Essential Guide To Winterize Your Vacant House Effectively

Winterize Your Vacant House: Complete Guide for Snowbirds

Are you a snowbird planning to leave your home unattended during winter? It's crucial to winterize your vacant house and protect it from potential damage and theft.

Proper winterization can help prevent damage caused by freezing temperatures, snow, and ice and ensure the security of your property. With some simple measures, you can reduce the risk of costly repairs and have peace of mind knowing that your vacant house is protected from the winter elements. This guide'll take you through the steps to effectively winterize your vacant house.

Key Takeaways

  • Winterizing your vacant house is crucial to prevent potential damage and ensure security.
  • Preparing your vacant house for winter involves inspecting the property, sealing drafts, protecting plumbing and water systems, considering heating and ventilation, securing windows and doors, and performing exterior maintenance.
  • By following this guide, you can confidently prepare your property for winter and minimize the risk of damage.

Understanding Winterization: What You Need to Know

Understanding winterization requirements is crucial for homeowners when protecting their vacant houses during winter. It's a good idea to start with a thorough checklist that covers all the necessary steps. First, you must ensure your furnace is properly maintained and in working order. Next, check the chimney for any potential issues or blockages. Remember to locate and turn off the main valve for your water supply. Taking care of these tasks will help prevent unwanted surprises and save you dollars in potential repairs.

Checkup For Your Heating System

To keep your home warm and safe during winter, it's crucial to ensure your heating system is in good working condition. Regular maintenance is critical to avoiding any issues. Seal any drafts around windows, doors, and other openings to minimize heat loss. Insulation is another important factor, as it helps maintain an even temperature throughout the house. Clean and inspect the fireplace flue for proper ventilation and to prevent carbon monoxide buildup. Lastly, keep the gutters and downspouts clear of debris to prevent ice dams and potential water damage.

Protecting Your Home from Theft and Vandalism


To winterize your vacant house includes protection against burglars

To protect your vacant home from theft and vandalism, take proactive measures. Install security cameras to deter potential burglars and vandals. Use timers or smart plugs to turn on lights and mimic occupancy. Ask a trusted neighbor or friend to monitor your property and report any suspicious activity. Put valuable items out of sight and consider using a safe for important documents and belongings. Display signs indicating the presence of a security system or alarm to discourage intruders. Install motion-sensor lights around entryways to deter potential intruders. Also, cancel or pause newspaper and other subscription services.

Preparing Your Home’s Plumbing and Water System

Winterize Your Vacant House: Complete Guide for Snowbirds winterize your vacant house

Winterize your vacant house and protect against freezing pipes

To ensure your vacant house is protected during the winter months, preparing your home's plumbing and water system is crucial. One important measure is to add non-toxic antifreeze to toilets, sinks, and drains. This helps prevent freezing and unpleasant odor buildup. Additionally, shutting off the main water supply and draining the plumbing system is essential if the house will be unoccupied for an extended period. Consider hiring a plumber to thoroughly inspect and winterize your plumbing system, ensuring everything is in good working order before you leave.

Ask a close neighbour or relative for help

Winterize Your Vacant House: Complete Guide for Snowbirds winterize your vacant house

As a neighbour for help to winterize your vacant house

During the winter months, it is crucial to have someone keep a watchful eye over your vacant property. Consider asking a close neighbor or relative for assistance in regularly checking in and performing necessary maintenance tasks. Providing them with emergency contact information is essential in case any issues arise. To show appreciation for their help, you could offer compensation or a thank-you gift. Having a trusted person look after your property can bring you peace of mind while away.

Additionally, you could ask them to pick up mail regularly and, if they're willing, shovel the driveway and walkways after snowfall.

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Winterization Maintenance Checklist: Before Leaving Home

Before leaving your vacant house for the winter, following a comprehensive winterization maintenance checklist is crucial to protect your property. Start by turning off the main valve and draining the pipes to prevent freezing and potential damage. Remember to pour a cup of vegetable oil into each water trap to prevent them from drying out. Unplug electronics and appliances, set your thermostat on a timer, and remove all food and perishable items. Taking these precautions ensures that your home is well-prepared for the winter months without any unexpected issues.

