Tips and Tricks to Get Your Beach House Ready for Winter

It’s that time of year again. Labor day is right around the corner, fall and winter are approaching. That means it’s time to pack up your things and leave the beach to head back home. So, what are you going to do to keep your beach house protected through the fall and winter so that when you come back next summer, you can start up and enjoy the sun and sand without much worry?

Well, first off, take care of the “little” things. Talk to your utility companies; electric, cable, phone, water and newspaper; and make sure they know that come September, you’ll be heading back home. If your beach house has an alarm system or a sprinkler system, turning off your electric and water probably isn’t the best of ideas. Before you leave, though, make sure these bills are either on an auto-draft from your bank account, or the companies have your northern home address so that you don’t come back to late fees and service shut offs. Also, make sure that there are no leaky faucets, leaky air handlers, running toilets or loose wiring to have to worry about when you’re hundreds of miles away that you can’t just take care of after work.

If you’re like me, you don’t like leaving your windows open if you’re going to be gone for a long period of time, you might come back to musty odors. These are unpleasant and may take a few days to work out of the house, especially if you’re sensitive to the chemicals in air fresheners. A neat way to work around this is to take vanilla or almond extract from the kitchen and dab it on some cotton balls and place them in different rooms to give a natural scent. If you’re worried about ants being attracted to the sweet smell, then small bowls of white vinegar in the corners of rooms or a box of baking soda in every room will keep odors at bay for at least 3 months.

If you have friends that you trust to come by once a month or so to open up doors and windows to allow air to flow through your home, this is a good way to keep musty odors away and bring fresh air into your house. Another idea that you can do is talk to a property manager and rent out your beach house to snowbirds for the fall and winter months. The down-fall to that is if you get “kids” that will end up messing up your house. Some damages would be covered by their lease, however, this is an option only if you’re comfortable letting other people stay in your home and sleep in your bed while you’re back home.

Now, if you’ve already got the utilities situation set, onto house maintenance that can be done over the course of an afternoon or a weekend for low cost out of pocket.

  1. Make sure there are no leaks in the roof. If there are, and you’re not afraid of heights, get the materials you’ll need to patch it and head on up. You’ll need a few items, including a ladder, shingles, roof cement, crowbar or other item to pry up at least a 3-foot radius around the leak, and a paintbrush to apply the cement. Someone at the local hardware store will be able to give you tips and pointers and point you in the right direction to the items you’ll need. Home Depot and Lowe’s are typically very good for knowledge and no-pressure sales people.
  2. Clean the gutters. Get up there on the ladder and go to town! Make sure it’s a safe ladder and that you’re not going to be rocking back and forth while you’re up there cleaning. A quick way is to grab the garden hose with an attachable spray nozzle and just flush the gunk out. If you don’t want to do that, you can don some gardening gloves and pull it out by hand.
  3. Check the seals on the windows. Do rounds into every room and check all the windows. Clean the seals, and if they look worn or cracked, replace them! More moisture will seep its way into the house through damaged seals than you’d like to deal with when you get back. Again, Home Depot or Lowe’s will be able to point you in the direction you need to get the proper replacements.
  4. Make sure any deck or patio furniture is secure inside the garage or storage area. Pressure wash and treat the deck or patio to withstand the cold weather of winter, as well as the salt air.
  5. Clean off the grill! Nothing says “barbeque” like crusted on food from last summer! Turn the grill on high until the smoke stops and clean off the grates with a wire grill brush. Turn it off and let it cool then store it away with the patio furniture.
  6. Make sure any debris, or anything else that might catch fire, is away from all electrical boxes outside.
  7. Tend to the landscaping! Rake the yard and mow just before you leave. The cool weather will keep the grass manageable for a couple of months. Then hire one of the neighborhood kids, or a landscaper to come by once a month to trim. From October to April, the yard should only need one mowing a month.

Don’t forget to do one last round before you zip up the suitcase to make sure you didn’t leave anything behind! Have a safe trip back home and get ready to have the holidays and the next thing you know, you’ll be back in the sun and fun in no time!

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