The leaves are turning vibrant fall colors and pumpkin spice is in the air, which means that it’s nearly time to prepare your second home or vacation property for the winter. Now is the perfect time to do some simple upkeep and maintenance to help protect your home while you are away for the winter.
- Check the Furnace and Fireplaces
You should get the furnace checked and change the filter every fall and spring to avoid any problems arising during the winter. Block any fireplaces with a grate or screen to keep warm air from escaping.
- Clean out the Fridge
Toss or donate non-perishables and keep things like flour and sugar stored in airtight containers. Another item to not forget is pet food.
- Turn off the Water and Protect the Pipes
Even if you are only going to be gone for a short time, turn off the water main or well. Also, check the insulation around the pipes and let the faucets drip to keep water from accumulating and freezing; no one wants to come back and have to deal with the aftermath of a burst pipe or flooding. If you leave your refrigerator and freezer running over the winter, make sure to turn off the ice maker to avoid leaks. The outside of the property needs attention as well. Focus on turning off any outside faucets or your sprinkler system.
- Set a Steady Temperature
While you might be tempted to lower the thermostat when you’re away, keeping it warmer protects the pipes as well as the walls, floors, appliances and other features. A Keefe Real Estate agent always reminds their clients not to rely solely on a WiFi-enabled thermostat to maintain the temperature of their home, since there could be times when the router may need to be reset, requiring someone to be physically in the house.
- Take Care of the Exterior
Mow the lawn, clear any branches or debris out of the gutters and trim the trees or shrubs. Early fall is also a good time to re-caulk doors and windows, seal any air leaks, check the roof vents and add any needed insulation. This helps prevent ice dams and icicles from forming and damaging your roof and gutters. This is also a good time to get the siding or trim painted, re-seal the driveway, or perform any other necessary tasks—or hire a service to handle them.
- Set up Indoor and Outdoor Cameras
You may already have a Ring camera or similar system to monitor your second home from your smartphone or laptop, but did you know that you should also put one in the utility closet or mechanical room? Placing a camera in these locations allows you to see the meters and sump pump to monitor any potential issues in these areas.
- Light Things Up
Check the bulbs on your indoor and outdoor lights if they are on timers, and replace or reset as necessary. Adding motion-detecting lights or floodlights is also a good idea to help your home appear to be occupied during the off-season.
- Schedule Professional Maintenance
Ensure that your second home is clean and ready for your return by scheduling with a cleaning service. This can also alert you to any problems and make sure that any leaks or other potential disasters are mitigated while you are away. This is also the time to schedule snow removal services or other landscapers.
- Get the Necessary Inspections
If it’s been a while since you have had your roof and house inspected, it’s a good idea to handle that as you prepare for winter. This is doubly important if you are considering putting your property on the market any time soon, since no one likes surprises when they are trying to sell a home.
If all this sounds overly daunting, a Keefe Real Estate agent can connect you with local maintenance professionals who can help you winterize your home as well as keep an eye on your property while you are away. Taking these steps to winterize your second home will help ensure that everything is all ready to go, so you can instead focus on looking forward to the summer at the lake.