neglecting your furnace can result in significant energy loss and increased utility bills. A professional inspection ensures that your furnace operates efficiently, identifying and addressing any issues that may compromise its performance.

Cleaning or replacing filters, checking for leaks, and tuning up the system can help maximize energy efficiency, keeping your home warm while reducing energy bills as much as possible. Moreover, a well-maintained furnace is less likely to break down during the frigid winter months, saving you from costly emergency repairs. So, make sure to schedule a furnace check-up this December to keep your home cozy and energy-efficient all winter long.

Woman decorating table for holiday party
d3sign / Getty Images

Get ready for holiday gatherings

If you tend to host holiday dinners, Christmas parties, and out-of-town relatives, make sure you’re prepared for the holiday festivities so you’re not stressed out the week prior.

Prepare your guestroom

Make sure your guests feel at home with a guestroom that’s visitor-ready. Wash all the linens, deep clean the surfaces, sweep and vacuum the floors, and rid the room of any clutter or storage that’s found its way into the seldom-used space.

Check outdoor lights

Walking on slick sidewalks is already perilous, and you don’t want your guests to have the added risk of navigating these walkways in the dark. Check all of your outdoor lighting fixtures and replace any burnt-out or broken bulbs.

Schedule a chimney cleaning

If you have a fireplace in your home, you should be able to take advantage of it when the cold weather hits. To safely have a yule log burning when your guests arrive, schedule a cleaning prior to your holiday festivities.

Replenish gift-wrapping supplies

Those rushed gift-wrapping sessions that take place the days before Christmas can add unneeded stress to the holidays. Make sure you’re ready for the task by replenishing your wrapping station with paper, tape, bows, and gift boxes.

In regions with colder winters, December marks the transition from cool fall climates to freezing winter weather. Be prepared for the dropping temperatures, falling snow, and fun holiday festivities by following this December home maintenance checklist.

Editors' Recommendations

Veronica Sparks
Veronica Sparks is a writer from Milwaukee, Wisconsin who loves writing about gardening, home décor, and DIY life. She’s…
4 things you should never bother to fix when selling your house
Here's what not to fix when selling your home to save you time and stress
Guy on ladder painting exterior of house.

So it's time to sell your home, and no doubt your head is spinning thinking about repairs, realtors, open houses, finding a new home, and more. Surely you don’t want to add unnecessary stressors to the mix of the chaos of selling your house.

To remove some items from your to-do list, learning what not to fix when selling a house can help. There are some things you can get away without fixing when selling your home — and the best part is, you won’t feel like you’re trying to pull a fast one on the homebuyers.
What makes a house unsellable?
It is important to think like a homebuyer when considering selling your house. If you notice something unsightly or damaged in a home you’re thinking about buying, other potential buyers probably will, too (unless you’re unusually picky). Only a handful of things make a house unsellable, and none of them fall into the "fix-it-real-quick-before-we-list-it" category.

Read more
These are the 5 things every homeowner needs for repairs and maintenance of their house
Essential tools you need to include in your home toolkit, according to the experts
floorplan and tools on wooden surface

Every homeowner will have to make home repairs at one time or another. Whether you have clogged gutters, the dryer needs tuning, you’re adding new hardware to your kitchen cabinets, or simply hanging up a shelf in your living room, you’ll need the right tools to get the job done. So, we’ve compiled a list of some of the essential tools for home projects and repairs, according to experts!

The basic toolkit
The most important item for home maintenance that every homeowner needs is a basic toolkit. Barry Gray, an archeologist, woodworker, and founder of The Tools Square, says that the basic toolkit "should include items such as screwdrivers (both Phillips and flathead), pliers, a hammer, a tape measure, a level, and an adjustable wrench." These are all simple, affordable tools that any homeowner can easily add to their arsenal.

Read more
The house maintenance tasks homeowners think first-time buyers should know
A few considerations when buying your first home
try these 11 bathroom diys you can do in one hour plumber

Buying a home for the first time isn't for the faint of heart. There are so many decisions you need to make and so many considerations to keep in mind before you sign on the dotted line. The biggest worry (beyond the biggest financial investment you're making) is what you don't know, especially regarding house maintenance. Luckily, we have the expertise of those who have come before us.

Redditor theforeverletter recently posed this question on the r/Home Improvement subreddit: "Homeowners who have been doing this for [a while], what regular maintenance do people need to do to their house they don’t know they should be doing? For those of you who know far more than me, I bought a house last year; what things do I/other first-time homeowners need to do to keep up with everything we may not know? Of course, this depends on the house (Septic/city water crawl space/no crawl space) and things can vary, but happy to learn as much as I can!" Hundreds of people were happy to share their advice, and we've taken some of the most popular, so you know what to look out for.

Read more