Posts Tagged ‘heat loss’

Spring Checklist

Take advantage of the moderate temperatures to get a head start on what should be an annual spring home maintenance routine. EXTERIOR INSPECTION “It’s good to do a walk-around of your property, especially after a storm,” says Curtis S. Niles, Sr., owner of Armored Home Inspections, Upper Darby, PA, and president of the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI). “Winter is tough on roofs and chimneys.” It can also take its toll on windows, walls, foundations, gutters and decks. Roof. You don’t need to climb up there yourself; with binoculars and a keen eye, you can probably spot trouble. Do you see any shingle-shift, suggesting that some fasteners may have failed and need replacing? Any cracked or missing shingles? What about nail-pops? “We call them eyebrows,” Niles explains. “It’s when nails push the tabs of the shingles up, allowing water to get in where those nails are coming through.” All will need to be addressed to keep your roof at peak performance. Chimneys. If you have a masonry chimney, check the joints between bricks or stones. Have any fallen out? Is there vegetation growing out of them? Each signals water infiltration. Also, look for efflorescence—”a white calcium-like deposit that indicates your masonry joints are no longer repelling water but absorbing it,” says Niles. Consider re-sealing masonry with a clear, impermeable or water-resistant barrier material (like Thoroseal products). Brush it on, small areas at a time; let it absorb for 15 minutes, then reapply—it may need a couple of applications. Exterior Walls. Whether you have wood siding, stucco or brick, look for trouble spots, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains normally indicate that your gutters are not adequately containing roof runoff. If you have wood siding, check for openings, damaged areas or knots that have popped out, making way for carpenter ants, woodpeckers and other critters that may nest in or burrow through. Foundations. When inspecting the exterior of your home, be sure to examine the foundation from top to bottom for masonry cracks. “Routine caulking by homeowners won’t do the job,” says Niles. “Hire a foundation specialist who can employ a two-part epoxy injection system that will bond cracks chemically,” he adds. Windows. Leakage around windows will admit warm summer air and let cooled indoor air escape, so be sure to check that any caulking and weather stripping you have in place has remained intact. “A tight seal is the first line of defense against air and water,” says Marty Davis, marketing manager, Simonton Windows, Columbus, OH. If you experienced condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-glazed windows during the winter months, the weather seal has been compromised, and either the glass or the window will need to be replaced. Spring-clean your windows—inside and out—with a store-bought or homemade window cleaner (one cup rubbing alcohol, one cup water and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar will work just fine) and either a squeegee or a soft cloth. Never use abrasive cleaners or a high-pressure spray washer. You don’t want to scratch the glass or crack the caulking around each unit. If screens were on all winter, remove and clean them with mild detergent. Lay them on a dry surface, like a driveway to air-dry before putting them back on. “Never power-wash screens,” urges Davis, “it could damage the mesh.”

General Cleaning. Spring is a good time to clean areas of the house that often go neglected. Dust or vacuum chair rails, window casings, tops of wall-mounted cabinets and ceiling fans. Launder or dry-clean fabric draperies and use a damp cloth to clean wood and vinyl blinds. Vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses and consider renting a carpet cleaner—anything you can do to remove settled dust, mites, and allergens will make for a cleaner, and healthier, home.

If you detect grease residue in the kitchen, consider washing cabinets, backsplashes and walls with warm water and mild detergent. The same is true in the bathroom, where soap residue and fluctuations in heat and humidity combine to create the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. While you’re cleaning tile, look for areas of worn or missing grout, as these may lead to more serious water damage if not repaired.

Air Conditioning. Just as you readied your furnace for fall, now is the time to make sure that air conditioning units are in good working order for the warmer months ahead. Change the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely. In addition, vacuum any dust that has settled on the unit and connections; over time it can impact the air conditioner’s effectiveness. If you suspected problems with the efficiency or performance of the unit last summer, now is the time to call in a professional to check it out.

Attics. Search for signs that indicate insects and critters have colonized. Also, search aggressively for mold, which often takes the form of “gray or black blotches that look like staining,” according to Tim Gentry, vice president of technical services, DaVinci Roofscapes, Kansas City, KS. Proper insulation and good ventilation will deter mold growth in the attic, so take action now to prevent the problem from developing in the warmer months ahead.

Basements. The basement—prone to dampness and insects—must be part of any thorough seasonal maintenance effort. Dampness suggests higher than normal relative humidity, inadequate ventilation and the need for a dehumidifier. Check the base of poured-concrete walls. “Cracks start from the bottom up, not the top down,” Niles points out. “If there’s water penetration, it’ll show at the bottom of those cracks.” And be sure to use a flashlight to examine exposed framing. “If you see even a quarter-inch or so of tunneling on the wood,” says Niles, “call a pest control company immediately.”

Leaks. Spring is a good time to check for leaky faucets, clogged drains and sweaty pipes. Check under the kitchen and bathroom sink to make sure connections on pipes and hoses are properly sealed, and look for any wetness around the dishwasher that could signal an existing or potential problem. The same is true of your laundry room; check washer machine hoses for cracks, bulges or dampness. The same is true for hot water heaters, which may show sign of corrosion and leaks.

Lawns. Rake the lawn to remove any branches, debris and leaves that you might have missed in the fall; if left, they can suffocate the grass beneath. During the winter, soil compaction, along with chemical changes altering your soil’s PH, may have left your lawn vulnerable to weed growth and other issues. Even if you can’t see weeds, they are more than likely waiting for optimum conditions to propagate. If you want to prevent them from germinating, consider an organic herbicide; fertilizers are better suited to the fall.

Make sure outdoor water systems—pipes, faucets, and in-ground sprinkler systems—are in working order. Once the ground thaws completely, start preparing new garden beds for summer plants. And take stock of your garden tools and lawn-maintenance equipment, including lawn mowers, trimmers and hoses.

Decks and Patios. Look for warped, loose or splintered boards, and do a good sweep to remove any leaves and debris accumulated in the space between boards. “Whether it’s wood, plastic or composite, a deck should be cleaned every year to extend its life,” says Chuck Harris, owner, Custom Lumber Manufacturing Co., Dothan, AL. If the finish on your wood deck is faded or worn, now is the time to clean, stain, and reseal it. If you have composite decking, follow manufacturers’ recommendations on seasonal care. The same is true for wood and composite fences, pergolas, trellises and other structures. If you have a stone patio, a simple hose down provide be all the maintenance required (unless you detect moss or staining, in which case a more serious cleaning may be necessary).

Outdoor Furniture. If you stored your lawn furniture for the winter, bring it outdoors and give it a hose rinse, or wash it with a mild detergent. For metal furniture, check for signs of rust or paint erosion; a simple remedy of spray enamel will prevent further damage from sun, rain and humidity in the months ahead.

Grills. If your gas grill has remained idle over the winter months, check burner jets for clogs and obstructions, and be sure that gas hoses and connections are sound and secure. You’ll also want to check for propane. For charcoal grill owners, make certain your grill is clean of ash and free of grease residue. It’s a good habit to adopt throughout the grilling season, not just in the spring.

Winter Ready Checklist (now is the time)

In the fall is when you want to get ready for the winter cold. The worst thing in the world is trying to put your storm windows in when its 20 degrees outside. Or worse, not having your sprinkler system purged before the freezing weather comes. I’m going to give you a fairly easy checklist of things to do for the various systems of your home. From plumbing to roof, we’ll walk through each system and hit the major things to make sure you do before winter so you can enjoy the snow and not worry about your home.

