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Experts Warn Utahns To Prepare For Sub-Freezing Temperatures

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The National Weather Service issued a hard freeze warning beginning Wednesday at 8 p.m. and lasting through 10 a.m. Friday for areas along the Wasatch Front.

With the unusually cold weather expected to hit Utah later this week, we decided to look at a few things we can all do to prepare before temperatures drop below freezing across most of the state.

Vehicles

Dino Taylor, a mechanic at Diagnostic Automotive in Riverton, said the most important thing you can do to prepare your car for colder weather is to check your car’s battery and anti-freeze.

There are strips that can be used to dip into your anti-freeze to determine if the liquid will still do the job to protect your engine.

Car batteries can be tested to make sure there is enough of a charge to get through a cold morning.

Most garages and car shops can do this for free.

“You don’t want to be stranded when it gets cold,” Taylor said. “The last thing I want to do is go out in the morning when it gets cold and you’re stuck. Then, you’re going to be late for work and all that stuff, so you can avoid that stuff with just a few simple ideas, you know?”

It might be a tad early to think about snow tires, but Lance Kueffner, who also works at Diagnostic Automotive, said ever since safety inspections are no longer required in Utah, there are a lot of bad tires out on the roads.

“You want to check them and make sure there is enough tread on them to get you through,” Kueffner said. “You can bring your car into the shop and we’ll check it out for you. Any mechanic will know what to look for if you’re unsure.”

Sprinklers

If you have a sprinkler system at home, it’s important to make sure the water is shut off to the lines when it comes to getting ready for colder weather.

Otherwise, things could be a big mess come springtime when you turn your system back on.

That’s because any water left in the line will freeze and crack pipes — even metal pipes can be cracked in colder weather.

Rob Alldredge, who works at Sprinkler World in Sandy and has more than two decades of experience with sprinklers, said there are two ways to get water out of your system even after you shut it down.

The first way is to hire someone to blow air through the system, which forces any remaining water in the lines to go out the end.

The other way is to install drainage valves throughout your system.

Installing drainage valves requires digging to your pipes, cutting them and installing the valve between the cuts.

A sprinkler drainage valve

However, it’s effective in allowing water to drain out of the line, so when it freezes, there’s little water left to expand and crack the pipe.

“You really do want to make sure that you’re getting the water out of there,” Alldredge said. “These are investments that we make and we should protect them. Absolutely. It’s a lot cheaper than fixing the line after it breaks.”

Furnaces

Many of us have been there — we turn on our heating system the first time it gets a little chilly and panic when no hot air comes out the vents.

“Minutes seem like hours when you’re really cold,” said Dave Cole, who is an HVAC technician for Whipple Heating & Air in Salt Lake City.

Furnaces are kind of unique in that we don’t use them for months.

Then, when we move the little switch to heat and it doesn’t work properly, we call a professional.

And then we’re on a waitlist with everyone else who did the very same thing.

That’s why it’s important to schedule a tune-up before a little part, like a capacitor, becomes a big problem.

“A capacitor helps a motor run, and a capacitor is cheap, but when it goes out, it ruins the motor,” Cole said. “So, it costs you five times more to replace the motor instead of the cheap capacitor.”

With routine maintenance, a furnace can last 20-30 years.

As cold temperatures hit the Beehive State later this week, a lot of people are going to soon find out if their furnace is ready.

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