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Winter House Preperation

2243 Views 6 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  endurance
So like most of you Ive been getting the house ready for winter. My wife and just bought this house from my sister and we have done a ton of work on it over the summer and just trying to fit in some last minute things.
here is a list of things ive done so far...
1.sealed the windows up. Either with plastic or that wrap you 'shrink' on the windows or plastic on the outside.
2. Corrected some gutter issues and made sure rain water is going away from the house correctly.
3. seal up the doors with weather stripping and caulked some other spots.
4. i completely caulked the around one other window. I dont care if it opens ever again as long as its airtight :)
5. we bought NEW Central heat and Air. 90+% efficiency, programmable thermostat etc.
Ive still got to put up the water hose outside and put a cover over the outside AC unit.
We have already had several snow flurries. It actually covered the road last night in just a few minutes just out of nowhere. I have a feeling this winter will be a wet and slick one with lots of snow. i think the low here for tonight is 17 already...

What are some other things to add to the list or things you guys have been doing to greet 'old man winter.'?
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I got this idea from another forum.
I bought some cheap blankets at walmart for less than $5 each and sewed them into curtains to insulate a large window and sliding door in a part of the house we don't use much. It'll also prevent any snoopers from seeing in. I got some extra in case we want to partition off part of the house to conserve heat.
I also did the caulk and plastic thing for other doors and windows.
We have a bay window seat that really gets cold. I put plastic on the window part, but the base still let in a lot of cold. I got a cheap vinyl tablecloth with the fuzzy backing the same color as the wood and taped it down to hold in more heat.
I need to look into those venting filter boxes for your clothes dryer exhaust hose so I can vent the warm air into the house instead of outside. If anyone has tried these, let me know what you think.
That's all I can think of. I'm hoping to get more ideas.
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Look for an outside water faucet shut off and turn it off, then open the outside spigot so it drains.
That will keep the 'External' pipes from freezing and bursting.

Disconnect garden hoses and drain them.
Hoses will hold water against the outside spigot and cause it to freeze and burst,
The 'Frost Free' spigots are completely defeated if you leave a hose on them!

Look in the basement for pipes that are not insulated, or next to outside walls that can freeze.
That includes drains.

Put 'Heat Tape' with thermostat on the exposed water lines, then insulate.
Remember, heat tapes with thermostat won't waste electricity, they don't turn 'On' until it gets to about 34 degrees at the pipe!

Use the 'On/Off' switched type of heat tape on drains.
Drains don't often freeze, but when they do, they are a real PAIN to get thawed!
Turning on a heat tape under insulation is a MUCH easier way to thaw them out than getting under the house with a kerosene blast heater and spending two days trying to thaw it out on the coldest day of the year!

Remember to use a CLOSED CELL, WATER PROOF INSULATION anywhere it's going to be damp or it's going to contact the ground!
Water saturated insulation is no good what so ever!

Remember to dig down about a foot and put the insulation that deep!
Frost will penetrate up to 1 foot even in the middle states, so it's a good idea to start your waterproof insulation below ground level in crawlspaces,
Even deeper if the pipe/connection is outside the foundation!

The absolute BEST way to freeze up a drain is with a dripping faucet!
That constant slow trickle of water is a GREAT way to build up ice in a drain!

Usually, large amounts of water go through and carry enough heat/mass to keep the drain open (or re-open a party frozen drain...

A slow drip supplies a small enough amount of water it freezes easily and builds up over time until the drain is completely blocked, then you have a REAL problem!

The pipes might not freeze, but the drains will, then you have a flood in the house!

Don't use one LONG heat tape to wrap everything.

They suck a lot of juice, and are inefficient.

Shorter sections, even though the require more wiring, are MUCH more efficient since the heat they produce will transfer up and down the pipe, you are likely to only have ONE small one come on right where it's needed, instead of one HUGE one kick on, dim the lights, and heat things up where the heat isn't needed...

Make sure you wrap the pipe/heat tape AFTER you install the tape!
No sense making the heat if you don't keep it in the pipe!

