Angie’s List: Handling midsummer maintenance
Keeping things cool — your water, your food, yourself — is one of the most energy-intensive tasks in your house. Many of your home’s systems are working in complete overdrive to provide comfort throughout the hottest months of summer.
If you follow the advice of the experts, you probably had a professional take a look at things and perform tune-ups a few months ago. (And if you let that slip your mind in the hubbub of spring, it would be a good idea to have someone check them out now.) But even with twice-yearly checkups to keep your systems humming, things can go wrong as they work nearly constantly throughout the summer. Keep an eye on these maintenance tasks to ensure a comfortable, stress-free summer experience.
CHECK YOUR PLUMBING
People generally associate major plumbing problems with cold weather and broken pipes, but summer provides its own challenges to a plumbing system. Plumbing gets a lot of stress during summer, thanks to more people usually being in the home. Outdoor sprinklers, topping off the pool, kids at home using the toilet more often, and multiple showers on sweaty days all take their toll.
In particular, hoses and connections tend to be the biggest problem areas. Inspect your hoses and valves to ensure a tight fit and to make sure valves are working. Washing machine hoses are one of the weakest links in the plumbing system. They can contribute to summer interior flooding, so pay particular attention to them.
Summer is also an excellent time to drain and inspect your water heater, precisely because it’s not being used as much. Have a professional check the anode rods and heating elements and take a look at the gas burner.
When you go on vacation, consider turning your system off entirely with your master water shutoff switch. (And if you don’t know where that is, ask your plumber to show you. That’s a vital piece of homeowner knowledge!) Plumbing systems aren’t designed to handle pressure for extended periods of time, and when toilets aren’t flushed and faucets aren’t turned, that builds up pressure.
By the way, don’t forget to keep your trash cans near the toilets regularly emptied and easily accessible. Kids and home visitors have a habit of tossing stuff they shouldn’t into the toilet when they don’t have an obvious place to get rid of it, and anything besides toilet paper and bodily waste can block up the system in a hurry.
LISTEN TO YOUR APPLIANCES
Check your air filters in accordance with manufacturer recommendations, and replace them as needed. Many HVAC filters fill up faster in summer than any other time, so consider checking them more often — as much as once or twice a month. A visual inspection takes only a moment and could save you several weeks of your system working overtime.
As with your car, don’t ignore strange noises or evidence of problems; they never go away on their own. Contact a professional to investigate unusual sounds or warning signs.
You may give little thought to your refrigerator coils, but they play a vital role in keeping your fridge running and your food cool. Check and clean your coils using a vacuum and a rag. Just getting rid of that grime buildup can work wonders.