how-to-prepare-your-home-and-car-for-winterWinter weather has begun! Make sure your home and vehicle are ready for colder weather to help improve your safety, save money and keep comfortable throughout winter.

In your home: When it comes to winter prep for your home, there are a number of things you should make sure you pay attention to:

  • Clean your gutters: Help protect your home against water damage by removing all debris from your gutters and testing your downspouts for drainage.
  • Trim your trees: Cut down any dead or dying limbs on trees near your house to prevent damage to your roof, windows or siding. Remember that snow is heavy and could cause branches to fall.
  • Winterize outdoor faucets: Shut off all your outdoor faucets, remove hoses, and if possible, drain any water that could be left inside the pipes.
  • Stop air leaks: Check to make sure your basement, attic and all windows and doors are sealed properly so no air is getting in, and no heat is being lost.
  • Schedule a heating system inspection: Schedule a heating system inspection to make sure your home’s furnace is now perfectly sealed and running efficiently. Most HVAC contractors will inspect, clean and keep your furnace running on the cheap if you sign up a for their annual inspection programs. If you have a fireplace, call a chimney professional to make sure your chimney is clean and ready to use.

For your vehicle: Like your home, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Always get an annual service inspection of your car before winter sets in for several months. Here’s a list of items that should be performed during an annual inspection to ensure a safe winter driving experience:

  • Have your vehicle serviced: Ask your mechanic to perform an inspection. Get a brake and battery test, inspect the exhaust, check on the cooling system and fluids, change your oil and just overall make sure everything is working correctly.
  • Inspect your tires: Be on the lookout for uneven wear, cupping, sidewall cracking and other damage that may be affecting your tires.
  • Check your wiper blades: This is a very important step, especially if you live in an area that experiences a lot of snow and ice during the winter months. Snow, ice and salt from the roads can coat your windshield and severely impair your vision. You’ll want to make sure your washer fluid reservoir is full and that you are using washer fluid that can withstand temperatures -30 degrees and below. It’s also a good idea to keep extra in your trunk, along with an ice scraper.
  • Monitor the fuel line: It’s possible for your fuel system to freeze during the cold winter months, so you’ll want to monitor your fuel lines. If you can, keep your car in a heated garage or keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Stock your trunk with emergency equipment: Make sure your trunk has an emergency kit, in case you get stuck or stranded in the snow. Some things you may want to include: jumper cables, shovel, first-aid kit, flashlight, cold weather gear, snacks and warm blankets.