How to Prepare Your House for Vacation in the Winter

Whether you are leaving your house during winter for a vacation or closing up a summer home, it’s important to winterize your property to prevent it from deteriorating while you are away. Whether you  plan to leave for a few weeks, months, or even a year, the following suggestions will help you to plan and execute a winter proof home down to the last nut and bolt.

Make a List. Check it Twice

Look carefully at the interior and exterior of your property and make note of everything that needs to be done. Come up with an action plan that will also come in handy once you open the house again. When you return to your home at a later date, you more than likely will have forgotten several tasks that will now need to be undone.

Turn Off Your Water at the Exterior

Don’t just turn off your water sources inside. If your furnace fails while you’re away, water in the pipes could freeze and potentially burst the pipes causing extensive damage. After you have turned off the main source, open up every faucet and drain the water lines. Go through your home and make sure the toilets, water heater (turn off the gas or electric supply first), and the expansion tank have all been drained.

Safety Checks

Walk around the home and unplug any appliances or gadgets including microwaves, TVs, and even your oven.  This will avoid the risk of fire in the event of a faulty switch or a rodent gnawing on the wires. For a very long absence, experts suggest turning off gas hot water heaters completely. Hot water heaters use a lot of energy, just keeping water in the tank hot. For gas water heaters, the simplest option is to switch the unit to “pilot”.

Clean It Up

Don’t keep any food that is likely to go bad while you’re away. Empty your freezer. If the electric fails in your absence and then is restored, the food in your freezer will thaw and refreeze, which is very dangerous. If you must keep food in your freezer, place a coin on top of a frozen ice cube tray. If the ice cube melts while you’re away, the coin will sink into the ice cube and will freeze inside of it once the power kicks back on. If this happens you will know that there was a power outage while you were away and now you can discard any frozen foods.

Remove any items that could freeze in your absence such as beer bottles, paint containers, sodas, and mineral water. These items could burst and cause damage to your home.

Handle the Outside

Store outdoor furniture such as tables, chairs, hammocks, and delicate garden ornaments inside a garage, shed or storage unit. A strong wind could blow these pieces away or they can become damaged in a storm.

Keep It Safe

Store your valuables such as jewelry, laptops, money, or cash in a safe place. Put timers within your home that will turn lights on for a few hours at night. This will make it less obvious that you are away and your home is unoccupied.

No matter what your circumstances, it is very important to safeguard your home during the winter months. Water damage, electrical fires, and many more disasters can cost thousands to repair. By taking these quick and simple steps you will safeguard your home from damage and keep that extra money in your pocket for your next vacation.

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