• Pauline Handy

Snowbird Tips for Winterizing Your Home

Here are some tips to make sure everything stays in order back home if you’re heading to a warm escape after the holiday season.

If you’re heading to a warmer climate this winter, you need to prepare your house for an extended absence. Even a small leak or a minor storm can wreak havoc if you’re not there to handle problems immediately. Whether you handle this on your own or have a grounds keeper, here are the most recommended tasks to complete.


Exterior maintenance

  • Clean all gutters and downspouts to prevent water from building up and causing ice dams on your roof. Also, have your roof inspected and repaired if needed.

  • Remove dead trees or large limbs that could fall and damage your house during a storm.

  • Close your chimney flue and install a guard or screen over the top to help keep out the critters.

  • Inspect your home's foundation — inside and out — and seal any gaps.

  • Make sure your windows and doors are securely closed and locked. Install deadbolts on your doors, as well as slide locks on sliding glass doors.

  • Trim back bushes and hedges so burglars can’t lurk unnoticed.

  • Arrange to have your driveway plowed to avoid broadcasting your absence to the world. Also, if you are responsible for any portion of a sidewalk, arrange to have it shoveled.

Water and heating

  • Shut off water to prevent leaks. If you plan to turn your heat off entirely, drain the pipes (but never turn off the water supply to a fire sprinkler system).

  • Use plumbing antifreeze in your toilets to keep the tanks from freezing and cracking.

  • Turn off any outside water valves, including automatic irrigation systems.

  • Turn down or shut off your water heater.

  • Consider installing a home monitoring system so you’ll be notified right away of leaks or other problems.

  • Add extra insulation around pipes located in the attic, basement or crawlspace.

  • Have your furnace checked to make sure it’s in good shape and can survive the winter without incident.

  • Turn your thermostat down, but not below 55 degrees Fahrenheit; you don’t want your water pipes to freeze.

  • Keep cabinet doors open so interior heat can better reach outside walls where pipes are located.

Security

  • Install motion-sensing exterior lights and put interior lights on timers.

  • Don’t post your travel plans to social media and announce your upcoming absence; you can post all about your trip after you get back.

  • Have someone check on your home periodically, whether it’s a friend or a home watch service, and give them a list of service providers to call in the event of an emergency.

  • Store valuables you aren’t taking with you in a safe deposit box or other secure location outside your home.

  • If you have a landline, set it to forward your calls. With remote call forwarding, your home phone may not even ring — which is good for security.

  • Turn on all alarms and monitors before you leave.

Appliances and vehicles

  • Unplug appliances to cut energy costs and reduce fire hazards.

  • Clean out refrigerators and freezers. Unplug, defrost and dry them before you go, and leave the doors ajar to prevent the formation of mildew and bad odors.

  • If you’re leaving a vehicle in the garage, consider over-inflating the tires a little and putting fuel stabilizer in the gas tank.

  • Use a trickle charger to keep your vehicle battery in good shape or simply disconnect the battery.

  • Rodents and other pests like to chew on vehicle wiring. Keep them away with commercial repellents or essential oils.

Financial arrangements

  • Set up automatic bill payments, and bring your tax paperwork with you if you’ll be gone past April 15th so you don’t miss the filing deadline.

  • See if your telephone, cable, internet and/or satellite providers are willing to temporarily suspend your service. But make sure this doesn't interfere with your home monitoring system, if you have one.

  • Create a home inventory, which can simplify filing an insurance claim if a robbery or accident does happen while you are away.

  • Check with your insurance professional to make sure everything is up-to-date with your homeowners or renters insurance, and let them know you will be out of the house for an extended period. You may need additional coverage.

Deliveries and mail

  • Have the U.S. Postal Service forward all mail to your winter address.

  • Call to suspend newspaper delivery while you’re away.

  • Ask a neighbor to collect fliers and packages that may.

When you’re gone for the winter, or a big part of it, you want to make sure your property is safe in your absence. Before you make your journey to a warmer climate, it’s important to prepare properly, and that includes contacting your insurance professional and reviewing your home insurance.


By taking all these precautions, you won’t have to spend your warm winter days worrying about your empty home. Enjoy your travels!


Contact V.F. McNeil Insurance today at (203) 481-2684 to speak with an insurance professional about home insurance.

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