While snowbirds rush to their summer homes at the first sign of a wind chill, snow bunnies jump at the chance to spend the season engaging in winter sports.
To ensure a warm welcome and prevent unpleasant surprises, both types of seasonal homes need to be properly shut down.
Create a “closing up” checklist
Packing up a seasonal home for the summer or winter requires a check list and having the necessary supplies ready two weeks beforehand.
You don’t want to waste your valuable vacation time fixing home damage that could have been easily prevented if you’d simply glanced at a “to-do” list.
A checklist for summer homes
It’s important to prepare the house to be closed up during a harsh winter. However, the type and amount of preparation you need to do will depend on the climate where your home is located.
- ◆ Hoses should be drained, disconnected from spigots, and rolled up. Put somewhere safe. (This stops pipes from bursting.)
- ◆ Bring all outdoor furniture, equipment, and toys into the garage or storage building.
- ◆ Prepare your landscaping for winter by aerating, fertilizing, and trimming your bushes and hedges.
- ◆ Clean out the irrigation system’s lines before turning off the automatic sprinklers at the main switch.
- ◆ Lock up outdoor storage spaces that house expensive lawn and garden equipment.
- ◆ Make sure drainage is directed away from the foundation and maintain clean gutters.
- ◆ Pools and hot tubs should be winterized according to manufacturer’s instructions.
- ◆ To prevent pests and rodents, completely empty the refrigerator and time your trash pickup with it.
- ◆ To get rid of any crumbs and insect eggs, vacuum inside the kitchen drawers, pantry, closets, and cabinets.
- ◆ Use a mixture of white vinegar and water to spray and wipe dry empty cabinets and drawers to prevent insects from setting up residence there and to disinfect them before you leave.
- ◆ So that everything is ready for your return, thoroughly clean the house.
- ◆ Shut off the water valve and empty the water tanks and toilets. Drain the pressure tank, water heater, and water softener.
- ◆ Cut off the house’s water supply. To remove any remaining water, air, or moisture from the pipes, open every faucet in the home and keep them open.
- ◆ Clean the toilets, then add non-toxic RV and marine antifreeze to the bowls and tanks. Before leaving, add antifreeze to sinks to ensure that there is enough in each sink’s “P” trap.
- ◆ Disconnect the water supply for the dishwasher and leave the door open (same as the refrigerator).
- ◆ Disconnect the washing machine from the electrical outlet as well as the water supply. To stop mold from growing, leave the door open.
Controlling temperature, cleaning, and storage
- ◆ Put valuables such as jewelry, weapons, cash for emergencies, and documents in a safe deposit box at the bank or in a secure location at home.
- ◆ Disconnect, pause, or discontinue: Cable, publications, and optional utilities.
- ◆ To prevent energy waste and surge spikes, turn off all electronics. Keep the refrigerator doors open and clean. Put a rubber stopper or wedge there to prevent it from accidentally closing. When you return months later, this will stop mold from growing and creating a bad odor.
- ◆ If winters are particularly harsh, you might want to keep the thermostat set at 50 degrees to prevent things like pipes from breaking, wood from cracking, and moisture from soaking soft furnishings like mattresses and furniture. In order to maintain warmth and prevent drawing attention to the fact that your home is unoccupied, secure all points of entry and keep curtains drawn.
- ◆ Cover chimneys to keep rodents and birds from building nests inside your house.
- ◆ To prevent insects and rodents from entering, fill any exterior cracks or holes.
A checklist for winter homes
The summer list above will need to be modified in order to close up a seasonal home for the winter.
- ◆ To prevent burning plants, grass, and shrubs, program the sprinkler or drip system to turn on after dawn and dusk.
- ◆ Check for damage and replace sprinkler heads and drip hose as necessary. Run a test and, if necessary, reposition the sprinkler heads.
- ◆ Winter-related toys and equipment should be hidden and locked up.
- ◆ To stop empty planters from becoming a mosquito breeding ground while you are away, flip them over or store them.
- ◆ If there are hot tubs or pools, follow the manufacturer’s instructions and make sure no one can access them. (Avoid tragic mishaps involving stray pets or neighborhood children.)
- ◆ To prevent excess heat from entering the house and furniture from fading, close all curtains that face east and west.
- ◆ Set the thermostat to 78 degrees to prevent excessive heat from harming electronics and furniture.
- ◆ When closing the house for the summer, there is no need to use RV winterizing solution, but you should turn off the main water supply to the house to avoid potential leaks or floods.
- ◆ Turn off the service and empty the water heater and water softener.
- ◆ Inform your friends, neighbors, the neighborhood watch, the local police, and your homeowners association of the duration of your absence.
- ◆ Set alarms and provide information and keys to a trusted relative or friend in case of an emergency.
- ◆ Leave contact information with people you trust and carry contact numbers with you.
- ◆ To create the illusion that someone is home, invest in a timer that will turn on the lights in various rooms of the house automatically at random times. Consider adding smart timers that you can access remotely to turn lights, tv, etc. off and on.
The weather in the area, the number of months the house will be closed up for, and whether or not there are swimming pools and hot tubs will all influence the best practices for closing up a seasonal home.
Paying someone to check on the house on a regular basis or staying in touch with neighbors to make sure they are keeping an eye on the neighborhood are two additional factors to take into consideration.
In order to guarantee that potential damages are covered in the event of a fire, flood, or theft, insurance policies should be kept up to date.
Make friends with the patrol officer in charge of the neighborhood and let them know how long the house will be empty.
One of the best ways to ensure home protection and prevent potential issues is to build strong relationships with local law enforcement and neighbors.