For Northwest "wet-siders," July and August offer the year's most reliable opportunity to tackle chores best done during dry weather. As you're planning your work vs. play weekends, consider finding a spot on your to-do list for these routine maintenance tasks:
Repaint weathered siding.
While your exterior paint may not be ready for a complete re-do, many homes can benefit from a protective coat of fresh paint on the side of the home most exposed to sun fading or wind-driven rain. Before you put brush to siding, though, clean the surface gently with a product formulated for your type of siding to remove dirt and mildew. "Gentle" is the key word. Use your garden hose rather than a pressure washer, since an overly aggressive setting can damage siding. Read manufacturer directions carefully to ensure the cleaner is properly diluted to avoid harm to surfaces and plants.
Replace peeling caulk.
If your paint inspection reveals shrunken or peeling caulk around windows and seams, summer is a great time to replace it. As with paint, apply caulk in dry conditions (no heavy coat of morning dew) when the overnight temperature is unlikely to drop below 50 degrees. Silicone caulk is more forgiving than latex when it comes to temperature, and can be applied almost anytime as long as it's dry.
Check fascia boards and rafter tails for signs of rot.
Overflowing gutters can cause paint to peel and expose wood to water damage, causing rot. Other spots to check: siding, trim and, to eliminate fall hazards from structural collapse, wooden steps, deck surfaces and railings. For most homeowners, replacing them is not a DIY job. Consult a general contractor or roofing specialist for repair options.
Replace damaged gutters and downspouts.
Before the rains of fall return, replace any misaligned gutters (that overflow even when clean) or that have been damaged by falling branches or normal aging. According to International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the average life of a galvanized steel gutter system is 20+ years, 20 to 40+ for aluminum, 25+ for vinyl and 50+ for copper. Check out their Standard Estimated Life Expectancy Chart for Homes showing how long you can expect parts of your home to last.
Remedy uneven concrete.
Over time, roots can push up sections of concrete, creating tripping hazards on driveways and sidewalks. Before attempting any fix, confirm ownership of both the tree and sidewalk and whether you, your homeowners association or the city is responsible for maintenance. If it's you, consult a landscaper or arborist for options to deal with tree roots, short of removing the tree. If it's possible to cut away the problem roots without jeopardizing the tree, a root barrier can be installed to redirect future root growth. If sidewalk buckling is slight, the simplest solution may be grinding down the protruding edge to match the rest of the pavement. A paving specialist can confirm whether (cheaper) repair or releveling is an alternative to replacement.
Check outdoor play equipment.
Make sure swings, slides and climbing structures are still sturdy now that they're getting more frequent use.
Fortify your lawn to survive the driest days of summer.
Core aeration, which removes plugs of soil, allows better water penetration from summer rains and routine sprinkling. Set sprinklers to water deeply once or twice a week to encourage strong root growth, adjust the mower height so you remove no more than one-third of the blade with each mowing and choose fertilizer formulated for summer feedings, since heat-stressed grass is more susceptible to fertilizer burn. If your lawn has developed bare spots, overseed with an all-in-one grass-patch mixture (which includes seeds, planting medium and fertilizer) formulated for your conditions. We're fans of green lawns for wildfire protection, but we understand that in areas with water-supply concerns, you may need to let your lawn go dormant.
Stay alert to wildfire danger.
While you probably removed winterkill brush last spring, take care not to let newly dried tall grass or woody combustibles provide fuel for a wildfire. Here's how to give your home a protective buffer.