Liz Crenshaw's Guide to Consumer Issues, Recalls and More

Winterize Your Home and Car

By Liz Crenshaw and Katie Roberts
|  Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013  |  Updated 2:35 PM EDT
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With temperatures dropping to the coldest levels we've seen in years, it's important to protect your home and car from the deep freeze.

When it comes to winterizing your home, there are steps offered by the insurance industry and area plumbers that you can take tonight to prevent big problems like freezing pipes and clogged drains.

Outside your home, if you haven't already done so, disconnect any hoses from outside spigots.

If you can, clear gutters and outside drains of debris. If we get any rain, you don’t want frozen leaves clogging things up. If your garage is attached to your house, keep the garage doors closed.

The garage door to the house is probably not as well insulated as other exterior doors.

Inside your home, the biggest problem when expecting a super cold snap is freezing pipes. If you have any pipes that are located on exterior walls, like the pipes under your kitchen sink, it is always a good idea to keep those cabinet doors open, helping to get heat to those pipes. If you have had a pipe freeze in the past, plumbers recommend you leave a small trickle of both the hot and cold water at that faucet.

Keep your house warm. It should be at least 65 degrees in your house. The temperature inside the walls is much colder than your home, so a house temperature lower than 65 degrees won't keep your pipes from freezing.

And know where your water shut off valves are, including the main water valve. Remember, one burst pipe runs four to eight gallons a minute and can cause an expensive problem to clean.

AAA loaded us up with cold weather tips for your car. It says that if your car battery is three years old or older, it is more likely to fail as the mercury drops. Never attempt to charge or jump-start a battery that is frozen, as it may rupture or explode.

In cold conditions, your motor oil gets sort of like molasses, putting strain on your battery and starter motor. Remember to schedule an oil change if it has been a while.

Check your tire pressure, which is known to drop in colder temperatures.

Something else you might not think about: Don't set your parking brake during below freezing temperatures. It can freeze up, leaving you with a perfectly running car but no way to get it out of that parking space.

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