Prepare Your Home
With the winter season fast approaching and the temperature starting to drop, you may dread the thought of dealing with cold weather and all the other nuances it brings.
This weekend, take the initiative and keep the weather outside; start winterizing your home! A weekend is all you need. While the main goal is to keep the household warm throughout the cold weather, there is also the advantage of being able to save money on energy costs. This is why it is becoming an annual tradition for many homeowners to prepare their houses for the winter.
There is nothing that could protect you from Old Man Winter better than a weather-proofed house. To keep the cold at bay, here is a list of some tried-and-tested ways for winterizing your home:
Test your heater in advance for proper functioning-
Do not wait for the air to get cold before testing the heating system. You don’t want your heater working erratically just when you needed it the most. To avoid this complication, you should turn it on ahead of time to make sure that it is functioning the way it should.
Before you proceed, it is important that the area where the furnace or water heater is located must be clear of any flammable items or substances. When you have made sure that everything is safe, you may then turn on the heater.
Special notes for furnaces:
- While it is running, do take note of the smell permeating inside the house. This would usually indicate the presence of dust that has been accumulated by the system and is simply burning off. Although this distinct smell is normal for furnaces, it should not remain for so long.
- If you did detect the smell, you should consider cleaning or replacing the filters after the test run. Filters that are clogged with heavy soot contribute to poor airflow, which in turn increases your utility bills. On the other hand, if you are using a water heater, you should also remove the accumulated dirt at the bottom of the tank. Like with clogged filters, a sediment-filled water heater tank reduces the system’s efficiency and may even cause damage to its interior once the burner is set on high.
Close the crawl space openings or foundation vents-
Winterizing your home does not end with simply turning on the heater. The cold draft that is coming from the openings of the foundation may cause the interior floor to turn cold. An old-fashioned way to shut out the cold air is to close the vents on the crawlspace and insulate them. This is especially recommended for openings in the foundation that do not come with covers.
You can fashion out an insulating material for the foundation vents by stuffing a small plastic trash bag with foam or any similar material. When finished, you can place them within the openings. Do not forget to install a vapor barrier on the crawlspace floor. It is still necessary to avoid moisture build up within the area.
Seal all cracks and crevices –
Look for any possible entry of cold draft around the house, particularly along movable structures such as windows and doors. Having cracks in places where they shouldn’t be decreases the efficiency of your heating system. These leaks allow the expensive heat to seep out of the house and provide an entrance for the cold air which you are trying to keep out.
There are two ways to patch cracks: caulking and weather-stripping. To caulk is simply to apply a flexible sealant around the leaks. This is especially useful for plumbing fixtures and windows. On the other hand, weather-stripping involves the use of various stripping around doors and windows including door sweeps underneath the doors as well as threshold seals on the floor to lock in the heat. Replace all worn-out sweeps just in time for winterizing your home.
Close the flue and cap the chimney when the fireplace is not in use-
On some days, you might want to leave the fireplace unused. In this case, you should not forget to close the ventilation shaft. The air and snow from the outside could get into that same opening if it remains open. To prevent the draft from intruding into your home, close the flue and place the cap (damper) on the chimney. However, before doing so, make sure that you have carbon monoxide detectors installed near the fireplace to prevent gas poisoning.
Use shrink plastic on windows to block wind –
If no storm windows or other insulation material can be installed on your windows (single pane), you can use a shrink plastic to help keep the cold draft out. This material comes in a kit consisting of a roll of plastic film and a double-sided adhesive tape. For only $4 per frame, it is a cheap alternative to storm window yet still provides a good barrier against the wind.
To install the shrink plastic insulation correctly, you should follow these steps:
- Wash the inside portion of the windows first to clean moldings.
- Unroll/unfold the plastic sheet. Hold it up against the frame and measure the dimensions.
- Make sure that there is enough plastic to cover about half-inch of the sill.
- Trim the sheet according to measurements.
- Apply the adhesive tape onto each side of the frame and the sill.
- Spread the sheet by starting on the corners then all the way around the frame.
- Finally, “shrink” the plastic sheet to make it airtight by running a hair blower over it.
Check the attic for sufficient amount of insulation –
Hot air rises. Hence, an attic that is not sufficiently insulated only allows the warm air to pass through the thin barrier of a roof and eventually cause ice dams on the gutters. To avoid such waste of energy, you should consider installing an insulating material with a high R-value; preferably R-30. Foam board and fiberglass are ideal options for attic insulation.
Indeed, you can make your home as comfortable as possible for your family during the winter. Start winterizing your home ahead of time to avoid experiencing the hassles that the chilly weather could bring. The best way to assess the amount of air leaks or heat loss due to poor insulation is by having a home energy audit done by a professional technician.