WINTERIZE YOUR HOME FROM THE COLD.
It’s time to check your house for drafts that could be costing you hundreds of dollars on your heating bill. There are a number of simple do it yourself projects that you can do to help reduce the amount of heat loss in your house. The picture to the left is a representation of the most common areas that a home will lose heat from.
To start with you are going to want to find out where it is that you are losing heat from. To do this all you need is a little smoke. Incense sticks work well for this. Take a lit stick of incense and place it near any point in your home that may be a culprit for heat loss. Areas that you should check are windows, doors on outside walls, outside wall outlets and light switches, the water pipe that supplies your outside hose spigot, and your dryer vent line. Hold the lit incense stick near the window and watch what happens to the smoke. If the smoke gets sucked toward or blows away from the area that you’re checking there is an issue with that particular spot.
DOORS
For an exterior door their are a number of options depending on what your situation is. Normally the issue with a door lies at the bottom. Most doors have some sort of weather stripping attached to the door or to the door framing. Check to make sure that this weather stripping is not damaged or worn to the point of letting air through. Most weather stripping that is attached to the door itself is unique to the manufacturer of the door. If you cannot find a replacement for this weather stripping you can add a door sweep to the base of the door. A door sweep (picture to the right) runs the length of the door and will keep a draft from coming under the door. You can also add weather stripping along the edge of the door to keep drafts from coming in along the sides of the doors. Vinyl “V” shaped stripping can be tacked on the door framing. You can also put adhesive backed open cell foam weather stripping on the framing of the door.
For sliding glass doors it’s a little more difficult. Any weather stripping that is on this is only found through the manufacturer. If it’s a door that isn’t used very much an option would be to insulate the door with a plastic film. 3M makes a patio door insulator kit that works well for this.
WINDOWS
For windows you should attack them from both outside and inside. Use caulking to seal the cracks and gaps around the window on the outside of the house. Use 100% silicone if you can (warning 100% silicone cannot be painted over). If you have storm windows close them. Windows are best insulated with plastic film. 3M window insulator kits come with plastic film and tape to seal out any drafts that are coming through your windows. The film covers the entire window and is attached with a special double sided 3M tape to your window frame. There is also window sealant tape that is designed to go over the edges of the windows where the window meets the frame.
SWITCHES AND OUTLETS
A commonly overlooked area to lose heat is outlets and switch plates that are located on your outside walls. Insulation goes around the boxes that are in the wall. The box itself is usually left open to drafts that can make there way through and into your house. To seal out the draft install a outlet or switch insulator. These come in a kit that is pre-cut to either fit an outlet or a switch. I’ve heard of people using expanding spray foam to fill their electrical boxes and this is not something I would suggest. If you fill an box with spray foam there is no way of repairing or replacing any wiring in the box should anything fail, which inevitably will happen.
HOSE SPIGOT PIPING
Here is where expanding spray foam may come in handy. The hole that a plumber or builder makes for the hose spigot is usually fairly tight and more than likely has some form of fiberglass insulation around it. However, it definitely wouldn’t hurt to add some expanding spray foam around the area that the pipe goes through the wall. Use a expanding spray foam but be careful not to go to crazy with it. Some varieties are triple expanding and can potentially make a big mess. If there is excess allow it to dry and simply use a utility knife to trim it down.
DRYER VENT
You need to check two places for drafts on dryer venting. The first is the area where the piping is going through the outside wall. Outside of your house where the dryer vent comes through the wall seal the outer edge of the vent hood with caulking. The second thing to check is to make sure that your vent hood has a functioning door on it. This door allows the vented air to escape while the dryer is being used but it should close when it isn’t in use.

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