Texas can experience a wide degree of harsh weather. From hot, blistering summers to frosty winters, it’s critical to protect your property and home from the different seasons' elements. When it does reach freezing temperatures, being prepared can save you a lot of money and time. Fortunately, you can take steps to avoid any issues, keeping you in good holiday spirits.
The main factors to consider when preparing your house for the winter months are:
• wrapping your pipes,
• keeping your home at 65 degrees or higher,
• preventing water from going to places that it shouldn’t be, and
• knowing where your home’s water shutoff is located in case of an emergency.
Photo courtesy of Katie E. Van Antwerp
Exposed pipes are susceptible to bursting during the winter months. When temperatures drop below 20 degrees, the combination of exposure, wind chill and long periods of time can cause unprotected pipes to burst. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, burst pipes can cause about $5,000 dollars or more in repairs.
If you have uninsulated pipes running through an uninsulated space in your house, such as a garage, here are a few ways to protect them and avoid trouble.
• If there are water supply lines in your garage, keep the garage door closed.
• Wrapping outdoors faucets and exposed pipes with rags or purchased foam covers and securing them can help prevent bursting. Electric heat cable kits also automatically adjust their heat output depending on outside temperatures to keep your pipes warm.
• Use it on pipes located under sinks, along exterior walls, basements and attics. These pipes are especially susceptible to the cold.
• Allowing cold water to trickle from faucets served by exposed pipes will help prevent freezing. It does not need to be a lot of water—a trickle will suffice.
• If you plan to go away during the winter months, leave the heat on to protect all your pipes. Set it to a temperature no lower than 55 degrees. Additionally, shut off your water supply valve when you leave town.
• For long-term solutions, add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Sealing cracks and opening around windows and doors will prevent drafts from getting in and keep your pipes warmer.
Once your exposed pipes are protected, it’s time to examine the exterior of your home and be on the lookout for any leaks. Checking out your roof, gutters and downspouts for any damage can prevent unwanted water from entering your house and causing any problems. If you haven’t cleaned out your gutters yet, it’s time to sweep out any remaining leaves or debris. Gutter guards are a great option to keep your gutters clear and debris-free. Clean gutters allow melting frost and snow to drain properly. Inspect the roof for any broken, loose or missing shingles.
Photo courtesy of Katie E. Van Antwerp
The interior of your home should get checked for leaks as well. Not only does this help avoid water damage, this practice can help conserve water. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, household leaks can waste nearly 1 trillion gallons of water annually in the United States. Look for any leaks around all your toilets, sinks, showers and near water heaters.
You can also use your water meter to check your entire house for leaks. To check, turn off the water inside and outside the home and record what your water meter reads. Wait at least 15 minutes and reread the meter. If the meter recorded water-use during the test, there may be a large leak or a combination of small leaks.
Once the exterior of your house has been inspected and you have checked for leaks, you can shut off your sprinkler system to prevent damage. If you live in a particularly cold part of the state, draining the underground pipes that lead to the sprinklers will be beneficial. Consult the system’s owner’s manual or consider hiring professionals to drain your system. Drain any outdoor hoses and don’t forget to insulate the faucets.
If you haven’t already, bring in any outdoor furniture, garden hoses and plants that need to be protected from the cold temperatures. If you don’t have room to bring them inside, covers can guard your items from the winter elements.
With the right steps and preparation, you and your family can enjoy the winter season comfortably without having to worry about frozen pipes and property damage. For more information about winterizing your home and pipes, click here.