Tips for home, car in cold weather

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Angie’s List has provided the following tips for keeping your car and home prepared for severe cold weather:

Protect your pipes

  • Open your cabinet doors. Allow the warm air of your home to circulate under the sink in both your kitchen and in the bathrooms. The warm air will help heat the pipes and ensure the water is flowing smoothly.
  • Insulate. Pipes will burst when the water freezes. It is especially common for pipes to be affected as they run through unheated crawl spaces, garages or in outside walls. Before winter’s arrival, make sure these locations have proper insulation. You can purchase pipe insulation at most hardware stores, or use electric heating tape when inclement weather is predicted. Be sure to seal all seams with tape to prevent the cold air from blowing in.
  • Leave faucets trickling. Moving water doesn’t freeze as easily. If you allow faucets to trickle when low temperatures are forecasted, you may avoid freezing water in your pipes.
  • Turn off the main valve. When you plan to leave for long periods of time, shut off the water supply by turning off the main valve.
  • Detach hoses. Outside hoses can retain water. Make sure to remove them from outside faucets in order to prevent the pipes from freezing and causing damage.
  • Make inspections. Since it is colder outside, the heater has to work harder to keep the water warm, so check your water heater and all connections to make sure it is in tip-top shape. Test the pressure release valve and remove any sediment build-up.

Stranded in the car

  • Run the motor for about 10 minutes per hour and crack your window to let air in.
  • To reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, make sure that snow is not blocking your exhaust pipe.
  • Tie something bright to the antenna so rescuers will spot you.

Avoid Tow Truck Rip-offs

  • Reputation matters: Do a little research before the snow flies. Check Angie’s List to find towing companies in your area and read other members’ experiences with them. Add the numbers of a couple of reputable towing services to your cell phone so that you have good help literally at your fingertips.
  • Don’t call me, I’ll call you: Beware the truck driver who shows up unannounced in an unmarked vehicle offering to drag your car out of the ditch. In states that require a towing license, reputable towing companies will display their Department of Transportation certification number on their tow truck. That certification indicates the company is insured and certified for the job. Should something go even more wrong, you’re covered. Licensing of tow trucks varies by state. To find out if it’s required where you live, consult our handy Angie’s List License Check online tool.
  • Fair weather pricing: You shouldn’t have to pay a surcharge because it’s cold. If your vehicle is in a really tricky spot and will require a lot of extra work or time, expect that cost to grow. Ask before you hire if the company accepts credit card payments. Some may require cash.Get a cost estimate upfront before you arrange for the driver to come to you, and if the estimate seems out of whack from the average, call another company.
  • Oh Snap!: If you have a smart phone or camera, take a picture of your car before the driver gets there so you can have a record of what it looked like before and after the work.
  • Sign off: When you sign off on the job, make sure your signature is right below the dollar amount you’re to be charged to minimize the chances that additional charges will be added in there without your knowledge.
  • Document: Once the job is done, insist on both an invoice and a copy of your receipt to ensure you’re billed for authorized charges only.
  • Already covered?: Check your auto insurance to determine if you’re paying for roadside assistance and the process you follow. If you belong to a third party assistance organization, be sure you understand your coverage.

Car Prep

Make sure you’re properly prepared ahead of time by checking different parts of your car and stocking for an emergency.

  • Tire tread — Air pressure in tires decreases in cold weather so get them checked out. Tires should not be worn down to less than 1/16 of an inch. Check tires once a week and make sure your tires are properly rotated and aligned. You might want to check into snow tires.
  • Warm it up — Let your car warm up 1 to 2 minutes so the oil can circulate throughout the vehicle.
  • Frozen out — If your lock freezes up, use a light or match to heat the key. You can also use a lock de-icer. To keep your doors from freezing shut, your best bet is to keep your car in a garage. But if you don’t have a garage you can apply a coat of petroleum jelly to the door’s hinges and latches. You can also place a plastic trash bag between the door or window glass and the frame. Do not throw hot water on the car: It will freeze.
  • Emergency kit — Stock your trunk with a snow shovel, an ice scraper, jumper cables, a flashlight, a blanket, bag of sand/kitty litter, clothing, water, nonperishable food and a can of tire inflator.
  • Check your fluids — Replace your antifreeze every two years. Check your oil. Make sure your water pumps and thermostats work. Check radiators and hoses for cracks and leaks and test heaters and defrosters for proper operation. Always keep the gas as full as possible.
  • Battery — Make sure terminals are clean and tightened. If you suspect your battery won’t survive the season, have a mechanic check it out.

Power outages

  • Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. An unopened freezer should keep food frozen up to 48 hours. Food should remain cold in an unopened refrigerator for 24 hours. If power is out for a long period of time, use snowdrifts as a makeshift freezer for food.
  • Unplug all equipment that will automatically turn on when power is restored or that may become damaged due to voltage irregularities.
  • Use flashlights for emergency lighting. Do not use candles.
  • Do not run a generator inside a home or garage. The carbon monoxide in enclosed spaces can be deadly.

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