Turning Off Water Supply and Draining Pipes

It is crucial to turn off the main water supply valve to protect your vacant house from potential water damage during the winter months. Doing so can prevent any water flow that could result in leaks or flooding. Additionally, it is essential to drain the water pipes by opening all faucets and flushing toilets to remove any remaining water. This step eliminates the risk of frozen pipes and potential bursts. Consider using non-toxic antifreeze in the plumbing system for further protection against freezing.

It's also a good idea to have a professional plumber inspect and winterize the plumbing systems for added peace of mind. Finally, make sure to leave contact information for a trusted person who can address any emergency plumbing issues that may arise.

“Burst pipes have become one of the most common issues experienced by homeowners in the winter months, and can be very costly to repair due to the extent of water damage that can occur,” wrote Steve Wilson, senior underwriting manager for home insurance company Hippo, which is headquartered in Palo Alto, California.

Vegetable Oil to prevent Sewer Gases

Winterize Your Vacant House: Complete Guide for Snowbirds winterize your vacant house

Winterize your vacant house by protecting against sewer gases

To prevent sewer gases from backing up into your home, it's vital to ensure the water traps in your plumbing system remain filled. A simple yet effective way to maintain this is by pouring a cup of vegetable oil into each water trap. Vegetable oil is a barrier, preventing the water from evaporating and saving you money on potential repairs and insurance claims. Remember to turn off the main water valve and drain all plumbing systems before leaving for extended periods.

Unplugging Electronics and Appliances

To properly winterize your vacant house, unplugging all electronics and appliances is essential. Doing so can save energy and reduce the risk of electrical malfunctions. Make sure to empty and unplug the refrigerator, freezer, and dishwasher to prevent mold, mildew, and odors. Remember to turn off and drain the water heater to avoid potential damage from freezing temperatures. Shutting off the breaker for the heating system will also prevent unnecessary energy consumption. Lastly, the air compressor blows out any remaining water from outdoor faucets and water lines.

Setting Your Thermostat on a Timer

Winterize Your Vacant House: Complete Guide for Snowbirds winterize your vacant house

Winterize your vacant house by setting a timer for the heat

Setting your thermostat on a timer is crucial in winterizing your vacant house. By programming the thermostat, you can maintain a lower, yet safe temperature throughout the winter. It's also a good idea to raise the temperature slightly during periods when the house may be occupied. Additionally, installing carbon monoxide detectors near heating appliances adds an extra layer of safety. Consider upgrading to smart thermostats for remote control and energy savings. Close fireplace flues and add extra insulation to keep cold air from entering the house.

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Removing All Food and Perishable Items

Winterize Your Vacant House: Complete Guide for Snowbirds winterize your vacant house

To winterize your vacant house, make sure to remove all perishable food items

When preparing to winterize your vacant house, one important step is to remove all food and perishable items. This prevents spoilage, minimizes odors, and helps deter pests and mold growth. Start by emptying the refrigerator, freezer, and pantry of any perishable items that may spoil while you're away. Consider donating or disposing of non-perishable items that won't be consumed before you leave. Additionally, it's essential to clean and sanitize all kitchen surfaces, including appliances, to prevent pests and mold further.

Leaving the kitchen cabinets open is a good idea to promote air circulation and prevent musty odors. By following these steps, you can ensure that your vacant house remains fresh and free from potential issues during the winter months.

Additional Steps for Protecting Your Home While Away

When it comes to protecting your vacant house while you're away, there are additional steps you can take to ensure its safety. Installing a security system is a good idea to deter potential intruders and keep your home secure. Hiring a property management company can provide an extra layer of protection by regularly checking on your property and addressing any issues that may arise. Checking with your insurance company is also important to ensure your home is properly covered in case of any unforeseen events. Additionally, installing a Wi-Fi thermostat or thermometers can allow you to monitor and control the temperature of your home remotely.

