KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — After a warmer December than usual, experts say now is the time to protect your home from the winter weather, before it’s too late. Before the temperatures in the teens settle in later in the week, now is the time to make sure the heat in your home is safely working.


Jason Charkosky, owner of J.C.’s Heating and Air, said this is a busy time of year, just because people find out too late when their heat is broken.

“You’re going to work it harder of course when it gets down to 30, 32 degrees or something. So, you know, and it’s just not used to working as much,” Charkosky said.

Charkosky said in East Tennessee, his company usually receives calls for gas systems or heat pumps, but mainly gas systems. He said people need to be careful with gas systems, because if turned on when broken, it could be dangerous.

“Somebody’s heat keeps going out. You need to check that for any kind of cracks or holes in the heat exchanger, because that could be definitely poisoning. Carbon monoxide poisoning,” Charkosky said.

He said before the below-freezing temperatures set in, people need to change their air filters, check the batteries in the thermostat and call a professional if the heat was turned on, but not working. Pipes are also another important item to check before the cold weather blows through.


“So the worst things that we see happening during a cold snap or a deep freeze is when someone has piping, a significant amount of piping in their attic, or a very poorly insulated crawl space,” Kelton Balka, Master Plumber with Tennessee Standard Plumbing and Drain Experts, said.

He said the most common call they receive after winter weather blows through is that the water isn’t coming out of the sinks. To prevent that, Balka said to first make sure garden hoses are taken off the spigots, then cover the spigots with insulation.

“They have some water sitting in the back of them, that wind is going through there, they can really drop in temperature, and if it freezes the water, it only takes a little but of ice to ‘poof,’ blow a pipe right,” Balka said.

Next, check the house for any exposed pipes. Balka said he usually finds those in the attic or crawl space. He said insulation isn’t enough to keep those exposed pipes warm.

“If you’ve got that exposed pipe outside or in your attic, or somewhere where you know it’s susceptible to freeze, put heat tape on it. You can get it from any local home service store. Put the heat tape on it, wrap it in insulation, tape it up real good and that gives you the absolute best shot of not having a burst pipe and a flood in your home,” Balka said.

Another safety measure to take is letting the faucets closest to the outside or exposed pipes drip warm water the night before a freeze.

He said running water can’t freeze, or at least not fast enough to cause damage, and running the water is better than a flooded home. Pay attention to the signs of a frozen or burst pipe. Balka said quick reaction to either could be the difference between a flood or a sprinkle.

“Waters not coming out fast enough, or it’s intermittent, or there’s air in it. When, when things are thawing out and you feel like you might have had some damage to it, go to your whole home shut off, shut the water off to your home and call a professional out,” Balka said.

Balka said another time to give them a call is when you know you won’t be home during a freeze and won’t have the heat turned on. His crews can come in, drain the pipes and pump them with a winterizing solution to prevent them from freezing.