Check outside vents,
Cloths Dryer, Foundation vents, ect. for insulation.

Foundation vents aren't nearly as useful in the winter since cold air doesn't have a lot of moisture in it...
Close them and insulate them.

Dryer vents transport a LOT of cold air into the house if the little 'Flapper' door doesn't close!
The cold air just RUSHED out of my dryer in the basement and it was all do to a little lint ball holding the 'Flapper' door open!

Use Styrofoam insulation board to insulate the tops (exposed) parts of basement walls and windows!
So many people overlook the basement windows, and if you stand next to one of them in the winter, it will freeze you to death with the cold air that rolls off of them!

Outside (Plate) floor joist tails are often over looked when people insulate the floors in homes with crawl spaces or basements!
Get into those floor joist boxes and make sure they are insulated!

Check your electrical outlet boxes on cold days...
Often, especially in older homes, you will feel the outlet is cold, or there is air coming in around the outlets.

Moisture and air barriers weren't commonly used until the early 70's, and in some places, it was the late 70's before they used an air barrier!

There are outlet box 'Gaskets' that go under the face plates to keep the cold air out and they are worth every penny...
Simply unscrew the face plate, put a gasket on the back of the face plate, and put it back on with the screw. Nothing to it...

Everyone tells you that adding insulation in the attic is some big deal...
It isn't.

Buy the blocks of 'Cellulose' insulation at the local home discount store,
Open them, break them down into blocks small enough to fit through the hole into your attic, and take them up there,

Then break them up with a common yard rake and push the fluffed up insulation into the ceiling joists.

People tell you that you can't install that stuff without a 'Machine' and all kinds of other stuff, but it's not true...
I paid to have my first home done, about $1,700 for the attic only, and the contractor used a machine...
But I noticed he did about as much surface area with a rake, by hand, as he did with the blowing machine!

Machine is faster, but if you are doing your attic a little at a time as the budget allows, then a rake is fine and works great!

Other than dusty (wear a paper dust mask) there isn't any real draw back to doing this yourself.
The cellulose isn't itchy like fiberglass, doesn't cause problems like 'Zonolite' or 'Virmiculte' insulation does.
It's simply ground up newspapers with an insecticide and fire preventer added.

Lay backed fiberglass mat (the itchy stuff) over the cellulose if you like, but it's not really necessary...

That insulation will pay you back much more than it's worth EVERY SINGLE WINTER!
The bundles of Cellulose are cheap, easy to install, and you don't have an excuse except for being lazy!

If you have a basement, radiant floor heating will save you a TON of money on energy and upkeep, but the install is more expensive than standard furnaces.

If you have an unfinished basement, ADD FLOOR JOIST INSULATION!
Fiberglass, or in my case, recycled denim mat insulation!
The denim mat was only slightly more difficult to install that the 'Standard' fiberglass mats, and since it wasn't itchy and didn't irritate breathing or eyes, was well worth the small amount of added work!
(only a little harder to cut the bats than fiberglass was the only real difference)
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Can you tell I've lived in a LOT of old houses?!!! :D
Cleaned out the gutters yesterday and cleared some summer debris still laying around. Turned my mulch pile. Tomorrow I'm going to update all the stripping around doors and windows (Should have already done this but I've been busy)

My biggest chore is repairing some old termite damage that left about a 3 foot peice of soffit open on my porch. It exposes a section of my inside wall and needs to be repaired ASAP.
I wish I could but it's still 80 degrees here.
This might work for some of you, but it's certainly not for everyone. When I was working graveyard shift I needed my bedroom to be completely dark, so I went to the local fabric shop and bought a 4'x4'x6" block of upholstry foam used for making sofa cushions and cut it to size so it would fit perfectly into the window frame. I wrapped it in a sheet that more or less matched the drapes and shoved it into the window frame when I got home everyday. Not only did it block out all of the light in my bedroom, it made the bedroom the warmest room in the house by at least 5 degrees when my door was closed.
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