Safer Outdoor Living Through Home Maintenance

deckIt’s the season to enjoy the outdoors, whether that means a barbecue or relaxing by the pool or enjoying the view from your deck. Summer can be a wonderful time to kick back.

Those outdoor areas are part of your home that need maintenance just as much as your furnace or appliances do. Weather and time can create small problems that are readily fixed. Left untended, small problems can become big opportunities for accidents.

Let’s look at a few of the most likely areas where a bit of maintenance can go a long way toward safety and enjoyment. We will cover decks in a later post.

  • steps
  • shelter
  • furniture
  • grill

stepsSteps

Steps may be part of your deck. There may also be steps leading to other parts of your yard or other entry doors. All exterior steps need to be checked for safety at least annually.  One often-overlooked factor is good lighting. Is there adequate light near the steps so they can be seen clearly at night?

  • Lighting
    If folks ever use the steps at night, adequate lighting makes all the difference between convenience and catastrophe. Check that the lights, be they solar or electric, are still in working order.
  • Stability
    Wobbly steps are not safe. If your step moves underfoot, investigate why and fix the problem.
    If the step is stone on ground, perhaps erosion has removed some of its support.
    If the step is wood or metal on a stairway structure, perhaps the supporting structure is damaged.
  • Surface integrity
    Whatever material your steps are made of, the surface is exposed to the weather. It may rot, corrode, or pit and flake.
    Quick Fixes: Some surface issues can be solved with sanding and paint or other sealant.
    Replacement Needed: Concrete that is disintegrating or wood that is rotting will need to be replaced.
  • Appearance
    This is the least important as a safety issue but possibly the most noticeable to you and your guests. Steps should be a visually appealing feature of your home. If they don’t look good, and the issue is just cosmetic, try repainting, resealing, or resurfacing as appropriate.

gazeboShelter

Here we are talking about awnings, gazebos, porches, pergolas, or other shade or shelter structures outside your home. It can be easy not to really see how these shelters look. Stand back and really see the shelter. Does it look well-tended? Is it still attractive? Or does it need some TLC to bring it back up to its original charm?

  • Safety
    Structural soundness is critical. The usual culprits of weather, wind, and wear and tear can loosen structures or introduce rot. Just as you check your deck for loose or sagging portions, other shelters should be checked and repaired or replaced as needed.
  • Appearance
    Any of these might be needed over time. Here your own tastes are the guide. Appearance is not a safety issue.
    A fresh coat of stain or paint or sealant
    New material in awnings or shade umbrellas
    Landscaping improvements

Furniture

Outside furniture runs the gamut from lawn chairs to benches, tables, rugs, and storage pieces. Again, there are safety issues to watch for and there are maintenance tasks that will improve the appearance of the pieces.

  • Safety
    Time, rain, and sun can weaken and damage your furniture to the point that fabric weakens, joints loosen, fasteners fall off, etc. If the picnic table is warped and splintering, it is not a safe surface for eating or sitting.
    Some of these problems are easily fixed with new fasteners, new fabric, or a good sanding. But sometimes a piece is simply past repair and needs replacement. Take the time to really see your outdoor furniture so you can assess whether the piece is in need of repair or replacement.
  • Appearance
    Power-washing can be helpful for some sturdier pieces.
    Simple washing with a sponge and a bucket also helps any furniture, sturdy or delicate.
    If the piece is painted, new paint can work wonders.

Grill

Grilling is central to outdoor enjoyment. Grill safety should be, too.

With grills, safety is the main concern, though cleanliness and appearance also matter.

  • Insects
    Opening the grill to find a wasp nest is no-one’s idea of a good time.
    A blocked fuel line is not only annoying but can be dangerous.
  • Grease
    A grease-filled grill can be a fire hazard in ways not meant for cooking dinner.
    Grease can also encourage insects and mold – neither of which enhance the food!
  • Placement
    Check that your grill is a safe distance from your house so its heat does not damage the siding.
    If it is on a flammable surface (like a wooden deck), consider putting a safety mat under it to catch any embers that might escape.

A bit of watchful care will keep your home’s outdoor areas enjoyable and safer. There’s real peace of mind in that.

Download our Home Maintenance Schedule to keep up on home maintenance tasks.

