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Which summer tasks should you do yourself?
Some things you DIY. Some things you don’t. Here’s how to know which is which.
As summer approaches, you need to do more than just pull out the lightweight bed linens. There are also various house-related tasks to take care of, but the question is, which should you do yourself — thereby saving money and gaining a feeling of self-satisfaction? And which should you pay someone else to do (saving time, and making sure difficult things are done right)?
We have some home maintenance tips for you. Here, a list of essential summer tasks, divided into two categories: Those you can safely DIY, and those you should leave to the professionals.
In this article:
Do it yourself
Whether your home repair skills are more Bob Vila or Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, these are the jobs you can probably handle yourself (with the occasional assist from YouTube). Below are our top home maintenance tips for the jobs you can tackle yourself.
Clean your gutters
Over winter, your gutters accumulate leaves, mud and other things that clog them, creating mosquito breeding grounds and the risk of leaks. (After all, when the downspout backs up in your gutter, the water still wants to go somewhere.) All you need to clean your gutter out is a sturdy ladder and some rubber gloves. As a homeowner, you can easily prevent overflowing gutters or a clogged gutter by clearing away any leaves or debris.
Clean or replace your air conditioner filter
Maintaining a full HVAC system can be tricky (see below), but dealing with the air filter on a standard A/C unit is straightforward. (And important — a dirty air filter is an inefficient filter, meaning your home’s air won’t be as clean or as cool as you’d like it to be.) Detailed instructions for removing and cleaning (or, if need be, replacing) an A/C filter can be found here, but if you can maintain a vacuum cleaner, it won’t be difficult.
Clean and refinish your deck and patio
A great maintenance tip for a homeowner is to spruce up exterior paint. Not only is it easy, but it will make your home look fresh and new. You should do this yourself because it’s easy, it can be fun, and your kids can even get involved if they’re old enough to hold a paintbrush and wear a mask. (You know, the one skill we’ve all learned in the past year.)
The fun comes if you borrow a pressure washer to clean your wood or concrete surfaces — feel the power! (And do the driveway while you’re at it.) The easy part is applying coats of paint or varnish to a flat surface you can reach without a ladder. That’s where the kids get involved: You can apply the varnish as a family, which will make everyone feel a sense of pride when you’re spending the next few months socializing outside.
Get rid of weeds and plant things in the garden
Clearing away overgrown weeds can really add so much beauty to your home’s exterior. This is another easy, family-friendly activity. This easy spring cleaning maintenance tip can be done in a single afternoon and will really elevate your curb appeal. Get the kids involved: Rubber gloves come in all sizes, and your little ones can reach the small weeds in the driveway without hurting their knees, which might not be true for everyone in the family. Planting things together is an excellent way to get your kids excited about nature, and to give them a regular project that won’t feel like a project.
Prune your trees
There are several reasons to trim your trees. They look nicer. Removing dead or diseased branches is good for tree health. Removing said branches is also good for your health, if there’s a danger they might fall onto your house during extreme weather. Everything you could possibly want to know about tree pruning can be found here.
Invest in a good ladder and some not-too-expensive tools like a modest-sized chainsaw or a Japanese-style extendable handheld saw, and you’ll never need to pay anyone to do this for you. That said, if you’re looking at branches that are beyond the bounds of said ladder or require you to actually climb a tree, call in the pros. When kids fall out of trees and hurt themselves we think they’re being adventurous. When adults do it, we just think they’re making bad decisions.
Deep clean your grill
If your grill isn’t pretty grubby right now, that means you either didn’t use it last year or you just bought a new one. For everyone else, it’s time to give that thing a good scrubbing. You should do this yourself for two reasons: 1. When you deep clean your grill, you are formally acknowledging and celebrating the coming of summer; 2. It’s just not that hard. Instructions for cleaning different kinds of grill can be found here. Your grill’s maker may have their own ideas, but if you have access to hot water, detergent and something to scrub with, you don’t need guidance, just some elbow grease.
Hire a pro
Anyone who says “nothing risked, nothing gained,” hasn’t sent themselves to the ER trying to wriggle in and out of a crawl space in an ill-fated attempt to repair their air conditioner. Here are a few tasks, including seasonal a/c maintenance and roof repair, best left to the professionals.
Check and repair your roof shingles, siding, doors and/ or windows
Depending on where you live, winter can be hell on your house’s exterior. Small holes, brittle caulk and chipped paint are just some of the problems that may come to light in spring. If your home’s exterior needs roof repair, hire a professional to handle the job.
Why hire a pro?: Depending on your level of handiness, you could check and repair all this yourself, using your sturdy ladder to take you from the gutters to the roof. But crawling around on the roof is a great way to have an accident, and if you do find something that needs fixing or sprucing up, a professional is likely to do a neater job. If you’ve ever caulked your own bathtub, you’ll know how hard it can be to do seemingly simple jobs in a way that actually looks good when you’re done. The money you’ll spend on someone fixing your roof shingles properly is far less than what you’ll spend dealing with the leaks and mold that come from doing a less-than-perfect job. Also, many home insurance policies cover roof repairs, so be sure to check if you can actually “hire” a pro for free.
Clean and service your HVAC system
If your air conditioning or heating system isn’t working at peak performance, your bills will be higher and so will the temperature in your house. It’s best to have it cleaned and serviced once a year, and now (when it’s warm but not yet tropical) is the time to do it.
Why hire a pro?: Fixing your cooling and heating system is a grubby job. (Your HVAC stops gunk from entering your house, so guess where the gunk ends up.) And it’s easy to damage the condenser fins if you’re not experienced.
Clean your chimney
Sure, your kids think you only need your chimney once a year (for Santa to slide down with all their loot). But to their surprise (and, perhaps, yours), you want to clean it now, because you’ll need your chimney to be clean by fall, when you start using it again, and it’s better to do all that while the weather is warm and you don’t need to actually use it.
Why hire a pro?: It should be obvious, no? A chimney is filthy, dangerous, and it’s hard to know when a dark, sooty space is actually clean. Leave this summer cleaning job to the professionals.
Get out the lawn mower
Got a manageable lawn and your own mower? Sure, trim the grass yourself. But if your lawn is big enough to require a day of your time, or the rental of a vehicle-sized lawn mower, then that suggests you should hire someone to do it, not least because that person will also dispose of the huge amount of grass cuttings that will be generated, which is a job in itself.
And hey, if your lawn is modestly sized, remember that time is money. You can pay someone a small amount of money to mow it faster than you ever could, thereby leaving your weekend afternoons for more important things, like firing up that freshly cleaned grill.
About Michael DavisRead more by Michael Davis
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our editorial policy
Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.
Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.
Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.
Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.
MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.
Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit: https://havenlife.com/plus
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