Your garden hose would like a word with you
… And after that, your gutters, pipes, and radiator have a few things they'd like to get off their chests, too.
Now's the time to thwart damage to your home and car that can strike once our mild fall turns frigid (average "first freeze" dates are closer than you might think: Oct. 1 for Bellingham; Oct. 18 for Portland; and Oct. 27 for Seattle … and most people east of the Cascades have already scraped a few windshields by now).
We asked our Claims experts to share their Top 10 winter-smart ideas. Here's what they say your home and car would like you to know:
FOR YOUR HOME
- Disconnect your garden hose and protect the faucet or hose bib with a foam cover. If it has an indoor valve, turn it off and open the faucet to drain any trapped water.
- Clean gutters to prevent ice damming. During rapid snowmelt, plugged gutters could cause water to seep back into the roof (causing leaks) or overflow near the foundation, causing leaks and settling.
- Clear debris out of drains at the bottom of driveways and exterior stairwells. (Keep checking until your neighborhood trees have fully shed their leaves.)
- Wrap pipes in unheated spaces (think garages and workshops).
- Get your furnace serviced and chimneys professionally cleaned before the heating season kicks into high gear.
FOR YOUR CAR
- Check your antifreeze (with a tester available at auto parts stores) to see the temperature at which your protection ends. A 50:50 mixture of antifreeze and water is best, but your mixture might be too diluted if you've been topping off with plain water.
- Get your battery tested if it's more than three years old. Clean corrosion from posts and cables.
- Make sure your car has winter-ready tires. Think all-weather, snow, or studded depending on when and where you drive.
- Replace wiper blades. They're only good for one year.
- Carry an emergency kit that includes gloves, a synthetic blanket (water resistant), warm clothes, nonperishable food and water, sand or cat litter (traction if you get stuck), ice scraper, flashlight, tire chains, jumper cables, and washer fluid. And your gas tank? Until spring, live by the "half tank" rule (never allowing your gas gauge to dip below that), so you won't have to worry about running out of gas if a weather-snarled commute leaves you stuck on the road for hours.