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As the days of summer wind down, that probably means the end of your summer home for the year. When you have a seasonal property, it's important to take proper precautions. Failing to attend to key steps can leave your home vulnerable to theft and damage, putting your investment at risk.

Closing up a summer home is much different than taking a few weeks away from your primary residence. With months between your last visit of this year and your first visit of next season, your home will sit unused, isolated and at risk for damage without the proper precautions.

If you're new to summer home ownership or want to ensure you're doing right by your property, these tips can help you prepare for the coming chill of fall and winter.

1. Inspect Your Property
When problems are in the initial stages, months of neglect can exacerbate them, turning easy fixes into costly repairs. Before leaving for the year, take a walk around your property to examine things like your roof, chimney, siding, foundation, landscaping and gutters. If possible, address anything you can now to avoid spending more next year.

2. Turn Off Your Water
Turning off water may seem overly cautious, but failing to cut off a water supply increases potential for burst pipes and flooding. This can lead to expensive repairs of $5,000 or more for a simple plumbing problem. Use the main valve in your home to shut off water. Drain pipes and toilets and leave all faucets open to avoid pressure buildup. If your home has a well and pump, turn the pump off electrically to halt flow and safeguard against damage.

3. Control Temperature
It may seem like common sense to turn off your heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system. But this can actually pose a threat to your home. Instead, turn off the AC and switch to heat. You don't need to set your thermostat to a cozy livable temperature but a setting of 50 to 55 degrees can keep the air warm enough to prevent pipes from freezing.

4. Prep for Winter Weather
If your summer home is in an area prone to storms, you’ll need to prepare for the hazards of the coming winter. Before leaving:

  • Bring in outdoor patio furniture.

  • Close and lock all doors and windows.

  • Put up storm glass.

  • Close the flue and secure fireplaces.

  • Close all shutters if available.

Boarding doors and windows isn't necessary in most areas. But locations with heavy winds, rains, and snow may require this extra precaution.

5. Prepare Your Appliances
There's no need to keep appliances plugged in and turned on when you're away. Prepare all appliances by unplugging them, disconnecting water and gas lines and cleaning thoroughly. Be sure to remove all food from your refrigerator and wipe all surfaces with a bacteria-killing disinfectant. After cleaning, consider leaving doors ajar to prevent mildew or mold growth. Be sure to disconnect washer and dryer hoses as well.

In addition to appliances, all electronic devices should be unplugged before you leave to avoid power surges and electrical fires.

6. Improve Security
Vacant homes are a target for thieves. And the last thing you want to find next summer is a damaged property and missing valuables. Rather than assuming everything will be okay, take all important possessions, like electronics and sentimental keepsakes, with you. If your area is prone to crime, consider installing a security system. A monthly fee could be worth the peace of mind, and 60% of home burglars are deterred by the presence of home security.

A vacation home is a wonderful investment. But maintaining your property requires a proper approach to winterization. With these steps, you can successfully close your summer home for the season. 

 

Now your summer home is done, turn to your own home and get it ready for the fall and winter with these tips read:

 

SOURCE - Selective Insurance - 6 Steps to Close Up a Summer Home

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