Winterizing your home may sound like a daunting task, but if you think of it as a handful of bite-sized steps, you realize it’s quite manageable.
What is Winterizing a Home?
Winterization isn’t one thing; done right, it’s several things working together to conserve
energy, while keeping warm air inside and cold air outside. The best part is you can
likely handle much of the work on your own.
Where should you begin and what do you really need to tackle? Let’s take a look at some of the most effective and recommended tips from experts who know a thing or two about prepping your home for cold weather.
Getting Your Home Ready for Winter Checklist
1. Attic Insulation
Most people recognize that attic insulation matters. What you might not know is why—and how—you can and should improve your insulation situation.
As you know, heat rises. That’s part of the stack effect, which describes how air moves through any building. It also explains why the second floor or attic in a home may be significantly warmer in winter.
Unfortunately, all of that rising heat can escape through your roof and attic vents unless
you have a healthy layer of insulation on the attic floor. Attic floor insulation helps to
prevent heat transfer and will keep heat confined to the lower floors.
Properly Insulating Your Attic
But before you buy new insulation, be sure you’re comfortable doing the job yourself. The experts at This Old House note that there is a right way and several wrong ways to insulate an attic. If you use the wrong materials or install insulation improperly, it could lead to condensation, wood rot and mold.
2. Check Door and Window Insulation
Every wall penetration carries the potential for air leaks. Windows and doors,
including garage doors and attic doors, are two of the most common areas for air leaks
to be found.
They also carry a high likelihood of small gaps that let drafts come through. Ordinary caulk seals gaps and air leaks around window and door trim. If a window or door still feels drafty afterward, the problem might lie behind the trim.
Of course, windows and doors don’t fit tightly into wall openings. There’s either a little or a lot of empty space around the window or door, depending on the skill of the installer. This space might be filled with insulation, but oftentimes, it’s not. With trim to cover it, you might not know what’s inside.
The Family Handyman recommends prying off the trim to access and inspect the empty space. One of the simplest and quickest ways to fill that space is with a spray can of expanding insulation foam sealant.
3. Check Your Floor Insulation
Naturally, it’s nice to hop out of bed in the morning without chilly floors underfoot. Winters are comparably milder here in Nashville as compared to cities in northern states, but we’re not immune to cold floors. In-floor radiant heating is one solution. But when was the last time you checked your crawlspace?
Check Your Crawl Space for Insulation
Many homes have insulation under the main floor inside the crawlspace or basement. Unfortunately, insulation often isn’t enough. Open basement or crawl space vents can let cold air swirl under your house all winter, which can make even insulated floors feel cold. Closing or sealing the vents in winter could help.
Today’s Homeowner says addressing the problem of cold floors often requires a multi-pronged approach, which includes covering bare crawl space ground, enclosing the space, upgrading insulation and sealing air leaks.
4. Insulate Dryer Vent and Electrical Outlets
Along those lines, recall that every wall penetration can potentially let warm air out and cold air in. The culprit doesn’t even have to be on an exterior wall to qualify as a potential air leak.
Is your clothes dryer vent just a pipe that fits through the wall? Under the thimble or mounting plate, you probably have gaps. Heat-safe insulation could help.
What about the light switches and electrical outlets throughout your home? Cold air that makes its way up from the foundation into the walls can leak into your home around those wall openings. If you remove the light switch faceplates, you can install special foam insulating liners that block the cold air.
Meanwhile, everywhere a pipe enters or exits your home, the space around it can let cold air in or warm air out so plumbing and vent pipes are sources of more possible air leaks. The stack effect intensifies the problem. As warm air rises to the attic, cold air is drawn inside through every gap, no matter how small.
House Winterization: An Ongoing Job
Insulation doesn’t last forever, better products are developed, and as a home naturally settles, new gaps and air leaks can emerge. But the more you do now, the more you help your HVAC system do its job with less effort and less of a drain on your wallet.
How Jewell Mechanical Can Help
Meanwhile, don’t forget about your furnace or heat pump. It needs a regular checkup this time of year, too. Jewell Mechanical’s licensed HVAC technicians are ready to inspect your home heating system and help you stay comfortable all winter.
We can spot potential problems, make necessary repairs and help extend the life of your system. And if you’re in the market for a new system, we can explain your options for getting the right one that fits your home and budget.
Give us a call at (615) 469-5965 or contact us online to schedule an appointment or learn more about how we can help get your home ready for the coming winter.