Homes can slowly turn into money pits if you fail to maintain key structural components on a regular basis. For many homeowners, maintaining the home year-round will prevent costly repairs from happening and make the house more attractive for prospective home buyers. As they often say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you own a home, you will want to keep these home maintenance tips in mind for the summer season.
SMOKE ALARM AND CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTOR SAFETY
The smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are vital to your safety, but we hardly ever think about them until they start obnoxiously beeping or alerting us that the bread is done. The first thing you should do on your summer home maintenance agenda is check to make sure they are working correctly.
When you remove an old smoke detector, if you notice it is wired, it should then be replaced with a new wired type unit. Battery only operating units should only be used where wiring is not readily available. Replace the batteries if needed and always run a test just to be safe.
Carbon monoxide and smoke detectors should be placed in hallways within 15 feet of all bedroom doors and at least one on each level for safety. For a best practice, it is good to install smoke detectors inside of all bedrooms, because there is no such thing as being too safe.
PREPARE THE HOME’S COOLING SYSTEMS AND FANS
A properly working air conditioner not only does a better job at keeping the house cool and comfortable, but it will last longer and run more efficient. In the summertime, the air conditioner is typically the largest component of your electric bill, a few simple tasks will keep it running smooth.
First thing is to make sure that plants and landscaping are at least 2 to 3 feet away from the unit on all sides for easy maintenance and proper air flow. Then, change the filter or filters in the furnace before running the AC for the summer season. This will likely need to be done more than once over the course of the summer.
It is important to have the unit annually serviced by a professional to ensure your AC unit is always working properly. Making sure the AC unit is in good working condition will also ensure that it lasts a long time keeping you and your family cool, comfortable and safe in the summer heat. Poorly working AC units can waste energy and lead to unexpected sky-high electric bills. The last thing anyone wants is to have the AC go kaput during a heatwave!
Ceiling fans will also help to circulate cool air and keep whining to a minimum during the summer months. Dust off the blades, turn the fan on and watch it work! The blades should be spinning counterclockwise. This pushes the air downward, keeping the rooms cooler. If your fans are turning clockwise, you’ll want to find the direction switch on the side of the fan and switch it to the other direction, otherwise the warm air just gets shuffled around and the room doesn’t get much cooler.
PREPARE THE FURNACE
As we come into summer, it is a good time to place the furnace into dormant mode. But first you must clean it. Eye roll, we know. This means taking a vacuum hose to the exposed elements clearing it of dirt and debris and wiping it down with a damp cloth. Then you can inspect it for damage or wear and tear. A good rule of thumb is, “if it does not look right, it likely is not right.” If you notice something unusual call a professional and have the furnace inspected. Servicing the furnace every 1-2 years is great practice to help get the most life out of this essential major appliance.
ATTIC, BASEMENT & CRAWLSPACE
Spring and early summer are the perfect times to do a little home inspection of your own. Check the basement for signs of mold, leaks, and mildew… a good tip, follow your nose. If the basement walls appear damp or mold-infested you can clean them with white vinegar or a bleach mixture. Then apply a mold-killing spray to the area. This could be a natural diy concoction or something purchased from any store. Also, consider running a dehumidifier in the basement to eliminate moisture and prevent mold from re-growing.
It is also important to check the attic. In our area this is one of the most common areas for mold to grow due to the warm and damp conditions of the spring. While scanning the attic, have a look at the underside of the roof, it will show obvious signs of water marks as well as any current or previous leaks. Proper ventilation is also essential for a healthy home as heat likes to linger inside the attic (think, “hot air rises”). Make sure there are no obstructions or damages to these vents as they could prevent heat from escaping and affect the efficiency of your cooling systems.
Many homes in our area have crawlspaces, these can be more difficult to fully inspect and evaluate. At the very least, pull back the access hatch and look as far as you can see with a good flashlight. If you see moisture, dripping pipes, or something else seems out of place, call in a professional to get a better idea (remember the “if it does not look right, it likely is not right” tip?? This applies!). Catching these issues early could save thousands in the long run.
Much like the attic’s ventilation, the crawlspace will also have breathing vents to help expel excess moisture and keep air from settling. These are commonly found damaged and become favorite places for critters. Though the critters may be cute, the damage they leave behind is not. Trust us! Contact a reputable pest control company before they turn into big problems. This is a pay now, or really pay later situation!
