The weather is starting to get nicer, the days are getting longer, and summer is on its way!
You may be in the process of spring cleaning to clear out your rooms, closets, and dressers. But what about the exterior of your home? Will you need to make more adjustments to keep your house safe, clean, and cool?
Maybe there’s more work to be done than you might have realized to “summerize” your home.
Here are 12 tips to get your house ready for summer and warm weather.
1 – Get Your Chimney Cleaned
If you have a chimney, it’s a good idea to get it inspected –– and cleaned –– at least once a year. The time for inspections and cleaning might be best right after the winter season, when the weather starts getting warmer. In this case, you won’t be using your chimney for a long period of time, and there’s little to no chance of more soot build-up.
You might be cleaning your smoke chamber, firebox, damper, or chimney liner yourself. Chances are, though, you’ll be hiring a professional. In this case, have them check the chimney for structural damage, animal nests, and creosote deposits. This will prevent health hazards and chimney fires. Getting your chimney cleaned will keep your house safe, not only for the summer, but for the whole year.
2 – Clean Out Gutters
After a leafy autumn and a snowy winter, there’s bound to be a lot of debris in your home’s gutters. In this case, it’s a good idea to clean them out in the spring, in anticipation of the summer. You could hire a professional gutter cleaner, but you can also do this yourself. Use a sturdy ladder on a solid foundation (and, of course, use extreme caution). Wear protective clothes and use a small metal or plastic trowel or scoop.
Put some tarp down under the area in which you’re cleaning your gutters. This way, you can collect any debris that falls. Use a hose to clean the gutters out with some water. Finally, you’ll want to inspect your gutters for any damage. This way, you can determine if they need repairs. Adjust or install new gutters as necessary.
3 – Paint the Exterior
Some of the best times to paint your house are warm, dry, sunny days. In addition to this, you’ll want cooler, drier, more temperate nights to ensure that your paint dries effectively. Days in the early summer are perfect for this kind of activity. You’re going to want to have your siding or other surfaces completely dry before you paint them. Make sure the weather isn’t too wet or hot. The process may take a few days, so check the weather in advance.
Replace any rotten siding and sand down painted surfaces you intend to paint over. You may want to ask your neighbors or friends about what types of paints are best suited for your climate. Lay down a tarp over any bushes, porches, decks, etc. you want to protect. Apply a primer as necessary and sand it. Then apply the main coat of paint. You’ll want to paint your house from top to bottom, in order to avoid streaking problems. Finally, add a finish that you find suitable and let everything dry. Now you can enjoy your newly painted house all summer long.
4 – Wash Windows
A winter full of snow and sleet will make you want to clean your windows from the outside. Also, if you own a fireplace –– and even if you don’t –– it might be a good idea to clean the insides of your windows for soot or dust build-up. For inside windows, use a paper towel and some disinfectant surface cleaners. You may want to remove your window (if it’s a sliding window) and clean it on a flatter, more stable surface. If a paper towel or cloth is not enough, you may want to use a squeegee or other extendable scrubber.
For washing windows from the outside, a squeegee may be more suited for the job. Use a large water-filled bucket and add a teaspoon of dish-washing liquid. Put the squeegee in and soak up some soapy water. Squeeze excess water out and apply the squeegee to the window. Move in uniform horizontal or vertical strokes to apply the soapy water evenly. Then turn the squeegee around and wipe off the window surface. After each wipe, clean the squeegee edge with a clean cloth. Use a towel to clean off any excess water you miss on the window.
5 – Replace Air Conditioner Filters
Just installing air conditioning during the summer may not be enough. You’ll want to make sure that the filters on your air conditioner are clean. It’s recommended that you change your air conditioner filters at least once every 90 days. If you have a pet you’ll want to change it every 60 days. Finally, if you have allergies or multiple pets, you will want to change your filter once every 30 days. Adjust, of course, if you know you have flowers, plants, or anything else that could effect your air quality.
The filter is usually near the return air vents in the AC unit. Unscrew the screws or tabs near the vents and remove the filter. Note the filter’s make and size. If it’s dirty, contact the manufacturer for a new filter of the same make. Then, replace the filter as needed. Filter replacement can prevent fires and improve your AC’s efficiency. This will keep your house cool for the whole summer.
6 – Adjust Doors
Changes in outdoor temperatures over the winter can have an effect on the exterior doors of your home. Loose hinges and weatherstripping can make your home drafty and susceptible to leaks and insects. That being said, it’s a good idea to check your doors before summer for gaps and damage. Make sure your hinges are not loose or broken. If they are, buy a hinge set and replace the hinge yourself.
