Frequently forgotten, a hard-wired smoke alarm is not a guarantee of safety. Change out units more than ten years old. Alarms may become less sensitive with age and as fire technology improves so does safety. If not hard-wired, or if your model requires battery backup in case of power outages, remember to change batteries twice a year.
Whether you heat with gas or oil, the heating system should be serviced annually by a certified HVAC professional. Have furnaces cleaned, including changing the filter at the oil tank. Doing so will help your system run at peak efficiency and make your home more comfortable.
Clean kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities with a mild soap to keep them free of dirt and drips that cause stains and ruin finishes. Wood cabinets can be coated with a high quality protective polish once or twice a year – several brands are available at most hardware and grocery stores. Line kitchen sink base cabinets with a waterproof shelf liner to protect against spills from chemical cleaners stored underneath. Or, place containers of heavy duty cleaners into plastic buckets to minimize leaks.
If you use your fireplace regularly, having the chimney cleaned at the end of the season is a must. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, "an average of 25,100 chimney fires are responsible for 30 death and $126.1 million in property damage on average each year." Though homeowners feel they can perform this annual maintenance themselves, the Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends hiring a certified chimney sweep. This organization notes that even a half inch of buildup can impede fireplace and chimney function, so it surely pays to maintain your fireplace.