Get Ready For Winter: A Winter Preparation Guide
Depending on where you live, you may have already experienced this season’s first snowfall. If you’re a skier, the early winter is a time for rejoicing and getting back in shape. But for most of us, the change in seasons signals a time to prepare for snow and ice build-up. Whether we have to clear off the front walk, plow the driveway, or scrape our car windshields, cold weather requires a ton of work. Here’s your guide to taking care of your winter chores in an efficient and healthy way.
Perhaps no other aspect of your life takes a harder hit during the winter time than your daily driver. This is especially true for those of us who don’t enjoy the luxury of a heated indoor garage. Street-parked cars bear the brunt of the elements. They spend the entire winter getting plastered by snow from plows and getting caked with ice. Heading out in the morning to scrape your windshield becomes a daily ritual. Here are a few (relatively) cheap and easy fixes to ease some of the hassle.
Install a block heater
It doesn’t need to be a super expensive engine heater, but having some manner of engine heater goes a long way in terms of reducing wear and tear on your vehicle’s engine. Heavy-duty industrial engine heaters like the Watt Heavy Duty might require a mechanic to install, but easier options exist, like heated electric blankets, and magnetic heaters that hang onto the side of the engine block. These options are a little easier on your wallet, and don’t require a mechanic to install.
Check your battery
Car batteries take a beating during the winter. Before temperatures plummet below freezing, take a few minutes to check the integrity of your car battery. If you’re running a maintenance-free battery, have your local auto parts store verify that it’s fully charge. If not, consider replacing it. If you run a conventional battery, insure that there’s enough fluid inside. Check with your owner’s manual for what constitutes low fluid, but if this is indeed the case, add distilled water to the battery until it’s brought back up to an acceptable level.
Change Your Wipers
Ineffective wiper blades can add a lot of frustration to your morning commute. Wiper blades last as little as six months, so before the winter sets in and you start relying regularly on wiper blades, check their integrity. If your wipers are missing huge swaths of your windshield, or show major cracks and wear, it may be time for a new set.
Whether it’s snow or ice build up, your driveway requires a lot of attention during the winter months. Staying on top of it can help keep your family both safe and less irritated when the next storm rolls in.
Keep it Clear
When it snows, shovel. Ignore the temptation to sleep in, hope the snow will melt, or give in to any other excuse that will keep you from tackling this important task. When snow sits around for too long, the sun’s melting and freezing effects tend to turn snow into rock-hard ice. The longer you let snow sit on your front walk and driveway, the worse your job will be.
Whether it’s salt, or some alternative, be sure you’re adding some kind of melting agent to high-traffic areas. Environmentally-friendly alternatives exist, so there isn’t an excuse for letting black ice persist anywhere on your property.
Get the Right Gear
If you live in a particularly snowy place (northern Minnesota), it’s worth considering buying a gas-powered snow blower this season. While snow blowers present somewhat of a steep up-front cost, they hold their value in snowy locales and drastically reduce the wear and tear incurred on your body during a long winter. If snowfall is light where you live, or a blower is too cost prohibitive, at least ensure that you’re using an ergonomic snow shovel. Your big box store should carry a nice selection, and a trusty snow shovel is great for clearing off a walk or a back patio.