OK, lets start with the basics of making sure you have heat when you need it. The time to check that is in the Fall, no later than the end of October. Give your system a test run through and make sure all systems are “GO“.

Heating System Checklist

  • Test Run:
    Turn the thermostat to heat mode and set it to 80 degrees just for testing. You should hear the furnace turn on and warm air should blow within a few minutes. If it’s running OK, turn the thermostat back to its normal setting. If it’s not running properly, you can try to diagnose it. Depending on what’s wrong, you can fix it yourself or you may need a qualified service technician.
  • Seasonal Maintenance:
    Either have the furnace checked by a service technician or do it yourself.
  • Replace the Air Filter:
    Put in a new clean air filter.
  • Fuel:
    If you have a propane or oil furnace, make sure to have your fuel storage tank topped off and ready to go.
  • Heating Vents:
    Clear obstacles to heating vents so air can freely flow.
  • Check for Carbon Monoxide Leaks:
    This silent killer can easily be detected with either an inexpensive test badge or battery operated alarm. Whichever way you decide, just please decide to protect your family with one of these units.

Although not thought about much in warm weather, the wood burning fireplace and chimney can be a major source of cold air leaks and other issues in winter. So the chimney and fireplace need a little going over before winter sets in.

  • Chimney and Fireplace
    • Check that the chimney is clear of any nests from birds, squirrels or other animals.
    • Check flue damper operation. Make sure it opens and closes fully, and that it is able to be locked in the open or closed position.
    • Check chimney draft. Make sure the chimney will draw up the fire and smoke properly. Test this by taking several sheets of newspaper and rolling them up. Then with the fireplace damper in the open position, light the newspaper in the fireplace. The smoke should rise up the chimney. If it doesn’t, you have an obstruction and need to call a professional in to clean the chimney of creosote and ash and possible debris.
    • If it has been several years (or never!) since you had your fireplace chimney cleaned, you should have it done by a professional chimney sweep. Definitely not a fun DIY project.
    • Inspect the fire brick in the fireplace. If you see any open mortar joints have them repaired immediately! A fire can spread into the stud wall behind the masonry fire brick through open mortar joints.
  • Plumbing is especially susceptible to cold weather and freezing. Burst pipes from freezing can cause some of the most expensive repairs in the home. So let’s go over some of the basics to make you have them covered.
    • Insulate Exposed Piping
      If you have any exposed water or drain piping at all in uninsulated spaces such as in a crawlspace, attic, outside walls, etc., make sure to insulate them with foam insulation at a minimum. Ideally you should wrap them with electrical heating tape first, then insulate them.
      Pipe Wrap and Insulating Tape 
    • Exterior Faucets
      Known as hose bibbs or sill-cocks, the exterior faucet needs to have its water supply turned off inside the house, and you also need to drain water from it by opening up the exterior faucet. You may also want to consider an insulated cover for the hose bibb. And remember to disconnect your garden hoses from the sill cocks or outside faucets and drain them if you store them outside.

    Seasonal Shut Down
    If you are shutting down a property for several months you should always shut off the water supply and drain the plumbing system. If a leak were to occur without occupancy, the damage could be catastrophic.

Infiltration of cold air from air leaks around doors and windows is as significant a contributor to your heating bill as is poor insulation in the walls and ceiling. An easy way to reduce you heating bill is to reduce these drafts with simple weatherstripping.

Windows

  • On a day when it’s windy outside, close your windows and feel for air leaks. You can use an incense stick for this too if you don’t mind the smell. Watch the smoke trail and if it becomes anything other than vertical, you have an air leak. Typically air leaks will be at the edges where the window is hinged, slides or meets another unit, such as between the two panels of a double hung window.
  • Although you can tape plastic over the windows to seal them, this can be expensive and look bad. It can also reduce much needed light in the winter unless you use the shrink-wrap type of plastic seal. So a better and easier solution is to use inexpensive rope caulk.
  • Press the rope caulk into all the joints where air is leaking.

Doors

  • The easiest fix here is to check for weatherstripping on the side and bottoms of the doors. Install weatherstripping on any leaking doors.
    Infiltration of cold air from air leaks around doors and windows is as significant a contributor to your heating bill as is poor insulation in the walls and ceiling. An easy way to reduce you heating bill is to reduce these drafts with simple weatherstripping.Windows

    • On a day when it’s windy outside, close your windows and feel for air leaks. You can use an incense stick for this too if you don’t mind the smell. Watch the smoke trail and if it becomes anything other than vertical, you have an air leak. Typically air leaks will be at the edges where the window is hinged, slides or meets another unit, such as between the two panels of a double hung window.
    • Although you can tape plastic over the windows to seal them, this can be expensive and look bad. It can also reduce much needed light in the winter unless you use the shrink-wrap type of plastic seal. So a better and easier solution is to use rope caulk.
    • Press the rope caulk into all the joints where air is leaking.

    Doors

  • The easiest fix here is to check for weatherstripping on the side and bottoms of the doors. Install weatherstripping on any leaking doors.

Lastly, you’ll want to prepare your yard for winter too. Let’s take a look at what can be done for the grass, deck and outdoor amenities around the home.

Outdoor Landscape

  • Excellent information about getting your yard ready for winter can be found at your local Ace store.
  • Cover patio furniture.
  • If your deck needs it, consider giving it a fresh coat of sealer before winter.
  • Drain the gas from your lawn mower or just let the mower run until it is out of gas.
  • Drain any water fountains, unplug the pumps and prepare for winter.

Now if you use this handy checklist winter should not be a problem for you.

Prepare your home for winter weather

snow-house.jpg

The weather is turning cooler, and it’s time to starting preparing for winter weather. Here are some tips to help get your home ready for the cold:

Get inspected: If you plan to use a fireplace or wood stove for emergency heating, have your chimney or flue inspected each year. Ask your local fire department to recommend an inspector, or find one in your telephone directory under “chimney cleaning.” Install a smoke detector and a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector near the area to be heated. Test them monthly, and replace batteries twice a year.

Protect your pipes: Insulate any water lines that run along exterior walls so your water supply will be less likely to freeze. Learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts.

Bring items indoors: If you have pets, bring them indoors. If you cannot bring them inside, provide adequate shelter to keep them warm and make sure that they have access to unfrozen water. Cover or bring indoors any plants that you want to protect from freezing temperatures.

Weatherize: Caulk and weather-strip doors and windows. Add insulation to your walls and attic, if necessary. Consider purchasing insulated doors and storm windows to further protect your home from the cold. This will also help lower your heating bill.

Buy supplies: In the event of a severe winter storm, you’ll need to have supplies on hand, such as rock salt to melt ice on walkways, sand to improve traction and now shovels and other snow removal equipment. Prepare for possible isolation in your home by having sufficient heating fuel; regular fuel sources may be cut off. For example, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.

Remember fire safety: Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions. If you’re going to use a space heater, make sure it has been tested according to the latest safety standards. Put it on a level, non-flammable surface away from bedding, drapes and furniture. And never leave a space heater on when you leave the house or when you go to sleep.

