10 Uncommon Ways to Winterize Your Home
Wednesday, January 17th, 2018 by Joy Padgett
This is our busiest time of the year…winter. Why? Because most houses are cold during this time of year and it seems that nobody likes to be cold! I know I sure don’t. What does surprise me, though, are the number of people we talk to who have lived in a cold house for years and years! I know sometimes it’s a money thing…after all…it doesn’t grow on trees. I get that. For some, it has been difficult finding someone (or a company) who can actually identify the problems. I get that, too. Still, for others, it was a simple thought that derailed them: This is just how it is. WRONG!!
The idea that you HAVE to live in a home that isn’t keeping you warm is border-line crazy. Perhaps the biggest single investment you’ll ever make is owning a home. So, why on Earth would you allow your house to produce a sub-par return? If your car was not performing properly, would you just keep driving it? No way! You’d take it to your mechanic!
Well, when it comes to fixing uncomfortable homes, the company I work for, Weatherization Plus, is your house mechanic! We fix uncomfortable homes!
Soooo, today I’d like to share with you 10 uncommon ways to winterize your house.
- Identify Your Discomfort
- Assess Your Ability/Call On the Professionals
- Focus on the Top and Bottom
- Upgrade Your Insulation
- Correct Your Crawl Space
- Inspect Your Kneewalls
- Insulate and Air Seal Your Attic Hatch
- Repair Your Duct System
- Address That Unused Fireplace
- Throw Out Secondary Heating Appliances
Identify Your Discomfort
The first step in winterizing your home is to identify what is motivating you. Are some of the rooms in your home cold and you’re tempted to close those rooms off? Are you tired of paying utility bills you believe are too high? Can’t get rid of that musty odor? Are you and the other people in your home constantly moving the thermostat up and down trying to reach a comfortable temperature for everyone?
Regardless of what is motivating you, knowing what your biggest areas of discomfort are helps set a course for getting your uncomfortable home fixed. Sometimes it may be difficult to figure out where to start even with this. However, the good folks at Weatherization Plus have a great checklist they will send you once you make an appointment to have a trained home comfort specialist come out to inspect your home.
Assess Your Ability/Call On the Professionals
Now listen, don’t take this the wrong way. We know you’re perfectly capable of doing many things BUT when it comes to fixing your uncomfortable home, many do-it-yourselfers make critical errors that the professional would never make. There is an order to how a home should be fixed. You don’t want to do something now that the professional are going to charge you to undo, right? Some errors can create health and safety hazards. For example, sealing a room containing a gas appliance (such as a water heater) can create a situation where the appliance will backdraft, releasing the deadly gas carbon monoxide into your home. We actually had a customer who wanted us to install spray foam insulation in his attic. Even after explaining the potential from creating a situation where the gas furnace (located in the attic) could backdraft and release carbon monoxide into the attic which then would have no way to escape through the roof (where he wanted the spray foam) but would leak into the bedrooms directly under the attic, he still wanted spray foam. Although he wasn’t concerned for his safety nor the safety of his family, we were and we declined to bid his job.
Be reasonable about your abilities. Call the professionals at Weatherization Plus. They are in the business of fixing uncomfortable homes.
Focus On the Top and Bottom
Addressing and fixing the top and bottom portions of your house will have the largest impact on achieving your home comfort goals. Typically, air is coming into your home at the bottom and escaping out the top. By reducing the air leakage in these areas, we can increase the comfort level in your home. At this time of year, the air you are paying to heat your home is likely escaping into your attic and then out through your roof. So, in essence, you’re warming up the outside air! This is why we want to concentrate our efforts on the top and the bottom (attic and crawl space) of your home.
Upgrade Your Insulation
Houses settle over time. This is normal and doesn’t mean your house wasn’t built well. Likewise, your insulation settles over time. In fact, it can even begin to disintegrate depending on what kind of insulation your have and how long it’s been in your attic or crawl space. Plus, if a bird, rodent or insects have been living in your attic or crawl space, they may have caused extensive damage to your insulation by using it for nesting materials and as a bathroom. On top of that, some homes never had the recommended levels of insulation to begin with.
Upgrading your insulation can only be done in 2 ways:
- The Wrong Way
- The Right Way
The wrong way to upgrade insulation is to have more insulation installed directly over the existing insulation. There are a couple of reasons why this is not the way to upgrade your insulation. First, since your attic hasn’t been properly air sealed, adding insulation over the existing is only going to make a larger filter for the air to move through. Insulation cannot provide the desired benefits if air is moving through it. Therefore, simply blowing more insulation in, isn’t the answer. Second, simply blowing more insulation over existing is burying debris, fecal matter and urine stained insulation. That is just downright disgusting.
