After what feels like the longest ever stretch of months stuck indoors, summer—glorious summer—is finally upon us. But before you get too comfy and curl up in a hammock with a delicious blended beverage, know that there are a few things you really should check off your to-do list first.
Yes, that’s right: We hate to be a drag, but in between barbecues and beach days, you still need to stay on top of maintenance around the home. Otherwise you might find yourself with big problems down the line—and big repair costs.
But don’t worry: We’re here to help you prioritize the tasks that’ll keep things running smoothly through the scorching months ahead, and get you back to your summer soirees ASAP.
1. Power-wash your house
“If most of your entertaining will be done outdoors, now is a great time to power-wash the deck, pool area, patio, driveways, and the front porch of your home for guests,” says Jeff Beck, CEO of Leaf Home Solutions.
Power washing has also been known to pay off big-time when it comes time to sell your house. According to the National Association of Realtors®, you can expect to add $10,000 to $15,000 to the sales price after pressure-washing exterior siding
DIY: You can rent a power washer for between $70 and $300 a day, Beck says. But proceed with caution.
“Do your research before power-washing, as it comes with some safety concerns or can lead to property damage if the wrong pressure is used on the wrong materials,” he says.
Call in the pros: If you’re uneasy about blasting the house yourself, call in a professional. You can expect to spend between about $200 and $400.
2. Give your air conditioner a checkup
Your air conditioner works overtime in the summer, so now’s the time to make sure everything is running smoothly. It’s best to be proactive and check on the AC before you have an issue so that you aren’t sweltering while you try to diagnose a problem.
DIY: Make sure you’re regularly switching out disposable filters that fill up with pet and human gunk like skin cells and hair, says Mark Dawson, chief operating officer of Mister Sparky, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, and Benjamin Franklin Plumbing.
The condenser unit also needs to be cleaned occasionally to prevent mold, mildew, and performance issues. If you’re handy, you can tackle this task yourself.
“Homeowners need to drain the pan below the condenser and clear all lines to allow excess water pulled from the air to drain out,” Beck says.
Call in the pros: You can also call in a technician to clean out the condenser unit, Dawson says. Prices vary across regions.
Also consider scheduling a yearly air-conditioning tuneup (expect to spend between $75 and $200) to make sure your unit is operating at peak performance.
“Heating and air-conditioning technicians are able to catch issues that may turn into bigger problems if not handled right away,” Dawson says.
3. Spruce up your home’s exterior
If something looks a little off on the outside, it probably needs your attention.
“Check your landscaping for overgrown trees and shrubs, especially if they are hanging over the home, and trim them down,” says Gregg Hicks, vice president of Modernize.com.
“Summer is also a good time to inspect and clean your siding,” says Hicks. “Check for storm damage, pollen, sap, and other signs of wear and tear, and clean and repair as needed.”
DIY: In addition to trimming the foliage around your house, now is the time to show your lawn some love.
“Fertilize and dethatch your lawn to promote the circulation of air, water, and nutrients to the soil,” says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations for Mr. Handyman. You can choose from special rakes, machines, or even liquids for dethatching the lawn.
Call in the pros: If you need to do some serious trimming, call in the tree professionals. Expect to pay a couple hundred dollars on average—the price is determined by the size of the tree.
4. Replace or fix up exterior doors
With the increase in traffic coming and going outside, summer is a perfect time to check up on your doors, Beck says. A little bit of wear and tear over time is to be expected, but eventually, you might need a new door.
“Consider replacing doors if they’re old, worn out, or difficult to clean,” Beck says. “Or if they’re hard to open and close—and possibly dangerous to the safety of your household and guests.”
DIY: Adding weatherstripping is a simple DIY task most homeowners can handle independently with a few basic tools and inexpensive materials.
Call in the pros: Handy homeowners might have no problem replacing an old door, but for the rest of us, it’s a good idea to have new doors professionally installed. The cost varies widely depending on the type—for exterior and patio doors, Home Depot’s estimates range from about $400 to $1,300.
5. Check on ceiling fans and windows
This is one home maintenance task you can easily knock out in an hour or two: Make sure your ceiling fans and windows are able to provide optimal cooling throughout the home.
DIY: “Homeowners should clean ceiling fans and change them to a counterclockwise rotation,” Hicks says. “This will help drive cool air toward the floor and cool a room’s temperature. Homeowners should also inspect windows and doors for any leaks, where cool air may be escaping.”
Call in the pros: If your window seals are in need of repair, this could be a DIY task for some homeowners.
“Resealing windows and doors … can help keep cool air in and your energy bills lower,” Hicks says. But resealing is an intermediate project, so consider calling a professional if you’re not comfortable with it.
6. Keep an eye on the roof and gutters after storms
Warmer temperatures usher in unpredictable weather, which can mean storm damage to your home.
Monitor your gutters and roof to quickly detect—and hopefully avoid—costly damage.
“Debris can quickly fill your gutters or clutter your roof, so it’s important to assess any damage and clean your gutters after each storm,” Beck says.
DIY: Manually cleaning the gutters is a task you can accomplish over a weekend with a ladder, a spotter for safety, and a few garbage bags.
Call in the pros: Some homeowners prefer to leave roof work to the pros.
“Typical gutter cleaning can range from under $100 to several hundred depending on home size, the accessibility of your gutters, and the severity of debris,” Beck says.
If you need to replace gutters, that “can cost anywhere from $180 to $6,000 on average, depending on the home size and gutter material,” Hicks adds. “Installing gutter guards can help homeowners avoid a full gutter replacement down the road and can cost as little as $200 as a DIY project to $1,000 or more for heavier-duty guards.”