Winterizing Your Vehicle

Cold weather could be harsh on everybody, hard on your home, yard and garden and vehicles. Cars exposed to cold weather have the possibility of having the engines not work properly. Wheels and tires could get damaged, and the paint or the body of the car could develop rust. Winterizing or winterization is the process of preparing your property, in this situation, your car for the harsh temperature of the winter.

There are easy steps that you could do when winterizing your car.

• Tire Check

Roads are difficult during winter, if your tires are worn out then braking, acceleration and controlling the tires could be difficult. This could lead to car crashes. Get a new set of winter tires. They may not totally save you from crashes but it could help your car improve its traction on the slippery surfaces than your regular car tires.

Tire pressure is also important. Having the tires properly inflated would ensure that the tires are in contact with the road. Proper tire pressure would ensure that the tires would not be damaged by potholes.

• Engine oil

Engine oil depends on how hot or cold the engine is. The temperature surrounding the engine would have an impact on what kind of oil should be used for this kind of condition or climate. For example, during winter the temperature are much lower. You could need a kind of engine oil which has less viscosity. Different oils would have different viscosity or how thick or thin the oil is. A thick oil does not circulate properly especially if it is cold. However, be careful not to get something which is too thin. You could check the car’s manual to have an idea how thick or thin oil you would need for the winter.

• Check visibility

In any kind of weather, visibility is essential. But during winter, it is very important. Inspect the wipers and the wiper fluid to ensure that they are working properly. If your wipers date back to more than a year, then it is time for some replacement. Also check the wiper fluid. You do not want to run out of it while in the middle of the road and snow.

You would also like to check if all of your car’s lights are working. Aside from seeing okay from your car, you would also like your car to be seen perfectly by opposite traffic.

• Battery check

Cold weather would normally reduce your battery life by as much as 50%. Test your car batteries if they would be able to survive through the winter. If it is more than three years with you, then time to have it tested to see if there would be no problems.

• De-icing

Frozen locks are another problem. You could always buy some glycerine from hardware, auto part stores and even some discount stores. Glycerine can be used for de-icing. Keep a bottle handy in your garage and in your car compartment box.

• Check your coolants

Cold weather can cause car parts to become brittle and frail. Make sure that the cooling system gets checked every two years or unless specified by the vehicle manufacturer. You could check the car manual for that. This would help corrosion from building up in your cooling system. Coolants would require mixture of anti-freeze and water, depending on the temperature. Again, check your car manual for this information.

• Emergency kit

It pays to be careful and prepared. Think about storing important things in your trunk, aside from car tires and some tools. Be prepared. Have some blankets, boots, radio, extra engine oil and coolant and a flashlight may come in handy. Winterizing your car will not totally prevent any danger, being caught in snow storms or in snow banks would require you to be prepared.

Winterizing Your RV: A How-To Guide

The fall season, just when the summer’s up and all the getaways are done, is the best time to park your RV and prepare it for hibernation during winter. Although you can pay someone to do it for you, winterizing your RV on your own is quite a satisfying adventure. Sure, it would entail some amount of hard work, but it guarantees you a hands-on maintenance and, of course, savings.

If this is your first time winterizing, don’t be overwhelmed by the task. Think of it as a routine RV check up. To help you, here’s an RV winterizing guideline.

1. Mind the plumbing. A great part of the RV winterizing tasks deals with preventing winter-frozen water lines and pipes, but all these are manageable. First, drain the fresh water tank by opening the faucets until all water comes out. Do the same to the showers, toilet tanks, and bowls. You can use an air compressor to help you siphon out all the water. Then, by-pass your water heater using a by-pass kit provided by the RV manufacturer. To prevent the remaining water from freezing, treat it with RV antifreeze solution.

Pump the antifreeze solution into the water system using a pump conversion kit, which uses a tube that transports the solution from its container into the water system. Then, check if the solution has been flushed into the water system by opening one faucet at a time. If the faucet releases something pink (the color of antifreeze solution), it means the antifreeze solution has made its way into the water system. See if all the faucets, showers, and toilet sinks and bowls do the same. Finally, pour around four to five ounces of antifreeze into the drains.

