12 Home Maintenance Projects You Should DIY This Summer

Home maintenance is like housework, flossing and exercise: Work it into your routine, because the penalty for not doing it is worse than the job itself.

For example, cleaning the gutters costs nothing if you do it yourself, and roughly $100 to $200 if you hire a service.

Ignore the job, though, and you may face expensive repairs thanks to leaky or overflowing gutters that rot fascia boards or allow pooling water to cause basement leaks.

Fortunately, summer gives you a chance to repair damage, protect your home and keep its face to the world looking bright.

Following are some cheap and easy home projects that make your home feel new.

1. Paint

Fresh paint doesn’t just make your home look great — it’s also a protective skin against damaging UV light and moisture.

Sources of cheap or free paint include:

If you prefer a brand name, you might want to consider Sherwin-Williams. It’s rated highly across the board, as we detail in “Homeowners Say This Is the Best Paint for Your House.”

2. Mulch

Laying a 1- to 3-inch layer of mulch on garden beds will quickly spruce up the area around your home’s exterior.

Mulch has other benefits. For example, it spares you from having to do a lot of weeding, since mulch smothers weeds by depriving them of oxygen and light. It also holds moisture in the soil, saving water and giving plants a consistent source of moisture.

Free or cheap sources of mulch include:

  • Shredded wood or bark: Electric utility companies and tree services may have cheap or free wood chips or shredded bark. Also, some cities collect leaves and branches, chipping them for use by local residents.
  • Grass clippings: Let them cool down before mulching.
  • Raked leaves: Shred first with a shredder or lawn mower so air and moisture can filter through to the soil beneath.
  • Cardboard: Ask recycling centers and appliance stores for free cardboard. Wet it down, cut it to fit and place it around plants, covering with soil or bark mulch. This is best in wet climates where cardboard will break down into the soil.

Retailers like the Home Depot give you a wide variety of mulch types and colors to choose from.

3. Seal wood decks

If your deck is looking a little tired, it might be time to seal it, and stain or paint it. Staining or painting your wood deck will make it look like a million bucks — and you’ll only spend a tiny fraction of that amount.

The cheap way to seal a deck is to do it yourself. You’ll spend a couple hundred dollars on supplies and rented tools. Do it annually or every two to three years, depending on where you live. Ignore the job long enough and you’ll need to replace the deck, at a cost of thousands of dollars.

4. Clean gutters

You may be able to do this job yourself, and at little or no cost. Rent or borrow a solid ladder tall enough to do the job safely. Enlist someone to stand on the ground and steady it while you work.

Clean gutters once or twice a year, depending on how quickly they fill with leaves and debris. While you’re cleaning, check for leaks and breaks.

5. Shine windows

Cleaning your windows is one of the cheapest ways to give your home a new sparkle. Here are three cheap, no-streak approaches:

  • Apply a vinegar-water solution to the glass and wipe it off with crumpled newspaper. This will give you a more lint-free result than paper towels.
  • Use TSP (trisodium phosphate) — an inexpensive powder degreaser found at hardware stores — mix it in water, wipe it on and squeegee it off for a streak-free finish. Make sure you read the instructions for proper handling.
  • Many people swear by a few drops of dish soap in a bucket of warm water.

6. Caulk

Caulking around windows helps cut heating and cooling bills by keeping indoor air in and drafts out. It’s an important preventive measure, too: Leaky window frames rot and allow water to seep into walls, causing rot and mildew.

A $5 tube of caulk goes a long way toward sealing edges and small gaps. Spray foam is better for larger openings.

7. Give the furnace TLC

Give your furnace a little attention on its summer vacation. Remove the furnace filter. If you don’t know where it is, check the instruction manual and follow directions on how to remove and replace it.

Hold the filter up to the light. If it’s dark and dirty, it’s time for a new one. Use a vacuum cleaner on openings throughout the system, including registers, ducts and vents.

8. Check for irrigation leaks

Your irrigation system and hoses can be weakened by freeze-and-thaw cycles during cold winters. In the summer, water pressure and UV light do damage. Leaks waste water and cost you money.

Turn on the water and inspect hoses, timers and irrigation systems for leaks, pooling water, breaks and clogged sprinkler heads. Replace hose gaskets and make repairs, or call a service company.

9. Banish pests

Warm weather gives you a chance to circle the outside of your home and remove anything that could shelter wood-boring insects, rats, mice or spiders.

Remove yard waste, tools, ladders, toys and stacked lumber. Orkin recommends storing firewood at least 5 feet from your home’s foundation and on a rack off the ground.

Trim bushes and relocate plants so that none touch the home’s siding or foundation. Clear any vegetation and debris from under decks and steps.

Other tips include:

  • Pick up fruit as soon as it drops from trees and bushes.
  • Give garbage cans tight-fitting lids.
  • Drain pools, puddles and ponds and change birdbath water frequently to discourage mosquitoes.

