Summer is officially here! For most, summer screams fun, boasting no school, vacations, and plenty of cool treats. But summer isn’t all fun as a lot of things need to be completed before enjoying all the season has to offer. Anything that is outside entertainment will most likely become a new project or need some level of maintenance.
Pests become much more aggressive as the dog days of summer begin. Wasps start building nests and become more territorial. Locating and removing these nests encourage wasps to build in other areas. Wood boring bees also seek a place to nest and reproduce in exposed wood. Using a brown paper bag as a faux hornet’s nest will deter them from setting up camp in your outside areas. Brown recluses are also prevalent in our area and reproduce from May to July. They are recognizable due to a fiddle design on their back and are poisonous. As you are cleaning areas like a garage, barn, or basement, be aware of dark, undisturbed areas where they like to live.
There are several areas to consider when prepping your outside entertaining spaces for summer. Locate any split or decaying wood on your deck, patio, or porch. Use a pick or a flat screwdriver to check for split or decaying spaces. Replace any flashing that is damaged or missing and in areas where water may be collecting. If the water soaks into the wood instead of beading, it is also time to re-apply the stain. Before staining or sealing, remove everything from the deck, including furniture and plants, and sweep away debris. Make sure to give the areas a thorough cleaning.
Check the decking and railing as well as the support structures. Also, look for any corroded fasteners. Check the ledger board and make sure fasteners are in place and in good condition. Drive in loose nails and tighten screws and replace any that have rusted. Check support posts and joists for structural soundness. The railings and banisters should be secure. They should not give or move when you push on them. Also, make sure deck boards and stairs are not sagging and do not sway. Risers and stringers should be securely attached.
Grilling and chilling are the name of the game for summer. An outdoor kitchen or cooking area adds to the outdoor summer experience. As the summer goes on, readily clean your grill and keep the outdoor kitchen space decluttered and sanitized. Most people clean the grill grate before every use, but the gas burner guards should be cleaned periodically to prevent flare-ups. It’s also a good idea to keep a spray bottle nearby with a fire extinguisher for safety reasons. Also, keep the grill away from vinyl siding as it will melt.
Like all other outside areas, pests love to find their way under tarps and around food. A weekly check is a good idea to avoid a nasty sting from a nesting wasp.
Summer usually means lots of outdoor fun for kids. Play spaces offer a lot of entertainment and energy-burning activities for kids. Before kids access these areas, check them for splintering or rotten wood. Also, check for pests before letting kids on play areas like swing sets and trampolines. As mentioned above, pests are more aggressive and territorial during this time. Also, ensure these areas have secure ground fasteners or effective safety features like netting or railing. Splinters, stings, and booboos can ruin the outdoor fun fast.
Air Conditioning Unit
Air conditioning units are critical to beat the summer heat. Make sure there is no vegetation surrounding the unit. If the AC is obstructed, it will not be able to work to its full capacity. Also, clean the cooling fins. Keeping the area clear will allow your unit to function at its optimal level. The U.S Department of Energy recommends indoor temperature with the AC set at 78 degrees. When running your air conditioner at the suggested level to function properly and the area around it cleared, you can keep your family comfortable indoors.
Many people can be found around a pool, especially during summer’s hottest days. This heat can be a strain on pool chemicals used for maintenance. Pools must be sampled and balanced with liquid or tablet chlorine unless you have a saltwater pool. Alkalinity, pH, and calcium hardness must be adjusted as well. Your water levels should be a pH of 7.2-7.8, and the alkalinity should be 880-120 ppm. Chlorine levels should remain between 1-3 ppm. Maintaining your pool consistently over the summer will eliminate a large amount of work when opening and closing your pool.
Exterior lighting can help create ambiance for your outside areas. Many of the floodlights are typically halogen bulbs that can get extremely hot. It’s a good idea to check for scorching on the light cover. Keeping this type of lighting safe from your home is also wise. Keep areas around these lights clear of debris. Birds nesting, spider webs, and bugs can cause a fire hazard if not cleaned properly. This would be an ideal time to switch out broken or burnt-out bulbs. Also, changing out those halogen bulbs with LEDs would be a great way to help conserve energy.
Asphalt driveways are best sealed in the summer. First, start by edging the driveway to get all the excess grass and debris from the sides. Power-wash the drive and deep scrub areas with heavy stains. Once cleaned and thoroughly dried, spread the asphalt sealer. The drive will need a minimum of 24 hours once the sealer is applied. Remember that several companies provide this service if you are uncomfortable taking this on as a DIY.
Ensuring that your outdoor entertaining and play areas are clean, secure, and free of pests is the key to enjoying those spaces. Also, beautifying these areas and adding lighting helps add to the ambiance of summer. Maintaining these areas like pools throughout the summer also eliminates a lot of work as summer comes to an end. Taking on these projects will help your friends and family fully enjoy the summer season.