Winter Is Coming: Is Your Outer Banks Home Ready?
When the crisp fall air begins to creep over the Outer Banks, many of us welcome it with open arms as a wonderful relief to the extreme heat and busy summer season we’ve all just endured, but don’t forget: Winter is coming.
Before the cold strikes, begin safeguarding your home to ensure that it stays in
the best shape possible during the upcoming season, whether you and your family plan to live in your home year-round or winter elsewhere.
The following checklist will help you protect your home against the harsh winter elements. While some of the items on this list may seem simple and obvious, remembering to practice these winterization procedures will prove to be beneficial throughout the season. Here are a few essential tips (including some you might not have thought of before) to keep your family warm, your energy bills at a minimum, and your Outer Banks home in tip-top shape throughout the cold months ahead.
A Home Winterization Checklist:
While You’re Away
- Turn off your water supply if you’ll be away for any length of time. This includes the main supply to the house, as well as any smaller ones that connect to fixtures such as sinks and toilets.
- Drain your outside showers and faucets.
- Open all the valves in your kitchen and bathrooms to be sure that both the hot and cold lines are drained.
- Winterize your refrigerator (including the icemaker inside of the freezer) to prevent severe mold and mildew growth. Do this by removing all food and liquids and cleaning the appliance with mild soap and water or a vinegar solution before leaving the door open, unplugging the appliance to avoid unnecessary power usage, and even placing a box of baking soda inside to further combat odors.
- Be sure to winterize your water heater as well by unplugging it or turning off the gas. Turn off the water supply using the shut-off valve and then drain.
- As a further precaution, add non-toxic anti-freeze to all
additional traps, toilet tanks and bowls, and even down the drains of sinks and tubs.
- Blow out your entire water system with compressed air, if necessary.
- Consider insulating the pipes in unheated areas such as
outdoor showers and crawl spaces.
- Turn off any unnecessary electrical breakers.
- Securely store outside trash containers, lawn items, and any outdoor patio or deck furniture.
- Set your thermostat to at least 55 degrees while you’re away.
No Matter If You Stay Or If You Go
- Prune back trees and shrubs around the house and walkways.
- Be sure to keep all doors and windows that aren’t being used locked, as it creates a tighter seal to prevent air transfer and energy loss.
- Add or replace weather stripping to windows and doors to seal up drafts.
- Re-caulk around doorframes and windows to replenish the seal and keep cold air out during the winter months.
- Make sure your home is properly insulated underneath.
- Winterize your pool to protect it from frozen water damage. First, lower the water level below the line of the skimmer and add winterizing chemicals before blowing the water from the plumbing lines. Next, plug the skimmer and pour anti-freeze into the skimmer box to keep any frozen rainwater from collecting on top. Finally, drain the water from all filter equipment, and cover the pool securely.
- To winterize your hot tub you’ll want to drain the water completely, blow out the lines, and cover it securely.
- Clean out your gutters and install leaf blockers over them. This will help stop excess debris from clogging them and accumulating frozen water. Be sure all downspouts are intact and free of debris beforehand for adequate drainage.
- Drain your garden hoses and bring them indoors. Although it may seem like a small detail, it could prevent you from having to replace a split or cracked hose when spring rolls around.
- Prepare your fireplace or chimney for a few roaring fires by making sure it’s cleaned out. (If you’re leaving town, make sure to get a chimney cap to reduce air transfer).
And Don’t Forget About Security
for the winter, security measures are an important thing to consider no matter what. If you want to monitor your home from three states away or from your friend’s house right down the street, there are now unique systems on the market these days that will allow you to do exactly that.
Applications that enable you to control your home maintenance and security remotely, from cell phones or other mobile devices, are now widely available. Local Outer Banks companies such as R.A. Hoy and Johns Brothers Security also provide energy evaluations before winter hits and can install Wi-Fi thermostats, among other options, which can be controlled from anywhere in the world.
Many homeowners install Z-Wave smart thermostats to manage their energy usage throughout the year. These mobile-controlled home security systems can also adjust the air conditioning and notify you if a door is left ajar. During the harsh winter months, keeping your Outer Banks home sealed up tight is essential, and with these applications you can have peace of mind at all times that your home is safe and secure.
“We have seen a large increase in the use of interactive home security automation,” says Scott Twine, business development manager at Johns Brothers Security. “Homeowners are
primarily interested in the convenience and added peace of mind of smart phone-controlled intrusion alarm systems and video surveillance systems.”
There are many different and interesting ways to use these devices and sensors, including leak detection. “Users are able to receive mobile notifications from the thermostat if their pipes burst or there is unusual activity going on,” Twine says. “An undetected small water leak can cause major damage.”
Dual freeze and flood sensors are also a great addition to any winterization plan. These devices are placed in water heater drain pans, under sinks, and anywhere else that freezing temperatures or leaks could potentially cause damage. When activated, these sensors will signal the monitoring center and send you a push notification. A Z-Wave main water shutoff valve can also be installed to automatically shut off the water supply when a sensor detects a leak.
Other basic, yet important, winter security preparations include making sure that your lights are on timers and that your fire alarms and locks are up to date. (Or even upgraded completely: Some fixtures such as lights and locks can also be controlled remotely with the right system.) Ensuring that all of these items are in working order will help keep your and your home safe and secure all winter long.
Abby Stewart is a Currituck County native and has spent most of her life enjoying the beauty of all seasons here on the Outer Banks.