Flying south for winter? Not a bad idea. But you’ll need to prepare your house to withstand those cold winter nights by itself. There are three things you’ll really need to prepare for: utilities, theft, and rodents
First off, before you start prepping your house, make a checklist. This way you won’t forget anything. It also helps you know what needs to be un-done when you return. Leave one list at the house and take another with you. If you let anyone borrow your home during your absence, they’ll know what to take care of. Plus, there’s something rewarding about checking things off a list.
The first thing to worry about in winter is frozen pipes. Turn off your main water valve and then drain all water lines. Open all faucets and let the water run dry, including bathtubs, showers, and spray hoses by the sink. Hold down the toilet handle until the tank is empty. Then pour a cup of antifreeze in the tank to prevent the remaining water from freezing. Also pour antifreeze in shower and sink drains. About one cup in each drain should do the trick.
Follow manufacturer’s instructions to drain water from dishwashers, washing machines, and ice makers. Take the water filter out of your refrigerator. Drain the water heater.
Set the thermostat between 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit to keep the temperature above freezing and keep things dry.
Unplug all appliances for safety.
Guard against rodents by storing dry foods in metal cabinets or metal containers. Wash trash cans. Put soap and sponges in a safe container. Spray insecticide along baseboards and under the sink. Place insect traps down there and on countertops.
Empty all food from the refrigerator and freezer and clean it out. Unplug it and prop open the doors. This prevents mold, which likes to grow in the dark.
Vacuum floors to remove any crumbs that might attract vermin.
An open curtain allows outsiders to peek inside at your valuables. Close all blinds and curtains. This also keeps the temperature consistent and your furniture from fading.
Lock all doors and windows. Make it look like someone is home by installing a light timer to turn your lights on and off automatically. A decent timer is between $15-20 at a home improvement store or online. For extra protection, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your home. Don’t forget your mail. Have the post office hold your mail while you’re away. A stuffed mailbox is a clue to thieves that nobody is home.
4. Other checklist items
Take all bedding off the mattresses, wash it, and store it in boxes. When you return all you have to do is pull it out and make the beds. No re-wash required! This also lets your mattresses air out.
Bring outdoor furniture inside or store it in a garage.
Last but not least, take out all the trash.
Now that your house is ready to go so are you! That’s one less thing to worry about during your vacation.