HOUGHTON - Winterizing one's home is something best done in the fall before the first snowflake flies, but it's never too late to make weather-related adjustments. In fact, late winter and early spring may be the time problems surface for an improperly winterized home, which can be fixed immediately, or at least taken note of to be dealt with before the next brutal Copper Country winter.
"You really have to consider the cost of not winterizing. It's primarily a monetary thing," said Eric Brown of Eric Brown Custom Building in a pre-winter interview.
Of course, by mid-February, several problems may have already surfaced, and plenty of money already spent. But the same solutions taken as preventative measures before winter can often be used to put a halt to an already occurring problem, such as drafty windows and doors.
Stacey Kukkonen/Daily Mining Gazette
Mike Powers, a Michigan Technological University student, installs foam installation to protect against heat loss in October 2009. Winterizing one’s home is best done before the snow flies, but it’s never too late to make weather-related adjustments.
A small crack in a window or a poor seal may not seem like a major problem, but the heating bill may disagree.
"That alone is almost like having a door open," Brown said.
Insulation is a more expensive solution, but like many initial investments, it could pay off in the long run.
"Insulation is a little expensive, but not too bad. What you gain will certainly pay for itself," Brown said. "Blown in insulation in the attic is very easy to do."
Heat loss may be the first thing that comes to mind for those without insulation or with poor insulation, but moisture problems, such as leaking and mold may not be too far behind if the issue is not addressed early on, according to Brown.
And in the case of a roof, particularly with an uninsulated attic, ice build-up can be dangerous. Not only does it add extensive weight to the roof and create water problems, but when melting occurs, huge slabs of ice sliding off the roof can damage other parts of the house, property - or worst of all, injure or kill a person. Clearing snow built up on a roof is another quick roof-related solution, which can be easily done with a roof rake for a steeper roof or simply shoveling them off in the case of a nearly flat roof.
Another common problem to address is an aging furnace. It's an infrequent purchase, but one that could save big bucks over the long run, particularly with more energy efficient models.
Even if a home's current furnace does the job correctly and well, it still needs to be maintained to insure maximum functionality. Cleaning all vents is a quick, free solution that can even extend the life of a furnace.
Even if a home is properly winterized and all the above precautions have been taken, the worst can happen, such as a furnace malfunction. In other words, it's always important to be prepared with an at-home emergency kit including candles, batteries, blankets and extra food and water.
For some people, temporary fixes will have to suffice at least until next year, but until then, now is an important time to note the extent of damage and the severity of symptoms so appropriate decisions can be made when next fall rolls around and another winter looms.