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7 Horrible “Helpful” Winter Home & Car Tips

December 15, 2015

If you’ve jumped on Facebook or Twitter recently, you might have seen a set of “helpful winter car tips” floating around on the feeds. Tips like “leaving your headlights on overnight to prevent them from freezing” might sound like an appealing hack if you’re not familiar with how to take care of your car in the cold weather.

Hopefully, you realize these “tips” are meant to be funny, and in all seriousness, haven’t put any of them into practice. Taking cue from these car tips, we’ll dispel 7 popular “tips” and offer up safer techniques you can try to take care of your home (and car!) this winter:

"Helpful" Tip #1:

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Try this instead: Toothpaste and wax

If you're worried about headlights freezing overnight, cover each light with toothpaste and rinse off with warm water. This will drastically improve the clarity of your lights and is so much cheaper than the kits they sell at the store that provide the same service. Bonus headlight protection: apply a layer of wax after you’ve removed the toothpaste. It will keep snow and water from sticking to them for weeks!

"Helpful" Tip #2:

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Try this instead: Rock salt / cat litter

Not only is spraying your driveway dangerous (have you ever slipped on ice?) it's much safer to grab a bag of rock salt and sprinkle it around your driveway to melt away snow. If your car is stuck in the driveway around high piles of snow, keep a couple twenty pound bags of kitty litter in your trunk. They’ll put some weight on your back tires — which is great for traction if you have rear-wheel drive — and if you do get stuck you’ll have something to provide a little traction. 

"Helpful" Tip #3:

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Try this instead: The safest hack here is to consider purchasing a set of snow tires. Tires are one thing you just don’t mess with.

Unlike winter tires, summer tires are made from a harder, more durable rubber, so they last longer. However, winter tires are safer in snowy weather so the first thing you should do to be safe is grab a set of winter tires for your car. At the very least, if your tires are properly inflated, grab a set of snow chains if you have long treks ahead.

"Helpful" Tip #4:

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Try this instead: The “disconnect, inspect, drain and protect” method

Hose bib covers can be found in most hardware or home improvement stores and are very inexpensive and easy to install. First things first, no matter what kind of hose bibs you have, freeze proof or not, it is very important to remove hoses, splitters or connections from the spigot during the winter. Then inspect the bibs and fixtures for leaks and drips, and replace anything before the temperatures fall. Get all the water out of your pipes and if you have a hose bib that is not freeze proof the best way to do this is to shut off that line if possible and drain it down. The last step to winterize outdoor faucets is to protect them with insulation. An easy way to do this is to install a hose bib cover on each outdoor fixture including frost free hose bibs.

"Helpful" Tip #5:

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Try this instead: Install a proper home ventilation system

If you’re heating your home in winter, you’re not going to be leaving your windows open at the same time. Despite the lack of fresh cold air, the cost of leaving your windows open during cold weather doesn’t make sense. Yes, we need fresh air but you should also be smart about getting it into your home. Keep your home vented properly. Use bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans. If you absolutely must bring in fresh air, you might want to install an in-window air exchange system that pulls in filtered outside air without letting heated air escape.  

"Helpful" Tip #6:

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Try this instead: Use a space heater, heat lamp, or hair dryer to thaw the frozen length of pipe.

You can keep unprotected pipes above freezing by simply placing an electric heater near them. Remember, the goal is not to make the space toasty warm and comfortable. It's to keep the water in the pipe above freezing.

"Helpful" Tip #7:

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Try this instead: When faced with a frozen lock, look to your medicine cabinet and grab some rubbing alcohol

Take ½ cup of rubbing alcohol (60% alcohol) and mix with 1 cup warm water. Put in a spray bottle and shake around. Then, spray directly on a frozen lock to melt the ice away.


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