Common Winter Practices to Avoid
Video: Michaela Parker
When the temperatures drop for several days, getting warm is the only thing on our minds. Sometimes desperation leads people to make choices they wouldn’t consider otherwise.
For example, it can be tempting, when in the throes of post-holiday-credit-card-balance-shock to rationalize turning the heat down low or off entirely to save money. “Just put on another layer! You’ll be fine!” you say to your relatives who are already covered head-to-toe in hats, scarves, and gloves to the point they cannot move. In the long run, not only will you ruin your relationships, you could cause your water pipes to burst. The small amount of money you saved on the heating bill is nothing compared to recovering from frozen pipes.
Speaking of frozen pipes, some folks think the solution to that problem is to run a propane-powered heater in an enclosed space, such as an attic or garage. Or, when the power lines are down because of frozen tree limbs falling on them, folks think a generator inside the house to power the space heater and appliances will do the trick. Both of these ideas are dangerous, as they cause carbon-monoxide poisoning. If you have a propane-powered heater, be sure it is labeled for indoor use before you bring it inside, and even then, have a carbon-monoxide alarm. If you need to run a generator, it should be placed outside at least 20 feet away from the house, and away from doors and windows. Again, be sure you have a carbon-monoxide alarm to be safe.
Finally, avoid leaving some spaces in your house exposed to cold air, which can contribute to frozen pipes. Growing up, my grandmother would “close off” certain rooms to save on the heating bill. Don't be tempted to do this. Pipes in closed off areas of the house can freeze if the temperature isn't warm enough. In older houses, some rooms may not be connected to the newer heating vents, and the under-sink areas may not be insulated. Open doors and cabinets to spaces that don’t get heat.
For more ideas to protect your home from cold temperatures, check out our videos on winterizing tips and how to properly drip a water faucet.
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