If you own a vacation home that you visit only during the warm summer months, you probably have to deal with winterizing the house for the winter when you’re not there. Cold weather, while not directly harmful for most homes, can still cause a great deal of different complications, such as frozen pipes and roofs that cave in because of the weight of snow. In order to fully protect your vacation home, there are a few essential steps that you should perform to ensure your second home stays in tip-top shape until you can get around to enjoying it again. Here are 5 essential tips that will keep your vacation home in great shape throughout the long winter months.
Inspect Your Home
Home improvement expert Bob Vila recommends that you take a long hard look at your home and inspect it from top to bottom, looking for signs of potential trouble, before you lock it up for the winter months. Using binoculars so you don’t have to head up to the roof, see if there are any shingles that are falling off or any gutters that are clogged. Go into the attic and be on the lookout for leaks around chimneys, skylights, and vents. While you are in the attic, you should also take the time to look for any areas where there is splintered wood or where your roof might be sagging. Make sure that you have all of these things repaired before the cold weather hits, since a surprise snow storm could spell ruin for your roof if you are not prepared.
Drain out Spigots
Draining your outdoor spigots and pipes can be a lifesaver when the cold of winter sets in, preventing pipes from bursting when frozen. Even if your home may be in a warmer climate, you will still want to perform this essential step, since even the hottest of climates have been know to experience freezing temperatures. This is a small step and it can help to save you from thousands dollars in water damage. In addition to protecting the pipes on the outside of your home, you should also make sure that your indoor pipes remain away from the cold. Either keep the temperature set to around 55 degrees throughout the winter or turn off the water after you leave the home, making sure that all the water in your pipes has been completely drained.
Check for Pests
Eliminate pests’ options of accessing your home when you’re not there. Move mulch away from the foundation, don’t put trash cans right next to the house, rake leaves away from the foundation, trim branches that provide a springboard for squirrels to hop to the roof, clean out those gutters, and thoroughly clean the inside of the home, particularly the kitchen where forgotten crumbs can entice critters. It is also a good idea to learn more about the specific insects and rodents that are in your area and how you can protect your home against them. You might also want to consider hiring a pest control service to come out and do a sweep of your property before the winter season begins and sometime during the middle of the season. Because of the cold, many insects and pest will seek shelter in your home. If you don’t take the necessary steps to prevent this problem, you could come to a home that has been completely trashed.
Seal Windows and Doors
Be mindful of the drafts in your home. HGTV recommends sealing drafty windows and doors to prevent energy loss. Replace screens with storm windows and doors as well. Caulk and repair any cracks you find around windows and trim. This will not only prevent drafts from entering into your home, but this simple measure will protect your indoor plumbing and keep insects out of your house.
Head to the Basement
Don’t forget the basement in your winter checklist. It’s wise to check for signs of dampness on the flooring and walls. Flush our your hot water tank and see if there are any leaks. Do one last sweep of the dryer vent to ensure there is no blockage. Vila recommends storing paint and flammable materials away from sources of heat. In fact, keep them locked up in a metal cabinet, away from the curious reach of kids. If you can’t do it on your own, make an appointment for a heating system check by a professional.