Winterization or Weatherization – Which Is For Me?
Often times when we hear terms like winterization or weatherization we only associate those terms with houses that are going to be vacant for extended periods of time. However, any long term homeowner can tell you that in order to extend the quality and life of your home, upkeep and protection measures such as winterization or weatherization should be implemented. With that being said you might be wondering what is the difference between the two and which one is right for me. Well, short answer is you should consider both. So lets start, what is the difference between weatherization or winterization? To put it simply winterization is something you should take action on now. It is simply the process of preparing your home for use in cold weather and are usually short term, cost effective, measures you can take to provide small energy savings and boost efficiency in your home. On the other hand weatherization are measures that usually have a higher initial cost, but are long term modifications or supplements you can make to your home to increase overall efficiency and save even more in the long run. Weatherization is something you can consider while you are winterizing your home especially if you notice that your winterization techniques are not increasing home efficiency or saving you money during those colder months.
Reasons for winterizing or weatherizing your home are simple. They protect not only your home and investment, but the safety of you and your family as well.
Is Winterizing My Home Really That Important?
Yes, it is. Two of the most important reasons to consider energy saving and protection measures are water and fire can completely destroy your home. Most people do not find spontaneous indoor rain showers pleasurable and usually like to contain their fireside enjoyment to the fireplace. Frozen pipes can burst, heavy snow can cause roof collapse and creosote buildup can cause extensively destructive fires. Along with these two alarming fiascoes there are a few other immediate dangers lurking just out of sight. Carbon monoxide is a colorless odorless gas that cause severe medical emergencies, especially in the elderly and young, and are caused by common household appliances fueled by gas. Darkness can be a danger in itself, especially as daylight hours get short just by causing tripping hazards or places for burglars to hide.
How Does Water Damage In The Winter Happen?
Pipes bursting are most prevalent in the winter and is one of the most common emergencies during these colder months. When water in the pipes freeze it expands and causes a higher pressure than the pipe is rated for and in turn they rupture. Most often these pipes are along exterior walls or hidden in areas we don’t commonly frequent, like utility closets or basements. Other often unchecked areas are outside faucets and A/C lines. Thus being one of the reasons these cause so much damage is that damaged plumbing isn’t always noticed right away and can be leaking for days before action is taken. By that time it has saturated the surrounding area not only is it costly to replace the plumbing, and any surrounding damage but if not cleaned and dried properly moisture can stick around and cause mold. Mold is another very serious problem that can cause health concerns and be very expensive to remedy.
Another common problem in the winter are roof issues. Roofs not only leak but also collapse which can cause a multitude of problems. As we mentioned earlier heavy snow build up can cause collapse, but also melting snow caused by your house giving off heat can cause water to pool in lower areas, soaking into building materials and then freeze, and as we mentioned earlier, freezing water expands and will cause expensive structural damage.
Lastly, leaks don’t always occur from the roof or pipes. Anywhere two different building materials meet are susceptible to letting water sneak in. Check areas such as around Chimneys or stove pipes, anywhere along foundations, any spot that pipes or wires enter and even areas around outlets and light switches, specifically if these are located along an outside wall.
Keeping Your Home Unwanted Indoor Waterfalls, Pools and Rivers
Short Term, Cost Effective Winterization Tips To Avoid Winter Water Damage:
- Wrap Your Pipes
Use towels and duct tape and keep cabinets, specifically ones that run along exterior walls open, especially at nights when temperatures often fall below freezing.
For example, most Kitchen and bath cabinets are attached to exterior walls.
- Don’t Turn Off The Heat
Yes, you want to conserve heating while you are not home, but turning it down to 55 degrees will help you save and protect your plumbing at the same time.
- Clean Leaves From Your Gutters.
This way water doesn’t back up and sit, giving it a chance to freeze.
- Look For Leaks In Your Gutters or Any Misaligned Areas and Correct.
- Make Sure Downspouts Are Redirecting Away From Your House.
- Drain Water Lines for A/C Units.
Also, if your A/C is equipped with a water valve, make sure to turn that off.
- Drain Excess Water From Outside Faucets.
And while your at it, drain your sprinkler or irrigation systems as well.
Long Term Weatherization Tips To Avoid Water Damage:
- Insulate Your Pipes.
Use professional pipe insulation
- Re-route Gutter Deposit Area To Be At Least 10 Feet Away From Your House.
- Insulate Your Attic.
- Install Freeze Alarms.
This will let you know if the area is too cold and there is a chance that your plumbing may be in danger.
- Boost Insulation:
- Between Walls
- Attic Floor
- Basement Ceiling
Remember to pay special attention to seal those areas where two different building materials meet.
This will cause snow deposits to melt more evenly and not build up in lower areas such as Eves.
What Is Carbon Monoxide Poisoning?
Carbon Monoxide poisoning or more commonly referred to CO poisoning is a very serious health concern that can cause brain damage or even death. Carbon Monoxide is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that is produced by fuels we commonly use to heat our homes. It can be produced by burning wood, charcoal and other gases or fuels such as propane. Infants, elderly or those with health concerns are more susceptible to the fatal effects of CO poisoning. Symptoms include dizziness, headache and confusion, upset stomach and vomiting and chest pain. People who are sleeping or intoxicated can pass out before they or anyone else notice symptoms and if it continues unnoticed death can occur. Thousand of people visit the ER every year for CO poisoning. Don’t let you or your family become part of this statistic. Take measures now that will ensure the safety of your loved ones.
