Winter can be a lovely time to enjoy the snow or snuggle indoors with loved ones. However, winter temperatures can plunge to freezing levels or below, which can cause damage both inside and outside your home. With the tips listed below, you can prepare your home’s pipes, wires, fixtures, and HVAC system for days of extreme cold.

Keep in mind that if you plan to travel during the winter, take care of your home’s systems before you leave the house. We recommend going a step further and doing a check around your home in the fall, before winter even arrives.

What is a Freeze?

A “freeze” refers to a sudden drop in temperature leading to the formation of ice on various surfaces. Freezes can last a day or more. They’re most common in northern regions but can happen almost anywhere with the right combination of rain or snow and temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Understanding and preparing for a freeze can help you mitigate potential hazards in and around your home.

How to Prepare the Inside of Your Home for a Freeze

Preparing the inside of your home for an anticipated freeze shouldn’t take too much time, yet these simple steps can prevent significant plumbing, electrical, or HVAC issues during extreme cold.

Check and Insulate Your Plumbing Pipes

Pipes freeze below 32o Fahrenheit. Inspect all exposed pipes for insulation. For those that lack proper insulation, some low-cost pipe insulation sleeves can prevent freezing. Pipes in spaces that are especially vulnerable to the cold, like attics, basements, and crawl spaces, should also be checked to avoid freezing.

Turn On Your Faucets

If you’ll be away during the winter, leave all faucets on to drip. This prevents the water from stagnating in the pipes and turning into ice if the temperatures drop below freezing. The accumulation of ice in your pipes can cause them to burst. 

Service Your HVAC Systems

Before the cold weather settles in, schedule professional maintenance for your HVAC system. Your HVAC professional should check for leaks and ensure your system is in optimal condition. A well-maintained HVAC system should have efficient heating during freezing temperatures to keep you and your family comfortable.

Seal Drafts and Gaps

During a freeze, cold air can creep in through even tiny cracks in your doors and windows, so check them carefully for drafts. If you find any openings or gaps, seal them right away to prevent heat loss and cold air intrusion. This both enhances your comfort and reduces the workload on your heating system.

Programmable Thermostat Adjustment

Your thermostat settings can be optimized for energy efficiency by adjusting the temperature lower when you’re away and higher when you’re at home. If you don’t already have one, consider investing in a programmable thermostat that helps save energy and ensures a comfortable indoor environment.

Inspect Your Electrical Systems

You can reduce the risk of electrical problems during a freeze by checking the condition of your electrical systems. Look for frayed wires, damaged outlets, or any signs of major wear and tear. Should you find damage or potential issues, don’t try to fix them yourself. Call a pro to have your electrical problems fixed safely.

How to Prepare the Outside of Your Home for a Freeze

Although your outdoor faucets and fixtures are made to withstand the everyday wear and tear that comes with being outside, extreme cold can do actual harm. Take these steps before a freeze to keep everything — and everyone — safe.

Protect the Outdoor Faucets

Prioritize shutting off and draining outdoor faucets to prevent freezing. Hoses should be stored indoors for the winter to safeguard your outdoor plumbing system from potential damage during freezing temperatures.

Insulate Any Exposed Fixtures

Exposed fixtures can freeze and cause damage if not adequately insulated before a freeze. Make sure you use appropriate materials like foam insulation or heat tape to protect pipes and fixtures from the cold.

Drain the Irrigation Systems

If you have an irrigation system, ensure it’s drained properly. You can do this by disconnecting and draining hoses and any remaining water in the system to prevent freezing, which could lead to damage to the pipes and components.

Winterize Your Outdoor HVAC Units

The outdoor units of your HVAC system can be winterized with a waterproof and breathable cover. This will protect them from snow and ice. It also helps prevent damage and ensures the unit functions optimally when needed.

Secure All Outdoor Electrical Components

As you did inside your house, make sure you inspect and secure every outdoor electrical component. Check for any exposed wires, and if necessary, use weatherproofing materials to protect them. Safeguarding outdoor electrical systems reduces the risk of problems arising during freezing conditions. Call a pro if required to help insulate or replace outdoor wires.

Prepare for Winter With John C. Flood

The expert technicians at John C. Flood are ready and able to help you prepare your home for freezing winter temperatures. Schedule your plumbing, HVAC, or electrical maintenance checks today to help prevent major damage in the future. 

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