People often think about how the weather will affect them. What should they wear to be comfortable throughout the day? Will their game get rained out? As climate change ramps up, extreme weather and temperature changes can significantly affect your home as well.
Fluctuating temperatures cause residential damage if you’re unprepared. Here are essential things to look out for when the weather changes and how to properly weatherize your house.
In recent years, climate change has induced unpredictable weather conditions, from downright hot January days in Pennsylvania to below-freezing temperatures in the southern states. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, December 2023 was about 10 degrees Fahrenheit above average in the Great Plains. Abnormal temperatures also occurred for much of the nation in the new year.
Cold or hot temperatures may not affect you much if you stay indoors — simply turn up the heat or lower the air conditioning. However, over time, fluctuations in temperature can do the following to your home:
For instance, Charleston, South Carolina, endured a cold front over Christmas 2023, leading to frozen and burst pipes across the city. Utilities responded to over 400 leaks per day immediately after the event, as temperatures began creeping up to the usual winter range.
Inclement weather and fluctuating temperatures are out of your control. However, protecting your home is not. Here are seven ways you can weatherize your house and stop temperature-related problems in their tracks.
Your roof, chimney, HVAC, water heater, septic, foundation and pool should all undergo occasional inspections and maintenance — some every year. You’ll especially want to check your roof regularly for damage and leaks if it’s over five years old and you live somewhere with unpredictable weather, heavy precipitation and wind.
Professional inspectors will check your home for signs of trouble, allowing you to stay ahead of potential problems and correct them before they cause significant and costly damage.
You should also inspect your roof from the ground during irregular temperatures. Freezing precipitation leads to the creation of ice dams, which may impair shingles and gutters, leaking water into your attic.
Adding weatherstripping to windows and doors will keep warm air inside and cold air outside. It also creates a sufficient seal to protect your home from rain and wind.
Weatherstripping is a DIY project you can complete in a weekend. In fact, you can buy weatherstripping kits with easy application instructions — such as adhesive foam — from the hardware store.
Caulk may be a more appropriate weatherproofing technique for stationary items like window or door frames.
If your home’s insulation is old or insufficient, adding new insulation can help protect it from extreme weather changes. Insulation improves circulation by closing air leaks, keeping your home warm in the winter and cool during the summer. Insulation also lessens the strain on your HVAC system, improves its performance and prolongs its life span.
Quality insulation — especially in the basement, crawl spaces, attics, walls and floors — will ensure proper indoor humidity, preventing condensation. Air moisture and wetter conditions encourage warping and mold.
The type of insulation you use depends on your climate, budget, where you plan to apply it and if you intend to add it yourself or hire someone. Spray foam and fiberglass insulation are most commonly found in homes.
When outdoor temperatures reach 20 degrees or below, you usually need to worry about frozen pipes — especially if you live in the south, where pipes get installed differently.
Never set your thermostat below 55 degrees when under a deep freeze warning. Also, it is best to allow faucets to drip to avoid freezing. Insulating pipes and faucet covers are other practical ways to maintain adequate plumbing temperature throughout the house.
If a pipe bursts, leaks water and refreezes, it can cause thousands of dollars in damages. Likewise, water leaks can turn to mold and mildew, affecting your household’s health.
You can protect your home’s foundation from fluctuating temperatures by sprucing up the landscaping. Creating garden beds along the perimeter of your home insulates the structure during the hottest and coldest seasons.
You should avoid planting bushes and other ground cover directly against the siding. Many plants grow quickly and take up the necessary space anyway. Deciduous trees can also offer shade in the summer heat and allow warmth to enter your home through windows in the winter.
Winterizing shrubs with a plastic tarp protects them from frost and creates a greenhouse effect, locking in heat and warming the ground surrounding your home.
Scientists believe termite habitats could increase by 30.2% as global temperatures rise from climate change. This poses a significant risk to a home with wood decay. Of course, other types of pests may also infest your home amid fluctuating weather conditions.
If you notice feces resembling coffee grounds or sawdust, it could mean you have termites. They especially like to conceal themselves in dry wood in attics, eaves, cabinets and furniture. Mice, rats, squirrels and raccoons may also make themselves at home to get out of the freezing temperatures.
Call an extermination company immediately if you detect household pest infestations. Whether it’s termites, rodents or another unwelcome critter, an exterminator can address and manage the issue before your home undergoes severe damage.
Installing a programmable thermostat will improve your home’s energy efficiency and indoor comfort while helping you save money on utility bills. It’ll also ensure your indoor temperature remains sufficient to prevent weather-related damages, like freezing pipes or excessive humidity.
Save up to 10% on heating and cooling costs by decreasing indoor temperatures by 7-10 degrees for eight hours during the day. Ideally, you can save the most energy at 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit while awake and even lower when you’re out of the house or sleeping.
Small changes go a long way in protecting your home from fluctuating temperatures. Investing in weatherization and ensuring your home is adequately sealed makes a significant difference in indoor comfort, prevents damage, and improves your household’s health.
Jack Shaw is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement, gardening, and caring for the outdoors. He’s the senior writer of Modded and has contributed his advice through sites like CAD Details, House 2 Home Organizing, Log Cabin Hub, and more.