2. Clean the RV. All consumable items—food, beverages, medicines, and the likes—should be disposed of. Remember, rodents are likely to be looking for a snug place to spend the winter, and all these items attract them to your RV. You don’t want your RV to be their choice of home because, as you know, rodents have a notorious reputation of messing up any place they end up living in. To keep them out and all the other nasty insects, close every tiny hole they may use to get through with brass wool or aluminum.

3. Turn off all appliances. The refrigerator, particularly, should be thoroughly cleaned. Get rid of all its contents and keep it open to allow air circulation and prevent it from stinking. The air conditioner is also another concern. Clean before shutting it down for the winter and cover it with plastic.

4. Have a moisture control at hand. Some RV owners use chemical absorbents inside the RV to prevent moisture and consequently the development of mold and mildew. Others, meanwhile, find charcoal as effective.

5. Cover the RV. This will protect the RV from snow and water. But make sure to use the cover that doesn’t trap moisture inside. Some advise getting a cover made of breathable materials.

6. Have a double check-up. Even if you think you’ve done all you need to do in winterizing your RV, it doesn’t hurt to re-check things. See if there is an unplugged appliance, if one window is open, if a light is turned on, etc. This can assure you that there’ll be no heartbreaking and unnecessary surprises waiting for you come springtime.

Winterizing Your Pool: How To Keep It From Winter Damage

Winter is not the best time for your pool, so before the snowy season comes in with full force, you should prepare your pool for the tough weather. Winterizing your pool guarantees you that it would survive the season and be spared from possible winter damages.

Pools differ from one another, that is why it is best to consult your pool manufacturer about properly winterizing your pool. But although that’s the case, there are general guidelines in winterizing pools, which would give you a good head start. Here’s a few of them:

1. Remove any deck equipment. This includes ladders, diving boards, rails, and slides. Store them in places where they will be secure and away from the harsh weather.

2. Check the water’s chemical balance. The pH level should be anywhere between 7.2 to 7.6; alkalinity, 80 to 120 ppm; and calcium hardness, 180 to 220 ppm. If the water chemistry is unbalanced, you run the risk of damaging the pool surface. Chemical winterizing kits, which contain the necessary chemical treatments, are available from pool supply stores. Use them as instructed in the product label.

3. Blow out the water from pumping, heating, and filtering systems. You can use a shop vac or air compressor to do this job. Make sure all water comes out. By draining these systems, you avoid the possibility of freezing water and cracking the lines.

4. Lower the water level. This is necessary if your pool has tile liner, because when the water expands, it can push outward and may crack the tile. Keep the water 4 to 6 inches below the skimmer. However, if you have drained your underground pipes and are using gizzmos to plug the skimmer, there is no need to lower the water lever. Remember, the higher the water, the better for the pool to hold the cover.

5. Clean the pool. Remove leaves and other debris using a filter or net. Some owners prefer not to clean the pool, especially if there’s only a few floating debris, and clean it only upon opening the pool in the spring. That would be a logical choice since there is always the possibility of debris getting their way into the pool. However, it is still advisable to clean the pool before closing it for winter to ensure you of clean water come spring.

6. Cover the pool. This will keep debris out of the pool and prevent algae build-up. Pool covers come in different varieties and likewise offer various advantages and disadvantages. Regardless, choose the cover that provides the most protection and fits your pool the best. When installing the cover, make sure the wire is tight enough, so no amount of wind can topple off the cover and expose your pool. To provide support, you can use air pillow or any other floating devices. These devices absorb ice expansion in the pool and prevent the pool sides from cracking.

Be extra careful when winterizing your pool. If you have any questions, contact your pool manufacturer or any pool expert. Don’t take chances, as repairs are painfully costly.

Prepping Up: Winterizing Your Lawn

Here comes the cold season. It is now time to prepare our homes, cars and our selves for the low temperatures. But what about our beloved garden and lawn? Winterizing your lawn and garden is all about keeping it thriving or alive until the following year. Contrary to what most people think, winter does not kill your lawn or your garden. During this period, the grasses are just hibernating, like some animals during winter.

