Winterize your Ideal Home now

December 22, 2021

Baby, it’s cold outside! Now that it's officially the first day of winter... cool temps will be giving way to winter freeze warnings. But you can get ahead in winter by prepping your home with these tips from our Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods Customer Care director, Ron Olson. Most of these winterizing steps are easy, inexpensive, do-it-yourself chores that will save you from costly damage in the spring and save you money on your utility bills during the cold winter months.

Disconnect hoses and cover your outside faucets
It is important to be sure to disconnect all hoses connected to your outdoor faucets, including quick connect/disconnect valves, timers, and anything else that screws onto the faucet. Cover the faucets with a Styrofoam protective insulated cover to protect pipes connected to the faucet from freezing. Covers are available at any hardware store or superstore (like Walmart) for about five dollars each. “Faucets can freeze in the winter and you won’t know about pipe problems until you try to use your faucet in the spring,” says Olson. “These covers will help save a lot of headaches and money on an expensive repair.”

Water your lawn before the freeze
Grass, shrubs, and trees need water even through the winter months, so be sure to water once a week only when above freezing, even when sod is dormant. When you’ve finished watering each time, make sure to turn off the faucets completely and replace the Styrofoam cover for protection (see above).

Winterizing your outdoor sprinkler system
It is important to turn off the main ball valve on your sprinkler system a quarter turn going into the backflow preventer.  This will be located approximately 6” before the backflow on a PEX line. Drain test cock, run a test cycle through the entire program (1-2 mins per zone). After the cycle is complete turn the controller back to the off position. Option two: the backflow is located under Dekora fake rock.

  1. Locate the main shut-off in the yard and turn the ball valve ¼ of a turn to shut the water off to the backflow.  This will be in a 6” green round box located in the front yard.  They are usually near the sewer cleanouts, along the flower bed, or out by the water meter.  *If there are wires in the valve box. Don’t turn or pull anything.  That is the wrong box*
  2. Open both test cock on the backflow to drain the water.  
  3. Make sure heat tape and sensor (If applicable) are wrapped properly on the PVC and backflow.
  4. Check the GFCI plug to make sure it is not tripped.  This will have to be checked throughout the season to make sure it was not tripped at any point.
  5. Place insulation bag over backflow
  6. Re-install the Dekora fake rock.
  7. Run test cycle through the entire program.  1-2 minutes per zone is good.
  8. After the test cycle is done.  Turn the controller off.

Do not turn the ball valves on the backflow off. This can sometimes trap water in the backflow and cause it to freeze. Sprinkler systems can be blown out using compressed air for extra safety precautions. This is a service Riemer & Son can provide.  

Check heat tape
Be sure the heat tape at both the furnace and the sprinkler system valve is not tripped. If it is, the orange light will be off on the furnace. To reset, peel the tape back on the plug and push down the reset button. Also, make sure the GFCI that the heat tape is plugged into is not tripped. That way, the condensate lines in your Ideal home will still be protected from freezing and bursting.

Turning on your furnace for the first time
Make sure to have your furnace inspected by a licensed HVAC vendor before turning it on for the first time each winter. They check for gas leaks as well as ensure your unit is in peak working order for the winter.

Change HVAC filters
Changing your HVAC filters every month is a necessity for your unit to run at peak efficiency. Clean filters improve airflow throughout the house and keep your thermostat from running long periods of time, which means higher utility bills. Keep the thermostat fan control in the circulate (CIRC) position to prevent too much fresh air from being pulled into the house through the fresh air vent. This will help maintain a comfortable temperature level.

Adjust your exterior door thresholds
Make sure there’s no daylight showing under all exterior doors. The thresholds on these doors are adjustable. If your Ideal home is still under warranty, call Customer Care and we’ll send a technician to make the adjustment for you. If you do it yourself, there are adjustment screws covered by a vinyl button on the bottom of the exterior doors. Remove the vinyl button with a putty knife and turn the screw in small increments until the sweep no longer shows daylight. Turning the screw the other way lowers it.

Ceiling fans can help
Since heat rises, reverse your ceiling fans to push the heated air from the ceiling area down to your level and help heat the room. Check directions for your fan but changing the fan direction is simply a matter of flipping a switch on the exterior of the fan motor. Be sure the fan is off before putting your hands close to the blades! It is best to keep the fan on low to help distribute air throughout the house and make the temperature more consistent.

There’s nothing quite like a cozy fire when the temperature drops. Instructions for how to light the pilot is in your Ideal Homes Quick Service Guide.

Ice or snow

  • When temperatures are extreme like last winter, let interior faucets drip slowly, and flush toilets frequently (especially if they are on an outer wall) to prevent water lines from freezing.
  • Use only sand for traction on exterior concrete surfaces like driveways and sidewalks. Do not use rock salt or ice melt, as they are corrosive to concrete.
  • Caulk any cracks greater than a quarter-inch wide in concrete surfaces; this prevents water from penetrating and then busting up the concrete.
  • Before opening your overhead garage door, make sure no ice is coating the door. Chip off any sleet or shovel snow around the garage door BEFORE pushing the opener button to prevent damaging your door.

Following these simple guidelines can help keep your Ideal home cozy and warm all winter long. Snuggle up with a mug of hot cocoa and your favorite movie with the peace of mind a little winterizing can give!

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