February is here in the high desert mountain region and along with it are frigid temps and wind chills that make you want to stay inside. At Home Inspector Albuquerque we are often asked by our clients of certain methods or best practices that we home inspectors might recommend to either help ward off freezing cold air intrusion into the interior or what can be done to help insulate exposed pipes in crawlspaces.
Every home is unique in it’s construction and the materials that were used to build it. In older homes that were built over crawlspaces often home inspectors will find the exposed pipe plumbing attached underneath the floor to the floor boards and floor joists. Most of the time the plumbing has not been insulated properly and while performing the home inspection, home inspectors usually can identify where a past leak has been repaired. Home inspectors often discover while in a crawl space active pin hole leaks in older plumbing materials that a home owner is not even aware of. Typically, these leaks occur at the fittings and can further damage other parts of the system or other systems.
Unfinished crawlspaces are vulnerable areas of a home system as they stay cool or cold for most of the day during the winter months. If the pipes in a crawl space are not outfitted with proper pipe rated foam insulation the pipes can easily be compromised by the freezing temperatures and burst. Home Inspector Albuquerque highly encourages having a crawlspace home inspection performed annually to help maintain and be aware of any threatening conditions that may exist. In addition Colder temperatures also force wildlife to search out areas to get out of the cold temperatures as well as the elements. Crawlspaces offer the protection in which they seek if the critters can find their way in. It is in a homeowners best interest to know what lurks underneath a crawl space to protect against any unwanted damage or pest infestation.
Home inspectors in Albuquerque want you to know where your main water shut off valve is, or how to shut it off at the meter. In case of an emergency you will need to have this knowledge to help protect your house from being flooded. Should the unfortunate thing of a pipe bursting happen to you. If the main water shut off valve is rusted and stuck in the open position then replace the valve immediately or consult with a qualified professional licensed plumber to further evaluate and repair as necessary.
During the colder winter months some rooms in a home may be shielded from receiving warmer conditioned air flow. During home inspections one room in particular that home inspectors often see left vulnerable to the cold is the laundry room. This room is often located next to the garage entry where typically it is colder than the rest of the house. Many homes do not have a source of heat in these laundry rooms other than when the dryer is in operation or when the door to the laundry room is left open to receive the ambient air being circulated throughout the house. As a professional certified home inspector I have seen several pipes burst in the laundry room most often in vacant houses where the laundry room has been cutoff from receiving the warm ambient recirculated air.
At Home Inspector Albuquerque we want you to know that If you have any indoor faucets that are located on a north facing exterior wall that may not be properly insulated, a quick solution is to allow for a slow drip at the faucet to allow for movement to occur. Another tip is to leave the vanity cabinet doors open to allow for the warm ambient air to circulate inside that space. Taking these steps will help to protect the pipes from bursting when freezing temperatures are around for a extended period of time.
To help keep your outdoor water spigot fixtures from freezing always detach the garden hose and cover and insulate the hose bibs with insulated hose bib cones. If you have the capability by plumbing design to shut off the water to these outdoor water spigot fixtures that would be a great step to take as well.
It is always recommended by home inspectors that homeowners maximize their home’s insulation in the areas that can be accessed and could benefit from more insulation. Adding additional batts in between the rafters in an attic space can help to further insulate the interior of the living space. By making sure that there is proper ventilation in the attic space will promote air flow and help to keep ice from building up on the exterior roof covering during snow and winter storm events and or ice dam build up at the gutter systems. Keeping the gable vents clear and unobstructed will help to achieve maximum ventilation.
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