As the inimitable Fresh Prince once proclaimed ever so smoothly in 1991, it’s summertime! But before you shine up your ride and pick up your besties, you’ve got some work to do. If you want to keep your home going strong all summer long, you’ll want to review our home maintenance checklist first so you can get the jump on the upkeep and focus on the fun. It’s getting hot out there. Doesn’t your home deserve the best tender, loving care?
As you gradually emerge from a year of lockdown, post-vaccination, it’s only natural that your list of home-upkeep ideas may have slipped to the back burner. Well, now’s your chance to get ahead of it all with a little home maintenance that makes your home look great and saves you some cash in preventive care. Most things on this list you can easily tackle yourself. For others, you might want to call in a pro. Either way, check out our home maintenance checklist below, and get your plan together.
When it comes to keeping summer heat at bay, your HVAC system is your first line of defense. Regular filter changes and seasonal maintenance are great ways to ensure that your system has the proper airflow and cools effectively when you need it most. At least one annual service visit from a professional is highly recommended and should help your system last longer while reducing the likelihood of expensive repairs. Once you’re confident your HVAC system is in good shape for summer, consider these other indoor maintenance tasks:
- Bathrooms: Clean your drains, showerheads, toilets, sinks, fans and lighting.
- Laundry room: Clean lint and dust from all vents, exhaust ducts and dryer filters.
- Attic and basement: Sweep and mop. Deal with any moisture or mildew, insects or pests.
- Ceiling fans: Dust the blades, check their balance, and switch them to spin counterclockwise.
- Windows: Replace old windows, target leaks, caulk for efficiency, and keep out bugs.
- Baseboards: Now’s the perfect time to finally get around to cleaning these dirt magnets.
- Smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detector: Test these and replace batteries.
- Garbage disposal: You’ve been putting this off too, haven’t you? Break out the vinegar.
- Chimney: No kidding, summer is the perfect time to add a new cap and get your chimney clean.
If you’re like us, the first thing you think about when the weather gets nice is, well, grilling, which is why we’ve selected it as our undisputed first step on the outdoor section of our summer home maintenance checklist. It will certainly pay off later when you reward yourself for completing all this practical home maintenance with a nice, home-cooked meal from the grill. You can already taste that cold one you’ll be sipping grill-side, can’t you?
With a charcoal grill, you’ll want to empty the ashes and any other leftover remnants of past grilling adventures. Fill a bucket with hot, soapy water and use a scouring pad to really get at the grime. A degreaser like Simple Green is handy for more stubborn, sticky stuff, and be sure to let the grill dry before lubricating cooking surfaces with a light coat of vegetable oil.
If your grill runs on gas, begin by heating things up on high with a closed lid, and then let it run for a half-hour or so to loosen all the leftover bits. After it has cooled, get hot water and soap into all surfaces with a solid scouring. You can even soak removable parts in buckets. Once it’s all clean and dry, as with its charcoal brother, don’t forget to lubricate all cooking surfaces with vegetable oil. Now that your grill is taken care of, here’s the remainder of the outdoor items on our home maintenance checklist:
- Windows: Wonder why they still look dirty? It’s time to wash them on the outside.
- Doors: Replace any old doors that are no longer functioning well, and windows too.
- Porch: Sweep and mop the whole thing, then target grime with a scouring pad.
- Leaks: Check out your outdoor faucets and hoses to target leaks and save money.
- House exterior and pathways: Clean paneling, vinyl siding or brick with a power washer.
- Siding: Replace any broken, damaged, rotting or dirty siding pieces or sections with new ones.
- New paint: After cleaning the outside of the house, go back and touch up chipped or missing paint spots.
- Gutters and downspouts: Cleaning the gutters isn’t fun, but it’s an essential task.
- Cracks in the concrete: In foundations, sidewalks or driveways, it’s time to fix these.
- Roof: If you haven’t even thought about it in years, it’s time for a roof inspection.
- Mulch: Surrounding your plants with mulch retains moisture and discourages weeds.
- Fencing: Walk the perimeter of your property to see where fencing needs repair.
Here’s another important summer home maintenance task that deserves a little more explanation. Your deck is an essential hangout spot, and once summer rolls around, you’ll be spending more time on it. You also want it to be clean, comfortable and inviting for your family and guests. First, check for any loose or damaged decking pieces or fasteners, then replace and secure them. When that’s done, scrub all surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water and let it dry, or use a power washer.
Next, try the old water test to see whether your deck needs a new seal. If you pour water onto your deck and it beads up, your seal still works. If the dribbles from your glass sink into the wood, however, it’s time to look into a new coat or two of deck seal. Bubbles or cracks in old deck sealing are another telltale sign that you might need a new seal. Some come combined with stain, so you can add a little color while you’re at it. This (or a fresh coat of paint) is a great way to freshen up the look of your deck. If the whole thing is beyond repair, it might be time to just knock it down and build a new deck, or at least hire a professional to do so. Make sure you get at least three estimates.
One of the less appealing aspects of owning a home involves deterring and dealing with uninvited guests from the animal, insect, reptile and avian kingdoms. Even tiny holes near HVAC units, and small gaps between window or door frames can invite unwelcome visitors. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to prevent snakes, squirrels, mice, birds, lizards, ants, palmetto bugs and who knows what else from camping out at your place.
First, eliminate all those holes and gaps with caulk, expanding foam, or even with improved metal or wood framing. Mow regularly, cut weeds with a weed eater, and eliminate piles of branches or yard debris that could provide a haven for creatures of the night. Trim back your trees to at least 8 feet away from your house. Make sure your garbage and recycling bins are secured from nocturnal scavengers. Cut back the bushes and shrubs around your HVAC unit, and make sure there’s not room for anything other than air and electrical wiring to pass between the outside and inside. Get rid of lumber piles or anything else that could provide a haven for animals near the perimeter of your home.
If you’re wondering what you may have missed about getting your home in order last season, review our spring cleaning checklist. Curious about our list of the most common household complaints? We’ve got you covered. Worried that you’re not spending enough time making sure your air conditioning is working as well as it should? Check out our summer HVAC maintenance checklist. While you’re at it, be sure to look over some common home maintenance advice you shouldn’t fall for. Thanks for joining us, and good luck out there!
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.