For most people, summer is a welcome season. School’s out, work might be lighter, people are outside, planning vacations, throwing BBQs, and drinking cold drinks. No doubt there’s plenty to be excited about as we head into the summer season. But before you get too carefree, check a few home maintenance items off your to-do list to prep your home for summer and make sure your house doesn’t sustain any warm weather surprises that throw off all your fun summer plans.
Heat and summer storms can take a terrible toll on your home if you aren’t prepared. We just had the eighth-warmest spring on record, and so far, the summer isn’t taking a break from that heat. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent heat damage, conserve energy, and to proactively arm your home against the damaging summer storms that plague much of the country in summer.
1. Change your air filters
You’re likely going to be using your air conditioning a lot during the summer, so make sure it has a fresh air filter. Change your heater’s filter, too. Even if you’re not using it very often, it’s good to get into the habit, as routinely replacing filters will extend the life of both your A/C and heater. We recommended you change your air filters every three months.
And while you’re at it, have an HVAC specialist come to your home and do some maintenance. It’s better to do a preventative tune-up and avoid expensive repair costs later.
2. Adjust your ceiling fan
Do you feel like your ceiling fan isn’t really cooling the room off? It might be because your fan is spinning the wrong way.
In the winter, you want the fan to distribute heat that rises, so it should be spinning clockwise as you look up at it. In the summer, though, a fan spinning counterclockwise at higher speeds will get a breeze going. If your fan isn’t going the right way this summer, flick the black switch near the base to change its course. For a fantastically detailed explanation of why your fan should spin in different directions during the summer and winter, check this out.
You might also consider installing a ceiling fan in your attic to disperse all the heat that naturally rises.
3. Block unnecessary light
Sunlight can really heat up a space with a lot of windows (learn about the greenhouse effect), so keep your window shades and blinds drawn during the day, especially if those windows face south or west.
Changing your light bulbs can also help save on A/C costs throughout the summer. Consider compact fluorescent bulbs, which produce less heat.
4. Test the smoke detector
Perhaps your home has a smart smoke detector that automatically notifies the fire department of a fire. That can save up to $35,000 for an insurance company on claims payouts. However, the majority of homes haven’t yet invested in that kind of smart home technology, so owners should still make manual checks. Make sure the batteries are fresh and your smoke detector is operating. If it’s been more than 10 years, replace the detector completely.
5. Prepare for summer storms
Fortunately, many weather events are covered by homeowners insurance. One of the exceptions, however, is flooding. FEMA provides guidelines for how to best to prepare for a flood. Even if you don’t live in an area prone to frequent flooding, you should take preventative steps to keep your home safe from summer storms and the potentially damaging winds and rainfall that can accompany them.
Clear the gutters and drains of any debris, waterproof the basement by patching cracks in the walls and floors, and install “check lines” in sewer valves to keep floodwater from backing up into your home’s drains. If you notice a musty smell in your basement or garage, that could be the first sign of water damage, so do a thorough inspection to identify the source.
6. Inspect your roof
Your roof is exposed to the elements throughout the year, so make sure to pay it a visit on a nice day. HouseLogic has a checklist of items to look out for, including missing, broken, or curling shingles, cracked caulk, rust spots on flashing, cracked or worn rubber boots around vent pipes, and masses of moss and lichen. Unlike black algae stains, moss and lichen could be a hint that the roof is falling apart underneath. If your home has a fireplace, check the chimney to see if the cap is missing or damaged.
7. Caulk the exterior
Closely examine the caulking around all doors and windows. This is especially important in the kitchen because ants and other bugs are attracted to the food and water.
However, your entire home is more vulnerable during the summer. As San Joaquin Pest Control explains, most bugs go into some form of hibernation during the winter. When the warmer summer months hit, they come back with a vengeance. Limit the ways they can come inside by keeping those windows and doors as sealed as possible.
8. Tidy for aesthetics
Few things make a home more frightening than an untamed garden or lawn. Unless you’re trying to spook any potential visitors away, clean up and prune all of the greenery around your home and be sure to keep your lawn properly mowed and trimmed. It makes planting gardens easier, and may prevent unruly tree branches from crashing into your home and causing massive damage.
Wash your windows to remove any built-up pollen or other debris. It’s best to clean your windows during a cloudy day to prevent streaking – and make sure you’re doing it effectively, not just rubbing the dirt around to new areas on the window.
9. Finally, don’t neglect your grill!
Priorities, right? If you own a grill, prep it before your first cookout of the summer. Disconnect the gas, then disassemble the grill completely and clean it with soapy water. The grill itself is best handled with a hard-wire brush. Once everything is clean and rinsed completely of any soap residue, heat the grill up on high for about ten minutes. Let it fully cool before wiping the grates with a small amount of cooking oil. You’ll be enjoying tasty cookouts all summer long.