Leaving Your Beach House for the Winter? Tips on What to Do

Our beach house is the house in which we spend the most time; however, we have had a second home on the beach and I grew up having a second home on the beach. I hope the tips I’ve learned over the years will help you.

1. Keep the house warm so the pipes don’t freeze. I don’t mean set your thermostat at 72 degrees but I do mean keeping it at 50 degrees.

2. Turn off the water. First you have to find the shut off valve. Ours is in the basement. Look for the place that the water pipe comes into the house. It could be outside. All you have to do is turn the valve and you’ll be shutting it off so you will not get water (hopefully!). If you can’t find this many towns or cities’ Department of Public Works will help you.

3. You should keep one faucet open so that if the water in the pipes expands the pipes won’t burst.

4. Unplug everything. I always worry even when I’m home that my house will get struck by lightening (or worse my computer) and I’ll lose everything. We live in a safe area so our neighbors who don’t live here year round do not for the most part have automatic indoor lights that go on when the sun sets. You may want to think about doing that although a real burglar watching our house will know for sure no one is home when a light goes on at 7:00 every night. I have known people who have lights go on and off at different times and even have an electronic item (The one item left on.) like a radio on a timer.

5. Our house was on Cape Cod. We invested in a device that would phone us if the temperature fell below a certain level. For example if for some reason something malfunctioned and the house was at 32 degrees you may want to head to the house and make sure everything is alright. We bought this many years ago but I imagine stores such as Home Depot or Lowe’s could help you with this.

6. Speaking of heading over to the house tell a neighbor or two that you are leaving for the winter. Hopefully you are on speaking terms so you can leave a key. We had a neighbor down the street whom we paid a few dollars to go into our house every now and then to check it.

7. I’m sure you won’t forget but forward your mail earlier rather than later to ensure it doesn’t pile up. That’s a sure give away that you are away. Do the same for your newspapers.

8. Go around the house and check to see if there are any obvious openings where an animal larger than a mouse can get in. We recently had a friend who lives in her house year round and had a bat in her house from a hole she didn’t know was there!

9. Moth balls are not the safest item around but if you have propane tanks they are a prime area that attracts spiders. If you don’t want to find spiders taking up residence wrap some moth balls in aluminum foil and tuck the packages around the tanks. We do this with our travel trailer.

10. Arrange for snow plowing. Nothing screams “I’m not home” than snow continuously not shoveled.

11. If you live right on the ocean you may want to consider going to a hardware store and buying plywood to board up the windows facing the ocean.

12. If you have the money subscribe to an alarm system that calls a local company or the police if someone breaks into the house.

13. Make sure all your outdoor items are put away. A bird feeder on a pole is an object waiting to hit a window.

14. Make sure your roof is in good condition. You don’t want to come back to find damp spots on your ceiling, shingles blown off or water in your attic.

15. Invest in a sump pump in case your basement gets water. We recently had a terrible rain storm – actually for days- and we got water in our basement. Granted the sump pump only kicked in when I used a mop to get the water over to it because the water was only about 1/4 inches high. However you may have 3 inches or water or more. That is when we got the sump pump.

16. Close your fireplace damper. In our previous house we had a top on the chimney so animals couldn’t get in.

17. I like to close my blinds not so much to prevent a burglar from seeing in but because the sun fades the furniture! I compromise when we are away by not closing them all so it doesn’t look like we are away for years but closed enough so that we keep the sun out for the most part.

18. If you can, park a car in the driveway or in front of your house. If you don’t have an extra car ask a neighbor if they would park their car in front of your house every now and then.

19. Make sure all your door and window locks are in working order.

20. Your gutters should be in good condition so the water drains away from the house and you aren’t confronted with ice freezing up in the gutters.

21. Finally – if you have any plants – don’t forget them unless you have someone watering them on a regular basis.

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