our everyday life

How to Close Up a Winter Home

by Megan Hill

Winter travelers with vacation homes must keep several considerations in mind when leaving the property at the end of the season. Whether you own a cabin near ski slopes or a condo near a tropical beach, it's important to take steps to ensure the property is safe and secure until you return. This includes turning off the water and electricity, locking doors and windows and making preparations to have the grass cut.

Clean the property thoroughly. This includes emptying the refrigerator, pantries, and kitchen of all food. You should also clean all kitchen surfaces of spills and crumbs to avoid attracting ants or rodents. It's also a good idea to clean gutters of leaves and debris if a rainy season is imminent. If snow is still falling, clearing off decks and roofs may help prevent damage from additional, heavy accumulation. Bring in deck chairs, outdoor decorations and anything else that can be stolen or damaged in extreme weather.

Turn off the utilities such as water and electricity. Shut off the main water valve, which is usually found in the lowest level of the home, and flip off all nonessential circuit breakers. One exception is that if your home is in a very hot climate, such as a desert, you may want to keep your air conditioning on. Set it at a high temperature like 80 degrees so extreme heat does not damage the home's interior.

Secure the property and make it look occupied. Lock doors and windows on each level of the home. To make the property look occupied, put a few lights (such as porch lights and living room lamps) on timers so they turn on every evening. You may also consider installing an outdoor motion light in a driveway or on a porch fixture to help deter break-ins.

Keep the home's exterior maintained. Hire a landscaping service to cut the grass regularly when you're gone, which helps the home look occupied and keeps things neat for your return. In some dry climates, this also helps reduce wildfire fuel. If your home has a swimming pool, arrange to have it cleaned and maintained regularly to avoid algae growth.

Tip

  • Consider hiring a property watch service to maintain and look after your vacation home when you're gone. These services make sure your home is secure and clean and quickly handle problems such as leaky roofs or downed tree branches in your absence. You can find an agency in your area using a search engine like Yelp or Google.

About the Author

Megan Hill is a Seattle-based writer with more than 10 years of experience. She has served as a writer and editor for websites and nonprofit organizations, as well as a reporter for magazines such as "Seattle Met," "Seattle Magazine" and "Edible Seattle."

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images