Here in Southern Texas, we don’t usually have to worry about dramatic winters or snow and ice on the roads, however, you never know. Ha! Or, should you travel out of state or outside of the Greater Houston area, you may be faced with some of these issues. So regardless, some of these tips could be helpful for your 2nd home, your cabin up north, share with some friends or family or perfect for you should you ever leave this warm and toasty Texas climate.
Should you face harsh winters or have a vacation home, rental property or cabin up north, be sure to check out some of these things to consider when leaving that home for the winter season.
Once you leave for the winter, you won’t be around to make repairs or prevent other things from happening. This is why it’s so important that you understand how to winterize a house before heading out. Learning a few winterizing tips is the best way to ensure that you come back to a house in the same condition that you left it in.
Here’s what you need to know.
Disguise Its Vacancy
One of the first things that you want to do is disguise your home’s vacancy. You don’t want others to know that you’re gone for the season because that opens up a door of many possibilities for thieves and other criminals. For starters, you’ll want to have your mail forwarded to your other address.
This prevents mail from piling up inside your mailbox. You’ll always want to put a hold on all newspaper deliveries if you have those services. Be sure to have a friend or trusted neighbor pick up any packages, flyers, and anything else left at your doorstep.
You should also consider hiring a service to remove snow from your driveway after snowstorms. Installing lights on a timer for inside your home is another way to keep intruders believing that someone is home.
Ensure It’s Secure
You can disguise your home as much as you’d like, but you still need to ensure that it’s secure as well. Some criminals will stop at nothing to get their hands on someone else’s property. To prevent this from happening, check all your alarms and your entire system to ensure it’s working.
Lock all exterior doors with their deadbolt locks and put proper security elements in place for any sliding glass doors as well. Any valuables that you’re leaving at the home should be placed inside a security box with a lock. At the very least, keep in mind that you won’t want to post your travel plans, photos, and updates until you’ve arrived back home.
When others see that you’re away from your home via social media, they’ll be tempted to take advantage of the opportunity.
Shut Off Your Water Supply
Now that you’ve done everything needed to get your house safe and secure, it’s time to focus on aspects of the house itself. When leaving for the winter, you should shut off your water supply. This will prevent your pipes from bursting while away.
However, if your home relies on a sprinkler system in case of a fire, or you use a steam heating system, then you should keep the water supply on. Otherwise, shut off the water and drain the pipes. This will stop water from being able to freeze in the pipes causing them to burst.
Have a professional plumber come out and assist you in these steps if you don’t feel comfortable completing them yourself.
Keep Water on, Keep Furnace on
If you do keep the water supply on, keep in mind that you’ll want to keep the furnace on as well. Running water through the pipes during the winter means you need your furnace running to help keep your home and pipes warm. A good rule of thumb is to set your home’s thermostat to 55 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer.
This will keep your pipes from freezing. Be sure to leave cabinet doors open where there are any exposed pipes. This helps the heat reach the pipes. You can also consider shutting the water supply off from your washer machine and dishwashers if available.
Doing so will help avoid leaks that you cannot repair while away. You can also cut out foam pieces to create pipe protectors. The foam will keep your pipes insulated and warm.
Clean It Out and Unplug Appliances
One of the last things you want to do before leaving your house for the winter is to clean it out and unplug all appliances. The last thing you want to come home to is a house filled with pests. Empty your trash can, throw out any perishable foods that won’t last throughout the winter, and properly seal all food items that will last.
Clean out your refrigerator and unplug it, leaving its doors open to prevent mildew and mold growth. You’ll also want to clean out and unplug all other appliances to keep your energy bill down and to keep rodents and pests from wanting to enter your homes.
Do a quick check around your home looking for any cracks or holes where rodents and pests can enter. If you spot any, be sure to correct them before leaving. You’ll also want to ensure that weather stripping on your doors is in good condition.
Complete a Maintenance Check
The very last thing you want to do before leaving your home for the winter is to complete a maintenance check of your entire home. You want to be sure that everything is working as it should before you leave. Call in the professionals to do a routine inspection for you to give you peace of mind.
You’ll want your home to be prepared for any emergency that might happen, which means all fire alarms should be working properly and your insurance policies are up to date. Having umbrella insurance is a great option.
Learn How to Winterize a House This Winter
Don’t leave your home for the winter without knowing how to winterize a house first. And to ensure the best peace of mind available to you, consider looking into the different types of insurance policies that could benefit you.