The best time to begin preparations for winterizing your home is before Old Man Winter pays a visit. And with fall well underway, now is the perfect time!
Making your home more energy efficient for winter might entail covering windows with plastic, winterizing basement windows, making sure attic and basement insulation is adequate, and replacing worn weather-stripping. It might also include preparing external faucets for freezing temperatures and protecting internal pipes with insulating tube or heating tape.
Preparing Outdoor Water Faucets for Winter
Regardless of whether your outdoor water faucets are frost-free or the hose bib type found on older homes, external faucets should be bled before freezing temperatures cause problems.
Many homes have an interior shutoff valve for exterior faucets; typically located on the interior wall of the house, directly behind the exterior faucet. The valve will either be a gate valve (round, wheel-shaped), or a ball valve (one with a lever).
Turn a gate valve clockwise to shut off the water supply to the outdoor water faucet; turn a ball valve a quarter turn. If the valve is difficult to turn, apply a lubricating spray, and then turn with an adjustable wrench.
A cold weather cover will provide extra protection. Try this: cut a hole in the center of the cover to an empty plastic butter or margarine tub, large enough to fit over the faucet. Place the lid over the faucet, the lid top should be against the house. Secure the lid to the house siding using screws or tacks.
Wrap a strip of fiberglass pipe insulation around the faucet, and secure with masking tape. Push the plastic tub over the faucet, and snap it onto the lid.
How to Install Insulating Tube on Interior Water Pipes
The quickest, easiest method of insulating exposed interior water pipes is to use insulating tube made for that purpose. This will help prevent frozen pipe problems caused by prolonged freezing temperatures. Use insulating tube on exposed pipes under the sink, against outer walls, and in the basement.
One great feature of this type insulation is that you do not need to remove it after winter. In fact, leaving the insulating tube on pipes year-round makes your home more energy efficient. It reduces energy used by the water heater to heat cold water. It also reduces noisy pipe sounds.
Interior pipe insulating tubes come in a variety of lengths, diameters, and materials. Therefore, measure length and diameter of pipes before purchasing tubes. Standard-sized residential pipes are ½-inch and ¾-inch.
Insulating tubes are pre-slit down the center; simply place around the pipe, peel off the tape located on both edges, and stick them together as you work your way down the length of the tube.
Use a utility knife to cut the tube to fit the length of pipes, and duct tape to cover seams of connecting tubes. Caulk and/or weather strip around pipe entry points that travel through exterior walls.
A Word About Heating Tape
Heating tape might be a better way to insulate water pipes in areas where winters are extreme. It is plastic coated wire to wrap around pipes, plugged into an electrical outlet to keep pipes from freezing.
Also known as â€œheat cable,â€ heating tape is relatively easy to install. Different types of heating tape have distinct requirements; read and follow instructions carefully, and take necessary precautions. Also make sure to plug the tape into a properly functioning ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI), to protect against electrical shock.
Other Ways to Winterize Your Home
Installing insulation behind electrical plugs on walls with an exterior side is a good idea. Kits can be purchased at home improvement and most department stores. They are a cost-effective way to help fortify the interior of your home against the cold - making it more energy efficient.
For more effective heating, replace your furnace filter each month; vacuum heating vents and other heating components. Also consider replacing old fashioned furnace thermostats with a programmable LED model.
This will allow you to regulate the temperature to a lower setting for times when no one is at home, or while everyone is tucked in bed for the night. Set temperatures warmer for first thing in the morning, or when people are home.
An additional coat of sealer will help protect outside decks against the winter, and mulch or straw in and around garden beds will help protect perennials from freezing. If you use wood or pellets to help heat your home, be sure you have a good supply on hand.
Another great way to winterize your home and conserve energy is to replace old windows with new. A home design or remodeling expert can give expert advice on styles and combinations of windows that will not only weatherize your home and cut down of heating costs. But enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home's exterior and increase the market value of your home, as well.
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