Whether you use your garage as a place to park your vehicles, or as more of a workshop, now’s the time to get it ready for the winter season. But either way, it can be a daunting task, and you may not know where to start.
In an article for The Drive, Andréana Lefton walks us through some of the steps to take now to ensure your garage is able to serve its purpose all winter long. Here’s what to know.
Declutter by donating
Before the weather turns, Lefton recommends doing your spring cleaning in the fall. The first step is taking a lap around the garage and looking for things that you no longer need and can donate. Move those out to give yourself more room, and then bring them to a local donation site.
Get rid of old chemicals and other hazards
Next, get rid of any old chemicals, as Lefton says that fluctuating temperatures and cold weather in general can cause liquids to expand and contract—in some cases, resulting in their containers warping or shattering, and possibly, a chemical spill.
Gather up old paint and any other potentially toxic substances, along with dead car batteries and anything else you shouldn’t put in your regular garbage collection, and bring them to a hazardous waste disposal site, Lefton advises.
Make sure any chemicals you’re keeping are stored safely
Of course, you won’t want to get rid of all your chemicals and other liquids, so take the time to place those that you want to keep in cabinets or temperature-controlled spaces so they won’t freeze, Lefton says. “Wrap extra car batteries in insulation to prevent freezing and cracking,” she adds. “Protect metal tools and parts from moisture by safely storing in a toolbox or well-sealed drawer.”
Organize everything else
Now that you’ve cleared out some of the clutter and safely stored your chemicals and liquids, go through the garage and organize what’s left, utilizing any existing shelving, hooks, or wall racks.
If you don’t already have these installed in your garage, Lefton recommends doing it now, but that may be more of a project than you can handle at the moment. Either way, try to get as much up off the floor as possible, and then sweep it, checking for cracks and signs of leaks and pests as you go.
Make sure your winter tools and supplies are handy
Once everything is (relatively) tidy, find the items you use each winter—stuff like shovels, the snowblower, fuel for the snowblower, tools you may need to fix it (or your vehicle), etc.—and make sure they’re easily accessible. Then, check to see if you have any sand, salt, and/or deicer leftover from last year, and if not, stock up on the one(s) you use, Lefton advises.
Weatherize the garage
If you have more time and want to winterize your garage, now’s the time to do it. Here are the tasks Lefton recommends:
- Replace old weatherstripping (especially if it has shrunk or become brittle over time)
- Re-caulk doors and windows
- Check garage door cables and rollers for wear and tear, then use a lubricating spray on all moving components
- Cover exposed pipes with foil or fiberglass insulation
- Seal smaller openings like electrical outlets (and use fire-blocking caulk for those)
If you don’t have the time to weatherproof your garage right now, even just having a clean and organized space will help to get through the winter. You can always tackle the other projects next year.