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17 Best Items for Completing Your Summer Maintenance Checklist

Summer is the season for relaxing, especially after the rough COVID-19 spring that most of us endured. Now, you’re focusing on how to turn your backyard into a mini oasis and perhaps you’re also thinking about how to create a gourmet kitchen.

However, the summer isn’t a completely carefree season. There are some home maintenance projects that you need to handle while the weather is warm.

Fortunately, we found the best items for completing your summer maintenance checklist, and also included some pro tips to help you work more efficiently so you can get back to having fun.

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Taking care of these summer maintenance tasks can keep your home safe and comfortable, and ensure that your equipment doesn’t wear out prematurely.

Give your lawn mower some TLC

According to Brad Unruh, director of new product development at Hustler Turf, your lawn mower could last 10 to 15 years if you care for it properly. However, he says you should use it in the way that it was intended - which means you shouldn’t overextend the machine by mowing your lawn more than you have to.

He also advises users to really pay attention to the owner’s manual and read it from cover to cover. “The manual contains many helpful pieces of information that will help users become familiar with the mower, such as care and safety techniques, where you should operate it, as well as how, and more,” Unruh says. “If something goes wrong with the mower, the manual is a good reference point before taking it to the dealer.”

Regarding storage, Unruh says he keeps all of his outdoor equipment covered and in his garage when it’s not in use. “The elements can be harsh on products, especially things with an engine, belts, hoses and so on,” Unruh explains. “Though they may seem deceiving, heat and moisture can corrode the plastic, rubber, and metal on your mower, and if you don’t have a garage (or it’s too crowded), he recommends storing the mower in your shed.

“After you finish mowing, clean your machine; air is preferred to remove any leftover grass or dirt, which can hold moisture and rust your mower,” he says. “You can use water, but avoid using a pressure washer.”

Consult your manual for suggested maintenance time periods, such as oil changes. “Cleaning a mower is relatively uniform even though every mower is different,” he says. “It’s similar to cleaning your car – you want to make sure the underside of the deck is clear, as clumps of grass can hold moisture and rust the metal.” Unruh says you should wipe down or blow off the topside of the mower. In addition, he recommends checking and cleaning the battery terminals.  

Tend to your flowers

During peak growing season, don't forget that your flowers will be awfully thirsty so you should probably water them every day or every other day, according to Joyce Mast, Bloomscape's Plant Mom. And unless they're getting this water from rainfall, she says  you will need to water them every day. "Especially those in the sunny areas during the heat of the summer:  if you see drooping, wilting plants, or burnt edges on the leaves, that indicates that they need water," Mast explains. If you have blooming annuals, like Geraniums, Petunias, and Dahlias, she recommends removing the spent blooms. "This will encourage new growth, and also keep the plant clean and free of anything dead, or decaying material which can lead to bacteria. "

Also, don't forget to fertilize your summer plants regularly. "I suggest using fertilizer for outdoor annuals which can attach to your hose," she says.

So, what's the best time to water your flower beds? Mast recommends watering in the morning. "Watering during the heat of the midday is not as effective, as the water can quickly evaporate before the plant uses the water it needs," she explains. "The roots are so busy hydrating the plant they will not be able to take up what they need to sustain the plant - plus, water on really hot foliage can cause a bit of burn."

Seal your air leaks

“Summer is also the best time to check your home for air leaks that, come winter, will drive up heating costs and make the home drafty and uncomfortable,” says Dan DiClerico, home expert at HomeAdvisor. “When you add up all the leaks around windows, doors, electrical outlets, and other openings in your home’s envelope, it’s the equivalent of a window being left wide open all winter long.” He says sealing the leaks is a good DIY project that you can do with a combination of caulk, weatherstripping, and expandable foam sealant.

Maintain your water heater

“Water heaters tend not to work as hard in the summer, with shorter showers and longer periods away on vacation,” DiClerico says. And this makes the summer a good time for maintenance.

“Start by the draining the tank, which will flush out sediment and minimize the risk of it springing a leak,” he says. Typically, instructions are printed on the unit’s side, but DiClerico says the process is as follows. “Open the drain cock, attach a hose, open the drain valve, and let the tank empty into a nearby floor drain.”

He also recommends wrapping the tank in an insulation blanket to reduce energy loss.

Be on the lookout for pests  

Did you know that summer is high season for pests like termites and carpenter ants? DiClerico says a visual inspection inside the home is usually all that’s needed to find them. “Termites shed wings along windowsills, walls, and other entry points; to check for carpenter ants, look for piles of sawdust along baseboards,” he says.

Since both of these insects like moist soil and rotting wood, DiClerico advises keeping mulch, firewood, and dense shrubbery away from your foundation. “Once termites infiltrate a home, they can bore through the structure in a few short years.” And if you want a get a professional, he says it will usually cost between $300 and $500 for a one-time treatment - but this doesn’t include structural repairs, which DiClerico warns could be thousands of dollars.

“Summer is also a good time to close off any entry points in the home for mice, squirrels, and birds, which will be looking for a warm place to seek shelter come winter,” he warns. “Seal any cracks or holes in foundation walls or where pipes enter the home with steel wool.” He recommends using mesh screens to close off holes in the attic.   

Control your home’s humidity

“Keeping your home’s humidity to 30 to 50 percent on a constant basis will minimize the growth of moisture-loving dust mites and mold,” DiClerico advises.  "Obviously, outdoor humidity levels surge in the summer, so that’s the time to pay close attention to the issue.”

If your humidity leads to serious mold outbreaks, he says you’ll need professional remediation. "That’s basically guys in masks with heavy-duty equipment carefully removing every bit of infected material in the home, from carpets to drywall to ceiling tiles.” DiClerico says the national average for this type of job is $7,500.  