10. Primp the lawn

A nice lawn can make your home the envy of the neighborhood. If you want a great-looking lawn, stop scalping it. Instead, mow grass higher and more often.

Set mower blades at least 3 inches high. That will encourage grass to fill in bare spots and push weeds out. Grass roots will grow deeper so the lawn looks better and needs less water. Don’t collect grass clippings. Instead, let them drop on the lawn to nourish it.

11. Inspect and clean the dryer vent

Do this job for fire prevention. Although you probably clean your dryer’s lint trap after each load, lint still builds up inside the machine and duct.

Remove the lint filter and use a long-handled vent brush (ask for one at hardware stores) to clean as much of the cavity as you can. Carefully clean behind the machine without disturbing the vent attachment or gas line.

Use the vent brush or a rag to reach into the vent from outside and remove all the lint you can reach.

When finished, turn on the dryer and go outside to look at the vent. Is exhaust air coming out? If not, look for blockage in the vent or exhaust duct. If necessary, disconnect the duct from the dryer to thoroughly clean the exhaust path.

12. Insulate water pipes

Uninsulated pipes carrying hot water through a cold basement or crawl space waste heat, costing you money.

It’s easy to insulate these pipes with pre-slit, hollow-core, flexible “sleeves” made of polyethylene or neoprene foam. Find them at hardware stores. Before shopping, learn your pipes’ diameter to get the right fit.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Reasons You Should Not Claim Social Security Early
7 Reasons You Should Not Claim Social Security Early

The sooner you claim your Social Security retirement benefits, the more you — and perhaps also your spouse — stand to lose. Here are the stakes.

Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts
Beware These 3 Tax Penalties on Retirement Accounts

Protecting a nest egg is tough — but you can make the situation far worse with some boneheaded mistakes.

12 Products to Keep Your Car Clean and Organized
12 Products to Keep Your Car Clean and Organized

These items will help put your vehicular mess to rest — and each is available for less than $20 on Amazon.

7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time
7 Ways Coupons Waste Your Money and Time

Here’s why I hung up my scissors and quit clipping coupons.

It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things
It’s Worth Paying More for These 7 Things

Sometimes, the difference in quality makes it worthwhile to open your wallet a little wider.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon
9 Mistakes Everyone Makes When Shopping on Amazon

Are you losing money due to any of these missteps?

Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?
Can a Divorced Widow Claim Her First Husband’s Social Security Benefits?

The rules are complicated when it comes to eligibility for survivors benefits.

Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?
Can a Twice-Divorced Woman Claim Social Security Survivors Benefits?

Understanding survivors benefits rules is the key to getting the most from your benefit.

These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation
These Are the 10 Worst Cars for Depreciation

Two types of vehicles are especially likely to see steep plunges in value.

10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s
10 Things I Always Buy at Trader Joe’s

From snacks to sweets to side dishes, stock your cart with these time-tested favorites on your next TJ’s run.

9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again
9 Things You’ll Never See at Costco Again

The warehouse store offers an enormous selection, but these products aren’t coming back.

5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021
5 Ways Social Security Will Change in 2021

These adjustments will affect both workers and retirees in the new year.

11 ‘Disposable’ Items You Should Be Reusing
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores
8 Things You Should Buy at Restaurant Supply Stores

You don’t have to be a chef or a restaurant owner to shop here.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

There are easy high-paying majors available in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required. We’re here to help you find easy degrees that pay well.

Stop Buying These 19 Things Online
Stop Buying These 19 Things Online

The internet has changed how we shop. But for some things, you’re still better off buying the old-fashioned way.

Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early
Cut These 11 Expenses Now If You Hope to Retire Early

Like the idea of financial independence? Part of the FIRE equation is cutting costs.

27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free
27 Things You Should Never Pay For — and How to Get Them for Free

When you know the tricks, you can save big on all kinds of useful things that others pay for.

4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021
4 Tax Credits That Will Be More Generous in 2021

If you are eligible for these tax breaks, they will slash your federal income tax bill — dollar for dollar.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Food Supply

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing emergency food supply. Is your pantry well-prepared for emergencies? Knowing what to stock up on for emergencies can be a difficult task and we’re here to help.

15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home
15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home

These free movie streaming sites offer thousands of movies and TV shows, including recent releases and beloved classics. If you love free movies, online sites are where you need to look for the best list of features that are just one easy click away.

7 Reasons to Carry Mortgage Debt Into Retirement
7 Reasons to Carry Mortgage Debt Into Retirement

It often makes financial sense to not pay off your mortgage before retiring.

These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020
These Are the 4 Best Medicare Advantage Plans for 2020

Medicare Advantage customers themselves rate these plans highest.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.