With winter just around the corner, here are five steps to take to winterize and protect your home from theft, water or other damage.

  1. Protect Your Home from Thieves
  • Set your alarm systems, make sure they are in working order and have been activated.
  • Secure external doors and windows with deadbolt locks. Install slide locks or other equivalent security locks on sliding glass doors or French doors.
  • Store valuables that you are not taking with you in a safe deposit box or other secure offsite location.
  1. Turn Off Your Water Supply to Protect Your Pipes and Avoid Water Damage
  • Consider completely turning off the water supply if no one will be in the home for an extended period of time. If your home is heated by an older steam heating system, consult with your heating professional to determine if it is safe to turn off the water supply for your particular heating system. Also, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system.
  • 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 and cracking. Always use non-toxic antifreeze rated for plumbing systems.
  • To help confirm that the pipes have been drained, consider having a plumber blow compressed air through the pipes.
  1. Keep the Heat On if Your Water Supply Stays On
  • If you decide against draining your water pipes, keep the furnace running to help ensure the home stays warm and the pipes do not freeze.
  • Set the temperature at 55°F or higher to help keep the interior of the floor and wall cavities, where the water piping is likely located above freezing temperatures. Keeping room and cabinet doors open also helps heat to circulate and warm the areas where pipes are located.
  • Shut off the water to washing machines and dishwashers where possible, to avoid any leaks or broken hoses while you are away.
  • Turn off the heat source and water supply to hot water heaters (if separate from your boiler).
  • Consider shutting off and draining outdoor water faucets to prevent vandalism and freezing damage.
  • Have a water flow sensor and low temperature sensor installed on your main water supply pipe and hooked into a constantly monitored alarm system or your smart phone.
  1. Perform Routine Maintenance
  • Have your heating system inspected and serviced before winter. Have your fuel tanks filled before you leave, and ask someone to check on heat and fuel levels regularly while you are gone.
  • Be sure to maintain electrical power if required to keep the heating system running. 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. This way, they can repair or replace anything that may be defective.
  • Have your roof inspected before you leave and clean your gutters to help prevent ice from building up.
  • Unplug all unnecessary appliances before you leave. Make sure you can retrieve messages on your home answering machine or voicemail so it does not indicate FULL or unattended when someone calls.
  1. Prepare for Emergencies
  • Notify the police department that the property will be vacant, and provide emergency notification numbers.
  • 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.
  • Ask a trusted friend, neighbor or relative to keep an eye on your home and be available in emergency situations. Give them access to your home so they can regularly monitor heating, electrical and water systems.
  • If the weather turns frigid, have them also check the roof for ice dams and inspect for leaks inside. Make sure they have your contact information and a list of local contractors they can reach if repairs or service are needed.

Sonja Bush is a local licensed Resort and Second Home Realtor ready to answer any questions you may have about winterizing your home or finding a vacation home in the Mammoth Lakes area.  She can be reached at 661-979-9000 or by email at [email protected].

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