Trying to avoid another winter like last year’s? Heading to Florida or other warm winter states can be a great way to relax and take a break from the unpredictable Maryland weather, but it does also come with some dangers. Leaving your home unattended can lead to some unpredictable situations, especially in the cold. That’s why Warner Service has developed this guide for “snowbirds” to follow before heading to warmer places!
Before the cold weather arrives, the most important thing to be sure of is that your water is turned off in the appropriate places. Frozen pipes can lead to very expensive damages and repairs, and can also result in loosing many valuables if the pipe burst is left unnoticed. To prevent frozen pipes, follow this guide from the American Red Cross:
Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer’s or installer’s directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.
Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.
Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are located in unheated areas. Look in the basement, crawl space, attic, garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold water pipes in these areas should be insulated.
Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a “pipe sleeve” or installing UL-listed “heat tape,” “heat cable,” or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.
Next, make sure that your HVAC system is correctly set up for the winter. Obviously, since no one will be in the home, it does not make sense to keep it as warm as usual, as it will be costing you money to operate. However, if the heat is completely turned off, frozen pipes inside can occur, in addition to the humidity of your home increasing to produce mold. To Protect your home, you have a few options. First, and most importantly, test the heat before you leave. The worst thing that can happen is you correctly calibrate your HVAC system and find that your furnace is broken when you arrive home. Second, set your thermostat to 77 degrees (if manual). If you have a programmable thermostat, also set your temperature to 5 degrees lower in the morning before sunrise to balance the humidity. Finally, if you want to be completely protected, install a whole-home dehumidifier to remove the risk of mold!
Finally, have a friend be sure to check on your home from time to time, just to minimize your risks. Then, clean your yard, pack up, and have fun!
If you have any questions about how to prepare your home for the coming “fly south season,” give Warner Service a call to have your individual home looked at to put you on the right track!