“A dehumidifier is the quickest fix for high humidity, especially if you have a damp basement, which can harbor a lot of allergens.” However, in this instance, he says the dehumidifier is only treating the symptom, not the source, and recommends calling in a professional to determine the problem.

Clean your gutters

Eamon Lynch is the Director of Warranty Service at Power Home Remodeling. He says cleaning your gutters is one maintenance project that should never be overlooked. “Warmer weather often brings heavy rain, and if your gutters are clogged with debris, they won’t be able to properly filter water away from your house.” And Lynch says this can lead to leaky roofs and mold – and also create a home for critters to nest.

Inspect and repair your roof

“Although homeowners can spot obvious problems on their roofs like missing shingles, some types of damage are less visible to untrained eyes,” Lynch says. He recommends getting a professional inspection to identify issues before they turn into expensive repairs down the road.

Repair your broken screen doors and windows

“Window and door screens allow outside air in, while also keeping bugs and pests from entering your home,” Lynch says. He recommends inspecting them and either repairing the tears or replacing the screens.

Wash your siding and inspect for foundational damage

“Washing your home’s siding reduces the likelihood of mildew, mold and other unwanted damage to your home,” Lynch says. And you should also examine the foundation for cracks and warping.  “These are often the result of your foundation yielding to elements like excess moisture, soil that has shifted, or growing tree roots,” he says. “When you see common signs of foundation damage, such as gaps between crown molding and the ceiling, sunken or sloping floors, and doors and windows sticking shut, contact a professional right away; the earlier you address this type of damage, the easier and more affordable it will be to repair.”

Pay attention to your HVAC

Mark Dawson, is the COO of One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning and Mister Sparky, so we asked him for some tips covering these two areas. “Cleaning your condenser unit is essential during the summer, as there is typically an increase in humidity, which can cause mold and mildew,” Dawson explains.

“Your AC system is responsible for pulling excess moisture out of the air and when your air conditioner is not performing at its best, your whole house can get damp,” he warns. “This can cause dry goods to spoil, mildew to appear on the walls, ceilings, or even on your clothes, and mold to spread throughout your house.” So how can you prevent this from happening? “You need to drain the pan below the condenser and clear all lines to allow excess water pulled from the air to drain out,” he says. “If you aren’t familiar with how to complete this, call an HVAC technician for assistance.”

Dawson also recommends upgrading to a programmable thermostat for the following reasons:

  • Less stress on your HVAC: If you’re thinking about switching out your HVAC system, a programmable thermostat may be the better option. You can extend your old HVAC’s lifespan by carefully programming it and decreasing the amount of time it needlessly runs. If you still wind up getting a new HVAC, the thermostat can be paired with the new system to make it more efficient.
  • Less adjustment needed: Programmable thermostats can be set to cool areas of the home when a certain time rolls around. Instead of constantly readjusting the AC levels, you can set the thermostat to turn on, off, or change the temperature ahead of time.
  • Advanced features: Some of the programmable thermostats have advanced features, including Wi-Fi capability, and the ability to take weather patterns into account when adjusting the temperature. Others let you sync a mobile device to your thermostat so you can change the temperature while out of the house.
  • Lower energy bills: When you install a programmable thermostat, you can save money on your energy bills. These thermostats let users set their cooling around daily schedules. As an example, you can turn off the cooling when nobody is home, which can cut down on how much you spend.

In addition, Dawson says you should change your air filters on a regular basis.  “If your filter seems to fill up after just a couple of weeks, one step you can take is to vacuum off the surface of the filter,” he suggests. “This doesn't make the filter clean, as there are plenty of particles trapped deep within the filtration media, but it can remove a significant amount of hair and larger particles – and this is an easy step that can help stretch your filter a few more days.”

Check your smoke detectors

Dawson recommends checking your smoke detectors every month. “Luckily, the process is very easy - you only need to press its test button.” If it doesn’t respond, replace the batteries.

“Some smoke detectors chirp if they need new batteries, and this this feature is annoying because it’s supposed to be,” he says. “Instead of taking batteries out of your detector to silence it, immediately replace them – and keeping batteries on hand ensures that you don’t forget to replace a detector’s battery after it begins chirping”

He also recommends checking the smoke detector’s expiration dates, and keeping the detectors free from dust.

Additional maintenance tips

Darcy Lee, HVAC Specialist for American Standard® Heating & Air Conditioning, provides these additional maintenance tips:

Clean all curtains, drapes and carpets – A deep cleaning helps reduce the amount of pollutants inside your home to prevent asthma and allergy attacks from triggers including dust, smoke, pet dander and more.

Properly shade the east and west facing windows – Most heat comes through the windows. It’s a good idea to have proper shading, especially in east and west facing windows. Exterior window covers and awnings can reduce heat gain by 65% or more.  

Inspect your outdoor areas and cookers (i.e. patios, grills) – Examine these items for signs of rotting or areas in need of re-sealing, and be sure to wipe/scrub down all surfaces to remove unwanted dust and ash built-up.

Give your plants some TLC –  Take a walk around your house and look for any cracked branches or accumulated dead vegetation. While you’re at it, water any plants you might have to ensure they’re ready to bloom!

Keep dirt at the door – Prevent unnecessary build-up of dirt, sand and other outdoor residue from coming inside by leaving a doormat at your main entryway. If possible, encourage family members and guests to remove their shoes or rinse off their feet upon entering to avoid an influx of unnecessary airborne particles. 

See also:

Best Items to Turn Your Backyard Into a Mini Oasis

Best Items to Turn Your Home’s Interior into a Beach House

Best High-End Coffee Makers and Grinders to Make You Forget About Starbucks

Best Items to Create a Gourmet Kitchen

Best Energy Efficient Items