Preparing Your Vacation Home for the Winter
1. Rid the house of all food. This will discourage pests from nesting in your home for the winter.
2. Unplug and open refrigerator and freezer doors to allow air to circulate through them. Put a few natural charcoal briquettes into each area of the appliances you own to absorb odors.
3. Lean mattresses and large cushions up against walls to allow air to circulate through them. This prevents mildew in areas of high humidity.
4. Open all doors, closets, and cupboards to allow circulation. This will help remove any odors that may have existed.
5. Cover all furniture with bedsheets. These can be inexpensive and will protect your belongings from sun and excessive moisture.
6. Call your sewer company and see what they recommend to pour into their drains for the winter. In the absence of a targeted plan, use a half-and-half mix of water and automotive antifreeze to seep any moisture from freezing and rupturing fragile pipes.
7. If you plan to leave the house through a freeze, turn off the water main and drain the pipes of water, again for fear of braking pipes. Whether or not you plan to leave the house through a freeze or not, it is always wise to turn off the water main in case a pipe breaks.
8. Unless you plan on running heat through the time you are away to keep pipes from freezing, shut off all natural gas and propane to the house.
9. Bring in or cover all outdoor furniture. Bring in and dry out all outdoor cushions. Make sure to cover the grill well.
10. Clear gutters well to ensure they work through the winter and spring. Put screening over them to prevent clogging with falling leaves. In addition, prune trees back from the house, both to prevent gutter clogs and property damage.
11. Cover all HVAC equipment with plastic to prevent infiltration of excessive moisture. Block off your whole-house attic fan (if you have one).
12. Ask a neighbor to come by and check on everything every few days. Give the person a sheet of your contact information and instructions on who to call in case of emergency.
If you follow these tips, you should be able to enjoy an easy move back into your warm-weather getaway without first worrying about fixing major property damage and other minor nuisances.