Greetings! Welcome to part 4 of my Fall checklist series for homeowners! We  will focus on weatherizing your attic and basement. Did you know that up to 90% of your home’s heat loss can occur through the roof if your attic is not properly insulated? Weatherizing your attic correctly can cut 10 to 30 percent off your heating and cooling bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. And while you might not want to spend the money (or the time) to do the work, keep in mind that the federal government offers a 30 percent tax credit up to a maximum of $1,500 on weatherization materials.

In the attic
Some simple rules apply when you weatherize your attic. For example, never using duct tape on ducts. Also be aware that if your attic insulation is wet or you find mold, you should hire a professional to do the job.

Click here for the PDF Guide from the Department of Energy: A DO-IT-YOURSELF GUIDE TO SEALING AND INSULATING WITH ENERGY STAR®

Any visible narrow gaps that are less than ½” wide can be sealed with caulking. There are many factors such as depth of the gap and material that will determine which type of caulking should be used, ask the experts at your local home improvement store. Gaps around chimneys, lights, etc.  should be fixed by a professional to avoid fire hazards.

Visible gaps that are more than 2 inches wide can be closed up with wood or metal flashing. Follow with caulking around the seams and small gaps. You can use water based expandable sealant, but keep in mind that it WILL expand a few times in volume. If you use too much, you could possibly cause damage to vent pipes and even structural damage. Safety first; make sure to wear gloves and a mask for safety when applying any insulation, sealant or caulking.

Attic ducts that are not insulated can lose up to 40% of a heating or cooling system’s energy. Hire a professional to do the job or insulate with special insulation with a minimum R-6 rating. There are many websites online offering specific how-do instructions as well.

One of the most obvious and yet overlooked areas is the door or hatch to your attic. This is a direct access point for heat to escape from your living areas. You can insulate this yourself by making a “cover” to place on the back/upper side from rigid foam panels and construction adhesive. You can also add weather stripping.

Closets: In the main living areas of your home, be aware of dropped ceilings above closets, showers and cabinets. Make sure the spaces are enclosed & sealed.

Basement or crawlspace
Start by locating any accessible heating or air conditioning ducts, then seal and insulate around them. Also check around plumbing and electrical penetrations. You can reduce what you spend for hot water by simply insulation the pipes. Check to see if water pipes are warm to the touch. If so, they are great candidates for insulation. You can get pre-slit pipe foam at most hardware stores. Cut it to size and fasten in place with duct tape. Ideally, choose the insulation with the highest R-value practical, which is a measure of its heat-blocking power. Pipe insulation is often R-3 or, for batt styles that you wrap around, a stronger R-7.

Seal up any gaps that allow cold air to rise from the basement or crawl space into your living space above. Caulk gaps between the foundation walls and basement floor. You can seal also where the wood framing sits atop the foundation’s rim to stop frigid outside air from getting in.

Basement windows are another common area for heat loss. Check the frames for any gaps or holes and seal with caulk.

According to the U. S. Department of Energy, simple leaks can sap home energy efficiency by 5% to 30% a year. That means it pays to take the time to inspect your home. Whether you choose to hire a professional or do it yourself, will be well worth your time.

Hope to hear from you next week when I focus on weatherizing your home’s doors and windows.

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