Timing is important when winterizing. You do not want to have your lawn deprived of any kind of nutrients or vitamins while the ground is not yet freezing. Give adequate time for your grass and lawn to absorb as much sunlight and other nutrients they can.

• Rake leaves and clear the lawn of any kind of debris to allow more sunlight to be absorbed by the grass. Check with the local waste management council about the disposal of garden and lawn wastes, there are some states and locations where it is illegal to include yard trimmings in the trash. Leaving the trimmings could cause the mildew and molds to develop.

• You could use weed control in your lawn even if they will be covered with snow. Just like grasses, weeds still grow. By using weed control, the weeds would not return in spring.

• Another thing to check on your lawns when winterizing would be the pH levels. You would need to attain a balanced levels of nutrients in your soil, this would ensure that the lawn will be absorbing the nutrients or fertilizers in the soil and prepare for growth during spring.

• Fertilizing the soil to prepare for the winter is also important. When looking for winter lawn fertilizer, it is high in potassium. Potassium encourages the growth of roots, no the growth of leaves and flowers. Fertilizing the soil is usually recommended to start after September or October. If you would be fertilizing too late, the grass could still continue grow and eventually be damaged by frost.

• Aerating is also important when winterizing your lawn. Grass tends to be compressed and the packets in the soil where oxygen could be easily available to the roots. Oxygen is essential when roots and plants are breaking down the sugars stored from their photosynthesis. You could use punch-core aerator which is commonly used in golf courses. Aside from that, raking could also mildly aerate the soils.

• A thin layer of thatch is good for the lawn but if the layer of thatch exceeds more that ½ inch, then it could cause problems with your lawn. It could limit the flow of air which could eventually cause diseases and fungal problems.

With proper winterizing your lawn will be able to survive harsh climates. Winterizing your lawn may require a lot of work, but when spring comes, you would see the difference and the advantage of preparing for the winter. If your lawn is not that well cared for, then winterizing would help in rejuvenating your lawn and making it easier to manage during spring.

Winterizing Your House: The Five Parts You Should Focus On

There is no better way to prepare for the coming cold season other than winterizing your house. It would spare you from high heating expenses, equipment repair, and, of course, chilly nights and days. Start prepping up your abode during the fall, just before the temperature hits below the freezing point.

Here are five parts of your house you should inspect. You can manage some of the tasks all on your own, although in some cases you need to have professional assistance.

1. Fireplace. Your fireplace is one part of the house that can help you get through all winter, so get it ready very early on. Start with the chimney. You can have a certified chimney sweep to do an inspection and remove anything that might have been trapped in the chimney, usually balls, birds, and the likes. To prevent any foreign object getting into the chimney, you can protect it with a cap or screen. The woodstove should also be thoroughly cleaned of creosote and, as advised by experts, have glass doors that must be kept closed when the stove is not in use. Inspect the fireplace damper as well and, like the woodstove, it should be closed when not in use. Then, start collecting firewood and store them in a secure, dry place.

2. Furnace. Inspection and cleaning of furnace requires professional assistance, which will cost about $100. Replace furnace filters monthly or at least after every six months. An old and dirty filter obstructs airflow, inevitably affecting its performance. Although it is rare, it can also cause fire. Also, consider the possibility of buying a new furnace if it is quite old, say more than 10 years old, and in need of constant repair. Remember, an inefficient and malfunctioning furnace pumps up the heating costs.

3. Door. You wouldn’t want cold air to come gushing from your door, so winterize your door by sealing any crack and installing weatherstripping on the sides and top of the door and door sweep on its bottom.

4. Roof. Inspect if the roof misses a tile, shingle, or nail; has the flashings and metal plates damaged; needs caulking; or is generally in bad shape. If it is, you need to have someone fix the roof and replace any worn-out parts. If there is one thing that will protect the whole house from winter, it is your roof, so make sure it can stand the whole season.

5. Gutters. Your first concern is to check if the gutters are securely and firmly fastened to the roof. If they are not, immediately call for a roofing professional to fix the problem. Then, clean the gutters and remove leaves and other debris that have fallen into the gutters. Hose them down if necessary. Check if the gutters have leaks and if the downspouts are efficiently driving water away.

These are only five parts of the house, but there are other parts that you should look into when winterizing your house. Remember, the house should be prepared inside and out, so check every nook and cranny.

Winterizing Your Home

Preparing your home for the winter is essential. Aside from living comfortably during the harsh temperature, winterizing would also help in extending the life of your home and avoid problems in the future.

Preparing your home for the winter can be done by professional plumber, electrician or contractor. However, there are also other things that you could do on your own. How do you prepare your home for the winter? Here are some things that you could keep in mind.

• Check and clean you gutters. Remove the leaves, twigs and other branches that may be blocking your gutter. You could clean them by hand or by a scraper. This can clog the drains which would later cause the water to back up and freeze in the gutter. This would eventually seep into the walls of the house. Make sure that your gutters do not have cracks and the pipes are properly aligned.

• Work on those cracks and leaks. Look for those leaks and cracks in your home and block them. According to the EarthWorks Group, an average American would have leaks that amount to a nine-square-feet hole in the wall. Cold air could slip inside your home and hot air to escape. This would add up to bigger fuel cost.

• Turn on your furnace to check if it is working even if the coldest weather has not yet arrived. Furnaces should be cleaned and maintained once a year. You could get a professional to check the furnace. Change the filters monthly since dirty filters could cause fire.

• Check your air ducts. If the duct work is not properly connected, about 60 % of heated air is lost, meaning a lot of energy is consumed without even benefiting the residents.

• Changing windows could be expensive, but it would surely help in the providing protection and warmth. Aside from storm windows, there are also the window insulator kits. These kits however, are not too attractive to look at and only temporary, but they are definitely inexpensive. You would just have to affix it into the interior side of the window.

• Avoid pipes bursting. Make sure that water hose, pipe lines are drained and turned off. Insulate your pipelines, you could wrap them with foam rubber or with heating tape.

• Aside from insulating your pipes, you should also check the insulation in the attic. The recommended thickness for attic insulation would be about 12 inches. Also check the basement and the exterior walls if they are properly insulated.

• It is important to have you chimneys, fireplaces and woodstoves cleaned. They may have accumulated debris and soot over the time is was not used which can cause some problems once you started using them again. For chimneys, it is better to seal or cover them with chimney caps and screens to keep out birds and rodents.

Inspecting and winterizing your home would not only help you against the winter ahead, but it would also help you reduce on your fuel costs. Unchecked and non properly maintained parts of your home could cause safety issues and the same tine increase your maintaining cost.

Winterizing Your Garden: The Basics To Follow

Due to the freezing cold, harrowing winds and frost, and possible snowstorms, winter poses a great many challenges for any gardener. At this time of the year, plants are more at risk for developing diseases and eventually dying. You don’t want either of that to happen to your plants, do you? So to prevent any eventualities, you have to winterize your garden. The main reason for winterizing your garden is to protect your plants from the harsh winter elements and help them survive the cold season, so you can have a healthy and productive garden in the spring. Garden winterization is done during the fall season, just before the cold temperature sets in.

Gardens vary in the same way that gardeners do. But although gardens differ, there are winterization procedures that are applicable to all garden types. Here’s a few of them:

1. Rake off leaves from your garden. Doing so prevents diseases among plants and allows proper air and water circulation. Dispose of the leaves by adding them onto your compost. However, if the leaves are from diseased plants, throw them into the garbage to prevent the compost from being contaminated.

2. Cover plants with mulch. This will act as blanket to protect your plants from frost and winter extreme weathers. Unless your place is in the colder zone, use thin layers of mulch, as thick and compact mulch may work against your plants. Use sawdust, pine needles, straw, or shredded leaves as mulch, and apply them around the roots and over the beds.

3. Relocate delicate plants indoors. All plants that can’t survive winter weathers should be moved inside. Place them in a cool and dry place; do not forget to water them regularly. Do not, however, over-water the plants, as this may result in rot. As soon as the spring approaches, place them in sunlit areas.

4. Plant hardy, spring-blooming bulbs in the late fall. By this time, the soil is soft enough to accommodate bulbs. It is recommended to plant them two to three inches from the ground. The more delicate bulbs, on the other hand, should be kept indoors, particularly in a cool and dry room, as they can’t stand the winter cold outside.

5. Do not fertilize. Fertilizing encourages new growths that will be too tender to survive frosts and cold temperature. Should you need to fertilize, do this early in the fall. All fertilization should be put to a halt by mid- to late fall and resume only in the spring.

6. Clean up your plants. Remove the dead and damaged parts, then add the trimmings to the compost pile, unless of course they are cut from diseased plants.

7. Eliminate the weeds. Because weeds grow a lot during the fall, get rid of them as soon as you spot their presence. Otherwise, they will multiply uncontrollably and give you a lot of work come springtime.

When winterizing your garden, figure the possible winter extremes in your area, so you can adjust and better prepare your plants for the coming season.

Winterizing Water Pipes: How To Keep Them Freeze-Free

Frozen, burst water pipes are a nightmare. Not only do they cause flooding and other serious water problems, but they also leave structural damages on the flooring, basement, and some parts of the house. Winter, by all means, is not friendly to plumbing and pipes, and if they are not winterized, you are likely to spend some amount for costly repairs. Save your pipes from winter damages, and do the following steps in winterizing water pipes.

1. Shut off the water system if you are leaving the house for a while. Turn on the indoor faucets and showers to drain. Then, remove water from toilet tanks. You can use an air compressor to siphon all remaining water from the lines. Scoop out water from toilet bowls, and add antifreeze solution to the residual water. Next, focus on the outside plumbing. Turn off the shut-off vent, which in some houses are located in the basement, and turn on the outdoor faucets to drain. When the faucets are all on, go back to the vent and turn the plug to drain the remaining water. Do not forget to drain the in-ground sprinkler as well. When you are sure there is no longer water that can possibly freeze and burst the pipes, turn the plug back and turn off all the faucets.

2. Insulate water pipes, especially those that are exposed and are in unheated areas (garage, basement, and crawl spaces). You can use insulating tape, a heat-producing electrical cord, to cover the pipes. Use the same material to wrap outdoor faucets. In place of insulating tape, you can use fiberglass insulation, molded foam rubber sleeves, rags, or plastic.

3. Let the faucet on and allow water to run. Do this particularly when the temperature hits below freezing point. Although this can add to your water bill, you can reduce the likelihood of having frozen pipes by keeping the water moving. No need for a torrential stream; tiny water drips are sufficient.

4. Replace or seal broken pipes early on. Nothing guarantees winter freeze damage better than cracked and worn out pipes, so do an early inspection. Also, make sure to caulk around the pipes to prevent leaks.

5. Regularly monitor your water flow. In case, there is no water in some parts of the house, check if there is a frozen pipe anywhere in your basement, in the crawl space, or under the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. When you have located the frozen pipe, use a hair dyer to blow heat to the pipe. Do not use an open flame. If there is no water in the entire house, call a plumber to spot leaks and frozen pipes in your city water service.

Do not overlook the pipes. Just as you need winter coats and mittens to survive the winter, your pipes need to be prepared for the coming cold. Whether it is your weekend home or main house, make sure to winterize your water pipes. For more help in winterizing water pipes, contact your trusty plumber.

Winterizing Techniques that You Can Apply at the Garden

Do not be discouraged about your love for gardening just because the colder season is about to come. You cannot do anything about this, not unless you would be willing to relocate somewhere, like in countries that only have two kinds of weather. You don’t really need to go that far because there are steps that you can in winterizing your garden so that you can preserve the effort you have invested in it and to prepare it for the next season when you can tend to it again.

This may sound added work, especially if you are going to attend to many other things at home. But for people who are keen about gardening and love seeing the results of their labor, here are the things that must be done to prepare the area for the winter season.

