Keeping Your Home Warm In The Winter

Keeping your home warm through the winter is more than just a comfort factor. It can save you money in energy efficiency. In truly frigid climates, where the air temperature can drop below zero, retaining warmth in the winter can be a matter of health.

Older homes in particular often suffer from heat loss. There are several DIY projects you can do that can help to keep your home warmer in the cold season.

Find Out Where Your Home Is Losing Heat

Ice-cold air is very impervious, and can seep through the smallest cracks, so it’s important to find out where cold air is getting in. Doors and windows are one of the first places to look. Warm air can also be lost through the attic if your home doesn’t have enough insulation. Sometimes the exterior walls of older homes do not contain enough insulation between them. If you are having trouble discovering where your home is losing heat, many heat suppliers offer free testing for energy efficiency.

Weatherproofing Doors And Windows

There are several weather stripping products that can be found in your local hardware to use on doors and windows, most of which contain easy instructions. Weather stripping should be applied to the edges of doors and windows. Old caulking on the outside of windows should be removed and replaced with a caulking gun. Always check the R-value listed on packages of weather stripping products, which will tell you how effective they are at retaining heat.

Older single pane windows are not energy efficient, and older double-pane windows may have lost their energy efficiency as well. An easy way to tell if your windows are losing heat is if they feel ice cold to the touch in the wintertime.

Many owners of older homes install shutters outside their windows to better retain the heat. Simple shutters can be created inexpensively from a double set of hinged wood panels large enough to cover each window. You can also purchase or make window coverings from thick fabrics, and couple them with tight fitting blinds to help retain the heat.

Your Attic And Exterior Walls

The amount of insulation you need in your attic depends on the region in which you live and how cold your region gets in the winter. Refer to the U.S. Department of Energy website to find out how much attic insulation you need. If your attic is losing heat, you will find that snow on your roof melts quickly in the winter time. This may seem like a good thing, but the problem is that the heat is going through your roof instead of warming you.

Adding insulation to your attic is easy enough using fiberglass rolls of batting available at your hardware. Follow the directions carefully, and be sure to wear a mask when installing them.

Exterior walls that do not contain enough insulation are a more difficult matter that should probably be handled by a contractor. A common solution to lack of insulation on already-built walls is to drill holes in walls and inject foam insulation inside of them. If you have a room that is ice-cold at night in spite of a working furnace, you may consider this to be a necessary expense.

Weatherproofing your home is one of the most important DIY projects you can do, and little things you can do will pay off in better heat retention.

Five Home Repairs You Should Never Do Yourself

The spirit of all do-it-yourself repair projects is the idea that with education and the right tools, homeowners are capable of handling many repairs themselves. The downside to this idea is that homeowners may become overconfident. A big part of learning how to do-it-yourself is learning where to draw the line between what you can do and what a trained expert should do for you. Here are five home repairs that require an experienced technician.

Putting An Addition On Your Home

You saw a video on television and thought it looked pretty easy to knock down a wall for renovation. You didn’t realize until too late that the wall was load-bearing, though. Or you may be a little handy with electrical wiring and decide to wire a new room yourself.

The problem with each of these scenarios is that though you may think you are saving money by doing these jobs yourself, you don’t have the training of a professional to do them. Things can go wrong after the fact in ways you never intended or imagined. In the case of an untrained electrical installation, you could actually burn down your own home. Or you could be fined several thousand dollars for not putting in an installation according to code when you try to sell your home. Save the future headache and let a pro do the job.

Cutting Down Your Own Trees

You have a power saw that you like, and a big tree that you don’t. How easy would it be to use the one to get rid of the other?

Cutting a tree at the wrong angle can make it fall where you don’t expect, either on yourself or your neighbor, or someone’s valued home. Professionals who cut down trees are highly respectful of the danger they pose. They will often work in teams, cutting down a large tree limb by limb before attempting to remove the trunk. They also use specialized equipment that you probably don’t have.

