Fall is officially here and if you’ve already started to see the leaves carelessly trickle off your favorite oak tree, it may be time to start gathering up your belongings to start the long trek down to your Southwest Florida homes. But before you hop on your planes, trains, or automobiles, make sure you take the necessary precautions to ensure your northern home is safe and secure against the grueling winter, and all of its possible threats, ahead.
The Exterior of Your Luxury Homes
Winters in the north are tough; just ask the millions of people that stick around to shovel snow and warm up their car before they can even back out of the driveway, or dig deep in the recesses of your mind to remember why you started heading south in the winter to begin with. The exterior of your home will be exposed to these harsh elements the entire time you are gone, so follow these steps to ensure you return to the delightful summer home you left.
- Find a friend or relative to shovel snow off your walkway and driveway, or if you really like your friends and relatives, just hire someone to do it for you. This will make your home look like there is someone still in it.
- Remove dead trees or large, overhanging limbs. Debris equals projectile.
- Bring outside furniture, grills, and garbage cans into your garage or storage shed. I repeat, debris equals projectile.
- Prevent ice dams by cleaning out your gutters so water can flow out freely and not back into your home.
- Add extensions to downspouts so water can flow freely away from your home. Extensions should lead the water 3-4 feet away from your home.
- Have your roof inspected for missing or damaged shingles that may cause the roof to leak in your absence. It is also a good idea to have your chimney inspected and make sure you have a wire screen over the top of your chimney to prevent small animals from enjoying a new home for the winter.
- Turn off the exterior faucets, disconnect your hose, and then drain the water from your hose so it will not freeze. This includes your irrigation system.
- Caulk around the edges of your windows and doors to ensure there won’t be any heat escaping. The gaps on your windows and doors should not exceed the width of a nickel. Any bigger than that and you’ll lose heat.
- Remember those leaves that have already started to fall? Make good use of them by mowing over the dry leaves and allowing them to sit on top of your grass. This “mulch” will nourish your lawn over the winter months.
- Stow your mower on an empty gas tank or fill the gas tank with stabilized fuel that can withstand sitting in the tank all winter. Regular gas left in the tank will get old and will give you problems once you try to start it in the spring.
- Consider installing motion-detector lights on the exterior of your home.
The Interior of Your Luxury Homes
Oh where to begin! From weather-related threats to the possibility of someone breaking into your home, there are many things that need not be overlooked when preparing to take your leave. Following through with these steps will increase your chances of coming back to your northern home.
- Whether you’re heating your home during your absence or not, water may still freeze in your pipes, so turn off the main water valve and have a professional drain your pipes before you go. The last thing you want is to have the pipes burst due to the expansion of the ice. You may also want to add non-toxic antifreeze to your toilet tanks and bowls to prevent freeze damage.
- Have your furnace or heat pump inspected to make sure it is clean and in good working order. You may not care if the house is a little colder while you’re gone, but you don’t want to have to deal with the long list of homeowners that end up calling these companies upon their return because their heater went kaput while they were gone.
- Have your home inspected for any air leaks or insufficient insulation in your attic so ice dams won’t form and cause water to back up in your home.
- Have your home thoroughly cleaned before you leave. This includes washing all of your sheets and towels. You’ll need to wash them upon your return, but it’s much more sanitary to leave them fresh and only allow them to collect dust during the winter.
- Toss out all of the food and garbage. We know we do not want to come home to food or garbage that has been sitting for months, and we are rather sure you don’t either.
- Schedule for someone to tend to your plants while you are gone or give them away before you leave.
- Cover your furniture to protect it from light and dust.
- Set your thermostat to anywhere between 55 and 58 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave your furnace running to prevent pipes from bursting and make sure you have monitoring systems in place that will alert you if the furnace malfunctions.
- Reverse your ceiling fans so they go clockwise and push down the heat that naturally rises.
Your Day to Day Routines
Our routines are so ingrained in our brains that we don’t have to consciously think about them as we go about our business. These steps will ensure your subconscious steps forward to take care of all of the small details that are vital to our daily life.
- Forward your mail and stop newspaper delivery.
- Stop your garbage service.
- Temporarily discontinue phone, internet, and cable services. You may have the option of forwarding your calls to your vacation home in the south or your cell phone.
- Turn on your alarm system and set interior lights on timers to make it appear as though someone is home. Let your alarm service provider know you will be away and for how long.
- Install dead bolt locks for your doors and slide locks for your sliding glass doors and French doors.
- Stow your valuables in a safe deposit box or another secure location.
- Designate a family member or friend to be the emergency contact to all of your vendors and provide them with access to your home should something happen in your absence.
- Pay your bills before you leave and consider setting them up on auto-pay so you don’t miss any payments.
- Bring copies of your important documents and medical records. Also make sure to transfer your prescriptions to the pharmacy you will be using in Southwest Florida.
- Consider shipping your personal belonging to eliminate the hassle of bringing everything yourself.
This may sound like a lot of work, and it is, but it will be well worth it when you return to your summer home and it is as beautiful as when you left it. Speaking of beautiful homes, one of the final things you should do before you finally head back to Florida is call your home watch provider so they can prepare your Southwest Florida luxury homes for your return. London Bay Homes’ Home Watch and Estate Management department takes care of all your home watch needs during your absence and will then make sure you walk into a fresh and lively home when you arrive.
Contact us for more information on our Home Watch and Estate Management programs and leave your home in the hands of a trusted Southwest Florida home builder with more than 25 years of experience.