Winterizing your Summer Home (Or Preparing For An Extended Leave)


When it comes to homes, leaving for an extended period of  time can be problematic. Say you’re the proud owner of a summer home or cabin, or perhaps you intend to spend an extended period of time away from your year-round residence during the coming colder months, know how to prepare your home.  Here are some key tips to winterize your home and minimize potential damage that may be heading your way.

  • 1.  Turn off the water at the exterior source if you will be away the entire winter.  Should a pipe burst during a cold spell and you have no one checking on your property for weeks or months at a time, an untold amount of water damage can result.  Even just small water leaks that go unchecked will contribute substantially to your water bill. (In fact, you should look into insurance coverage options for property that sits vacant for long periods; it can well be worth the cost). Open all faucets and drain the water lines and water heater.  An added tip:  To prevent total water evaporation from your toilet’s trap (which can permit sewer gases to enter your home), raise the toilet’s lid and seat and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
  • 2.  Unplug electric appliances.  Fire prevention.  If the power to your property will remain on, unplugging devices such as a microwave, toaster and television helps avoid the risk of fire that can result from small animals gnawing on the wires, or a power surge of any kind.
  • 3.  Close fireplace flues and dampers. This is an easy thing to overlook in the rush to close up your home for the season.  Properly closing off your fireplace will keep these aforementioned small animals from infesting your home, and aide in fire prevention.
  • 4.  Reduce fire hazards. Another obvious, yet easy to forget task is the removal of items that could either lead to fires or provide tinder for ones should they get started.  Don’t leave behind stacks of papers.  Don’t store cans of stain, paint or paint thinners, oily rags and brushes, or other combustibles.  Even firewood should not be left in large quantities alongside your hearth simply for the convenience of having it ready upon your return.
  • 5.  Empty your freezer and refrigerator. Should the electricity be off for any length of time, the items will spoil and you’ll be faced with disposing of a very smelly mess upon your return.  Along those same lines, any non-perishable items you leave behind should be stored in metal containers with tight lids.  Even soap, sponges and candles should be locked away, as some rodents and vermin see these as a food source, as well.

Of course, these are just a few of the necessary measures for winterizing your home.  Others, such as taking down screens, closing shutters or installing storm windows, are more involved, and depending on your personal skillset or availability, may require professional assistance.

Handyman Matters stands ready to assist you with these and any other repairs, as well restorations or other tasks your summer getaway—or your year-round residence—might require.   Call 1(800)FIX-MY-HOME or go to  to find the office closest to your area.