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Winter Preparedness: Handy Household Tips for Weathering the Winter

With a bit of planning and preparation ahead of winter's fury, you'll be safer, warmer and downright cozier!

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Build a Mitten and Shoe DryerFamily Handyman

Build a Mitten and Shoe Dryer

Drill pairs of 1/8-in. holes in a scrap of 2x4 and insert U-shaped pieces of galvanized 14-gauge wire. If you have forced-air heat, drill 1-in. holes between the pairs of 1/8-in. holes using a spade bit, and set the rack on a register for fast drying.

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Fireplace Jump-StartFamily Handyman

Fireplace Jump-Start

If your fireplace won't draw smoke up the chimney when you first start a fire, try opening a window near the fireplace. (Don't have a fireplace? Here's how to intall one.) That allows air to flow into the room and up the chimney. If that doesn't work, preheat the chimney before you start a fire: Blast hot air up into the chimney using a hair dryer or, better yet, a heat gun.

Image Credit: Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

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Carbon Monoxide SeasonFamily Handyman

Carbon Monoxide Season

You've got a house full of guests, so the oven and stove are working overtime, the water heater is struggling to keep up with demand, the fireplace is burning and the furnace is fighting the cold. It's the perfect setting for carbon monoxide buildup. So if you don't already have a UL-listed carbon monoxide detector, put it at the top of your shopping list. Detectors are available at home centers and discount stores. Get more information about carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and keep your family and friends safe all year.

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Ax Handle ArmorFamily Handyman

Ax Handle Armor

Splitting firewood is tough on ax and maul handles, especially near the head where near misses leave the handle gouged and splintered. To protect the handle, wrap it tightly with 18-gauge wire, then cover the wire with duct tape. And if your ax handle needs to be repaired, here's how to fix it.

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Behind the Door Storage: Closet Glove RackFamily Handyman

Behind the Door Storage: Closet Glove Rack

If you don't have radiators, finding a good spot to dry wet hats and mittens can be tough. Tossing them into a plastic bin gets them out of the way, but they never dry and it's no fun putting on damp mittens in the morning. This simple back-of-the-door glove and cap rack allows wet things to dry and keeps easily misplaced items organized. Just string clothespins on aluminum wire (it won't rust) and stretch it between screw eyes on the back of a closet door. This also works great out in the garage for drying garden and work gloves. Make your own mitten drying rack with these inspirational ideas.

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Wet Boot StorageFamily Handyman

Wet Boot Storage

What do you get when you mix boots and winter weather? A dirty, slippery floor (and wet socks). Make life neater and safer for everyone in your house by building this simple boot tray. All you need is a plastic tray or a large metal baking sheet with a lip. Put a layer of medium-size stones in the tray so the boots can drain. To keep the stones in place and give the tray a handsome finished look, build a 1x2 frame around the tray and paint it the same color as the trim in your entryway. Want to really pump up your entryway or foyer? Check out these DIY mudroom storage cubbies.

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Fast, Inexpensive TableFamily Handyman

Fast, Inexpensive Table

Aunt Edna just called to tell you she's coming for the holidays (and bringing some nice people she met hanging around the bus station). Trouble is, you don't have enough table space. Don't worry; just run to the home center and get a 10-ft. length of 3-in. PVC pipe, four 3-in. toilet flanges and a hollow-core door. Hollow-core 'slabs' are 80 in. long and available from 28 to 36 in. wide. Cut the PVC to make legs and assemble the table as shown. And then check out our tips for finishing a table top. It's not a masterpiece, but under a tablecloth it looks fine. Plus it's light-weight and easy to disassemble and store until next year. Just remember that hollow-core doors aren't very strong; don't sit or stand on the table.

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Switch to Winter Wiper BladesFamily Handyman

Switch to Winter Wiper Blades

It's snowing hard and you turn on the wipers. The blade supports get packed with snow and the wiper blade either causes streaks or misses large swaths of your windshield. Regular blades often become clogged with snow and ice. The rubber covering on winter blades prevents that problem. The entire blade is wrapped in a rubber boot that prevents ice and snow from sticking or packing. They make for much better visibility and safer winter driving. Here's how to replace your wiper blades.

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Install Quilted Curtains to Block DraftsFamily Handyman

Install Quilted Curtains to Block Drafts

If you're turning up the heat in the house to compensate for drafty windows, consider quilted curtains, which can increase your comfort and let you keep the temp down. Here's why winter curtains are great for insulating your home. The curtains are available in various colors, patterns and sizes. Search for 'quilted curtain' online to find retailers. A curtain can be installed in less than 10 minutes on your existing curtain rod.

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4 Critical Places to Lube Your Car Before WinterFamily Handyman

4 Critical Places to Lube Your Car Before Winter

When cold weather is right around the corner, that's the time to get your car ready for winter driving: lube locks, latches, hinges, window channels and weather stripping. Proper lube can prevent binding and freezing and save you the cost of a busted regulator. You can lube your entire vehicle in less than 20 minutes. All you need is dry Teflon spray, spray lithium grease, a rag and glass cleaner.

Start with the window channels. Lower the window glass and shoot dry Teflon spray down the front, rear and top window channels on each door. Soak the channels. Then run the window up and down several times to spread the lube. Finally, raise the window and clean off overspray with glass cleaner.

Then shoot the door and trunk/hatch lock cylinders. Use the spray straw to force the lock 'door' open. Then inject a quick shot of dry Teflon spray into the lock cylinder. Insert your key and rotate the lock to spread the lube.

Next coat all the weather stripping with dry Teflon spray. Then spread it with a cloth. Finish the job by lubing the hood, trunk or tailgate latches with lithium grease. Then spray the door hinges. Operate the latches and doors several times to spread the grease.