How to prepare your home for major freeze

Published: Dec. 20, 2022 at 3:19 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2022 at 11:06 AM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. - Now is the time to prepare for this week’s impending cold blast, according to experts, since subfreezing temperatures can cause huge problems for your home’s heating and water systems.

Experts say there are some things homeowners can do right now to ensure they stay warm on Friday, when a forecast low of 15 has prompted a FIRST ALERT from the News 12 weather team.

The first thing to do is to test your heating system.

Stay up to date on winter weather by downloading the WRDW Weather App on Google Play or the Apple App Store.

“If you haven’t turned on your heat yet, go ahead and turn it on. Make sure it’s working well,” said Kimball Rice, a Georgia hearting and cooling expert.

Besides your furnace, homeowners should also protect their plumbing.

Experts at Home Depot recommend keeping interior faucets dripping overnight when temperatures are at their coldest. This will prevent them from freezing and potentially bursting as a result.

They also say to open your cabinets under the kitchen and bathroom sinks, especially if your pipes are on an exterior wall. This will allow your home’s heat to keep them warm. Danny Watson from Home Depot says wrapping your pipes is also a good preventive measure against freezing.


“If you have any exposed pipes, we sell foam wrap that you can do that with,” he said. “You know, even cracks and gaps around doors and windows, you can use the use caulking.”

Georgia plumbing expert Donald Stroud says pipes are more susceptible to burst when temperatures are in the teens.

“Every now and then, we’ll get a good, hard freeze. And if it’s been five, six, seven years that’s usually when people are more susceptible and get caught off guard,” Stroud said. “But around here, most of the time, if they just keep the water running and keep the water dripping out there on the outdoor faucets or get them covered up with some insulation and keep them dry, then they usually won’t have too many problems.”

Another Georgia plumbing expert, Richie Sizemore, says older homes are more susceptible to freezing pipes. That’s because they tend not to have good central heating and air.

Both plumbers say a main way to keep your pipes from bursting is to make sure to keep warm water dripping to keep up the circulation.

He says homes that have piping underground or with a concrete foundation are typically safer. But the pipes still need to be protected from wind and other exposure.

Also, experts emphasize the importance of the proper use of a generator if the power goes out. Generators are never to be used inside. They should be kept several feet away from your home.

Columbia County officials warn people not to use outdoor heaters or your oven to warm the inside of your home.

Quick tips

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety and the U.S. Department of Energy encourages homeowners to take simple actions to reduce the possibility of costly damage and lengthy repairs:

  • Heat can easily escape your home through unsealed doors and windows. Sealing those gaps can lower your energy bill by keeping that heat inside your house.
  • Use a programmable thermostat to customize the temperature in your home. Set it to one temperature while you’re home and another while you’re at work, school or asleep.
  • Set the thermostat at the lowest comfortable temperature. The lower the temperature is, the slower it loses heat and the more you save on your energy bill.
  • Keep interior faucets dripping overnight when temperatures are at their coldest. Cover all hose spigots, including those in the crawl space and attic.
  • Open cabinets where plumbing comes in (bathrooms, kitchen). In the South, we put plumbing on exterior walls, which creates vulnerability in cold weather.
  • Learn how to turn your water off in the event of a pipe bursting.

“Being proactive about maintaining your home for the winter season with a few simple steps just ahead of plunging temperatures or the next ice or snowstorm can save headaches and dollars,” said Dr. Ian Giammanco, lead research meteorologist at the institute.