While some areas in the country are much more prone to frigid temperatures, it’s always a good idea to be familiar with ways to protect your home if it ever gets below freezing. Cold causes the various structural and mechanical systems in a home to have an extra burden when trying to defend against the elements. Especially in regions where water can manifest as ice for weeks or months at a time, challenges abound.
We’ve gathered five tips to help you be prepared to keep your home safe the next time a big freeze hits your community, keeping your home and your family safe and warm!
Protect Your Pipes
A simple way to keep your outdoor plumbing fixtures from freezing is to disconnect and store any garden hoses as soon as the weather begins to turn cold. Then, you can shut off the water to your outdoor faucets, drain the lines, and insulate the hose bibs.
If your indoor plumbing pipes run through exterior walls, make sure you monitor them during the chilly months to ensure your insulation is up to timely standards.
Seal and Insulate
Even the tiniest holes can cause big problems when trying to keep your home warm in the winter. Exterior holes for cable wires or phone lines, for example, can be a prime entry for freezing air to be let in and indoor heat to be let out. An easy way to fix this is by using a can of foam insulation to close the holes. You can also use weather stripping, spray foam insulation, or caulking to remedy cracks around your doors and windows. If you live in a particularly cold region, it’s a good idea to perform this practice each year.
In addition to ensuring small holes are filled, it’s even more important to keep your house warm by making sure it has adequate insulation. This includes insulating your basement, attic, crawl space, exterior walls, and even the pipes themselves.
You can check with your local utility company to see if they offer free in-home energy audits that can evaluate your monthly or yearly energy usage. Then, they can recommend the steps necessary to increase your home’s efficiency.
Keep the Water Going
Keeping your faucets on a slow drip is a good idea whenever temperatures dip below freezing. The continuous flow of liquid will keep your pipes from freezing. If you have faucets and pipes located along exterior walls, those are the most susceptible. For best results, make sure both the hot and cold lines are slightly opened, and consider leaving your cabinet doors open so your pipes can be warmed from the air in the room.
If a water line in your home does freeze, it may burst, causing you to have to shut off your water supply immediately. To turn the water off, you should turn the shut-off valve handle as far clockwise as it will go. If the valve is rusted or won’t close completely, you should replace the shut-off valve immediately.
Close Your Garage
If you have an attached garage, you should minimize the amount of time your garage door is open. This will help in keeping cold air out of your home, as well as keeping your plumbing fixtures and pipes as warm as possible.
Clean Your Gutters & Check Your Attic
If your gutters are clear, ice is much less likely to form and stick on your roof. If possible, set aside some time to clean out your gutters well in advance of when the freezing temperatures begin. If you have a lot of trees in your area and your gutters are prone to filling up, you can buy gutter screens that force the debris out.
Ensuring your attic is properly ventilated is essential to preventing ice from sticking on your roof. It’s a good idea to inspect your attic at least once a year to make sure there’s nothing blocking its vents.