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How's Your Home Handling the Winter Weather?

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While many of us are anxiously looking forward to spring, we still have plenty of winter left here in the mid-Atlantic. February can still hammer us with a snowstorm - who remembers Snowmageddon in February of 2010? The Blizzard of 1983 dropped 22.8 inches of snow in the Baltimore area. And during the President's Day Weekend storm of 2003, 26.8 inches of snow was recorded at BWI Airport. So we're not out of the woods yet. Is your home prepared to handle the rest of winter 2017?

It's not too late to take some simple steps to winterize your home to save money and keep your family warm and comfortable. Perform a visual inspection of your exterior doors and windows. If there are any cracks or exposed areas, patch and caulk as necessary to reduce drafts. This includes basement hopper windows, which can benefit from the addition of window well covers. If you have storm windows or storm doors, they should be installed to maximize their insulation ability.

While outdoors, also inspect your gutters and downspouts. Make sure your gutters are clean and free of the fall's leaves and debris, and ensure that water flows freely through the downspouts and away from your home. It's also important to have enough insulation in your attic. If you don't, warm air can reach your roof and create ice dams when the temperatures fall below 32 degrees.

Inside, your priority should be the inspection and maintenance of your heating system. Mark Zeller, HVAC Journeyman and Building Engineer/HVAC Lead Tech at a large children's hospital in downtown Baltimore, says, "Changing your filter once a month - do it every time you pay your utility bill - is one of the simplest and most important preventative maintenance practices you can do for your HVAC system. It will prolong the life span of the furnace, as well as help with the efficiency of the unit which will help lower you heating bills." If you have a fireplace, you should also have it cleaned and inspected. It's important to have a licensed chimney sweep clean the soot and creosote from inside of your chimney to reduce the risk of fire.

Performing routine inspection and maintenance around your home will go a long way in being prepared for what Mother Nature has in store for us this winter. Airtight windows and doors, proper attic insulation, free flowing gutters, and an efficient HVAC system will keep your family warm while saving you money on heating bills.

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