The right way to upgrade your insulation is to remove the compromised existing insulation and having the area air sealed before new, fresh, clean insulation is installed. This way, your insulation will actually perform as it is designed to…..like insulation and not a giant air filter.
While you may be able to install new insulation on your own, extracting the old gets tricky. Unless you’re a professional in the business…like Weatherization Plus. They have the means by which to extract insulation and create what I like to call a “clean slate” attic. This is an attic that lends itself to air sealing.
Correct Your Crawl Space
Crawl spaces….where do we begin? Well, first, most of us haven’t been in our crawl space in years….or maybe we’ve never been in our crawl space (the latter would be true of myself). Crawl spaces just aren’t nice places. They are typically dark, dank, musty, and creepy. But they also usually house our duct system and insulation and maybe our furnace, too…not to mention bees, bugs, spiders, snakes, possums, mice and chipmunks…and maybe the neighbor’s cat…and her new litter of kittens…or maybe that’s not a nice striped kitty cat after all!
Since air typically enters your house down low, the crawl space is always the first culprit to deal with. Insulation and duct work in the crawl space need to be inspected for damage from animals, insects, water and condensation (which I know is just another form of water). Where moisture and organic materials are present, mold can and will develop and spread. This can be the source of musty odors in your house.
Weatherization Plus has an awesome crawl space system called CleanSpace which transforms the typical dirty crawl space into a well, as the name suggests…a clean space! They can also remove old, dirty, moldy batt insulation, treat the mold, air seal the area and then install new batt insulation.
Insulate Your Kneewalls
Attic kneewalls are often poorly insulated. The insulation may have simply fallen down, but sometimes, there is no insulation in these areas at all. To top it off, the access doors to these areas aren’t usually sealed, so cold air leaks in from these spaces. If there is insulation in your kneewall attic, sometimes it wasn’t installed properly, so it isn’t actually working as it should. Kneewall attics sometimes have gaps and cracks that weren’t air sealed before the insulation was installed improperly. It is important that these areas be air sealed and properly insulated.
Insulate and Air Seal Your Attic Hatch
Whether it’s just an access hatch or you have a nice pull-down stair unit for getting into your attic, chances are, that hatch or stair unit wasn’t air sealed or insulated. Even small gaps and cracks around such a fixture can add to the comfort issues in your house. Weatherization Plus has a fantastic, customizable attic hatch cover that both seals and insulates the hatch or stair unit. Plus, it is easy to still access the attic! You can’t buy this in big box stores.
Repair Your Duct System
Your duct system is responsible for transporting that heated air from your furnace to the various rooms in your house. If the duct system has gas and cracks, often from the house settling, you are losing a good portion of your heated air into your attic or crawl space. If you’ve had an animal get into your attic or crawl space, you may have ducts that have separated from each other or from the vent (it’s termination point). It is important that your duct system be properly maintained. Having it sealed and insulated is the best thing to do. It can even be encapsulated with closed cell spray foam!
Address That Unused Fireplace
A fireplace is nice, but if you don’t use yours, it is likely allowing a ton of air to enter your house!! Why not have a chimney pillow installed to block that cold winter air. If you forget it’s there and start a fire in your fireplace, it will burst and burn safely. If you use your fireplace sometimes, invest in some nice glass fireplace doors that seal closed when your fireplace is not in used.
Throw Out Secondary Heating Appliances
I just cannot say this enough. Space heaters are dangerous and should not be used! Several years ago, right here in Versailles, a family perished in a household fire caused by an unattended space heater. Late one evening, the family retired to their beds and left a space heater on…probably so the house wouldn’t get so cold that night. However, space heaters should never be left unattended and should not be used overnight (unless someone stays up all night keeping a watch).
Please throw out secondary heating appliances after first cutting through the cord to totally disable them. You are so much safer bundling the kids in sweatpants and sweatshirts then putting them all in the same bed and covering them with multiple blankets than you are using a space heater. If you have your home evaluated by Weatherization Plus, and have the proposed items completed in your home, you won’t have to use a secondary heating appliance anyway.
See, you don’t have to live in a cold house this winter…or any other winter! And while there may be some things you can do one your own, it really is best to call the professionals! And I know budgets can be an issue, so…we can finance your project for you! It’s a fairly quick and easy approval process. So, what are you waiting for!