Cold weather is on the way, and we have compiled a list of things to consider and advice for you and your house to make it through possible blackouts and freezing weather in North Texas.
Know Where Your Water Shutoff Valves Are Located
If the power goes off, we never know how long it will take to restore it. You can drain your incoming pipes that have water in them to prevent them from freezing.
First, fill up your bathtubs and drinking pitchers with water, so you can have access to water. It's also a good idea to ensure you have plenty of bottled water to drink.
Here's how to drain the pipes in your home, so there isn't water freezing in your pipes.
You can turn the main water supply to your house off at the street by using a tool called a water meter valve key. These are kept in stock at Home Depot, Lowes, or any hardware store. If you cannot get it to turn off, you can call the fire department, and they should come out and turn it off for you.
Your water meter is typically up towards the front of the house by the street, buried in the ground. Take the cover off. A rectangular metal piece called the key is inside the box. Often, you will have to dig off dirt, bugs, and other debris see the key clearly. Using the notch on the water meter valve key, turn the rectangular piece to the right until it stops. This will shut off all the water to the pipes in your home, so you can move on to the next step of draining the water already in your pipes.
The next critical step is to drain your pipes. You do this by opening all the taps, hot and cold and letting them run until no more water comes out. You will want to do this on your outside faucets as well.
Wait until the freeze is over to turn the water back on.
When you decide to turn the main water supply back on, let the faucets run until the water runs without any noise of air bubbles that may have formed in the pipes.
Here's an example of a round water shut-off casing.
Drip Plumbing - it's one of the most effective things you can do.
Plumbing on exterior walls is especially vulnerable to colder temperatures. Drip your hot and cold taps to a thin stream, and open cabinet doors to expose the plumbing to more heat. Ensure you have the thermostat set at a reasonable temperature to maintain warm airflow. Toilets located on outside walls should be flushed every few hours.
You should have a thin stream.
Wrap Outside Faucets
Remove all hoses from exterior faucets and cover the hose bib with towels or cap them with outdoor faucet covers.
Winterize the Irrigation System
Typically, in DFW, the sprinkler systems are deep enough in the ground to not freeze. While homeowners in significantly colder northern states flush and shut down their systems for winter, we still sometimes need to water year-round. It is a good idea to have your system checked each fall. Make sure your rain and freeze sensors are working. Program your system for the winter months, and turn your sprinkler system off during the days when freezing weather is expected.
Get a Portable Generator - See These IMPORTANT Safety Rules!
Our generator is the single thing that saved our family from major discomfort during "Snowmageddon of 2021." We were without electricity for most of four days. We could hook the generator up to our furnace to heat our home.
Because the generator creates carbon monoxide, we kept it on the patio under a patio cover. We ran extension cords through the dog door to save the food in our indoor fridge and have lights. Ensure your generator is away from doors, so the wind doesn't blow carbon monoxide inside the house. Buy battery-powered carbon monoxide detectors and make sure you have them near your face when you sleep and also in your main rooms. Never add fuel to a hot generator. Turn it off, and add fuel when it has cooled down. Don't run your generator in the garage - even if the door is open.
Tankless Water Heaters
If your unit is located outside your house, insulate the pipes across the access panel. For tankless water heaters located in your home, garage or attic, check for the condensation line freezing.
Charge Your Phones, Laptops, and Backup Chargers
If the electricity does go out, it's always handy
Keep These Emergency Items on Hand
Flashlights and plenty of extra batteries
Water & Food - don't forget your pets!
Portable Phone Chargers
Candles & Matches
First Aid Kits
Know Your Emergency Contacts
Have a hard, non digital copy of important numbers such as utility companies and family.
Seal windows and doors to minimize heat loss. Replace weather stripping to keep cold air out and warm air in.
The first frost in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is typically the last week of November. We are zone 8, which means plants are hardy to a certain temperature. Your Zone 9-10 plants are considered tropical, so move that hibiscus plant inside for the winter.
Here is a checklist of a few things you can do to prep your zone 8 plants for winter in North Texas.
Move potted plants in to a garage, shelter. or indoors when temps begin to dip into the 40s
Protect perennial plants with by covering with frost cloths, burlap, or blankets
Cover the ground around plants with a 3 inch layer of mulch
Trim & prune shrubs and trees before the first freeze to help them save energy during the cold temperatures
Fill Your Automobiles with Gas
Keep your vehicles fueled up. I can think of three times within the last ten years when trucks were delayed getting into town to restock the gas pumps.
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