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Ask a Patch Pro: How to Winterize Your Home

Let one of our Patch Pros answer your questions about winter home maintenance.

If Benjamin Franklin was born Minnesotan, he may have added 'winter' to his list of certainties in his famous quote: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

As the days grow shorter and the thermometer continues its steady, downward slide, many of us are preparing as best we can for the long dark months ahead. But when it comes to winterizing your home, do you know what necessary steps should be taken or best methods used?

Here to help with our preparations are three "Patch Pros"—local home repair and maintenance specialists that have agreed to answer your questions and address your concerns regarding home winterization in the comments section below.

Our first expert is Lindsay Reddy, the owner of the Eagan-based business Jack of All Trades Handyman. You can also expect to hear from Scott Dodge and Adam Bressler from Builders and Remodelers.

Our panel of three experts will regularly check the comments below and try to answer your questions for this "Ask a Patch Pro" feature beginning Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. Thanks to all our Patch pros and questioners for participating!

Check out some of our previous installments in the "Ask a Patch Pro" series:

  • Ask a Patch Pro: Wine
  • Ask a Patch Pro: Pedestrian Safety
  • Ask a Patch Pro: Recycling and Composting
  • Ask a Patch Panel: Breast Cancer
  • Ask the Patch Pro: All About Real Estate
Scott Dodge November 02, 2012 at 02:48 PM
Adam's response below: First and foremost, yes, this is typical of a room above an unheated garage that does not have proper insulation. There is a difference between comfortable living space and what is required by code. By code, you would need a fire-barrier between the garage and any living space (codes can vary per city) meaning your garage is most likely sheet rocked. But, there is no code for insulation in the context of this conversation. At the end of the day, you have a problem that you want solved. You have a room, which you want to be more comfortable. I think the real question here is what is the best and most cost effective way to solve your current dissatisfaction with the frigid temperatures of this room. If your garage is sheet rocked, I would recommend blown-in insulation. This involves cutting holes in your sheet rock between the rafters and blowing in insulation. Some sheet rocking with tapping and mudding may be required after the insulation is completed. Blown in insulation is going to give you the highest R-value which is going to make your room the most comfortable. If you have open rafters in the garage, you can look an installing various types of insulation between the floor of the room and the top of the garage. Based upon the R-value you are looking to gain and your budget. - Adam
Lindsay Reddy November 02, 2012 at 03:39 PM
Hi Joshua, I can personally understand your frustration with ice damns, I ended up with a great deal of damage in my home the same winter. All associations are different, but most of them are responsible for the upkeep of the exterior of the home, and that includes the roof and keeping up with the prevention of ice dams. If the insulation in your attic is okay, I would recommend talking with your association and seeing what they are responsible for. They should be able to send someone out to inspect the roof and then throughout the winter they should be removing the snow to prevent ice and snow build up that can also result in ice damns.
Lindsay Reddy November 02, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Hi Rebecca, I would also recommend having the ceiling of the garage re-insulated. Insulation costs are reasonable, will make a huge difference in the comfort of your home and will pay for itself energy cost savings.
Rebecca Loerzel November 02, 2012 at 03:56 PM
Thanks Adam. Is this something that could be done now or would I need to wait until spring? I recall the person I had out a couple years ago said it needed to be in the 60s to install the type of insulation he had in mind.
Adam Bressler November 05, 2012 at 03:43 PM
The proper thing to do will be to have a company come back out and re-evalute your current situation. Locating and then solving your problem. However, sight-un-seen my recommendation for solving your problem will be to strip-cut the sheet rock and then use blown in fiberglass insulation. You can do this type of insulation year round. I would recommend doing the work as soon as possible, so that you will be able to enjoy a comfortable room for the entire winter. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. On the Level with Adam Bressler, Builders & Remodelers

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