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3 Must Do's on your Home Before Winter

Subject: 3 Must Do's on your Home Before Winter
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Handy News from Hands4Hire

Winter 2011


Fall Maintenance Must do To-do List 


There are 2 basic concepts about maintaining your home that I adhere to.  Keep the water out of your home and be proactive.  Follow them consistently and you will save money and time down the road.   


Don't let water hurt your home! 

 It will take very little time for water to damage your home.  Whether it is a roof leak, or water in your home, preventing the water from causing that damage is critical to preventive maintenance.  This time of year I recommend inspecting the areas that you don't normally mess with: your crawl space and your attic.

Crawl space issues

Your crawl space should have a plastic vapor barrier covering all of the ground and you should not see moisture on the underside of the plastic.  Mold on the floor joists or insulation is a good indication that there is high moisture in the air and that the ground is wet.  The water typically will enter though the vents, at the access door or where the sewer pipes go through the foundation wall. If there are no moisture issues, I recommend closing the foundation vents to help insulate the crawl space during the winter.   

Attic issues

Check your attic for water stains on the rafters and while you are up there, make sure that there are no signs of critters.  I see mice tracks and evidence of squirrels all the time in attics.  Contact your local pest control company for this.   Make sure you look at the vent pipes that go through the roof.  Roofs generally last 15+ years while the "boot" on top of these vents lasts about 7.  If you can see light from the pipe, the seal has failed.   

Clean those gutters

Gutters are designed to take the water coming off of your roof and move it away from the house so that the water does not do any damage.  However, when they are not working correctly, they can do more harm than good.  Now that all of the leaves have fallen from the trees, have your gutters cleaned out and make sure the downspouts are cleared as well.  A good trick is to drop a penny down the downspout and make sure you hear it all the way to the bottom.   


Repair or replace it before it wears out.  

 Paint and caulk protect your exterior from the elements.  Inspect this annually and if the caulk is separating, it is time to do a touch-up or redo all of it.  Caulk will generally last 2-3 years while a good paint job will last 5-7 years.   Weather stripping will also fail after about 5 years unless you have a puppy, in which case you will have to change it 3 times during that 1st year.   


Some Simple Facts to know about Insulation 


I am just going  to run down some facts that you may not know about insulation and are useful to understand.



 Insulation, in general terms, is measured in R- value or a measure of the thermal resistance to heat.  Different building materials have different R - values and therefore some are more efficient than others.   

Today's residential building code requires minimum insulation levels that are based on what zone (how cold and how hot the average temperatures get) you live in.  We live on the border of zone 3 and 4.  Mooresville is actually zone 4 and requires stricter insulation requirements.   

So let's break it down:

- Floor insulation into crawl space:  R-19 (6" of rolled fiberglass)

- Walls:  R-13 (3.5" of rolled fiberglass)  

-  Ceiling into attic:  R-30 (Approx. 9" of blown insulation)

-  Windows

-  Single pane: R-1 to R-2

-  Double pane:  R-3 to R-4

-  Energy Star:  R-5 to R-6


Remember, these are only the minimum required levels and an older home typically has far less insulation than this.  Today's Energy Star requirements are in fact much more strict.  For instance, attic insulation is R-49 or 15" to qualify.   


Other Important Info 

     Insulation must be touching  what you want it to insulate in order to be effective.  So the rolled fiberglass insulation in your crawl space must be pushed up to the ceiling or it is not doing much.  The reason is that it is not an air barrier.   

     An exposed wall with rolled insulation, such as a bonus room knee wall is about half as effective as the same wall with a 1" foam board added with the joints sealed.   

     Many attic access doors are not insulated at all or very poorly insulated.  Adding foam board or a zippered "tent" will significantly improve the R-value.  If you have any questions about this, please give us a call and we can point you in the right direction. 



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Energy Saving Facts:

If you replace five frequently used lights in your home with energy efficient bulbs you can save up to $60 a year.

Those high-definition televisions are great, but keep in mind they use six times as much energy as a regular television.

For every degree you lower your heat in the 60-degree to 70-degree range, you'll save up to 5 percent on heating costs.