Top 5 Fall Seasonal Home Upgrades For Clean Air Circulation
Believe it or not, fall is really the better time to spruce up your home—the holidays are just around the corner, and wouldn't it be nice to spend the cold winter months in newly painted rooms, or walk on heated flooring? Thought so. Here's another reason to tackle your home improvement projects in the fall—it's not nearly as humid outside, so it's really a much better time to paint or refinish floors.
One of the primary reasons to upgrade your home is that fall allergies are rampant in most of the country. Ensuring your home has clean, pure air circulating through is the best way to keep those allergies at bay. You can do this by deep cleaning the house—including vents, rugs, and exterior—and ensuring you're using HEPA vacuum filters.
Top 5 Fall Seasonal Upgrades For Your Home
1. Paint the exterior.
Have you ever thought about why you decide to paint your house in the most humid months of the year? When you stop to think about it, painting the exterior of your home is one home improvement project that's cheaper and easier to do in October rater than in June. The house painters will have an easier time scraping and prepping when it's dry and cooler outside, and it will be much faster for the new coats of paint to dry when it's not so sticky out.
2. Get a head start on your landscaping.
If you already clean up any dangerous limbs that hang over the roof, go a little further and pay some attention to the yard—fertilize your existing grass. Even when your grass is dormant in the cooler months, the roots are still active and storing up their energy for warmer weather. If your roots are well-fed for the winter, they will be able to better withstand harsh cold weather and will green up faster in the spring and summer.
When you're planting your bulbs, pansies, and winter cabbages, go ahead and stock up on the trees and perennials you're considering for the next year. It's really better for the plants if you get them in the ground now, when they are dormant.
If you remember high school biology, dormant plants aren't blooming. And when a plant isn't busy putting its energy towards gorgeous blooms and glossy green leaves, it can focus on developing a stronger root system. Strong and mature roots lead to a plant that's better able to withstand summer heat and drought, and produce beautiful blossoms. Depending on where you live, you can plant up through late fall—just be sure your new perennials are in the ground and established before a hard frost.
Remove mold sources outside.
While you're out working in the yard, don't forget to get rid of leaf piles and any dead plants around the foundation. There are two reasons this is really important. First, collected debris near the downspouts contributes to damage to your foundation—if it can't drain away from the house, you'll wind up with major water leaks. Second, but this is just as important, molds grow in leaf piles and spores can work their way into your foundation and air vents. If anyone in your family has allergies, this is a common culprit that often goes completely undetected—you're busy investing in hypo-allergenic bedding when the mold spores are merrily coming through your vents.
3. Spruce up your floors.
If you have hardwoods, fall is absolutely the time of year to have them refinished. Just like with painting, sanding and staining is a lot easier when it's cooler and drier. When you're choosing a finish for your floors, be sure to go with a low VOC (volatile organic compound) stain. Oil and polyurethane are the worst for having a high VOC, and accompanying compromised air quality. Water-based stains aren't nearly as toxic but still have a relatively high VOC.
A natural oil like linseed, or tung, is a much better choice than toxic chemicals. While they don't have the water and dent resistance of a polyurethane, oil-finished floors do hide scuff marks and dents better, and age to a mellower patina. As a bonus, linseed oil has zero VOCs.
Install subfloor heating.
While we're on the topic of hardwood floors and toxins, many households opt for carpet rather than hardwoods because they're cold in the winter. Subfloor radiant heating is a great solution when you'd rather not have carpet.
Not so long ago, this heat source was a luxury that you could only find in high-end master bathrooms. These days, however, this kind of heating is not expensive to install, and modern technology has broadened the scope of subfloor heating so that you can put it under engineered or authentic hardwoods. If you're replacing your floors anyway, consider adding radiant heat—it warms up your feet in the winter, and eliminates the need for allergenic carpets to provide warmth and insulation.
Have your carpets professionally cleaned.
If you do have carpeted flooring and aren't interested in hardwoods or subfloor heating, then be sure you have your carpets professionally cleaned before the winter. The question if you have allergies in the families is this: is it better to steam or dry-clean the carpet? The answer? It depends on who you ask.
Some professionals think that a deep steam clean is best, since the heat kills off any bacteria lurking in the rug fibers. It also removes dirt, dust, pollen, and the dreaded dust mites. Others say that even thought the steam vapor is heated higher than the boiling point of water, to about 221°, mold spores will grow in the fibers as fast as the other offenders get steamed out.
Then there's the dry cleaning method, which spreads a dry powder over the rug, then a high-powered vacuum cleaner does the work. Proponents of this method say that the powder gets in between every single fiber and cleans it, removing all the dirt, dust, mites, pollen, mold, allergens, and bacteria so that the carpet is fresh and dry right after application. Fans of steam cleaning say that the chemicals used in this method are toxic—many do use the same chemicals as dry cleaners—and can cause nausea and dizziness, at best.
The verdict? Do your homework before you decide on the best method for your family, or consult your allergist.
Finally, vacuuming your rugs every other day or so—depending on how heavy the traffic—with a HEPA filter or a cyclonic rotation—will help keep allergens at bay.
4. Tune up your HVAC, replace filters.
Now that you've cleaned up outside and inside, have your furnace tuned up for the winter and replace all your air filters. It doesn't make much sense to replace the filters before you close the foundation vents and clean the air ducts, so save that for last. Having your ducts professionally cleaned every year or so will ensure that the airflow is free from allergens, mold, and bacteria. Either replace or clean your filters every 30 days, no matter the season. Nobody wants dirty air circulating through the house.
5. Install air purifiers.
If you're seeing common thread here—managing household allergens—then congratulations, you're paying attention. Many of the above upgrades have the benefit of ensuring the air in your home is free from bacteria, allergens, and mold, which contributes to your overall quality of life. An air purifier for dust is the final way you can keep your home free from airborne sneeze-inducing particles. Veva air filters and air purifiers are the quality standard for clean air; please contact us if you'd like more information about our products.
Contributing Writer: Elizabeth Johnston