Five Things to Do to Prepare Your Home for the Summer Heat

We have weeks to go before sweltering temperatures, hurricane warnings and insect outbreaks. And this year is expected to be especially hot in many areas. Before summer is in full swing, make sure you and your home are ready.

Check your air conditioner

It’s time to make sure your air conditioner is in perfect working order. If you test your HVAC system today and find it is not working as it should, you will need time to come up with a solution before the weather gets unbearable.

First, replace the air filter to make sure the entire system is working smoothly. Remove any debris from or around the vents and exhaust openings, and remove dirt from the outside of the main unit. From there, test the module itself to make sure it gets the job done. says you can just leave your air conditioner on while you’re away and check it out. This should help, but if you’re looking for a more detailed test, you can turn on the device and check its effectiveness with a simple thermometer. The family handyman explains :

… install the thermometer in the power register closest to the internal cooling equipment. Leave it there for five minutes and note the temperature. Do the same with the return hole. The outgoing air should be 14-20 degrees colder than the incoming air. An air conditioner that does not cool to these levels may have low refrigerant levels or leaks. A block cooling over 20 degrees may have severe blockage.

If your device is not working properly or is ineffective, it might be time to call a technician. They will check the unit itself and check your air ducts for possible leaks.

If you don’t already have a programmable thermostat , this might be a good time to grab a snack and invest in one. You may also want to consider a smart thermostat that thinks (and programs) for you to save energy and keep you comfortable . Depending on how often you use your air conditioner in the summer, you can cut your electricity bills slightly. If your AC unit is more than 15-20 years old, you may want to consider replacing it with a more energy efficient Energy Star unit (bonus: you get a tax credit ).

If this is your first time installing a window air conditioner, it is probably easiest and safest to go to a professional. If you want to do it yourself, the instructions will differ depending on the device and which window you are working with. Typically, however, you will need to fit the extension cords around the unit, secure it with brackets and top pane of glass, then secure the extension cords and seal the unit. Here are more detailed instructions.

Checking for ventilation leaks

Your air conditioner works efficiently – great! However, if your home is leaking, it doesn’t really matter, because ideally cooled air slowly escapes. You can call a specialist, but it’s easy enough to do your own energy audit at home first.

First, look for real leaks: drafts in windows and doors. If you find any leaks, you can seal them with caulk and weather stripping . Speaking of windows, MyHomeIdeas offers several add-ons that they remain cool: reflective film, curtains sunscreen fabric roller blinds.

If you’ve never checked the insulation of an attic or basement in your home, it may have thickened over the years , which means it doesn’t cover everything it should. Check the insulation for leaks and breaks . Former Lifehacker Timothy Dahl invites you to inspect pipes and ducts in particular and fill those areas using expanding foam. You should also make sure that the attic floor is insulated without blocking the vents. When it comes to adding a lot of your own insulation, keep in mind: this can be pretty messy work .

Establish a barrier to error

Summer weather seems to bring out insects, and San Joaquin Pest Control explains why :

For the most part, many bugs and insects hibernate during the colder months. Other insects migrate to a warm place to ride out the colder months. Still others decide that the best way to stay out of the cold is to camp at home. You may see more insects in your home during the winter months, although many of them build their homes inside walls and attics where you are unlikely to run into them … Once it starts to heat up, insects in the summer will begin to accumulate in your area.

In my old apartment, we got an influx of ants every year. If you don’t have a homeowner to take care of the pest control, or just want to do it yourself, there are several ways to prevent insects from emerging .

First, make sure everything is tightly closed. And if you’ve checked for leaks, you’ve already done so. Check the tightness of windows and doors, then seal drafts and gaps with a new gasket and sealant. Spray the outside perimeter with pesticide, as well as baseboards, sinks, windows, and doors. There are also certain options for creating an insect barrier, such as Ortho Home Defense and Raid Bug Barrier .

Read all applicable pesticide warnings and make sure your pets are not exposed to it. Making a natural repellent with your own hands is easy enough , and Apartment Therapy offers a simple solution .

Change the direction of the ceiling fan

Yes, your ceiling fan may spin differently depending on the season . During the winter months, it should rotate clockwise to help distribute the rising heat. In summer, however, you should run the fan counterclockwise at higher speeds to get a light breeze.

Check which direction the fans in your home are moving and, if necessary, press the small black switch next to the base to change direction.

Prevent water damage

Summer weather isn’t just hot and sticky. It can also be stormy and sometimes dangerous. For example, during the summer months there is a hurricane season, and often floods with it. Make sure your home is secure, and as the Quick and Dirty Tips points out, it starts with your foundation:

check your basement for cracks and leaks. Add dirt or grates outside the house to drain water away from the foundation. If the dirt you currently have has settled around your home, water will flow to your home. Typically, a one inch per foot grate provides adequate drainage.

Again, make sure your windows and doors are properly sealed and caulked. You should also check your gutters. Plug in a garden hose and place it in the gutter to let the water drain. Then go around the perimeter of the house and check the gutter. Look for water coming out of where it shouldn’t be. You should also check your gutters for sinkholes or sinkholes that could trap water near your home.

Inspect your roof to make sure it’s in good working order (while you’re at the top, remove all debris and leaves). You can call a professional, but if you want to do it yourself, HouseLogic will list a few issues to look out for:

  • Cracked sealant or rust stains on the frame.
  • Shingles that buckles, curls, or swells.
  • Missing or broken shingles.
  • Worn and cracked rubber boots around the ventilation pipes.
  • Chimney plug missing or damaged …
  • A mass of moss and lichen that can signal decomposition of the roof underneath. Black algae stains are purely cosmetic.

You can also check your indoor ceiling for the first signs of a leak. You may notice dark water spots or paint peeling. If you do find a leak, you should call a professional as soon as possible, especially if you live in an area that has been badly hit by summer rain.

It’s time to make some changes to your home to prepare for extreme weather. With a few tweaks and checks, it’s easy enough to make sure you’re in good shape by summer.

Illustration by Sam Woolley


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