How to Weatherproof Your Home
Each season brings us different household issues to deal with. When it’s rainy or incredibly cold, your basement could get flooded. During the hot or humid weather, the AC needs to work double time to keep your interiors cool. But many homeowners miss the fact that they need to adequately weatherproof their homes to avoid such awful conditions, which in the long run, could cause more complicated and expensive consequences.
“What is weatherproofing, anyway?” you might ask. Weatherproofing is the process of making a building, such as your home, resistant or able to withstand the impacts of severe weather, such as rain. Consider it this way: you wouldn’t want to go out in the rain without an umbrella, raincoat, and boots on, would you? Otherwise, you’ll get dripping wet and run the risks of getting sick.
In the same way, when a house is exposed and left unprotected against the ravages of severe weather, it can get flooded which can weaken the structural foundation of the building and become home to mold and mildew. Simply said, the lack of weatherproofing can breed other complicated conditions, cause utter inconvenience and discomfort and even expose your family towards sicknesses. Importantly, without weatherproofing, you could suffer from costly utility and your home can go down in value.
Importance of Weatherproofing
Protect Against Structural Damages
Weatherproofing is an excellent way of keeping your abode safe and comfortable for the entire family. Without weatherproofing in place, the structural foundation of your home can get damaged as time passes by, until such time that it can no longer hold your house together. You want to put these protective and preventive measures in place to address the current issues and prevent them from worsening.
Keep Your Family Safe
Unnoticeable small leakages can threaten the health of your family, and without weatherproofing, these seemingly small issues can turn into a major concern. During heavy rains and snow, water can seep into your home and moisten the walls and floors. And it is in these places where molds and mildew grow and thrive the most, causing respiratory and other health complications to the family members. Weatherproofing can prevent mold and mildew from inhabiting your home and create a safer and more secure atmosphere for your family.
Bring Down Your Utility Bills
If your home sports small gaps here and there and a number of leakages at the attic and basement, chances are, you’re also suffering from expensive energy bills. Those gaps become the exit and entrance points of unwanted air and water in your home. During summer, humid air can enter those gaps and warm the insides of your home, causing your AC to work more. And in winter time, extra cold air may enter your home through those leaks and prompt you to blast the thermostat up. These conditions can put a toll on your power usage and cause you to pay more than necessary.
Places to Check for Leakages
It doesn’t take a lot of time to check the crucial parts of the home where leaks are likely to take place: doors, windows, seals and the attic. It’s wise to spot existing and potential problems right away so you can make your home more energy-efficient, safe and comfortable without spending so much for costly repairs.
Doors and Windows
Visually inspect all doors to see if there are gaps and leaks where water and air could unnecessarily pass through. Try to close and open the door or window to check on the functionality of the hinges. When hinges are weak and that the door doesn’t fit snugly into the frame, it’s likely that it sports air leaks.
There are other ways to find out if the doors and windows have leaks. First, dampen your hand with water. Pass the wet hand around the window and door frames. If your damp hand feels cold in some areas, then there are drafts at those places.
Another way to check is using an incense stick. But first, make sure to turn off your HVAC unit and all the fans. Close the door and windows. Run lighted incense sticks along the suspected leak areas and check if the smoke is blown or sucked towards the home interiors, then there are indeed leaks along those places.
The seals around your windows keep the indoor air inside, and outdoor elements outside. When the seals fail, your home is subject to leaks that can cause additional expense to your utility bill as well as make the house feel extra hot or cold, driving the HVAC unit to work on the double.
Most homes nowadays have windows with double and triple panes which are housed in an airtight frame. Over the course of time or due to neglect, the seals around the frame can fail, thereby allowing outdoor air in and inside air out.
The first thing you have to do to check on window seals is to clean them first. You need to make sure that both sides of the windows are clean so you can see clearly when you move to the next step. Next, check for fogging and moisture between the two panes. When these elements are present, it’s likely that the seal isn’t working efficiently. Lastly, try to stand several feet away from the windows and check if your image appears distorted. Windows with failed seals are likely to produce distortions.
