When you live in southeastern Wisconsin, the winter gets long, and the need to escape to somewhere warm is necessary. Your custom home needs to be cared for before departing, so whether you leave for a few weeks, months, or even longer, the following suggestions will help you to winter proof and keep your home safe.
Winterize Your Custom Home: A How-To Guide for Wisconsin Snowbirds
First and Foremost, Inspect Your House
Look carefully at the interior and exterior of your property and make note of everything that needs to be done. Check for things like snow build up in windowpanes or leaves in gutters causing ice cycles and ice back up. Check inside for any windows that are cracked open, fire hazards and other issues that need to be addressed prior to leaving.
Turn Off Your Water
If a pipe bursts or leaks while you are away, it could cause significant damage. Consider completely turning off the water supply if you will be away for an extended period of time. If your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, keep on the water supply to this system. Don’t just turn off your water sources inside. If your furnace fails while you’re away, water in the pipes could freeze and potentially burst the pipes causing extensive damage. After you have turned off the main source, open up every faucet and drain the water lines. Go through your home and make sure the toilets and water heaters have all been drained. It is a good idea to keep your house at 55 degrees to prevent damage.
Do a Safety Check
Walk around the home and unplug any appliances or gadgets including microwaves, TVs and even your oven. This will avoid the risk of fire in the event of a faulty switch or a rodent gnawing on the wires. For a very long absence, experts suggest turning off gas hot water heaters completely. Hot water heaters use a lot of energy, just keeping water in the tank hot. For gas water heaters, the simplest option is to switch the unit to “pilot.”
Clean It Up
Don’t keep any food that is likely to go bad while you’re away. Empty your freezer. If the electric fails in your absence and then is restored, the food in your freezer will thaw and refreeze. Remove any items that could freeze in your absence such as beer bottles, paint containers, sodas, and mineral water. These items could burst and cause damage to your home. Be sure your fireplace is closed to prevent birds, bats and squirrels from getting in.
Handle the Outside
Store outdoor furniture such as tables, chairs, hammocks, and delicate garden ornaments inside a garage, shed or storage unit. Heavy snowstorms and strong wind could blow these pieces away or they can become damaged by heavy snowfalls.
Keep It Safe and Make Your Home Appear to be Occupied
Store your valuables such as jewelry, laptops, money or cash in a safe place. If you have an alarm system be sure it is working and activated. Secure all of your doors—particularly lower level entrances and sliding doors. Put timers within your home that will turn lights on for a few hours at night. This will make it less obvious that you are away and your home is unoccupied. Have your mail and newspaper delivery stopped while you are gone and have someone snow-blow and shovel your driveway and sidewalks.
While it is fun to post to social media photos from the beach, avoid doing so until you are back home. There is that possibility of the wrong person learning that your home is unoccupied.
No matter what your circumstances, it is very important to safeguard your home during the winter months, particularly when you are escaping the cold. If possible, ask a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home. Water damage, electrical fires and many more disasters can cost thousands to repair. By taking these quick and simple steps you will safeguard your home from damage and avoid dealing with a big mess when you return home.
Spring will eventually return to Wisconsin and you will be enjoying your custom–built home or lake home again soon—preventing damage while you are away will keep it beautiful and in mint condition.