If your winter heating bills seem higher than usual this year, and there's nothing wrong with your furnace, check your bathroom and kitchen sinks for hidden air leaks. A home that isn't properly sealed and protected against cold drafts and heat loss won't stay warm in the winter. Even seemingly harmless openings in the home, such as cable line outlets, electrical sockets and even the damaged wood around your plumbing pipes, can make rooms in the home feel cold and drafty. To remove the drafts, your heating appliance can operate beyond its normal capacity to produce enough warmth this winter. Eventually, the furnace breaks down from the stress and strain placed on it. You can protect your home and furnace by repairing the damaged wood and plumbing pipes beneath your bathroom and kitchen sink cabinets.
Why Check Beneath the Bathroom and Kitchen Sinks?
Although frozen plumbing pipes may be big concerns for you in the winter if they burst, they're not the only problems you face. Leaking plumbing pipes can leak water and moisture on the wooden backs of your bathroom and kitchen cabinets. The damp wood can rot over time.
Because cabinets require you to create openings in their backs to fit over plumbing pipes properly, wet wood can cause many problems for you. The openings can eventually crack, widen or deteriorate from the dampness. The plumbing pipes may even sag or collapse from the lack of support, which allows cold air to seep past them and into the cabinets. The cold air can leak into the kitchen or bathroom through the thin cracks found between the cabinets' doors and their hinges.
In most cases, the flooring in the kitchen and bathroom absorbs the cold air. You may notice that the flooring feels cold when you walk into the rooms. There's a reason for this. In the winter, heat typically rises to the highest point in the house, such as the ceiling and attic. Cold air settles along the lowest point in a room, such as the flooring and floorboards. Your furnace is designed to pull cold air from the rooms and redistribute it as warm air. But if the flooring of the bathroom and kitchen contain too much coldness, the furnace may have problems removing all of it.
Your furnace may cycle off and on periodically in its efforts to even out the home's varied temperatures. If the furnace cycles off and on too much, it may wear out the blower motor or shut down the blower fan. Overworked furnaces can lead to dangerous fires or gas emissions in the home.
The best thing to do is check the areas beneath sink cabinets for damaged wood with a bright flashlight.
How Do You Keep Your Sinks From Losing Heated Air?
Shine the flashlight along the cabinets' back paneling and examine the openings around the plumbing pipes for frayed or damp wood. If the openings around the plumbing pipes appear damaged, check the condition of the pipes. If you can't bend down to examine the pipes because of health issues, place a hand around the parts of the pipes closest to you and gently move them. If cold air is seeping through the holes, you'll feel small drafts of cool air on your hands and arms.
It's a good idea that you repair the problems above immediately yourself or contact a professional to do it for you. If you choose to make the repairs yourself, replace any severely damaged cabinets with cabinetry that comes with a moisture-resistant finish. For minor wood and water damage, you can clean and seal the material with tung oil. Although tung oil works well for repairing and revitalizing wood flooring and furnishings, its moisture-resistant properties make it a good choice for protecting your bathroom and kitchen cabinets from water damage and loose plumbing. Be sure to follow the instructions on the tung oil's container to apply it correctly and safely.
Also, apply caulking around your plumbing pipes with a long caulk gun. If you can't see or reach the plumbing pipes easily, use a hand mirror as a guide during the repairs. Positioning the mirror directly beneath the pipes is ideal.
Finally, contact a heating and air conditioning specialist to inspect the rest of the home for other air leaks. Sometimes, leaks develop in areas of the home you can't inspect and repair easily yourself, such as the air ducts in the attic and vent pipes in the basement. These are just two areas of the home that leak heat the most.
For more information about sealing or protecting your home from heat loss, contact an HVAC contractor from a company like Mike's Bremen Service Inc.