Major Plumbing Repairs

Replacing or caulking a length of pipe below a sink is easy enough for a do-it-yourselfer to do, but when it comes to major leaks in a home, particularly if you can’t find the source, you should call a plumber.

Water leaks can be very deceptive. They may seem as if they are coming from one location, when actually they are originating from somewhere else. Even plumbers get frustrated over this sometimes.

The other part of plumbing work is that it often involves squeezing into small corners and loosening rusted parts. A job that you thought would only take a few hours can easily turn into several days of repairing your repairs.

Roof Installations

You want to install your own skylight or replace a damaged chimney. Aside from the obvious problem of walking around on a slanted roof, there are other good reasons not to try this job. Your roof is the major source of protection for all of the structural elements of your home. A single small breach in your roof can allow a leak that can go undetected. Leaks in your roof can develop mold, and they can damage insulation, interior walls, and other important structural materials in your home. Amateur homeowners are not likely to know how to properly secure and weatherproof these types of installations. Though it will cost more money, let an experienced professional do the job.

Replacing Gas Appliances

Replacing your own gas dryer or hot water heater can be dangerous. Gas appliances that aren’t properly connected can emit a tiny leak. That’s all it takes for carbon monoxide to enter your home. Even more frightening is the possibility of blowing up your own home.

We would all like to save money, but repairs like these can cost much more money in the long run and even endanger lives. Be smart and call a professional for help.

Five Surprisingly Easy Home Repairs

You may not consider yourself a do-it-yourself guy or gal, but if you own a home for any length of time, you will probably find that you need to become one. The reality of home ownership is that most of us are not rich enough to hire a professional to do every repair. The key is to discover what jobs you can do yourself. Here are five of them easy enough for a beginner to do.

Running Toilet

Your toilet has been running on for days and making burping noises, and you have just noticed that your water bill has begun to increase. Your toilet is slowly losing water. In many cases, this is a surprisingly easy fix that is inexpensive, too.

Open the water tank and look inside. Chances are you will see a rubber flapper at the bottom of the tank. When this flapper becomes old or covered with minerals, it will not close properly and the toilet will begin to lose tiny bits of water. Many toilet flappers are attached to a chain that is easy to remove in order to replace it with a new flapper. You can get a new one for a few bucks at the hardware. Just make sure you get the correct one for your model.

Replacing A Faucet Inlet Valve

You’ve heard the drip-drip-drip of one of your faucets. You may not need to replace any piping. Often the culprit is a leaking inlet valve, which is a length of nylon cord attached below your sink. Inlet valves don’t last forever, and they can be inexpensively replaced. Turn off the water supply from a valve under the sink and remove the faulty inlet valve by twisting it. Bring it to your hardware for the correct length on the new one. You may want to buy an extra one for the next time this happens.

Self-Stick Tiles

Self-stick tiles are an easy way to enhance a small section of floor, and they are very easy to install, even for beginners. You may live in an old home with asphalt tiles that can’t be removed. Self-stick tiles can be placed over the old tiles.

Pay attention to the thickness of the tiles. Some very inexpensive self-sticks are very thin and can be easily damaged. You are better off going with a more durable self-stick tile, although it will be a little more difficult to cut.

Caulking Around The Home

Making sure that your home is properly caulked can help with weatherproofing and keeping insects out. Your local hardware has products that make it easy to caulk without using a caulking gun, which tends to be difficult for beginners to use. You can find caulk in plastic tubes that you just press to release the caulk, or you can buy rope caulk. Rope caulk is putty-like. You simply press it into place.

Clogs In Sinks Or Toilet

Clogs are never pleasant. The best way to repair them is to avoid them. Clean your kitchen sink once a week with a little vinegar and baking soda poured down the drain. Since hair is a major cause of shower drain clogs, put a trap over your shower drain to catch hair and debris before it goes down the drain. Replacing double ply toilet tissue with single ply can help to avoid toilet clogs. Keep separate sturdy plungers handy for any clogs that do occur.

The more you learn about doing small repairs around the home, the less you will have rely on others to help you. Doing so will make you more self-sufficient and less likely to encounter repair emergencies.