Watch your roof: Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to hold unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or water

Conserving Energy

About 54 percent of the energy used in homes goes into heating and cooling. Obviously, this is where you can make the biggest savings on energy costs.

Fortunately, there are many quick and inexpensive ways to save energy in your home. You don’t have to be a master mechanic or even a skilled do-it-yourselfer.

All it takes is a small amount of time, a few tools that you probably already own-and some products from your hardware or home center retailer.

Inside this document you will find information about:

  • Materials and Installation Techniques
  • Insulation
  • Storm Windows
  • Cold Weather Energy Savers
  • Hot Weather Energy Savers
  • Year-Round Energy Savers
  • Kitchen, Laundry and Bath
  • Other Living Areas

MATERIALS AND INSTALLATION TECHNIQUES

Thermostats

  • To save money on your heating bill, you may want to turn your thermostat back to 60 degrees or 55 degrees at night. A convenient way to be sure you do this each night is to install a clock thermostat. It automatically turns your thermostat down every night, then turns it up in the morning before you get up. You won’t be uncomfortable with the temperature-or with your heating bill.

   
   

Caulking and Weatherstripping

  • Caulking and weatherstripping come in a variety of qualities, costs, and configurations. You should buy the best quality materials available whenever possible. The more quality materials are the most durable and are the best money savers. They perform better and don’t need to be replaced as often. Check below for a brief description of the most commonly available materials.

Caulking Compounds

  • Not very durable but lowest in cost: oil-or resin-based.
  • More durable and more expensive: latex, butyl or polyvinyl.
  • Most durable and most expensive: elastomeric base.

Filler

  • Materials used to fill extra-wide cracks: expanding foam, glass fiber, caulking cotton. Apply caulking compound AFTER using filler.

Installation

  • Apply caulking outside around window and door frames (see first image at top) and wherever else two different materials or parts of the house meet. With a little practice, pushing the caulking gun instead of pulling it can result in a better, more professional looking caulking job.

Weatherstripping

  • Inexpensive, easy to install, not very durable: felt or foam strip.
  • More expensive, easy to install durable: molded vinyl (with or without various backings).
  • Most expensive, very difficult to install, excellent weather seal, durable: interlocking metal channels (see image below).

  • Apply weatherstripping around the perimeter of all exterior doors and on the inside of all window sashes.
  • During the weatherstripping process, check to see if the putty on your windows needs replacing. Cutting down on all drafts will make your house much more comfortable year round.
   

INSULATION

  • Several kinds of insulation are available to homeowners. Kinds that are easily installed by the do-it-yourselfer are batts, blankets, and loose fill. Some batts and blankets now come with a thin plastic wrap to prevent some of the discomfort that comes with handling insulation. Foamed-in-plastic is usually installed by a contractor because special equipment is used. If your house has a flat roof or a mansard roof, or if your attic or basement area is otherwise restricted, installing will be difficult and you may need to hire a contractor.

Batt or Blanket

  • This type of insulation is usually made of glass fiber or rock wool. Batts come in packs of several pieces cut to 4′ or 8′ lengths; blankets come in rolls of varying lengths. Both are sold in widths of 15″ or 23″ to fit conventional framing spaces and in thicknesses of 1″ to 7″. Batts and blankets are available with or without vapor barriers.

Loose Fill

  • Loose fill insulation is made from glass fiber, rock wool, treated cellulose, vermiculite, or perlite, and does not come with a vapor barrier. Loose fill tends to settle in time. Rock wool should meet Federal Specification HH-I-1030A.
  • Cellulose is made from recycled newspaper and has a high insulative value. Cellulose must be properly treated to be fire-resistant. Two specifications that certify that cellulose is fire-resistant are: Federal Specification HH-I-515C and Underwriters Laboratories Classification listing Type II 26 through 50.

Foam

  • You can purchase cellular plastic products as either prefoamed sheets or batts, or they may be foamed in place by contractors using specialized equipment. The insulating efficiency varies for foams made of different materials (polystyrene, polyurethane, urea-formaldehyde, and others). Discuss these types with your retailer to determine which is the best for you.
  • Foams possess other properties that may affect its long-term insulating value, such as moisture retention, shrinkage, spontaneous decomposition, and vermin resistance.
  • Foams also burn, producing smoke and poisonous gases such as carbon monoxide. You can reduce these hazards by following the recommended installation procedures for each type of foam. Foam that is properly installed has a higher insulating value.

INSTALLATION

Attics

  • To insulate an attic floor where there is no existing insulation, lay batts or blankets or pour loose fill between the joists. So that moisture from the living areas of your home does not penetrate the insulation and reduce its effectiveness, you must place a vapor barrier between the heated or air-conditioned part of your house and your attic.
  • Batts and blankets are available with a vapor barrier on one side. To install, place the vapor barrier face-down toward the heated or air-conditioned portion of your home. If you are using loose fill, you will have to install your own vapor barrier. Staple or tack a plastic sheet or polyethylene film under the area where you are planning to pour loose fill.
  • If some new insulation already exists and you are adding a layer of new insulation on top of the old, it is important that there be no vapor barrier between the new and the old. If you must use insulation with a vapor barrier, remove the barrier before installation; you can use a knife to remove the barrier. Place the insulation with this side down. Before purchasing the additional insulation you need, measure the thickness that your attic will accommodate. Additional batts or blankets may not fit! If you try to squeeze insulation in, you’ll reduce its effectiveness. Instead, add insulation with a higher R-value per inch.
  • Do not insulate on top of recessed lighting fixtures or heat-producing equipment. Keep the insulation at least 3″ away from the sides of these types of fixtures. Also, do not cover the eave vents with insulation. Be sure that there is sufficient attic ventilation to allow moisture to escape. There are special foam and plastic inserts that fit between the roof rafters to help insure proper ventilation.

Floors

  • To insulate the floor above your basement or crawl space, push batts or blankets between the floor joists from below with the vapor barrier facing up toward the heated or air conditioned part of your home. If there is no vapor barrier, install a plastic sheet against the underside of your floor (see image above).
  • To support the insulation, you can use insulation supports. These wire rods bend when you push them between the floor joists and they lock themselves into place. Another method is to lace wire back and forth under the insulation (see image above). Provide adequate ventilation below the floor in the crawl space to allow moisture to escape.

STORM WINDOWS

  • Storm windows vary widely in design, durability, ease of use and cost. They range from temporary plastic sheets to custom-made permanent installation, but basically there are two kinds: single and combination.

Single Storm Windows

  • Single storm windows can be made of plastic sheet, glass, or rigid plastic. Plastic sheet is fairly inexpensive initially, but it is easily damaged and must be replaced often. Single glass or rigid plastic is more durable and can be used year after year.

Combination Storm Windows

  • These installations consist of storm windows and screens and are intended to be fixed permanently over double-hung windows. Combination windows come in a variety of finishes and qualities. Shop around for good quality.

Installation

  • You can make and install your own single storm windows. For plastic sheets there are molded plastic strips, double sided tapes and wood strips to attach the plastic to the outer edge of the frame. Do-it-yourself aluminum molding kits and rigid plastic sheets and glass are available from your local hardware store or home center, if you want to make your own. Combination storm windows can be installed by a contractor who will do the measuring for you-or you can do the job yourself if you are handy.