Weatherstripping can come in foam wooden flanges, foam metal flanges, and bulb metal flanges. Check the type you have and make sure there are no gaps. If there are, prepare some weatherstripping to replace it. Don’t make a rookie mistake: buy the right type for your door! Measure out the amount you need. Cut that amount with diagonal edges, and set it in place. Finally, check your door jambs to see if they need replacing. Following these steps will keep your house sealed away from nature and ready for effective air conditioning.
7 – Check Window Sealant
In addition to well-sealed doors, you may have to seal your windows. Using high-quality, waterproof caulk is a great idea for sealing any window gaps you might have. Make sure the space needed to caulk is less than a quarter inch in width. Also, the gaps need to be between two stationary parts of the window (likely between the window and the house).
Make sure you apply it in warm, dry weather. Check to see if the caulk you use will expand. Clean the surfaces you wish to apply the caulk. Put the caulking gun at a 45-degree angle and direct it so it forms one continuous, straight line of caulk. Make sure that the caulk is attached to both sides of the gap and covers it completely. Before you pull the gun away, release the trigger. Finally, use a putty knife to push any caulk that is oozing out of the gap back in. Let everything dry completely. Now, your windows frames are sealed.
8 – Inspect Your Roof
The weight of winter ice and snow can affect your roof. So you’ll want to check your roof for damage. The first thing you’ll want to do is check for leaks and breakage on the inside. Ceilings, walls, and the attic are good places to look. If you find places where cracking is evident, check outside in the same place.
It’s generally not a good idea to walk on top of your roof, especially for long periods of time. However, you can check for damage if you cross the street and look at your house from afar. Look for loose tiles, damaged shingles, or uneven surfaces. Shingles in particular might be raised after a winter freeze. If you find damage, call a professional roofer — or if the damage is minimal, you can do it yourself. If you’re going the DIY route, you’ll need a ladder, caulk gun, roof mastic (sealant), some roof nails, extra tiles or shingles, and a hammer. With these tools, you can make light work of small roof repairs.
9 – Waterproof Your Deck
If you have a wooden outdoor deck, the conditions of wet spring or winter weather can wear down the finish. In this case, you’ll want to test its waterproofing abilities. Take a few drops of water and put them on the deck. If they bead up, this means the deck is still waterproofed. If the drops are absorbed into the wood after a minute or two, your deck will need to be waterproofed again.
Like painting, you’ll need at least two full days of warm, dry weather to waterproof your deck. Remove furniture from the deck and, clean it free of dust and debris. You may want to use a garden hose or even a pressure washer. When the deck is dry, cover the surrounding areas that won’t be waterproofed with a tarp. Wearing protective clothing and goggles, apply a thin layer of UV-resistant waterproof sealant that protects from molds and mildew. Do this in the morning or evening, as direct sunlight will cause the sealant not to dry correctly. Don’t use the deck for at least 24 hours until it’s dry. After that, your deck will be ready for the rain and dew of the summer.
10 – Clean Ceiling Fans
Cleaning ceiling fans will get them ready for long, hot days. Get a stepladder and a pillowcase and put the case around one of the blades. Scrape the dust off the top and bottom by pulling the case toward you. The dust falls right into the pillowcase and off the blades.
Alternately, you can use a duster with a long handle to get the dust off the blades. This way you won’t have to use a ladder. In any case, never try to clean a fan that’s on. Make sure you turn it off first.
11 – Insulate Your Attic
A well-insulated attic will stabilize the temperature inside your house during warmer months and keep your house warm during cooler months. Insulation can also save you money — up to 50% of your heating bill! Get to the floor of your attic first and determine if you have regularly patterned or irregular-type joists. Then you can determine what kind of insulation to use.
Loose fill insulation comes in bags and has to be blown in with special machines. You could install it manually, but that is labor-intensive. Loose fill is best used for irregular attics with hard-to-reach places. Blanket insulation, or batt, is generally sold in rolls of carpet-like material. Batt is used more in attics with wider areas and more uniform joist configurations. Whatever type you use, be aware that insulation comes in different materials (fiberglass, cotton, cellulose, and mineral wool) each with their own limitations. Learn about them to keep your home well-insulated.
12 – Clean Your Gas Grill
If you’re getting ready for a summer barbecue, you’ll want to have a clean gas grill. Check to see if your grill has any bits of singed food or carbon from the previous season. Then, use a combination of a wire brush, dish-washing soap, sponges, and stainless steel polish to clean your grill.
You may want to consider cleaning your entire gas grill, inside and out, before preparing any food. Once you’ve done so, throw on a few burgers – summer can officially begin!
Want to find out how to properly winterize your home in under 3 hours? Check out this post. (It’s easier than you think!)