Summer will be here before you know it, and you know what that means: Heat, hornets and yard work.
If you’re starting to miss spring already, fear not. Here are some quick projects to make your home and garden more comfortable and cost-effective this summer.
Inside the house
- Service the air conditioning. Nothing can ruin your day like a broken air-conditioning unit on a summer day, so keep it running smoothly by servicing it every spring. Every three months, change the filter, flush out drain lines with a cup of bleach, and ensure that the outdoor unit has room to breathe by keeping vegetation about an arm’s length away.
- Replace smoke detector batteries. You’d be surprised at how much peace of mind you’ll get after knocking out this one little chore. Change all the batteries on the same day and remind yourself to do it again in six months. If your smoke alarms were manufactured 10 or more years ago, replace them entirely.
- Rotate ceiling fan blades. Your ceiling fan may have a switch that changes the direction in which the blades turn. If so, make sure that the blades are spinning counterclockwise and pushing air down, rather than up.
- Clean behind appliances. You’ve been putting it off for far too long. You’re terrified of the horrors that await in the shadows of your kitchen, but it’s time to put on some gloves, arm yourself with disinfectant cleaner and roll out the oven with a brave face.
- Clean dryer vents. If your clothes come out of the dryer damp and musty lately, it’s probably because the vent is clogged with lint — not only wasting energy, but posing a significant fire risk. To do it right the first time, purchase a vent-cleaning kit. Its flexible rod and brush attaches to your drill and will extract a puppy-sized mass of lint in no time.
- Upgrade your thermostat. Replacing your existing thermostat with a ‘smart’ model does more than save you money. They respond to your voice, divert cool air to occupied rooms, can be operated from your phone and might even give you a weather forecast at a glance before work.
- Repot houseplants. Give houseplants fresh potting mix in spring when they’re actively growing. Slip the mass of roots and potting mix out of the pot, gently tease apart the roots, remove rotted pieces and replace it with fresh and fertile potting mix. If the leaves are turning pale from too much direct summer sun, move them to a slightly shadier place.
Out in the yard
- Patch your lawn. If you wait too long to plant new grass seeds or sod, aggressive weeds will happily fill the gaps for you. Luckily, grass will quickly establish if you remove all existing weeds beforehand, amend with topsoil and keep the area irrigated for the first week or two.
- Inspect gutters and downspouts. Fall isn’t the only time to clean out the gutters, especially if you have messy trees nearby. Make sure that the gutters are soundly attached to your roof, seal any gaps with silicone caulk and remove any obstructions at the base of the downspout.
- Inspect sprinklers. If you notice any clogged or broken sprinkler heads, shut off the water and dig a 2-inch diameter hole around the head. Unscrew the head from its riser and replace with a new one. If the head is merely clogged, remove the basket and rinse both it and the head in clean water. Reassemble the head and screw it onto the riser.
- Get your mower up and running. Give your mower, string trimmer and other lawn equipment some TLC before the summer mowing season begins. After removing the spark plug, replace the air filters, change the oil, sharpen blades and give your equipment a good cleaning.
- Remove hornet nests. If you have hornets, yellow jackets and paper wasps around your home, take steps to remove them now before they form a large, aggressive colony. You can play it safe by calling a professional, or spray nests at night when they’re less active. Just be sure to wear protective eyewear, a mask, pants and long sleeves.
- Clean the grill. Prevent flare-ups and cooking fires by giving your grill a good cleaning. Ideally you’d clean after every use, but you can start fresh with a grill brush, nozzle and wet rag. Now is also a good time to stock up on charcoal and make sure your tools are ready for grilling season.