Now that the summer season is officially over, you need to focus on properly closing your secondary property so that it is safe and protected during the winter months. You’ll need to take steps to protect the property not only from the elements, but from crime as well.
Stop Subscriptions and Mail
This is important if you stayed at your summer property for an extended period of time. Make sure you have the post office forward any mail back to your primary home address. Call any local newspapers you may have subscribed to and cancel the subscriptions. Ask a neighbor you trust or a property manager to keep an eye out for a any unwanted papers or mail that may be delivered by mistake, and notify you immediately. Deliveries, of any kind, that are not picked up signal that your home is unoccupied.
Shut Off Your Utilities
Water service should be shut off completely from the exterior of the home. Turn on all of your faucets to drain the pipes and then leave the faucets open. If you should have a water main break or furnace failure, water in your pipes will be able to escape. Water that can’t escape could freeze and your pipes could burst.
Consider whether or not you can safely suspend your electric or gas on a temporary basis. You’ll need to keep whichever utility powers your home’s HVAC system in operation. You’ll want to make sure the temperature inside the house is always above freezing. If the home is in a damp environment, you may also need to have a home dehumidifier installed. Make sure all of your appliances are not only shut off, but unplugged, including lights, before you leave.
Toss, Take, or Store Food
Make sure your refrigerator and freezer are emptied completely, cleaned, unplugged, and left open before you leave. Leftover perishable food should be disposed of or taken home with you. All open, even non-perishable foods should be taken with you or disposed of before you leave.
Make sure you clean your gutters and downspouts. Check the roof for any damage and have any necessary repairs made before you leave. You don’t want to come back to any surprises from a roof leak or avoidable collapse next season. Make sure all windows are closed and locked, and all drapes, shades, or blinds are closed. And of course, lock all doors to the property.
While it’s not always necessary, you may want to have your off-season security activated, if you use a third party service. At the least, you may want to notify the local police department of your departure so that they can occasionally monitor the area and keep an eye out for strange activity.
With just a few simple preventative and maintenance steps, you can protect your property and ensure you’re ready to fully enjoy your time again next summer.