Cold Weather Preparations

Cold Weather Preparations

Cold Weather Preparations is about how to help prepare your house for freezing temperatures.

HOME ARCHITECTS ® has been providing good information to its Clients and the public for years, to help them deal with residential matters, including planning, designing & maintaining their houses.  Dealing with cold weather requires preventative measures, in order to have a house be capable of successfully dealing with Arctic air.


cold weather preparationsNot doing this leads to one of the main reasons for plumbing piping ruptures during cold weather.  Even if you have “frostproof” hose bibbs with a vacuum breaker, you still have to allow them to drain, and that can’t happen if you ran water through a connected hose (even weeks or months earlier), then kept the hose connected.  You have to unscrew the exterior hose, otherwise water can remain in the hose, including at the hose bibb for a very long time.  And when freezing weather arrives, that water can freeze and expand 10% of its normal volume, creating huge pressures inside of piping, resulting in breaking of the pipe wall, and a huge flood when above-freezing temperatures return.










2. INSIDE, DAILY TURN ON ALL FAUCETS OVER SINKS, TUBS, TUBS AND SHOWERS FOR A COUPLE OF SECONDS (and pour a cup of clean water into any floor drains)
This will fill the traps in the drainage plumbing under the fixture.  If you don’t do this, not only will noxious sewer gas be allowed to enter your home through the drainage piping, but also frigid air from the outside will be able to come inside.  In commercial buildings, such things as floor drains are often designed by Plumbing Engineers to have trap primers, that automatically fill traps when the water in them evaporates.


Remember 1940s and 50s storm windows?  In essence, they created another trapped layer of air, disconnected to the exterior and the interior.  Air is one of the most effective insulators we have.  So, if you can shut your drapes and find ways to have them contact the interior wall surfaces around them, even by pushing them into contact with the drywall around the window edge, you may achieve some modest insulating effect at these sources of cold intrusion.  This will not be perfect.  Because: the top will likely be open and draperies are typically made of fabric and cold and heat can penetrate fabric.  The tighter fabrics (like Gore-Tex) are better, but you’re not typically going to find draperies made of that.

Exception to the above: When the sun moves around so that it is directly throwing its light on your windows, pull back the drapes and let the warmth inside.  Especially where the sun can come through and heat your floors, that heat will rise in the rooms and spaces, helping to heat your interior for free.

















    A.  Use 2×6 stud walls, rather than 2x4s.  This allows the use of R-19+ fiberglass batts rather than the thinner R-13+ batts, which is a 46% increase in your wall insulation energy resistance value.
    B.  Ask your Architect to consider designing Continuous Insulation over your exterior wall sheathing.  This is often in the the form of rigid insulation of 1″ or more in thickness.  Contributed energy value= R-5 or more.  This helps diffuse the thermal shunts that otherwise occur at every wall stud.  Dense materials transmit thermal variations more.  Air/ Insulation help delay thermal transfer. 
    C.  Ask your Architect to use R-49 fiberglass batts in your attic, rather than the less effective R-38 or R-30. This provides at least a 22% improvement where it counts the most (your roof).


More than likely, your doors and windows have some infiltration (unwanted exterior air intrusion).   There’s not much you can do about the windows, but your doors are a different matter.  The thresholds (bottoms) of doors often come with a cheap, thin vinyl multi-bladed strip under them than typically flexes and starts breaking off within a couple of years on well-used doors.  You can replace those, or better yet, pay a Contractor to replace those for you.  And you can do something about  the sides (jambs) and overhead (head) gaps.  You can buy thin, adhesive EPDM and rubber weatherstripping that you can apply to the jambs and heads to help provide a better seal when your doors close.  Be careful: buy weatherstripping thick enough to seal the gaps, but not so thick that you can’t easily shut your doors.













You can also purchase a threshold weatherstrip that is attached to the face of the interior of your doors, near the bottom, with a vinyl blade that contacts your threshold, providing some pressure there to help block air from entering under the door, in addition to your other under-door weatherstripping.


You can have windows open just a crack, and not realize it.  We once found dormer windows that were 15′ above the floor in a house and lots of cold air was pouring in from them.  After erecting a ladder and investigating, we found that they had opened about 1/8″.  The hardware on the windows had to be removed and reinstalled to get the windows to close completely, then lock tightly.  So: check all windows, not just those easy to reach.  Be careful: hire Contractors and other professionals as required to not put yourself into dangerous situations.


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