Sealing Your Home Before Winter

A man sealing his sliding door from drafts.

Winter is upon us, and depending on where you live, the temperatures can go from hot to cold in an instant. However, before this happens, there are several home maintenance rituals you should partake in, including sealing your home.

There may be poorly insulated areas or drafts in your home, letting the warmth out and costing you extra money on your monthly heating bills. Read on to learn how to avoid it!

Finding Drafts

Drafts are around your windows, doors, chimneys, basement, and attic. In addition, some plumbing vents or wiring holes could create drafts. So, how do you find them? In cold temperatures, you can feel the more frigid wind. You can also bring a candle around, and if it starts flickering, there’s a draft.

If you still suspect a draft but cannot find it, you can speak to a professional who can help you find drafts that are usually challenging to spot.

Insulating Attics

Most of the time, drafts are due to a poorly insulated attic. When you enter your attic, look around for areas that may need more insulation.

One place to check is the area around recessed lights. These lights tend to have open vents unless you have lights that are labeled ICAT (insulation contact and air tight,) which seal them. You can purchase an airtight baffle, which you can use to seal any lights.

Drafts can also sneak in through open stud cavities. These stud cavities may be hidden behind the insulation. Luckily, some fiberglass insulation inside plastic garbage bags can be a simple, affordable way for you to seal it away. In addition, you can close more significant gaps through drywall scraps or reflective foil insulation.

Last, you can better insulate your attic by sealing the attic hatch door. You can caulk in the area located between the rough opening and the stair frame. For more money, you can purchase a hatch cover kit. This is only recommended if you do not need to access the attic during the winter months.

When working in the attic, remember that safety comes first! Whenever you visit your attic, be sure that you wear disposable clothing, a mask or respirator, lights, and walk on plywood for support. If your insulation is vermiculite, you may also want it inspected for asbestos. Do not hesitate to contact a professional if you are unsure of your safety.

Plugging Gaps

When you search for drafts, you may notice drafts located in all areas of the house, ranging from small to big. One example can involve the gaps around any chimneys or flues. In addition, you may find gaps between wood framing and your chimney due to building codes. To close the gap, you can use aluminum flashing sealed with high-temperature caulk made from silicone.

If there are any medium-sized gaps (between ¼ inch and 3 inches), you can use a polyurethane foam with low expansion to plug them up.

Meanwhile, ordinary caulk works well for any gaps under a quarter inch. It’s affordable and effective, and you should use it as much as possible. But, of course, there are instances when you may need silicone, which can fill any gaps in areas with extreme temperatures or nonporous materials.

In your basement, the same principles apply, such as using caulk for smaller gaps. However, when sealing cracks related to vent pipes, you will want to use a caulk that can handle higher temperatures.

While you’re at it, you may consider purchasing foam sealant when dealing with areas near wires or pipes.

Check Doors and Windows

Your windows and doors, particularly front and back doors, can create drafts. This principle applies further to doors and windows that are older. If your window or door has seen better days, you may want to consider replacing it.

That said, most windows and doors are fixable via weatherstripping and caulk. You can purchase bronze weatherstripping, which can last for a long time but is tougher to install than other options. Adhesive-backed EPDM rubber can last a decade and is affordable to buy. You can also use pulley seals, which can block drafts in the areas where the cords vanish due to the frames.

Although this may seem like common sense, always make sure that your windows and doors are fully shut. Even a slight crack can create a draft, so double-check them often.

Final Thoughts

Properly insulating your home can save money on your energy bills, and the materials you use for it cost little and last for a long time. Hire a professional for the tough jobs but note that many of these are doable through DIY and TLC.

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