Have you recovered from the arctic blast that Mother Nature delivered to Middle Tennessee last week? I was completely unprepared! Between holiday recovery and some truly delightful temperatures leading up to the big freeze, I was taken completely unawares. One day it was sunny and 60. The next morning it was ten degrees… and then six and then four. Much of the country has been hit with frigid temperatures, ice and snow and while we can hibernate a bit and wait it out, our homes, lawns and properties don’t have that option, so it’s important to prepare and then repair before and after extremely cold temperatures.
Under the preparation category, it’s important to be aware of forecasts (clearly, this falls in the do as I say, not as I do category!) and plan accordingly. When temperatures are routinely dipping in the twenties and teens, and especially if those temps are accompanied by moisture, it is vital that you have safe heating equipment in your home. You should also check flashlight batteries, portable radios and stock the pantries with about three days of food. Many newer homes feature underground utilities and this helps to minimize power outages, but if you live in an older home with above ground lines, you need to be prepared in the event you lose electricity.
Many of us know the old trick of running a trickle of water through your pipes to help prevent them from freezing and bursting, but it is also hugely helpful to open cabinet doors so your home’s warmth can reach uninsulated pipes under sinks. If you do experience a water pipe rupture, you must turn off the water at your home’s main shut-off valve – and quickly! Make sure you know where this is before the cold temperatures hit. A burst water pipe can cost between $8,000 and $70,000! That high price tag is generally the result of flooding that necessitates floor removal and recovering, wallboard replacements, etc… You can help keep the cost on the lower end if you limit the amount of water that pours into your home.
Before the icy weather arrives, make sure that exterior garden hoses are drained and disconnected from your home. If you have irrigation systems, a pool or outside fountains on your property, you’ll want to drain all pipes leading to outside water sources. Check for pooling water around your foundation and be prepared to remove it with pumps and siphoning hoses. If this pooled water freezes, it can cause expansion and contraction and lead to foundation cracking.
Last but not least, be prepared to have to call your utility companies. Program your electric company, your water company and your gas company’s phone numbers in your mobile phone and make sure that phones are fully charged in case you are without power for a period of time. If we all live a bit like boy scouts (be prepared!) during these cold, winter months, we’ll save ourselves and our homes some pretty big headaches.