Home Maintenance: Summer Checklist

Everything you need to do to keep your home and yard in tip-top shape this summer.

With the change of each season comes a new set of maintenance tasks for your home. Now that summer’s here, you’ll want to prepare your home and yard for the onslaught of summer heat. From air-conditioner upkeep to hanging a clothesline, these simple chores will help keep your home happy and healthy.

Check detectors. Check your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to make sure they’re working properly.

Inspect air-conditioners. If you haven’t already, prep air conditioners and fans for their busiest season:

  • Clean all ceiling fans and other fans with a damp rag. If you have high ceilings, a ceiling-fan duster can help you de-grime hard-to-reach blades.
  • With the help of your spouse, install window air-conditioning units. Remove and clean the filters before firing up the AC. If you have central air-conditioning, consider a professional servicing.

Enjoy a dry spell. Install an outdoor clothesline to dry your laundry in the summer sun; you’ll save money and energy by skipping the dryer. Plus, who doesn’t love the smell of air-dried sheets?

Clean your outdoor cooker. Give your grill a deep cleaning with these simple steps:

  • For gas grills, turn the heat up to high and let the grill cook with the lid closed for about half an hour. Allow the grill to cool and then brush it off with a grill brush. Wipe down the exterior with a damp sponge and a gentle cleanser. Clean the grill’s drip pans.
  • For charcoal grills, completely empty the grill and wipe out any ashy residue. Then clean it inside and out with hot water, a scrubby sponge and some liquid dishwashing soap. Let the grill dry completely before using it again.

Polish your porch. Thoroughly sweep painted porch floors; then mop them with an all-purpose cleaner. If there’s a lot of built-up dirt on the floorboards, you may need to scrub them with a brush.

Wash your windows. If you didn’t tackle exterior window washing in the spring, now’s the time to get your glass clean.

Make much ado about mulch. Add a layer of mulch to keep weeds down and help the ground retain its moisture in the heat. It’ll give your plants a chance to grow.

Be a leak detective. Check your hoses and exterior faucets for leaks — even a tiny drip can add up to a big waste of water. Pinhole leaks in hoses can be covered up by winding regular electrical tape around the (dry) hose in overlapping layers.

Primp your plants. Deadhead both perennials and annuals to keep them productive. If you have visible dead foliage from spring bulbs, pull it out to maintain a tidy look, but if the daffodil or tulip leaves are still green, leave them alone; they’re busy nourishing the bulb to bloom again next year.

Plan your watering schedule. Train your garden to endure dry days by watering deeply a couple times a week, instead of watering lightly daily. This style of watering will promote the growth of deep, strong roots.

Stop dirt at the door. Keep summer’s mud and muck outside with not one, but two doormats at your main entry door. Place a coarse mat at the exterior and a softer, cloth one on the interior to catch the most dirt. Better still, instruct family members to remove their shoes upon entering. If you live near a beach, a tub of water for sandy feet placed by the door works wonders for keeping sand outside where it belongs.

Analyze your deck. Look over your deck for signs of rotting and hammer in any nails that are poking up. Then, determine if your deck needs sealing. Sprinkle water on the deck’s boards. If the water beads up, you’re in good shape; but if it soaks right in, it’s time to reseal that sucker.

25 Tips Every Homeowner Needs to Know

There’s a lot of work involved in moving into your new house and getting settled. It would be nice if your house came with a homeowner’s manual explaining all this. But that won’t happen unless you buy a new house from a very responsible builder. So our new homeowner tips is meant to guide you through your first year in a new house.

Here are recommendations on what you’ll want to do once you’re in your new home. Even if you’ve been in your house for several years, you may find things you missed. Some tasks only need to be done once. Other homeowner tasks should be reviewed every one to two years.

  1. Start building your home maintenance team (listed above). You’ll want to arrange for services like house cleaning, lawn care, pool cleaning and pest control right away. Then you should make needed repairs, starting with …
  2. File a change of address with the post office. Ask about a new resident packet which frequently contains discount coupons to local stores like Lowe’s.
  3. Paint the ceilings while the coast is clear, as they’re the toughest to reach with furniture in the way. This will give you time to pick your wall colors and paint rooms as you decide how you want to decorate.
  4. Review your home inspection report and create a punch list of needed repairs. These should be done before you start home improvements and other decorating. Here are priorities to guide your timeline:
    • Repairs to keep your family and guests safe.
    • Problems that involve water. This includes water penetrating your home from outside and interior leaks.
    • Updates that will reduce your energy bills and extend the life of major home systems.
  5. Research discount programs offered by local utility companies.
  6. Review your homeowner insurance policy with your agent to make sure you have the correct coverage. Don’t be surprised if you’re missing something … or you have more coverage than you need.
  7. Add contact information to your smart phone for your insurance company, utilities and home maintenance team.
  8. Change your driver’s license and car registration. Check state requirements as you may only have 10 days.
  9. Confirm your deed has been officially recorded about two weeks after closing.
  10. Check to see if you’re eligible for any property tax discounts. Often known as homesteading, you may find them for primary residence, seniors or even retired military.
  11. Setup a homeowner budget. Make sure you’re saving enough for property taxes and insurance if your bank didn’t require them to be put into escrow. You should also set aside money for preventive maintenance and repairs.
  12. Change your locks. If you’re considering smart locks, take time to think through your choices. Consider the multiple devices you want to control remotely, and you’ll save money with one shared controller.
  13. Ask your utilities to mark where their lines are, a free service so you don’t accidentally sever a line when installing a mailbox, fence, etc. Make a map with the lines for future reference.
  14. Don’t put your name outside the mailbox. Put it inside for the mailman.
  15. Buy gardening equipment needed to maintain your yard. It’s easier to start right away versus catching up after ignoring shrubs and flower beds for six months.
  16. Find your main water shutoff and learn how to turn your water off.
  17. Check the temperature on your hot water heater. Turn it down to 120º to avoid burns and save money. Your HVAC and/or plumber can help with this.
  18. Review you main electrical panel to make sure it’s properly labeled. Practice shutting off power and buy circuit breakers if needed.
  19. Schedule an HVAC maintenance tune-up to insure your system is running efficiently.
  20. Have your home cleaned before moving furniture into the house. It’s also the perfect time to get your carpeting cleaned or floors refinished.
  21. Meet the president of your condo/homeowners association. Learn about local customs, like getting exterior paint colors approved.
  22. Make a copy of your closing papers and store outside your home. Use an old fashion safe deposit box or scan and store documentation online, in case of a fire.
  23. Make a photo or video record of your home and personal possessions.
  24. Identify high value items and make sure they’re covered by your homeowners insurance. Review your policy now, as you probably didn’t have time before the closing.
  25. Meet your neighbors. Introduce yourself and learn what hobbies and interests you have in common. Share contact information with immediate neighbors (8 recommended).