As the Iowa summer comes to a close and fall descends upon the Des Moines metro, it is time to prepare your home for the winter. It is not as simple as bringing in the planters and lawn furniture; these steps are important to maintaining a healthy home.
Inside Your Home
With the change from the sweltering heat of summer to the cool breezes of fall, the outdoor temperature is going to decrease. The colder the outdoor temperature, the more heat must be added indoors for body comfort. However, the heat added will cause
a drying effect and lower the indoor relative humidity, unless an indoor moisture source is present. The result is increased gaping at wood joints, flooring, and cabinetry. Additional effects resulting from low moisture are floor squeaks, doors
that may not fit and close properly, and additional minor drywall cracks and nail pops.
The human body is comfortable when relative humidity ranges between 20 and 60 percent. In your home, an average relative humidity range of 30 to 50 percent is appropriate when the outside temperature is 20⁰F or above. Lifestyle plays a significant role in managing the relative humidity inside your home. You may find that your lifestyle produces enough moisture that no action is required while other families may produce too much or not enough moisture. Seasonal changes may also be a factor in determining if you need to humidify in the winter and dehumidify in the summer.
Humidifiers and dehumidifiers can be found at numerous outlets. Make sure to check that the square foot capacity meets your needs. You may also consider purchasing a whole house humidifier that can be installed on your furnace.
Also, with the busyness of summer, our homes' HVAC systems are often overlooked; but don't forget a few key things to remember in your winter preparations:
- Test the furnace. It is best to test your furnace, much like you do your AC before you need it. On a cool day this fall, give your furnace a few run cycles and make sure all is working properly.
- Change your filter. A clean filter will help keep your home clean and reduce dusting chores. Your filter should be changed monthly when the HVAC system is in use, so just buy a handful of filters, set a reminder on your calendar, and you'll be all set.
Outside Your Home
Once a year, you should take a morning (or afternoon) and do your best to clean your windows, inside and out. It will make your home feel (and look!) beautiful just like the day you moved in. Our exterior environment -- farming, trees, bugs,
and weather -- all mix to dirty our windows; but it is simple to clean them.
All you need to do is use warm, clear water on all the aluminum metal surfaces ... then wipe dry! For the glass, a commercial glass cleaner will do.
If you live in a developed community, you need to be sure to check your gutters before the snow starts to fall. Clean and clear gutters ensures that rain water (and melting snow) flows off your house and safely away from your foundation. If you neglect this fall maintenance step it could turn a simple snow into a pretty big problem both for your roof or your foundation.