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Now is the Time to Winterize Your Central Florida Home

Oct 28, 2020 8:00:00 AM / by Don Magruder, CEO RoMac Building Supply posted in house doors, residential homes

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To our winter residents from Wisconsin and Minnesota—please do not snicker when we talk about winterizing a home in Central Florida. Believe it or not, during the winter this area will experience some cool weather and maybe a morning or two of freezing temperatures. Residents who ignore these cooler temperatures could have some problems around the house. So, it is a good idea to take a few hours to make sure your home is ready for winter.

Let us get the winter safety issues resolved first. Before November 1st, replace the batteries in the smoke detectors throughout your home because Central Florida is the world center of electrical space heaters. Thousands of homeowners throughout Central Florida use electrical space heaters to knock the chill out of the room. Many times, homeowners will use frayed extension cords or place the electrical space heaters too close to flammable objects in the room. Electrical fires caused by space heaters and holiday lighting increase in the winter months, so smoke detectors are vital.

If your home has any open flame for cooking or heating, you should have a carbon monoxide detector to prevent asphyxiation due to carbon monoxide poisoning. If you have an attached garage and an automobile without a key, a carbon monoxide detector is a good idea because homeowners who inadvertently fail to turn their automobile off are suffering from sickness and death.

For homeowners who have a water well, the first thing you should do before cold weather is insulate and wrap the small pipe around the pressure switch and pipes exposed at the pump. The small flow pipe just below the pressure switch can freeze very easily on a cold morning, which will result in no running water in your home. You will learn sooner than later why you need a hair dryer to warm up your water well. Another great tip is to put ant poisoning around your water well. In the winter, ants will make their way into the pressure switch and stop the switch from operating. Keep ants, bugs, and lizards away from your well as they look for warm places to hide during the winter.

Most homes have multiple hose bibs around the house, which can also freeze on cold mornings. A hose bib that freezes and subsequently busts can be a big mess if the pipe in the wall is damaged. Wrap and insulate your home’s exposed hose bibs, faucets, and pipes.

Although sprinkler systems should be adjusted to run one day per week during the winter months, it is imperative you make sure that enough water is getting to your yard. Sprinkler heads that are malfunctioning or not enough time watering the lawn zones can ruin a beautiful lawn. If you are not competent to adjust your sprinklers properly, hire a professional.

Have a strategy for protecting your tropical plants and fragile décor palm trees. Some palm trees are hardy and can take freezing temperatures while many like the Robellini palm will freeze and die. You should have frost blankets and coverings ready to protect your fragile vegetation. A great piece of advice: if you keep tropical plants in a pot, they can easily be moved indoors during freezing temperatures. Never use plastic sheathing to cover tropical plants as this can cause more damage than leaving them exposed.

If you like working in your garage, you should consider insulating your garage door before wintertime. An insulation kit can be installed on most single-pan garage doors and it really helps with keeping cool weather out of the house.

Check your door weatherstripping, which is on both sides and the bottom of the door. It is not uncommon for little dogs to rip up door weatherstripping, which can result in cold weather flooding into the home along with bugs, snakes, and critters. Most door companies have replacement weatherstripping for the sides and bottom of doors, which can really protect your home during wintertime.

Pull your attic stairway down and check the insulation in your attic (do this only if you are physically able to). Look for areas in the attic that may show thin areas, because blown insulation can shift with heavy winds. Move it around, if you feel comfortable doing so. If not, hire a professional.

Finally, before cranking up the heating system in your home, have it checked out. Many HVAC systems in Central Florida have heat strips, which can become dirty in a course of months since they are not used during the summer. This could damage your system. Having the heating system tuned-up prior to its use in the winter is a very good idea.

While a cold morning is 25 degrees in Central Florida, failure to prepare for these mornings can create real aggravation and expense. At least you do not have to shovel snow.

Don Magruder is the CEO of RoMac Building Supply and host of Around the House, which can be seen at AroundtheHouse.TV.

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