Do it Yourself: How to Winterize Your Water Heater, Pipes and Ducts

The Winter is the hardest time of the year for homes and apartment pipes, ducts and joists in the Northern tier of the United States. It is equally hard on our neighbors to the North, Canada. Many do it yourself projects can turn out to be a nightmare. These simple projects are ones that even a monkey could do. A monkey with a credit card, that is. For a small investment of time and money anyone can reduce energy loss and possibly reduce the horrible experience of a broken pipe in the middle of Winter.

At the least you may reduce your energy use and increase energyefficiency . All of these products may be purchased locally at Ace Hardware and Home Depot or any building supply company. You will generally find store personnel very helpful if you have any questions.

Living in this region you may find tremendous variations of temperature in the Winter months. The occasional Chinook may bring days 50 degrees above with the next day 30 degrees below Celsius. Many a day I have seen local plumbers and cleaning crews parked in the old neighborhoods during the Winter. The usual problem is a broken pipe or frozen pipe often times in the basement, resulting in flood, and a myriad of other habitation problems. Home dwellers may prevent these plumbing disasters from occurring by following some very simple and low cost do it yourself maintenance in the basement.

Insulate the Water Heater and Water Pipes:

There are various do it yourself web tutorials I can recommend and will do so in the resource section of this article. The first step is to prevent heat loss and prevent cold air from entering through exposed areas of your basement. The water heater is a prime suspect in the area of heat loss as well as the water pipes that are attached to the water pipe. There are insulation blankets you may purchase or craft yourself. One item that is very cost effective is Ace Hardware’s Water Heater Insulation Jacket.

This item comes in the exact size of most water heaters. It is simple to install and requires little or no knowledge of the plumbing and heating vocation. The jacket is a vinyl backed fiberglass jacket designed for gas or electric water heaters with up to a 60 gallon capacity. This is the standard size for most homes. Also included is tape that will ensure you get a snug fit for the jacket on your water heater. It comes in two thicknesses. The standard one and a half inch thickness is $16.99 and the two inch thickness is $18.99. If your local Ace Hardware is sold out, you may order on line and it will be shipped for free to your local Ace Hardware.

Water Pipes and Joists:

The pipes leading to and surrounding your water heater may also be a culprit in losing heating or allowing frigid air to enter your basement. There are various methods of dealing with this problem. There are self adhesive insulation tapes that you wrap around all pipes leading to the water heater. The insulation tape is sold at most hardware stores. The other thing to do is check and see if any cool air is present in the area of the foundation in the basement. It is the area where the floor joist meets the rim joist. There often times is a gap where cool air is allowed to enter the basement.

For this repair all you need is the self adhesive insulation tape or duct tape and a square sized cut of fiberglass insulation that should cover the gap. You want a snug fit, but do not compress the insulation as it will be ineffective in this state. In order to ensure the snug fit you may use putty as an adhesive to make sure it stays in place. I have done this several ways, but the easiest way is to either buy a small roll of fiberglass insulation or I have bought squares of insulation. You need to protect your eyes and hands because fiberglass is harmful. You can also use duct tape to ensure a snug fit. There are also pre-packaged water pipe insulation kits that cost less than $4.00 at Home Depot. This nifty little sleeves fit over the various pipes and provide insulation. The entire project for all of the water pipes and joists is less than $10.

Heating Ducts:

Another thief of energy is the heating ducts in your house. These ducts transfer and carry heat throughout your house, but also have a propensity for allowing in cool air or allowing heat to escape. Home Depot has a great insulation package that has multi-functions. The product, Thermwell’s Self Adhesive Foil/Foam Duct Insulation can be used for duct insulation, sound proofing in automobiles and various other purposes. The product reviews are astounding. It is made of foam rubber and has a foil backing. The dimensions are 12″ by 15′ by 1 1/8″. It is a safe product and reduces the need for protective covering of your eyes and hands. I would wear gloves, but there is no concern about the fiberglass particles entering your eyes.

Aside from its intended purpose to insulate heating ducts, many reviewers rave about the product use in automobiles. The product reduces the rattles in the doors or improves the sound acoustics by placing it in the door panels. It is so easy to install and provides a huge improvement in overall listening pleasure of radio and CDs while in your automobile. There is nothing more aggravating than having a good sound system and a series of rattles or bad accoustics mess up the listening experience. The amazing price for this multi-use product is $16.

In conclusion, with the help of my on-line calculator, for less than $45 you can keep the plumber and water damage companies away and get through the Winter listening to rattle free music on your car stereo.

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