Once the season of relaxing in your vacation home has ended, lots of work must be done before you head home. From home security to checking your utilities, here are some tips to ensure your winter home is properly closed up for the season.
Install a remote security system
Even a home in the safest vacation destination needs a home security system when the property lies vacant. Skip the monthly fees, and consider purchasing and installing a home security system such as the iSmart Alarm. Once the system is set up and ready to go, monitor your property remotely with the iOS app on your iPhone 6s Plus. You can even remotely swivel and tilt your alarm to get a closer look at something suspicious.
Whichever security system you purchase, ensure there is video capability to capture any criminal activity, as well as motion sensors to properly monitor your home.
Check your utilities
Make a utilities checklist to avoid the nightmare of discovering your heat was left on all summer. Consult a plumber on whether you should turn off your water supply or set your heat to a low setting to ensure pipes don’t freeze.
To save electricity and avoid the potential for storm damage or lightning strikes, unplug your appliances. If you have electric heating and you don’t need to keep it on during the rest of the year, arrange to have your electricity shut off until you return.
Call your insurance company
Review your homeowner’s policy and talk to your insurance agent about how long your home will remain empty. Some policies have restrictions against how long a property can sit vacant. If your policy has this restriction, offer your home to a friend looking for a vacation getaway, or arrange for a part-time house sitter.
Remember to also notify your auto insurance company if your vehicle remains at your winter home. You may be able to pause the insurance or reduce your payments to save money while you’re gone.
Whether your winter home is in the middle of nowhere or in a gated community, let local security or police know that the home will be vacant, and the date of your return. Provide your contact information in case of an emergency. The authorities can keep an eye on your house during patrols or flag any suspicious behavior. They can also let you know if you need to address any ongoing maintenance needs like lawn or snow shoveling to avoid fines.
Forward your mail
Even if you don’t receive mail at your winter residence, junk mail and flyers will still accumulate. Forward your mail through the U.S. Postal Service to your permanent residence or find out how long mail can be held until you return.
Ask a year-round neighbor to periodically pick up flyers and stray mail. Even a neighborhood kid can be tasked with the responsibility of removing any stray catalogs and mail in exchange for a small retainer.
Clean forgotten areas
Make your unoccupied home unattractive to pests. Food on your grill left out all summer can attract insects, rodents and scavengers that can then move into other areas of your yard and home. Check your shed for forgotten food scraps, wood chips and other nuisances that can attract animals looking for food or nesting material.
Clean out underneath your sinks and in the basement to discourage mildew from growing. It’s also a good idea to set out a few bug traps in dark, damp corners throughout your winter home in case any unwelcome guests decide to move in for the summer.