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Don’t Let Water Drip

garden-hoseDripping Water is almost never a good thing.  Fall preparations must include removal of garden hoses from outdoor faucets.   Don’t get caught by a sudden cold snap and have surprise damage – make this one a priority!  Leaving hoses attached can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the pipes inside the exterior walls.  When the colder temps arrive, the water left behind could freeze, expand and crack the faucet or pipes.

Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.   Don’t forget to drain those hoses and store them in the garage or outdoor storage shed.

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.

 

Fall Clean-Up and Winterization Tips – PART 1

Whether you live in Troy, Warren, Livonia or any other city in Southeast Michigan, you are probably already working towards fall cleanup and /or home winterization. 

 To help protect and preserve your most valuable financial asset, here are some helpful tips while you ready your home for the upcoming winter months:

 EXTERIOR

1. Caulk – I always recommend caulking all or any open voids to seal out air, water, or any furry little creatures looking for a nice warm place to live for the winter (raccoons, squirrels and mice are common nuisances found in Oakland and Macomb counties.)  This includes sealing around windows and doors.  Make sure you also caulk around wires or pipes coming into the structure. 

2.  Roof – When performing roof inspections, check for loose, damaged, or missing shingles or shakes.  Check the soffits for signs of moisture build up.  Check the flashings around the chimney.  If cracks or splits are detected, use a roof tar or all weather caulk to seal the joints.  This should insure water tightness around the chimney.

3.  Gutters – Make sure the all the gutters are clean and the gutter joints are caulked.  Importance should be paid to the pitch of the gutters to insure water is running toward the downspouts.  Make sure the gutters are secured to the structure and no decayed wood is detected at the soffit or facia. Gutter Extension

 Along with the gutters discharging properly, it is important to keep the downspouts away from the foundation.  I recommend a minimum of 3 feet for gutter extensions, but the magic number is 5 feet.  I live in St. Clair Shores and we generally experience water penetration issues attributed to block walls in our basements.  At my house the downspouts extend 8-10 feet.  I put stakes at the end of my downspouts during the winter because when the snow covers them, letter carriers and solicitors step on them and crush them.

 4.   Foundations  – Foundations should be inspected during rainstorms for proper drainage away from the structure.  I tell all of my clients to raise up the grade and get the water away from the structure as much as possible.  Anytime I see a tar coating on the exterior basement wall, I will tell my clients that the grade is too low.  I recommend bringing in dirt to raise up the grade.  Slope should fall away from the foundation at a minimum of ½ inch per foot and extend at least 10 feet from the foundation.  I recommend bringing in dirt to raise up the grade.  (Free dirt is good dirt so be sure to research free options before purchasing.)

 * Be sure to check back for more home winterization tips, to be posted in the coming weeks…