We've written in the past about what you should do if you experience extreme cold that causes your pipes to burst and about the ways that extreme cold weather affects your home. But we thought it might be a good idea to go over some tips and tricks from the Olathe heating and cooling experts on how to prepare your home for that next bad cold snap.
You know it's going to happen. This is Kansas, after all, and we get brutally cold weather just about every winter, sooner or later. The wind chill can easily drop temps into the negative 20s, and wind gusts can make it feel even colder. That's dangerous weather, and every Kansas City homeowner needs to know how to prepare for a wickedly cold winter.
Why is extreme cold so dangerous? Winter might not seem so bad if you're bundled up inside with a working furnace and a roaring fire, but cold weather can knock out power, disable heat, and even take out communications. Your cell phone will only last so long when you can't charge it, and in a bad storm, power may be out for several days. A situation like this can put older adults, young children, and anyone who is under the weather at risk. Harsh winter weather can also damage your home.
Start outside your house. Obviously, when it comes to preventing damage to a home during extreme cold weather, frozen pipes are one of the first concerns on most peoples' minds. Fortunately, frozen pipes are something you can begin to prevent outside the house.
Start by disconnecting garden hoses from outside faucets and covering those faucets with insulating foam covers, which you can find at any hardware store for just a couple of dollars each. You'll want a cover for every one of your outside faucets. In some cases, you can even shut off the water to outside faucets. That's something you may want to ask your plumber about.
If you have a sprinkler system, it will need to be shut off, too, and someone should blow out the lines with compressed air. Again, it's best to have a plumber or other professional handle this. Extreme cold can seep into the ground and freeze and burst sprinkler lines just as easily as it can freeze pipes.
Fighting cold inside the home. It may seem like a no-brainer, but one of the best ways to prepare your home for extreme cold weather is to keep the cold outside. This means sealing your home up tight.
Start with the windows. Make sure that all of them are completely shut, locked, and covered with window treatments or blinds. This will help prevent cold air from seeping around cracks in your windows and making its way into your house. During the day, open the blinds and curtains in order to let warm sunlight into the room. Take advantage of all the natural heat you can get!
Next, take care of drafts underneath doors, including the door leading into the garage. Those heavy draft-stopper snakes that go in front of doors can handle this nicely. You can find those at the hardware store, too. It's also a good time to check all of your weatherstripping. If your weatherstripping has seen better days, it might be a good time to buy a plastic insulation kit.
Your fireplace is cozy and festive during the winter months, but as we've mentioned before, it doesn't really do much to heat the house. In fact, it can actually have a negative effect on some rooms, especially if your thermostat is close to the fireplace and far from the rest of the house. Whether you're using your fireplace this winter or not, though, make sure that the flue is closed when the fireplace is not in use.
Keep your plumbing from freezing. We discussed steps you can take outside the house to protect the pipes, but you can do more inside, too. At night, let faucets in the kitchen and bathroom drip. This doesn't mean wasting water by letting them run a thin stream; just a small drip will do the trick. This keeps water circulating when the faucet is not in use.
If it's particularly cold—especially at night—open the cabinet doors below the sinks in your bathrooms, kitchen, guest bath, and anyplace else that might need it. This is especially important for rooms that are near outside walls. This will allow warm air to get in under the cabinets and circulate around the pipes, which will help keep them from freezing.
Also, even if you're a cold-weather kind of person who doesn't mind sleeping when it's a bit chilly, you don't want to set your thermostat below 65 degrees. Keeping your house at least 65 helps keep your heating bills steady and prevents temperature fluctuations that can damage plumbing and other fixtures.
Finally, go down into the basement. That's probably where your furnace is. And on a cold winter day, your furnace is the heart of your house. There are plenty of things you can do to help keep your furnace in tip-top shape this winter, including keeping your air filters clean by changing them regularly. But the best thing that you can do is to get your furnace its bi-annual checkup.
A tune-up twice a year not only keeps your furnace in top working order, it also means a professional is keeping an eye out for problems before they arise. An Olathe heating and cooling technician from Davenport Service Company will inspect the heat exchange for cracks, install a clean air filter, and make sure that the thermostat is working properly—to name just a few things.
If your furnace is headed for a breakdown, you don't want to learn about it when it gives out on the coldest night of the year. It's better to catch that problem before it begins so that you can fix it before extreme cold sets in.
If your furnace still needs its winter check-up, all you have to do is call the Olathe heating and cooling pros at Davenport Service Company at 913-441-2222 and let us help you get your home ready for cold winter weather today!