Tips To Summerize Your Home
Summer maintenance is really about keeping things running smoothly so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the more sublime pleasures of summer-like alfresco dinners with friends and family, puttering in the garden and lazy afternoons reading in the hammock.
Keep It Cool
The first order of business is keeping your space cool. Make sure your air conditioning is running efficiently by putting in a clean air filter and cleaning air vents. During periods of heavy A/C use, replace filters every 30 days. Outside, clear the area around the unit so that the air intake vents aren’t blocked by shrubs, leaves, or other debris. Keep thermostat set at the highest temperature that still feels comfortable and make sure it’s set to “auto” and not “fan.”
Maximize Passive Cooling: Keep your place cooler without A/C, or at least without cranking it quite so high, by working with nature. Close blinds or curtains on east-facing walls in the morning, south-facing walls during the day and west-facing in the evening. Shading skylights against harsh daytime rays can also help keep things cooler. Close windows and doors to keep cool air in during the day and open at night to let fresh breezes in. Using cross ventilation—opening windows at opposite ends of a house or room–can help draw cool air inside and force warm air out. You can enhance the effect with a strong fan stationed at one of the windows. Use ceiling fans to circulate air. Moving air will make a space feel cooler, whether you are using air conditioning or not. If you have the type of fan that lets you change the direction the blades spin, make sure that during summer months, you have the blades spinning in the direction that pushes air down instead of drawing it up.
Plant trees. Trees will lower the overall temperature of the yard as well as create cool, shady spots for outdoor lounging. Before planting, consider what kind of tree would be best for your climate. Strategically-placed deciduous trees will provide cooling shade in the summer, then lose their leaves to let sun stream through in the winter. Evergreens will provide shade in summer and a windbreak in the winter. Don’t forget to factor in how big that tiny sapling will eventually get.
Check windows and doors to make sure seals are in good condition. Re-caulk if necessary and replace missing or damaged weather stripping.
Clean, Inspect and Repair
Get the fireplace prepped for cooler months. Sweep ashes and other debris out of the fireplace and wipe down the screen and other exterior surfaces. Hire a chimney sweep to remove buildup inside the chimney. Stock up on wood during summer to give it extra time to season.
Inspect decks, looking for loose or cracked boards or nails sticking out. Check underneath for structural damage or evidence of termites or other critters. Power wash decks and determine if they need to be resealed. To test, pour a little bit of water onto the deck. If it beads, the deck can go for another year. If the water is absorbed into the wood, it’s time to sand and reseal.
Inspect the exterior of the house. Check the foundation, chimney exterior, sidewalks and other hardscape for cracks or leaky spots. Inspect roof for missing shingles or damage. While you’re up there, clean out the gutters, checking for holes and broken connections. Rent a power washer to give the exterior a good cleaning and check to see if siding needs touch-up or repair. Summer is also an excellent time to clean, repair, and re-seal driveways.
Keep the Patio Looking Good
Clean up the debris of winter and spring by washing windows and sweeping outdoor areas. Clean outdoor furniture and re-stain if necessary. Metal and plastic furniture can be washed with a mixture of warm water and a small amount of dish detergent. Vacuum cushions and pillows. Removable covers can be tossed into the washing machine. Clean non-removable covers by spraying a mixture of 1 teaspoon of borax, 1 teaspoon of dishwashing detergent and 1 quart of water onto fabric, then hosing off.
Deep clean the grill. Clean charcoal grills by removing all old coals and scraping out anything stuck to the surface, then finish by washing out with warm, soapy water. Clean grates when they’re warm with a stiff wire brush. Take gas grills apart, examining parts as you go to make sure they’re in good shape and not blocking fuel flow. Even if the grill has a “clean” setting, give everything a thorough cleaning before putting back together.
Special Care for the Summer Yard
Keep seasonal equipment in good working order by checking and cleaning lawn and gardening tools. Sharpen lawn mower blades, hedge clippers and pruning shears if necessary. Set lawnmower blades to cut grass to three inches or higher and keep grass longer during hot months to encourage deeper root growth. Keep the yard healthy and looking fresh by putting down two inches of fresh mulch in flower beds to help keep the soil cool and retail moisture. Trim bushes and vines to discourage overgrowth and critter infestation. Pull weeds when they’re small to keep them from getting well-established. Freshen up a fading garden with warm weather herbs like basil and cilantro or pop in a few summer annuals like zinnias or salvia to brighten up a tired-looking spot.
And finally, park yourself a lawn chair outside and call it a day.