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How to prepare your home for summer

Your seasonal homeowner to-do list to be ready for hot (and maybe stormy) weather

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Summer is right around the corner! (Depending on where you live, it may even feel like it's already here.) But with all the positives that long days and sunny weather bring, there are also some things for the savvy homeowner to watch out for. Before diving into pool parties, summertime BBQs and relaxing with a good book in your backyard hammock, take the time to get your home ready for the season. 

Here are seven steps to prepare your home for summer — and potentially save you money and headaches down the line.

1. Check for mold and mildew

Mold is a tricky insurance issue, particularly for renters insurance. If pipes burst and cause mold to form inside walls, that tends to be covered. However, if mold and mildew damage occurs because of maintenance issues or flooding, your insurance company likely won’t cover the damage. Mold introduces some lingering, nasty effects. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, exposure to molds can lead to stuffy noses, wheezing, red, itchy eyes, fever and shortness of breath. Mold can grow all year round, but the hot, humid weather that often comes with summer can cause it to really take off, so it's important to keep an eye out. 

Whether you rent or own, you can take proactive steps to limit, reduce and prevent mold:

  • Vacuum and dust your home often — that removes mold’s primary food source.
  • Use a dehumidifier, especially in a basement.
  • Check your air conditioning ventilation.
  • Use exhaust fans and make sure your laundry dryer vents outside your home.
  • Promptly fix leaks in roofs, windows and pipes.
  • Consider removing carpet from bathrooms, basements or other rooms that have significant moisture. 
  • If you spot or smell mold, call a professional to come to check it out.

The more you can control the moisture level in your home, the higher the chances you’ll avoid mold damage.

2. Clean out your garage

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For many homeowners, the garage tends to serve as a storage space. But when was the last time you looked at everything that’s in there? The summer is the perfect time to do a thorough clean out. This avoids potential fire hazards and also reminds you of the five uninflated pool floats you already had buried in there. 

Chances are, you have plenty of items in your garage that you no longer need. Make a pile of those items, including tools, clothing, toys and storage containers. Either throw them out or donate them.

Once there’s more room to maneuver, sweep the floor and use a mild cleaner to remove dirt and grime buildup. Hose down the floors and use a mop or squeegee to get rid of the excess water. Clean your garage windows and pull off any loose leaves or dirt that may have gotten caught in the garage door.   

By cleaning out your garage, you’ll also see if you have the proper tools for any home renovation projects or need to stock up on additional supplies.

3. Maintain good air quality

A good rule of thumb is to replace both your air filters and furnace filters every three months. Filters collect dirt, dander, dust and allergens. After three months, their effectiveness greatly decreases, but the amount of debris in the air doesn’t.

If you have pets or live with family members who are more sensitive to allergies, it could be worth replacing your air filters even more frequently. Beyond improving your air quality, you’re reducing some of the other buildups that can lead to more devastating consequences down the road, such as mold or asbestos.

Utilize ceiling fans when you can, too. Not only do fans keep air circulating throughout a room, but they also give your air conditioner a break. You’ll save on energy costs while still maintaining a cool temperature throughout the home.

4. Prepare for emergencies

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When bad weather hits, it often comes without warning. Even if something like a hurricane starts brewing from miles away, we don’t always expect it to impact us as heavily as it might. With the warmer weather of summer comes a higher likelihood of storms. FEMA offers a mobile app that sends texts when severe weather is in the area.

It’s also a good idea to build a home emergency kit in case you lose power, water or suffer any other temporary changes to your home thanks to inclement weather.

Here are a few items to include in your kit:

  • Bottled water and non-perishable food
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlights, lanterns and batteries
  • A whistle to signal for help
  • Dust masks to help filter contaminated air
  • Moist towelettes
  • Plastic or metal sheeting and duct tape for sheltering in place
  • Wrench for turning off utilities if necessary

Every home kit should have these basics, but you can also find additional ideas here.

Hopefully, you never have to encounter a major emergency in your home. But if one does hit, it’s best to be prepared.

5. Decide what to DIY and when to hire a pro

Summer is often a great time for home renovation projects. One of the biggest decisions to make is whether you can do a project by yourself or whether you need to call in a professional.

Do-it-yourself (DIY) projects offer several benefits. They tend to be cheaper; for example, the average cost to DIY remodel your kitchen is $16,000, while professionals would cost at least $25,000 — an increase of about 56 percent. You can also complete DIY projects on your own time, and in many cases, you’ll pick up a new skill or two along the way.

Of course, a DIY project has greater room for error. Unless you happen to be a plumber, for example, installing a new toilet or shower could prove challenging. You could potentially put yourself in physical danger, and on some occasions, you’ll spend more fixing new problems a DIY renovation causes than if you had simply hired a professional in the first place.

Hiring a professional brings its own pros and cons, too. With a professional, you’ll typically get high-quality results, especially if the company is insured. Should you need a permit, it’s often easier to acquire one through a professional company or contractor than on your own. However, professional projects are often more expensive and force you to adjust your schedule and lifestyle around the construction timeline.

The best decision is often a hybrid combination of DIY and professional. You might be able to do smaller projects in your home, such as changing a toilet or refrigerator filter or painting a new nursery. Meanwhile, larger repairs like fixing a garage door or replacing an HVAC unit may require professional help.

Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered — use our flow chart to decide whether your next project should be DIY or if it’s better to hire a professional.

6. Make sure your insurance is up to date

Okay, this one doesn’t technically require any work around the house, but it’s still important to do every year. Though some insurance companies require a yearly commitment, others only charge month-to-month or allow you to leave a contract early.

Make sure your insurance is up-to-date. Did you make any updates recently like adding a new out building or solar panels to the roof? Your insurance company needs to be aware of such things, so they can be added to your policy. 

While you’re researching insurance options, consider how your lifestyle fits in. Do you tend to host a lot of parties? Do you live in an area that’s prone to bad weather? Could you bundle your home and auto insurance?

It’s a good idea to shop around every six months. You might find you could get a better deal elsewhere, or another company may offer better discounts that fit your driving style and home rental or ownership goals. Don’t be afraid to explore new options. 

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Joey Held

As a writer, Joey Held has specialized in business, marketing, sports, music and insurance topics for more than a decade. He's also a podcaster and author of Kind, But Kind of Weird: Short Stories on Life's Relationships. His first car was a Buick Regal with an inconsistent radio but pretty good gas mileage.