Posts

Winterizing Outdoor Faucets

Most any Michigander can explain the importance of winterizing exterior faucets, but do you actually know how?  It seems like a simple task, but there are a few tricks to getting it right.

1.)  Disconnect the Garden Hose – Simple, drain and store the hose and any accessories in the garage or shed.

2.)  Inspect – check fixtures for leaks and drips.  Water dripping, no matter how slowly can freeze in the pipe or the fixture.  While a frozen outdoor faucet may not be apparent until the next season, it may be possible to minimize the damage by repairing the leak before the winter.

3.) Drain – Getting as much water out of the pipes is the second step to winterize outdoor faucets. If you have a hose bib that is not freeze proof the best way to do this is to shut off that line if possible and drain it down. If you cannot isolate the water supply to hose bib to shut it off be sure to use extra insulation in the next step.

For a frost free hose bib this step isn’t necessary since the fixture’s design (when properly installed) keeps water well back away from the end of the spigot. Just as with regular hose bibs, however, hoses and other attachments should be removed from frost free hose bibs before the winter or they may not drain down properly.

4.)  Protect – The last step to winterize outdoor faucets is to protect them with insulation. An easy way to do this is to install a hose bib cover on each outdoor fixture including frost free hose bibs. Hose bib covers are square or dome shaped to fit right over outdoor faucets. They are made of thick foam so they are quite effective at keeping most of the cold away from the valve. When covering regular hose bibs that could not be drained extra insulation can be installed inside the hose bib cover to keep it warm and dry throughout the winter. In most situations, however, the hose bib cover will provide enough insulation.
Although they are resistant to freezing, Frost free hose bibs should be covered as well because although they are resistant to freezing they are not completely frost proof in the coldest weather. There are rubber gaskets and washers inside the frost free hose bibs that will benefit from the extra protection from the cold that a hose bib cover can provide.
Hose bib covers can be found in most hardware or home improvement stores and are very inexpensive and easy to install. Covers can usually be reused for several years so they are a good long term purchase. For just a few dollars per fixture you can winterize outside faucets quickly and then move on to any other winterizing plumbing tasks that may be necessary.

Side Note: Basement Waterproofing – Inside Strategies

In previous posts we’ve covered a few exterior options to protect your basement.  Now let’s review what options you have inside!  By installing a drainage system around the inside of the basement along the wall, you can capture water at the most common point of entry – the floor/wall joint.  Capturing water from the walls can prevent the center of the floor from leaking by intercepting the water at the perimeter.

There are advantages to an interior drainage system.

  1. Accessibility
  2. Affordability
  3. Quick Installation
  4. Serviceable
  5. IT WORKS!

Even in basements that are already finished, it is still much easier to waterproof from the inside than the outside.  Most Full-Time basement waterproofing companies offer interior drainage systems – – – each with their differences. Watch for our next Side Note where we cover the different interior waterproofing options.

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Outer Limits

By now we’ve learned that there are two types of basements – the ones that already leak and the ones that will eventually leak.  If the soil around the foundation of your home is pitched toward the foundation, it is a good idea to change the grade by adding dirt so that the soil slopes away.  Do not use sand or mulch which may absorb and hold water rather than water flowing away.  Don’t rely on grading alone to protect your foundation and keep your basement dry.

Try to keep any added dirt or additional landscaping 4″ below any siding.  If the siding is close or touching the soils it may rot, creating a new set of issues.  Proper grading as well as the proper use of gutters and downspouts will be a great help to your overall dry basement project.  Don’t rely on clean gutters alone to keep your basement dry.

Join us for more basement waterproofing facts as we continue our Side Note Series on Basements!

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Dry Basement

Buyers expect a dry basement.  No one wants to buy a home with a wet basement.  These days most states have disclosure forms that would require the seller to details a series of questions about the property…one of which is water in the basement.  Home inspectors are trained to find this sort of defect during a standard inspection.  A keen eyewall-floor-joint-basement-water1 for moisture problems can save you time and money.

There’s simply no way to hide a wet basement.  Buyers will often view a wet basement as a “Fixer-Upper” and lower their offer…sometimes up to 10%.  On a $150,000 house, that’s $15,000!  The moral of the story – – Fixing your wet basement is a lot cheaper than not fixing it.

Stay tuned for more information on basement waterproofing!

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Basement Space

Build-a-Basement-DesignEven though it may not be counted in the actual square footage of your home, your basement is VALUABLE space!  What can you do with your basement?  How about a Playroom for the kids, a Party Room or Family Room?  A home gym to keep you fit and healthy, or maybe a craft room for your creative side?  All of this and more could be possible.

