Written by Larissa Runkle for Realtor.com
Taking care of your home this season isn’t just about getting in on all those trending summer looks and beautifying the backyard. It’s also about getting all those dreaded seasonal maintenance tasks done and out of the way before cold weather arrives.
We know, we know—in the thick, sweltering heat of July it’s hard to imagine another fall and winter ahead. But knocking out your to-do list now will ensure you can space things out and still enjoy some lazy days off.
In order to help you organize your summer maintenance schedule, we’ve compiled this list with input from the experts—including details on which tasks to do yourself and which are best left to the professionals. Here are seven summer maintenance musts for you to start checking off this season.
1. Inspect your AC units
We spend so much time washing our hands and cleaning our homes, but what about the air quality? Having a clean and dust-free AC unit is an often overlooked summer maintenance must, and definitely one to take on early in the season.
“Keeping a HVAC system clean and tuned up will not only save homeowners money on their electric bill, but also allow the unit to perform at its best capacity,” says Marla Mock of Aire Serv.
At a minimum, air-conditioning condenser coils should be cleaned at least twice a year. It’s best to clean them before starting the system for the season and again when the weather starts to get hot for prolonged periods of time—that is, right now.
Call in the pros: While you might be tempted to break out your scrub brush, this job is best left to the professionals. Expect to pay $70 to $195, depending on just how much maintenance your AC unit needs.
2. Clean your outdoor cooking space
Whether you have a Big Green Egg or a gas-powered outdoor cooktop, you’ll want to plan on giving that space a scrub-down before guests start arriving for your next (socially distanced) barbecue.
“The easiest way to clean your grill and outdoor cooking space is with a pressure washer,” says Cory Paul of Pressurist. “Of course you can wipe your grill down and scrub your patio by hand, but when you're dealing with heavy grease, it's much faster to use a pressure washer to break it down and wash it away.”
DIY: Rent a pressure washer from your local Home Depot, then check out this tutorial to get started.
3. Check your deck for damage
Winter and spring can be harsh on our outdoor spaces—particularly wooden decks and surfaces. The long, bright days of summer are a good time to scope out whether they need any repairs.
“Checking whether a deck needs repair usually involves three tests: stability, rust, and rot,” says Paul.
DIY: To properly inspect your deck, Paul recommends walking up and down each board, and grabbing each post to see if anything is loose. Next, check the metal fasteners and connectors for rust.
While surface rust can be removed, you’ll want to replace anything that looks like it’s been compromised. Finally, use a screwdriver to gently poke various boards and posts. If the wood is soft and doesn't splinter, that's usually an indicator of rot—and it should be replaced.
Call in the pros: If you’re not comfortable tearing apart the deck on your own, be prepared for the cost of hiring a pro. According to Fixr, basic hardware replacements cost around $150, with jobs involving board replacements starting at about $700 and running to several thousand dollars.
4. Protect your home against pests
While bringing the outdoors in remains a popular seasonal trend, there are some parts of the outdoors that are better left outside. One of the best maintenance tasks you can do (for your sanity) this season is protecting your home from pests.
“Taking pest control into your own hands is an incredible cost-saving measure any homeowner can tackle this summer,” says Derek Gaughan, owner of Bug Lord. “All of the products are available for purchase, and with some basic safety knowledge, it's incredibly easy to do.”
DIY: If you want to save your cash and tackle pest control yourself, start by sealing up cracks, placing glue trap boards in places you find pests, and consider even getting your hands on some professional-grade pest deterrent. Still not sure where to begin? Check out our pest control guide.
Call in the pros: Rather not be bugged with this task? (Sorry, we had to.) A one-time visit by pest control will cost you $300 to $550.
5. Dust hard-to-reach places
If you or your family have dust allergies, don’t wait till midsummer to start cleaning those hard-to-reach places we tend to neglect.
“Dust that builds up is bad for air quality and can also put extra weight on appliances, causing them to not operate properly,” says Elizabeth Dodson of HomeZada. “If your appliances don’t operate properly, then your energy bill increases.”
DIY: As long as you’re comfortable standing on your tiptoes, grab a Swiffer duster (or follow this cleaning hack) to start dusting off the ceiling fan blades, cabinet tops, and other hard-to-reach places that are gathering dust.
Call in the pros: A cleaning crew will tackle all your nooks and crannies, but expect to pay for the convenience—on average $150 to $300 an hour for walls and ceilings.
6. Deep-clean mattresses, pillows, and rugs
With all the warm, sunny days ahead, it’s the perfect time of year to give your mattresses, pillows, and even rugs the deep cleaning they need.
“Sunlight kills dust mites, so pillows, rugs, and mattresses can all be brought outside and placed in direct sunlight,” says Eugene Sokol of Plasticine House. “Just be mindful of the weather and pollen in the air so you aren’t trading one allergen for another.”
DIY: Hand- or machine-wash your pillows, vacuum those carpets, and deep-clean your mattress—then take them all outside to dry in the sun.
7. Get your landscaping under control
“Trimming and pruning plants and trees on time is very important so they don’t get out of control,” says Elle Meager of Outdoor Happens.
Trimming hedges and pruning trees regularly will guarantee you grow thick hedges (rather than tall, thin ones) and trees that produce more flowers and fruit.
And here's a pro hack for keeping your outdoor space a happy one this summer: Plant the right things like herbs that naturally repel pests and flowers that attract honey bees.
“Rue, for example, helps in repelling fleas, flies, and many other pests around the yard,” says Meager. “Plant it near compost piles, rubbish bins, and in containers near doorways. And bees are instrumental in pollinating your vegetables and fruit trees—so be sure to plant a few flowers they’re attracted to.”