With summer a distant memory and winter quickly closing in on fall, many snow birds are preparing to head south for the coldest months of the year.
If you’re planning to close up your vacation, rental or primary home for the winter, don’t leave before winterizing your home. Before you close the door on another season of fun, take care to button up the empty house before leaving it vacant for the winter chill ahead.
What should you do to winterize your home?
1. Adjust your thermostat. If you have been running the AC all summer long, you are going to want to flip it over to the heat setting. You don’t need to keep your home cozy and livable temperature, but you do need it to stay around 50 – 55 degrees or so to prevent pipes from freezing.
2. Shut off the water at the main shut off valve in your house. The last thing you want to come back to next spring is a flooded home from a leaky or burst pipe. It is a good idea to open up all your faucets and drain your toilets of water — also keep the faucets open to prevent pressure buildup from the little bit of water that remains in your pipes. This will help prevent a burst pipe as the water expands with changing temperatures. A plumber can help you with winterizing if you are unsure how to prepare your pipes for winter.
3. Turn off your gas line to prevent a gas leak or other gas related incident.
4. Bundle the house up tight! If you are in an area prone to nasty storms, put storm windows on, close shutters, secure plywood over windows, store all outside décor or furniture indoors for the season, too. Make sure that all the windows are closed and locked. Check each one because any window that is open even a tiny crack can let snow and rain into your home.
5. Unplug everything. Not only will this save you money as your unused appliances will not be using phantom energy, it also protects the house from an appliance shorting out and causing a fire or a surge of energy ruining your appliances.
6. Tell your neighbors. Make sure they’re aware of your move, so they can keep an eye on your property — just be sure to let them know if someone will be stopping by to check on the place, so they don’t think you are being robbed!
7. Stop the mail. If you have been receiving mail at this location, be sure to forward it on or change your mailing address to the residence you will be moving to.
8. Check your sump pump. Make sure it functions properly. A wet basement will make for a bad start to next season’s fun!
9. Close the damper or flue on your fireplace. This will prevent snow, rain or animals from finding a way into your home.
10. Double check your gutters. Don’t leave the gutters clogged. Drain spouts should be secured to take heavy rain away from your house.
11. Take any live plants you have with you. Unless you have a house sitter coming to water them, you would come back to a house full of dead plants!
12. Clean out your fridge and pantry of all perishable items. Wipe your fridge down, unplug it and be sure to keep the door to your refrigerator and freezer open. Closing it up will lead to a stinky fridge and promote mold and mildew growth from residual moisture.
13. Put any non-perishable food in air-tight containers. Any food you do leave behind should be in air-tight containers to prevent pests from feeding off it all winter long. If bugs and rodents are a concern, place traps or use insecticides to keep them away.
14. Clean thoroughly before you leave. Make sure your — or a housecleaner — vacuum, wash bedding, wipe down surfaces and remove all trash from the house before closing up.
15. Arm your security alarm. If you have a security system ensure that is working and engaged when you leave, otherwise double check that all door locks are in working order — and be sure not to leave any valuables behind!