Take these steps for winterizing your home before heading south for the winter.
Winter hasn't officially started, but if you’re a snowbird you’re likely already planning your escape to a warmer climate. But before you make like a bird and fly south for the season, you need to prepare your house for an extended absence.
Consider these tips when creating a preflight checklist. Once completed, you can focus on enjoying the season in the sun!
Consider hiring a handyman who provides snowbird services to take care of maintenance tasks at your primary residence while you’re away.
• Forward all mail to your winter address. The U.S. Postal Service can do this for as short a period as 15 days or as long as a year.
• Call at least a week before your departure to suspend newspaper delivery while you’re away.
• Ask a neighbor to collect fliers, packages or anything else that accumulates at your door.
• Arrange to have someone check on your home, and give them a list of service providers to call in the event of an emergency.
• Store valuables in a safe deposit box or other secure location outside your home.
• If you have an alarm system, make sure it works and notify your provider that you’ll be away for an extended period.
Heating and Appliances
• Set your thermostat to around 55 degrees to reduce energy costs and help keep water pipes behind interior walls from freezing.
• Unplug electrical appliances to cut energy costs and reduce fire hazards.
• Clean, defrost and unplug refrigerators and freezers, throw out uneaten food and leave doors propped open to prevent mildew.
• If you have a wood-burning or gas fireplace, close the flue to prevent critters from creating their own winter condo in your chimney.
Shut off water
• Shut off water to prevent leaks. If you plan to leave your home completely unheated, drain the pipes and shut off the water heater.
• Consider installing a home monitoring system to alert you of unusual conditions within your home (like the temperature falling below a certain threshold or a sudden leak).
Complete exterior maintenance
• Remove dead trees or large overhanging limbs that could fall and damage your house.
• Move outdoor furniture inside, or store inside a shed or garage.
• Arrange for periodic snow removal to avoid liability issues on your property.
Health and personal services
• Ask your doctor to extend prescriptions for your medications.
• Bring copies of medical records with you in case you have to make an unscheduled visit to the doctor or hospital.
• Arrange pet care if you aren’t taking your pet with you to your winter residence.
Make financial arrangements
• Notify your bank you’ll be making withdrawals from a different location to avoid a possible automatic block on your accounts.
• Pay bills before you leave, or set up automatic payments to keep from missing due dates.
• If you’ll be at your winter residence through April 15, bring your tax documents to file your returns on time.