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How to winterize your home before the freeze

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Posted at 1:46 PM, Dec 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-15 06:14:03-05

Winter is one of the most dangerous times for your home, and can become the most expensive, according to Winstar Home Services CEO Talbot Watkins.

It only takes a few bucks and some preparation to make sure your home can withstand freezing temperatures.

Starting outside your home, make sure you turn off water that runs to sprinklers, hoses, etcetera, when you expect freezing temperatures.

Unhook your hose and bring it inside (into a garage or shed). Like bridges, that's the first thing to freeze, Watkins said.

Then, turn on the spigot that was connected to your hose to allow the water in the pipe to flow out. Once that is done, turn off the spigot and place a plastic faucet cover over it to keep the elements off of the spigot. (These are usually a few dollars at hard ware stores.)

Watkins said you also want to make sure your drains are clear of any leaves to keep your home from flooding when the snow or ice melts.

Inside, the preparations starts at the door. Homeowners say they feel a draft from their door, windows and in their attic.

Watkins said the easiest and best fix is to use foam insulators to line your windows or put loose insulation around the windows.

"Just be really careful around the windows because if you put too much of this stuff [foam insulation], it can collapse the sides of the windows and make windows and doors really hard to open," Watkins said.

If you know your pipes are old, or have had pipes freeze, Watkins says whenever the temperature gets below freezing, run your faucet a little more than a trickle to keep the water flowing.

"Run that in several different locations...When you run this water all day it's well worth the investment of just paying for a little bit of water instead of the pipes freezing," Watkins said.

You also want to open cabinet doors that have pipes underneath the countertop to allow airflow and keep the pipes at room temperature.

The most important thing for people to know, according to Watkins, is where your water main is, "Regardless if you're worried about pipes freezing or whatever it is, because there's always failure, you need to know where your water main is. One of the things we do on every job we go to is we always try to mark that water main so we know exactly where it is next time we come."

Watkins said the only time to shut of the water main is if you're going away to travel during the winter, or if there was a leak or break in the pipe.

"One of the best investments you can make in your home... is to make sure your basement is well insulated, your walls are well insulated, and the band boards against the house are insulated," Watkins said.

He also suggests insulating any pipes near outside walls, in basements, and attics. "You kind of get what you pay for, you can just wrap this around the pipe," Watkins said.

If you don't have insulators, Watkins said a last resort is using wrapping pipes with heat tape. "It has a thermostat on the end of and when it's all said and done you kind of just plug that into the wall," Watkins said.

Watkins suggests having a water pump at your disposal in case you are caught in a bad situation where you need to move water out of your home.

"With all the smart home technology we have today, there's a really cool product called Water Safe and basically you change your water main and you put these disks around different places in your home and if they detect water, it literally shuts your water main off," Watkins said.

Preventative maintenance is key for your heating system. You should change your air filters and get a yearly check with a contractor to make sure your burners and heat exchangers are ready for winter.

Lastly, if you turn your thermostat colder during the day, only drop it two or three degrees because the warmer your home is, if the heat did go off, it's going to take a lot longer to cool off," Watkins said.