The dog days of summer are yipping loudly, and Labor Day is just around the corner, heralding the end of yet another epic season in the Tennessee sun. Before you deflate your water wings for the season, take a break with some home maintenance prep for the changing season ahead.
We know what you’re thinking: It’s still summer, and you’re being a buzzkill! Why worry now about what you can do next month? Well, by getting a jump on some of these things now, the prudent property owner will save time and money down the road before temperatures start dipping. “Remember, preventative maintenance is cheaper and more convenient than corrective maintenance,” says Licensed TN Inspector Thomas Recke.
The 3 Arrows Property Inspection team will help steer you in the right direction to make your chores as easy as possible. With our handy checklist of home maintenance tasks, you can knock them out and be back to your barbecues and lake days in no time.
1. Check your washing machine connections
With the kids home from school and loads of sweaty garments to clean, your washing machine has likely taken a major beating this summer. With all that extra use, be sure to check that the water supply hoses which connect to your machine are in good condition. “If they are traditional black rubber hoses, check for any bulging in the hose or any parts that look worn. This may also be a great time to swap the hoses out for braided stainless-steel hoses which are less prone to pressure-related failure which can lead to a flooded house,” says TN Licensed Inspector Thomas Recke.
- DIY: Swapping out your own washer hoses isn’t rocket science, and it’ll typically set you back about $25, but it’ll take you some effort. After you’ve turned off the water supply to the washer, use adjustable pliers to loosen one hose at a time from the water supply, and then from the washing machine. You’ll also need to make sure your new hoses have rubber washers in each end. Again, consider upgrading and replacing your original manufacturer-included hoses with rupture-proof, braided stainless-steel hoses to help with problems in the future.
- Call in the pros: A pro will save you the effort, but you’ll shell out around $150 for the job. I think the extra $125 in your pocket is worth a bit of time.
2. Clean your natural stone
After a summer filled with epic grilling feasts, family get-togethers, and just general wear and tear, it’s important to properly clean natural stone around your home – whether it’s outdoor granite countertops, stone walkways, or patios – to prevent food, dirt, and oil stains from setting in and leaving permanent damage.
- DIY: Start by dusting off stone surfaces, because abrasive materials such as dirt or sand (carried home from weekend getaways) can cause damage. Avoid using harsh cleaning products on natural stone; instead, choose a gentle cleanser with a neutral pH (preferably without soap, which causes streaks and film) and a soft cloth. For a longer-lasting finish and better protection against stains and grime, consider applying a water-based penetrating sealer.
- Call in the pros: For serious stains, call in a professional stone maintenance company to restore your stone. Expect to spend anywhere between $400 and $1,100, depending on the level of grime.
3. Clean your gutters
Tennessee thunderstorms can bring down a lot of leaves causing your gutters to clog leading to costly water damage down the road. Properly functioning gutters direct water away from your home, but muck and debris can cause water to collect around your home’s foundation and seep into your basement, if you have one. (Clogged gutters also make great homes for rodents and other vermin just in case you needed another reason to tackle this task.) Just remember – water always wins! If you fail to properly control water (collecting and discharging it well away from the structure), the damage can be costly!
- DIY: Grab a ladder and shimmy up to the gutters to inspect your gutters and drains, taking care to wear proper hand and eye protection. A simple garden trowel is effective for clearing most debris.
- Call in the pros: Scared of heights? The average gutter job will run you around $150. This one might be worth outsourcing due to the potential for falling. I don’t know about you but I don’t bounce like I did when I was 20.
4. Prune dead wood from your lawn and garden
Now’s the time to tidy up your perennials and clear those unsightly dead twigs and branches. Not only will you have a more attractive yard, but by cleaning them out this summer, you’ll create a clean slate – and next summer you’ll have a better grasp in understanding your plants’ health. Besides, your neighbors will thank you for it!
- DIY: You’ll need pruners, a saw, and loppers (or a chain saw) to really attack this job.
- Call in the pros: If the mere thought of wielding a chain saw gives you the heebie-jeebies, call in a professional landscape company or arborist to do the deed. The cost depends, of course, on the extent of the work and the size of your yard, but expect to pay at least $400 to $700 for a reputable, licensed tree trimmer.
5. Deal with wasps, mosquitoes, and other insects
Wasp activity peaks in late summer; these insects become more aggressive and likely to sting in, you guessed it, August. So, you’ll want to spray for wasps and eliminate them, pronto.
- DIY: “The first step to eliminating a wasp nest is to identify where the colony lives,” says Brooks Freeman, owner of Pest Solutions in Lebanon, TN. “Scan your lawn, looking for activity close to the ground. Once you find where the wasps are coming and going, apply wasp treatment to the entrance. Repeat this step every few days until you no longer see any activity.”
Brooks also recommends patrolling your property for stagnant water, which can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
“First, drain any areas that are holding water – this step alone should significantly cut down on mosquito activity,” he says. This means birdbaths, planters, or any other places where rainfall might accumulate. “For further prevention, invest in forms of mosquito repellant like citronella candles, mosquito traps, and bug zappers.”
Finally, check the seals around your home, including doors, windows, and dryer vents. Caulk or expanding sealants should be more than enough to seal most openings, according to Freeman.
- Call in the pros: The national average cost of wasp removal ranges between $100 and $400. The cost of mosquito control depends on a variety of factors, including property size and treatment frequency. An entire summer of mosquito treatment could run $500 or more, but you’re more likely to get a deal now that it’s later in the season.
6. Get your furnace ready for winter
When residential furnaces fail, they typically do so during the coldest days of the year, which is why it’s important to have these systems inspected in August, before temperatures plumet. An annual tune-up and inspection can help homeowners save money, maintain comfort, and ensure safety when units are energized for the first time in several months.”
- Call in the pros: There’s no shortcut for this one; maintaining your furnace is something you’ll want to defer to a pro. Typically, HVAC companies run prewinter specials for this kind of work, so keep your eyes peeled for deals—but expect to spend between $150 and $450.