7 Important Things to Do When it Freezes in North Texas

Jan 16, 2024

You’ve just heard the news: another big freeze is coming. If you’ve lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area or anywhere in North Texas, you know that this is not unusual. Cold snaps are nothing new here; we tend to get about 29 days of freezing temperatures a year. As common as frigid weather is, it may be easy to overlook the things you should do before winter arrives. After all, below-zero temperatures often come with freezing rain, sleet and occasional snow, which can cause unsafe roadways and potential power outages. That’s why preparing for this kind of weather is always a great idea. Read on to see some of the key things you need to do before and during the next North Texas winter freeze.

Before It Freezes in North Texas

The best time to prepare for the cold in North Texas is before the arctic fronts from Canada send down freezing temperatures. Usually by December, much of the region has experienced a few days a few days of below-zero temperatures, which is why you should aim to take the following steps by the end of November.


Get Your Heater & Fireplace Serviced

As much as winter conjures pleasant thoughts of cups of hot cocoa and the shining lights of Christmas, our heaters are critical to keeping us comfortable throughout the season. If your heater stops working during a freeze, your home’s internal temperature may quickly fall to the point of being hazardous. The last thing you want is to have your heater go out when the temperature drops below freezing.


Dirty blowers and air filters, malfunctioning thermostats, insufficient amounts of refrigerants and problematic ductwork can all cause your heater to fail at the worst possible time. Routine maintenance can catch all these issues, which is why you should call your HVAC company well before there’s a potential for chilly weather. Beyond giving your heater the best chance to make it through the winter, proper maintenance, sufficient air sealing and insulation and optimal thermostat settings can help you save as much as 30% on your electricity bill.


Far more than a backup option if your heater fails, fireplaces are just as important to maintain. Your fireplace system may have a buildup of creosote or even gaps that can leak carbon monoxide that can only be detected during an inspection. Improperly maintained fireplaces can lead to house fires, which is why it’s a good idea to have your unit checked out before you truly need it. 


Gather Emergency Supplies Early

Preparing for bad weather in North Texas, no matter what season it is, means having the right supplies on hand. If you wait until a winter storm or freezing weather is in the forecast, you may find it difficult to round up supplies as you won’t be the only one shopping for the essentials. Even if stores do have supplies, a winter storm could knock out the power or cause road closures that can make getting what you need difficult.


The earlier you can put your emergency supplies together, the better off you’ll be. Here’s an essential list to get you started:


●       Maps of Texas, the Dallas-Fort Worth Area and the North Texas region

●       More than one gallon of water per person in your home

●       Blankets, sleeping bags and warm clothing

●       Flashlights with extra batteries

●       Handheld radio with extra batteries

●       Rock salt to melt ice and sand or kitty litter for traction on concrete

●       One ice scraper and snow brush per car

●       First aid kit with organized prescription medications

●       Fire extinguisher – opt for a Type ABC extinguisher that is meant to deal with electrical equipment, flammable liquid and ordinary combustible fires

●       Dry, seasoned wood if you have a wood-burning fireplace


To see what kinds of emergency winter supplies you should get for your car, check out the National Weather Service’s guidelines.


Wrap Pipes & Check Your Insulation

When you see that a freeze is imminent, one of the first things you should do is insulate the pipes in your attic. Sustained below-freezing temperatures can freeze pipes, cutting off water flow and potentially leading to a major water leak that can cause substantial damage. You can’t control the temperature, but you can prepare for the cold by wrapping the pipes in the unheated areas of your home with insulating foam that you can find at your local home improvement store. Pipe insulation comes in tubes that fit right over pipes and is easy to cut to size. As a final step, remove water hoses and other connections to exterior piping to prevent damage.


While you’re checking the pipe insulation, also make sure you have adequate insulation in the attic. It’s well known that insulation can reduce energy costs by helping the heated air stay inside where it’s needed. However, the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association estimates that 90% of American homes are under-insulated. Attic insulation should be in between and over the floor joists to provide adequate insulation. Also, make sure your insulation is the correct R-value, which is a measure of the insulation factor. The recommended R-value in North Texas is R30, but your home may need more if it’s an older property.


