If you're like most homeowners, your garage is a place where you store some of your most expensive belongings, including your car, tools and other toys. As the weather gets colder, an improperly-winterized garage can leave everything stored inside vulnerable to the chilly temperatures. Preparing your garage to handle the winter doesn't need to take a lot of time, or cost you a small fortune. Here are a few simple tips to help you get your garage ready for the cold, ice and snow:

Lubricate the Moving Metal Parts

Your garage door is constructed from several moving parts, and like all moving parts, they will produce friction. In order to keep your garage door running smoothly, it's important to apply lubrication—especially before the winter. Lubricating the metal moving parts of your garage door prior to the chilly temperatures will help ensure it doesn't break down when you need it most.

Here are the parts of your garage door you should examine and lubricate:

Springs—The springs are responsible for moving your garage door up and down, which is critical all year round, but especially in the winter. Wipe down the springs with a cloth before applying a thin layer of lubricant.

Hinges—If the hinges on your garage door are constructed from plastic, don't apply any lubricant. In addition to not needing lubricant, applying the product can actually cause them to degrade. Go ahead and rub a small amount of lubricant on the metal hinges to help keep them working properly.

Tracks—One of the most critical parts of your garage door that requires lubrication is the tracks. Before applying the lubrication, wipe down the tracks with a cloth. Next, apply the lubrication and wipe off any excess. Don't apply too much because it will drip on the garage floor, which can lead to a nasty slip and fall accident.

Take a Closer Look at the Bottom Seal

After you lubricate all of the metal moving parts, it's time to examine the bottom seal. If the bottom seal is severely cracked or broken, it will require replacement. Luckily, this is a simple project that can be accomplished in a single afternoon.

Begin by measuring the length of the bottom of your garage door. This is critical because you will need to purchase a bottom seal kit from your local home improvement store that will fit. Next, remove the existing bottom seal, if there is one, with a flat bar or pry bar and a hammer. Next, if necessary, cut the bottom seal to fit the garage door with a utility knife.

Next, it's time to attach the new bottom seal. If you have a wooden garage door, you will need galvanized nails. For metal garage doors, you will need sheet metal screws. All you need to do is hold the strip against the bottom of your door and attach it with the appropriate screws.

If Your Garage Door Freezes Shut

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts, your garage door might actually freeze shut. Luckily, it doesn't take a lot of effort to get your door to open. For example, begin by trying pouring very hot water on any spots that you notice ice. If this isn't effective, move on to chipping at the ice with a hammer and chisel.

If you can't get the door open, call companies like Raynor Door Company for help. Your garage door may have multiple settings, and a professional will know how to adjust the setting to provide more power to the door mechanism.

Protecting your garage from the ice, snow and cold of winter is critical. This tips should hopefully help.