Father’s Day signifies summer is here! So here are my top tips to get you ready for summer.
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Ensure all air vents are clean and uncluttered
In keeping with maintaining proper air flow throughout your home, it’s important to make sure all air vents and returns (ducts that suck air into the HVAC system) are clear of any clutter. Make sure your vents are not obstructed by furniture, drapes or rugs. With the A/C running, check each vent in the home for air flow. If you notice any vents that are not blowing enough air, they may have an obstruction in them.
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Attic and basement inspections
Attics can be claustrophobia-inducing, but you do have to brave those tight confines at least once a year. You want to check your attic for any indication of pests or insects, water leakage, mold or mildew, and turn off the lights to check for any sign of peeking daylight. You will also want to check your basement for any indication of pests or insects, water leakage, mold and mildew, as well.
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Freshen up your exterior
Next up, take a look at your home’s exterior. It should shine in summer. Upon inspection, if there are any signs of rot or damage from the winter, repair those spots first or bring in a professional to do so. Then, power wash the exterior to get rid of stuck-on dirt and debris. Lastly, look to see if your home’s paint job needs a touch-up. If so, fill in those spots on a day when you have nice weather.
Keep in mind that summer is also the perfect time to boost curb appeal. If you haven’t already, invest in a few flowers to decorate the front of your home, make sure your lawn is well cared for, and consider sprucing up your front entrance by cleaning light fixtures and investing in a fresh welcome mat.
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Clean up mold and mildew
Mold and mildew grow where water sits on absorbent surfaces (sheathing, showers, vanities, windows, tub surround, counters). Left alone, the spores will continue to grow and making the mold/mildew patch grow in size. Left even longer and the spores will eventually penetrate from the surface to the inside of its host (say a wooden window frame) and eventually start to sprout and grow in other areas where moisture is an issue.
Using rubbing alcohol and water spray the mold and mildew and then scrub it away. Remember to use gloves and a face mask as mold and mildew can be a respiratory irritant.
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Replace smoke and detector batteries
You’re supposed to change the batteries in your smoke and detectors at least once a year, so why not do it when you are getting your home ready for summer. Replace the batteries and any units that don’t seem to be functioning properly. This could save your life one day, so make sure not to skip it.
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Powerwash your driveway, deck and house
Winter and spring can leave a lot of your home covered in gunk. Dirt, debris, mould, moss and who knows what else always seem to adhere to your deck, your driveway, the outside of your gutters and even the siding of your house. Yuck!
Hire a powerwasher or use one of the spray on solutions on a sunny day, and go to town on any place that could use a good wash down. The results will be stunning.
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Clean and inspect the windows and screens
Cleaning the windows is my favourite thing to have done when I want the house to feel clean and fresh. Believe it or not, this task doesn’t begin with the glass. You want to start by cleaning the screens. Use a vacuum to bring up any loose dirt. Then, scrub each one with some dish soap and a bristle brush to remove any lingering debris. When they’re clean, set them outside to dry completely before using.
Now, tackle the windows. Make a solution that’s one part hot water and one part vinegar. Then use a sponge or squeegee to wash each window. After washing, use a rag to dry each one. Use extra caution when on a ladder for second-floor windows. Finally, replace your clean screens.
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Repair steps, check handrail
Make sure the steps leading to your home are free from tripping hazards and repair concrete if necessary. Make sure the handrail is sturdy and well anchored to help prevent falls.
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Clean off patio furniture and prep the deck
If you have an outdoor space like a deck or patio, now is the time to get it ready for entertaining. Start by looking for any loose boards or other signs of disrepair. Fix those first. Then, if needed, sand and re-stain the surface. When the deck is in good shape, focus on the furniture.
Patio furniture is another one of those things that gets hit hard over the winter. Powerwash your set or use one of the spray on solutions, otherwise wipe it down with some cleaners made for outdoor furniture. Once you have your table and chairs sparkling clean again, bring out your chair cushions and outdoor throw pillows to really punch up the colour and comfort!
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Check your fence
Another summer home maintenance task to consider completing during this time of year is to check on the condition of your homes fence. If your home has a chain linked fence, you want to ensure there are no parts of the fence that are broken. This is especially true if you have fencing to help keep your dogs safe and secure.
If you have privacy fencing, also known as stockade fencing, you’ll want to check to make sure there are no broken or missing fence pieces. In addition to checking on the condition of the fence, you may also want to consider painting or staining your fence. Just like painting or staining a deck will prolong its life, the same can be said about a fence.
