August Home Maintenance and Safety Checklist

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The dog days of summer have officially arrived, and it’s too hot to do much outside, so we’ll focus on prepping indoor areas for the start of school. If changing schedules are making your life hurried, don’t despair about doing it all. Just pick the list items with five owls to ensure you’re completing the most vital tasks for now, and you’ll still be ahead of the class.

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Prepare for weather woes in August

Even though temps usually start dipping in August, there are still plenty of extreme weather events to watch out for as summer winds down. 

  • Prep for floods: We've all seen headlines about disastrous flooding in Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania and more. August is usually the wettest time for many southern states and Alaska—but its clear that flooding is spreading across the country. Learn what to do during a flash flood warning.
  • Prep for tornadoes: Tornado risk is higher in August for the Midwest, the Northern Plains, and parts of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Learn what tornado warnings mean and what to do if there's one in your area.
  • Prep for hurricanes: If you live in the Atlantic, hurricane season is just ramping up. Prepare now so you're ready if a big storm hits your area this month.

1. Kitchen cleanup

Scrub out the microwave 

Six months of nuked canned chili isn't appetizing anyone. Cleaning the microwave the easy way by putting a bowl of water inside and warming it for a minute. The steam will make it easier to scrub off all those caked-on leftovers.

Deep clean the stovetop and oven 

Remove guards and burner covers to give them a good scrub and polish to make your stovetop shine. Choose a cool day to use the self-clean setting on your oven before things heat up.

Clean the garbage disposal 

If you’re standing near the sink and wondering what that smell is, your disposal is the culprit. Ensure the disposal is safely disconnected and then eliminate all that food waste with a good scrub and disinfectant.

2. Create a safety kit for your kids

Whether your kids are going back to school or entering a classroom for the first time, August is the perfect time to update your collection of records for them.

Keep an up-to-date description and important information about your child handy in case of an incident. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a printable child ID kit that can help.

You might also want to consider a GPS tracker for kiddos heading to school alone for the first time.

3. Upgrade bedrooms and living areas

Deep clean your carpets 

Shifting furniture to cover that spot that just won’t come out is a rookie move. Rent or use your own steam cleaner to shampoo carpets before cooler weather hits.

Organize the mudroom 

When school starts, your entryway will become ground zero for backpacks, coats, and all manner of mess. Start the season off organized and cut down on the inevitable chaos of back-to-school schedules.

Upgrade to energy-efficient bulbs 

If you haven’t upgraded your lightbulbs to new, energy-saving compact fluorescents, there’s no time like the present. These bulbs also last longer, so less work for you means this is a win-win.

Tighten and lubricate door hinges 

Squeaking isn’t necessarily a problem, but it sure is obnoxious. Fixing that annoyance is as simple as a little grease and a turn of the screw.

4. Check the basement

Inspect the basement and crawl spaces for moisture

You might not have been down here since you stowed away your holiday decorations, so it’s time to revisit crawl spaces and your basement. Suspicious moisture could indicate leaking pipes or water damage that’ll undermine your foundation.

Test and reset Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) in outlets and check cords

Confused? Don’t be. These are the little buttons on your outlets that allow you to reset the connection. Make sure they’re working and check for any loose cords on electronics that could be potential fire hazards.

Remove water heater residue 

Twice a year, check your water heater for residue. If you notice sediment buildup, you can drain the tank and flush it per the instructions in this video tutorial.

5. Remove and clean shower heads 

Drip, drip, drip. Your shower heads are constantly handling spotting and sediment from water, so give them a good soak in a vinegar bath to remove hard water stains and gunk. Removing showerheads is usually as simple as turning a few screws, but consult the fixture manufacturer’s website for details if you get stuck.

6. Test and change detector batteries 

These important safety devices don’t do much if they aren’t charged and connected, so test both your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Stock up on those AAs and get it done. Earplugs required.

7. Upgrade the outside

Maintain yard growth 

This sounds easy, but come August, keeping your lawn green will be a serious challenge. Adjust sprinklers and system times to ensure your lawn’s brown spots are kept to a minimum. Depending on where you live, a dry lawn can be a danger during wildfire season.

Mend cracks and gaps in driveways and walkways

If you didn’t get to it earlier this year, this is your last chance to fix some of these gaps before the cold weather drives a wedge in things.

Get all your tasks taken care of before the summer is gone by scheduling a task per day on your calendar. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to fall in love with another season in your well-maintained home.

Rebecca Edwards
Written by
Rebecca Edwards
Rebecca is the lead safety reporter and in-house expert for She has been a journalist and blogger for over 25 years, with a focus on home and community safety for the past decade. Rebecca spends dozens of hours every month poring over crime and safety reports and spotting trends. Her expertise is sought after by publications, broadcast journalists, non-profit organizations, podcasts, and more. You can find her expert advice and analysis in places like NPR, TechCrunch, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Miami Herald, HGTV, MSN, Reader's Digest, Real Simple, and an ever-growing library of podcast, radio and TV clips in the US and abroad.

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