You’re not going to finish your basement you say?  Even an unfinished basement is valuable space.  All the “stuff” that you would normally put into a dry, unfinished basement is now taking up finished space.  It’s crammed into the closets, the spare room, and the garage.  Taking some simple steps to drying and waterproofing your basement, you can move all that “stuff” downstairs and reclaim your finished space.

Keep up with our new series Side Note for more great basement information.

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

Side Note: Radon Gas & Waterproofing

Radon Gas is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that comes from radium deposits in the earth’s crust.  If present in the soil under your home, it can get sucked into your house via the basement or crawl space.

DON’T PANIC!  It’s fairly common and easy to get rid of.

Some people that know “a little”, think that basement waterproofing systems and radon mitigation systems are incompatible.  While it is true that gaps, cracks and hols in the basement floor and walls need to be sealed as part of the strategy to get rid of Radon, this can be done without compromising the waterproofing system.

 

Excerpts from Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why by Lawrence Janesky

4 Simple Checks for Winter Savings

During the cold winter months, homeowners in most of the country find it necessary to turn on the heaters to keep warm. You can save energy when heating your home by taking the time to winterize for maximum energy savings.

Create a Winter Plan

Due to increasing energy costs, winter heating will consume an increasingly larger portion of a household’s energy budget. That’s why it’s important to check your home to insure that your heating dollars aren’t being wasted.

The end of summer and the beginning of fall is a perfect time to get your home ready for the ensuing cold-weather months. Use the steps listed below to help formulate a plan to winterize.

Check for Leaks

Weather stripping and caulking are the least expensive, simplest, most effective way to reduce energy waste in the winter. Improperly sealed homes can waste 10% to 15% of a home’s heating dollars.

  1. Check around doors and windows for leaks and drafts. Add weather-stripping or caulk any holes that allow heat to escape. Make sure doors seal properly.
  2. If your windows leak badly, consider replacing them with newer, more efficient ones. Remember that replacing windows can be expensive – it could take you quite a while to recover your costs from the energy savings alone.
  3. Every duct, wire or pipe that penetrates the walls, ceiling, or floor has the potential to waste energy. Plumbing vents can be especially bad, since they begin below the floor and go all the way through the roof. Seal them all with caulking or weather-stripping.
  4. Electric wall plugs and switches allow cold air in. Pre-cut, foam gaskets that fit behind the switch plate can effectively prevent leaks.
  5. Don’t forget to close the damper on your fireplace if there is no fire burning. This acts as an open window.
  6. Examine your house’s heating ducts for leaks. Since you don’t see them every day, ducts can leak for years without you knowing it. They can become torn or crushed and flattened. Have damaged ducts repaired or replaced. Duct tape can work for a short time, but after a while, it dries up and becomes useless.

Check Your Insulation

Insulation reduces the heat flowing out of your home during the winter months. Ensuring that your home is properly insulated will help your save energy when the temperatures drop.

  1. Insulate your attic. In older homes, thin can be the most cost-efficient way to cut home heating costs. Prior to energy efficiency standards, homes were often built with little or no insulation. As a result, a large amount of heat is lost through walls, floors, and ceilings.  The amount of insulation that you should install depends upon where you live. Insulation is measured in R-values, or the resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the less resistant the product is to heat flow. Ask the salesperson at your local hardware store about the recommended R-values for your location.
  2. Weather-strip and insulate your attic hatch or door to prevent warm air from escaping out of the top of your house. Since warm air rises, this type of heat escape is common.
  3. Seal holes in the attic that lead down into the house, such as open wall tops and duct, plumbing, or electrical runs. Any hole that leads from a basement or crawlspace to an attic is a big energy waster. Cover and seal them with spray foam and rigid foam board if necessary.

 Review  your Heating System

Autumn is the perfect time to perform routine maintenance on your home’s heating system to ensure that it is running efficiently and effectively during the winter.

  1. Replace your heater’s air filter monthly. Since your heater will have to work less hard, it will run more efficiently. Cleaning and removing dust from vents or along baseboard heaters will have the same effect.
  2. If your heating system is old, you might consider updating it. A pre-1977 gas furnace is probably 50 percent to 60 percent efficient today. Modern gas furnaces, on the other hand, achieve efficiency ratings as high as 97 percent. Replacing an old heating system can cut your natural gas use nearly in half!
  3. Use your set-back thermostat if you have one. If you don’t have one, get one. A set-back thermostat allows you to automatically turn down the heat when you’re away at work or when you’re sleeping. you can then boost the temperature to a comfortable level when you need it. It takes less energy to warm a cool home than to maintain a warm temperature all day. Using a set-back thermostat can cut heating costs from 20% to 75%.Reverse the switch on your ceiling fans so they blow upward. This is especially valuable in high ceiling rooms, where heat that naturally rises is forced back down into the room.
  4. Make sure all hearing vents are opened and unblocked by furniture or other items. This will ensure that the air is evenly distributed through the home.