Installing a Security System

Winterize Your Vacant House: Complete Guide for Snowbirds winterize your vacant house

Install a security system is part of the process to winterize your vacant house

Increase the security of your vacant house by installing a reliable security system. Utilize cameras and motion sensors to deter potential thieves and vandals. Connect your security system to a monitoring service for immediate response in case of suspicious activity. Ensure the security system is accessible remotely through a mobile app for real-time monitoring. Display signs and stickers indicating the presence of a security system to discourage intruders. By taking these precautions, you can protect your vacant house and have peace of mind while you're away.

Hiring A Property Management Company

Hiring a property management company is smart when winterizing your vacant house. These companies can handle all the necessary inspections and maintenance during the winter months, ensuring that your home remains in optimal condition. They are equipped to handle emergency repairs and maintenance while you are away, giving you peace of mind. Additionally, a property management company will ensure your home is secure and protected during the winter, offering regular updates and communication about its status. By hiring professionals, you can reduce stress and focus on enjoying your time away from your winter home.

Checking with your Insurance Company

When winterizing your vacant house, it's essential to contact your insurance company and inquire about their specific requirements for winterization. Inform them about the duration of your absence and the precautionary measures you plan to take. This will help ensure that you are adequately protected during this period. Additionally, discuss any additional coverage options or policy adjustments that may be necessary for your vacant house. Understanding any policy exclusions or limitations related to winterization or extended vacancy periods is crucial. Lastly, keep your insurance company updated on any changes or updates to your vacant house's security measures.

Installing a Wi-Fi Thermostat or Wi-Fi Thermometers

Installing a Wi-Fi thermostat or Wi-Fi thermometer is crucial for winterizing your vacant house. With a Wi-Fi thermostat, you can remotely monitor and control the temperature, ensuring your home stays within a safe range. Adjusting the thermostat settings can prevent freezing pipes and potential water damage. Moreover, these devices can send alerts to your smartphone if the temperature drops below a certain threshold. Consider installing multiple Wi-Fi thermometers in different areas of your house for comprehensive temperature monitoring. This will give you peace of mind and help protect your property while away.

Conclusion about winterizing your vacant house

Winterizing your vacant house is crucial for snowbirds to ensure the safety and security of your property. You can have peace of mind while you're away by taking the necessary steps to protect your home from theft, vandalism, and winter-related damage. Turn off the water supply, drain the pipes, and pour vegetable oil into water traps to prevent freezing and bursting. Unplug electronics, set your thermostat on a timer, and remove all food items to avoid mishaps. Consider installing a security system or hiring a property management company for added protection.

Don't forget to check with your insurance company and consider installing a Wi-Fi thermostat or thermometers for remote monitoring. With proper winterization, you can enjoy your time away without any worries about your vacant house.

FAQ’s About How To Winterize Your Vacant House

Should I turn off the water heater when the house is vacant?

Turning off the water heater when your house is vacant is recommended. This will save energy and protect against leaks or malfunctions. Before doing so, make sure to switch off the circuit breaker or gas supply. Allow the water heater time to warm up when you return home.

How often should I check my vacant house during the winter months?

It's important to check with your insurance provider for their requirements. Some policies may require a visit every 24 hours, while others may be less stringent. Look for any damage, leaks, or break-ins. Make sure the heating system is functioning and set to prevent frozen pipes. Consider hiring a property management company if you can't check regularly.

How do you properly drain all the water lines in a vacant house during winter?

To properly drain the pipes in a vacant house for winterization, start by turning off the main water supply and opening all faucets to drain the water. Prevent water traps from drying out to avoid sewer gas backup. Use compressed air to remove any remaining water, and add antifreeze to prevent freezing damage. Consider hiring a professional plumber for thorough winterization.

Winterize Your Vacant House: Complete Guide for Snowbirds winterize your vacant houseAbout the Publisher

Bo Kauffmann is a residential real estate agent with over 18 yrs experience in helping buyers and sellers achieve their goals.  Inducted into the REMAX Hall of Fame in 2010 and receiving the REMAX Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019, Bo has sold over 500 houses and condos in the Greater Winnipeg market.  He is an accredited buyer representative (A.B.R.) and a Luxury Home Marketing Specialist.   Bo provides exceptional service to First-Time Home-Buyers, Seniors looking to downsize and Home Sellers of all ages.   He can be reached easily   By E-Mail or call/text him   Call/Text Here

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