Many homeowners I know look forward to Thanksgiving with simultaneous excitement and apprehension. It's Murphy's Law: Just when you have a house full of guests who want nothing more than to eat a large meal in peace, something important inevitably breaks in your house. Whether it's an old but crucial appliance or a bit of plumbing, you can be sure that your neighborhood repair man is eating his own turkey and will not be available to fix it. A bit of home maintenance and preventative work will ensure that you can eat and entertain without incident this Thanksgiving.
Here are the Networx Top 10 Pre-Thanksgiving Repairs:
1. If your oven or range shows any signs of being on the fritz, deal with the problem now.
Do you have a gas hob that doesn't light? Is the oven's thermostat inconsistent? Now is a great time to repair any issues with your kitchen appliances. Use your oven and range a few times before Thanksgiving day to be sure that the repairs actually worked. Check that your oven's gas lines and/or electrical connections are properly connected. Don't self-clean your oven the day before Thanksgiving - self-cleaning is known to damage the temperature gauges of electric ovens.
2. Why is it that refrigerators always break when company is coming for a meal?
Do some basic fridge maintenance now to get your refrigerator in top shape for the work it will do on Thanksgiving. Unplug your fridge and defrost the freezer. Clean out the drip pan under the refrigerator. Vacuum the coils under or behind the fridge. Inspect your refrigerator's electrical cord and connections and make sure there is no obvious damage. Be sure to thoroughly cool and cover all food you put in your fridge for Thanksgiving so that you do not put extra stress on your refrigerator. Freeze a few water bottles in case your fridge does bust on Thanksgiving. You can keep your food cool for the day by storing it in a closed refrigerator with plenty of ice.
3. Many people will be using your toilets on Thanksgiving.
Do some basic maintenance to ensure that the toilet does not get clogged or overflow when you have company. First, place a plunger next to the toilet so that your guests can plunge without embarrassment if the toilet should clog on Thanksgiving (nothing is more humiliating than having to ask a host for a plunger). You may want to post a polite and artfully crafted note in your bathroom asking guests to flush only toilet paper. To ensure that your toilet has a powerful flush, open the tank to the tank and be sure that the water level is high enough. You can also pour lime remover into the overflow tube to clear out lime deposits that might be preventing proper siphoning action.
4. Clean your garbage disposal - it will be working double duty on Thanksgiving and your local plumber will probably not be making house calls.
To clean gunk and residue from a garbage disposal, fill the garbage disposal with ice cubes and rock salt and run it.
5. Prepare for an icy walkway or snow.
Where I grew up in New England, the first snow often came on Thanksgiving. No doubt, you may be expecting older relatives for Thanksgiving. Avoid slip and fall accidents with a little preparation. Dig your snow shovel and sand or salt out of your garage and place it somewhere accessible. You might want to keep a windshield ice scraper on hand in case one of your guests needs to de-ice his car before driving home.
6. Be prepared to blow a fuse.
Between the oven, electric coffee urn, microwave oven, television, and lights, you might just overload your circuit breaker. Make sure you have a flash light with fresh batteries handy for a trip down to the basement (or wherever your circuit breaker is). Although he'll probably be watching the football game, keep the phone number of a reliable electrician on hand.
7. Prevent house fires: Deep frying turkeys indoors is practically asking for a house fire.
Overflowing oil can easily hit the propane flame under the deep fryer and ignite. If you must deep fry your turkey, do it outside and take fire prevention precautions to avoid burning your house or yourself.
8. Clean your carpets: Many people get their carpets cleaned right before thanksgiving.
It's a good time to team up with your neighbors and make a deal with a local carpet cleaner to come to your neighborhood and clean all of your carpets on the same day for a discount. Thank you to Marcy Tate for this good idea - her neighbors in Michigan always got together for a carpet cleaning deal before Thanksgiving.
9. Prepare your house for children.
If young children will be joining you for Thanksgiving, remember to use outlet covers and safety gates. Move pointy-cornered tables away from the likely path of toddlers. Move poisonous plants and substances out of the reach of children.
10. Prepare for a mess: Stock up on basic cleaning solutions and paper towels (we don't generally encourage paper towel use, but it's OK on Thanksgiving).
Keep an extra table cloth on hand in case yours gets drenched. You might consider covering your furniture or treating it with Scotchgard. Stock your bathrooms with plenty of hand towels. Be sure you have plenty of trash bags and dish soap on hand.
Good luck! If you have any other pre-Thanksgiving house prep ideas, leave a comment below.