Preparing Your Gerstad Home for Winter
“Winter is coming!” is a line that many people attribute to the popular HBO Drama and Award-winning novel Game of Thrones. However, if you’re from the Midwest, you might feel like you’ve been cheated out of royalties because you have used that phrase your entire life. In any regard, winter is coming and part of home ownership is preparing your Gerstad home to handle the weather ahead. Following these easy winterizing tips below can help defend your home during the coldest months of the year.
- Furnace Filters
- As part of regular maintenance, homeowners should change the furnace filter every 30 days. Now that we are entering the heating months, it is extremely important to keep up with your furnace filter changes. This simple task will maintain furnace efficiency and prevent an ill-timed furnace failure.
- Water Main Shut-off Valve
- Locate the main water valve prior to a cold weather freeze. It’s important to do this before the cold weather hits, so that the water can be quickly turned off in the event of an emergency like your pipes bursting or a complete loss of heat.
- It is important to disconnect all garden hoses from outside faucets. Gerstad Builders installs frost-protected hose bibs on all of our new homes. This feature uses gravity to draw out all water within the unconditioned portion of the exterior faucet connections. If a garden hose or other forms of piping are left connected, this can create a suction effect causing the water to be held in the unconditioned part of the pipe. Once we enter into freezing weather conditions, pipes can split and water can leak into the basement.
- De-Icing Agents and Salt
- Salt and de-icing agents should be avoided on concrete and asphalt surfaces. The best form of ice management is to shovel prior to driving or walking over fresh snow and allows Mother Nature to do the de-icing for you. Use of salt and other de-icing agents can potentially lead to material failure in concrete and asphalt; this does not include all the additional damage and maintenance that is incurred when these particles are tracked into your home. Salt is denser than hardwood and will, therefore, pit hardwood floors if it ends up between a shoe, sock, or barefoot and your wood floor.
- If a thermostat is not working, neither is the furnace. Never set a thermostat below 65 degrees in winter, the thermostat is only sensing the temperature at its location Lastly, NEVER, turn off the thermostat in the winter time. Replace thermostat batteries at the start of each heating season to prevent any unexpected furnace failures. Not all thermostats require batteries, so double check the product details if you are uncertain about yours.
- Frozen Pipes
- If your pipes do freeze don’t panic! First, test faucets by turning them on to see if any water comes out. If water does not come out of the pipe, leave your faucets turned on. Immediately turn off the main water valve. You can try to thaw your pipes with a hair dryer, but do not use anything stronger. After your pipes have thawed, slowly turn the water back on. If this does not work, call a plumber or your home builder (if under warranty) immediately.
- Irrigation Systems
- Before the cold weather arrives, make sure to turn off and completely drain your irrigation system. This is ideally done before the first hard freeze of winter. If water remains in the irrigation pipes during a hard freeze, it’s likely that water will freeze causing the pipes to either burst or crack, which can be a costly repair. Most local landscaping companies also offer the service of winterizing irrigation systems.
These winterization steps will help keep your house performing at its best during the coldest nights of the year. Gerstad Builders has been building homes in the McHenry, Richmond, Poplar Grove and Williams Bay area for decades and we know first-hand that homes still sell and can be built in the winter months. If you own a home, please take precaution against the inclement weather. If you’re looking to buy a home, we are open and ready to help you find the home to fit your lifestyle! Visit us at www.gerstadbuilders.com to learn more.