Winter can wreak havoc on homes, especially in Minnesota. Poorly insulated roofs lose heat and can run the risk of ice dam formation, moisture and cold air can find every leak in your window frames, and your family’s boots and car tires can bring in a corrosive array of road salts and chemicals. Make sure your home is well-prepared for winter by inspecting your home and making necessary repairs or additions before the first snow storms hit. Here’s a list of must-do projects for shoring up your garage for winter.
- Insulate the garage door. Garage doors are made of thin metal or plastic, and they do very little to keep the cold air out, especially once you take into consideration the thin openings between each horizontal panel. Adding DIY insulation and weatherstripping can keep your garage twelve degrees warmer during the winter if you use R-18 materials. While that may not sound like much, that can make the difference between a frozen pipe and a well-protected one. If your water heater is in the garage or pipes are visible, consider an even higher R-value of insulation.
- Add a floor coating. Bare concrete is poorly protected against weather shifts. Any moisture caught in the concrete can freeze and expand, creating small cracks and making the edges and corners start to crumble before their time. A polyurethane floor coating is nonporous and keeps the underlying concrete safe from chemical spills and seepage. It also provides a more durable floor that is safe to walk on in icy weather and can stand up to road salt brought in on your cars’ tires.
- Seal the gaps between the floor and the walls. Most garages are constructed with the bare minimum, and most of them have a sizable gap under the drywall panels. While this gap is much smaller through the rest of your house and is covered by baseboards, garages typically don’t have the same. Seal the gap with either baseboards or cove bases that transition seamlessly to your floor coating. If the gaps are left open, cold air can easily get inside your walls and spread through your house. These gaps are also easy openings for small rodents looking for a warm place to spend the winter away from the elements. Cove bases are particularly effective for reducing small gaps and drafts.
- Check the floor and exterior foundation for cracks. As homes get older, small cracks and worn patches in the concrete slab are typical. But if you think the cracks might be growing or you suddenly notice one appear, measure and document the cracks. Do this in your garage, around the edge of your foundation, and your driveway, as well as anywhere else the bare concrete is visible. Take a picture of each crack next to a ruler so you can compare the cracks in future months. If your cracks get longer or deeper, call a foundation specialist immediately, since the weather may be drying out or flooding the soil supporting your home’s foundation.
- Regularly clean your garage floor. Your tires pick up road salt and chemicals, and those substances are deposited on your garage floor each day. If you haven’t yet added a floor coating to your garage, then routinely cleaning the floor can minimize the damage done to the concrete and makes the ground safer to walk on: the same chemicals that your tires brought into the garage can be brought into your home on your shoes. If you do have a floor coating in your garage, wiping up chemical spills keeps the floor shining and reduces wear.
Winter can be hard on every room in your house. It’s easy to forget about your garage, but insulating the thinnest surfaces, protecting the floor, and getting rid of gaps that cold air escape into your home is essential for reducing your energy bill and having a safe season. Go to PolyTek Surface Coatings to find the floor coating that best fits your home.