ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) — With the potential for winter weather on Thursday, Dec. 22, and temperatures in the teens, the American Automobile Association is reminding homeowners and renters that preparation is essential to avoiding wintertime repairs.

According to AAA, prolonged periods of below-freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on a home’s heating system, plumbing, and exterior features.

“If you are traveling for the holidays this year, it’s pivotal you ensure your home is protected from the extreme cold before you leave” said Nick Chabarria, AAA Spokesperson. “Taking small steps now can help you avoid high repair costs and headaches down the road.”

Follow these steps if you are going to be away from home during extreme cold:

  • Let water drip from the faucet. This will help provide relief from the excessive pressure that builds between the faucet and any ice blockage.
  • Keep kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors open to allow warmer air to circulate around your plumbing.
  • Leave your heat on, keeping the thermostat set above 55°.
  • Use an insulated sleeve to cover any exposed exterior water pipes (sprinkler, pool supply lines, etc.) or interior water pipes (basement, crawl spaces, etc.).
  • Remove hoses from exterior faucets
  • Repair or replace weather stripping around windows and doors, vents and fans, plumbing, air conditioners and electrical and gas lines.
  • Use caulk or insulation to seal all cracks, holes and other openings on exterior walls.
  • Well-insulated basements and crawl spaces will help protect pipes. Close foundation vents and windows to basements. Wrap vulnerable pipes with pipe insulation.
  • Know where your water shutoff valve is so that you can turn off the water in case of an emergency.
  • Close your wood-burning fireplace flue damper when you’re not using it. Follow all manufacturer instructions for gas fireplaces including those with pilot lights, which may require the flue to be partially open at all times.

To keep up with all the latest winter weather coverage, visit the KNWA/FOX24 weather page.