Brace yourselves.. Winter is Coming. Tips for Heating, Personal and Pet Safety during Winter Storms
If you haven’t heard… Winter (weather) is coming. Here are some helpful tips for protecting yourself, your pets, and your HVAC equipment during the upcoming storm.
1) Make sure your heat pump does not have a leaky gutter above it, as drippings can freeze on top of and inside your pump, causing restricted airflow and putting your system at risk of freezing up.
2) Make sure all snow and ice is cleared from the top of your heat pump. To clear it off, be sure to switch your unit off or put in on emergency heat.
3) DO NOT use sharp objects to scrape ice off the unit or coils as this can damage them or cause serious injury.
4) Don’t cover your heat pump or hang anything over it to keep snow or ice from piling on top, as this will restrict airflow same as snow and ice accumulation.
5) It is normal when it is cold for your heat pump to make a shhhh noise. This is the system’s defrost mode, where the refrigerant is run backwards while heat is pumped from inside your home out through the system to melt any ice/frost on the coils. While in defrost mode, your system runs auxiliary/supplemental heat (electric heat strips unless you have a dual fuel furnace, which has a gas backup).
6) Do NOT switch your system on to “Emergency Heat” setting just because it is cold out. This is, just as the name suggests, for emergencies. E-Heat turns on the supplemental heat source (heat strips). Strip heat is far less efficient than your normal heat pump and if you run emergency heat frequently, it will cost you on your energy bill.
7) If you start to get too warm, do not turn your system off in the middle of a cycle. If a heat pump does not cycle all the way through, it will pick up where it left off when it is turned back on. Meaning you don’t get heated efficiently and you wear the system out by making it run harder.
8) Beware of fire hazards if you break out space heaters. Clothes, paper, rugs, bedding/sheets, trash, etc should be kept at least 3 feet away from the heater. Also, space heaters should never be left unattended.
9) Cover/insulate pipes. Keep faucets dripping and fill your bathtub with water in case of a freeze. This assures water is constantly flowing to prevent a freeze-up and that you have some water for sanitation/toilet flushing purposes if there is a freeze.
10) Common sense, but in case of power outage, keep an emergency stash of blankets, water, and non-perishable foods.
11) Bring your pets inside. Animals have fur, but like people, their tolerance for cold temps is limited. Dogs and cats can still suffer from hypothermia. Even dog breeds such as huskies that are bred for colder climates are susceptible if exposure is prolonged.
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