The winter and especially the holiday season are meant to be fun: full of family time and beautiful memories. Sometimes it's so easy to get caught up in planning for a few days of festivities that you completely forget to plan for the months of cold weather. Harsh winter weather can lead to winter blackouts due to power outages, and can often lead to bigger issues such as water damage and compromised indoor air quality.
This is even a big deal when you consider that 2014 has been one of the coldest winters in the recorded history of the United States. Polar Vortex, the sequel, brought early winter storms and snow to many areas of the country, including more temperate regions, as early as November. Also, according to weather.com the cold front brought over 400 new record low temperatures and earlier than usual snow falls. 2015 promises to bring more of the same. The Farmers' Almanac, predicts about three-quarters of the nation will see below-normal temperatures for the winter of 2014-15.
Prepare with the Right Supplies
- The biggest problem with power outages that affect your HVAC system during the winter is that you won't have any heat, especially since many homes don't have fireplaces or outside generators. Not only will you get cold, your house will too. So, plan ahead and have the proper supplies for both your house and family.
- Make sure you have plenty of clean, warm clothes for the entire family ready at a moment's notice.
- Insulate exterior facing pipes
- Invest in a battery operated electric stove to ensure you have access to hot food and water.
- Invest in a generator. A back-up generator can supply power for appliances, heating and cooling system, and can keep water running while you wait for energy-grid restoration. It can also prevent sump-pump failure and can supply you with power for usages such as charging your phone for emergency needs.
What to do if you lose power:
If you experience HVAC power problems, you must first figure out the nature of the outage. Is it just the HVAC system that won't go on, or are all the other electrical appliances in your house off, too? If some of the lights are working, then it's possible that your HVAC fuse was blown or a circuit breaker was tripped. If all the electricity is down in your entire house, check with your neighbors to see if they have the same issue, to assess if the problem may be with your utility provider.
How to Restart your HVAC System after a Power Outage:
- Locate HVAC control box and turn the setting(s) to "off". This is important, because upon restarting power, there could be another power surge that overloads and damages the electrical components.
- Take a look at your fuse or circuit breaker box. If you have a fuse system, replace the blown fuse(s). If you have a circuit breaker box, move the HVAC levers from neutral into the "on" position.
- Leave the HVAC system alone for 15-30 minutes, then go back to the HVAC control panel, set the heating to "auto" and move the desired temperature lever to at least 5 degrees above current room temperature, and wait for the heat to turn on.
- If it does not turn on within a couple of minutes, change the setting from "auto" to "on." If the system does kick in after that, it means there could be a problem with your thermostat. However, if it does not, there is likely a deeper electrical issue that must be addressed by an HVAC specialist.
More Info! Check out our post on How to Locate your Furnace.