How Your House Can Beat the Scorching Summer Heat

As a red Hawkeye sun shoots down scorching rays on another humid 90-degree July day, you start seeing funny things … 

It’s so hot in Iowa today I saw a police officer chasing a bank robber. They were both walking. 

It’s so hot in Iowa today the devil was spotted in Wal-Mart buying an air conditioner.

It’s so hot in Iowa today you can wash and dry your clothes at the same time. 

It’s so hot in Iowa today that by the time I brought home the bread I bought at Hy-Vee, it was already toast. 

It’s so hot in Iowa today I saw a funeral procession pull through a Dairy Queen.

Semi-seriously, folks, it’s been a sizzler of an Iowa summer so far and we haven’t reached the dog days of the season. In most parts of Eastern Iowa, the heat index climbed to 110 or hotter on Saturday, July 18. While our homes continue to stand tall in the heat, they take a searing beating from the heat. Extreme climates of any kind can potentially cause damage to the interior and exterior of your house. 

“Homeowners beware: Summer does not mean vacation when it comes to your house,” Coldwell Banker home maintenance writer William Dukes cautions.

Here are four specific areas of your home susceptible to extreme heat and how to keep them cool under the scorching summer sun:

The Foundation

Extreme summer heat can have your family living on shaky ground.

Especially for older homes, foundations are in danger of weakening, shifting or collapsing due to the drying nature of heat. Foundations are designed to use the surrounding soil as a continuous support system. As the ground heats up, the soil will shrink and the moisture will evaporate, causing the soil to separate from the footing, potentially damaging the foundation. 

The Key to Beating the Heat: Consistent moisture is essential to a healthy home foundation. A dry foundation is a foundation at risk.

A sprinkler system can strengthen and uniform the moisture of a home’s foundation. Also, evaluate your landscaping. Make sure no large trees are close to the house as trees draw up moisture through the earth and can create drought-like conditions in areas surrounding their roots in times of decreased moisture – such as a string of dry, extremely hot July days.

The Roof

The MVP of your home’s weather defense systems takes a full-on, sunscreen-less beating from the sun every summer. Roofs are highly susceptible to heat damage. High temperatures can cause your roof to expand and warp, leading shingles to crack and leak. Heat can also suck the life of caulk around flashing and weaken roofs structurally. 

Also, summer heat targets attics, which are often not built with strong airflow and are usually the hottest part of the house. Humidity also builds up in attics. The excessive heat can cause the roof shingles to deteriorate at an accelerated pace. 

The Keys to Beating the Heat: Installing Vapor Barriers can protect your roof by decreasing moisture. Coating and sealing the roof to protect against harmful UV rays, choosing a lighter color for the roof and scheduling regular maintenance checks can make sure your roof is ready to handle whatever heat inferno summer throws its way.

For attics, properly maintained ducts and ventilation can reduce excess heat and moisture. 

Hardwood Floors

Summer’s intense humidity takes no prisoners. Hardwood floors can fall victim to heat stroke just like people. Hardwood floors can warp under the pressure of the sun as wood expands and absorbs moisture. As floors warp, the edges of the floorboards push upward, creating an uneven surface. Floors can also buckle under intense heat, pulling up and away from the subfloor entirely. 

The prolonged humidity of summer can also cause floors to crack and create permanent damage.

The Key to Beating the Heat: Whole-Home Dehumidifiers can assist in in regulating the humidity levels throughout the entire house. The ideal humidity level for homes with hardwood floors is between 35 and 55 percent. Running your vents during extremely humid days will help preserve the integrity of your floor.  

Remember to use minimal water when cleaning your floors. Summer’s higher humidity levels can slow the evaporation process, leaving water on your floor longer than usual, giving it more time to absorb into the floorboards. 


Incorrectly sealed pipes are toast when trying to withstand the intensity of summer’s heat. They are likely to leak or even burst when withstanding high water usage and pressure from swimming pools, garden hoses, automatic sprinklers and daily operations.

The Key to Beating the Heat: Calling in a professional plumber to inspect the caulking and sealing around your pipes every summer can keep your pipes secure and safe. 

Remember, the performance of your home’s pipes is directly tied to the state of your home’s foundation. The excessive drying that occurs during dry, hot summers can cause shifts in and around your home’s foundation. This drying can cause water lines to disconnect or rupture and water mains to crack or leak. Make sure the soil bordering your home is well maintained and watered during the summer. 

An Iowa summer’s intense heat can cause more than sunburns. It can compromise your home’s structural safety. 

“If you’re a homeowner, you know that summer isn’t always a day at the beach,” Bob’s Donna Boyle Schwartz observes. 

But by having a professional inspect your home for summer heat weak spots and correcting any glaring issues, you can ensure your home beats the suffocating heat of a searing Iowa summer sun.

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