If you are a snowbird heading south for the winter, there are several key things you can do to help protect your vacant home. Taking these steps can help protect your home from theft, water damage, heating or electrical system malfunctions while you are away.
Make Your Home Appear as Though It Is Continuously Occupied
Forward your mail, stop newspaper delivery, and ask a friend or relative to collect flyers or other items that may be left at your door.
Take Steps to Protect Your Home from Thieves
Secure external doors and windows with deadbolt locks, security-type hinges and sturdy door frames that cannot be spread apart. Install slide locks or other equivalent security locks on doors.
Protect Your Pipes to Avoid Water Damage by Turning Off Your Water Supply
Drain your pipes of all water by opening the faucets, and flush your toilet to clear the water from the tank and bowl, then consider pouring antifreeze in toilet tanks and bowls to prevent any remaining water from freezing.
Keep Your Home and Plumbing Warm if Your Water Supply Stays On
Set the temperature at 55°F or higher to help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities above freezing temperatures. Keeping room and cabinet doors open also helps heat to circulate and warm the areas where pipes are located.
Perform Routine Maintenance Before You Leave
If electrical service to the home is to remain on, consider having a licensed electrical contractor inspect your main electrical panel, wiring and outlets, if necessary.
Make Your Home Unattractive to Pests
Inspect your home for openings that animals could use to enter. For example, make sure your fireplace flue is closed, as bats, birds and squirrels are known to get inside this way.
Be Ready for Emergencies
Install smoke detectors on at least every floor (preferably tied to a constantly monitored fire alarm system so the fire department will automatically be notified in case of alarm), and confirm that the sensors and system are tested regularly.
For more information about how you can successfully carry out each of these steps and winterize your home, visit Travelers Insurance’s Snowbirds blog.