Snowbirds: A Home Checklist Before You Head Back North

Snowbirds: are getting ready to head back north for the summer! Just as you do before you head south for the winter, allow yourself plenty of time to prepare your home for your extended absence.

Protect your home:

  • Consider motion-sensitive exterior lights, deadbolts, side locks for sliding doors, and other extra security measures.
  • Confirm that your alarm system is working and has been activated.
  • Remove valuables from the home.
  • Check to make sure all windows are locked. Close drapes or shades.
  • Make sure your smoke detectors work and replace all batteries.

Protect your plumbing

  • Turn off as much water access as possible. If your home will be empty for an extended period, turn off your water supply to the entire house or non-vital sections. However, if your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system or depends on an irrigation system, you’ll need to leave water on for those systems. If someone will be there from time to time, simply shut off water to washing machines, toilets, sinks, and dish washers.
  • Some water heaters have a “vacation mode.” If yours does not, turn off the heat source and water supply to your hot water heater.
  • Drain your pipes by opening all faucets and flushing all toilets. If preferred, call a professional to take care of this and check for leaks at the same time.
  • Cover sinks, toilet bowls, toilet tanks, and floor drains with plastic wrap. This prevents water in the trap from evaporating and letting sewer gases into your home.
  • Shut off and drain outdoor water faucets and hoses.
  • If you have a pool or hot tub, have it professionally serviced and “closed” for the season.

Perform routine maintenance and repairs:

  • Have your air conditioner inspected and serviced. Set the temperature around 85 degrees to avoid mold.
  • If you have a dehumidifier, have it inspected and serviced. Set your humidistat to 60%.
  • Have your gutters cleaned.
  • Inspect your roof and make repairs if needed.
  • Unplug all appliances.
  • Consider turning off the gas main. Make sure your stove and oven are off.

Prevent pests:

  • If appropriate, have your home professionally treated for pests before you leave.
  • Clean your home thoroughly. Take all non-perishable or opened food with you.
  • Clean and defrost the unplugged refrigerator and freezer. Empty the ice maker. Leave the doors open to prevent mold and mildew inside.
  • Clean the oven and outdoor grill.
  • Take out all trash.
  • Empty the food trap in your dishwasher and leave door open.
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned. Consider a chimney guard screen. Make sure your fireplace flue is closed.
  • Check seals around exterior doors and windows to ensure no pests can enter the home.

Make it look like you are home:

  • Put lights on timers throughout your house to turn on/off at different times.
  • Forward your mail and stop newspaper delivery.
  • Ask a neighbor or property management service to stop by occasionally to pick up any mail that gets delivered to your door and check inside the house.
  • Schedule lawn maintenance throughout the summer as needed to maintain a “lived in” appearance.
  • Bring inside furniture or planters that could blow away in heavy winds.

Safe travels! We will see you again in the fall!