Most people, both travel enthusiasts and occasional tourists choose to go for long holidays during winter. Of course, taking a vacation in winter is a great idea. However, if you just leave your home without preparing it for what’s coming, you may come back to find your home in dire need of serious and expensive repairs. Leaving your home for a few months is already challenging even during warm seasons but it is worse in winter.
If you are privileged to take a vacation this winter, then you need to make sure you are leaving your home in good condition. Winter come with cold temperatures and unpredictable weather conditions that can ruin your home if you haven’t taken the necessary precautionary measures to safeguard your home.
Therefore, if you do not want to be faced with unwanted surprises when you return, here’s what you need to do.
Shut off the water supply
The first thing you need to do particularly if you are leaving your home for the entire winter season is to turn off your water supply. Failure to do so can lead to a big expensive mess you definitely don’t want to deal with when you come back.
The good thing about completely turning off the water supply is to protect your home from water damage in case there are leaks you aren’t aware of. Furthermore, when the water supply isn’t turned off, the water lines can begin to leak or worst still, the pipes can burst and cause a lot of damages. Hence, be sure to shut your water supply from the main valve usually located outside or in the basement. If your water supply is from a well, then shut the breaker to the pump.
After shutting off your water supply, make sure you drain the waterlines to prevent your pipes from bursting in case the water remaining freezes and expands. The best way to drain the pipes is to open all the faucets in the home and flushing all the toilets. Flush the toilets one more time after they have drained their tanks to empty the bowls. Drain the pressure that if your water source is from a well.
If shutting off the water supply isn’t an option, then consider leaving some water running down the pipes. If you choose this option, ensure the water is constantly flowing from the fixtures closest to the water entry point to the furthest point indoors to avoid problems. Apart from that, check the pipes for any leaks especially under the sinks. However, note that the best way to protect your home from water damage is to turn off the water from the main supply.
Other notorious places that can expose your home to water damage are the seals around the windows if they are not in good condition. The shingles if they are dislodged or damaged in any way. The rain gutters if they have any form of debris and downspouts are blocked.
Insulate the water pipes
Wrapping insulation around your pipes is never a bad idea whether you are going to turn off your water or not. Consider insulating the pipes leading to and from your water heater and the pipes exposed outdoors or in a crawl space. This greatly helps to add protection to your water pipes and they are unlikely to burst even during a deep freeze.
Unplug the electrical devices
There are so many electrical devices that don’t need to stay on when you leave. In fact, other than your refrigerator, other devices such as coffee maker, chargers, computers, portable fans, etc should be unplugged before you leave for your vacation. Remember that when these devices are powered off they still use power in the background. Unplug them if you want to save on your power bills while you are away.
Security and safety
One sure way to enjoy your vacation is a guarantee that your home is safe and secure. Otherwise, you will spend most of your time worrying about what could be happening in your home since you left. You have to be worried though. According to the Insurance Information Institute, most residential break-ins happen during the prime vacation period. That’s why it’s important to take the necessary measures to prevent unwanted attention while you are away enjoying your vacation. Some things you can do to keep your home safe include:
Have someone check your home
Having someone check your home periodically while you are away can give you peace of mind. This can also send a message that there is someone in that home. Your home won’t look like some abandoned property. Pay someone to mow the yard so that your home doesn’t look obviously abandoned. You can also buy timers for your lights so that burglars can think you are actually home.
Avoid sharing your itinerary on social media
Social media platforms are great when you want to keep in touch with friends and family. Even at that, using them to share information on your whereabouts will also notify the wrong people that you are away and you don’t seem to be coming back soon. Instead, keep in touch with your loved ones using personal pages and avoid posting your vacation plans on social media platforms, voice mail messages and answering machines.
Arrange for mail collection
Before you leave, agree with someone to collect the mails on your behalf. Although you can as well stop mail and newspaper delivery, doing so will let the newspaper and postal workers know you are away and for how long. If the mails and newspapers pile up without anyone collecting them, criminals will know that home doesn’t have occupants. But if you ask a friend or a relative to be collecting them for you, it will look like there is someone at home.
A security alarm can help secure your home when you are away. Although alarm systems are expensive, they are worth investing in. You can also install deadbolts on doors and windows to make it more difficult for burglars to break in.
Clean up your home
Nobody wants to come back to a smelly home, or do you? If not, then ensure you take out all the trash. Kitchens are usually the most affected. Don’t be too lazy not to empty the dishwasher or clean out the refrigerator. Check the expiration dates of the items in the fridge. Do not leave food items that will expire while you are away. In fact, the best option would be to empty the fridge just in case there is a power outage for an extended period of time. You may come back to eat thawed food unknowingly and that can be very dangerous to your health. Make sure everything is clean and in order before you embark on your long journey.
Winterize your home
Don’t be in so much hurry to leave for your vacation. Take your time, prepare your home so that when you come back, you will be delighted to be home again after such a long time. At the end of the day, east or west, home is the best.