Winterize Your Home in North Florida?? Why, What, When and How?
by Keith Francis
on Monday, December 5th, 2011 at 11:21am.
You may have relocated to North Florida to avoid ever having to scrape ice off of your car windows, salting your sidewalk and shoveling snow from your home's driveway again.
While the last time I can recall seeing snow here in Jacksonville was in the late 1980’s when we made a one tier snowman, we do still experience freezing temperatures at times. You may consider performing a few of these maintenance tasks in order to keep your home in tip top condition; Especially if you are on the path to listing it for sale at the start of the New Year. Here are a few pointers of things you may consider with this rapidly approaching winter:
Irrigation, Hoses and Hose Bibs
Before the first frost you will want to follow these simple steps to ensure that your hose bibs and irrigation system do not freeze.
Winterizing your irrigation system is really pretty simple: Turn off the water to the irrigation system at main valve. Set the automatic irrigation controller to the "rain" setting. Turn on each of the valves to release pressure in the pipes. Drain all of the water out of any irrigation components that might freeze.
Hose Bibs. Remove hoses from the exterior hose bibs to prevent water pipes from freezing within the wall. Wrap the pipes and the pressure reducing valve at your main water shut off to provide additional protection against freezing. On the exterior, open the hose bib and drain the water from the line. Push upward on the anti-siphon ring to ensure that all of the water is drained from the line. On the interior, open the bleeder valve at the shut off. (Make sure you have something to catch the water in.) Be sure this valve is tightened again after the water is drained and then make sure that the black washer is in the cap. Push upward on the anti-siphon ring to ensure that all of the water is drained from the line.
Gutters and Downspouts
Clean gutters and downspouts frequently throughout fall to prevent build up of leaves and other debris. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot problems and pest infestations. Be sure water is not coming down behind gutters and that all support brackets are securely in place. Check to ensure water drains properly and doesn’t pool, which can cause damage to foundations, driveways, and walkways.
Windows and Doors
Inspect and repair any loose or damaged window or door frames. Install weather stripping or caulking around windows and doors to prevent drafts and lower heating bills. If you live in a home 5 years old or newer, chances are you have certain energy star/saving features in your windows. These homes were built very tightly so with your heat on and very cold air outside it is common to see condensation on your windows. Keep an eye for dripping condensation on your window sills and wipe it up. No your windows aren’t leaking; you just have somewhat of an air-tight home.
It is generally recommended that you hire an HVAC company to regularly maintain your HVAC system.
Consider having a heating professional check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs. Adjust the dampers if necessary, a little heat to the unused rooms of your home should be left on during the cold winter. Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory or allergy problems. Clean your thermostat’s heat sensor, contact points, and contacts. Check accuracy and replace if necessary. Lubricate hot water heater’s pump and motor. For those who will travel this Holiday season, do not turn the thermostat below 65. This practice will help protect your pipes should there be a freeze while you are out of town. Keep your outside condenser unit clear to prevent freezing.
Landscape and Yard Work
Although grass appears to stop growing in the fall, the roots are actually growing deeper to prepare for winter. Now is the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn. Prune your trees and shrubs after the leaves turn to encourage healthy growth in the spring. Trim any tree limbs that are dangerously close to power lines or the roof of your house. Cover the plants/trees over night with a sheet or tarp when freezing temperatures are expected.
During extremely cold weather, you may consider letting indoor faucets located on exterior walls drip.
Place the emergency numbers for the electrician, plumber, and heating contractor in a convenient location. When the holidays arrive, some of these contractors will be open for emergencies only, and it will be costly to you to have them come out! So hopefully these tips will spare you from that expense and you can put it toward the “Santa Fund”.
Remember to open the damper on the fireplace when using it. As you leave the room, be sure to close the glass doors on the fireplace to keep any sparks created by the fire in the firebox.
If you are going to be away longer than a week, turn your water heater to the “Vacation” setting.
If you have outdoor pets, please bring them inside on the days and especially nights when there is extremely cold weather.