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Protect your cars, homes against temperatures in teens
Coldest winter weather this year is coming tonight
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Express Oil Change and Service Center manager Ricky Ross tests a battery as customers get key components in their vehicles ready for this week’s blast of cold weather.

Keeping your car running right

  • Antifreeze levels
  • Tire pressure
  • Battery power

Keeping your home heated and plumbing working right

  • Let faucets drip overnight and open sink cabinets
  • Insulate interior pipes if necessary
  • Disconnect any garden hoses from exterior faucets
  • Check filters in heating unit to ensure best performance

Check out more of our winter weather tips

Get your best winter coat out, let the car warm up and check the plumbing because the coldest day of the young new year has arrived.

With low temperatures in the teens and highs at or just above freezing today and Thursday, Hall County residents can expect the typical seasonal troubles of broken heaters and frozen engine blocks.

But a little preparation will go a long way to avoiding the pitfalls of the first winter chill of 2015.

When it comes to making sure the family car is running right, “A lot of it is just the normal routine service,” said Jim Harrison, owner of Harrison Tire on West Academy Street in Gainesville.

That means checking tire pressure, belts and hoses, the battery, and antifreeze levels.

Of course, for many drivers, maintaining these things is anything but routine.

But that’s where Harrison comes in.

“If you don’t do the routine services, this is a great time to get them done,” he said, adding his business is open through Saturday.

While it may be human nature to put things off, only solving problems when the moment strikes, Ricky Ross said he has seen many local drivers already taking the initiative this week to prepare for the cold snap.

Ross is the store manager of the Express Oil Change & Service Center at 526 Jesse Jewell Parkway SW in Gainesville. He said many customers stopped by on Monday and Tuesday to have their coolant checked.

Ross said he expects business to pick up as drivers brave the cold this week.

“Any time the temperature changes, there are problems,” he added.

The wind chill alone might keep some people indoors the next few days, but that presents its own set of problems.

Debbie Lawson Davis, owner of Lawson Air Conditioning and Plumbing in Gainesville, said it’s wise to keep faucets running overnight and sink cabinets open to guard against frozen pipes.

As a backup, Davis said insulating pipes, particularly those exposed to the outside, might be necessary.

One final precaution, Davis said, is to disconnect any garden hoses from exterior faucets.

Of course, with freezing temperatures come huge heating needs, and Davis said she usually doesn’t hear from customers until it’s too late.

“(Residents are) not really going to respond until there is either a failure or a problem,” she added.

As a precaution, Davis advised checking the filters in home heating systems to ensure they are up to par.

For residents with heat pumps, check to make sure they are working properly and understand they lose power when the temperature drops below freezing.

In that case, Davis said, it might be necessary to use emergency or auxiliary heat, though she warned customers that these come with financial costs.

Meanwhile, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens issued a statement Tuesday advising residents to check their homeowners’ and renters’ policies to ensure they are covered against damage caused by frozen and burst pipes, which can lead to flooding and destroy property. 

Hudgens also cautioned that residents trying to stay warm with the use of space heaters or wood stoves need to remember to keep combustible material, such as blankets, at a safe distance to avoid the prospect of starting a fire. 

As winter weather grips the area, protecting your property against the frozen extremes is good for both the bottom line and the upper lip.

But problems are bound to arise for some people, and local mechanics, plumbers and heating specialists are waiting for a surge in demand.

Davis said her company is ready to meet the likely increased demands for services this week posed by the chilly weather. An extra on-call technician will be available after hours over the next few days.

“We like those weather extremes,” Davis said wryly.

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