July Weekend Home Improvement Projects

Tips to get your home in tip top shape for the season

Summer is in full swing, and it's time to get busy with home improvement projects during the warmest season of the year. July is here, but you can celebrate your independence with these July weekend to-do projects.

Weekend #1: Fix Cracks and Gaps
Cracks and gaps in sidewalks and driveways can prove to be a big trip and fall hazard, as well as deter from your home's curb appeal.  Thankfully, it is very simple to repair that windy system of cracks the cement has developed over the years. 

First, examine the crack you are repairing.  If the crack has tapered sides, chisel the sides a bit to create straight edges so the patching compound can better adhere.  Be sure to wear safety glasses and work carefully with chisels.  If the crack is very deep, consider adding hardened nails into the crack to ensure the patching compound really grabs hold and does its job. 

July Weekend Home Improvement ProjectsNever patch concrete with more concrete.  You are better off with a specially formulated concrete patching compound which is designed to stick and hold up to lots of freeze/thaw cycles.  Follow the mixing directions exactly, making sure you only mix up enough concrete patching compound to use in about 15 minutes time.  Apply the patching compound early in the morning so it has a chance to cure before the hot sun causes some shrinking.  Once the patching compound starts to set, smooth the surface with a finishing tool to help it better blend into its surroundings. 

After you are satisfied with your concrete patching work, cover the patched area with a piece of plastic, making sure it will not blow away or get moisture underneath it. Let the concrete cure for about 3 days.

Weekend #2:  Fence repair
In many ways, your fence contains all that you love; your family, your pets, your home, and your guarded power tools!  But eventually, exposure to the elements and time can lead to deterioration of the fence.  Take a walk around your property and examine all of your fence's posts, rails, and fencing.  Make a list of all the necessary fence improvement needed and address each issue. 

Fencing can easily be removed with a pry bar and replaced if there are pieces that are too damaged to be restored.  Damaged or loose fence rails can be reinforced by securing 2 x 4 cleats to the rail and the post using nails.  If the rail is beyond repair, you can reinforce it with a sister rail attached either above or below the damaged rail, securing it with bolts that are long enough to go through both rails.  The sister rail can span the entire rail or just cover the damaged area. 

If any posts are leaning or loose, remove the rails and fencing surrounding that post and dig around the post. If the post is set in dirt, fill in around the post until it is level again. If the post is secured in concrete, break up the concrete with a sledge hammer and remove the broken up pieces.  Don't forget to wear your safety glasses for this improvement! Then pour new concrete after you have straightened the post.  Follow up all your repair work with a good cleaning, then add a fresh coat of paint or stain. Your fence will be as good as new!

Weekend #3:  Know your septic system
Many homes in America have a septic system.  A septic system is like your own sewage processing facility right on your property.  All waste waters enter the septic tank and are then separated by density, allowing the liquids to flow into the drain field and the solids to remain in the tank.  The tank should be pumped every few years, depending on the size of the tank and the amount of people who use the system.  The liquids entering the drain fields are then filtered through gravel and soil cleaning it as it makes its way to the ground water. 

Draw a map detailing the location of the septic tank system and the drain fields so everyone knows exactly where things are when you decide to add a pool or deck. Never pour grease or oils down the drain.  If you have a garbage disposal, keep in mind that pumping of the septic tank may need to occur more frequently.  Keep surface waters away from the tank and drain field.  Don't place heavy yard equipment on the system area itself.  Be smart about your septic system to help keep the delicate balance working cleanly and efficiently.


July Weekend Home Improvement ProjectsWeekend #4:  Home Improvements to maintain windows and doors during humidity
Summer is great for so many reasons, from the beach to the barbecues, but one thing that is most bothersome about the summer is humidity.  Not only can it make you feel very uncomfortable, it can also wreak havoc on your home's windows and doors.  The excess moisture causes the wood to swell and expand, and can make the operation of these entries a bit sticky. 

Check and make sure that all doors are operating smoothly.  Tighten any hinge screws and hardware that may have come loose.  Lubricate the hinges with WD-40; even place some on the key to help the lock work better.  Double check weather stripping and replace any damaged pieces to keep that valuable cool air indoors. 

For the windows around the house, improvement should include cleaning any dirt and debris you see on the sill, tracks, and hinges.  Since you likely have the windows open this time of year, double check that screens are secure, and add child safety bars if you have young children. Remember; screens are meant to keep bugs out, not kids in.  Check and tighten any loose screws on the window hardware.  Remember that window treatments can go a long way on helping to keep a house cool; keep the drapes closed on the south and west facing sides of the house to stop the sun from even getting inside.