It’s the time of year again where the days grow shorter, the temperatures get lower, and snowbirds move away from their summer homes and back into their winter homes. Leaving your summer home can be bittersweet, but making sure it’s closed up tightly for winter will ensure that your home stays safely vacant through the winter months until you return next year.
To properly seal up your home before you leave for the season, follow these safety checklists.
Water Damage Prevention
- Gutter and downspout cleaning. This prevents sticks, leaves, and other debris from building up during fall and to allow melting snow and ice to flow through during winter. If not draining properly, melting snow can freeze up and turn into ice dams, damaging your roof, and cause winter water damage and structural damage inside your home.
- Turn off water to the house. By shutting off the main water shut off valve, you will prevent water from sitting in your pipes, freezing, and potentially bursting and causing water damage. Turning off your water includes draining your toilets and opening up your faucets. Also make sure all outside water is off, including sprinkler systems. Disconnect all hoses from outside faucets. Accidentally leaving any of these outdoor water systems on can cause water to settle down into the ground and seep into your home through the foundation.
- Check sump pump valve. Test your sump pump to make sure it’s working just in case there’s a natural disaster or severe weather and the pump needs to push water away from your home.
- Turn on the heat. Even though you won’t be in the house, you will need to set the thermostat to heat starting at 55 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent burst pipes and other common causes of water damage.
- Weatherproofing windows. Is your summer home is in an area that can get particularly cold during the winter? Then, it might be a good idea to seal up your windows. This is especially recommended for old houses or homes with single pane window that aren’t as great keeping the cold out and the heat in; or more importantly, not great at keeping the outside elements outside, like rain and snow. You can re-caulk any gaps or cracks around each window, and use window insulator kits to seal up the panes.
Fire Damage Prevention
- Replace the filter in your furnace. A gunked up filter could be a fire hazard. It’s important to replace this prior to leaving for the winter, especially since you need to leave your heat on.
- Turn off and unplug everything. From the appliances in the kitchen to the television in the bedroom…unplug everything before you leave. This will ensure there are no electrical-related incidents, like appliances shortages and fires.
- Close up fireplace. Make sure the flue or damper in your fireplace is closed up tightly . This will prevent snow or critters from coming through into your house.
- Turn off gas line. By turning off the gas line shut off valve, you are preventing gas leaks, explosions, and fires.
House Break-In Prevention
- Lock up house. Make sure your windows and doors are all locked and secure. Have a security alarm installed and arm it before you leave. Store and lock up all of your outdoor furniture and equipment.
- Tell your neighbors. Let your neighbors know when you are leaving and when you plan to return to your summer home. Neighbors who stay in the area year-round are great resources to help keep an eye on your home while you’re away.
Has Your Vacation Home Suffered Water Damage or Fire Damage?
Contact Alpha-Omega Disaster Restoration. At Alpha Omega, we have a trained, certified, and licensed emergency response team available 24/7 to assess your situation, make a plan, and work directly with your insurance company, as well as your tenant’s. We want to restore your rental property as quickly and safely as possible, to get your tenants back into their home.