The frost barely touches the ground before you start seeing ads for winterizing everything, including your car, your heater and your sprinkler system.
Obviously, nobody wants to risk a problem with their investments. But do you really have to add this to your stacked to-do list if everything is in good working order?
Here are a few things to consider before you run out and pay for a winterization package that may not be necessary.
Even though most auto service shops offer deals on winterizing cars, you may not need a full overview if you’ve changed your oil frequently and kept up with the maintenance schedule for the make and model of your car.
It’s easy to check your fluid levels and tire pressure yourself, as well as the wear on your wipers.
However tire tread, battery and brakes are nothing to mess with in the wintertime, and are worth a look from an expert.
If you don’t know someone good with cars who can take a peek, visit the service shop and ask them just to check into the areas you’re concerned with. This will save you from having to purchase an entire package.
Replacing a heater in the middle of winter is always a major inconvenience, especially since wait times can be long. Not to mention the risk you can run leaving your AC unit exposed to the elements.
If your units are working properly, though, and you’ve done your due diligence to replace filters, you don’t always need to pay a service to come out. One easy way to prepare is to remove your grilles and floor registers and clean out the air ducts. A lot of dust and debris can get trapped there, making your heating unit work harder.
You can also place a board over your outdoor AC unit and secure it with bricks or stones so it doesn’t gather dirt and debris during the colder months.
If you’re concerned about performance, seek a professional so you remain safe and warm. If that’s not an issue, consider saving yourself the service bill.
Not everyone has one of these, but if you do, you may not realize that failing to blow out remnant water from the system can cause long-term damage. While it is possible to do this yourself, it requires an air compressor and some additional tools.
You can pay a lawn service to do this for you, running around $50 to $60. This is one service worth the payment, since a heavy-duty compressor is $500 or more. It would take a long time to make the investment back.
If you have your lawn serviced throughout the year, ask if they can give you a discount for this annual job.
I hope these tips help you identify some of the most important things to check and winterize as it gets colder, and save yourself some money where you can.
Kat’s Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, when not blogging or caring for her little ones, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit Union. For more financial chatter, visit http://communityamerica.com.