Looks like we aren’t going to have our typical mild winter here in Central Indiana. Since the weatherman is predicting the coldest temperatures in twenty years, you might have forgotten what to do to keep your home warm and your pipes from freezing. Here are your reminders.
It is usually the combination of wind and temperature that causes plumbing water lines to freeze. Sometimes the water line you least expect to freeze is the one that does. Here are the most likely areas for concern in your home.
Make sure the vents are closed and any other openings are closed. You want as little outside air to get in as possible.
Make sure the garage door stays down as much as possible. Every time it gets cold we get a call from a homeowner and someone in the family left the garage door open. If your garage is not heated, and you have plumbing in the walls or in the garage, find a way to add some heat. Be sure to follow all safety guidelines if using a portable heater. We can add infrared radiant heat that you can turn on when you need it.
In most homes the laundry room/area is on an outside wall. Unfortunately there is no way to run a steady stream of water to prevent freezing at the washing machine; if there is a valve to shut off the water to the entire area, we would recommend turning it off until the temperature rises. If there is not a way to turn off the water then move your washer to get as much heat to the area as possible. Turning it off at the washer hoses will not solve the problem if the lines in the outside wall freeze.
Often sump pump discharge lines freeze in this weather. If your sump pump doesn’t run all the time, then you’ll just wait for weather to return to normal…just make sure the discharge line is clear when the ground begins to thaw. We have seen lines that are still partially frozen even when the temperatures starts rising. Also, expansion from freezing and thawing can cause some discharge lines to break prevent proper drainage of the sump pump. If your sump pump does run most of the time due to an underground spring or high water table then you may need to run a temporary line for the discharge. Also, Be sure your check valve is working or the water will not leave the pit.
Other things to Know:
- Leave a steady stream of hot water running for all faucets located on an outside wall. The hot water freezes first. Leave the cabinet doors open too. You want as much heat in the area as possible.
- Do you know where the main shut off to water for your home is? Is the valve in working order?
- If you are on city water, do you know where your meter pit is located? If the lid is cracked and there is not snow to insulate your entire water service could freeze.
- The water coming into the home is much colder than the summer. You may not have as much hot water as you do doing the warmer times of the year.
- Electric thawing machines can only be used on metal pipes.
If you are one of the lucky snowbirds that leave this winter wonderland and head for the sunshine, here are a couple of tips so your house survives the winter.
- Turn off the water to your home, either at the main valve or the meter pit.
- Turn your water heater to pilot/vacation if it is gas, or turn the power off if it is electric.
- Turn your water softener to vacation or off .
- Open all the faucets in the home to relieve any pressure
- Consider a weather alarm. There are a wide variety of types and prices. The basic type mount a light in a window and if the light is flashing your neighbor knows there is a problem with your heat. If you want something more sophisticated, there are alarms that will call or text you when there is a problem.
Most heating systems in our area are designed to keep it 70 degree inside when it’s zero outside. If the temperature falls below zero, your heating system may not keep the temperature as selected on your thermostat. During these times it is important to do some or all of the following:
- Check your filter, even if you think you replaced it a couple of weeks or a month ago, it’s probably been longer than that. Installing a clean filter is the most important thing a homeowner can do to help keep proper operation & efficiency of the system.
- Your heating system will probably run continuously for extremely long periods of time so it’s critical that all of your registers are open and not obstructed by furniture or household items.
- Leave your blower running continuously in the on position, this helps even out the air temperature though out the home, your heat will still turn on and off as needed. B&W and American Standard Heating and Air Conditioning recommend this for a more comfortable indoor climate.
- Old wood burning fireplaces can actually cool your home by allowing warm air to escape up the chimney. You will be losing more heat than the fire generates.
- Be careful burning candles, many of them produce soot which floats in the air and collects on the furnace filter, this can causes the filter to malfunction. Burning candles can also leave a black soot residue in your home.
- It is a good time to change the batteries on your digital thermostat.
- You lose a lot of heat through uncovered windows. Do what you can to cover or insulate windows and sliding glass doors. If you have a smoker in your house that opens a window to smoke tell them when the temperature drops this low to go outside or quit smoking.
- If you have a heat pump and see the little symbol that indicates your auxiliary heat is on, it is okay. It is working just as it should. It is not necessary for you to manually switch your heat to auxiliary.
From the Professionals in the Big Black Trucks