When preparing for the cold winter months, most homeowners concentrate on the tasks that will keep their home warm and dry. But what about the garage? How can you prepare your garage for frigid temperatures?
Garage winterization is essential. It will keep your biggest storage space organized and secure, and helps keep your house warmer (assuming your garage is not detached), lower your utility bills and prevent expensive repair costs. Here are some ideas to prepare your garage for winter.
Checking your garage door for potential problems should be first on the to-do list. Inspect the weather stripping around the door; look for areas where the weather stripping is loose or cracked. If you find a damaged spot, repair it immediately.
Check to see how well the door operates. Does it open and close smoothly? Does it squeak or grind? If not, clean the garage door tracks and lubricate all the moving parts. Even if the door is operating smoothly now, put this on your task list, since it’s an easy, simple way to maintain its effective operation.
Next, go around and tighten all the hardware on your garage door and inspect any high-tension cables to make sure there are no frayed or damaged parts.
If your garage is persistently cold, you may need to add insulation to the walls or replace your garage door.
Insulation creates a controlled environment that helps keep warm air in and cold air out. Adding insulation to your garage not only helps with the internal temperature of that space, but also helps lower your home’s heating bills.
Another advantage of adding insulation to your garage is that you can now run a space heater or add ductwork to tie your garage into your home’s central heating — making it a space to comfortably work and use year-round.
Keep in mind, there’s no point in adding insulation to the walls if there are cracks or holes. Walk around your garage and inspect the walls for gaps; examine windows or doors and look for leaky areas where outside air can get in. If the windows are really old or damaged, consider replacing or sealing them.
If the garage door is really old, it may not be insulated or may have lost its ability to insulate and it may be best to replace the door.
While many people choose to use their garage as storage, those who park their car in the garage may want to consider sealing the floor to prevent salt damage. Adding a sealant is an inexpensive and effective way to maintain the look and integrity of your garage floor. You will need to wash the floor periodically to help the sealant protect your floor.
If you have exposed pipes in your garage, add insulation. Water pipes can freeze and burst and this can lead to expensive home repairs.
To prevent this from happening, wrap the pipes in insulation. If you don’t feel like cutting and measuring, consider buying pre-fabricated foam pipe insulation at your local hardware store.
Also, drain and winterize any outdoor spigots, as this outdoor tap can also freeze if water is left in the pipes. To prevent this, drain the line, turn off the water to the spigot and then cover the tap.
Poor air circulation can be a problem in any room, but it’s particularly bad inside the garage where power tools and cars can emit toxic gases. To prevent any health concerns, look for one-way or damper vents inside the garage. These vents have a flap mechanism that allows air to escape the garage but prevents cold air from entering the garage. You will also need a vent that allows for controlled air circulation of fresh air into the garage. Typically, this is a vent on the roof of your garage (just like on the roof of your home) but it can also be installed into the wall.
If neither vent is visible, consider installing both before the winter months. Not only will it keep the air inside your garage clean and healthy, but it also helps alleviate any potential moisture problems that can arise from trapped air and temperature changes.
If you store seasonal items in your garage, you will also need to winterize these devices. This includes lawnmowers and any other gas-powered tool. To winterize, drain the gas from these devices and then store in an area where they can’t get damaged.
If you have metal snow shovels, make sure you sharpen the edges now, in order for the shovel to be effective in the cold, icy months. Also, bring out any tools that may be required during the winter months so you have easy access to these items. There’s nothing worse than frantically searching your garage for a necessary tool when you’re all bundled up and covered in snow.
Finally, make sure warm-weather items are out of the way and stored in airtight containers to prevent possible pest infestations.
While it might seem obvious, remember to shovel the snow that starts to accumulate outside your garage. While your priority might be your door — making sure the pathway is clear — don’t forget to remove the snow from the external walls of your garage. Come spring time, all that snow is going to melt and, if you don’t have proper grading or if there is a great deal of snow, the build-up of snow-turned-to-water could prompt foundation issues or damage.
If you have an attached garage, set up a drop zone near the entrance to your home. This helps prevent tracking mud and snow into your home. Create a spot for boots, jackets, wet mittens, scarves, hats and coats.