Snowbird Checklist: How to Prepare Your Home for a Winter Away - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Oct 8, 2019

Snowbird Checklist: How to Prepare Your Home for a Winter Away

The Northeast is beautiful year-round, but the colder months can be challenging for some. If you’re a snowbird who calls New York home in the warmer months but heads south for the winter, you know that your summer home needs special care before you leave. We’ve put together some tips for snowbirds to follow before heading south for the winter.


Here are 5 Snowbird-Tips to Prep Your Home for Your Extended Stay Away:


Make it Look Occupied

Unoccupied homes are especially vulnerable to trespassing and theft. The good news is, there are several things you can do while away to make it appear as if your home is still lived in. Start by having your mail forwarded and have a nearby friend check in occasionally to get anything that might be left at your door. While they’re there, they can also make sure that everything appears as it should.


Other precautions you might want to take include: installing motion-sensitive outdoor lighting, setting your interior lighting on timers, installing an alarm system and updating or adding new locks. Any valuables should be stored in a safety deposit box offsite. Try to remember to avoid friending or connecting with anyone you don’t know on social media and adjust your security settings so that only those you allow can see your updates. That way, if you post about your winter in the south it is only seen by those you trust who won’t take advantage of this information.


Shut Off Your Water or Keep it Warm

Frozen pipes are a common occurrence in New York homes. If not taken care of right away they can lead to serious water damage. To help prevent pipes from freezing while you’re away, have your water shut off and your pipes drained. A simple way to do this is to flush toilets and turn on faucets to clear them of water once shut off. Make sure to check with a heating or plumbing professional prior to doing so as some homes have sprinkler systems or heating systems that may need water access.


If your water must be kept on throughout the winter, be sure that your home will be heated properly for an extended period of time. Installing home automation software with which you can remotely control your lighting, thermostat and security cameras can be an excellent tool for monitoring your home while you’re away. 


Adjust Appliances

As long as they are plugged in, appliances are using energy. While you’re away, unplug unnecessary appliances as a way to avoid costly energy bills. You might even want to consider unplugging your fridge and freezer, as they will be unused for several months. If you have a fireplace, be sure to close the flue prior to leaving -- this will help prevent any pests from making their home in your chimney.


Clean Thoroughly

Another great way to make your home unattractive to unwanted pests is to clean thoroughly. Take some time after removing the contents of your refrigerator to clean it inside and out. Also, thoroughly cleaning your floors, counters, interior cabinets and the inside of your oven can all help to avoid unwanted winter pests. Lastly, check to be sure that any cracks or crevices along walls, windows and floors are plugged or patched so rodents cannot enter your home.


Make Any Needed Repairs

Unfortunately, a lot of maintenance is needed before winter weather arrives. Before heading to your winter destination, be sure to have the following things inspected and/or repaired by a professional: insulation, siding, roofing, doors, windows, heating, plumbing and electrical. You will also want to cut away or remove any dead trees and cover your plants and shrubbery from snow and ice buildup.


Planning ahead as a snowbird by preparing your home for a winter away is a great way to help ensure a carefree and fun time in the sun and warmth.