Bob Vila's 10 "Must Do" August Projects

We're well into the dog days of summer, and as temperatures (and energy bills) soar, there are plenty of household chores to tackle—both indoors and out. This month, take a few steps toward greater energy efficiency by maintaining your major appliances, then have some fun making a couple of minor improvements to your outdoor space. Read on for my top projects for August.

  1. Clean the Air Conditioner

    Air Conditioner Maintenance

    The summer heat can put strain on your air conditioning unit, causing spikes in electricity bills, or worse, costly repairs. But if you give your HVAC system a little TLC, it will reward you with years of continued service. Change out the disposable air filter on your air conditioner and give the condenser fan a good cleaning to keep it in peak condition.

    Related: The 1-Hour Home Energy Audit That Can Save You Money Every Month

  2. Tidy Up

    Organize the Garage

    Kick seasonal clutter to the curb—or at least find a way to store it neatly. When shelves and drawers are in disorder, it usually means you have too much on hand. Take some time to go through your stuff, saving what you need and donating what you don't. For additional help, consider some budget-friendly garage organizers like these.

    Related: Organize Your Garden Gear with 11 Crucial Buys

  3. Check the Deck

    Deck Maintenance

    From summer barbecues to seasonal storms, your deck weathers it all. If yours is looking a little worse for wear, give it a boost with some light maintenance. First, sweep and rinse away dirt, debris, and mildew. Then, check for loose boards or nail pops. Finally, replace boards as needed and give the surface a coat of stain and sealer. Now it's ready for more memorable summer fun.

    Related: 9 Creative Ways to Build a Backyard Hangout

  4. Prevent Mold

    Cleaning Bathroom Exhaust Fan

    Your bathroom exhaust fan works hard, pumping humid air out of your home and preventing mold and mildew. Give it a quick tune-up to extend its life. Turn off power to the fan and vacuum away the dust. Then, remove the vent cover and wash it with mild soap and water. Check all the parts to make sure they're running, and replace any damaged ones as needed.

    Related: The Dark, Dirty Truth About Household Mold (and How to Rid Yourself of It)

  5. Save Seeds

    Saving Garden Seeds

    Backyard gardeners, take note: This year's harvest could feed your household all through next summer. Save your seeds now, and you'll have everything you need for next spring's veggie garden. If you're new to saving seeds, check out this quick tutorial.

    Related: 10 Easy-to-Grow Vegetables for Beginning Gardeners

  6. Clean the Fridge

    Test Refrigerator Gaskets

    It takes a lot of electricity to cool a full-size refrigerator, so the last thing you want is a leaky door seal. Clean the gaskets with mild soap and water, then check for cracks and tears. If you find any, or if the seal on the doors is weak, it's probably time to replace the gaskets. 

    Related: How To—Clean Any Appliance

  7. Do Something Small

    Painting the Railing

    With fall on the horizon, it's a good idea to wrap up any lingering summer projects. If you've committed to finally fixing that squeaky door hinge or repainting the banister, finish the job now and cross it off your to-do list. You'll feel refreshed knowing that you're starting off the new season in an organized and proactive way. 

    Related: Easy Storage Ideas for Every Room in the House

  8. Build a Birdbath

    DIY Bird Bath

    Invite birds to your backyard by making them a welcoming birdbath. They're simple to build, and the design options are as limitless as your imagination. Plus, there's something in it for you: Birds serve as a natural pest control, feasting on all sorts of insects that might otherwise overrun your yard.

    Related: Wing It—16 Approaches to a DIY Birdbath

  9. Remove Thatch

    Healthy Lawn

    Thatch is a layer of plant material that builds up between the soil and grass. In small amounts it can be beneficial to your lawn, but too much can damage the turf. By late August, cool-season grass can benefit from dethatching. Using a thatch rake or a power rake, comb away thatch from the lawn. Afterwards, apply a thin layer of fertilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions.

    Related: 7 Remedies to Rescue a Dying Lawn

  10. Learn a New Skill

    Plumbing Repairs

    Mastering the art of home improvement can save lots of money that you might otherwise spend on hiring a contractor. This month, invest in yourself by picking up a new skill. Many hardware stores offer free summer classes that cover the basics of plumbing, tiling, or even fence building. For more specialized projects, try an online video course.

    Related: 30 Things Every Homeowner Should Know How to Do

  11. Don't Miss!


    If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!