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Maintaining a home can be tough, especially if most of the systems were managed by your former husband.  It doesn't mean you aren't totally ready for this, but you had your stuff, and he had his.  Now, you're the homes only caregiver.  There may be a lot of unanswered questions you would prefer to manage without the help of your ex.  So, we've assembled some basics to get you started.

The comprehensive list includes information on your home's systems that need attention in the early summer months.  If you need more detailed information, we recommend a few sites at the end of the article that will give you specifics related to each task.  This is an on-going series, so look for our Summer Maintenance guide in August 2022


Power Washing

Vinyl siding, decks, walkways, gutter surfaces and patios should be power washed once every 1 to 2 years.  There are a variety of factors that affect whether it should be done every year or every other.  If your home is in a rural area or new home development, it may have more dirt and grime that collects on the surfaces and will require annual cleaning.  If the home gets more or less sun in some areas, it may have surface mold that will appear like a black grime.  This must be power washed immediately to avoid discoloration due to the rest of the homes siding being exposed to sun and that area being covered.  

Clean and Inspect Windows

Windows should not be washed with a power washer at normal high pressure, it could damage the seals on the windows.   If you can't afford to hire a professional window cleaning company, there are several items on the market that you can use to complete this on your own.  Cleaning your windows annually will ensure less allergens and pollutants from getting into your home when the windows are open.  It will also decrease the insect population and spider webs that accumulate in window corners and screens.

Screen Repair

This should be done immediately to keep insects out of the home.  You can buy the spline, spline tool and screen material at the local hardware store.


Gutters should have been cleaned at the end of the Fall season.  If this was not done, then you'll want to call a gutter cleaning company as soon as possible.  Many window-cleaning companies clean gutters as well, so Google both.  The reason to get this done is not only for the preservation of your gutters, but to keep water flowing away from the roof.  Failure to do so will reduce the longevity of your roof and cause erosion on the ground that can lead to leaks in the basement, increase sump pump usage, cause cracked or uneven concrete patios & walkways, damage landscaping and ground cover, etc.


Seal gaps and cracks in concrete with an expandable compound found at your local hardware supply store


Aerating and over-seeding the lawn is best for fall.  If you do this in summer months you must remember to water the lawn more consistently, but it isn't impossible to get new grass to start in this season.  Make sure you use the same grass type (e.g., fescue, bluegrass, etc.) as what you are trying to fill-in on your current lawn.  Otherwise, you will have multicolored grass.  Keep the mower at a height that cuts the lawn about 3.5" high for the best results.  To cut less often, you can lower the deck .5".  If your lawn looks uneven, check to make sure one or more wheels of the lawn mower isn't higher or lower than the others.  Uneven wheels or a mower deck that's too low can result in scalping some sections of your lawn.  Water in the morning or late evening for the best results.


Prune shrubs and trees as needed to avoid termites or other creepy crawly critters.  Never dig without contacting your local "Dig Rite" or by calling the national before-you-dig phone number 811.  This includes gardening, mailboxes, fence or anything!  A buried cable or utility line may even be at a shallow depth and can cause damage, injury or even death.  

Keep vines away from your house.  They may look nice, but they erode mortar, damage and stain siding and trap moisture against the house.  Clean away debris and prune plants, bushes or vines away from your air conditioner condenser.

Don't pack mulch or ground covering high enough to reach the siding of your house.  Keep it approximately 8" below the siding to avoid pests or water damage.  It's best if landscaping isn't up against the house's foundation at all since most landscaping and gardens require watering.  If it is, grade it away from your house so water flows away from it, not into it.

Garage Door Inspection

Test the auto-reverse feature on garage door openers by opening the garage door, then placing a piece of wood or trashcan to prevent the door from closing. Use the garage door opener to close the door. It should auto reverse once it hits the item within one second. Also check the photo-electric sensors by placing an item in front of them. The door should auto reverse once it detects the object. Always use objects to conduct these tests, never your person or anything that could cause harm. Federal law requires all garage doors sold as of 1993 to have the auto-reverse feature following multiple child deaths. 



Get a "Clean and Check" once every one or two years by a reputable HVAC company near your home.  It should be no more than $100-$150.  They will inspect and clean your system and recommend any repairs, if needed.  Some companies make this a great opportunity to sell services or new equipment, so always get a second opinion if costly recommendations are made.

HVAC Filters 

Always follow your furnace's care recommendation for filter replacement or cleaning for the highest efficiency, reduced allergens and dust in your house.  In most cases you can simply open the HVAC cabinet, remove the replaceable filter and replace with a new one.  Never vacuum your disposable filters or get them wet.   If the filter is semi-permanent or permanent, you should refer to the instructions or search for care information online before cleaning it.  Most can be cleaned with a hose or in the sink.  

