18 Ways to Get Your Maryland Home Ready for Winter
It definitely gets cold around the Maryland area this time of year and as we are heading into winter, more and more homeowners are winterizing their homes, condominiums, or even vacation homes. Freezing temperatures can definitely cause significant damage to a home, regardless of whether it's a condo, brand-new construction, or existing home. Broken pipes, leaky basements, and frozen downspouts can wreak havoc on the construction and integrity of a home. If you're planning to winterize your home this year, start with these 18 tips.
#1. Examination of the roof.
If you can manage it and it's not too risky, take a visual inspection of your roof with a ladder and check for any loose shingles or tiles. Be extra cautious around vents and seams where the materials can expand and contract with the weather. If there are any cracked or broken tiles, shingles, or composition slats, you may be able to fix them yourself otherwise: a professional roofer to patch up before the weather turns really bad.
#2. Inspect the chimney.
If your home is a chimney you want to inspect that there are no loose bricks, holes in venting or piping and that the vent is clean and clear. It's also a good time to consider hiring a chimney sweep to prevent any chimney fires when you use the fireplace over the winter.
#3. Check the gutters.
Gutters should be free of debris and leaves. Clogged gutters can lead to foundation issues, leaks in a basement, or water leakage in flashings and fascia causing the water to freeze and damage the home and the construction of the property.
#4. Winterize any outdoor kitchen items.
Now is the time to winterize any outdoor appliances. Some of these may be able to be used during the colder months but items like propane tanks, water hoses, and anything that could be damaged because of freezing weather should be turned off, drained, cleaned, and insulated.
#5. Winterize pools and water features
Because we do get freezing temperatures, you want to winterize your pool and any water features, which means draining them, adding necessary chemicals, clearing out pipelines, and conducting irrigation blowouts. You want to install thick covers over swimming pools and if you're unsure about how to take care of your particular water feature, ask local pool and water feature landscaping professionals about the best way to preserve and protect your home and property.
#6. Turn off water and cover faucets.
Turn off any water that goes to outside hose spigots if you can and cover with a hose cover any outdoor faucets to prevent freezing. Make sure you have drained all hoses of their water so the water does not freeze and crack the hose.
#7. Clear walkways and driveways.
Make sure you don't have any slick leaves left on the sidewalk, porch, or deck and keep these areas clear of snow and debris throughout the winter.
#8. Check for seals around windows and doors.
A good way to check the seals around doors and windows is to hold a match or an incense stick near the closed door or window and if the smoke waivers or blows away, you got a gap that can allow warm air out and cold air in. Consider either replacing windows that have lost their seal or use weather stripping or caulking to seal up the area from the outside.
#9. Insulate electrical outlets.
Any outlets that are located on exterior walls may need to be insulated with foam sealers to reduce airflow around the switch and outlet.
#10. Test your thermostat.
Your thermostat will definitely work overtime throughout the winter so testing your thermostat and setting it for the optimal heat usage is the best way to save energy and to make sure you don't get too cold. Letting your thermostat for 60° while your home and awake and then lower while you are asleep or away will save energy.
#11. Change air filters.
Now's a good time to change the air filters in your furnace and reverser ceiling fan direction. This will allow for more airflow, better distribution, and lower utility costs.
#12. HVAC cleaning.
Now is a good time to consider an HVAC cleaning for your heating and cooling system. Most furnace manufacturers recommend professional inspection yearly and now is a great time to do it. It can typically run between $100 and $300. Similarly, it's time to cover any outdoor air conditioning units while not in use and check the fuel supply on gas furnaces.
#13. Change the batteries in your smoke detectors and CO detectors.
Most CO detectors are designed to last for about 10 years to check the dates on those and smoke detectors.
#14. Be storm ready.
While we don't get catastrophic storms around here very often, the American Redcap cross does recommend building a survival kit with a first aid kit, crank radio, flashlight, extra batteries, cash, and emergency blankets. You might consider stockpiling a few nonperishable items as well just in case you are without power.
#15. Consider alternative sources of power.
Since we're near the holidays, you might ask for a solar-powered cell phone charger or a generator just in case you need an alternative source of power.
Winter's a good time to consider insulating any pipes that are exposed to cold air such as those in your garage and insulate your hot water heater to increase efficiency.
#17. Check bathroom exhaust fans.
Double-check that your exhaust fans in the bathrooms are working well so that the bathrooms don't collect excess moisture and cause mold or mildew.
#18. Test of the fireplace damper.
If you're having a professional chimney sweep inspect the chimney, have them test the damper as well. Clean all fireplace components and be ready for those cozy winter fires.
We want you to love your house throughout the winter and far into spring so by doing a few of these things now, you can protect your home for years to come.
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