Birmingham residents are experiencing one of the coldest, harshest winters in decades, with temperatures dropping well below freezing and snow covering the ground. Alabamians are not familiar with these arctic temperatures since we normally have mild winters, therefore our homes tend to suffer the consequences. Prepare your home for cold winter weather ahead of a freeze to keep you and your family warm and operating normally during a cold episode. As a Birmingham new home builder, we often have homeowners ask us questions about what measures they can take to keep their home functioning properly during the cold weather. Follow these easy winterizing tips below to winterize your home during the coldest days of the year!
Before the cold weather arrives, make sure you turn off and completely drain your irrigation system. This is ideally done before the first hard freeze of winter. If water remains in your irrigation pipes during a hard freeze, it’s likely that water will freeze causing the pipes to either burst or crack, which can be a costly repair, so it’s important to try to completely drain the water out rather than to dealing with serious damage. If you’re not comfortable with doing this yourself, most landscaping companies offer the service of winterizing irrigation systems.
If you know cold weather is around the corner, check your pipes in areas that are more likely to freeze than others. This could include crawl spaces, rooms without heat, basements, garages and exterior walls. Locate areas that may let cold air in like windows and doors. Try to eliminate any source of cold air that may enter your home whether it’s through insulation or fixing windows that let in cold air.
Wrap Your Pipes
After you’ve identified freezing points of your house and located any exposed pipes, wrap the exposed pipes with a sleeve, heat tape or insulation to prevent them from bursting.
Shut off Water
Locate your main water valve prior to a cold weather freeze. It’s important to do this before the cold weather hits, so that you can quickly turn off the water in the event of an emergency like your pipes bursting.
In the event of an extended period of severe cold weather, we recommend that you cut the water off to the exterior hose bibs at the water shut off valve. After cutting this water off, turn the hose bibs “on” so that it allows for the water in the pipes to drain and not freeze. This will eliminate the need for those ugly, cumbersome protective covers.
When winter temperatures stay below freezing, turn on faucets in your house to maintain a slow, steady drip. Turn on both the hot and cold side of the faucet. If it is a mixed valve, turn the valve to the middle to allow even flow of both cold and hot water.
These simple steps should help keep your house performing at its best during the coldest nights of the year. However, if your pipes do freeze don’t panic! First test your faucets by turning them on to see if any water comes out. If water does not come out of the pipe, leave your faucets turned on. Immediately turn off the main water valve. You can try to thaw your pipes with a hair dryer, but do not use anything stronger. After your pipes have thawed, slowly turn the water back on. If this does not work, call a plumber or your home builder in Birmingham or Auburn immediately.