It’s been a decade since Anchorage has experienced such a long stretch of subzero weather. It’s a good reminder that we live in the Arctic and need to plan and take good care of our homes. Frozen and burst water pipes are one of the most common problems and can end up costing thousands in repair dollars. Most Anchorage homes have crawl spaces and a good prevention is to wrap the pipes with insulation. Also, open kitchen and bathroom cabinets to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes. Simply turning on your faucets to a slow drip keeps the water flowing. If your pipes do burst, immediately turn off the water. Right now, our local plumbers are so busy, you may have to wait a few days before help arrives.
And turn up your heat! Keep your thermostat at a minimum of 65 degrees. My recommendation is actually 72 degrees. Do not use space heaters or your oven for added heat. Neither one is designed for heating your home. Space heater temperatures are difficult to control and can easily be forgotten or tip over. Many of us have fireplaces or wood stoves. Make sure there are no combustible items near the heat source and keep the flues closed. If you haven’t had the chimney professionally cleaned, it’s not too late to get it done.
Many Alaskans like to take a winter break this time of year. Please ask a neighbor, friend or family member to regularly check the home while you are away. And that’s not just a drive-by but a quick look inside to run some faucets and check the heat. However, if a friend or family member is not available you can purchase a home freeze alarm which is a remote temperature monitoring device for inside your home. There are several models but one is available for as little as $69.99.
Outside the home, keep sidewalks, entrances and driveways free from snow and ice. Make sure your garage door closes when you leave the house. Ice and snow build up can sometimes prevent them from closing. And make sure the door from the garage to the house is well-insulated and securely closed. Outdoor faucets need to be tightly turned off and gutter downspouts need to be closely monitored for ice built up so that when it warms up, water doesn’t seep into the foundation.
Finally, check your roof. Over the past decade, flat roofs have become more popular. This year Anchorage hasn’t had an extremely heavy snow fall. But if it should come, purchase a roof rake with a long handle to remove packed snow while standing firmly on the ground. For a heavy snow, hire a professional because your roof could be seriously damaged by hiring strangers or the kids next door. A really heavy snow may also require it to be trucked off the lot. Otherwise, you can lose a lot of perimeter trees which is what happened to my landscaping a decade ago.
Warm up this weekend and visit me at an open house. Saturday I will be at two John Hagmeier ranch homes in Eagle Pointe with incredible mountain views and Sunday you can find me in a luxurious hillside home built by Alexander Homes with unobstructed inlet, mountain and city views.