Inspect and change HVAC filters once every 1-3 months on average unless you have pets or allergen sensitivity.  The thicker the filter, the less often it needs to be replaced.  Some, premium pleated filters can last much longer than the typical 1-3 months.  These thicker 6" or more filters can usually last 6-9 months.  


Hire a chimney sweep to inspect and clean your chimney once a year.  They will clean the creosote (residue from fires that is highly combustible) off the interior walls of the chimney flue.   Most often they will also inspect the chimney for cracks, leaks or flashing problems and make sure no animals like birds or squirrels are nesting in the chimney.  They will make recommendations, if necessary.   If you have a metal flue (newer, median value homes have metal flues), the cost should not exceed $200.  Ask what their fee includes before hiring someone.  Some companies can use this opportunity for a sales call.  So always get a second opinion or do some research prior to agreeing to any costly repairs.

Water Softener

Add salt as needed to your water softener.  When the water gets just above the salt, add more salt to the brine tank.  Usually about every 7-8 weeks.

Smoke Alarms

Test your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure you have a fire extinguisher in your main bedroom and on every floor.  The reason it should be in your master bedroom is that in the case of a night fire you will want to have it available to get through to the other parts of the home.  It will not do any good if you're trapped in your room with fire all around you with no extinguisher nearby.  Replace batteries annually on a special date that is easy to remember such as Daylight-Saving Time.


Inspect tub, sink and toilet caulk to make sure there's a watertight seal.  If not, remove the existing caulk and reapply with a like color caulk.


Make sure the sump pit in the basement is not filling excessively and sump-pump is plugged in and working properly.  You should test the battery backup routinely.  Some sump pumps work more often than others and are just doing what they are designed to do.  But, if it runs constantly, this may be a sign of trouble. 

Make sure your house doesn't have improper grading that may cause the high demand usage of the pump.  It could be many things like improperly installed windows, underground spring, foundation problems.   Keep your sump pump lid on to avoid debris that could lead to clogs.  

Inspect the "check valve" to make sure it's not broken or missing to avoid water from flowing back into the pit.  It's often referred to as a "one way" valve since it keeps the water flowing one direction, out and not in.  Make sure the pump's drainage is properly directed away from your home.  

If the pump sounds strange or is running constantly despite no correlation with recent weather, you may need to call in a plumber or handyman to assess for repair, replacement or to raise it above the water table.


Seal tile grout in tubs, baths and kitchen areas.  If the grout is considerably discolored, you can buy a tinted grout seal that will make the grout look brand new.

Kitchen Exhaust Fan

Clean the kitchen exhaust fan routinely.  Use a soft bristle brush to clean the refrigerator and freezer coils found in the back or on the bottom of the fridge.

Dryer Vents

Exterior dryer vents should be inspected and vacuumed every 3 months.  Interior vents should have plenty of water and emptied or cleaned according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Garbage Disposal

Fill an ice cube tray with vinegar and freeze.  Drop the vinegar ice cubes in the garbage disposal to clean and sharpen the blades.  Run the ice cube tray through the dishwasher before refilling with water.

Range Hood Filter

Use a common degreaser with hot water to clean the range hood filter.  Soak it in the solution for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly with fresh hot water.

Fire Extinguisher

Purchase a fire extinguisher for each floor of the home.  Best in the master bedroom or hallway, kitchen and lower level.  Read up on how to use it.  Inspect monthly to make sure it is accessible, has adequate pressure and no wear and tear that would cause it to malfunction.  Inspect the tamper seal and pin.  Keep out of reach of small children.


Make sure your home has proper insulation and no wild animals in the attic.  Improper insulation can cost you hundreds of dollars every year.  In one to two years the insulation could pay for itself.  There are do-it-yourself options to install insulation, or you can hire a local insulation contractor.  Many hardware stores have contractors that can help you, but they may be pricey.  Ask friends and family if they know of a local contractor they can recommend.

Cost Savings Options

Get your home on Budget Billing and install a programmable thermostat as soon as possible.  Many homeowners find as much as 10-20% savings on their energy bills.


Make sure all windows are closed and locked for the most effective seal and safety.  When you put your hand on the inside of the window in cold months, it should be room temperature.  If not, you are losing energy.  Homes can lose as much as 25% heating or cooling energy through windows.  Hang thermal curtains and keep closed, unless utilizing the room, for the most energy efficiency.  Thermal (insulated) curtains can have an R-rating which is similar to the energy efficiency of a dual-pane window.  If you have older windows, this could be an inexpensive alternative to new windows. 

If you like your current window treatments, you can use window insulator kits.  These can be less expensive than new windows and allow you to block energy loss and drafts without curtains or while curtains are open.


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