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If you have to leave your vacant at any time during the winter, there are several things you can do to help protect your home. Taking these steps can help you protect your home from theft, water damage, heating or electrical system malfunctions, and other possible threats while you are away for an extended period of time.
How To Winterize A Vacant House
Make Your Home Appear As Though It Is Continuously Occupied.
When it comes to safeguarding your vacant home, making it appear continuously occupied is a key strategy to deter potential threats. Employing the following tactics can significantly enhance the security of your property:
1. Halt Newspaper Delivery and Forward Your Mail: Ceasing newspaper delivery and redirecting your mail are fundamental steps to maintaining the appearance of routine activity. Accumulating newspapers and mail can be a clear signal of an unoccupied home, making it a target for burglars. By implementing these measures, you eliminate obvious signs of vacancy.
2. Seek Assistance from Trusted Contacts: Engage the help of a reliable friend, neighbor, or relative to contribute to the illusion of ongoing habitation. Request their assistance in collecting any advertising materials or items left at your door. This not only keeps the immediate surroundings tidy but also avoids the accumulation of noticeable indicators of absence.
3. Install Motion-Detecting Devices on Outdoor Lights: Invest in motion-detecting devices for your outdoor lights to add an extra layer of security. These devices illuminate the exterior of your home when motion is detected, creating the impression that someone is present. This unexpected activation of lights can startle potential prowlers, dissuading them from approaching further.
4. Set Timers on Interior Lights: Utilize timers on interior lights strategically to simulate the patterns of typical household activities. Set the timers to turn lights on and off at varying times, mimicking the behavior of someone moving from room to room. This dynamic lighting scheme gives the impression of an occupied and active residence, discouraging burglars who may be observing the property.
Implementing these measures collectively creates a comprehensive strategy to make your home appear occupied even when vacant. This proactive approach enhances the security of your property and reduces the likelihood of it becoming a target for criminal activity.
Take Steps To Protect Your Home From Thieves And Vandals.
Winter Water Damage Prevention Strategies:
As the winter chill sets in, safeguarding your home against potential water damage becomes crucial. Adopting proactive measures can help mitigate the risks associated with freezing temperatures. Here’s a comprehensive guide to prevent water-related issues during the winter months:
Turning Off Your Water Supply
One of the key considerations when winterizing your vacant house is the water. Consider the option of turning off your water supply, especially in winter, to preemptively thwart potential water damage. If you reside in an older home equipped with a boiler, seeking advice from a heating professional is essential to determine the safety of turning off the water. Additionally, draining pipes of all water is a prudent step. This can be achieved by turning on all faucets, flushing toilets, and adding non-toxic antifreeze to P-traps in drains. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution if your home has an ice maker, as turning off the heat may pose a risk to its internal water tank, potentially leading to freezing and subsequent damage to the refrigerator.
Keeping Your Home Warm If Water Supply Stays On
If opting to keep the water supply on during winter, ensuring that your home remains adequately warm is paramount to prevent frozen pipes. Set the temperature at 55 degrees or higher, providing a conducive environment to ward off freezing temperatures. Additionally, consider shutting off the water supply to specific areas prone to freezing, such as the washing machine and toilets. For added protection, concentrate heating efforts in a single room where liquids susceptible to freezing are stored. Draining outdoor faucets and integrating commercially available water sensors further fortify your defense against potential water-related issues.
Pro Tip: If you turn off the heat, most people don’t realize the ice maker has an internal water tank that can freeze and destroy the refrigerator.
Before Leaving Your House Vacant During Winter: Routine Maintenance Essentials
- Heating System Inspection: Schedule an annual inspection and servicing of your heating system before leaving. This ensures it operates efficiently during your absence and reduces the risk of unexpected malfunctions.
- Gutter Cleaning for Ice Dam Prevention: Clean gutters to prevent ice dams from forming. Clogged gutters can lead to water accumulation, potentially causing damage to your roof and foundation.
- Tree Maintenance: Remove dead trees and trim overhanging limbs. This not only enhances the aesthetics of your property but also eliminates potential entry points for pests and minimizes the risk of falling branches causing damage.
- Unplug Unnecessary Appliances: Before departure, unplug unnecessary appliances to reduce potential fire hazards and save energy. This precautionary measure also minimizes the risk of electrical malfunctions in your absence.
Winterize Your Vacant House To Make It Unappealing To Pests:
- Understand Pest Exclusions in Home Insurance: Be aware that damage caused by vermin is often not covered by homeowner policies. Understanding the limitations of your insurance coverage prompts proactive pest prevention measures.
- Complete House Cleaning: Conduct a thorough house cleaning before leaving to discourage unwanted “residents.” This includes cleaning, defrosting, and unplugging refrigerators and freezers. A clean environment minimizes attractants and eliminates potential breeding grounds for pests.
- Inspect for Entry Points: Carefully inspect your home for openings that animals could use to enter. Seal any gaps or cracks in the foundation, walls, or windows to deny pests access to your home.
- Ensure Fireplace Flue is Closed: Close the fireplace flue to prevent squirrels, bats, birds, and other pests from entering through the chimney.
- Check Weather Stripping, Insulation, Doors, and Windows: Address any deficiencies in weather stripping, insulation, doors, and windows. Properly sealed entry points serve as a barrier against pests seeking shelter.
Winterize Your Vacant House To Be Prepared For Emergencies
In the realm of home management, being prepared for emergencies is a cornerstone of responsible ownership. To fortify your readiness for unforeseen events, consider the following holistic approach:
Trusted Allies in Emergency Monitoring
Engage the support of a trusted friend, neighbor, or relative to actively monitor your home during your absence. Their role extends beyond mere observation; they serve as a first line of defense, promptly identifying and responding to potential emergencies. This proactive measure ensures that any issues are addressed swiftly, mitigating the impact of unforeseen circumstances.
Access to Regular System Checks
Grant your designated ally access to your home, allowing them to conduct regular checks on essential systems. This includes monitoring the heating, electrical, and water systems to preemptively identify any irregularities. Timely detection of potential issues empowers your trusted contact to take necessary actions, preventing escalation and minimizing damage.
Emergency Clean-Up Service Information
Provide your designated ally with the contact information for an emergency clean-up service. In the event of water-related incidents, having swift access to professional clean-up services ensures a rapid and effective response. This preparation not only safeguards your property but also streamlines the recovery process, minimizing the aftermath of emergencies.
Proactive Communication with Insurance Advisors
For personalized guidance and assistance tailored to your specific needs, establish a line of communication with Insurance Advisors of St. Louis. By proactively seeking advice from insurance professionals, you gain insights into potential risks, coverage options, and additional steps to fortify your home against emergencies. This collaborative approach ensures that your insurance coverage aligns with your unique circumstances, providing a robust safety net during challenging times.
In essence, emergency preparedness goes beyond mere anticipation; it involves proactive collaboration with trusted individuals and professional entities. By incorporating these comprehensive measures, you not only fortify your home against potential threats but also establish a resilient network of support to navigate unexpected challenges. For more information or personalized assistance in refining your emergency preparedness strategy, reach out to Insurance Advisors of St. Louis today.