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Early home maintenance and prep makes way for happy holidays

Wake up and smell the pumpkin spice! The holidays are coming and your home is about to go into overdrive. Now’s the time to knock out both seasonal home maintenance and holiday preparation, before the days get shorter and the to-do list gets longer.

Here’s a short November Get ‘er Done List:

Trim Trees

There are several advantages to trimming in November. Pine trees won’t drip as much sap, so less mess.

Deciduous trees are better to trim once the leaves have dropped for less weight and waste. Palo verdes, African sumacs and mesquites also trim well this time of year.

In the process, be sure to inspect for damaged branches, disease, and bug infestations. Lukas Bunnell, owner of Nevada Tree Service says, “reducing limbs, reduces issues.”

He explains that by lessening weight, you can avoid trees from breaking branches or from coming down in high winds. “Trees should allow wind to move through them.”

He also stresses that if your tree starts to look bad, don’t wait to have it inspected. “Act soon, before it’s too late. It’s hard to revive a tree.”

Kitchen Readiness

During the holidays, the kitchen is the heart of the home. With Thanksgiving being the peak day of the year for kitchen fires, make sure to have an updated working fire extinguisher on hand.

■ Stock up on baking/cooking supplies in advance.

■ Stovetops and ovens are about to see a lot of action. Start with a clean slate (or should I say grate).

Try this non-toxic method:

Soak Grates and Steam Bath Oven

■ Soak grates in HOT water and a non-toxic cleaner like Simple Green overnight.

■ Scrub off residue with heavy-duty scrubbing pad or fine steel wool.

■ For extra scrubbing use a baking soda/lemon juice paste or use Simple Green Heavy Duty BBQ and Grill Cleaner.

■ Vacuum out loose debris. Put a grate on the bottom rack and place a large NON-GLASS baking dish filled with water and about 1/2 cup of white vinegar.

■ Heat at 350 and let the water steam.

■ Shut the off heat, then spray the inner surfaces with a water/vinegar solution (don’t burn yourself). Close the door and let stand at least 30 minutes.

■ Once cool, scrub stubborn spots with cleaner options described above.

Prep Pipes, Hot Water Tank, Sensitive Foliage

If last winter taught us anything, it’s that we can get freezing temps, frost, and snow. Insulating pipes can help avoid frozen/burst pipes.

Polyethylene foam pipe insulation, sold in tubes, can prevent freezing, reduce heat loss (and gain), and is easy to work with. You can also find sock type covers that go right over hose bibs. If your water heater is outside or in the garage, consider a thermal blanket designed to fit entirely around the tank.

To protect sensitive plants, buy frost cloth or gather old blankets to have ready when frost is forecast. Do not use plastic covering.

Get Ready for Overnight Guests

With friends and family coming to town, prep now. Something as simple as holiday throw pillows, fresh linens, blankets and towels will do wonders. No guest room? Consider a comfortable and affordable self-inflating blow-up mattress.

Hang Holiday Lights Early

If you’re going to go through the time and effort of hanging lights, you may as well enjoy them for more than a couple of weeks.

Once Thanksgiving hits, flip that switch to brighten the way for a festive Christmas season. Remember to practice safe-lighting methods:

■ Test and inspect strands of lights for frayed wires, broken sockets, loose connections.

■ Don’t go over the recommended number of strings that can be connected.

■ Don’t mix LEDs with incandescent lights on the same strand.

■ Make sure your lights and extension cords are rated for exterior use. Make sure they are rated to carry the electrical load connected to them.

■ Plug outdoor lights into GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets. Portable GFCIs are available for purchase.

■ Don’t overload circuits.

■ Don’t drive nails, staples or tacks through wire insulation.

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