Is Your Home Ready For Winter?

October 13, 2019 | By Pamela Vargas-Touchard |
Home in Winter: Person with a glove holding a house

The winter months are often the most energy consumptive for Bay Area homeowners as the result of colder temperatures that demand more from your HVAC system to maintain optimal indoor comfort. By ensuring your home is ready for winter, building occupants will be warm and cozy, while conserving as much energy as possible. 

Getting Your Bay Area Home Ready For Winter 

As we head into the colder, wetter months of winter, the following steps will help to prepare your Bay Area home for winter. 

Schedule an attic inspection 

When was the last time a professional inspected your attic and crawl spaces? These typically forgotten areas of the home play essential roles when it comes to keeping your home comfortable year-round. Inadequate or outdated insulation means heat loss during the winter (and solar heat gain during the summer), which leads to higher energy bills. 

Scheduling an inspection with a licensed insulation contractor is a good idea. We’ll let you know if your attic insulation is sufficient or if the insulation has been damaged through the years as a result of leaks, rodent or pest infiltrations, or thoughtless subcontractors that damaged insulation while working on plumbing, HVAC, electrical, or cable issues. 

Remove and replace outdated insulation 

If necessary, removing outdated insulation and replacing it with new insulation that meets current energy regulations goes a long way towards keeping your house more comfortable all year round. In addition to energy savings, upgrading your attic insulation also reduces wear and tear on your HVAC system, which leads to lower repair and replacement costs on that end as well. 

Read The Sure Fire Signs You Need Insulation Replacement to learn more about whether your attic and crawl spaces could use an upgrade. 

Seal any air leaks 

When we perform attic inspections in homes that are 15 years or older, we often feel a draft or two while we’re up there. That’s a sign that the home’s envelope needs to be resealed. A draft is an opportunity for conditioned air to leak out of your home, and for hotter/colder temperatures to migrate into your living spaces.  

Gaps in exterior walls are most common around windows and doors, at the roofline, or around penetrations (plumbing, chimney/vents, electrical, cable, internet, old phone lines, etc.). These need to be sealed (and re-sealed) on a regular basis.  

Visit energystar.gov’s page, Attic Air Sealing, to learn more about why sealing your home’s envelope is so important in regards to whole-home comfort as well as energy conservation. 

Schedule an HVAC maintenance appointment 

Efficient HVAC function is essential to energy savings and lower spending. Most HVAC warranties are dependent on proof of optimal maintenance records, which include receipts showing your HVAC was inspected and tuned up annually by a licensed HVAC technician. The more your HVAC has to work - as a result of inadequate insulation or a necessary tune-up or repair, the higher your utility bills will be - particularly during the peak hot and cold months. 

Correct any leak issues to be ready for winter

An inspection in the attic often reveals roof leak issues or moisture control issues that have been neglected for too long. Before we replace or update your insulation, we’ll determine the source of the leaks and work with you to fix them or contact the best-licensed professionals in our area if your roof or exterior walls require repairs.  

In most cases, moisture control issues lead to condensation that feeds mold and mildew infestations. If that is the case, your attic insulation professionals will remove all evidence of mold or mildew and completely sanitize the space before moving ahead with insulation replacement. Not only does moisture and condensation affect humidity levels and indoor air quality, mold and mildew spores lead to structural damage and are also known to cause respiratory issues for building occupants. 

Remove any evidence of current or former pest infestations 

Rodents and other pests love accessible attic spaces. Compared with the outside world, your attic is warm, dry, protected from the elements, and almost always safe from predators. It’s no wonder that everything from mice and rats to squirrels and birds make themselves right at home if they can gain entry to your attic. 

Unfortunately, these pest infestations are not ideal for the human occupants in the house. First and foremost, the noises from the upstairs visitors can be obnoxious - especially since most of them are nocturnal. Over time, an unaddressed pest infestation poses health issues because the accumulation of feces and waste products, rotting food materials they store in the attic, and decayed bodies affect indoor air quality and can become toxic. 

Finally, pests love insulation. They burrow in it, they shred it for nesting material, or they may even transport chunks of it elsewhere to make their nests. In almost all cases, an attic that has a history of rodent infestations will need to be cleared out, sanitized, sealed up to prevent future infestations, and then reinsulated again. 

Update your crawl spaces 

The combination of vapor (moisture) barriers and insulation can make a world of difference in your crawl spaces. While the ambient temperature of the earth is typically 50 to 60 degrees F, the temperature at the surface or just below the surface can be far cooler. Plus, a damp or wet crawl space poses other threats to whole-home comfort, humidity levels, and indoor air quality. We recommend updating crawl spaces as needed, installing vapor barriers as recommended, and considering insulation if the expense will pay for itself in energy savings.

 We're Ready When You're Ready 

Is your attic long overdue for an inspection? Would you like to make sure your home is ready for the winter? Contact us here at Attic Solutions. We have decades of licensed attic insulation experience and are happy to provide you with recent referrals from local, Bay Area home and business owners. 

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