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55: Keep Your Eyes on the Thermometer

I know for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s still summer (for my readers fro the Southern Hemi- file this away) and it’s rather difficult, especially given the temperatures experienced this summer, to think about winter, but it’s out there. And for those of us for whom winter has, ahem, a ‘special meaning’ (as in it can get so cold that you’ll freeze the insides of your nose), soaking up the warmth is really nice.

But it is coming – get over it.

So the best thing, actually, that you can do right now is look at your calendar, wherever you are, and ask yourself the following question: When is the farthest we can count on daytime temperatures staying above 55 degrees F?

In my area, that time is probably mid-late October. Yes, we get frosts and freezes during that period, but we still can have most of a day where the temperature (especially if it’s sunny) over 55 degrees F. And having that date for yourself is a really useful thing because 55 degrees F. is the drying and curing temperature for lots of materials that you might want to be using between now and when winter shuts things down. Materials such as:

Paint: both latex and oil need hours of temperatures at 55 degrees F or better to dry on the surface and cure underneath.
Caulk of all types
Gypsum wall board compound
Glues and adhesives of various types

Ah, I see the light dawning. Aunt Toby is talking about the dreaded home projects which many families undertake in the fall to get ready for the winter. Whether you are replacing windows or just caulking around them; painting the outside of the house when the bugs are not as ferocious, or just doing ordinary maintenance when it’s a lot more pleasant to work than it is in July and August, looking at the calendar NOW and figuring out how much time you have to actually get things done (barring any awful rain and that can happen also) will help you plan.

Some things take longer than others. The DH and our son caulked all the windows in the house in a couple of hours (but then, we have a house with only three bedrooms so if you have a larger home, your mileage, as they say, may vary. Doing a home paint job takes so much prep work, that this is something that you might want to start right NOW, in order to be able to still have daytime temps over 50 degrees F to work with.

You have more leeway, naturally, with indoor projects, but again, the 55 degrees F still applies. So if you want to rip out some walls, put in insulation, wallboard and wall board compound, and then paint, this is still something you want to keep an eye on. We ended up having to do a ceiling repair in our living room in early November and even with fans, the wallboard compound and then the paint seemed to take weeks to finally dry up enough. As it was, there was still a section where we had to rip out the next summer and redo it because some moisture got trapped and we got bubbling and blistering coming to the surface.
So: check your calendar and think: “When will the daytime temps get below 55 degrees F?” And start thinking about what energy saving and maintenance projects you need to take care of between now….and then.

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