Preparing for a Chilly Night

You are safe indoors, enjoying the sanctuary that the warmth of your home’s furnace offers you away from the cold of winter. Not to break up that comfortable scenario, but it’s always good to keep in mind you are just a power outage or mechanical breakdown away from experiencing the chill of the outdoors creeping inside.

Plan ahead for the unexpected — which isn’t likely to happen at a convenient time, if there is such a thing in the wintertime – and you’ll have some peace of mind from the worry of a cold, furnace-less frosty night.

Get to know your heating system before that time when suddenly it’s an emergency. You probably already know what powers your furnace, whether you have electric, natural gas, propane, or whatever, so you’ll know what fuel to check if the system shuts down. Do you simply need a fuel refill, or is the electric power out in the neighborhood? These are relatively simple, although not always convenient, fixes.

When trying to locate the source of the loss of heat, check the thermostat to make sure it hasn’t somehow been turned down too low or broken down itself. If you have a steam heating system, turn off the unit, check the water level in the boiler and add water slowly if it is low. In a forced air heating system reset the circuit breaker if it is tripped. In hot water systems, check that all temperature and pressure gauges are set to normal and clear system of excess air. In a gas furnace, check that the pilot light is on and relight if necessary.

Obviously, you need to get the heat back on ASAP, and not only because of personal comfort. Your pipes can freeze, and there can also be structural and cosmetic damage caused to the non-winter ready parts of the home if the temperature goes too low. If there is a supplemental source of heat available, turn it up to get as much warmth as you can. Light your fireplace if you have one. Close the curtains and make sure any openings under the doors are covered with towels or blankets to keep the heat inside the home. And try to keep everybody bundled together in a warm area of the house until the heat is back on.

It’s also a good idea to know your piping system. The pipes carrying water through the house need to be protected from the cold, so cabinet doors under your sinks should be opened to allow the warm air to get to the pipes. Hang a towel between the wall and the pipes to insulate them from the cold. Turn on your faucets so the hot water drips slightly but constantly — that will keep the water inside flowing and will inhibit the buildup of ice. If pipes aren’t already covered, wrap them with insulation or newspaper and then plastic to keep out any moisture.

Be prepared in advance for this situation and enjoy a worry-free good night’s sleep knowing you will be able to act quickly and efficiently in getting your heating problems resolved. And if you can’t do it yourself, be sure to call Family Danz at for expert service.