The end of summer is quickly approaching—but as you’re cramming in plenty of last-minute summer fun, don’t neglect the basic, proactive maintenance projects that will keep your home running safely and smoothly. Check out our room-by-room maintenance checklist of all the weekend to-dos you should check off your list before summer’s end.
In the Kitchen
• Clean filters. Your kitchen is loaded with filters—but they can’t do their job if they’re not clean. Pull out the filters in your range hood or over-the-range microwave and wash them with hot, soapy water to get rid of greasy build-up, and rinse the filter in your dishwasher to clean away any gunky build-up.
• Vacuum refrigerator coils. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall and unplug it, then use the brush attachment on your vacuum to get rid of as much dust and grime as possible. While you’re at it, vacuum the floor where the refrigerator usually sits and wipe down the sides and back of the fridge before pushing it back into place.
• Check the dishwasher and under the sink for water leaks.
In the Laundry Room
• Clean dryer vents. According to FEMA, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires are reported each year and cause an estimated $35 million in property loss—and failure to clean the dryer is the leading cause of home clothes dryer fires. Unplug the dryer and disconnect the vent before cleaning it, and make sure the outdoor vent covering opens when the dryer is on. Also, be sure to clean the lint filter each and every time you use the dryer.
In the Bathroom
• Clean and seal tile grout. Scrub grout lines with a commercial grout cleaner or a mix of 2 parts baking soda to 1 part water, then rinse it clean. Let the grout dry for 24 hours, then apply a grout sealer to keep it looking clean and fresh.
• Check around bathroom cabinets and toilets for leaks.
• Maintain your garage door. Oil the garage-door opener and chain, garage door, and all door hinges, and check the garage door bottom seal and weatherstripping to see if it needs to be replaced.
• Prune trees and shrubs.
• Check exterior water spigots for leaks.
• Examine your home’s exterior for cracks around windows, doors, or in the foundation and seal them with caulk and weatherstripping.
• Powerwash decks and patios, and seal if needed.
• Check ductwork for air leaks. Uninsulated ducts can allow hot air to escape, heating areas that don’t need to be heated – like basements, attics, and crawl spaces – and keeping warm air from reaching living spaces. According to the US Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office, these leaks can add hundreds of dollars a year to your heating and cooling bills, but you can reduce that loss by sealing and insulating ductwork. Check ductwork for air leaks, particularly around joints or connections, and wrap them with a foil-faced fiberglass insulation, like Frost King Self Adhesive Foil and Foam Duct Insulation. Cut it to size, then wrap the insulation around the duct and apply tape along the seams to secure it firmly without compressing the insulation. Be sure to check that all exposed seams and joints are thoroughly covered with tape to seal out moist air that could cause condensation on insulated ducts
• Drain your hot water heater: Flushing your hot water heater once a year drains any sediment that has accumulated in the bottom of the tank and improves the efficiency of your unit, helping it last longer. To drain it, turn off the power and close the cold water supply valve, then attach a hose to the drain valve. Open the drain valve and the pressure relief valve and let the water flow into a bucket or directly into a floor drain until it’s clear and free of sediment. (The water will be extremely hot, so be very careful.) Close the drain and pressure relief valves, allow the tank to refill, and detach the hose before turning the water heater back on. Want more tips on water heater maintenance? We’ve got a full guide to how to maintain your water heater here.
All Around Your House
• Check for Air Leaks: Gaps around windows, doors and attic access panels can let air conditioned or heated air leak outside, sapping energy from your home. Check for air leaks in all these areas, and seal them with caulk and weatherstripping. This video explains how to pick the right type of weatherstripping: