How to protect your home while south for winter vacation
Keep your home safe and secure with home winterization tips for snowbirds to help prevent damage and theft.
Ways for snowbirds to secure their nests while away
If your family heads south for the winter in pursuit of sunnier skies, similar to protecting your home while you're vacationing, take measures to protect and winterize your home so you can enjoy the season away without worrying about what you left behind. An empty house is an easy target for burglars, so don't advertise your absence.
Tips to protect your house while you are on vacation
- Have your mail held and stop newspaper deliveries. The post office can hold your mail until you return or you can forward it to your winter location.
- Secure windows and doors. Help keep your home untouched by installing secure locks on all windows and doors.
- Lighting. Make sure there are bright outdoor lights and time them to turn on at sundown. Set lights on random timers throughout the house to give the appearance someone is home at night.
- Create a home inventory. A home inventory can simplify filing an insurance claim if a burglary or accident does happen while you are away.
- Don't advertise your travels. Don't mention your absence on social media and wait until you return to post those travel pictures.
- Unplug unnecessary appliances. Unplugging TVs, coffee makers and small appliances helps protect against electrical fires or power surges.
- Hide the "hide-a-way"key and disable remote key entries. You won't be needing them while you are away.
- Enlist the neighbors. Ask a trusted neighbor to monitor your property while you're away and to inform you about suspicious activity, collect any flyers that are left on your door and possibly park their car in your driveway periodically.
- Snow removal. Hire a snow removal service to take care of your sidewalk and driveway.
- DIY home security or alarm services. Some apps connect to your home security system and alert you of changes. Others connect your mobile phone with a security camera or webcam to provide remote surveillance.
- Consider shutting off water at the main water valve. Turn water off at the water meter so the water pressure is turned off in the whole house. After turning off the main water valve, flush a toilet or open a faucet to evacuate some of the water from the interior pipes. Also, turn off the water to washing machines and dishwashers to avoid them leaking, and ensure your garden hose is detached.
Problems that start small in an unattended home can get serious if they're not addressed. You can ward them off with a little preparation.
- Prevent Frozen Pipes. Add extra insulation around pipes located in the attic, basement or crawlspace and keep the thermostat set at 55 degrees Fahrenheit or above. Also, change the battery in the thermostat. Some thermostats offer remote control so you can check and change your home's temperature while you're away. Install a whole house water leak detection system that will alert you in the event of a leak. You can then schedule service from afar. This helpful guide has more tips for preventing frozen pipes and water damage in your home.
- Clean gutters and trim trees. Cut down any dead limbs or trees near your house that could fall under heavy snow or ice. Clean all gutters to help drain away ice melt, possibly preventing water from building up and causing ice dams on your roof.
- Prevent Pests. Throw out any food not in an airtight metal or glass container. Then empty, clean and defrost your refrigerator and freezer. Also inspect your home's foundation, inside and out, and seal any openings.
And make sure your home is prepared with some DIY winterizing tips.