There are a number of concerns that come with leaving your home vacant for the winter. Plumbing issues, unwelcome critters, and severe storms are common damage-causing events during this season. If you own a vacation home, rental property or are in the process of selling your house, you could be at risk of one or more of these disasters. The easiest way to avoid winter property damage is to plan ahead by winterizing your home.
Steps to Winterizing a Vacant Home
- Winterize your plumbing to avoid frozen pipe breaks. Complete this task by draining the pipes and shutting off the water at the main valve. Ensure all the water is out of the pipes and add an anti-freeze solution. If you choose not to drain the system, turn off the individual supply lines to appliances, sinks, and toilets. Insulate exposed pipes in cold areas such as the basement and attic.
- Turn off the heat source to the hot water tank or set it to vacation mode. You can also drain the water heater to avoid a leak.
- Reduce the thermostat temperature to a minimum of 55º. Do not turn off your heat if your pipes have not been drained as they could freeze in extreme temperatures. Have the furnace serviced if you will be leaving the heat turned on. This will help prevent a puff back from occurring.
- Clear out the refrigerator and unplug any unnecessary appliances. Even when not in use, some appliances still draw energy. This will also eliminate appliances that could spark and start a fire.
- Test your sump pump if you have one. Do this by lifting the float to simulate a full tank and force it to drain. Check for any leaks or backups from a blockage in the drain.
- Gutters should be cleared after the last leaves have fallen to keep water away from the foundation and ice dams from forming. Remove overhanging tree branches and unhealthy looking trees that can cause roof damage during winter storms.
- Check your foundation and attics for cracks or holes where water or critters seeking warmth can enter. Seal or repair any damage.
- Secure any valuables and ensure your alarm system is working. It is also a good idea to have a trusted neighbor check on the home periodically.
- Test your smoke alarms and check that there is one on every level. A fire suppression system or alarms that link to the local authorities is best for vacant homes.
- Check your insurance coverage. If this is not your primary residence and will be vacant for an extended period of time, your coverage may be different. These types of homes are at a higher risk of natural disasters, theft, and vandals.
We hope you find these tips helpful. Should you need our fire, water or vandalism cleanup services, we are available 24/7/365. Contact us today.