The cold winter months prove to be tough on home environments. Pipes can burst if they freeze with water in them, energy bills can go up trying to keep your house at a comfortable temperature, and hard-working furnaces can break unexpectedly. Fortunately, there are ways to help your home systems (and your budget) survive our icy climate.
CARING FOR PIPES IN THE WINTER
Pipes obviously need to stay warm in order not to freeze. Though your house may be at a comfortably warm temperature, your pipes aren’t always directly exposed to that household heat.
Pipes on the Exterior Wall: During particularly cold stretches, it is important to remember that plumbing on exterior walls is prone to freeze because it is close to the outdoor temperatures. You can keep these pipes warm by opening the doors where they are housed, such as a bathroom sink cabinet, and exposing them to the air of your house. It also helps to let the faucets drip, as this will allow water to move inside the pipes, keeping them from freezing. You can also use a fan to circulate the warm air around the pipes.
Outdoor Plumbing: Outside faucets can freeze very easily if any water is left inside them. Hoses will freeze too, sometimes all the way up to the faucet. To avoid these situations, disconnect everything from your outdoor faucets. Make sure to turn off any shut-off valves and then open the outside faucets again to drain out excess water.
Pipes in Crawl Spaces: Pipes that reside in crawl spaces need to be insulated to keep them warm. It helps in the winter to close crawl space vents, preventing warm air from leaving the area.
BENEFITS OF WHOLE-HOUSE HUMIDIFIERS
During winter, the air outside and inside loses the moisture it had in summer. Moisture retains heat, and without it, air feels colder. That is why a whole house humidifier can increase the warmth of your home without increasing the heat you use. A whole house humidifier connects to your ventilation system and puts moisture back in the air using water vapor. If you have a humidifier set to 45% humidity, and your heater is set to 67 degrees, it’s going to feel as warm as if you had set your home heat to 72 degrees at 0% humidity. You can save an estimated 10-20% on your heating bills when you correctly use a whole-house humidifier.
It is difficult to know what within a furnace will fail and when. What is known is that like a car, or any mechanical system, things will fail if the equipment is not maintained. That is an absolute. As a homeowner, you can help prolong the life of your furnace by changing the air filter regularly, which will reduce the stress on the system. However, the single best way to extend the life of your system and reduce the possibility of an emergency situation is preventative maintenance.
Need more information on maintaining your plumbing and furnace? Visit the Our Members page on homeartisans.com to contact our home improvement experts.