The attic is also a very likely place to sport air and water leaks. To find out where these leaks are, make sure to go up the attic on a particularly sunny day. Upon visual inspection, you’ll see light streaming through holes from the roof, giving sunlight, air, and water easy access inside your home.
It is also best to recheck the attic on a rainy or stormy day. Bring a flashlight and inspect every inch of the loft, from the ceiling down to the floor. If the holes you previously found remained uncovered, it is likely that rainwater will pass through them as well.
On any other day, you’ll know that your attic has become vulnerable to leaks when you see molds forming up, there are stains on your walls and the floor, and you notice rotting of wood.
Are you ready to weatherproof your home? Here are the best steps to take in every area of your house to make sure the entire abode is energy-efficient, safe and secured all throughout the year.
Upgrade Your Windows
Windows are some of the most popular points for drafts and leaks, especially if your home still has some of those single-paned windows from way before. And while broken windows are potential culprits for higher energy bills in your home, these are also essential parts of the house that provide ventilation and vantage points for magnificent scenery. Older windows do allow you to have both, but they also aren’t as energy-efficient and can make your home interiors feel uncomfortable.
Considering a windows upgrade can be one of the best decisions you make for your home, particularly if you figured your old windows led to unnecessary energy losses. However, there’s no standard time as to when you should replace and upgrade your windows. There are a lot of factors that contribute to the windows’ wear and tear such as your location, type of windows and the local weather in your area. But you do that an upgrade is in order when your old windows are doing more harm than good to your home.
What should you get for your next windows, then?
According to the Department of Energy, your replacement windows should be designed to maximize energy efficiency in your home. It is essential to pick windows with Energy-Star rating, to begin with. Other features for energy-efficient windows include glazing which helps minimize solar heat gain and manner of operation. Additionally, it is recommended to have the installation performed by professional as this ensure that windows are snug and airtight against their frames, therefore preventing air leakages from occurring.
Upgrading your windows can be a huge undertaking financially as the materials and labor don’t come cheap. If you’re wondering whether this is the best solution for your case, get a professional to look at the conditions of your windows and ask for an estimated quote. The expense of such upgrade will pay for itself in the long run, especially when you start enjoying the savings from reduced utility bills.
Shade Your Windows
According to Cornell University in New York, approximately 35% of heat escapes through the windows of an average family home. Homes with single pane windows also lose 20 times more heat while double pane windows lose ten times more heat than an adequately-insulated wall. However, heat loss during winter and heat gain during can be reduced significantly through appropriate window treatments.
Shading your windows against heat gain can improve the indoor atmosphere as well as help reduce your utility costs. In the summer where heat gain is at its peak, shading becomes increasingly important, especially in areas where windows are directly exposed to sunlight. Insufficiently weatherproofed windows can lead to loss of cool air and entry of humid air into your home.
There are varieties of window treatments that can insulate your home against heat gains and losses, as well as provide streams of natural light. During winter, you may have used thick and heavy curtains to keep the warm air in, but in the summer, you need a different approach. Most people like to put sheer curtains especially on windows facing the sun to reduce heat gains all the while allowing the natural light in.
Meanwhile, some homes sport other types of window treatments which also have excellent insulating properties, such as Venetian blinds, draperies, shutters, and rollers.
Natural shade providers like trees and shrubs can also provide excellent insulation to your windows. However, you don’t want to do this without carefully studying the layout of your property and determining the correct spots where you intend to plant them. Otherwise, you run the risk of roots damaging your house’s foundations as well limbs that may fall on your home when the tree grows in a few years.
But when done right, trees and shrubs can provide great shade in the summer and help in filtering the air. Deciduous trees are the best option because they shed leaves in the winter and allow some sunlight to enter your home.
Weather Strip Under Doors
Over time, the door loses its ability to insulate which results in the entry of chilly winter breeze or escape of precious warm air. Thankfully, weather-stripping is a low-cost and easy fix to drafty doors.
