By: Elisheva Blumberg, Lubicom Staff
There’s a slight chill in the country air, the crickets are winding down their nightly chirpfest, and it’s just about time for school supply shopping.
In other words, it’s the tail end of summer!
As a vacation home owner, you know that the end of the season means time to pack up and say goodbye to your summer home.
And while it’s tempting just to leave and hope for the best, there are countless risks you’ll be taking without doing a full winterizing of your soon-to-be unoccupied home.
To simplify things, we’ve outlined the basic steps you need to take to preserve your summer home so that it will remain the way you left it when you get back next year.
Do the following steps carefully, and you can potentially save yourself thousands of dollars and unimaginable stress. Yes — it may feel like a big job, but it’s totally worth the effort.
1. Go on a cleaning spree
Why you need to do this: An empty home can be a tempting nesting spot for animals and insects. A detailed cleanup will reduce the chance of any unwanted living things making themselves at home in your absence.
What you need to clean:
Empty your fridge, freezer, cabinets, and pantry of any remaining food or crumbs. Wipe down all surfaces — including ovens, sinks, and garbage cans — thoroughly.
Unplug your refrigerator and leave your fridge and freezer doors open to prevent the growth of bacteria. Put boxes of baking soda inside to absorb lingering odors.
Run your empty dishwasher through a cycle and inspect for any leftover grime that might remain inside. Leave the dishwasher door open.
Place insect repellent in strategic spots, like under the sink or on the kitchen counters, especially in locations that have had prior infestations.
- Living spaces
Close the blinds to protect furniture and carpets from being exposed to sunlight.
Clean and store all bedding and linens. Cover your mattresses and couches with plastic. (You can also place a few dryer sheets underneath the coverings to keep everything smelling great and protect against rodents.)
Leave open the doors of your washing machine and dryer to prevent mold and mildew growth.
2. Unplug all appliances
Why you need to do this: Unplugging appliances will save electricity and prevent damage caused by lightning strikes.
Unplug every appliance in your home, including: refrigerator, washer/dryer, oven, telephones, microwave, lamps, ceiling fans, computers, electronics.
3. Set utilities and plumbing
Note: The following tips may be complicated to execute, especially if you’re not the handy type! When in doubt, call a plumber or fix-it person to help you figure out the best way to protect your house over your long absence.
Why you need to do this: Turning off your utilities and draining your water supply will prevent your pipes from freezing, which could lead to pipe bursts and flooding damage.
- Shut off your water main valve
After you shut off the main water valve, open up all your faucets (including showers) and flush the toilets to drain the remaining water from the pipes. Leave faucets in an open position.
Don’t forget to disconnect the hoses on your washer/dryer.
- Adjust your thermostat
If your summer home reaches freezing temps in the winter, you’ll want to keep the thermostat at around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Turn off your water heater
If you have an electric water heater, turn it off or set it on vacation mode.
- Shut off your gas supply
4. Tidy up outdoors
Why you need to do this: In the case of a winter storm, outdoor items can be damaged and/or cause damage. Also, you don’t want to risk anything being stolen.
- Store any outdoor items
Put any outdoor items — such as patio furniture, toys, bicycles, water hoses, barbecue grill, and trampoline — into a shed or garage.
5. Final steps
Why you need to do this: To make your home impenetrable to unwanted intruders.
- Check all your doors and windows to be sure every entrance to your home is securely locked. Also, make sure there are no small holes through which animals can enter.
- Take out the trash
- Turn off the lights
- Set your alarm system
All these steps may feel like a big job, but believe us, they’re totally worth the effort!
Winterizing your seasonal home can be stressful, but if you do it right, you’ll potentially save yourself thousands of dollars and unimaginable stress. Best of all, you’ll have peace of mind throughout the year that your property is safe, sound, and ready to be occupied next summer — which will be here before you know it!