COLD WEATHER ENERGY SAVERS

  • Keep drapes and shades open in sunny windows; close them at night.
  • An automatic garage door operator encourages you to shut the door quickly, thereby saving fuel-even in unheated garages-by preventing cold from reaching the inside walls.
  • Electric heat tapes on water pipes that run through unheated areas prevent heat loss from cooling or freezing.
  • Use a humidifier. Cooler indoor temperatures are more comfortable with the proper amount of humidity-about 40-50%.
  • Change furnace filters regularly. A dirty filter impedes air flow and makes your furnace work longer and harder. Check the filter at least once a month.
  • Be sure to keep the damper closed on your fireplace when it’s not in use. Consider installing a glass-door fireplace to keep heat from escaping up the chimney.
  • Use portable electric heaters for seldom-used rooms or to warm up part of a large, cold room.

  • Clean air conditioning filters regularly. Replace immediately when worn out. Keep coils or fins of air-conditioning units free of dust, lint, etc.
  • Deflect daytime sun with awnings on windows or draw draperies and pull shades on sunny windows.
  • Use an attic ventilating fan instead of air conditioning. They do a remarkably good job of keeping air circulating. A 1,400-square-foot attic should have at least 5 square feet of ventilation.
  • Install a turbine ventilator on the roof to pull hot air out of the attic.
  • Run air conditioners only on really hot days.
  • Are you using more light in certain situations than is needed? Each watt of lighting requires the expenditure of 1/2 watt of air-conditioning power.
  • Combine circulating fans with room air conditioners for best air distribution throughout the house.

YEAR-ROUND ENERGY SAVERS

  • Turn off furnace pilot lights during the summer, but check with the gas company first.
  • Use fluorescent lights where possible. A 25-watt fluorescent will provide light equal to a 100-watt incandescent.
  • Replace leaky faucets; repair all water-wasting fixtures. A dripping hot water faucet makes a hot water heater keep working.
  • Utilize working shutters, interior or exterior, to control heat gain or loss.
  • Close off unused rooms.

KITCHEN, LAUNDRY, AND BATH

  • Insulate your hot water storage tank and piping. Kits are available.
  • Clean the heat reflector below the hot water heating element. It will reflect heat better.
  • Install a flow-restrictor pipe to the shower head. This easy-to-install device can save a considerable amount of hot water. It’s inexpensive, threads into the pipe and restricts the flow of water by several gallons of water per minute.
  • Don’t overload appliances that use hot water, such as clothes and dishwashers. The same rule applies to clothes dryers; use drying racks or clotheslines when possible.
  • Use warm or cold water (rather than hot) whenever possible.
  • Keep the thermostat on the hot water heater at the lowest setting possible to maintain a comfortable water temperature.
  • Try to use high-energy appliances-washer, dryer, electric ovens-in non-peak periods (early morning or late evening).
  • Try energy-efficient cooking-flat-bottom pans, clean burner reflectors, pressure cooker, preparing several foods in the oven at the same time; use small appliances for small cooking jobs.
  • Check energy efficient ratings (EER) of appliances and buy the most efficient-10 rating is excellent, 8 or 9 is good.

OTHER LIVING AREAS

  • Install a timer to control the length of time outdoor lights are used, even for security lights.
  • Remember to turn off shop lights, soldering irons and all bench heating devices as quickly as possible.
  • Take advantage of color if reroofing. Darker colors that absorb more light should be used in cold climates; light colors that reflect light should be used in moderate and warm climates.
  • Check windows and frames-if loose, install new window channels or complete new windows.
  • Evaluate doors-are they weather-tight? If you don’t have or want storm doors, are entrance doors insulated? Solid doors should have an insulated core; glass panels in doors should be insulated glass.
  • Seal and insulate pipes and ductwork.

Keeping warm

                 

  1. Fool the eye: Sometimes warmth is a matter of perception. Warm colors and textures make you feel warmer so change out your decor. Try a throw so you can snuggle under it.
  2. Cut a rug: Cover up your bare floors with a rug. 
  3.  Bake something: Stews, roasts, casseroles and soups are made    for     the cold weather because they cook at low temperatures for a long period of time and, of course, they warm you up going down.
  4. Drink something: Wrap your hands around a warm mug of tea, cocoa or coffee.
  5. Let the sun in: Open curtains and blinds during the day.
  6. Change your bedding: Switch to flannel sheets, a down comforter, use extra blankets.
  7. Clean the house: Not only will your house be cleaner but activity will get your blood pumping.
  8. Cover your head: It sounds silly but wearing a hat (and socks) to bed at night, even if the rest of you is clad in skimpy clothing, will keep you warm.
  9. It’s muggy in here: Use a humidifier. Humid air feels warmer. No humidifier? Open the bathroom door while you’re showering.
  10. Reverse the fan: We’ve heard that, since heat rises, running your ceiling fan in reverse will push the warm air back down to the ground.
  11. Do your laundry: Nothing warms you up like clothing straight from the dryer.
  12. It’s drafty in here: Block drafts with weather stripping, a rolled up towel or a draft stopper.
  13. It takes two: Snuggle up with your friends, or your significant other.
  14. Something old fashioned: Try a hot water bottle or, before you get into bed, running a hot pan over your sheets. Bags of rice or dried beans, warmed in the microwave, are another option

 

Prepare for winter

So you’ve pulled your sweaters out of mothballs and found your mittens at the bottom of the coat closet. But what about your house — is it prepared for the cold months ahead?

  (© none)

You’ll be a lot less comfortable in the coming months if you haven’t girded Home Sweet Home for Old Man Winter.

With the help of several experts, we’ve boiled down your autumn to-do list to 10 easy tips:

1. Clean those gutters  
Once the leaves fall, remove them and other debris from your home’s gutters — by hand, by scraper or spatula, and finally by a good hose rinse — so that winter’s rain and melting snow can drain. Clogged drains can form ice dams, in which water backs up, freezes and causes water to seep into the house, the Insurance Information Institute says. 
As you’re hosing out your gutters, look for leaks and misaligned pipes. Also, make sure the downspouts are carrying water away from the house’s foundation, where it could cause flooding or other water damage.

“The rule of thumb is that water should be at least 10 feet away from the house,” says Michael Broili, the director of the Well Home Program for the Phinney Neighborhood Association, a nationally recognized neighborhood group in Seattle.

2. Block those leaks
One of the best ways to winterize your home is to simply block obvious leaks around your house, both inside and out, experts say. The average American home has leaks that amount to a nine-square-foot hole in the wall, according to EarthWorks Group.

 

First, find the leaks: On a breezy day, walk around inside holding a lit incense stick to the most common drafty areas: recessed lighting, window and door frames, electrical outlets.

Then, buy door sweeps to close spaces under exterior doors, and caulk or apply tacky rope caulk to those drafty spots. Outlet gaskets can easily be installed in electrical outlets that share a home’s outer walls, where cold air often enters.

Outside, seal leaks with weather-resistant caulk. For brick areas, use masonry sealer, which will better stand up to freezing and thawing. Even if it’s a small crack, it’s worth sealing up, it also discourages any insects from entering your home.

3. Insulate yourself
Another thing that does cost a little money — but boy, you do get the money back quick — is adding insulation to the existing insulation in the attic, regardless of the climate conditions you live in, in the (U.S.) you need a minimum of 12 inches of insulation in your attic.