The bottom of the door is a very likely place for air leaks. Most doors do come with readily installed weather-stripping, but time and neglect can cause wear and tear. First, make sure to check whether you can adjust the weather-stripping tool to close the gap. Often, this simple exercise solves the issue.
However, if the wear on the weather-stripping is too much, it’s about time you get a replacement. Most home improvement shops carry replacements for around $10-$20. When you get a suitable weather-stripping replacement, remove the door from its hinges and set on the floor or any level surface. Remove the worn out weather-stripping.
Take the weather-stripping replacement and measure to fit the bottom of the door. Attach the new weather-stripping and put the door back to its hinges. Try closing and opening the door a couple of times to gauge the fit, and if done correctly, your door should be now more energy-efficient.
Awning On Patios
Putting up awnings on your patio is a wise investment as far as aesthetics, enhanced curb appeal and energy savings go. At times when summer becomes horridly hot, exposing your home to the sun becomes a problem. Not only does the extra warm temperature make you feel uncomfortable, but it also increases the opportunity for heat gains which can turn into financial losses if not correctly addressed.
Awnings are canopies that you put in your patio to create shade. For a house that receives full sun during the day, the interior of your home can feel unbearably hot. Forced to put the thermostat down to several degrees, your AC unit now needs to work more to counter the outside heat.
Properly-located awnings in your patio can catch most of the sun’s wrath instead of your walls and windows getting directly exposed. And now that you abode feels cooler in the summer, you can pocket as much as 23% of your yearly cooling expenses.
It’s also better to invest in retractable awnings because you have the option to retract during winter and let some sunlight come in. That means you get to have the sun or not, depending on the season.
According to the Professional Awning Manufacturers Association or PAMA, sunlight coming through glass windows can make your AC work more by 20%. Awnings help counter the demand for energy by cooling your home off during a harsh summer day. And by reducing your use of energy, you also reduce your carbon footprint and contribution to gas emissions. PAMA considers awnings not just energy-efficient, but eco-friendly as well.
And on top of assisting you in reducing utility bills, awnings also shade your patio furniture and children’s play area. These mechanisms also extend your living space and create an illusion of a larger looking property, thereby enhancing your home’s curb appeal.
Add Insulation to the Attic
One of the best ways to keep your home green as well as reap some savings from your heating and cooling costs is insulating the attic. In fact, if it’s difficult or impossible for you to insulate the entirety of your home due to certain constraints, the attic is one place you shouldn’t miss. Insulating the attic can be messy and meticulous, but it’s a project that you can undertake yourself.
Before starting to insulate the attic, This Old House suggests that you stop making the attic as your storage area. You’ll have to insulate the floor with the right insulation materials and covering your attic floor with out-of-season clothes and decors limits your ability for weatherproofing.
Next, you need to consider what material to use for insulation. You basically have two options: blanket insulation or loose fill. You can use either material to add another layer of insulation over the existing one or build a brand new layer.
Loose fill insulation is made of fibers which you can stuff to gaps and leaks. This insulation material is best for irregular joist spacing. On the other hand, blanket insulation or batts, are often packaged as rolls which are available in varying thickness. Batts are ideal for attics with uniform joist spacing and those with minor obstructions. Depending on the kind condition of your attic, you can use these materials make your attic more energy-efficient.
Apart from the joist, you also need to insulate the areas in the attics where you can spot gaps. To weather-strip the attic windows, you may use an expanding spray to seal leakages around the frames and casings. Caulk is best used to insulate pipes, ducts, and vents. High-temperature caulk is also recommended to weather-strip around the chimneys.
And don’t forget to fix the leaks on the roof too. No matter how thick your insulation is, when there’s entry for rainwater, all the best efforts could go to waste. Make sure to fix those leaks with a heavy-duty sealant.
Clean Cooling Devices
Your cooling devices are essential to creating a more comfortable living space during summer. Cleaning them regularly not only improves performance, it also helps you save money and keep indoor air clean and healthy.
