Preparing for freezing temperatures in Texas has unfortunately become a necessity in recent years. Alamo Austin Air has prepared a list of tips & tricks to ensure when the weather turns sour that your heating & cooling system is ready to handle the cold.
Don’t Forget The Drip
One piece of advice that is always present when temperatures dip is to allow all of the faucets to drip overnight to ensure your pipes do not freeze. This is also true for your exterior tankless unit as well. Many units are protected internally from colder temperatures but the same is not true for the pipes that lead into the house.
Ensure your family has hot water on demand by allowing the furthest sink from the unit to drip hot water. This forces your system to stay on to meet demand. It does not allow water to collect & freeze within the tank or pipes connected to it. Rarely do freezing temperatures in Texas dip below 20℉ for a sustained period of time. However when they do, it is recommended to increase the flow of water for all faucets. This ensures your next call isn’t to a plumber for a bursting pipe!
More Than Just Letting The Faucet Drip
Houses in Texas are not built to withstand the cold temperatures and exterior wet walls can be a major culprit for frozen pipes. Wet walls are defined as walls that have plumbing, including drain lines for your HVAC unit, inside of them. Interior walls are usually protected by ambient heat inside your home.
However, with the lack of winter weather approved insulation, exterior wet walls can be vulnerable to freezing. If there are cabinets on your exterior wall it is best practice to open them. This allows circulation of warmer air closer to your wall and the pipes inside. It is also recommended to remove unnecessary obstructions for this same purpose.
Another often overlooked area is the laundry room, Washing machines are attached to a drain system that releases excess gray water after each wash.When temperatures dip dramatically, the P-trap located inside the wall that connects to the system can freeze. This will not allow the washer to drain properly until the ice defrosts.
Unplug & drain your washer and pull it back from the wall to allow airflow to reach the plumbing behind. Flooding can happen if you attempt to use your unit with a frozen P-trap. If you suspect this has occurred, start with boiling a small amount of water. Pour it into the hose that connects your machine to the wall. This should clear any remaining frozen water blockage and allow for free flowing water once more.
Warning Signs For a Heat Pump System
Most of the year the main concern for your heating and cooling system is to keep you cool. However, preparing for freezing temperatures in Texas means assessing your system before bad weather sets in. When winter weather is imminent there are warning signs that your system may not be able to handle the cold. If you own a heat pump HVAC system and the outdoor unit starts to make noise or you see a heavy accumulation of ice on the outdoor unit it can be a sign of imminent unit failure.
Immediately switch to the emergency heat function located on your thermostat settings to activate the internal heater designed for extreme cold temperatures. This little known function can be a literal life saver as well as saving you a costly repair bill later on.
As with all heating elements, it is normal for a brief burning odor to occur due to dust particles that have accumulated on the heating elements through the year. This internal mode can be used but is less energy efficient than your main heating system. Always remember to switch back to regular heat once temperature gets above freezing and ice melts.
Warning Signs For a Gas Heat HVAC
Gas heating systems can also be susceptible to issues when winter weather occurs, specifically when freezing precipitation is present. If your interior thermostat screen is going blank or your heater is acting sporadic, it could mean your furnace is overheating due to a blocked flue pipe on the roof. If this occurs, you can turn the furnace’s power off with the switch that is located in the closet or attic that houses your furnace. Once the power is off, wait 5-10 minutes then turn it back on. This should get things back up and running. You might have to repeat this cycle several times to get the flue pipe hot enough to melt the ice. Learn more about furnaces and which one is right for you at Carrier’s website here.
Winterize Your System
The events that occurred in February 2021 have shown how important winterizing your system and home can be. Preparing for freezing temperatures in Texas should be at the top of your priority list when the temperature starts to dip. The experts at Alamo Austin Air can help to ensure that you and your family are warm when winter weather strikes. Give us a call at 512-736-0145 or click here to schedule an appointment today.