Sweat Equity

Published July 11, 2012 by Julie Provenzano

Literally.  Another North Texas summer is upon us and there is no better time to add value to your home in the form of do-it-yourself improvements.  With soaring outdoor temps, here are some indoor projects that can be accomplished in a matter of minutes, freeing up time for more important things- like relaxing. 

Fans, filters, fixtures and paint

Ceiling fans function more efficiently when they are clean.  They also get more use during the summer months so now is the perfect time to spruce them up with a good dusting.  Clean the blades as well as any internal parts that can be easily accessed.  Tighten loose screws to prevent wobbling and if your fan houses a light, replace the bulb with an energy efficient one- they emit less heat and are less costly to operate. 

Most people don’t look at the ceiling when they’re using the bathroom, but its important to keep bathroom fans clean and operable as well.  They help prevent moisture fluctuation and circulate air quite efficiently.  Same goes for kitchen fans.  Make sure your hood vent is degreased and operable.  Because summer generally means closed up homes, cooking odors can linger- your dinner guests may not want to know what you had for breakfast.

Cleaning ductwork and central heating/cooling units also tops the summer to do list.  Changing filters allows for better and more efficient air flow throughout homes that often remain tightly sealed against the sweltering temps.  In addition, check the filters on any portable air purifiers and change them as needed. 

Get out the ladder and give those hard to reach places a good cleaning.  While you’re up there replace traditional poker hot light bulbs with those that are more energy efficient. Given this bird’s eye view, you’ll likely notice other nooks and crannies where dust and cobwebs have gathered.  Knock ‘em down and wipe ‘em up. 

The bright light of summer is the perfect time to paint interior spaces.  Long days and sunny skies mean you can take advantage of natural light both in color selection and application.  Just make sure you view your color samples after dark as you’ll have to live with your choices after the leaves start turning.  Interior paint fumes also float blissfully away on the wings of those cool summer breezes wafting through the open windows… 

And if you can brave the heat…

Here are some exterior projects to shake a stick at. 

Landscape Updates 

Whether your home is a stately Victorian or a steadfast Tuscan, it could probably benefit from improvement in the form of a new outfit.  Landscape is to architecture what clothing is to physique.  Its time to tell your home “What Not to Wear.”  Trim trees, whack shrubs and prune flowering perennials to enhance your home’s curb appeal.  Make sure the structure of your home is not compromised by hanging limbs and protruding roots, and keep an eye on how your greenery affects surrounding homes.  As long as we’re talking about structure, be on the lookout for termites and other not so friendly visitors that may be lurking.  

Keeping the greenery green this time of year can prove to be a challenge.  Deciphering community water restrictions, sprinkler system programs and the various moisture needs of your plants can harder than cracking the DaVinci code.  However, take the time to study them closely and learn the ins and outs- not only can it save you time and money in the long run, (municipalities in North Texas have begun penalizing “non-compliants”) it is also the environmentally responsible thing to do. 

Speaking of cracking, how does the drive look?  Walk-way?  Torrential North Texas rain followed by never-ending dry spells can wreak havoc on your property’s infrastructure.  Ground volume can expand and contract up to 14 cubic inches depending on the season, so make sure your paths, driveways and walkways are up to the challenge and repair any cracks and crevices.  Checking drainage fields and gutters is also a good idea as they may have become clogged with leaves and other debris from those whipping spring winds. 

Decks are great for barbeques, until you get a splinter in your big toe.  Summer is the perfect time to power wash, stain and seal decking, patios and other outdoor living spaces.  Head to your local home improvement warehouse and garner the necessary supplies for an afternoon of work-  and when the work is finished, fire up the Barb-ie.

Power washing is essential, not to mention fun!  Rent, borrow or buy a residential grade power washer and give the place a bath.  Just be careful not to go overboard, as some units are extremely powerful and can damage exterior surfaces in the blink of an eye.  There is something satisfying about blasting sticky spider webs, bird droppings and tree sap from the side of the house.  Its likely once you start you’ll not want to stop, and the results are just so, well… clean.

Performing these simple tasks now will help protect your investment and keep your home in tip top shape through the dog days of summer.  When it comes to sweat equity, a little goes a long way…  and that’s something to bark about.

Summer Maintenance