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SALT LAKE CITY — We’ve all been in them: cold, drafty homes. You can feel the heat on in places, but when you move past certain areas, you feel a part of the arctic. The thermostat may be set to 72, but your skin says it’s 27. This is not only uncomfortable, but that sucking sound you hear? It’s the sound of your bank account being flushed like a toilet — heating costs are pretty high these days.
As with most home-related issues, there is a $10 fix and a $10,000 fix. If you do the right task at the right time, you get to choose the less expensive route.
As with most home-related issues, there is a $10 fix and a $10,000 fix. If you do the right task at the right time, you get to choose the less expensive route. If you wait, the $10,000 fix may slap you in the face like an arctic ice storm. If you haven’t prepared your home for winter, there are a handful of $10 fixes you need to put on your list. They’re straightforward, easy and definitely worth doing — but it’s late. If these tasks are not already complete, you need to do them very soon.
It’s happened to the best of us: You leave the hose attached to the hose bibs, and then it happens. Winter’s cold turns the hose into a frozen snake. The icy snake attacks your hose bib, and presto, exploded plumbing rears its ugly head just inside your walls. In this case, the $10 fix is even cheaper: remove your hose from the bib now. The $10,000 fix? That would be a basement full of water when your hose bib leaks.
If your sprinkler system is not winterized yet, now is the time to do it. A well designed sprinkler system will lie deep enough in the ground to be resistant to extreme cold temperatures, and it will be designed to drain the water out of the lines. Simply put, if there’s no water, there will be no ice. If no ice, no broken sprinkler lines.
If you're not certain how your sprinkler system was built, you have a set of tasks to do.
If your sprinkler system is buried adequately and well drained, you may only need to turn your sprinkler water off at the stop and waste valve. If you’re not certain how your sprinkler system was built, you have a set of tasks to do. Begin by turning the main off and opening your waste valve. If you live on a hilly slope, your water will drain to the low points — take care of those spots by draining them out. If you live on flat land, you may need to blow out your lines with your neighbor’s air compressor.
Swamp coolers are such lovely creatures. In the summer they blow in allergens from the great outdoors. In the winter they blow in arctic breezes. If you would prefer to keep the arctic outside your home, winterizing the unit is an excellent idea. This will include a few steps: Turn the water source off, disconnect the feed line inside and outside the home, drain the water in the pan, and place a swamp cooler cover over the unit. The last step is done inside your home: Seal the swamp cooler flue against drafts. Your local hardware store can help you with a list of options for your circumstances.
If you are the victim of drafty doors, there are solutions. The $10 solution to most daylight door dramas can be found at places like Home Depot or Lowe's.
Let’s face it, life is hard on weather stripping; so many things can go wrong. Sometimes the strips are not installed. In older homes, weather stripping can be a poor-fitting attempt using sheet metal. If you have a dog, you may be painfully aware that dogs turn weather stripping into memories. What’s worse than dogs? “Handy” men. If your home was built with more zeal than knowledge, your doors can be very much out of square, and draftiness will be your fate until you get them reworked.
If you are the victim of drafty doors, there are solutions. The $10 solution to most daylight door dramas can be found at places like Home Depot or Lowe’s. A good replacement weather strip can do wonders. Once the weather stripping task is done, just give the dog that caused the problem to your in-laws.
Got a crawl space? Many of us do. These are more than just places for ghosts and spiders to inhabit — they provide a final resting place for all the trash we can’t throw away. They also provide an excellent source of drafty, cold air in the winter. If you have copper or galvanized plumbing in your crawl space, then that space must remain warm enough to prevent ice. If not, a free swimming pool in your basement or crawl space may greet you in the morning.
Got a crawl space? Many of us do. These are more than just places for ghosts and spiders to inhabit — they provide a final resting place for all the trash we can't throw away.
The joists and walls separating your crawl space and living space should be insulated. Holes for electrical lines, plumbing and duct work should be well sealed. The ghost that lives down there may escape the confines of the crawl space, but she should be all that flows from your crawl space — make sure she can’t bring cold air as she visits.
Warmth or arctic? Big bills or small? A $10 fix or $10,000? If you have lots of money and perhaps wish to contribute to the economy via large heating bills, keep your home breezy. If not, the $10 fix might be just the ticket. It’s easy and inexpensive — and it keeps the phantoms out.
Experienced home inspectors see homes in an entirely different way. To learn more, please visit crossroadsengineers.com. There you can download books, read the blog, order a home inspection or book a speaking event.