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9 Ways to Protect Your Home’s Interior from Winter.

In Sioux Falls, SD and the other northern states of the US, homeowners are well aware of the damage that can be caused to their homes. Some Sioux Falls residents understand the steps to take toward preventing ice and snow from intruding into walls, roofs, and plumbing. However, there are times when deterioration can occur that is unavoidable because home owners don’t understand they have the ability to protect the winter weather assault to their house.

Joseph Truini with Popular Mechanics Magazine points out 10 ways a homeowner can prevent winter damage to the inside of their house:

  • Check that attic insulation is adequate.
  • Caulk cracks.
  • Fans that reverse the direction of the blade rotation.
  • Install outlet gaskets.
  • Install low-e storm windows.
  • Put up insulated blinds or quilted drapes.
  • Replace weather stripping on doors
  • Change furnace filters.
  • Insulate the pipes.

ATTIC

Many homes have inadequate insulation in the attic. Heat from the home leaks into the dead space and may cause melting of ice and snow on the roof. Check out our blog on “6 Ways to Protect your Exterior Home from Winter” to educate yourself on the expensive damage this can cause to roofs, walls, and siding. First, send some brave soul into the attic with a caulking gun to check for leaks to the exterior. Check pipes, ducts, and wires with a lighter to scope out invisible leaks. Next, place an insulated cover over places that you can’t lay insulation, like the stairway and attic hatchway. Is too much insulation a good thing? The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that R-48 insulation (for northern stated) should be 10 to 14 inches deep. If the insulation is level or below the floor joists, you need to add more. With good attic insulation, you will experience a more pleasant living temperature in the house, but pollen and dust will be screened out more efficiently. Plus, according to Realtor.com, the in-the-know homebuyer is willing to increase their bid as much as $1500 for a well-insulated attic. In addition to increasing the resale value of the house, proper insulation can drop heating bills as much as 30%.

Damage Costs: The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that winter 20199 will see the average bill for warming a home to be about $595 for natural gas or $1,646 for heating oil to keep warm. Yup, they are up from last year.  

Homeowner Actions:  Home Guide estimates that having a professional low in adequate insulation for South Dakota will run between $875 and $2,160 (or $1.59 per square foot). Of air sealing and ventilation needs a upgrade, tack on another $350 to $1500

CRACKS TO THE OUTSIDE

TG Handyman Pro knows how to find where cold air is getting in and warm air is getting out. Using a high-quality sealant, certified workers can check around windows, where siding overlaps foundation, hose faucets, and doors. When do-it-your-selfers tromp down to their local hardware store, the products they use may trap moisture in the house from breathing, cooking, showers and baths, and just moving around. Don’t forget all these activities produce germs and smells that also are not filtered outside. Since most homeowners want to continue to do these things, wet accumulates. But, you might say, when we start using the heater, won’t it dry everything out? Well, yeah, but . . . . this will promote interior materials like doors, floors, trim, drywall, and others to expand and contract. The homeowner will be horrified to find cracks in the walls, floors that have heaved up or down in some areas, doors that no longer open or close easily, and trim separating away from the walls. Even grout around tiles on the floor, kitchen, and bath can separate and you’re back to the moisture, mold, and mildew. Grit your teeth because moisture freezing in the attic or the crawl space encourages bug infestations, mold and mildew, and warping the wood frame.

Damage Costs:  Fixr quotes professional air sealing at around $350 to $600 for a 2500 sq. ft home. On the other hand, consider the cost of replacing drywall, floors, wood trim, exterminators, plumbing, siding . . . the list goes on and on while the expense could be astronomical.

Homeowner Actions: Fans. In the summer, fans whirling counterclockwise will cool the room, but by changing the direction to clockwise, it pulls the warm air up toward the ceiling. Buy those cheap outlet gaskets made of foam for electrical outlets. You won’t BELIEVE the amount of cold air coming in all over the house! Literally so easy, one of your kids could do it with a screwdriver. And as tempting as it is to put a timer on the heater to drop the temperature in the house at night when everyone is under a blanket, it’s better to keep the heat in the home a steady temperature. In addition, keep the upstairs a little cooler to prevent the melting of snow that results in water both inside and outside of house. 

