Experts offer tips to protect cars, homes during frigid weather

Check car, home items before temps dip

INDIANAPOLS - With temperatures expected to dip near zero this week, experts are sharing tips to help keep your car running and your home warm.

Mechanic Jeff Bishop said he expects to be flooded with cold-related car problems when the frigid air arrives this week.

"Just like us when it gets cold, we get hard and stiff and we can't move around. Cars are just the same way,” he said. "A lot of times, I see no-starts and people stranded on the side of the road. Alternators go bad, so electrical systems are really put on a big strain."

To keep your car starting and running smoothly, Bishop suggests getting your battery tested and make sure your antifreeze is mixed to withstand single digits. A tester can be found at any auto parts store.

He also suggests letting your car idle for a few minutes on the coldest mornings.

“The transmission fluid can get warm, the engine oil, the coolant, the thermostat can open," Bishop said.

Having at least half a tank of gas will help prevent the fuel line from freezing, experts say.

To keep car doors and windows from freezing shut, spray WD-40 or another lubricant on a rag or paper towel and rub it along the seals of the doors and windows. To keep windshield wipers from freezing to the window, lift them up at night.

Experts also recommend keeping an emergency kit in the car, just in case.

"That's going to consist of a lot of things," said Greg Seiter, with AAA Hoosier Motor Club. "Of course jumper cables, extra pairs of gloves, hats, things of that nature to keep you warm if you are stranded."

As for keeping your home warm in the blustery conditions, Bruce Smoot with Plumbing and Heating Paramedics recommends keeping the thermostat at a constant setting of 70 degrees.

Checking your air filters and leaving a faucet running a bit to prevent freezing pipes is also recommended.

"All them little things are so inexpensive compared to having to do a replacement," Smoot said.

Patty Thornberry, with Security Home Inspections, said it's not too late for homeowners to prepare their homes for the arctic blast, and she offers a few simple steps.

"Number one, if you're on a crawl space, make sure that you... close your crawl space vent," Thornberry said. "Now is not the time to let that cold air get underneath the house and possibly freeze pipes."

Closing the damper on the fireplace will keep warm air from escaping up the chimney, Thornberry said.

She also recommended caulking drafty doors and windows and keeping curtains and blinds closed as another form of insulation.

"A lot of people don't do that," she said. "And truly, just shut those (curtains and blinds); it's amazing how that can also help."

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