Certain home maintenance should be completed each season to prevent structural damage, save energy, and keep all your home’s systems running properly. Proper planning can help avoid damage and expensive repairs in the spring.
Here are the winterizing tips that we recommend:
Prevent water damage. This is one of the most important areas to address when winterizing a seasonal home. A water pipe that freezes and bursts can cause extensive damage. To prevent this, turn off the water at the supply point and properly drain all systems including the pressure tank. Turn on faucets and leave them open. Flush toilets and remove water from the tanks. Shower and sink traps should be flushed. Add an RV/Marine anti-freeze made specifically for water plumbing systems to the toilet and sink traps.
Appliances. Drain all appliances that hold water, including the water heater, washing machine, dishwasher, and ice maker. Clean and defrost the refrigerator and freezer and prop the doors open to prevent mold and mildew. Unplug all electrical items and shut off the valves for any gas appliances.
Furnace. Keep the thermostat at about 58 degrees to help prevent freezing complications. If you turn the furnace off for the winter, follow the manufacturers instructions for winterizing the system.
Structural Repairs. Tightly cover the chimney and fill holes in the foundation to prevent animals from entering the home. Check the roof and siding to make sure it is secure and intact. If a shingle or piece were to blow off while the house is empty and go unnoticed, it could cause bigger water or structural damage problems. Examine the exterior windows, doors, and any pipe openings and caulk areas that could let air, water, bugs, or rodents in the house.
Outdoor Work. Clean gutters and mow the lawn. Trim branches over power lines and buildings. Prune back bushes from the home to make it harder for burglars to hide. Lock furniture and yard maintenance items in a shed or garage. Disconnect and drain hoses and cover outdoor faucets with insulation. Winterize all watercraft. Remove the entire dock from the water.
Indoor Cleaning. Thoroughly clean the house before closing it for the winter to help prevent mold, mildew, insect and rodent problems. Remove all perishable items and any boxed food that animals could eat. If leaving any boxed food, be sure to store the food in metal containers with airtight lids. Remove cosmetics, cleaners, food, and medicines that contain liquid. Put out several boxes of rodent poison if you feel it’s necessary.
Minimize Chances of Theft. Remove or hide electronics, TV’s or computers from plain sight so anyone looking in the windows can’t see them. Consider removing any other small valuables from the premises altogether. Remember to forward or stop your mail and stop newspaper delivery. Make sure all windows and doors are closed and locked. Lock and secure sliding doors with bars in the track to prevent entry. Check door locks to make sure the latch plates are screwed into the wall studs and not just the door frame. Close the blinds and curtains. Set lights on automatic timers.
Snow Removal. Arrange to keep your sidewalks and driveway clear of snow.
Contact Person. Ask a friend, neighbor, or relative to be the contact person for your home. This person should have access to your home. It’s important to have someone check your home on a regular basis, remove sales flyers, be available in emergency situations and make repair appointments if necessary. Make your home look as though it is being lived in. Make sure your contact person knows how to get in touch with you.
Hire a professional if you are uncomfortable completing any of these tasks to winterize your home. Check with your insurance agent to determine if your home is properly covered. Seasonal homes often require a specialized policy that addresses the specific situation of a homeowner who only occupies a residence for part of the year. Snowbirds need to determine how extended absences may affect their homeowners insurance coverage.