We count on our heating and cooling systems to keep our homes at a comfortable temperature at all times. That comfort will quickly fade away if the system shuts down during very hot or very cold weather. In the case of a wintertime failure, the system could be dangerous to your home and your health. When that type of breakdown happens, there are some things you need to do right away. Here are some basic steps for reacting when your heat shuts down.
Get Help on the Way
Most jobs involving heat or AC repair are not within the skill set of homeowners. Time is critical as temperatures drop in a heatless home, so don’t waste time searching for DIY options or fumbling around with your heat pump in the dark. Long before a breakdown, get your contractor’s number written down and have it in a handy place so that you can find it immediately. The sooner you call for help, the higher you’ll be on the list.
Close Things Up
Once your heat stops working, you should focus your attention on maintaining the temperature inside the home. That means containing as much of its warmth as possible. Double-check all doors and windows to make sure they’re tightly sealed. Place bath towels against thresholds to limit leakage. Don’t go outside if you don’t need to. Close off unused rooms so that they don’t consume scarce heat, and you might even seal those thresholds with towels too.
Take Care of Pipes
One of the biggest expenses that can follow a heat failure is the damage caused by frozen pipes. Your crawlspace should already be well-protected because it’s not heated even when the system works. The shutdown of your HVAC will expand the list of areas where pipes will be in danger. Think about opening the cabinet doors below kitchen and bathroom sinks and leave a trickle of water going in the furthest sinks in the house.
Establish Backup Heat–Or a Backup Home
Many of these steps should be carried out as you prepare to leave. After all, a house so cold that pipes will freeze is unsafe to stay in. Identify a relative or friend who can host your family until heat is restored, or just get a hotel room and stay there. It’s also possible to get by on space heaters, fireplaces, or other secondary heat sources. Just use them properly and keep them away from combustibles.
Losing your heat on a cold night is a miserable experience, but you can get through it with the minimum inconvenience if you’re prepared.