You know what you need to do to keep warm; when it gets cold outside you put on a jacket, gloves, scarf, and toque. But what about your home? How will you keep your home insulated from the winds of winter? Your home’s exterior takes a lot of punishment from winter weather, but you can reduce this effect. Properly insulating your home helps maintain the structural integrity of your home, will save you money on your heating bill by reducing heat loss through drafts and gaps, and will make you feel more snug and secure from the winter cold. Here are the top 10 ways to protect your home exterior from the cold.
It is recommended you keep your home’s internal temperature at no less than 18 degrees Celsius. The temperature inside the walls where pipes are located can be substantially colder than the walls themselves, and a temperature lower than 18 degrees may not keep the inside walls from freezing.
CHECK THE PIPES
Pipes around the water meter, in unheated areas, near exterior walls and in crawl spaces are most vulnerable to freezing. If a pipe is frozen, little or no water will run from the tap when you turn it on. If you discover that pipes are frozen, don’t take the risk of a burst pipe; call a plumber for assistance.
REPLACE YOUR FURNACE FILTER
Before you start running your furnace, check the filter. If your furnace filter looks dirty, replace it. Dirty filter maintenance is a year round concern. The more people and pets there are in the home, the quicker the filter will get dirty. It is recommended that you change your furnace filter every month (and certainly once every 3 months).
FILL IN THE WALLS
Even small holes where cable wires or phone lines enter your home can be an entry point for cold air. Purchase a tube of foam insulation, and close up these holes. Examine wooden window frames for signs of rot or decay, and repair or replace these as necessary.
STRIP AWAY THE DRAFTS
Drafts are a major cause of heat loss in a home; they creep in under doors or through window sills. Use weather stripping to shut out the drafts and keep the heat in.
Proper ventilation throughout your home is vital to indoor air quality and circulation. Examine exposed ducts in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces, and use a sealant to plug up any leaks. But ensure not to cover fresh air intake vents for furnaces, water heaters, fireplaces, and replacement air for exhaust fans. Closing these vents can result in poor combustion and ventilation increasing the chance of carbon monoxide accumulation in the home. It may also contribute to higher humidity and reduce indoor air quality.
DO A SPOT OF YARD WORK
To reduce the chance of moisture and mildew infiltrating your home through unseen gaps in your home’s siding and windows, clear away clumps of wet leaves from corners, shrubs, and your home’s foundation. Disconnect your garden hoses, and cut away any dead branches, especially if you have trees close to your property.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR TOOLS
Bring all tools and machinery inside your garage or home. Clear off the grass from the lawnmower and the snow from the snow blower. Prepare the snow blower for the first snowfall by changing the oil and replacing the spark plug. Stock up on ice melt, sand, or kitty litter for use on steps, walkways and driveways during freezing temperatures.
If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed. A fireplace damper, usually located in the chimney just above the fireplace, is a lid meant to seal your fireplace shut when it is not in use. This is necessary so that heated air from your home will not escape up the chimney when the fireplace is not in use. An open or broken damper that doesn’t close fully will increase your heating costs.
If you’re leaving your home for the winter months to seek a warmer climate, or if your home will be left unoccupied for a few days, remember to shut off your water and drain all taps inside and outside your home. Flush all of the toilets to remove the water from the tanks, and if you have a sprinkler system for your lawn, turn it off during the winter months to prevent frozen pipes. Turn down your heating to a lower setting and ensure all of your doors and windows are locked. If you have an alarm, set it, and ask a neighbour to check up on your home at least once a week. Leave cabinet doors open, so your pipes will be warmed whenever your home’s heating system is on.
Follow these basic but important tips to keep you, and your home, warm this winter. And for more information on home-care all year round, contact Building Pro Inspections.