6 Reasons Why Planning Your Summer Move in the Winter Saves You Money

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My wife thought I was nuts. It was only the end of February, but I was already hauling in piles of used boxes so I could start planning my move. “We’re not moving until the end of June!” she cried, visions in her head of sleeping on the floor between stacks of cardboard boxes, I guess.

I told her I knew what I was doing and disappeared into the basement. And in fact, I did.

There are plenty of understandable reasons not to start planning your move four months ahead of time. But those reasons don’t seem so smart when you suddenly realize you’re moving in three days. 

If you’re looking to move sometime between Memorial Day and Labor Day (along with about 20 million other people) you have even more reason to get a jump-start on things. These are the most practical reasons why.

Researching the Right Things

There is one major reason people end up with crappy movers – or in some cases end up getting scammed by people posing as movers: They didn’t do their homework before hiring them.

What does “homework” mean?

  • Find and read real reviews on your local moving company
  • Look up a moving company’s Better Business Bureau rating
  • Research if a mover is a legally registered transporter of household goods

Particularly if you are moving in the summer (seriously, literally millions and millions of people move between June and August), you want to give yourself time not only to find the right movers – i.e., movers who will treat you right – but you don’t want to miss out on hiring the movers that would have been perfect for you because somebody beat you to it. If you think hiring movers could be expensive, you should see how much hiring bad movers could end up costing you …

You might love our:

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If the quote from your movers felt expensive …
Make sure it lines up with the costs reported by other Americans.

And true, you may not know several months in advance exactly what day you’ll be moving. But don’t wait until a week before you’ve written “Moving!” on your calendar to start doing your homework. Get on it!

Your Sales-Rep Walk-Through

As the summer approaches, moving company sales representatives are just as busy as movers. Sometimes they’re even busier. But having a grasp of what you need ahead of time will prevent from your two-hour move turning into a six-hour one.

Conventional wisdom says you should get at least three in-home estimates if you want an estimate you can be fairly confident in. If you wanted to be absolutely thorough by price and quality, you not only need to find three solid moving companies, you need to find times that work for their three sales reps and for you. The closer you are to move day, the busier you will be. The closer it is to summer the busier they will be.

The good thing is, you don’t have to know when you’re moving to get your estimate.

You do, however, have to know what you will be moving. Of course, you can make some changes down the road if need be. Just be sure to communicate these changes ahead of time, not on move day!

Protip: Your sales rep might notice things you wouldn’t even think about, like the fact that the big office desk you assembled in the spare room isn’t going to fit out the door, or that your massive fish tank will probably need to be crated.

Having the luxury of time to get these unexpected extras taken care of may prove to be a lifesaver.

Creating a Rapport With Your Mover

If you want to be efficient, you don’t want a bunch of perplexed strangers showing up on moving day.

While you won’t have much to worry about if you hire movers through HireAHelper (after 70,000 5-star reviews, we can say things like that), getting to know each other before the actual move day creates a good vibe for both parties. More than this, having time to ask questions and bring up concerns helps your movers prepare for the job ahead. 

By the same token, you can expect your movers to be as busy as you are in the lead-up to your move. Say hello, let them know what you need, let them know you appreciate it, and then step back and let them do their thing. 

Likely a Better Rate

We can’t absolutely guarantee that you’ll end up paying more if you hire your movers in the middle of May rather than the middle of March, but we are dead-certain you won’t save yourself any money by waiting until the last minute to book your movers. Unless of course the only movers left available are sketchy guys with a string of bad reviews. 

If you’re a couple months ahead of the game you’ll likely also get a much better deal on your rental truck. And your chances of nailing down the right size truck for your move also goes way up. (If you do find yourself having trouble scoring a rental truck check the tips we offer in this post.)

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Avoiding Last-Minute Expenses

As move day approaches you’ll be going absolutely nuts tackling a thousand last-minute tasks, from canceling utilities to meeting with your landlord/realtor, to cleaning your apartment well enough to get your deposit back to getting all that non-perishable food to the soup kitchen. It will be in these final frenzied hours and days that you’ll be glad you got a three-month head start.

