drdiy

Drafty Storm Windows … Getting Your Snow Blower Ready for the Season … Fixing Cold Floors Over Crawl Spaces

In Q&A, Winter Tips For Your Home on November 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm

Q:
My storm windows are a little drafty can they be caulked all around them?

A:
Surprisingly storm windows, whether they are wood, metal or vinyl should never be caulked around or sealed along the bottom edge. According to some sources the primary purpose of storm windows is to protect the interior sash and frames from wind and foul weather. They also obviously reduce air infiltration, regardless sealing the bottom edge of a storm window can trap moisture between the interior window and the storm window, the trapped moisture will cause condensation problems even mold and eventually rot. When I’m inspecting a house for a perspective purchaser I find a lot of that deterioration.

The sill is especially prone to rot, so be sure rainwater can run off the sill either through weep-holes or a small gap at the bottom of the storm sash. Most aluminum and vinyl combination screen/storm windows have weep gaps built in on the bottom sash to let water out, so make sure they are not clogged or caulked closed.

Q:
I want to get my snow blower ready for the season. I used up most of the fuel last year. Do you think it’s ready?
A:
Not a chance. As a matter of fact if you haven’t prepped your snow blower here are a couple of tips in addition to what you may have done.

Drain any leftover fuel from the tank and replace it with a fresh supply. Old fuel can turn gummy and really screw up the engine. Change the engine oil in four-cycle engines (two-cycle engines use a gas and oil mixture). Consult your operator’s manual for the recommended weight. If you have a two-cycle engine, you may need to make minor carburetor adjustments. Again, consult your operator’s manual. Also install a new spark plug and keep the old sparkplug as a spare after you’ve cleaned it. You better inspect the belts. If they show signs of cracking or thinning, buy and install new ones. If your snow thrower is a chain-driven type, get a spare master link for the chain. Also, lubricate the chain for smoother operation. Buy extra shear pins/bolts. If you hit a rock chances are you’ll have to replace a broken pin. One year I broke four shear pins. Replace the fuel filter and air filter or if they’re washable, wash them.  Then put a couple drops of oil on the air filter and then squeeze it out. Apply a wax to the auger and on the inside of the discharge chute to prevent snow from sticking. If you don’t have any wax use a silicone spray or even Pam cooking spray.

Q:
I read your column in the Observer and have a question hopefully you can help us with. We have a crawlspace under our 30-year old addition of our house. We redid our family room in the addition two years ago and installed hardwood floors instead of carpet and now the floors are cold in the winter. Can you recommend a way to fix this problem?

A:
Is the crawlspace insulated? If so, how much? I would install at least R-19 insulation to the three perimeter exterior walls. Is there any ductwork in the crawl and if so are the ducts insulated as well? The ductwork as well as any plumbing should be insulated. The pipes, so they don’t freeze or drip condensation, and the ducts so any heat or air conditioning can get into your family room. Make sure the ductwork has not fallen or become loose. You should also have a vapor barrier on top of a dirt floor. The plastic should completely cover the ground in the crawl, overlap each section of plastic and tape it to the adjoining plastic. If you have vents in the perimeter walls, they should be closed in the fall and open in the spring. Now your tootsies should stay toasty.

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