Can freezing cold temperatures harm your home appliances? Should you turn your heat system off before leaving for an extended period of time? Here are facts to consider regarding your appliances and how the cold weather can affect them and how to prevent any issues from occurring. It is no surprise that cold weather can affect your appliances, especially those in basements and garages. However, there are several steps you can take to help prevent freezing temps from taking their toll this season. This does not only apply for us living in the Midwest, it also applies to southerners who are not completely in the clear. While it is a rare occasion, the South sometimes does get hit by snow and ice storms. If you are gone for a short period of time over the winter season, you do not need to turn your heat all the way off, just turn it down. The ideal temperature set for your home depends on where you live and how energy-efficient your house is, but we suggest no lower than 55 degrees. It can potentially reduce your energy bill and keep your pipes from freezing during extreme cold temperature shifts. Here are some alternative appliance-specific tips to assist you with extreme temperature changes this winter.
Washing MachineYour washer is all about water, which is why it is at risk of extreme cold. Hoses fill the tub before a cycle, and pumps drain the water once it has been completed. The drum spins your clothes, obtaining excess water out before you pop the load within the dryer. If your washing machine is inside however sits against a poorly-insulated, outside-facing wall such as within the garage or in your basement where the temperature drops below freezing. You may find yourself with ice instead of water in those hoses and pumps which will cause the water intake valve to break and you’ll have water all over the room when the temperatures increase. How are you able to stop this from happening? Here are some additional pointers.
- Disconnect your water lines from the wall and only connect them once you are washing a load.
- Wrap your washer’s hoses with pipe insulation
RefrigeratorThe refrigerator in your kitchen should be safe and protected from the elements. However, if you have a second fridge or freezer in the basement or garage, here is what you should do to get it ready for frigid temps.
- Use a space heater.Use a space heater in your chilly garage or basement on especially colder days but make sure you do not leave it on overnight if you are not home.
- Disconnect or insulate the hoses.If you have an ice maker and the appliance is connected to a water supply, your hoses will freeze a bit like those in your washer. The garage temperature must be kept above freezing (32°F) or the water elements including the water lines, water valves and the water reservoir might become damaged. If you are unable to maintain a temperature above freezing in the garage, then disconnect the water line, and drain the reservoir. You can reconnect the water during the warmer seasons.
HVAC SystemYour condenser (outdoor) unit should be fine. Units are actually designed to cater to cold temps, snow and ice, so regular winter weather usually isn’t an issue. However, if your HVAC unit gets encased with ice and snow, it may trigger an emergency shut-off. If the HVAC system is not maintaining the desired indoor temperature, it should then change over to the secondary heat or emergency heat (electric heat strips). This can especially happen if you are not around to notice the heat is off which could lead to frozen, broken pipes and serious water damage as a result. Here are a few things you can do to help prevent that from occurring:
- Build a firewall.Heat pumps and outdoor units should be placed where there is a less chance of the unit getting covered by snow or snowdrifts. In areas that do get plenty of snow, the condenser should be placed on a platform to boost it on top of traditional snow accumulation. During higher than normal levels of snowfall, the area should be kept clear. Consider taking into account building a fence or a wall around your unit therefore snow can’t drift to cover it. Simply allow for enough airflow on all sides.
- Make sure the area is clear.Shovel around your HVAC unit and make sure your gutters are not leaking water onto the unit. Brushing up on these precautionary tips to prep for the season and prep and conscious monitoring, your appliances should be just fine for winter.