When the temperatures drop, you need more than just a warm coat to protect you. It’s also time to make sure your home and your vehicle are ready for winter.
Taking proper measures to get ready for cold weather and snow could help save you time and money down the line. By preparing for winter now, you avoid future hassles. Here are a few things you should do to get ready. Many of them don’t cost a thing — they’re simply common-sense measures that will make the winter months easier and give you peace of mind.
Preparing Your Home for Winter in PA
Pennsylvania winters can be harsh no matter what part of the state you live in. Getting your home ready for ice, snow, and freezing temperatures means more than just bumping up the thermostat setting. Make sure you take care of these items right away:
Protect Your Water Pipes
Frozen water inside can prompt your pipes to burst, requiring expensive repairs. Do the following to rid at-risk pipes of water and guard them from extreme temperatures:
- Drain supply lines to outdoor sprinklers and pools
- Close off the valve supplying your water outdoors, then turn on outside house bibs so excess water can drain
- Cover exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or, in a pinch, wadded-up newspaper
Test Your Snow Blower
If you have a large driveway, you don’t want to find out your snow blower doesn’t work on the day you get three feet of snow. Make sure it has enough oil and gas, then fire it up to make sure it’s working properly.
If you can’t get it started, call for service right away. There’s often a backlog of blowers going in for service at the beginning of winter, so try to get yours serviced each spring.
Take Stock of Your Sump Pump
Homeowners who use sump pumps need to determine whether their system can withstand snow and ice. Monitor what happens when you add a few buckets of water to the sump pump. If it doesn’t clear, you may need to consult a plumber.
Locate Your Shovels and Stock up on De-Icer
Well before the first snowfall, find your shovels and put them somewhere you can access them easily. Make sure you have enough for everyone in your household to help — you’d be amazed how quickly you can dig out when you have all-hands-on-deck assistance.
Also, check your supply of de-icer. If you’re running low, get to the store before the first storm clouds near. De-icers sell out quickly when there’s a storm warning, so the earlier you get yours, the better.
Take a Look at Your Roof
It’s easy to forget about your roof until you have a problem with it. Accumulated snow can weigh heavily on a roof. One that’s already in decline could pose a danger for the winter. Clear off the debris that naturally accumulates on your roof, and clean the gutters.
You may want to add insulation to your attic to help protect the rest of your house. This will make it harder for the cold air outside to get in, and also trap the warm air below to keep it from rising.
Preparing Your Car for Winter in PA
Getting your vehicle ready for cold temps and icy roads is just as important as prepping your home. Here are a few things you can do to make your ride safer and more comfortable:
Stow an Emergency Kit in the Car
Carrying a first aid kit in your trunk is a good habit year-round. But in the winter, you want to expand that kit to include other essentials you might need to combat ice and snow, such as:
- Ice scraper
- Jumper cables
- Plastic tub of kitty litter (to sprinkle on the road for traction and help weigh down the car)
Some people even carry bottled water, granola bars, and a sleeping bag in their cars during the winter in case they get caught on the road during a storm.
Inspect Your Tires
All-season tires work for many cars in Pennsylvania, since some areas see minimal snow. But if you worry about driving on black ice or you live somewhere that gets a lot of precipitation, you may want to consider snow tires, which give you better grip on the road and improved braking ability.
If you plan to stick with all-season tires, make sure they have the proper level of inflation and that the tread remains sufficient. Try the penny test. Stick a penny with Abraham Lincoln’s head down into your tire tread. If you can see the top of his head, it’s probably time for new ones.
Check Antifreeze and Engine Coolant Levels
Your car manual will explain how to check your antifreeze levels. You can buy more and add it to your engine yourself if you need it. You can also purchase a kit for checking coolant levels from your local auto supply store.
Swap Out Your Windshield Wiper Fluid
How often do you find your car covered in frost, ice, or snow before your morning commute? Having winter windshield fluid can help you make shorter work of these annoyances. It is specially formulated so it won’t freeze in low temperatures, and it can help break up the frozen gunk on your windshield.
You don’t have to spend a bundle to prep your home and car for the winter. Using these simple tips, you’ll be ready to face the first snow of the season with confidence. For other money management tips and resources, check out our WalletWorks page.