Quick Cost Effective Tips TO Keep Your Family Safe From Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
- Purchase Multiple CO Detectors – Ones With A Back Up Battery Are Best
Make sure to place them in area that you can hear it even if you are sleeping but also near any type of fuel burning appliance, specifically furnaces and water heaters and fireplaces.
- Service You Appliances
Have your appliances such as hot water heater, heating system or other fuel based appliances serviced by a qualified technician each year.
- Never Bring Generators Inside
Keep them at least 20 feet from any type of opening into your home.
- Do Not Use Portable Camp Stoves Inside
- Call A Professional Chimney Sweep.
They will clear the creosote buildup and inspect for any damage that could lead to structural issues or fires.
Long Term Weatherization Tips To Reduce Carbon Monoxide In Your Home:
- Replace Older Appliances Than Run On Fuel With New Energy Efficient Models.
This includes your heating system, hot water heater, gas dryers or stoves and even old or damaged refrigerators.
Darkness And Why Is It Scary?
We all know we lose daylight in the Winter and often time we find ourselves or our family coming home after school or work in the dark. Without proper outside lighting the dark can be hazardous. Objects my be laying in your walking path and frozen puddles are almost invisible. Not only that but high bushes and darkness are prime settings for burglars.
Low Cost Budget Options To Make Your Home Friendlier In The Dark
- Trim Hedges And Bushes
This not only help to deter burglars but if they grow to high in front of windows, they block your view and prevent natural sunlight getting in helping to warm your home during the day.
- Inspect Bulbs
Change any that have burnt out. – Consider purchasing LED bulbs – They consume less energy now and they have a much longer lifespan.
Long Term Tips To Keep Darkness At Bay:
- Install Motion Sensors on Outside Lights
- Consider A Lighting System To Illuminate Walkways Or Driveways
Keeping Fires Where They Belong
Everyone loves a nice cozy fire in a fire pit or fireplace, but no one wants a raging fire destroying their home. With the synthetic materials so widely used today from building materials to carpeting and furniture fires spread mush faster today than they did 30 years ago. Making sure you follow these simple cost effective steps will reduce your chances of losing your home to an accidental fire.
Low Cost Simple Fire Safety Tips
- Change Batteries In Smoke Detectors
This is no joke. We all hear it but smoke detectors will not work (unless they are wired into your home) without fresh batteries. An early smoke detector activation can give you valuable minutes that can literally mean life or death.
- Chimney Sweeps.
If you have a fire place or stove pipe there is no excuse for not having it inspected before the first use of the season. Creosote is the buildup that you find in your chimneys after burning wood all winter. Not only will it block your chimney, but creosote is highly flammable and is the cause of many house fires during the cold months. Think about when the fire company comes, they dump massive amounts of water down your chimney so now you have water clean up cost and labor and they often have to check and make sure the fire has gone into the surrounding walls. Now you also have structural damage to your home which can be very costly. So think, do you want to pay a one time fee once a year to have your chimneys properly inspected or take the chance and at best have to only replace basically one room of your home or at worse lose the entire house?
Longer Term Fire Prevention Tips
- Consider purchasing a cap for your chimney to prevent natural debris, such as twigs and leaves blocking your flue.
- Install A Whole Home Fire Detection System
Purchase one that integrates together and wires into your home security system. Look for systems that don’t just detect smoke but heat as well.
- Install A Security System
If you don’t have a home security system think about having one installed. This way if a smoke detector goes off the fire department is automatically alerted and those precious minutes saved can mean the difference of saving your home.
- Fire Suppression System
If you have a lot of high end items in your home you may want to consider purchasing some sort of sprinkler system. While even with false activations, which yes do happen, water is more forgiving than fire.
- Keep Interior Doors Closed
Fire spreads by feeding off of oxygen. If you give it an entire house to feed off of rather than one room what do think the outcome will be? Now I understand that is not always feasible, but at least while you are not home think about closing interior doors before you leave.
Save Energy And Money
These last few tips are to just help your home save energy and keep extra money in your pocket. With the colder months being the biggest spending time who wouldn’t want a few extra dollars.
Easy Winterization Tips
- Fill In Spaces Around Windows And Doors With Caulk
- Keep Windows Tightly Locked
- Keep Flue Closed When Not In Use – This will prevent cold air blowing in or warm air escaping.
- Run Fans In Reverse
- Change Furnace Filters
- Remove Window A/C Units
- Wear Layers vs. Turning The Heat Up
- Flush Water Heater To Remove Particles That Build Up
- Close Crawl Space Vents
- Keep Garage Doors Closed
Long Term Weatheriztion Ideas:
- Re-Insulate Heating Ducts – Also, inspect them while re-insulating to make sure they are all properly connected.
- Replace Inefficient Furnaces
- Replace Old Hot Water Heaters and Fuel Tanks
- Replace Old And Outdated Appliances
- Properly Seal Your Ducts