Alabama is considered to have mild winters in comparison to other parts of the country, but the state does experience some winter weather extremes almost every year. If you haven’t winterized your home yet, do it now before the temperatures settle into winter averages.
Alabama Extension professional Virginia Morgan White shared some tips to help cold proof and winterize your home for a more comfortable and potentially cost-saving winter.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated. A properly insulated home helps to reduce heating and cooling costs.
- Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to keep cold air out and your heat in. According to White, about one-third of the air leaks in a home occur through gaps in ceilings, walls and floors.
- Protect your pipes: Water pipes can freeze and break which can cost a fortune to fix. When the outside temperature reaches 20 degrees or below, your pipes are at risk for breaking.
- The most vulnerable pipes are outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines, water pipes in basements, crawl spaces, attics, and garages, and water pipes that run against the exterior wall. The best way to protect your pipes is to remove and drain outdoor hoses and store them indoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs if possible. Cover hose bibs with insulated covers. Check around the home for water supply lines: basement, crawl space, attic, garage and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Hot water lines can freeze if the water is not running through the pipe and the water temperature in the pipe is cold. Insulate all exposed outdoor and attic pipes with weather-resistant material. Insulating-foam tubing designed for pipes is easy to install and inexpensive. Make sure all surfaces of the pipe are covered.
- Maintain your heating system. Get your heating equipment serviced annually by a reputable heating specialist. Check the furnace filters every two months during the winter months. Clean or replace the filters as needed. Clean the fan blades annually and keep the area around the furnace housing free of dust, lint and litter.
- Fireplace maintenance. If you have a fireplace or a wood or coal-burning stove, be sure each is installed according to local codes. Have your chimneys and wood stoves inspected annually for creosote buildup. Creosote is flammable and needs to be professionally removed periodically.
- Safety first. Check that your fire extinguisher is in good working order and replace it if necessary. Test and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Space heaters should be at least three feet away from blankets, clothing, curtains, furniture and anything that could catch fire.
- In case of an ice storm: Never use generators, grills, or camp stoves inside your home, basement, garage or camper, or even outside near an open window. Use the proper fuel for the heating appliance. Cross-ventilate a room if you are using a catalytic or unvented heater by opening a window an inch on each side of the room.
It’s important to keep these steps in mind while winterizing your home. These steps could save you a lot of money and potentially your life. The bottom line is to use common sense, and never sacrifice the health of you or your family and potentially your pocket book for the ease of assumptions or the inconvenience it may bring to make these necessary steps.
“Taking these actions now may keep you from experiencing a frozen pipe disaster later,” said White.