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This past week, our area experienced extremely cold temperatures and power outages. A.J. and Daine Smith with Smith & Sons Heating & Cooling recently had a candid conversation about the recent frigid weather. They have some recommendations and tips to help keep you comfortable during freezing temperatures, and power outages.

  1. If you have a heat pump unit and temperatures drop below 22 degrees, switch your thermostat to emergency heat until the weather warms up. Using emergency heat may cost more for your power bill, but it will save your unit from working too hard and take less energy to run your heat. A.J. said, “We’re conserving some of the lifespan in the compressor by not overworking it.”
  2. If you have a whole house generator, and temperatures are below 22 degrees, cut your heat pump off because heat pumps take up too much power. Daine explained, “If you’ve got a whole house generator, that is great, but that is not a substitute for an auxiliary source of heat.” A.J. inserted, “Generators are bought and sold in KWS. (KWS are the resulting power output a generator can supply based on an engine’s horsepower.) We sell them, and 20 KW is the most common and cost effective size.” Daine expands his explanation, “If you have a home with two heat and air systems, you probably have at least 15, maybe 20 KWS of auxiliary heat. So what that means is it would take the entire generator, so we, we no longer have a refrigerator or any lighting. We’re just running auxiliary heat.” Hearing Smith’s rationale should encourage others to have another form of auxiliary heat, which leads us to the third tip. 
  3. Make sure you have a second source of heat that is safe to use and will not require electricity. Gas logs, space heaters, and kerosene heaters are three types of heating sources you may use. 
  4. Ensure you have enough LP gas or kerosene to operate your second heat source when extreme weather is expected.
  5. Have your generator serviced annually, and after 100 hundred hours of runtime. Also, have your HVAC units serviced once in the heating season and once in the cooling season. “You do not want to wait for extreme weather to ensure everything is running properly,” A.J. noted. Daine added, “Preventative maintenance on those is paramount.”

Next, the father and son explained issues that can arise with water heaters and plumbing during cold weather. Daine said, “Anytime the power is out, or even if it’s just that the heat is out for an extended period of time during freezing weather, a home’s water can freeze. 

He continued, “We had numerous calls with people’s water freezing.”

That brings us to several points.” 

Point number one, an OnDemand LP gas water heater, is protected as long as you have power because there’s a small electric heater in it which keeps that water heater from freezing. Daine said, “Well, if the power goes out, we’ve lost that protection. Now to abate that, our recommendation is to give us a call because there is a way that you can drain the water out of that water heater.” The heat exchanger can bust if the water heater goes without power for too long in extremely cold temperatures. 

 Daine added, “Anytime you have your water system freeze, it needs to be dealt with straight away because it can turn into busted pipes, busted parts, and replacements of things.”

Another tip is to shut the water down, remove the pressure, open all faucets, and wait until it’s warm enough that you’re confident the water has thawed. 

If you’re on well water, then we’re not going to have water until the power comes back on. It’s essential, if we’re going to be down in freezing temperatures, that we put heaters in our pump houses. 

You can also leave a small amount of water running somewhere in your home until the weather warms up to prevent your water from freezing. 

A.J. closed saying, “If you need generator service, HVAC service, water heater service, or gas log services, or if you’re interested in a quote to have any of these items installed, please call us at 910-⁠862-⁠2622. We would love to help you with whatever we can to ensure you stay comfortable.”