Many families will be traveling over Christmas and New Year’s, leaving their homes vacant and vulnerable to the elements. Winterizing your home before an extended trip is an absolute must, especially in areas with a chilly climate. Failing to do so could lead to things like damaged/burst pipes and mold growth. Before leaving town, make sure you prepare your home for the winter with these simple tips:
How to Winterize Your Home
- Shut off all outside water mains on the property.
- Open the faucets to drain the remaining water in the pipes. This is to prevent freezing pipes from bursting and will help to seal the sewage valve. If it’s a two-story home, start upstairs and work your way downstairs.
- Add several ounces of mineral oil or non-toxic plumber’s grade antifreeze (use according to manufacturer’s instructions) to the sink drains and toilets and toilet tanks to help prevent sewage from evaporating into your home. Cover toilet tanks with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation
- Turn the heat down but keep the temperature set to a minimum of 58 degrees.
- Unplug all unnecessary appliances, shut off the gas lines, and check for other safety or fire hazards.
- If there is a fireplace, make sure the flu is closed.
- Clean out ALL items from the refrigerator and freezer. This is especially important if the home is located in an area where power outages are common or likely. You don’t want to come back to a home that smells of spoiled food. Take out the trash as well.
- Turn off hot water heater or put it on a lower setting.
- Check to make sure your sump pump is working properly.
Some extra precautionary measures: You’ll want to contact your insurance agent to make sure all required steps are taken to protect your policy should damage happen to your home while you are gone. Notify the local police department that the house will be vacant and arrange to have a trusted friend check on your home periodically while you are gone. If humidity builds up inside when the temperature drops, have the person checking up on your home open the windows to prevent mold growth from the humidity.