It’s never too early to start thinking about summer! Especially for those of us who have stayed up north during the winter. We’re counting the days until everything has thawed out and we can once again enjoy the great outdoors. If you’re also looking forward to summer up north but have the benefit of spending your winter somewhere warm, you’ll want to start preparing for your home to be closed up for summer. Here’s a rundown of things to consider for closing up your home.
Photograph the House
A great indicator that everything was well cared for and there is nothing to be concerned about is coming back to a home that looks the same as you left it. After a few months away, it can be hard to remember the condition that the house was left in. Take photos of the property, exterior, and interior of the house. Pay close attention to the condition of these areas and make some notes if necessary. These photos will be a great way to tell if the house was receiving proper care. Additionally, in the event of an issue, they are a great resource for the insurance company.
Obviously, coming back to a spotless house next winter is great. But that’s not the only benefit to cleaning before you leave. You don’t want to move your family out and have a family of pests or rodents move in. Give extra attention to the floors, counters, pantry, and fridge. Clear out these areas and wipe them down to minimize the chances of getting bugs, rodents, or mold while you’re away. Better to clean up crumbs in the spring than mouse dropping in the fall.
Get Appliances Ready
Get all of your appliances ready for a long period of being dormant and unplug as much as you can. Things to consider in this category include TVs, cable boxes, kitchen items, dishwasher, washing machine, fridge/freezer, printer, treadmill, or anything of the like. Some people will even shut down their water heater – check with your plumber if you’re not sure if this is a good idea. One thing that some people may want to unplug but could be beneficial to leave on, your internet modem and router. If you have smart home products, you’ll want the internet on to be able to communicate with these devices.
Be Wary of Burglars
Allowing the house to look unoccupied can draw unwanted attention. You should forward your mail and stop the newspaper and any other deliveries. Hire someone to keep the yard maintained. Set up timers for lights – there are some great smart lights that you can buy to run this. Rig up a cardboard cutout of a person to your train set so it moves past the window like Home Alone. Maybe you don’t need to go that far but you get the idea. After that, it’s just a matter of locking everything down. Check all the doors and windows to ensure they’re secure. Replace the batteries on the alarm and double check that the system is functioning properly. Anything irreplaceable should be put in a safety deposit box or secure location.
Set Your A/C
You’ll want to keep your A/C running to help circulate the air and remove some of the humidity which can cause mold and mildew to form. Before you go, make sure the air filter is clean and a schedule is set. Smart thermostats are a great investment for seasonal homes – they make it very easy to check the current temperature, so you know the system is functioning, and allow you to adjust your schedules from anywhere.
Replace the batteries and test all of the smoke alarms in the house – another great candidate to be upgraded to a smart device. In a hurricane area? Have your hurricane protection put on before you leave or make arrangements with someone to put them on in the event of an incoming storm.
Find Local Help
Possibly the most important step is finding trustworthy people or companies to help you maintain your home and peace of mind while you’re away. All of the preparation in the world cannot guarantee that something won’t go wrong. Hiring a professional home watch company to check on things is an absolute necessity for your home when you’re not going to be there for a while. These professionals can catch problems early and help you take care of them. If you do nothing else on the list, make sure you do this! One recommendation is Your Home Watch Professionals (https://www.yourhwp.com)
Below is a helpful checklist summarizing everything above and adding in a few bonus items. Enjoy the rest of your time in your winter home!
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