With January and February bringing colder weather, now is the time to ensure that your home is well-prepared for freezing temperatures. The chilly weather can take a toll on your house, causing potential damage and increased energy bills if not adequately winterized. Follow these essential steps to safeguard your home against the freezing cold:
Check your heating systems. Check and change your filters if needed, since most filters should be changed at least twice a year. A well-maintained system will not only keep you warm but also operate efficiently, saving you money on energy bills.
Be prepared for freezes. If there’s a freeze in the forecast, be sure to leave faucets dripping, insulate pipes where possible, open the cabinets below the sinks and keep your thermostat at a steady temperature. This will prevent frozen pipes.
Prevent heat from escaping your home. Keep your residence warm all winter long by replacing any damaged weather strips along your doors and caulking windows where there might be a draft.
Maintain your fireplace and chimney. If you have a fireplace, ensure it's clean and in working condition. Hire a professional chimney sweep to remove any creosote buildup and inspect the chimney for blockages.
Clean the gutters. Give your gutters a quick sweep to remove any remaining leaves, sticks and debris from the fall. This will ensure that melting ice from freezes can properly drain.
Trim your trees. If you have trees that tower over your property, make sure you remove any problem branches that may break and cause damage to your house when winter storms bring wind, rain and ice.
Be prepared for freezes. If there’s a chance of a freeze, here are some tips from Austin Water to best ready your home. (Provided from Austin Water and austintexas.gov)
Locate Your Water Shut Off
- Locate the water main shutoff valve and keep it clear of debris and obstacles at all times. For most homes, the property owner’s shutoff valve is on your side of the water meter at the meter box. For renters, please consult with your property manager.
- If you cannot find your shutoff valve or if it is damaged, then you should be prepared to access the City shutoff valve in the meter box. You may need a water meter key to open the meter box, which can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Turn Your Indoor Faucets To Drip
- Dripping your indoor faucets will prevent drastic temperatures from causing a busted or leaky pipe. Make sure to leave all faucets, both hot and cold, on a steady drip until the freeze has passed.
Weatherize Exposed Pipes and Water Heaters
- Prepare to insulate pipes in unheated and drafty areas, such as an attic or garage. Also, check manufacturer recommendations for your tanked and tankless water heaters. Hardware and plumbing supply stores carry insulation to help keep pipes from freezing. Get all supplies now so you are ready to wrap pipes and water heaters when a winter storm is approaching.
Weatherize to Keep Out Cold Air
- Make repairs to broken or drafty windows, doors, and walls. Seal all leaks in crawl spaces and basements. Winterize unheated spaces and be prepared to close garage doors for the duration of the freeze. Gather supplies to cover vents on your home’s foundation.
- You should remember to turn off irrigation systems during the winter months to help conserve water. Prepare supplies to wrap outside faucets with towels or a Styrofoam insulator.
Gather Supplies to be Prepared
Having these supplies on hand will help you be prepared and avoid the rush at stores when the first winter storm of the season approaches.
- Water meter key - to access your meter box (if needed)
- Insulation for indoor and outdoor pipes and hot water heaters
- Hose bib covers for outdoor faucets
- Battery-powered radio and flashlight
- One gallon of water per person and pet per day for seven days