Our holiday season may have been unseasonably warm, but you can bet there’s probably a freeze or two right around the corner. The good news? There’s still time to protect yourself, your home, and your vehicles from the harsh weather. We checked in with some local experts and they filled us in on what needs to be done and why you shouldn’t slack when it comes to winterizing.
Drive to Arrive
Keeping up with your car maintenance from oil to battery to tires is extremely important says Chip Carlsen of Pat Campbell Insurance. “We see a big increase in accidents during the winter months,” he says. “People go from a perfect driving record to a miserable one very quickly.”
One big no-no he sees is people letting some air out of their tires when it snows. “That’s a big fallacy and actually makes it less safe,” he adds. “Always maintain the manufacturer’s recommended air pressure.”
And don’t stop there. Make sure you’re following all these winter driving tips and check out the Pat Campbell website for more.
- Cold temperatures affect the way your vehicle starts and runs. Make sure fluid levels, particularly anti-freeze, are topped off.
- Keep your gas tank as full as possible (at least half full). Empty tanks allow condensation and moisture in the gas lines which can freeze.
- Make sure your tires have adequate tread and are properly inflated.
- Have your vehicle checked to make sure that the anti-lock brake system (ABS) and any traction control system (e.g., AWD) is working properly. These systems won’t do you any good if they are not functioning.
- Prepare an emergency kit to keep in your vehicle. Include jumper cables, a snow/ice scraper, a shovel, deicer, a blanket, gloves, and even boots. If you’re stranded, you’ll appreciate the warmer clothing.
- Make sure your windshield and windows are clear before leaving your driveway or parking spot. You may be in a hurry but dangerously reduced peripheral vision is an accident waiting to happen.
- Give your car a chance to warm up. Oil needs to be lubricating your pistons and coolant needs to flow freely before you reach highway speeds. Conserve gas and warm your car up effectively by driving at 25 to 30 miles per hour for the first mile or two instead of letting it idle in the driveway for five minutes.
- Maintain safe distances and drive at speeds appropriate for conditions.
- Should you become stranded, it is usually best to stay with your vehicle until help arrives.
Pat Campbell Insurance
The Year-Round Pool
Q&A with Frank Wells of Pools by Design
Can you really use a pool all year here?
Yes! Most pools these days have built-in freeze control. As the air temperature gets close to freezing, a pump turns on and circulates the water and moving water will not freeze. That’s going to protect your pool. You’ll also need a minimal amount of chlorine during the winter months. You will still need to watch the pH level and make sure that stays balanced.
Isn’t it too expensive to heat a pool during the winter?
It is inefficient to keep it heated all the time, but for a weekend or if you have guests staying with you, why not heat it up for a special occasion? This time of year, the water is probably about 50 degrees and you’ll need to get it about 85 to make it pleasant to swim. That’s about a 35 degree rise so you’ll probably want to start it up about 24 hours in advance. I’d also recommend putting on a solar blanket. (Find them at Discount Pools & Spas, discountpoolslc.com). Heating for just a day or two will probably cost you about $50. That’s about the same as a dinner out, so why not trade that in for special swimming experience?
What if I don’t want to use it during the winter?
None of my customers completely shut theirs down during the winter. We’ll let it circulate about five hours per day so it’s still filtering and moving the water. Pools are generally very easy to maintain in the winter. There’s not a whole lot of wind and no algae. We keep up our maintenance routes, but don’t need to service or clean as often. You don’t even have to cover it, so you’ll still get to enjoy the beauty of it when you look out your window. When spring comes around, there’s no hassle, it’s already clean and ready to go.
Pools By Design
The Home Checklist
“Winterizing homes during colder weather months should not be overlooked as it helps homeowners and businesses alike to save energy, money, and avoid unnecessary repairs due to freezing temperatures,” Says Ron Reynolds, district manager at Zia Natural Gas. “Furthermore, each of us has a responsibility to the next generation to have due diligence in the reduction of greenhouse gasses. Through winterizing and reduction of energy consumption as well as the safe reliable use of natural gas we can be responsible for not only ourselves but preserve the integrity of our planet for generations to come.”
- Check the attic, walls and basement for adequate insulation.
- Feel around electrical outlets and switch plates for cold air, add insulation where necessary.
- Look around doors and windows for gaps and potential places where warm air can escape.
- Caulk or apply weather stripping around problem draft areas.
- Consider replacing windows with energy efficient double-paned windows.
- Clean gutters and down spouts in mid-fall and double check them before winter.
- Have a contractor look for damaged roof shingles and loose gutters.
- Replace the filter in your furnace.
- Have a heating and cooling expert look at your furnace if you are unsure of its efficiency.
- Have chimneys and woodstoves cleaned early in the season.
- Test the flue for each fireplace for a tight seal when closed.
- Close any vents in your home that may have been opened for the warm weather.
- Disconnect hoses from outside faucets and turn off the water.
Zia Natural Gas
3700 W. Picacho Ave.