Safeguard Your Home Before Heading South for the Winter
If you’re a “North Country Snowbird” who is getting ready to head south for the winter, it’s always important to take some commonsense precautions before leaving your home for an extended period. If you’re going to be gone for the entire winter (or plan on a mid-winter vacation), it’s crucial.
While some pre-exodus “To Do” lists seem a bit daunting, getting these chores done may mean the difference between coming back to your home just the way you left it; or, returning to a house that has been vandalized, damaged by water or fire or infested with unwanted critters.
Top tips allow you to rest easy and enjoy your winter in the sun…
1. Write a checklist and do a routine inspection of your major systems.
Make sure that your plumbing, heating and electrical systems are all functioning correctly. It makes sense to call your plumber, electrician or handyman to go through these systems for you. They will catch things that you may have overlooked, or of which you may be unaware.
If you plan on shutting off your water while you’re gone, make sure that all faucets are drained and toilet bowls and tanks are empty and filled with anti-freeze. The cost of hiring a plumber to blow compressed air through your lines is minimal, compared to the cost of repairing a house that has been damaged by water.
2. Shut off and unplug appliances.
In addition to lowering your utility bills, unplugging appliances such as washing machines and dishwasher prevents leaks and floods. Turn off your refrigerator and freezer, clean and dry them out, and be sure to leave the doors propped open to prevent mildew.
If you have an answering machine in your home, be sure you can access it remotely to prevent it from becoming full. And, of course, make sure all smoke detectors have fresh batteries and are in good working order.
3. Keep unwanted house guests out.
Two-legged and four-legged intruders can put a real damper on your winter getaway. Squirrels, rodents and other furry friends are very clever at finding ways into your garage, basement or attic.
Make sure that your chimney has been cleaned and a cap is placed on top. And, don’t forget to shut the flue. Check the eaves, under the porches and any other areas that may have small cracks or openings that critters can climb into.
While you’re checking the chimney, it’s a good idea to make sure your gutters are clear and unobstructed to avoid any water build-up and ice damage.
4. To guard against two-legged intruders, a little commonsense goes a long way:
- Never post any information about your travel plans on social media sites.
- Let local law enforcement know that you will be away and make sure they have your contact information.
- Have your mail held or forwarded to you at your winter residence and make sure to cancel newspapers too.
- If you have a security system, make sure it is in good working order and turned on.
- Make sure to have secure, theft-proof locks and bolts on all windows and doors. And, don’t forget those basement windows.
- Arrange to have a close friend of relative stop by your house on a regular basis, to check for any packages or flyers left on your doorstep and to check the premises for anything unusual.
Following these snowbird safety tips to safeguard your home before heading south for the winter could mean the difference between enjoying a relaxed and carefree winter and cutting your trip short to deal with unnecessary and unwanted home emergencies and repairs!