By: Serge Guenette

Don't forget your summer maintenance list


Sure, it's the dog days of summer and the heat is making you lazy, but if you haven't tackled your summer maintenance list yet, it's time to get on it.

Staying on top of your summer chores is really proactive and could save you a ton of trouble — and money — down the road. After all, neglecting your home maintenance can lead to expensive repairs. Besides, if you decide to take advantage of Ottawa's hot real estate market and sell, the more of your maintenance you have checked off, the further ahead you'll be.

This list may seem lengthy, but if you break it up into chunks and do a bit at a time, you won't feel like you're giving up all your summer downtime for upkeep.

Here are the items you need to tackle:

  1. Humidity: Keep an eye on the humidity in your home, especially in the basement. If your heating and cooling system does not have a humidity meter, you can find an inexpensive one at any home improvement store. Ideally, the level will be between 30 and 50 per cent. If it's routinely higher, use a dehumidifier to keep it down. Too much humidity leads to all kinds of issues with mould and mildew, which you want to avoid. This is also the time to turn off and clean your humidifier, if you have one.

  2. Filters: If you haven't already, clean or replace your air-conditioning filter, and clean or replace ventilation system filters if necessary, including your furnace, hood fan and HRV, if you have one. It's also a good idea to have your furnace serviced once a year — before the heating season starts up again — to make sure everything is working properly. And if you keep your furnace fan running at all times, it will help with proper ventilation in your home.

  3. Plumbing: Check your basement pipes for condensation or dripping. They may need to be insulated if there's an issue. Also, check that there's water in the basement floor drain and refill if necessary. And if you have a plumbing fixture that's not used often such as a laundry tub or spare bathroom tub, run the water briefly to keep water in the trap. (The water acts as a barrier to keep out sewer gases.)

  4. Vacuuming: It's not just your floors that need vacuuming, your bathroom fan grilles do, too. While you're at it, disconnect the duct connected to your clothes dryer and vacuum lint from the duct, the areas surrounding your dryer and your dryer's vent hood outside. And don't forget to vacuum the rear of your refrigerator and freezer to improve operating efficiency.

  5. Windows and doors: Check the caulking and weather stripping on all, as well as around mechanical and electrical services that come into the house, and repair where needed. Lubricate windows and door hinges where necessary and tighten screws. Lubricate and test your garage door hardware and opener. This is also a good time to sand and touch up paint on windows and doors.

  6. Check, check & check: There are many things around your home that need a once-over, such as:
    • guardrails and handrails to make sure they're secure.
    • exterior wood siding and trim for signs of deterioration. Clean, replace or refinish as needed.
    • exterior surfaces, including your roof and flashings, for any damage, blockages or leakages. Is your roof sagging at all, which could indicate structural issues? Are the shingles in good shape? Remember that ventilation is a critical factor in roof durability — air must be able to move through the attic.
    • the chimney cap and the caulking between the cap and the chimney. Try to do this from the ground as going on your roof could be hazardous.
    • your gutters. Even if you cleaned them out in the spring, they could be clogged again.
    • any ground settling at the foundation. You may need to build up landscaping to ensure rainwater flows away from your foundation wall.
    • exterior fixtures, such as lights and satellite dishes, to ensure they are securely anchored.
    • your sump pump (if you have one). Is it ready to operate when needed? Make sure the discharge pipe is connected and directs water away from your foundation.

  7. Outdoor plants: Remove any plants that contact — and roots that penetrate — the siding or brick and make sure any vents are not blocked.

  8. A good wash: Use a pressure-washer to remove dirt, stains and mould from siding, garage floors, fences and driveways. And don't forget to clean your windows and screens. If you have a gas fireplace, turn off the pilot light and give the glazing a cleaning.

  9. Access: Repair your driveway, walkways and any damaged steps as needed.

  10. Decks & fences: At the very least, your deck should get a good cleaning. If the finish is failing, it's time to sand and refinish.

  11. TIP: If you have an issue that you think you might want to share with an expert, take pictures. And if there are any tasks you don't feel comfortable doing, be sure to call in a pro.

And, once everything's done, you've earned an afternoon to put your feet up!