HVAC SystemsHow to Prepare your Home for Freezing Temperatures, Ice and Snow

This holiday season is concluding with a flurry of cold weather and a blanket of snow and ice across the Pacific Northwest. The Seattle area saw up to 6 inches of snowfall and temperatures below 20° F over the weekend, with forecasts calling for much of the same over the next several days. While we retreat inside our homes to stay warm and dry, the cold outside can wreak havoc on our plumbing and HVAC systems without the proper preparation. Below are some emergency tips to help you stay comfortable by ensuring your plumbing and HVAC systems continue running well throughout this freeze.

Winter Emergency Tips for Your Home

Plumbing Tips for your Home

  • Identify where to shut off the water in your home, and how to turn it off. In the event of a plumbing emergency, you want to be able to do this quickly.
  • Detach all hoses from outdoor faucets.
  • Cover all hose bibs that are not frost-free. If unsure, cover anyways as it is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Do not leave your heat off as low temperatures can freeze pipes. Keep your system set to at least 60° F. If traveling or are absent from the home for a long period of time, make sure heating systems remain on and set to a temperature of at least 60° F.
  • If you have plumbing cabinets on outside walls, like a sink cabinet, leave the cabinet doors open. This allows for more heat. Make sure to move any potentially hazardous materials like cleaning products to a safe place if children or pets are present.
  • If you have pipes in an unheated part of the home like a garage, try to keep them as warm as possible. Heat tape is a great solution for situations like these.
  • If you do not have heat tape and sense a pipe is in danger of freezing, remember that running water requires lower temperatures and takes longer to freeze than stagnant water. Just a small stream of running water from a sink or faucet could help prevent a pipe from freezing.
  • Set your thermostat a little higher than usual. Your pipes will thank you.

HVAC Tips for your Home

Have a Back Up Plan In case of No Heat:
  • Space Heaters work great. Try to have some on hand for the really cold days.
  • If you have a fireplace or other alternative heat source, make sure they are ready and working.
  • Check your furnace filter and replace/clean if it’s dirty.
  • Test all CO detectors to ensure they are working properly.
  • Never bring gas burning appliances like BBQs indoors.
In the Event of No Heat:
  • Check your breaker.
  • If the thermostat is battery powered, try replacing them.
  • Check the furnace filter. If it’s not clean, replace it.
  • Ensure the doors or panels on the furnace are properly attached.
  • If applicable, make sure the condensate line is not frozen.
  • If the problem persists, call your comfort expert at Sullivan Heating & Cooling to identify and fix the problem.


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