Winter may be very onerous on an uninhabited home. Ice and snowstorms, freezing rain, falling timber and wires, and extra can occur. If a pipe bursts in your home and the water is on, the water can run for weeks and months. That may trigger lots of harm. Whereas it isn’t attainable to forestall each attainable factor from taking place, we desire to not spend the complete winter worrying about the home. 

We’ve been closing houses and residences within the winter for the previous 8 years and have thought loads about find out how to do it. We’ve consulted with plumbers, contractors, and neighbors. Throughout these previous 8 years, we’ve realized loads within the course of. Since we spend winters in a foreign country, we will’t simply come again to repair one thing or discover one thing we forgot.

There are lots of selections to be made. Can we drain the pipes, flip off the electrical energy, and go away it utterly empty? Ought to we go away the warmth on? Can we let the mail pile up or ahead it? What about meals — ought to we go away something? What garments and private objects ought to we go away? Who will examine on the home whereas we’re gone?

Listed here are 10 errors we’ve made and realized from:

Weekend Home in winter, Dingman's Ferry.
Weekend Dwelling in winter, Dingman’s Ferry (Photograph Credit score: Sue Davies / Journey For Life Now)

1. OMG, The Pipe Burst!

Our first weekend home had electrical baseboard heating and we drained the pipes however left the warmth on. It was a really costly winter with a $500-per-month electrical energy invoice. The subsequent yr, we determined to empty the pipes and switch off the warmth. This may be onerous on home equipment. We ended up having to restore the waterline within the fridge and change the contact faucet. One of many pipes additionally burst as a result of some water had been left in it. If we hadn’t shut the water off, it will have run via the burst pipe for 3 months and broken the property extensively. Because the water was shut off, this didn’t trigger an excessive amount of harm. On this occasion, the repairs turned out to be less expensive than holding the warmth on.

2. Final Minute Surprises

Our present home has oil warmth. We deliberate on draining the pipes and turning off the water. On the final minute, the plumber informed us that the oil warmth system required the water to be on. We didn’t wish to fear about burst pipes, so we determined to empty the pipes and switch off the warmth. Then we found that the water purification system couldn’t be winterized and might freeze whereas the warmth was off. We will probably be engaged on a brand new resolution for this situation subsequent yr.

We at all times use a plumber to empty the pipes. You may be tempted to do it your self, however plumbers have the tools to make it possible for the whole lot is drained correctly. Additionally they put antifreeze within the bathrooms, dishwasher, and elsewhere as wanted.

The frozen door lock is covered with an incredibly beautiful pattern of ice.
Drummer_vn /

3. This Gained’t Take Too Lengthy

The primary time we closed our weekend residence for the winter, we thought it wouldn’t take too lengthy. Plus, we had been solely 90 minutes away and thought it will be simple to return again and do no matter we forgot. After the warmth was off and the water drained, it took us hours to complete up in a chilly home. We ended up having an excessive amount of meals to deliver to our condo.

4. What Is A Squirrel Doing In My Mattress?

This occurred to one in every of our neighbors when she closed her lake home for the winter. When she got here again within the spring, she found that squirrels made a nest and had infants on her mattress. It was fairly the shock. With assist, she was capable of get them out. After which, she made repairs and received a brand new mattress. Doing an inspection of any entry factors for animals is essential earlier than you shut a home. We do that a month upfront, so we’ve got time to make repairs if wanted.

Open Refrigerator Or Fridge Door With Food Inside.
Andrey_Popov /

5. What Do I Do With All This Meals?

The primary time we closed our weekend residence, we didn’t take into consideration the meals within the fridge. We stored shopping for and cooking proper as much as the day that we had been shutting the home down. We thought we’d simply deliver no matter was left to our condo in Manhattan solely to find that we couldn’t match the whole lot in our smaller fridge within the metropolis. We ended up giving a few of it away. Now, we begin slicing down on meals procuring a month earlier than we shut so we’ve got time to cook dinner and eat the whole lot within the freezer.

An old overloaded rusty mailbox waiting for someone to relieve if from the mail.
Flash-ka /

6. The place Did All This Mail Come From?

Not planning on your mail generally is a expensive mistake. An overflowing mailbox and newspapers in your doorstep inform others that the house is unoccupied which might result in break ins. You can also miss essential payments and different notifications.

You may cease newspaper deliveries and have your mail forwarded to your winter handle. Since we spend the winter overseas, we will’t have our mail forwarded. Now we have a trusted neighbor that checks our mail. We inform him which of them to open, and he scans the contents and emails us. There are additionally providers that may do that for you. The draw back is that these providers destroy the originals. As well as, organising digital and autopay may be very useful.

7. I Didn’t Know My License Expired

Three years in the past, we went to Singapore for the winter. Once we returned, we took the automobile out for a drive. Once we checked out our licenses, we had been shocked. They expired whereas we had been away and we had no thought. We needed to go instantly to the Motor Car Fee to resume them. The identical goes for passports and different official documentation like automobile registrations. Make a behavior of checking on these earlier than you’re in one other state or nation.

a truck with a snow blade clears snow after a storn  in a residential area in Michigan USA.
Susan B Sheldon /

8. Snow And Ice — Do We Actually Want To Plow All Winter?

The primary winter that we had a weekend residence, we stayed in Manhattan. We determined to take a drive to examine on the home. There was no snow in New York City. Once we arrived within the nation, we noticed the driveway had 6 inches of snow on it. We didn’t have snow shovels or salt. We noticed a truck with a plow passing by and begged him to plow our driveway. Then we went into city to purchase shovels and salt.

One other yr, we thought we may go to the home on the finish of winter in early March. Because it hadn’t been plowed all winter, there was a 6-inch layer of ice lined by snow. Nobody may plow it and we needed to wait till the climate warmed up and it melted earlier than we may get into the home.

9. Oh No, I Left It At The Home

We’re consistently in search of issues and realizing that we left them on the home. If we’re in Singapore, there’s nothing we will do. Our resolution is to make a listing of the whole lot we’d like for the winter and slowly examine them off through the month earlier than we shut the home and journey to our winter location. The checklist is stored electronically and is refined yearly. We are able to’t utterly keep away from the “oh no, I left it on the home” moments but it surely has lowered the frequency.

switch electrical safety circuit breaker box.
Higher Collectively /

10. No matter Is Turned Off Should Be Turned On

Opening the home within the spring requires turning on no matter is turned off. This contains cellphone (if there’s a landline), web, cable service, and, after all, water and warmth. The plumber should come again, restart the heating system, and activate the water. There are lots of snowbirds in our space, so we have to schedule the opening and shutting dates far upfront to verify we get the date that we’d like.

Lastly, we at all times have a caretaker or neighbor examine on the home whereas we’re gone. This alleviates a few of our worries and permits us to make knowledgeable selections if the electrical energy goes out, a tree falls, or one thing else wants speedy consideration.

Opening and shutting a home for the season appears daunting however may be damaged down into duties and steps. Take the time to assume it via and also you gained’t make the identical errors that we did.

For extra tips about retirement and transferring overseas, try these tales: 

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