Whether you live in a region that turns into a snow globe for eight months out of the year, or in a region with a temperate climate, it’s smart homeownership practice to winterize your home. The usage of your home heating and cooling system inevitably changes with the shift of the seasons, and there are a handful of preventative measures everyone should take to ensure longevity of their ductwork, pipes, and HVAC systems. Don’t forget that performing these simple tasks doesn’t just protect your plumbing and HVAC, but can help keep your energy costs down. That’s key for all homeowners!
It’s best to set aside time for annual maintenance and transitional weather preparations — a weekend of work, coupled with assistance from a trusted HVAC team can save you thousands of dollars down the line. Remember that as with all home plumbing, heating, and cooling systems, it’s best to invest small amounts of regular work, rather than deal with major repairs or equipment breakdown. Here’s what you need to know about winterizing your home and avoiding those dreaded frozen pipes.
How To Winterize Your Home, No Matter Where You Live
If you live in a region where winters can be rough, it’s crucial to protect your home from potential damages. But even those in warmer places, such as the home of Blanton’s, in Fayetteville, NC, should take precautionary measures to protect the home’s inner and outer workings from harsh elements. Here’s a general checklist of action items you should take to prepare your home for winter.
- Clean your gutters — clear them of leaf debris and other foreign matter.
- Seal or caulk any gaps around windows and doorways.
- Install a storm or “weather” door; this extra barrier will keep cold out (and your energy bills lower).
- Fix any broken windows, especially those in the attic and basement.
HVAC And Plumbing Checklist For Winterizing Your Home
When it comes to your heating, cooling, and plumbing systems, there are a handful of specific items you should take to winterize your home.
- Change the air filter on your air conditioner and furnace. This will help both appliances run efficiently, and increase their lifespan.
- Consider cleaning your ducts. This will ensure clean airflow as you increase heat usage at home.
- Call a local HVAC company and/or local plumber to perform any required repairs before the season begins.
- Test your thermostat to ensure it’s working properly, and set it to a new program.
How To Avoid Frozen Pipes
If you’re regularly using your home’s plumbing system, frozen pipes should not be a problem. The hot showers, handwashing, and daily sink full of dishes will keep your pipes running per usual. And most pipes are located in well-insulated areas of the home, keeping them protected. However, pipework that is close to exterior-facing walls is at greater risk of freezing, so precautions must be taken.
What Happens When Pipes Freeze?
When the temperatures drop, water freezes. When water freezes, it expands. This expansion can place pressure buildup, which will ultimately result in the pipe bursting. When the pipe bursts, immediate maintenance is required, and is best handled by a professional.
How To Stop Pipes From Freezing In The Winter
To avoid the headache of frozen pipes, there are a few action items you can take. Interestingly, these steps are perhaps even more important for homeowners in moderate climates. Because homes in warm regions (such as North Carolina) don’t typically experience extreme winter weather, a cold snap can wreak havoc on the pipes — especially in unheated areas of the home.
To avoid frozen pipes, you’ll want to take the following steps.
- Continue to heat unused rooms and spaces. There’s no need to blast heat in a spare bedroom that isn’t regularly used. However, turning it off completely can cause problems as pipes get colder and colder.
- Seal wall cracks and openings to keep cold out.
- Don’t leave any pipes unprotected! Insulate all pipework, and call in professionals to help with the job.
- Keep basement windows completely insulated, caulking or sealing as necessary. This is often one of the chilliest spots in the house, and one that contains a whole network of pipes!
- Disconnect hoses and turn off all outdoor water valves.
- Do not turn the thermostat or furnace off if you are going to be gone for any length of time. It’s optimal to set the temperature to the mid-50s, rather than shut it off completely. Remember: frozen pipe repairs are more costly than a moderate monthly energy bill.
As a homeowner, it’s crucial you take the time to winterize your home, inside and out. Pay particular attention to the pipes, as they are an integral part of your plumbing system. Although they’re typically out-of-sight and out-of-mind, it’s crucial to pay them proper attention before cold weather arrives. A weekend of work will help you avoid frozen pipes and emergency repair bills.