Fall in a tiny house can be a really beautiful time of year. As the season shifts to colder weather, the leaves begin to change, and we all get ready for the coziness that comes with living in a tiny house. It’s also a critical time of year to focus on the tiny house systems that need attention before freezing temperatures, excess moisture, and more time is spent indoors.
Tiny houses on wheels when built with extreme climates in mind do quite well throughout the winter just like any other house, however since tiny houses are built on trailers, there are aspects of winterizing the home that must be considered. A common initial question when comparing tiny houses and recreational vehicles is what’s the difference? True, they are both on wheels and therefore mobile, yet tiny houses function immensely better in cold climates than RVs do. Due to the materials and design of the wall system, tiny houses are way more insulated. NOAH specifically focuses on certifying tiny houses on wheels and foundations because of the building standards that these homes can reach.
Noted below are a few initial things to think about and steps to take to get your house ready for winter.
Starting from the ground up. If your tiny house on wheels isn’t skirted then now is the time to do so. There are many materials that can be used to skirt a tiny house so that the wind and cold air is kept out from under the chassis of the trailer/home. This helps to reduce the cold temperatures traveling through the steel beams of the trailer and into your subfloor, which can cause cold floors or worse, thermal bridging and condensation when the humidity is high inside. Additionally, skirting helps to insulate the waste lines under the trailer, and creates a “basement” of sorts for storing materials out of the elements. Make sure the skirting comes up as high as possible, and ideally over the steel trailer flange.
Some of the most common skirting materials are straw bales in dry climates, closed cell foam, or mineral wool board. It’s best to choose skirting that insulates as well in cold climates. However corrugated metal, lattice, or really anything aesthetically pleasing can be used on it’s own in milder climates, or over the insulating material to make the house look like it’s on a foundation.
Potable Water and Waste Lines
If it commonly gets below freezing where you live, then heat tape is your best friend. Anything with water running consistently through it should be wrapped in heat tape and plumbing insulation can help too. The electric heat tape can be plugged into a thermostatically controlled plug that will turn the heat tape on at 45 degrees or less and turn off at 45 degrees or warmer.
A grey water french drain built incorrectly can freeze solid. It’s not fun to deal with in the middle of a snow storm, so check to make sure it’s built deep enough.
If you don’t already have a roof over your door, then now is the time to put one up. Tiny houses don’t have large eaves to save on width when on the road. This leaves windows and doors exposed and may dictate the type of windows used in the home. Nothing is worse than having rain pouring down against your door. Also, a porch roof creates some covered exterior space to hang wet clothes and place shoes. This will keep your sanity as the winter drags on into spring.
Last thoughts are to make sure that your heater is clean and ready to go after being unused all summer. Purchasing a dehumidifier is a smart preventative measure considering how much moisture is produced in a tiny house when the windows are closed and the humidity rises considerably.
Now it’s time to take out your wool sweaters, light your wood stoves, and have a cup of tea.
Written by Isabelle Nagel-Brice of A Tiny Good Thing