Don’t clutter your brain with R-values or measuring tape, though. Here’s a rule of thumb on whether you need to add insulation: “If you go into the attic and you can see the ceiling joists you know you don’t have enough, because a ceiling joist is at most 10 or 11 inches.”

A related tip: If you’re layering insulation atop other insulation, don’t use the kind that has “kraft face” finish (i.e., a paper backing). It acts as a vapor barrier,  and therefore can cause moisture problems in the insulation.

4. Check the furnace
First, turn your furnace on now, to make sure it’s even working, before the coldest weather descends. A strong, odd, short-lasting smell is natural when firing up the furnace in the autumn; simply open windows to dissipate it. But if the smell lasts a long time, shut down the furnace and call a professional.

It’s a good idea to have furnaces cleaned and tuned annually. Costs will often run about $100-$125. An inspector should do the following, among other things: 

Throughout the winter you should change the furnace filters regularly (check them monthly). A dirty filter impedes air flow, reduces efficiency and could even cause a fire in an extreme case. Toss out the dirty fiberglass filters; reusable electrostatic or electronic filters can be washed.

5. Get your ducts in a row
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home with central heating can lose up to 60% of its heated air before that air reaches the vents if ductwork is not well-connected and insulated, or if it must travel through unheated spaces. That’s a huge amount of wasted money, not to mention a chilly house.

Ducts aren’t always easy to see, but you can often find them exposed in the attic, the basement and crawlspaces. Repair places where pipes are pinched, which impedes flow of heated air to the house, and fix gaps with a metal-backed tape (duct tape actually doesn’t stand up to the job over time).

Ducts also should be vacuumed once every few years, to clean out the abundant dust, animal hair and other gunk that can gather in them and cause respiratory problems.

6. Face your windows
Now, of course, is the time to take down the window screens and put up storm windows, which provide an extra layer of protection and warmth for the home. Storm windows are particularly helpful if you have old, single-pane glass windows. But if you don’t have storm windows, and your windows are leaky or drafty, they need to be updated to a more efficient window.

Of course, windows are pricey. Budget to replace them a few at a time, and in the meantime, buy a window insulator kit.  Basically, the kit is plastic sheeting that’s affixed to a window’s interior with double-stick tape. A hair dryer is then used to shrink-wrap the sheeting onto the window. (It can be removed in the spring.) “It’s temporary and it’s not pretty, but it’s inexpensive (about $4 a window) and it’s extremely effective.”

7. Don’t forget the chimney
Ideally, spring is the time to think about your chimney, because “chimney sweeps are going crazy right now, as you might have guessed.

That said, don’t put off your chimney needs before using your fireplace. “A common myth is that a chimney needs to be swept every year not true. But a chimney should at least be inspected before use each year.

Ask for a Level 1 inspection, in which the professional examines the readily accessible portions of the chimney. Most certified chimney sweeps include a Level 1 service with a sweep.

Woodstoves are a different beast, however. They should be swept more than once a year. A general rule of thumb is that a cleaning should be performed for every ¼ inch of creosote. ” Why? “If it’s ash, then it’s primarily lye — the same stuff that was once used to make soap, and it’s very acidic.” It can cause mortar and the metal damper to rot.

Another tip: Buy a protective cap for your chimney, with a screen. “It’s probably the single easiest protection” because it keeps out foreign objects (birds, tennis balls) as well as rain that can mix with the ash and eat away at the fireplace’s walls. He advises buying based on durability,not appearance.

One other reminder: To keep out cold air, fireplace owners should keep their chimney’s damper closed when the fireplace isn’t in use. And for the same reason, woodstove owners should have glass doors on their stoves, and keep them closed when the stove isn’t in use.

8. Reverse that fan
“Reversing your ceiling fan is a small tip that people don’t often think of.  By reversing its direction from the summer operation, the fan will push warm air downward and force it to recirculate, keeping you more comfortable. (Here’s how you know the fan is ready for winter: As you look up, the blades should be turning clockwise.)

9. Wrap those pipes
A burst pipe caused by a winter freeze is a nightmare. Prevent it before Jack Frost sets his grip: Before freezing nights hit, make certain that the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve), and that the lines are drained.

Next, go looking for other pipes that aren’t insulated, or that pass through unheated spaces — pipes that run through crawlspaces, basements or garages. Wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores. If you’re really worried about a pipe freezing, you can first wrap it with heating tape, which is basically an electrical cord that emits heat.

10. Finally, check those alarms
This is a great time to check the operation — and change the batteries — on your home’s smoke detectors. Detectors should be replaced every 10 years, fire officials say. Test them — older ones in particular — with a small bit of actual smoke, and not just by pressing the “test” button. Check to see that your fire extinguisher is still where it should be, and still works.

Also, invest in a carbon-monoxide detector; every home should have at least one.

Heat-Saving Items

It has been estimated that 90 percent of the heat generated by a conventional masonry fireplace goes up the chimney. To help make fireplaces more energy efficient, accessory items recover lost heat and return it to the room.

HEAT-RECOVERY SYSTEMS

One type of heat-recovery system looks like a glass fireplace enclosure but actually generates heat through convection. A mini radiator in the hood of the enclosure and a heat exchanger behind and above the fire can generate 10,000 BTUs of heat every hour. Further, heat transferred through the unit’s double paned glass doors and frame develops an additional 5,000 BTUs each hour. It requires no electricity or gas for operation and is an easy do-it-yourself installation.

Another type of recovery system combines a grate and heat exchanger to re-circulate fireplace heat back into the room. It can be adjusted to fit standard size fireplace openings. These units can also be used with glass enclosures.

Heating Requirements
Estimated Wattage Required To Raise Room Temperature One Degree*
Floor Area Sq. Ft. Room Conditions
A B C
50 7 10 36
100 14 20 69
150 22 30 103
200 29 40 138
250 36 50 172
300 43 60 204
350 50 70 241
400 57 80 275
450 65 90 310
500 72 100 344
ROOM CONDITIONS (based on 8 ft. ceiling)
(A) Interior Room-little or no outside exposure.
(B) Room with average door and window area-well insulated.
(C) Isolated Rooms-cabins, watch houses-no insulation.
*Because of varying climate, building and insulation conditions, this chart is intended only as a guide to heating requirements.

TUBE GRATES

Tube grates are made of a series of U-shaped tubes fastened together; they replace conventional grates and andirons. The fire is built on the lower curve of the tube grate, just as it would be built in a standard grate or on andirons.

The purpose of the tube grate is to pull room air into the bottom tube opening, move it around and over the fire-warming the air as it goes-and shoot it back into the room. This is accomplished through gravity or with an electric motor to force the warm air back into the room. It should keep the room air from being drawn up the chimney and, when combined with glass doors, the tube grate can be quite effective.

HEAT EXTRACTORS

Heat extractors are made for both fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, and both kinds operate on much the same principle. Their purpose is to extract additional heat from flue gases beyond what would normally come from the stovepipe or chimney.

Some operate naturally using radiation or convection; others have an electric blower to force out more heat.

Since it must be mounted on the stovepipe or chimney, installing a heat extractor on an existing fireplace may be a major undertaking, unless the fireplace has an exposed chimney.

A heat extractor can pull a tremendous amount of heat from a fireplace chimney, but as it does so it cools the flue gases and reduces the effectiveness of the draft. Since this could cause smoking in a fireplace, it would be wise to put a good heat extractor on a chimney with more capacity than is necessary for the size of the fireplace.

