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6 home maintenance tasks for summer

  • 6 home maintenance tasks for summer

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | July 21, 2016

    Deck floor and railing

    Summer brings warm, sunny days and the urge to get outside. That makes tackling summer home maintenance projects much easier and even enjoyable, and your home benefits from the extra care. Here are six maintenance projects that are best done during those long and lazy days of summer.

  • How's your AC doing?

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | July 21, 2016

    Two AC units

    Nothing reveals a problem with your HVAC unit like a sweltering summer heat wave. If your cool air just doesn't seem to keep up with the high temps, it's time to take a hard look at your air conditioning. Even a unit that has been faithfully serviced every year might suddenly take a nosedive, and it's something that needs to be fixed as soon as possible -- and if you live in the south, 'as soon as possible' means 'yesterday.'

    Here are a few tips that might help: Turn off the power and carefully vacuum the accessible parts of the condenser (that's the part of the unit outside your home). Then look at the evaporator (the part inside the house). Vacuum the blower compartment and change the filters. Keep in mind that these are small fixes; if the problem persists, contact a pro.

  • Inspect your trees

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | July 21, 2016

    Tree and branches

    In most areas of the country, spring and summer bring wicked storms. Besides watering your garden better than any sprinkler system ever could, those storms also let you know where the weaknesses are in your trees. Throughout the summer, be on the lookout for cracked or broken branches or areas where the leaves are dying. These often indicate a tree that needs some tender loving care by a professional in order to make it through another season without putting you or your home in danger.

    If you do see small areas of trees that can be safely removed, go ahead and do it yourself. But high, large branches that have broken and are still holding on precariously are dangerous -- these are known as "widow makers" for a very ominous reason. Only a professional tree service should deal with them.

  • Check out the gutters and drains

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | July 21, 2016

    Gutters

    Torrential summer rains can reveal problem areas in your drainage system. When the next one comes along, put on your rain gear and take a stroll around the house. Is water cascading over the gutters, or running smoothly through them? Is the water bubbling merrily down the drainpipe? Does the drainpipe end far enough away from the house to direct the water away from the foundation?

    Make note of anything that doesn't seem to work quite right, and when the rain stops, get to work on fixing the problem. During the next rainstorm, walk around to make sure your repairs worked.

  • Safety first in kids' areas

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | July 21, 2016

    Sandbox

    When kids are playing with their swingset or sandbox every day, more regular maintenance is required. Check bolts for tightness, sand away any splinters, wipe away any mold growth and ensure that every moving part is in smooth, good working order. Lay more mulch or pea gravel if necessary.

    Then invite the kids to play outside for a while, and walk around their playground as they use it. Do any of the supports sway? Are there any strange, creaky noises -- and where are they coming from? Use these as clues to find any other problems that might be lurking and fix them immediately.

    Oh, and definitely keep the sandbox covered when not in use to keep neighborhood animals away.

  • Inspect and clean the windows

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | July 21, 2016

    big vinyl windows

    When the summer sun shines down through your windows, the light can be stunning, but the dust and streaks it reveals can be disappointing. If you live in a high pollen area, the windows can actually appear dull and dingy after the spring rush of flowering is over.

    Cleaning the windows is best done during the summer, when the weather is great and you can really see what you're doing. Work very early in the morning so the high temperatures won't evaporate away the cleaning solution (or make you miserable!). Take your time, as this is a job that can stretch out over several days.

  • Check out your deck

    Shannon Lee | Improvement Center Columnist | July 21, 2016

    deck with table and chairs

    Summer is in full swing, which means you have likely been out on the deck a time or two. You might have noticed areas that really need some attention. Some repairs can be handled right now, such as hammering down a couple nails or sanding splintered areas.

    But since you probably don't want your deck out of commission during the busy summer months, now is the time to maintain as well as possible while making plans for autumn wrap-up maintenance. Sweep the deck regularly and occasionally give it a good scrub with water and a long-handled brush. Inspect carefully for pests, especially carpenter ants or wasps. And start your big maintenance planning by sampling various stains and paints on inconspicuous places to choose the one that suits best.

    Keep an eye out for other things that might need attention during the sultry summer days. The more attention you pay to your property throughout the seasons, the more likely you are to catch small issues before they become big problems.