Winter Home Survival Guide
By: Danny Lipford
Here are some tips on what you need to do to protect your home from freezing weather this winter, along with the steps you can take to insulate your home to reduce heating bills.
Sealing Cracks and Gaps
To prevent heat loss, it’s important to seal cracks and gaps:
- Around windows and doors.
- Where water pipes or wiring go through walls.
- Weather stripping around windows and doors
- Thresholds under doors.
Installing Window Insulation Kits
Window insulation kits can save energy and lower your utility bill by providing an insulating barrier of trapped air and keeping out drafts.
To install window insulation kits:
- Clean the casing around the window.
- Apply double-sided tape to the window casing.
- Remove the tape backing.
- Attach the plastic to the tape.
- Use a hair blow dryer to shrink the plastic.
Watch our video on How to Install Plastic Window Insulation Kits to find out more.
Attic Energy Saving Projects
Make sure your attic has an Insulation R-Value of at least R-38 in warmer climates (12” fiberglass insulation) and R-49 (16” fiberglass insulation) in colder areas. Watch our video on How to Install Fiberglass Insulation in Your Attic for more.
Pull down attic stairs are also a major source of heat loss. There are several ways to insulate attic stairs, such as constructing a foam box over the attic stairs or installing a premade insulation blanket.
Find out more:
- How to Insulate Attic Stairs in Your Home
- How to Insulate Attic Drop Down Access Stairs
- DIY Fold Down Attic Stair Insulation
Other ways to reduce heat loss in an attic include:
- Fill gaps around heating vents and bathroom vent fans with caulk.
- Seal leaks in HVAC ductwork with metallic foil tape and duct mastic.
Watch our video on How to Repair Leaks in HVAC Ductwork to find out how.
Preventing Frozen Pipes
To keep water pipes from freezing on cold winter days:
- Open cabinet doors under sinks that are located on outside walls.
- Install foam covers over outdoor water spigots.
- Insulate exposed water pipes with foam pipe insulation.
- Seal up any holes in the floor under the house.
Winter Fire Safety
All houses should have properly installed smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in various areas of the house. Make sure to replace the batteries on alarms as needed or annually. You should also have an easily accessible ABC rated fire extinguisher.
To reduce the chance of fires from fireplaces or wood stoves:
- Have your fireplace inspected regularly by a certified professional.
- Burn only hardwood that has been cut dried for 6-12 months.
- Use a fire screen in front of fireplaces.
- Keep combustible materials away from fireplaces.
Find out more:
- How to Install Smoke Alarms
- How to Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Dealing with Ice and Snow
Ice and snow can be a problem on walks, steps, and roofs:
- Apply anti-icers to walks and steps in advance.
- Apply deicers to existing snow and ice on walks or steps.
- Make sure your attic has enough insulation and proper ventilation.
Find out more:
- Using Deicers and Anti-Icers on Sidewalks and Driveways
- How to Prevent Ice Dams on Your Home
- What to Look for When Choosing a Snow Shovel
Whole House Generators
Installing a whole house generator, such as those from Generac, is a great way to make sure you don’t lose power during winter storms. Whole house generators start up automatically when the power goes out, and can provide different levels of power, including:
- Essential Circuit Coverage: Provides power just to important items such as heat, lights, and refrigerators.
- Managed Whole House System: Manages the power load on your house to allow the use other appliances as needed.
Other Tips from This Episode
Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Stop Window Sash Air Leaks
To keep older double hung windows from rattling and prevent air leaks where the two sash meet, install two window latches on each window rather than one. Space each latch so it’s about a third of the way in from the sides of the window frame, or center them on outer window panes. (Watch Video)
Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Ryobi Power Usage Meter
The Ryobi Power Usage Meter allows you to determine how much electricity appliances and electronic devices in your home are using. Simply input the price you’re paying for electricity to the device, plug it into the wall, then plug an appliance into the meter. The Ryobi Power Usage Meter is available at The Home Depot. (Watch Video)
Ask Danny Lipford:
When insulating the flooring above the crawlspace under your home, make sure to turn the paper facing on the insulation up toward the living space to prevent condensation from forming. Also, cover the ground in the crawlspace with thick (6 mil) plastic to reduce moisture problems under your home. (Watch Video)
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