The fact that heat extractors cool the flue gases may cause them to work against the efficiency of a good wood-burning stove. As the flue gases cool, combustion is reduced and the stove itself gives off less heat.

Ease of cleaning a heat extractor is another factor. It collects deposits from wood smoke which affect the unit’s efficiency. Some extractors have a removable plate that allows easy access for cleaning the tubes; others require partial disassembly, which can be inconvenient and messy.

FIREPLACE INSERTS

Fireplace inserts are airtight fireboxes that can be inserted into existing fireplaces to provide some of the advantages of a wood-burning stove. Most draw air from the room, circulate it around the insert and return warmed air to the room. Some units have blowers to help distribute the heat.

Some fireplace inserts have a UL listing for use in factory built fireplaces. These zero clearance inserts can extend to the fireplace facing.

These units are specified for use with individual manufacturer models. Manufacturer literature should be checked for correct use.

Gas fireplace inserts are similar to un-vented gas heaters. They can be used in masonry fireplaces as infrared burners to radiate heat. Quality features include oxygen depletion sensor and flame-failure gas shutoff.

GLASS ENCLOSURES

Glass enclosures also help improve fireplace performance. They control air intake, which makes the wood burn more slowly and retains more heat in the firebox; at the same time, the fireplace pulls less warm air from the house.

Glass enclosures can also mean the fire can be left unattended. With doors shut, the fire safely extinguishes itself. The glass doors also permit a full, clear view of the fire while they keep smoke and sparks out of the room.

Most enclosures have a built-in draft at the base that directs air to the bottom of the fireplace opening so homeowners can easily start and control the fire.

Glass enclosures, which fit most standard size fireplaces, mount securely against the face of the fire place, overlapping the opening. In many cases, the enclosure comes fully assembled so the homeowner can install it in minutes.

Other features available on some models include:

  • Safety locks to ensure that the doors will not open accidentally from the impact of a falling log or gusty downdraft.
  • Removable doors for easy cleaning.
  • Permanently attached curtain screen.
  • Outside side-pull handles to eliminate reaching into the heat of the fire to close the doors.
  • Special insert to adapt the enclosure to an arched fireplace.
  • Base risers to elevate the enclosure to fit nonstandard fireplaces.

Saving Money with Insulation

Here are tips and instructions on how to insulate your home. Take a few minutes to read them thoroughly. Following these instructions can save you time and effort.

In this document you will find information about:

  • How Insulating Your Home Saves Money
  • Types of Insulation
  • How Much Insulation You Will Need
  • Spreading Loose-fill Insulating Materials
  • Applying Insulation in Blanket Form
  • Insulating Walls

HOW INSULATING YOUR HOME SAVES MONEY

  • Heating and cooling your home accounts for about 50 percent to 70 percent of the energy used in your home. Unless your home was built as an energy-efficient home, adding insulation will probably reduce your utility bills. Even a small amount of insulation-if properly installed-can reduce energy costs dramatically.
  • You should insulate all areas of your home. Insulation priorities include your attic, including the attic access door, under floors above unheated basements or crawl spaces, and on the edges of concrete slabs. Your options for insulating existing walls are somewhat limited. However, if you are remodeling or residing your home, use the amounts of insulation recommended for new construction. This image shows you where to insulate and also contains the range of recommended R-values for each of those areas in your house. The R-value changes because of the type of heat you use and where you live. It also changes between new and existing homes. To find the recommended R-value for the area of the country you live in, contact your local electric company or gas company. You can also find the recommended R-value by zip code and heat source at the Department of Energy Web site, www.eren.doe.gov.
  • It’s interesting to note that the greatest energy savings come from the first inch of insulation installed. You can add more insulation to increase your savings, but a small amount of insulation is almost a must for your home to be comfortable. Keep in mind that for insulation to work properly the air spaces in the insulation must be maintained. Packing too much insulation into an area will reduce the effectiveness of the insulation.
  • Savings from wall insulation are almost equal to those you’ll get from ceiling insulation.
  • You can further increase your energy savings, up to 10 percent, by plugging any air leaks prior to insulating. Obvious air leaks can be found around doors, windows, fireplaces and chimneys. Some not-so-obvious air leaks can be found around electrical switches and outlets, pull-down attic stairs, pipes, and behind bathtub and shower stall units. These leaks are often much greater than the obvious ones. However, taking care of these leaks alone cannot do the job-you must also have insulation.
   

TYPES OF INSULATION MATERIAL AVAILABLE

  • Most insulating materials are available in several common forms-loose-fill or spray-applied materials, blanket rolls, batts, boards and foil-faced paper, foam, film and cardboard. Each form is ideal for specific insulating jobs.
  • The type of insulation material you select for any job depends on how you intend to use it, how much you want to spend, and how easy it is to install.
  • The chart below provides a summary of the qualities and suggested uses for the basic types of insulation.
  • Study the chart carefully. Consider the advantages, disadvantages and instructions for using each type of material as outlined in the chart. This table should help you select the correct material for any insulation job.
  • Blanket and batt insulation is usually made from fiber glass or rock wool. It is sized to fit between studs, floor joists and ceiling joists. It comes both faced and unfaced. Faced means the batt or blanket has a cover such as paper or foil on one side. Unfaced means there is no cover. Some batts and blankets now come with a protective covering that reduces the “itchy feeling” you get when you work with insulation.
  • Rigid foam insulation is widely used on basement walls and on exterior walls. If rigid foam is used inside, it must be covered with gypsum board or other building code-approved material for fire safety reasons. When it is applied on the outside, it must be covered with a weatherproof facing. When using a foil-covered rigid foam, the foil must be away from the heated side of the wall to avoid a condensation problem.
TYPES OF INSULATION
Form Method of Installation Where Applicable Advantages
Blankets: Batts or Rolls; Fiber glass Rock wool Fitted between studs, joists, and beams All unfinished walls, floors and ceilings Do-it-yourself; Suited for standard stud and joist spacing, which is relatively free from obstructions
Loose-fill (blown-in) or Spray-applied; Rock wool; Fiberglass; Cellulose; Polyurethane foam Blown into place or spray applied by special equipment Enclosed existing wall cavities or open new wall cavities; Unfinished attic floors and hard-to-reach places Commonly used insulation for retrofits (adding insulation to existing finished areas); Good for irregularly shaped areas and around obstructions
Rigid Insulation; Extruded polystyrene foam (XPS); Expanded polystyrene foam (EPS or beadboard); Polyurethane foam; Polyisocyanurate foam Interior applications: Must be covered with 1/2″gypsum board or other building-code approved material for fire safety; Exterior applications: Must be covered with weather-proof facing Basement walls; Exterior walls under finishing (Some foam boards include a foil facing which will act as a vapor retarder. Please read the discussion about where to place, or not to place, a vapor retarder); Unvented low slope roofs High insulation value for relatively little thickness; Can block thermal short circuits when installed continuously over frames or joists
Reflective Systems; Foil-faced paper; Foil-faced polyethylene bubbles; Foil-faced plastic film; Foil-faced cardboard Foils, films or papers: Fitted between wood-frame studs, joists and beams Unfinished ceilings, walls, and floors Do-it-yourself; All suitable for framing at standard spacing. Bubble-form suitable if framing is irregular or if obstructions are presentt; effectiveness depends on spacing and heat flow direction
   

