By: Holly Amaya / Realtor.com
The dog days of summer are barking and Labor Day is just around the bend, signaling the end of yet another epic season in the sun. But before you give your flamingo pool float one last hurrah, take a break with some home maintenance prep for the changing season ahead.
We know what you're thinking: It's still summer, and you're being a buzzkill! Why worry now about what you can do next month? Well, as it turns out, some home maintenance tasks are best tackled in August, before temperatures start dipping.
Don't worry: We’re here to make all those chores as quick and easy on you as possible. With our handy checklist of home maintenance tasks, you can knock 'em out and be back to your barbecues and beach days in no time.
1. Check your washing machine connections
With the kids home from school and loads of sweaty garments to clean, your washing machine has likely taken a major beating this summer. With all that extra use, be sure to check that the water supply hoses which connect to your machine are in good condition.
"If they are older black rubber hoses, check for any bulging in the hose or any parts that look worn," says Tony Dunaway of BEST Plumbing of Cincinnati.
DIY: If you have worn hoses, you can swap them out with replacements for as little as $25, but it'll take you some effort. After you've turned off the water supply to the hoses, use adjustable pliers to loosen one hose at a time from the water supply, and then from the washing machine. You'll also need to make sure your new hose has a rubber washer in each end. If your hoses are made of rubber, consider upgrading and replacing them with rupture-proof, braided stainless-steel hoses.
Call in the pros: A pro will save you the effort, but you'll shell out around $140 for the job. How much are your days in the summer sun worth to you, anyhow?
2. Prune dead wood from your lawn and garden
Now's the time to tidy up your perennials and clear those unsightly dead twigs and branches, according to Tony Smith, president of Nursery Enterprises in Rexburg, ID.
Not only will you have a more attractive yard, but "by cleaning them out this summer, you'll create a clean slate—and next summer you'll have a better grasp in understanding your plants' health." Smith says.
DIY: You'll need pruners, a saw, and loppers (or a chainsaw) to really attack this job.
Call in the pros: If the mere thought of wielding a chainsaw gives you the heebie-jeebies, call in a professional landscape company to do the deed. The cost depends, of course, on the extent of the work and the size of your yard, but expect to pay at least $400 to $700 for a reputable, licensed tree trimmer.
3. Clear the gutters
Summer thunderstorms can clog your gutters and lead to costly water damage down the road. Properly functioning gutters direct water away from your home, but muck and debris can cause water to collect around your home's foundation and seep into your basement, if you have one. (Clogged gutters also make great homes for rodents and other vermin, just in case you needed another reason to tackle this task.)
DIY: Grab a ladder and shimmy up to the roof to inspect your gutters and drains, taking care to wear proper hand and eye protection. A simple garden trowel is effective for clearing most debris.
Call in the pros: Scared of heights? The average gutter job will run you around $150.
4. Deal with wasps, mosquitoes, and other insects
Wasp activity peaks in late summer; these insects become more aggressive and likely to sting in, you guessed it, August. So you'll want to spray for wasps and eliminate them, pronto.
DIY: "The first step to eliminating a wasp nest is to identify where the colony lives," says Dave Patterson, owner of Tactix Pest Control in Boise, ID. "Scan your lawn, looking for activity close to the ground. Once you find where the wasps are coming and going, apply wasp treatment to the entrance. Repeat this step every few days until you no longer see any activity."
Patterson also recommends patrolling your property for stagnant water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
"First, drain any areas that are holding water—this step alone should significantly cut down on mosquito activity," he says. This means birdbaths, planters, or any other places where rainfall might have accumulated. "For further prevention, invest in forms of mosquito repellant like citronella candles, mosquito traps, and bug zappers."
Finally, check the seals around your home, including doors, windows, and dryer vents. Caulk or expanding sealants should be more than enough to seal most openings, according to Patterson.
Call in the pros: The national average cost of wasp removal ranges between $100 and $400. The cost of mosquito control depends on a variety of factors, including property size and treatment frequency. An entire summer of mosquito treatment could run $500 or more, but you're more likely to get a deal now that it's later in the season.
5. Clean your natural stone
“After a summer filled with nonstop grilling fests, family gatherings, and just general outdoor fun and wear and tear, it’s important to properly clean natural stone around your home—whether it's outdoor granite countertops, stone walkways, or patios—to prevent food, dirt, and oil stains from setting in and leaving permanent marks," says James Freeman, chief operating officer of Colonial Marble & Granite.
DIY: Start by dusting off stone surfaces, because abrasive materials such as dirt or sand (carried home from weekend getaways) can cause damage. Avoid using harsh cleaning products on natural stone; instead, choose a gentle cleanser with a neutral pH (preferably without soap, which causes streaks and film) and a soft cloth. For a longer-lasting finish and better protection against stains and grime, consider applying a water-based penetrating sealer.
Call in the pros: For serious stains, call in a professional stone maintenance company to restore your stone. Expect to spend anywhere between $400 and $1,100, depending on the level of grime.
6. Get your furnace prepped for winter
“When residential furnaces fail, they typically do so during the coldest days of the year, which is why it’s important to have these systems inspected in August, before temperatures drop,” says Michael Petri, owner of Petri Plumbing & Heating, in New York City. “An annual tune up and inspection can help homeowners save money, maintain comfort, and ensure safety when units are turned on for the first time in several months.”
Call in the pros: There's no shortcut for this one; maintaining your furnace is something you'll want to defer to a pro. Typically, HVAC companies run pre-winter specials for this kind of work, so keep your eyes peeled for deals—but expect to spend between $130 and $450.