July means summer has arrived in full force. But before you pack up and head out for your summer vacation, take the time to tackle these home maintenance chores, from water heater and driveway maintenance to cleaning drains and inspecting your crawlspace.
To-Do #1: Inspect and Drain Water Heater
It’s easy to neglect your water heater, since it’s often hidden in a closet or garage.
But inspecting and draining it annually is important because you can catch small problems before they become big ones and make the unit work more efficiently and last longer.
Start by checking the water lines and fittings on the water heater for leaks.
Next, check the pressure relief valve for leaks and test to make sure it works properly.
NOTE: Opening the relief valve will allow hot water to come out, so make sure a pipe is attached to the relief valve that directs the water either into the pan under the water heater or outside.
Next, drain the water heater to remove any sediment that has accumulated in the tank. Since sediment forms at the bottom of the tank, this can be done by placing a bucket under the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater, then open the spigot and drain out a gallon or two of water.
CAUTION: Water coming out of the drain valve will be hot, so be careful to avoid scalding.
For a more thorough cleaning, drain the water heater completely.
Draining a hot water heater:
- Turn off the power or gas to the water heater.
- Close the cold-water supply valve to the water heater.
- Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank, and run the hose outside.
- Open the water heater drain valve, followed by the pressure relief valve, and allow all the water to drain out of the tank.
- After the tank is empty, open the cold-water valve to flush out any remaining sediment.
- When the water coming out of the hose is clear, close the drain valve and pressure relief valve, and allow the tank to fill back up.
- Detach the garden hose, and turn the water heater back on.
Watch our video on How to Drain a Water Heater to find out more.
To-Do #2: Inspect and Repair Driveway
It’s important to repair any cracks or holes in your driveway to keep rainwater from filtering through and undermining the concrete or asphalt.
Start by inspecting your driveway and repair any cracks using the proper sealant or caulk.
Holes in a concrete driveway should be cleaned out and filled with new concrete. Smooth the concrete flush with the surface of the driveway, and allow it to harden completely before using.
You can also give new life to a concrete driveway by applying a thin layer of concrete on top of the existing driveway.
Watch our video on resurfacing a concrete driveway to find out more.
To patch a hole in an asphalt driveway:
- Remove any loose asphalt and dig out the damaged area.
- For repairs on the edge of a driveway, position a board even with the edge and flush with the top of the driveway to hold the asphalt patch material while it hardens.
- Pour crushed limestone in the bottom of the hole to act as a base, and tamp it down.
- Fill the hole with asphalt repair material, and tamp it down.
- Cover the asphalt patch with plywood, and drive over it to compact the patch further.
Watch our video on Patching a Hole in an Asphalt Driveway to find out more.
To-Do #3: Inspect Crawlspace Under House
If you have a crawlspace under your house, it’s important to make sure the ground is covered by a layer of thick (6 mil) plastic sheeting to prevent excess moisture, which can cause mold and rot to form on floor joists and flooring to warp and buckle.
Watch our video on reducing crawlspace moisture to find out more.
You should also avoid storing any paper, cardboard or wood under your house; and inspect the crawlspace periodically for termites and plumbing leaks.
To-Do #4: Replace Water and Icemaker Filters
The filter on water filtration systems and icemakers should be changed as recommended by the manufacturer, which for most filters is every six months.
When water filters aren’t changed regularly, the flow of water from the faucet can slow and mold may form inside the filter.
Most water filters are easy to replace, by turning off the water and removing the cover or pressing a release tab.
Be sure to take the old water filter, or the model and part number, with you to the home center so you can buy the right replacement filter.
Home water filter options include:
- Pitcher Water Filter: No installation needed. Simply pour water in the top of the pitcher, and put it in the refrigerator.
- Faucet Water Filter: Easy to install. Remove the faucet aerator and screw the filter unit on the end of a kitchen faucet. A valve directs water through the filter for drinking or through the faucet for other uses.
- Countertop Water Filter: Easy to install by attaching directly to the faucet nozzle. The larger filter lasts longer and isn’t in the way as much as faucet-mounted filters.
- Under-Sink Water Filter: Requires some plumbing to install in the cold water line under the sink. Can use a separate water dispenser installed next to the sink or connect directly to the faucet.
- Icemaker Water Filter: May come built into the refrigerator or can be installed in the icemaker water line.
- Whole House Water Filter: Expensive and requires plumbing work. Units are installed in the water line leading into your house and filter all the water in the home.
To-Do #5: Clean Bathroom Sink and Tub Drains
Hair and other debris can build up in bathroom drains, causing drains to run slow and result in clogging over time.
To clean tub or sink drains, start by removing the drain assembly or stopper, and clean with an old toothbrush and paper towels.
A drain stick, available at home centers, is the best way to remove hair and other debris from the drain.
Insert the drain stick into the drain, and use it to remove any material inside the drain pipe. Use paper towels to wipe off the drain stick.
After the debris has been removed, pour a cup of bleach down the drain, and let it sit for 15 minutes to kill any mold and mildew in the drain pipe.
Finally, flush the drain with hot water, and reinstall the drain assembly.
To-Do #6: Stock Up on Hurricane Supplies
If you live on or near the Eastern Seaboard or along the Gulf Coast of the United States, July is a good time to stock up on food, bottled water and other necessary household supplies in the event of a hurricane or other severe weather strikes.
Household hurricane supplies to have on hand include:
- First aid kit
- Nonperishable food and bottled water
- Battery-powered weather radio and AM/FM battery-powered radio
- Toilet paper, hand sanitizer and other toiletry items
- Flashlights, battery-powered lamps, and extra batteries
- Manual can opener
- Sunscreen and mosquito repellant
- Full gas cans
- Corded telephone
- Plastic sheeting or tarps
- Rope and duct tape
- Fire extinguisher
- Baby and pet supplies
Also, be sure to make copies of your important documents, including your homeowner’s insurance policy, and store them in a plastic bag for protection from water and to have on hand if you need to evacuate.