Ceiling fans accumulate dirt and grime over the course of season. Using a dirty ceiling fan spreads out dirt into the atmosphere and possibly causes health risks. Also, a filthy fan uses more power than necessary to keep it turning.
Clean your fan blades with an old pillowcase. When all the dirt is gone, turn the fan and make it rotate in a clockwise direction. This will bring the humid air down and the cool air up. Make sure to do clean the fans every few months to keep them in optimum condition.
As the winter season approaches, you will no longer have the need to keep the air conditioning unit. However, that doesn’t mean that you should neglect the AC. Instead, you should take this time to clean the system. Remove the now clean AC, wrap it with plastic or any durable covering to prevent dirt and dust build-up. By the time you need the AC in summer, it’s already clean and in optimum running condition.
Fresh Coat Of Paint
It’s easy to think of the paint’s purpose as for aesthetics only, but paint does serve a more important role: protect your home from the elements. However, paint does get vulnerable to sunlight and moisture. During the humid season, paint can expand and crack. On the other hand, during the cold season, moisture can seep into paint and encourage the growth of mold and mildew.
Your home could use a fresh coat of paint, not just to beautify, but to help in your weather-stripping efforts. But you should carefully pick the paint color as this can significantly impact the atmosphere and energy-efficiency in your home.
You’ve probably heard about white bouncing off light, while dark absorbing it. The same principle applies to your home’s paint color. If you want to create a cooler and calmer atmosphere at home, paint with light colors.
Install New Outlets
Another often neglected area where gaps and leaks abound is your power outlets. You might notice it, but your electrical boxes may have small holes where air can leave or enter, creating an invisible draft inside your home. And if all your electric outlets have these seemingly small holes, the problem compounds to a larger one.
According to the Department of energy, cold or hot air can enter your home through these improperly insulated outlets, creating discomfort and leading to waste of unnecessary energy. Additionally, moisture can seep and enter into these outlets during the wet seasons, which can be potentially risky for electrocution and damage to structures.
If you’re certain that your outlets do have leakages, you need to turn the main switch off before proceeding with insulation. After which, you can use a foam gasket to insulate the surrounding of the outlet and prevent air from coming out and going in. This is a basic, cheap yet effective way to ensure all outlets are adequately weather-proofed.
Get A Programmable Thermostat
Another great way to ensure that your home doesn’t unnecessarily waste energy is to invest on a programmable thermostat. This modern innovation allows you to pre-program a temperature at pre-determined time. Therefore, if you want to enter you’re a warm and toasty home during a cold winter night, you just need to set the temp and time and you’re guaranteed this greeting even when you’re away during the day.
But convenience is just one advantage. The other great highlight in getting a programmable thermostat is energy-savings and reduction in utility bills.
A programmable thermostat allows you to adjust the interior home temperature according to your family’s needs. You can bring the temperature five degrees up during summer and five degrees down during winter and see the difference on your utility bill. This also allows you to save roughly two per cent on your utility usage, translating to some savings to your pocket.
And since you can program the thermostat for when you’re away or when nobody’s home, your heating and cooling unit can take some rest and prevent the waste of power. It’s also worth noting that a programmable thermostat also allows you set a consistent temperature inside your home, improve your home’s power efficiency, and adjust the temperature according to the time of the day. You can do all these by setting the thermostat beforehand or even using your smartphone to control the settings and temperature.
Weather-proofing your home should not be considered as a chore, even if it can take time to insulate the various areas mentioned above. It should be treated as a necessity which you need to perform during different seasons to ensure the safety of your family, integrity of the structures power-efficiency.
Properly weather-proofed homes are safer to live in because they have cleaner indoor air. Such homes are also more comfortable because temperature is more controlled. Also, you’d want to stay in an insulated home because you wouldn’t have to pay as much in utility bills than in one that is not.
You may have to spend some money, time and resources to achieve a sufficiently weather-proofed home, but all of these will pay by themselves in the long run. Indeed, weather-proofing your home is a wise investment with rewards you get to reap the whole year round.