Locks, Engines, Pipes and Pets – How to Thaw them all this Winter

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Fighting the crowds during holiday sales can be irritating, but the weather is usually the biggest complaint people have about the winter months. Brr! Not only can ice and snow make it tough to get where you’re going, but, the freezing cold can wreak havoc on your home, car and pets!

Kitty

If you’ve ever had to defrost a frozen door lock, you know just what we’re talking about!

Here’s a quick overview of how to deal with some of the most common cold-weather problems:

Frozen Door Locks and Handles

A frozen door lock isn’t fun, especially if you’re locked outside in the cold and snow! Whether it’s your home or your car door, these tips should help thaw your lock:

  • Warm the key with a lighter or match.

  • You’ll need an extension cord and possibly your neighbor’s assistance for this one, but a blow dryer on its hottest setting can also help to thaw a frozen lock.

  • If you have experience using one, a blow torch on its lowest setting can heat a key or help thaw out the lock or door handle. A blow torch can cause significant damage to paint—as well as people!—so only try this method if you’ve used one before.

  • A deicer made from alcohol and a lubricant material can also help to “melt” ice from a lock. If you do not have a commercially-made deicer, squirting some alcohol-based hand sanitizer onto the key or into the lock may also help get the job done.

Cold Engines

If your well-maintained car won’t start during the frigid weather, and you know that you have gas and a good battery, chances are your engine is frozen. If possible, push your car into the garage to help get it out of the extreme weather and warm it up. Put a shop light underneath the engine area or in the engine compartment if there is room, and be sure to check your antifreeze levels. You may want to invest in an external engine heater, which is almost like a heating pad for your engine. There are several different types on the market, but they are relatively affordable and available at most auto parts stores.

Frozen Pipes

Water expands when it freezes, which means that it can burst your pipes and cause serious damage as a result. When the weather is cold enough, ice will form in house pipes as well as exterior faucets, but the ice itself is not the culprit. When the frozen water expands, it causes increased water pressure between the ice that is blocking the pipe and the faucet at the end of the pipe. Pipes in newer homes are generally protected by the home’s insulation, and some pipes even have their own insulation! Pipes located in un-insulated attics and basements and pipes that are outdoors, such as pipes for sprinkler systems, are more vulnerable.

If you suspect that your pipes are frozen, don’t take any chances! Call a professional plumber. If a pipe has already burst, turn off the main water valve and leave all faucets open. You might be able to help thaw frozen faucets with a hair dryer on its highest setting.

If a freeze has been predicted, or if you are going out of town for an extended period of time and turning off the heater because you won’t be home, drain the water system to help prevent frozen pipes. Shut off the main valve and turn on all faucets until the water completely stops running. You can turn the faucets back off once the water is drained.

Cold Pets

If you have a cat, keep it inside—especially during the winter! Hypothermia is a real danger for unprotected creatures. Kitties can freeze, get lost easily, or even be stolen. They are also more prone to catching infectious diseases, like rabies, from other animals during the winter. If your pet cat must live outdoors, remember that it may be tempted to sleep under the hood of your car to keep warm. Always bang loudly on your car hood to startle any potentially sleeping kitties before starting the engine to avoid fatally injuring an animal.

If you have a dog, never let him off his leash when he is outside during the winter. He can easily get lost in the snow. Dogs often lose their own scent during a storm, making it difficult, if not impossible, to find their way back home. Always towel dry your dog when he returns inside.

Pets can accidentally ingest antifreeze, salt or other hazardous chemicals during the winter months. If it is stuck in their fur, they could lick it off. For this reason it is important to observe your pets’ activities when they are outside. And, never, ever leave your pet in your car during the winter.

Winterize Your Pool

One final reminder this winter—if you have a swimming pool, you will need to winterize it to protect it from damage. Keep it as clean as possible. Make sure the water’s pH, alkalinity, and calcium levels are balanced, and use a winterizing chemical kit to keep it clean and clear. Drain water from the filter system to help prevent frozen pipes, and cover your pool to help prevent debris from landing inside. Always remember though, it’s nearly impossible to completely protect your pool during the winter. If the water freezes, it can expand and cause damage.

References:

http://www.doityourself.com/stry/safety-tips-for-heating-a-frozen-door-lock#b

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070207101237AAYcIXO

http://www.weather.com/activities/homeandgarden/home/hometips/severeweather/pipefreeze_prevent.html

http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/pet-care-tips/cold-weather-tips.aspx

http://swimming.about.com/od/poolandspamaintenance/a/ingroundpoolclo.htm

Attached Images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source
  •  License: Creative Commons image source

 

Meg Jones works with FC Locksmith LTD and writes about various subjects such as home maintenance and security.