Packing Costs and Timing

Even if you book your movers (and your rental truck) early, if you have a decent amount of stuff and you’re moving a fair distance, you’re going to have to shell out a good chunk of change for

That’s simply the nature of the beast.

Protip: But while there may be nothing you can do about how far you have to move, you just might feel extra motivated to lighten your load by getting rid of all the stuff you know you don’t really need. (You might also feel a sudden urge to save some bucks by packing up the entire house yourself. Both are easier when you have a bigger window to work in.)

We do guarantee, by the way, that once you start packing, you’ll realize that you have about three times as much stuff as you thought and it’s going to take you quadruple the time.

Yep, if you’re like me, you’ll likely be so tired that you’ll have no problem sleeping on the floor between those stacks of cardboard boxes. But just to be safe, pack your bed last.

How to Survive Driving a Rental Truck in the Snow

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Driving a car through snow and ice ain’t no one’s idea of a picnic. You have to watch your speed. You have to constantly glance in your mirrors. You’ve got to stash the phone away and keep a careful eye out for all the death-defying maniacs out there. (You people in the northeast understand.)

Now, if driving your regular car into the teeth of winter’s fury makes you feel like you’ll never see another spring, imagine how it’s going to feel piloting that rental truck. The weight of your entire material world leaning and swaying behind you as you roll down those same icy roads and onto the unforgiving highway.

Maybe you’re absolutely obligated to move now. Maybe you just think it’s time. Either way, across much of the country the elements can be snarling. Before you load up and put that rental truck in gear, make sure you have all the supplies (and do what you need to do) to make it safely to your new home.

Stuff You Should Have

Here’s a list of essential items. It may seem long, but I’ve needed every single one of these at some point in my long moving career.

  • Good boots
  • Warm clothes—and bring extra everything.
  • Sunglasses (Hats do nothing for you when the sun is reflecting off the snow all over the ground.)
  • Food, water and a first aid kit
  • Flashlight, batteries and blankets
  • Ice scraper
  • Toolkit with basic tools
  • Matches in a plastic bag
  • Wiper fluid, windshield de-icer and a jug of anti-freeze

Additional Emergency Equipment

  • Shovel
  • Bag of sand
  • Set of jumper cables
  • Tow straps

And while getting all this stuff together may seem like a hassle, keep in mind: these things aren’t necessarily just for you. Having them may just mean you save another driver’s day.

Protip: If you are stuck in a snowdrift and need traction to get out, sand is what you want. Rock salt is meant to melt snow, not provide traction. So unless you’re willing to hang around and wait for that rock salt to do its chemical reaction thing, make sure you get some sand.

Maintenance You Should Get

Truck rental places don’t always have their stuff in order, so before you drive off the rental truck lot, make sure all these things are done:

  • Check the anti-freeze and wiper fluid (don’t trust that it’s been done for you). If they’re low, get it taken care of
  • Make sure your truck is properly stocked with spare tire, a jack and a tire iron (You’d be surprised.)
  • Flares and those reflective triangles are critical in the event you break down on the road at night. Your rental truck company may not supply them (Flares, by the way, can also be used to start a fire in an extreme situation, while reflectors become even more important if and when your flares go out.)

Also, are you in a snowy and mountainous region? Tire chains are recommended or, sometimes, required. Check this resource for a state-by-state rundown.

Stuff You Should Remember

  • Drive extra slow. Your loaded rental truck is not going to stop on a dime 
  • Leave extra room ahead of you—Other drivers will try to stop on a dime
  • Be extra aware of icy spots, snow build-up, and drivers who are paying attention to none of it
  • Keep your lights and your mirrors clear of ice, frost and fog (Trust me.)
  • Keep your gas tank no emptier than half full – low fuel levels can lead to water condensation in the fuel line
  • Keep your power usage to a minimum. Cold weather decreases a battery’s output, and when it’s freezing out you’re going to want all the power you can get
  • Keep up to date with future weather conditions and forecasts. Clear weather now doesn’t mean blue skies forever

Final Must-Do’s

  • Make sure you have a mobile phone charger that adapts to whatever type of outlet you have in your truck. When you’re really stuck, that phone might be your last resort. Consider keeping an extra phone, fully-charged, on hand for twice the security
  • Any kind of map is critical. Whether it’s a road atlas or a GPS, be able to determine where you are and where you are going. Know your route as best you can before you even get into that seat

And finally … have a clear head. Be relaxed, be awake and stay alert. Your smarts and your reflexes are your first and best defenses in the face of winter’s fury.

