Archive for Fall Home Maintenance

Drafty Windows: The Unseen Energy Thief

With the transition from warm summer weather into cooler fall and winter temperatures, you want to be sure your home is as energy efficient as possible.  One of the biggest drains on your heating bill come from drafty windows.

Air leaks are not always easily seen.  One way to test air leaks in your home, and especially around your windows, is to do a “smoke test.”  All you need is a lit incense stick.  To conduct the test, close all of the windows and doors in your home and turn off any combustion appliances, like a furnace or water heater.  Turn on your kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans so that you create a negative pressure in your house.  This negative pressure sucks outside air into your home through cracks or openings.

Now, to check for leaks, hold the lit incense stick close to the spaces around the edges of your windows and doors and look for a noticeable change in the smoke coming from the lit incense stick.  If there is an air leak, the smoke with be drawn inwards by the outside air being pulled into your home by the exhaust fans.  If the smoke doesn’t change or remains undisturbed, you can assume that there are no leaks in that specific area.  You will want to repeat this test throughout your home, checking all windows and doorways as well as any other areas you suspect a leak.

If your windows are the source of your air leak, you will want to consider replacing your windows with a more energy efficient window.  For our area, you will want to look for at least a double pane window with argon gas that is rated for Energy Star Northern Zone.  To increase the thermal efficiency of your windows, you could choose a triple pane window or even a triple pane with krypton gas (that could even keep Superman out!).

Today, there are many window manufacturers to choose from as well as different window styles.  Your contractor can help you choose the best window for your home and insure they are properly installed.

Fall Exterior Home Maintenance: Get ready for winter!

fall_home-gutterWe are never totally certain on what kind of winter we will have. No matter what the forecast, it is important that your home is ready for any weather event and freezing temperatures.

One of the most important things to check is all the exterior hose bibs. In order to prevent these pipes from bursting when weather gets below freezing, turn off the valves to the hose bibs and run the water until the pipes are empty. If this is not done, water can freeze up and damage the pipes.

It’s also a good idea to inspect, or have a professional inspect, your roof for damaged shingles. If shingles are curling, buckling, they should be replaced prior to freezing temperatures. If you have a skylight, chimney or pipes on your roof, you’ll also want to check the flashing around those for any leaks or gaps to prevent heavy snow and ice from finding its way in.

Check any areas around your home that may need a coat of paint. With less humidity in the air, fall is a good time of year to touch up anything and keep the wood protected this winter.

A good tip for energy efficiency in your home is to check the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. If there are any holes, they will need to be filled with caulk or the wood will need replaced.

Your licensed contractor can also inspect your home and ensure it’s ready for a winter freeze!