We won’t blame you if the headline on this piece made you do a double take: Why on Earth are these people talking about winter home maintenance in the dog days of summer?
But here’s the thing: Even amid sweltering temps, winter is still (eventually) on its way. And no one wants to realize they have a leaky roof or a tree that’s about to topple a power line after the first snow.
To avoid these and other household problems, we gathered insights from the pros to bring you a checklist of winter maintenance-musts—things you should do right now, smack dab in the middle of summer, even if it feels like it makes no sense.
So put down that icy Moscow mule and make sure your house is in tiptop shape by the time the weather turns cold. You’ll thank us later!
1. Check the roof and gutters
Remodeling expert Cristina Miguelez of Fixr has an easy way for people to check if their roof is still in good shape: Start with the gutters.
“Check to see if there are excessive amounts of granules in your gutters, as these can indicate an issue with your roof,” she explains. “Also, look for missing roof shingles or water stains on the underside of your attic, as this can indicate a need for roof repair.”
It’s also important to clean out your gutters regularly—both after the winter season and during the summer and fall. Clean out leaves and debris that may be clogging the water runoff, to avoid incurring damage to the sides of your home.
Once cleared out, it’s also a good idea to inspect the gutters themselves for any damage that might be problematic during the next storm.
2. Clean the windows
While this might seem purely aesthetic, dirt left on windows can cause more damage than you think, warns Tod Colbert, founder of Wisconsin-based Weather Tight.
“Window washing doesn’t just make your home look better and let the sunshine in,” Colbert says. “Neglecting to wash your windows regularly can cause your windows to wear out and break down faster.” And that’s not a problem you want to discover when temps dip below freezing.
3. Repair the deck and clear vents
Decks and outdoor fixtures take a beating during spring storms, making summer virtually the only time to give them the TLC they need.
Look for any exposed wiring in outdoor fixtures, and examine the deck itself for structural damage. You should also be on the lookout for anything that might be building a home in your outdoor space.
“Inspect your decks and porches carefully for termites and other pests,” warns Stephanie Cooper of Top Cleaners.
Then take a moment and check any exterior vents for blockage. Take advantage of the warmer weather to do a full inspection, treating problems as they arise.
“Make sure vents and exhausts are not dented or closed off,” Colbert says. “Check your dryer vents and clean them out—dryer fires are a real concern, so make sure these lines are clear and lint-free.”
4. Give your exterior a fresh coat of paint
Keep in mind that repainting and staining don’t just make your home look nice—they also protect your home’s natural features from the wear and tear of rain and snow. And if you have any exterior surfaces that need a refresh, the hot and dry days of summer will be your best chance to get the job done.
“Staining your decks and fences should be done during the summer, because it takes several days of warm weather to dry out the wood completely,” says associate broker Amber Ketchum of Coldwell Banker Bain in Seattle. “Exterior painting is the same as staining decks—you do not want rain. You also don’t want overly hot weather, so this can be a delicate balance, but warm weather is best so that you can give the paint time to dry.”
5. Air out the house
Even if you’ve had the windows occasionally open, it’s still a good idea to take advantage of the warm weather to air out your house completely and clean large fabric items.
“Sunlight is great when it comes to naturally straightening the fibers of different household items and furniture—not to mention any molds or mildew,” Cooper says.
Mattresses, rugs, couch cushions, and bedding—these are all items you can clean and dry in the sun, Cooper says. And while you can certainly clean your couch any day of the year, the hot summer sun offers a fast and natural way to dry heavy layers of fabric that might otherwise accumulate mold.
“All mattresses should be taken outside to air out for at least half a day, and vacuum them afterward,” she says.
Give everything else a thorough wash and let them dry in the sun for a fresh, natural clean that rids your home of any leftover odors.
6. Trim the trees
If you live in an area with lots of trees, summer is the ideal time to make sure none is at risk of falling down on your home or power lines.
“Utility companies generally do their part to make sure that the main lines are clear of debris and trees,” Colbert explains, “but you may be responsible for any line coming directly into your house.”
If you don’t feel comfortable removing hazardous trees or branches yourself, hire a professional to trim them for you. It’ll cost anywhere from $75 to $1,000 depending on the size of the job.
“You will certainly kick yourself if you neglect to maintain the trees and find yourself in the dark without heat because a wayward branch takes down your power line,” Colbert cautions.