15 Things You Should Insulate Before Winter
Don’t let your home lose valuable thermal energy when temperatures drop. Find your insulation weak spots and plan a few hours of DIY insulation projects to shore them up! Take a look at the complete list of which parts of your house need insulation, and why it’s important to get the project done before winter.
When temperatures start to drop below freezing, your plumbing may be in danger. Pipes where water tends to linger, unprotected by the insulation that guards the rest of your home, can freeze on particularly cold nights. The expanding ice can even crack pipes and flood homes – a disaster you definitely want to avoid. Make sure that pipes in cold areas are properly insulated and protected when you expect the temperature to drop below freezing.
Heat rises, and to keep it inside your hose, you need to make sure your attic space is properly insulated – and that means taking care of empty corners and shallow areas where blown insulation may not have settled correctly. Smaller cracks can also be treated with DIY foam insulation.
Note: Remember your attic always needs an appropriate amount of ventilation. Otherwise, condensation builds up and can cause many problems. Don’t close up any vents without first consulting an expert.
We specify “hobby-friendly” because if your garage is rarely used for anything but basic storage (or is detached), then you may not need to insulate it. But if your garage has a more active role in your life, then insulation is a good idea. Basic batt insulation and garage door insulation can go a long way here, and it’s a good excuse to clean up the garage while you’re at it.
New Exterior Walls
Existing exterior walls should already be insulated thanks to building codes and best practices. However, new walls from recent renovations should also be insulated: Basically, any wall that faces the outside requires adequate insulation.
With proper floor insulation, you may not need to worry about insulating a rarely used basement area. But if you plan on controlling the temperature in your basement, you’re going to need the proper insulation for your foundation walls. Keep in mind that this should also include the proper moisture barriers so you don’t run into trouble later on.
Doors and Windows
Weatherstripping around doors and windows keeps cold air out and warm air in. Without weatherstripping, small spaces will leak air and cost you on monthly heating bills. Check the weatherstripping around your house: If it’s worn or missing, then it’s time for a replacement.
Ceilings Without Insulation
In houses with complex layouts or additions, insulation may be missing in some ceilings. It’s important to make sure the ceiling has adequate insulation as well.
Upper Roof Trusses
Roof crawl spaces are usually insulated, but a frequent problem occurs when blown insulation settles only around the lower end of roof trusses. The cold winter air forces the top of the trusses to contract while the heated bottom ends expand. This can cause groaning noises from your roof and structural damage over time. If your roof experiences these problems, you may want to improve your insulation. If you aren’t sure what your roof insulation looks like, it’s probably worth a look.
If a floor is open to the outside air (this sometimes happens with upper level expansions) or to an uninsulated foundation, it too should be insulated. If your basement lacks even basic insulation, you can add it.
Like your unprotected pipes, you don’t want outdoor faucets to suffer from ice expansion. Fortunately, installing a frost-proof outdoor faucet is a pretty quick project.
Vents and Ductwork
Air Leakage Points
Outlets, switches and light fixtures can allow air pass through. Over time, these small gaps and leaks can lose a lot of heat. Fortunately, an easy DIY insulation project to properly seal them will prevent that problem.
Chimneys, particularly older ones, may have leaks or direct, unfettered pathways to cold air. Chimney flues should be equipped with caps to prevent downdrafts, and also possibly balloons or plugs, when not in use. You can insulate chimneys with liners, but it’s usually best to have this work done by a pro.
If you don’t have an attic or basement, you may be tempted to ignore the hidden portions of the home. However, there’s no guarantee your crawlspace is properly insulated without inspection. Brush up on insulation basics and make sure your upper and lower crawlspaces are protected.