Early summer chores should get you outdoors: Look for winter damage, ward off mold and rot, sharpen your tools and patrol your home’s perimeter for pests and other problems.
With the start of a typical Tri-Cities summer and warmer weather, you can focus most of your maintenance chores outdoors. First, however, attend to a couple of jobs that will help you stay comfortable and safe inside the house.
Switch ceiling fan blades: Switch ceiling fans to push cool air down, where you’ll most enjoy it. Observe the fan while it’s running: In summer, you want the leading edge of the blades (the part that goes around first) higher than the trailing edge (the part that rotates last). Locate the fan’s switch o9n its outside body. When set correctly for summer, you can stand beneath it and feel the breeze. this should allow you to adjust your thermostat higher (or set the air conditioner lower), saving fuel while enjoying the cooling effect of the moving air.
Clean dryer vents: Although you probably know to remove lint from your clothes dryer’s lint filter after each use, you may not have heard that maintenance also includes cleaning the hose that pipes the warm, moist air from the dryer to the outdoors. Use a long-handled brush, found in hardware stores. Also, clean the recess beneath the filter with a lint-trap brush. Check vent hoses to ensure that they fit tightly to each other, to the dryer and to the outside of the house. Pull out the dryer and vacuum accumulated lint under and around it.
Clean gutters: Take advantage of dry weather to clear out leaves, needles and debris, leaving gutters free to carry rainwater away and protect your home from mold and rot. Depending on your home’s surroundings, you should do this several times a year.
While you are at it – inspect your gutters. Look for joint separating, loose connections and attachments, sags, dips and corrosion. Tighten or reattached loose gutter connections.
Check for foundation cracks: Make a yearly tour of your home’s foundation to spot any cracks. Hairline cracks and diagonal cracks that start at windows are unlikely to signal serious problems, but keep an eye on them to see if they change. Call a structural engineer if a small crack grows wider or if you find any of the following:
- a crack wider than the thickness of your fingernail
- horizontal cracks
- a stair-step crack that break bricks, blocks or solid concrete
- a pattern of cracks that rounds a corner
- a crack with one side higher than the other
- a crack that starts narrow and grows wider
To keep moisture out of cracks that you’ve found to be stable, fill them. Purchase a foundation crack repair kit that uses an expanding polyurethane filler for a permanent seal. Caulk and concrete aren’t effective for this.
Patrol the grounds: Spend a half-hour walking around your house with an eye to where the foundation meets the ground, Make sure the earth around the house slopes away from the structure — about an inch per foot is good — so water does not collect around the foundation. Dampness invites mold and mildew and, in worse cases, weakens a foundation. Also, keep your eyes open for signs of termites.: wings or droppings that look like little pellets. Rake leaves away from the foundation to discourage mice and rats, Keep garbage cans tightly closed. Store recycling and clean bottles and cans well before putting them out so food odors don’t attract rodent. Turn compost piles regularly and compost only vegetable matter, not animal products.
Scrub the decks and porches: On a sunny day, wipe down and hose off lawn, garden and deck furniture. Sweep decks and porches. Inspect wood decks and porches for rot by pressing the wood with your hand, foot or a tool to find any soft spots. Gently probe soft spots with a screwdriver to learn the extent of the damage. Paint stores carry epoxy putty used to harden seal and stabilize rotted wood. If the damage is severe, replace rotted boards.
Seal decks against weather: Wood decks need to be painted every two or three years – more often if they face extreme weather. Watch the weather forecast for a spell of several dry days before treating decks, because you don’t want to seal moisture into the wood and encourage rot.