Home, alone: 10 Tips for Winterizing an Unoccupied Residence

winterizing your homeThere are many reasons a home might stand empty for weeks, even months, during the winter season. Perhaps its owners are snowbirds who are fortunate enough to jet off to a sunny locale at the first hint of frost. Then, there are those who must relocate before selling their current home, leaving it unoccupied and on the market. Whatever the scenario, all homes can benefit from a quick “winterize” before the brutal cold settles in. Unoccupied homes, however, are particularly prone to damage during extended periods of freezing temperatures. To help protect your investment, consider these suggestions for winterizing your property before you winter elsewhere…
  1. Step one: Take a good, long look around. Carefully tour the interior and exterior of your home and decide what needs to be done, creating a checklist along the way. You’ll find this list especially handy when, upon your return, you’ll need to “un-do” the winterization process.
  2. Block any holes—even small cracks—you may spot in the eaves or outside walls. Remember, just as you are looking to escape the cold, so are furry critters like squirrels, bats, raccoons and more. No need to provide them with a flashing “vacancy” sign!
  3. Have your gutters cleaned prior to leaving town. This will reduce the risk of ice buildup and allow melting snow to drain. (Gutters clogged with fall leaves and twigs can form ice dams that cause water to seep into your house.) While cleaning, inspect gutters for leaks and ensure that downspouts are properly aligned to carry water away from your home’s foundation.
  4. Turn off the water at the main supply point. Should your furnace fail while you’re away, pipes filled with water could freeze and burst.
  5. Open all faucets and drain all water lines; don’t forget about outdoor faucets. Also drain toilets and the water heater (turning off the gas or electric supply first) and, if on a well-and-pump system, the expansion tank too. You’ll need to dilute or completely eliminate the water in drain traps by pouring in an RV-type antifreeze solution as directed.
  6. Turn down the heat, but don’t turn it off. About 58 degrees Fahrenheit is the recommended setting to avoid problems with freezing pipes and plaster.
  7. Remove and properly dispose of all fire hazards, such as flammable oil rags and stacked newspapers.
  8. Unplug all electrical appliances. This will prevent any potential damage from a power surge during an electrical storm.
  9. If your chimney hasn’t been inspected or cleaned in a year, it’s a good idea to do so. Make sure your chimney also has a protective cap with vents small enough to prevent foreign objects as well as birds and bats from squeezing through.
  10. Last but not least, make sure that your insurance coverage is adequate for being absent in the winter. Due to the increased potential for something to go wrong, insurance companies can be extra tough on requirements this time of year.
By taking the steps to prepare your home for the forces of winter, you’ll be able to truly enjoy your time away knowing that things are running smoothly back home. And if, despite your best efforts, you discover a situation that requires professional clean-up services upon your return…well, LDR to the rescue! Wait—did someone lock the back door? LDR Construction Services, Inc. Cleaning & Restoration has proudly served all of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin since 1991. LDR specializes in complete fire restoration, smoke remediation, storm damage repair, water damage repair and vandalism damage repair to both commercial and residential properties. Capable of handling any size loss and working with all types of insurance providers, the LDR disaster team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. For more information, visit www.ldr4service.com or call 1-888-874-7066. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net Save $25 on Air Duct Cleaning - Free Coupon  


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