Should You Use Salt or Sand on an Icy Driveway?

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Taking a spill on your icy driveway is bad enough when you’re carrying your car keys. So imagine wiping out while carrying a dresser full of clothes. Scary scenario, for us and for our movers. (And one reason people prefer to move in summer.)

If the forecast for your move date calls for moisture and freezing temps, you might be thinking: Should I cover my front walk and driveway with salt or sand? Here we’re going to tell you all you need to know to keep everyone and everything around you safe.

What to do first.

The best defense is a good offense. If it snows the night before your move, it almost goes without saying that the first thing you’ll want to do is grab a shovel and get to work clearing the area. If you live where temperatures can remain below freezing for days on end (if not weeks—hello, Minnesota!), then you’ll understand the importance of shoveling your driveway before all that snow gets packed down and turns to ice.

Yes, we totally understand. The lead-up to move day can be absolutely insane. If you can’t find time to clear all that snow, you might want to give the neighbor’s kid a few bucks to do it for you. Trust me, you’ll find it’s a wise investment of both money and time.

Now let’s decide whether to melt that ice or cover it up.

Choose Your Weapon

If Mother Nature insists on coating the driveway with ice, we have two choices. We can either melt it or cover it up. The answer depends on how cold it is, as well as how much you care if it gets into the environment. In either case, the biggest priority is traction.

The case for sand.

Covering up ice in our way can be quick and pretty easy. All we need is a bag or two of sand. It’s potentially less toxic and cheaper to get. Just keep in mind these few things:

  • Since sand provides traction, once it gets ground into the snow or ice it becomes less effective. As many times as you or your movers will be walking back and forth on it, you’ll likely have to put more down once or twice during the move.
  • In extremely cold temperatures, sand can freeze in hazardous clumps. Some suggest adding salt to the sand to help prevent this from happening, but if it’s cold enough, that salt won’t help either (more on that in a minute).
  • Sand comes in several varieties. The stuff explicitly meant for icy roads is better than sandbox sand, which in turn is better than something like mason’s sand. In other words, the grittier, the better.
  • After the fact, sand can collect in drainage systems and the soil, eventually clogging up lakes, streams, pipes and sewers. That means it’s also getting into our drinking water. Clean up what you can or give the neighbor’s kid a few more bucks to make sure it’s cleaned.

The case for salt.

Instead of covering your packed snow and ice with sand, you can try melting it with salt. Because it’s specifically designed for this purpose, it can definitely be an attractive option.

Running out and buying the biggest, cheapest bag you can find might be your first instinct, but as with sand, there are a few things to consider.

  • Driveway salt, sometimes called “rock salt”, doesn’t melt ice like, say, a hot rock or a flamethrower would. This is how the stuff works: when mixed with water, it forms a liquid brine (a fancy name for salt water) which has a lower freezing point than pure water. This brine then acts to lower the freezing point of the water it comes in contact with, effectively melting italthough only down to a certain degree. (Brine that is 20% salt will still freeze below 0˚F.)
  • Throwing some salt down on your icy driveway will get you nowhere if it’s too cold for the salt to actually mix with the ice! The salt needs to draw moisture from the air to create a brine which will act on the ice it touches, which will melt and further the reaction. Alternatively, there needs to be some heat, from the sun or from friction, to initiate the melting process. In other words, don’t wait until your movers are pulling up to your house before you start throwing that salt around.

Other concerns about salt.

The cheapest and most plentiful salt you’ll find is basically table salt, or sodium chloride (NaCl). That may sound perfectly safe, but do be aware:

  • That salt may contain small amounts of cyanide, which isn’t exactly good for any curious pets or animals.
  • Using salt can cause metal to rust and can damage blacktop, cement, flagstone, brick, wood and pretty much anything else your driveway is (or has). If you’re interested, this damage is not merely from the salt, but from the increase in freeze/thaw cycles that come with the brine’s lower freezing point, which can begin to break down the integrity of the surface with which it is in contact.
  • Got a cool yard? Salt can damage plants by inhibiting their ability to absorb water and nutrients. Salt also leaches heavy metals into the water supply.
  • Got pets? If salt gets lodged in your pet’s paws, it can cause a nasty burning.

