Homeowner Helpers: Time for a mid-summer check-up

Homeowner HelpersWe know you’d rather be outside enjoying the July weather, but a mid-summer check-up and maintenance of your home will keep it in good health and help reduce those potentially costly future repairs.

Our mid-summer list is a DIY one. But, if you feel you need professional expertise — or really just can’t resist the lure of the deck — check our directory of reliable maintenance, repair and service companies in the Ottawa area.


In a climate like Ottawa’s, you don’t need to be adding humidity to your indoor air in the summer. Make sure you’ve turned it off, cleaned it and closed the damper. Check your owner’s manual on maintaining the humidifier or follow these steps.


A dehumidifier in the basement helps keep the inside dry when humidity soars outside, particularly if you don’t have an air conditioner to take on that task. That’s important because excess humidity is a risk factor for everything from mould to swollen doors and windows that don’t close properly. Here’s how to choose the right sized dehumidifier for your circumstances.


This is a no-effort task: leaving interior doors open promotes better air circulation through your home, thereby reducing stuffiness as well as the risk of mould.

Wood flooring

Wood absorbs moisture from the air, and excess moisture inside your home on very humid days can cause hardwood floors to swell. That can lead to cupping and other damage. A hygrometer (starting around $25 at big box stores) measures interior relative humidity so you can adjust your dehumidifier if necessary. Remember: keep your windows closed on hot, humid days to keep the moisture outside.


Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are used in the bathroom, outside and other areas where water could cause a severe, even fatal, electric shock. They should be checked once a month. Just press the “test” button, which will be followed by an audible click. Plug a lamp or radio into each half of the outlet. If the device doesn’t turn on, the GFCI is in good working order, and you can press the “reset” button to return it to operating status. If the device does turn on after you’ve pressed the “test” button, get the switch replaced immediately and do not use the outlet until you’ve done so.

Wall vents

Wood floors don’t like heat and humidity, but vegetation does. Now is the time to check dryer and other vents for blockage by plants, nests and debris. Choked off vents reduce the efficiency of your home’s mechanical systems and are a fire and health risk. Remember, too, to keep the area around your central air conditioner free of vegetation so it can shed the heat it extracts from your home.


Summer dust and rain can dirty your windows in no time. Cleaning them is a DIY project, as you’ll discover in our ultimate guide to window cleaning.

Window wells

Window wells are designed to drain, but intense summer rain can fill them up quickly if they haven’t been properly maintained. The result: damage to your basement, including the insulation. Check for leaves and other debris that prevent the window wells from draining properly. A translucent window well cover, available at building materials stores, lets in the light but not the water.


Now is a good time to check the grading around your foundation. The soil can settle, especially with a recently constructed home, and that may lead to water flowing toward your foundation instead of away from it. The correct grading for a home is a drop of two to three inches for every 10 feet. Remember not to cover your entire foundation when regrading because that can lead to flooding — about six inches is the commonly accepted exposure. More on grading.

Got a maintenance task you’re not sure how to do?
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