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A cozy home is essential when temperatures dip. One place in the house you may overlook, however, is the basement. Follow these tips for maintaining your basement in the winter to make sure your basement receives the proper upkeep this season so that you can stay completely warm and dry.

Take Care of Small Holes and Cracks

Inspect the inside and outside of your basement for any cracks and holes that could be allowing the wintry air to enter your home. Look for gaps where the joists above the basement meet your home’s foundation, and examine areas around where pipes and cables connect to the house. Finally, check for cracks in the walls of your basement.

You can take care of any small openings yourself with caulk, as long as they’re ¼ inch across or less. Cracks larger than this and up to three inches across may be filled with spray foam insulation. For larger, more serious cracks, you can always call a home repair company to assess the damage and fix the cracks.

Add Insulation

Even with your basement tightly sealed, you may still experience cold-related issues in the winter. The typical concrete or stone floors and walls of many basements are prone to chilling the room. Counteract this problem by adding rugs, carpet, and wall insulation. When you’re deciding whether to utilize rugs or carpet, think about what you use the basement for. A sleeping area may need carpet, while a laundry room may only require a rug. For the basement walls, you can put in drywall if your walls are bare or use spray foam insulation for finished walls.

A less obvious component is the pipes. In winter, pipes may be susceptible to freezing and rupturing. Avoid this with foam insulation and pipe heating cables.

Clean Out Gutters

Gutters that are stuffed with debris can cause water to overflow onto the sides of your house and land on the foundation. Excess water can harm the foundation’s stability and make leaks into the basement more likely. To prevent this from happening, clean your gutters out from time to time so that they don’t end up causing a great deal of trouble. It also wouldn’t hurt to make sure your gutters are correctly spaced and to consider making changes to their layout if necessary. A single gutter that connects to most of the house can easily become backed up, and gutters that end too close to the sides of the house may also drain water into the foundation.

Fix Old Windows and Doors

Look at your egress windows and walkout doors. Over time, these entry points may develop cracks or gaps. This will not only make your home colder, but also lead to wasted energy as your heating system tries to cope with the constant loss of heat. It may also be an indication of more serious problems with your foundation. To remedy this situation, you can seal cracked windows with caulk and further reinforce them using a window insulator kit, which you can attach from the inside. You should also replace any weather-stripping around window and door edges that’s worn down or ripped. You may even think about investing in energy-efficient windows and doors that minimize air leakage and insulate better. If you suspect foundation problems might be the source of the gaps, you call for professional help. In this case, expert attention may make the difference in maintaining your basement in the winter and prevent future issues from arising.

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.