Your Place: Winterize snow blowers, gutters, and put away hoses

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

I chuckled as I wrote this in December because it had been warmer than usual and the next several days promised to be in the upper 50s and mid-60s, if one believes the weather forecasters (I don’t).

What I offer are suggestions from the people who make the Snow Joe Hybrid iON, a snow blower that operates on either a lithium battery or an AC power cord.

As veteran readers know, I bought a gas-driven snow thrower/blower in the fall of 1997 after having weathered the winter of 1996 and its record snowfalls.

A mild spell ensued, and I finally got to try it out on New Year’s Eve of 1999, to extricate the car so we could go cross-country skiing on the frozen Wissahickon.

I rarely use the machine, even with a five-car length driveway. It is stored in my next door neighbor’s garage, which is closer than mine is to the street.

Which reminds me to ask Phil whether he’s done annual maintenance on the blower — just in case.

Anyway, in anticipation of a powerful el Niño, and in the event that you are not reading this standing in two feet of snow, here are some ways to, in the words of whatever local station says it, keep you "ahead of the storm."

Trim branches away from the house and electrical wires. In an ice storm they can cause property damage or outages.

Service the snow blower for winter: Much like a car, gas snow blower engines require oil changes and regular maintenance; while new electric versions are virtually maintenance-free (hear that, Phil?).

Secure and clear gutters: Heavy snow can stress loosely secured gutters, and blocked gutters prevent snowmelt from running away from the home’s foundation.

Remove outdoor hoses and cover outdoor faucets: Hoses left in the snow are prone to cracks, while uncovered outdoor faucets are vulnerable to water damage.

Clean and protect wood decks: Pressure-wash wood decks and apply a water-repellent finish to help prevent damage from snow and ice.

If you can’t do this yourself, find someone to do it.

Take no risks.