There are also salt and sand alternatives.

Alternatives to salt would more accurately be called “variations of salt” and have a spectrum of merits. While you can probably find any of these at a store, which one to pick is most dependant on exactly how cold it is where you are.

  • Calcium chloride (CaCl): Covers a wider area than rock salt with a lower freezing point (around minus 25˚F). It also works more quickly because it gives off heat as it dissolves. Like rock salt, calcium chloride is corrosive to metal and can leave a slimy residue. It also encourages algae growth which clogs waterways.
  • Magnesium chloride: It’s similar to calcium chloride, albeit somewhat less corrosive, and will begin to absorb moisture from the air at 32% humidity, speeding up the melting process.
  • Potassium chloride (KCl): Despite its use for executions by lethal injection, is safer for pets and plants than calcium chloride. With a freezing point of around 12˚F, it is also less effective.
  • Nitrogen-based urea products: This is similar to fertilizers in that they are expensive, ineffective under 20˚F and, like other salts, will eventually get into the water supply, lakes and streams.
  • Calcium Magnesium Acetate (CMA): Can prevent ice down to around minus 27˚F and is much more environmentally friendly than the abovementioned salts – at a much higher price.

More eco-friendly alternatives?

With all the pros and cons of these salts and chemicals, you may be wondering, “Is there an eco-friendly way to de-ice my driveway?”

Yes. Maybe. It depends on your definition of “eco-friendly” and your motivation to be so.

Grist offers a few eco-ish alternatives to rock salt in an editorial. GreenMoxie also goes all out.

But what everyone seems to agree on – including us – is that there’s no better way to keep your driveway and your front walk clear of ice than grabbing that shovel and getting to work.

Or, like we said, get the neighbor’s kid to do it.

Final tips.

  • Salt the day before your move, clearing away any chunks or other bits to help keep it all from refreezing overnight.
  • Applying salt the morning of your move? The heat from all the foot traffic will help the melting process, but in the meantime, scattering some sand on top wouldn’t hurt.
  • Get an idea of how much square footage you’ll need to cover before you run out to grab that salt or sand. If a sales assistant isn’t there to help, you might find how much you need right on the bag.

And remember, get rid of whatever snow and ice you can along the way. Your movers will love you for it.

Every Last Thing You Should Know About Driving Your Moving Truck in the Fall

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Moving in the fall is easier on the schedule, but harder on basically everything else. As such, we offer the following morsels of random fall knowledge. Well actually, it’s knowledge that can make the difference between a safe drive and an accident. Knowing this stuff can prevent disaster, making your off-season move an uneventful success. Remember…

Keep these things on hand when you move during the fall.

A good place to start is a list of the bits and pieces to have on hand during cold weather driving and moving:

  • Flashlight
  • Blankets
  • Ice scraper
  • Charged cell phone
  • Emergency flares
  • (Working) spare tire
  • Tools to apply spare tires
  • Salt or sand
  • Shovel
  • Cash

A flashlight, blankets and an ice scraper are obvious items. Also have a charged-up cell phone, emergency flares, a (working) spare tire and all the necessary tools and skills to put that spare on. Salt or sand can get you out of a slippery spot, and a shovel can get you out of a deep and powdery one. Food, drink and cash are good to have too.

The fall is when deer mate.

moving in the fall

Research by the Pennsylvania Game Commission found that the “rut” – the mating season for deer – occurs between mid-October and mid-December, with the peak coming in mid-November. This means as autumn creeps toward winter, the bucks are chasing the does all over the forest – and all over the road. At dusk or dawn is when they are generally most active.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tells us that around 1.5 million deer-vehicle crashes occur annually on U.S. roads, most of them occurring during this annual rut. While a rental moving truck might do more damage to a deer than vice versa, losing control of your vehicle after hitting or avoiding a deer, then plowing into a stationary object and/or overturning is a common and very real danger. Be on the lookout for deer and other nocturnal critters, particularly along rural roads, and while driving through forested areas.