1. When do you start preparing the garden for the colder months? You will notice change on the color of the plants. As this occurs, leaves will begin to fall off. This is a clear indication that it is time to act on your plan so that you will still have a healthy garden when next year comes.

2. Dig up all your plants from their roots to tips. If you won’t do any measures and you will let dead plant remnants on the garden, you are allowing remnants and rodents to have a feast when it is already winter. To avoid this, you must remove the dead plants and place them in a compost pile. You can also choose to leave the remnants in the garden. You can simply let these at the top of the soil until these have dried up. Plow the soil along with the dried plants early spring or during the later days in fall.

Why do you need to till the dead plants and fallen leaves on the soil? Through this, the garden will be able to absorb nutrients from the plants. If you will leave the plants and do nothing about it, the soil won’t be able to easily absorb the nutrients and this is going to cause delay on the warming of the garden soil when it is already spring.

3. In the fall, you should not put fertilizer on the soil. This is a great way of caring for the environment because this product will cause bad long term effects and besides, it is a waste of money. Nothing is going to absorb it anyway with most plants getting withered or fallen. And besides, if you rely so much on such product, it will eventually be washed away on creeks and wetlands and may cause harm in the process. If you are such a big fan and you cannot do away with fertilizers, do it in spring.

4. You can also add chemicals on your garden during fall, especially if you are such a big fan of these products. Before you do, check the pH level of the soil and add sulfur or lime if it is needed. You can easily spread these chemicals and plow the soil after.

In following these wintering techniques for the garden, you are making it easier for you to start all over again when spring comes and you can start planting anew.

Winterizing A Lawn Mower: A Step-By-Step Guide

Just because you have done the last of your autumn lawn task doesn’t mean you are completely done; you still have to winterize your lawn mower in time for the cold months. Winterizing a lawn mower means prepping it up for the season’s storage. When you properly winterize your lawn mower, you can save hundreds of dollars from costly repairs and you can even prolong the years of your equipment.

Here’s a quick guide on winterizing your lawn mower. Follow them carefully to have a competently geared up lawn mower come springtime.

Empty the gas tank. This will prevent remaining gas from clogging your carburetor. And you don’t want that to happen because it will mean spending hundreds of dollars for repairs. So before you store your lawn mower for winter, turn on the mower until it eats up all the remaining gas and stops on its own. Restart the engine. If the lawn mower doesn’t start, you have successfully drained the gas tank.

Change oil. Refill your oil tank with fresh oil, and make sure the amount is sufficient: not too much, not too little. Dispose of the old oil properly as described by hazardous waste management policies in your area. Do not pour it down the sink, sewer, or ground. If you can, find gas stations in your area that collect old oil for proper waste disposal.

Clean or change the air filter. You can clean the air filter if it is made of plastic, but buy replacements for filters made of paper. It is recommended to replace air filters at least once during the mowing season.

Remove the spark plug. Then, pour lubricating oil through the plug hole and crank the engine a number of times to distribute the oil. Now, reinstall the plug. If your spark plug, however, is quite old, you need to buy a replacement. You know you need to replace it if the lawn mower reaches a hundred hours of use.

Clean the undersides. Grass clippings and other foreign materials may have stuck between blades, so scrape them off to prevent rusting. You can also hose them down for easy dislodging. Scrub the undersides and the surface area to remove rusts using a steel wool. To remove greasy materials, use warm and soapy water. Allow the lawn mower to dry before storing. Remember to wear gloves when cleaning the lawn mower to prevent hand injuries.

Sharpen the blades. Although you can have them sharpened before re-using, it is better to sharpen them during winterization to save some time. You can either sharpen the blades on your own or send them to a professional. Apply protective oil to keep the blades from rusting during the cold months.

Store the lawn mower in a secure place. You can keep it in your garage or basement, or wherever it is safe. Cover it with plastic and place mothballs near the lawn mower, so no rodents will take residence in it. Properly winterizing a lawn mower assures you that you have something to work with come spring.