HOW MUCH INSULATION YOU WILL NEED

  • On a new home, find out what the recommended R-value is for the type of heat you are planning to use for the location of your new home. Again, local electric and gas companies can provide this information to you or you can contact the Department of Energy.
  • On an existing home it is a little more complicated, but not hard. First, you need to identify what type of insulation is currently in your home. It may differ by the various locations in your home. In your attic for example, you may find batt or blanket fiber glass over the top of loose-fill cellulose. You may also find multiple layers of batt or blanket insulation. Next, you need to measure the thickness of each of these different types of insulation at the different locations. To help you with this process, take a regular sheet of notebook paper and make four columns. Label the first column “Location,” the second column “Type Of Insulation,” the third column “Inches Thick” and the fourth column “R-value per Inch.”
  • The table below shows you the approximate R-value each inch of the various types of insulating materials provides. Use this chart to fill in the last column of your worksheet. One inch of fiber glass batts or blankets, for example, provides an approximate R-value of 3.2. To find the R-value of 4″ of fiberglass, multiply 4 x 3.2 to get an R-value of 12.8. Repeat this process of multiplying the number of inches thick and the R-value per inch of insulation for each area in your home. If you have two different types of insulation together, like our earlier example, find the R-value for each and then add them together.
R-VALUE
Insulation Type R-Value per inch thickness
Fiberglass blanket or batt 3.2
High-performance fiber glass blanket or batt 3.8
Loose-fill fiber glass 2.5
Loose-fill rock wool 2.8
Loose-fill cellulose 3.5
Perlite or vermilculite 2.7
Expanded polystyrene board 3.8
Extruded polystyrene board 4.8
Polyisocyanurate board, unfaced 5.8
Polyisocyanurate board, foil-faced 7.0
Spray polyurethane foam 5.9
  • Let’s use an example where we have 6″ of cellulose covered by 6″ of fiber glass batts in the attic. We take the R-value of cellulose, which is 3.5 and multiply it by 6 to get 21.0. We then take the R-value of fiberglass batts, which is 3.2 and multiply that by 6 to get 19.2. Since the insulation is layered one on top of the other, we add them together 21.0 + 19.2 to get 40.2.
  • If we live in a region where the recommended R-value is 38, we already have 40.2, so we do not need to add insulation. What happens though, if we live in a region that recommends 49-we need to add some insulation, but how much? That’s easy too! Take the recommended R-value, which is 49, and subtract what we have already, which is 40.2 (49 – 40.2 to get 8.8). We need to add an R-value of 8.8. The R-value of an inch of fiber glass batts is 3.2. Divide the amount we need to add, 8.8, by the R-value per inch, 3.2, to get 2.75. Batt and blanket insulation comes in several thicknesses. One of these is 3-1/2″. So one layer of 3-1/2″ fiber glass batt insulation added to what we have will give us a little more than what we need. It is always ok to add more insulation than is recommended. Just remember not to pack it too tightly because packing it can reduce its effectiveness.
   

SPREADING LOOSE-FILL INSULATING MATERIALS

  • Loose-fill insulating materials of rock wool, fiber glass or cellulose are commonly used for insulating attics. Vermiculite is not currently used for homes, but it may be found in older homes. It is best to install these materials with a plywood rake attached to a rake handle, making spreading much easier.
  • To make this type of rake, cut a scrap piece of plywood to the length of the space between the joists plus 4″ (see image below). The extra 4″ allows for an overhang on the joists.

  • Next decide how deep you plan to install the loose-fill material. For example, suppose you are planning to lay the loose-fill material to a depth of 3″ between the attic joists (see image above). Measure the depth in the space you plan to fill then saw the plywood rake as illustrated in this image. The rake should ride on the joist on either side and level the material off evenly to a depth of 3″. Attach a handle, making a handy tool that will save you hours of backbreaking labor and enable you to rake the material easily and evenly into otherwise unreachable corners (see image).
   

APPLYING INSULATION IN BLANKET FORM

  • Always apply blanket-type insulation with the vapor barrier facing the interior of your home. The vapor barrier should always be toward the source of heat in the winter (see image). Never place a vapor barrier between two layers of insulation. This can lead to a condensation problem and reduce the effectiveness of the insulation. Lay the blanket as close to the joists and floor as possible. Fill any gaps with loose-fill insulation or place another layer of blanket insulation across the previous layer.
  • Always place insulation on the outside of pipes or ducts (see image). This means the insulation should be between the outside wall and the pipes.

  • When using blanket insulation, always place the vapor barrier toward the heat source and insulation outside of any pipes.
  • Staple blanket insulation when laid between joists in the attic (see image). Most rolls of blanket insulation materials have flanges that can be stapled or tacked to the ceiling joists, as illustrated. Always keep the blanket as close to the joists and floor area as possible-fill any gaps with strips of insulation or loose-fill insulation.
  • Never allow blanket-type insulation to cut off the flow of air and stop proper ventilation in an attic (see image below). Blanket insulation should never block the air movement from the eave vents into the attic.
   

  • Proper ventilation in the attic is very important in any insulation job. Make provision for air to flow in and around the eave vents and to flow out through a ridge vent roof ventilator or through a ventilator on the end of the house (see first image below).
  • Blanket insulation without a vapor barrier can be wedged between existing ceiling joists (see second image below). Make sure the insulation comes to the top of the plate to avoid heat loss from the penetration of wind under the insulation. Failure to pay close attention to this detail can lead to a frost line forming on cold, windy days. It will form on the inside wall where the ceiling and walls come together.
  • There are special formed inserts made of foam or plastic designed to go up next to the roof between the rafters. They help with both the airflow and the frost line. Many of them are designed to be installed during new construction. But they can be installed in an existing roof with very little extra effort.
  • In some cases, it may be easier to apply the blanket between the rafters on the roof (see third image below). In this case, staple the blanket insulation directly to the rafters.
  • Repair any major tears or rips in the vapor barrier and insulation by adding additional vapor barrier and insulation to build up to the level on the normal insulation run.
  • Whether you apply the insulation to the attic roof or the floor, always double it back at the end for maximum efficiency (see fourth image below). Illustration A shows how the blanket of insulation material can be rolled at the end between the attic joists. Illustration B shows how the same material can be doubled back between the rafters of the roof.
 
   

INSULATING WALLS

  • If possible, lay blanket-type insulating material between the studs in the wall. If you’re using insulation blankets without a vapor barrier, they should be forced into the area between the studs. Then, place a polyethylene vapor barrier on the inside face of the wall. Staple the vapor barrier into place.
  • When building a new structure, insulate the full wall, including around the openings for doors and windows.
  • Use drywall with a foil back as a vapor barrier instead of polyethylene if it is more practical.
  • Blanket insulation material with a vapor barrier attached can be stapled into position.
  • When the blanket has a vapor barrier, take the time to staple or tack all sides, bottoms and tops. This increases the efficiency of the insulation.
  • Use scraps of insulation material to insulate all the cracks and crevices around doors and windows (see image). Then use scraps of vapor barrier to seal these areas. Staple the barrier in place.