PREPARE THE HOME’S INTERNAL SYSTEMS
Spring cleaning has a way of trickling into summer as well. We recommend you not only clean air vents and replace air filters but also run a damp cloth over baseboards, clean and dust the bathroom vents and vacuum out the dryer vents and ducts. These are all places that accumulate dust and allergens over the winter months and irritate everyone’s sinuses come spring and summer.
Maintenance to these areas over the year make the job less daunting come summer. A regular cleaning cadence also helps maintain the integrity of your home and the overall health and wellness of your family. We know its not fun but with a little 90’s hip hop it could be!
If you have a chimney, now is the perfect time to clean it out too! Over the winter, the outside of the chimney can form tiny cracks, holes and crevices for water ingress. Getting a chimney fixed right away can prevent costly leaks. This may sound overwhelming but it’s easier, and cheaper, to get a chimney looked at and serviced in the spring and summer months than it is in fall or winter.
WINDOWS AND DOORS
Clear, sparkly windows and doors can brighten up the home’s exterior and the interior as well. People don’t really want to see baby goo or dog snot, ya know? A clean facade will also inspire confidence in potential buyers, if you’re planning to put your house on the market.
Screens you will want to remove and soap down separately with a sponge. Any torn screens should be replaced. Clean off any leaves, twigs, and cobwebs from the sills, then wipe down the outside and inside of the window glass with a high-quality, streak-free window cleaner. Let that sunshine in!
It is also important to check the caulking around the window to prevent future leaks and so your cooling systems can run efficiently. Check doors and other exterior access points as well. After all, you bought that air.
DECKS AND PORCHES
First, you’ll need to clear the area of furniture, decor and plants. Then, sweep off the porch and deck. Once the deck or porch is clear of furniture and debris you can thoroughly inspect them for signs of impending maintenance issues. Look for rotting and loose boards that may need replacing. Hammer down any nails that have come loose and are sticking up. And wash it with a high-quality cleaner to scrub away any stuck on dirt or grime. There is a good chance it has taken a beating over the last 3 seasons.
Once you’ve taken care of the structural integrity, check and see if your deck or porch needs to be resealed or stained. To check the surface condition, wet the area with a garden hose or bucket. If the water beads into small puddles, then the deck does not need to be resealed, whew! But if the water soaks into the wood, you’ve got a problem, and you’ll need to get the deck resealed pronto! Otherwise, those boards are going to rot and cause major headaches sooner rather than later. Resealing may be work but it will have your exterior looking like new!
Repeat this process on railings and steps as well.
OUTSIDE FAUCETS AND HOSES
Hoses with pinhole leaks can be temporarily repaired with black electrician’s tape. Wrap the tape around the hose when it is dry to stop the leak and get another summer’s worth of life out of the hose… you’re welcome. Any leaking faucets will need tightened up or replaced, depending on the extent of the issue.
During summer it is also important to keep your yard watered, trimmed, and clear of brush to prevent accidental fire. It is important to not only keep sprinkler heads clear of debris but also aimed at the right target. Watering the soil is way more beneficial than watering the sidewalk.
GUTTERS AND DOWNSPOUTS
The gutters and downspouts keep water from pooling on the roof or near the foundation. It’s critical that these parts of the house are clear of debris and in good working order. Replace any sections of the gutters or downspouts that are damaged, and clean the gutters of leaves, twigs, and other debris. This should ideally be done in the late spring, and again in late fall.
Just as important, trimming trees and other foliage away from the roof line and gutters. This helps keeps gutters clear and allows for more accurate visual inspections of the roof. It also prevents wear and tear on materials and becomes one less thing for a homeowner to worry about.
Summer is the perfect season for outdoor entertaining and gathering by the grill. There are a few things to note though before you light up the old barbecue. The grill should always be placed at least 10 feet away from your home, or any structure really. This is to protect the siding, eaves, and any other overhangs. It is also important to place the outdoor cooker away from any hanging baskets, branches, mulch, deck railings and dry foliage or plants. Anything that has potential to catch a flame. Safety is always important, and nothing ruins a good cookout like a house fire.
Summer only comes once a year, and these months are the perfect time to get your house in tiptop shape. Take the time to inspect and maintain your home so your investment sees extensive longevity, or so you can sell it quicker and command a higher price for your well-maintained property. Use our Free Printable to check off these Summer Home Maintenance Tips.