Cat litter and hair dryers to the rescue
January 30, 2006
Now that the curse of the cotton tail rabbits has passed and we now have cold weather and snow, rather than rain, we would like to share some “local” winter tips:Fierce flat turnsLook out for flat turns when it is icy! Many of Truckee’s neighborhood roads were built without banking the turns. During icy conditions, the combination of speed and the weight of your car can cause you to go straight off the road rather than executing the turn.A couple of these infamous turns are in Tahoe Donner at Northwoods Boulevard above Hansel Avenue and the turn on Schussing at the sewer pump station. Even though we are against sign pollution, it would be nice for the town to post some warning signs at these locations and others around town that continually seem to suck cars off the road. A guard rail or two might also be in order.Pipe problems?A do-it-yourself solution to some of your frozen pipe problems: If you have frozen pipes that are broken and leaking, call the plumber immediately. If you wake up in the morning with no water, even though you had some the night before, we would suggest you get a hair dryer out prior to calling that plumber. If easily accessible, locate the water line under your home where it comes out of the ground and apply heat using the hair dryer (not a propane torch). Try this for five or 10 minutes. If this doesn’t work, call in the experts.When temperatures get down to near zero, it is not totally unusual for your kitchen water lines to freeze. Nearly all kitchen sinks and their associated plumbing are located at an “exterior wall.” In most mountain homes, this is the only case and all other plumbing is run up the interior walls. If this is your problem, get out the old hair dryer and heat the pipes under the sink. If you know it is going to be extremely cold overnight, it is advised you open the cabinet doors under the sink and allow the ambient room temperature to keep the pipes from freezing.Frozen locks?If you have a frozen car lock or padlock, don’t waste your time trying to find a match, cigarette lighter, torch, or even a hair dryer. Simply cup your hand around the lock, place your mouth on your hand (not the lock dummy) and blow through your cupped hand. After awhile the ice will melt and you can insert the key. Cat litter to the rescueAt one time or another most of us have had the occasion of driving to the grocery store, parking in the snow or hard pack, and find that when we return to the car, the warm tires have melted the snow and the car is sitting on four patches of ice. If you are unable to drive off and have no one around to give you a little push, bring out the cat litter. Simply take a hand full for each tire and just throw it toward the spot where the tire meets the surface. Our family has learned to carry a bag of cat litter in the trunks of all our vehicles.Safety with snowblowersMany of us own snow blowers (it’s a badge of localness and “being cheap”). Unfortunately, over the years many of our locals have lost a finger or two while cleaning out a clogged chute. When blowing wet snow, it can accumulate in the chute and totally clog. If your snow blower clogs, turn it off immediately and pull out the key. Then go around the front and use a bar (often times provided on new snow blowers), a pipe, shovel handle, etc. to remove the clog and additional snow in the auger box – get it all. Never reach in with your hands – never! Also, never have someone else start the blower while you are in front of it.To minimize these occurrences, we offer the following advise from Mike Horn, co-owner of Truckee Rents. “To help prevent the snow from sticking, I have heard of people using Pam, Rain-X, automobile wax, silicone spray, etc. to coat the chute, fan and auger box surfaces,” he said. “I suggest annually (or as needed) sanding, cleaning, and then actually painting the areas where the original paint has worn off. You can go to Mountain Hardware and purchase a spray can of Banner Red that matches the Honda Color.”We encourage you to call Truckee Rents for this service and with all your snow blower questions and needs. By the way, Truckee Rents is the No. 1 Honda snow blower distributor in America!Last week’s questionThe answer to last week’s question – “Who was Truckee’s first mayor?” – is of course, Kathleen Eagen. The early bird winner was Joan Jones, and other winners were Charlie White, Charley Brant, and Katie Shaffer. All win chances to our raffle.Norm and Alan of the Nicholls Real Estate Group are affiliated with Dickson Realty in Truckee at 11500 Donner Pass Road.QUESTION OF THE WEEKWe are giving everyone a chance this week and all responses will be winners. Also, we hope that it will give us a straw pole as to the reliability of Truckee’s latest attractions – our parking meters! Question: How many times, and at what locations, have you found your parking meter “out of service”? Please send your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 550-5035.