Although the start of summer was officially on Sunday, June 20, it really gets into full gear on the Fourth of July. And while you don’t want to spend too much time making repairs to your house, it is the best time to get some outdoor work done (unless you live in a summerly climate all year long – we’re looking at you, California).
Between picnicking with friends and family, shuttling between soccer practice and Little League games or taking a boat or a bike out for a spin, homeowners should also carve out some time to give their place a little TLC.
Taking on some simple home maintenance projects during the summer can help improve the safety of your home, which means you’ll be able to relax and enjoy your home all year round. To keep your property in tip-top shape, here are 16 easy, breezy maintenance projects to consider.
Summer project checklist
1. EXTERIORS: Look around the exterior of your home for loose or rotted siding. To get it looking its best, rent a power washer. A power washing will help remove dust, dirt, tree sap, abandoned wasp nests, bird poop and the like. When all is dry, repair and repaint any chipped, cracking or faded areas. This will also help protect it from the elements and boost your home’s curb appeal.
2. WINDOWS: Nobody likes to wash windows, but you’ll be amazed how much more light you’ll get when you wash them inside and out. Skip all the newfangled tools available online that “make the job easier.” You can’t beat a soap and water scrub, followed by a wipe down using Windex and some old newspapers.
3. LEAKS IN WINDOWS: While you’re at it, check your windows for leaks and recaulk any trouble spots. This can help you postpone costly replacements down the road and help increase your home’s energy efficiency.
4. GUTTERS: Climb a ladder (safely) and check the gutters. You’ll want to make sure all the leaves and debris are cleaned out. While you’re up there, check to see if any are loose or leaky. If the gutters are too high to do this safely, hire a professional.
5. BASEMENT / FOUNDATION: If you have a basement, good for you. That gives you a little extra room for storage, laundry or a man cave. But it also gives you a little extra to worry about. Do a careful inspection of your basement for cracks in the foundation, leaks and any seepage from the outside. Then do a walk around outside to check if there are any on the outside, too. If there are, call a contractor immediately. You don’t want to put that kind of work off until winter when it’ll get worse.
6. DRIVEWAY / WALKWAY / PATIO: If your driveway is paved or concrete, look for and fill any cracks. Just like your foundation, they’ll get worse in winter when water collects and freezes. Do the same for any concrete steps or a concrete patio.
7. DECKS: Check your deck for cracked and raised boards, rotted wood, loose or missing screws and overall structural integrity. Once those are taken care of, consider taking a weekend to restain or reseal your deck to extend its life. A deck should be stained every two to three years to avoid splitting, graying or cracking. If your deck has mold or mildew buildup, or if water soaks into the deck boards and no longer beads up, it’s time to stain/seal.
8. PATIO FURNITURE: Much of today’s most popular patio furniture is made of plastic or metal, but if you went old-school with wood, check to see if it’s weathered over the winter. If so, give it good sanding and staining to avoid unnecessary splinters that can ruin a nice summer day.
9. TREE ROOTS: If you have outdoor property, like a back- or front yard, walk around and check out the trees. If any have exposed roots, cover them with a mulch bed around the base. That will keep folks from tripping and falling over them. Go the extra mile and install a border or garden edging around the mulch to delineate it as off-limits.
10. LANDSCAPING: If you plan to be in your home for a while, it’s always nice to plant a new bush or tree every season so that down the road, you will have a lush and beautiful garden. Before you start digging, though, call 811. That’s the national call-before-you-dig phone number. They’ll give you the approximate location of buried utilities so that you don’t unintentionally dig into an underground electric or gas line or septic tank, which can disrupt utility service, cost big bucks to repair or cause serious injury or even death.
11. FIRE PIT: A nighttime fire is a wonderful addition to an outdoor space, but it can be a disaster if you have kids (or intoxicated guests) who can trip, fall and get burned. Consider adding some edging or other border to delineate “stay clear.”
12. FENCES: Walk the perimeter and look for areas that could use some reinforcement or maintenance. If you have a fence to keep pets safe, make sure there are no gaps or holes being dug underneath that a clever pup can escape through.
13. SWING SETS: If you have kids and keep them entertained with a swing set, slide, sandbox or other outdoor play equipment, you’ll want to check that it’s safe to use before it’s put into overdrive. Tighten bolts, replace rusted components, sand off paint chips and rough edges and restain, reseal or repaint as needed.
14. AC: Make sure your air conditioning system is working properly by giving it a good cleaning. If you have in-window AC units, it’s all about cleaning out any debris that may have accumulated. If you have an HVAC, you’ll want to call in the pros to keep it in good running condition to extend its life. Regular maintenance will address any minor issues before they become major.
15. DRYER VENTS: Every year, clogged lint and dust in dryer vents cause thousands of house fires. Give your internal ductwork a good check and follow it up with cleaning the external dryer vent!
16. HOSES: Inspect your outdoor faucet (also referred to as a spigot or a hose bibb) for a small screen (also called a trap) where the water comes out. You’ll want to pull out that screen with a pair of pliers, flush out the debris and replace it. If there’s no screen, get one at a hardware store. While you’re at it, make sure your hose has no cracks or leaks, and be sure the sprayer is working. Those things can be cheaply made and seem to need replacement after a season or two of heavy use.
One final suggestion
Don’t try to do every single item on our summer home maintenance checklist in a day. Pace yourself and enjoy the summer. Some of our ideas — like staining a deck or caulking windows — won’t need to be done every year. But, whenever you find yourself with a few spare hours this summer, refer back for a quick reminder of projects you’ll want to add to your new homeowner to-do list.