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Wednesday, January 30th, 2019 by Mallory Finch
Winter Weatherizing Your Home
Are you worried that your home is not ready for the winter cold or snow?
As a homeowner, you want to keep your basement, crawl space or slab-on-grade foundation a dry, comfortable space whether it’s for a finished game room, unfinished storage area, etc.
You can take a few precautions to keep your home protected from the freezing weather this winter. Weatherizing your home is worth the time and effort to be fully prepared in the event of an emergency.
Here are a few tips to get your home ready for the cold months ahead.
First, here’s a brief introduction to an energy-efficient option that may appeal to you.
Start with Home Performance Assessment
Deciding which home improvement project to take care of first? It may help to hire an expert to perform an energy audit/assessment. The U.S. Department of Energy administers a national program called Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® to help homeowners. Baker’s Waterproofing is a partner of Conservation Consultants, Inc. (CCI) who implement this program in Allegheny County, PA.
How does it work? CCI's Building Analysts perform whole-house energy assessments and present homeowners with customized home upgrade reports to improve efficiency, health and comfort. They measure, assess and diagnose poorly performing components of your home. What they discover during the audit may quite surprise you; oftentimes the heat loss is not where you think.
Click here to find out more information. If you live outside of Allegheny County and don’t have a local program, a Do-It-Yourself home energy audit can help you pinpoint problem areas that need upgrades.
Next, we will review a few common issues in the winter and how Baker’s Waterproofing can help.
Prevent Discharge Pipes from Causing Basement Flooding
Make sure your discharge pipe doesn’t end just outside of the foundation wall. If it does, water will likely seep back into your basement or crawl space, especially when temperatures drop below freezing. Instead, we recommend that a discharge pipe extends at least 10 feet away from your foundation.
We have an underground discharge line extension called LawnScape. The green outlet at the end of the pipe allows water to exit far away from your home and out onto your lawn.
Worried about frozen pipes? A sump pump’s discharge pipe is sometimes susceptible to freezing, especially when living in western PA, northern WV, and eastern OH. If this occurs, the frozen pipe would prevent water from escaping from the usual route and cause an ice buildup in your sump pump. An excessive amount of water would flood the system and, in turn, flood your basement.
However, you can prevent this. The perfect solution to a clogged and frozen discharge pipe is the IceGuard® system.
If a pipe freezes in the cold winter months or is blocked by frozen snow (shown in the photo above), the patented IceGuard system gives water an emergency exit through its slotted openings. The system is installed outside of the home (on the discharge pipe) to eject water away from the foundation. (Under normal operation no water will spill through the slotted openings due to its flared design.)
Baker’s can save you from the headache of a wet basement if your discharge pipe clogs or freezes.
Protect Your Home During a Power Outage
Whether you’re away for vacation, preparing for a family gathering or just left to run some errands, you don’t want to worry about your basement.
Your sump pump has taken care of the basement water issue, but what happens if the power goes out? You want to make sure your home is protected against basement flooding in ALL situations.
We highly recommend adding our patented UltraSump battery backup pump to your system. The powerful and reliable UltaSump pump will save your basement from flooding in the event of a power outage, mechanical pump failure or tremendous volume of groundwater.
Homeowners have told us that this added layer of protection is well worth the small investment after just one use!
Crawl Space Winterization
Ventilating your crawl space has been proven not to work. Although the original intent was for the air from outside to dry out the crawl space, in actuality, the moisture or extreme temperatures do more harm than good. And closed crawl space vents are not enough - the elements, as well as insects and other pests, can still get in.
As you may know, freezing cold winter air flows into a below-grade space and travels upwards throughout the rest of the home. If you find that your crawl space isn’t closed off from the outside, it’s time to invest in an energy-efficient solution.
We recommend taking a proven approach by closing off your crawl space, so that cold drafts aren’t able to leak into your home. Our crawl space solution includes installing vent covers, sealing the space with a durable vapor barrier, and installing insulation. This will provide you with a warmer floor above the crawl space, improved air quality, lower heating bills and insulated pipes in the crawl space.
Our sealing and insulating treatments improve home comfort and energy efficiency year-round.
Have you noticed signs of a bowing or cracking foundation wall? If so, the freezing weather may cause even more damage. As the temperature drops, the freezing and expansion of groundwater can exert additional pressure on the exterior of your home’s foundation.
After heavy snowfall, weather above freezing will melt the snow that accumulated next to your home. A substantial thaw will add pressure to the exterior wall and could cause basement flooding.
Additionally, frost can put pressure on a wall and cause it to fail, especially if the basement is unheated. Frost can be extremely powerful and could cause significant damage to a shallow foundation.
If you are experiencing any signs of a bowing wall, schedule a wall repair estimate sooner rather than later.
Last, here are a couple more tips to stay better prepared in the winter:
Inspect your roof, gutters and downspouts.
Clear away debris to prevent ice dams and other blockage from giving rainwater easy-access into your home.
Prevent plumbing freezes.
Ice in the pipes build up pressure, which could cause the pipes to burst. Drain all garden hoses and add insulation to any exposed pipes to prevent them from freezing.
Prepare for the year’s first big snow melt.
Some years, the first snow melt can be the most water next to your home that there will be all year. Not sure if your system can handle a tremendous volume of water? Call 1-800-942-2942 to set up a maintenance appointment with one of our qualified Service Technicians. We will assure you that your basement or crawl space is fully-protected, and add to your system if deemed necessary in your home.