The optimal air pressure for your tires is NOT what’s molded into your tires’ sidewalls.

moving in the fall

That psi figure on your Michelins is the maximum air pressure they are designed to handle, not what they should be inflated to. For that information, check the decal on the door jamb of your vehicle’s driver side door or the specs laid out in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Then get your tires checked.

Why is this a problem? Over-inflated tires have less contact surface with the road, which is bad news for a loaded box truck on wet, potentially icy pavement. Excess air pressure also increases your chances of having a blowout. This is in addition to the harsh, uncomfortable ride that stiff, over-inflated tires provide.

On the flip side, under-inflated tires can lower steering precision and cornering stability, things you don’t want to lose in any conditions, let alone on a slippery road. Interestingly, low air pressure, just like high air pressure, can heighten the possibility of a blowout. In addition, keep in mind that cooler temperatures can further decrease air pressure, so check your tires as the weather turns colder.

Be careful where you park. (Also, what’s a catalytic converter?) 

moving in the fall

Did you know if your catalytic converter is clogged or being over-worked, it can get hotter than 1,600 degrees? (A catalytic converter, by the way, is a wonderful bit of chemistry and science that converts toxic by-products of engine combustion into less harmful gases.) Catalytic converters on your car are built and installed with a heat shield, but at those temps, there can still be more than enough heat emanating from the bottom of your vehicle to set a pile of leaves smoking. A moving truck sits relatively high off the ground, so the converter – located along the exhaust pipe between the engine and the muffler – may not pose as big a threat to a pile of leaves as the one on your car.

Either way, all this to say that parking on a pile of leaves is never a good idea. Aside from the potential for fire, leaf piles can hide things like potholes, debris and playful little children.

Sticking with the subject of leaves, never forget that they don’t have to be in a pile to be a hazard. Wet leaves can make for a mighty slick surface that can turn icy and even more slippery during the chilly late-year night. Dry, new-fallen leaves can hide puddles and ice patches as well.

Black ice is sneaky and terrible.

moving in the fall

There’s a special term for water that freezes without air bubbles getting trapped inside; It’s called black ice. (Okay, so maybe you’ve heard of it.) Black ice, of course, is not actually black, but that absence of air bubbles combined with our vantage point as we roll along the pavement makes it appear black. It also looks like nothing more than a wet spot on the road, which is what makes it so innocuous, and therefore extremely dangerous.

Black ice is able to form on road surfaces when there is little to no traffic to disrupt the freezing process. Early morning, then, is when the danger is particularly prevalent. Be alert on those quiet country roads as well!

Consider what you wipe condensation off with.

Cloth diapers are better than disposable ones. I’m talking, of course, about clearing the condensation off the inside of your windshield. Particularly when you combine the cool and moist fall weather with a malfunctioning rental truck defroster, having a cotton rag or an old t-shirt (or a throwback from the pre-Pamper days) can help you keep your windshield clean and your visibility high. In a pinch, wiping your windshield with your hand is a temporary fix during the day. But at night, the smears your skin leaves behind creates a nasty situation when the headlights from oncoming cars begin to shine through.

Worried about glare? Driving west in the morning – or east in the evening – will not help.

moving in the fall

This is a consideration all throughout the year, but during the shorter days of the year, the sun can still be on the rise while we head out in the morning and can start sinking long before it’s time to call it a day. And while driving straight into the sun is no fun, facing away from it doesn’t completely save us either.

That’s because the sudden glare in the side view mirror as we turn can be blinding and can affect our vision even when that glare is gone. A bright sun behind us can also make it difficult to see what color that traffic signal is in front of us, let alone see if it’s changing. Also consider that when the sun is behind you, it’s directly in front of everybody going the other way!

Even when the sun is higher in the sky, any snow on the ground can produce a headache-inducing glare. Simply put? Those Ray-Bans aren’t just for summer.

