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Protecting Your Home When you Head South for the Winter


If you’re jetting off to warmer climes for the winter or for an extended vacation, there are some things that you need to do to keep your home safe while you’re away.

Get Your Insurance in Order

First of all, check with your insurance agent to ensure that your house will be covered adequately while you’re gone. Some insurance policies specify that if you’re away for a certain length of time, you must have someone responsible check on your house every 48 hours. If your home is going to be vacant for 30 days or more, you likely won’t be covered by insurance unless you have unoccupied property coverage.

Ask someone you can Trust for Help

Ask someone you can count on to check on the house regularly. Show them where the water shutoff valve and electrical panel are. Also give them the name of your insurance company and your contact number while you’re away. Ask them to put a bag of their garbage by your driveway for pick-up every week. No garbage is a clear sign that nobody’s home.

Prevent Flooding

It’s always a good idea to turn off the water supply to the house to prevent flooding in the event that a pipe bursts. If you don’t want to go to that extreme, at least turn off the toilet tank feed lines. Burst feed lines or cracked toilet tanks are notorious for causing serious floods.

Leave interior doors and cabinets that have water pipes running into them open throughout the house so that warm air can circulate. Pipes could freeze in a cold, closed room. Keep the thermostat set at around 15 degrees Celsius to save energy while preventing pipes from freezing.

Make it Look Lived In

Even if you’re tempted to brag, don’t put a message on your answering machine advertising the fact that you’re out of the country. Put timers on interior lights, radios, and tv’s, and install motion lights at the front and rear of the house. Put wooden dowels in sliding windows to prevent them from being opened. Leave a car in the driveway, but remove papers that contain personal information and don’t leave a garage door opener in the car. Hire someone to clear snow.

If you’re going away for a long time this winter, the last thing you want to do is worry about your house while you’re gone. With a few simple precautions, you can keep your house and your peace of mind intact while you’re away.

By Patrick Murray