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Mow-mentum: 8 items for your summer home maintenance to-do list

Summer’s for getting away, having fun in the sun, relaxing with a cold beverage.

But while it’s nice to take a vacation from home maintenance, methodically tackling a summer to-do list will ensure that your house looks its best, functions properly and remains a safe place for your family.

Rest assured, you’re not alone in this. AIS has you covered with these tips, so relax, grab that cold beverage, and enjoy a little light reading!

Grass: Cutting your lawn does wonders for curb appeal, but it can be difficult to keep up with when a period of rain is followed by a warm, sunny day. However, you can lessen the burden by letting your grass grow taller, which is better for its health anyway. 

Cutting grass to a height of three inches or more encourages deeper root growth and makes it less likely to dry out. Watering deeply and less often, sharpening the mower blade, and alternating your cutting pattern also will improve the quality of your lawn.

Mulch: For home improvement return on investment, it's hard to beat the value that mulch delivers. Not only can mulch be attractive and sweet-smelling, but it helps the soil retain moisture, provides shade to roots on hot days, and stops the spread of weeds by blocking sunlight.

Driveway: A fresh coat of sealant will restore the “black” in blacktop that has assumed a grayish appearance. Sealant also is designed to restore the integrity of a driveway that dries and cracks from exposure to sun, rain, snow and from being driven on. A fresh coat should stop deterioration and prevent the loss of sand and stone.

Whether you go DIY or hire a professional to seal your driveway, you should know about the difference between traditional coal tar sealant and petroleum-asphalt sealant.

Grill: It’s hard to beat the flavor of a grilled hamburger or hot dog, and taking it outside means leaving the heat out there, too. Grill maintenance is essential and is recommended twice per year. 

And while you’re at it, keep in mind that gas grill propane cylinders have lifespans, too. A new tank must be recertified after 12 years and then every five years thereafter.  

Smoke detectors: Did you change the batteries in your smoke detectors when we moved clocks ahead one hour for the end of Daylight Saving Time? If not, then now’s a good time to do it. It’s ideal to have smoke detectors on each floor and in or near bedrooms.

Ceiling fans: It won’t make a room cooler, but a fan will make you feel cooler. In fact, this cooling effect, according to, may allow you to raise the thermostat some four degrees without adversely affecting your comfort.

In the summer, switch the direction of your ceiling fan blades to rotate counterclockwise (while looking up at the blades). This will blow air down, creating a wind chill. The faster the blades, the cooler it will feel. (In the winter, switch to counter-clockwise, which recirculates heat that naturally rises to the ceiling.)   

Return vents: Economics has supply and demand; HVAC has supply and return, each related to the ductwork that runs throughout your home. Conditioned air (heat or cooling) comes through the supply. 

The return vents are found in pairs, one near the floor and the other near the ceiling. Your air handler sucks air into the returns and back to the heating and cooling system. During the summer, open the top return and close the bottom one to keep cold air in the room. (Reverse this in the winter to keep in hot air.)  

Lint trap: Each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, 2,900 home clothes dryer fires cause five deaths, 100 injuries and $35 million in property loss. Other estimates put the number of dryer fires at 15,000 to 17,000 per year, surpassing chimney fires in frequency. The leading cause: failure to clean dryers of flammable lint.

Be sure to clean your dryer’s lint filter before or after each cycle and at least once per year clean lint out of the dryer vent.

Of course, if you’ve owned a home for a while, something always needs to be cleaned, repaired or replaced.

So, pace yourself. Did we suggest a cold beverage?