Freezing fog is a real thing.

moving in the fall

No, it’s not the latest trend in teenage mischief. Freezing fog, as the NOAA puts it, is made of “tiny, super-cooled liquid water droplets (that) can freeze instantly on exposed surfaces (and) can cause black ice to form on roadways.” So if a thick fog weren’t tough enough to drive in, there’s also the potential for black ice forming on the road surface when it’s cold enough.

In any event, reduced visibility from fog demands lower speeds and low headlights (not high beams, which cause more glare than visibility). And since fog is a result of the mixture of moisture and cool air, it is most prevalent at dawn in the colder months, particularly in hilly or mountainous terrain.

Even if you think visibility is not all that bad, remember that your headlights do more than just help you see the road. They also help others see you. And keep in mind that when you turn on your headlights, your tail lights come on too, which can keep speedy and inattentive drivers from slamming into you from behind.

If you don’t know all the specifics – of how catalytic converters work, how black ice forms, or how a doe chooses her buck – that’s quite all right. Just remember that the first can be hot, the second can be deceptive, and those deer can come out of nowhere fast. So make sure you’re prepared for them, and everything else these cooler, shorter days throw at us during your chilly move.

The Moving Company That Moves in Sub-Zero Temperatures

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Still chilly? Thawing out? Haven’t worn anything but a t-shirt all year? Whatever kind of winter you’ve had, we can say two things with near-certainty:

  1. We’re all looking forward to the gentle spring weather (Keep quiet down there all you Deep-Southers!)
  2. None of us has had the winter Two Small Men With Big Hearts Moving had this past year – and probably have every year.

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The Holidays Are Seriously Less Than a Month Away, so Check out These Holiday Cards

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We’re still all about that snail mail (as evidenced by this post and this one.) We think it’s the pitch-perfect thing to do for all your favorite people. And guess what? It’s doubly impactful if you’ve moved recently because what better way to get your new address into the hands of everyone you know?

Last year we shared some of our favorite holiday cards. This year the list is back with the latest and greatest options available online, and boy are there some adorable ones! Almost makes us wish we moved this year… let’s check them out!

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Cozy Up! Making Your Home Feel Like Fall Is Finally Here

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We are big fans of the fall season…there’s just something about the crisp air, falling leaves and fall activities that gets us all giddy. Plus, how can we not mention PSL lattes?! Yes…this season is a good one!

To us, Fall is all about being COZY. Cozy sweaters, cozy blankets and a cozy atmosphere indoors. But how can you really make your home feel like the season has officially changed? We have five easy ways you can cozy up your home for Fall, and they’ll all add a special warmth to your place that we wouldn’t want to be without.

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The Home Checklist That Gets You Ready for Fall

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And just like that, summer is officially over.

We don’t know about you, but the great news is that we both adore the Fall season. There’s just something about the crisp air and the falling leaves that gets us both giddy! But before we officially dive head first into the new season, we want to make sure that our homes are “de-summered” and prepped for autumn.

If you’re looking for a little guidance when it comes to home maintenance, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a checklist of things you’ll want to do in order to be 100% ready for the Fall months.

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Beating Back Old Man Winter: Safety Tips

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Old Man Winter's Truck

And Staying Safe in the Process

Last month at a moving company warehouse in New Jersey, employees found themselves scrambling to find the cutoff valve to a gas line that had been struck by a forklift. While it is true not all of us have forklifts – or warehouses – the looming winter gives us good reason to go over a few safety points.

FEMA lays out a comprehensive checklist for keeping ourselves, our spaces and our vehicles safe in the extreme cold of winter (no wise cracks from those of you in the south please). Here are a few salient highlights:

  • Along with insulating pipes, FEMA suggests allowing faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • Carry sand with you, to improve vehicle traction. Even if you are only loading/unloading consider having some on hand. It also helps you keep your footing on icy steps and front walks.
  • Maintain a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing. Fuel additives may help as well.
  • Check the oil in your vehicles for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone knows how to use them. Fires pose an increased risk in cold weather as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • A good amount of FEMA’s advice might be common sense but it never hurts to refresh the memory and double-check to make sure we all (in the north) are ready for Old Man Winter.

You guys down south, you can just keep your jokes to yourselves…

___
Photo Credit to B K

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