UNINSULATED WINDOW GLASS

You’ve seen people putting up storm windows and taking them down again when the weather warms and you wondered, is that really worth it?  The answer is YES! If the home only has single-pane glass, cold will seep in and cause drafts and discomfort. If the leaks are really bad, a high wind could blow out the pilot lights on the heater, oven, or stove and allow a gas leak into the home! Yikes! Storm windows may need putting up and taking down, especially if you like opening your windows, but they give an extra layer of protection against the cold. According to the Department of Energy, using low-e interior OR exterior storm windows:

  1. costs about ¼ the expense of replacing the entire window.
  2. Will pay back their cost in about 5-7 years with lower heating costs.
  3. Look nice.
  4. Can be installed inside the house, which is usually easier than outside the house. 
  5. Makes the house more quiet.
  6. Makes the house warmer by reducing drafts.
  7. Acting as an air sealer which can keep cold air out, heat in, and AC lower in the summer by cutting leakage by 10%.
  8. If left up in the summer, they reflect heat 35% better than windows that are not insulated or older types of storm windows if left up all year.            

Damage Costs:  Pretty much just heating and cooling bills lowered, but think about where you would rather spend that 13% you will save.  

Homeowner Actions: If the home is newer and has insulated glass, you’re set.  Otherwise, consider buying the new low-e storm windows which are much more effective than the old ones with plain glass.  Heating and cooling bills are cut by 12%-13%. If the cost of storm windows all around is prohibitive for you, think about insulating window treatments like insulated blinds or thick, quilted drapes. Also, these can stay up all year long because they keep out heat as well as cold.

DRAFTS AROUND EXTERIOR DOORS

If you haven’t stood by a drafty door, you must be living in a bubble. This is a cause of doors not properly installed or the settling of the house, or a number of other reasons. The cold wind whipping around the door is a result of inadequate weather stripped. Eyeball the stripping for cracks, torn, or gone. Now close the door and see if you see light. That’s where the air is coming through and looking for your feet. If it still looks good, that a stick of incense or anything else that smokes and trail it around all four edges of the door. If it moves towards you, so is cold air.        

Damage Costs:  Same as not having storm windows on uninsulated glass windows. Same money. Spend it somewhere else. Boom.

Homeowner Actions: Install new weather stripping.  This is pretty inexpensive and it’s easy to install.

FURNACE

This is not about the Benjamins needed to replace an old or inefficient furnace. Get quotes from a number of HVAC companies for that. However, it is about el cheapo furnace filters.  Yup, that’s what I said. The furnace filter is often overlooked unless it’s put on the calendar for every two months and it can make a real difference in your heating bill (see last to suggestions). A dirty, clogged furnace filter doesn’t allow the air to circulate after being heated.

Damage Costs:  Higher heating. Simple, but important.

Homeowner Actions: Furnace filters are pretty inexpensive. If you’re in the money, buy a box so that no having one on hand won’t make you forget about it. Even better, spring for the $30 and purchase an electrostatic filter that is reusable. Reusable is always good! It’s also a good idea, if you have central heat and air, to have that HVAC guy come out every year and do an inspection. Well worth the money.

PIPES

Exposed pipes both inside and outside the house can run a risk of freezing. This is not just a matter of not having water, which is bad enough. It involves gushing water after the pipe breaks which, well, freezes. Picture your basement or crawl space with a pool, just not one for swimming. In addition, wrapping the hot water pipes will cut down on the work your water heater does and your hot water will come out of the pipes faster.

Damage Costs:  One word: Catastrophic. State Farm Insurance says the average homeowner insurance claim for frozen pipes is $15,000.

Homeowner Actions: The cheap ways to keep pipes freezing are:

  1. Wrap pipes with foam or duct-taping insulation.
  2. Turn off outside faucets.
  3. Keep the heat on.
  4. Let faucets drip a little.
  5. Open cabinet doors.

If you suspect the pipes are frozen in part of your house because water isn’t coming out of a tap:

  1. Turn off the water at the main or the meter. If you don’t know how to do this, learn!
  2. Warm the pipe with a hairdryer.
  3. Have someone open the faucet while you check for leaks.

If you hear the expensive sound of whooshing water ANYWHERE, immediately shut off the water to the house and call a plumber STAT!

THE FINAL WORD is that an everyday homeowner can do an amateur inspection of his homes interior to check for the current and potential damage winter can blast onto and into his home. A top professional like TG Handyman Pro in Sioux Falls can do it better.    

Does TG Handyman Pro do estimates for the inside of homes? You bet! Summer, spring, winter, or fall, TG Handyman Pro will come out to assess existing or potential damage caused by cold, ice, and snow inside your home. A free in-home estimate is available for any suggested repairs.

What about weatherizing the interior of my home? Check out our blog on10 Ways to Protect Your Home’s Interior from Winter.Handyman Pro can help with most of the ways to prevent leakage out of the home that causes exterior and interior damage and drives up heating bills.  Call today or email us for more information and to obtain a professional estimate for the Sioux Falls area!

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