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Replace furnace filters
To keep your furnace running efficiently, you need to change the filters every three months. These filters collect airborne debris and allergens. Keeping a dirty filter means your furnace has to work twice as hard to push out heat. Slide your old filter out (and put it in the garbage) and slide the new filter in.
When in doubt, check your furnace’s manual. I write the size on the furnace filter cover with a marker for easy reference. If your filter is not disposable you will need to hand wash the filter to get rid of all dirt and debris. Remember, use a non-toxic cleaner and tap water—nothing else.
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Measure and grade your soil
Soil and landscaping needs to be graded away from your home. This means that the slope of your lawn needs to be moving away from your house. This is because water will take the path of least resistance. If the dirt in your yard slopes towards your home, water will follow the slope and then find the easiest point of entry into your foundation.
For efficient drainage paved surfaces should have a minimum 1% slope, while turf, such as grass, or landscaped areas should have a minimum slope of 2%. To help you calculate: a 2 feet drop over a 100 foot long yard would create a 2% grade (or slope). If the distance is 10 feet, you’ll need a fall of 0.2 feet (roughly 2.5 inches) to create a 2% slope.
If you only need minor adjustments to recreate the right grade, use a landscaper’s rake (aluminum rake on a handle that can grasp and clean debris out of lawns and dirt). For more comprehensive grading go online for how-to videos.
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Fill foundation cracks
Water can enter into small cracks and holes in your foundation and, over time, can cause significant damage to your foundation. To protect your home repair these cracks and holes. Clean away dirt and debris and then fill the holes and cracks with sealant. One that has worked well for me is SikaDur Crack Fix at Home Depot.
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Test all faucets, dishwasher lines, laundry and toilets for leaks
A leaky faucet doesn’t seem like a big deal, but did you know that one leaky faucet can lose up to 34 gallons per year. Place a bucket or bowl under each external and internal faucet. Come back the next day. If there’s water in the bowl, your faucet leaks. If it leaks, first change the washer located in the faucet (shut the water off first).
Check around the base of your toilet tank where it meets the bowl as well as around supply lines. Replacement seals, fillers, hoses and washers are available at your big box store. Or after that you may want to call a plumber (or if you’re really handy go online for some DIY videos).
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Locate and check main shut off valve for water
Typically your plumbing pipes won’t stop working (although they may spring a leak). But the reason why you want to test your main shut off valves once per year is to ensure that this shut off hasn’t seized. Too many times, a homeowner forgets about the shut off valve until one day a plumbing nightmare happens.
To repair it (or at least prevent more damage) the homeowner will rush to shut off the water in the home, only to find the shut off valve is seized. Simply twist the handle left and right. Open it up all the way and close it down all the way. If there is rust or gunk, consider cleaning off the dirt and spraying a bit of lubricant. You just want to make sure the valve is in good operating condition.
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Fertilize your lawn.
Fertilizer is a key ingredient in growing and maintaining a green, healthy lawn. Unfortunately most homeowners don’t bother fertilizing because they simply don’t know which products to use, or how and when to apply them. And complicating the issue is that if lawn fertilizer isn’t applied correctly, it can actually do more harm than good.
- The very best time to fertilize your lawn is in the spring or early summer, when the soil temperature—not the air temperature—reaches 55º Fahrenheit. You’ll know when the soil warms up to 55º because the lilacs will begin to blossom and the grass will start growing.
- Now, the second feeding should happen about four weeks after the first application, around mid-May or so. Then fertilize every six to eight weeks after that straight through to October. For the third feeding, use an organic material, such as manure, instead of a traditional lawn fertilizer.
- Contrary to what some people think, the more you water your lawn, the more fertilizer it needs. With more water, there is more growth, so you need more fertilizer. As the grass grows, it uses more nutrients.
- If you have an automatic sprinkler system, you should fertilize your lawn about every six weeks. Without a sprinkler system, you can wait an additional two weeks between feedings.
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Reseal the driveway
The final task is to reseal your driveway or give it a new coat of asphalt. To do this, start by power washing the entire surface to make sure it’s as free of dirt as possible. (If there is too much dirt, the asphalt won’t set properly.) Allow it to dry completely. When you’re ready, fill in any large cracks or potholes with asphalt crack filler.
Then, take a long-handled bristle brush and use the liquid asphalt to form a border around the bottom and sides of the driveway. Since asphalt is messy, this will give you guidelines to stay within as you work. Next, use a squeegee to spread the asphalt evenly across the entire driveway. Work in sections to avoid having the asphalt dry before you’re done.
Click here for a pdf copy of Moneysense.ca home maintenance check list for the summer