How to Prepare Your Beach Home for Fall and Winter

Labor Day weekend has rolled around once again with neck breaking speed. As you plan your last hurrah for the beach house, one chore weighs heavy on your mind. The inevitable can be put off no longer, and it’s time to batten down the hatches for the winter season. While you’re planning the party details, let’s kill two birds with one stone and plan a closing too. This way you can employ the help of some of those friends, or seriously cut down on the food budget when they decline the offer. Either way, it’s a win/win proposition. Once the plan is mapped out you may find some of the tasks beyond your capabilities or those of your friends, in which case you’ll want to hire a handyman.

Preparing a beach house for winter is a fairly common sense ABC routine. The goal is safeguarding the house from bugs, break-ins, water damage, and the elements. Starting with the outside first and working in here’s what has to happen.

Repair any visible damage to windows, doors, roof, foundation etc. Clean out the gutters and be sure downspouts are free flowing. If the home has a basement and you haven’t already, direct the flow of water away from the foundation. Trim up the trees, mow the lawn, and drain or close spas and pools. Anything which could become a projectile in high winds needs to be brought in and stored. If it can attract wildlife get rid of it. If there is even minimal threat of rising water bring in anything you deem precious and non amphibious.

Inspect the inside of the home for any available entrances critters might use and plug them up. If you have a chimney, get it cleaned and close all dampers. Now would also be a good time to have the heating system inspected if it’s been a while. Caulk the windows if need be, and if applicable be sure to pull down the storms.

Any items such as linens, towels, or clothes which will be left behind should be stored in watertight containers away from sunlight. Empty out the closets and cupboards, leaving doors open for ventilation. Except for the box of baking soda, clean everything out of the fridge and freezer. In the event you are turning off the electricity completely, keep the door open to avoid an out of control mold and mildew problem next year. There is wisdom in leaving nothing valuable behind.

Suck it up! It might just be a crumb to you, but its dinner to insects. Turn up the music and vacuum your heart out, all of it, the cupboards, closets, and furniture. Once vacuumed swaddle it in plastic on the off chance water or pests do get in. The extra time this will take far outweighs replacement costs later.

When your summer home is located in a part of the country which experiences freezing temperatures extra steps are required to insure no water damage occurs from freezing or burst pipes. After locating the main water valve (check the basement) turn off the water supply. Starting at the uppermost part of the house, drain all of the faucets, and sink traps, including any faucets located on the outside of the property. As a word of caution check to be sure outside faucets once drained are put back into the off position. Bugs are tenacious little creatures and will find any way in. Flush and drain all toilet bowls and tanks. Don’t forget the main house trap or the water heater. Add anti freeze to the toilet bowls and drains, two cups for the bowls and one for the traps. Please use non toxic RV antifreeze.

Before we go shutting off the electricity, there are just a few more things to do. Turn of the gas or have a technician come out and do it. Make sure you have securely locked all the windows and doors. Be sure to stop any deliveries you have been receiving such as mail or newspaper. Enlist the kindness of a year round neighbor to check on your home periodically in your absence. Check one more time both inside and out for any trash or debris you may have missed. Open up all bathroom and bedroom doors for ventilation, flip the main circuit breaker, close and lock the door behind you.

In the event you’ll be unable to check on the property yourself, hiring someone to this for you may be money well spent. Unmown lawns tend to call out to prospective thieves, and kids looking to misspend their youth. It also wouldn’t hurt to stop at the local police station on your way out of town to let them know the property is vacant. Leave contact information with them and the kindly neighbor.

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