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Home Ownership Can Be Back-Breaking in Winter


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By Andrew Einsmann

Happy New Years for all and I hope everyone had a great holiday season. The Germantown Real Estate market ended the year with a bang. We had one of the highest volume Decembers in recent memory as more than $27 million dollars of real estate and a total of 79 houses sold. This was the largest amount of houses sold since the summer months. Both the median and average prices have increased from November and December of 2013. These was a bit of a surprise but with the mortgage rates now at the lowest price in almost 20 years more buyers who might have been on the fence came out to get afford prices and rates during the holiday season.

As most of you know by now, the County Council appears to be more serious about enforcing the shoveling of sidewalks 24 hours after the snow has stopped so that students can have a safe passage to school. Luckily this winter, we have not had that much snow yet the forecast is projecting 25 to 50 inches of snow. Now, the winter is a great time to go sledding and enjoying the snow but below is the best ways to take care of the exterior of your house after the snow falls.

While some of us are fortunate to have a snow blower or a great neighbor who will come and remove the snow for us, but what are the best ways to remove the snow from your sidewalk and driveway. Some of us live in communities where we might have enterprising teenagers that will come and shovel us out. I think their back might be able to handle it better than ours. I, personally, try to go out there after every two inches and move the snow assuming I am still awake. But here are some guidelines to think about when moving snow.

1. Safety First

Be careful to recognize your limits when shoveling. Maintain a straight posture and don't try to lift more snow than you can handle to avoid back strain, the No. 1 cause of emergency room visits by overeager snow shovelers. Frequent breaks to rest and rehydrate are highly recommended. Dress to keep yourself comfortable and safe, in lightweight layers that can be removed as you heat up from your hard work. Make sure your head, hands, and feet are kept warm. Footgear should consist of sturdy, non-skid, waterproof boots or shoes.

2. Choose Your Equipment

There are a lot of options when you try to select the best snow shovel for your needs. There are a number of specialized varieties purpose-built for specific snow removal tasks, such as pushing, lifting, scraping, or throwing. Many come with ergonomic handles, although reportedly some of these actually make it harder to get the right angle for pushing and throwing your load of snow. A plastic shovel fitted with a metal blade will allow you to chop up icy patches, as well as move snow. You will even find shovels mounted on wheels, which are faster and easier to use than standard shovels, without the drawbacks of snow blowers.

3. Don't Work Against Yourself

When you walk out the door make sure you walk out with your shovel door to clear a path. Don't walk back and forth over the snow before or during the process. You'll end up making the task harder for yourself, since packed snow is much more difficult to get rid of. Another pitfall to avoid is waiting until the snowfall is over to begin cleaning up the white stuff; snow tends to bond with surfaces, even before it's trodden on. Several small shoveling forays will end up being less work than one major one. You should try and remove as much snow as early as possible after the snow falls because if it is below zero for a period of time the snow turns to ice which makes your job much harder.

4. Cover Up

Some of our readers have garages that are not clutter with extra stuff and can put their cars in their garage. For those who do not, planning in advance and covering your walk and your car will simplify snow removal. Secure a tarp or a snow windshield cover to your vehicle before a snowstorm to avoid having to dig it out from under mounds of snow. You may want to use an ice and snow carpet, heated treads, or a heated mat to protect your stairs and landing.

5. A De-icer Can Make Your Job Easier

De-icer keeps snow and ice from sticking to the pavement if spread on your sidewalk an hour or two before a snowfall is expected. It will also help with snow removal if you apply it to flurries that have already fallen. Liquid de-icer is faster acting than the traditional choices, solid rock salt (sodium chloride) or calcium chloride. De-icer in liquid form can be applied with a battery-powered sprayer, which makes it a great shortcut, especially for those with mobility challenges. What's more, the liquid version tends to be safer for the environment and is less likely to leave a persistent residue. In addition, it should be biodegradable and free of nitrogen, sodium, or chlorides.

So everyone stay warm and enjoy the snow as best as you can.

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About the Author

Andrew Einsmann is a local Germantown Real Estate Agent with 9 years of Experience. He has been involved in the community as part of the Upcounty Citizens Advisor board and a longtime resident of Germantown and Montgomery County. For any real estate questions just ask.

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