Other Ways to Prepare for Winter Weather in Advance

The three pieces of advice above apply to virtually every household in North Texas. Yet there are a few other preventative steps you can take to make sure that you make it through the next freeze comfortably.


●       Make sure you always have ample heating fuel (if needed)

●       Bring potted plants indoors

●       Cover outdoor plants with frost cloth

●       Check the weatherstripping around exterior windows and doors - replace as needed

●       Turn the fan into the winter position (going clockwise) to better circulate warm air

●       Know where the main water shutoff valve is located and how to turn it off

●       Make sure you have a warm shelter for pets or the ability to bring them indoors


What to do When it Freezes in North Texas

Whether or not you get caught by a winter storm before having a chance to prepare, there are things you can do to keep yourself and your property safe during a freeze. Even if there is no sleet or snow, freezing temperatures warrant taking the precautions below.


Prevent Frozen Pipes by Setting Your Faucets to Drip

Watch a nightly news forecast before a freeze and you’ll likely hear this tip at the top of their list of to-do’s. That’s for a good reason. Ice can form in pipes if it’s 20 degrees Fahrenheit outside. Fortunately, it can’t develop in moving water and even a small amount of water flow is enough to prevent it from happening. Dripping water from your faucets is an easy way to prevent pipe leaks and bursts that can quickly become expensive. Make sure you use cold water here, as warm water may run up your electricity bill.


Maintaining constant water flow in your pipes can go a long way toward preventing freezes. You’ll also want to open your kitchen and bathroom cabinets to expose your plumbing to warm air and avoid opening your garage door if you have any water lines there. Should you try to use a faucet and you only get a trickle of water, you may have a frozen pipe. The American Red Cross suggests you keep the faucet open as you locate and start treating the area of the pipe that is frozen. You can apply a hot towel to the frozen section or warm it with an electric hair dryer. Normal water flow should be restored as the ice melts.


Bundle Up & Run the Heater at a Consistent Temperature<

Consistency is key when you want to keep your home warm without running up the electric bill. Lowering and raising the temperature makes the heater work harder to adjust, which decreases energy efficiency and can prematurely wear out the components.


For peak energy conservation, the Public Utilities Commission of Texas suggests keeping the heater at 68 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the day. If you’re cold, bundle up with a blanket and a hot drink or cook in the kitchen to warm up your home instead of increasing the temperature on the heater. During the day, you can let the sunlight warm your home by drawing the curtains back during the day. A space heater is an option as well, but never leave it unsupervised. Space heaters are the leading cause of home fires that are started by heating equipment.


Stay Home If You Can

People tend to hunker down at home when it’s cold out. That’s a good thing during a winter storm. Even a short freeze can create dangerous road conditions, especially in North Texas where people aren’t prepared for it. Plus, staying in allows you to monitor the situation at home and hopefully prevent damage from occurring.


While you’re at home, charge your cell phones and other devices and write down a list of essential phone numbers. This should include Oncor, the Transmission and Distribution Utility (TDU) for North Texas who you would contact if you have a power outage. If you do have to leave home when it’s snowing or icy out, check the road conditions first. Local news outlets should have up-to-date reports, or you can visit DriveTexas.org for updates that are in near real-time.


Stay Informed During the Freeze with These Local DFW Resources


Getting Through the Winter in North Texas is All About Being Prepared for Anything

Freezing weather is not uncommon in Dallas, Fort Worth and throughout North Texas. It may not be accompanied by inches of snow and sleet, but low temperatures can still be unsafe for you, your family and your home. The best way to avoid winter weather problems is to prepare in advance. Make sure your home is well insulated, heating equipment is running smoothly and you have the supplies you need in case you have to stay inside for an extended period.


Lone Star Energy is here for you no matter how low the temperature gets. Explore our website for more information on staying warm this winter and how to sign up for a Lone Star Energy electricity plan whether you call Dallas, Arlington or Fort Worth home.