1. Change out your window screens and put up storm windows. It will provide an extra layer of protection and warmth for the home. Storm windows are particularly helpful if you have old, single-pane glass windows. But if you don't have storm windows, and your windows are leaky or drafty, they need to be updated.
2. A burst pipe caused by a winter freeze is a nightmare. Before freezing nights hit, make certain that the water to your hose bibs is shut off inside your house (via a turnoff valve) and that the lines are drained. Find other pipes that aren't insulated, or that pass through unheated spaces -- pipes that run through crawlspaces, basements or garages. Wrap them with pre-molded foam rubber sleeves or fiberglass insulation, available at hardware stores. If you're really worried about a pipe freezing, you can first wrap it with heating tape, which is basically an electrical cord that emits heat.
3. The Maryland Smoke Alarm Law — passed in 2013 — requires homes with battery-powered smoke detectors and those with no detectors to have newer tamper-resistant alarms by Jan. 1, 2018. The law affected an estimated 800,000 homes, according to the Maryland Office of the Fire Marshal.
Maryland law requires all homeowners to install 10-year lithium battery tamper resistant smoke alarms with the silence/hush feature in their homes. The silence/hush feature will allow you to silence an accidental alarm for up to 10 minutes before turning itself back on.
4. Is your fire extinguisher still where it should be? When you find it make sure it still works.
5. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas. Maryland law requires carbon monoxide detectors only in houses where a building permit was issued for construction after Jan. 1, 2008, and then only in houses that use fossil fuel — wood, kerosene, natural gas, oil— for heating, ventilation, hot water or operating clothes dryers.
Do you have renters? Maryland law requires carbon monoxide alarms to be installed in every room of rental units.
The law in Montgomery County requires all single, two-unit and townhouse residences that have fuel-burning appliances, a fireplace or an attached garage to install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms.
And, as always, we're never too busy for your calls and referrals for home remodeling and additions - thanks for another successful year!
Happy and Safe Holidays to you and yours!