Download home maintenance schedule

deckIt’s the season to enjoy the outdoors, whether that means a barbecue or relaxing by the pool or enjoying the view from your deck. Summer can be a wonderful time to kick back.

Those outdoor areas are part of your home that need maintenance just as much as your furnace or appliances do. Weather and time can create small problems that are readily fixed. Left untended, small problems can become big opportunities for accidents.

Let’s look at a few of the most likely areas where a bit of maintenance can go a long way toward safety and enjoyment. We will cover decks in a later post.

  • steps
  • shelter
  • furniture
  • grill

stepsSteps

Steps may be part of your deck. There may also be steps leading to other parts of your yard or other entry doors. All exterior steps need to be checked for safety at least annually.  One often-overlooked factor is good lighting. Is there adequate light near the steps so they can be seen clearly at night?

  • Lighting
    If folks ever use the steps at night, adequate lighting makes all the difference between convenience and catastrophe. Check that the lights, be they solar or electric, are still in working order.
  • Stability
    Wobbly steps are not safe. If your step moves underfoot, investigate why and fix the problem.
    If the step is stone on ground, perhaps erosion has removed some of its support.
    If the step is wood or metal on a stairway structure, perhaps the supporting structure is damaged.
  • Surface integrity
    Whatever material your steps are made of, the surface is exposed to the weather. It may rot, corrode, or pit and flake.
    Quick Fixes: Some surface issues can be solved with sanding and paint or other sealant.
    Replacement Needed: Concrete that is disintegrating or wood that is rotting will need to be replaced.
  • Appearance
    This is the least important as a safety issue but possibly the most noticeable to you and your guests. Steps should be a visually appealing feature of your home. If they don’t look good, and the issue is just cosmetic, try repainting, resealing, or resurfacing as appropriate.

gazeboShelter

Here we are talking about awnings, gazebos, porches, pergolas, or other shade or shelter structures outside your home. It can be easy not to really see how these shelters look. Stand back and really see the shelter. Does it look well-tended? Is it still attractive? Or does it need some TLC to bring it back up to its original charm?

  • Safety
    Structural soundness is critical. The usual culprits of weather, wind, and wear and tear can loosen structures or introduce rot. Just as you check your deck for loose or sagging portions, other shelters should be checked and repaired or replaced as needed.
  • Appearance
    Any of these might be needed over time. Here your own tastes are the guide. Appearance is not a safety issue.
    A fresh coat of stain or paint or sealant
    New material in awnings or shade umbrellas
    Landscaping improvements

Furniture

Outside furniture runs the gamut from lawn chairs to benches, tables, rugs, and storage pieces. Again, there are safety issues to watch for and there are maintenance tasks that will improve the appearance of the pieces.

  • Safety
    Time, rain, and sun can weaken and damage your furniture to the point that fabric weakens, joints loosen, fasteners fall off, etc. If the picnic table is warped and splintering, it is not a safe surface for eating or sitting.
    Some of these problems are easily fixed with new fasteners, new fabric, or a good sanding. But sometimes a piece is simply past repair and needs replacement. Take the time to really see your outdoor furniture so you can assess whether the piece is in need of repair or replacement.
  • Appearance
    Power-washing can be helpful for some sturdier pieces.
    Simple washing with a sponge and a bucket also helps any furniture, sturdy or delicate.
    If the piece is painted, new paint can work wonders.

Grill

Grilling is central to outdoor enjoyment. Grill safety should be, too.

With grills, safety is the main concern, though cleanliness and appearance also matter.

  • Insects
    Opening the grill to find a wasp nest is no-one’s idea of a good time.
    A blocked fuel line is not only annoying but can be dangerous.
  • Grease
    A grease-filled grill can be a fire hazard in ways not meant for cooking dinner.
    Grease can also encourage insects and mold – neither of which enhance the food!
  • Placement
    Check that your grill is a safe distance from your house so its heat does not damage the siding.
    If it is on a flammable surface (like a wooden deck), consider putting a safety mat under it to catch any embers that might escape.

A bit of watchful care will keep your home’s outdoor areas enjoyable and safer. There’s real peace of mind in that.

Download our Home Maintenance Schedule to keep up on home maintenance tasks.

Download home maintenance schedule