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Time for mid-winter home check
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Many places in the country that don’t typically experience harsh winter weather have seen records broken for low temperatures and snowfall. Even if you’re in South Georgia and expect temperatures to start turning around soon, it makes sense to check the mid-winter condition of your home because more cold will come and you’ll be more comfortable when you are at home.
From a distance, check your roof with binoculars. Are any shingles missing? Look carefully around skylights, vents and chimneys.
While you’re outside, check to see if the dryer vent is closed. If it’s stuck in the open position, it creates access for cold air and creatures. If you haven’t drained the outside faucet, it’s worthwhile to do so even if you live in an area that is generally warm. Check downspouts to make sure they’re aimed away from the house and that water hasn’t accumulated next to the foundation.
If you have an attic, check inside for any wet spots on the plywood. If the attic is especially cold, consider putting down another layer of insulation. (If you’re going to do it yourself, get guidance at the hardware store about whether you need insulation batts with or without the vapor barrier. In the wrong place, that vapor barrier can cause moisture damage to the rafters.) Hold a lighter around the attic access to see if there are any drafts.
Use that same lighter around windows and doors. Seal windows inside with a clear plastic sheeting kit, the kind that shrinks with a hair dryer, or put up insulated drapes. Install a draft guard at the bottom of exterior doors.
If you have an unheated basement, consider installing heat tape around the water pipes. Read the instructions carefully: Tape wrapped over itself is a fire hazard. Heat tape will only add a very small amount to your electric bill, especially when compared to the cost of fixing any frozen and cracked pipes. At the same time, check the heating ductwork. Look for air leaks and seal them with foil tape. (Oddly enough, duct tape doesn’t seem to do well in this instance.)
Consider adding insulation to ductwork: Over half the value of the heated air is lost before it gets into the rooms it is intended for if ducts aren’t insulated.
If you have a basement check it for leaks or moisture. Run a dehumidifier if necessary to keep mold from getting started.

Uffington does not personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Write to him in care of King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475, or send e-mail to
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