Weather Stripping a Window

Choosing Your Weather Stripping:

Spring-type, tension or folded strips made from bronze, aluminum, stainless steel or vinyl are sometimes nailed in place to the sides and top of the window frame and to the sash on the bottom. The angled or V-shaped strips work best for double-hung windows and are also suitable for doors. This type is durable and cannot be seen when door or window is closed but may make opening and closing difficult and installation is somewhat tricky.

Rigid strip gaskets are made from vinyl, felt or foam attached to wood or metal strips. Attached at the bottom or top of window sash or bottom of doors with fasteners the strip is visible but can be painted to reduce visibility. It is easily installed and the durability varies with material used. Pliable gasket is made of a springy material like vinyl, foam, felt or sponge with an adhesive backing and is effective for wood casement, hinged or sliding windows. Installs easily in the channels and bottom or top of sash. This type is low cost but the durability is generally low and self-adhesive strips may not work on metal and should be considered temporary.

Compressible felt strips are another option but are not very durable and are best used only on warped windows that won’t accept rigid stripping, or for windows that aren’t often opened.

Double-Hung Windows

Tools:

  • Utility Knife
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  1. Clean the bottom of the sash with soap and water and let dry.
  2. Measure the sash and cut the foam weather stripping to length.
  3. Peel the back from the foam. Press the adhesive side of the foam against the bottom of the sash to form a tight bond.
  4. Clean the jamb with soap and water and let dry.
  5. Cut two pieces of V-channel 1″ longer than each sash height.
  6. Peel the back from the V-channel and work it between the sash stiles and the jamb. Press the channel firmly into the jamb.
  7. Drive finish nails through the weather stripping into the jamb to hold it securely. Test the sash to ensure it doesn’t catch on the nails.
  8. Clean the back of the bottom sash with soapy water and allow it to dry completely.
  9. Cut a piece of V-channel to match the width of the sash.
  10. With the sash raised 3″ to 4″, peel the back from the channel and press it firmly into the back of the sash even with the top. The V should open facing up so the weather stripping compresses when the window is closed.

Casement Windows

Tools:

  • Utility Knife
  • Tape Measure
  • Hammer
  • Materials
  • Self-adhesive foam insulation
  1. Open the window and clean the outside of the stops with soapy water. Allow the stops to dry completely.
  2. Cut self-adhesive foam to fit the top, bottom and sides of the stops.
  3. Remove the back from each piece of foam and press it into the outside of the stops.

Heat-Saving Items

It has been estimated that 90 percent of the heat generated by a conventional masonry fireplace goes up the chimney. To help make fireplaces more energy efficient, accessory items recover lost heat and return it to the room.

HEAT-RECOVERY SYSTEMS

One type of heat-recovery system looks like a glass fireplace enclosure but actually generates heat through convection. A mini radiator in the hood of the enclosure and a heat exchanger behind and above the fire can generate 10,000 BTUs of heat every hour. Further, heat transferred through the unit’s double paned glass doors and frame develops an additional 5,000 BTUs each hour. It requires no electricity or gas for operation and is an easy do-it-yourself installation.

Another type of recovery system combines a grate and heat exchanger to re-circulate fireplace heat back into the room. It can be adjusted to fit standard size fireplace openings. These units can also be used with glass enclosures.

Heating Requirements
Estimated Wattage Required To Raise Room Temperature One Degree*
Floor Area Sq. Ft. Room Conditions
A B C
50 7 10 36
100 14 20 69
150 22 30 103
200 29 40 138
250 36 50 172
300 43 60 204
350 50 70 241
400 57 80 275
450 65 90 310
500 72 100 344
ROOM CONDITIONS (based on 8 ft. ceiling)
(A) Interior Room-little or no outside exposure.
(B) Room with average door and window area-well insulated.
(C) Isolated Rooms-cabins, watch houses-no insulation.
*Because of varying climate, building and insulation conditions, this chart is intended only as a guide to heating requirements.

TUBE GRATES

Tube grates are made of a series of U-shaped tubes fastened together; they replace conventional grates and andirons. The fire is built on the lower curve of the tube grate, just as it would be built in a standard grate or on andirons.

The purpose of the tube grate is to pull room air into the bottom tube opening, move it around and over the fire-warming the air as it goes-and shoot it back into the room. This is accomplished through gravity or with an electric motor to force the warm air back into the room. It should keep the room air from being drawn up the chimney and, when combined with glass doors, the tube grate can be quite effective.

HEAT EXTRACTORS

Heat extractors are made for both fireplaces and wood-burning stoves, and both kinds operate on much the same principle. Their purpose is to extract additional heat from flue gases beyond what would normally come from the stovepipe or chimney.

Some operate naturally using radiation or convection; others have an electric blower to force out more heat.

Since it must be mounted on the stovepipe or chimney, installing a heat extractor on an existing fireplace may be a major undertaking, unless the fireplace has an exposed chimney.

A heat extractor can pull a tremendous amount of heat from a fireplace chimney, but as it does so it cools the flue gases and reduces the effectiveness of the draft. Since this could cause smoking in a fireplace, it would be wise to put a good heat extractor on a chimney with more capacity than is necessary for the size of the fireplace.

The fact that heat extractors cool the flue gases may cause them to work against the efficiency of a good wood-burning stove. As the flue gases cool, combustion is reduced and the stove itself gives off less heat.

Ease of cleaning a heat extractor is another factor. It collects deposits from wood smoke which affect the unit’s efficiency. Some extractors have a removable plate that allows easy access for cleaning the tubes; others require partial disassembly, which can be inconvenient and messy.

FIREPLACE INSERTS

Fireplace inserts are airtight fireboxes that can be inserted into existing fireplaces to provide some of the advantages of a wood-burning stove. Most draw air from the room, circulate it around the insert and return warmed air to the room. Some units have blowers to help distribute the heat.

Some fireplace inserts have a UL listing for use in factory built fireplaces. These zero clearance inserts can extend to the fireplace facing.

These units are specified for use with individual manufacturer models. Manufacturer literature should be checked for correct use.

Gas fireplace inserts are similar to un-vented gas heaters. They can be used in masonry fireplaces as infrared burners to radiate heat. Quality features include oxygen depletion sensor and flame-failure gas shutoff.

GLASS ENCLOSURES

Glass enclosures also help improve fireplace performance. They control air intake, which makes the wood burn more slowly and retains more heat in the firebox; at the same time, the fireplace pulls less warm air from the house.

Glass enclosures can also mean the fire can be left unattended. With doors shut, the fire safely extinguishes itself. The glass doors also permit a full, clear view of the fire while they keep smoke and sparks out of the room.

Most enclosures have a built-in draft at the base that directs air to the bottom of the fireplace opening so homeowners can easily start and control the fire.

Glass enclosures, which fit most standard size fireplaces, mount securely against the face of the fire place, overlapping the opening. In many cases, the enclosure comes fully assembled so the homeowner can install it in minutes.

Other features available on some models include:

  • Safety locks to ensure that the doors will not open accidentally from the impact of a falling log or gusty downdraft.
  • Removable doors for easy cleaning.
  • Permanently attached curtain screen.
  • Outside side-pull handles to eliminate reaching into the heat of the fire to close the doors.
  • Special insert to adapt the enclosure to an arched fireplace.
  • Base risers to elevate the enclosure to fit nonstandard fireplaces.
eXTReMe Tracker