Dec 5, 2016
How To Winterize Your Home & Vehicles
Whether an unexpected cold snap blows into your area, or you’re hunkering down and preparing for seasonal freezing weather, you’ll need to winterize your home and vehicles. This doesn’t take much time, and can save you a ton of money, heartache and headaches after the freezing rains, chilled winds and snow have left. Use these tips to make sure you winterize your property properly:
Winterizing Your Home
- Inspect Your Furnace – Schedule an appointment to have a service pro come out and inspect your furnace and clean the ducts. Remove all flammable materials and objects from any areas surrounding your furnace. Change your furnace filters once a month. You can also perform some DIY maintenance on your furnace that can help out a lot.
- Prepare Your Fireplace – Scurrying and flying creatures will want to seek refuge from the cold. Cap or screen the top of the chimney to keep them out! You’ll also want to clean your chimney (become your own chimney sweep with these simple tips!) to remove soot. Buy your firewood before the cold arrives, and store it in a dry place.
- Check The Outside – Inspect all exterior windows and doors. Cracks can get worse when it cools off quickly, so you’ll want to get those repaired immediately. Seal up any pipes or cracks to keep cold air out. If you have a basement, cover the windows with plastic shields, and install your storm windows, as well.
- Winter Equipment – It’s time to get out your Winter equipment! Place snow shovels in a convenient spot, and tune-up your snow blower. You also need to drain the gasoline from your lawn mower.
- Foundation Check – Seal up entry points to your house to keep critters away. Any cracks in your foundation need to be sealed, and crawlspace entrances should be blocked. Pests can wreck havoc on your home, so inspect carefully!
- Smoke Alarms – Purchase extra smoke alarm batteries and store them in an easy to find place. Test your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly. Purchase a fire extinguisher, if your existing unit is more than 8 years old.
- Plumbing – Keep your pipes from freezing and cracking! Know where your water main is located, in case you need to shut it off for an emergency. Drain your garden hoses and insulate all exposed plumbing pipes. If your AC has a water shut-off value, turn that off. If you are traveling or leaving for more than 2 days, be sure your thermostat is set to at least 55 degrees.
- Prepare Landscaping – Prune trees that require it, to prevent them from being injured during the Winter. Seal your driveway, deck and patio. Move your potted plants and mobile garden or flower beds inside. Trim trees with branches that extend or hang too closely to your home or electrical wires.
- Start an Emergency Kit – Inclement weather means you need to be prepared for anything. Start preparing your emergency kit with batteries, phone numbers written down (in case device batteries die), candles, matches, bottled water, blankets, dry clothing and first aid items. You may never need this kit. But it’s always better to be prepared!
Winterizing Your Vehicles
- Battery – Cold weather and your battery are not friends, as dropping temperatures make the chemical reactions required to generate power are slowed down a lot. Test your battery to see if it needs replacing, and have any corrosion cleaned up.
- Wipers – Switch out your wiper blades and refill the wiper fluid with a brand that has a lower freezing temperature. If they aren’t working properly, or are old, you won’t be able to see. Winter specific blades can be purchased at auto parts stores.
- Tires – If your tires need replacing and you’ve been putting it off, now is the time to get that done. If your area has heavy snowfall, consider snow tires over all-season tires.
- Tire Pressure – Cold weather causes air pressure in your tires to drop. Make sure you check your tire pressure at least once a week during the season so you have safe traction!
- Four-Wheel Drive – If your 4WD isn’t working properly, driving on icy or snowy roads could be hazardous. Have your mechanic check to make sure it’s in good condition.
- Anti-Freeze – Your anti-freeze mixture should be equal parts anti-freeze and water. An anti-freeze tester can be purchased at auto part stores.
- Oil – Cold weather reduces oil efficiency. The colder it gets, the thicker the oil gets, so it can’t move through your engine as easily. Changing the oil and viscosity of the oil will help your car start up and run much easier.
- Belts & Hoses – Check for signs of cracks and wear & tear on all belts and hoses. Replace them immediately before driving in cold weather. If they snap, you’ll be out a lot of money and be left stranded.
- Emergency Kit – Put an emergency kit in your trunk. This should include jumper cables, a flashlight, road flares or orange triangles, blankets, an ice scraper, bottles of water, a first aid kit, and a shovel.
*Use these same tips for winterizing boats, SeaDos, motorcycles and other vehicles.
Just as you prepare for Winter with heavy coats, mittens and wood for the fireplace, your home and vehicles need a little preparation, too. Cold weather can cause serious damage to your property, so follow these steps before cold weather hits, to ensure a healthy home and running vehicles.